Archive for January, 2010

This Is My Story

If you had the oppertunity to get up on a stage, what story would you tell the world? 

Last night, I recieved the challenge of telling my story, and I began to think.  As i lay, fighting to fall asleep, I began thinking about the direction that i have gone and the direction i wish to go, have felt called to go, and am afraid of going.

Each and every one of us have stories.  There are stories that we tell to make others laugh and cry.  Stories that we tell to prove a point.  And there are stories that we tell to share the Glory of God, shown through our lives.

As i was thinking, i began to ask myself if i was truely focused on God, or if i was pointing out everything that i saw wrong with other peoples faith.  Was i building up the faith, or tearing it down? 

In the next few months, and the following year, my life is going to drastically change, as i graduate from college and get thrust out into the ‘real world’.

I am no theologian.  I am no expert in faith.  But i do have my story.  A story that i want to share, and should share with everyone whom i come in contact with. 

In the next few weeks, the focus of this blog may change.  I came here to share this journey with others, but i began to focus to much on my differences with the religious churches of my Faith. 

I cannot keep going without sharing my story.  It’s who i am. 

Jsut some thoughts…

God Bless and PEACE

The Call of the Warrior

David ran and stood over him [Goliath]. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath.  After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.  Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron.  Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron.

 – 1 Samuel 17:51-52

This Grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

 – 2 Timothy 1:9b-10

In his book, No Small Snakes, Gordon Dalbey states that the greatest manual for Spiritual Warfare is the Old Testament of the Bible.  Looking back through the battles of the Israelites, one can find examples of bravery, trust, and recklessness in following God. 

When we step back and look at these same stories paired next to what God did through coming down to earth as Jesus Christ, we can find some frightening similarities. 

The story of David and Goliath.  We all know it.  David puts a sling stone into Goliath’s forehead, killing him (1 Samuel 17:49-50). 

The Story of Jesus Christ and the cross.  We all know it.  He dies a gruesome death on the cross, defeats death and comes back on the third day.

But what happens afterwards?  Suddenly this huge opponent is defeated, so what do we do? 

After Goliath falls to David, the Philistine army flees and the men of Judah persue them and kill them.  Death falls to Christ Jesus, Satan and his angels flinch, and what do we do?

We are still afraid.  The problem I have with the Church (the Body of Christ) isn’t that we are not moving, it’s that we are not surging forth and storming the gates of Hell itself.  Inside each of us, we are still afraid of what could have (should have) happened to us. 

Instead of running with the courage of Salvation, we seek safety.

The Philistine army could have charged and entered battle with the men of Judah.  They could have held the line and put up a valiant defense against the onslaught, taking down many men with them.  But they didn’t.  Nether do the armies of the Evil One, The Corrupter, The Prince of Hell. 

They scattered when their greatest warrior among them was put out of action, Death.  We have been liberated from it. 

The story doesn’t end there.  It doesn’t end when we close our Bibles after our daily, weekly, monthly devotionals.  The story continues through the lives of all who have accepted the call of Christ, the call to take up arms and run after the enemies of God. 

We cannot, as Christians, Christ followers, be safe.  We cannot hide.  With our gifts we must root out evil and kill it.  We are in the middle of a war, it is time to choose a side.

God Bless and PEACE

Extending a Helping Hand

As the world knows by now, a major earthquake rocked Haiti this past Tuesday, devastating the city of Port-au-Prince and leaving thousands, possibly millions without hope.  The effects of this quake reach farther than one could imagine. 

Here in Anderson, we have felt the effect of the ground shaking through the Radius Community in Greenville, who has recently partnered with a church in Pignon (about 60 miles north of the epicenter). 

While we may not be able to physically be present in Haiti to help, there are still things we can do to help.  

 – Pray.  Pray for all those affected, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Pray for those who have been injured.  Pray for those who have had everything taken away from them.  Pray for the rescuers and citizens searching for survivers and loved ones.  Pray for peace in the midst of Chaos. 

 – While there are many different organizations doing rescue work in Haiti, Radius has partnered with Bright Hope International in the possibility of being the hands and feet of Christ for the people of Haiti.  Pray for those hearts that are willing to take the risk and go.

 – In addition, Bright Hope is distributing Med-Packs to a network of churches in Haiti that are capable of offering the physical healing of a neighbor and the comfort of Christ.  A pack of 20 med-packs is $300.  Pray about donating or purchasing one of these packs to help the suffering in Haiti.  (Call 224-520-6100 or go to Bright Hope to order)

Continue to pray for the people of Haiti, even after the innitial surge of media turns away from this tragedy.

