Thursday, November 25, 2010

My grown-up Christmas list

Over the last few years I've been struggling with Christmas. I've been captured by the idea that Christmas needs to be more about proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven and celebrating the Messiah, the Deliver, the King and less about packages with ribbons and bows. The last few years as this conviction as been examined and etched out in my soul I never really had to confront it because... well I didn't have much and always seemed to be in-transit. This year was different, is different. I'm working a steady job that pays well and although Melissa and I aren't loaded we aren't scrapping the bottom of the jar for peanut butter. Plus I have some roots I have a place that is home and a community in which I plan to be a part of for awhile. So this is the year when I stop thinking about these things and do something about. I'm planning a Christmas party for the youth group with this in mind so that as we celebrate we also act.
I wish I was a goo din my own life. The other day my wife asked me for a list of ideas for her family which I was able to come up with. Yet now as I think about the list I realized that I forgot this idea. So I'm taking the chance to update my list. For those of you whom this is a little to late. I'm sorry I didn't get this sooner and thank you for the present I know that it will bring a smile to my face and joy in my life but for those that are still searching here are things that will grip my heart. Give a gift in my name send a donation to these places.

Josiah Venture

4 Kids of South Florida:

For what I really want is the gospel to be proclaimed and the hopeless to find hope.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Does the salt go over the right or left?

Recently I was examining my life and faith...which tends to happen at least ever couple months it seems this past year and a half. As I faced yet another big decision and life change I noticed something in my thinking. I looked as saw how easy it was for me to lean upon my faith like a superstition.
All my actions toward God became this scripted event that I had relieved many times before. My admission of short coming and dealing with guilt of sin. Followed by my panic stricken pleading for some wisdom and guidance as if I God would speak in some supernatural way if only I could convey to him my great need. Then I wait. I wait for some sign a song on the radio, my Bible to open to some special verse, a stranger on the street or some mystical feeling of peace and fulfillment. Its funny how when I am longing for a sign I forget that God gave me intelligence and a free will. I become so involved in not missing the supernatural sign I'm waiting for that I begin to make everything into the sign I'm looking for and I begin to interpret these signs into saying what I want them to say.
That isn't how it works is it though, God doesn't open the heavens and write on the wall. I'm pretty sure if he did I'd be more freaked to see a hand writing on the wall then to catch the message. No Instead God created us in his image. He gave us the ability to make decisions and a free will to enact them. He tells us to trust in him and his sovereignty. He constantly is reminding his people that He is not a God that is constrained by people groups, state lines and legal jurisdiction. He promises to be with us then tells us to move.
This time I made me decision I didn't barter with God. I didn't lay out a fleece. I simply trusted. I trusted that he wouldn't allow the wrong decision to be made. I trusted that he would be with us. I trusted that he wanted what was best for Melissa and myself. I trust that dealing with the consequences will help shape us into better reflections of Christ.
To be honest there is no peace in the solution. My gut it still in knots, my brain still mulling over pros and cons. My superstitious nature still wants to test and challenge and barter. Instead I choose trust knowing more deeply the God I love.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fun with Morality

I always find public opinion polls interesting. I like to see where we as a society stand on moral issues. Its also a secret for me to indulge that guilty side that delights in being judgmental. I can sit here and judge Joe Shmoe for being too narrow minded or for not being moral enough. Its the man inside me who sits curling his handle bar mustache while laughing diabolically. mmmuHahaha excellent, excellent. (That is my laugh I hope when you read this you insert the appropriate sound image there. Also the excellent are where the mustache is curled.)

I find there are a few things of note for starters look at the categories relating to death.
  • Look at the exact split on Assisted Suicide. How crazy is that.
  • Also with all the clamor made about abortion its only viewed favorable by around 1/3 of the people.
  • I want to say something about the 77% of people who find suicide morally wrong but the only thing I can think is how much that speaks of the desperation that is suicide.
Look at the issue of cloning. I think its strange that we live in a world were cloning is considered a moral conundrum. I how cool is it that we deal with a problem that has been regulated to Science Fiction most of its life.
  • Only 9% percent of people are for cloning humans...I guess those 9% are the remnants of the Galactic Empire...Star Wars...any body, any body? Fine moving on.
  • Why is it that I think 2/3 of people are against cloning animals because they are afraid to eat them. Remember how big it was when Dolly the Lamb was cloned?
  • Then there is the growing issue of embryo stem cell research. (Notice the pun, I thought it was really good) only 32% of people think it is wrong. Interesting isn't especially when you look at it with the number on abortion. It feels like the public opinion is opposite from what we are lead to believe.
No lets look at sex.
  • More people find sex between unmarried people more acceptable than having a baby outside of marriage. Sure its only 5 points but does any one else find that odd.
  • 40 percent of Americans believe you should be married to have a kid yet Hollywood is encouraging the idea that a woman doesn't need a man. ie The Switch and The Back-up Plan plus the real life example of Angelina Jolie Then again Hollywood always pushed the limits
  • People will want to point to the numbers for Homosexual relationships and talk about how they are more acceptable. Yet I find the almost universal view that adultery is wrong to be more shocking, not that the belief is shocking but that 92% of Americans hold it.
  • Looking at the acceptability of divorce 69% one would question the importance of marriage in our society yet with all the other stats pertaining to marriage and sex one would be foolish to dismiss it. I think this really just goes to show you that divorce is messy thing.
I think that is enough oh my opinions for now. Let me know your thoughts and observations please, the comments sections would be a good place to start doing that. Remember whenever we talk right and wrong it is best done in community.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The secret of my success

