27 December 2006

Wins don't matter in exile

Read this excerpt from the article, "Knight's record-setter could have been much more" by Pat Forde:

Knight, who is now tied with Dean Smith at 879 victories, likely will become the winningest coach in Division I men's college basketball annals during the Red Raiders' ongoing four-game home stand. In hope that people actually will show up to see Knight enter the record books, Tech has been offering $8.80 general admission seats to the four games at United Spirit Arena. And if you buy a lower-level ticket to those games, you can get one upper-level general admission seat for free.

It's not an easy sell. Texas Tech averaged 6,707 fans in its 15,000-seat arena for four of its early home games this season (attendance for Sam Houston State was not listed) before pulling in 11,561 for the record-tying game against Bucknell this past Saturday.

This is the bed Bob Knight made for himself: He'll make history at an out-of-the-way school with no men's basketball heritage in a football state, in front of a house that very well could be less than full. He'll make history in exile, in effect.

That's just sad. I don't care how many wins Knight pulls off, because he'll never walk off the court with the honor and clout that Dean Smith has.

24 December 2006

Jesus and Saliva-Covered Toys

Tonight, my family drives over to the Robertsons' house to have a Christmas Eve meal and chill time. It's a tradition that started a number of years ago, probably when I just started high school. We had a good time of stuffing our faces and having conversations inbetween mouthfuls. This time we had a 16-month-old child with us, one of the newer additions to the Robertson family. Last year, Conner (the child) was only a few months old and couldn't do much of anything. Now, he has hit the walk everywhere and taste EVERYTHING stage. So, as Freud predicted when he named this time of the toddler's life the "oral stage," Conner picked up multiple things, like little Santa figurines and toy cars, and then proceeded to place them in his mouth.

Since it's this time of year (and we should be focusing our thoughts towards the birth of Jesus), I began to wonder: Did Jesus go through an oral stage as a toddler? Did Jesus cover all the household items in saliva as this is the main way that a toddler of this stage can learn about his environment? Did the ruler and creator of the universe have to re-learn what a dreidel was by sticking it in His mouth? If Freud was right, and most toddlers prove that he was, then it is safe to assume that yes, Jesus covered his dreidel in saliva. (Okay, so Jesus probably didn't have a dreidel, but it makes my point.)

I can not begin to fathom the greatness of the mind of God. Yet, with my limited concept of God's powerful might and genius, it blows my mind to attempt to understand that the same Jesus, who created all that exists, could choose to put on the same skin that we wear and choose to go through the humbling human process of learning as a baby. How great and loving is our God.

22 December 2006

Christians of Inaction - Part 2

I have decided that as I am inspired to write about Christians who love to run their mouths about issues or problems without putting their concern into action, I will post my frustrations. They will be short (well...I'll try) and to the point. Here is installment number 2.

In my first installment, I discussed one of the two major political agendas that the majority of fundamentalist, Republican Christianity has decided to push, which is abortion. Now, on to hot button #2: homosexuality.

First, let's get some things clear. For those people out there who already assume that I'm about to defend homosexuality, you know what assuming does. So don't. For those who somehow think homosexuality is a worse sinful lifestyle than the wretched lifestyle that you and I were saved from, you are far away from understanding God and His grace. For those who think that homosexuality is worse "because it's not just a one-time action, it's a lifestyle," you need to realize that it is no worse of a lifestyle sin than is a repetitive gossip, repetitive adulterer, repetitive drunkard, and this list goes on. So, please, I ask that you let go of the awful stigma that we have so wrongly placed on those who struggle with homosexuality. For those who do not meet any of those categories, thank God for opening your heart to a more grace-filled understanding about life.

Now, on to the topic at hand. Here's my deal. This series is called "Christians of Inaction" because I feel that we are always known for what we're against and never what we are for. People know what we hate and don't have a clue what we love, and that is our fault. It is our fault because we spend so much time bashing instead of loving and lifting others up. So, here's part of my theory. I think that maybe there is such a move towards different sexual lifestyles (homosexuality, transexuality, bisexuality, etc.) in our society because of the obvious failure of the one generally accepted sexual lifestyle, monogamous heterosexual marriage. The Barna Group just posted this year that it is more likely for an evangelical Christian to face divorce than it is for an unbeliever. The divorce rate in America is somewhere around 50% overall. That's half!!! Has that percentage smacked us in the face yet? Do we fully get that? Why are people looking for other options? Maybe it's partly because we have FAILED at God's option. Does that mean there is something wrong with God's option? Does it need to change because it's not working? Of course not! OR....could it be...that WE need to change because we're not working at it?

I wonder what would happen within our society if the divorce rate among evangelical Christians went to almost nothing. I wonder what would happen if evangelical husbands could keep their pants on at work and evangelical wives could not try to find emotional fulfillment other places. If the bluntness offends you, you won't like reading Paul's letters either.

So, don't whine and cry about homosexuality going through legislation when we are failing at our institution of marriage! Christians should not just be against homosexuality and other sexual lifestyles; instead, we should DO something to make our own marriages work and last.

21 December 2006

Kevin Myers & Crossroads on Catalyst podcast

Guess who is the special guest speaker for episode 17 of the Catalyst podcast?

Okay, my title gives it away... KEVIN MYERS! Kevin is the lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Lawrenceville, GA, right outside Atlanta. This episode of the Catalyst podcast is a Christmas special episode. For this episode, they took a message that Kevin did at his church a few weeks ago and cut it down a little bit to put on the podcast. Awesome! It's awesome that Kevin and Crossroads (a Wesleyan church) is the focus of a Catalyst podcast, but it's also a great message that Kevin brings to us about the "not so big" Christmas.

Go check it out!

19 December 2006

Restraint doesn't mean transformation

Listen to these words from Colossians 2:20-23:
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
I remember once, when I was really young, my friend's mom once told us that one day our children would be ten times as bad as we were. At the time (unable to think abstractly), I believed her words of wisdom and feared them. The fear lasted for awhile. I would not do things that I knew were bad, but I still wanted to do them.

I remember another time, again at a very young age, when I did something mean to someone else and a teacher made me apologize. I apologized because I knew the rules, but I didn't have remorse, nor desired this person's forgiveness.

In this passage, Paul is discussing this very idea. We, as humans, make rules to guide us in this life. We make rules for everything: road rules, classroom rules, board game rules. Rules guide how we act and live. Rules decide if someone is speeding down a road or not. Rules decide if a person can sharpen their pencil while the teacher is lecturing. Rules decide if you can pass go and collect $200. Rules may guide how we act and live, but rules do not guide how we think and feel. A person can follow the rules, yet desire to live outside of them. Which one is better?

Take a look at a man who desires to sleep with an unmarried woman. Who is the better man: the man who sleeps with her or the man who lusts after her? Jesus says neither; do we truly understand that? Somehow, we have started to think that if we don't act on it, we are okay. Who is better: the man who wants to sin and does it or the man who wants to sin and starves himself of the pleasure? Paul says that is "false humility" and "harsh treatment of the body". Paul then says that it lacks "any value in restraining sensual indulgence." These legalistic rules that we follow have the "appearance of wisdom" because they keep us from indulging our bodies in sin, but these rules do not keep us from indulging our hearts in sin.

The rules can never save us nor make us acceptable to God. The rules can guard against sinful practices by giving us standards for behavior, but it can never guard our hearts against desiring sinful practices. The rules can convict us of sin, but it can never move us to desire repentance.

For most of us, this is a scary thing to deal with. Most of us who have grown up in the church have been taught a severe lie. We have been taught, intentionally or not, that if we abstain from sin, we are living morally as Jesus wants us to. However, this teaching of abstaining from the act of sin does nothing to cleanse the heart that is still passionately in love with sin. This is hard to swallow. I know it was for me. This is hard to swallow because I think we have accidentally based much of our own morality on this lie. If this is not true, then my whole idea of morality crumbles and then I will have to admit and deal with the darkness of my heart. There is something deep inside of us that screams to us, "Don't make me deal with my own darkness!"

So, if we decide to wrestle with this and deal with the darkness of our hearts, the question is: what does restrain sensual indulgence? If the rules do not rid the heart of its passion for sin, what does? Praise to God who spoke great wisdom through Paul in this letter to the Colossians! Right after this portion of Scripture, Paul says:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (3:1-3)
How do you change the passion of the heart? By binding it completely to Christ. If we could begin to focus our hearts above, to Christ and His work, then the heart would change and its passions and desires would change as well. Binding yourself to a life of rules can not transform your heart; so bind your heart to Christ.

04 December 2006

Mute Math Worship

Yesterday, I stumbled across a link to a worship album recorded by some of the members of Mute Math with some other people. Paul Meany, lead vocalist and keys player for Mute Math, led worship at a church in Louisiana a few years back. The church recorded it and had it made into an album called "Elevator Music". Mind blowing. Innovative and creative worship. These guys show me why God created music. The Creator of all, the most creative and innovative Being ever, has put in His creation the ability to be "little creators" within His creation. Paul Meany and Mute Math blow me away. I was already sold on them, but this is further proof to me of how amazing these guys are.

