Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Birds and Flowers

Truth is a funny thing. It doesn’t matter in your own mind until it affects you. Truth is truth and will not change, but it is funny how a person can have no concern for it until it affects them. Even if you believe something is true, when its implications and consequences actually hit home and sit on you, then it becomes such a different type of truth or belief that you have. I have always pulled the Christian card when things were going wrong and say, “I trust the Lord, He will provide!” This is a great thing to say, but an even more powerful thing to actually believe with all that you are made of. Lately I’ve been going through this little funk of stress, doubt, questions, worries, and fears. Where will I be in a year? Do I feel like I am in the right place? Do I feel God is using me? How in the world am I going to pay rent this month? What if things don’t work out in Indy, then what? When I graduate I’d like to move somewhere new, but what if God doesn’t want me there? How am I supposed to survive if my budget doesn’t make sense on paper? I’m sure you are already pulling your hair out and that is why I keep mine cut so short, honestly, because I want to rip it all out when I think about all this. It is maddening to worry about all of this. Worry? Yes Worry!

I get these feelings of just giving up and sleeping all day. When I worry about all this stuff my attitude changes, my prayer life is horrible, and my time in the Word is non-existent. You would think God would say something about this right? Ding ding ding ding, He did! I knew He did but this statement really hit me yesterday and tore all these burdens off my chest and freed me from insanity! Jesus is talking to the disciples in Matthew Ch 6 and in verse 25-34 goes on with this chat about not worrying. I’m sure He had heard them worry about stuff in His time with them. So Jesus gives them practical examples of how the Father cares for the birds and flowers without them worrying. Then He infers with a rhetorical questions, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus then says don’t run around worrying about all these things, what to eat, what to wear, what to drink, as the heathens do. “Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matt 6:33-34).” God plans are the one’s that will be done anyways. They are always right. Proverbs 19:21 says that many are the plans of a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s that will prevail. I need to stop planning and trust God will provide me with my needs when I am seeking His kingdom first. We often like to give the disciples a rough time for being thick headed but I often wonder if Jesus would like to give me a swift slap to the back of the head when I miss beautiful truths like this. May you submit your worries to God and trust He will provide for you as He does the birds and flowers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Burn it all up!



Back in the day when Moses roamed around God met him up on Mt Sinai. On the mountain He gave Moses directions for what the temple was to look like and how it was to function. This is all towards the end of the book of Exodus. Then beginning in Leviticus God gives sacrificial rules and regulations for Israel. Through out the entire book rules are set for Israel. God continually reminds them that He is the god that brought them out of Egypt and is worthy of their sacrifices. So Israel did exactly (some of the time) what He asked and sacrificed to God. God isn’t a big fan of left overs either. In the sin offering if any meat if left over from the offering the priests are told to burn it up. The idea here is that God requires a complete offering, a complete sacrifice to atone for sins. Fast forward to the time of Christ; Jesus knew the entire time of His ministry what the climax and resolution would be. Jesus had to die to complete the atonement of sins for the entire world that would put their faith in Him. There was no prick of the finger or blood drive that Jesus attended. He died on the cross; His blood was shed, completely. God requires sacrifices and offerings to be complete, there is no such thing as a partial offering or sacrifice to God.
Sunday I was reminded of this, that God requires full offerings. In Romans 12:1-2 Paul gives a lovely definition of what true worship is. In 12:1 Paul urges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and pleasing to God and says that that is true worship. Each morning I wake up and submit myself to the Lord and each day I try my hardest to give my full self to God. I wonder how many days I give Him a partial sacrifice. In the Old Testament days if a priest brought anything but a total offering and totally ate it or totally burned it up, God would not accept it. I know that we are accepted under the blood of Christ, but how much of ourselves are we truly offering God? Is it a partial offering? Partial offerings don’t work for Him. So may you think to give Him all of you and truly worship Him by giving your whole self as a sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him.

Baby Grace

I’ve been keeping up with this story about “Baby Grace” recently. As I read this morning I became sick to my stomach and angry, angry to the point where I thought, “$350,000 bail, that’s stupid, why don’t they just kill them both, they’ve admitted to killing the girl!” I was discussing the tragedy and disgusting act of humanity completed by these two repulsive human beings and I was suddenly hit with this thought of grace. In what we know as the Sermon on the Mount Jesus goes through all these attributes and characteristics of what a person following Him would look like. Jesus was not one to back down from making people cringe or seasoning His discourses with a little against the grain thinking. Jesus gets to one point in the Sermon on the Mount and begins to talk about love, not just love for your neighbor, but your enemy as well. That seems like a no-brainer on most days, pretty simple, just love everyone, love your neighbor and your enemy. This morning I had to wrestle with this thought, with this new command by Jesus to love those who hate us. He calls us to love outside of what or who we are comfortable loving.

So as rage filled my belly this morning as I read about 2 young “parents” throwing their daughter around by the hair, holding her head under water, and smashing her little skull on tile floors, I found it hard to find love or grace anywhere within my body or soul. I think it is in moments like this when we are challenged to go against the grain and follow Jesus and take what He said to heart, actually love our enemies, that love becomes beautiful. Love within comfort is not really love is it. The kind of love Jesus showed was the kind that makes you stand out, the kind that gets you spit on and mocked, the kind of love that eventually gets you killed. This love is the love Jesus was talking about when He commanded us to love our enemies. He ends his short dialogue on this with another command that confirms Jesus wants us to love like he loves, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).”

So being perfect like my Father in heaven and loving like my Father in heaven requires me to follow the example Jesus set. I’m convicted to no longer shake my fist and lick my chops at these two murders, but have compassion in my soul and love them, and pray God will forgive them and they will seek Him. As much as I think it is wrong that they should be forgiven, who in the world am I to make that call?! In a world full of so much controversy, war, politics, religious diversity, and pure evil, Jesus calls us to love our enemies. This is such a hard thing to do and it is in moments like reading about parents killing children or terrorist killing innocent people that this love becomes so difficult to have. I pray the Lord will fill you with love and you will strive to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect and love!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey, Cranberries, and Jesus


Turkey, gravy, potatoes, corn, green beans, pies, soda, desserts, family, friends, football, fall, fireplaces…These are just a few words that can bring about great memories of Thanksgiving in many minds and hearts. A quick read (that makes me laugh, it is such a heavy book so there is nothing “quick” about it) through Hebrews reminded me of what I am most thankful for. Jesus Christ as my high priest tearing the veil in two so the Holy of Holies is no longer in the temple but in the communion between Christ and His followers. It’s amazing to just sit down and think about all God has done for us, the eternal life He offers, the atonement for sins through Christ, and the abundant life through Him. As I looked at the kitchen full of food, a great abundance, I realize that this abundant life is more than turkey and ham and just look around the room at all the beautiful people who have been joined in community by a common faith in Jesus Christ.

