Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Called Out of Darkness

This is an excerpt from Advent and Christmas with Thomas Merton. This is a book I started reading November 29th and it has a reading for each day leading up to Christ's birth and a pray to go together with it for every day.

"Every baptized Christian is obliged by his baptismal promises to renounce since and to give himself completely, without compromise, to Christ, in order that he may fulfill his vocation, save his soul, enter into the mystery of God, and there find himself perfectly 'in light of Christ.'

As Saint Paul reminds us (1 Corinthians 6:19), we are 'not our own.' We belong entirely to Christ. His spirit has taken possession of us at baptism. We are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts, our actions, our desires, are by rights more his than our own. But we have to struggle to ensure that God always receives from us what we owe him by right.


O Lord, awake us from the comfortable existence in which we to often may be safely cocooned, and challenge us to accept the call of our baptism. Afflict us with yoru grace so that we take seriously our efforts to aid the poor, to comfort the sad and lonely, to let our light shine as a beacon to all who may need our help. Allow us to serve also as a wake-up call to our brothers and sisters whose companionship in Christ we share. Amen."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

there was evening and then there was morning

so i'm working my way through the book of genesis with a friend of mine and i've been working/wrestling/reading/studying/listening to sermons and so on, on the genesis for a while now.

this morning as we were studying and discussing it, and we only made it to day 2 this morning, but we noticed something that i had never picked up on and had just skimmed over it all the other times i had read genesis 1.

vs 5 - "God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day." (Jewish Study Bible)

Nothing out of the ordinary if you were to just read it and move right along you're merry way.

what caught us off guard was that he mentions, after he names them "Day" and "Night", he then says that there was "evening and there was morning".

he mentions evening and then morning. i wonder if that maybe means that God starts his day off with rest. i seem to find myself saying that i start my day off with morning, with light, with the "morning", but it caused me to see a new side of "rest" of maybe "sabbath."

maybe my day is out of balance if i don't start out with rest, if i don't see that i start my day off in rest.

this then caused my mind to run to the book of psalms where chapter 62 talks about resting in God.
62:1 - "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him."

62:5-8 - "Yes, my soul finds rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress. I will not be shaken. My salvation and honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

maybe we need to find rest first, before any more of our creative process begin to happen. maybe we need to find rest, find "evening" in our own lives, before we can find the "morning", before we begin to be about the creative process of restoring all things back to Jesus. reconciling all things back to Jesus. maybe we first need to find rest.

this may not be huge, it may just be a shift in my thought process of how i start my day off, not with the morning, but with rest. rest in God. rest in knowing that my salvation comes from him, being Jesus. rest in God being my refuge. rest in my hope that i have in him.

so may i, may we, find rest in God. may we begin with "evening" and then "morning" can happen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

i'm tired

i'm tired.

i feel like my mind is in a constant state of training for a marathon. with working at a church and having such a love for christ's bride and believing in the church, i feel like my mind never stops thinking about where the church is today compared to what jesus had in mind for the church to be. (and i have no idea what it's really supposed to look like really, i'm trying to figure that out)

and so i'm tired.

i'm tired of thinking about it. i'm tired of talking about it. i'm tired of reading about it. i'm tired of having numerous conversations about what the church should be doing and what the church is or isn't doing. i'm tired of complaining about church and hearing complaints about the church. i'm tired.

with being in student ministry, i've been wrestling a lot of the last several months over why i'm not seeing students put things into practice. some might tell me that they've changed their thought process . . . and thats great. some might say that they start to see people in a new way and a more loving way . . . thats great too.

but i want to see a change in the way they act. i want to see a change in the things they are doing. i want to see them really start to live it.

but i've become frustrated that i haven't seen that.

and what i've come to realize is that i'm frustrated in that i don't see those same things in my life either. and i think part of that, not all because there comes personal responsibility and i'm an adult so i take full responsibility, but i part of that is because i don't see that in most adults around me and so i haven't been invested in or shown the way or the ropes of how to do those things. very frustrating but as i've said, i'm tired. i'm tired of having that as my excuse. i'm ready to start changing the system and not pass those same things that were passed onto to the next generation.

so what i've come conclude is this; i'm just going to start doing. i'm going to start to do those things i want to see happen in students. i'm going to start to do those things i want to see the church start to do.

some of the things i'm beginning to work on (and i say these things in no way to boast, just to let you know where and what i'm doing) are things like mentoring students within the student ministry. and not just in a "small group" but on a 1 on 1 basis, really investing in students lives and giving of myself to the students.

