free flying soul

"this world has nothing for me and this world has everything...all that I could want and nothing that I need"

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Location: Macclesfield, North Carolina, United States

Born: 1970; Graduated High School: 1988; Married: 1991; Children: 1996, 2000, 2005; Graduated College: 2008; Figured Out This Faith Thing: In Progress

Friday, April 30, 2010

Kickin' It Old School

For some reason...many people are surprised to discover that I have a rather decent understanding of rap music...especially stuff that was released between 1980 and 1995. Two of the volunteers here were highly amused by the fact that I was listening to De La Soul and Public Enemy this afternoon. That gave me the opportunity to explain just how a white kid in 1988 made the transition from hair metal to hard-core rap. It really was not much of a leap. Teenagers (most of them) have a history of gravitating towards the things that terrified (or scared) their parents. Rap was no different.

Once the middle class folks realized that Motley Crue and Twisted Sister were nothing more than cartoon characters, the kids needed something scarier. Can you imagine what it was like for white parents the first time they heard Public Enemy or N.W.A. blasting out of little Johnny's room? I realize that I am generalizing and using rather broad strokes...but I think I am pretty close.

Like I said was not a huge leap either. Groups like Run-DMC and Beastie Boys were already blending hard rock and rap so those young headbangers had no problem tracking along. By the time Public Enemy and Anthrax teamed up...rap was already starting to become a part of every day was in my world.

I still like to listen to a lot of the old stuff...I like the beats...I like they way they rhyme. I can still spit off most of the lyrics from Run-DMC's Raising Hell album. I never really considered the fact that some people would be surprised by that. Rap has been around for most of my life. It is a part of my generation. I do not like all of it...but...I do not like all of the bands that play hard rock or metal either. I just took for granted that everybody likes at least some rap. My mother even liked the Fat Boys...although I do not believe that earned her any street cred.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Am I Doing Here?

I think that is a legitimate question. What am I doing here while I have this limited amount of time here on Earth? Can I justify all of the time I waste doing trivial playing with this blog? Can I justify the time I spend watching television or listening to music? What kind of steward am I with my time?

Honestly? Truthfully?

I suck. I do get up and go to work five days a week and I do spend time being involved in various church related activities...but does that excuse all of the time that I totally waste? I am being perfectly honest. I waste it. I blow it. I kill it.

How much time could I spend in the Word if I would cut out the silly stuff? How much closer could my family be if we spent all that time together...instead of entertaining ourselves?

I personally do not believe it is wrong to seek entertainment...but when it becomes the biggest part of our lives...I think there is a problem.

I know that I need to take a good look at what I am doing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Brain Is Not Responding.

This will be the shortest post I have made in a while. Honestly...I really do not have anything on my mind. There was a school shooting up in Portsmouth, Virginia (no injuries) and one of my buddies is a youth minister at the church across the street. I have spent a good portion of this afternoon watching the updates to see if anyone was shot.

I guess I am emotionally spent from following the story...but I am thankful that no one was hit by the shot. Perhaps I will have something worth saying tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You Ever Seem To Have One Of Those Days?

I am in a weird mood...although I do not know if "mood" is the best word to describe it. I feel like something is going on in the spiritual realm and it is bleeding over into the material world.

*cue Twilight Zone music*

I get these feelings from time to time. I never really know how to react. I usually brace myself for something interesting.

Here is one for you:

We have just been informed that I now make too much money to qualify for Medicare. Apparently...a family of five should be able to pay rent, buy groceries, pay utilities, pay taxes AND pay for insurance on $16,000 a year. Medicaid will still cover the kids but my wife and I are now on our own.

This brings up all kinds of questions. I do not have the answers to those questions. In my heart...I do not believe that the government owes my coverage...I really do not. However...being the parent of three children who will not have any coverage without government programs tends to make me question the system.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Random Monday Afternoon Thoughts

Normally I would have today off...but...I took Saturday off to do the wedding. Eric asked me if I wanted to work at the job site with the volunteer team that is here this week and I jumped at the chance. It was on a trip just like this one that I got the idea to move down to Mississippi. That did not turn out exactly the way I envisioned it but I do remember how much I enjoyed that initial trip.

I had a blast working with these kids that are down from Vermont. I "supervised" some of them as they sanded walls and then slung mud on sheetrock. It brought back memories of my time down in the Gulf. It made me realize just how much I miss the people in Pearlington and Slidell. It also made me a bit sad that I have so quickly lost touch with all of them. They really mean a lot to me and I think about them all of the time. I really do want to go back down there and visit...but I do not know when/if that will happen. I guess I will have to leave it in God's hands.

