My Wordspace

A dumpster full of various musings over life, God, scripture, and any random thought that may fly by meanwhile. Comments welcome.

Archive for July, 2004

Links Section Created

Posted by Iszi on July 20, 2004

Greetings, Readers.


I would just like to make note that there is now a Links section in the sidebar of the Main page of this blog.  That is all.  Oh yeah, and the previous post was numer 20, w00t!


– Iszi


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When Life Slows Down… Finally

Posted by Iszi on July 20, 2004

Greetings Readers.


Sorry for the short hiatus again, but as my previous post mentioned, work has been starting to wear me down a good deal.  Finally, though, with last night being night number 13, my work week is over.  BL stopped in during the shift to say that she should be able to make it tonight, so I at least have one day off for sure.


So, having worked for almost two weeks solid, and been (trying) to keep up with my usual church-related commitments in the meantime (only one of which I called off – that was last night’s cell group meeting and setup for TLR), I was really looking forward to my wife’s arrival so that I could just plop in the car and relax on the way home, then proceed to my bedroom for a good, long crash before TLR tonight.  Seems God had other plans for my day.


I called home to let my wife know I was ready for her to come get me, only to have her ask if I could take the bus instead.  She’d been out the majority of last night (until just before I had to go to work) with a friend at a funeral for one of their family members, then the rest of the night trying to stay asleep despite fighting cats at our door, and a fussy baby in the crib.  So, she wasn’t in the greatest waking condition to drive out to get me.  I relented, and went out to wait for the bus.


So, let’s look at how my morning was changed and what I was thinking about it:


Originally, I would have had to wait about 20 minutes inside the air-conditioned store for my wife to arrive to pick me up for a 10-minute ride home, during which I would have to do little more than sit in the passenger seat and possibly respond to a few questions regarding my night at work.


Now, I had to go out in the lovely humid Florida morning, to wait for an indeterminate (up to a half-hour) amount of time on a wooden bench that was wet with morning dew and surrounded by ant holes, for a bus to come get me.  (Eventually, I gave up battling the onslaught of the ants, and went to sit on a nearby storm drain.)  When the bus would come, I would have to get on, fish out $1.25 to feed to the fare machine, then sit down and maintain my awareness enough to know when to pull the stop cord.  After that, I would have to choose from waiting for the next bus on the second route I’d have to take, which could be up to an hour, or walk about 1.5-2 miles the rest of the way home, again in the humid weather of an overcast Florida summer morning shortly after sunrise.  After I would get off the second bus (should I choose to wait for it in the first place) I would still have about a quarter of a mile to walk home.


Needless to say, this did not sound good to my body at all.  In fact, it sounded like the most wrong way anyone could think of to end a 13-day work week, when a better alternative was available.  Quite to the contrary, however, it ended up being a very fitting way to end such a week.


So, let’s look at how the morning actually went:


I went out to the stop, took one look at the bench, and had just enough presence of mind to put my jacket down first, then sit on top of it, to avoid a wet bottom from the morning dew on the bench.  Sitting there, thinking about the journey home that was ahead of me, I looked down to notice that my feet were planted quite firmly in the middle of several ant-holes, from which a steady flow of ants came and went, going about their business.  Then, I noticed some of those ants (well, duh) had chosen to use my feet as a part of their travel routes, as long as I was there.  Just great, I thought.  After sweeping some ants off with my hands, then just kicking my feet around to try to shake them off, I looked for a better place to plant them while I sat at the bench.  Finding none, I gave up and sat atop a storm drain nearby.  There were still ants on the concrete, but they were few and far between.


There I sat, until the bus came.  After I got on the bus and approached the fare machine, the driver closed the doors and started moving along again.  I had barely even had a chance to pull out my wallet to get the dollar bill.  Nimrod, I thought at the bus driver, Don’t you know it’s against the law for you to move this bus until I’m past that little white line behind you?  Fortunately, having used my bicycle as a primary form of transportation numerous times in the past, I had a good enough sense of balance that it did not affect me too much, and I was able to pay the fare and sit down.  There, I looked up to the TV monitors to amuse myself with the latest news coming from the bus’ sattelite feed from the Transit Television Network.  The screen display (possibly the satellite feed itself was flawed, who knows) was distorted just enough that some words were readable, but the overall message that was trying to be conveyed was beyond legibility.  Fortunately, this was the shorter portion of my commute, so I didn’t have to tolerate the boredom much longer.


After I got off, I found myself just slightly hungry enough to feel the need to snack on something quick.  I considered my options as I walked along:  McDonalds?  No, that’s the one BL fell at, and furthermore I wasn’t in the mood to walk into one of my former workplaces just at that moment.  Wendy’s?  Heck no, the service at that one is consistently horrible, and I’ve never much liked the food itself anyway.  Besides, they looked closed.  The new Dunkin’ Donuts across the street (the only other fast-food option along my path) hasn’t been opened yet, so that’s a definite no-go.  Bummer.  The only place along the way that would have anything now that may remotely suit my palette was a Walgreens on the next corner I had to turn.


So, I walked through the parking lot of Walgreens, and as I approached the entrance area I noticed a few policemen standing rather conspicuously by the doorway.  Now what? I thought.  As I drew closer, a man came out and was calmly surrounded by the policemen as he ranted about the manager (who was not far behind him) having something against him because he was homeless.  Carefully distancing myself from the situation as I entered, I found no opposition to my going in the store and proceeded to the other end of the store where their vault was.  The soda section was rather bare, especially in the one-liter size category.  I turned to the manager, who was returning to his office just past me, and asked “Are you out of Mountain Dew Code Red one-liters?”  (The only soda and size I drink.)  He politely informed me that his store was discontinuing them.  Just lovely.  I thanked him for the information, and proceeded on, noting they carried Hersheys milkshakes, which I also liked.


