Tuesday, December 21, 2010

for unto us...

this time of year is one of my favorites. i really love Christmas for a variety of reasons. first i love the idea of recognizing the idea of God coming to us, to live in a human body, the meaning behind that, the purpose for his time on earth, i think its important to celebrate that time, and Christmas is exactly for that. i think that its interesting when people get all up in arms about how Jesus was most likely not born on December 25th, it doesn't matter, that's not the point, its taking time to recognize this part of the story, love coming down and living side by side with us.

i also love the family aspect of Christmas, getting together with loved ones, spending time with them, celebrating with them. its a busy world, and there seems to be so much time that passes us by before we even realize it. sometimes it takes a holiday for us to be able to stop and appreciate our family and friends.

i even love the St. Nicholas/Santa Claus stuff. i know some people feel like to much emphasis is placed on Santa Claus and gifts and whatever, a lot of Christian families don't even like the whole Santa Claus thing at all. i love it. i think that its something magical and special and look forward to seeing the twinkle in my kids eyes for sometime as they grow up. now, i know that its something that people say may be hard for kids to differentiate, how can we justify that Jesus Christ is really real, and Santa is not, to that i say, its how i live my life. its the example i set for my kids. St. Nicholas was very much real, the spirit inside of him is the same Holy Spirit i carry inside of me, that causes me to be Santa Claus to people that i come in contact with this time of year.

a very talented musician, and someone who i would consider a friend, Justin McRoberts, has a very beautiful song that is one of my favorite Christmas songs, to be honest its one i listen to year round

i put together this video because i wanted to be able to share this song, consider it a Christmas present from me to you, share it, its available on vimeo Born Beneath These Stars or on YouTube Born Beneath These Stars

merry Christmas


Monday, November 22, 2010

it ain't that easy...

yesterday i had the opportunity to be in a group of college students. i was really enjoying listening to them share their lives with each other, watching their interaction with each other. it was some really good discussion. one of the thoughts being talked about was the idea that living in our sin can be easier then living "right", that its easier to not even try and be good, and just do whatever.

what i enjoyed was listening to these college age students talk about how they have had to make an effort to do the things they know are right. they come from varying backgrounds, and the challenges they have faced and are facing are all different, but the constant theme was that its not easy. many of the things being said were about how it took a while of living in that darkness before they made the choice to turn away from stuff they knew they shouldn't be involved in, or people that they shouldn't have in their lives. the general consensus was that it was just easier to live in sin, so they stayed in it longer.

i found it interesting, this idea that it is easier to be in our sin, then it is to choose to live away from it. i think that what i have noticed about living in my own sin is that it is easy. its easy because it doesn't take any effort from me. what i mean by that is when i allow myself to be submerged in my sin, i am no longer doing anything of effort, i have stopped making choices, stopped working to keep myself on a path, i have given up the control to Satan, and am allowing him to make the decisions. Satan knows that we are a lazy people, we will choose the path that takes no effort. its not until we start to make some decisions, start to work, to put forth an effort that we will face challenges that take work to overcome. what is regretful is that when we are in midst of our worst moments, in the midst of our full abandonment of following Christ, we fail to see that it is all worth it. that taking up our cross is not easy, but its worth it.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

learning to need you

i have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what my role is. what is the part i play. i think its something that can thought about for endless hours. its interesting because that role changes with all the environments we find ourselves in.

i am a husband, a father, a brother, a son, a friend, a mentor, a disciple, a student, a writer, a thinker, a teacher, a leader, a follower and on and on. in all of those things, i have different things that i am responsible for, different things that i have to fulfill. it wasn't that long ago that i found myself in a place of feeling completely overwhelmed. a place where looking at what i was supposed to be doing left me feeling like i couldn't do any of it.

i think we all feel that way, we all have these times when its too much to handle. for a lot of it i ignore it all, try to focus on that one thing i can handle at the moment. but there are times when it all just catches you, and its those times that we feel the despair, the hopelessness, the pain of trying to do it all.

as sad as it is for me to say, its only now, thirty four years into all of this, that i am just beginning to realize that i am indeed all of those things i listed myself as, but i am first and foremost a beloved child of God. and that when i lean on that, when i fully accept that, i am able to not feel hopeless, but to feel like i can do what God expects of me. i wish that i could say that idea is always, 100% in the forefront of my mind. i still have moments of anxiousness, moments of despair, moments that i feel hopeless. the thing about those moments every time is that the come from the place where i lose my focus, where i don't keep my eyes on who is giving me the opportunity to even be these things.

