Friday, January 26, 2007

Are YOU a Coloradan (at heart)?

Everywhere, it seems, people are complaining or bragging about the weather conditions in their respective climate. Complaining there is too much snow; bragging there is so much snow. Complaining they do not have snow; bragging that it is warm. Yesterday we, those of us in the Rocky Mountain Front Range, received 5 more inches of snow. Some would say that as a complaint while others would say it boastfully.

Last week I would have complained. The week before that I was indifferent. In the week before that, I would have been bragging. Now, though, it is becoming normal.

Ice everywhere, ten foot buldoze generated snow mountains in parking lots, getting up extra early to scrape off your car, fighting traffic in low visibility, wearing three layers of clothes, drinking hot beverages at every meal, abiding in single digit temperatures and seeing WHITE where ever you look!

The snow Wednesday was beautiful. Ben, Ann Marie and I had a great time after the Chris Tomlin concert inspecting the individual snowflakes. It was the first time I have EVER been able to see, with my own eyes, the unique characteristics of individual snowflakes. It was so cold that they were not melting. They were sticking to the car window, giving us a perfect inspection field.

I cannot even begin to describe the beauty of what I saw. So I won't even try. All I will say is, "Blessed be the name of the Lord; He who created the monsterous galaxies in the universe also fashioned gazillions of snowflakes on Wesdnesady... and Thursday... and Friday. I love You, Creator!"

So, as a tribute to the state of Colorado, my home for 14 years and, if I may say so, the best state ever... please read on:

You know you are from Colorado if....

You'll eat ice cream in the winter.
(High temp yesterday was 16 and I had ice cream)

When the weather report says it's going to be 40 degrees, you shave your legs and wear a skirt.(Girls only, please! I saw a guy in shorts and flip-flops when it was 30 degrees last week...)

It snows 5 inches and you don't expect school to be cancelled.
(Unless there is 10 inches on the ground already... or 25 for that matter)

You'll wear flip flops every day of the year, regardless of temperature.
(Yep, pretty much)

You have no accent at all, but can hear other people's. And then you make fun of them.
(We don't have acccents, seriously, and we do tease a little...)

"Humid" is over 25%.
(We have to drink our humidity if we want it)

Your sense of direction is: Toward the mountains and Away from the mountains.
(If I EVER move someplace that is FLAT I will be LOST all the time. Everyone here says the same thing and if they lived somewhere else before having mountains they are not sure hoe they EVER got around without them. You never say, "Head west." You say, "Go towards the mountains.")

You say "the interstate" and everybody knows which one.
(Until I read this I had never thought about it, but it is incredibly true. The funny thing... there are a dozen interstates around, but somehow we just know!)

You think that May is a totally normal month for a blizzard, and you grew up planning your Halloween costumes around your coat.
(Hahahahahahaha... yep)

You know what the Continental Divide is and you have been there- several times.
(And you frequently talk about "the passes" and know in general where they are.)

You were tear gassed at college and you can't even remember why....something about football...
(HA HA. If you do not get that, you are not from Colorado.)

You've gone off-roading in a vehicle that was never intended for such activities.
(SO true!)

You own an SUV. Or two. Or three. And you brag or complain about gas mileage.
(Our household only has one.)

You always know the elevation of where you are.
(Of course... who doesn't? Elevation where I am at right now is 5,544 feet above sea level. Where I live is 5,670 feet above sea level.)

You wake up to a beautiful, 80 degree day and you wonder if it's going to snow tomorrow.
(In the fall and spring it is possible... and I have warn shorts one day, sweaters the next and shorts on the third day.)

You get frustrated when people confuse Wyoming with Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, or "one of those other big square states out west."

When you hear that the Chiefs and the Raiders are having bad seasons, you laugh uncontrollably.
(Well, maybe not me, but everyone else does. There are city riots between these fans and Bronco freaks too!)

Every movie theater has military and student discounts.

Everybody wears jeans to church.

It is common for your out-of-town guests to faint/throw-up from altitude sickness on a picnic to the mountains.
(Yep. Dawn, are you excited about coming to visit???)

When people out East tell you they have mountains in their state too, you just laugh.
(Pretty much.)

You go anywhere else on the planet and the air feels "sticky" and you notice the sky is no longer blue.
(Ahhh... I love Colorado!)

You know how to get to Focus on the Family, Garden of the Gods, Boulder, all ski resorts, Casa Bonita and the 16th Street Mall.
(and, if you are a Christian you know how to get to Riverside Baptist Church! You remember Rick Ferguson and you know how, and when, he died.)

You know how to pronounce Berthoud, Genesee, Pueblo and Vail.

You laugh at people who have all matching ski gear and mutter, "Tourist."
(Lepard print outifts are my favorite and I mutter, "Californian." I love people from California, Dawn, but no one else wears lepard print gear.. save for maybe New Yorkers.)

You own 10 pairs of gloves, wool socks, 3 pair of long underwear and jackets to match anything.
(Just 10?)

If none of the above made sense to you, then you are probably not from Colorado!

