In lieu of tonight’s review

Too many reviews! This blog is not what I want it to be. I want share myself. I mean to reflect on life, the church, God. I want to offer prayers to God and reveal the song of my heart. Instead I post reviews. I do share myself in reviews and try to honestly grapple with what I read. You do get my views on church, God, culture or whatever else. But I know book reviews put people off, or at least the books I select. They are too religious, too academic,too charismatic,too impractical, not reflective enough, too ‘popular level’ and not very thoughtful. Too Christian.

And this is who I am: too religious, too academic, too charismatic, too impractical, not reflective enough. Too ‘popular level.’ Too Christian! I generally review Christian books in keeping with this blog’s theme. Occasionally I have reviewed a business book or a pop pyschology book. Once I reviewed a book by a Unitarian Universalist. I liked the author,he seemed like a nice guy. I couldn’t recommend his book. I try to be diverse in the kind of books I choose, but in the end you get books I want to read, and I hope to find helpful.

Tonight I was going to post my review of a book discussing how the gospel of Jesus Christ frees people from an addiction to pornography. This is a good book. When I review it. I will commend it to both strugglers and ministers. But I did not want to review it tonight because I felt to do so would be to fail as a blogger. I did not start this blog simply to hawk books but to learn and grow and reflect on where God is in my life and what he is leading me to.

I think one of the reasons I have posted less and less personal, reflective posts is that I am ashamed. I am ashamed that I graduated from Regent College three years ago and I work at a hardware store.  I am ashamed that all my serious attempts at finding a job which gels with my sense of calling have led to a dead end. I am afraid that revealing my self-doubt and anxiety (again) will sound whiney and exasperate you. I fear baring my soul will make me unattractive to pastoral search committees that stumble on my blog.

I know from experience that freedom and life comes only when I share myself with those around me. A big part of my maturation as a Christian has revolved around me learning to be vulnerable and honest with others about the pain I carry.  I know the world wide web is not the place for total self revelation, but the good blogs all have some. The blogs I have written which people feel compelled to respond to all share myself.

Well except for my “10 reasons to Boycott CCM post.” For better or for worse, that is the most popular post I have ever written. I need to write my own addendum to that. Or rebuttal.

So here I am in Blaine. I have been here for two years.  I still feel disconnected from place, longing for God’s next step. I work and play, I toil here, but I dream of somewhere else. I dream of using my gifts and living into my calling as pastor. Still my convictions on pastoral work have always led me to attend to the soil of where I am. I believe one ought to bloom where they are planted.  For better or worse I am stuck in Blaine. I feel disconnected. I am tethered here but feel rootless. What does this mean?

Here is the reality: I am looking for a job in a horrible job market. I know I am gifted and called. I also know there are many other gifted ministers out there in the same predicament as I am. Economically, we live in a difficult era. I am working at a job that pays me less than any job has paid me in fifteen years.  My attempts to find a better job have resulted in me feeling ignored, or foolish.  This is a new feeling for me. I feel like I have a good resume, good experience and a lot to offer. To be sidelined and marginalized does not feel right.

God is here in this liminal space. I do not doubt it.  Even when I feel like a failure and a screw-up, I wonder what God is up to. I am more convinced of His deep love for me than ever. And still I wait. . .

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12 thoughts on “In lieu of tonight’s review”

    1. You know I still feel compelled to respond to angry strangers on CCM. The last respondent said he could easily write 10 reasons why I should not be a pastor. Ouch. Thanks for your encouragement, bad blog suggestions and solidarity! 🙂

  1. Hey James, I sympathize. 5 years out of seminary, and I’m back in the chemical industry, seperated from my wife, and wondering what God is doing. If it makes you feel better, your reviews are a link back to Regent for me, and I draw great comfort from them.

    Don’t be ashamed. Failure does not equate to not blessing.

    1. Zig, Thanks for your words. My heart goes out to you and Sarah. That is a hard place and you are in my prayers. Also I wish we could sit down over a pint. Godspeed brother!

  2. “I dream of using my gifts and living into my calling as pastor. Still my convictions on pastoral work have always led me to attend to the soil of where I am. I believe one ought to bloom where they are planted. For better or worse I am stuck in Blaine. I feel disconnected. I am tethered here but feel rootless.”

    A woman I know felt called to the ministry but was unable to become a pastor because her denomination did not allow women to become a pastor. Rather than pursue the collar, she pursued ministry. She found an old decommissioned post office, convinced the local govt to give it to her, and turned it into a homeless center where homeless men can shower, do laundry, get a sandwich, coffee, and have an address and phone number for job applications. Local churches throughout the area support the ministry, and she also receives some government money. The men attend Bible study, have a prayer group, and most, not all, end up changed – which shouldn’t surprise anybody right? In fact, I would say that her ministry has probably changed the lives of more men, than many pastors in conventional churches have.

    Perhaps you might at least explore the possibility that your preconceptions are getting in the way of connecting to the ministry God might have in mind for you in Blaine.

  3. This is a great post, James. One of the biggest issues that I think the internet suffers from is a lack of humanity. It can be full of information, but not people. Honesty like this is inspiring and really brings a lot to the table. Thank you for sharing!

  4. James, I like your post. It is always good to get a closer glimpse of you through the joys and the pains and the everyday.
    Continue to love those around you and spend time with the Lord. I’ve found that the best things happen when I just lay my soul open to the Lord: the joy and the pains and the everyday.
    Prayers and love

  5. You “are looking for a better job”, but in reality we are like the disciples who were told to go to Jerusalem and wait in Acts 1. I feel your pain and I wait with you. It is not a job we need but a “calling”, something beyond our striving. I spent some time at The Monastery of The Holy Spirit in Conyers Georgia and I won’t go into details but after much prayer, suffering, and wise council, one of the Monks asked me what I had learned in my stay there. I told him that beyond a doubt I had learned that God wanted to have communion with me. He looked at me and smiled and said, “no matter if you are President of a college, a best selling author, or just hoeing you garden back home, never forget that, God just wants to have communion with us, it really doesn’t matter what we’re doing”. I keep that with me today. I apologize for interjecting myself into your life but your post touched me in some way. I remember you in prayer and ask for yours also.

    1. Please don’t apologize for ‘interjecting yourself into my life.’ There is wisdom in your words and I am learning something about communion with God while waylaid in Blaine. Thanks!

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