(by the way, i am finding myself listening to a lot of Justin McRoberts lately, hence the blog post title, you should find yourself listening to a lot of Justin McRoberts too!)


Friday, October 29, 2010

it really is whats expected of me

i am currently involved in a small group. its a great experience. joining with people on a journey, having people alongside you to ask the questions you have not even thought of, to show you something you didn't know was even there. people to support you, to love you, to inspire you when it seems to hard to do on your own. i really love it. we are currently making our way through a study based around the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. it has been interesting, the discussions have been great because our group comes from a very diverse background, and the places that people are at in their current lives lends itself to a dynamic that could not be manufactured.

there was a scripture reference that we read the other day. it was from the Book of James, which for those that know me are fully aware, its a book that i cherish, i love reading, and re-reading, a re-reading again James. this verse we read i have read several hundred times, i am sure of it. but for what ever reason, the way it was singled out in our discussion, it made me stop and really think it through. its a simple verse, its not something that needs a lot of theological debate about its hidden meaning, because its not hidden. the verse is James 4:17 (TNIV)

So then, if you know the good you ought to do and don’t do it, you sin.

for some reason, it just jumped at me, like a crazy man in the alley with a knife! it came at me and forced me to stop and look at what was happening. you see we all try and be the best we can, we try to behave, we try to be good little boys and girls. we say the right words, we say please and thank you, we hold open doors for people, we help little old ladies cross the street.

but we are responsible for so much more. we have an obligation. there are people hurting and we are ignoring it. we turn a blind eye, because its uncomfortable. its not easy to see poverty, to see homelessness, to see parts of our own communities that we wish weren't there. and we drive out of the way to avoid it. instead of getting dirty and doing what we know we ought to do, we don't do it, and we sin. and that is just locally. that's not even looking at AIDS, poverty, hunger, lack of water around the globe.

and that is just the stuff that is easy to explain, it is almost obvious that we could be doing something in those situations. if it comes down to it, i know that i can donate some money or time to a worthy cause that is helping these things. but what about the stuff that is harder to handle? what about the way we treat people different than us? what about homosexual people who we give a cold shoulder to because we don't really know how to address that. or people who have screwed up their lives and we aren't willing to give them a second (or third or fourth or 18th)chance? what we ought to do is love. we ought to be more concerned about the person, and less about their issues. i am someone who has been given extra chances by people closest to me. and i am forever grateful for it. i was moments from losing everything in my life, and that is not an exaggeration, that is a fact. but people stepped in. and did what they ought to.

this isn't even getting into the fact that Christ goes well beyond giving us our 18th chance, goes beyond what he ought to do. for Christ, he sets the example because for him, its not a discussion of what he ought to do, its what he does. its how we should strive to be. to a point where its not up for debate if we ought to do it or not, we just do what is expected of us.


Friday, October 22, 2010

in the quiet of the night...

i am sitting in my favorite chair, my laptop resting on the arm, the house is quiet. the kids are in bed, my wife went to bed early, i have cleaned up the house, shut off the television, the baseball game has just ended... its quiet. its nice.

there seems to be no quiet in the world anymore. this time of year, the height of political season, doesn't help that feeling. radio and television are overwhelmed with ads that are filled with negativity. my kids, who i love very, very much, are kids, they are two and three years old, they are young kids, and they are loud, and needy, and they don't get the value of silence, and they shouldn't. but its in these times, right now, with the only sound the clicking of the keyboard, that i am able to stop, and listen, to nothing.

i wonder if God feels like i do sometimes. its not political ads that overwhelm him. but our neediness, our loudness, our lack of value of silence. we don't stop and listen to him. we don't take time to just listen, to be quiet and let him speak to us. we are so busy making noise we don't hear what he has to say.

i pray that i am able to better quiet myself before God, that i can spend more time being silent. i know how valuable the quiet time is for me


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

breaking down the door...

i am sitting here, staring at a screen, feeling compelled to write, but not sure what to write. its a feeling that has become somewhat common for me as of late. i have felt like i need to be compiling, organizing and making an inventory of my thoughts. that something is happening. and i need to be cognizant of what that may be.

