Category Archives: thoughts

7 years ago

Seven years ago, on May 8th, 2010, I graduated from seminary.  It was an exciting time.  I was done with my academic work for the time being and had finished a goal that I had set out to accomplish back in August 2002.  I had earned a Master of Arts in Theology and now a Master of Divinity.  To those who may not know, a Master of Divinity degree is a 96 hour masters program.  I would liken it to the MBA (Masters of Business Administration) in the secular world.

Seven years ago, there was a great deal of excitement because now I could focus on full-time vocational ministry.  I had wanted to go on and pursue additional education.  I had applied to attempt to work on a PhD but was not accepted.  I had thought about working on a DMin (Doctor of Ministry degree) most seminaries require that you have at least 2-3 years of post MDiv experience so that was out.

Back when I graduated from college in 1992 ( yes I am that old) I was basically told that because I was single and had no experience (outside of being a church layperson) that I had no right to expect anyone to hire me.  Fast forward to 2010, I was excited because maybe things would be different than when I had finished college 18 years earlier.  I was sadly mistaken, if anything,  things had taken a different turn, now instead of using the unmarried and inexperienced argument, now I was facing the grim reality of being over 40 with no experience and recently married with a 4 year old son (our daughter was born July of 2011).  I had actually started looking for a place to serve vocationally in January of 2010 which was four months prior to graduation.  I decided to keep a log of places that I had applied or submitted resumes to so that I would avoid duplications and be able to track the results.  I applied for four different jobs within a ten day time period in February of 2010. I was excited but soon to learn very quickly that churches and ministries do not always respond to resume submissions even though they request a resume.  The first two places that I sent a resume to never even bothered to respond and I found out later that they had called someone else.  I was unfortunately excited about opportunities and naive in thinking that somehow things were going to be different.  By the time graduation rolled around, I had applied or submitted my resume to six different places and had received three no responses and three declines right out of the gate.  This was going to be a challenge.

I graduated on a Saturday and unfortunately was back at work on Monday like nothing had happened.  I kept praying and thinking this is going to be different than college was.  I was in for a rude awakening.  By the end of my first year after graduation, I had submitted my resume to 24 different ministries and churches.  The rejections increased and I was wondering what was going on.  Did I do something wrong?  Is there something wrong with me?  By the end of the 2nd year after graduation I had sent my resume to nine different churches/ministries and still the rejections increased.  One church looked at my resume and after filling out two questionnaires rejected me and I emailed them back trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.  They said that because my background was primarily in administration, that I would be a micro manager and they didn’t want that.  That was hard to take especially since I myself resent being micro-managed.  I never had an interview with them, they deduced it from my resume (albeit a false deduction by them) As I came to the end of the 2012-2013 year, the discouragement set in very hard and I stopped looking.  I did not look or send a resume since 2/2/2013.  I determined that from this point forward that I was not going to send another unsolicited resume because I had experienced so much rejection and discouragement.   I was able to keep my mind off of it because I was working full time and was doing some traveling for my job.  Also, I was able to do a fair amount of pulpit supply preaching and speaking during this time.  That was going to change in 2014 when I was laid off from my job.  I thought maybe this would be the opportunity to get into full-time ministry.  I was sadly mistaken.  I was facing the decision of either going out on severance and having that last maybe 6 months and hope to find a job while other large employers in the Minneapolis area were laying people off in droves or move to TX and move into a similar position.  With a wife and two kids, we moved to TX in August of 2014.  When we moved, my preaching stopped because I did not know anyone and no one knew me.  I went from being fairly active preaching and teaching to nothing.  Not only was there stress in moving, I was trying to deal with the issue of trying to find a new church and “start all over again”  We went to a church for 9 months but it wasn’t a good fit and we left quietly. Now I was dealing with trying to adjust to not preaching or teaching any longer. We did end up finding a good church in January of 2016.

I received a letter from a church in MN April of 2015 and filled out two lengthy questionnaires only to be rejected.

