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.