If we truly are the followers of the most creative and innovative Being ever, then we should be the ones who lead the way in creativity, innovation, and in any area of artistry. We should not be following along behind culture. We should not be mimicking the rest of culture on creativity. Mute Math has provided us a look into what that should look like. Worship leaders of the world, take note. Learn to be the artisan that you are supposed to be.

Here's a link to "Elevator Music": http://www.f-forge.com/?d=uxjqs4n1zpJe0aVWk85y

If I find a place to buy it, GO BUY IT!!! I'm going to buy it as soon as I can find somewhere to buy it.

27 November 2006

myspace & facebook closed

My internet activity for the week will consist of only checking email and doing schoolwork. I might blog some, but no myspace and no facebook. Those are unnecessary distractions this week.

Copernican revolution

Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543) was an astronomer who provided the first modern formulation of a heliocentric (sun-centered) theory of the solar system. Up to this point in history, the earth was considered by most to be the center of the universe (geocentric...and also anthropocentric). Copernicus claimed that the earth was not the center with everything revolving around it. He claimed that the earth actually revolved around the sun, and that the sun, although not the center of the universe, was the center of the solar system to which the earth belongs.

This theory was so radical in his day that it has been deemed the "Copernican revolution." His theory radically shifted all scientific thought of his day. This changed the whole view and existence of mankind.

I write this afternoon to confess that I have a personal "geocentric theory" of existence and I need a "Copernican revolution" in my heart. Over this break, I have proven to myself again and again that I am a selfish creature with a selfish heart. I have proven to myself over and over how much I don't love Christ like I say I do. Love requires sacrifice, submission, and obedience. I have a hard time seeing those attributes in my life. I prove to God every day that I would rather have my mind and heart flooded with thoughts that are all about me and my desires than to flood myself with Himself. I saw a quote somewhere that read:
If you want to know where your heart is, look at where your mind goes when it wanders.
Jesus said something similar to that when he said:
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. [Luke 6.45]


This week, I ask for prayer. I am taking measures this week to make this revolution take place and I need your prayers. I feel like this is a crisis point in my spiritual walk , and I don't want to risk not doing anything about it. Fasting is a outward and physical act of an inward and spiritual sacrifice that I have not done in a long time. Extended prayer is a necessity. Ridding myself of pointless distractions will have to happen.

"The natural life in each of us is something self-centred, something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe." - C.S. Lewis
"[The natural life] knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that." - C.S. Lewis

-----------------------
Father, I pray that the Holy Spirit will haunt my every step. Haunt me, agitate me, agonize my soul. Besiege this pride in me and disquiet my compromising spirit. I ask that You would harass me and intrude on the hidden parts of my life. I beg You to torment this spirit of self-reliance that wants to live life without You. I ask that You frighten the depths of my soul with Your greatness. Haunt my every step, making my every hair stand on end and my knees tremble. Redeem this wretched life of mine for Your own purposes.

23 November 2006

Christians of Inaction - Part 1

I have decided that as I am inspired to write about Christians who love to run their mouths about issues or problems without putting their concern into action, I will post my frustrations. They will be short and to the point. Here is installment number 1.

One of the major "hot topic" political agendas of most conservative Christians in America is abortion. I'm not saying that it should be the major agenda; I'm just stating that it has become a major political agenda of Republicans that say they follow Jesus. They want abortion outlawed because they believe that each of those aborted children is a loved creation of God.

Here's my beef: If abortion is outlawed, then the population of America will skyrocket. Also, and more importantly, many of the babies that would have been aborted will then be born to a single mother in her teens who can not financially or responsibly care for a child. So, the best option for these children is adoption. However, adoption agencies can not find homes for the children they have currently, while abortions are still taking place. Children grow up being pushed off onto another foster family every year or two, treated as if they are worth nothing.

THEREFORE, I suggest of you, mouthy Christian of inaction, that if you think that the lives of these children are so important because they are a loved creation of God, then ADOPT THEM YOURSELF and SHOW THEM THAT LOVE.

31 October 2006

Boo Indulgences!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
HAPPY REFORMATION DAY!!!

Voyage to Boston

Prior to visiting Boston, I have had the opportunity to visit many other American cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Orlando. However, my experiences in each of those other cities were rather different than my experience in Boston. Boston was unlike any other city I have ever visited before.
I flew into Logan International Airport in Boston on the morning of October 11. I was taken by car to the North Shore area to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where I would be spending the next two nights. The seminary allowed me to have Wednesday free to do what I wanted. So, I asked them to transport me to the nearest commuter rail station in South Hamilton so that I could get back into Boston. So I spent about seven hours in Boston on Wednesday. On Friday, I was transported back to the commuter rail because my stay at Gordon-Conwell was over. I took the commuter rail into Boston and dropped my bags off at my hotel for Friday evening so I could spend all day Friday seeing the rest of Boston. Overall, I was able to experience Boston for about 22-23 solid hours of touring.
My transportation was the commuter rail and the “T”, which is the Boston subway. The commuter rail is made up of many lines that head in all directions around the city to neighboring suburbs and residential areas. It cost around $10 to go roundtrip from South Hamilton to Boston and back. Once arriving in Boston from the commuter rail, I rode on the T. I purchased a 3-day pass for the T so that I could have unlimited use for three days. The T put me within an easy walking distance from anything in Boston. The other, and most used, form of transportation was my feet. Boston is known as “America’s Walking City” for good reason. Everything seemed to be accessible by foot. I even crossed over the Charles River to the northern side of Boston by foot. There are areas to walk everywhere. I really enjoyed the walking factor.
Some of the sites I visited are the typical tourist sites. I visited Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, which is a block of old markets that were renovated to become modern market areas. I had an amazing meal of Boston baked beans, New England Clam Chowder, and Boston Cream Pie at a restaurant that has been there for decades (maybe over a century). I visited Copley Square, which is home to the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church. I visited the Old State House and the new Massachusetts State House. I also visited the Government Square, which houses Boston City Hall. I actually went inside the City Hall and found a demographics expert who graduated from MIT. He talked me through a lot of the reports on Boston demographics that are available through their website. I also visited the USS Constitution and a Navy destroyer battleship. I walked through Boston Common and the public garden beside it. It was beautiful and the squirrels were extremely friendly. I walked around Fenway Park, but did not pay the outrageous price to tour the inside. I also stopped by the original “Cheers” restaurant, known as the “Bull and Finch Pub”. I dropped by the Boston Symphony Orchestra house, but couldn’t get in. I saw the Christian Science Church Park, which has the “Mother Church” and their international headquarters. I spent some time on the campuses of Berklee College of Music and Harvard. I also walked through the North End, also known as “Little Italy” of Boston, and, of course, I ate Italian food for lunch while there.
After coming back and trying to collect all my thoughts from a cram-session of seeing Boston for a day and a half, I’m not sure how I feel about the city. I enjoyed the size and the amount of culture there. Boston has art galleries, museums, theatres, orchestra houses, even Berklee College of Music. I loved the culture and arts in Boston. The city has a high value for the arts. There are multiple art galleries and even multiple art institutes, such as the Institute of Contemporary Art. They also have Berklee, which is one of the leading music schools in the world. They also have the world-renowned Boston Symphonic Orchestra. I also was able to find on the map many theatres and even performance art institutes. Just walking around Berklee was amazing to see, as tons of students walked up and down the streets with musical instrument cases of all kinds. I really appreciated and was excited to see the high appreciation for the arts in Boston. I think through the art districts could be a wonderful way into some of the sub-cultures of Boston.
I enjoyed the young population of Boston. Everywhere that I went, I found college students. They were on the T, on the sidewalks, in the restaurants, in the parks, etc. Boston really is a “college town,” with a list that includes Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University, Berklee College of Music, and many, many more. I felt as though I could belong in the culture because of the younger, college-age population.
The North End was interesting to see because it truly was Italian in many aspects. The people have truly kept their culture within America. One guy on the street, after trying to convince me to come in a particular restaurant to eat their pasta, he proceeded to yell something across the street to a friend of his. It seemed like something straight out of an Italian movie. I was intrigued to see this sub-culture that has dominated a particular area of the city and has made their sub-culture become the culture of the North End. From eavesdropping on a conversation of two people walking near me on the street, there is a strong homosexual sub-culture that has dominated the South End. However, I did not get the chance to visit the South End area of Boston during my day and a half in the city.
The city was completely different to me than all the other cities I’ve visited because of the historical and preserved aura of the city. I couldn’t find that same feeling in Manhattan, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, or much anywhere else. The closest city to compare that feeling with would possibly be Washington, D.C., but even that city feels rather different than Boston did. I certainly felt as though I was in a complete different culture at times while I was there. It felt like “New England” because of the history and preservation of culture there.
As for a spiritual conclusion of my time in Boston, there definitely is an extreme lack of Christianity in Boston, especially evangelical Christianity. I saw a few Catholic churches, Episcopal churches, and Unitarian Universalist churches. Outside of those, I really didn’t see any. I saw one storefront church that seemed to be doing ministry “outside the box” a little bit. There really isn’t a Christian sub-culture in Boston. The Christianity of Boston has to be microscopic compared to the masses of people in Boston. That made me feel both excited and frightened. I’m not positive that Boston is where God is leading me. I felt nervous about planting there, but I think that could easily just be my own human fears. I know that if God has that in His plan for me, He will provide for me the strength and resources to make it happen.
I also saw Jim Gaffigan perform at the Berklee Performance Center on Friday night, which was indescribable.
Now that I'm back, I have to read through and analyze around 300 pages of demographic reports put out by the Boston Redevelopment Authority so I can do my project on urban analysis for church planting. Fun fun.
If you want to see more of my pictures from Boston, go to my albums on facebook. I have two albums from my Boston trip.

