Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Weird, now I can connect

Well after one week of not being able to connect, now I can???

All I can stay is --- very strange.

I have moved the blog to



Sunday, July 15, 2007

Carnival of Debt Reduction

Will be here tomorrow morning and all week long....

Look for the posts sometime after 7:00 am CST.

Spread the word and tell others about it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Degree or Position = Credibility?

Before I articulate what I have been thinking about recently, I need to put in a small disclaimer before I launch into my thoughts:

I am not against formal education. I am still working on two degrees presently.

I have dealt with this issue many years ago and now I am seeing the same dynamic all over again. When I first dealt with this dynamic back in 1987 shortly after my conversion, I was able to articulate my thoughts verbally with several different people. Now 20 years later and the internet and blogging are very viable forms of communication, I felt that since I was experiencing some of the same feelings, thoughts of 20 years ago, that I might be able to articulate what I was thinking and write about it.

Shortly after my conversion in 1987, I noticed within our church that there was a great deal of emphasis placed on education. I did not see anything wrong with it, but it raised the question "What does someone with a degree have that I do not have?" I felt that there was an extreme bias against people who did not pursue some form of higher education (college). Our pastor said that it was good for every young person to go away to Bible college for at least one year. I eventually went to Bible College in 1988 and graduated in 1992. I had a good college experience and felt that I was prepared for the next step in life. The Lord did not see fit to allow me to enter full-time ministry immediately after college in 1992. I was working a good secular job in Jacksonville, FL and felt that it was best to stay put in that job and in the local church where I was serving at the time. There was a sense of frustration that I felt because I was told indirectly that in order to be considered credible, that "I needed to attend Bible college". Now that I had finished college and graduated, the next dilemma that I faced was that I was too young and had no experience. My mother was converted shortly after I graduated from college and not understanding some of the "politics" and the "unwritten" and "unspoken" rules of the IFB world, could not figure out why I was not in full-time ministry somewhere. Unfortunately, she passed away last year and those questions were never answered for her. She had also left an IFB church because of the nepotism and politics that she saw repeatedly.

In 1999, I was offered a position with an IFB mission agency. I accepted it by faith knowing that I would give up a lot of perks to accept this position. After a while, I noticed that ministry in some ways was no better than the secular world. I saw more backbiting and backstabbing in the three years than I had ever seen. Maybe I was guilty of having unrealistic expectations, but at the same time, I expected the ministry to be a different place and at this point it was not that. It was slowly sapping the life out of me and I again grew frustrated because I felt like I was trapped in a position that I was starting to hate because of the micro-management that I was serving underneath. My experience was not totally negative, I learned a lot about myself and about people during this time. I was able to meet some of God's choicest servants and gleaned a great deal of experience in many different areas. I left the position and organization in a better standing than I had inherited three years prior.

Shortly after the 9/11/2001 attacks, the Lord started to work in my life and make it known that I needed to consider the possibility of returning to graduate school to further my education and make a fresh start. I resigned my position and moved in August, 2002. It was a tough move to make because I had been in the same church and location since 1988, but in retrospect, it was a move that was needed.

Now that I have been here for a few years, I am now seeing some of the same dynamics that I saw 20 years ago and I am starting to feel some of the same frustrations that I felt in 1987 and again in 1999-2001. No one has said anything verbally to me, but it is all in attitude and actions. I am seeing a dynamic where I do not feel that I possess any credibility unless I have a degree (in this case a graduate degree).

Here are some reasons or things that have struck me in this line of thought:

  • There are not many people in seminary who are serving full-time on a church staff or pastoring as their sole source of income. Rewind a few years and most people in seminary were in full-time ministry.
  • Students have to fulfill different requirements including an internship before graduation. During this time, as an intern, one is called upon to do various things and is given the opportunity to preach (never on a Sunday morning), etc. But once the internship is complete, the opportunities are not as frequent to serve and then you are left with the thought, "Was I asked to preach because they wanted to hear what I had to say or were they just fulfilling a requirement?" I completed a evaluation form and said "The true test of the internship will be if any of the interns will be used in ministry within the body outside of the scope and requirements of the internship"
  • If men who are studying for the pastorate are expected to know and to be able to do certain things, then why is it that most churches will never ask a seminarian to preach for them on a Sunday morning? Are they endued with special power once they receive the M.A.T degree or MDiv degree? We expect them to be competent once they graduate, but greatly limit how they can serve in the body of Christ? They are expected to be able to do everything within a local church context, but are never given the opportunities to hone those skills. It seems as if once the degree is completed, that suddenly doors of opportunity swing widely open for those who have completed and that those doors are not available to those who are still plodding away.
  • It has been said and repeated dozens if not scores of times. "You will never go to a big church" I hear that and I sometimes chuckle. What is a big church? The church I am currently a member of runs about 600-700 and that is small in comparison to the two previous churches that I was a member of. One church averaged over 4000 in Sunday attendance and the other well over 1000-1200 in attendance. I also think of men like Spurgeon who preached to crowds of thousands at the Metropolitan Tabernacle and yet he was mocked and ridiculed. I think of Tom Messer who had no pastoral experience and in his first pastorate was called to a church of over 3000 people at the age of 33. I know that people have good intentions, but are they trying to set us up to look for the smaller church? Some people thrive in a small church under 100, others do better in a larger setting.
  • I came out of the radical, pragmatic wing of the IFB world, but being away from it for five years has made me appreciate being away from the Finneyesque style of revivalism, the end justifying the means theology, and the KJVO crowd. Seminary has been good for me and it has allowed me to see many things, and I am puzzled as to why these thoughts and frustrations from the pragmatic side are coming back. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that our church is in the process of looking for another pastor and I went through this process in 1992 when I was a member of another church and how that process was so "political" in nature and mishandled by the deacons and pulpit committee. Our current situation is good, there is a good spirit in the church, but yet we have only been without a Senior Pastor since the end of May.
  • Does a position automatically grant someone credibility? I have seen people rise up out of obscurity to serve in positions of leadership and have watched them obtain almost instantaneous credibility by the sheer nature of the position/office that they occupy. It runs against what I was taught that respect, honor, and credibility are things that can never be expected but they are earned over a period of time.
  • I have been taught that you never seek a position, etc. Then the tension arises, "How are people going to know who you are, etc. if you keep your mouth shut all the time?"
What I have said may not make sense to anyone reading it and it might get me into trouble possibly. I am really not worried about getting into trouble because I felt that this would be a better way to express what I am feeling and thinking, rather than trying to verbalize it to someone who may or may not understand what I am experiencing at this present moment. I may choose to write further about this subject or this could be the only post that I write.

