Saturday, November 18, 2006

Feeling Good About Things

God is giving me a peace about the way things are going. I've started to actually enjoy selling engines. I'm not sure if this is because we're off that temporary spike in warranty claims, or if it's because I'm just getting more confident on the phone. I do know that I was impressed we filled every valid claim we had, which very few salvage yards would do.

I'm also very excited about pursuing my dealer's license. I wish I could talk about some of the things I'm going to do... but people actually do a lot of searches for the type of car I'm going to be selling. The Dodge Intrepid... specifically the 2.7 Litre, which I will be selling after conversion to 3.2. There, I spilled it. :p It's gonna make me some cash, hopefully. Dodge, thanks for your mistake.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dadgum It

One of the guys that works for us got a DUI last night. We're all praying for him. Bad choices. I hope God helps him steer things right.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The World Does Nothing, Genocide Spreads

For the last few years, I have been appalled at the way the world has handled the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Way to go world, proving how selfish you are even after Rwanda.

The BBC is reporting on this.

World, you suck.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Goodness, Frustration!

I'm getting very frustrated with "the way things are going."

To quote Hootie:
Time, why you punish me?
Like a wave crashing into the shore
You wash away my dreams
Time, why you walk away? oh, oh
Like a friend with somewhere to go
You left me crying

And you'll teach me 'about tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow running free?
'Cause tomorrow's just another day
And I don't believe in time

I See It! A Diamond in the Rough!

So, I'm out at a yard that my mechanic says might have an engine I'm looking for for a vehicle I bought recently. All of the sudden, I see a Toyota Supra... from the front. The hood is down, and I can't tell if it's a turbo or not. I (literally) say a quick prayer, and open the hood. Sweetness, it's a turbo! I run and check the mileage on it, and it's 136k... and it was a Memphis pd abandoned vehicle!

I'm very excited for this because these are rare, rare engines - the turbo's, that is. I had a guy call in a few weeks ago saying that he wanted one we had quoted him on that had 120k, and he was gonna pay serious, serious bucks for it (close to 3k). Well, the one we had quoted him on was gone! I couldn't find him another one in the entire country either! 3k, down the drain! Now, I see one that I can get for literally nothing! I can rebuild it, and offer it on the market - we get these calls a LOT! Then, I'll just get a core from the guy, rebuild that one, and I'll always have a Supra engine available.

To be honest with you, it will be Chris, not me, rebuilding these. That joker is good at what he does, no doubt. But I'll learn a lot as I watch him. I'll also pay the machine shop bill for parts of the rebuild we have to contract out! But this is gonna be sweet - almost as sweet as when I get the cressida back from the paint shop and sell that boy! Cars are about to start moving, I can feel it in my bones!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Sunday: Fried Pickles and Cleaning

After church today, I went out to eat with my parents. I eat out with my dad pretty much every night because it "relaxes" him, so no big deal. Well, it was, because I really liked the place we ate for once! You see, my dad enjoys eating at old school, junky southern restaurants that are called "meat and three's." Basically, you get a meat, three vegetables, and a roll or corn bread. Sounds cool if you're old, maybe. Well, these restaurants are inexpensive (cheap), and it doesn't seem like they can afford basic maintenance. But my Dad loves them, and will drive an hour to eat at a new one. I guess it reminds him of growing up in Mississippi.

Today was different though. The food was good. The atmosphere was decent. To be honest, I haven't found any restaurants down here that match the atmosphere of restaurants in the Twin Cities.

What I want to talk about though, is an interesting food I had: fried pickles. They were only ok, but I have to let everyone know that Scotland apparently controls the south. That's right, Scotland isn't the only place that will deep fry everything (including Mars Bars), the dirty south will.


I was unable to get hold of my partner after lunch, so I didn't finish the Cressida today. Instead, I detailed the interior of Dad's Audi the best I could before dark and then washed the exterior at a Carwash. It was dirty, and he doesn't seem like he really even cared I did it. Oh well. I'm learning how to get cars really clean, which will help me as I buy and sell :)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

God is Good

You know ultimately God takes us through unexpected places, all for our good. When Utah didn't work out, I was discouraged, but now I am understanding that God brought me to Memphis for a reason. Yes, it is frustrating being in with the 'rents again, yes it is frustrating making less money at my "full time" job. But let me tell you, I bought a car tonight that I can flip real quick... and I got it for way less than anyone would think possible. I'll get 5x what I put in the vehicle, and I'll pocket 2.5x what I have in it. That helps, and it's God providing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Some funny things from the week

This week a few funny things have come accross me as I've dealt with international customers seeking engines:

The first was from a Belgian man who sent me a very long email, asking many detailed questions for his 1999 Ford Pony. I think he meant Mustang...

The second is dealing with the agent of a guy in Russia who bought a 2005 Infiniti QX56 engine from me.

The phone convo went something like:
Me: "lowmileage engines..."
Him" "I buy engine for Victor."
Me: "You're his broker?"
Him: "Is that what I am? Broker?" (laughs evilly)
Me: "OK. What's your ebay member name?"
Him: "Ballzbuster"

No joke, I think his client is in the Russian mob. I mean, who in Russia can afford new infinitis besides the mob? AND WHO HAS THAT KIND OF EBAY NAME?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The F-250

Today, I bought an F-250 that needs an engine. I bought it dirt cheap. I have been praying "God, help me to buy cars cheap and sell them for a good profit."

Well, he sure helped me buy it cheap. The lot I bought it from told me, "I've never taken this big of a loss on a vehicle." I then talked him down several hundred. I'm talking I paid hundreds for a vehicle worth close to $10,000, private party. Favor of God, I believe. He's helpin' me.

If you're wondering, this is the truck. The hood is off because the mechanic that worked on it sucked. It is in good condition. The body is in beautiful shape. It is a great truck. The guy had just ordered two wrong engines for it. Two wrong engines. Guess who knows how to get the right engine for it? :)

But, without the mechanic I'm partnering with, I definately couldn't do it. He's a great guy, and a great mechanic. Hopefully we can help each other make some cash!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Slow Day

You know, today must have been national "Do not buy an engine day." I had several customers that I thought I had sold yesterday call me today and let me know that they were going to pay me tomorrow. Ebay hits dropped off the charts, trending about 65% lower than this day last year (though our hits have been significantly higher other days this week than their 1 week, 4 week, and 52 week trends), and the phones just stopped wringing.

Oh well, we'll knock 'em out tomorrow.

In the meantime, be praying for a close friend of my dad's that I'm getting into some business with. He's going through a tough divorce. His wife cheated on him, so it's not one of those work it out things. It's chronic, and it ain't going away. I don't believe my friend knows the Lord, and he sure could use God's comfort right now. I'm praying for him a lot, 'believing for' him, and want to see God bring this guy into the fold and help him. If I never do any business with this guy, I want to see him whole.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Please, be Dishonest

I hate dishonest people. They waste me a lot of time.

My current job is at the family business. The one I helped my dad start four years ago. I'm now a hireling though, not a partner. Way to dip out too early Matthew. Anyways, we are able to make a living because we sell honest engines at good prices. Simple. Well, not really.

You see, a lot of my suppliers today lied about mileage on engines I was getting quotes on, and I caught them in our paperwork process. Then I had to find new engines for my customer. It pisses me off when I fall 10 phonecalls behind because billy joe in Kentucky is a worthless liar.

Good god, FTC. So, I hate dishonesty.

But here's the other end of the stick. I sold an engine on Monday, on ebay, at way too low of a price. The customer hasn't contacted us yet (they made an offer on the engine), and I'm glad. I don't want to get paid - I want the customer to break their contract - because if they do, I lose a lot of cash. So, please don't pay.

Other things: Sorry if I'm not getting back with everyone, and that I'm not keeping this updated that much. I am very busy! I rise at about 5:50 a.m. every day, anwer ebay emails, get ready for work, am at the office between 7 and 8 am (closer to 7), and leave around 6:00 p.m. I then eat, and answer ebay emails until I go to sleep! I am going to have to get a gym membership, or I'm going to go crazy here.

The fun thing for me though, so far, has been working car deals on the side. I've got a nice little audi in the driveway I'm about to flip - book value is about 3x what I have in it. I'm about to flip an '06 trailblazer with 2000 miles on it be bought wrecked and fixed up. Should make some cash on that.

Finally, I'm about to pick up a buick century tomorrow night that needs a new engine (which I can get cheeep!) and flip that. I'm working with a great mechanic (if you're in Memphis and need one, let me know. This guy is does great work at great prices. Probably the best mechanic we know of - and we know a lot, all over the country, with all the engines we sell.) and this is a money car.

I need to flip my six money cars by the end of the year and then flip the 24 my family is legally allowed to flip next year, and get some cash.

