Archive for May, 2009

Are we questioning Faith or Religion?

It surprises me, how often people tell me that they have turned away from God because of things they see people doing.  In the news, we constantly hear about Priests and Pastors abusing their congregation, taking advantage of the position that they have been put in, both finacially and personally.  We here about extremists who distort and take out of context scripture from the Bible and the Qur’an to prove that what they do is ‘Holy’ (this goes for all Religions and Faiths). 

My heart breaks for each and every person who abandons faith because of what they see people doing or the wrongs they see in religion. 

As a Christian, i also see faults in certain aspects of organized religion.  The strongest fault that i see is the division of believers into seperate churches.  We have the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, and hundreds of smaller divisions that cuts through the single Body of Christ.  The way i see it, Religion has brought the fall of Faith.

Faith is ones personal trust in things unseen.  Religion, on the other hand, is humans response and tradition to try to comprehend things unseen.  Religion can influence faith, as it should.  But ultimately, your personal Faith (whatever it is, Christianity or not) should be able to stand when and where Religion fails. 

If your faith is strong, and the foundation secure, then nothing people will say will tear it down. 

I say this in a response to a number of comments that i hav heard and seen throughout my journey.  In conversations with self-proclaimed Athiests and Agnostics, with Clergy of the Catholic Church and that of the Baptist Church, with friends that know scripture and those that do not, questions and doubts will come up. 

Hear me, let me say that one more time.  Questions and Doubts WILL arise as you discover your own personal faith. 

Do not fear them, for they will strengthen what you believe.  In searching for answers, we dig deeper into what we truely believe and rairly find answers, but more questions. 

Faith isnt something that anyone can fully comprehend, it is a journey.  Constantly leading us to find something new in what we thought was all there was to know.  No Religion has all the answers that will satisfy every persons questions, none ever will. 

Christianity isnt a religion, it is a faith. 

Just something to think about.  I hope i made a little bit of sense…

God Bless and PEACE

[edit: some of the responses have been deleated due to (what i see as) personal attacks.  my responses have been deleated also.  I dont feel like this is the time or place to have a full blown arguement, that was not and will never be my objective with this blog.  I hope i have not offended anyone in doing this.]

Ground Warfare vs. Air Warfare

In January, i had the amazing oppertunity to go with some amazing people to Converge, a weekend of spiritual growth and community building.  At one of the break-out sessions, titled “Ground Warfare”, the speaker (cant remember his name, but he was amazing) broke down what it meant to ministry to people on the ground, compared to what he called air combat.  To break it down a little, let me explain:

Ground Warfare:  The one-on-ones.  The Bible Studies.  The discipleship.  Personal commitment to one another.  Accountability.  True friendship.  And living how God calls you to live.  Ground Warfare is the frontline battlefield in what people call “Spiritual Warfare.”  This type of ministry is the ‘dirty’ work where people dive into scripture at a personal level with another or a small group. 

Air Warfare:  The big-gigs.  The concerts.  The specticals.  Flashy.  Movies.  Shock-and-awe Stories of the Gospel.  Events that bring in the crowds of people.  Air Warfare is what brings people out of their homes to see what the big fuss it about.  This ministry is valued for bringing the people in by the masses.

During the interview for BCM leadership, Micah asked about one of my responses to a question on the survey, where i basically stated that i think BCM (as well as many other campus ministry organizations) needed to work more on discipleship and personal interactions than events (basically Ground Warfare above Air Warfare).  He asked (paraphrased and in my own words, not his) if i thought that group worship (ie: campus ministries events) were not needed in ministry. 

To me, most campus ministries events (BCM, FCA, and many others) are like Air Warfare.  They are flashy, loud, and barely scratch the serface of what it truely means to worship.  A lot of times, they end up being social events where people show up to talk to friends about anything but God. 

I was born and raised as an Army Brat, so after 20 years of growing up in the military, i saw the analogy of Ground and Air Combat in a way that many people wouldn’t dream of seeing it. 

Logically speaking, no nation has ever won a war without setting troops on the ground.  Ground combat is inevitable in every single conflict around the globe.  No nation has won a war using only Fighter planes, Bombers and Helicoptors.  Yes, they are helpful at bringing suprimacy to the battlefield, sometimes they are quite ineffective. 

With a militaristic view of a battlefield, i see things differently when people talk about Spiritual Warfare and bringing people to know God and to know Christ in a personal relationship. 

On campus and in many churches that i have seen and visited (not all), many people put so much effort into the presentation of the Holy Scripture to large events that they forget to engage people in a more personal setting.  People spend so much time and effort in the spectical of the presentation that they have nothing left to give when it comes to discipleship and one-on-ones and personal interactions. 

I think one of the reasons Air Warfare has taken effect in our society and the Church is that it is much easier to put on a big event “to reach more people” than to commit oneself to pouring their life into another person. 

Yes, using Air Warfare helps when presenting the gospel, but unless it leads to a personal commitment to individuals, it is useless.  For a military example, look at the use of air combat in Vietnam.  The military had full control of the skies, but couldn’t hold the ground with ’em, so they combined the use of the helicoptors with ground combat to change the way they fought the war. 

The same thing needs to be said for ministry.  Unless we put more effort into fighting in Ground Warfare, Air Warfare has no effect.

I am not saying that we need to abandon the big events and what draws the people in (Air Warfare).  Without it, then the battle would be difficult and much time and lives will be lost (look at the trench-warfare of WWI, or the Civil War where hundreds, if not thousands lost their lives to gain control of a small bit of land). 

Without Ground Warfare, we wouldnt get anywhere, but without Air Warfare, while it is possible to do without, we would be left with a hard fought battle that would be taxing and difficult. 