A couple of families from Indy Metro decided to put together a Thanksgiving meal for several people within our community who would otherwise do without. So there we were, people in the living room, kids running around upstairs like crazy, men sitting in the dinning room singing the I’m stuffed blues, laughter in the air, and warmth from the fireplace, ahhh this is the life. So this is what it looks like then I thought to myself. This is what a Christian community looks like. I was so grateful to be able to help serve others and be a part of a larger family. And then I remember in Hebrews the writer also saying the Word is living and active. I can say truly I saw the Word moving yesterday.

None of it would have been possible without Jesus. So ultimately on any Thanksgiving what is really going on is God offering us a greater opportunity to see Himself through love and community. I wish we could save the leftovers of that one day like we do the mashed potatoes and gravy. I plan on it though, in some abstract way, I plan to keep reheating this community I saw yesterday and keep on enjoying it all, this abundant life in Christ.

Wascalie Wabbit!


Here I go again, making mad links between stories and memories…

I’ve been keeping up with this one story on the news about this small Russian orthodox church. Apparently their self proclaimed “prophet” has led them to believe the world is going to end in May of 2008. Because of this proclamation they have barricaded themselves in this little hole with enough food and water to last. Not surprisingly the Russian authorities have found this “prophet” insane and are working with him now to coax his followers out of the hole because it is unhealthy and unsanitary, and they also have children down there. Then I came across an article on Relevant’s website talking about the outside Jesus. Basically the author suggest that much of Jesus ministry was not focused inside the church or His followers, but the majority of the teachings were located and focused outside of the religious society of that day. Jesus taught that to follow Him is to live in the world but to not be of the world because we are born from above now, we have been reborn in the Spirit by having faith in Christ.

So we don’t live in anticipation of escape from this world, we should live in anticipation of Jesus coming back and restoring this world. It’s interesting to just look at the Bible holistically. It starts in a garden and ends in a garden. Everything in between is God redeeming what He created. We are part of this story, part of this journey, part of the redemption process. God actually includes us in His work. Following Jesus has little to do with making your buildings bigger, just getting by until He comes back, or barricading yourself in a little hole. Jesus wants us to infect the world with His love. His will is to see all men come to Him. He is giving us more time to do so, in fact. So the world shouldn’t be looking in holes for followers of Christ, they should be surrounded by them in the real world; places like work, coffee shops, basketball courts, hair salons, street corners, under overpasses, and anywhere a human being can be found who needs Jesus. We need to be out spreading the news, not hording it to ourselves. God didn’t create a cartoon called Looney Tunes for us to mimic, we should be no rabbit in the hole named Bugs, always running from a pesky hunter, Elmer. So break out of whatever hole you find yourself in, whether it is your comfort zone, Christian world (not saying this is bad, but if you drink Christian coffee, wear Christian clothes, listen to Christian music, only have Christian friends, and only do things labeled Christian, then how in the world are you supposed to reach non-Christians?), fears, pain, or past, escape from the hole and tell the world, Jesus is King and He offers us redemption, reconciliation with a Holy God. We must respond with faith and repentance, but the gift of grace is free through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. That message is only a cute thought in a hole though, it becomes powerful when it surfaces and starts touching lives and changing communities.

Shut De Do

I have a friend named Jessica who is a very well spoken, intelligent woman. The reason I tell you she is well spoken is because when she sings one song in particular I die laughing. It is some kind of a tribal song from Africa or Jamaica one. It starts off, “Shut de do keep out de devil…” She sings it with the best accent ever; she even does the little chanting sometimes. Anyways, every time I hear this song it makes me smile, especially when she sings it. So I’ve been trying to learn it and being the efficient worker I am decide to Google it one day while I’m at work. So I found it, all the lyrics to the song, maybe you want to learn them too. It’s a pretty fun song and if you can find someone who can do a good island-y accent it makes it all the better. So check out the website below and enjoy!

http://letras.terra.com.br/katinas/630760/

Beyond Leaves

On my way to work this morning (I know it is lame I have to work the day after Thanksgiving!) I noticed how the sidewalks were stained with leaves from the trees, yellow, red, and brown. I just noticed how beautiful it all really was and then just praised God for the picture he paints for me each morning on my way to work. So I just started singing in my head and this is what I came up with…random I know.

I wish you could see the beauty beyond these leaves, striking painted trees.
The wind in the night blows away the stars for the sunrise at dawn.
The deeper we look, the more that we find, we’re not alone, we weren’t left behind.
We’re not just memories, He’s still among men.
We notice when we look deep, beyond the trees.
He’s in the wind, in the rain, He is the reason there’s comfort in pain.
He’s there when we breathe, He’s not far, He’s the heart of who we really are.
Just a glimpse past subjection, outside the reflection of the moon in the sky, beyond the beauty of snow fall at night, He’s there, waiting with arms open wide.
What do we see, open our eyes, help me to see further than what lies before my eyes.
I see beauty in the wind, it reminds me you are there, it reminds me you are here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Entitlement Disease

Monday night in class we had to break off into small groups and discuss several of Jesus’ parables. We had Matthew 20: 1-16, the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Basically here is the deal on what is going on... Jesus just tells the disciples that they will be rulers sitting on thrones in the kingdom around His. Then Jesus goes into a discourse on what the kingdom of Heaven is like. He says it’s like a landowner who went out to hire workers in the morning. So throughout the rest of the day every couple of hours the landowner goes out and hires new workers. At the end of the day He gathers everyone and pays them all equal, but starts with the last one’s hired. Like any of us, when the workers who were hired first get up to the landowner they expect to be paid more. The workers grumble against the landowner and receive this response, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

Do you ever feel this way or have you ever? I’m an active follower of Christ, I serve in the local church, I serve the community, and actively pursue my relationship with the Lord. When I see someone new to the faith get blessed a typical response of anyone is, “I’ve been doing all this work and they are only a baby, why do they get that?” The dangerous mentality that we fall into is that we are entitled to something because we do certain things. It is what I call the entitlement disease. We get all prideful and think God owes of something because of what we do for Him. It is a really nasty process and path that we can get on. The problem begins when we lose our focus. When we shift our focus off the Lord and onto ourselves it is easy to begin looking better or being better or worse than others. When I am focused on the Lord, I know that I am no where near being anything and except His grace as a gift and am honored to do the work of the kingdom. When I start looking around at others I start creating this standard, basically I am the standard and anything less than me is unacceptable and I begin to see the work I do for the Lord as a burden and that I am owed something more because I’ve been working longer and harder than others. So here is a list of things I can tell God entitle me to something: I go to church, I pray, I serve the community, I care for the poor. God’s response might look a little bit like this if I were to actually sit down and compare lists with Him: I created the earth, I am Love, the beach, Jay-z, Nike shoes, rain, wind, the smell of spring in the air, snow, that tingly feeling you get inside when you fall in love, colors, sense, etc. As you can see I would be trumped to say the least. So once I get to thinking I am entitled, it’s like this disease that infects me and affects everything else.

