The Dream: A Revealed Purpose

In my last blog post, I challenged my readers to think about their priorities, their passions, and their dreams.  I also told them my own which I will restate:

“My priorities would be things that are most important to me, which would have to be my faith, my family, and my girlfriend; to be honest, a “career” to me is simply a way to allow a possible future family to exist…unless I find something I love.  My passions would be things that are at the root of my being, and/or things I get excited about, and they are helping people, building peace & community, and seeking to grow, spiritually.”

The thing is though, I can think of a career I would love.  Several actually. But there is one that hit me this past year that I can’t shake.   So what is that dream, you ask? I’ll get there.  But right now I want to lay out what led me to that dream.  Don’t worry, its just the next two paragraphs.

As I said before, I’m a Christian family man, and less focused on having a career where I make 6 figures but am rarely home.  As I have started to think more about getting married in the future, I realized how ridiculous a 9-5 (or more hours) job is.  You work most of your day because you (in my case) want to provide for your family, but your working takes a lot of time away from them.  There HAS to be a better way than that.  And with all that time working, that leads little time for ministry and faith growth unless I can do that at the workplace.

My passion is to help people. I am a people person.  And I can’t do that effectively by working a 9-5 at a company I am not passionate about.  I desire to be in the front of being able to help, and not the guy working for the guy, who works for the guy, that does more of the relational business things.  I am a youth pastor; I have been able to tell teenage boys an argument against sex before marriage that even made them say I had a point, so based on that event alone, I have some experience.

So where do my priorities and my passions intersect?

What if I could work with my wife in the future? What if my kids could grow up around us as well in that environment? What if I could help people, daily, and give them a place to come?  What if I could help tie families, friends, and even whole communities closer together?  What if I could help people deepen their relationship with the Lord? But for all of that to happen, I would probably have to be “the boss”, or at the very least have a lot of leeway as a manager..

So this is my idea:

I dream to own a coffee house. I like coffee, maybe even love it, but its not my “passion”.  However, through a coffee house, I could do my true passions, and give time to true priorities.  I also enjoy making things that people appreciate.

But the dream does not stop there.  The dream continues to include a coffee shop that operates as a community “hub”; a place people gather.  How often do you really feel comfortable to stay at a starbucks? Its too cold, too industrial…at least the ones I have been to.  What if you went to a coffee house that thrived with events like trivia night, open mic night, local bands, local artists work displayed..the typical great indie coffee shop stuff.  But there is more…

What if that coffee shop hosted a book club that read books that are popular that year? Like in the past year, The Hobbit, perhaps?  What if that same coffee shop also had a bible study?  These two clubs would meet on separate nights, but most likely, some members would come on other nights during the week.  A book club member, and a bible study member could come to the coffee shop on the same night to have a nice caramel Macchiato, and walk out with a new friend, who may have slightly different interests.  Community.

If the book club person is a Christian, the two Christians may have a nice talk on theology and/or Christian living, and possibly how the book the one guy is reading connects to the book the other guy is reading, and both could join the other club as well.  If the book club person is not a Christian, then the Bible study person has an opportunity of sharing they are part of a bible study, that bible study that would equip the person speaking on how to talk to people, share the gospel, and share the love of Christ.  At the end of the day, the non-Christian may have a Christian friend who is one of the few Christians they know, and/or of the few loving Christians they know. Community.

I could then talk to people about their lives, provide advice, or simply listen.  We would also have Christian support for us from the Bible study, as well as kind support from satisfied customers.

That’s the dream. To be an asset to a community. To blend Christian and secular culture, while retaining a common ground on being a family-friendly place to go.  A place not just open on weekend nights, or only geared towards youth (which those places have their place), but a place where all are welcome.  And a place that gives out free bibles to all who want and need one, as well as free soup to families or individuals in need…That’s what i want.

So how does that “dream” become a reality?

I have to practice my barista skills for sure…but there is more than that.  There is practical stuff like budgeting, strategic planning, market analysis, etc..

And guess who is doing a strategic plan for the company he is interning for? Yep. Experience.  I also drafted an estimated start-up capital needed spreadsheet, including an estimated 3 month advance in rent, as well as started brewing coffee and tea to sell in mason jars last year, making a website: http://www.baumanbrewers.webs.com.  I had/have a successful little business selling to college kids. Marketing and a good product will do that.

