Saturday, July 2, 2011

Oath Schmoath


Please excuse the grammar in this wife/proofreader is out of town

Whatever happened to oaths? In fact if you read that this word on its own it sounds kind of goofy. Typically I think of an “Oath” as a solemn contract reserved for super duper special entities such as marriages, legal contracts and military personnel. But this morning I woke up convicted and challenged about some of the other innocuous “oaths” I have made....and broken such as plans to hang out with friends or plans to set aside time each day for meditation or study. Jesus says in Matt. 5, “let your yes be your yes and your no be your no” Recently I have taken a lot of license with my yeses and noses. (heehee) When I started this blog I committed to writing at least one blog a week. For the past couple of weeks I have broken this oath. Not only that but twice this week I committed to plans with other people and broken my word and I am already planning on breaking another oath I made next week because I accidentally double booked myself. I would like to justify my actions or excuse them but the truth of the matter is that I made an oath to others and didn't follow through. While it is true that inevitable circumstances arise where keeping oaths isn't always possible you and I both know that all to often we use “great excuses” to get out of obligations we really don't feel like participating in.

So what are the repercussions for not keeping oaths? Well besides the fact that my integrity takes a hit every time I back away from an oath I also feel that breaking little oaths are kind of a gateway drug to breaking the big ones....(you are free to disagree....but you're wrong)

The only way to guarantee that I am protecting the two most sacred oaths I have made. 1) to serve God with all my heart and 2) To faithfully cherish my wife, is by being a man of integrity and guarding my heart and commitments in the small seemingly insignificant oaths that I make everyday.

So I apologize for not having a post up for the past few weeks.....I ask for your forgiveness and patience as I realign my priorities and begin to renew my commitment to my yes being my yes and my no being my no.

What do you think? How are you with the oaths you make? Is your yes your yes....or is it more of a tentative “maybe”?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Step #1 admitted that we were powerless...that our lives had become unmanageable...

A bunch of years ago I was working as a residential counselor at a drug and alcohol rehab center for juvenile delinquents. My job was to be a custodial guardian for 6 teenage drug addicts who were in recovery. Each morning I would wake them up, ensure that they ate breakfast and did their chores, send them off to school, make sure they did their evening chores and then put them to bed. In addition to all the other functions of my job, one of my responsibilities was to take them to nightly Alcoholics anonymous meetings. It was at one of these A.A. meetings I had my world rocked. About ½ way through the meeting the speaker asked the question, “What lengths are you willing to go to in order to stay sober?” It was at this moment that I realized I was willing to go to any length. I stood up and started to stumble my way to the front of the group of about 60 people and with tears in my eyes and all the conviction I could muster, I blubbered out loud for the first time, “My name is Andy, and I'm an alcoholic.” In the midst of 60 awkward stares and a few looks of shock disrespect on the faces of the clients I counseled, I experienced peace.

You see, at that moment I knew that the awkwardness and instability of my immediate future was only a temporary discomfort in comparison to the immeasurable rewards that awaited me in recovery. I just didn't care anymore about what others thought. I only knew that things couldn't get any worse and that no matter what happened next, whether I was fired, or ridiculed for being a counselor at a drug rehab center while all along being a closet addict didn't matter to me anymore. All that I knew was that from this point on things were going to change.

I finally admitted that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable and due to God's grace and my willingness to stay willing, I haven't taken anything stronger than a Tylenol in over 6 ½ years.

I often wonder what it would look like for a church community to mimic A.A. And to be as honest and thorough about going to any lengths to have peace, joy, contentment and deliverance from destructive behaviors. What do you and your community do to ensure a healthy honesty?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Time to Reminisce

One of Ruthy and my favorite things to do on our “date night” is to go to a Borders bookstore, pick a random relationship book off the shelf and then read a chapter out loud with one another and discuss it. We have probably done this a dozen times over the course of our marriage and have found the practice to be quite helpful to our relationship. (Coincidentally, us never actually purchasing a book from Borders has proven to be quite disastrous for them since they are now out of Business). One of the books we read was by Dr. John Gottman. Dr. Gottman said that one of the keys to a successful marriage is taking time to reminisce. Gottman says that couples who take the time to look through old photo albums together, recollect stories and share remembrances have a much greater success rate in maintaining a healthy marriage.