God’s grace is His to give. As humans we cannot understand what true grace looks like because we are flawed and don’t see things as God does. The question for me is not whether I think it is fair that God gives His grace out in such a manner as the last being first because honestly that is hard for me to resolve within my own mind. The question is do I trust God and that His grace is enough? So let’s remind ourselves that we are not entitled to anything, actually I take that back, the only thing we are entitled to is death and an eternity away from God. God in His great character decided to extend grace to us by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So next time you feel like the worker with sweat running down his brow, aching back, blistered feet, callused hands, remember it is a great honor to serve the Lord and receive His grace. Do not worry about how He decides to extend it to others.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hippie misunderstanding


“I’m not concerned about the money, I just want people to do what’s right, I’m a musician and really spiritual, I’m a Zen Buddhist Christian.”

Huh? Really? What does that mean?

Zen Buddhism is really just the practice of meditation to uncover a deeper meaning of life, it has no god that it worships, rather worships the complexity of the human mind. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6).” Jesus doesn’t offer a way to the way like so many other religions do, but is in fact The Way Himself. Every other religion offers a way to the truth or something, Jesus says that He is the way, no one has ever made that claim before. He is the only way to the father, the creator of the world. I think this musician, like so many other people around the world fail to see is that Jesus did not come to start a religion (He wasn't a huge relgigion fan anyways...read Matthew 22-23) that makes people just do good or add another dimension to their spiritual portfolio. Jesus came so that we may be reconciled with a Holy God. By having faith in Christ and following Him we become more like Him, thus doing things that are “good” in the world’s eyes. The actions themselves are not what Jesus was after, He wants everyone to come to faith in Him and by doing so there will be a lifestyle change (repentance).

This guys comment just made me sad, he is probably thinking that this religion he practices makes him good enough for God, when in all reality and truth it is only Jesus blood that can make us righteous before God.

Maserati Forgiveness


This morning a gentleman calls in a claim that almost made me cry. Being an automotive fanatic, I cringe frequently hearing about certain vehicles being involved in accidents. This one in particular broke my heart, I could barley take notes on the claim because the tears drowning my keyboard (I’m just kidding, I did not cry about this). Someone had backed into his car. Not a Honda or Ford, not even a Cadillac, but someone had backed into his Maserati GranTurismo! The car in the picture above! Why is it that I made sound effects along the line of OHH, Agh, Ehh, etc. when I heard about his car? Why don’t I react similarly when a Toyota Yaris is involved? Well, I know that the engine is built with fine parts, the interior is crafted by hand, the suspension is fitting for an all out race car. The Toyota Yaris is made in a factory and has millions of clones. Maserati’s are made in limited production because of the time it takes to make them, they are beautiful machines made by hand with attention paid to every detail. That is also why they cost so much. So you can’t look at a Maserati and say, “It’s just a car!” It is when you find out how much went into making this car, how much time and labor hours it took to create what we marvel at that we realize that it is not just another car, but is worth my mouth watering.

I was reading my morning devotional and came across this little jewel of a quote, “Once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, constrained by the love of God.”

Much like we cannot look at a Maserati or Ferrari and say, “That’s just a car,” we cannot look at forgiveness on the surface either. Once we realize how much our forgiveness cost we realize how beautiful the forgiveness is, thus giving it a greater value within ourselves and that make us appreciate and worship God all the more. God’s love cannot be appreciated isolated from forgiveness either, His love is seen in the forgiveness and the forgiveness is magnified by the amount of pain it took to give. We must not look at God as the Candy Land God, who is only love and forgives us because He is just this bubbly feel good type of a being. God is completely just and to fulfill this justice He had to sacrifice a perfect Lamb, Jesus, to atone for our sins. We fully appreciate forgiveness we have been given only by knowing the sacrifice it took to deliver. May you praise God for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and know what forgiveness is worth.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Update Part Twa

Personally, I’m finally comfortable with where and who I am. Moving to Indianapolis allowed me to find myself within the Lord. I am now comfortable with who I am and know what are my strengths and what are my weaknesses. I spoke with my brother when he came to visit and I was telling him how much of a people person I am and how outgoing I am and he goes, “That’s not you, you are shy and introverted.” Well, he was right, but since moving up to Indy I have become a different man in some ways than I was in Jacksonville and believe I have found me. I have a great group of friends up here. I play basketball with DPJ (Daniel Pride Jr) 2-3 times a week. I hang out with other friends at coffee shops and music places frequently as well. We play and pray together, it’s really a cool deal! I consolidated my debt, so financially I am beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Stupid mistakes as an 18 year old take a few years to get under control, but it was a great learning experience for me and I’m sure I will be wiser in the future, plus I’m sure I gave my mom tons of grey hairs with the amount of stress I put on her with all this and I’m not trying to give her grey hairs (you know how women hate those). I’m still a die hard Jacksonville Jaguars fan! I am no fair weather fan! I just need them to come here on Dec 2nd and handle business! I need a W that day! I need something to hush these Colts fans up! I miss the beach and my family a ton. I still work at Safeco Insurance as a claims rep. Safeco is next door to my apartment building! I like to sum up my lifestyle in Indy as Learning, Living, and Loving. It’s what I do! If you have any questions or just want to keep in touch more please email me (asloope@gmail.com), I’d love to hear from you! Also, you can check this website, I blog a lot, so you can get a glimpse into my mind (that’s scary) on a regular basis. I hope this site will help us keep in touch more and keep you in the loop with what’s going on in my life.

Update Part Dose

As a supplement to learning how to become a more effective leader at school I have the greatest opportunity to be involved at the ground level within a church plant, Indy Metro Church. This hands-on experience has been painful, beautiful, hard, and ultimately the best experience I can have. I often forget that I am only 24 and have only been truly walking with the Lord for 3 years now. I get so involved in leadership and things at the ground level that I am guilty of forgetting that I am a student and learner first and leader second. I am told by people who I have a great deal of respect for that I have great potential to be a very effective leader and church planter so that excites me. I still have so many things within my own life to take care of and realize each day that the most beautiful thing I know Is that I don’t know. The learning process excites me. The biggest issue I have that hinders me from being an effective leader is my mouth though. I tend to say what I think when I think it and am slowly and painfully learning that this is no good. Thanks to the men I have in my life I am able to be scolded in love and pruned so I can grown more. I have close relationships with Dan Pride, the lead pastor, and Aaron Story, the executive pastor, so being held accountable for things within leadership or the church is easy to com by, which I am very fortunate to have in my life.

I am the community action coordinator at Indy Metro (fancy right? Ha ha). It makes me laugh to think I am a leader in a church…it’s just amazing to see how much God has changed me and uses me, He sure likes to use broken tools doesn’t he?! Since serving the community and meeting needs is a huge area of passion for me, this responsibility is great for me. I am able to lead people into serving the community immediately around us and in doing so have been able to see unity among so many people in our church body. When I get to see the black and white words turn in flesh and blood I am taken back by the beauty of it all, the active body of Christ. I always run into doing too much so I am constantly praying that God will help me be a better manager of the time and money He gives me.