It's a lot more fun than oil. You just work longer hours, and don't get a week off :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Sweet Little A4

We sell engines. (Oh yeah, long non-blogged story. Summary: I'm in Memphis, selling engines at, the family business). We also are starting to sell cars, and we got an Audi on the cheap from a dealership the other day. Reason? Bad transmission. And no one in Memphis works on Audi's except the Audi dealership, and own it the Audi dealership did not. Well, no one except Christ. We ordered a replacement transmission, Chris popped it in the Audi while it was sitting in the alley behind the office... and I drove that thing last night, and it drove nice. I love leaving people in the dust at lights and such (you have to test the car... right?).

Anyways, I'm a bit miffed at my dad on this - he wants to just barely double money on it when book value is triple what we have in it! But I see where he's coming from... we haven't sold many cars and the name of the game is "turning" them. I'd love to sell cars though, have bout twenty of 'em on hand.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tool Concert

Thanks to my friend Ben for taking me to the Tool concert on the 16th. Here is a funny clip: Tool brought out this ripped guy in a tootoo and a mexican wrestling mask... and he danced by bobbing his head. To me this was funny because the concert was just super high quality - hundreds of thousands spent on lighting and videos and the best job of synching them into things I've seen in a while.... and here the thing you remember most is a guy dancing in a tootoo on the stage. Funny.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Gone for... a Week

Well, in three hours, I will be beyond cell phne range. I will be Southeast of Roosevelt on Federally leased land, and I will have no way to get ahold of anyone. What will keep me from going insane?
  1. My Bible, and my prayer life.
  2. The prayers of others.
  3. My Ipod, and specifically season 1 of lost (I trust and hope there will be a few power plugins).
  4. Books.
  5. Dreaming of being out of debt. One day, I am gonna call the Dave Ramsey show and freak out.
God bless you all, know I love you, and pray for me!



When I was a kid and I went to camp or moved to a new school, everyone would always talk about loneliness. I never really felt it though, when I was supposed to. Loneliness, I guess, is supposed to hit us the hardest when we don't have the emotional and social mechanisms in place to fight it. In other words, when we're immature. When we're young.

You hear about soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we're told that they're homesick. But are they lonely? Probably. Even though they have, in some instances, trained for years with the units they are in combat with, they are as individuals probably lonely.

I came out to Utah to work. I'm going to change my driver's license to a Utah license. I'm going to change my car registration to Utah (unless I live over the border in Colorado, then you change the name of the state). I'm here. I've met several people that will be key in my life.

Pastor D, a nice guy who helped me get a job and is doing a great job ministering in a difficult place. Fernando, my boss, who gave me a job at a great wage. Pat, who has sort of taken me under his wing, gives me advice about the field from how to act on it to what to wear to what to make sure I'm safety conscious about.

But in all of this, I have no permanency upon which to build friendships. I feel lonely, even though it's not rational. I think there is a silly reason for this too. You see, without a place to call home, I'm convinced that a part of me is missing. You see, I am a host. I love to host people, and in people coming over, I find great satisfaction. But a home is also a place where a person can "hide" if they want to. A home is a man's castle, or so the saying goes.

Why am I so lonely? I don't know. Maybe loneliness feels like a lot of things. Maybe loneliness feels like being nervous about doing well at a job; I've never done physical labor, and I am pretty sure I have a better education than the majority of "roughnecks." Maybe loneliness feels like not knowing where I'm going to live when I get back from the oil field. Maybe loneliness feels like a lot of things.

Writing about this makes me feel a lot better, but I know that until I have a place, I just won't be at the top of my game.

Friday, September 22, 2006


It is counterproductive to heat a room, and then have a regrigerator in that room cooling off your food in the same room.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

And the Day Ends with a SCORE!

Today at about 8:00 a.m., Pat called and asked if I would like to go out to a rig. I said yes, I would like to, and we headed out on those bits of Federal Property called roads that make their way through Indian land (incidentally, I saw some houses that didn't look sanitary to live in. That's a nice way to put it). I got to see exactly how these two to three million dollar a week operations run, and meet the guy running this particular rig. Pat also made a lot of phone calls for me to companies to see if they are hiring. When I got back into town, I went around driving to drop off applications at a long list of companies Pat gave me. I didn't find most of them, as I dont' know the area very well. Pat had, by the way, already found me a job that paid like $16.00 an hour, but he said to hold off till next week on that job. After checking into my new hotel, I went out to supper with the pastor of the church I'm going to attend here, and while we were eating, he made a phone call to a Christian (this is Utah, normal people here are Mormon[70%] or heathen [25%]. The rest are Indian or Christian) guy named Fernando who owns a rig. Well, Fernando has two crews. One of his foremen is also a Christian.

To cut to the chase, I meet Fernando at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, and I'm supposed to show up ready to work. Fernando starts paying people $24 an hour. This is a HUGE answer to prayer. I don't have this job yet, technically, but I am praying that it works out. I have faith that it will work out.

And looking into the future, I see out of this oil job I'm believing to get in the morning a church plant in Boston, MA. I'm encouraged. I'm leaning on God, trusting in him, knowing that yes, now sucks but that he has a plan for me out of this. Thank you, Jesus.

If you're praying for me, pray that:
  1. I "get" things out on the rig. One thing I have learned is that this is a whole new language and a whole new way of looking at things.
  2. Pray that I stay safe. This is potentially dangerous work.
  3. Pray that I find a permanent place... soon.
  4. Pray that I can pick up extra work. If I can pick up say, 2-3 extra shifts on my weeks off, that is 1000 bucks I can throw at my debt a month (conservatively).
Thank you for all the people that have been praying for me: Mom, Dad, lil sister Rachel, Nancy, Shawn, Kristin, P. Alan, P. Troy, and anyone else I've forgotten.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Job Hunt Update

So, I'm reviewing my notes on the job hunt, hotel, and housing situation. My thoughts are:
  1. The hotels are making a killing. A lot of them are high at 79.99 a night, but get this - that's 79.99 a PERSON! They don't even want to let you diffuse costs!
  2. Job services was not really that helpful. Nothing against them. They had me make a resume, and then they gave me the name of four companies. My contact Pat had more names off the top of his head.
  3. It's going to suck here if the boom ever ends. Sounds like they are building a ton of housing, which they need due to the lack of availability... but that lack comes from people like me.
I'm going into Patterson in an hour. I want to work for them. Pray that I can work for them.

I'm scared. There, I said it. I'm alone, and I'm in Utah. Last night I was scared because I couldn't find a hotel within an hour of where I need to be. Today I'm scared because I'm having thoughts of "This isn't the right place for me" enter my mind after a conversation I had with a guy at the hotel while I checked in. He told me that I was pretty much guaranteed to lose a finger, that I am gonna be workin my hind end off, and that I'm NOT going to be able to find housing. Well, sir, thanks for the advice. It really helped a lot. I woke up dealing with thoughts of going to Dickinson, ND so I could have some family nearby. But as I prayed, it hit me that I know that God has this place in mind for me (Roosevelt). I know that it's HIS plan that I be here, that I work here, that I live here, that I base out of here.

I talked to Pat (the guy I'm getting my info and advice from) this morning and that was good. It calmed me down a lot. He told me that people don't lose fingers today - that's 30 years ago. He said that OSHA is all over all the companies here, that orientation is specifically designed to make you aware of dangerous things, and that yes, while the work is intense, it's not 12 hours of killing yourself. It's doable by the average person.

So I'm going to job services to find out what is available in the oil area, and then I'm calling Pat to go over the jobs with him. Then, I'm going to apply. Hopefully I'll be in orientation tomorrow. Hopefully I can find an apartment today.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Be Removed, Mountain

There’s something wild about mountains. As I write this, I’m sitting at the top of Pike’s Peak. At this height of 14,110 feet, very little vegetation can live. Coming off a warm summer, there is still ice and snow at the peak. The only thing here is thin air, rock, and dirt.What makes an ascent like this worth the effort? The view along the way is gorgeous, yes, but many folks find themselves dizzy at the top. Many find themselves almost going over the edge of the roads on the way up and down. Brakes fail with constant use, engines overheat due to pressure changes and the effect of that on radiators, and a lot of folks get to the top to realize that they’re flat out dizzy from the thin air and can’t handle it.

It’s the view that makes trips like this worth it. It’s the perspective. Pike himself said when he was at the base of this mountain in 1806 that it seemed no man could ascend this mountain. And yet the mountain has been conquered, and every year thousands of folks drive to the top of Pike’s Peak, making it the most visited mountain in the United States. Fill up with gas, pay your ten dollars, and you’ll make it up the mountain. This is an easy mountain to defeat thanks to road graders, gravel, and cars.

There are still mountains out there that man has to work to defeat. From McKinley to Everest to certain mountains in the Alps (I’m away from my reference materials as I write this on top of Pike’s Peak), there are mountains that we’ve not put the effort into building roads on. And that’s fine, keep the challenge there for the real mountaineers.

