Friday, December 4, 2009

The Truth Behind Self

To start of with a quotation from a friend in a note I read recently:

"You are not your job, your grades, your relationship, your school, your clothes, your acceptance in society, your screw-ups, your success, or your religion. You are beloved by God, because you are human, His creation. He seeks you, to unite you with the Truth."

There have been so many thoughts running through my mind as of late, and I have had very rare a chance to actually pen them down. When I think about how this past week and how stressful it has been I want to break down into tears. Not because of any one emotion, but because of all the emotions built up inside of me just begging to come out. I've been so busy, and it has been bugging me to no end. When I finally realize that I need to take time and just be, the time for getting the most done before school ends comes around. Truly it is an annoying thing.

If you have texted me in the past week you would know that my signature has changed recently. It used to be "Free in Him" which I still hold strongly too, but now it says Son in Healing. I am using it to be a constant reminder that I am indeed a broken and wretched soul. Everyday I am reminded just how damaged I have become over the years. Not that being damaged is a bad thing; in fact, I believe that there is something incredibly beautiful in the brokenness it creates, but it has called for a time of rehabilitation.

I am not one to blame the church for my problems... at least, not anymore. However, I do think that the wounds and scars that I have given and received over the years has been within a church setting. You see, I was taught, like most of you, that I had to be certain things. When you think of masks, and people acting like two different people between church and the other 6 days of the week, then you are thinking of someone like me. For as long as I can remember, I have been pressured subconsciously, and sometimes even explicitly to be a good Christian, to do what Good Christians do, and to honor God. I do not believe that these things are wrong to desire, but I believe that the magnifying glass that accompanies them can be extremely harmful. So, at a very young age I began to tell myself and identify myself with the things that I did. Even now I am still fighting the urge to put my identity into my actions. This is why I posted the quotation above, because the truth is that my identity of self changed on a whim for many years.

In the core of my self, I know who I am. I know because who I am is in Christ and no one could ever take that away from me. However, if I feel like I have failed, then my identity was that I AM a failure. This is true for any other emotion or feeling. I began to compile it all together to present to myself exactly how worthless I was, and I became chained in something so dark, and so much more insidious than even my lust had taken me. For I began to discover (only within the past month or so) that my actions are a mere reflection of a much greater and deeper wound that has been bleeding untouched for years.

Recently, God broke those chains over me. It wasn't anything I did that influenced Him to do that, but merely a timing thing I guess. The truth be told, I don't know if He was waiting on me, or if I was waiting on Him. Either way, the point is that now I have been freed and the healing can begin. Unfortunately, that healing never takes place overnight, and so I am having to rediscover myself (again), redetermine what I believe (again), and perhaps the most difficult of all is that I am having to relinquish any control I thought I had so that I can obtain the freedom and the power that He gives. It really is fascinating.

I guess, in some ways this note is an echo of a testimony that was shared in Chapel on Monday. When the man speaking brought up all the words he used to define himself as, I could look at myself and see that I was and still struggling with being just like that. It has been a long and hard road to travel, and yet, I feel that I have made some true leaps forward in my understanding of what it means to be a "Follower of the Way"

I can only hope that you will continue to seek God and to listen to His gentle prodding so that He can show you something truly magnificent every day.

Grace and Peace

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What A Mess I Am

This week has been incredibly rough on me. It's beaten me, bruised me, and thrown me in about a thousand different directions. And the saddest part of it all is the fact that I pretty much did it to myself. Granted, the car breaking down was not my fault, but all the emotional stuff is definitely all me.

The problem is, and this is my conclusion from this week: I care and love people in such a way that I forget to temper that love and care. Which leads to me taking on everyone's problems, and it leads to my emotions tricking me into feeling something that I don't have a reason to feel.
The other part of my conclusion is the fact that I have been keeping myself way too busy, and the saddest part about that for me is the fact that I don't know where or when it was that I went from where I was, to where I am.

I had an extremely good and long talk with a friend last night. We talked about the very conclusions I have now reached. We discussed my issues with circumstances, and why it was that I wanted to do something about it. We discussed why it is that I feel an incredible burden for people. But most of all, the conversation opened my eyes to a way I had been living. So, I guess this note is just to share and express this two part conclusion.

To address the first half of my conclusion:

The truth is that I love. I love with every fiber in my being, and I love with wild hopeless abandon. This love often leads to much pain, because when you choose to love someone, they affect how you feel. That is why relationships are so dangerous and so fulfilling and so painful. And why do I love? I love because Dad does. I love because my King does. I love because my Lover does. Because He taught me what love is, and He taught me how to love. He loves with such a scandalous, desperate, unimaginable love that I can't help but try to imitate Him. There is nothing wrong with love.

My problem then, comes from the fact that I forget to keep that love in check. Unlike my Father, I sometimes forget that love can feel overbearing and feel like too much. I forget that loving, even with good intentions, can create painful situations that could have otherwise been avoided. It is something that I've never really learned to do. I didn't even know it was really an issue until... well until last night really. It was like having to learn to walk again. I don't really understand why God has me in a major that asks me to be sufficient in something that is my greatest weakness... interpersonal communication. Sure, I can talk to a group of people just fine in a speech setting, but when it comes to intimate interactions I just fail to get it. It's almost like I suffer from some sort of social dysfunction. For example, the fact that what I'm writing right now, may not make sense to the reader is a haunting and likely probability. It usually takes a couple of tries to really express what I mean by something. It's incredibly frustrating, and I am very thankful to my friends because they somehow are able to put up with my strange and often idiotic idiosyncrasies.

To address the second half of my conclusion:

I am an incredibly restless person. Some of that comes from the fact that I have a lot of nervous energy, but it is not limited to that in the least. I think my problem in this area of my life is that I've always tried to keep myself busy. If I'm busy I don't have to worry about my problems, I don't have to face the conflicts, I keep myself out of a lot of trouble, and I get some pseudo feeling of success. In truth though, being busy accomplishes none of these goals. In fact, it has the opposite effect. It makes me worry more about my problems, it forces me to face conflict (because there is more of it), I do stupid and sinful things to escape the business, and I certainly don't feel successful. Oftentimes, I feel like a complete failure.
So why do I do it? I guess, it's because it is what I've always done. It is what I have always known. It is what I grew up around.

What is the solution? My friend suggested something. He told me, "you need to contemplate." I'm still trying to wrap my mind around what he meant by that. But from what I gathered from what he was saying is that I really need to get into the habit of simply "being". To sit in the stillness before Elohim, with nothing but myself. To be completely and totally there.

In Rob Bell's video "Everything is Spiritual" Elohim calls Moses onto the mountain to commune with Him. Bell explains what is really being said, which boils down to "Come to the top of the mountain, and BE on top of the mountain." It's this understanding that when we come before God, when we "rest" we are never truly resting, because our minds are in a million different places. What we need to do, calls we need to make, homework that needs to be completed, etc. And we never take the time to simply enjoy creation, to enjoy life, to enjoy silence. Just no more than two hours ago I was starting to once again worry about all the different things I needed to do. I needed to go grocery shopping, I needed to pack, I need to get back in time for the Jazz Band Concert, I needed to clean clothes, and the list just went on and on... now I need to get my car fixed, HA! But then my wife, my wonderfully understanding and perceiving wife, did something she does so well. She lovingly showed me how I was being a complete and total trad. Just one more reason why I love her.

So all that to say, developing a habit of "being" is so much harder than developing a habit of "doing" but it is such a better way of living that it's worth the blood sweat and tears.

I guess, the heart of this note. It's purpose, it's drive, is the fact that I want to encourage you. To let you know, you aren't the only one struggling just to live, just to be. As my friend encouraged me, so I encourage you. Just take time to BE, and listen what the Rabbi has to say.

He has so much He wants to tell us. I'm just on the the tip of the very edge of all the things that God wants to show me, all the wonder, all the awe-inspiring things. Not just concepts, but ways to view creation, ways to live. There is so much Truth hiding within the simplicity of what Jesus shared with His beloved children, and they so blatantly ignored Him. I do not want to do the same.

"Be of courage, and pursue Him with all you are. For He is pursuing you."