18 October 2006

Coming Soon: Boston Trip Post...

I'm just posting really quick to let you know (whoever "you" might be) that I will write a long post about my trip to Boston and Gordon-Conwell, along with my ever-evolving thoughts about where I might end up after this May. It's good stuff...and will involve pictures. Everyone loves a blog with pictures. Anyways, goodnight for now. Check back soon.

26 September 2006

The Lazy Blogger

I was at lunch today having a conversation with Katie Sullivan and Dr. Rogers, and Dr. Rogers told me that he had found my blog and reminded me that it was quite out-of-date. So I decided to write again in the midst of a few free moments. So how do I sum up a great semester so far? I'll do a list!

1. Revival among the athletic teams (including approx. 17 or 18 athletes meeting Jesus)...SO AWESOME!!!
2. Reading so many good books (particularly about evangelism, missional lifestyle, and urban church planting)
3. Trip details are set to go to Boston from Oct. 11-14.
4. My iPod was stolen, unfortunately.
5. Meeting new people, including lots of freshman and athletes
6. Having an awesome time working with Katie Sullivan running the Honors Freshman Seminar and planning social events for them.
7. Evangelism & Missions class is so sweet. We get to start each class hearing more about what people are doing to show the love of Jesus to others.
8. I usually go to NewSpring in the evenings on Sundays...this past Sunday, there were about 7 or 8 SWU people that met Jesus that night. The best night of my semester by far, all because of those people!!!
9. I love being a student chaplain. The team I work with just rocks. They have so much to bring to the table. The chapels this semester really have been a step above past semesters, not that we had a whole lot to do with that.
10. My D-group starts Thursday. We're going through "The Barbarian Way" by Erwin McManus. Did I mention that Erwin is the man?
11. I taught my first college class because I'm a TA under Dr. Black and he was out of town. It was sort of fun.
12. I am finishing up the planning for my seminar that I'll be doing at the Religion Division Retreat this coming weekend. I hope it really inspires us all. It really has kicked my butt as I've been going through it.

I'm not sure what else to write about. That's my semester. What am I learning? Most of all, love people unconditionally and spend your life helping the ones who need you most. For me, I feel like that means the ones who need the love of Jesus in their lives. I'll stop at nothing to make sure I live up to that. I've spent three years of my college career staying away from the ones I should have been pouring into since day one. I am praying that the rest of us Christ-followers on campus would catch fire on that same mission and live it out. Mission is why we exist.

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, calls this missional lifestyle "reformission." Here is a quote from one of his books called "A Radical Reformission":

Reformission is ultimately about being like Jesus, through his empowering grace. One of the underlying keys to reformission is knowing that neither the freedom of Christ nor our freedom in Christ is intended to permit us to dance as close to sin as possible without crossing the line. But both are intended to permit us to dance as close to sinners as possible by crossing the lines that unnecessarily separate the people God has found from those he is still seeking. To be a Christian, literally, is to be a "little Christ." It is imperative that Christians be like Jesus, by living freely within the culture as missionaries who are as faithful to the Father and his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.
I am advocating not sin but freedom. That freedom is denied by many traditions and theological systems because they fear that some people will use their freedom to sin against Christ. But rules, regulations, and the pursuit of outward morality are ultimately incapable of preventing sin. They can only, at best, rearrange the flesh and get people to stop drinking, smoking, and having sex, only to start being proud of their morality. Jesus' love for us and our love for him are, frankly, the only tethers that will keep us from abusing our freedom, yet they will enable us to venture as far into the culture and into relationships with lost people as Jesus did, because we go with him. (pp.39-40)

28 June 2006

God is too good to me

Bros, I am on top of a mountain in West Virginia at Snowshoe Ski Resort, looking out as the clouds roll over the endless landscape. God is so big and so good. I deserve none of these opportunities that He has given me. I have to be brief. I am using the wireless internet in the lobby of the ski lodge while my kids are in the rooms "sleeping". So I need to get back soon.

But, I have one thing to share. (Context: Jonah is angry that God gave mercy to Nineveh after they repented. He is also angry that the vine that was providing him with shade had just died)

Jonah 4:10-11
10 But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

Just a glimpse at God's heart for the masses of the cities. Listen to God's passion for redeeming the cities and the masses that call those cities 'home'.

06 June 2006

Mosaic main page

Go check out Mosaic's website. They have pictures from the Origins conference. One of those pictures would be:

03 June 2006

Bittersweet Change in my summer

Well, I am in a hotel in Archdale, NC right now and I will be traveling with the ministry team to two churches tomorrow. My internship ended on May 31 and I drove back to SWU on June 1. That was sad. I didn't want to leave AT ALL. I loved the church. I loved getting to know the people and working with the staff. I love the vision and mission they have for Indianapolis. Emily had just arrived up there on that previous Monday for her two-month internship and I was leaving. What a bummer. To all in Indy, if you ever stumble upon this, I loved my time up there. I wish I could have stayed long enough to actually get to know a lot of you. I hope and pray that God will lead me there again. Crux staff, you guys are awesome. Only being there for three weeks allowed me the great opportunity to pick your brains and learn a lot. You have an awesome vision, passion, and mission for the city and beyond. Keep showing that to the people. Don't ever waver in that.
Even though I REALLY did not want to leave Indy, I am now with my team and I am loving it. I know the summer will have its stress points, but I am LOVING the chance to play with these guys again. They are so talented. I love it. Check one of my earlier posts for a traveling schedule. I don't get much cell phone signal at camps, but leave voice mail messages and I'll call you back! Stay classy, San Diego!

26 May 2006

Wow!

Well, I'm back in Indianapolis now. LA was amazing. I almost wish I wouldn't have boarded the plane to leave. It was such an awesome experience. The conference was amazing and the whole experience was awesome. Wednesday night was really cool. While everyone else in America was watching the American Idol finale, I was there. I didn't get to be inside the Kodak Theatre during the live performance of the show, but I was at the Kodak Theatre while it was going on live inside. I also was around for the after party outside of the Kodak Theatre when all the stars were interviewed and such. Here's a few pics from there:







I also walked down Sunset Blvd. after the American Idol stuff. That was a trip, hanging out in Hollywood for the evening.

Well, back to Indiana.

22 May 2006

LA is sweet!

