20 December 2005

The culture destroys the sacred

So apparently, Walmart and many other major businesses are forbidding their employees to say "Merry Christmas" and other specific religious holiday greetings to patrons; instead, they have to say "Happy Holidays" to be politically correct and non-offensive. Well, to be honest, I am thrilled to hear that Walmart and many other businesses are not allowed to say "Merry Christmas". Basically, because I'm sick of our culture and its people enjoying the benefits of Christianity (such as holidays which give them time off work and getting gifts and crap from other people) without taking on the beliefs, morals, or disciplines of Christianity. That goes for non-Christians who totally reject Christian teachings and for Christians who don't live by those teachings.
Christmas has become a CULTURAL holiday instead of a CHRISTIAN holiday, and allowing businesses to support Christmas just furthers the fact that it is a CULTURAL holiday. These businesses are not specifically CHRISTIAN businesses. So, by them supporting Christmas specifically, we are allowing Christmas to become a general holiday of the culture instead of a specific holiday of a specific group of people within the culture. I would love to see the number of households with a Christmas tree in their home be closer to the number of households which attend church at all during the year; even more drastic, those households which attend church more than just Christmas and Easter. You don't see non-Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah. You don't see non-Muslim people fasting for Ramadan. So why are SO MANY non-Christian families celebrating Christmas? BECAUSE IT HAS BECOME A CULTURAL HOLIDAY!!! And the non-Christian businesses of America further this by supporting Christmas. Why should they suddenly mention Christ in their greeting for one month out of the year and then forget Him the other 11? I'd rather them not mention Christ at all nor support a holiday which SHOULD BE a holiday specifically for Christians, since the holiday is to celebrate an omnipotent God who held everything in the palm of His hand, yet traded it for the humility and powerlessness of flesh and blood. I'd rather have Christmas be specifically a Christian holiday and not well-supported by the culture than to have it the way it is now. There is no sacredness to Christmas the way it is now.

Here's my challenge: If you are not Christian, you do not follow the words of Jesus, and you do not fall upon the grace that He has offered to you by coming to this world in the flesh, then do not observe the day set aside each year to remember and rejoice in the incarnation of our Savior.

Maybe all of that is somewhat coherent. I'm not always the best at expressing my thoughts in a ordered way. Anyways, chew on that and spit back some comments.

10 December 2005

I can't sleep

I do not speak for ALL religion majors in the majority of this; however, I do speak for myself and many of the religion majors who take very seriously the implications of God's call.

Here's a shocker: I DIDN'T ASK FOR THIS LIFE! I didn't ask for this calling. I didn't ask for God to call me to serve and love His church with my life. I didn't ask to be put in the spotlight. I didn't ask to be thrown on stage in front of all. I didn't ask for my life to be analyzed and scrutinized by all. I didn't ask for my life to be an open book. I didn't ask for me to have to be the example. I didn't ask to be under others' microscopes, so that when I do something good, no one notices or gives a crap, but, when I do one thing slightly offcolor, I'm dragged to the guilitine. I didn't ask to be the one who is expected to be perfect. How dare others expect me to be perfect. Am I not allowed to be a "work in progress?" Am I suddenly supposed to be spiritually & morally complete? Am I not allowed time to work through progressive sanctification, as the Holy Spirit deals with parts of my life that are not holy (or, set apart for God)? Would you be so bold to deny the Spirit His right to do that progressive work of grace in my life and, thereby, demand Him to do it all at once? Am I not allowed to struggle? Am I denied the right to have the very thing that gives me my humanity and separates me from divinity? Am I expected to live to the level of divinity? If so, then I would not need another's divinity for my own salvation because of salvation from my own divinity. And if that was so, there is no need for another divinity because we would be capable of reaching it on our own. Therefore, being able to achieve divinity on your own, you can stop griping because you would not need others under God's calling to point you toward another divinity.

Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, I am scared out of my mind because of the thought that God would trust scum like me with His bride, the Church? Have you ever taken the slightest time to consider from the other perspective and realize that I could easily, and have, made myself physically sick over the thought that the God of all TRUSTS ME with a small part of His Church? Do you realize that it is a daily struggle inside of me to understand those implications and consequences? Do you understand that I have asked God to take it back, because I don't trust myself? Or because I know the depth of my own humanity and how deep those scars run? Do you have a clue of the fear that I deal with on a daily basis because of God's call on my life? Do you think that I need someone else to point out the fact that I CAN'T LIVE UP TO IT? Please...I beg, throw more dirt on my grave. Please...point out all my faults and completely forget anything good I have ever done. No seriously, I don't remind myself enough EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE that I am a sick creature who stands no fighting chance of ever serving God faithfully. Oh PLEASE, remind me once more.

Religion majors are not worshipped on this campus. If ANYTHING, we are the FIRST to be looked down upon, gossiped about, scrutinized, etc. Everybody sets their expectations higher for us, and as soon as any of us barely don't meet it, we are labeled hypocritical scum. This goes for students and professors. You never thought that religion majors are the first to get gossiped about in Gen. Ed. classes. If we aren't academically above the rest of the Gen. Ed. class, we are suddenly failures at being "Christ-like examples."
Oh yeah, religion majors DON'T get any more financial breaks than any other student on this campus. And don't try the donor scholarship crap, because the school has no say as to whom that money goes to. Those are earmarked by the donors to specific criteria.

I don't need anyone else's help in putting me on the town scaffold. I tend to leave myself up there, calling down upon myself my own unworthiness and knowledge of my inability to do anything good.

04 December 2005

The Peak of Intensity

According to my english and literature classes (which are thankfully behind me now), there is always at least one point in a story when the intensity of the plot peaks. Movies are usually always the same way. It's the point when there are numerous loose ends, possibilities of the outcome, and so many things unresolved. It's the point when you are screaming at the book or the big screen and you can't help but desire to know what happens. The lack of resolution is KILLING YOU at this moment, at the peak of intensity. I find this part of my life to possibly be that part of the story, although it comes earlier in my life than it usually does in a book. This is the part of life when I am building a foundation which I will have to stand upon for the rest of my life. I am building my character and integrity, which will carry with me until I die. I am also making hard decisions that will affect everything, like what path of ministry I pursue and where I continue my education in grad school. I am also waiting for the chance to make hard decisions, like finding one person for whom I am willing to risk everything and willing to work with to make a lasting relationship. I find myself in the midst of this peak of the novel entitled My Life and it is KILLING ME not knowing how it is going to be resolved, not knowing what happens in the next chapter. Thanks be to God who grants me the chance to learn to trust, listen, and obey Him. He gives me the chance to become more dependent upon Him for life and where it will lead me. Being stuck in the waiting room at the doctor's office is always a horrible time, but it is always worth it when the Doctor knows the cure for my situation.