We have mountains in our lives, figuratively speaking. If you’re honest with yourselves, how many mountains have you defeated? You might have made it to the top of the mountain of eliminating debt, seeing your marriage restored when you thought it was beyond repair, getting a degree or some type licensing that was difficult. You might also have mountains that you’re at the base of right now. You echo Pike, and say “There is no way I can make it to the top. The mountain has conquered me!”

Jesus once told his disciples that if they spoke to a mountain, they could tell it to be into the sea, and that it would be removed from where it is. God is all about you defeating your mountains! The fact is, if you’re at the base of your mountain and you’re not doing anything about it, if you’re not asking for the gift of faith and the gift of ACTION to defeat your mountains, to cast them into the sea, you have a clear mandate from God to do so. And as you go up your mountain, you’re building a highway for others to follow you on. Your experiences are a God gift to be used in helping others.

So get going! Stop being a pussy and climb that mountain

Monday, September 18, 2006

Connecting with Cousins

One thing I'm doing right with this move is taking the travel light. I'm hoping that unlike other moves, I won't feel like I should take a nine year nap when I reach Roosevelt. In the spirit of that, I called my cousin and her husband (I guess some would just say "my cousins") to see if they wanted to have dinner. Not only did they end up not letting me buy (rascals), but they put me up in their very nice home as well! I'll have to remember to grab a picture of their house in the morning. They've got a nice place - when you drive on the main road by their house, there is a breathtaking view of the Rockies!

We ate at Thai Basil. It was a great meal. I had a beef dish which was cooked, in regards to hot spice level, exactly where I ordered it. This is really a rare treat. The muchrooms in the meal were a bit... spongey. I think I like that though, but I'm not sure.

The best part though, was getting to connect with my cousins. Amy was much older than I growing up, so I never really got to know her. And I really had only spoken for maybe five minutes with her husband since they got married last year... so it was a great time! I got to find out about their lives out here. The cool thing is that it sounds like they are looking to find a church similar to the one I come from back home. I really would love to see them get plugged in. They're such a nice couple, it would be great to have them in a place where they could go to the next level in their spiritual lives and then continue to grow more like Christ, whatever that looks like for them!

I even showed them some of the videos River Valley has done - they said that it looked like a church they could plug into to, which was cool. We talked till past 10:30. I'm looking to get a 6:00 a.m. start from Littleton so that I can grab some good light for pictures on Pikes Peak... so I had better get to bed.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Overnight

I'm at the Ramada in Lincoln, and I'm struggling to sleep. I'm going to make sure I get a good run in the morning before I head further west.

Things couldn't have been timed better though. I want to have a sunrise at Pike's Peak as that is the best time to take pictures. I'm going to try to get the throw of the morning light on the mountain and see what I get. I should pull into Denver about 6:00 tomorrow night, I'll spend the night, get up early, get my pictures, and make it to Roosevelt on Tuesday.

While I'm in the car tomorrow I have to make sure I get my housing arrangements squared! They can't tell me I'm not coming when I'm half there!

Packed up, Leaving

Well, my car is packed. To the brim. Literally. I had to open the back windows to fit stuff in, and was worried they wouldn't close! I'm about to go on the adventure of a lifetime. Two years into my Pastoral Studies degree, I'm taking a break to head out west, stop being a slave to lenders. God is also giving me the awesome opportunity of preaching to students and connecting with their youth pastors/other staff in churches and conventions all across the west. It really is going to be a blast.

On the way, I'll be stopping by Pikes Peak. Hopefully at some of the higher altitudes I'll get to see some leaves changing. I grew up as a boy in Middle Tennessee, and since we've moved up north I've longed to see a full, lush forest changing. Sorry, 94 just before the 10 breakoff to St. Cloud doesn't count! Gatlinburg has been the closest I've come since we moved... but we went at Turkey Time! Too late!

For those of you that read this and support me as a friend, thank you. Please pray for safety as I travel through the mountains in my 211,000 mile car. It is reliable, but you never know what can happen! Please also pray that I would maintain the discipline I've had in my life this summer and grow in it, that I would continue to strengthen my body, and that I keep my eyes open to learn this year.

I was treated to a concert last night - one of my best friends bought me the ticket as a bday present. The band was tool. The guy ended the concert by saying "Peace the **** OUT!" Well, I don't hate the world like he does, but I have as much energy as he does right now. Peace out my friends! I no longer live in Farmington!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Police, Why Must You Destroy Wedding Day Goodness?

Yesterday, my friends Levi and Kelly got married. Go Levi and Kelly. These two have come a long ways in life and I'm very excited for the way that God will use them. Their ceremony was very nice, with just the immediate family attending, and was held at Centennial Lakes. After a great reception at River Valley Church, friends and family went over to the Hoyts and ate. Around 10:45, I went straight home. But alas, my early night was not to be. The Lakeville Police Department had other plans for me. After an awkward pause at a four way stop, a Lakeville Police Cruiser pulled behind my vehicle. They followed me for three miles and pulled me over just as I was pulling into my neighborhood. Mom, I did not get a ticket (I say this so she doesn't get all worried and read through too fast).

Within a few minutes, there were three police cruisers behind me. An officer cautiously approached me and asked if I knew why he pulled me over. "No officer, " I said. I wanted to ask him why he hadn't pulled me over sometime in the last three miles, or why he had scared me beyond what I should be scared by being five feet off my bumper for the majority of that time - but I didn't. He demanded my liscense and registration at this point, so I gave them to him, and he went to his car.

I sat on the side of 170th, just off Pilot Knob for 40 minutes before he came back."Sir, your liscence plates are registered for tab expiration in Februrary, but your tabs say March." At this point my mind is asking SO WHAT? Again, I hold my tongue. "Normally, this means that the vehicle is stolen. We have determined, however, that you most likely are the owner of this vehicle." Thank you. Is your name Captain Obvious, officer? He gives me my papers back and indicates that I'm free to leave, then pauses. "You will want to have the DMV fix your tabs. Other police might not let you off this easy - they might take you in while they determine vehicle ownership." I drove the remaining two blocks home, and I was angry.

I have to ask a few questions:
  1. What are the odds someone would steal a '97 Mazda 626 that has 210,000 miles on it?
  2. Would my liscense not tell him that I own a '97 Mazda 626? That it was black? That it had a plate number matching the one on my car? Would he not have access to a VIN number on file?
  3. Why have I gotten picked up more by the Lakeville Police Department than any other department despite having driven less than 3,000 miles in Lakeville, and well over 100,000 elsewhere in the last 8 years?
  4. Is there no legitimate crime for the Lakeville Police Department to fight, or must they spend 5 man hours (there were five cops in those three cruisers) investigating liscense plate tabs on a Saturday night in an area with lots of drinking and driving?
Pissed? I'm beyond pissed. I'm humiliated and pissed. Those are sucky things to be.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Misplacing Things is Scary

My entire life, I have lost things. My mom was phenomenol at finding whatever I lost growing up, but her investigations from Memphis are about as bad as a long distance eharmony relationship at accomplishing what they're supposed to. In other words, when I lose something, I either have to find it, which I suck at, or eat it.

I'd been proud of myself that I've only lost sock pairs over this past summer, but last night, I became convinced that I lost my 60gb Ipod Video. Man, was I scared. I called Applebee's, checked the church, ripped apart my laptop bag, checked my car (which I've been doing an excellent job keeping clean: eat that, ADD), ripped my house apart, and went into a rough sleep.

Waking up this morning, I checked my laptop bag one more time. I had ripped it apart and even had a friend look in it. Somehow though, we had both missed it. It was in a compartment that is normally just for papers. It's to thin for an Ipod in all reality... but I put it in there. Dumb. Folks with ADD often misplace things by putting them in a spot they have no business being in. For example, a month ago I fell into the ultimate ADD textbook scenario, and found my remote in the fridge. This is the example that psychologists and college psychology classes give out to folks to say "This is how retarded these people are." Yeah, I did it.

Ironically, there are a lot of people that don't have ADD but have their biggest posessions misplaced: Their time, their passions, and their finances. I'm blessed to feel that I'm moving into the will of God in a way that I haven't recently, but I know a lot of friends that aren't. That's fine. What bugs me is when they don't wrestle with things - they don't seem to ask questions, they don't seem to seek counsil, and they just flat out seem content to continue walking through life that way.

There are two verses that come into my mind: The ever mentioned "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death," (link) and "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed" (link)

There are a lot of people that are putting their life in the fridge, or into the flat compartment of their laptop bag. How many people do you know that are working a deadend job that they get no satisfaction from? How many people do you know that go home every night and sit in front of their tv instead of doing something to change the world? How many people do you know of that only wake up in the morning to do busywork the rest of the day? How many do you know that have no clue that there is a God purpose for their life, and that they can find that purpose for their life? How many do you know that have no clue that there is a Biblical way to order their finances that will leave them a lot less stressed out?