"Jesus is a disease that can never be cured."
~ Brennen Manning (that may be a misquote... *shrug*)

Grace and Peace

Monday, November 2, 2009

Team Hoyt = God and Us

First of all, if you don't know anything about Team Hoyt here is a link to give you some basic information.

I have to say, that this has got to be one of the most touching stories I have heard in a while. I learned about it in church yesterday. The speaker was talking about not letting Satan or Ourselves get in the way of following Jesus, and I really appreciated what he had to say. In fact, he even showed the same video that I have posted in this article. But I just wanted to take some time to make a small comparison.

So often, we want to do things our own way, in our own time, with our own strength; however, the truth is, we cannot help ourselves. In many ways we are just like Rick Hoyt, the son who was a quadriplegic. We cannot do anything with our own strength (in a Spiritual sense) or take our own paths, but we must let God push us there. Allow him to direct us, to drive for us, to run for us.

Recently, I was struggling with what to do for the teens as I am running out of ideas on what to teach them, and a novel thought occurred to me... or rather God spoke to me through the thought, and that was to simply "be". Instead of trying everything I can to "do" He wanted me to "be". I know it's a common phrase, but it applies to this concept. "We need to be human 'beings' not human 'doings'." I just love the thought though. I'm not trying to say that we should be just a bunch of couch potatoes and not actually get up and do something. On the contrary, even James states that "Faith without works is dead". What I'm saying is that instead of allowing ourselves to worry about tomorrow, about what we are going to do even within the next hour, focus on the "here and now" and just be.

I think that too often we forget to be still and recognize God in His... Godness.

So, I think it's a fair example to picture ourselves as Rick, and Rick's dad, as our Heavenly Father, running that race for us, carrying us to the finish line because we couldn't do it ourselves.

Anyway, that's just a few jumbled thoughts put together.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Calling All X-Box Fans!

All right. For all you nerds, geeks, and otherwise technological fanatics (or if you are like me and a combination of the three) then this video will blow you away. You may or may not have heard of Project Natal: Milo but it has got to be one of the most fascinating things I have seen in the tech entertainment industry in a long while. It is really exciting just thinking about it.

Think of all the implications. Controllers could be done away with (although, I am not sure how I feel about that so much), the worlds are more likely to draw you in because of its realism, not to mention what could allow for future possibilities. It's one step closer to true virtual reality.

We have had stuff for virtual reality in the past, but it's not quite the same as what I think of when I consider good, real virtual reality. It's certainly not going to lead to Matrix level stuff (hopefully), but it should prove interesting.

That's all I got to share for now.

Grace and Peace.

Monday, October 19, 2009

From a Friend, To a Friend

I've been meaning to make a post for a while, but just haven't take the time to do it.

The truth there has been a lot of things going on in the past week that have either been a cause of high amounts of stress, or that have incurred some sort of sadness. However, despite those things the past week has been a good week, and I am thankful for a Father who never gives up on me despite the fact that I act like a total retard on a near daily basis. Thanks for forgiving me papa.

A few days ago, a friend's grandfather passed away. When I heard the news it immediately took me back to my grandfathers funeral that passed no more than 2 years ago. I can still readily feel, and imagine the emotions that I felt during that time: shock, sadness, happiness, joy, and love. I remember writing a poem that could only capture a glimpse, of a shadow, of what he was to my family, and who he was to God. I remember how up until the time I was given the opportunity to share it, I had felt no tears run down my cheeks, but after they would not stop. Like rain on a stormy day in Georgia, the tears kept cascading down my cheeks. From the end of the ceremony all the way to placing the casket on the stretcher above the hole that was dug in the earth. I remember thinking things like, "why am I crying, I'm not sad... I'm happy for him." I remember feeling just months before, that I would rather him either get better, or go home, because I didn't want him to suffer any more. I also remember coming to the realization, that I didn't get to know him as well as some of my other family and I am a little jealous of them for that. But over all, I remember that when I cried, it was out of love for my grandfather that the tears kept falling, and I couldn't find wrong in that, and why should I?

I feel, that in some small way, my friend is going through the same thing I did. Maybe not with those experiences, but with the concept that He loved his grandfather dearly, and just from interacting with him I can see he feels the same way in a lot of aspects.

So my friend, if you read this know that I won't claim to know how you feel, but I do understand how you may feel if its anything remotely close to how I felt. I love you bud.

Grace and Peace

Monday, October 5, 2009

Band Days

So, I've been coordinating with a friend of mine, and we have been fueling each other's passions for the starting of a band. It's something I've always wanted to do, but never thought I could. Recently, however, I decided not to give up on this this desire. After all, desires must have a reason behind them, even if they are not always good ones.

Anyway, it's only been about a week since I've begun to conceptualize it, and I believe that I still have a ways to go, but I am happy to see how far it's come.

The biggest thing I want to do, is to target the audience that are the people who are hurting, the ones who cry in their beds at night because nothing is right (even if they appear to have it all together). Those who wear the mask of perfection, for fear that if someone saw who they really were they would be ridiculed and rejected. The outcasts, the never have-been's or ever will-be's. I want to write music that those people can relate to. To express how I went through times like that, and I am now OK. That they can be too. I guess to some degree, as my friend put it, to express the healing that we have experienced and to share that with them.

I don't want this band to be just like every other band. I don't want us to be limited to one genre. I want this band to be able to play a variety of stuff, from the light to the heavy. Because, each song will have it's own feel, and each feel will reach to someone different.

I guess, that's really only as far as I've gotten at the moment, but I can't stop thinking about it. And between my friend, my wife, and I we certainly have enough lyrics to start putting music to it. We just need a drummer and a second guitarist. I know we could use other types of players (Piano for instance) but I also know that often times, people are not limited to one skill in their art of playing instruments. Which is happy.

Guess, I need to go.

Grace and Peace.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Beautiful Break Down

"This world is unbelievably broken”

The words are still ringing in my ears as I process all that was said today.

Yes, the world is broken.

Yes, the world is so distraught with sickness, sorrow, pain, and suffering that one has to wonder if there really is a God.

Yes, the world is in serious need of a Hero.

But, could it also be said that this unbelievable brokenness is beautiful?

I know that there is something remarkably tragic of people dying by the thousands every day by lack of food or clean water. I know that there is something that stirs within us when misfortune befalls upon someone else. I know that we should strive to better the world in everything we do, and I know that oftentimes (at least in America) nonbelievers are more active about helping others than many Christians. In some ways, I believe that this lack of help might be the most tragic of all.

But, consider with me the beauty of this brokenness for a moment.

When you are suffering, or in need. How beautiful is it when God provides for you in that need? How scandalous that He would listen to you completely without condescending you for your mistakes!

How beautiful is it then, when we as followers of the Way engage in providing for others with the skills and resources that has been given to us by the Father. Suffering in and of itself can be beautiful, how much more then if we are extending the hand of God through our efforts. He doesn't need our help to support, and to provide, but story after story reveals that God loves to use other people to meet a need. Especially ones that are often unspoken and kept secret.

It is also beautiful to consider that despite everyone's beliefs and thoughts, people want a Hero. They want a savior. In some ways, this suffering opens up the hearts to the True message of the Gospel. I do not know if I could really explain what I mean by that at the moment. It just feels that the message of the Gospel currently is distorted from its original creation. People WANT God, they just don't know that what they want is Him. I believe this is largely to the fault of Christians acting inappropriately and unloving to those around us. For that, I apologize on behalf of all Christians we do not follow the mandate of Imago Dei when we shun everyone for their beliefs, past, or lifestyle. It completely contradicts what is depicted to us in Scripture.

I don't really know if I'm making any sense, but when I think of all the things that trouble the world, I see an opportunity to be a part of something so magnificent, so miraculous, that it could only have been orchestrated by an all knowing and all loving God.

I feel like this song fits in well with what I'm saying, so I thought I'd share it as well.

Oh My God

by: Jars of Clay

Oh my God, look around this place,
Your fingers reach around the bone,
you set the break and set the tone
For flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain all fools say, "Oh my God."

Oh my God, why are we so afraid?
we make it worse when we don't bleed,
there is no cure for our disease.
Turn a phrase and rise again,
or fake your death and only tell your closest friends,
Oh My God.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief.
Weddings, boats, and alibis,
All drift away, and a mother cries...