02 December 2005

Drawing near...light is filtering in

So Friday starts exam week. To usher in the arduous week, I begin with my Systematic Theology exam, for which I am currently not prepared. Oh well. That's the story of my life. Tonight was the Christmas banquet. I had a great time. Ashley did a great job of planning out the banquet. I know she put in a ton of time and stress to put it together. I had the privilege of being accompanied by the wonderful and ravishing Emily Dill. That was a great plus to the evening. Near the end of the banquet, I had the chance to read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and do a quick devotional from it. It was quite a contrast from the humorous and light-hearted entertainment prior to it. I hope I didn't get too serious for the mood. I enjoyed being able to do that though.
We had revival services at Easley First Wesleyan this week, from Sunday through Wednesday. That was quite a stressful adventure. Playing everyday, Monday through Friday, having to practice right before service, making last minute PowerPoints, bypassing parts of the sound board to make the sound system work correctly...leading worship is no joke. It was a great time though. We had some great sermons (especially Benji's!) and had some great songs that we worshipped through.
I decided that most of my Christmas will consist of my parents helping me pay for a trip to Boston over spring break. I am going up there to check out Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and to check out the city (to see about the whole urban church plant vision that I had). I really want to pray deeply about it leading up to that trip, praying that God would use that trip to show me how He wants to use me, and if it needs to be there in Boston or somewhere else. So, if anyone wants to go to Boston for spring break, I'd be happy to have a travel companion(s). Just have to figure out how to pay for the trip.
Well, I'm out. My prayer goes up for everybody in the midst of exams and the closing semester. The light is drawing near and filtering into the darkness to show an end to this tunnel.

26 November 2005

Yup...

Life's good. Just way too busy. I do this to myself. It's November, the end of the semester. I have a huge project or paper due about every 2 days for a couple weeks straight. And yes, I, like any good and normal college student, have not worked in advance on ANY OF IT. So, now, I'm screwed. Get used to living @ 4am and falling asleep in 8am class.

Outside the academia world,...wait...do I have anything else? Wait...yes...I do have a soul outside of term papers and exams. Nov. 19 was my last time playing with 'The Difference'. How sad. I know it took all my weekends and all summer, and it stressed me out beyond belief because it was hard keeping up in my classes too. But, still...I loved it. Traveling, playing music with the most talented musicians I have come across, the inside jokes, the funny moments, the wrong Mapquest directions, the list could go on and on. I'm going to miss all of that. So now I have about $3500 worth of guitars and equipment sitting in my room with no van and trailer to call home.

However, as much as I will miss traveling, I make a vow right now: I will NOT commit or involve myself in ANYTHING more next semester than I am already committed to. That means student chaplain and Easley First Wesleyan Church. Nothing more. I overworked myself way too much this semester and screwed myself. Now all I want is a break. I need time to gain some life experience in other areas, spending time with friends, with people who hurt, with people who have needs, with culture. I need time to analyze, to pray, to figure some things out, to understand life more. I know that sounds way too "out there" and over-the-top on the "meaning of life" deal. However, I found out that I have made my life so busy that I don't have time to sit down and deal with the bigger issues stirring in my heart and infecting through my veins, things that are consuming, unresolved realities that need to be dealt with. I hope next semester to be such a time to do that.

While writing this, something just hit me. I have way too many friends. I guess "too many" was not the correct way to express that. Maybe "so many" would have been better. Either way, I just realized that so many people are in my life now that I can confide in, lean on, rant to, express myself to, spend time with, have fun with, etc. There are so many selfless people out there who have taken the time to get to know me and pour a little of themselves into me. I'm not sure how much of that could be said when the spotlight hits me. I've been too busy many times for the people around me, those who have taken time and parts of their hearts to care about me. I have to thank God for giving me this hedge of protection, encouragement, knowledge, and care. The joy of good friends. If you are reading this and know that you are one of these people (and I pray you do know), then I say thank you. I appreciate you more than you could ever know. Life would be bland without you.

Well, I guess that's all I'm going to say for tonight. The rest is either temporarily forgotten, not important, or none of your business.

Remind a friend today that you truly love them. Maybe we all, myself included, should be more willing to express ourselves so there will never be regret.

09 November 2005

Lost and Found

So this afternoon, I get out of class around 4pm and get a call from Paul, who had been calling me throughout class. I answer it to listen to him tell me a story that he and Micah went to a local pawn shop because they were bored. They were browsing the DVDs on the shelves, and they came across some rather random DVDs. Some of these were: "Hero: The Rock Opera", "Passion Sacred Revolution: Live from OneDay 2003", "Dogma Special Edition", "Everyday Sunday Music Videos DVD", "Various Christian Artists Music Videos DVD", "Saved". Now, I own all of those exact DVDs. I also own many more DVDs, some of which the same titles were there as well (like "Bruce Almighty", "The Last Samurai", and "School of Rock"). So, to help you realize the connection, let me explain why this is amazing news. I told you that I own all of those DVDs. Well, technically, by right, I own them. However, although I legally own them, I wasn't sure who currently possessed them. This is because while travelling over the summer, being gone for two weeks straight in July, I came back to SWU on the weekend between camps to find that my whole DVD collection had been stolen out of my apartment. Ah...so now you understand. Needless to say, those were obviously my DVDs at the pawn shop. The punk who stole them sold them to the pawn shop, and after sitting on the shelves since probably July, these were the ones that had not been sold by the pawn shop. I went to the pawn shop, explaining my situation, and he told me that he couldn't give them back to me, but that he would cut me a deal. So, he sold me seven of the DVDs that I technically still owned plus another DVD that I didn't previously own (I found Ace Ventura Pet Detective and just had to get it) for a total of $20. Not bad...I guess. I was blown away that after almost half a year, my DVDs were found, only a mile down the road.