It's often true that the hardest things to find are those that are immediately in front of you. Ironically, that God purpose that so many have no clue about is within them, put there to grow by the creator. The counsel that so many don't seek but so desperately need is probably within a few blocks in the form of a church leader, or maybe a successful business man. And many just don't stop to look at the resources available to help them with financial planning despite probably having breezed by them in bookstores a hundred times.

So, these people are out there. What can we do to help them?
  • Live your God passion out before you start telling others to.
  • Set an example of asking for wisdom from others yourself.
  • Get your finances in order yourself (that's my next year's exclusive purpose).
  • Encourage those younger than you. Pride will often prevent people from accepting advice from someone that's younger than them.
  • Notice people, and let them know that what's important to them is important to you.
I sure am glad I found my ipod. Those times that I've found a part of who I am and what my life purpose is, I'm much gladder of.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Happy Birthday?

So, it was my birthday today. In fact, it was the first one to get celebrated in two or three years. That was meaningful, seriously. Having your birthday at the beginning of the college year and changing schools doesn't help people know about the day.

I had a transmission mount replaced today on my car. My wheels have 210,000 miles on them, but they're paid for and I keep them maintained. I'm so confident in my maintenance though, that I felt deeply disturbed when my mechanic showed me the old mount - it was snapped completely in half! My follow up thought was anger: I had my transmission replaced 60,000 miles ago. I thought the reason my old transmission case had devloped a crack was because of the wreck my car had been in (I got it at 140,000 and rebuilt the rear. Less than 2,300 in it, purchase and repair!), but now I'm inclined to think - and my mechanic agrees - that the mount cracked first, and the transmission followed suit later due to getting slammed around. That makes sense when I think about the way transmission handling for both transmissions has really paralled the other's. This means though, that the guy that replaced my transmission didn't replace the mount! Not only that, but the guy owes my family's business for three transmissions we sold him! He's a total crook... but his business in town went under. It's so hard to find good mechanics, I'm really fortunate to have a guy now whose word I would take at face value. The good guy's name is Cliff Barth, and he owns Motor Magic in Breckenridge, MN. I give him two thumbs up and a recommend any day. He's also mayor of the town :p

Sometimes I feel like people have similar trust levels for Pastors and Mechanics - a mentality that they will either help you or screw you over, but more screw you over. I hope that any ministries I'm associated with will see folks helped, with personal hurts kept to a minimum.

I'll put up a picture of that part in a few days :p

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

So, I Have This Dream

I met with my senior pastor yesterday to talk with him about my short term ministry plans, and my long term ministry dreams.

Short term is obviously the Utah thing - paying off debt, getting to square one so that I can do ministry unhindered. I feel like a majority of ministry majors could benefit from doing what I'm going to be doing. Debt is such a chain.

Long term, I shared with him my dream of planting a church in New England (around the Boston area) in 2013. I'll be thirty by that time and should have at least 5.5 years of full time ministry under my belt, as well as be ordained (the next step past liscensing) by the Assemblies of God. I'm blessed to be at a church that has leadership that sees the call of God in such things. Pastor Rob doesn't know me that well, honestly, but he heard where I came from and a little bit of my heart. And he encouraged me, he gave me advice that he put through his "Son" filter (he'll only give advice he would give to his own sons).

This wasn't a meeting of specifics, but rather a meeting of dreamcasting. I need men of God like Pastor Rob to support me as I approach this. Seven years is a long time, but without good wisdom it might as well be tomorrow.

I hope in the near future to share some details about what I see the church looking like, specifically related to
  • Initial target group of the church.
    • At what point intentionally expanding the target demographics would be possible and/or appropriate.
    • How the initial target group will naturally evolve into broader groups, i.e. young marrieds with no kids to families that give the Amish a run for their money number wise.
    • Building a community with broad demographics in which the mixture doesn't seem forced (this intimidates me!)
  • Initial leadership structure of the church.
    • The role of the Pastor
    • Understanding of Elders/Deacons
    • Primary ministry focuses and responsibilities
  • Initial financial planning of the church.
    • Fundraising options.
    • The reality of "tent making" as the church starts.
    • Building a culture of obedient, joyful giving.
  • The difficulty of Midwest "Modern" Fundamentalist Mindset vs. East Coast Post-Modern Mindset.
That's an oversimplified fractional part of the concepts and tasks that have to be mastered before the church could be planted. Ultimately, I want to point people to a saving faith in Jesus.

Off to the land of the Mormons to prepare - 2 weeks left. And my soul is weeping for the friends I'll leave behind.

Goofy Pastor Pictures

The church picnic was a blast the other day. We had over 600 people come and over 30 got baptised! I love times like this and think we should do them more often.

Just for a treat, I thought I would post 3 of the goofiest faces you've ever seen RVC Pastors make. OK, maybe more demented than goofy.

I also had the chance to take some more engagement pictures of Levi Hoyt and Kelly... well, I guess I don't know her current last name. She's in my phone as a Hoyt. Their wedding is coming up really soon, and I hope that it goes well! I know it will. Those two are gonna make a great married couple.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Peter Eigner

I just got a phone call today at the office asking for prayer for a very sick little boy. Peter Eigner has cancer, and he needs you to pray for him. So, no deep thoughts, just pray that God would heal him.

My Muffler is my Copilot

Someone once wrote a book, God is my Co-Pilot. I never read it, but the title stuck with me.

Then, the other day, my muffler fell off and I put it in my front seat. Now my muffler is my co-pilot until it gets put back on... and I think that's funny. I put a picture of it up for you. :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The People I'm Leaving

One of the difficult things about moving is the people I'm leaving behind. I'd like to talk about a few of them, and why it sucks to go!

Shawn: Shawn has been my housemate all summer, and we both work at RVC. This dude is gold. Reliable, temperate, self controlled and focuses, Shawn is going to do a phenomenol job pastoring one day. I'm excited for him as he steps into new roles at River Valley Church, and I'll miss him.

Pastor Alan: Pastor Alan is a blast, but more than that he has a heart for the church that goes beyond the four walls of any building. I'm really disapointed to leave him as the youth ministry really is just about to finally launch out into the vision that God has given Pastor Alan. The dude has a great family that I'll miss as well.

Pastor Troy: I was once told that I'm the only person that would ever put up with Pastor Troy making fun of me. While I don't know about that, I do know that I've really enjoyed getting to know Pastor Troy this summer. I've enjoyed the Vietnamese coffee. I haven't enjoyed the decades of proofing that go into each bulletin ;). Maybe he'll get married while I'm gone so I'll have an excuse to come back?

Jesse: Dude. We wandered around France together and we don't even speak that language! Ha. This is one of the most agressive people that I know, and while there have bene times I've wanted to throw him out of Zfrat 201 onto the sidewalk, I realize that the only reason he's able to bug me the way he does is because we're so dang close. I was supposed to have roomed with him this year, but now I'm not.

Richard: I was looking forward to getting to know my other roomate this year. However, I won't. Which sucks - he is easy to get pissed. It would have been fun.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Kitchen Floor

I'm sitting on a cluttered kitchen floor in downtown Minneapolis. It's the kitchen floor that I was upposed to have shared this year, but due to my move, won't be. Jesse and Richard got into town today, and I picked them up after they dropped off their rental at the airport. That was an interesting trip. I'm in another car because of it, as the muffler fell off of mine when I went over the lightrail tracks by the Mall of America. Hmmm. Way to go, public transportation. You took me out.

Back to the kitchen. The kitchen is a really sad reality for me. I won't be living here this year. The plans that Jesse and I made to live here and finish out school here are done. Gone. Or, at least on hold for a year for me. No rooming with Richard, the late blooming friend. No mornings where I roll out of bed five minutes before Music Theory and shower three minutes before chapel, making it just in time to get credit. No 3 a.m. nights sitting around with ten people in the room acting like we can actually learn something from books at that time of night.

No, I'm leaving my friends. I'm leaving a place I love. I'm leaving what God is doing here - and he is doing something here, preparing Pentecostal spirit filled believers - and I'm heading to a country tha has 14,000 people, the majority of whom are Godless or Mormon. I'm going where I know someone. Everything, EVERYTHING will be unfamiliar. I can't even take much stuff... pretty much just my laptop and clothes. And this is hard. It's harder than going to college. That was easy, because no one knew anyone and everyone was desperate for good company. I'm going in new. I grew up in a small town, and man, small towns are hard to move into. Everyone has their set ways in small towns... which is part of the reason they're small.

If I didn't have one motivating, driving reason to move to Utah, I wouldn't. Man, this year is gonna be hard. But it's gonna be rewarding in the end.

Happy Birthday Mom

It's my mom's birthday today. She just turned 29. Actually she's technically older than that, but you wouldn't know it. Happy birthday mom!