It is really cool being on the other side of these trips. It is refreshing to see a bunch of high school kids fired up about helping out people so far away from their home. It helps restore my hope in mankind. I know that may sound a bit melodramatic but it is true. Sometimes I think that most people are just sorry. I see so many of them treating one another like crap...and many of them are in the church. It is good to know that there are people out there who are trying to help.

That is definitely a benefit to this job.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Brief Pause To Relax

I made it through the last three days unscathed. Of course...I really was not worried that I would be scathed in the process. It is good to get to the end of a planned event and realize that it went off without a hitch.

The wedding was beautiful. The service was nice and everyone behaved. There was a lot of drama leading up to the wedding...including a damaged wedding dress and a dog who decided to eat part of the wedding cake. There was a cheese ball that magically disappeared and then magically reappeared half-eaten...just in time for the reception. The musician for the wedding did not show up until about fifteen minutes before the service started. There were short tempers and family all ended up on a very nice note. I was honored to be a part of it.

I preached today and I think it went well. I borrowed the basic idea from a sermon I had read elsewhere...but I think I made it my own. People seemed to enjoy it. I will be honest...I never know how to respond to those comments people make as they are leaving. Do they really think the sermon was good...or are they just saying what they think they should be saying? Are the people slipping by without speaking just in a hurry...or do they think the sermon sucked and do not want to have to tell me?

I do not know. In the grand scheme of things...I guess it does not really matter.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's A Nice Day For A...White Wedding

I am sitting here at the church relaxing before this afternoon's wedding. This experience (especially the last 24 hours or so) has gotten me to thinking. Imagine that.

When June 29 rolls around this year my wife and I will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. I struggle with growing older...especially as I watch my kids hit those childhood milestones that I vividly remember. I will turn 40 in June and I really do not have a problem with it...however...I am still amazed at how fast time zooms by.

I met my lovely wife 22 years ago. I kissed her for the first time 22 years ago. We began "going together" 21 years ago. We got engaged 20 years ago. Those numbers baffle me. I have been involved in a relationship with my wife for over half of my life. I can still remember how I felt the first time I saw her...walking through the kitchen at Pizza Inn. I remember all of the times we used to hang around together after work. I remember our first unofficial date (with the aforementioned kiss) like it was yesterday. I also remember our first "REAL" date almost a year later. I remember proposing to her while we sat in the car eating lunch.

There are so many things that come to mind as I sit here and reflect on the past 20 or so years. I remember how quickly the two days passed when we got married. I remember being nervous and then everything being over. Fortunately...we have two really good video recordings of the service. If not...I probably would not remember much of it at all.

I have kept this in mind as I worked with this couple getting married today. I have tried to guide them and help them as they make this a day to remember. I have also told them that there is no need to stress out over all of the little stuff...they will never remember it. I hope and pray that they have a wonderful wedding today. I hope that I do what I need to do and make things go smoothly.

I hope that in 19 or 20 years they will be able to sit down and think about today. I hope that when they do...they will only have good thoughts come to mind.

LORD...bless us and keep us. Be with this family as it begins today. Watch over them and protect them. Let Your Spirit constantly point them back towards You.


Friday, April 23, 2010

A Real Entry? Nope...Just Me Thinking Again

I am officiating a wedding tomorrow. The couple does not attend our congregation and I only know them from the handful of meetings I have had with them. Early in the process they told me that they did not want a "religious" wedding ceremony. After discussing the issue I told them that I would be happy to officiate a civil (is that the right word?) ceremony if that is what they really wanted...they did.

Fast forward to last week. I get a call from one of the elders telling me that they (the elders) do not want the wedding to take place in the church building. They want me to call the couple and explain to them why. Needless to say...I was a bit stressed. I had made it relatively clear to the minister of our congregation that the ceremony was going to be a civil ceremony and not a religious one. We had agreed that it was odd but that there really was not a problem...until...someone who had heard about what was going on complained and insisted that we not allow a "non-Christian" wedding to take place in THE church.

Fortunately...our minister stepped up and explained that this was an opportunity to minister to people and that the congregation was probably legally bound due to the contract and deposit collected from the couple. Long story short...the wedding is still taking place tomorrow and the couple is happy. I imagine we will still have some members of the congregation who are not pleased...and that got me to thinking.

*insert winking smiley icon here*

Which is worse: officiating a civil ceremony for a couple who is not interested in a "religious" ceremony...or...forcing a couple to deliberately lie during a "religious" ceremony just so they can use the building?

Just for the record...after more discussion with the couple...they have decided to use some Scripture (portions of 1 Corinthians 13) and to have two prayers in the service. Are they doing that just to say that it is a "religious" service and have no more issues? I do not know. I do not think it really matters.