Hungry for a candy bar now, I went to check out that section before I actually got my drink.  Nothing particularly jumped out at me, so I went to browse other aisles for some odd reason.  I found myself in the stationery section looking at highlighters, which I needed for my Bible.


At this point, my mind and mood finally started to actually slow down and I could breathe, although I did not realize this until a good bit later.  They didn’t have any highlighters that made particular mention of being suitible for Bibles or thin paper in general, so I looked around some more just to see what was there.  Then my eyes settled on a protractor.  I rememered my art now, and how I used to enjoy it.  I do not draw art and pictures in the usual sense.  Rather, I draw a particular type of geometric design, and transform it into various forms to (often only vaguely) represent other objects and/or artistic expressions.  It’s kind of difficult to explain without showing, but the whole thing really just requires a pencil, ruler (preferrably a transparent standard/metric combo, with measurements as small as 1/16 in. on the standard side, and millimeters on the metric), and protractor (also preferrably transparent, and as small as possible).  A pen is also nice to finalize the drawing with.  Oh yeah, paper is also a necessity.  Preferrably graph paper.  And a nice notebook to keep it in.


With these thoughts in mind, I looked around for these things that would be needed for me to be able to indulge myself in my psuedo-artistic expressions once again.  Finding the supplies to total much more than what I had on hand, I remembered the 14 hours’ overtime that would be on my next paycheck.  Yeah, now I’ve got something to look forward to with that.


Done with my browsing, I went and picked up the milkshake I wanted (Cookies and Cream, yummay!) and found a 3 Musketeers bar in the candy aisle, paid, and exited the store.  By this time the police had gone, and I figured I likely had missed the bus one way or another, or the wait would bore me to death if I hadn’t, so I resigned myself to walking.  This is what turned my morning totally around.


You see, when you walk to and from places, or even take your bike, instead of just going in a car or a bus (or anything capable of exceeding 20 MPH with just the touch of a pedal or button or twist of a handle), you notice things that you wouldn’t otherwise.  The whole world just kinda slows down so you can experience more of it if you want to.


The first thing I noticed was that I started smelling things.  On my way past a school, I smelled a perfume (likely not even coming from the school at this time) that reminded me of how someone smelled one time on a first day back at school.  Back when the first day of school, although marking the first day of the more tormentuous portion of the year, was still a day of freshness, a day marking a new start.  A day to see friends not seen in the past few months.


Working my way through a neighborhood, I smelled the water coming from the sprinklers in a lawn across the street.  This smell was particularly amplified by the humidity of an atmosphere soon to have a rainstorm.  (Which, surprisingly, hasn’t happened yet – It’s been about two hours now.)  This reminded me of how cool the day actually was, being overcast as it was, instead of being clear-skied with the sun blazing overhead.  It also reminded me of carefree days playing in sprinklers in our yard, or in a neighbor’s pool.  Sometimes to live in the past for a moment is just bliss.


A couple blocks later, I noticed the smell of a freshly-cut lawn.  Although I remembered how my own yard needed mowing, the thought more prominently in my mind at the moment was of days when mowing that yard was the worst of my dreads and concerns, yet this was the perfect weather to have been doing it in.  Just before a storm, when the air is cool and there’s a slight breese now and then to enjoy.  Okay, so the air today was rather stagnant, but a breeze could be imagined.


The second thing I found myself noticing more than I would in a car, was the things that I heard.  One that particularly stands out in my mind was the sound of wind chimes coming from someone’s front porch.  Not only was I able to hear this sound once, but I was able to enjoy it for probaly three minutes or so, before I walked out of range of it.  Birds singing along the way were also nice.


Another thing that happens when you take a walk is you meet people.  They may or may not end up being of much significance in your life or your day, but they are interesting to meet nonetheless.  Today’s person was a landscaper working on a yard across the road from where I was walking.  His truck and trailer were parked on the side of the road I was on, and I greeted him as he came across the street to pick up a leaf-blower.  I commented on the nice weather, to which he responded “It almost makes you want to work, eh?”.  I told him I was actually just getting off, and smiled when he said “Then it makes you want to enjoy the rest of the day, doesn’t it?”.


So, I started the morning thinking this was the worst way to end the day, when in fact there was not really any other way that would have been more appropriate.  As my life begins to slow down for a couple days, after nearly two long weeks of work, so do I get to experience the feeling of life in general at a slower speed than normal.  A speed that’s enjoyable rather than effecient.  A relaxing speed, with the feeling that you’ve got all the time in the world to spend just sucking in the universe around you in all its goodness.  Sure there’s the not-so-nice parts, like a beer can halfway lost among overgrown bushes on a less-than-cared-for piece of land off the side of the road, but all of it has some life to it, and it is all – for better or worse – God’s creation, and it all belongs to Him who loves the world.


For a related post, follow this link to another blog, which I commented on earlier last month.  It’s the same I referenced in another post, so if you already looked you might want to save yourself some reading and skip it.


Tonight, as usual, is The Living Room.  After that, I may post again if I have the energy.  There’s still so much to report about the past few days, but I just wanted to dedicate this post to my experience today of life at a different pace.  You should try it sometime.  If you’ve only got a few miles to go, try walking/biking to work, or school, or some other location you’ll be going to.  Keep your senses keen, and be aware of the world around you.  You’ll be amazed by some of the things you see, even if it is everyday stuff.  When you have the time to see those kinds of things, and the time to think about them as you go along, great stuff just comes to mind that you would never think of otherwise.  It sounds funny in those words, I know, but I can’t think of any clearer way to put it.  You really have to experience the feeling yourself to understand.