It takes a unique blend of both to reach people on our campus, in our homes, communities and lives. 

God Bless and PEACE

God’s Calling… (Uganda)

A couple of years ago, God placed a heavy burden on my heart.  I felt a call that was irresistable and so moving, that it changed the way i looked at the world. 

When God calls, we must follow.  That is what i have done.

At Passion 07, the begining of my second semester at college, i first came to feel the call of God that has led me on this crazy journey.  It was there that i first came to see the group, Invisible Children and learn of the plight of the people of Uganda.  I felt my heart go out to the children who have been raised in this region of the world, where for the last 20 years, war has claimed thousands of innocent lives, through child soldiers, famine, disease, rape and other attrocities of war. 

It was there in Atlanta, alongside of 40,000+ college students, that God shined a light down the path before me. 

On the last day, in front of the whole crowd of friends and students that surrounded us, the speaker started to go through a list of things accomplished by those present.  He stated how much we raised.  How many lives would be changed.  And how many people decided to follow a call into the unknown.  He asked all those that sighned up to go on a year long missions trip (to somewhere, i cant recall) to stand and be recognized.  Then he asked that all those present that felt Gods call into the missions field, to please stand.

I didnt realize until that moment, when i lifted myself off the seat and stood before the throngs of people, that God wasnt calling me to be moved, but to GO. 

Two and a half years latur, i have finally gotten that oppertunity.  For so long, i pushed Gods calling asside, saying i didnt have time, didnt have money, didnt have the strength, until i ran out of excuses.  With the help of friends, family, people that i dont even know, i started looking for an oppertunity to go and serve in Uganda. 

So, i sent out a bunch of e-mails, spent whole afternoons calling different organizations, and slowly began to feel like i was just running around in circles.  One day, after a banch of no’s, i got an e-mail from a lady who worked at Young Life.  Someone had forwarded an e-mail to her, and she basically said, “Hey, i run the YL stuff over in Africa.  We dont have an oppertunity to go over to Uganda at the moment, but a couple friends of mine went last summer and are planning to go again!  Here’s their contact info, etc.”

I was stunned.  Here i was, about to give up, and God just threw this oppertunity in my lap.  So, as i was sending a thank you response, Anneka (one of the girls who runs things) sends me an e-mail saying, “hey, we heard you want to go to Uganda, want to come with us?” 

(well, not exactly like that, but it was fairly close)

And i was like, “YES!!” 

So, thats how i got in contact with Akia-Ashianut, an amazing bunch of college age people who want to see a change in the world.  They, Anneka and Danielle, along with Scott and many others, have been amazing people to get to know and learn from. 

So, on the 26th of June, Me and 14ish others will head off to Uganda for a month that will change our lives.  We will serve with our hearts open and our hands outstretched, because God has given us this oppertunity. 

Eventually, i will put up more information on the trip, but in the meantime, please be praying for the whole group.  Pray that we find comfort and strength in the Lord, as we prepare our minds and bodies for this journey ahead of us. 

God Bless and PEACE

Thinkin’ ’bout Home…

In the last couple weeks of being home for summer from school, many things have run through my mind.  A lot of soul searching and realizing how much the community at Anderson has helped me to grow, both as a person and spiritually in my walk with the Lord. 

I was wandering through some of my friends blogs and came across something that Christina wrote.  She wrote:

I don’t quite belong here and I’m learning that very quickly as I keep getting lost. God reminded me of something however. It really doesn’t matter where you are, and when your comfort zone is pulled out from under you, that is when He is truly strong. For many of my friends going away to different camps this summer, different countries, or maybe just home to work, remember that in our weakness God is the most strong.

For me, this struck something deep within’ me and i realized some things that God was trying to show me. 

It is easy for me to talk with people about faith at school, but as soon as i get home, its like a wall goes up around me, people asking me not to mention God, or good friends dropping the conversation and walking away because i mentioned the amazing things God has done in my life.  Its hard for me to talk to people at home, because the ‘me’ they know no longer exists.  That ‘me’ died on a cross and i have been made a new person, because God has loved me more than i can ever imagine. 

I struggle with words in conversation.  It’s always been a struggle for me to say what i really need to say, in fear that it comes out wrong.  So, i say nothing at all.  I know that this is a weakness, so i try to live my life so that i only have to use as few of words as possible. 

I try to walk the walk, and at school, it is easy to do, because everyone is trying to do the same.  But as soon as i step back into home, its like a whole different world. 

God uses us when we are weak.  God uses us when we are broken.  When we are struggling.  When we are barely above water.  Surrounded by opposition.  Defeated.  Lost.  At home with the old crowd.

God uses us when we are down, to show us how strong he is, and to help us to trust in him.  Always. 

Just a thought…

God Bless and PEACE

The Promise

“But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you are dying?  We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

“And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

 – Luke 23:40-43

I find it interesting that Jesus only told one person they would be with him in heaven.  He didn’t tell this to Peter, James, Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, or the other six disciples.  These were men that followed him for years, but he never promised them heaven. 

He told this to the man hanging on the cross next to him.

So, what’s the difference between them, the disciples who followed his every footstep for a couple of years, and this criminal on the cross next to him? 

The guy dying on the cross saw something in Jesus that took the disciples a lot longer to realize.  He saw Jesus for who he was, the Mosiah.  The Savior. 

While everyone else was asking themselves how Jesus, the Son of God, could die, this man simply asked to be remembered.  He knew that Jesus would live on.

It’s a powerful thought that caused me to stop when i read it… 

Just a thought

God Bless and PEACE