Now, can anyone tell me what the proper order is for the following (they are not in order):
1- Scrape ice on windshield.
2- Brush snow off of windshield.
3- Brush snow off of hood.
4- Pull windshield wipers up off of windshield.
5- Start car.
6- Turn heater inside car on.
7- Turn defrost on.
8- Get in car to leave.

If you can put them in the right order you...
1- ...asked a Coloradan for help.
2- ...are really smart.
3- ...are a really good guesser.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I spent over an hour uploading pictures from my trip to California. Then, blogger decided to wipe them all out for me.

Nice, huh?

I will post more later, but all I have to say about my trip:


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life by Ministry

I titled the last post, "Death by Ministry." I knew that may come across as harsh, cold and arrogant. So, I wanted to assure you that, although much pain and heartache is associated with "career" ministry, there is much life as well. This life cannot be experienced any other way than by serving people.

And that is what engergizes, motivates and encourages the pastoral heart.

When you are in ministry you see and experience things that no one else does. You sit bedside with the dying and the next moment craddle a newborn baby. You give pre-marital counseling and accept the divorced. You support weddings, attend countless graduations and do funerals. You comfort the grieving, rejoice with the celebrating, cry with the discouraged, smile with the newly engaged, facilitate programs, host parties, attend parties, go to countless conferences, retreats and concerts, travel the world and meet a ton of people!

Growing up in the home of a minister was normal for me and ministering to people was life. As a family we absolutely love serving people. I remember many times when we would get phone calls in the middle of the night with prayer requests, hospital runs and "It's a boy!" news. The week of "Vaction Bible School" was a nightmare for all church staff, though, for a staff member and their family might as well move into the church that week! Hahaha... good times. :-)

Now that my dad is not an official "pastor," it feels a tad strange. Yet, the more we are outside of the "job" of pastor, we see how much more freedom there is to do ministry! I can tell you, when your paycheck is attached to ministry, everyone feels the freedom to boss you around. Since my dad has been a property manager, he is free to serve without political church restraints. And serve he has been able to do! After two months at the new job he has had numberous employee hospital visits, financial counseling and went to a funeral.

A pastor like my dad and D. can choose to turn their back on ministry or they can realize that ministry is life- whether you are "employed" by the "local" church or not. When you have been called by God to minister to people the calling does not vanish when the church asks you to leave. No matter what humans, who are imperfect, say about a person's calling, God has a plan that cannot be avoided so easily.

The situation in the "local" church can be discouraging if you look at the politics. God has been gracious to me by allowing me to step outside the church for a while to watch THE Church. Now that I work at a para-church mission organization I am able to watch first hand how God is moving among the people's of the world and His global Church.

And She (the Bride of Christ) is beautiful. She is generous, loving, compassionate and kind. She cares for the poor, feeds the hungry, attends the sick, comforts the orphan and weeps with the widow. She is putting her life on the line to take the gospel where it is not allowed to go. She is translating the Bible into hundreds of new tongues. Many times she is unknown for her acts of bravery and kindness.

There is a silence betwen Hebrews 11 and 12 where the writer skips from his, as many call it, "Hall of Faith" to a general "cloud of witnesses." You and I are in that break until our death when we join the "cloud." The gap includes amazing people like Count Zinzendorf of the Moravians (if you don't know who that is, do some research), William Tyndale, Martin Luther, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot and many more.

Several weeks ago I learned of a woman who died last March. My job for OMF International is to process the specialty donations we receive like estates, trusts and stocks. A week before Christmas I pulled a normal looking letter out of an estate envelope. The letter read as usual until I saw, "the percentage of this estate desiganted to you is: 100%." That was odd, since usually we are only allocated as 1% or 10%.

I read on and suddenly stopped, gawking. Did that really just say what I think it said? It detailed, "The balance of this account, as of (the date) is...$xxx,xxx.xx" Were there really that MANY numbers? I read and reread the letter to make sure I had correct reading comprehension skills. I began showing it to others in the financial department. We excitedly agreed- 100% MUST be 100% of THAT number!!!

The director of personel came up to ask a question and I showed him the letter. He about jumped out of his skin with excitement and laughed, "Let's go tell the leadership team right now, they are having a meeting!!!" He about drug me down tot he meeting, threw open the doors and bounced in declaring, "Jaclyn has something to share with you all!"

There I stood, letter in hand, gazing at the top leaders (about 15) of Overseas Missionary Fellowship. They stared at me curiously so, shaking with excitement, I began to recite the news. Right before I read the line with the amount I began to get teary. Great, I thought, here I am infront of all of these men crying! I looked up and I could see that they understood the seriousness of what I was reading. I smiled and continued.

When I read the amount a vast display of emotions erupted- some clapped, others shouted "Praise God" and the rest sat shocked with awe. For dramatic emphasis I read the last line again. The president motioned me to his side and I showed him the letter. I cannot even begin to describe the look on his face. I will never forget it as long as I live.