These last few weeks I've had the chance to observe a lot of people; my classmates, the hundreds of other people at the training center, the kids that participated in WOW and the other people I've encountered around Dallas. I was reminded about how important confidence is. This week was the week we took the first of our three test for dispatch training. Our instructor was saying that on average a person will drop 10 points on the test from their practice test scores. I've never really understood this occurrence. I don't really understand how someone can do worse simply because its a test. I've tried to understand it and reason it out and the best I can come up with is that its a confidence issue. Which means it ultimately an identity issue. I'm a firm believer that confidence is directly linked to our identity. Watch how people carry themselves. I bet you'll find that the ones the carry themselves with the most confidence are the firmest set in their identity. I feel like this is a good point to make a side note talking about true confidence and weak confidence that is usually covered up by loud boasting. Its important not to confuse the two.
With all this talk of Lebron James its really funny to see how people describe him and as good as he is there is always some one to point out that he isn't a champion. Scoring titles, MVP, the King, the second coming of NBA titles. Its a unique study watch his reaction to all this. To watch him and his carefully crafted image and his identity all revolve around his lack of championships. Even know the only question any one is asking about him is how many titles will Miami win?
So as I sat around in a little room for 5.5 hours with this big test on my mind. 5.5 hours of waiting that shouldn't have happened. 5.5 extra hours of pressure and anxiety. I slept. I actually became more calm as the time passed. As every one was talking about how this must really effect you and totally ruins your day. I just sat back and smiled. Not because I knew the stuff. Not because I had some extra study time. I just sat there a thought of what defines me.
I will never lack confidence because I am defined by God's love for me. My Identity as a child of God, a co-heir with Christ, and a victor over the enemy will always mean more than my test scores, my looks, my name it.
I guess that is why people that lack confidence move my heart.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How could I forget

I'm not generally a forgetful guy. In fact when it comes to useless trivia I'm a wellspring of information. No matter how similar to a still trap my mind is I forget things. We all do, its normal. Forgetfulness is part of the human condition. This is why we have sticky notes, alarm clocks and calendars or for some people strings on their fingers. I personally prefer the Memento method. (interesting movie!)
I forget to take out the garbage or to sort the recycling. Some times I forget to wash behind my ears. From time to time in the shower I forget if I've washed my hair...which means double shampoo usage luckily I don't use much cause I hardly have any hair. I'll tell you a secrete, shhh come closer, I occasionally forget to lock my car door. But these are little things we all forget little things.
It was recently that I realized I had forgotten a Major thing, a life changing thing. I forgot about the joy of following Jesus. I forgot about the joy that comes with all the promises of grace and forgiveness. Its crazy I know but some where in the daily grind of life mixed with all the questions and doubts I lost track of the simple joy that comes from being forgiven.
I realized this during of time of worship here are the two songs that brought me back may they remind or entice you of joy. I recommend ignoring the video and focusing on the sound.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

a lonely place I stand

I sometimes wonder about Christianity. I look at my life and wonder how it has changed me. I look at my day to day existence and wonder how it impacts my day. On the days I'm really introspective, or just have too much time on my hands, I compare different religious philosophies. The thing that I keep coming back to is forgiveness. I'm constantly in grateful awe of it, I find no other way to express myself toward the promise and fulfillment of the forgiveness of God. But that isn't what I'm writing this about. This isn't about the need for forgiveness or the joy that it brings. This is about the command to do like wise.
As I strive toward this model, giving this depth of forgiveness, I find myself...alone. I don't mean alone as in there is no other person on this road or as good at doing this as I am. I find myself in a strange empty place because it is counter-cultural to everything I want to do. Yet my heart is compelled from a deep conviction that this is the only way. I'm convinced that one of the most suicidal things you can do is live a life of forgiveness.
I've watched many people dear to my heart struggle with forgiveness with out knowing it because they don't get it...or maybe the do and just can't bring themselves to that point.
I've been learning that to truly forgive, like the God model, angers people, it frustrates and bewilders people. Its hard and its painful. If you don't carry the conviction of pursuing the model of God than it makes absolutely no sense.
It is a lonely place to let the pain you feel pass with out making a note. It is a lonely place to not seek retribution for a wrong. It is a lonely place to maintain a relationship instead of cutting your losses.
It is a lonely place but "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." "Forgive as the Lord forgave you. "