When is it (the big dream) going to happen?  I am shooting for 10 years or less from when I am 22 (next February, 2014).  I want to be young enough so that I can be with the business to see it grow, and financially suited enough to take the risk, or to find potential investors.

That’s my dream. And its a real dream. A dream that CAN happen. A dream that I am working towards, even now.   What is your dream?  What are you doing to work towards it?

-Jon

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Dreams, Passions, and Visions

I apologize to my followers for not writing a blogpost for a while.  I guess I have been busy with my internship, as well as my personal life.  But today, I have a thought that I wish to share with you, and that is this:  Do not settle for mediocre, or average.

I’m not going to be like a post-modern parent and tell you that you can do anything you want to and that there is no such thing as failure, but I am going to tell you that there is validity in goal setting, and even dream setting.

Recently I have been reading a book called “Start.” by Jon Acuff.  He’s the guy who wrote a funny blog and book called “Stuff Christians Like”, the best selling book “Quitter”, as well as being a public speaker, working for Dave Ramsey.  You can see his blog here:  http://www.jonacuff.com/blog/

To be honest, I dislike most self-help books.  To me, the general feel I get from them is that they are composed of a lot of cliche sayings that really don’t get you anywhere; its all stuff that I would deem as “common sense”. But this book is different.  Instead of force-feeding you ridiculous advice and tasks that you know you would never do, it causes you to think about what matters to you; what your passion is, and what you can do to “Start” that passion in a real way in your life.

This blog was named “overcometheapathy” because it was made to discuss things that we need to move forward with, things we dismiss, or simply a place where I can invite you into my thinking so that you can overcome your apathy about seeking to know a person better.

So what I have learned from reading “Start.” is that I need to know what my priorities are, what my passions are, and how my priorities and passions collide to form goals (taken from chapter four of “Start.”)
My priorities would be things that are most important to me, which would have to be my faith, my family, and my girlfriend; to be honest, a “career” to me is simply a way to allow a possible future family to exist…unless I find something I love.  My passions would be things that are at the root of my being, and/or things I get excited about, and they are helping people, building peace & community, and seeking to grow, spiritually. But what about you?

Ask yourself these questions…
What are your priorities?  Things that you would regret not doing, or not being able to continue to do if you died tomorrow.

What are your Passions?  What do you LOVE to do? Things that you couldn’t stop doing.
How do these two items collide to form a dream? I have what I believe to be my answer…but I will leave you in suspense.

The purpose of this post is to get you to think about what your priorities are, what your passions are, and what you are doing with your time to give into each of them.  I highly recommend the book i mentioned, but if you don’t, at least get the point from my summary…START on your passions, your dreams, or as Acuff calls it, “your awesome”. What can YOU do, or continue doing, to make some of your passions and dreams a reality?

Valentines Day: For Men

Most have caught on by now that Valentines day and its customs are vastly controlled by the entertainment and sales industries.  We see little heart-shaped boxes of chocolates in the asiles as early as december, and we see men lining up at jewelers and flower shops.

But even though we know the control that the market has over this “holiday”, we still desire it.  And we still buy into the season and do everything that we are supposed to do.  The men go all out for their girlfriends or wives, and the wives and girlfriends are always delighted to have those precious moments with their men.  However, it would seem that this pattern indicates something; women seem to be more focused on.

Think about it, do men get chocolates, flowers, or fancy paid-for dinners? Not often. Do men want those things? Well, maybe a nice steak 🙂 . But in all seriousness, as a man, its kind of odd how we do not seem to be focused on at an equal level as women on this day, at least in marketing and popular culture. But perhaps this is our own fault?

Men are stereotyped as having limited emotions, independent  not caring about the relationship as much, and not wanting to make a big deal out of romantic things.  In the same line of stereotyping, women are seen as uber-emotional, dependent, and wanting to make a big deal about romantic things.  But at the heart of it, those stereotypes are usually untrue.  For we are all humans, and most of us have a desire, a need, a longing, for a companion…and when we have one, its beautiful.