i also long to see discipleship happen in the church, in my life and in student ministry. so, with the last thing, i've also asked another guy that i highly respect as a father, friend, human being and follower of jesus to mentor and invest in me as well. i think we need to have this happen more often to where we invest in each other much more on a personal level.

i've also started to work with another church/non-profit in town to really help out with an after-school program and a "homework buddy" program and invest myself in students that need love. this could open up an endless world of possibilities as to what could come from this.

i'm also getting our student small groups plugged into the community through habitat for humanity, operation love (local food bank/clothing give away), the christian center (local mens center), local elementary schools to provide school supplies and whatever else they need in some of our "inner city" schools and i'm sure many more things to come.

and all the while . . . i'm asking people to join me. when jesus was asked if he was really the messiah, his response was basically, why don't you come and see, why don't you taste for yourself and see with your own eyes. and so i'm going to ask students, friends and anyone else who wants to come, to come and see if this jesus is real, to taste and see with your own eyes.

i'm tired of simply talking about jesus.

Monday, September 14, 2009

hmmmmmm

i came across this little gem this morning as i was cleaning off some files on my computer and this puppy is staying on here thats for sure . . . this was about 8 minutes before we had to go out and stand on stage for my wedding . . . the girls rushing around getting last minute make-up on or just rushing for no reason . . . we got a 1 song concert . . . this makes me smile and laugh every time i watch it . . . it never gets old.

video

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

dangerous wonder

i've had this book sitting on my shelf for several years now and just never really paid much attention to it and thought, "i should probably read that."

i had finished a couple of books i had been reading and so i was looking for another one to pick up and read, but i wanted something not so heady, if you know what i mean. i didn't want something that was going to cause my brain to hurt and to where i would have to read it over 2 times to fully understand it.

i had read a book a few years ago called messy spirituality, and liked that book, so i thought i'd pick this book off the shelf called dangerous wonder. thinking, that could be a good read, a few weeks before this i had a friend mention it in passing that it was a good book so i thought, hey why not.

well what i have found is that it certainly isn't causing my brain to hurt. this book has found its way straight to my heart. it's kicking my tail with pushing, encouraging and challenging me to pursue after those passions in my heart and those dreams, because they come from someone, they've been placed there for a reason.

it talks about getting out and living this faith out, even to what most people would call "extreme", but to jesus, its just following after him. it talks about reclaiming that dangerous wonder that we all had as a kid. when you are so terrified in a situation, but are just filled with awe and excitement. shouldn't that be how following jesus is? we're so scared cause we don't know what's going to happen next or where we're going to go, but in awe of how God has taken care of us and provided for us and just filled with excitement to see what's next.

so with that, i just want to provide you with several quotes from the book. this is a definite recommendation coming from me for you to go out and read the book.

"every day i want to be in the dangerous proximity to jesus. i long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk and danger. i long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. i want to be with jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh."

"the critical issue today is dullness. we have lost our astonishment. the good news is no longer good news, its okay news. christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. jesus doesn't change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore. he changes them into 'nice people.' if christianity is about being nice, i'm not interested."

"i'm ready for a christianity that 'ruins' my life, that captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable. . . i want to be 'dangerous' to a dull and boring religion."

"the greatest enemy of christianity may be people who say they believe in jesus but who are no longer astonished and amazed . . . we have forgotten how to dance, how to sing, and how to laugh. we have allowed technology to beat our imaginations into submissions and have become tourists rather than travelers. we have been stunted by mediocrity."

"most of us act as if it is more important to make a living than to live. financial security is much more valued than the insecurity of following christ . . . well-meaning christians would advise fellow christians to seek financial security. seek christ, yes, but don't be foolhardy, don't be silly, don't be childish. find a good job. you can serve god and still work for a standard of living that reflects the economic realities of today."

"our world is populated with domesticated grownups who wold rather settle for safe, predictable answers instead of wild, unpredictable mystery. faith has been reduced to a comfortable system of beliefs about god instead of an uncomfortable encounter with god."

"the church should be full of christians who seek questions rather than answers, mystery instead of solutions, wonder instead of explanations."

"the living jesus is a problem in our religious institutions. yes. because if you are having a funeral, a nice funeral, and the dead person starts to move, there goes the funeral! and, dear brothers and sisters, jesus is moving!"