Indy Metro Church has been a tremendous thing to watch grow and change. On our year anniversary service we had several of the people who have been touched by what God is doing through IMC give their testimonies and thanks for IMC. We have seen several people be baptized and putt heir faith in the Lord. Beautiful stories, beautiful people, beautiful Savior. Not a tear is dry in the house when we hear testimonies or watch new believers be baptized. I’ve been able to help feed the poor, be an active part in someone’s life who otherwise wouldn’t have anyone to love them. God has used so many people to change what the northeast quadrant of downtown Indianapolis looks and feels like. Thursday (Thanksgiving) we are going to pick up several families in the Barton House (a government housing development full of pain and broken people) and a couple homeless people I know down to a friend’s house and have dinner with them. Beyond handing out food at a mission, we are actually spending time with them on a holiday that can seem so lonely to many. Seeing things like this confirm why God brought me up here. Indy Metro Church is growing and God is doing great things with it. We are just a small body of believers that are looking forward to seeing the world change a city at a time by Jesus Christ.

Update Part One

I received a call from a friend this morning at 740am. We talked for a little bit and I had to apologize for my lack of communication and keeping in touch. So this is me updating everyone on what has happening and is happening in my life up here in the circle city (Indianapolis)! I’m not sure when the last time a major update went out, but I know I was already living in my apartment downtown, but I’ll start from pretty close to the beginning of it all. I’ve now been up here almost 2 years (it will be two years on March 11, 2008). I live downtown, 2 blocks away from the circle, which is the center of the city and desired location of everyone in the city on any given weekend. Living downtown in itself has so much I could write about, but for the sake of space, I’ll just say it is different, totally different form living in the suburbs of Jacksonville, FL. I’m forced to face issues like homelessness, homosexuality, drugs, poverty, broken families, and the party/club life. These issues seem to hide themselves pretty well in the suburbs, that is why the suburbs scare me! No one talks! I get to see the same people all the time so I am able to have many great conversations. I live two blocks from the building where we gather on Sundays and the gym so walking has become something that is second nature. I hang out with friends on the circle where we get Starbucks and just goof around. We go to Radio Radio in Fountain Square, it’s a little old school place where live music is played, it’s set up like a lounge, and only costs 5-10 to get in to watch at least 3 shows. My appreciation for art and music has grown since living downtown, since there is so much of it around.

I am in school now as well. I go to Crossroads Bible College. It is a small school about 10 minutes away. The only reason I drive is to actually go to school. I am about to end my second semester. The program I am in is an accelerated deal. Each class is only 5 weeks long. I go to class once a week, Monday nights from 6-10pm. Homework is due each week, there are no tests, but my finals count as 50% of my grade. Luckily for me all the finals consist of papers and I love to write. I have made straight A’s thus far and am super excited about learning more and more about Jesus Christ and how to teach and become a more effective leader.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bad Day


A friend (he calls himself Daddy-O or Diamond Don or Dandy Don) at work says this in a random context of conversation. So we are just talking about this and that, nothing really, shooting the breeze, just passing time between calls. So he says, “You know what? Yesterday I bent down to pick up a dime and a quarter fell out of my pocket and fell down the sewer. That’s how my day went!” I don’t know why, but this has me rolling on the floor laughing. Thought you might enjoy something not deep and spiritual for a change.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wedding Bells…no wait…Dogs barking

Man in India Marries Dog to Atone for Stoning to Death Mating Canines
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,311079,00.html

Seriously? Did I read this correctly? A boy sees two dogs getting it on when he is 15, kills them, and hangs them from a tree. He believes he has the dog curse, so in order to “atone” for his sins he marries a dog. No joke, the picture does not lie. This dog was dressed in ceremonial wedding apparel. There are tons of issues within the context of this news, who owns the dog, how does this man think a marriage will work with a dog, will they sleep together, children, the list goes on and on. The most outstanding and ultimately most important issue raised in this article is the use of the word atone. This man thinks that getting married to this dog will atone (which means to cover) his sin.

Everyone has this deep feeling of the need for forgiveness when they sin. The word sin is not used that much these days, but people feel like they need some kind of justification or be told they are okay when they mess up. The problem is that people don’t realize what atonement really looks like and who they can get it from. God offered Israel temporary atonement through the temple worship and sacrificial system (Leviticus). They could never be completely perfect within this Law so God set it up in a way where they were looking for a Messiah. Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect lamb. By Jesus’ blood those who believe in Him are counted as righteous, their sins are atoned for (Romans 5). We can never do enough community service projects, buy enough children’s miracle network balloons, give enough to charities, or do any religious activities that will grant us forgiveness. It is only by having faith in Jesus Christ we can truly have our sins atoned for. God is completely just and cannot accept sinful people, which all humans are, so Jesus is the only way we can be seen or accept by God. Faith in Christ is the only atonement we can find. Stop depending on marrying dogs, praying facing a certain direction at a certain time, being reincarnated, or any other religious activity to forgive you, to atone for your sins, only Jesus can offer this atonement. May you seek Him and may your sins be truly atoned for by faith in Him.

Bull Dust and Golden Cows


The hard thing to do sometimes when reading through Scripture is to imagine that these stories were actually real, events that are historical as well as spiritual. I do believe these events are historical and really happened but some times certain stories are hard to get your mind around. When Elijah was on the mountain at the God-athon with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18) God came down in a fire and burned up Elijah’s offering. This was in order to prove He is the only true and living God. Read that story if you’re not familiar, it is one that will get you all jacked up and ready to serve the Lord. Then there is the story of Israel creating a golden calf to worship (Exodus 32). God is not pleased with these activities. It is against the first commandment he set out for His people (“You shall have no other gods before me” [Exodus 20]). I remember these stories and others like King Nebuchadnezzar trying to make God’s people worship false gods. It doesn’t seem like that would happen these days. I came across this story of a little girl named Lakshmi in India. Lakshmi was born with 4 arms and 4 legs. Naturally, the parents wanted to have this medical marveled corrected so they were able to get surgery to have these additional limbs removed. The residents of the local village they lived in were opposed to this surgery because they believed this little girl was a goddess. It is sad to see people bow down and worship things made by God or created by human hands. This is a vivid example of what is against the first commandment, worshipping other gods. There are more vague gods though. What do you worship? Clothes, your career, your family, your kids, is there something in your life that you’re are putting ahead of the True God as your little god? How many times must we read these stories of God burning up bulls and destroying golden calves to realize that He is a jealous God, He does not want any other gods put before Him? It bothers me deep within my being to read this story of Lakshmi. This village is full of people who think this little girl born with a defect can save them. I pray we can make it across the world to tell of the true living God so they will turn from their bulls, turn form the golden calves, and turn away from false gods.