Hey from the west coast! LA is awesome! When I was landing in LAX Saturday night, I looked in all directions, and all I could see in any direction was masses of lights--all the way to the horizon. It was unbelievable. My flight arrived around 9:30pm (which was 12:30am to my body). The staff's flight got in around 10:50pm (which was 1:50am). We picked up our rental car (red Sebring Convertible) and headed towards the hotel. Within one mile of our hotel is an In & Out Burger (has the same cult-like following as Cookout does in NC) and Starbucks (all you need in life). So we decide to hit up In & Out before going to the hotel. It was 12:45am at this time, which to us, was 3:45am. Greasy burgers at 3:45am...that's just asking for it. So we finally went to bed around 1:15 or so (4:15 to us).
Sunday, we spent all day traveling to the three different sites for Mosaic services to see how they did them all. So we went to the 9am service in Pasadena. It was awesome. They had a great setup, kickin band, great message (Erwin McManus), and the spirit of God definitely was moving there. Then we drove over for an 11am service Beverly Hills site (which they do in the auditorium of Beverly Hills High School). It was cool too, although the atmosphere was quite different (same message by Erwin). Then we went to In & Out Burger for lunch (animal style!) and walked around an art fair in Beverly Hills while Bentleys and Rolls Royces drove beside us. I also drove down Sunset Blvd. through Hollywood. I saw a lot of different places that are really famous and stuff, including the Hollywood sign and the sidewalk of the stars.
In the evening, Mosaic has two downtown LA services at 5pm and 7pm. The location...a place called The Mayan. What is "The Mayan?" A nightclub. They get to use the place on Sunday nights (except one Sunday night they had to do the service on the roof because CSI:Miami was filming a scene inside there that night. But, anyways,...yeah...a nightclub. It was so sweet. The whole building was Mayan themed. The sound system was sick nasty! The service was great. They had a guy painting on a small side area (not on the main stage area). That was interesting. At these services and at the Pasadena services in the morning, they have a DJ from the congregation scratch with some beats. How cool. This is our generations "prelude" music. I love it! I hope God blesses the congregation that I have the opportunity of leading with DJ's and people who will use their artistic abilities to bring glory to God. One of the greatest experiences during all of these services was when I looked around (on stage and in the crowd) and saw people from every continent, of every color of skin, and not many white people. 50 nations are represented in Mosaic. Just take the band for example. Hispanic, Asian, Black, and White (only one white person). It was so awesome to worship in that kind of environment. The majority of all the Mosaic staff and volunteers are minorities of ALL kinds (mostly Asian and Hispanic). It was so cool. I loved it. All I could think about was: He has brought the nations to us. Now it is our responsibility to meet them where they are. And where are they? THE MAJOR CITIES OF AMERICA.
The Origins conference started this morning. Great stuff. So far, it has mostly been re-hashing the same stuff that was written about in "The Unstoppable Force." I finished that book on the plane Saturday night, so it's still fresh on the brain. By the way, anyone and everyone (ESPECIALLY pastors and those training for vocational ministry) NEEDS to read that book. I read it in a week, went through a highlighter on it, and plan to read it again hopefully in the fall. I plan to go through some key points from the book on the blog for some discussion. That walk through the book on here will hopefully take place during the fall. Origins is great so far though.
I started reading "Under the Overpass" today. It's starting off to be a good read. It's about a college student who, with his buddy, lived with the homeless for six months to make sure his faith in Jesus was real. Wow. What a step forward.
Another quick comment: The church has done a great job of making everyone become a majority member. We do not step out of the mold, live above minimum standards in morality (while living as lavishly above minimum as possible in possessions and lifestyle). We have created an environment that squashes all possibility of dreaming, having visions, being creative, showing devotion to God in creative or artistic ways. Look through the history of the world. The great thinkers, innovators, composers, writers, etc. came from a Christian society which nourished creativity and innovation. However, a shift in the Church happened at some point when we stopped creating an environment that invited creativity and innovation. We don't want people to think or create. We have created a church of spectating and passivity. Where are our great poets? Where are our great composers? Where are our great thinkers? Where are our great innovators? Where are our visionaries? Where are our dreamers? Where are those who will shape the future? Where are those who will create culture instead of just try to keep up? Let's create an environment that will nurture these artisans, innovators, and visionaries. The imagination and creativity are the abilities that God gave us that are closest to having the power of God. If we squash or hinder that, are we destroying part of God's ability to work in mankind? How dare us.

Today, strike up a conversation with someone that you have never talked to before. In the conversation, make sure to ask them this random question: What plans do you have for the next five years? I really don't know why I decided to write this, but maybe you should do it anyways. Awaken individuals to what God meant for them to be by faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ.

20 May 2006

City of Angels

My flight leaves in four hours. At 9:30pm (Pacific Time), I will be in Los Angeles. I'll be back Thursday night next week. Until then, adios!

19 May 2006

Poster Child of the Prosperity Gospel

Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX, is the poster child of the prosperity gospel. By the prosperity gospel, I mean the teaching that health and wealth are certain, guaranteed, and the most important outcomes of God's work in a person's life--it is guaranteed in Christ to find health and wealth. This is why Lakewood Church was running around 46,000 attendees each Sunday in 2005 and meeting in the 16,000 seat Compaq Center, former home of the Houston Rockets.
Joel Osteen truly does believe this prosperity gospel, and doesn't seem to show much compassion outside of wealth. He lives in a home that is appraised to be worth $2.5 million (in the same subdivision as former president George H. W. Bush). Osteen advertises his best-selling book multiple times each time he speaks on his television broadcasts. Lakewood Church refused its stadium facilities (which can house thousands) to evacuees from the Katrina tragedy. The core statement of Lakewood Church is "Discover the Champion in You." Click this link to his profile on his church's website. Tell me, what is he all about: the need for Christ's love and grace for the redemption of mankind for the glory of God or the motivation of people to gain worldly success on their own, without the need of help, gifts, or blessing from God to do anything?

Can you imagine a church of 800,000? Is that crazy or what? Well, it's true. The Yoido Full Gospel Church is estimated over 800,000 in 2006. (Click here for their English website.) It is the largest Christian congregation ever (even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records). It is based out of Seoul, South Korea. The city is split into numerous cell groups and now there are cell groups beings started throughout Korea, Asia, and the world. The church has 171 ordained pastors and 356 lay pastors. The lead pastor, Dr. David Yonggi Cho, founded the church in 1958, and has been its lead pastor since. Early in the ministry, he began preaching what he called the "Three Fold Blessing" or the "Full Gospel." This theology of his says that physical health and financial prosperity are as much a part of God's will for Christians as the salvation of the soul. (Excuse me a second...I had to go the bathroom and vomit.) No wonder people flock to him in the hundreds of thousands. I would too if a guy promised me, with divine authority, health and wealth. Too bad those are not the words of God.

People don't want to hear that they must take up their cross, die to themselves first, and live for the sake of Christ. They don't want to understand baptism as a water grave, a death of the self and a rising of the self in Christ. I am sickened at the thought that the biggest church in America and the biggest church in the world are preaching a false Christ, a disillusioned hope, and a selfish need for Christ. I am disgusted that they would use Christ, who lived in poverty while on earth, to preach faith and reliance on worldly wealth, which points to humanity's ability, rather preaching faith and reliance on the love and grace of Jesus Christ, which points to God's glory and majesty. We have made the center of Christianity our own well-being, when all along it was all about God's glory. The Church must create an ethos that relies on God, does not seek happiness in wealth, and sees success through the eyes of Christ.

16 May 2006

Experience of a lifetime

It's 1:30 in the afternoon on Tuesday. It's finally not raining for once, but the sun is still shy, hiding behind the canopy of gray that has covered me since I arrived here last week. I'm sitting in Panera Bread on my lunch break, eating a great lunch and enjoying their wireless. The internship is awesome as always. Yesterday was my day off, so I ventured around Indiana. I first went to IWU in the morning to check out the campus. WOW. They have so many buildings. Their student center was really sweet. They have a sweet prayer chapel. The religion division basically has their own building for offices and classrooms. They had a pool, nice gym, racquetball courts, nice weightroom, all the sweet stuff. It was really cool. I still love SWU though! No doubt! While I was at IWU, I made a point to meet at least two people: Ken Schenck and Steve DeNeff. Over the past semester, I've been in email and blogging conversations with Ken about seminaries and such. So I wanted to finally meet him in person (Ken, even though it was only for ten minutes, it was still good to meet you). I also wanted to meet Steve DeNeff in person because I've heard far too much about him to miss the chance and I also read two of his books ("More Than Forgiveness" and "Whatever Became of Holiness") this past semester. It was cool to have a few minutes to connect with him about his books and stuff. I also met Charlie Alcock while I was up there. From IWU, I went further north to Plymouth to surprise Josh Woods at his office at Plymouth Wesleyan Church. I found my way there without him knowing and I strolled right into his office. The look on his face was priceless as he stared at me speechless for about 15 seconds. I ended up staying up there for dinner with Josh and Jess. It was good seeing them again.

The internship is great. The service Sunday morning was great. Daron did a great job unpacking the idea that God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. The worship center has a great atmosphere. The music was also a great time to show love and honor to God. The Erwin McManus book is so sweet! Erwin's ideas are exactly where my heart is; Erwin is just able to unpack it in a way that I couldn't in my own thoughts. I am so excited about seeing him speak in person when I go to LA. I'm still not sure if I have fully comprehended that I am going to LA on Saturday. I don't think it's soaked in yet.

My last words for this post: So much is rolling through my head right now. All kinds of thoughts and philosophies on ministry are pumping through me right now and I'm trying to sort and filter it all to gain a better perspective on life, ministry, the Church, and serving God to the fullest.

I do firmly believe that: The next purposeful mission that the Wesleyan Church HAS to undertake is reaching the cities. I don't have time in my lunch hour to really dig into reasons, but here's the basic premise: Millions of people are in the cities and the world is exponentially becoming more urbanized. We HAVE to not just become students of God's word, but also students of culture. We HAVE to shape the church (without losing integrity or the message) to meet people in the culture that they are in. We HAVE to pour tons of our resources (including most of our students) into the cities. We HAVE to risk it all, spend and be spent, in the mission of the cities. The Wesleyan Church has done an amazing job of preaching a rural gospel and reaching the rural areas. NOW IS THE TIME to go to the harder places and reach multi-cultural areas, the cities. If the church takes a hit financially or in resources or whatever, at least we risked it for the sake of the gospel, the glory of God, and the chance to reach MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of people that we are CURRENTLY FORSAKING. Even martyrs didn't reach the goal and survive. But we don't consider them failures. Better to die serving out of love where it is needed than to live in survival mode on Easy St. and forsake the mission and purpose of the Church.