I initially met this couple to determine if there were any reasons why I should not perform the ceremony. They passed my personal litmus test so I moved forward. I have no problem officiating this wedding. I understand that there are some people who think that I am probably sinning (or worse) by being involved in this. I do not know what to say to them. I will be honest...marriage as we know it is a government thing. I believe 100% that the spiritual side far outweighs the legal side of it but the fact remains that many people only consider the legal side of it. Our churches are already entangled in that mess because we function as non-profit, tax exempt organizations. I think that opens us up to all sorts of things.

I understand why a devout Christian may have a problem with a "non-Christian" wedding taking place in the building...but...someone should have thought about that before they signed a contract and took money from the people. If it is that big of an issue then there should be some very clear rules as to what is and is not acceptable and those rules should be explained BEFORE letting anyone use the building. It is like our minister explained...the couple could probably sue us (and win) if we backed out one week before the wedding. That would not be the greatest PR move in my personal opinion.

I know I have rambled a bit and this is somewhat disjointed...I am just thinking out loud. Real bloggers sit down and draft their thoughts out before launching them into cyberspace. I just sit down and start banging away at my keyboard. I guess I have learned one thing during all of this. I have narrowed down my pre-marital counseling to just one question. Why don't you guys elope?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Maybe It Is Just Me

You know what? I mess things up a lot. Becoming a follower of Christ and going to Bible college did not change that. Being ordained as a minister did not change that. The truth matter what I do or how hard I try...I keep screwing things up.

I used to believe that was why I had such a tough time finding a church to minister to. In my mind I told myself that I had to have it all together in order to be used by God. I falsely looked at guys (some much younger than myself) and thought that they had to have things completely straight with God. They would not be working in churches if they were as screwed up as I was.

Boy...was I wrong. I have since learned that many (maybe MOST) preachers, elders and teachers fight the same things I do. We all are sinners covered by the grace of God and we ALL have areas that still need to be completely surrendered to God. Show me a preacher who claims that he has it all together and I will show you a liar.

That is why GRACE is so awesome. God uses us IN SPITE of ourselves. Even when we fall down on our faces, He picks us up and continues to use us. I may never serve as the minister of a congregation...honestly...I am starting to wonder if I even want to anymore...but that is not the point. The point is that God is going to use me right where I am no matter how screwed up I get.'s a beautiful thing. My goal is to live in that grace and extend it to everyone I come in contact with.

That is what Jesus told us to do...right?

Once again...I'm thinking about it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Does This Mean That I Am Over It?

I just read that a church here in Eastern North Carolina is looking for a preacher. I have preached at this church on numerous occasions and got along with them splendidly. They just hired their last preacher in 2008...I know this because I filled their pulpit while they waited for him to move from Ohio.

Two months ago I would have already sent my resume and a CD of a sermon. I would be telling everyone to be praying that a door might be opened for me. I would be desperately hoping that they would be interested in talking to me again.

You know what my response was? I laughed and left the website. I called my wife and we had a good laugh about it together. You know what? I do not believe that I want to be a preacher anymore. As much as I enjoy doing it...the church has pretty much killed any desire I have to serve in that capacity.

What does that mean? I do not know...but I am thinking about it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Jump Start My Blog

I. Am. Lazy. There...I said it. I want to be one of those prolific bloggers with captive audiences but the truth is...I am too lazy to write and market myself. I may have three or four people who check this thing when I update it and that is nobody's fault but mine. If I were serious about this whole blogging thing then I would take the time to construct thought-provoking entries that would entice people to respond. I would invest myself in this thing and try to get it out there for people to read. I do not know how to motivate myself to do that. I am thinking about it. That is something I am REAL good at. Thinking about it. I have lived my whole life thinking about it.

I am performing a wedding this weekend. I am ready for it to be over. I do not like the stress and pressure of being the minister in a wedding for a group of people who I really do not know. What if I mess it up?

I am also preaching at my home church this weekend. I am more relaxed about that. I enjoy preaching. I actually thought I was going to be a preacher but God (or someone) had a different idea. People are still telling me to be patient, that God will work in His own time. These are not ideas that I disagree with...but I have given up on the whole idea of being "called" to preach or minister at a local congregation. I think that is the biggest line I was fed at Bible College. It is not the only one...but I think it is one of the worst. I pretty much believe that the way we run our churches is a disgrace. Church is not a democracy. Church is not a business. Why do we continue to shove those faulty models into the body of Christ?

I don't know. If I were one of those prolific guys I would write a whole series of entries about this. But...I have already told you. I am lazy.