– Iszi


Song of the Moment:  Jaci Velasquez – Every Time I Fall

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Wearing Down

Posted by Iszi on July 17, 2004

Good morning, Readers.


I really hate to bitch about work on this blog, but my body doesn’t feel in the mood for much else right now, so bear with me please.  Last night, BL made it to work although apparently still in much pain.  The bruise from her injury has spread rather extensively, yet she still came in.  I guess she can’t afford to take too much time off, and at the same time also doesn’t want to cause any more headaches for our store manager, (by leaving us a person short on third shift) who already has enough on her own plate to start with.


So, since she was coming in on an injury that she should probably be staying home with, BL’s shift was short and with few assignments.  Which meant that I had to pick up the slack, and do it with less time available away from the register.  I don’t really mean to complain about the fact that the duties were un-balanced for the night, because I completely understand why they were the way they were, and honestly wouldn’t like to have had it any other way, for BL’s sake.  But still, that didn’t make it any easier for me to get my job done.


Furthermore, the vault (big walk-in cooler with all the drinks, remember?) looked like absolute hell when I walked in.  Personally, I feel that it’s because I haven’t had to do the vault in the past four nights.  When I do the vault, I spend a lot of time making sure the back end (anything that’s not in the window shelves) stays organized, as I work to get the window shelves stocked.  On a typical work week, Sunday nights are the absolute easiest nights when it comes to getting stuff done in the vault because I’ve already had two days (Friday and Saturday – sometimes I get Thursdays off, and usually if I do work them I’m not in the vault) to get things straightened up in the back end, and there’s been no vendors coming in except the nightly dairy delivery, which we handle ourselves anyway.  Wednesday nights, by comparison, are usually the roughest nights because a.) Between Sunday and Monday nights, every vendor that delivers into the vault has come in, including our twice-a-week merchandise delivery truck.  and b.) Upon closer observation, it would seem that the person who covers the vault on my nights off doesn’t spend any time at all worrying about keeping the back end is straightened and organized.  (Even though they’ve had a whole night to clean up after the delivery nights before I have to see it.)


So, although I’ve greatly enjoyed having a break from the vault since SS (yeah, that’s our other third-shift lady) has come back, I was absolutely pissed when I walked in last night to see it the way it was, especially with not much time to work on it, after having to already take care of more than my usual share of the workload.  The sad part is, the organizational issues that need taking care of are simple do-as-you-go things, as long as they’re done on a steady, regular basis.  When you ignore them for nights on end is when they become daunting extra-hour long tasks to fix.  Not to mention some of the issues can result in out-right safety hazards.


On top of that, the extra stretch of my work week didn’t make things feel any better last night.  My back has started to become sore in ways, and at rates, that I shouldn’t be feeling at this age.  Some nights (particularly after walking into the vault to see it as it was last night) it’s all I can do to not just say “Screw this, I’m going home.”.


Now I wonder, does the typical pastor ever have these thoughts?  Was he ever in a job like this, where he had to fight with himself to keep going, and keep a positive attitude?  I would guess that in one way or another, the answer is likely yes.  I mean, all of us are human, right?  And not all pastors have been in pastoral service all their life.  Even if they “always” knew they were headed in that direction, some of them probably had to do something in the “dead-end job” category at some point, likely so they could fund their way through the necessary schooling.  So, how do they deal with this flesh vs. Spirit battle?


That’s what this boils down to, I think.  Just like any forbidden lustful desire, this is a flesh vs. Spirit battle.  During this harsh time at work, my flesh keeps telling me: “You’ve worked ten days straight for this lady here, and now you’re having to pick up a good bit of her workload, while your own workload is being unfairly inflated to begin with by other people’s laziness, so by golly you have every right to bitch, moan, and whine as freely and liberally as you want!”  And at the same time my Spirit keeps trying to say “You’re doing this to help a friend in need, and as a follower and imitator of Christ, you should do this gladly and without complaint.  In this way, you will ‘…Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.’


A reminder of this actually came Monday morning when, after having dropped me off at home, BL referred to my works (having offered to cover her Monday-Tuesday shifts, and then later her Wednesday-Thursday shifts, so she could rest) as “The most Christian thing [I] could do.”  Inside, this made me feel happier than I could ever have imagined, yet my flesh was saying in my ear “Yeah, yeah, let’s just get this week over with quick.”.  The quarrel between the two left me regrettably unable to respond, aside from just to smile and wave goodbye.  Honestly, whenever BL or my manager tells me “thank you” for doing something of this nature, instead of saying “you’re welcome” (which would only be polite and proper), I end up just giving a half-smile and re-directing the conversation to another topic.


So, why is it that there must be such a flesh/Spirit battle over even such a small thing as saying “you’re welcome”?  How do people overcome this in their lives?  Especially in such demanding and abusive jobs as these?  It’s funny how you can sometimes be dulled to the harshness of your own job, and at other times see it so clearly.  One particular night it was brought to clear light in my eyes when a local County Corrections Officer said to me “I hold you in high respect, working this shift here… you work a more dangerous job than I do!”.  How, in a job such as this, can anyone keep a Christian attitude without feeling like they’re faking it?


Strangely enough, it now comes to mind that they aren’t really faking it, they’re just taking control of themselves and making a clear choice which part of themselves they’re going to listen to.  I have had several nights lately where I feel the joy of the Lord in my heart, yet my flesh constantly dominates and drowns that joy out with physical fatigue and mental anguish over the demands of my job.  So, with your body being the vessel through which all worldly tasks are done, and through which you communicate to others, how can the Spirit prevail?  The body is constantly fighting against the desires of the Spirit by not wanting to do anything at all, by wanting to be lazy and to complain about its aches and pains because it is the part of you that does all the work, and all the Spirit does is sit back and try to tell you what is right to do, and what you should be doing with your body.