"every time the disciples starting establishing rules - no children near jesus; don't let the crowd touch jesus; don't talk to samaritan women . . . jesus told them to knock if off . . . we are substituting religious rules with me! jesus kept saying 'follow me' not 'follow my rules.' so most of us have spent our christian lives learning what we can't do instead of celebrating what we can do in jesus. . . it was jesus who taught us how to break the rules. it was jesus who touched the lepers, against the rules . . . it was jesus who broke the sabbath, against the rules . . . it was jesus who forgave people of their sins, against the rules."

"the christian life is more than finding jesus - it is following jesus."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

its been too long . . .

yes we all know that it has been way too long since my last post. . .and i really dont have time to be blogging now, but i figured it would be a good break or a good waste of time until the hands on the clock hit that 5 mark.

so what has happened over the past month or so . . .

well i made two trips, back to back to knoxville, which was exhilarating . . .it was nice to see family and some friends the first weekend trip and just to spend some time with family that court and i both miss terribly . . . it was great to spend some time with just grandad and grandma as well . . .they drove down from ann arbor, mi . . . and then rode down with us to graduation. . .i love just sitting and listening to grandad talk and i try to retain as much as i can when he talks . . . i hope im as wise as grandad is one day.

then the next weekend was a trip with just guys, i dont really know what to call it, a spiritual retreat weekend for guys i suppose. . .but it was so nice to just relax and be away from the real world for a few days with some incredible guys. it was nice to just sit on a porch and be surrounded by the mountains, smoke the pipe, and just talk about god and life and how all of it fits together. we were also graced with the presence of an old professor of ours who came out and speak to us about jesus and what it really means to be a christian and just talk to us for a while. that night with bob felt very ancient . . . it felt like i was a part of something long ago. . . it was so refreshing to just sit at someones feet for a while and just listen, just exist, just be . . . to watch how he specifically chose every word he said . . . to be able to smell jesus that night . . . to see a glimpse of the person of jesus that night . . . so challenging and yet so refreshing.

since those two weekend trips i havent done much other than try to get ready for the summer trips . . . in the months of june and july, i am gone 4 weeks already in those two months and then in august, we'll have our family vacation and then another long weekend trip . . . getting ready for another busy summer, but it will be good.

just a short, meaningless update on my life as of right now . . . now off to go home and get ready to come back tonight.

hope you all are doing well. give me an update.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

. . . spoken of things i cannot understand . . .

there are few things in life that cause me to run back towards jesus and cause me to fall in love with jesus all over again than music. music is such a spiritual thing. something happens within us when we hear a song that just simply moves us. those songs that are so simple, so raw, so true and so honest.

bill is one of those guys that simply causes me to stop what im doing and listen. listen to the lyrics. the song. listen to jesus.

thank you bill. thank you for being jesus. thank you for your music. thank you for giving me permission to love jesus by the way you love him.

give him a listen. . .this is his newest song on his blog

Thursday, March 26, 2009

shalom

so i've been reading through the book of genesis and have been going through a commentary with it. i finally got the jps torah commentary on genesis and have been reading that and working my way through the creation story and once again, i've been reminded of how personal YHWH really is.

i've also been reading through the book of colossians and also have a commentary of sorts that i'm reading with that as well, colossians remixed: subverting the empire.

from colossians 1:2, paul starts off this letter with saying "grace and peace to you from God our Father."

now this idea of grace and peace has really been working its way through me as of lately.

i used to think of shalom (peace) as simply being the absence of something, the absence of war, the absence of some sort of evil or bad thing. with studying this idea of shalom from many people over the last several years, i've come around to see and understand that that is the wrong way to see and view shalom. shalom is so much more. shalom is the presence of God, of YHWH. shalom is not just taking the bad out of a situation, shalom is bringing the presence of God wherever we go. shalom has to do with blessing, richness, abundance and a far-reaching harmony that permeates and characterizes all of our relationships.

but before we can begin to think about bringing shalom, there must be grace given. grace must be given in all situations before shalom can ever enter.

grace is not something that we can earn, which we all know. fundamentally at its core, grace is relational. grace is something we receive as a gift from another. shalom can never be fully given until there has been grace given to us.

ezekial speaks of a "covenant of peace" twice, and they are both characterized by a renewed fruitfulness in the land. there is no longer hostility between humans and the rest of creation, drought finally gives way to showers, trees can be harvested again, the people of israel experience security again because they are at peace with their neighbors, socioeconomic oppression is replaced by liberation, the hungry are fed. ezekial 34 talks about all of this.

however, this shalom, this wholeness and well-being in all situations, all of our social, ecological, political, agricultural and economic relationships are rooted in a restored relationship with God.

ezekial 37:26-27 talks about how there can be a covenant of peace only because God promises; "i will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. i will establish them and increase their numbers, and i will put my sanctuary among them forever. my dwelling place will be with them; i will be their god, and they will be my people."

god gave them grace, he said he would be their god and that they would be his people. god gave grace. you see, for ezekial, peace is rooted in grace. there can only be such wholeness, such creationwide shalom, ONLY if God enters our oppressive and broken reality of life and enters it with the initiative of grace.