Liars and fools, sons and failures, theives will always say..
Lost and found, ailing wanderers, healers always say..
Whores and angels, men with problems, leavers always say..
Broken hearted, separated, orphans always say..
War creators, racial haters, preachers always say..
Distant fathers, fallen warriors, givers always say..
Pilgrim saints, lonely widows, users always say..
Fearful mothers, watchful doubters, Saviors always say..

Sometimes I can not forgive
and these days mercy cuts so deep,
If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep.
While I lay, I'd dream we're better, scales were gone and faces lighter,
When we wake we hate our brother, we still move to hurt each other,
Sometimes I can close my eyes and all the fear that keeps me silent,
Falls below my heavy breathing, what makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder, we all have the need for wonder.
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the plunder.

Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven,
All the times I thought to reach up, all the times I had to give up.
Babies underneath their beds, in hospitals that cannot treat them.
All the wounds that money causes, all the comforts of cathedrals,
All the cries of thirsty children, this is our inheritance,
All the rage of watching mothers, this is our greatest offense
Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God

Grace and Peace

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What I Want

I'm beginning to ask the question: What do I want?

Not in the sense of material things, but rather in a sense of “what do I really want to do for the rest of my life?” I know that this is probably a poor time to decide to ask this question, but it is something that has been nagging at the back of my mind for a few weeks now.

What do I want?

I know that I love music, that I love teenagers, and that I love most things creative based. I love to act, I love to think, and I love to talk about God. What does any of this have to do with what I want?


God has placed passions upon my heart, and I have yet to find a way to combine them all. I want to work with youth, but I don't think a “Youth Pastor” really fits that desire.

I want to be a musician, and I would love to travel the world singing songs of praise to my Father... songs of life experiences, songs of worship, songs of thankfulness... songs I have written, and songs others have written.

I want to work on video game productions: coming up with stories, with character ideas, and maybe even composing the musical soundtrack to such things. I know that video games have been seen as “entertainment only” but I have played a lot of different games that have made me think in a philosophical way. It is something I enjoy, and it's something I could see myself working on.

I am such a diverse individual just within myself. I have not been able to see myself doing things like singing in church as a job for the rest of my life. I love doing choir, and I love singing in church, but I don't want that to be my sole source of income. I want that to be a volunteer thing that I do when I'm “in town” if I'm part of a traveling band.

I do not regret taking on the Communication Major that I'm partaking in, but at times I wonder if I should have kept the Music Major as well. It's something that has been bothering me for a while now, and I don't know what to do about it.

Maybe I can be a traveling band musician dude, who writes books for youth (fictional or nonfictional), and works as a composer for video game companies?

Just considering.

I'm gonna be praying.

Grace and Peace.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

To Touch the Heart of God

To come before the throne,
To know his boundless love;
To feel the breath that moves
Like the wings of a dove;
To lift my heart and mind
To the nobler things above;
To touch the heart of God,
This is prayer.

To offer my requests
To the pure and holy One,
To give my thoughts and cares
To the interceding Son;
To place my faith in Him,
By whom all that's good is done,
To move the hand of God,
This is prayer.

To trust in Him
Who is outside of time,
And who knows before I speak,
What I need.

I ask of Him
Who has promised to provide;
I ask believing every good and perfect gift
Can be mine!

I come into His courts,
I enter by His gates,
I offer up my thanks
In a song of earnest praise.
I know I have His ear,
When I come in Jesus name;
To touch the heart of God,
This is prayer.

Just thought these lyrics were really pretty. It's a song we are singing in Choir, and it touches my heart every time we sing it. So, I thought I would share with you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Simple Prayer

"You know, I want to be angry at You because You haven't given me what I want. Then again, when have I ever known what I really want?"

"I want to ignore You sometimes, but I find I cannot because you are so irresistible."

"You were the only one love with passion's quiet rage."

I'm so tired, and broken, and feeling like I'm lost. Yet I know that You are looking out for me. Your provision has not escaped my attention. Today we talked about the "foolishness of the cross", and I can understand what was being said, but I think what is more foolish in appearance is our love for You. People just don't get it, and I suppose I understand that as well. However, I cannot turn my back on you. Let everyone else think what they think, to hear what they hear, and see what they see. I want to be lost in foolish, dying love. Foolish because I know it makes no sense to do what I do, and dying because that's what love is all about.

I want you to sweep me off my feet. I want to get soaked in the rain, with my hair messed up, and my tears joining in with the beautiful chorus of storms, of suffering. Standing with hopeless abandon, not caring about anything but your words that I hear in the core of my soul: "I'm madly, dangerously, passionately, obsessively in love with you." My heart aches to be near you, but my mind trembles in fear of such a prospect. My soul pushes for you in everything, but my flesh wants to run and hide.

I want to be lost in your scandalous, foolish, dying love.

Even my wife cannot bring the satisfaction my soul longs for. Only you can bring it's sweet relief. Trying to make my identity in my relationships only makes me self-conscious, and I lose sight of you. I am thankful for the blessing you've given me through her, and she does provide something I've always needed. Companionship. But You, only You can be the sustenance of my very being. Of who I am.

Drown me in your love.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Written: 9/3/09

Our faith is reflected in our lives. What does your life say about you? What is my life saying about me? I would hope that people see Christ when they see me, that they would see love; however, I have to wonder if that is what I am reflecting, or if I am merely going through the steps to seem like a “good Christian”. As time has progressed I have begun to care less about what others think of me, but I am not immune to relapses.

Maybe I'm not really worried about that. Maybe, I feel sad and broken over the fact that Christianity can feel so fake at times. That it is not just me who is getting stuck in routine, but that all of us are just going through the motions. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Previously, I think, this is what made me so bitter toward the college and the people in it, but now all I feel is sadness for them. I feel sad for even some of my friends who have enslaved themselves to substance(s), to logic and reason, and have turned their back upon God because He “never did anything for [them] anyway”. So depressing.

But, I don't think it is just that which causes me to think, to process that which is running round in my brain, trying to put words to it. To be honest, I still don't know what it is that is getting to me. It's not that I lack a spiritual peace, but rather a peace of mind.

I realize this probably depressing, and for that I apologize. There are many things to be joyful about. I have a Father who cares for me (2 in fact, and a mother as well), I have a beautiful wife who could not be a better blessing in my life, I have friends who do constantly seek Him, and there is no such thing as fake hope.

So praise God in suffering, in sadness, in illness, in pain, in trials, in all things.

Grace and Peace

Friday, September 4, 2009

Written 8/31/09

I have a question to ask, one that I am unsure that I can answer. Why do those who are sick, distressed, and hurting stay away from the church? If we, as Christians, are supposed t o help those in need, then why are only the “healthy” attending our church services? In fact, it appears that those in need avoid the church. I would go further to say that attending any church (with some exceptions) is more stressful than staying home.

Imagine yourself being an alcoholic, or pregnant as a teenager, or some other type of issue (perhaps, you are very ill), and think of how much trouble you go through to get ready for church because of the dress standard. Now, picture showing up at church and every person looks at you with disgust, repulsed even, that you decided it was a good idea to bring your sin-bearing, disease-ridden body (because sickness is obviously punishment for sin) to a place of Holy worship. You would feel worthless, lower than dirt even, and so to prevent further emotional damage you just stay at home.

How many of us have experienced such a thing? If we are the body of Christ, then this scenario should be a joke, not a reality. It breaks my heart to see so many churches become like the Pharisees in the way they act. God called us to love; Jesus himself stated that to love God and love people is the very foundation of the law and the prophets, and yet we choose to be reclusive, out of the culture that surrounds us.

The church is notorious for being a few years behind the current generations; how are we to reach people when we cannot even speak their language? Don't misunderstand me, this is not about making a modern service with only modern music; it is about knowing what people are gong through and speaking and helping in those needs.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that if we, the followers of the Way, are truly following the Master, then people would want to come to church because that is where healing happens, rather than drudging appearing there. As it stands, Christians often are not loving to even other Christians, much less the rest of the world. We have much that needs to be repaired when it comes to the church in America.

Now, I say all that, but there are people and churches who are genuinely loving toward each other and those who do not believe, and people are being changed all over the world because of His love and grace, and all of that is very encouraging to know.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Comments on Comments

Scot McKnight: Spiritual Eroticism

This link will take you directly to the article that I am going to be commenting on. The main purpose of this post is for you to check out the link and really consider what is being said by the author Scot McKnight.