It’s like trying to fight the auto-pilot on an airplane.  The airplane wants to do whatever it wants to do.  The airplane’s intent is for its survival and success.  But ground control wants you to make the airplane do something different, although their intent is also for the airplane’s survival and success, just in a better way.  No matter which of the two you listen to, the airplane will still survive and be successful.  To follow what the airplane wants to do, you just sit back, relax, and let the airplane do its thing.  To make the airplane do what ground control wants it to do, you have to grab the stick and pay attention to the airplane’s attempts to veer off the course ground control wants it to take.  If you let go of the controls for one minute, the airplane will take back over and get back to doing its own thing again.  You take control for awhile, getting the airplane to do what ground control wants you to have it do, but after a point it becomes tiresome to keep countering the airplane’s re-directions, and it’s just easier to let the airplane do its own thing, since it will still survive and be successful anyway.


So, what propels us to keep control over this airplane of ours?  What is there that can keep us from just deciding to let go and let the airplane fly itself?


I’d better go.  I’m beginning to ramble on, and on top of that the B on my keyboard is sticking suddenly.  It’s amazing how annoying the malfunction of one key on your keyboard, no matter how little it is used, can quickly become an annoyance.  It’s also kind of weird how, all of a sudden, every word seems to need that letter now even though I haven’t used it in the past 29 words, or 163 characters.  (If you’re actually counting behind me, you must be more bored than I want to imagine.)


So, until next time, provided my keyboard doesn’t completely give out on me, I’ll cy’allz l8r.


– Iszi


Song of the moment:  Delirious? – Deeper

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Things Lining Up… Sort Of.

Posted by Iszi on July 16, 2004

Greetings, Readers.


Well, last night has to have been the smoothest Thursday night I’ve had in awhile.  As a matter of fact, this whole week has felt pretty smooth at work, despite the complications that have arisen.  BL isn’t feeling much better at all.  In fact, she’s looking worse.


My five-day work-week started last Wednesday, after having had Monday and Tuesday off that week.  BL got hurt on Thursday, but was able to (barely) work her shifts Friday-Sunday, until our other full-time third-shifter came back from vacation.  Sunday night, I told her I’d work Monday-Tuesday for her (which I originally had off, as my weekly requested-off days), for which she was going to exchange her Wednesday-Thursday nights off.  So, a couple hours after coming home Wednesday morning, and deciding to sit down and catch up on some things (namely this blog and my Bible reading) since I should have had the next two nights off with no other plans, I got a call from work.  It was BL calling to tell me that her doctors wanted her off until the 18th, but she thought she’d be fine with just two more days.  They’d already tried finding someone else to cover, but it turned out I was the only one available and willing to work.  So, I worked Wednesday and Thursday night, looking forward to Monday-Tuesday off.


Last night, the schedule came up and it turns out I’ve got Tuesday-Wednesday instead, so BL can stay off the truck nights – essentially, she’s got light-duty shifts and hours this week.  This is not to say that I have anything against her having light-duty, but the week is starting to feel long, and one more day added to it really doesn’t much appeal to my body at the moment.  Then, BL came in to pick up her paycheck, and she looked 100% worse than the last time I’d seen her.  Considering that the last time I’d seen her was after her having worked 3 days on a serious injury, and this time was after her having been off and (supposedly) able to rest for 4 days, I was expecting to see her feeling a lot better.  Honestly, though, if she comes in tonight looking like she did last night, I’d probably have to seriously talk to her about finding someone else to cover the shift.  Granted I’m not a manager or anything, to be in position to tell her to do this, but I don’t think I’d be comfortable just letting her work like that without saying anything about it at all.


As I said though, taking away the stress of an over-lengthened work-week (although I shouldn’t complain much, as my manager is having to work 7 days most weeks, 12+ hours a day, since she has no Assistant), this past week since Sunday has been pretty smooth.  Also, some other things are starting to line up pretty nicely in terms of scheduling of future events, particularly some that would be recurring on a weekly basis.


First example:  There is a Men’s Encounter coming up at the end of the month.  A friend of mine from cell group (hereafter referred to as JF), had offered to help me cover the expenses when the Encounter was first announced, and at the time I thanked him, but told him I probably wouldn’t be going for one reason or another.  Then this past Sunday put a new spin on things, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post.  I knew, after my first Encounter, that I would want to go on another one at some time in the future, but I didn’t have much real motivation to go (particularly with someone else paying) until I got my calling from God so obviously confirmed on Sunday.  This has left me with so many open questions about my future, and has revealed to me how important it is that I begin some more serious work on developing my relationship with God, so now I actually have a purpose for going to meet – and devote some solid quiet time – with God on an Encounter.


So, now I have a purpose, and the funds and transportation offered, but do I have the time?  Encounters are on a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule.  Last time I was able to go because we had some part-time third-shift people at work that could cover.  But now we’re running on (including myself) just three full-timers, one of which has a standing Friday-Saturday request off (and the 15 years’ seniority to back it up) because of her son’s Little League games.  Just talked to her last night though, and it turns out that their last (expected) game weekend is the weekend before the Encounter weekend.  Now, how to get the third day off without compromising on my paycheck?  Turns out that the last time I’d taken vacation days, when I was turning them all in, my employer only put in for two, leaving me one left out of my three that I had.  With the way that week lined up, it didn’t have much of an effect financially, so I just left the extra day in the bank, and had all but forgotten about it.


