February 22, 2005, 10:58 pm
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My new job . . .

. . . requires me to work with people who have little or no money. In fact, if they have much more than a few bucks to their name, they’re probably not qualified for our services.

. . . requires me to work with people who are rejected by society. Some because they have chosen to cope with life’s challenges with the aid of alcohol and drugs. Some because they have an attraction to people of the same gender. Some because they have acted on an attraction to children. All of them have spent time “out of circulation” in jail and/or prison.

. . . requires me to work with people who I am uncomfortable being around. Body odor, dirty clothing, intoxicated, manipulative, potentially dangerous.

. . . requires me to show respect to, and non-judgementally serve all of the above.

Come to think of it, my new job asks the same things of me that Jesus does. Who knew I’d have to leave paid ministry to do that?

I’m being humbled daily at how much I’ve failed to live in The Way, and how much I have to learn from the man of sorrows. Please understand that these words are a form of confession, not a form of boasting.

February 18, 2005, 9:24 am
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Quick post before I dive into the pile of work I’ve got today. I’m still not carrying my full case load yet, but I’ve got something like 28 clients so far. It’s super busy trying to track these folks down, schedule them for appointments, follow up on housing, probation, and funding issues. I’ve learned very quickly that this job will require some discipline in order to manage the stress.

Meeting with the clients so far has been cool. Very interesting folks – some are interesting primarily because of where their own life choices have taken them, and some are interesting because of some serious brain chemistry issues. I was telling Michelle the other day that my theology of angels and demons will be testing and perhaps changed significantly by my work here. I’m absolutely certain that several of the clients I’ve seen would have been characterized in scripture as demon posessed. Figuring out which are and which aren’t may be tricky – the agency doesn’t exactly give me the freedom to sit a client down and say, “Before we get started, I just need to cover one important topic: I TELL ANY SPIRITUAL FORCE OF DARKNESS AT WORK IN YOU TO LEAVE NOW IN THE NAME OF JESUS!!!” Exorcism is not part of the job description.

I’m pondering lots of things in working with these clients. I don’t have the time to write about them now. That’s probably a good thing. Some of this is still too new to me, and I’m likely to write something stupid.

February 9, 2005, 5:38 pm
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Things are going well for me at the new job. Pretty slow on the work side, just trying to absorb the atmosphere around here. My learning curve will be big. I got my first set of cases this afternoon, so I’ll start working with clients in the next few days. That’ll be when things really get interesting. Tomorrow I’m shadowing a colleague doing a review at a local psychiatric hospital.

February 4, 2005, 4:27 pm
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Update time . . .

Tommorrow morning I open at Starbucks – for the last time. Then I’ll hang up the green apron and walk away. Mixed feelings there. I’m glad for the time I’ve spent working for the company. It’s given me the chance to meet a lot of quality people and drink a lot of free coffee. But I feel good about leaving this behind. I live in the Seattle area now, and it’s time to explore the rest of the coffee world.

So, we’ve lived here for a month now. It’s been good. The weather has been all over the place – a little snow, a little rain, but a good lot o’ sunshine. We’ve met some really cool people. Had a lot of kingdom conversations. I’ve met quite a few church planters – in fact, we’re having dinner with one tommorrow night. I’ve had a chance to preach in one small church, and in a couple of weeks I’ll start a four week run preaching in another. I’ve had meaningful conversations with a door-to-door sales person, a coffee shop barista, a missionary kid who is trying to make sense of faith in a different world than seems to fit with how she was raised, and a couple of established pastors in the area. There are some good people.

It’s interesting to me that different people have very different perceptions of the spiritual soil here. Some believe that the Northwest is very dark and difficult. Others think that it’s a very open place – one where conversations come easy and people are willing to talk about faith. My perception is probably in the middle. I’ve found spiritual conversations very easy to come by, but I’m not so sure that means that people are really willing to get personal with their faith. I would say that people are spiritually permissive here, but I can’t tell yet whether they’re spiritually motivated or involved. We’ll find out.

I’m looking forward to the next phase of life. I’ll be shifting in a decidedly bi-vocational direction. I’ll be a tentmaker by day and active in ministry by night. Thankfully, I believe my tentmaking activity will be of ministry value, even though I’ll be limited in what I can do. We haven’t gotten a real clear direction just yet as to where we’ll be involved in ministry, but we’ll be active.