As a quick side note, some Christian groups get uncomfortable with this idea of “needing” a companion other than God, so let me clear that up.  Adam was created before Eve, and before Adam could make any petition to God, God said in Genesis 2:18,  “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him”(NASB).  Bear in mind that those are the words of God, spoken before the fall, to a man named Adam.

Going on, we know that humans have a longing for companionship, and we know that the need for a companion was first seen in a man, Adam.  So, as a man, that tells me that there is no need to withhold my appreciation and romanticism from my girlfriend or wife, and that those emotions are nothing to be ashamed of.  It also tells me that men should be focused on during valentines day as well, and I have no doubt that I will feel unashamedly loved on that day.

But heres the thing, I feel loved everyday, I seek to express my love everyday, and I seek to honor and cherish my loved one everyday.  To me, Valentines day is just an opportunity to express that love further, and I look forward to showing love, and being shown love on that day, and beyond.  Make “Valentines Day” happen more than once a year.

I hope that you have a great Valentines day with your companion; whether this year, or another.

-Jon

Renewed, Revived, Loved, Redeemed.

I am Renewed, Revived, Loved, and Redeemed.

If you have been following my blog, you know that my last blogpost was about my time of doubt(If you have not read that post, I advise that you do).  In this post I am going to write about what it feels like to be put in the fire and taken out again.

**I keep my specific doubt confidential because it is a major one, and I would not want to cause anyone to doubt the same thing I had because of my revealing it to them.**

The Fire: I was in a place of doubt that tore my world apart.  My life, purpose and mission had been shred. I had never before faced something of this magnitude, either spiritually, or elsewhere.

The Recovery: I knew that there was a God, and I even believed he was the same God I had always believed in, and that what I had once believed was worth believing, even if, in the end, it was not true.  That was my starting point.  I then read an article that addressed my doubt specifically, and  I spoke to two friends and my girlfriend on the night of my worst doubting point.  All of these things helped.

The following Monday, I met with the associate Pastor of my home church.  He came to my school in the morning and we went for coffee, and went to my classes together.  We did not talk about my doubt for those two hours at Starbucks, but we did talk about theology.  I was able to state opinions, back them up logically, and be comforted in the belief that I firmly believed them. This was HUGE in my recovery.  But I was looking for more…I wanted that emotional “spiritual high”, that “rebirth” feeling; but it didn’t come.  My pastor explained to me that he thought it was much better and healthier to live a life of constantly seeking after God, than relying on emotional/spiritual highs from time to time.  I have since agreed.

What I have learned:  When people are in doubt about major stuff, even some minor stuff, quoting the Bible will not help much because, at their current state, they may not even know how to view the Bible anymore.  They need some “facts” to lean into.  These “facts” may not be absolute facts to everyone, but they have to seem logical and factual to them.

For instance, I though that it was factual that my faith was something worth striving and living for, even if it turned out to be false.  Because I had that base, I was able to seek help for my doubt to get back to what I once had, and eventually, I was able to get back to believing what I had believed before.  I also looked at how Jesus came, and how it was not how the Jews expected him to come; so it didn’t make sense that someone would make this story up to base it off the Old testament prophesies, and it didn’t make sense that the prophesies were written after Christ came to earth because The Dead Sea Scrolls were found that contained full books of Isaiah, with some dating back to around 200 B.C.  Logically, the validity of Christ’s story panned out.  This advanced me further in my recovery.

Logic and Philosophy may be the best things to help someone think about who is going through doubt.  Maybe its not for everyone, but for me, this helped.  But this thinking cannot go unguided because the doubters mind is vulnerable.  It is very helpful to have Christian brothers and sisters around them, as well as pastors,elders, or deacons.

Now I have the experience that will help me to at least know where to start in helping someone who is in doubt.  I will tell of my own story of doubts and how I overcame them.  I will ask some of the questions that helped me through, and I will show them love and openness where their Church or Christian community might show them rejection.

 

Church, we need to be open to help people answer their questions, for we cannot afford to be closed.

Lets Overcome The Apathy.

 

A Prayer for Doubt

Below is a prayer that I have written that I hope is useful for you.