This past weekend was extremely exhausting, but it was quite fun too. We left Friday morning at 4am and arrived in Plymouth, Indiana around 4 or 5pm. We set up and had a concert Friday night at a youth center downtown that Plymouth Wesleyan Church runs. That was really fun. My ears were ringing for the rest of the night. Saturday, we set up in the sanctuary at the church and practiced for all the services on Sunday morning. The sanctuary was amazing. The sound system in there was crazy. They had 4 18" subs on stage...wow. Then we traveled with the youth Saturday night to "Laser X" to play a bunch of laser tag with them. Out of my three games of laser tag, I ranked 2nd, 3rd, and 6th out of about 27 people per game. Not too shabby. I also broke a covenant that I made last year. Last year, I swore that I would never set foot on DDR (Dance Dance Revolution). Well, I found out this summer that when ministering to youth, it usually makes it easier for us to minister to them when we make complete fools of ourselves; I guess it sort of breaks the ice and allows them to make a connection with us if they can laugh with/at us. Well, for that reason, I decided to take the DDR challenge. Paul and I faced off on DDR and...made complete fools of ourselves. However, the kids loved it, so that's what mattered. Sunday morning we led worship for all three services. The first service was musically traditional, the second blended, and the third contemporary. That was interesting having three completely different set lists in one morning, starting with hymns in the first service and playing the acoustic guitar, and ending with fast songs with rock riffs and distortion on my electric guitar. Quite interesting experience. We drove back all Sunday afternoon and night, arriving back at school on Monday morning around 1am.

Tonight, I went to Greenville with some of the guys. Good times. Good conversations. Good discussions about each others' lives. It's good to sit around with a bunch of guys and really get to the heart of the matters in each of our lives. Some of us got ice cream at the Marble Slab; then we all continued to Coffee Underground, where I tried some Pumpkin Cheesecake (sooo good). Good times. I can't get enough of the urban atmosphere, especially with good friends.

02 November 2005

Excursion to Atlanta

What a night I had Tuesday night. Jason Williams, Jarred Mann, Jeffrey Moss, and I went to Atlanta to the Masquerade. We went to see Emery and As Cities Burn and a few other bands play...mainly to see Emery. What a show. That was the best concert I've been to possibly in years. It was amazing. As Cities Burn was really good and had a great stage presence. However, when Emery took the stage, there was not another care in the world. They rocked the place out and had an AMAZING stage presence. The music was so intense. Maybe it was because I was standing in front of subs and mains stacked two and a half times taller than I am. Listening to the Emery CD's, which I have done continuously, just doesn't have the same effect anymore after seeing them live. They were just completely amazing.

The trip overall was great. Hanging out with a bunch of guys was really cool. It was really cool to spend time getting to know Jarred and Jeffrey. I'll vouch for them that they are some of the coolest freshman on campus. And it was Jason's 22nd b-day. Even though we were at a place with about four bars and half-naked bartenders, the most contact we had with drinks was me getting a free soda from one of them. After we left, we went to The Varsity, which is some famous hamburger grease-pit in Atlanta. We bought some food for a homeless-looking guy. That was good. It proved to me that I still don't trust people's motives. I am quick to believe someone is scaming me. However, I came to realize through this that I am going to have to make myself vulnerable to being scamed, cheated, lied to, or whatever else. I can't love people with all that I am if I automatically assume they are waiting to screw me over. Who cares if he was already full of food. I still did what I was asked to do. I still gave of myself. It's not my responsibility for him to do the right thing with what I give. But, it is my responsibility to give of myself unselfishly, unconditionally, despite risk or skepticism. That's the only way I will ever be able to show love to a dying world.

I was driving down I-85, approaching the greater Atlanta area (aka, the Dirty South). It was twilight time, growing more dim as each milepost sped by us. We rounded a curve, wondering when we would be in the downtown area. As we came over a hill we could see the Atlanta skyline, lit buildings imposing on the dark expanse above. As we slowly moved in traffic, creeping in between the tall structures, my heart bled a little for the city. I saw these huge buildings and had a realization of how many people were in this cramped space. I realized the concentration of hurting people stuck in this urban life, themselves not realizing that there is so much more to live for. Sociologically, this American movement of the populus to the cities and the surrounding suburbs is spectacular news for those wanting to share the love of our Savior. How else would you be able to assemble this many people in one area to have the chance to love them all? I won't speak for God and say that He made this sociological movement to the cities for this purpose; however, I know that God uses all circumstances for His good and for the good of those who love Him. So, why should we not make extreme effort to infiltrate these metropolitan areas of America? I believe God is moving, and calling, saying to us that we should use the opportunities set before us. I am feeling the pull more and more to urban life and urban ministry. I hope God is calling more to this as well.

I'm leaving 4 AM on Friday morning for Plymouth, Indiana with the ministry team. We'll be going to Josh Woods' church. That should be fun...and extremely exhausting. We'll get back sometime Monday afternoon or evening. I might blog again before I leave. Maybe not.


Do you have any ideas about urban ministry? Think about it this week. Ponder and pray about what vision God is giving you, that just maybe, He would put another paint stroke on the canvas for you to see.

29 October 2005

surface info that doesn't really explain anything important ... and my vision

Green grass, trimmed shrubbery, cleaned buildings, good food...oh yes...the Board of Trustees are on campus this week. Oh the joys of Homecoming week. And this year I am actually involved with it all. Thursday was a rather busy day. As a student chaplain, I had the wonderful privilege of helping in the Trustee chapel. I also had to meet with the trustees that are on the Spiritual Life committee to discuss what I am doing as a student chaplain and to be questioned by them. And to end my festivities with the trustees on Thursday, I sat through a 3-hour dinner banquet with trustees, faculty, Dr. Spittal (SWU president), and many other distinguished guests. It was a good meal, although not quite worth the three hours I was there. So Thursday was a wonderful day of wearing a suit and tie for meetings and dinner.

Friday was not so hectic. I had class at 8am and 11:45am. Oh, by the way, I am on the Homecoming Court that is walking on Saturday for the Homecoming activities. Well, as of today at lunch, I decided that I would be "escorted" by my life-size inflatable blue alien. However, after bouncing the idea off of Ken Dill, my boss (as a student chaplain and as a member of a ministry team), I decided against it. He said there were a lot of people who took the Homecoming activities very seriously and that would look like I was making a mockery of it (which I kind of would be because the Homecoming court is an idiotic popularity contest that goes to show how the Christian community gives in to the stupid customs of secular life. The ideal that Homecoming Court stands for is one of those things that I couldn't wait to get away from by leaving high school)...anyways... So, under his advice, I have decided to use a human female for an escort. So everybody get the rumor mills turning, because I will have Corrie Johnson as my escort. I'll love to laugh at what crazy rumors I'll be asked next week because stupid, ignorant people decide to make their own judgments and assumptions that I could give a rat's tail about.