Seven years later, I have sent out over 50 resumes and been rejected 50 times.  At this point, some have told me that I should quit that it is apparent that God must not have called me into ministry because there is no reason that I should still be looking.  I have met with several people in full time ministry looking for advice thinking I had done something wrong or had a wrong approach.  I did not receive any new or different advice from any of them

The last resume that I sent out was in September of 2016.  The emails and phone calls have just about stopped and dried up.  Although I did recently receive an email from a church that I had never heard of before, only to have them tell me that I was not selected to be their assistant pastor.  I was used to this response, only in this case, I had never applied for the position.  It is hard to answer the question when people ask you what do you want to do with your career when you are 48 years old and thought that you would be able to serve in full time ministry, after all that is what I went to college and seminary for and spent over $50,000.00 on an education?  Now, I am being told that I am too old and I have no real church experience (never served as a church staff member).

This morning, Monday, May 8th, 2017, seven years to the day that I finished seminary, I got up and went to work for the same company that I have been working for almost 15 years now (I started with them while I was in seminary) and came home and had dinner with my family like I do every evening.  I haven’t preached a sermon since last summer and I teach in our Sunday School class about once every 4 months or so.  I have to work hard to keep up my Greek and Hebrew skills because I do not use them very often anymore.  I feel like the closer I get to 50 and the further away I am from when I graduated, the less relevant I am because I am not part of the millennial generation.  Some of the guys I went to seminary with have already changed churches within the last seven years, some are still at the same place ministering, and unfortunately some have disqualified themselves from ministry.

I have prayed that God would open up the right opportunity for me since finishing seminary over seven years ago.  I have done nothing to disqualify myself from ministry even though I have been treated like I have been.



Time is worth something… not debt

I am facing a slight quandry. Recently, my employer relocated to a new building and it has lengthened my commute from 45 mins to 1 1/2 hours. Right now, I leave the house at 6:45 am and I do not get home until almost 6:20 pm (that is if all trains and buses are on schedule – I take 3 trains and 1 bus).

Someone said I should just borrow the money to buy another car. I thought about it and realized that wasn’t a smart idea. I would be trading my time for debt and I think that my time is more valuable than debt (especially debt on a depreciating item that loses value) Sometimes, I wish that I had another car but I am also thankful not to have the car payment to go along with the other car. It gets discouraging when your train or bus is late because then it has a domino effect.

We recently completed Financial Peace University at our church and it has transformed our financial life. We are working our plan to get out of debt and I have to remind myself that I need to keep going and not get derailed. Getting out of debt is a process not something instantaneous.

We have survived almost three years having one car. I think we can make it another year or so and get our debt paid and be able to save up money to pay cash for a car.

Time is money and it is a valuable commodity, just not worth trading it for debt.

Special Places

It may be grand or simple.  It may be large or small.  Special places come in all shapes and sizes.  I have two of those places in my life.  One was in MN near where I worked, it wasn’t a place per se, but rather a route that I used to walk (weather permitting) while taking a break.  Many times I would use the time (about 15 mins) to pray and talk with the Lord about various requests and situations.  I remember walking this route when my mother was dying of cancer begging God to heal her.  I remember walking this same route right before my job ended last July and we were getting ready to move.  I lost count how many times I walked that route that would take me down 10th Avenue, up Wisconsin Avenue to the pathway the runs between the townhomes and Bassett Creek, hanging a left and the path would connect with a street that eventually lead to Golden Valley Rd and then I would take that to Winnetka and then back to 10th Avenue and back to work.  I could walk it in 15 mins and it was about 1 mile.  If there was snow or ice on the route, I would not walk because one time I walked it I almost slipped and fell, so I decided to walk when the sidewalks and paths were clear.

There is another such place when I go to visit my in-laws in FL.  Again, it may not appear to be much but to me it was a place of solitude, exercise and time to communicate with the Lord.



This neighborhood park in Pensacola, FL may not look like much but it represents a place that I could get in a good walk (it is about .25 miles around once).  During our last trip, I spent a lot of time here in the morning and the evening.  It is fairly quiet and traffic is minimal.



As you can see the park forms a wedge within the neighborhood and there are houses surrounding it.  I probably could have taken a better picture!

I have not found a special place in TX like I have in MN and FL but I am still looking.  Do you have a special place that you like to go for silence, exercise, or prayer?

2014 – A year of transition and change

First, let me say that I have not written much this year, some of it has been intentional and some of it was just not disciplining myself to write. I tried to journal this year and started out great and did really well until May and somehow got derailed and never restarted.  I hope to change that and my posting frequency here as well in the new year – just a few hours away.

