Doing what you trained for

The title may be grammatically incorrect, but I want to make a point with what I am writing.

I was thinking about something while I was walking home from the train station yesterday.  I was thinking about a friend who recently completed his first year of full-time teaching and recently signed a contract to teach next school year.  In reading his Twitter feed and Facebook posts, he really enjoys his job.  I went back and thought about what I knew about this individual and his path to his eventual teaching career.  He had a desire to teach (not sure how far back this goes) but he graduated high school and went off to college to train to be an elementary school teacher.  During his last year of school he had to put into practice what he learned in the classroom by student teaching.  This individual, as part of his student teaching taught my son in the 2nd grade.  My son enjoyed his lessons, especially the science ones.  We were just talking about some of them the other day and my son really enjoyed his lesson on the water cycle and that was well over a year ago, but he still remembers it very well.  What this showed was not only this individual was well-trained, he had a passion for what he was doing, but he also was doing what he believed God has called him to do and he was given an opportunity to do it!

Contrast this with those who train for pastoral ministry.  Same process.  There is the call of God on an individual’s life, they make that call public and then it is off to Bible college and then seminary.  Sometimes an individual will be required to complete an internship within the context of a local church which might be the equivalent of student teaching but not quite because most pastoral internships never really let the intern do everything, it is like the pastor is afraid that the intern will mess up and ruin his ministry.  Mark Dever once talked about letting the new pastor mess up and make mistakes, he related to his own experience at Capitol Hill Baptist Church when he first came that he indeed made a few mistakes and the people were patient with him.  Student teachers do not teach their first day or week, but they get one subject at a time, do a lot of observing and then towards the end of their time, they will teach for entire days with the supervising teacher observing and providing feedback along the way.

I was wondering how many people are out there that went to Bible college and seminary and invested large sums of money for their education some in excess of $50k and they are not in pastoral ministry?  There are some who have disqualified themselves due to moral issues, etc.  There are some who after completing their training may have decided that pastoral ministry is not for them.  What about those people who have a passion and a desire (1 Timothy 3:1) to serve the Lord only to find themselves working in a job or career that they had no intentions of working in except to pay the bills while they were training.  Their heart is not in it and their desires are elsewhere, but a cloak of silence has enveloped their life with regard to ministry.  No direction from a mentor or encouragement from a local church, just silence.  The secular job market really has no use for theological degrees.  Most jobs nowadays are requiring specialized training and specialized degrees. Experience alone will not get you a job now.  You wouldn’t want a airline pilot performing brain surgery on you?  Then why is it okay for pastors to work other areas that they are not necessarily trained for?

I remember reading several articles regarding people with Phd’s wanting to teach in their fields but there were not enough openings in the academic world so some of these PhD’s were janitors, waiters, etc.  and not able to ply their trades either.  That was a few years back and I trust that things have improved somewhat so those people could find work.

I would love to hear from you if you have a desire for pastoral ministry and have finished your college and seminary training but find yourself working in a field that you did not train for.  Please comment below and maybe this can be a catalyst to help and encourage others to be able to find a ministry opportunity since other venues have been notoriously silent.  Where are the people who will speak truth into the lives of others?

Is there anything wrong with doing what you trained for and invested your life in?

Why I enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal


Judging by the stack you would say that I am a bit behind in reading my Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, yes I am behind but it will be temporary.

I started subscribing to the Wall Street Journal about two years ago.  It was the result of taking some surveys from and I built up quite a bit of reward cash that is redeemable for various things.  One of those was a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I had a friend who would be gone out of town from time to time and he subscribed to the Journal.  He would ask me to watch his home and check his mail and in exchange I could take his Journal instead of leaving it for him to read when he returned.  I had also always enjoyed reading the Journal when I was traveling on business and the hotels would have a daily copy along with the USA Today.  What I found was that I enjoyed reading the Journal more because of the broad variety of articles.  I had a friend who would be gone out of town from time to time and he subscribed to the Journal.  He would ask me to watch his home and check his mail and in exchange I could take his Journal instead of leaving it for him to read when he returned.  I never thought it would be affordable for me to subscribe to the Journal.