The question we all asked, "Who was Grace Chiu and why did she leave OMF her estate?" We began the detective work and discovered very little. All we knew at that time is that she called us three years ago to put us in her will. We finally found more information:

"Aside from what we already know: Grace and her family were originally from Hong Kong. Grace became a believer in high school in HK, coming to the US by herself to pursue undergraduate studies. After receiving her doctorate in chemistry a few years later she remained in the US in Pensacola, FL except for a brief time back in HK to teach. Lena and Grace's brother came to Canada at around the same time as Grace's coming to the US. Their parents followed and lived with Lena and her husband in Canada until their deaths. Grace visited them in Canada often over the years. Grace never married and had no children. She died of lung cancer after a 3 year illness. Upon learning of her illness, she retired and move to Toronto to be closer to her family. The vast bulk of her estate is represented by the OMF gift. OMF is well known to the family and it did not surprise Lena that we were named a beneficiary. The only surprise was that Grace did not also name the University of West FL or others. The endowment in Grace's name at the university was established by Lena and her husband."

Please visit this memorial website and rejoice with all of us at OMF:
Death by ministry. Life by ministry. Then there is the third combonation: Life and death by ministry, but I will save that for another post...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Death by Ministry

It has been a while since I posted something significant here. The holidays, blizzards, work and family have definately been keeping me busy! Did you hear that Colorado is to get yet another snow storm, number four, that could be WORSE than the first (that was 30")? Most of us do not believe it will really be that bad... but in Colorado, you NEVER know!

This holiday season marked one year since my dad was asked to resign from his associate pastor position at our church of seven years. The new senior pastor told my dad he did not have a call to ministry and did not fit at the church anymore. The deacons, many of whom had been my dad's supprt (or so we thought), stabbed him in the back with harsh words, verbal condemnation and social manipulation. In an instant we were asked to leave our church, friends and job. It was awful. We struggled as a family, for sure, with bittnerness, anger, pain, rejection, heartache and denial. We asked many questions like, "How could a body of believers do this?" "God, what is Your purpose?"

The last year has been a constant journey of faith. Many days we cried. Other days we worried where the next house payment would come from. Then we cried some more. We wondered if friends from the church would call. The phone remained silent. We heard through twisted grapevines that the church had been told we willingly resigned. Lies, of course. We cried some more.

Yet, God gave us divine strength to face unimaginable rejection.

You truly cannot understand the pain that a pastor and his family faces when those who they serve shoot them in the back. A pastor and his family will spend years pouring their love, life and soul into a church body and many times face rejection as the only "thank you."

Trust me, I know it is not the case for every church every where, but let me tell you something. In the last year we have had at least 5 pastor friends face the exact thing we went through. There are books, seminars and entire counseling offices dedicated to pastor's and their families who have been abused by the church. It is a real problem in the church today and until someone has the courage to stand up to the political pastoral abuse, then it will continue.

If you do not believe me yet, read this edited email my dad got YESTERDAY from a close friend: (I have put things in bold that are common things that happen when pastors are asked to resign)

Well, the other shoe fell here in PA. The perfect church (LOL) turned out not to be so perfect. After T. (his wife) finished doing the children’s musical on Christmas, I was called to the church on Dec 28th and they said you still have not improved and we have gotten complaints. Which he never told who the complaints were from. The last time I knew there was a problem was in September and then in Oct the chairman said the book was closed everything was good. Then bam.

My last day was Dec 28th. I was not even allowed to go to the church. They said turn over your credit card and keys. But of course the church was told I resigned. I totally understand how you felt now.

There are no words. Anyway, I thought I owed it to you to let you know. I can tell you that for sure I am done with the ministry. I will not put my family through this anymore. I can be a Sunday school teach with no pain and no hassles. The first church was bad but this time the Pastor had OCD. He wanted an older guy yet a guy who did not know anything or had not been around the block. Very strange. I know I have flaws, but I never expected this.

God Bless
A Fellow Persecuted Servant of the King,

Unbelievable, huh?

Who gives the church the right to tell a man, who has been called of God to be a minister, to leave? There are secret meetings, backbiting, gossip, complaints and just like D. said- bam, they blind-side you with a request to leave.

Now, maybe one day when I am not so frustrated I will bring out Scripture... but right now I am incredibly burdened.

I am burdened for the Church who runs the body of Christ like a business- hiring and firing as if they are the CEO. I am burdened that there are elders and deacons running churches who are ill-qualified, not having their own homes in order and who cannot correctly handle God's Word. I am burdened for the children of our churches who are growing up with horrible examples.

When my mom and dad shared the email from D., you should have seen the look on my younger siblings faces. Then, cynically joking, Timothy said, "Sounds like how all pastors resign these days." An eleven year old said that. An eleven year old who has watched his dad face this kind of forced resignation.

I will get off of my soap box, for now, after I say one more thing.

God will hold the church responsible for how they follow (or don't) God's appointed leaders. In the same way, God will hold pastors responsible for how they lead (or don't) a church. God is a just God.

Treat your pastor's with respect- and never think your church is above political pastoral abuse. More happens behind close doors than you realize.