It would be so much easier if Forgivness didn't come with a cross...I think that's the point.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Random Note

Ok so here is a random note on my life. Sorry I've been inactive for awhile...really I plan to change that.
So I was watching the NFL draft and some thing happened that I thought was really cool.
With all the craziness in the world and the things that make you scratch your head and wonder how is this happening its cool to see something cool like this happen. I mean I saw a kids dream come true.That is so awesome.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thoughts of the day

Today I was stripping wallpaper, which means lots of time to think about whatever crosses my mind which happened to be a lot today. I decided that instead of giving an individual post to all the thoughts I had and therefore not actually getting to anything beyond my first post. As I was stripping I happened to also be rocking out to the old school band Rage Against the Machine. Yes i do realize how dated the are and therefore dates me and yes I know that some of you probably have no idea who they are or think that choosing their music may be a questionable choice. This leads me to my first thought.
  • Man can they rock! Seriously I don't think I can remember that last time I enjoyed just rocking out so much. Between the thundering bass and drums to Morello's amazing and inventive guitar playing lies the rage filled, politically incendiary, sometimes expletive laden lyrics of Zack de la Rocha. Seriously if you missed the boat or forgot how much they rocked I recommend checking them out preferably at a high volume. Beware you just might be offended.
  • As I was rocking out to Rage I realized something. As a Jr. Higher when I first started listening to Rage I had no idea of there political lean. Really I just knew they rocked. Later on I realized more of the political bent but even then not the full extent. As I listened today for the first time...well for what seemed like the firs time. I realized just were they stood. The next thought made me laugh cause, frankly, I don't think they'd like it. I'm also sure they wouldn't enjoy the above picture. Anyway I realized through their music that I love America. Only in America would a socialist leaning group be able to bad mouth the history of the country, condemned its political system and bash its capitalist way of life all while making having 2 albums reach number 1 on the charts, appearing on MTV and all around making tons of money off suburban kids spending the money of their rich parents with out caring about "wage slaves", the EZLN or the union. In fact most of the kids that rocked out to Rage probably wanted to one day make millions on the stock exchange. I know because I was one. All that to say I love the freedom America gives. I love it with its faults and imperfections because I know of no other place that gives as much freedom. Honestly do you?
  • Some where among all that I started thinking about support raising. Oh support raising how I hate asking other people for money. I thought about our economy and how its pretty much just a giant system of support raising. Really it's people giving money to some one else which they then use to provide for themselves plus cover the cost of what ever it is they are doing. I mean really all I'm asking is that they support me like they would Walmart, Applebee's or the boy that mows their yard. The trick to it is making people think that my cause, essentially me, is worth spending their money on or at. Its just a lot more personal than a faceless corporation.
Wow that is a lot of words...I'm sorry. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Its easy to ask when you know the answer.

On a cold, wet night on the beginning of the new year I took her out to dinner. 2 hours and 30 minutes later I was kneeling in the cold wet sand on a desolate, moon-lit beach. I heard the words "will you marry me?" come out of my mouth and as I waited for her to respond time froze.
I thought back to when I first say her in the front of the auditorium at Moody. She was hard not to see, that's a lie she was surround by tall white guys hidden like a bush in a forest. She was hard not to notice, a short, brown ball of energy, dancing and laughing with all the boy's glee club around her. That was a few years before we meet.
My mind fast forwarded through our days sharing meals, laughing, talking, stabbing fruit. Me listening to her vent about her boy problems. Her flirting with me about being her answer to those problems. Me flirting back in an awkward Czechlish accent.
I thought of our time at JSB and how I regretted not being the date she really deserved cause although I enjoyed her company I wasn't exactly stoked to be there with her. But She looked amazing and we did have a really good time.
I thought back to almost a year ago and how I pulled of an amazing prank on her that not only worked so well it almost made her cry but unknowingly would effect the rest of my life. I still love that prank, it make me laugh in my sleep.
I thought about the time that followed the hours spent chatting or on the phone. The through the night marathon calls that at first just happened by accident. And resulted in one phone ending up in the hot tub.
I thought about last spring and our first date. Running to Dunkin' in the rain, and a park bench by the fountain. On May 26th in a Chicago airport on my way to Czech for 11 weeks I made what was the best decisions of my life at what could have been one of the worst times to make it.
My mind traced back to August 18 when after months of dating I'd finally get to see my girlfriend. I thought about all the dates we had since then (3) and the all the hellos and goodbyes at the airports that were talking their toll and how gloriously there days were soon to come to an end.
I thought about all the family craziness and how this was the easiest decision I ever made. Really by far the easiest, this coming from a guy who decides what shirt to ware by finding the semi-clean one from the day before on the floor.
then she said