Another thing that’s lining up now is the Post-Encounter classes.  After an Encounter, there are (optional) follow up lessons once a week for 10 weeks, altogether called a Post-Encounter.  After my first Encounter, these were being held on Sundays at 0930.  (That way, a person going to Post-Encounter who might be in the choir could still go while keeping up with praise and worship for first and second services.)  This didn’t quite swing well with me since, at the time, I was still trying to get over the straight-from-work-to-church molehill as it was.  Then, Post-Encounters got re-scheduled to Wednesday nights, which completely did not match with my schedule at all.  However, today I had a short chat with Pastor Rob as he is coming back into town, and he mentioned that Post-Encounters are going to be moved now to Tuesdays at 1800, which fit in perfectly just before TLR.


Also, since I’ve gotten this renewed fire in my Spirit, I’ve started to consider attending our church’s School of Leaders classes.  Again, however, a Wednesday-night schedule doesn’t sit well with me or the rest of my week’s schedule.  This past Tuesday, though, an announcement was made about a new School of Leaders being started up by Pastor Rob, on Sunday mornings at the same time Post-Encounters used to be.  Now that I’ve gotten myself more in the groove of getting to church on Sundays, and earlier, this seems more a possibility.


I know it seems egotistical for one to think that so many events that also would affect so many other people are particularly lining up to one person’s schedule so nicely just for them, but it does at the very least seem to be a positive sign, doesn’t it?  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see as time flows on and these things actually come to pass.  It’s just amazing to me though, how it appears God is beginning to work now that I have begun to believe and accept the calling he has given me.


Now, the next question in my mind burns:  How can I live up to a calling in a career field that is almost entirely opposite of what my own strengths and interests have been in this life until now?  But I will leave that for a later post.  Now, it’s bedtime.


Good night, erm, afternoon, uhh… whatever you call it.


– Iszi


Song of the moment: Third Day – Take My Life

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Starting Over

Posted by Iszi on July 15, 2004

Greetings Readers!

Wow… It’s been awhile, eh? Got a lot to catch up on in this here journal of mine. First step to catching up, of course, is starting from where you left off. So, last I posted, I was a little behind on my Bible reading, right? Well, my laziness seems to have gotten the better of me again, and add to that the fact that a dozen chapters of the Bible to catch up on in short order kinda had me feeling very much overwhelmed to start, I found myself just slacking until I was behind a total of 5 days. Only reason it’s capped there is because I hadn’t laid out the schedule any further in MS Outlook yet. So, that’s a grand total of about 20 chapters to catch up on. Sounds like time for a new plan to me. I think I’ll try just re-scheduling all my missed readings to be done one at a time in the days ahead of me now, instead of catching up on days behind. Pretty much just going to pick up from where I left off, and reschedule accordingly. Might also consider leaving Sundays out of the reading schedule entirely this time.

So, with that out of my way now (I’ll do today’s reading later, and maybe post on it if something particular comes.), let’s update on the rest of the… what, almost a week now? Last post was last Monday, before cell group, so I’ll take it from there. In case you don’t have much time, I’ll warn you that that’s a long way to go, as a lot has been going on in my life this past week.

Monday in cell, we met a little early at our group leader’s house (as usual) to find him mowing the lawn. After he wrapped up the section he was working on (just in time for the meeting), we sat in his backyard (not usual – we usually meet inside in the nursery) and ate popsicles while we went over some scripture in reference to Elijah and Obadiah. (That having been a week ago, I don’t quite recall the full details of the pertinency of the scripture, but feel free to look up anything on the topic yourself.) After that, we started a project called the Prayer of Three. Essentially, the Prayer of Three is a project that involves us asking God for help to better connect with three people that we already know in our lives, with the end goal of eventually inviting them to come to church, and hopefully seeing them accept their salvation through Jesus Christ, and come to beter know God. Since my prayer life has never been very much active, and I’ve always had some sense of apprehension towards prayer, this wasn’t exactly a project I was looking forward to. Although I do know some people whom I would very much like to see come to Christ, the whole “praying” part of it (which is the core of the Prayer of Three project) kinda has me shying away from it, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Our group actually started the Prayer of Three assignment the week before. The first part of the assignment (each part is given a week’s devotion) was just to pray for three people to come to mind, that would be our Three to pray for. To be honest, I didn’t really do this part at all. I had one guy definitely in mind, whom I’d been trying to get to come to TLR for awhile. He’s a regular customer at my store, and has just been royally screwing up his life lately. I see in him the potential to become a great man, but he has a lot of straightening up to do first, and the only way that can happen is through Christ. So, that was one down. When it came time to list our Three on Monday, the next person that I could come up with was our Coca-Cola delivery guy, whose name just begs me to ask if he has Christian background. The third one I thought of is my brother who is currently in schooling through the USMC, and has virtually ex-communicated a majority of our family for various childish reasons. So, that day we prayed and agreed with each other for open doors so that we could make a connection to better know or better communicate with our Three. (Which was the second week’s assignment.) After that, we pretty much wrapped things up and left. I don’t recall what I did for the rest of the night, but knowing me it likely wasn’t much productive towards any goal, except probably sleep.

Tuesday, as usual, was TLR. Setup for that week’s service was also Tuesday. (Sometimes it’s done on Monday.) So, I got there plenty early enough to help out with that, and do a little extra cleaning on some of the glass tables and such. (One in particular had a horrid amount of candle wax dried and stuck to it that took a good bit to get completely clear.) I don’t really recall much of Pastor Rob’s sermon because, well there wasn’t much of a sermon really. Seems that in the middle of preparing for his message, his computer crashed on him and refused to come back up. Fortunately, we had another guest musician who helped cover the empty time, and gave a little message of his own in between songs, vaguely regarding the difference between “secular” and “sin”, a topic I may discuss in more detail another time. After TLR, I met with a guy I knew by acquaintance in the church (Whom I will refer to as CD, hereon.) who’d expressed interest in taking some time for us to better know each other. After talking for awhile and sharing our stories with each other, I had mentioned my concern regarding my prayer life, which he in turn offered to help me work on. From there, I think I just went home and to bed, as it had come to be past 2 AM.

