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Welcome to my new Blog!

I’ve decided to move here from A New Testament Student  because I’ve moved into a new season in life.  The strive for further academic education has been put on an indefinite hold due to the Lord’s direction and I want to keep that blog for when that goal is returned to the forefront. I’ve moved all of my former posts here in order to share where I’ve come from, but will be taking a new approach in this new space.

A New Testament Student is an outlet of the mind, where as this blog, I hope, will be much more heart oriented:  Stories, ideas, and the like.

The decision for the move came out of a meeting I had with one of my pastors.  I met with him yesterday and talked about my desire to possibly come on staff as an intern at my church.  The conversation went back and forth about hopes, dreams, and the every day  stress of being young fathers called to ministry.  In the midst of the conversation I found my heart pouring out a lot of things I knew, but had not quite articulated within myself.

As I talked  about coming on as an Intern I spoke of service, discipleship, unity, and maturity.  I spoke about my desire to grow and implement the gifts that God has given me.  Then I said one simple phrase that put all of it together.

I said, “I think that there needs to be people who are entirely devoted to the Bride.”

I know that its only been one day, but that idea is resounding within me.  It is so simple and is definitely not a new idea, but it puts so much into perspective for me.

I’ve spent a long time trying to find my place in the Church.  Christian Unity has been a weight on my heart for over four years now, but I’ve become more confused the more I seek out that path as the sole culmination of what God is calling me to.  The desire to see Christians unified is still incredibly important to me, but becoming so focused on that one aspect of my call caused me to almost ignore all that God had done in me and lead me to up till now.  I’ve had a human ideal of what my ministry should look like that has no real basis in reality and following that ideal lead me into a season of discipline.  I truly believe that I am coming to the end of this season, and that the Lord is leading me into a new season of reaping after sowing with many tears.

It’s a season of servanthood.  Rather than expecting the Church to come around to all my “awesome” ideas, I want to become less so that Christ may increase in His Bride.  Rather than trying to launch into some global movement, I want to serve in the one place that God has called me to now.

I do not know what will come of all this, but I do know that I am to be devoted to the Bride of Christ.

Please Pray for me in this time of transition.

Revival

I’m working on part two of my series on Colossians 3.  It’s taking shape but I need a break, so here is another topic that’s been on my heart.

Revival.  The word stirs up so much in many Christians today.  It has carried through much of modern American Christianity, from the great awakenings, to the Azuza Street Revivals that birthed much of the American pentecostal movement.  I’ve heard so many of my peers beg the Lord for it to come, and often hear young and old say that its on the horizon.  While I love the desire burning in my brothers and sisters’ hearts, revival is not what I hope for, and here’s why.

The idea of revival stirs up thoughts of mass conversions, huge gatherings, and big, corporate moves of the Spirit.  All of these are wonderful things, but they turn into a point in history that cannot be sustained.  Pentecost was a single day, but the Church continued on to be so much more than that. The rest of the New Testament was written no more than forty years after the majestic work of God at pentecost, and so much of what is discussed in Acts and the Epistles refer to the faith as something that happens outside of the mass gatherings.  Christianity is not brought to its fulness at big tent revivals and conferences.  it is brought to its fulness as the Church moves deeper into repentance both corporately and individually in a very practical way.  Revival and the events that come with it have a real place in the Kingdom because God would never bring them to pass if they didn’t.  However, these events cannot support a continually maturing faith in Christ.

The more I read the scriptures, the more I realize that suffering is an essential part of the life of a disciple.  It’s not all doom and gloom, but becoming more Christ like means walking the road of the cross (That simple truth is the reason for my Colossians 3 series).  I believe that we can suffer for Christ in joy the same way that Christ suffered the cross because of the joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). We also have a joy set before us.  It is our inheritance in Christ that is worth more than any if us could ever imagine.

I don’t hope for revival, I hope for maturity.  I hope for the submission of the Bride to Christ in the midst of hardship and in the face of persecution.  I hope for days when we can stand firm on the truth of salvation and move into new depths of our understanding of God.  I hope for days when we understand not only our responsibility to evangelize the lost, but disciple the found with the same fervency.