Today, (Friday), I went to downtown Greenville with Nathan George, Marcus George, and Lyle. We went to check out a tea shop. It's upstairs of a furniture place on the corner of Coffee St. It's just like a coffee shop, just...tea drinks. That place was really sweet. I had a cold green tea mixed with peach flavoring. It was really good. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the place. It was just an upstairs attic kind of place turned into a modern, urban chill-spot. It had all the modern, urban furniture and lighting. It was cool to check that place out. Being in downtown Greenville and talking with Nathan about our passions really continued the spark in my heart for urban outreach and starting an atypical, urban-based church/outreach ministry. Actually, this has been something on my mind since August. This vision/passion really took on a tangible possibility lately as my thoughts about my future came together. There are three factors towards fulfilling my urban ministry passion that sort of collided together to make a tangible vision. This vision has been floating in my thoughts and prayers for a little while as I'm trying to figure out if it should be more than just a thought. The three factors are: 1) I want to go to seminary to get at least an M.Div. 2) I wanted to find a major American city that did not have a Wesleyan church in it and 3) I wanted to find a way to spend time in the city getting to know the people, their needs, the area, surveying the community and finding out how to best minister to the area. This kind of surveying could take up to a couple or more years. Well, all three of these collided. To address #1, I am mainly looking at either Asbury Theological Seminary or Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for my grad work. Asbury is in Wilmore, KY. Gordon-Conwell is in 3 locations, with two of the campuses being in Massachusetts. One of those campuses is in Boston, MA, and offers a M.Div. with an urban ministry focus. To address #2, I was wandering through the Wesleyan church website. As I came to find out, there is no Wesleyan church in Boston, MA. (I'll let you think through the connection with #1 on your own.) Now, for #3. Well, let's say that, hypothetically, I go to Gordon-Conwell at the Boston campus for the M.Div w/ urban focus. Living in Boston for three years to complete that degree (since I'm going to get an M.Div. from somewhere anyways, might as well be in Boston...hypothetically) would give me three years of time to get to know the city, the people, the needs, and the culture. It will give me three years to make connections with TONS of people in tons of vocational areas and will allow me time to survey the area to get to know who the average person is and what they need. Upon graduation, I'll have all I should need to start the urban church ministry, including a M.Div. focused on urban ministry and three years of working with the local district for help and getting to know people and the community. How better could that work out for starting an untypical, urban-based church/outreach ministry? There are only two things holding me back from deeply pursuing this: 1) theological differences between me and the seminary (Gordon-Conwell is Calvinist in theology while I am Wesleyan-Arminian in theology) and 2) This is only a thought that I have had. This is not a "burning bush" experience. I haven't received any further confirmation from God that I should be the one to do this. I hope that will soon be made clear. My plan is to work with "The Crux," an urban church in Indianapolis, this summer to help me see if I should be doing it and to gain experience from how they do it. I also plan to visit Boston to get a feel for the city and to sit down to talk with Gordon-Conwell about the programs and the D.S. of that Wesleyan district about my vision. I guess we shall see.

What's your opinion about that vision? What are your plans or visions for the Church or for your work for the Lord after graduation? Leave a comment about it.

24 October 2005

infected

I still wonder when the medicine will take it's effect.
And the injection they made, it's all just left me the same.
I'ts hard to concentrate with echoes of your voice in my head.
From all you said, I'm still paralyzed.

But I'm almost out of breathe from saying things that I'll regret.
My time is over, I can't do this alone.

I'm infected with you, pull the plug already.
Tell me before I go, that you're infected with me.


I cant remember if I ever took a minute to say.
That if it had to be now, I'm glad it had to be me.
I cant recuperate, I'm never going to leave here alive.
Just help me through this, don't let me die here.

But I'm almost out of breath from saying things I'll regret.
My time is over, I can't do this alone,

I'm infected with you, pull the plug already.
Tell me before I go, that you're infected with me.


I'm killing time just trying to find the words that fall so short of you.
I'm losing sleep, I can't compete, I'm giving out, I can't do this alone.

infected :: demon hunter

21 October 2005

Collision of Academic & Personal

(17) Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
(18) yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
(19) The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.

<<>>

I love it when my schoolwork connects with my personal life. I guess since I am in Christian Ministry & Bible majors that is bound to happen. I love it though. It makes my academics so much more important and vital to me. I am able to connect with it. This happens almost everyday; I just never really write about it usually.

So in Pre-Exilic Prophets class, I have an Inductive Bible study due at 2:35 pm today that I haven't started on. The only work I have completed on it so far is to pick my text, which is Habakkuk 3. I was reading over it a couple times, as is part of the inductive study procedure. I've read the text many times before. I love this text. There is so much to understand from it. However, after walking back from my 8am test this morning, I noticed that many times I find myself in the mindset of verse 17 without verse 18. I tend to see the lack and don't see the total picture, the outcome that is for my good, the good that God is eventually going to work. I can so easily convince myself that all that will ever be is the fig tree that does not bud, the vine with no grapes, the fields with no crops. When I can't see the end or the progress, I can prove to myself that the empty vine is all I will ever have.

However, there is no faith involved when we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know we can get there. There is no leap necessary when the buds are on the vine and we know that it will turn to fruit. It is only when the vine is bare, and I can't see how God is moving that I am required to hand over control and believe in faith, though I have no reminders to show me why I should. Habakkuk had no tangible reminders of God's faithfulness around him. However, even he came to the point that he said, "...yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."
Where are the greener pastures?
Where are the quiet waters?
The Sovereign Lord is my strength

You are my greener pastures
You are my quiet waters
The Sovereign Lord is my strength

"The Heights" by dc*b

18 October 2005

Need suggestions

I'm stuck on any more ideas of things to do with my webspace. If you guys have any suggestions of new things, pages, info, etc., just leave a comment.

In case you don't know, my webspace is at http://www.swustudents.com/~cthomas/

You can also find a link to it in my AIM profile and in the Links on this blog.

11 October 2005

I love gun powder...

" ...But I feel gun powder
Burning under my skin
Don’t say another word
You might set off a spark
Cause I’ve got gun powder
Burning under my skin... "
Great words from a great band, Blindside. Most days, especially lately for some reason, I am finding this to be far more true about myself. I find myself so deeply bothered by so many issues, either in American society, the global community, the state of the American church, or even Religion majors, and mostly, myself. I wonder if I am too passionate about certain grievances that I have. I love these passions though. It shows me that I am not okay with complacency in how things are. It proves to me that God is taking a guy who has a past history of being self-centered and self-serving and molding that guy into a person who is genuinely concerned about others and the state of society, the state of the Church, and the state of individuals. As these fires keep burning under my skin, I am finding that I am able to work out these issues and move to a deeper understanding of these issues and grievances, which in turn provides me with the chance of figuring out how I will be able to change my life to fix these things. It gives me the chance to figure out how my life should be spent. If it weren't for the gun powder, I would never come to a point in my life where I can genuinely care and love and want to change things. If it weren't for the gun powder, I would never figure out how to spark the fire that purifies.

06 October 2005

Saying goodbye is so hard...