God Bless and PEACE

Leaders and Teachers

In the Body of Christ, there are those that are natural leaders.  These are the people who lead others to the Glory and Kingdom of God not through words, but through the way they live out their lives.  Each and every one of us has been called to be a leader. 

But there are a select few who have been given the gift of teaching.  While they are still natural leaders of the Church, these are the people who have been given the talent and gift of focusing words and relaying the truth of God to the flock, the congregation. 

There is a stark difference between leaders and teachers.  I have been called out about my views of leaders in a previous blog entre where I called out people who have spoken out against a pastor of a local mega-church.  I spoke about leaders of the Church and the qualifications of a leader.

I understand that Perry Noble, the Senior Pastor of New Spring, is a charismatic leader of the church.  People follow him with a devotion that I have never seen before.  But I will be quick to caution and ask people, are they following the leader of this church, or are they following the teachings of an extremely talented speaker and natural leader? 

I do not have the gift of speaking, nor do I have the courage needed to stand in front of people and talk.  It’s difficult enough for me to stand in front of my painting class and speak about my artwork during critique, I do not enjoy public speaking.  While I am not a teacher in the church, I have been told, and accept, that i have a natural ability to lead others. 

The trouble about following a leader, is that there is no ‘teaching’ involved.  Yes, you watch the person and examine every aspect of their lives, but there is so much more to Faith.  I can learn how to live through watching how a leader lives, but how much do I really learn if I cannot ask deep spiritual questions about faith?  This is the role of the teacher.

There are so many more leaders than teachers.  I understand what  Simon P. said when he left a comment stating I was “making a HUGE leap in comparing someone who is simply a leader…. and someone who is a pastor (a shepherd if you will.)”

A Pastor must be a teacher.  They cannot be just a great leader, they need to be that and so much more. 

In taking on the role of a Pastor for a church, one must be willing to lead through how they act and they must be humble enough to be a teacher of the faith.  They must have the courage to take on the tough questions and criticisms and answer them through the authority of the Gospel, not distorting it in any way.  They must have the understanding of the Faith, current, past and future.  they must be able to separate out the influences of this world and society and provide the untainted Gospel of Christ. 

Can the young ‘Pastors’ that have popped up through our generation of youth take on this challenge?  Look at how they have responded to criticisms, to rebukes, to heresies, to spiritual warfare, and to attacks in all forms (spiritual, emotional, and physical) and you will see if they are truly able to be Pastors. 

I’m sure they are all amazing Leaders, because if they weren’t they wouldn’t be where they are today.  I’m sure they are gifted with teaching, or the faith would not be passed on to the upcoming generation of believers. 

Just some thoughts…

God Bless and PEACE

When Following God Brings Disappointment

How often do we start to follow God, only to stop when we turn around and see the disappointed faces of our family, our friends, our world?  As human beings, we try to please everyone around us.  As children, we seek approval from our parents.  As friends, we seek attention.  It’s human nature to stop when our fathers frown on our plans, when our mothers fear for our safety, when our friends are no longer there to back us up. 

I hate it when my father listens to my plans, then rolls his eyes and makes a remark that makes me feel like I have let him down.  I have recently sent in my application to Mercy Ships’ Africa Mercy, where I would be spending about three months this summer serving in the dinning hall (as the photography position has already been filled and I have no official training in medicine whatsoever).  After a couple of e-mails back and forth with some of the staff of Mercy Ships, I was sharing some of the news and my plans with my parents, when he asked the question “Is it a paid position, or are you paying them to take you in?” (not word for word)

A big conflict between myself and my dad is the fact that what God has planned for me does not include money (or just a meager amount).  My dad’s opinion is that I should go on to Graduate School or find a ‘real job’ where I would get paid a decent amount of money. 

When I informed him that it was a volunteer position, he visibly bit his tongue and tightened his lips before walking out with another word.  But everything had already been said.  Through the way he stood, by the way his eyes rolled, he didn’t need words to tell me that he was disappointed in me. 

I can hear him now:  Why do you feel like you need to do this, what can it bring?  Why wont you just find a job and be content with where you are?  Why do you not listen to me when I tell you that you need to have your priorities straight? 

It stings.  It hurts.  But sometimes we must cut the ties that hold us down, and stretch out the wings that God has given us. 

At Young Life’s Saranac Village, the last week I was there working on Summer Staff, I told a girl that after all the words have been said, we must let go.  We cannot force people to see the way we do, we just have to try our hardest to tell them why we do what we do.  I told her that we cannot hold ourselves back from doing what God calls us to be because family and friends don’t understand, sometimes we must cut the vines that hold us firmly to the ground. 