For those of you who don't have time, or are just to lazy to read then here is the basic "gist" of it, but I guarantee I do it injustice:

We as Christians engage in something that could be called "Spiritual Eroticism". That is to say that we are in love, with being in love with God. I know this might sound a little confusing, but consider it this way. People have begun to "love going to church" because of the way it makes them feel. Our praise music aims to give off an emotion, and we sometimes even read scripture in hopes of obtaining (or re-experiencing) so deep emotional experience. This is not a true love of God.

So, here are my thoughts on that paraphrase of the article:
I would have to say that I agree with McKnight in this instance. I have never read anything else he has written and so I cannot really have any other opinion of him as a writer except for this small article. The point is, I have seen this happen all too often. I have seen people talk about how worship wasn't that great because they didn't "feel" the presence of God there, and I'm sure that I have been guilty of such thoughts before too. I am, after all, human, and so I too make mistakes. Shocking I know.

We (especially those in the south) have come to the point where we love going to church, and singing songs, and perhaps even reading Scripture because we want to get some type of an emotional response out of it. We want to experience that "mountain top" emotion all the time. The problem lies in that we cannot experience this emotion all the time. We would not be able to handle it, and we would take it for granted if we could. Our relationship with Christ is very similar in a lot of aspects to our relationships with our spouse, significant other, siblings, or good friends. You will never feel love for someone all the time. Because of the way our lives run there will be days where you feel so in love with those people, so hopelessly intoxicated (a great liking for good friends) that you can't see any fault with them; and there will be other days where you are having a hard time liking them, much less expressing love. But that is where it proves itself most, because love is not an emotion, it is a decision, and a commitment.

This might be a bit of a stretch, but I don't think you could honestly tell me you think Jesus "felt" love for people the night He was betrayed. He felt fear, he was distressed, so much so to the point of sweating blood (which is a physically possible thing by the way), and yet He chose to love those He was about to die for.

When we look at Scripture we read about what love is. 1 Corinthians 13 talks all about it, and yet not once have I ever read the love is a feeling. Everything listed has been a decision or action taken to show it.

I believe that we need to remember what it is to truly love God.

Grace and Peace.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our Great God

I don't typically post lyrics, but this song really gets to me (in a good way) and I thought I'd share.

Eternal God, unchanging
Mysterious and unknown
Your boundless love unfailing
In grace and mercy shown
Bright seraphim in ceaseless flight
Around your glorious throne
Their voices raised both day and night
In praise to you alone

Glory be to our great God
Glory be to our great God!

Lord, we are weak and frail,
Helpless in the storm
Surround us with your angels
Hold us in your arms
Our cold and ruthless enemy
His pleasure is our harm
Rise up, oh Lord, and he will flee
Before our Sovereign God

Glory be to our great God!
Glory be to our great God!

Let every creature in the sea
And every flying bird
Let all the mountains, all the fields
And valleys of the earth
Let all the moons and all the stars
Throughout the universe
Sing praises to the Living God
Who rules them by His word

Glory be to our great God
Glory be to our great God!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What is Freedom?

I wrote this a few weeks ago before church started... don't know if you will agree with it or not, but I don't typically write to have people agree with me anyway:

Freedom... there is freedom in the promises of God, yet what is freedom? Are any of us truly free? I think it is important to really examine what the word freedom really means, especially considering we, as Americans, value freedom so much. I cannot even begin to describe how often I have heard, "Well, this is America and I'm free to do whatever I want," over the past years. I feel that this is a misguided understanding of freedom, and is most definitely incomplete.

If that statement was true, then there would be no laws, no moral code, and no order to a country that many of us know and love. And if there is no order then we are slaves to our will. We will not learn to control ourselves because there will be no reason to. So, if we are slaves to our will then we cannot be truly free.

Now, put order and law back into the mix. suddenly, there is right and wrong, at least on the worldly standards. there are consequences to every action be they good or bad, and people can rest a little easier because of the law and those who enforce it. This too, I feel, is still an incomplete view of freedom because of our reasons behind our actions. For instance, many of us will choose not to speed while driving not because of some sense of right and wrong and the desire to do right, but because we don't want a ticket, because we like our money (As a side note here, at this "level" of freedom we still do not master ourselves and thus become slaves to addictions, be they food, drugs, alcohol, T.V., etc).

There is one more element I would like to add to this scenario, God. Now, I know many people would consider God to be a form of slavery before freedom because of all the "rules" He puts on His followers, but bare with me. Even though God has commands for His followers, the reason they follow them is not out of a desire to stay out of trouble, but rather out of a desire to please Him. We do it because we love Him, because we want to, and not because we have to. I think that is the heart of true freedom. It requires the denial of self, thus we cannot be slaves to ourselves. We are able to say no to addictions out of love for people and God, and we do not obey the law (or the "rules") out of some notion that we do not want to get caught. I think this is true freedom.

Unfortunately, we as people (and that includes followers of Christ) fall short of this freedom on a daily basis. We do what we want to do for ourselves, we are selfish and proud, we are complete messes. However, that is what makes God's grace and the freedom in that so much sweeter. May we strive to live our lives in true freedom as slaves (by choice) of righteousness.

Grace and Peace

Monday, July 20, 2009

Another Post on Love

The more time passes the more I realize, and remember, and learn that Love is not about living. In fact, it's about the opposite, it is about dying. Love is dying to your dreams, desires, aspirations, and everything that makes the core of who you are, in order to serve someone else. Christ died daily for his disciples, He died daily for His Father's will, and ultimately, He died literally for us, those He did not even know yet, and said "forgive them". What an incredible display of love.

I too must come to the point of dying for the sake of others: my Lord, my wife, my family, my friends, my enemies, and everyone else (especially the teens that I try to teach the truth). It has been really interesting to experience these past couple of weeks. Although, when this post was in my mind I had a great number of examples, I do not have anything at the moment. At least, nothing I can share, but It has been great to experience all these things and despite some of them being painful, it has been good for my growth in my walk with Christ, and it is good to rely on Him because He knows what He's doing and I do not.

Once again, Alrtuism proves itself the victor over everything else. Thank you God for showing us What Love is by being Love itself.

Grace and Peace.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Here to Write

Life is pretty good for me most of the time. I mean, it's always good I guess because God is in control, but when I'm referring to it being good, I really mean my perspective of life. I guess that is what everyone really means when they talk about how life is. It is merely a perspective thing. How interesting... Anyway, life from my perspective has been pretty good, although it is filled with frustrations and problems. For instance, I am still dealing with the consequences of a car accident that happened over three weeks ago, and I am dealing with having no teenagers show up for church in the past 2-3 weeks, and even further still I'm dealing with trying to take care of getting my wife's social fixed, her license changed, and just a numerous amounts of other things. As frustrating as all this could be, I'm OK with it because it is something that needs to be done, and there is no point in grumbling about it.

On the other hand, I can gladly say I have a wife, which is a blessing all on it's own, and I have a job, I have a nice apartment that God has lovingly provided, as well as many if not all of the appliance in it. When it came to furnishing our house, there was very little we have had to buy, and most of it has been things like food and trash bags. I am incredibly thankful for all the blessings he has been giving me, and he constantly proves himself faithful even in our storms and all together hellish times.

You know, I had a whole paragraph about frustration and responsibility and I realized it was not good to share any of it, even if it was in a way that kept all the details out of it. So I guess I'm done writing for now, I got it out of my system.

Grace and Peace

Despite the lies that you're making
Your love is mine for the taking
My love is just waiting
To turn your tears to roses

I will be the one that's gonna hold you
I will be the one that you run to
My love is a burning, consuming fire

No, you'll never be alone
When darkness comes I'll light the night with stars
Hear my whispers in the dark
No, you'll never be alone
When darkness comes you know I'm never far
Hear the whispers in the dark
Whispers in the dark

You feel so lonely and ragged
You lay there broken and naked
My love is just waiting
To clothe you in crimson roses

I will be the one that's gonna find you
I will be the one that's gonna guide you
My love is a burning, consuming fire

No, you'll never be alone
When darkness comes I'll light the night with stars
Hear my whispers in the dark
No, you'll never be alone
When darkness comes you know I'm never far
Hear the whispers in the dark

Whispers in the dark

Friday, July 3, 2009


Patience is a virtue, or so the saying goes. God has certainly been providing me with plenty of opportunities to express patience. It's been very hard to not get impatient, but I know that I must in order to express my love for people.