In spite of my present "frustrations" and emotions, I must remember:

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. - Galatians 6:9 NKJV


Sunday, July 08, 2007


The week of July 16th

Thoughts and Opinions from the Unknown will be hosting


Carnival of Debt Reduction

If you would like to submit an article for the Carnival, please to go the following link

This is my first try at hosting a Carnival, so I hope that it goes well!


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

20 Questions

These are not original with me. I heard them on a podcast from Harvest Baptist Church on Guam (Pastor Marty Herron). They are very good. His context in using them was two-fold: 1) He said that by the time your children are grown and leave home, they should either be able to answer these questions or have the resources available to find the answers. 2) This was part of a series that their church was doing on Christian growth. I have the answers, but will post them at a later date. See if you can answer these. These are a great teaching tool for your children and for your family!

1. What is man's reason for existence?

2. How can man bring pleasure to God?

3. What are the three elements of obedience?

4. What is the way of salvation?

5. What is the way of surrender?

6. What is your most important daily habit?

7. What are the four essentials of prayer?

8. How can one acquire wisdom?

9. What are the five guiding lights for knowing God's Will?

10. What are the four essentials of the home?

11. What do I do if I am wrong?

12. What do I do if someone else has wronged me?

13. What are the steps to moral freedom?

14. What are the five "D's" for daily spiritual preparation?

15. What are the seven essentials about handling money?

16. What are the five tools for time management?

17. What are the Ten Commandments?

18. Can you give a brief outline/overview of Bible Content?

19. What is next on God's Timetable?

20. What are the five "D's" regarding discipleship?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

As promised.... Restaurant Review - Fogo De Chao

Recently I had the opportunity to have lunch with Neil Lynch at Fogo De Chao. They recently opened up here in Minneapolis and it was a good opportunity to try it on a Friday afternoon. As we walked to the front entrance, we saw the meat roasting on skewers right by the front entrance. I was already looking forward to this lunch!

A bit of background. Years ago, when I traveled frequently, I found an ad for Fogo De Chao in an airline magazine and read more about it on the internet and thought that it would be an interesting place to try. I told Neil about it since he travels quite a bit and he said that he would try it when he was in Chicago. He did and he said that it was great.

Now fast forward a few years and the Minneapolis location is open. Neil invited me to lunch on Friday and here was the opportunity to try the restaurant I had recommended before I tried it.

The service here is outstanding. The gauchos are very hospitable and accommodating. One of the staff took our drink order and then explained the concept of the green and red chip. If the chip is facing green, the gauchos will bring on the meat and other offerings skewers. If the chip is red, then they will pass you by until the chip is turned to green again.

There are over 15 different types of meat. There are also chicken legs, chicken breast wrapped in bacon, pork sausages, pork loin, and pork ribs.

The chicken breast wrapped in bacon was outstanding. I could not get enough of this dish. Also the pork loin that day was flavored with parmesan. Another wonderful dish. They also have an extensive salad bar. They also serve side dishes: mashed potatoes with cheese and chives, fried polenta (which was surprisingly good), and fried bananas (sweet, but worth a couple of bites)

I enjoyed the meal except for some of the beef. I am not much of a meat eater anymore, but enjoy it from time to time. Most of the beef that we were served was a bit on the bloody side. There were a few pieces that were done. I avoided eating the beef if it was not done to avoid any type of problems. I stuck with eating the chicken and pork. The pork ribs were good also, but I am not used to eating ribs without some type of sauce.

I sent an email to their corporate office via their website that I enjoyed my meal and I was curious about the beef situation. I received a voice mail that someone from the corporate office was going to contact me regarding my email. I hope to talk to them soon, because I would really like to go back and enjoy the beef dishes. Our 3rd anniversary is coming up and this would be a neat place to celebrate it.

Overall, I would highly recommend it, if the beef is doubtful, stick with the chicken and pork. You can't go wrong there!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Some new posts in the works

I have not forgotten about the blog.... I have several posts in the works. Time permitting, I will put up one a day for the next several days.

Topics and titles : Talk Radio, Work, and a Restaurant Review...

I had an unsolicited offer from someone whom I do not know to write a guest piece, but since they have not responded, that will go by the wayside for now.

Maybe one of these days, the traffic and readership will pick up. I think that also depends on me being disciplined enough to post more often. Sometimes I do not have anything to say, so I do not post...
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