Greetings all! I thought that a little update was in order from my last post for all that have been praying for us. First, C.C. and I want to express our deep gratitude and appreciation for those that sent us money since my last post. I don’t know of anything else to say other than we are incredibly humbled and indebted to you all. I feel that far too often we followers of Christ settle for generalities when what we need to do is share specifics of whatever may be a struggle for us or what needs we may have. I was very tempted to take another route besides the one of authenticity and not be so honest about our/my struggles since we got to Houston. But the more I prayed about it the more I felt God telling me to share specifics and to let Him and the body of Christ do the rest. I am, for one, greatly inspired when the church does what the body of Christ is supposed to do. Most of what we received was totally anonymous and because of that we can’t give you a direct thank you. Whoever you are please accept our thanks. And we also received assistance from our small group and church back in Abilene, Crosspoint Fellowship. Some of you are presently at the BGCT meeting in downtown Houston and it really kills me that we probably can’t get in to see ya’ll. When someone is a part of Crosspoint they are truly a part of something I feel is special and unique. It was a privilege to be a part of a church such as Crosspoint that is committed to the missional journey and living in the story of Christ as a community. Honestly, I think Crosspoint may have spoiled us and in my opinion we need a Crosspoint Fellowship in SW Houston. 🙂
Just briefly here are some updates from some of the requests that I shared in the last post.
- The gifts that we received enabled us to be able keep our bills up to date. Technically, we should probably still be behind, even with the gifts that we received, because the math still doesn’t totally add up. But, and I confirmed this with my personal accountant (which would be my lovely wife), that not only are we current with ALL our bills but we are actually about 2 weeks ahead of them! All I know to say is, praise God!
- C.C.’s foot is doing better. We found out is not a stress fracture as we were told to begin with but a form of tendinitis. She is out of the walking boot (which I’m quite sure was not made for so much actual walking) and had some special inserts made for her shoes. Another praise here is that these inserts aren’t likely covered by insurance but we have had an offer from someone to pay for them for if the aren’t.
- We were able to get the oil changed in the car.
- And a really big praise is that it looks like I finally have a job. It contingent of course on the background check and a health screen, but those shouldn’t be a problem. I will be working for the St. Luke’s Hospital in Sugar Land (C.C. is at the one downtown) in the kitchen preparing food and delivering meals to the patients. It will be primarily a weekend job but it should provide enough to make the ends meet (and its NOT retail!). I should start at the end of this month.
These are some of the specifics that we would still like you to keep in prayer:
First, continue to keep our finances (car payment, rent, food, etc) in prayer. One thing that is for certain, as we all know, is that the bills will come due again next month. We are thankful for the provision thus far, but we also appreciate your continued prayer.
Second, unless something drastic and unexpected happens we won’t be able to make it for graduation at Logsdon in December. As I said in the previous post, it could be a totally sentimental thing, but C.C. and I worked hard to help get each other through our Logsdon degrees and it would mean a lot for us to be able to walk together. However, this is one of the things that we haven’t been able to take care of yet and it looks like we may have to see if we can walk in May (though I would personally prefer December).
Third, there has been a development concerning my plans to pursue a PhD. No, I am not chickening out or anything. However, due to a combination of me misjudging application deadlines (they were coming up way sooner than I expected) and not being able to have taken the GRE yet I/we have decided it is best to wait, instead of just putting together applications and a GRE at the last minute. By waiting I will be able to give the apps the attention they deserve and I will be able to study more for the GRE in order to get the best score possible. Thankfully, I have been extended a very generous offer from someone to pay for the GRE cost for me. In the meantime, Christie is looking at trying to get into a 2nd year CPE program and we have also decided that I should go ahead and apply to do a first year CPE residency myself next year, so I am in the process of getting that application filled out. Next year has to potential to be very busy.
The Search for a church…
Finally, we are still searching for a church. I have to admit my frustration here. For one thing, I don’t like the idea of church shopping but it feels like that is what we have been doing. The idea of church shopping seems to conjure up images that have become common of peoples looking at churches only for “goods” and “services” that they can consume. But the reality is that this is the exact opposite of what we want to do. What are we looking for in a church? Well, in short, we are looking for a place that does not feed into this consumerism. We are looking for a church that is an incarnational, holistic community that has an awareness of living within the deep narrative of Christ and Scripture (and that hopefully has at least somewhat of an awareness of the lectionary and liturgy). Far from a consumeristic focus we are looking for a church that has a missional focus, a missional community that seeks to journey and struggle together in figuring out how to embody the gospel in and through the natural rhythms of life (and that is hopefully comfortable with the fact that C.C. is ordained). This is the kind of church that we feel like Crosspoint is, but something that we have not really been able to find here.
It seems that the area of Houston we are in is the land of the megachurches and while some are admittedly better than others, at least one church that we went to could aptly be described as “Six Flags over Jesus.” It seemed, at least to me, to be overly concerned with slick production and entertainment, the worship set was basically a concert complete with light show, smoke, and the works. A concert is fine every so often but a steady diet of this kind of entertainment candy can’t be good for anyone! So, yes, I’m pretty disenchanted at this point. This same church as above had no scripture reading at all until twenty minutes into the “talk” – almost 50 minutes into a service that only went 70 minutes. It just strikes me how “conservative evangelicals” want everything to be “biblical” and will absolutely go to mat for inerrancy, but scripture makes up so little of our corporate worship. These same evangelicals will often accuse liturgical types of having a “low” view of scripture when actually the corporate reading of scripture plays a central role in their worship.
In my opinion this should make one wonder. When scripture IS used (in the churches that we have checked out here) it is usually in the form of 1) reduce it down to bullet point doctrinal propositions with a powerpoint, 2) reduce it down to a bullet point “application” with a powerpoint, 3) or some sort of individual self improvement or self-therapy (aka 3 steps to whatever) with a powerpoint. [I should state here that it’s not that I think that powerpoint type things are bad, just the poor and reductionistic use of these things is what frustrates me.] My belief is that much of this flows from what might be called the McChurch template, it’s all the same. Each one is like the other, individualistic, and actually (again in my opinion) consumeristic in nature. Some of these churches may use the word “missional” but it’s not really what we know as missional. There is no corporate wrestling with Scripture in community, no seeming awareness of the lectionary or liturgy, no living in the story of the Bible as God’s people. But then again, once scripture has been boiled down to bullet point propositions, applications, and self help therapy then where is there even a need for the Bible? If this is what it means to be “evangelical”, I may have to reconsider (though I’ve never been overly concerned with labels as such and there may be more important labels than this one)…how can a church (and I ask this with all sincerity) claim to be “evangel-ical” (of the gospel) when it has such a superficial, individualistic view of scripture?
I should specify that I don’t think it’s that many of these churches are not sincere in what they do. But I do think there is a level of individualism, consumerism, and a superficial use/view of scripture that goes unnoticed in the seeker model that most of these churches have adopted or at least copied and adapted to a certain extent. Also, I think that churches should really try to better understand what missional means before using it as a descriptor for their church. Well, I’ll just close by asking for prayer for 1) a genuinely missional community that we can be a part of, 2) for this new job since it is weekends which means that I’ll probably have to work Sunday mornings which would throw a kink in things (though we could go to Ecclesia’s 5:30 service but the drawback is that it is a pretty good drive downtown to get there), and 3) for us just attending a service once a week is not enough, we need a group we can do life with. So pray that we will be able to find a small group soon.
For His Kingdom.