I often get impatient when I can see an issue someone has and they are not addressing it, especially if they know of the issue. I get impatient when people who claim to listen, don't. I get impatient when I can't open a jar of anything. I get impatient with teenagers who get themselves into trouble, even if it's pretty obvious they don't know any better. Most of all, I get impatient with my impatience.

I just don't know what to do anymore. Every day is a little more difficult, and I don't want it to reflect in my life. I was going to teach the kids on patience this past Wednesday, but there were only two kids that showed up and a guy at the church shared the lesson, but I guess the study done was just as much for me as it was for them.

There were multiple verses that talked about being patient with God, and I've had to take them to heart these past few weeks. Most of them are in Psalms, but there are a few in Hebrews, James and other locations as well. I don't have the references around me at the moment so I can't really give exact locations, but I distinctly remember on of the verses being along the lines of "He waited patiently on the Lord, and he received the Promise that was made to him." That's not verbatim, but that is the gist of the verse. It's pretty interesting really when you think about it. All throughout scripture you see promises that God made to us as humans, and many of them do not come instantaneously, in fact, most only come after constant, persistent, seeking of Him and waiting through the tough and good times, for Him to fulfill His promises.

For instance, Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations, and yet that promise was not fulfilled until he was given Isaac as a son in his old age, when Sarah should not have been able to give birth any more. Abraham was not given a son until he was old. How long do you think he awaited the promise of God to be fulfilled? years right? Should we not then be patient as well for the things we desire, and the things God has promised to us? It's not that He does not want to give those things to us, but sometimes we have more road to walk, more to learn, more to experience, before He's ready to give those things to us.

Thank you Lord for giving me opportunities to be patient. May your patience overflow out and way beyond me and what I can do. Continue to teach me dear Lord, that I may not be content with where I am, but constantly striving to know more.

Grace and Peace

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More Thoughts From More Lessons

So to begin... a quote from my notes:

In this day and age we are a busy people. Time is money, and there is much we need to buy. We get so wrapped up on the things we see that we miss out on one of the greatest experiences in life, spending time with our Creator. We either do not have time for church, or on the other end of the spectrum, spend too much time at church; but in both cases where is the time set aside to spend time with God?

Going to church, helping in the ministries, and singing songs of praise do not equal time with God. Spending time with God is like spending time with a friend; you set aside time for it, you talk with Him, you love Him.

Yet, we work until we are exhausted, we grow apathetic about church, we don't spend time with God, and try to do everything our way, the way we planned, leaving not time with rest, to time to savor the happiness that we experience, and we wonder why we are miserable?

The sabbath was given to us for our own health: spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It was given to keep our relationship with God healthy. God, Himself, rested on the seventh day of creation. Are we really arrogant enough to think that we are above Him in even this?

So, in case you haven't figured it out. My lesson this week is about Time, and how spending time with God can affect our relationship with Him. The past two weeks I have spoken on things that get in the way of listening to God: Idolatry, Pride, and this week our use of Time. So I guess to finish up these thoughts and connect them with listening... When we are too busy to spend time with God, we begin to forget what His voice sounds like in our lives. We forget the first time we encountered Him. We stop listening because we don't stop ourselves long enough to even try. It's not because there is noise around us (although, that can play a part in it at times), but it is because we are not even trying to hear Him. We are too busy to care.

So what's the "cure"? To all of these things, it is to be willing to stop for a time and examine ourselves. Look at our relationship with God, with others, and to allow God to reveal His truths to us. If we are too busy to listen, we'll never be convicted of the things that separate us from Him, and we won't turn from them, which might be the worst decision we could ever make. Maybe the biggest aspect of evangelism is not the presentation, but rather the ability to get people to stop for a few minutes and see the Truth.

Just a few thoughts. Going back to preparation now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Todays Lesson Is?

So I feel like God is wanting me to talk to the kids about 4 different things that can get in the way of listening to Him. The first was idolatry, and I talked to them about it last week. This weeks topic will be the one of pride. So I thought I would write out some thoughts on pride and what scripture says about it.

I suppose what I want to start off would be with what I wrote down as some notes to my study. This is more of a thought concept and probably could use some tweaking.

Is pride wrong? I would say no, that ultimately pride is a neutral thing. We can be proud of our country, proud of our friends and family, and even proud of our own accomplishments, and no one would look upon you in a negative light. However, when we are full of pride, when we start to believe (even subconsciously) that we do not need anyone's help (especially God's), that is when we are sinning.

That being said, here are a few thoughts on pride:

Pride is not limited to being a sin or being good. Just as conflict can be neutral, so is pride. The real difference between wrong and right comes with what you do with that pride. People who typically think they know everything, who always have to be right, who feel like they don't need anyone's help because they can do things on their own, are arrogant and naive. In fact, experience has shown, and I think many would agree that people who claim to know everything, really know nothing at all. Sure they may have a lot of knowledge, but do they truly know something?

Pride separates us from God, just as all sin does, but I find it interesting that there is a verse that States that God keeps His distance from the proud. Psalms 138:6 says, "Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar." (NIV). Intriguing to say the least. If God keeps us at a distance during our times of pride, how hard would it be to hear Him amongst all the noise of self? Just a thought.

Thirdly, God will break people of their pride. It's just what He does, and thank God for the many times He has broken me of my pride. I was so blind until He did that. In Proverbs we can see that God Hates arrogance and pride, and in Psalms 119:21 we see that, "You rebuke the Arrogant, who are cursed and who stray from your commands." and in Job 40:12 "Look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand."

I would say its painfully obvious that pride can and often does get in the way of being what we are commanded to do. We are called to be servants (Mark 9:35), we are commanded to be humble and show love to others (Micah 6:8), We should not boast, but if we must boast, then boast in the things of the Lord and not ourselves (2 Corinthians 10:17-18). As Paul states, "I will boast in my weaknesses" so that I may give all honor to him.

Pride comes before the fall, but grace flows down upon the humble. May we all be truly humble, to see ourselves the way God sees us, and not thing anything more or less of ourselves than what we are. Ragamuffins, pursuing an amazing and wonderful creator God.

Grace and Peace

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Post #136

Because I have no other title for it, I just decided to make what post number this is. Anyway...

Today has been pretty good. I had worked on the lesson for today's service for quite a few hours last night, and I've been reading up on how to speak to teens, which has been helpful. I need to finish that book soon so I can get on some other books that I want to read that I hope will improve the way I communicate with the teens and also how I run the ministry that has been placed on my lap. It's not my ministry which means God will have to do a lot of revealing to let me know what He wants me to do with it, but still studying is not a bad way to go about it.

I've felt very lonely today. It has been ever so apparent how much I've appreciated being around my fiancee and how much I wish she was still around. But, she's gone on home to be with family in Ohio, and I'm left here at Toccoa. This not a bad thing considering I'm working and making money so that I can provide for her when we are married (which is only a few weeks away), and I'm excited about seeing her again, but I do feel a little lonely today. Especially after seeing six couples walking around on the way back to the apartment after church.

Tomorrow I will get to deposit money and begin working on the lesson for Saturday, music for Sunday, and of course the lesson for next wednesday. Can't wait to see what God has in store for the group and for me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Idolatry 101

So I have to make a post about this while it's still fresh on my mind. I am currently working on a small study of Idolatry so that I can talk to the kids about it tomorrow, I'll have to tweak the message some tomorrow morning and tonight, but I just wrote this down in my notes:

"Idolatry comes in all shapes and sizes and so often we do not even realize that we have fallen into its clutches. It can make listening to God difficult and can leave us empty and disconnected."

Now, this thought process in and of itself is nothing extraordinary. In fact, anyone could tell you that this is the case for most things that get a hold of our lives; but here is the real kicker. I discovered a idol in my life that I did not think I had, or at least, I justified in my mind to the point of deception. It was something I discovered while I was making a list of idols that are the most common within the "contemporary" culture. It is the idol of acceptance and approval. This is not the approval of friends, but rather of my parents. It's been an idol in my life for a long time, and I've only now come to realize its stench.

