Sunday, July 28, 2013

This Next Stage - The Newsman

Welcome to Scappoose. The nearest Starbucks is 8 miles.
Many of you who follow me on Facebook already know about the blessing I received a week ago. To sum the last few days' events up in short, I was hired as the sports editor of the Spotlight, a small but successful weekly newspaper in Scappoose, Oregon. I'll be doing all of the writing, photography and design for the section - and yes, I'll make the hour commute from Oregon City five days a week.

With all the wildness that has ensued, it's been hard to wrap my mind around exactly what is happening. In some recent posts, I talked about an opportunity that it seemed God had placed in my hands to minister to the Parkrose area as well as the lessons learned from my missing out on the job with the Molalla Pioneer. Now in hindsight, I can see how some of those things line up to point me in the direction I'm going now.

The interview with the Pioneer gave me much more than valuable experience in a real interview situation, it served to show me that my skills were valued and validated my dream of becoming a journalist.  Especially when it was that very interview that ended up placing me in front of the publisher of the Spotlight, what proof that I was walking the right path!

With Starbucks, things aren't quite so clear. One of the reasons that I hesitated on the new job was because I wondered if the open door in Parkrose was the one I was supposed to take. While I can clearly see that my current situation is a total God-thing, I can't help but worry that I'm missing out on something that God presented to me. Though I can see that the transfer plans helped make leaving Starbucks easier, the timing of that presentation doesn't entirely make sense. In time, I suppose.

Time brings me to my last thought. This is a new city, a new job and new people. Where does the path of Christ lead me? As a journalist, I'll have the chance for a much larger voice than I do now, but how to use it? Something that I'll definitely mull over in the coming days before I start.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Earth Downs: How hard I fight

Lately, the strongest thought on my heart has been my constant battle against sin. It seems like every moment is spent thinking about how to battle the next temptation or how to rid my daily life of things that can drag me down. I pour energy into walking a spiritual tightrope, as though to reach the other side unscathed.

What I wonder is this: Is that fight a lack of trust in God? Let me break that down.

For years, and much more consciously over the last few months, sin has been a struggle. When one thing appears conquered, another springs up to take it's place. The arrows of the evil one come from every direction, and no matter what defense I put up, no matter how hard I fight,  they eventually break me down. That's the thing, though. What defense *I* put up. How hard *I* fight. Where is God in this? Are my personal battles evidence that I don't put trust in God to carry me through trials and temptations? Should I have to frantically cry for a savior every time the enemy approaches me?

All those things can be addressed in one swoop. Why not, as I have talked about in previous posts, make every attempt to fill my heart with love for the Lord? When I push and fight sin out of my life, all it does is create a vacuum  that has to be filled with SOMEthing. More often than not that space is filled with more of what I just finished clearing out. If I work to fill my heart, mind and soul with Christ, then there is no room for anything else!

The concept is simple. The application is simple. The first steps are usually simple. The hard part is the follow through. For those friends that read and support me in the redemptive process, feel free to check in - both to share your own experiences, and to hold my feet to the fire in my quest.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Neighborhood of Need

Starbucks at 122nd and Halsey
There are times when it feels as though God is silent, like the blessings and guidance are passive, and the words from God are from the Word. There are other times that God is bold and aggressive, speaking with clarity about a plan for his glory.

Tonight was one of those times.

A bit of background before we begin, I was asked to be part of a team to open up a new Starbucks store in NE Portland. I'll be leaving my store in downtown Oregon City for Oak Grove, where I will work for about a month before transferring to the new store in mid to late August. The store, which at the SE corner of the Parkrose neighborhood, is being planted as an experimental drive thru-walk up store with no cafe, and will be Starbucks' baby for the time being.

The intriguing thing about this opportunity is that it is an answer to prayer a long time in coming. Parkrose is traditionally a rough area, especially the northern end along Sandy Blvd and surrounding Parkrose High School, and is a part of the city that seems to get pushed under the rug in terms of outreach. That brings us to today's lightbulb moment.

For much of the time I've been with Starbucks, I've had the notion that I am to be instrumental in starting a Missional Community (or house church) made up of or including Starbucks Partners on mission to love a certain part of our city. Until a few weeks ago, I figured that place would be Oregon City, which is where I live and work. It wasn't until I was lazily scrolling through facebook and happened upon a post from Solid Rock, my church, about the launch of a new missional community in Lake Oswego that it dawned on me the door that was sitting wide open.

What better place to bring people together for the purpose of blessing and loving a neighborhood? And what better group of people than the young, vibrant individuals that work at Starbucks? My current store had four partners that all attended my church, how many more could be given this same calling? How fitting, that I am placed by my work into an area that needs God's hand that aligns so perfectly with the idea that had been placed on my heart years ago.

The mission still needs partners (literal, not just in the SBUX sense), a direction and ample amounts of prayer, but there IS a mission, and that in and of itself is the hand of God. Join me, if you would, in this quest - I don't leave for the new location for more than a month, but prayer support and ideas will be deeply appreciated as I make the first steps on this new Jesus-journey.

Apparently, it's supposed to look like this.