Recently Ruthy and I looked through a few photo albums of our 7 month honeymoon and had a great time remembering old stories and laughing at some of our more "inconvenient" memories. Below are a few of the highlights we remembered.

Navigating through 1000's of jellyfish while diving Taking the scariest taxi cab ride ever in Vietnam Starting off our SE Asia trip in the middle of a Civil War in Thailand.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Working with Ruthy

My wife is an incredibly hard worker. She is a marketing consultant for LivingSocial and all day, everyday she is hustling for business all over Tacoma. She is most definitely my 'sugarmomma.' I on the other hand am a part-time waiter who enjoys the more leisurely pursuits in life such as 'Hulu' and 'Angry Birds.' Due to my recent inspiration from John Adams (see Tuesday's blog) I have decided to mirror my wife's work week. I will work as many hours on serving Tacoma Community as my wife works at her job with LivingSocial....So far today I have totally followed through on my plans.

Ruthy-has burrowed her head in her computer since we arrived at the coffee shop at 11:00 and has not stopped making phone calls and appointments since we arrived. In an outstanding effort of equally matching her work effort I have spent the past 4 hours writing this blog post.....and taking the following picture.

I must admit I am doing a pretty darn good job of following through on my commitment.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Inspired by John Adams

I'm still a little fuzzy on the details but unbeknownst to me I became an adult with adult interests. (If you don't believe me then please refer to my earlier use of the adult's only word 'unbeknownst'). Up until recently, the only books I read for fun involved choosing your own adventure, cowboys, Navy Seals or a ruddy reckless young wizard. Lately however I have been fascinated by reading biographies of famous people. Currently I am reading a great biography on John Adams.

I am only a couple of chapters into it but one story that is sticking out to me is as follows:

After years of hard work and sacrifice Adams finally becomes a practicing lawyer. During his very first case defending the plaintiff he is humiliated in court and loses his case on a technicality for not filling out the brief correctly. He is very embarrassed, his client is pissed off and the whole town of Braintree (small town where Adams lives) knows of his blunder. Frustrated and upset Adams goes home that night and writes in his journal, “It is my destiny to dig treasures with my own fingers.”

Adams' found out early on that any prestige or success he had in practicing law was going to come through a lot of sweat and hard work.

I too want to share this conviction of Adams, “It is my destiny to dig treasures with my own fingers.” However, sometimes I read scriptures like Jeremiah 29:11and think that I can just play Xbox until a miracle happens. Yes, God does have plans to prosper me (whatever that means) but, if I am not careful, I can easily fall into the trap of perpetually waiting for God to bless me and the ministry he has called me to rather than being faithful with the gifts, talents and abilities that he has entrusted me with. What do you think of what Adams says?

“It is my destiny to dig treasures with my own fingers”

How does this apply to how you practice your faith?

Monday, May 30, 2011

what does a closed door really look like?

Acts 5:41 shares that after some of the disciples were whipped and beaten for preaching in the streets they left their jail cells rejoicing and pumped because they had been found worthy of suffering for Jesus. Up until recently I had always read this passage and thought it meant that I should rejoice when I am persecuted for Jesus (which, in all honesty has never really happened in my life) So up until now I have always tucked away this lil tidbit “rejoice when persecuted” and put it up on the mental shelf next to all my other “good to know” factoids. Watching Man vs. Wild has taken up tons of mental shelf space....If I ever get cornered by a hissing cobra in Madagascar I totally know what to do..... However, yesterday I was reading through the book of Acts and a new revelation hit me:

The first century church considered it an honor to be persecuted for “The Way” They rejoiced because they had been found worthy of suffering for Christ. How different the early church responded to obstacles and persecution than I currently due as a privileged North American. I view obstacles or ridicule of my ministry as God intervening to “close doors.” The first century church viewed obstacles as concrete evidence that they were in fact experiencing God's favor.......Man have I got it backwards.....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WTD part 2

Ok, after reading my last "WTD" post my wife told me I had to go check out the blog, "Jesus needs new pr" If you haven't been there yet it is absolutely awesome. Anyhoo.....I stole this youtube clip and it too is absolutely awesome....but in a different way. Enjoy.

Leave it to us Christians to get a little to enthused about sharing our faith....Do you know of any other random Christian Crapola?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daily Bread

I know I just started blogging and all. But I had to take a break for a few days. I needed to yell at the big guy and I was a little too volatile to be sharing my thoughts via the web.