I have come to realize that I will never be able to meet every expectation placed upon me, this is an impossible task. Why I ever thought I would be able to achieve such a thing is a mystery to me, but at least now I realize what is going on and I can adjust accordingly. I had always wondered why criticism from my parents was so hard on me, but now I realize it is because I fight for their approval and acceptance. I should have known that I was being dumb about this. I appreciate my parents, and I love them, and I will not ever stop, but at least I can take their words as a grain of sand, just as I must take all words because God's words are the ones I am most concerned with. That's all for my revelation at the moment. Time to get back to work on the lesson.

Grace and Peace

Forgive me Father, for I have place another before you, continue to give me truth and the wisdom to "fix it" as I seek after you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Update #???

It's been a while since I've written anything. Most of it has been the fact that I've been super busy with moving into an apartment, exams, taking care of wedding plans, etc. I have to admit, I am feeling a little sad today. My fiancee headed home yesterday afternoon and I've found it a little hard to function at full capacity. However, I know the best "cure" for this issue is to go ahead and do stuff. Be active, hang out with friends, and remember it's only a few weeks away.

I have to say that I am terribly terrified, but extraordinarily excited all at the same time. I am looking forward to being married to such a wonderful woman of God, who is also the most beautiful woman I've ever met. I am grateful for the blessings that God has given me through her and I look forward to the many more. I am also scared because I know that this is a decision that will last the rest of my life. I am scared because I know I am a creature of imperfection, and I know that I will hurt her some days; I'm scared that I won't be able to provide for her, or that I won't meet her needs. I know I am capable, but I don't want to be a husband who gives up on it all.
I want to be a refreshing aspect of her life, as she has been in mine.

Finals are over, and so today I get to pack all my stuff and move it to the apartment that I'm residing over the summer. It should be too bad, I only had a few boxes. But still, it's not something I really want to do. I hate moving stuff everywhere (which is ironic considering the vocation I want to take part in).

So I guess that's all for an update I can give you at the moment. The internet is acting weird and I really don't have much to say. I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still alive.

Grace and Peace

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Out of Control

It is hard to take control of elements that before now I've never had to deal with. It is so much easier to allow God to have control. I am able to be stress free in all my busyness, during all the times I'm trying to follow my "To do" list. Am I worried about doing well in school, about doing my best for Wednesday night lessons, or about trying to have an apartment ready by May 1? Absolutely, but I can and do have peace about all of it if I stop trying to do it myself. God has been reminding me to just, "Live and let God." With Him in control then I know it can all get done, and in a timely fashion... His time.

I'm going to get my car looked at today. I hope that the overall cost is no more than $200 when everything is said and done because that is all I really have at the moment. In fact, despite the fact that I've been trying to keep a close eye on my finances, the chances of them being on a lower scale than I realize are probably fairly high. Some of it could not be helped I think, with the need for gas and oil (which is why I'm going to get the leak fixed) it's hard to not spend money.

I've got a lot to do, but I know that I can get it all done because God is in control.

Yesterday was my grandfather's 1 year death day. I can't say that I'm not saddened by the thought a little bit, especially when I think of how he won't be at my wedding, and I really wanted him to be there. However, I can say that I do not suffer from mourning or depression, but rather a sense of happiness for him because he is with the Savior, and what could be more beautiful and pleasurable than being with the Creator and Savior of the world. He is not dead, he is only sleeping until Christ returns, and I look forward to seeing him once again as we gather around the throne in worship; and who knows, maybe he, Jesus, and I will all go fishing sometime.

My birthday is in 2 days! Woohoo!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Little This, A Little That

I know, I know, it's been a while since I posted... but give me a break, I've been busy with lots and lots of school.

These past few days have been simultaneously very good and relaxing, and heartbreaking and confusing. On the one hand, I got to spend time with a good friend and with my family, which lead to a time of relaxing and reflection on my end. Going home has always been a good time to reflect... not sure why that is, but I am thankful for those times that are presented to me. On the other hand, my fiancees maid of honor is backing out of the whole ordeal, which quite frankly makes me angry. A friend should be willing to sacrifice a little time and money to be at another friends wedding, especially since it is so important to said friend that they be their (and... done). So, suffice to say there has been some hurt going on this weekend too.

HOWEVER, the good has outweighed the bad sevenfold and I can be extremely thankful to God for that. I attended a Easter Service at my parents' church and I am very glad that I did. It was a time to feel like I could really worship... once again reminding me exactly how dark it can feel here at TFC at times, but I'm not going to address that in this blog. I've done that enough, and I fear being brought back into my cynicism... I have enough problems as it is. Anyway, one of the songs that was presented before the congregation was called "True Love". The chorus had the words, "When True Love died..." and it was talking about the sacrifice of Christ, and it really got me to thinking. Although Christ is alive, and I am not about to refute that, I have to wonder how alive He is to us as Christians? When Neitzsche stated that "God is dead" I have to think that what he was referring to was our way of living rather than the Almighty Creator God being deceased, and honestly, I have to wonder if he wasn't all that far off...

From what I have seen of Christianity in America, so much of it is superficial when it comes to living out what we proclaim. We stand with hands raised high in one hour, and then the next we are being unloving in a plethera of ways towards an individual or group of individuals. From the way we talk about foreigners to the way that we will swear and curse up a storm. Now, I'm not saying swearing is wrong... on that issue I have no clue what I think because of a number of reasons, however, I try to refrain from cursing mostly because I can think of other words to say that aren't as crude. The point is, I feel that Christianity in America is a mere shell of what it is supposed to be. I've felt like this for a while now, and I was listening to a pastor on a CD who was talking a little bit of the very same things I'm writing about at the moment. Granted, I think he might have been exaggerating it a little bit, but the point is still there... May God have mercy on our souls.

I guess I never really clarified why I was confused... and looking at the reasons now, I could probably give you a cryptic answer at best. Why would someone claim to be another's best friend, but talk bad about them to someone else? Why would someone be so unwilling to give up such a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things to support their "best friend" in such an important event? 'nough said.

I'm going to try to end this post on a positive note... so here are a few reasons (for me) to be happy.
  • God loves me
  • I have an awesome family
  • I have an awesome fiancee
  • My birthday is in 10 days, 11 hours, and 25 minutes... 24 minutes
  • My Wedding is in 68 days, 12 hours, and 52 minutes... (kinda scary)
Well, Grace and Peace.

Good night.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Days and Silly Ways

So my parents pointed out that all my posts lately have been depressing and dark, so here's a silly and happy post for a change. ^_^

Last night was a junior recital for two friends of mine from the school of music. They did a smash up job, and I'm proud of them. The reception afterward was kickin' as well, they had some live jazz music playing, and it made me think of how much I miss being a music major. I always feel limited in how much my music is developing. It happens just about every time I'm at a recital, but it passes as it has now, so I'm fine. Anyway, after a few songs were played, one of the singers, whose name is Jaclin, was seated and her boyfriend sang a song that he wrote for her in order to propose to her (she practically glomped him right there). There were tears and laughter and all around happy. I congratulate them both in this new phase of life. May the wedding planning not be too crazy. :3

Also, I had another friend that use to attend TFC have a baby recently, which is a happy thought all among itself, but I got to see some pictures of her recently (they called her Anastasia), and she is a cute and healthy baby. Congratulations to them as well, may God bless them as they raise this precious child and teach her in the way that she should go.

My days ever since coming back from home have been very relaxed, and happy, even when the events of the day dictated that they not be. I've enjoyed being back, I've enjoyed my classes, and I look forward to learning more from them. This is all thanks to God who is constantly teaching me and bringing me around to see His perspective on things. Taking me there one step at a time. It is because of Him, that I can hold onto the hope that I will get married this summer, and believe within the core of me that this is what He wants; and it's because of Him that I can have patience with the people I'm trying to get a job with, because it's been almost a month and a half long process.

"Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!"

Grace and Peace

It's a happy milkshake :)

Monday, March 2, 2009


"God Have Mercy On Me, A Sinner"

This is the thought that keeps running through my head...

I went home this weekend as a way of a sabbatical, and an opportunity to see family. It was very refreshing to be surrounded by a peaceful atmosphere that allowed me to step back and reflect on myself some. Not only that, but I got to relax and goof off some, which was also a big help in relieving some of the stress levels.

