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.