The Roll


As I’m writing this I am laughing at myself a bit. Lately I feel like an old man. I get up at 6 to drink coffee and have quiet time before work, when I get to work I read all the local and world news sites that I like, then I check my sports sites too. As much as I say that I am anti-procedure, organization makes me itch, and policies are my foe, I have come to realize that I need it. I was having a conversation last night about rest and sleep and how the body enters into certain stages of sleep or rest. I don’t sleep well, maybe a couple hours a night. It’s maddening really! So that morning routine I mentioned up there, that just started two weeks ago. Before that routine started my mornings began with me waking up at 730, looking at my clock, running to the bathroom to take a shower, finding something to wear (basically, look on the floor and try to find something not wrinkled), and running next door to work with only a minute to spare before I must be clocked in at 8; really chaotic honestly. My friend at work actually knows my sleeping and waking habits and each morning would ask, “Did you do that roll thing again today?” I could not hide it because the lines on my face and squinted eyes were a dead give away! So I decided I was going to start my mornings off right and get up early with the intentions of journaling, praying, and getting into the Word. When I start my day off like this I tend to be in great health, great attitude, and a great outlook on the day. As nice as it has been to do this, I have began to revert back to “the roll”. The last three days have been started by that roll. I love rolls, especially the ones fro Texas Roadhouse, but I hate this roll! I’ve come to realize that it is not so much getting up early, but it has more to do with going to be at a decent hour, allowing myself rest. I run myself almost insane, my calendar can barely fit all the things I put on it, and basketball beckons me to the court at least 6 hours a week (not to mention lifting weights 5 days a week). When asked last night what I had planned the rest of the week…I was actually able to lay out a schedule until Friday! No good, foul, technical, red card, do something Adam! Then my mind is flooded with all the scriptures that speak of the Lord as a refuge and Him offering rest. The most restful days I ever had were this past summer. I would wake up on Saturday morning and east breakfast and then go sit in the park and read and journal until it was around dinner time, then I would just read pray until I figured I’d go hang out with some friends. I miss that, I miss finding rest within God. I don’t want the McDonald’s God I’ve created. I’ve put God in this little fast food, run by the drive-thru, sorry I don’t have more than 3 minutes to thank you for my day, box. How ugly that is! So I have this new goal for myself because, as you can probably tell, I am really convicted about this rest idea; find rest, be a better manager of the time God gives me. The reality is that even if I did have 26 hours in a day, I would fill them up too. So more time is not the solution, its more discipline to set aside time within the time I have. I’m desperate for Him and need to actually stop and go to Him for that rest and refuge He offers.

Wow, glad I was able to get that off my chest! I wonder how many others find little to no rest in the Lord, I pray God gives me the strength and discipline to honor Him with my time. So may you find rest in the Creator of the Universe, the Savior of the World, the Prince of Peace.

Monday, November 12, 2007

600hp, $1200 tab, and F-bombs



I don’t miss it… I don’t miss playing the one up, masculinity challenge game. I was at a friend’s house last night and her roommate’s boyfriend came over. So I introduced myself and I started a conversation. And in some way I felt like I was looking into a time capsule, talking with the reflection of my old self, the man I was before I started following Jesus. So I sat on the couch and listened to him tell me how much his truck costs, the new high paying job he was getting, the large amount of alcohol he consumed this past weekend, and just a series of other embellishments. So as he was bragging about the tab (which is highly unlikely because he said his tab was 1200 and he had 46 drinks which would make each drink/shot 26.08, which you won’t find at your typical bar) I made the comment that I am glad I don’t worry about that anymore. So my friend and I started talking about our pasts and stuff and it was amazing to hear within myself and mostly within her how God had changed our desires. It’s like we were totally new people! So I thought about 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! What a great practical illustration of a vivid truth. Thank God for keeping me from idolizing how much I can drink, how fast I can go, and how much I can curse.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Highlander


Growing up my brother and used to watch the TV series Highlander. These really cool guys with accents would run around with swords trying to kill each other because there can be only one. There can be only one immortal (I can hear the theme song playing in my mind right now…). This morning I am brushing my teeth and looking in the mirror with total disdain for myself because of the recent troubles I’ve been facing in the way I sue my tongue. So I’m telling myself, “Adam be wise today and do not use your tongue for evil, don’t use it as a weapon.” I starting thinking as to why I would even think that my tongue could be a weapon and I remember reading several things in the Bible that describe the tongue as this weapon that people use. The Bible has much to say about how we are to speak to one another and how powerful the tongue can be.

Heb 4:12, For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (NIV). Psalm 64: 2-5, Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from that noisy crowd of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear (NIV). Proverbs 12:16-20, A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies. Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment (NIV).

The tongue is sharp, used as a sword to cut deep into a person, but the Word is sharper than a double edged sword, piercing the soul. In Psalm 64 the tongue and the way people speak are illustrated as weapons of war. Staying grounded in the Word is a more effective weapon than even a wicked tongue and it can be conquered by this very living Word. So now there is only one, one Word, one God, one Love, that conquers the imposter, the weaker sword. Much like Highlander the sharper sword always wins and it is clear from Scripture that the Word is sharper than any double edged sword.

Why this is comforting to me, I guess I’m just a big ol’ kid!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Twinkle Twinkle

When I first moved up to Indianapolis I got a job with a friend as a painter. I was a professional painter for several months. There were several things that created a problem though, the most obvious being that I was a horrible painter. Because my boss was also my friend I thought would be okay to just not come in some days or take off early others. He never said anything to me so I took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself. He is not a follower of Christ. One morning he calls me and says that we need to meet for lunch (with most friends anytime they prearrange a lunch or coffee meeting I’ve learned there is something they want to talk about), so I go meet him. He basically calls me out on not showing up or leaving early and tells me that I am actually hurting his business by doing so. I walked away from that meeting and have never really quite been the same. Call it divine timing because I was totally convicted about a verse I had read in 1 Peter 2:13; submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men. It goes on to describe submitting to different persons and then into slaves submitting to masters, but the main point in it is that the Lord Jesus has given authority to those on earth for some reason and we are to submit to them for His sake.

Today I get this message from my boss that basically says my number have been up (at work we are tracked by certain numbers) and thanks for my hard work. I messaged her back and told her thanks for noticing and I really want to exceed in my job because I am worried about the impression I give to people because I represent Jesus. Then I remember in Philippians Ch 2 the writer tells his audience that they will shine like stars among men by sticking to the Word. I want to shine for Christ. I am less enthused with the monetary incentive and more concerned about shining. I hope each day I can wake up and submit to authorities for His sake and exceed in things so I will shine like a star. Do you work for a company or for God? The mentality I have is that ultimately it is God I am serving and not some insurance company.

Diaper Scholars

I’ve noticed recently that a lot of my friends from Jacksonville are having kids. Within the last week I have found out 3 couples have had kids. Even in our happiest moments, I have never witnessed the kind of joy on their faces than seeing them in these new pictures with their child. It is amazing how much we find true joy and love when we have a child. I guess this is the closest you can ever feel to what God must feel for us. You finally get to hold a little bit of something you helped create, some one made in your image, a precious jewel you’d do anything for. It’s amazing the thoughts children can bring about in adults. In just bringing joy to my friend’s lives I am in reflection of how much God loves the world and everyone in it. He loved the world so much that He sacrificed His only son (John 3:16).