There's my rant. Please let the Holy Spirit move in your heart as He is in mine right now. Please comment with your own thoughts.

God's love be with you all!

13 May 2006

Another rainy day...

I still haven't seen the sun in Indy. Quite sad. However, things are awesome up here. My first few days have been amazing. I have had some eye-opening experiences at the church. It's great to pick these guys' brains to find out what makes them and what makes this church tick. All three guys on staff and all the people I've met on leadership here are just great people. I'm so glad that I at least get a few weeks up here, although I'd love to have more. Daron bought me "The Unstoppable Force" by Erwin McManus. He wants me to read it before I leave. I read through chapter two today in Starbucks, and I have to say that book is awesome. What Erwin is saying resonates with my own heart so well. His passion and vision for the Church is amazing and his insight in explaining how the Church should be working is mind-blowing. Speaking of Erwin McManus, he is the leader at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles. Mosaic puts on an annual conference called "Origins." This year the conference is May 22-24. The staff at The Crux go to this conference every year. Erwin McManus has been a huge inspiration for Daron and his theology of the Church and how it should be done. Well, as of Friday morning, I was not going to LA next week. As of Friday afternoon, I booked a flight to LA next week and The Crux is paying my registration for the Origins conference. Heck yeah! I'm going to California next Saturday! How crazy is that! So sweet! Maybe I'll get to see the sun out there...

Well I'm done eating at Panera Bread and using up their free wireless internet. Talk to you later!

12 May 2006

Rain, rain, go away

At 8:30am on Wednesday, I left home (SWU, I mean) and went on a quest for a new frontier of opportunity known as Indianapolis, Indiana. Against my mother's wishes, I only made one stop for gas. I just didn't feel like stopping. So I arrived in Indy around 5:30pm. I arrived at my new home for the next few weeks. I'm living with Ryan Shepherd's family. It's...huge. One of the houses in their neighborhood makes me think of the huge house that Tony "Scarface" Montana had in the movie "Scarface." I've been here since Wednesday evening, and I still haven't seen or met Ryan's parents. Something else I haven't seen since I arrived in Indiana is the sun. It has been rainy since I crossed into Indiana. What a downer.

"The Crux" is the church that I am interning at. It's really sweet. The church just moved into its current location last month. It was meeting in a movie theater. Now they meet in a leased space in an industrial building. I had time to connect with the staff and some of the leaders here. They all seem to be awesome people with big hearts for God and people. I'm learning how The Crux is structured around small groups and I'm beginning to really like the idea. One thing Daron explained last night at the Lead Team meeting was that some churches don't have small groups (very traditional), some churches have small groups (moderately traditional church), some churches are built around small groups (The Crux model), and some churches are small groups (cell/house churches). I think The Crux model is really innovative in its method of building all of its ministry and leadership around small groups. Later on I'll get into their mission and vision as a church. Basic rundown: This will be a great three weeks.

P.S. - I don't have internet at the house I'm staying at. So, if you need me, call the cell.

08 May 2006

Vision Become Reality

It was July 6, 2005. I was traveling with "The Difference" ministry team for SWU. I was at NC West Clubhouse camp. I was sitting at a picnic table near the snack shop. It was just like any other day. I was reading out of "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers as I did everyday that summer. However, this day was about to turn me upside down. I came across that highlighted page again today as I was scanning through some books during packing. I felt as though I should share it with you.

"Visions Become Reality"

The parched ground shall become a pool . . . —Isaiah 35:7

We always have a vision of something before it actually becomes real to us. When we realize that the vision is real, but is not yet real in us, Satan comes to us with his temptations, and we are inclined to say that there is no point in even trying to continue. Instead of the vision becoming real to us, we have entered into a valley of humiliation.

Life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And battered by the shocks of doom
To shape and use.

God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision. It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint. Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience. Just think of the enormous amount of free time God has! He is never in a hurry. Yet we are always in such a frantic hurry. While still in the light of the glory of the vision, we go right out to do things, but the vision is not yet real in us. God has to take us into the valley and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the point where He can trust us with the reality of the vision. Ever since God gave us the vision, He has been at work. He is getting us into the shape of the goal He has for us, and yet over and over again we try to escape from the Sculptor’s hand in an effort to batter ourselves into the shape of our own goal.

The vision that God gives is not some unattainable castle in the sky, but a vision of what God wants you to be down here. Allow the Potter to put you on His wheel and whirl you around as He desires. Then as surely as God is God, and you are you, you will turn out as an exact likeness of the vision. But don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had a vision from God, you may try as you will to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never allow it.


God, I beg that You continue to batter me into the shape of the vision that You have for me. Do not let me try to do it on my own. I also beg that you would batter others into the shape of the visions that You have for them. I pray that these visions would be God-sized visions, not puny man-sized visions. Man-sized visions are too small, too easy, too comfortable. Break our comfort so that Your glory will be known everywhere, even in the places that we do not want to go.

06 May 2006

Finalized Summer Plans

So here's the news everybody has been waiting for so they can now plan their summer (just kidding). But, seriously, here's the rundown of my summer:

May 10-June 1 - Interning with Daron Earlewine @ The Crux - Indianapolis, IN
May 20-25 - Origins Conference at Mosaic with The Crux staff - Los Angeles, CA

Ministry Team Schedule:

June 4 (AM) - Memorial Park Wesleyan Church - Thomasville, NC
June 4 (PM) - First Wesleyan Church - Wilson, NC
June 11 (AM) - First Wesleyan Church - Kannapolis, NC
June 11-16 - Camp Wesley - Kannapolis, NC
June 16-17 - Campus Challenge - SWU Campus
June 18-24 - Indiana North Jr. High Camp - Somewhere, IN
June 26-July 1 - Shenandoah District Camp - Snowshoe, WV
July 1-2 - Vinton Wesleyan Church - Vinton, VA
July 2-8 - Hanover Friends Camp - Somewhere, VA
July 9-15 - Camp Rockfish - Parkton, NC
July 19-22 - South Coastal District Family Camp - Auburn, AL
July 24-29 - Eastern NY/New England District Camp - West Chazy, NY
July 29-30 - Community Wesleyan Church - Baldwinsville, NY

03 May 2006

Sacred time

From 1 Maccabees (from the Apocrypha):

1:20 And after that Antiochus had smitten Egypt, he returned again in
the hundred forty and third year, and went up against Israel and
Jerusalem with a great multitude,
1:21 And entered proudly into the sanctuary, and took away the
golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels
thereof,
1:22 And the table of the shewbread, and the pouring vessels, and the
vials. and the censers of gold, and the veil, and the crown, and the
golden ornaments that were before the temple, all which he pulled
off.
1:23 He took also the silver and the gold, and the precious vessels: also
he took the hidden treasures which he found.
1:24 And when he had taken all away, he went into his own land,
having made a great massacre, and spoken very proudly.
1:25 Therefore there was a great mourning in Israel, in every place
where they were;...
1:29 And after two years fully expired the king sent his chief collector
of tribute unto the cities of Juda, who came unto Jerusalem with a
great multitude,
1:30 And spake peaceable words unto them, but all was deceit: for
when they had given him credence, he fell suddenly upon the city,
and smote it very sore, and destroyed much people of Israel...
1:37 Thus they shed innocent blood on every side of the sanctuary,
and defiled it:
1:38 Insomuch that the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled because of them:
whereupon the city was made an habitation of strangers, and
became strange to those that were born in her; and her own
children left her.
1:39 Her sanctuary was laid waste like a wilderness, her feasts were
turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach her honour into
contempt.
1:40 As had been her glory, so was her dishonour increased, and her
excellency was turned into mourning.
1:41 Moreover king Antiochus wrote to his whole kingdom, that all should...
1:45 forbid burnt offerings, and sacrifice, and drink offerings, in
the temple; and that they should profane the sabbaths and festival
days:...
1:47 Set up altars, and groves, and chapels of idols, and sacrifice
swine's flesh, and unclean beasts.



I apologize for the freshman and others who took it all too seriously (granted, your intentions weren't perfectly clear and our sacred time was being invaded). I'm sure you never wanted to make us mad, and none of us should have done anything on purpose to make you mad. The majority of us that were stalling at school weren't mad and were only playing along with your little game.

Touché. Nice joke. Lighthearted and all in good fun, I'm sure.

BUT, do not get mad when one prank is met with another in return.