Today I sold my very first guitar that I bought. I sold my Ibanez SA160QM Electric Guitar with an aftermarket EMG-85 humbucker pickup. I sold it to Guitar Center. The pain of goodbyes...actually, I didn't care too much about it. The money was good to have, and I don't play that guitar anymore since I replaced it with the Gibson.

You know, I always have a ton of important issues floating in my head, constantly analyzing and thinking through the implications of such principles and concepts about life, but I somehow forget them when I get a chance to write something on here. I guess I'll come up with a list of what I've been learning about life recently, in whatever order I can think of them.

1. I love the Church (the universal Church). The Church is the bride and Jesus Christ is the husband. So many people think church is some cult of organized religion to appease the masses or to have some means of getting people's money or some other random idea. I'd go so far to say that the majority of people in the "Bible Belt" DO NOT go to church with the purpose, intent, or expectation of meeting with God and being blown away by His holiness and greatness. People go to church because it's what they've always done and they're expected to go. People go to talk to their friends about Friday night's high school football games, Clemson football games, and to make appearances with clients and make appointments for lunch on Tuesday to discuss business. Church has become a place to meet people for contacts so that you can better your own business. This is what the bride has become...a meeting place of complacent and bored people looking to keep up with clients and make a new business transaction. I'm sick of it. I love the bride enough to want to make a difference. I become sick thinking of what awful state she is in. I make myself physically sick thinking what the American Dream and materialism has done to her. She is the victim of a tragedy of treason from the inside. I love her too much to see her being used like a whore.

2. I want to spend time with unbelievers for the rest of my life. How dare I spend the rest of my life completely surrounded by other Christians. How can I expect to ever show the love of Christ when I won't take the time to become a part of an unbeliever's life. Do I dare think that I can just come up to them, present the Gospel, expect them to take me at my word without knowing me or my heart, and then I'll let them become a part of my life AFTER they become a Christian? Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick" [Matt. 9:12]. Jesus was chillin' with the scum of his day (prostitutes, tax-collectors, "sinners"), but He took the time to show them that He loved them perfectly despite their imperfection. He loved the prostitutes as much as the religious leaders. God's love was and is not conditional on our attempt at obedience, granted He loves us enough to show us a better life than through sin. Talking about this, I just recently told my friend/mentor Blair that I want to spend the rest of my life among people where I can talk to them and get to know them, like coffee shops or where ever. I don't want my ministry to be stuck in a cushy office in my church, waiting for people to stop by while I write sermons and manage the church. I want to spend the rest of my life taking the time to show unbelievers, through personal relationships, that I love them no matter who they are, what they do, what their values are, how poor they are, how they dress, how they smell, or what comes out of their mouth. I want to love unconditionally so that, just maybe, they would catch a glimpse of God's love and mercy.

3. I need to rotate my tires about every 6,000 miles. I had to replace tires this week. Just thought that was some good practical knowledge to have.

4. I don't want to give up music, but I don't know where I can go with it. I have been in some of the greatest experiences of my life this year playing with The Difference. I had the opportunity to play for tons of people, in tons of places, and playing with the most talented musicians I've ever played with. I have tons of guitar equipment now, upgrading to some rack units and a Gibson electric guitar. But, my contract with the school ends in December and I'm not planning on renewing it because I want to experience other facets of ministry this next year. I've been doing worship for a few years now, and I'm sure I'll continue to do it some. However, I don't know how much music will be a part of my life for now on. I feel like it has been the focus of my ministry for the last four years, but I now need to focus on other areas, putting music on the back-burner or giving it up to pursue other minsitry facets. That scares me though. I love music too much to give it up. But I feel as though it has to be all or nothing with music. Either I will devote myself to continuing musical growth and start trying other avenues of music (including spending the money for upgrading more equipment and writing my own stuff), pushing more of my time into music, or I will get away from music, giving only enough time to it to lead worship some, but not getting better at it or progressing to new things. I'm at a point where, for me to get better and do new things, it will require a lot of time, which means I'll have to make a conscious decision to devote myself to it. I don't know....just some thoughts that have been swirling through my skull for a few months.

5. I have to be willing to fight for certain things in my life. One thing that stuck with me from Daron's messages was when he posed the question, "What are you willing to fight for?" Are we willing to fight for our relationship with God? Are we willing to fight for moral integrity in our lives? Are we willing to fight for certain people, showing them we care or lifting them in prayer as often as possible? I've made a list of my own of things that I am willing to fight for. We have to be willing to fight for things that are vital to our spiritual life, important to us, people that we care about, standards that we set for ourselves.

6. It never fails that I can always prove to myself my own depravity. Somedays, I wonder if I can do anything right. I'm just as sick as any other person I meet. I have an easy time proving that to myself. But as I said in #5, some things are worth fighting for. My moral integrity is worth fighting for. I have to be a spiritual leader in more ways than one, and to more people than just myself. My moral integrity being in disarray destroys far more than my own life. I am a student chaplain on campus. I'm helping mentor different people. I'm leading worship on a weekly basis. I'm looked up to by different people. One day that will all increase exponentially when I am a pastor. I will be responsible to be a spiritual leader to that church. I will one day be responsible to be a spiritual leader to my family. I have to raise the standards of integrity. There's no way I could expect to lead a church or family without those standards. There are some things that I am willing to fight to the death over.
"But I will fight you and victory will be mine in the end" [emery]

7. Daily conversations with God in prayer and Scripture have a direct correlation with my spiritual strength. I've always known this, but this has become so much more of a reality to me recently.

8. I can't buy clothes from places like Banana Republic and Express|Men. I had to buy some winter clothes this year and these places were outrageous. I wanted a coat from them, and they wanted a minimum of $120 from me for their cheapest one. You're crazy.

Well, that's all that's coming to my mind right now. I'm tired, so I'm going to bed. When I think of more, I'll be back. Until then, chew on this.

02 October 2005

Alex Trebek...what a way to start fall break

Who else can say that they started their fall break by seeing the College Tournament of Jeopardy filmed live? Well I can. I'm in Chapel Hill for the weekend hanging out with high school friends. At NC State this weekend, they are filming the 10 episodes that will consist of the College Tournament of Jeopardy. They filmed it at the RBC Center (where NC State plays basketball and Carolina Hurricanes play hockey). So I went to see the final two episodes filmed with Jordan McCoy. She was my co-counselor at Camp Rockfish this summer when I traveled with ministry team. It was awesome. Alex Trebek came out to talk to the audience and answer questions every time they had to cut for commercial breaks to be added in when it airs. It will air on Nov. 7-18. On the Nov. 17 show, I will definately be on it as the camera swept right by my seat at one point. It was sweet stuff. The weekend has been good. I also went to see Carolina beat Utah in football on Saturday. Oddly enough, Andrew Pierce was at the game too and neither of us knew we'd both be in Chapel Hill or at the game. Tomorrow, I'll head home to begin doing homework and doing lots of other things I need to get done. It's great to get away from school for a little bit, but I'm sure I'll get bored of home real quick. Back to doing nothing after my exciting day with Alex Trebek.