In my inaugural post I mentioned receiving my “daily bread.” Sometimes my daily bread sucks...I don't want bread, I want a toasted chicken carbonara from Quiznos.

Man I think sometimes the Exodus Israelites get a bad rap. All of us 21century haters look at those guys and say, “You had manna and quail everyday, a fire in the sky at night to keep you warm and a cozy cumulus cloud during the day to keep the scorching sun off your backs. God gave you everything you needed but yet you still worshiped idols??? You donkeys...” I say to myself that I would never be as flaky as those pansy Israelites.....

Except here I sit, with all bling that a cracker like me can handle and yet I still find myself frustrated with God for not giving me more...Please God don't make me go drink some bitter water.....the bile in my throat is penance enough, forgive me Father for losing sight of you. I truly am grateful for my daily bread and you are so generous with your provision.

King Solomon and I are totally alike, he also struggled with only being content with his daily bread, check out what he wrote in Proverbs 30:7-9

“Two things I ask of you, LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.

See? I am totally just like Solomon, except without the harem, prestige, wealth and olive tan skin.......Yep, that's right...just like Solomon.

Do you ever find yourself complaining and unsatisfied with your daily bread? What do you do to put yourself in an attitude of gratitude?

Monday, April 4, 2011


I think that spending my afternoon reading blogs in my pajamas is the 80's equivalent to eating bon-bons and watching soap operas. I needed a good blog jam session after my morning so far. Re-structuring my resume can get a little tiring after a while.

Since the "recent job history" as well as the "education" section of my resume screams fundamentalist bible thumping evangelical to the untrained eye, it is a little difficult tailoring my work experience to fit common day marketable job skills. For instance trying to make my knowledge of 2000 year old Koine Greek make me sound bilingual hasn't been working out so well.

Just this morning I got off the phone with a job agency, the gal asked me what my previous work history was, I said that I have a master's degree in Theology and I worked as a youth pastor at a church and she replied, “while working there did you have any heavy duty machining training or dye casting experience” (seriously, that was her immediate response) um, no but I can definitely hold my own in a foosball tournament or watermelon seed spitting contest...

There doesn't seem to be much need in the secular world with someone with my unique set of talents...who knew that being able to stuff 18 marshmallows in my mouth while still saying the words “chubby bunny” wasn't an actual job skill?

For now I will just keep waiting tables at “The Keg” and trying not to pester my wife too much as she works from home. (She is sitting 8 feet from me but I'm not allowed to talk to here when she's in “the office bubble”)

Me having to ask Ruthy how to use the camera in order to set up this "office bubble" shot almost got me put in a timeout.

Monday, March 28, 2011


What The Deuce?!?

I can't help it, sometimes I get offended when I see people blaspheming Jesus. I try not to let it bother me and for the most part it doesn't. But every once in a while I find my self more hurt than I think Jesus would be when it comes to others making fun of God.....Didn't Jesus himself say “blessed are you when people persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

But truthfully, what bothers me more than the crude Jesus humor found in stores like Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters is the utterly ridiculous Jesus crapola that can be found in Christian stores everywhere.....take for instance the following....

This comic excerpt was taken from a 1970's bible tract about preparing for the rapture....

For reals though, I cannot believe this next one made it through the "Quality Check" at Christian-Craps-R-Us

If these ceramic figurines were sold at Hot Topic or Urban Outfitters I would be a little offended. But "Jesus groping kids" can be found at most Christian bookstores....
Have you seen any really bad Christian craps out there?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Double Dog Dare you

Dozens of times the authors of the Psalms cry out to God for help. Without fail they always report that God answered them. One of my favorite examples of this is Psalm 107:9-14 “In the midst of darkness and deepest gloom, while a prisoner suffering in iron chains...i cried out to you oh God and you brought me out of my deep despair....” (paraphrase mine)

God is always faithful to answer with help. The problem is that we don't always want the “help” he provides.

Below is a journal entry I wrote on Jan. 19th (5 years ago today) I had just quit my job, sold my car and gave away everything that I owned that wouldn't fit in my backpack. Inspired by Jack Kerouac's romanticism of life on the road I began hitchhiking across the US and was currently stranded outside of Santa Clara CA.