Another point of application I am chewing on right now that I have learned from children is why Jesus would say that we must become like them to enter into the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). Why would Jesus want us to become like children? Have you ever seen two kids fight? They are vicious little things! However, have you ever seen a mom pull them both by the ears to the center of the room and say, “Tell him your sorry,” ? Well, the result is a hug and they go on playing like nothing ever happened. You ever notice how children are full of hope and natural ability to have faith in things, they have unconditional faith that their parents will always pull through. They have no fear of life, they meet it head on at full speed, even though they don’t know what will happen next (like a Rhino…read The Barbarian Way). There is so much knowledge we can learn from kids and we would stop and watch and listen.

Last Straw

I really need help. So if you read my blog and don’t mind putting me in your prayer life can you please pray for me. I no longer am praying for help in these situations but divine intervention and a true change. I need God to tame my tongue, convict me, punish me, give me laryngitis, something! I keep hurting people, I now apparently have a reputation of being harsh with my words, it is affecting my relationships, my ability to lead within a ministry, and every other aspect of my life. Please pray that this problem will be solved and God would really do an amazing change in me. I’m tired of being this way and I’ve tried too long to change and think I’ve reached the point of surrender and acknowledgment that I’m not strong enough to change. I need God’s might to change me.

Homosexuality…extending grace rather than judgment…

I was reading a blog this morning on my favorite blog-site and came across an article on homosexuality. Check it out: http://www.boundlessline.org/2007/11/leaving-homosex.html. The idea is that we condemn homosexuals rather than love them and pray for them. I actually feel awful calling homosexuals “them”. I think that within the context of the Christian world we have separated ourselves so far that we label others and isolate them. Separation and not being a part of this world are different though, because I know the thought is, “well, it is said we are no longer of this world in Christ (John 17:14-19).” True statement. However, Jesus did not tell us to create this Christian world and be separate from it, we are to live in the world and be salt and light. If we are following our true reason for living, to make disciples, we would be conscious of the reality that we can not judge and we can only speak love in truth. Just because a man or woman is involved in sexual sin, doesn’t mean we should condemn them and put them in this isolated corner of humanity that we call “them”. This reminds me of the woman who was “caught” in adultery and brought before Jesus. Jesus tells her that he does not judge her and to turn from her ways. Jesus loved people liked that all the time. He touched lepers! Lepers were considered unclean by the Law and thus not to be touched by the righteous. Jesus loved those who were social outcast, who were “them”. We should extend grace and love to those who have a struggle with homosexuality as Jesus Christ would if He were roaming the streets today. Listen rather than preach, pray rather than give your opinion, look for opportunities to speak truth in love rather than create a convert. People need love and if those who are supposed to be models of Love (because God is love) aren’t showing it, who will? Join me in prayer for those drowning in sin that just need to see a light at the end of the tunnel, that need to know Jesus loves them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Colors of Change

A new phenomenon that I have come to enjoy in living in the Midwest is the season of Autumn/Fall. Growing up in Florida there were only two season, hot and hotter, so I am taken back by the beauty I’ve missed my whole life. This canvas called Indianapolis is now painted with beautiful colors and textures. As I watch the leaves blow across the concrete jungle of downtown (my stomping grounds) I realize that there is splendor in change. Everything changes. The only two absolutes in this world are God and change. God doesn’t change, He is the same from beginning to end. Change doesn’t change, it is a predictable element. One thing I can rely on is that I don’t know much and I don’t know what will change. I find comfort in the fact that although the world around me changes, God remains my rock. So as I see the colors morph from green to red, yellow, and brown I take a deep breath of the fresh Fall air that I know is the unchanging God. I wonder how many people in this city and cities around the world just need to be told that the creator of everything that they see and feel loves them and wants a relationship with them. I wonder how comforting it would be to hear that God doesn’t change, He is always there, waiting, patiently, with arms wide open. Amongst a world of ever changing factors they need to hear that one doesn’t, God, Love, Jesus and the debt He paid for our sin. This season take an opportunity to reflect on God’s unchanging character and the world’s need for Him. Next time you see and leave blow by take it as a reminder that He is there, not changing, and wants you to tell others about Him. In the spirit of it all I’ve posted some pictures of Brown County and the leaves there. The saddest thing in the world to me is to look at these pictures and not see God, how fortunate we are to know Him and be able to enjoy the beauty He created.









Monday, November 5, 2007

The Dunk Booth

You could hear a pin drop, the sniffles of noses, and tears filling the air… Sunday we gathered to celebrate 4 people within our church body getting baptized. Each story was unique, personalities were so different, but the value and power of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ was the same. So I sit and watch the first man come on stage and tell his story, “It’s like one foot was in and one foot was out,” he says about his lifestyle, the first of three girls to follow, “I just wasn’t fulfilled and I wanted to joy I saw in others,” next, “I knew about it, but never felt it,” and finally, “I finally realized I don’t have to be perfect and that I need God.” Then I watched as all 4 of these individuals climbed into the tank and took part in the beautiful illustration of dying to themselves in raising in Christ through water baptism. My eyes began to mist when the gentleman told his story and the spring flowed watching the girls to follow. One resounding thought was in my head at that moment, “so this is what it looks like…,” faith in action, God changing lives, the church moving. It was touching to see people changed by Christ.

The overwhelming idea was they all had accepted that they need Jesus and that they can come to Him as they are. They were all willing to publicly affirm their commitments to Christ to follow Him to the best of their ability with a community of faith and support. It was beautiful really, to see redemption, to feel God’s hand moving in the room. That’s what I call church baby!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Why this?

I ask myself that questions all the time…I’ve cried myself to sleep with this question…I’ve left others in tears and ask myself…why this? Why is this my struggle? Why is the sin I wrestle with most not something I can see, feel, touch, avoid? It’s not gambling, porn, drug addiction, or any other form of sin that a person can look at and decide to do something different. It’s my tongue. I can’t not talk, I can’t not feel. I decide within myself for some reason that it is okay for me to say exactly what I think, when I think it around those I care for. Like for some reason I justify it by saying well, “This is my personality, I just tell people how I feel, I’m an open communicator.” What a load of, well, you know.