09 September 2005

I'll rest when I'm dead...

Somedays I think that could be my life motto. Life has been as busy as possible. I'm barely keeping my head above water in classes and somehow still managing good grades with last minute work and studying.
But life is good. I'm busy in service and ministry. Ministry team stuff is still a great blessing for me. Spiritual Emphasis Week was just incredible to be a part of again in leading the worship. Being a student chaplain this year is a great blessing as well. Ken Dill is a great man to work for, learn from, and get to know on a personal level. He really does care a ton for this campus and the students' spiritual well-being. I still enjoy helping out at Easley First Wesleyan. Great things are happening there in the growth and liveliness of the church. I am excited to see what new things God might have in store for that church. All that stuff plus many other odd ball kind of things are such a blessing for me, as I get to serve and end up being ministered to in the process.
Classes are great because I'm out of my general eds and now taking different religion courses, ranging from Church Admin to Greek to Pre-Exilic Prophets Bible exegesis. I love learning and thinking in these sorts of classes, although the work load is heavy.
I have to lift up God for moving in my life. I have hit a point in my life where I sometimes feel like so many things are coming together. I am seeing life with a different viewpoint. My interaction with God in a conversational relationship is at a height I have never had before. My Bible reading is on a consistent basis. I'm able to mentor other people right now, while keeping myself mentored by others. I'm learning more of what God is preparing me for in life while keeping my heart focused on the here and now of ministry to be done around me now. My heart is focused so differently now. I wonder now how I ever existed without the mindset and focus that I have now. It feels so strange now, to have such peace with where I am now and where I am being led in the future. I still have questions and I don't know all the details, yet I know where I am being led (if that makes since). I am confident of my future without knowing a whole lot about it. It's so strange. I don't think I've had such a peace about my life like I do now.
I am the busiest I have ever been. I am probably close to being the most stressed I've ever been, and yet I have great peace that "transcends all understanding" [Phil 4:7].
God, guard me to not become complacent in my peace about life. Keep me always reaching for more. I am nowhere near where I need to be in the whole scheme of things. I still have so much to improve upon. God still has so much more work to do in this sinner. But I have to tell of the good things He's doing in me thus far. Here I raise my rock named Ebenezer [meaning "thus far has the Lord helped me"].

26 August 2005

Yoking myself

Man, have I been busy. Reading intensive classes, ministry team, student chaplain stuff, planning chapels, playing with different worship bands everyday. Now I'm also the secretary of the Spiritual Life Council at SWU and helping in the planning of the religion division retreat. Any chance of slowing down?...Not by a long shot.

I was in a Student Chaplain meeting with Ken Dill on Wednesday this week, and at the end, he gave us a mini-devotional on Matthew 11:28-29. In the text, Jesus says:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Ken brought up the point that Jesus says he will give us rest. How? Does He command us to take a vacation to get away from our responsibilities? Does He say to not serve Him so much? Does He ask us to stop what we are doing and relax? If we were God, I would assume the best way to find rest is to relax, away from our responsibilities, right? That's the logical answer... Not by a long shot. Jesus doesn't call us to leave our burdens, responsibilities and facets of service for Him. Instead, and quite oddly, He asks us to add more to ourselves than we already take upon ourselves. He says, "You should be burdened by not only all that you have right now, but even more: take Me upon yourself." He calls us to yoke ourselves with Him and He, being the strongest, will help us carry our loads. He says, "Don't leave your responsibilities and your overload of service for Me; instead, I will go with You and take You through them as You serve Me." Searching for rest for awhile recently, I've found I could never find it. I seemed to be more stressed many times after spending mass amounts of time in relaxation; so the "rest" I had actually made me more weary. But, as I find myself binding myself to Christ for strength, while continually in His service, my greatest rest, peace and joy floods my soul like nothing else has ever done. The greatest, most joyous and peaceful times I've ever had in life were during times of serving God. I found myself yesterday in complete joy overload as I finished my day of leading in chapel and the Prayer Walk. Everything didn't go exactly as planned in every single area, but I remember being at such peace within all the stress of the preparation.
May I always bind myself to Christ, the only source of peace and rest in the middle of chaos, stress, overload of activities, and feelings of being inundated.

14 August 2005

Back to the daily grind

Back at SWU. What a summer! It was so amazing. I traveled to all kinds of places, got to meet all kinds of people, play music all summer, and minister to tons of kids and teens. What an opportunity! God has shown me so much about myself and convicted my heart on so many areas through this summer's experiences. It's bittersweet to be back at SWU. I loved traveling and playing music, but I was exhausted as well, ready for a normal routine of life and ready to see people whom I haven't seen in a long time. I have so much to take with me from this summer. So many experiences and friendships. I wish I had the time to go through my whole summer detail by detail on here, but that would require me to drop some of my credit hours this semester just to get that done.

I'm excited about this coming semester. I have good hopes, good goals, stretching responsibilities, and I still get to travel a little bit to play music. I'll be the male assistant student chaplain at SWU this year. I'm really excited about that. I can't wait to get involved and running with that. I really want to make an extra effort to get to know as many people on campus as possible, hopefully more than just their name. We'll see how well that goes. Well I'm out.

27 June 2005

Just an update

Well I'm in Salisbury for a couple days to relax on my one week off from traveling this summer. Traveling has been amazing so far. The group I'm with is amazing, the places we've gone have been great, the people I've met have been awesome, playing music with the greatest musicians ever has been an experience! I love playing music, leading people to the throne of God in music that glorifies Him and shows His worth. What an opportunity--that the filthy and unworthy of earth (me & you) can approach the throne of the worthy & almighty King of all.
I updated the site with some new pictures from traveling. Check it out @ http://www.swustudents.com/~cthomas/ and go to the pictures page and into the "Difference pictures" for the new ones.
God is moving. God is teaching me through all the experiences I've had. God is moving in others. Forgive me for not being there for others whom I've had contact with. I need to be a better friend and brother in Christ to all that I meet.
My life is constantly being re-evaluated. Slowly, God is moving my heart towards total dependence & reliance on Him for my future, for joy in life, for love, for purpose in life. All I ask is that my life be given away for His glory and service, that my life would be the breath of God for others and would not be wasted on my own selfish desires. Bring me only the things & relationships that I need in my life that will further Your work through me!!!