Monday, August 21, 2006


I've been thinking a lot lately about intensity. It's a concept that I'm not sure I have an even keeled grasp on. Take for example sports. I'm not intensly focused on playing a lot of sports, but the times that I do play, I get intense. I hate losing, and I love winning. Sports make me intense. Ministry is another good example. Shawn and I pulled two all nighters working on a calendar and I pretty much up and died today at 4:30 p.m. because of it. Going to bed at 5 a.m. two days in a row and hopping up at 7:30 and 7:50 respectively is pretty intense. And it had an intense effect on me. All through the day, I was groggy and I really don't feel like I was me.

Let me give you an example: When noon rolled around, I kept answering the phone "Good morning." One person called three times in short proximity and noted that to me. It wasn't like I didn't know what I saw saying. For whatever reason, I just couldn't control myself until I really took a minute to focus and reprogram my brain. It was difficult to do that, because I was trying to address my mind and be conscious in dealing with a problem that didn't have its roots in a conscious process. Rather, it had its roots in my lack of sleep and lack of consciousness. It took more effort for me to do things with extra focus than it would have if I had simply gotten enough sleep.

As Christians, we find ourselves dealing with similar issues all the time. We want to show Christ, we want to be regenerated in His image, and we want to live like we're born again, but so often there is a disconnect somwhere in our lives. Some people say that disconnect happens when we don't read our Bibles. Yeah, I would agree. Some people say that disconnect happens when we don't pray. Yeah, I would agree. There is another step to make the analogy complete though.

Just like our spiritual life, sleep has multiple stages. There is the waking stage, in which we're sort of tense, and we lay around while sleep comes. This could really be comparable to the time in a person's spiritual life in which they're not sure exactly how to connect with God in prayer. Stage 1, or drowsiness, the next stage, is a state that people can go into and come out of without even realizing it. I'm reminded of fidgety students in a prayer circle that kind of zone in and out of prayer, and don't stick things out - when they leave, they sometimes say "nothing happened!" Well, you're right young fidgety one. Grasshopper say wait. Stage two is like stage one... except your muscles intermittantly go into periods of deep relaxation. A spiritual comparison would put stage two as the point you begin to "feel" the presence of God come over you, but you're not "bathed" in it.

Stages 3 and 4 see a person get into a deep sleep that is noted for it's continious rhythm. This is kind of neat - I see this as that place where we fall into a position where we can hear from God. We are relaxed, our minds are open, no distractions. Just a spiritual rhythm, a place of focus, and open field for God to communicate to us. But even at this point, we're not truly at the height of sleep. And it's the next stage, REM, that I want to look at in an upcoming blog. :)

Right now though, I'm gonna hit the hay with as much intensity as I can muster!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Redbull Consumption

Redbull consumption is at unsafe levels. I think I have to switch to water. A contest has emerged between Shawn and I as to who can play the most annoying music. I thought I had one with "Ridin'" by Chamilion, but he came back with a song called "Chain Hang Low."

My only alternative is to strike back with "Beautiful," by Christina Aguelera.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

How many Redbulls and Tickets does it take to make a Youth Calendar?

You know, we make some nice stuff at River Valley Church. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Especially if you're doing it for the Lord (and we had better have the mentality that everything we're doing is for the Lord). So, at the beginning of the summer, Shawn Roehl and I made the first professional print quality calendar the youth ministry has ever used, and had it professionally printed. It was a big hit (even though some students STILL didn't get it home to their parents and some parents STILL didn't understand how much we WANT them to know what's going on!), so now we're doing it again.

I'm somewhat nervous though. You see, it's not really coming along on time. In fact, I'm taking a break to write this. Also, last time I worked on the calendar, I left the Church at 3:00 a.m., got a ticket, and was called a liar by the Apple Valley City attorney when I went to court for my ticket and told her what I was doing ("Working on something for Church 'til 3:00 a.m.? That smacks of dishonesty!" she exclaimed when I told her). Needless to say, I've gotten more tickets this summer than I have the rest of my 6 years of driving... even though I drive far, far less than I ever have before. The cops here do their jobs, I guess. At least they do something.

But, with the grind hitting me now, my questions are: How many redbulls will it take to keep me awake, and how many times will I get pulled over on the way back to my house?

I hope I'm 2/0 when the night is over. Somehow, I doubt the redbull figure will be accurate.

World Trade Center

I've been privelaged to listen to Craig Armstrong's World Trade Center soundtrack for the last half hour or so. Needless to say, I'm very moved by it.

I've not seen the movie World Trade Center. I don't plan on seeing the movie, either. At least not for a while.

3 days from now, it sounds like we were to have Sept. 11, part II as a nice 5th anniversary present from Islamofascists based in England. Until yesterday, I hadn't really sat down and pondered that much. What is going on in the world today?

The simple fact is, we are living on the brink of a war the likes of which the world has never seen. If we don't play our cards right, we may have World War V on our hands (I consider the French and Indian War to be the first world war, and the Cold War to be WWIV).

Look at the situation in Lebanon: A war staged by Syria and Iran to unite the Arab World, provoke Israel, and prove western impotence, all while drawing focus off of the Iranian nuclear program. Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, is a populist leader in a country facing inflation that is literally just about to top 100%, with 20% unemployment, in a nation that controlls the Madir militia in Iraq and Hizbollah in Lebanon. Despite problems at home, he is bankrolling $12,000 to anyone in Lebanon who had their home destroyed during the recent war.

But it all comes back to nukes. The US and France are the boldest opponants of Iran right now. France recently surprised the world by not deploying 1,700 troops in boats off the coast of Lebanon into the nation as a part of UNIFIL. I'm not surprised. I think France is looking at this situation and seeing that it has to retain military options for Iran. Many senior US leaders have also begun to quietly push for greater US troop deployment to Iraq as well. John McCain is among them.

We are very close to a war with Iran. However, we won't go to war directly with that nation. There will be something elsewhere, a miscalculation by either us or them, that will start things going. And then God help us all. This war will, simply put, not end with military casualties. The entire world economy will be restructured and we will see a power shift similar to the one at the end of the 1940's.

As Christians, we need to pray that God would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Flat out. I don't want a war with Iran, and I don't think that God ever wants war. Any more than he wants sickness or poverty. If Iran gets nukes though, there may well be war.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

This Spray... Isn't What I Thought It Was!

Laptop makers have, for reasons known only to God and John Ashcroft, chosen to put stickers on laptops right where a users Palms are. In other words, they've chosen to put stickers where they will slowly wear away and go into ghetto janky mode.

God just blessed me (through my dad) with a slightly used laptop. At five months old, it is in great condition. Save for a janky Windows XP sticker. I wanted it off. So I took it off, and went to get what every real man uses after they take a janky sticker off of their laptop: adhesive remover. I went at it with precision and caution, spraying adhesive remover on piece of paper which I then wiped onto the area. "Man!" I thought as I wiped, "This stuff really spreads out as you wipe it!" I sprayed more on, and more, and more, and more, and more. Then I began to second guess myself. You see, the adhesive remover in the office had actually been in a black bottle, and this was a brown bottle. Come to think of it, we had some adhesive in the office that was in a brown bottle. Some really, really nice 3m 77 adhesive.

That's right, I wasn't spraying adhesive remover onto my new laptop, but adhesive. Retardo alert my friends - all hands to battle stations! Darci in the daycare helped me out with some goo gone, and no damage was done, but I've never been laughed at so heartily.

I can't help but think that for all my good intentions here, I was doing the wrong thing. I wanted to make a clean slate from something that was worn out and old. But I was just making things worse.

The Bible says in Proverbs 14.12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but in the end it leads to death.

I don't know how many folks I've worked with in ministry whether it was in Nashville or Oklahoma City or Rockford that have come to me distraught because they found themselves doing what they thought was right - 100% - only to have everything crash and burn. My least favorite thing has been 45 year old women wanting to know why their marriage sucks. Go ask a married person, 45 year old woman. I can't really say that though.

If you're crashing and burning right now, I only have two pieces of advice for you. The first is to pray. God gives wisdom to those who man up and ask Him! God loves to see people deal with issues instead of running from them, and if you're in a bind let God be your anti-bind (and all the people that graduated between 01 and 03 yell "God is my anti-drug!"). He wants to talk to you and guide you.

The second piece of advice is to seek counsel. The Bible talks a lot about this as well, encouraging us to get advice from others we know to be wise. The sad thing is, polling has shown Americans not only feel more disconnected than they did 20 years ago, but that they feel they have fewer sources of good friendship and counsel than they did 20 years ago as well. Again, I say man up. If you want a friend, be a friend, if you want a mentor, mentor someone who isn't as far along as you, if you want counsel... there is always someone more jacked up than you!

