Wednesday, March 31, 2010
like a rose.
trampled on the ground.
you took the fall
and thought of me
isn't that how that chorus goes? like a rose...
it's hard to imagine someone taking the fall for another person. i mean, how many times has that happened to you? we don't generally take the fall for another - unless there is a pretty good reason. you might take the fall for someone if it was someone you knew well and loved with all of your heart. we've heard stories of men in battle sacrificing themselves for the betterment of their fellow soldiers. we get that. we understand that... no matter how rare it might be. we just might do the same... for the people we love.
but the thing is, Jesus didn't just take the fall - and die upon a cross - for those who loved him. he took the fall for all. even for his enemies. even for the people who spat upon him and whipped him and conspired against him.
he took the fall for those that despise him still today. those who live lives of evil. who spread hate or follow greed.
he died for all.
in those final days leading up to him bearing the cross, God's plan remained unchanged: His Son would sacrifice his life - for everyone, past, present and future. he would take on all sin. even the sins of those who do not love him back.
how often are we willing to go to bat of those who stand against us? how often do we look out for their needs as well? how often do we claim to love Him - yet live a life that says otherwise?
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
15The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.
John the Baptist prepared the way of Jesus. plain and simple. he preached about the coming Messiah and foretold His majesty and might. All in all John, the cousin of Jesus, preached the good news before the good news - the incarnate Word - arrived on the scene. many people wondered and waited. wondered and waited.
wondered... and... waited.
despite all that we know, all that we have seen and all that we have heard, many of us are still wondering and waiting.
you've been to the doctor's office before. you know what it's like to sit there and wait for your name to be called. the waiting room becomes a consortium of anxiety, boredom and (at times) little action. after a while, you can get quite comfortable - read a magazine, watch the television or take a nap! i was in the waiting room the other day when the two people on each side of me were caught snoozing when there name was called! it is not uncommon to wait 30 plus minutes in the waiting room - and if you're not careful, you just might get caught up in the waiting that you end up missing your call.
unfortunately, once Jesus arrived on the scene, in the midst of the miracles and relationship building, love and kindness, some seemed to be comfortable sitting back waiting for the Messiah to show up... they got caught up waiting and missed the call. how many today are still waiting?
and so after three years of ministry, it was time. time for Jesus to do what he came here for. to go to the cross and willingly take upon his shoulders the sins of all humanity, past, present and future. no matter how much he told of what would happen... no matter how much he told why it needed to happen - many were confused and missed the point. perhaps that is why they turned on him so quickly. Celebrated during the Triumphal entry... put to death a few days later.
some waited for and expected the Messiah to be one thing - but when Jesus presented a different mission, they missed a chance to be at-one with the One, true Messiah.
it is Holy week. and it is appropriate that today, more than any other - we pause to reflect on Jesus' sacrifice for you and for me. why would he endure so much, even if for only me?
now is not the time to be caught waiting... and waiting... and waiting - with no action. for the Lord has done and is doing a new thing. do you see it or are you missing the call?
frankly, it's all about how we wait. stay awake. be ready.
15You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'
When the Master Shows Up35-38"Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks. Lucky the servants whom the master finds on watch! He'll put on an apron, sit them at the table, and serve them a meal, sharing his wedding feast with them. It doesn't matter what time of the night he arrives; they're awake—and so blessed!
~Luke 22:25-28 (The Message)
31 but those who wait or hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
are you waiting on the Lord with hope in your heart?
is there action with your waiting? what do you expect from the Messiah?
or are you comfortably sitting back, missing the call of Christ, because you are caught up in the waiting process?
how are you waiting on the Lord during this Holy week?
Monday, March 29, 2010
there is a magnificent scene in The Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne is placed in solitary confinement for 30 days after he locked himself inside the warden's office and played Le Nozze di Figaro by Motzart over the prison's loudspeakers. Upon his return, his friends ask him about his time in 'the hole'. "Easiest time I ever did" he told them. In the midst of their disbelief Andy Dufresne explained himself to Red.