28 April 2006

Almost done

Two more exams done today. I didn't do so hot on them, but oh well. My grades this semester will still be acceptable. One more week of exam week. I have one exam, one paper, and one presentation. Then I'm off for the summer. The school finally decided to not try to burden ministry teams with living on the sidewalk out of a 45 gallon tub for the summer. They finally gave us housing (even though we still have to move all our junk back out near the end of the summer and back into fall housing later). Thanks Chuck Mealy for helping us out as much as you could.
Speaking of the end of the semester, THE party is coming up. Thursday, April 28. Apt. A South. 8pm until whenever. If you think you didn't get enough 90's in your grades this semester, we'll make up for it at the party. All the 90's music hits from your carefree days before college exams. Come party like it's 1999!
By the way, I AM DONE WITH GREEK!!! FOUR SEMESTERS DONE!!! I MADE IT!
Tomorrow night is the 'Global Night Commute' for the 'Invisible Children.' It's still not too late to join in the commute in your local city.
Last night we had a farewell party for Abraham Deng. He is one of the "Lost Boys," which is a group of refugees from Sudan who were brought to America to gain an education. Through the grace of many amazing people, over $18,000 have been raised for Abraham and Peter to go back to see their family. Abraham hasn't seen them for 19 years. He'll be over there for a couple months this summer. At the party last night, we watched a documentary on the "Lost Boys." Seeing that video and realizing more of the tragedies across the globe makes me want to become a social activist, spending my life fighting for those who can not fight for themselves. I am blessed to come from a heritage that teaches to preach the Gospel for the redemption of people, but also to help those in need and to bring about change in society. The liberal social gospel goes too far by denying the necessity of the change of heart towards Jesus. The other extreme has went too far as well, preaching the gospel to the poor, naked, hungry, and persecuted but not helping them in their present circumstances. We MUST do both. Jesus Christ washed hearts of guilt from sin, but also cleansed leprosy from bodies and told a lame man "Take up your mat and go home" (Mark 2:11).
Well that's all I can think of for now.

aut Deus aut nihil

20 April 2006

who reads titles anyways...

I just got back from a concert in Folger Auditorium on campus. Two bands played. The first band was 'Hidden Presence' and the second was 'Roscoe'. They both sound great. I'm slightly (or extremely) partial to 'Hidden Presence' because of their amazing drummer. Steve is the man. I'm thrilled that I get to travel with him again this summer and play music with him all summer long.

Speaking of summer, so here's the rundown of my summer:
I'll be leaving SWU on May 7 or 8 (after being an usher in graduation and moving into summer housing) for Indianapolis. I will be in Indy for an internship with Daron Earlewine at 'The Crux', which is an Wesleyan urban church plant (yeah...who would have thought the words 'Wesleyan' and 'urban church plant' could be in the same phrase?). Daron was the visionary for that church and helped in the building of that church from the ground up. So I plan to learn a lot from him about church planting, especially in the urban context. I also had the chance to hear Daron speak here at SWU for 'Spiritual Emphasis Week' in Fall 2005, and I thought he was an amazing communicator. So I hope to learn a lot about effective communicating/preaching from him as well. Daron emailed me today and informed me that I'm scheduled to preach at 'The Crux' on May 21. His exact words were:
But I figured we would throw you in the deep end and see if you drown. Talk to you soon…
Daron
So I guess the "Jesus is my lifeguard" analogy could fit for this one.
I'll be in Indy until June 1 or 2. When I leave Indy, I will drive straight back to SWU. I'll rest and relax for maybe a couple hours. Then I'll practice with 'The Difference' for a full day or two on campus. Then, I will hit the road, traveling with the band again until mid-August. What a summer! It's going to be amazing. When I get a final schedule, I'll post it up on here.

One reason Spring is amazing: lizards on the sidewalk outside the apartments. Those lizards are awesome.

19 April 2006

In one year...just one year...

One of the things that I think us guys hate most is showing weakness, or being exposed. I'm going to type anyways.

Sometimes I find myself fearing graduation. I'm so excited to see it come for many reasons, but I fear it for other reasons. One of the main reasons why I fear graduation is because I wonder what will happen to my close group of friends that I have leaned on through these years. I wonder what will happen to the bond that I have with them? I tend to think that they wouldn't continue to grow. Sometimes I think about the fact that if I go to Boston, no one is going with me. The closest Wesleyan will be in New York state. The closest "close friend" from here will probably be no closer than Virginia or Maryland (which is at least 8 or 10 hours away). I understand that we all are moving out into all areas of this world as God leads us, so that we can serve Him as we should; but I still find myself sometimes fearing the thought of being out there alone, with no base of support to lean on. Growing up with no brothers and sisters, I have always found my support and help from my closest friends. I have always had a few in my life that I can lean on when I'm discouraged, talk to about decisions, or do the very same for them. It is fearful for me to think about not having someone to lean on. What will happen to the friendships we make here? How are we supposed to keep them strong? How are we supposed to make sure we don't lose the friendships we have made?

Those are the questions I wonder about tonight. Those are the questions that strike fear tonight.

16 April 2006

invisible children :: end a war


'Invisible Children' is a movement started by three guys who took the initiative to live beyond themselves. Here's the rundown: Uganda has been in civil war for over 20 years. Rebel groups have made northern Uganda a wasteland of poverty. Each night the rebel military groups come through the towns to kidnap tons of children (of all young ages), brainwash them, and make them fighters for the rebel group. Each night thousands of children walk up to ten kilometers to reach a "safehouse" where they can sleep for the night, safe from being abducted. In these "safehouses," hundreds of them sleep in the same room, literally sleeping on top of each other. Then the children walk back to their home, with no chance of schooling because of this life. They have to do this commute to a safehouse EVERY NIGHT OF THEIR LIFE just to stay safe from abduction.

These three guys went over to Uganda and made a short documentary about it. It has been shown to the UN, the Capital, and some clips on television. They also have a video podcast that you need to subscribe to. Most of all, they are starting an international movement to create awareness for these "invisible children" and hopefully get the world to do something about it.
They are doing what they call a "Global Night Commute". It will be on the night of April 29 in 130 cities. Each person signs up to commute to a major city on the website and meet with the other commuters. Each person will sleep outside or where the designated area is in each city. The last numbers I saw had 25,000 people signed up in the US on the website. While there, you will be given materials to write a letter to a senator about this war in Uganda. Please visit the website and help out. Be part of a movement to end the longest running war in Africa. Join with these "invisible children" and represent them to the world. Be a voice for them since they can't speak for themselves to the world. If you go to SWU or live in the upstate SC area, join up in Anderson, SC. Otherwise, find a local city on the website.

Join with these children and give them a voice! Help end a war.

The Reign of Christ as the Rightful King


On Easter, the black cloth on the cross from Good Friday is replaced with a white cloth or a purple cloth. The black symbolizes death and defeat, as we remember that Jesus was in the grave for three days; the white symbolizes life and the resurrection (although, in the Far East, white is the color of death and mourning). The purple cloth seen in this picutre symbolizes the rightful kingship of Jesus as He is resurrected back to life to reign over all creation. Praise to Him who reigns!

Our God Reigns!
Our God Reigns!
Forever Your Kingdom Reigns!

I just got back from leading worship at the Sunrise service at my church in Salisbury. Although singing at 7am is not the easiest thing in the world, it was a great time of worship. As I planned the set for this morning, I wanted the overall theme to declare Jesus' rightful place on the throne as king. I wanted to focus on his power and his kingship. He had power over sin and death, and he has power over all the earth. Here was my set list from this morning:

Raise Up the Crown (All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name)
This is Our God (chorus only)
This is the One we have waited for
This is the One we have waited for
This is the One we have waited for
Jesus, Lord and Savior
(then my version of the chorus)
You are the One we have waited for
You are the One we have waited for
You are the One we have waited for
Jesus, Lord and Savior
I Exalt Thee
How Great is Our God
------------------------------------------------
But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus."
[Acts 17:6-7]

15 April 2006

Rejoice!

Our Savior has risen! He was dead, but He is alive! The tomb is empty. He has defeated death and sin. He has shown perfect love for us. He is now alive to reign as King! You are holy!

Christ is risen!
Truly He is risen!

You are the One we have waited for
You are the One we have waited for
You are the One we have waited for
Jesus, Lord and Savior
[part of my set list for worship in the Sunrise service]

Love one another

In John 13, we find John's account of the day before Jesus' death. Before the Passover meal, Jesus gets down on the floor with a basin of water and a towel and begins to wash the disciples' feet. Then, they partake in the Lord's Supper.
This is the night that we remember as Maundy Thursday. The word "maundy" comes from Middle English "maunde. The word originates from the Latin word "mandatum, which means commandment or mandate. This word shows up in the Latin translation of John 13. After Jesus washes their feet and has the Lord's Supper, he proceeds to say:
"Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." [John 13:31-35]
Is it coincidence that Jesus gives this "new command" on the same night as washing their feet and the Lord's Supper? I don't believe so. I think it was certainly purposeful that Jesus said this after the Lord's Supper. The disciples couldn't fully grasp this command though. When Jesus gave the command that "As I have loved you, so you must love one another" he knew that within a few hours he would be betrayed and the very next day he would give up his life to love them. Having in mind the ultimate sacrifice of love that he would go through the next day, Jesus knew the full meaning of what this command to us would mean. This command is not empty or void; it is complete and perfect. Do not take it lightly. In this Easter season, remember those words: Love one another.