Whatever you do, don't keep spraying stuff that doesn't work on your problems. Einstein did say, after all, that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect different results!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Good Things Happening at RVC

There are good things happening at RVC. I have two that I want to share. I think you'll find them amusing.

The first is related to school supplies. As a church, we are sponsoring three schools. We actually want to do more, but they won't let us. A few years ago, we sponsored ten schools and district 196 had problems with other groups complaining they didn't have anywhere to give. Or something like that. Lame!

So, we're "only" sponsoring three. Well, our people are very generous in their giving. So generous, in fact, that I officially have a headache after counting last night. I'm about half way through the stuff, and we have way to many of basic things like... crayons. Rulers. Notebooks. It's a good problem.

The other thing I want to share with you, I just realized I can't yet. It could take away the impact of this weekend's sermon illustration. And I just can't do that to you - your eternal soul might hang in the balance.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Subscribe to my blog

Hey, for those of you who don't know, you can actually subscribe to my blog. If you have an rss reader, you can add this to it: If you use firefox, (and I hope you do - take back the web ;)), you will want to go to Bookmarks, Manage Bookmarks, File, New Live Bookmark, and put in as the feed location.

This creates a new folder, but it is constantly updated. Any time I post a new blog, it will show. CNN, BBC, Fox, tons of sites use this. If you get into it, you can save a lot of time browsing the web.

Plans Continue for the Move

It has been a very full... week. In fact, at this Tuesday venture, I feel like I've done more in a week than a man should do in a week. It's not that the things I've done are abnormally difficult. The impact of these things though, is huge in my life. What things have I done, you ask? Well thank you, I'll tell you:
  1. I withdrew from North Central University, the place I love most in this world.
  2. I began the process of enrolling in the Carlson Distance Education shindig (re enrolling in North Central under a different name, essentially).
  3. I set an end date for my full time status at River Valley Church. This is almost as heartbreaking as withdrawing from NCU.
  4. I finished talking with my best friend about the fact that I can't room with him (and I feel really, really bad about that).
  5. I spoke further with a real estate agent in Roosevelt to see about the housing and rental situation there.
  6. I began looking into storage units in Apple Valley (and if you read this, and say "Hey Matt, God is calling me to bless a bible college student with free storage space, let me know. I somehow doubt anyone is feeling that call though).
  7. I began going through things to see what I can ditch, what will go with me, and what should stay.
  8. I contacted the Duchesne Chamber of Commerce. That's right, the area I'm going to is so boony, it has to combine into a county wide effort to get a chamber of commerce!
  9. I set up an appointment with my family mechanic to make sure that my car gets fine tuned before I head out. I think I need new drive axles.
So, things are moving fast!

I've also begun corresponding with some pastors in Utah that Pastor Rob and Anthony know. Good guys, RVC supports them as missionaries to Mormons.

Man, what a busy day!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Plans Released

I've told my two roomates, so now I can tell everyone else. I'm moving to Utah September 12. I have an inordinate amount of debt... and it isn't honoring to God at all. I'm going to work as a roughneck and take care of that.

I'll be working for UTI-Patterson. My schedule will see me working 12 hour shifts for a week, then taking off a week. The pay is phenomenol due to many factors. For one thing, it's oil. Look at the pump and see that there is lots to be made in that area. For another, Utah has 2% unemployment at this time. Finally, the town that I'll be based out of just can't supply enough drug free people to work in this critical industry.

This will be the hardest physical work I've ever done in my life, and I'm not super pumped about this. I'm very sober. If I didn't absolutely have to do this, there is no way I would! I know though that right now Matthew Nowlin is about to get on the potter's wheel. And dang it, it will suck on that wheel until I begin to get into the shape and proportions I'm supposed to be. If you look at my life, it is the irregularities that make things difficult.

I have a lot of areas that I feel blessed and confident in. My spiritual life is doing well. I've been very disciplined this summer. I've lost close to 20 pounds and gotten into much better shape (and plan on continuing down this path). I've developed some wonderful friendships lately, been serving God through my ministry hardcore. However, my finances stick out like an abnormal lump on this pot, and I know that simply isn't right. The fact is, I just can't pay my bills, live downtown, and be a full time student at the same time.

The Bible says some interesting things about debt.
Paul says in Romans 12.8
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Proverbs 22.7 takes it farther, by saying:
The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is servant to the lender.

The Bible teaches that we are to be slaves to no one but Christ. How can I, with the call of God on my life to be a pastor, stay in a state where I can hardly pay my bills? The answer is that I can't. I'm young, and can work. I have an opportunity. I can do correspondance classes and online courses on my weeks off. Simply put, this boy is getting free and continuing on in his calling.

And he appreciates your moral and prayer support.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Back in the Game

Some of my readers have asked, "Matt, what's the deal? You haven't blogged forever!"

Well, my faithful laptop of four years recently died. I just picked up a used laptop that the Lord provided in a great situation, so I'm back (hopefully with a vengeance).

My life is going to be drastically changing. I'll post more on this later, but please, keep me in your prayers. I've had to make a radical decision, a decision that will bring me more in line with the will of God. It is primarily related to my finances, which most definately are the most out of order part of my life. I've really been convicted that it isn't enough to meet your financial obligations, but that God has called us to do everything unto him. I have a goal, to be debt free in six months and to have significant savings and investments beyond that. When I am in ministry and married one day, I don't think God wants me to struggle simply because I didn't get my finances in order when I had the chance.

So, I'm going to be doing that. I will post more details later, but although I am feeling the peace of God about my plans, there are very important people in my life that will buck against these plans and probably against me. I'm very frightened that one person in particular will not only not support me, but choose to end our friendship. I don't want that to happen.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I really hurt myself working out on Thursday night. I decided to vary a bit from my normal leg workout, and thrown in some hip adductions. Well, let's just say that was an ok idea, but that I took it too far.

In case you're wondering, hip adductions are an excercise you perform while seated. Placing pads on the inside of your knees, you squeeze your knees together and let them come apart slowly. I did four sets of 20 of these, ending with 250 lbs on my last set. I then went to run, because hey, it was just a "woman's excercise" (in fact, I've been told that since then. Trainers that I know have said things like "I've never seen a man on those machines...)

Well, the next day, it hurt... but I was on an "OH yeah! I feel the burn!" type kick. Prophet Martin told me (Martin from the office :)) that it would be worse on the second day. He was right. I woke up Saturday, tried to get out of bed, and realize that my legs didn't do what I told them to! It took me about ten minutes to coax them out of bed. Saturday was hell. I thought I would never walk again. I hobbled about like an old man!

Today, I woke up and it was all fine. It still hurt, but it's more of a "whoo! I feel the burn." In fact, I feel so good I'm gonna go run a few miles with Pastor Alan this afternoon. Then, I'll go to the gym and do more abductions.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Altar

I had the opportunity to preach to the youth on the 26th. I normally hate preaching at the church I'm based out of, but I love kids so I went at it with the intent I would anywhere else: To deliver a message I knew was from God, specifically for them.

The message was about the Altar. Man, what a broad topic! There are literally hundreds of angles you could come at this from, but the angle I wanted was simple: We as Christians have the amazing chance to put ourselves on the altar, which is a place that exists out of time and space in our hearts, and allow God to transform us, heal us, and get rid of crap that has attached itself to us. The altar is a message of transformation, of forgiveness, of grace. Basically, the altar encompasses the whole of the Christian faith, but specifically the connection with God that forges genuine inner renewal.

But as complex as what I just wrote might sound (due to bad writing!), the altar is more about desire than anything. I want to see our entire church, adults and youth, with a desire for God. And I want to see that desire come out in services. I want our physical altars to be flooded with people seeking a God moment. I want the front of our church to be flooded with believers seeking a deeper walk with Christ. I want to see sinners at the altar crying out to God to save and chance them. I guess what I want to see, really, is raw, pure, motivated interaction with God. The altar is the place where bad theology goes away. It's the place where intentions are washed. It's a place that you can't teach.

Which is why we struggle. You can't teach the altar directly. You can show through example. But when you talk about it, when you've bathed in God's presence on the altar... talking about it seems like a fairy tale - and we're not good at writing those anymore.

God, show yourself to our students on the altar! Draw them to the ultimate altar - the cross!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

OK. So, I've Been Working Out

I've been working out lately. Like, pretty much every day. Dang girl, I feel better. I mean really better. When I missed my normal day (Wednesday) last week... I was grouchy by the time Thursday night came around. I mean really, really grouchy. I felt like crap too, but after the gym it was like life was brand new again.

