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: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ALittleBitOTruth. 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 http://feeds.feedburner.com/ALittleBitOTruth 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.