Archives For Musings

I have so much to announce that it’s hard to know where to begin!  But given that I will be talking mostly about endings, perhaps I should just start at the beginning:

First, after serving as Interim Pastor of Peace Fellowship Church for almost two years, my time with that community has finally come to a close. They (hopefully!) will be closing in on a lead pastor this month, which means that I will have served my role, which was to help the church get through this period of transition.

It was only two years, but MAN - what a two years!  It was my privilege and honor to serve that beloved community, and I pray that they would continue to do God’s Kingdom work, east of the Anacostia River.

But this also means that at the end of April, I will officially be unemployed.  And with that, I could use your help: if you know of any ministry opportunities that I might be well suited for, please let me know.  I am open to anything really, but primarily opportunities in the Seattle and Los Angeles area, where we have family – or even in DC as well, since we are already here.  I can provide a CV and references and all that, but if you have been following this blog for any length of time, you probably have a very solid sense of who I am!

I also want announce that I have submitted my final manuscript for my book!  From here, it goes on to several rounds of editing, all before being published this time next year.  While this is obviously not the end of the process, it does mark the end of another long season of my life, which is my journey to getting published.

Three years ago, I had NO thoughts of becoming a writer (then again, 15 years ago, I had NO thoughts of becoming a pastor either – funny how God works).  It was only on a whim that I asked a few friends how one goes about publishing a book, and then put together a few truly terrible sample chapters for a proposal.  That proposal, along with its many revisions, was rejected nearly twenty times over three years, until finally getting picked up a few months ago.

And so when I submitted the manuscript yesterday morning, it felt in many ways like handing in a final paper for class, or even a dissertation for a doctorate – at 67,000 words, it’s much closer to the latter than the former.  I felt satisfied, but at the same time, exhausted.

With so many chapters of my life drawing to a close simultaneously, I have to admit that I feel a bit at a loss.  For the past five years, my life has focused on planting the Riverside, trying to get published, and pastoring Peace Fellowship.  Now all of these endeavors are complete, in one way or another, and I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing with myself.  What does a person do after going through the most terrifying, chaotic, and exciting season of his entire life?

To make this transition even more difficult to process are the practical concerns that we have to address now.  Not only do I feel emotionally adrift, but I am going to be unemployed with no concrete sense of what I am going to do next, all while Carol is pregnant with our fifth child.  These demands impose a sense of urgency to this season, that I cannot simply sit back and reflect upon the past few years, but have to keep pressing forward so that I can provide for my family, and make that cheddar (where in the world does that expression come from?!).

In some way, this makes me think of the people of Israel, when they were finally entering into the Promised Land and came to the banks of the Jordan River.  The river was impossible to cross at that time because it was at full flood.  And after wandering around in the desert for generations, this development must have been quite a discouragement to them, to have to face yet another barrier to entering into the Promised Land.

But of course, this situation also should have seemed more than a little familiar to them, to be standing in front of a body of water which separated them from what God had planned.  This is exactly the situation they faced when they left Egypt, the Red Sea in front of them, and the army of the pharaoh behind.  In fact, as similar as these two instances were, their circumstances by the Jordan were easier than in Egypt.  And so the memory of what God had done in the past should have given them encouragement for what they faced in their present, because they had seen God deliver them from nearly the exact same circumstances.

My situation is identical.  After all, it was almost exactly two years ago that I closed down the Riverside, the church plant that I had founded in 2009, after which I had no idea what I was going to do next.  And all of this took place while Carol was pregnant with our fourth child.  But of course, God would make very clear that he did have a plan for me, sending me to Peace Fellowship, and starting a career in writing, both developments that I would have never predicted or planned for myself.

So yes, I am leaving a ministry.  I have no idea what I’m doing next.  And my wife is pregnant with our fifth child.  But I have seen God lead me through nearly this exact same situation before, not two years prior.  So it would be foolish for me to be paralyzed in fear and trepidation now, as foolish as it would have been for the people of Israel to balk at the Jordan River in full flood.  Fear and trepidation are for those who have not seen God work in the way that I have.

So as overwhelming as this all is, I have faith that God will get us through this time, and has a plan for us.  I have seen him do this before, and whatever he has done once, he can surely do again.  But I am equally certain that I have no idea what that plan is.  So although I don’t feel afraid about the future, what I do feel is something closer to curiosity, that I am incredibly curious as to what God has in store for us next for me and my family.

Very curious.

INTENSELY CURIOUS.

But I am so glad that God is leading us, and that we have friends and family like you by our side.

Thank you to everyone who donated to our health insurance this year!  Here’s an update on where things stand now:

Unfortunately, we haven’t raised enough to afford the same health insurance plan that I had with my denomination for the past four years.  This was initially something of a disappointment.  But the good news is that under the new Affordable Care Act, my family qualifies for a subsidy to purchase health insurance through the health insurance exchanges.  And with that subsidy and your donations combined, we will be able to afford health insurance for the 2014 year!!  So a huge THANK YOU to everyone who gave, it really means so very much to me and my family.  A tax deductible receipt will be mailed out to you before the end of the year.  If you were planning to give but hadn’t found the chance, sorry, you’re too late!  But please, use those funds towards other worthy causes. =) Continue Reading…

Some of you might remember a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago, where I shared that I was having a hard time blogging because I had been rejected by a few dozen publishers.  Those rejections were not limited to publishers either, as an even greater number of agents had also turned me away, which was particularly frustrating because most publishers won’t even consider you if you don’t have representation. These setbacks obliterated my motivation for writing – in fact, even my emails came out weird and stilted during that time, like the time I started an email to a congregation member with this charming salutation:

“Hey!  Hope you good.” Continue Reading…

A Post For My Son

September 9, 2013  20 Comments

photo (37)

Oh Jonathan, you are turning three years old today!  Amazing how time flies so fast.  You are my little guy, and I love you, although there are times when you drive me up the wall.  Like yesterday.  And the day before that.  And the entire month of July, for that matter.