If you have never read the Wall Street Journal, I would encourage you to do so.  It is a great way to broaden your horizons and you can learn quite a bit in the process.  I used to think that the Journal was a boring business paper, but I was definitely wrong.

In Friday’s edition on the front page there are the usual headline stories, but as you head towards the bottom of the first page there is usually a story of human interest or one out of the ordinary – in this issue the article is titled “If a Martian Wrecks Your Rocket Ship, Who is Liable?”  This article is talking about the issues of “space tort”.  Did you know that there are space attorneys?  Read the article and you will learn something.  I did.  Also toward the end of the first section you will find the opinion pages with various op-ed pieces and the letters to the editor.  There is usually a book review in the right column towards the back of the section – on page A11 or so.  I have found a few good books to read.

Business and Tech section – this is a smaller section with articles geared toward Business – for example – there is a small article about Amazon being allowed to test drones, an article about the F-35 fighter jet and its estimated cost.

Money & Investing – this is where you can get really geeked out with numbers and charts and figures.  Pages C5 through C7 is where it is at.  I usually skim over this section and mainly look for the stocks and funds that I have investments in.

Mansion – this is exactly what is says – a section regarding large homes and other features about homes both large and small.  It also has a section of homes for sale in your local area.

Arena – this section is more about the arts – movies, TV, theatre, etc. I skim through this one also.

I do not get all of my news from the Journal, but I enjoy reading it.  I also understand and I am aware of media bias as well.

Do you read and/or subscribe to the Wall Street Journal?  If so, share in the comments what you enjoy or dislike about it.

I will write an article next week on all the various places I get my news and it is not just the Wall Street Journal.   Happy reading!



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 in review – The WordPress version

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 28 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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.

Spirit Airlines – Not Bad


In trying to get from Point A to Point B, sometimes you have to fly.  As someone who has travelled a lot at different periods of my life, you have to approach flying nowadays with a great degree of patience.  Prior to this trip, the last flight I took was a nightmare, my wife and I were leaving DFW and headed back to MN and when we arrived at the airport just prior to going through security our flight was cancelled and we sat at the airport for almost 8 hours trying to get home standby.  We eventually got home the next day.

I was trying to get from DFW to MSP for a few days and wanted to spend as little as possible (I think most everyone would agree with that).  I decided to try Spirit Airlines with a bit of fear and trepidation.  I had heard the horror stories about flight cancellations, seats that did not recline, no legroom, being charged for everything.    I booked my tickets about 4 weeks in advance and paid about $136.00 round trip which included my carry-on bag (yes, you pay for those, but not a personal item)

I left last Sunday 10/5 early and made it through security quite quickly.  The flight boarded on time and we left a little late but made up the time in the air and landed at MSP on time.  I had an aisle seat (yes I paid for that also) and had plenty of legroom and the seat for was just fine for my 6′ 2″ frame.  With that being said, I would not necessarily fly Spirit on a long flight or outside of the US.  For the short flight to MSP, it was perfect.

I enjoyed my short stay in MN (maybe another post about that later) and headed home Tuesday evening.  One thing with Spirit, you have to have some flexibility in travel times because they have a limited number of flights.  My outbound flight was perfect because it left early in the morning.  My return flight did not leave until 8:15 pm with a scheduled arrival at 10:45 at DFW.  Not my favorite time to travel.

I arrived back at MSP on Tuesday in plenty of time to return the rental car, get from Lindbergh to Humphrey and get through security. No TSA pre-check this time.  Got through security with no issues or having to wait a long time.  Found my gate and noticed that the inbound flight was delayed.  I went to the counter and found that there would be a gate change, so I went to the new gate and was able to find a place to charge my cell phone and waited.  We boarded about 7:30 and we left on time – again, I had an aisle seat and had plenty of legroom.  We left on-time and actually arrived 20 mins early.

Overall, for my first flight it was a very pleasant experience and I will be glad to use Spirit again to go to MSP.  For as little as I paid for everything, I almost wonder how they survive financially.

Have any of you flown Spirit Airlines?  Tell me about your experience in the comments section

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.