Mourn his death

As I was driving home last night, I drove by a Lutheran church and I saw a wooden cross outside on the lawn. Draped on the cross was a piece of black cloth, like this:

As I looked at it, I said to myself, "Our Savior is dead. He has been defeated." I mourned as I thought about how the disciples must have felt when their Messiah was in the grave. They followed him everywhere for three years. They marched into Jerusalem, the political capital of Israel, hoping to be with the man who would bring political freedom from the Romans. Now, their lives were turned upside down. Their leader was in the grave.
Praise God that the story does not end there.
"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." [1 Cor. 15:17]
If he was still in the grave, then we have no salvation from sins.
"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead" [1 Cor. 15:20a]
He has been raised from the dead by God. You see, Christ conquered the inevitable of mankind (death) in order that mankind, through Christ, could conquer another inevitable (sin).

11 April 2006

[Insert something pithy here]

I spent my weekend at Table Rock Wesleyan Camp. I was helping out in leading worship for the retreat that the 'Camps and Retreats' class planned. It was a great time. I was able to spend some time relaxing, goofing off, playing awesome games of 'Capture the Flag' and crouching in some bushes back-to-back with Paul underneath his dark blue bed sheet for a counselor hunt. So we had some great times. The teens were great and the crew we had running the retreat were great. Props to Mike and Brady for speaking. You guys did great.

I've got a few things on my heart that I want to quickly address. I am writing each of these out of love.

If you are going to attend chapel, don't spend half of the service passing notes so that you can argue with someone else. At least have the decency to do that somewhere else.

I am seeing a lot of what I call the "me" virus. It's the natural reaction to life. It's the very core of who we are as humans. The virus has infected us all, including me. It is the center of our desires, motivations, dreams, goals, and thoughts. ME. We put ourselves first. We brag on ourselves, even if the only time we do it is to defend ourselves to others. We have this constant drive to "one-up" each other. For example, if someone calls me out on something, the first thing I want to do is defend myself and prove that I am right or better. That should be the last response that we have. Our first reaction should not be to defend ourselves or our pride. But we all do it. We are so inwardly focused that we forget to see the world outside. We even deceive ourselves into believing that we aren't inwardly focused. We make ourselves believe that we are good people and that we truly care about others, when in reality, we only care about others when they are beneficial to us, friendly to us, or helpful to us. I'm sure that Hitler cared about those kind of people too; so what separates us? Has the Holy Spirit had a chance to change our hearts so that we are outwardly focused? [Remember that I am speaking to myself as well]

Another issue to face is the spiritual life on campus. This issue has arisen in many different conversations that I have had or heard. There seems to be a decline in the good spiritual atmosphere of SWU. For whatever reason, it seems (from my perspective at least) to be declining. This has probably happened because of various reasons. Here are just a few possibilities that I see:
1. Many people are not taking advantage of spiritual activities on campus
2. More people are attending SWU now that came to SWU with the mindset that the rules and spiritual aspect of college do not matter. Obviously, if they come here with this mindset, it would damage the atmosphere here.
3. Those who are looked at for a Christian example are not living up to it, and I mean the students of the Religion dept. We have religion students who are living a life of pure indulgence. We have some students drinking, getting drunk, partying with the best of them, being sexual active, being addicted to sexual temptation (lust in the mind, sex with a dating partner, pornography, etc.), cursing like sailors, showing some of the worst attitudes on campus, anger management problems, etc. And we expect other people to step up to the plate and become more Christlike? Not going to happen. If we can not live "above reproach" then how are we going to expect others to desire this holy life either?
4. Many are slammed with responsibilities and work to be able to spend much time growing spiritually. Bad excuse, but at least honest.

These are only a few reasons. I honestly am not completely sure why this has happened. I have no solid answer to give for the reason that the spiritual life of SWU has declined. I wonder if we would begin to take our life in Christ more seriously, things might change. I wonder if we would humble ourselves before God and look to Him for an answer and a solution, then maybe we would resolve this issue? I wonder if a movement would start among the students, faculty and staff, starting with the religion students, to have a day of fasting and prayer for the school, then maybe, just maybe, we would find favor with God and He would show His love and mercy in a new way to this campus. Do we believe that could happen? Are we willing to show we believe that could happen? That's my heart's cry. I type out of love, for the students, faculty, staff, and for this haven that I have known as home for the last 3 years. Please understand that I type out of love.

Tell me your thoughts. I would like to hear what some other people see and experience. May God's hand rest with each of you out there.

05 April 2006

George Mason

Near the end of the game with UConn, Jim Larranaga, coach of George Mason, pulls his players close to him in a timeout. The scoreboard numbers are too close for comfort. He looks at his stressed and scared players, in the midst of a game that was never thought possible as they fought for the spot to be in the Final Four, and Jim said to his players, "Am I the only one here having fun?"

Too many times we get caught up in the reality of life and the seriousness of it all. We forget where we are. We have been the "giant killers" as George Mason was. They had already beaten the odds. They were already where no one thought they would be. Sometimes we need to remember how far we've come to be able to handle what we have ahead of us to accomplish.

Am I the only one here having fun?

Quick post

I'm sorry for not updating. I'm also sorry that this will be a rather short post. I just felt like I should put something down. It's 2am and I am still really busy this time of the semester.

I cut my hair into a mullet. Pictures are here on my facebook photo albums page. I now cut the mullet off and then shaved off my beard.

I went to see Hillsong United tonight at Northpoint Church in Atlanta (where Andy Stanley is the pastor). It was amazing. There had to be well over 3000 people there. So cool. It made me want to give up on grad school and just travel leading worship. I still can't shake that pull towards music. I love it.

My summer plans are set finally. I will be in Indianapolis from about May 8 until June 1. I will be living up there to intern with Daron Earlewine, the pastor of The Crux, a Wesleyan church plant. He was the visionary for this church plant and helped build it from the ground up. He's also a great communicator. I think there will be a lot to learn from him while I'm there. I'm so excited about doing that.
After I leave there on June 1, I will come straight back to SWU to travel with the ministry team again. After some conversations with the school, it was decided to let the team from last year travel again just for the summer and then hold auditions for a new team in the Fall. My apologizes to those who had signed up for auditions. I know it was a decision made too late in the semester. The school was just waiting to see if any other people would sign up before making a decision about what to do to be able to get a full band put together. So, I will travel with the team from June through the first half of August. I have a packed but AMAZING summer ahead of me!

School is a lot of work this semester, but great. I'm learning a lot through my reading, projects, and papers.

That's all for now. Just so I can say I wrote something of some depth, here's some statements I've heard or thought about recently:

Feed what you want to live and starve what you want to die. - Tom Harding

What's the purpose of the armor of God if there is not a willing warrior to wear it? - written in a journal kept by a 19-year-old from Hillsong's youth group who died in a car accident

Love the Church. Love Her and cherish Her. She is Christ's bride.

I keep thinking of the future. I dream too big. I envision things that I believe are not possible for me to acheive. I can't help but see the best and dream the most wildest dreams of how God could be glorified through my life, but I can't seem to rationalize how that could ever become a reality. Do I connect with Acts 2 in thinking that "young men will see visions" is a reality in me? I do not dare to be so presumptuous. But I can't help but dream the wildest things, to envision the greatest ways that God's majesty and mankind's redemption can be actualized.

05 March 2006

Never cease to amaze

To quote Andy Katz, senior writer at ESPN.com, in his article Tar Heels back on top after upsetting Duke:
What Carolina has done this season is quite amazing. The Tar Heels lost their top seven players off a national championship team. The only returning players of note were three role guys in David Noel, Byron Sanders and Quentin Thomas. To be fair, the Tar Heels did have a solid freshmen class, led by forward Tyler Hansbrough. But still, do you really think anyone would have guessed that in the regular-season finale at Duke the four UNC freshmen (Hansbrough, Marcus Ginyard, Danny Green and Bobby Frasor) would outscore the four Duke seniors (Redick, Williams, Sean Dockery and Lee Melchionni) 55-51?

Just had to throw that out there. 83-76...in Cameron...Redick and Sheldon's senior night. Four Tar Heel freshman...best choice for NCAA Coach of the Year. The boys never cease to amaze me this year.

02 March 2006

Our own seminary?