I realized a few days ago that I had become incredibly cynical to everything that goes on here at TFC and I think it bled over into my views on other people's opinions as well. This is extremely unfortunate because I did not know I was cynical much less when I became that way, but fortunately this weekend brought about some time to just talk with God and deal with the issue. I don't really know what I'm going to do to stop being so critical of everything that happens, but I do know that God is going to help me and that is good enough for me. I would like to find the core of the issue behind my cynicism though. I suppose a few options could be compiled under being hurt, or "burned", by the administration here (although, that seems unlikely since I have had very little interaction with them; being burdened with the desire for the right thing to be done, causing me to be harsh on things when they aren't done right (real loving,huh?); or it could be that the way my friends have been have impacted the perspective lense with which I view the world. I'm guessing it is a combination of the last two. Regardless, I need to overcome it, and I need to trust God to do the things He needs to get this place kicking.

Random side thought: How do I prevent myself from taking on other people's burdens when I don't even know how or when I'm doing it? The answer is: I can't. Just another one of those times I'm going to have to let God shove me around as I'm blindfolded. It is impossible to see, but trust in Him will lead me to where I need to be, doing the things I need to be doing.

So, anyway, I got to spend a relaxing time with some of my fam, and learn a little about myself, and the best part is I think that I've come back different than when I left (in a good way). I at least feel different, but that good be the fact that my burden was lifted. Then, as if God was going "You're heart has become this once again", It snowed this morning blanketing the ground with a pure, untouched, white wonderland. It was probably one of the most beautiful things I've seen in nature in a while; it was nice.

Grace and Peace

"He looked at me and said, 'It is good.'"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hollow 2: The Clarification

It has come to my attention that what I said could be misunderstood, because let's face it, I fail at communicating the heart behind the words many a time. So let's begin with the word hollow

Hollow is probably not the BEST word to choose, but it is the only one I could think of to describe this thing. When I say I feel hollow, I am referring to the fact that even though I don't change the way I talk with God between here and home, it is here that leaves me feeling like there is more to be achieved. Not with my relationship with God specifically, but rather with life as a whole I guess. But even then, that does not seem to adequately fit within the bounds of what I'm really trying to say. It's hard for me to explain my thoughts I suppose.

As far as blaming TFC for this hollow feeling... I don't honestly think that I do blame it. Just because something is here, does not mean that it is the College's fault that it exist. The College in and of itself is a neutral thing, it can neither create good, nor evil. Though the people within it can. I'm not really saying the the feeling is anyone's fault, I'm trying to dive into the question of "Why?" Why do we do the things we do? What is at the core of all the problems I see?

Speaking of which, I would like to point out that I don't only see problems here. I see a ton of potential to be better than we are, and I see very few people tapping into that potential. I see people trying to do as they feel God is leading me, I see people loving others, and I know that God is doing work here, and that He is using the campus. I'm not trying to say it's all dark and dead. I am merely pointing out the things that I am seeing because writing it out is a way to process and perhaps a chance to hear feedback on such processis. For instance, I can tell that people have the potential to love others unconditionally, but I also see that few people act upon that potential and often times come across as if they think the world revolves around them. I've been guilty of this before, and I will be guilty of this in future because I'm human and I screw things up. All I am really saying about this particular aspect is that we as Christians we are called to a higher standard. I'm not trying to point fingers, if anything, I'm pointing at myself.

I would like to point out also, that everything that I type out is aimed at me just as much, if not more, towards the general populace, because these are my thoughts, and I have thought through them as much as I can. Granted, I don't always exhaust every option with my thoughts, but I do tend to understand myself more than other people do. :)

I hope this clears up most if not all of what was discussed.

Monday, February 23, 2009


There is something terribly wrong with this place. Something that has begun to be more real to me every day. It sucks away hope and joy; imitates love, but is not loving, and leaves me unmotivated. At first, I thought that it was just me, but as I interact with people I begin to see it in their eyes and hear it in their words. What is it that causes this place to be hollow?

Not that people are individually hollow, but a lot of people do things in a hollow way. I can't tell if it is because they are blind to it, or because they think that they're at the peak of "Christianity". We are called to so much more than shallow worship at chapel and apathy while participating in a ministry. Yet, that is exactly what I find here and it breaks my heart.

Whatever this thing is, it does a good job at hiding itself behind "good motives". Motives behind why there are things put in place by administration that don't make sense except for the fact that I hope that they are doing what is best for this campus. I'm not talking about rules or attitudes, but it overflows into those areas, into every area of a person's life, even to the point of infecting their relationship with Christ.

Perhaps, it is because people are comfortable; that may be the issue. People have grown comfortable in their superficial Christianity. As before, I'm not saying that people themselves are superficial (that is between them and God), but many of them have fallen into a pattern that scream superficiality (And I'm probably guilty of that too at times).

Then again, It could be even deeper than that...

What causes us to care about a reputation to the point of enforcing inane rules to keep money coming in? What causes us to feel the need to advertise prayer retreats, to condemn those who are not missionaries, and be hypocritical about being an open community? It all feels so hollow, as if we are trying to pull some type of joke, and God is not laughing.

And the strangest thing of all about it to me is that regardless of how close I am to God, and how much I spend time with Him; regardless of what people have impacted me, and what I have learned, I still feel hollow.

There is something definitely dreadfully wrong with this place.

Grace and Peace

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Emotional Hurricane

I don't know if I can find any one word that describes how I feel at the moment.

On one hand I'm really frustrated because I went through a good hour or two of prep for a D&D game and then don't get to actually use that prep because of situations beyond my control. I suppose I should have expected it to happen since I called one of players to ask if he still wanted to play only to find out he was asleep. So, I'm told that I'll be called back after a little bit... that was at about 9:45pm it is now 1:24am... I'm a little frustrated.

On a separate emotion is this one of stress. I'm stressed because I've been interacting with this pastor for a possible position within a church, which rocks; but it takes him several days for him to respond, and as the time goes on, I begin to wonder if we'll ever decide one way or the other. I've been working on trying to get this position for several weeks, and majority of that time span is waiting on his replies. I understand that finding a job can take time, but this is an area of my life that is causing stress. Then there is also the wedding that I'm planning for the summer and that too creates stress because I have no money in which to purchase the things I need to purchase. Which means getting a job is integral to getting married. Add school on top of that, and friends who don't like you at the moment and stress becomes a part of daily life. I honestly don't feel stressed that often but I do know that I am when I stretch and certain portions of my body hurt because I'm so tense.

I've hit what feels like a rough section in my relationship with my fiance as well. It's not that I have any less feelings for her, on the contrary I do not think I could love her more, but I'm at this point where I feel like everything I do hurts her in some way. I understand that this is not true, but it does feel like every day something comes up that I did that upset her, or hurt her in some way and I'm so tired of screwing up in this. I want her to be happy, and yet I feel like I'm the sole cause of her pain at times. All I wanted was for her to not get in trouble with curfew, or go to class so that she does well, or etc. *sigh*

I know I'm not perfect, but I also know I should not have to deal with some of the things I do. I subconsciously take other people's burdens on my shoulders and then let them run me over as I try to offer my hand. It's not my problem and I know this, but I can't help but want to help and so put their weights upon myself. How can I not take the wait without disregarding the people carrying them? I do not get it at all...

Although Life is currently in suck mode, I know that I can make it because of the promises God has made to me. It is because of Him that I can praise Him "In this Storm". Despite all my weakness, all my failures, and even all my "strengths" I can worship Him, interact with Him, and just dwell in Him. For that I'm incredibly thankful, and I've come to realize more and more every day that the only reason I make it through each day is because I have to rely on His strength rather than my own, because when I rely on my own I get burned out, jaded, even more cynical than I already am at times.

Well that's all I got for this post at the moment. It's cathartic use has come to a close.

Grace and Peace.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Incredulity Is A Fun Word

I've come to realize that I have been pretty iritable lately, and that in itself is irritating. I don't think my reasons for being irritated are bad necessarily, but it does affect the way I interact with people, and I know it shows in my body language because I practically where my heart on my sleeve for everyone to see. It's been a weird couple of weeks in that sense, and I can only pray that God will help me with this irritation so that I can love people the way He does and not by any concept of love I might have. Ironically though, it is love that leads to being irritated over what some people are doing. I can see so much potential being wasted because they won't open their eyes.

