Seminary Deal Breaker?

26 01 2008

Our Lead Pastor resigned almost one year ago return to his native Colorado. He’s working for one church, planting others in the area. It’s what God has called him and equipped him for and he does it well. This left our congregation with two remaining pastors. One is our “Pastor of Community Life” and the other is our “Pastor of Student Ministries.” Our “CL” pastor has been with us for almost two years. Our “SM” pastor was born in our church, left for YWAM and college, and returned to the church. We’ve been searching for a new “Lead Pastor” since. We are releasing our interim pastor this week after about 7 months of great leadership (a financial decision). Our search committee has a very good candidate they are about to bring to the congregation for a “look see.” For those of you who are familiar with this type of process in church leadership, you may be thinking “oh yeah, I’ve been down this road before.” For those who’s churches do not fill their pulpit this way, it may seem completely foreign. I grew up in churches who’s constitutions and bylaws call for this very process and it’s foreign to me sometimes.

I don’t have a problem with the process itself so much as the politics that always seems to accompany something that should be at all times, in complete unity with what God is willing for the particular body of believers. Why are a certain list of “requirements” necessary, outside those listed in scripture for a pastor (see 2Timothy as well as others). Our church’s current dilemma is whether or not a man who does not have a post graduate degree from seminary is qualified to hold the position of “Lead Pastor.”

What are your thoughts? Is a seminary degree required for one to seek this position? Is is possible for a man to be the “right man for the job” without this box checked off on his resume? I’m pretty sure the Bible doesn’t say anything about seminary so I’m not questioning the scriptural validity of the “requirement”, but rather why it seems so important to some and not to others. Is is a deal-breaker? Why or why not? The more details the better.



Tough Tax Questions

23 01 2008

I work for the nation’s largest tax firm. I’m currently in my 11th year with them and my 2nd as an office manager. This year I’m managing two offices. Yes, it’s a challenge. I love my job! I work with great people and I love to help people too.

Needless to say, we get LOTS of calls this time of year from people asking many questions about lots of different tax topics. Little strikes fear into the hearts of the bravest souls quicker than the three little letters I R S. Tax laws change all the time, and one of our biggest challenges is to stay on top of those changes, interpret the “legalese” they’re written in, and most importantly, be able to explain them to our clients so they understand the potential impact to their situation.

Some questions are fairly straight-forward and easy to answer. “What’s the standard deduction for a couple filing a joint return?” “What’s the deadline to file?” “How much can I earn before I’m required to file a return?” I don’t even have to look those answers up anywhere. They roll off my tongue like lyrics to my favorite song.  Others, however, are another story. “My W2 says I made $27,332.27 this year.  How much will my refund be?”  “How much Earned Income Credit will I get if I claim my kids?”

My favorite callers are the ones that start the conversation with: “my friend said________________.” Or better yet, “my friend and I made the same amount of money. How come his refund is bigger?” One of my all time favorites is “Why do I have to pay income taxes anyway?”

Today though, I had to struggle to keep from busting out laughing when a caller said “my friend and I were talking and he assured me that because my DOG had cancer last year and I had to pay a lot of money for surgery and treatments for him, that I could claim these medical expenses on my tax return this year.  Where exactly do I list these expenses on my return?” My first response wanted to be “right under the line where you put his Social Security Number,” but of course I couldn’t say that. I had to politely explain that contrary to his otherwise knowledgeable friends’ assurance, he could NOT claim any medical expenses for his beloved dog (unless it was a registered service animal).  I’d really love to meet his friend sometime.  I want to see for myself that this friend is truly capable of human speech and only has two legs.

I’m Such a Hockey Mom!

19 01 2008

My youngest daughter, Mary, plays hockey. This is her first year and she’s on a traveling team of 8U girls. Big deal right? Well, if you live in North Dakota, like we do, then it is a VERY big deal. Hockey skates are included in all the diaper bags given to new parents at the hospital. There are more hockey equipment stores in Grand Forks than gas stations, grocery stores or elementary schools. We are home to the Fighting Sioux team of UND. The arena they play in is the biggest structure in ND, and by far the most expensive. Yes, hockey is a big deal here. I grew up in south Florida so this obsession with this particular sport is rather new to me. Now if we’re talking saltwater fishing, or water skiing, I’d be all over that, but this pushing of the little black, not to mention extremely hard, puck is foreign to this mom of four.

Mary had her first turn at playing goalie tonight. She was very excited. I was a nervous wreck! Did I mention that those pucks are extremely hard? Not to worry though because 8 year old girl goalies are safely outfitted with a minimum of 72 pounds of padding to keep the puck from hurting when it hits them at 102 miles per hour. Mary did an awesome job in the net tonight and all the parents have requested that she play the position permanently because she “fought hard” in that net tonight (and she can get back up after falling with all that gear on in under 2 seconds!).

We lost 6 to 3 tonight, but only because the other team had hired the referees for the game.  Even the opposing team’s parents were a little upset after the sixth time one of their players tripped one of ours and no penalty was called. The final blow to fairness was when the referee burst out laughing after witnessing one girl on the opposing team strike one of our players in the back with her stick! That’s OK. We’ve arranged for him to meet some players from the Fighting Sioux team, up close and personal, later on.

I love to watch my daughter play this game. I love the fact that after each goal that was scored on her tonight, the other players on her team immediately skated over to her to tap her on the helmet and tell her “good try. It’s OK, they got by all of us too.”

Two more games tomorrow. Hopefully with better referees and more goals for our side.

Open For Business

18 01 2008

Normally during tax season I don’t get much opportunity to sit and stare out the window, much less take time to blog.  I have a short break, so I thought I’d check in.  I’m sitting here at my desk looking at the reflection of the “OPEN” sign in our front window.  It is supossed to be turned on each morning when the office is opened and turned off at closing each night.  Seeing this sign today made me wonder if people give God “office hours” too. 

“God, I’m available on Sunday mornings from 10am to noon and most Wednesday’s from 6pm to 8pm.  Anything outside those hours will require prior arrangement.” 

Do we allow God to enter into our lives and speak to us, work through us, be seen in us, only when we’ve made an appointment with Him?  I must confess that I’ve been guilty of doing just that.  When things are just rolling along smoothly, typical daily tasks, etc. I find it easy to just kinda let God “come along for the ride.”  Kind of like remembering to bring my wallet with me before I leave the house or something.  I don’t give His presence much thought unless something goes wrong. 

If I’m truly “bulletproof,” then I can’t just expect God to be a part of my life when I choose to call on Him.  I must make sure that my “open” sign is always lit, the door unlocked, and appointment calendar cleared of anything else that may get in the way.   The armor is the key to my ability to be bulletproof and Christ is that armor.  If I minimize (or minimalize) my time in His presence, then the armor will soon grow weak and my protection will not be as strong. 

How do you keep God’s presence in your life at the front of all you do?  Is it easier at some times than it is at others?  What are those times?  Why are those times harder or easier?

I’m awaiting your responses.


Hello world!

18 01 2008

Welcome to Bulletproof Living! I decided after reading some blogs many times a day for the last few years that I’d start one of my own. I hope you all will stop by often and at least leave me some constructive criticism. The blog name comes from a song title by Taylor Sorenson and the Trigger Code called “Bulletproof.” As a Christian, I’m striving to live my life here on earth knowing that I am truly bulletproof.  Journey with me, teach me, stretch my daily walk and have some fun too!

Thanks for stoppin’ by.