LGLP - LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE -- Always remember that.

03 June 2005

Final Travel Schedule

Here's the final schedule for traveling this summer:

June 5-11 ---- Camp Rockfish ---- Rockfish, NC
June 15-17 ---- Community Wesleyan Church ---- Syracuse, NY
June 19-24 ---- Table Rock Senior High Camp ---- Table Rock, SC
July 3-7 ---- Childrens Clubhouse Event ---- Trinity, NC
July 8-9 ---- Hayworth Wesleyan Church ---- High Point, NC
July 10-16 ---- Camp Rockfish ---- Rockfish, NC
July 20-23 ---- South Coastal District Camp ---- Auburn, AL
July 24-30 ---- East Michigan Sr. High Camp ---- Vassar, MI
Aug 3-9 ---- Mooers Camp ---- Mooers, NY

Please keep us in your prayers. Pray that God will work in the lives of all the kids we'll be in contact with over this summer, that our ministry would be fruitful this summer, not by our own efforts, but by our open willingness to let God work in us.

By God’s special favor and mighty power, I have been given the wonderful privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.
.:: Ephesians 3:7 (NLT)

"...because a great door for effective work has opened to me..." [1 Cor 16:9]

01 June 2005

Another John Piper quote...

So I'm on a John Piper kick. Here's some more wise words:
We got news at our church that Ruby Aliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon. Ruby Aliason. Over 80, single all her life. A nurse. Poured her life out for one thing--to make Jesus Christ known among the sick and the poor in the hardest and most unreached places. Laura Edwards. A medical doctor in the twin cities, partnering up with Ruby, also pushing 80, and going from village to village in Cameroon, and the brakes give way, over a cliff they go, and they're dead instantly. And I asked my people: is this a tragedy? Two women, in their 80's almost, their whole lives devoted to one idea, Jesus Christ magnified among the poor and the sick in the hardest places. And 20 years after most of their American counterparts have begun to throw their lives away on trivialities in Florida and New Mexico, they fly into eternity with a death in a moment: is this a tragedy I asked? It is not a tragedy. I'll read you what a tragedy is.
I've got a little article here from Reader's Digest. This is a tragedy. The title of the article, "Start Now, Retire Early." February 1998. (reading from the article): "Bob and Penny took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball, and collect...shells."
That's a tragedy. That's a tragedy, and there are people in this country who are spending billions of dollars to get you to buy it...Don't buy it. Don't buy that dream. The American Dream. A nice house, a nice car, a nice job, a nice family, a nice retirement, collecting shells...as the last chapter before you stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account with what you did. 'Here it is, Lord, my shell collection! Look, Lord, my shell collection. And I've got a good swing. And look at my boat...God, look at my boat!'
Don't waste your life.

31 May 2005

Boasting in the Cross through your joys

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." Galatians 6:14

So, taking this verse, what do we do with the other verses where Paul boasts in other things:
you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus. -2 Cor. 1:14

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. -2 Cor. 11:30

we boast about your perseverance and faith -2 Thess. 1:4

So what do we do with this? Does Paul contradict himself? Not really. John Piper, theologian and pastor, discusses the subject:
"When Christ died, He purchased for sinners everything they enjoy that is not part of their condemnation. We are sinners all. All we deserve is damnation. The only thing that everyone deserves is damnation. That's all we deserve. Therefore, every beat of your heart, every sight with a wholesome eye, every word sung to the Lord, every movement of a strong arm, every step taken with healthy legs, every word heard with a healthy eardrum, every friend at your side, every word you can read, every joy that springs in your heart, it is a blood-bought gift which you would not have had He not died. Therefore, if you boast or glory in one of these things, it is, if you are thinking rightly, a glorying in and a boasting in the cross because He bought them for you on the cross. Let every legitimate pleasure and every pain that God turns for your good become an occasion for glorying in the cross by which they were purchased for you."

19 May 2005

Not a whole lot to talk about....

Well...okay, there's a ton I probably could talk about; however, I just don't feel up to writing about a bunch of stuff right now. May Term has been fun so far...other than class. I forced myself back into the weight room and into running. It feels so good to be doing that stuff again. There's even been a couple days I've actually enjoyed the run...I never thought I would EVER say that in my whole life. I've been able to still have some fun among my free time from class, reading, work study, running, and lifting. I'm really glad I decided to stick around down here for May...no offense to all the homies in Salisbury. I miss hanging out with you guys too. As mundane as our nights get in Salisbury, somedays I could use one. I just wouldn't trade these last couple weeks for Jersey Mike's and the other exciting parts of "Salisburian" life. Well I'm out. Just thought I should post something. Later on.

15 May 2005

Control...

The whole course of human history is the story of man trying to find control. We try to find control on our own, by our own hands, by our own work. We began controlling smaller elements, such as fire to stay warm and cook, or water to irrigate for food. Then we move on towards bigger things. Man created ancient mythology to explain why the world was the way it was. If man could explain why things are the way they are, then they feel a sense of control over it. Man has seeked out power over other humans, over animals, over nature, over death, even God. Man's ultimate desire is to feel in control of a situation. It will drive a man crazy when he can't find control over something, if he can't find an explanation for something, if he can't figure out how to alter something. It cuts through the deepest of prides and the hardest of self-sufficient attitudes to realize that no matter what you do, you can not change a certain circumstance. It is easier to overcome circumstances that are changeable through hard work and effort than it is to fully accept an unwanted circumstance that can not be modified.

We each have something that falls into the latter category. I have mine. My circumstance deals with nobody else; just my own circumstance that I have to learn to accept through humility and trust in God that He will do what is best for me (Rom 8:28).

11 May 2005

Purpose...what will be my mark?

I've got a lot floating through my mind all the time. I have a lot going through my mind right now. Many days I can't escape some of the issues that plague my mind. There are so many things to ponder about life. I don't understand how someone can just go through life without thought of what life is for. I wonder each day what will be my mark on this world. How will my short existence change mankind? Will it change mankind? Am I too bold to think that I, some random kid with a few hopes and dreams, could make a global mark? Should I dream of lesser things? Should I not beg God that He would use me in some mighty way for His kingdom and glory? Should I not plead with God everyday that my life would be wasted for the sake of the nations, for the people of this world, for God's own splendor? Am I too bold to ask of such things? I dare to say that I am not. I dare say that for every person in the world who has given up everything to be wasted for God's purpose, there are thousands who sit in their comforts, living with no great purpose, living for nothing more than their next brand new Lexus. I beg God that He would mold me into the person that would be wasted for His sake.