This morning a friend of mine that I would consider almost like a brother and I have a disagreement and I just snap at him and tell him that he is being selfish about a decision and he’s being a jerk. Truth be told, his decision making was a little selfish and he was coming off as not concerned about other people’s feelings. Here is where I through myself into hot water though… We are in a room full of people and I decide in that moment, on impulse, as an emotional response, to tell him how I feel. So I rip him open and sink my teeth in. Bad Adam bad! Shame on you right? Well, it gets worse…

His sister, who I am actually closer to, she is one of my best friends, truly, rightfully pulls me aside and tells me that I need to chill out and not be so harsh to him in front of other people. Well, in the moment, my pride flares and I justify everything, “I’m tired of him whining, I’m this, I’m that…” See the trend in the expressions of my feelings? The words “I” and “me” play huge roles in them. So I interrupt her and say, “Don’t tell me about the chip in my eye when there is a log in yours!” I didn’t say this because I think she has this same issue or that she has mess in her life that she should fix before she talks to me. I said this because I knew it would hurt. So we part ways, but only momentarily. She comes back to me and request to talk for a minute. So here I am leaning on a counter watching tears fill her eyes. Her eyes fill with water from the wound I administered, the blow I decided I would give. So as I write this I’m a recipient of my own punishment and have to wipe those same tears from my face. Well almost, the same, I don’t cry because I’m hurt, I cry because I hurt others, I’m ashamed of myself. So here is my confession…

It’s amazing how a man sitting in a dark room I’m sure, thousands of years ago wrote this little letter and that letter now affects me, that letter now scolds me. The Spirit is kicking me across my apartment right now with verses from James non-stop, like I’m being shot with an automatic riffle, bullet after bullet. Most who know me, know my struggle and know how much I do really care about others, how much passion I have for following Jesus, they know I’d rather hurt than see others feel pain. So they may think that I’m being too harsh on myself. Please allow me to be if I am, please allow me to be hurt and ashamed, for if I continue to justify the wicked within myself it looks a lot less toxic than it really is. Then six months down the road, my tongue may take over again and start a fire that burns up a relationship, scars a friendship, milks tears of hurt…

I hate my struggle, it’s not something that’s easy to deal with, my tongue is an untamable beast, it is something small that can control my entire body, it can build up or tear down things, it is something I must use, not something I can avoid all together. It is my weakness, my struggle, a reminder of the boy I was before Jesus. So as I sit here ashamed of my tongue and the way I can sometimes hurt people, I hope you can learn from me and watch yours. Read James, great book!

James was right

One simple wish
To take it all away
Take out my inner struggle
Take away my fiery flame
The untamable beast I cannot control
Something that contradicts my soul
Powerful enough to break any bond
Leaves tears in broken eyes
Scars hearts of those I love
Creates a false man
Of whom everyone has come to know
Harsh, sly, quickly shrewd
Light a room, fill it with joy
Cheap stabs in the back
Depending on my mood
It’s my plague, the disease within
That rots away the core
Attacks the foundation on which I stand
Once before I could no longer
Because I’ve now hit my knees
In desperation, in need, in sorrow
In hope that it will be gone tomorrow
Or maybe the next day but expectantly soon
Lord take my tongue
This beast of regret
Saying things I wish I could forget
But it’s too late, for the scars have already been placed
On those I love and I can’t change
The bruises I’ve made
I hate this beast, he stalks me
I feel its breathe down my neck as I walk this path
Then wake up on my back
Not again, a black out
My weak soul concedes
I drop my guard and hit my knees
In deep regret
Having one wish, one prayer, one need
You, take my life, my tongue, my sin
Shut the pit of hell
That speaks such things
Untamable, powerful, small indeed
Small sparks start fires that burn forests full of trees
This is my story, my weakness, my struggle, my need
I beg you know, take my tongue away from me.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Fun Times

Last night was Target family night at the Children’s Museum. It was free admission. Free = Awesome in my books! So, I decided to take Tank (my Little Brother, his real name is Ramero, but nicknamed Tank). I get to his house and he comes out with this little smirk on his face and rightfully I ask what’s going on. He tells me that his older brother Eric wants to come but is afraid to ask. So, I ended up taking Tank and Eric.

Everything from the car ride there to dinner afterwards was just a great time. On the way there, they were telling me about the haunted houses they went to for Halloween. Tank is really scary so he was telling me how scared he was and how he was trying to get out of it every chance he could. Tank dressed up like a Pirate and Eric dressed up like Jason. I’m not a big supporter of letting kids dress up like evil stuff, but that was not a time for me to scold them in any way, so I just listened to them talk. Eric is soft spoken while Tank is a little wild man; he can talk a mile a minute. It was funny to hear them interact in the back seat. When we got to the museum, Tank and Eric took off, running here and there. At first I was trying to keep up and really worried about being within 2 feet of them, but after a while I learned to post up on a wall where I could see them from a distance and watch. We spent about 3 hours there, they played in all the interactive parts and I almost had to literally drag Tank out, he was having so much fun. We went to McDonalds afterwards. Having kids is expensive! I spent like 18 bucks! It takes some getting used to because I am used to paying for me only. The money doesn’t matter though, I just like seeing them happy. Eric asked what he could order and I told him whatever he wanted. Tank is already accustomed to my liberal management of what he orders or wants to do. As long as they are safe and not doing anything bad, I say let the kids be kids (I’m sure this will change when I become a dad someday). So Tank started the usual, “Umm, Umm, what’s that, umm, I’ll take that, and that, and umm, well wait, umm, never mind, I’m not sure what I want.” So I end up ordering exactly what he gets the other times we’ve been to McDonalds, a cheeseburger happy meal. I took them home and completed my night.

I didn’t realize until now, as I am typing this blog, how much I have really connected with this kid. So I guess this is a free commercial for Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you have an agency in your area you should really think about getting involved. I have a great time doing it and really can’t imagine not having Tank as my Little Brother.

Twisted First Impressions

I used to really care what people thought about me, I mean like if I was cool, or attractive, or good at a certain sport, just surface things. I remember I would always ask my friends after knowing them for a while, “What was your first impression of me?” That’s an important answer to get. They say a person puts together what they think of you within the first 20 seconds of seeing you. The typical response was, “I thought you were a snob, like you thought you were something great.” Once they get to know me they think otherwise and get to know the real Adam. That has always bothered me.

Now fast forward several years after I have devoted my life to following Jesus Christ…

I still care about what people think, but it has nothing to do with the surface things, I don’t care if someone doesn’t like my style, or hair, or the occasional beard. However, I do care if people think I’m not easily approachable or encouraging or loving. I was talking on the phone with a friend last night and she said that when she was talking to another girl about me that she said, “I thought he was one of those guys that thought every girl liked him and was kind of a snob.” I’m not offended by what she thought; rather, I am deeply convicted that something might be wrong with me… Why is it that people think I am a snob, what is it that makes me put that vibe out there? I’m troubled by this. I need to pray God will take whatever it is out of me. Maybe I have joked myself into actually believing I am something great. My close friends will all tell you that I joke around about being awesome all the time, but truly I only do it because I am insecure. Before I came to Christ I was one of the most shy people you would ever meet, I wouldn’t talk to you if I didn’t know you, or even look at you. When I came to Christ, I got this outgoing personality and was finally comfortable with who I was. Maybe my mistake was to actually believe that I was, indeed, something great because of my freedom in Christ, because of the personality he gave me. I’m not sure about all this, but I hope that it’s not something I am doing to put off this vibe. It’s really messed me up in the head because now I don’t even want to look in the mirror due to fear of being vain.