I’m not trying to degrade or dismiss the work that is already being done, but I know that there is so much more of God that He desires to reveal to us here on Earth.  I read the scriptures and yearn for the unyielding fervency of the apostles and writers of the epistles.  I yearn for a Church that reflects its savior to the world in all facets rather than having to compromise in one direction or the other.  The truth is in our grasp and has not changed since our Lord rose from the dead. He will reveal himself to us and show us the way (John 17:26).

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with the way things are in both my personal spiritual life, and what I have been observing in the church.  This morning I was reading Colossians 3 and the words began to jump off the page.  This chapter is loaded with immediately applicable truth.  It is incredibly difficult to live out, but is applicable nonetheless.  Rather than rambling on for eternity, I’ve decided to break my thoughts into a four part series.  We’ll begin with the first four verses

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is,seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

 Go back and read it again.

“If then you have been raised with Christ…”  That’s us right?  You know, Christians.  We’re the ones that have claimed his resurrection and the hope that it brings.  The thing is that we are all consumed with the things of this world.  We do some seeking of the things of God.  Some of us even do it very well.  We worship, pray, fellowship, and serve, but we do all of these things alongside of our earthly lives.   We’re constantly distracted by entertainment, stress, pleasing other people, food, and everything else under the sun where nothing is ever new.  The call of the passage is to seek the things that are above in spite of the things on earth, not along side of them.  We’re called to look above to where Christ is seated.  That’s where our gaze is to ever be, but we don’t.  We think about the latest trends, gadgets, series, movies, and music.  We think about our 401k’s and investment options.  We think about vacations, weekends, and activities.  We expect constant financial blessing that aligns with what the worldly standard declares that we need.  We expect it in the name of freedom under the cross of Christ as though Calvary was our free ticket to an all you can take buffet of stuff.

Paul says that we have died. D-I-E-D.  He expounds on this idea further in Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.   And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 Our life is hidden with Christ in God.  That means that we shouldn’t be seen.  For me, Christopher David Paré should be up above dwelling within the very being of my God and King, while this fleshly tent is inhabited by the fulness of God through the Holy Spirit, but in order for that to happen I have to really die.  Which begs the question,

 Have we really died?

 All the stuff.  All our cares, hopes, ideals, plans.  Our bodies, minds and souls.  Have we relinquished them to the Cross?

 if Paul’s admonishment isn’t enough, Christ himself made the call.

 “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  (Luke 9:22-24) 

Dying is not an option when it comes to discipleship in Christ.  We die, Christ lives in us, He receives all the glory, and then we receive our lives in glory at the end of the age.

This all sounds horrible to our sinful, egocentric minds, but it really amounts to unmatched freedom.  Think about it.  If we die and allow our lives to be transported and held in the depths of God, then the transition into the Kingdom of Heaven will be seamless at the end of the age because nothing will have changed.  We will receive our glorified bodies to dwell in, but our person will remain where it has been since we first died.  The cares of this world will mean nothing to us because our residency is in heaven NOW and Heaven will dwell on Earth because Christ will be living in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Not down the road, but immediately.

If only we would die…

Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips.

I’ve been listening to the news on my way to and from work for the past few weeks.  It’s enlightening and depressing all at the same time.

I spent my adolescence avoiding the news, and pretty much everything outside of the subculture that I had entrenched myself in.  In 2009 I left the United States for the first time in five years.  I left my parents at the airport and spent the next two months living with a family that didn’t speak english (for more from the trip see the blog I wrote while I was over there http://myselfgone.blogspot.com/).  In short, my whole world exploded.  I had finally allowed myself to see more of the expanse that is Earth and it was on that journey that I decided to be more informed about the world around me.

That decision has born a variety of fruit.  Many of my convictions were deepened as a result of opening my eyes, but my approach to voicing those convictions has changed dramatically.  I try to take my time to speak my mind now rather than blurting out every opinion that I have.  I may have swung way too far to the other end though.

I process through dialogue so my recent trend of just keeping my mouth shut has proved to be detrimental.   I think blogging will ultimately be an incredibly healthy discipline, but I’m still trying to discern exactly what I am to do here.  I may just have to dive in and write about what’s on my mind.  I think I’ll go back through my posts and expound on some of the topics I have alluded to so far.