...The more desperate for a ride that I got the less I cared about what people thought of me or how I looked while I pleaded for rides. As my day long wait for a ride turned into dusk, and the thunderclouds loomed like a schoolyard bully breathing down my neck threatening to kick my ass as soon as all the parents were gone, I couldn't help but feel silly about the lengths I was willing to go to in order to find physical comfort. When it comes to temporal things like being stranded overnight in a rainstorm, I was willing to go to any lengths to find solace. I accosted old ladies, tried to bribe truck drivers and pleaded with members of horrified family vans in order to find relief. However in matters concerning spiritual comfort I will only sometimes humble myself before God, and never in the presence of others...”

When Jesus left this rock he gave us three things; Holy Spirit, Scripture and Church (community).

Don't hide your desperation, find someone you trust allow them to help and ask for a ride.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

number two

I had no idea that this blog would become such a phenomenal hit over night!! I only considered this whole blogging shtick as an online journal to catalog my thoughts. But now there is a bigger picture here. There is a lot more to consider than just my own dull musings. Maybe my true calling is to be an online pastor; DO THEY GET PAID? My blog is going to be so huge I will now be invited to guest speak all around the country.....yeah that's right Carlos Whittaker you can eat my shorts man cuz “A Whiskey Priest” is here to stay. Should I add a Donate Here button to my web page? Obviously droves of people will be willing to support me financially just so they can say they are associated with my ministry...and that's right it will be MY ministry! If Casey Treat can do it than so can I.

There are people out there who “follow me” SERIOUSLY!! they even clicked on a button to show their allegiance.(In the online world that is equivalent of a 'I heart Andy' tramp stamp on the lower back)

My words are like aloe to the sunburn of their souls, mint to their mentally unstable mojito........

But in all seriousness, it's amazing what selfish ludicrous thoughts can flow through my mind in an instant the moment I get a blog “follower.” Thanks Jake whoever you are for following my blog man. You helped me see how easy it is for selfish vainglory to jump out and bite me. I encourage you to take a moment and pray for your Pastor and other leaders so that they may be cloaked in humility and be discerning enough to avoid the entrapment of self-aggrandizing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Organic Church

Last night was our home group. Man I love those folks. It is so reassuring and sweet to feel a sense of God's presence inside of community. Four months ago Ruthy and I moved to North Tacoma without really knowing anyone at all. Now we have peeps. Thank you Jesus. I pray for all you who read this today that you too would find a place you can call church. Whether it be inside a big brick building that meets Sunday morning, around a campfire singing kumbaya, sitting on the floor in a cramped apartment or with a group of people at a coffee shop. I pray that you find accountability and support as you share one anothers burdens.

On Monday nights this is our sanctuary

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Good Day!

Today is a good day, by that I mean that I got out of bed before 10am, was able to enter into personal prayer and petition for others without having to combat any of the 7 dwarfs of ministry mental mortification: mopey, queasy, pride, pity, grief, envy and regret. Finally, today was a good day because I didn't look at my bookshelf or scan through my podcasts of Christian authors and speakers and instantly resent or covet any of their teachings or other tributes of their neatly packaged copyrighted success. (Except for maybe Brennan Manning) Why does every sentence he writes have to be so dang poetically lyrical and soothing to my soul? Ugh...I hate him for that.

Most importantly today was a good day because I woke up feeling like I was indeed pleasing to God and that I was in fact living into the calling that he has placed on my life. You see in my line of work (technically it is unwork cuz I don't get paid for it) this doesn't happen all to often. Not because there aren't legions of people encouraging and affirming my wife and I. (And there are, and I am so grateful for your prayers and affirmation). Certainly not because I don't feel a burden and passion for my city and my choice of ministry but because I, like others in my field of work are so dependent on God's mercy and provision of “emotional daily bread” that we can literally slip out a stinky fart and be in serious doubt as to whether our lives are a spiritual “sweet smelling incense.”

I neglected to give my proper introduction...ahem, “Hello my name is Andy my wife and I are church planters.” For the past three months we have been working with a denomination to start a church in our little nook of Tacoma. It has been emotionally draining at the same time so positively reassuring and encouraging. Never in my brief christian ministry life have I felt so exited and content while at the same time so utterly insecure and close to failure.

The purpose of this blog is two-fold. 1) I want to look back one day at the entries I have posted and be humbled and amazed at God's provision for my life and what he has taught me and brought my family through during this season. 2) I want my writings to act as a self-reflective commiseration during genuine times of hardship while at the same time a kick in the crotch during my self induced mopey-moes.