Wednesday and Thursday were rough working. One of the other full-time third-shift workers at my store was on vacation, so my co-worker for the night was one who didn’t have much third-shift experience at all. And, on top of that, Thursday was a truck night. Never fun. Also, the other full-time third-shift lady (that wasn’t on vacation, hereafter referred to as BL) came in to visit. I had invited her once in the past to our church’s Senior’s service (called Forever Young), which is on Thursday afternoons, and she was planning on going that day. However, during the day, she’d had a slip and fall accident at a local McDonald’s, and seriously injured her hip. So, she had just gotten out of the hospital, and was stopping by on her way home to let me know, since she’d said she’d stop in (with the original intent) to tell me how the service went.

Friday and Saturday, BL came to work although she was in a good bit of pain. Sunday night she came just short of calling off work. I told her that, if it would help her feel better, I’d work Monday/Tuesday for her. She thanked me for it greatly, and when our manager came in for the morning, she swapped our days off. (BL had had Wednesday/Thursday off, so that’s what I now had.)

Also on Sunday, of course, was church. This week’s service totally rocked my world into a different orbit. First off, Pastor Alex was out of town this week, so Pastor Rob covered the sermon. His message was entitled “Just be…”, and covered three major mandates given to the church in the Bible: “Just go”, “Stay connected”, and “Just be”. Essentially the message pointed out various commandments that were given to the Disciples, that many Christians mis-interpret to not include them. I could elaborate more, but the message that day isn’t really what I’m here to talk about. What I do want to talk about is what happened after Pastor Rob’s message that morning, and after the altar call. It involves what I mentioned in an earlier post, regarding my possible call to be a preacher. But first I’ll give a bit of background information…

Until this past Sunday, I never really knew I was being called to preach, but God has been giving me hints here and there that, until now, I’ve all but dismissed as random wanderings of the mind, or strange coincidence. The first came probably a month or so after I started going to ChurchInTheSon, sometime not long after I’d gone to an Encounter, and found myself truly fired up for God. This first hint of my calling came to me in a dream. I do not remember all the details fully, but what I do remember is being at church, at night, and sitting in the sound booth, when Pastor Rob came to talk to me from the other side of the wall. I can only assume it was a Tuesday night, with me being at the computer making sure the PowerPoint presentation was ready for that night’s Praise and Worship in The Living Room. So, while I was checking out the presentation, Pastor Rob came to me and told me he wanted me to preach tonight. Of course, I had a hard time believing what I was hearing, but he said “I’ll handle the music like usual, but I want you to do the message tonight.” and then he walked away. While I was sitting there in this dream, trying to take in what I’d just heard, a scripture came to me. The words of the passage didn’t come to me; just the passage reference: Romans 3:13-15. In my dream, I was still quite confused by everything: This strange request by my Pastor, and this odd scripture that was in my mind, that I did not know. And it was around this time that I awoke. Either that, or the rest of the dream just did not stay with me in waking.

I looked up the verses that day, and still found myself confused since I could not see the significance in just those three verses. Looking at them again now, however, I do see more meaning particularly when taken in context with the full chapter. But I’ll write more on that at a later date, when I’ve had more time to study it.

So, that was my first hint. The second came when my “Yee-haw sermon” started coming to my mind, almost out of nowhere. I actually didn’t think much of this one in context of me being called to preach until one day, in conversation with a neighbor, my wife made reference to my dream and the “sermon” together. That got me started into thinking about it again for a bit, but after awhile I just shook it off again.

Another hint came on another Tuesday. It was mid-afternoon, and I was going to The Living Room that night, and was making some calls to some people I knew who might be interested in going also. One of those calls was to my ex-girlfriend, whom I’ve been able to keep in touch with off and on for awhile. We started talking about how things were going, and if she’d been to church lately and stuff. Turns out that she hadn’t gone to church for awhile, since the church her and her current boyfriend were going to started treating them badly, or something to that effect. So, she’d been checking out some other churches, like the one that was affiliated with the pre-school I’d grown up in. But she was only checking them out from a distance, looking at the websites and asking people she knew about them. She’d never really gone to one of the prospective churches, nor had her boyfriend. So, naturally, I invited her to TLR that night. She was apprehensive and started asking about what our church believed in and such. Also, she mentioned that she really wanted to wait on her boyfriend to go with her, which turned out to be her root excuse for not having gone to any of the other churches she was checking out. Supposedly, he’d been wanting to go to church just as she has, but one thing or another had been holding him back. I recounted how, had my wife continued to let my reluctance keep her from going to the church we were in now, we never would have gone and both of us would never have started to grow as much as we have in our relationship with God. Altogether the discussion over beliefs and excuses took about two hours or so, until I finally had to hang up and get out the door, or otherwise risk being horridly late. And the entire time, I felt on fire as if the words were just pouring out of my mouth and heart, almost out of my control. I felt as if I had just finished preaching a sermon to a one-person audience, and I usually don’t like “preaching” about anything to anyone.

Then, almost a month ago now, I started writing this blog. After the introductory posts, having found myself exhausted of any material that may be of interest, I decided to actually look up reference and put together this “Yee-haw sermon” that had only been a small collection of related thoughts and inspirations, up until that point. And it ended up being a lot longer, with more fire behind it, than I’d ever imagined. Okay, so it may not be my longest post-to-date (especially after this one, I’m sure), but it felt long and I’m sure it would have been longer if I’d let it.