Friday, March 20, 2009

latest . . .

well here you go. .this is the lastest news around here. . .

so on monday nights, i guess i kind of open and run open gym at the church . . . so i've been doing that for about the last 8 months or so . . . it has been really good to get to know a wide range of guys and the majority of them are guys that don't come to church at all so thats my favorite part is to get to know guys that i others might not have a chance to . . .

well a little history for you with my athletic past . . . all through high school . . . our trainer at our school told me that i needed to either wear braces on my ankles or to have them taped before i played any sport, especially basketball . . . to no suprise to any of you . . . i haven't done that.

now i have rolled my ankles more times than i can count . . . so its nothing new . . . well this time was different . . . i went up to block someone and came down and landed on their foot and went down hard . . . and not only did i hurt my ankle i also cut my knee cause i went down so hard . . . as soon as i went down i knew it was bad . . . here is a picture of it for you . . .



well i finally went to the sports med doc . . . 3 weeks later . . . it was still swollen and still really sore and i couldn't put weight on it . . . so i figured i better get it checked out . . . the doc said i had a fracture in my ankle . . . but because i waited it was already starting to heal back together and that i had also seriously strained my tendon on the outside of my ankle . . . and that there was nothing really they could do at this point.

oh well . . . other than that . . . im ready for spring to get here so i can sit out on our porch and drink a beer, smoke my pipe, watch our dog run around and listen to some sam cooke with court . . . please hurry up and get here spring.

Monday, February 16, 2009

these are just my random thoughts and struggles i'm facing and wrestling with . . . for several months now . . .

why is it that i feel that i could probably better live out the gospel today without what we know as the church today (the building) . . .

often times i feel like the absence of the pastor, minister, or whatever you want to call them, is more noticeable than the absence of jesus in churchers today . . .

why are we so content and okay with offering sacrifices to god that cost us nothing, me being as guilty as anyone . . . "i will not take for the lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing." - king david . . .

(this is taken from the book crazy love by francis chan) . . . "when i was in high school, i seriously considered joining the marines . . . what turned me off was that in those advertisements, everyone was always running. always. and i hate running. but you know what? i didn't bother to ask if they would modify the rules for me so i could run less, and maybe also do fewer push-ups. . . somehow this realization doesn't cross over to our thinking about the christian life. jesus didn't say that if you wanted to follow him you could do it in a lukewarm manner." . . .

what is it that really holds us back from living like jesus? what is it that holds us back from giving everything up and doing what he has commanded us to do? doesn't scripture say that he will provide us with what we will need . . . something along the lines of god providing for the birds of the air, fish of the sea and the lilies of the field, how much more will he provide for his children . . .

how does living like jesus even look like today? . . .

how serious is all of this to be taken? . . .

Monday, February 02, 2009

a few sayings & quotes . . .

so here are a few quotes and sayings i've read in the last month or so that i keep thinking about or keep coming up in conversations . . . i can't seem to get away from them . . .

"For many years now I have taken to going to church less and less because I find so little there of what I hunger for. It is a sense of the presence of God that I hunger for." ~ Frederick Buechner

"We want to lower the bar of how church is done and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple. If church is simple enough that everyone can do it and is made up of people who take up their cross and follow Jesus at any cost, the result will be churches that empower the common Christin to do the uncommon works of God. . . The conventional church has become so complicated and difficult to pull off that only a rare person who is a professional can do it every week. Many people feel that to lower the bar of how church is done is close to blasphemous because the Church is Jesus' expression of the Kingdom on earth. Because church is not a once-a-week service but the people of God's family, what they have actually done is opposite of their intention. When church is so complicated, its function is taken out of the hands of the common Christian and placed in the hands of a few talented professionals. This results in a passive church whose members come and act more like spectators than empowered agents of Gods Kingdom." ~ Neil Cole

"No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing." ~ King David

"If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear." ~ 1 John 3:17 (The Message)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

we really only have one thing.

So with some of the situations that I find myself in as of the last few weeks, situations that are dealing with others and the struggles of life they are facing. I have come to see and realize many things, one being how much I love my wife and how in love I am with her. Knowing that she will always fight for us is such a comfort and such an encouragement.