Some put too much expectations on others without voicing such thoughts, and then let everyone else sit confused when they blow up. Others don't listen to what is being said and in that way assume they know more about the situation they are in then they really do; and still others could be given freedom if only they would ask for it, but they do not want to be free, and that is the most depressing one of all. I know that I don't know everything, and if I am wrong about the situations I observe and hear about then good. I want to be wrong about some things.

So I'm irritated, but I'm also tired. I'm tired of all the inane and hypocritical things that go on here on campus. I'm tired of them trying to force a love for God down our throats, of claiming to be operating in Truth and yet still acting out of some form of legalism rather than out of love. I'm tired of them forcing us to do a "ministry" knowing that when one does it out of obligation it really does the body very little good, or no good at all. I'm tired of rules, inconsistencies, disregard, and assumptions that are made constantly from both the administration and the student body. We will never be unified at this pace. I know that this place can be redeemed, I can almost see it sometimes, but it is not there yet.

Unfortunately, I can't finish the rest of my thoughts at the moment, which means I'll probably forget how to say it throughout the day.

Grace and Peace.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Division Is Death

"A Kingdom divided cannot stand."

If this is true of Satan and his minions, is it not also true for Christ and His followers?

There is a unity that needs to be maintained for a Kingdom to stand, and I believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is no different. Which leaves me the dread that Christianity, as we know it today, could very well collapse (I don't think Christianity itself will ever die because it is under Christ's authority, I merely meant collapse of the concept of Christianity in the US Culture). What I mean by that is the fact that many people have gotten to the point where they will argue with each other over some concept of God and both claim that there sides are the Truth and they even go as far as to do it without love or grace. But doing something like that is not only against God Himself because they are not loving in their discussion, but there is also an attempt to put a limit upon God who, in fact, is a limitless being.

I think that Christians as a whole (of course there are always exceptions) have lost sight of a very important truth or concept that was designed to be within the church. Without it the Church becomes perverted and corrupt; as is evidenced by the crusades, and the events surrounding the Reformation. Other less extreme examples could include the institutionalization of the "Church"; the place where we try to force worship in a 1 to 2 hour period. It's structured and rigid; it does not flow like I believe worship should do. Do not misunderstand, I am not saying that having a church building were people can come and worship as a congregation is a bad thing. It is obviously being used by God, so we must be at least doing something right; however, I think that there is something about it that is missing and I have not discovered what it is yet. I guess ultimately, I could say that the church as we know it today feels like it is more of a shadow of its original purpose.

I'm not perfect, and I will be the first to admit that I don't know everything. However, these are thoughts that have been going through my head since last night after having a good and deep conversation with a friend of mine. I know that there is always more to discover, and as long as I'm seeking Truth, then I know I will consistently find more and more about what is going wrong and what is being done right, and what is in between. The thing about faith... it should always be in flux with the values we follow. Sure some things become concrete, but I think if we ever get to the point where we are not reflecting on our beliefs and values, and we are not challenging them, then I think we are not growing further in our relationship with Christ and we become static.

On a completely separate note, I might have a job. This is much yay; thanks God!

Grace and Peace

Monday, February 9, 2009


There are so many things that I feel like I could say, and yet no words come to mind. Just one emotion after the other.

Is it the atmospheres that I am around, is it my own hormones not knowing which way to go? Is it something more than a physiological or mental construct? I think it might be.

Everyone seems to be hurting lately, and in turn, it hurts me. I want to cry every now and then when I see people walk in and can just tell that there is peace that needs to be received, Freedom needs to be attained, and healing given. But how can I do such things? I cannot, and with that sentiment I know that there is nothing I can do to help, except pray and love. I feel that it is the only thing I know how to do at times. There is nothing wrong with prayer and love, and I've grown to accept it as an action that is helping, but that still doesn't take away the feeling of uselessness when all I want to do is see people happy, and in tune with Truth, with God.

But alas, I can do nothing as I watch people force their perspectives down others' throats, or try to manipulate a situation to keep themselves in control. I can do nothing for people who get nothing but bad events happen to them one after the other, no choose to not be freed and healed of their pain and sorrow. I can do nothing at all, and I suppose in the end that it is really about that very thought.

I can do nothing, because He has to do everything. If He does not do it, then He is not being Himself.

We are nothing, except that He intrinsically defines us as something, and in that sense, we are good. Not morally, but creationally. And that is a happy thought. We have value, because He said we did; what more could a mess like me ask for?

Grace and Peace.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm So Sleepy

I suppose this post could come across as a little emo, but I don't really care...

I have been feeling pretty down lately. Not depressed, or exceedingly sad, but just kind of down and out.

I feel like there is nothing I can do to progress in this world at the moment.

It's like when a Mighty Ducks hockey puck flies past the goal and into the back of the net. I'm losing. Reality has hit me in the face, and things are crashing down upon me, and the worst of it all is the fact that I feel like there is nothing I can do to remedy it.

I want to get married this summer, and I honestly believe that God wants me to go to London in the upcoming winter break (December/January 2009), however I also believe that God wants me to get married in the summer, especially when thinking of how I operate and how waiting any longer than the end of this year would be a torture to my soul, and unhealthy.

I know that God is in control, and in the end He is the only one that will make the difference, but to put it in the terms of our speaker this morning "I'm in trouble" and I need help.

God, protect me in this time of weakness. Reveal your strength.

Grace and Peace

Saturday, January 10, 2009

There's a Story Brewing...

The last time I posted it was 2008, and now it is 2009. I feel kinda old.

I got to spend some time with my family over Christmas break, but not as much as I would have liked. I spent the majority of the week I was at home working; which, even though I liked having money by the end of the week, I really hated that I did not get more time with friends and family. I spent another two weeks with Sammi's family which was a lot of fun, but it was really chaotic and there were a ton of people. I like people, but I also like my quiet time, which did not really exist the second week there. However I cannot complain, and I am glad I was able to spend some time with her family.

Now, I am back at TFC for a winterum course: Western Thought & Culture, or more commonly known, Wasted Thought and Torture.

I honestly don't find it to be torture or wasted thought, but I do understand how it could have gotten its title. It feels a lot like TFC's attempt to indoctrinate and brainwash its students into following the same beliefs that it holds; that thought horrifies me. Have Christians fallen so low that we have to coerce and deceive those around us to get them to “believe in Christ”? Is it absolutely necessary that we must accuse those that do not share our beliefs as heretics? Heaven forbid we attempt to find our own way through scripture and life, and come up with our own beliefs about God. Maybe I'm wrong, but if God is Truth, then wouldn't those who are honestly seeking Him come to the same conclusions as those who have grown up in the church and been indoctrinated by those around them? Do not get me wrong, I think that we can learn from others and that God uses that to teach us, but I also think that sometimes we overreact to someone possibly struggling through thoughts that are different from our own (collectively).

I've been thinking about how often Christian's take God's name in vain. I know that might sound a bit abrasive, but if you really think about it you will find that it is true. For one, and perhaps the most obvious place to see it is in our prayers. How often do you hear someone pray and say God's name three or four times every sentence. “God we would just like to Father ask you to bless us Father God, and protect us God from temptation.” Is it just me, or do prayers like that feel like we are replacing “um” with “God”? Has his name lost so much reverence in our mind that we use it as we use “um”? Just to give you an idea of how bad this is to me, I have a communication professor who calls words like “um” word vomit, because it has absolutely no relevance nor purpose in a speech. So, with that thought, saying God that much in a sentence is turning His name into “word vomit”, and that is unacceptable.

And what about music? This is something I really struggle with sometimes. If I listen, play, or even write, “Christian” music, without the proper attitude, am I being irreverent to God? I listen to music aimed to worship often, but when I listen to it, am I worshiping? If I am not, then I might as well be listening to something else, because I would not want to offend God with my disrespect any more than I already have.

These are just thoughts running through my head; I am not claiming, or accusing anything. Although, the brainwash thing really does disturb me. I am not a drone, despite what schools might think.

Grace and Peace.

Yesterday is History

Tomorrow is a Mystery

And Today is a gift.

That is why it is called Present.”