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.