I've been hitting it once a day, twice some days. My goal is to do cardio every morning and lifting at night. If only it was as easy as the spiritual life ;)

This has no spiritual connection at all, by the way. I'm just happy to be working out. If you see me, ask me how it's going. It will motivate me :)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Non-Profit Mailers: One Upping God

So, I just found out that my church doesn't yet have non-profit mailer status. This is simply because when we first started, a lot of what we were doing didn't fall into traditional non-profit mailing categories. I did some checking, and it looks like we could now get a significant portion of our mail umbrellad under the non-profit status. My mind started to think, "How much could we have saved?" After all, we are stewards of God's money, representatives of the kingdom, and dang it, we always talk about what we could do in the future if we had more money. The church (in general) has really gotten good at figuring out how much it costs to reach people.

So we then compound the start up status with complicated postal regulations. For many things, it is more expensive to mail using non-profit status than normal status, because you have to affix a label to items.... BY HAND! Labels are expensive!

The fact is, meeting government regulations is hard most of the time. We as people are pretty good at creating over complicated rules that impede progress and limit each other's freedoms. Think about the last time you thought a law was stupid. That attests to the fact that we as humans don't always do a good job coming up with "right" things to do."

Ironically, in all of this searching throgh regulations, I'm coming to a place of remembrance of what God did for me in my life a few years ago when I was pretty much a guilt-racked Christian limiting what I could do in life. After backsliding and going through major personal problems stemming from me running away from my call to ministry, I decided that I needed to pursue a secular degree in computer science rather than go after my ministry degree as I felt called to by God. My logic was that I needed to prove to God that I could follow Him even if I wasn't in ministry. For this fish, that was tantamount to a proclamation that I could swim even if I wasn't in water!

You see, it was easier for me to feel like I was paying a penance and to plan to deal with personal issues long term than it was for me to accept Jesus' penance and deal with issues now. At the time, a part of me thought that by not going into ministry, I was sacrificially obeying God. God though, isn't interested in sacrifice - unless that sacrifice is laced with justice. God isn't interested in sacrifice - unless that sacrifice is pure and 100% whole. Just like no man can pay for the sins weighing on his soul - because his sins make him unworthy - no man can pay for the guilt he bears with his own actions. Seinfeld had an interesting label for folks that always have to do things themselves, or can never stand to admit that someone else is better than them (and as a result always try to come back and be the number 1 at something): a one upper.

That's what I was trying to do: One up God. I wasn't really trying to pay for anything. I knew I couldn't! I wasn't trying to show a pattern of obedience. I rationalized my calling away! I was trying to one-up God instead of letting God one-up me (ooh, an old school nintendo reference. If you don't get it, 1 up means you get an extra life in game).

What ways are you trying to one up God? Do you avoid the now and dream of the future - wasting time? Do you feel there is something that you have to do before you're worthy of God's love, of His plan for you?

I'm here to tell you that one upping God just leads to misery. It leads to being out of the environment God created you to be in - because where every other creature besides man lives in a 3d environment, man lives in the 4d environment of the now. We have to be in more than the right place, we have to be in the right time. And despite our one-upper nature, only God can bring all the d's together to form the environment of his will.

So, if you're a one-upper... ah... well, there is a song for this. No there's not. There's a line:
'Stop, collaborate and listen." Except it would be better without the collaborate. Stop, and listen. God is telling you exactly where to go. Don't pay too much postage to get there.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Today I Ordere the 963 Pages of documents Seized from Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris

There has been a lot of buzz about the release of documents seized from Dylan Klebold and Erric Harris. It's understandable. Since the announcement that these documents would be available was made on July 5, 2006, I would imagine the families of the victims and the parents of the killers (themselves victims, but of a different nature) have undergone a hellish reenactment of the tragedy. They probably went through a similar nightmare during the fight to prevent the release of Klebold's autopsy.

I'm in youth ministry, so I overcame the bad feeling I had and ordered the documents from the Jefferson County Sherriff's Office. I'm not excited to read these documents, but I feel that it will help me better understand kids. Even though I am part of the columbine generation, I don't think like I did at that age. What things disturb me, push me to the edge, enrage me? I hope to get a grip on some of these issues and... help kids.

One thing that disturbs me is that anyone can order copies of the autopsies of the two killers. Come on. Unless you're a toxicologist looking for information that will help you analyze brain chemical levels (for chemical imbalances) or a balistics expert out to prove a conspiracy theory, what possible use could you have for this? None. It's sick.

I feel sick just ordering what are essentially diaries. But at least I have a reason.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Some Pictures from Last Night

I don't know what the dealio is... I can't post last nights pictures in the last blog.

A Taste of Minnesota... and Speeding Tickets

So yesterday I went up to hang out at A Taste of Minnesota with five other friends. It was fun. Of special note:

  • The gang fight we saw was sub par. Out of the approximately 50 members (the two gangs combined) only two were fighting. Taste: Poor in my mouth.
  • The food was excellent.
  • No, Mr. Ticket Man, I do not want to purchase the right to drink alcohol.
  • The fireworks were sub par.
  • I hate Hoff Jewelers. More on this below.

So after walking around for a while, we ate some Gyros and ice cream. On the way to the parking ramp we were to watch the Fireworks at (the riverside area was all full and we didn't have chairs), I bought all four girls a rose. Aren't I a sweet heart?

In regards to the actual fire works show, it was excellent. I love pyrotechnics, whether it is beautiful fireworks or just blowing junk up. The thing that almost ruined the night though, were two advertising planes. They had moving, illuminated billboards on their bellies, and were actually fun to watch during the day. I thought that when the fireworks show started, they would boogey on out. They didn't.

If you've ever seen footage of our bombers flying over Baghdad during the first Gulf War, you'll know what this looked like. The planes flew right through the middle of the fire works, which was very tacky. Way to go, Hoff Jewelers. You guys almost left a bad taste in my mouth at taste of Minnesota, and you also have bad reviews on

The fireworks were beautiful, and loud. Take that, England.

After celebrating America, God's hand of justice on earth today, and the best nation ever, I got six hours of sleep and woke up at six to "pay the man" for some speeding tickets. I hate the man right now. Don't give the man (devil) room in your life to demand payment. I'm sorry at how lame that was. Often times spiritual connections in blogs about daily life are retarded. Look at this as an example of that.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ghosts in the Church

River Valley sees a lot of use in it facilities. Probably 4 to 5 times as much use as the average church with its numbers, probably 10x the average church with its square footage (I'm proud of that, I feel it is good stewardship). Because of this heavy useage, our business pastor is a big believer in getting the carpets cleaned. Clean carpets last longer, after all.

Well, Shawn and I were elected to clear everything out of the areas getting cleaned, which were all the childrens areas, the lobby, and the main auditorium, and then come back at midnight to close up. We're going to put everything back in place tomorrow.

While locking up, we opened the back door and saw a car that looked way out of place. It made us a little nervous as the previous night there had been an alarm that no one can figure out, so we searched the building and finding nothing, armed the alarm and left. But we both still felt uneasy (I mean, I could swear I had seen "moving shadows" in the dark). So, we did what any young man would do. We grabbed pipes and went looking in pigchamp, pos, and we're waiting to hit up Suite 1000.

How do I have time to type a blog in the middle of a security sweep, you ask? Well, Shawn saw a chair in Alan's office that he was supposed to put together, so he's putting it together while I type. As soon as that chair gets put together, Mr. Burgler is going down old school.

What would I do if I saw a burgler? I imagine the Viking in me would come out. I would instantly sprout red chest hair and blonde pony tails and grow a helmet without horns. Horns, you see, are a Wagnerian worship of Norse Culture. If you picture horns on Vikings, the Nazis with their paganist historical revisions have won. And no one wants to be the person that makes that happen. After the hair reconfigurations I imagine I would take a swig of mead and sprout a battle axe in my hand, at which point I would go Norse on the burgler and then offer him some lutefisk or lefsa, before calling the cops.

Oh well, the chair is together, time to go hunt some ghosts.

Monday, July 03, 2006

North Korea - Children of the Secret State

This is a documentary about the children of North Korea. Invisible Children fanatics, get a load of this. Pretty much the only thing we can do for these children is pray... and that is tough for most people. We want hands on. Well, my sister has had hands on in Uganda. She has snuck across the border from Kenya three years in a row now. She wouldn't even get to the border in the Koreas. Pray that God would deliver these children and have mercy on North Korea, freeing it from communist oppression!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Parents See The Work

Something a lot of people don't know about me is that I've been on staff at three churces other than River Valley. I did a youth ministry internship at Cornerstone Church, Madison, TN (Nashville) fall/summer 2002, a youth ministry internship at Rock Assembly of God in Oklahoma City, OK in summer 2003, and interim youth pastored at Rock Church in Rockford, IL last summer. Since I've turned 18, I've done youth ministry in Tennessee, North Dakota, Illinois, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. It's been rare though, that my parents have gotten to see my area of ministry. My dad saw Oklahoma, with both of my parents seeing Illinois. All of those other areas have been speaking, music ministry, or camp fly-throughs (I've helped friends out by speaking morning sessions at camps while they do the evening services. Small camps, nothing major. yet)

Today, my parents got to come to my church, which is the first church I've been on staff at that I would actually attend. Yes, you heard it, I wouldn't have attended any of the other churches I've been on staff at!