This has been a year of transition and change for our entire family.  It means leaving Minnesota after living there for 12 years and moving to Texas due to a job consolidation/transfer.  It meant leaving our church after 12 years and attempting to find another church home in a new location (we haven’t been very successful).  It meant selling one car (it was getting older and needing more attention and $$ along with having no air conditioning) and getting by with one car.  It also meant getting adjusted to taking public transportation every day to and from work.   It meant learning how to function without our “network” of friends and family.  It also gave us a greater appreciation for our times with family since we are now separated. It has given us a greater appreciation of the role of the local church since we went from being heavily involved for 12 years to now being ones who are on the searching end of things looking for a local church (and we are still looking)

I have written a lot about ministry and the various trials and experiences that I have had since graduating from seminary in 2010 and the unfruitful search for pastoral ministry since graduation.  I have decided to write less on the subject and replace my writing with more praying.  I have to guard against bitterness and anger.  Some have said that writing sometimes can be therapeutic and it can, if not checked, it can degenerate into a complaint or gripe session.  My desire to serve God has grown stronger in this transitional period since I have gone from preaching and teaching from January 2014- July 2014 to no teaching or preaching since I left MN in July 2014. The theme this year for ministry is

And I thank Christ Jesus my Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry – 1 Timothy 1:12

I look forward to setting some new goals (no New Year’s resolutions) being a better father and husband and seeing what the Lord has in store for our family this year.

Observations after 3 weeks

Well, we have been here since 8/1 – kids have been here since 8/8/2014.  Some quick observations after the first three weeks:

  • Living – we have a nice apartment which is bigger than our last place.  I think all of us are getting used to the new layout because it is a lot different than our last place.  The rent is more than what we were paying in MN.  It is a much bigger complex and we haven’t seen very many people out and about.  Maybe they stay inside in the summer like people do in MN in the winter.  We live relatively close to many things like Target, Costco, etc.  We are still learning where things are and how to navigate the roads and the traffic.
  • Work – I have a bit more responsibility and my days are busy.  Not much has changed except it is nice to be around people again.  After the layoff happened, I was sitting in an area that was relatively empty, there were people in other areas on the same floor but our jobs did not have interaction.  This has been the easiest adjustment thus far since I already knew most of the people because of my frequent trips here since 2012.
  • Commuting – Since we are down to one car after selling the Honda before we left MN (Honda had issues and no A/C) I have been taking public transportation to work.  We live right across the street from a train station.  I take a DCTA (Denton County Transportation Authority) train for one stop (5 mins) to the Trinity Mills DART station to transfer to the Green Line train to Farmers Branch (two stops) and then I get off the train at Farmers Branch and the bus stop is right there at the station.  I ride the bus and it drops me off right across the street from where I work.  Then I have to cross said busy street (taking my life into my hands – it is not that bad) and then walk down a long driveway.  I am usually at work within 1 hour from the time I leave home and then I do the same thing again in the afternoon.  It is interesting being a part of the sub-culture that exists on public transportation.  I will say this, the buses and trains are very timely and I am thankful for air conditioning on these warm days.  My son came and rode the bus and train home with me on Friday afternoon so he got to experience what I do everyday to get to work and back home again.  Because I use several modes of transport between two providers, I have to use a regional pass which costs $10 a day, or $50 a week or $160 a month.  I just purchased a weekly pass but haven’t purchased a monthly pass yet.  It is definitely an adjustment not having a second car!
  • Education – this has been one of the hardest decisions that I have ever made.  Joseph was in a Christian school from K-2 grade and he did very well there, most importantly, he trusted Christ in April of this year.  Christian school is unbelievably expensive.  A comparable Christian school here in TX vs MN is going to be about $2k more per year which we do not have in our budget.  We tried to get Joseph into a Classical Charter school (he is still on the waiting list) but were unsuccessful in doing so for this year.  He is going to attend public school this year and we went and met his teacher and some of the other school staff and everyone seemed very nice and kind. He will be in a class of 20 students (TX has a law that does not allow class sizes to exceed 22 students per 1 teacher) There will be 11 boys and 9 girls.  We will see how he does this year.
  • Church – this is another factor that has weighed heavily on my heart throughout the entire process.  Our family has been a part of Fourth Baptist Church for a long time.  I came in 2002, my wife came in 1999 and our children have been there since they were born, so it is the only church they have ever known outside of visiting with their grandparents, cousins or going to hear dad preach. I am very thankful for the opportunities that I had to serve in the various ministries of Fourth Baptist Church.  It is an adjustment going to church and not teaching, ushering or serving in any capacity.  The second week here we went and visited the church where my bosses husband is the pastor – we have enjoyed visiting there in the past, but the drawback is that it is 45 mins to 1 hr west of here… long drive both ways.  Today we visited a church that we visited when we were here in June – it is only 15 mins from our home but the issue still seems to be with the music – a little too contemporary for our family.  Everything else is great, the preaching is good, the people have been friendly (some of them even remembered us from our June visit) but getting past the music issue may be difficult.  We are aware of two other churches that are similar to what we came from in MN but both of those are 45 mins away as well – one south of us and one east of us.  Being in the “Bible belt”  I did not think that this would be an issue, but it has become one because we are finding two types of churches: 1) Ultra-conservative and ultra-legalistic 2) Church services that resemble a rock concert or performance.  We are not finding (at least not yet) anything that is between both extremes.  So we keep searching and praying for the right church that is within a reasonable driving distance.  We greatly miss our friends at Fourth Baptist Church in Plymouth, MN and going through this experience has given us a greater appreciation for the role of the local New Testament church in the life of the believer.
  • Location, Location, Location – no matter where you live in this area, things seem to be spread out.  Nothing seems to be close.  I stated in an earlier paragraph that we are close to Target and Costco, but Trader Joes and Whole Foods are considerable distances from us currently.  We seem to be driving more to get from place to place.   We were definitely spoiled being 15 mins from work and very close to Trader Joes, Costco, and Whole Foods in Maple Grove.
  • Weather – yes it has been warm here, we have had several days of over 100 degree temperatures, but nothing too unbearable.  You drink more water and stay inside.  I do not want to see my first electric bill.  We have all the ceiling fans running and the air is set at 77 degrees and I hope I don’t have to take out a loan to pay the bill!  I think things will be different once we get into Fall and Winter, a definite adjustment for those of us who were used to below zero temperatures and lots of snow.  Last winter took its toll on everyone both mentally and physically…
  • Cost of Living – there is no State Income Tax here in TX, so it is like getting a raise, but there are some trade-offs.  1) Sales tax is higher – 8.25% compared to 7.275% – does not look like much but that also translates into higher property taxes as well.  2) There is tax on clothing here  3) Rent is more expensive here  4) Gas is a bit cheaper 5) Food is a bit cheaper  6) Utilities are more expensive.  I am thinking that the “cost of living is cheaper” argument may not have much merit by the time we have lived here for one year.

As you read this, please pray for our family as we continue to assimilate and get adjusted.  Pray that we will be able to make connections with people, not only where we live, but that we would be able to find a good, solid local church and that Joseph would have a good school year as well. Its only been three weeks, and we still have a lot to learn and some growing to do as well in this process.  We have learned a lot along the way.  We would love to hear from you.

The New Normal in less than 45 days

So much has happened, most of which I have written about in greater detail in my journal that I keep in my Day One Journal

April 7th I found out along with 14 others that our jobs were being moved from MN to Dallas, TX.  and we had 30 days to find something else within the company or take severance.  First time for everything, needless to say I was stressed, but knew that God was in control even though I was not!

April 13th – celebrated my birthday

April 14th – April 19th – flew to CA for a Six Sigma Conference – was a finalist for the Greenbelt Leadership Award – did not win, but was very thankful just to make it as a finalist and got a free trip to CA which allowed me some time to go see my Dad after the festivities had concluded.

May 2014 – able to secure a new position doing essentially the same thing as before, but it will require us to move to Dallas, TX.  We had explored this option last year but it did not work out for us.  Now circumstances have changed and we are in a better position to take on this move.

June 2014 – secured a place to live in the Dallas area and making preparations to move.

July 2014 – leave MN for TX

Even though I am glad that I was able to find a job, it was hard to go back to the office to work knowing that 14 other people were not as fortunate as I was to be able to find another job and to keep working without interruption.  That is the human side to these types of scenarios.  Now, the new normal will start to take hold.