Future

Katelyn and I had a wonderfully productive night on Friday.  We rearranged some furniture and accomplished an impressive amount of cleaning.  In the midst of this we talked about hanging a shelf in our bedroom.  She has a very specific use in mind for the shelf that requires it to be mounted on an otherwise strange part of the wall.  my response to her desire was to say “what about years from now when we rearrange our furniture or possibly use a different room in the house as our bedroom?”  She responded by asking me if she should really consider what may or may not happen a decade from now in her decision to mount the shelf.

This exchange is a remarkably accurate representation of how I’ve found myself approaching the world.  To me, the future is a powerful reality that our actions in the present have a definitive impact on.  Thus, we must weigh the possible impact of our actions as often and as accurately as possible.  The approach has taken a much stronger presence in my life now that I am a husband and father.  Seeing Alice grow every day gives me a sense of how short life is and how quickly I will find myself with at least one teenager to take care of.  The irony of it all comes full circle when I think back about two and a half to three years.

I was pretty well steeped in the belief that all we have is today.  I didn’t want to make long term plans, work out budgets, or anything of the sort and would cite Matthew 6:25-34 as my “proof text” (proof texting is a whole other can of worms I’ll hopefully get around to talking about here).  I wouldn’t go as far as to say that no one should live a life free of long term plans, but when you have a family it just turns into poor stewardship of the path that God has placed you on.

So now I’m finding myself struggling between the two extremes. I, in my finite existence, can only plan and understand so much of the future.  The arrogant side of me wants a 20 year plan that has every little kink planned out with a fix while the childish side of me just wants to come home from work and do nothing.

Self control truly is a fruit of the Spirit.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The struggle I have been having in recent weeks has yielded fruit.  I spent some time Tuesday night researching the cost of attending Gordon Conwell and how it lines up with my actual income, savings ability, and family life goals.  The Chasm between the two is immense.  As much as I would love to live and study on the north shore of Boston, the door seems to have been closed for the time being.

However, this did not end my passion for seeking out a graduate education.  I also spent some time researching other seminaries on Tuesday and ended up spending most of it on Trinity School for Ministry’s website.  What initially drew me to the site was my brother in law’s mention of a full tuition scholarship that the school offers, but the more I read, the more I feel drawn to the school.

The first and only church I have ever been an official member of is Christ Church of Hamilton and Wenham, an Episcopal Church in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.  I was a member there for just under a year and Kate and I were  married there.  I would have loved to stay there, but the Spirit lead my family down the east coast to Georgia.  When we moved I sought out an Anglican church to attend, but the only one close enough did not hold to a view of marriage and sexuality based upon the explicit teachings of the New Testament (I make the distinction because the Old Testament contains some marriage practices that are no longer blessed under the new covenant, such as polygamy).  This resulted in our attending North Georgia Church.  I could not be more thankful to God for bringing my family to that Church.  We gained immeasurable blessings and lifelong friends from our short time spent there.  It was a great surprise to Kate and I to feel the Spirit leading us back to New England.  We had found such a remarkable community at North Georgia and it was incredibly painful to leave, but I am now more confident than ever that I made the right decision.

Which brings us back to the topic at hand.  Pursuing a seminary education was one of the driving factors behind the move.  Living here in Connecticut provides an immense amount of personal comfort for me because I grew up here.  I’m living in my Grandfather’s house, which I have often hoped to raise a family in from the time I was a child.  I have all of my family nearby and most of my friends, but the Spirit may yet have another move in the near future.

I am reminded of a retreat I took while attending Nyack College.  It was part of a course called Personal Spiritual Formation and its purpose was to provide students with an extended period of solitude directed by the wisdom of mentors.  At the end of the retreat I was asked to leave one item behind and explain the significance of the item.  I chose to leave a feather I had received earlier in the weekend and quoted John 3:8 as the significance.  I said that I wanted to live a life directed by the Spirit and that I was willing to go anywhere I was lead just as the feather would go wherever the wind carried it.

Looking back, it is encouraging to see that I have listened to His leading even though it has cost me a level of consistency in life that I would like to have for myself and my family.  I am interested to see if I will end up having to make that tough decision once again in order to seek out my passion for further education and teaching.  If the Lord wills it, we will go.