It was encouraging to see my parents step into the body I'm a part of and feel welcomed. They commented - just like everyone else does - about how impressed they were with the amount of fellowship and friendliness. They commented on the excellence of the music ministry, the way we present that aspects of God's creativity through the building and stage sets, and how the message was relevent to them. In other words, they liked River Valley.

And I do too.

Friday, June 30, 2006

"Superman." Superdumb.

Wednesday night I went out to see the movie "Superman" with some students and a few other youth leaders. What a way to take a great movie concept and make it terrible. Here is what I liked, and what I hated:

  1. Clark and Jimmy. The actors did a good job portraying them.
  2. The old guy at the top. Yup, that old guy sure did a good job. I'm being intentionally vague.
  3. Lois's fiance. Except for the fact that he's living with someone he's not married to, seems like a guy that has his act together and will fly a seaplane into an emerging continent to save the woman he loves.

  1. Lois living with a dude she's not married to.
  2. Superman effectively raping Lois by erasing her memory after they "did it," and then wanting to hang around his son in the bedroom. Superman is not supposed to be a pedophile. Or a pedo anything - he flies. No walking or perversion allowed.
  3. 80's effects. Come on, even Episode II was better than the 80's.
  4. Superman being a Superdeadbeat dad. Come on. The man of steel shouldn't need to "grow some." Joseph Stalin, the original man of steel, wasn't even a deadbeat dad.
  5. The really, really bad job they did of showing the urgency of stopping that whole destroying the world thingy-majigger.

    What they could have done better:
  • Had someone else make the stupid movie. God will punish them for making a movie with so many references to Christ that retarded.

"Why Don't People Understand My Specific Passions?" you ask. I answer.

There's something about breakfast, church, and "fellowship" (fellowship is like Jello - there's always more room for it.). I had my first regular morning breakfasts with one of my Pastors while I was still in high school. His name was Dave Spooner, and he was a great guy that I still touch base with from time to time. I guess I inherited the concept that breakfast is a good thing to minister and hang out during - and to plan over - from him.

This morning I had breakfast with a student that is going to Bible College in the fall. I can completely track with the thoughts that he's having right now, and I'm excited for him. I'm in Bible College right now (err... North Central University, formerly North Central Bible College). It was great to hear this student's passion for holiness, passion for Christ to be proclaimed, taught, and focused on in the church, and passion for the Holy Spirit. It was also a very recent memory in my life to hear frustration in his voice that represented unspoken words - "why the crap don't people have the same passions I do?!"

Our calling and our passion are very dear to us all, Christian and non-Christian. We all call them different things. Some will use the terminology of dream job, others will use passion, focus, vision - the list goes on. But you'll find very few people in life whose passions will closely mirror yours. A passion to pursue and focus on a different part of the goodness of God is essentially why we have different denominations; very few orthodox groups hold what I would deem terrible theology. Most represent an honest attempt to communicate a systematic understanding of Scripture and the nature of God. Mine is just better than... everyone else's.

This student has decided that the Nazarene Church holds beliefs that are closest to his. I can live with that - they have a remarkable emphasis on holiness and come from the same branch of the Fundamentalist tree that emerged in the 1880's as the Assemblies of God, the zany pentecostals I swing with.

The distinctive theology of the Nazarenes is their belief in Sanctification (I think it is #14 and #15 on the previous link I put up. In my opinion their focus is noteworthy, but their belief in instantaneous sanctification is based on the false premise that sin can't inhabit a being inhabited by God. Sickness and decay of the body - the ultimate manifestations of the fall of man and prevenient sin - prove that one can indeed have an indwelling of the Holy Spirit and... hmmm... I struggle to word this, a manifestation of evil (God still wins in the end, we're still saved, not dissing sick people as I myself get sick!). I don't believe sanctification is instant. I believe that it is a process, a dedication that must be constant. So I admire their emphasis but I think they're a bit off. Wouldn't stop me from going to a Nazarene Church though - that would be their architecture that stops me from going. Jesus is probably mad at them for painting his home town, Nazareth, as that "blah."

Getting back to my original thoughts, it's so interesting that we do all have different passions. It makes sense though, especially from the body perspective of Paul. We all need blood - every organ uses it. But only marrow makes blood. You could say it is marrow's passion. Only the heart pumps blood. Only the brain thinks. Only the nerves reflex. Only the eyes see. Yet every other system needs blood, the entire body reacts to sensory input, and the entire body is regulated and responds to the brain.

The next time you find yourself frustrated that everyone else doesn't have the same passion you do, remember that God doesn't want his body to be a Siamese twin with two heads, two hearts, an extra lung, etc. Thank Him that he's given you your passions - your place in the body - and then get out there and do something with it.

It's not that other people don't get you, it's that we're retarded and don't get them.

Oh, as I close, the image of us inserting our passions into others came through to me in a little picture just now like Dr. Moreau on his island genetically splicing people together, creating freaks. Yup, God is better than we are at deciding what gifts others have.

So, what do we as the church need to do better in expressing, nurturing, and "creating" passion?
  • Actively assess the gifts of others. This is practical! I get sick of people asking me if I know someone who is good at "x" or "y". We're all around people, some of us are just more observant. Take a handle on things and keep a lookout yourself. And of course, ask others :).
  • Show an appreciation of God's gifts. The legitimate ones (there are some dumb things people try to pass off as gifts) only. Make fun of all others. Let people know how valuable what they do is to other people and to God.
  • Encourage other people as they find their gifts.
  • Encourage people to ask for gifts, you know, like the Bible says. This more specifically relates to spiritual gifts.
  • Realize that you might sharpen gifts in others, but you will never create a gift. What we need to do better is not try to be creators of people. Don't try to be Dr. Moreau. Navy Seals will kill you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fire Pit Party

In about 10 minutes, MSMco. will be having a fire pit party. I'm really in a contemplative mode. As I was stuffing envelopes this afternoon, I listened to Dino Rizzo teach on Heaven and Hell as part of his Life University series. I'm blown away by the lack of understanding we see in this country on heaven and hell. I'm especially blown away by the lack of understanding in the church on heaven and hell. We really don't talk about it a lot.

And man, does the confusion about it show in students!

We've lost our sense of the absolute goodness of God, of his absolute sovereignty and of the absolute justness of his nature. There is a rebellion in this age that is perhaps unique in the history of America. Where past generations have denied the existance of God, this generation denies the legitimate superiority of God over His creation. We deny that God has the moral high ground to judge us. The funny thing is, I think that mindset started when we started teaching that Jesus taught not to judge. I don't read him as saying that anywhere. I do read him telling us to be ready to take what we dish out, to be situation appropriate, and to be tender, loving, and merciful when we point out sin.

Our treatment of God reminds me a lot of the castle scenes from Super Mario 3. In this game, a magical princess gives Mario a gem that causes ghosts to freeze when Mario faces them. The comparison sees us as the Ghosts, the devil as Mario, and bad exegesis of the Words of Jesus as the gem.

Let me tell you, we have to get out of this old 8 bit spiritual world (to take another gaming analogy) from the 80's and get into the true spiritual world. We don't have to freeze when we're confronted with sin, we don't have to freeze when the truth pops up and it won't be pleasant to share it with somone. What we have to do is help show our congregations how to be situation sensitive. There is no video game in the world that will allow the same type of attack to work against different characters. Every attack has to be customized. The same thing is true in so many situations - target packages in a military environment require a unique flight plan or unique munitions delivery system, hunters will use different methods for different kinds of prey, salesmen use different techniques for folks with different purchasing triggers.

So as I've been listening to Dean teach on Heaven and Hell this afternoon, I'm struck by how foolish we've been just to teach the Love side of God and drop the brimstone side of God. We've become the antithesis of our parents', grandparents', and greatgrandparents' generation. To a lot of them who sat under bad teaching, God was wrath. To our Generation, God is mush. Not love, mush. Mushy, misunderstood, feel good no consequence tickle me elmo mush. We've got to do a better job communicating his essence.

Some areas we need to improve on are:
  • The nature of God's love. This involves the passion of his love, the purpose of his love, the objects of his love, the endurance of his love, and the blocking of his love.
  • The nature of God's wrath.and what other concepts equate with it - justice, vengeance, righteousness, holiness, sanctification.
  • God's redemptive plan. Man, we are flaky. God is not a magician. I've seen enough of a lack of regeneration in the church today to figure out that "hocus pocus" sinners prayers are about as legitimate as a paypal account that has lost its connection to its owners bank account.

So, as I sit at this fire pit party tonight, I'm gonna have some fun with my students. And I'm gonna try to figure out what in the world to tell them about Hell. And how to do it.

A little help, Lord?