“O God,

I come before you in the midst of my own doubt.

What I once thought to be unwavering, has wavered;

What I thought to be absolute truth, has been questioned;

What IS the whole foundation of my life, has shaken.

Lord, restore to me your guidance, and help me recognize that by saying this prayer, it is evidence that I still firmly believe in you; I still love you.  I believe, but help me in my unbelief. Amen.”

 

I have recently faced doubt head on.  It was the scariest moment that I have ever faced in my entire life.  I felt like my whole meaning of life, my whole being, had been called into question.  Everything that I have been taught and believed for years, was up for debate; was on trial.  Deaths in the family, break-ups, years of bullying, and anything else that I ever went through, was NOTHING compared to this.

I wanted to do some research on the topic that I was doubtful about, but there was no solid Christian rebuttal to be found in a google search that addressed the question that had me so distressed.  Then a friend told me about an essay he read when he was pondering the same thing as I was, and after reading this essay, my soul was put at a little rest. But it was this question that started to get me back on track and gave me hope;

“If everything you believed and were taught was a lie, would it still be worth pursuing?”

To that question, I gave a confident “Yes”.

Jesus is worth pursuing.  He is worth striving for. He is worth serving.  My world does not make any sense without Jesus, without God, without Christianity. He is my rock, my foundation, and my fortress.

However, I am not perfect.  I have had, and will probably have again, doubts that have been both mild and severe.  What I have found is that there is not much of an outlet for an individual to go to in the evangelical circle to get help with their doubts.  When people are having doubts about the existence of God, Christ, or the validity of the Bible, pointing these people to scripture passages will most likely not help them.  They need something more.  They need someone to listen without judgement, and someone who can guide them out of their deep valley using some of the tools that the listener has learned through overcoming their own doubts.  I believe that there needs to be more availability to express doubt, but it would be preferable for individuals to express doubts to close friends, family, or church leaders who have training/experience in counseling, or merely just a heart for it.

I would never wish the process of going through major doubt of faith to anyone.  Although it does make us stronger; it feels like you are going through hell on earth when you are in the midst of doubt.

I hope that this blogpost has or will be helpful to you on your own spiritual journey.

If you ever have any questions about God, or you have doubts, please email: questions.seek.answers@gmail.com

May God Bless You,

-Jon

 

Ideal Church

For the past two years, I have felt a steady pulling on my life to be more open to the idea of being a pastor someday.  The thought scares me, and honestly, I don’t wanna do it.  But I feel like God is leading me in that direction(sorry for the Christianese, but when I use it, I mean it).  I have preached at my home church when my pastor was on vacation, and in a few weeks, I am preaching at my grandmothers church, and I was just going to sing there, but the lady asked me if I wanted to preach too.  Its been crazy how things just seem to be heading that way.

For the past week, I have been thinking about my ideal church, if I could build any church I wanted, and if I could operate it how I wanted it to be operated…how would I do it.  I have a few ideas.  Its a long post, so if you really care, read, it was fun to make!

Building:

Sanctuary:  Octagon shaped building with stone-laid walls and a smooth concrete floor. The pews will be made of wood, with kneeling fold-out attachments, and they will be set in a semi-circle formation with a platform in the front center.  Behind the platform will be a plain wooden cross against the wall with white AND purple/crimson linen draped in the center, to represent Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

Fellowship Hall:  This would also be stone laid, and will shoot out from the octogonal sanctuary at the wall behind the podium.  This hall would be large and rectangular, and its purposes would be for games, sunday school lessons, fellowship dinners(held every week), and for the other uses.

Ordinances: 

The Lords Supper- Our church will partake in the Lord’s supper by going into the fellowship hall and breaking multiple loaves of bread, and giving each person a glass of grape juice.  We would celebrate it as a real meal, had together, and with one or more presenting the symbolism in the bread and juice.  I would want it done this way because it seems like this is what the Lord’s supper originally was intended to be, and what it started out as. Also, in my experience, I feel more reflective when I have more bread or juice to consume, rather than the one piece of bread that is over in a few seconds.