In another post, I decided to just post what came to me from my Bible reading, as assigned by my cell group leader. The passage of reference was 1 Peter, Chapter 4, and the post itself ended up a lot longer than originally intended. In fact, I think I particularly recall forcing myself to cut it a little short. Again, it was as if I’d just been preaching a sermon that came almost as if from nowhere.

On another Tuesday night, during praise and worship at TLR, Pastor Rob just spontaneously called for the audience to shout “yee-haw”! Later, I asked him why he’d done it particulary, and he said he was just being silly, but the possible significance of it still hung in my mind.

During this time, I’ve also started to get the feeling that I need to get moving on from the rut that I’m in with the job I’m in. Of course, I’ve always known that the convenience store business wasn’t going to be my end-goal career for life, but I’ve been kinda just sitting on it for now, as just being enough to live on. I mentioned this to one of my friends from cell group who suggested, among other things, that I perhaps ask Jim if he knows of any jobs with the church that I might qualify for. Jim is the Technical Director of our church. One of his many duties is managing the sound board for church services, which includes The Living Room. So, I get to see him every week on Tuesdays, and of course he would be a good person for me to talk to in regards to job opportunites at the church, since my life’s career goal (until now) has been in the computer field.

So, with the thought of a job at church in mind, I also started to think more of what I want to get out of my next job, aside from just a paycheck or some credentials in a field. One of the things that came to mind was more time to devote to church activities. So, of course, what better way to get that time than to work at the church? Unfortunately, when I asked Jim, there weren’t any positions that needed filling. But the thought still stayed in my mind.

And now we come to Sunday, when absolute confirmation came during church service. After praise and worship, before Pastor Rob’s message, there were some people who had wanted to be baptised. Among these was my wife’s cell group leader, Crystal. Of course, Crystal has been a believer for quite some time, but she apparently felt that she needed to be baptised again as a renewal of her commitment and cleansing through Christ. Somewhat akin to a married couple’s decision to a renewal of vows after some time. This reminded me of my own subtle desire to be re-baptised, since I have had this recent renewal of spirit in God. I had also been considering that, should these little hints towards my destiny in pastoral service become something more serious that I would commit to, then I would definitely want a re-baptism to signify my own re-commitment to God’s service.

Then, throughout Pastor Rob’s message, there were some references to people being called to ministry, although that was did not quite seem to be the real focus of his message. Somehow, I just felt these particular words speaking to me in a way I’ve never heard anything speaking to me before. Towards the end of the message I started to make the connection, but still wasn’t feeling sure. I thought “God, if he says something about pastors or ministry that I feel speaking to me one more time, then I’ll know it’s from You, and this is what You want.”. I was asking for an un-deniable sign from God, one that I could not just shrug off, to convince me that I was absolutely being called to full-time ministry service.

Then came the altar call, where any non-believers in the congregation are asked if they wish to accept Jesus into their life. So, I was thinking “Okay, this is the end of the service. I guess I was wrong, or God’s calling me in a different way.”. But instead of the usual call to the lost, Pastor Rob added mention of those who need to re-commit themselves to God in a greater way. This touched me slightly, but I half-shrugged it off and just waited for the call to end. It did, and those who had answered the call were escorted out to another room where some of the church leaders would pray with them and talk with them about the significance of their decision and new direction in life. But that wasn’t all. After the alter was clear, Pastor Rob made another call. This time, it wasn’t to the lost. It was to people who were being called into ministry, who needed someone to pray and agree with them for a fresh annointing from God. That was it. I couldn’t deny it any longer, I couldn’t just shrug it off, and there was no way I would have been able to walk away and say that that second call didn’t mean anything to me. So I, among others, went up to the altar. After awhile there, one of the church leaders made their way around to me, laid hands on me and prayed over me. Awhile later, Pastor Rob also came and prayed over me and another person next to me.

Afterwards, I felt moved to just kneel down and pray. Something I can’t recall ever doing before. For that matter, I don’t ever recall answering an altar call before. I’d always figured that I knew Christ and had accepted my salvation, so there was no reason for me to go up to the altar. So, having answered an altar call for the first time, I knelt in prayer for the first time. Yeah, I’d prayed before in my life. But it was usually something prompted by group activity such as grace at the table, or the Prayer of Three in cell group, or something of that nature. And it was usually either standing or sitting. I can’t recall ever kneeling down to pray, let alone of my own initiative.

After all this, I still had a hard time believing (although now I knew) what was happening, and I did not have a clue where I should go or what I should do now that I do know what I’m here for. After going home and grabbing a bit of sleep, it was time for work again. This was the night I offered to cover BL’s Monday/Tuesday shifts. Also, throughout the night, I talked to her about the church service, and what had happened. She responded that she’d known I was called to be a pastor for awhile. I did a double-take. One of those “You-knew-this-already-and-you-didn’t-tell-me?” double-takes. What I really asked was “When did you know this?”. Her response was “About a month ago, when you started trying to grow your beard.”. (I’ve had a moustache and goatee for awhile, and had been wondering what a full beard would look like, but it never quite came in full enough to be a decent beard.) I found it strange that she should relate her knowledge of my calling to something as relatively insignificant as me trying to grow a beard, but made no mention of it at the time. Now, however, there was absolutely no way I could deny what God was trying to tell me.

The only question now is… how?

How is my life supposed to be so strongly connected to ministry? Is it to be among a specific age or interest group that I can relate to, like 20-somethings or computer gamers? Or am I to grow to become head pastor over a church some day? Is my ministry supposed to be in a local area in the USA, or somewhere else in the world? Will I have one home church, or will it become a worldwide movement that sends me fully around the globe a few times a year?