i feel like God is preparing me, my wife, my kids for something big. i can't see what it is, i just have this sense that i, we, have been preparing. the very human side of me is frustrated with God in all of this. i am frustrated because i am the kind of person who needs to have some control. i am the kind of person who feels like i should be "in the know", and in this situation, i am not. i don't know what God has in store for me. i have my hopes, i have my preferences, but i also understand i am an idiot and i have followed my preferences to many times and allowed myself to get into a situation that was not the best for myself, or my family. i have committed to really allowing myself to be open to what God has for me, to really open myself up to his leading. i have been feeling pulled in a certain direction in ministry, for a little while now. and i am fairly confident that its the direction that God has for me, but i am also frustrated because it seems like he is taking a lot of time to prepare me for that next step, making sure i am really ready for it. and i am feeling like i am ready, but then i think about how i have jumped into so many things in my life without really being ready. i have thrown myself into things and not be as prepared as i needed to be, and its been a difficult road to travel. so i need to remind myself that the preparation is a very important part of the journey, and that its essential for success.

i will continue to pray for God's leading hand. i will continue to seek wise counsel from people i respect. i will continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to show me that things i need to be doing. and i will wait anxiously for God to open that door for me to burst through!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

God is Love...

well, as i sit here at my kitchen table, a home made iced coffee to my left for me to enjoy, a few books to my right for me to enjoy, David Crowder Band's version of "How He Loves Us" playing on my laptop speakers, i have so many things running through my head. thoughts about my family, my kids and how my wife and i can be the best parents for them. thoughts about my wife and how i can be a better husband to her. my career and what that even means anymore. my faith and how i can continue to develop in it.

i am facilitating a small group of young adults and we are journeying through the book "Crazy Love: overwhelmed by a relentless God" by Francis Chan. we are just beginning to meet, but as the leader, i have been studying it for a little while now. its of course fantastic stuff, i have been a francis chan "fan" for a while.

there has been this one passage from the book that i read, and have re-read about 50 times since i first read it. its this thing that seems so basic, so obvious, but its something i needed to hear, and based on me re-reading, have needed to hear again, and again. i am currently in this place of seeking God's leading, i am exploring this tugging on my heart and my mind that i have felt from the Holy Spirit for a little bit now. as i have been exploring the picture that i am confident God is painting before me, some of my very, very human side has crept in, this idea of question God and his power, his wisdom, and if he can truly handle what i am dealing with. that is where this passage from "Crazy Love" comes in. instead of me trying to explain, i will let you read it for yourself, because, frankly, francis chan is a bit more skilled then i am at putting together this thought.

"When I am consumed by my problems --- stressed out about my life, my family, and my job --- i actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important that God's command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a right to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.

Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.

Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we've been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won't be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God's strength, our problems are small, indeed.

We are we so quick to forget God? Who do we think we are? I find myself relearning this lesson often. Even thought I glimpse God's holiness, I am still dumb enough to forget that life is all about God and not about me at all." -- Francis Chan "Crazy Love" chapter 2 'You Might Not Finish This Chapter'

its to often i find myself consumed with myself, i think we all do. it all seems so big, so much, so important. and what happens? i forsake relationships, i forsake my God, because i am arrogant enough to believe that i am bigger than everything else. as francis chan says in that passage "Who do we think we are?" who do i think i am?

i pray that i am able to continuously see God in all of it, and to rejoice in Him, through it all.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

its about my journey

so, for a while now i have had a blog. now that blog has been inactive for a while now. that blog was designed as an outlet, a humorous outlet for the most part, an outlet for random, petty frustrations. it was a way for me to vent about really meaningless things that just annoyed me. topics included christmas decorations, grocery shoppers, people who litter and the like. it was not to be taken to seriously. i want to continue that blog. i want to rededicate myself to it, because frankly i enjoyed it, it was a good release, and it helped me work on my comedic writing. so, i will be doing that, i promise.

in addition to that blog, i have decided its time for me to become more focused in my writing. to take this more seriously. so i have started this blog. this is a place for me to discuss the many aspects of my life. its a place for me to comment on how my family, my faith, my interests, my work, and my thoughts all collide and make up who i am. i want to stay dedicated to this, not for the readers benefit, but for my own. i look forward to this journey.