Baptism – Baptism would be for professing believers, and it would be done as soon as a person expresses interest in becoming baptized, or upon their salvation.  The individuals would meet with one of our pastors for 15-30 minutes before, during, or after a service so that they and the pastor can discern if their desire and faith is sincere, and would thereafter be baptized in front of the congregation on that day.  Baptism would be done by either sprinkling or immersion, whichever the individual choses, and they would also have the option of wearing white baptismal robes if they so chose.

Church Leadership/staff:

Pastor: There will be 3-4 pastors(1 being me) of our church, each having the same rank and title, and the same responsibilities.  Preaching the sermon would be rotated to each pastor week by week, and congregational visits or special ceremonies would be done on whoever would be available, or whoever is requested.  These pastors would not have a salary  because they would be working their normal jobs during the week, or will be retired.  Each will use the same email account, which will be the main form of contact within and by the church.

Sunday School teachers: All volunteer.  No Salaries.

Youth Pastor: There will be 2-3 Youth Pastors who would operate along the same lines as the pastors, and will have regular jobs during the week as well, and will also not have a salary from the church.

Janitorial:  All church members(including staff) will sign up for days where they and their families can come into the church and clean.

Why no Salaries?

Although getting a salary for your ministry work is not wrong, and is, in fact, completely biblical, I feel like a church could operate on volunteer work, and therefore, the money normally used to pay salaries can be used for improving the community, aiding missionaries, supporting children in third world countries, aiding local city missions, helping the homeless, caring for the sick, and many other much needed things.

Music:

Hymns would be sung a lot, and amplification for instruments would not work well in a stone and concrete building, so any instrumentation will be either unplugged, or very little amplification.  We will NOT split into two services for different types of music, it will be blended.

Theology/Creeds: 

We would adhere to the Nicene Creed, and our theology will be influenced greatly by anabaptist/mennonite foundational beliefs, especially regarding a Christ-o-centric view of scripture and way of living.

The wood pews, and kneeling fold-out attachments are little ways that would cause us to sacrifice our comfort so that we would be reminded of what great a sacrifice Christ gave for us.

The church will Not take any official position on the questions of election, eschatology, who “Israel” is, on dispensational or covenantal theology, or any other complex, gray-area, theological concept. This would be done to avoid unneeded devisions.

Anyway, thats all for now; I may edit and add on to it later.  But yeah, let me know what you think.

Joy does not always mean Happiness

I am someone who is usually genuinely doing and feeling well.  I have a relaxed, but strong, personality that enables me to roll with the punches most of the time, and to stand firm when something hits me square in the face.  So, when I am down, people tend to notice.  They ask me what is wrong, how they can help, that they are praying for me, and they even just say “we are hanging out tonight, be at such&such at 7:00”.  That has been really cool, and I have experienced God’s love through their actions.  I have also experienced God’s love through peace that He has given me, even in the midst of these storms.  Somehow, my sadness is not consuming me; somehow joy is still ruling my life.

I have written in a previous blogpost that “Hope is eternal”.  Even in this time in my life, I still firmly believe that.  I also believe that if you have this “Hope”, you also have “Joy” for eternity.  See, I got this Joy down deep in my heart, just like the children’s song.  But that does not mean that I am always happy; it doesn’t mean that I have to put on the fake Christian smile either.  When life is hard, I know it, and I let people who care about me know as well because if honesty is not truly lived out, even in our rough times, then how can we ever progress? How can we ever, really, get to know one another?  But how does joy exist in the eternal state, if I am not also happy in the eternal state?

Joy, for me, is knowing that there is a God; a one true God.  It is that joy that drives me to go to church, read my bible, listen to music, write, and do whatever I need to do to get my mind back on track to Him.  It is also knowing that He loves me; although, this can sometimes take a while to sink in.

Happiness is hanging out with friends, seeing a puppy, or even eating ice cream in the car in the pouring rain with someone else, haha.  Although all of those things can be great, happiness is temporary; it does not last.

So, what keeps me going, is Jesus Christ.  The lamb of God protects me from death, just like the blood of a lamb protected the israelites from the plague of death in Egypt.  My life has a higher calling, and so, I am not going to let some bumps in the road stop me from carrying out His calling on my life.

So Let me ask you:

Do you have Joy?