Or maybe I’m just over thinking all of this, but it’s def something to think about because it has stirred me all up.

First impressions are important but cane sometimes be wrong. If the trend in people’s first impressions of me is that I’m smug, then it is very possible I am a little messed up in some area.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

October Photos Part Duex...


Yummy! Organic!














Pumpkin carving party at the Bunso's...I won the contest!


I made this bet right...If the Jaguars loose to the Colts I'd let Ryan shove a pie in my face...Well, we lost because Gerrard got hurt and Manning might be the best QB in history...





October Photos











Me and my Little Brother, Tank, carving a pumpkin a couple days before Halloween.




Don't say it!

Please don’t say it…

I can’t believe what I just read. I was doing my daily routine of catching up on local and world news and came across the article about a man winning a lawsuit against a church for 10.9 million. The money is not what I can’t believe; it is the article and the evil within it I read.

Check the story out for your self:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,307058,00.html

I’ll be honest part of me wants to put my hand through my computer screen right now out of frustration and the other part of me wants to go hide under a rock somewhere and cry, then there is another part that wants to go visit these people and smack some sense into them. So here’s a brief synopsis of what happened. A man’s son died in combat in Iraq. At this boys funeral this “church” (I put it in quotation marks with good reason) protest the war and homosexuality. They have posters that say God hates America and that God hates fags. As I’m typing this I’m shaking my head.

Here are some highlight’s of the article that left me scratching my head:
§ The father of a fallen Marine was awarded nearly $11 million Wednesday in damages by a jury that found leaders of a fundamentalist church had invaded the family's privacy and inflicted emotional distress when they picketed the Marine's funeral.

§ Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."

§ In his closing arguments during the punitive damages phase, plaintiff attorney Craig Trebilcock described church members as bullies who "seek out those among us who are at the weakest point in our lives."

Church founder Fred Phelps held a sign reading "God is your enemy," while his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper stood on an American flag while carrying a sign that read "God hates fag enablers." Members of the group sang "God Hates America,"' to the tune of "God Bless America."

What the heck? This sounds more like a cult than anything! Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save it, He said this Himself (John 3:17). God doesn’t hate homosexuals! God so loved the world he gave His one and only Son (John 3:16). The word “world” is cosmos in Greek, cosmos means the entire universe. Jesus loves everyone and wants all to have the broken relationship between man and God reconnected. So when these church people start talking, I’m just thinking, “Please don’t say it, please don’t,” then boom, they drop that they are Christians and now the entire world thinks a cult of 75 crazy people follow Jesus. In no way are they following Christ, because Jesus would be there weeping with the family over the loss of a child not condemning others. Stories like this make me sad, cults like these seem to get all the coverage on CNN and make following Christ seem horrible. All we can do is pray that the world will soon know who the real Jesus is and pray that these people who say they are Christians would read their bible and come to know the true God and correct their wrong doing and get off CNN.

War

As usual, I find myself sitting on the circle with a couple friends and Starbucks last night. It was the standard guy friend conversation, the typical guy talk of who could beat who up and talk about our own dating lives or lack there of. It’s funny really how predictable these conversations become. Each time we all hang out there is at least one area of controversy, I tend to be the guy coming from a different angle too, not because I want to be that way but it just seems to happen that way. Last nights area of controversy was about thought life. Basically I was saying that I am plagued by my past and that I have cried myself to sleep at night thinking of the baggage and scars I’m going to drag into my marriage. Basically someone made the comment, “I would never think of that, I’m not that messed up!” On the surface he was right. He’s a gnarly dude, I don’t think he’d ever do anything intentional to hurt his girlfriend. My concern is that he thinks he is not capable of thinking certain things or falling into a certain mentality.

Now I catch the raised eye brows and snarls of detest. Now I look like the guy who is messed up. But am I? I very much believe this thought life and this new self we have is constantly at war with our old self, our flesh. For when we are born of Christ, we are reborn in spirit, not flesh. So our flesh still remains with its original nature. We were born with a sinful nature (Ephesians 2:2). We are accustomed to doing evil, it’s our nature that we cannot change (Jeremiah 13:23). It is only by faith in Christ that we are counted as righteous before a just God (Romans 5). I just think it foolish of any man to say that he is above something, especially sinning. Yes, we have been made a new creation of Christ, Yes, our desires should be His desires, and Yes, we are seeking the kingdom. Proverbs says that along the path of righteousness is immorality. There is always room to fall into sin along the path following Jesus and no one wants to, but the remains that we are capable or doing such because by nature we are sinful.

Paul had this same problem; the internal struggle between good and evil. Paul himself said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Romans 7).” If Paul, of all people, could have this problem what makes us think we are any better? I think we get into dangerous territory when we think that we alone are good and forget that we are simply recipients of grace.

Birds of Sparta!

The last couple of weeks have brought about new changes with fall arriving. Outside of the beautiful leaves becoming a bright picture of God’s glory there has been something else I’ve noticed…Birds. There are not just a couple, no pretty ones, but tons of little black birds. I’m not sure what kind of birds they are but I know they are small and black. They fly in these huge groups around downtown, it actually looks like they are forming some kind of pattern, they are flying in a particular way. I’m not sure why they fly this way, but I know it’s weird. The birds are so large in number that when they are all together they darken the view of the buildings they are flying in front of. This reminds me of when the arrows of Xerxes darkened the sky when raining down on the Spartans (If you have seen 300 you will know what I am talking about). This always happens at dusk, so sometimes I’ll be walking to Starbucks or the gym (YMCA) and see people in their cars looking up in amazement at this spectacle. People who are walking will stop and look up in total amazement or run in total fear of it raining, not water either (eww…sick).

What hit me as I was walking home last night from work (which is only about 300 yards next door) was that there is nothing outstanding about these birds, they are not outwardly beautiful or make any special noises, it is the large number of them flying together that makes them worth stopping to watch (I’m not one who runs, I just cover my head and pray I don’t get presents from them…). Jesus tells his disciples that the world will know they are His disciples by the way they love (John 13:34-35). We’re just ordinary people, nothing extravagant to us, much like little black birds, we’ve been changed by Christ’s love and grace so we fly together, we do life together. That is noticeable, not us, but the love we exude. Hopefully people won’t be running because they are afraid we will poop on them (that makes me laugh, thinking about the people who run away from this flock of birds) but will stop and be amazed at the large family we have and hopefully notice Jesus.

So I put all that together in my head within seconds of seeing this freakish amount of birds flying together, then I saw this one lonely bird all by itself land in a tree. I thought to myself that it was kind of sad to see him lonely and not flying with the large amount of other birds together. Then he shot off into the darkness, the darkness of the birds. He began to fly with them. No longer was he alone, he became part of the breath taking group of birds that leave most people downtown in bewilderment each night at dusk.

Is this how it should work? Amazing what birds can make you think about.