For those Wesleyans out there who might be interested in detailed discussion about seminaries and the possibilities of The Wesleyan Church starting its own seminary, Please check out this post on Ken Schenck's blog (Ken is a professor of NT at IWU). It is quite an interesting read.

Once I'm on break next week, I promise I'll actually write something on here again.

23 February 2006

Bluegrass Country

So, I'm sitting at a generic computer in the lower level of the Beeson Manor, which is a hotel on the campus of Asbury Theological Seminary. ATS is an interdenominational seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. We're here for tonight and tomorrow checking the place out. I've been here before in the fall of 2004, but I decided it would be a good excuse to get away from school for 48 hours and take time to experience the campus again, praying to find God's will for the direction of my graduate education. I'm still mostly considering Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, and also considering Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC. More on those ideas in a different post.
Tonight we spent time hanging out in Matt LeRoy's place. We spent time there with Matt, Josh LeRoy, Jake Neal, and some others. It was a good time hanging out with each of them. Tomorrow (or I guess, later today), we are going through some admissions and financial aid speeches, a chapel service, lunch, tour of the campus, and sitting in on a class. Then another 8 hour ride back to school to get back around midnight. It should be good stuff though.
New stuff in my life: Benji, Todd, and I started a "band", in the sense of a John Wesley band. A band, a type of small group system set up by John Wesley in England, is a group, maximum of 6 same gender people, who hold each other accountable, encourage and spur each other on in a pursuit of holiness. I believe this will be a great means of grace to help us on toward perfect love being acted out in our lives, toward both God and others.
Something to ponder: If you take a Wesleyan-Arminian theological worldview, then you believe in free will. This is the greatest power that God has granted mankind: choice. However, that greatest power of ours is also our greatest responsibility. We have a responsibility to choose and to move. We can NOT stand stagnant, waiting for life to fall into our laps as we wish it would. We can NOT sit by idle. The kingdom of God will not advance if we sit on our hands, do not leave the comfortable chair, and do not risk our lives, desires, and fears. I'm slowly learning that. Take that in for a little while today. If we truly understand this, we would live quite differently.

14 February 2006

Happy Birthday Rachid!

Today is Valentine's Day. I could make some long negative spill about today, dating, girls, etc. To be honest, I wouldn't feel bad about doing that. However, instead I'm just going to say this: I CAN'T WAIT for the day that I can spend a day like today with someone whom I can love, with reckless abandonment, enjoying that bond of complete trust and not fearing that vulnerability.

For now, Nikiema Abdoul Rachid turns 5 years old today. He's my child... Compassion child, that is. I can't wait for the day he can write me a full letter. For now, he draws me pictures of clouds and monkeys.

This week has been great. I was able to connect Monday with Phil Stevenson, the Director of Evangelism and Church Growth for The Wesleyan Church. I met with him over coffee at the City discussing my ideas about urban ministry, urban church planting, and possibilities of planting in Boston. There are no Wesleyan churches in the whole state of Massachusetts. So he said he calls those kind of church plants "parachute drop" operations. It's like the military when they fly out over areas that they aren't allowed to land on and they drop some men from the helicopter who soar down to the ground with their parachutes to do some operation. Interesting analogy. He was able to get me some ideas on what to start doing now to prepare and figure out if that is certainly what God wants me to do.

Last, I just want to mention something that has been on my heart recently. I can't go into depth with it now because I need to get some other things done, but maybe I will be able to expand later. I must confess that I have not served well. I have not loved unconditionally, given of myself wholly, or served others whole-heartedly. I have given in to the sins of selfishness, self-pity on occasion, complacency, mediocrity, among many others. For that, I ask forgiveness and beg mercy from God to change and mold my heart to love and serve completely, abandoning my selfish desires.

11 February 2006

Quick post...

- Greek was saved! Props go to the Religion faculty! It will remain at 4 semesters. However, Dr. Fipps is restructuring the 3rd and 4th semesters to get more inductive Bible study done (in Matthew and Romans).
- I had my Alpha Chi induction ceremony this morning. Alpha Chi is a national college honor scholarship society. The top 5% of the junior class is inducted. I'm not sure of any benefits other than something more to add to graduate school applications, but I am still honored, nonetheless, to get accepted.
- I went bowling tonight as the student activity this weekend. I had a great time with friends. I bowled 4 games (126, 90, 128, and 114). That's not so bad I guess.

More to tell, I'm sure, but it is too late and I am going to bed. Goodnight to all!

09 February 2006

Anniversary of my escape...

Well, yesterday was my birthday, number 21 to be exact. However, for anyone wondering, the only addicting or altering substance that I consumed was two coffee beverages, one at the City and one at Starbucks (part of my b-day present from Emily...thanks!). Although I still had meetings throughout the day, it was a great birthday. Everybody made it great. I received two cakes today, the first one at lunch (made of random desserts in the cafe all piled together on a plate smothered in whipped cream...props to Lyle and Thomas) and the second late tonight (cinnamon cake made by Ashley and Megan...thanks ladies!). I was given some awesome gifts too (thanks Em!). Many others made the day awesome too. I didn't have any big celebration for my 21st, but I did get a great day surrounded by friends.

On Wednesday, the Religion faculty had a meeting and a vote to decide what to do with the Greek classes. As far as I understand, the issue on the table: We need to cut back on required amount of Greek because 1) alumni are not using it much, 2) those hours in the major could be used for more "practical ministry" classes, and 3) the school is losing students and not growing because students are going to the other Wesleyan universities so they will not have to take Greek. So, basically, we compromise because our Religion students are extremely lazy punks who don't want to put any effort into their training to serve the almighty and sovereign God. Nobody wants to have to WORK at their ministerial training...as if the pastorate is easy. How do we expect to be rightful stewards of the eternal Word if we can't know it in its original language, diction, grammar, and context? Do you believe that the Word isn't that big of a deal? That it speaks for itself or something? There lies the problem with the Church today: we have lost the desire and passion for the Word. We don't realize anymore that we have the very mind and heart of Christ on our bookshelves, just waiting to transform us into the people that we've always wished we could become. We no longer pursue the mind of Christ, to think like He thinks or live as He lived, especially not to love like He loved. We look like everyone else. We struggle in picking up the Word everyday, many of us for even half an hour. We certainly struggle in loving the Word enough to dig into it for hours a day. Yet we expect to be transformed people, to be capable of leading others to a Christ that we don't know well ourselves.
I have hoped and prayed that the vote would go as God would have it. However, I still can't help but hope that they do not diminish the value of Greek in our preparation. The Church has destroyed the value of intellectualism enough the way it is. That's why we have a bunch of religion majors who don't think they have to know stuff to be a pastor. I feel sorry for all the people whom they will inadvertently turn away from Christ and the Church because of their [religion majors] ignorance.

Sorry for the soapbox. All in all, Happy Birthday to me! Goodnight and God bless.

05 February 2006

Call to Holiness

I'm reading through More Than Forgiveness by Steve DeNeff. If you haven't read it, READ IT. Brilliant book on the doctrine of holiness and how to apply those doctrines into our pursuit of Christ.

While reading today, I was blown away by so many simple statements that I knew, but never deeply thought about. In the reading today, DeNeff was presenting the idea that holiness is not about actions, but about the desire of the heart. Here are some excerpts from today that I feel compelled to share and hope that you take them to heart. I hope that these words are as piercing for you as they were for me.

There are two kinds of sinners. There are those who act like sinners, and there are those who act like saints. One kind of sinner indulges an appetite while the other starves it, but both have the same appetite. One kind does whatever he wants while the other does what he thinks he should, but underneath they both want the same things. One fornicates while the other lusts, but both have committed adultery (see Matt. 5:28). One tells dirty jokes while the other merely laughs at them, but both enjoy bawdy humor. One perjures himself in a courtroom while the other slanders his enemies over lunch, yet both are guilty of bearing false witness. Yes, there are two ways to commit nearly every sin, and so sinners are not always what they seem. Some are proud of their brazenness while others rest in their apparent righteousness; some are straight forward, others self-righteous; some ignore the Cross of Christ while the others presume upon it but, both are its enemies.

I am going to define two categories for you, and I would like you to put yourself into one of them. The first is attrition, which means that you feel very sorry for your sins because you know they are ruining your life and keeping you from heaven. In addition to this, you know that the Bible and the church are against these things, and so you feel guilty when you do them. The other is contrition, which means that you feel sorry for your sins because you know they grieve the heart of God. It means that even if the church and the Bible did not forbid such things, and if they did not ruin your life, you would confess them anyway because you truly desire to be rid of the sins themselves, not merely the guilt incurred by them.

If they were granted a single day to do whatever they pleased with no need to fear the wrath of God, what would they do? If it were not wrong to neglect the reading of Scripture, would they read it simply to know the mind of Christ? Do their sins truly bother them, or do they hate to love them? Do they truly love their enemies, or is it only that they are supposed to?