How am I supposed to get into the ministry? How can I go from the convenience store clerk that I am now, to the pastor and minister that God wants me to be? How can I endure or even afford the amount of schooling that will likely be necessary? How am I supposed to get out of this rut of a job that I’m in, and into one that will be better conducive to my growth in the direction God has for me?

These questions and more, as well as just the calling itself, have me totally blown away. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what God has in store for me. And keep praying and studying. So, I’m starting over on some things. This blog, for instance. I’ve fallen way behind and slacked off making on my entries. I’m going to start writing daily again, except probably on Sundays, as previously mentioned. Also, when I (should, finally) get a day off again on Monday, I’m going to start again from where I left off with my Bible reading plan. Meanwhile, I need to rest enough to be able to last through this 12-day work stretch I’m on. What I can do during that time, though, is start over again on my prayer life. CD hasn’t been quite keeping up with me much lately, as he’s had a bit of a busy time himself, but maybe that’s just another sign that this is something I need to try to work on as much as possible without help from anyone, short of God. I’ll also be reading and meditating on 1 Kings, Chapters 3 and 4, which are the reading assignment this week for cell group. I’ll probably post more on that later in the week, as well as Romans, Chapter 3.

That’s all for now. More to come as life goes on.

– Iszi

Song of the moment: Skillet – Locked in a Cage

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Still Here

Posted by Iszi on July 14, 2004

Good Morning, Readers.

I’m still here, and I have a post in the works to catch up on the past week or so of missed posts. However, I just received a phone call that cancelled my nights off for this week (was going to be off tonight and tomorrow – will elaborate when the post-in-progress is up), and I’ve been up and going since 1830 yesterday, and worked the past 7 days with no off-day so far, so it’s time to grab up a major emergency supply of Z’s.

I’ll have to catch up on this later, I guess.

– Iszi

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Catching Up

Posted by Iszi on July 8, 2004

Greatings, Readers.

Combine a pretty busy start to the week (for those whose schedules are actually affected by the “Sunday-Saturday” week) with a natural tendancy towards laziness (which I’m trying to work on, among other things), and what do you get? A guy (me, duh) who’s WAY behind (only a couple days, but that’s about 12 chapters!) on his Bible study, and consequently hasn’t updated his blog in awhile.

I’m still trying to catch up on the reading, but I think it’s going to be a good couple days of cramming before I’m back up to schedule. I’ll start putting more posts with actual content up once that’s done. (And there is a good bit to catch up on there, too!)

Until then, I’ll cy’allz l8r!

– Iszi

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Posted by Iszi on July 5, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

Well, as predicted, I’m busy catching up on yesterday’s and today’s bible readings together. I thought I’d pop in just to say “Hi, I’m still alive, and Happy belated Independence Day!”. More on that later. Right now, I gotta get back to the Book. (Genesis 3-4, Matthew 2, and Proverbs 1 from yesterday, and Genesis 4-5 and Matthew 3 for today.)

By the time I finish my reading, I should probably have just enough time to get ready for tonight’s cell group meeting, after which I should be able to come home and make a decent post, catching up on the past two days.

See y’allz then.

– Iszi

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Bible Study

Posted by Iszi on July 3, 2004

No real huge post today. Yesterday, after picking up my paycheck, I went out to get (among other things) a new Bible, as I had (don’t ask me how) lost the 2 that I used to have. (One was an NIV Student Bible – Link is to Revised edition, I had an earlier one – and the other was just a plain old, run-of-the-mill, raw NIV Bible I’d had for awhile – which, of course, I just found again today.) The new one I got, coming highly reccommended by my wife, my brother, and the girl at the Family Christian Store that we went to, is an NIV Study Bible. Here’s a direct link to the enlarged picture so you can see the lovely blue hardcover. (For those who don’t know, I like blue. A lot. I just can’t help it. But it has nothing to do with why I chose this Bible… honest! Just icing on the cake… yeah, that’s it.) 😉

So, along with (finally) getting a new Bible to read out of, I decided to start a Reading Plan to actually get myself into it more. Strangely enough, however, this Study Bible didn’t come with any Reading Plan included. So, I spent a little time on Google looking around for one that I could follow online. Finally, I’ve landed on one put together by Victory Christian Center, that matches what I’m looking for. (Read through the Bible in a year, not entirely linear, a bit of Old Testament and New Testament every day, with regular doses of Psalms and Proverbs along the way, rarely breaking chapters apart. Here’s the direct link (PDF format) to the study plan itself.

After finding that, I went ahead and did my reading for today. (Matthew 1, Genesis 1-2, and Psalms 1) And now, that brings me pretty close to bedtime. I’m hoping this reading plan won’t be so prohibitively time-consuming as to keep me from maintaining this blog the way I originally intended, but if that be the case, then I guess I do have to weigh priorities. 😦 I’ll keep y’allz posted on that for sure.

Also, a reminder: Don’t expect much if anything new up here tomorrow. It is Sunday, and I’ll be lucky enough to have energy to check my e-mail, let alone do any blogging after church. (As a matter of fact, I might end up doing double-readings on Mondays, to catch up from Sundays, on a regular basis.)

So, to quote the great Porky Pig… That’s all, folks!

See ya next time.

– Iszi

Song of the moment: FFH – Found a Place

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Posted by Iszi on July 2, 2004

Well, it looks like Wednesday/Thursday’s post didn’t happen. For some reason I just found myself overwhelmingly tired after making the post ahead of this one and had to surrender to sleep. I will get around to the post I was originally intending on making, but right now it’s kinda hard to concentrate on posting the way I want to, when there’s an actively cute baby in the crib next to me. I’ll get to it sometime, though.

– Iszi

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