"for He knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more."
[Psalm 103:14-16]

How will you be remembered? What purpose will you serve? Will that purpose be worth it? What purpose is truly great? These are only a few of the questions that plague my thoughts. I hope that they would be a part of yours as well.

10 May 2005

More on the topic of religious founders...

What proof did Muhammad have that he had the truth? What tangible proof did he have for the truth? The apostles had the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ among other things. What did he have? Actually, not much of anything. The contemporaries of Muhammad weren't eyewitnesses to anything miraculous. When Muhammad was challenged to perform miracles to confirm that he was from God, he never took the challenge (Sura 3:181-184; 4:153; 6:8-9; 17:88-96). Instead, he said he was just a man (17:93) and implied that the Qur'an authenticated him as a prophet (17:88). But there are no clearly defined miracles recorded in the Qur'an. Miracles were only attributed to Muhammad by Muslims who lived 100-200 years after his death because Christians kept asking them for proof that Muhammad was a prophet. These miracle claims are not based on eyewitness testimony, and give every indication of being legendary. Several speak of trees moving or saluting Muhammad as he passed by. Mountains and wolves allegedly salute Muhammad as well. And other miracle stories seem to be variations of the miracles Jesus performed (e.g., turning water into milk, feeding a thousand by multiplying a small meal). These miracle stories are found in the Hadith, a later collection of Muhammad's saying and doings.
The most reliable author of the Hadith, Al Bukhari, and a majority of Muslim scholars admit that most of Muhammad's alleged miracles are not authentic.
So, if Muhammad wasn't confirmed by miracles, then why did people follow him? They didn't at first. He and his followers were kicked out of Mecca in AD 622, twelve years after he apparently got his first revelation. (Since Mecca was a polytheistic city filled with tributes to other gods, Muhammad's message of monotheism was not well received by the local merchants who made their living off of the commerce associated with polytheism.) It wasn't until Muhammad led several successful military conquests between 622 and 630 that he began to attract a large following. His popularity was greatly increased when he led raids on Meccan caravans and divided the booty from those raids with followers. He also took numerous wives, which helped solidify his base of support. In other words, Muhammad's popularity resulted from his lucrative military victories that he shared with his followers, his astute political dealings, and his personal charisma rather than from any miraculous confirmation or truth.
The military aspect of Islam highlights another major difference between the origin of Christianity and the origin of Islam. Christianity began as a peaceful faith and was considered illegal for about the first 280 years of its existence (during which time it experienced its greatest growth). If you became a Christian in the Roman Empire before about 311, you might be killed for it.
By contrast, after a brief but unfruitful attempt to propagate his faith peacefully, Muhammad turned to military force to spread Islam. By 630, he had seized Mecca by force and had control of much of what is now the Saudi Arabian peninsula. His followers kept the military campaign across to Constantinople and through North Africa and almost into France.
So here's the contrast: in the early days of Christianity, you might be killed for becoming Christian; in the early days of Islam's growth, you might be killed for not becoming a Muslim. In other words, the spread of these two great monotheistic faiths couldn't have been more different: Islam spread by use of the sword on others; Christianity spread when others used the sword on it.
But why does a religion spread when its adherents are persecuted, tortured, and killed during its first 280 years? (Those are not good selling points.) Perhaps there's some very reliable testimony about miraculous events that proves the religion is true. How else can you explain why scared, scattered, skeptical cowards suddenly become the most dedicated, determined, self-sacrificing, and peaceful missionary force the world has ever known?

Information and most of the text from I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek

What did the apostles have to gain by lying?

What's the difference between the founders of Christianity and other religions? Other religious founders founded their religion on ideas that they came up with or some mental "enlightenment" that they believe was given to only them. Most of them didn't even suffer for their own theorized faith. Many of them found political power with the masses. The Christian founders (the apostles) actually experienced a physical man who, according to their claim, died and was resurrected and ascended into heaven. So, because they actually experienced God in the flesh instead of experiencing him in some subjective "enlightenment" in their own head, do you think they would construe the details and lie about Jesus' death and resurrection if it really didn't happen? What would they have to gain? There's a difference between dying for an unseen faith in today's times, like Muslim extremists do. They die for a faith that they have not seen. They die so they can have their 70 virgins in heaven as they believe. It is a completely different story to talk about the founders of a faith dying for it. They are the ones who experienced it and they are the ones who know if it really happened or not. So if they lied they would be dying for a fake faith that they would have created themselves, which means they would know for a fact that they were about to suffer and die for a total lie. I find myself provoked to think that they were not so brave as to die for a lie that they created.

"Why would the apostles lie?...If they lied, what was their motive, what did they get out of it? What they got out of it was misunderstanding, rejection, persecution, torture, and martyrdom. Hardly a list of perks!" - Peter Kreeft

09 May 2005

Quick rundown

So the semester is over. I've moved into Apt N North for summer housing. My grades so far are fairly decent. I'll make Dean's List, so that's good. Last week, I went into a Doppler radar tower at a AMS weather station. We were on a trip for Meteorology class. We actually climbed up the whole thing (well over 100 feet high) and then climbed through a hatch into the bubble. It was awesome. I'll post a picture of a similar tower because I can't find the exact one. I'm here at school for May Term taking Modern World Lit (...fun!). Then I'll start traveling in the first week of June. I might make one trip home to Salisbury this summer. Graduation was Saturday. I was able to watch my roomies and all the other seniors graduate on closed circuit TV in the apartment. Too bad I couldn't get in the gym for graduation. Overall, things are going very well. I think and hope that this is going to be an amazing summer. Great opportunities, great people, great time to learn and grow in my walk with God. No regrets. No holding back. As the great Horace once wrote, Carpe Diem.

"...because a great door for effective work has opened to me..." [1 Cor 16:9]

04 May 2005

Almost done with the semester...finally wrote my jazz piece

Man, this semester is not ending...It seems like everyone else is already done, and I've still got tons of work to do and one more exam tomorrow. My Greek test is at 9:25 tomorrow and I am not prepared for it at all! I have tons of Meteorology work to turn in soon. I finally finished my creative project for Aesthetics class. It is a jazz improvization piece written for two guitars. There is an acoustic guitar picking the chords and another acoustic guitar improving over it. Traditional jazz was written as more improv than structured lead. This was my first attempt at ANYTHING like this, but it turned out to be decent enough for the class. Click here for the recording and here for the rhythm sheet music. Tell me what you think. It's a first time try, so it's nothing amazing.

02 May 2005

Yes....me too

I did it as well...I'm late on the blog train. But I decided to change and get one. It should be linked into my site. So it can be reached. But I'll start posting on here instead of on the old journal page I had up. I'll still leave up a link to the old journal page for any curious readers.