But also with being in all of these situations, I've also realized that what we call the "Church" today and the "Christian faith" is really about how well we as Christians can hide our sin. Now realize I'm as guilty as anyone and I'm working on changing this, but we all do this, we all try to measure the depth of our spirituality by how little we are sinning or at least try to convince others and ourselves how little we are sinning. See the problem with this is that it causes us to live in fear, in fear that others will find out.

Derek Webb says that "the best thing is that your sin would be exposed on the 5 o'clock news." We become so tired and drained from trying to hide our sin from everyone else. You see if we, being you and me, and you and me being the people that we truly are at the core of our being, not this person that we try to get everyone to see and believe who we are, but the person that we are when its just us, all the doubts, scars, bruises and all the junk in our lives, that person. If we had our sins exposed like that, and you saw the real me or the real you, so that you could know me for who I really am, that way I didn't have the option to hide anymore, so that Jesus was really the only person and thing that I could grab hold of and hold onto.

And that's really all we have anyway.

Jesus knows our sins, as if they have been on the news, he knows you and I better than we know ourselves and he forgives us. We should take an immense amount of joy in this, in the fact that our sins are real and that our Savior is real.

You see by the time I probably finish this blog or by the time you read this, and if not by then, it will definitely happen by the time you fall asleep tonight, we will be thinking of ways to try to hide our sin from other people.

The Christian life is not about living like this. We must come to grips about who we really are and be willing to admit and confess such things before each other.

And once we admit these things and confess our struggles and then even more than that confess that they are real and even bigger than that, confess that our Savior is real. We then begin to give others around us permission to admit the junk in their life, to admit their struggles, to admit the realness of this life, to admit the realness of needing a real Savior.

Maybe we just need to start preaching and living out the Gospel and words of Jesus in a way in which we believe it. In a way that gives others around us permission to believe in it too.

"No wonder, statistically, our church is losing relevance by the day. it's no wonder we are so stagnant, we don't believe the Gospel. It has not failed us, we have just failed to believe it." - Derek Webb

Saturday, January 10, 2009

. . . the almost . . .

its the beautiful things that get us. perhaps the greatest seduction is not the ANTI-GOD, but the ALMOST*GOD. poisonous fruit can look pretty tasty. thats what is so dangerous about ideas like FREEDOM, PEACE AND JUSTICE. they are all seductive qualities, close to the heart of GOD. after all, its the beautiful things we kill and die for. and its the beautiful we market, exploit, brand and counterfeit.

WE FIND OURSELVES POSSESSED BY OUR POSSESSIONS . . .
and enslaved by the pursuit of freedom. nations fighting for peace end up perpetuating the very violence they seek to destroy. serpents are slippery and slimy things.

MOST of the ugliness in the human narrative comes from a distorted quest to possess beauty. COVETING begins with appreciating blessings. MURDER begins with a hunger for justice. LUST begins with a recognition of beauty. GLUTTONY begins when our enjoyment of the delectable gifts of GOD starts to consume us. IDOLATRY begins when our seeing a reflection of God in something beautiful leads to our thinking that the beautiful image bearer is worthy of WORSHIP.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Top 5

So I've been hounded by a few people to give my top albums of 2008 and I realize that it is a little late, but that's ok, we're just 7 days into 2009 so here are my favorite albums that were released in 2008.

5 - Seeing Things - Jakob Dylan (I didn't like it the first time I listened to it, so I gave it a few more listens and now I have a hard time shutting it off and it ended up on my top 5)

4 - Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer EP's - Jon Foreman (I know those are 4 different albums in and of themselves, but they are too hard to pull apart for me and since I just did a top 5, they will have to work so get over it.)

3 - Thing of the Past - Vetiver (The title fits the music that follows when you open and place the CD in and listen. Just like a good beer, Thing of the Past is smooth and golden.)

2 - Pink & Blue - Waterdeep (If you don't know this band, shame on you. They always surprise me with a new sounding album and this one is no different. With a mix of thought provoking, trippy and melodic, upbeat, intriguing and spiritually cognitive. Give it a listen)

1 - Viva la Vida - Coldplay (Just when you think you have them figured out, you realize you don't.)

So there you have it. . .I was going to try to do a top ten but I had trouble finding albums that I liked that much to go there, so you are stuck with 5, sorry. I will give an honorable mention, Simple Times by Joshua Radin and Gossip in the Grain by Ray LaMontagne, but I just couldn't put them on the list, but thought they should be mentioned at least.