My Wordspace

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

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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