Well, I am on vacation and have been since last week. Besides dealing with the rain, everything has been good thus far. It has been a while since I really had any substantial time off where I could do nothing and get away with it. My wife and I were able to go for a long walk on Monday morning and not have to worry about running to the next thing on our schedule. I just got back from taking my son to lunch, just he and I, no one else and again no time pressure to go do something or be somewhere. We walked about 1.3 miles to and from the restaurant, again no schedule or time pressure to deal with. As I am writing this, I am sitting with my five month old daughter and we are enjoying the nice Florida weather. It is 70 degrees and I am sitting outside in shirtsleeves in December! I could not do this in MN in the winter.
I have been taking time to do a lot of reading that I am unable to do during a normal week/month. I have been reading slowly and deliberately through the Gospel of Mark, instead of trying to read hurriedly. I have been able to read and really think about what is being said contextually, but looking at the meaning of some of the words that catch my attention. I noticed in Mark 1 the word immediately is used often in referring to the manner in which people followed Jesus when He called them. The KJV uses the term straightway, which is also a good term. I am also reading some e-books that I have downloaded in recent weeks. One of the titles that I am reading is Randy Alcorn’s Money and Possessions, this is a recently revised edition that was available for free on the Kindle (for me, the Kindle app). I look forward to seeing how many e-books I can read before my vacation ends in early January!
From the family corner, we welcomed our daughter into the world five weeks early in July(one day before our 7th wedding anniversary). It is a blessing to be a parent! My son is doing well in Kindergarten and is learning how to read. I am enjoying listening to him sound out words and reading small sentences. My wife is staying busy managing things on the home front as well as working a part time job from our home.
From the ministry perspective this year has been a different one. I have not preached since September 2010. Not exactly sure why this has transpired. I have also not been able to teach in a formal setting either. I would be lying if I did not say that this was difficult, but I also have to remember that for reasons unbeknown to me that if nothing changes between now and December 31, that this is the will of God for me. I am wondering when I am asked to preach, if I will forget how to since it has been so long since the last opportunity. Part of me questions if I have done something wrong in my life to come from the year 2010 which was full to overflowing with a large number of preaching and teaching opportunities, to 2011 in which the opportunities were non-existent. Nothing has changed in the search for a pastoral ministry opportunity. I have not sent out any resumes in quite some time because the opportunities do not exist. I am quite active in my local church, but there’s a large tension there because I currently work a secular job that takes up 45-50 hours a week and I have a family that also needs my attention and time. I then try to do what I can in the area of church ministry, but feel quite inadequate because I am not able to devote more time to it and then the tension exists between my full time job and the desire that
God has placed in my heart for full time ministry (1 Timothy 3:1). It would be nice to be able to replace the secular job with a full time ministry opportunity. Recently, I have been told by a couple of well-meaning individuals that I should just stop looking for a place of full time pastoral ministry and just pour myself into my secular job and be a good layman. I understand what they are saying but I do not necessarily agree with it. Why would God allow me to go to Bible College and graduate? Then after seven years in a secular job, allow me to serve in full-time vocational ministry for three and one half years in a difficult situation that taught me a lot about how ministry was not supposed to be done. Then God provided an opportunity to attend seminary exactly ten years after I had graduated from college. It took me eight years to complete two degrees (M.A. in Theology/Biblical studies and an MDiv degree). I may be wrong but I do not think that God would call me into the ministry, allow me to complete my undergraduate and graduate education and then leave me hanging. I could be wrong, but I do not think so. There are plenty of people who serve in local churches with no aspiration or desire for full time pastoral ministry. I often wonder how many men are out there who are in the same position that I am in, all done with their education and no place to go? I have seen men looking for ministry positions, get so entrenched in their secular jobs that when the time comes for full time ministry, they never make the transition because they have been disillusioned along the way.
I apologize for being so reflective, but it usually seems to happen naturally this time of year since we are ten days away from a new year. I am not one to make resolutions because I do not like to over promise and under deliver. I do not know what 2012 will bring. I pray that I will love God more than I have, that I will love my wife and my children more, and that God will grant me greater opportunities to serve Him that I did not have in 2011.
Thank you for reading and I do appreciate your comments (not the spam)