I have lived in MN for almost 12 years.  God has been very good to me.  I came here 12 years ago, single and younger.  I am leaving now 12 years later, married, two children, and two seminary degrees and still working for the same company that I started with when I first moved to MN.  Life has been very good in MN (except for last winter)

It is going to be a definite adjustment moving to TX in many ways.  I will be glad that I wont have to pay anymore MN State Income Tax.  I will definitely miss our church that has been an integral part of our lives for these 12 years.  I will miss the Christian school that has played a vital role in the life of our son.  I will miss the friends that we have made over the years.  Facebook helps bridge the gap but can never take the place of in-person fellowship and conversation.

Instead of -30 and -40 we will be experiencing 100 and 110 F, so we are trading extremes.  I grew up in Southern CA so I am used to the 100 and 110 F, but it will be an adjustment for my wife and children. I won’t miss the hour-long commutes that should only take 15 mins when there is 5 inches of snow on the ground.  I wont miss having to get up earlier to scrape the snow and ice off of my car.

We have lived in the same place for the last 7.5 years that we have called home.  It isn’t perfect but it has been our home for a long while.  It is familiar, we know all the sounds and noises and where everything is.  Now we will be moving to a new area with new sounds and noises and what we take for granted now (being close to Trader Joe’s, Costco, Target) will be a new adjustment learning where the Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Target are in our new community.

I found out that it is okay to grieve a little when going through these changes but not to let that grief and emotion paralyze and control you so you can’t move forward.  I have found that even though I have said that change is okay, that this change is going to be a lot harder than I realized.  I have been worried about my wife and kids and how they will make the adjustment and I was not addressing my own concerns.

With all of that… please pray for us as we make this transition at the end of July.  We will be looking for a new school for our son (Christian schools so far have been very cost-prohibitive in DFW, any suggestions are welcome in the comments or via email) We will be looking for a new church home – this one greatly concerns me because in this area, we have seen the extremes both theologically and musically.  We know we wont find something exactly like our current church, but we would like it to be somewhat close musically.  One of the biggest adjustments will be not being as close to my in-laws.  Right now they are two hours away and have been a great help to us over the years with many things.  That will be an adjustment.  We will be closer when they are in FL for the winter.

Another big concern is that I will leave behind a friend who was like a brother to me and was a big catalyst in me moving to MN 12 years ago.  Unfortunately, he cut the ties on our friendship over three years ago and there has been no avenue for reconciliation.  This person is still a friend and has been so for over 30 years, but they have decided to take a different direction in their life.

Tomorrow, I will probably preach my last sermon for a while.  I have been very privileged to be able to provide pulpit supply in the MN, WI, IA areas over the last 10 years in various ministries.  When I came to MN, it was two years after I had left FL before I received an opportunity to preach.  Now that we are going to TX, it is like starting over again.

We are thankful and grateful for the opportunity and at the same time there will be some tears shed and that is ok.  Please pray for us as we make preparations for this transition.

Thanks for reading and as always comments are welcome!


People familiar with the matter say…

I have an article here in front of me from the Wall Street Journal, dated March 24, 2014, regarding the potential deal between Apple and Comcast.  This article was of particular interest to me because I am an Apple stockholder and a user of all things Apple (iPhone 5, iPad mini and MacBookPro).  I also am a Comcast subscriber, not by choice but because there is no competition in our area for cable.

As I was reading this article with interest, I came across the following phrases at least eight different times in the article

people familiar with the matter say

the people familiar with the matter say

said one person familiar with the talks

this person said

one person familiar with the talks

I understand about freedom of the press and the right to protect one’s sources. What I am trying to understand is if this story made the front page of the Wall Street Journal, then why were people afraid of being quoted? It made me wonder if no one could be directly quoted, then would this fall under mere speculation or a rumor mill?  I know that news like this between two publicly traded companies can affect both companies’ stock prices.  I also wondered about fact checking.  How can facts be checked when there are no sources?

Hopefully a journalist or two or three will read this article and enlighten me!  Comments are always appreciated.

On a side note, I recently started subscribing to the Wall Street Journal and I enjoy reading it.  I do recognize some of the liberal slants/biases. I appreciate the broad spectrum of articles and that it is not just another boring financial paper.