I still remember the day I first heard that you were coming into our lives. Your mother was going into surgery for her mastectomy, and her doctor called me in to the surgical ward because she had to tell me something important.  When I heard that, my heart dropped into the pit of my stomach.  In fact, I almost vomited.  You see, the prior year had taught me to expect the very worst from life, and from God: miscarriage, burglary, cancer, health insurance cancellation.  And so that morning I braced myself for another kick to the teeth, perhaps news that the cancer had spread, or that the surgery couldn’t be performed. Continue Reading…

Shelve Your Passions

August 28, 2013  55 Comments

*** UPDATE: This post is now officially the most read single-day post of all time on my blog!!…which is not saying all that much.  As requested by a few readers, I have changed the title of this post to avoid using vulgar language (although I do use the word once in the actual piece).  ***

Ugh.  My umpteenth phone interview with a church for an open pastoral position.  I have been a part of so many of these not because so many churches want me, but because I have been rejected so many times.  These rejections then force me to interview with yet another congregation, racking up my interview count.  And I think at least one explanation for this is that I don’t answer questions in this context very well.  I’m a bit too transparent.

This last time, one of the committee members asked me how I deal with conflict, to which I replied, “Well, I’d like to think that I’m getting better and better at dealing with conflict.  But I’d be a liar if I said that I handle it well all the time.  Actually, some of the worst moments of my ministry have come out of personal conflict.”  Yes, Peter, very authentic, but next time you may want to phrase it differently, or at least re-order your response so you start with the bad news, and end with the good, something like: “I’m not perfect, but getting better”.

“…Thank you, Mr. Chin.  Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Continue Reading…

My life is very strange.  Weird things happen to me that don’t seem to happen to other people, at least not as frequently.  Those of you who know my story over the last few years can testify that this is true.  And this tendency shows no signs of letting up any time soon.  For instance, the mayor of Washington D.C. showed up at my door a few weeks ago. Continue Reading…

This post is a continuation of one I wrote earlier this month.  To sum it up, one year ago on July 4th, our house was broken into and a lot of stuff stolen.  This year, on the night of July 4th, I woke up at midnight and peered out my bedroom window to see two guys trying to steal my scooter from my backyard by cutting through the lock on its wheel.  I called the police, and they never showed, even after an hour of waiting.  In that time, the would-be thieves got tired of trying to cut through a hardened steel shackle stuck in a solid foot of concrete, and had jumped my fence and went on their way.

Still stewing in frustration and anger, I tossed and turned, but didn’t get any sleep that night.  When the morning came, I resolved not to let the events of the previous night get to me – I was going to have an awesome day.  And so right after breakfast, I took the kids on a bike ride through a nearby park, where we had a blast.  We came back home a few hours later, and dumped our biking gear onto our front porch, closed our front gate, and headed in for a cold snack.  My wife then decided to take the kids out for an errand, and so I flopped on the couch and fell asleep, hoping to make up for the sleep that I had lost the night before.

Ten minutes later, I woke up and knew something was wrong,  I jumped off the couch and looked out the front window, mere feet away from where I was sleeping, and saw nothing.  As in nothing, because my bike had been stolen right off the porch. Continue Reading…

Last year, on the 4th of July, my family was on our way to the beach when we got a call that someone had broken into our house (something that I talk about in this post).  We returned to see our back door smashed in, and our TV and other valuables stolen, including all my wife’s jewelry and her engagement ring.  While not quite traumatic, it was a bad enough experience that when I woke up this morning, one year later, the memory did come to mind.  I idly wondered if something would happen this year too, hahaha.

And lo and behold, it did. Continue Reading…

I was riding my scooter down K street in Washington D.C., when I caught a glimpse of myself in the enormous glass doors of what passes for skyscrapers in this city.  I did not like what I saw:

Gray socks pulled up past my ankles.

Leather slip on shoes.

And plaid cargo shorts.

I hadn’t dressed like this on purpose, as a kind of ironic hipster fashion statement.  Had it been, I would have worn suspenders to complete the look.  No, this was just the way I had chosen to go out that afternoon.  And a stunning realization hit me like a ton of bricks, a realization that had been years in the making – I had officially become my father.  Because this is exactly how he dressed when I was a kid. Continue Reading…

I’ve been pondering an idea that came to mind over this past week, that so much of modern life is geared around taking little bits of information and forging a larger idea or principle from it.  Think about the myriad ways in which we do this.  The legal profession uses this principle liberally, taking small pieces of evidence, and weaving them together to try to paint a picture or person in a particular light.  Academics from every field also do the same.  Business, particularly the markets, is very much tied to this idea as well, where every little factor from a company’s situation, from the health of the founder to the supply of rare metals, is boiled down to a simple choice: buy or sell. Continue Reading…