Now I find myself listening to the same words. 

Not everyone is going to understand why we follow God and not the world, but we cannot let that hold us back from following God’s call in our hearts. 

God Bless and PEACE

Thoughts About Being Clean

One of the things that scares me about the church (as in the organized Religion of Christianity) is the fact that people make a big deal about cleansing oneself before going before God. 

One of the places I see it the most is in the Roman Catholic Church.  I’m sure it happens in each and every organized Christian Religion, but this is the one in which I was born and raised.  In the past semester, I have not attended a Catholic Mass, but have been going up to a smaller community church in Greenville. 

The first week home for the holidays, I attended Mass with my family, and was appalled to remember how much ‘purification’ goes on before someone can receive Christ. 

Jesus broke bread with his followers, and in turn his followers broke bread with all believers.  If the call of Christ is “Come, follow me” why has it turned into “Go, clean yourself up, then come back and we’ll see if your actions are good enough to receive me”?

It hit me when the priest told all the people who were here visiting that if they were not Catholic, or were not “clean of heart” than they could not receive the Eucharist.  I understand that the Eucharist is ‘sacred’ (and I hesitate to use that word) in Catholic tradition, but in refusing to share the bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ (different argument for a different time), with other believers, you are putting yourself above others.  Just like the Pharisees did two thousand years ago.

This goes hand in hand with what many Catholics believe and profess, that to earn the mercy of forgiveness, one must do something for God.  Wither it be an act of kindness, a monthly act of service, or reciting a specific prayer there are many who have told me that to be a Christian, you must do these things. 

God called the sick, the sinners, the drunkards, the tax collectors, inviting them in because when they recieved forgiveness, they did so with open hearts.  Then they went and tried to turn their lives around.  To accept the calling of Christ, all one has to do is say yes. 

It is after the acceptance of God into ones heart that the change begins.  It cannot begin before, because at that point, one does not know God.  In living for God, our lives change.  If we are not living for God, then there would be no change. 

We need to break bread with all believers, not just select ones in a specific denomination. 

Just some thoughts…

God Bless and PEACE

Looking Back at 2009

In the new movie, Avatar, there is a point in which the main character comes back to his body, after experiencing life and love through his avatar (see the movie for all the details) and he asks himself the question “What are you doing?”

As I sit here, at almost three in the morning on the first day of the new year, I feel like a ‘dreamwalker’, where I am living a life in a different world, only to constantly return to a different body, a different world, and a different set of rules.  I sit awake after everyone has left the party, and I am asking myself that same question:  “What are you doing?”

Looking back on this past year, I see many stepping-stones, mountains, valleys, burned bridges and skid marks along the road.  Overall, I see growth, but I am constantly drawn to small details that point out all the places where I didn’t get it right the first time, and probably won’t get the chance to make things right.  I see darkness, blinded by great light and valleys overshadowed by peaks that tear through the sky. 

I’ve learned a lot through silence this past year.  Never have I before been able to silence all the noise of my heart, but in experiencing life without the distractions of modern technology in Uganda, I learned to be still. 

I have felt the pulls of the heart, calling me to missions, calling me to God.  In running so hard away from God, I found that my passion is in the palm of his hand, and he is calling me back to him. 

I have learned so much about the Church, the Body of Christ through fellowship and the love that has been poured out over me on campus and at Radius Church in Greenville.  I have experienced the love of Christ through a family of guys and an extended network of amazing believers on campus. 

This past year, I had many amazing opportunities.  I had the priviledge of meeting and helping Clayton King at BCM’s annual conference, Converge.  I had the opportunity to hook up with the amazing people of Akia-Ashianut and experience God’s grace and mercy in Uganda.  I have had the honor of sharing the story of the people of Agule, through words, images and love.  I have been given the blessing of the Cockins Family of South Rouse, an amazing group of guys who share the love of Christ throughout Anderson. 

I get back home from school, and I feel as if i have been rudely awoken from the life of a ‘dreamwalker’.  Here, back at home, I do not have the community of fellowship that the college campus has given me.  Everyone seems out of touch and so distant, even those that I am closest to. 

I sit here, one of the only sober ones from the New Years celebration and I am asking myself “What are you doing?” 

I cannot answer that honestly.  I wish I could, but it’s hard to strive for God when it feels like everyone in the ‘real world’ back home is holding you back.  There are so few people who I can talk to, it’s hard…

This next year will be challenging.  I am finishing up college, graduating and moving on to ‘bigger things’.  I don’t know what God has in store for me, but I know His hand is guiding all the pieces into place.

God Bless and PEACE