- Andy: I had Mr. Mozart to keep me company...[points and taps his head.] It was in here. [gestures over his heart] And in here. That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you. Haven't you ever felt that way about music?
- Red: Well... I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it, though. Didn't make too much sense in here.
- Andy: No, here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget.
- Red: Forget?
- Andy: That there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone. That there's... there's somethin' inside that they can't get to; that they can't touch. It's yours.
- Red: What are you talkin' about?
- Andy: Hope.
in the end, what we need most is hope. when you take away a man's hope, you take away his life.
Jesus came to give hope to the hopeless and life to the lifeless. no matter what may come my way - hope is still there. and as Romans 5:1-5 tells us, hope will not disappoint us - "because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
this love that has been 'poured' into our hearts. when we are empty and in great need, hope is there pouring into our hearts. this hope is Jesus Christ - who gave all, sacrificed himself, took on the pain of the world, died and rose again. that is hope... hope that springs eternal.
we can not lose hope. and to those that have - it is up to us to show them the hope found within, just like Andy Dufresne showed his cell mates. hope, like music, can not be taken away from us. may we never give up on hope. may this Holy Week remind us that hope is alive, praise be to God.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
i recently reviewed the new album from up-and-coming indie rock group Twin Tigers.
you can read the review over at Circle Six Magazine.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
25The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
there is such a fine line between love and hate, it seems. i hear a lot of Christians preach love - but then act completely different. but honestly, i find myself looking, too much, at how other Christians are misusing scripture or how they may or may not be living out their faith in the way of Jesus.
i am learning that i need to let go. i am learning that i need to concentrate on my own actions of love - striving to not neglect or mistreat anyone. to do good. to do no harm. and to stay in love with God.
it is so easy for us to get caught up pointing fingers at others. when we do that, we lose the high calling of love that Jesus shows us.
love is a high calling. are you answering that call? love knows no boundaries... we shouldn't keep it bound up. love is not conditional. we shouldn't inadvertently put conditions on it. love is for all. even the people the church (often) deems unlovable: like terrorists and homosexuals and sex offenders and murderers.
love is for all.
and yet it is often the people closest to us that we neglect. how foolish we can be. i want to strive to love like Jesus: to love my wife, kids, community and enemies. imagine - if everyone in the world could be overtaken by the power of love... imagine that kind of revolution.
Friday, March 26, 2010
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
~2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!
~2 Corinthians 5:17 (The Message)
the word 'recycle' means to :pass through a series of changes or treatments." it's the process of regaining usable form. it also means "to recover or adapt to a new use; to bring back; to be made new again." it's something old being made new. kind of a cool concept, isn't it?
in some parts of the world, such as in England, they desperately need to recycle - as their landfills are overflowing. they are running out of room for their garbage.
some of us also desperately need to recycle. we need to recycle our old way of living - you know, those destructive patterns and chaotic life styles or choices? We need to recycle that way and be made new again.
sometimes we'd rather live in the past than embrace the newness of the future. it's always easier to just 'go back' because we often look at the past with rose-colored glasses. we think that the past was better - but Jesus offers us a new, better way. this is what the cross represents... death to sin, death to the past... and through His sacrifice and through our active repentance - we receive full life. true. full. life.
farmers often use crop rotation to keep their crops strong, healthy and productive. when farmers effectively rotate crops, there is a lesser chance that pests will destroy them. we have a choice - remain stagnant and let the pests of sin control us, or be recycled and made new again. if we embrace the newness of life and the freshness, we have less of a chance of letting those pests invade our being - where they can take hold of us and leading us down the path towards death. Jesus offers life.
life was the message he so often preached as he approached the Cross and His high calling. Life though death. Recycled life for you and me. made new again. usable again. all because of Jesus.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
10But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
i think humility is a lost art among Christians these days. everyone seems more concerned with shouting their views and opinions - at times in loveless ways - with hopes of getting their point across. now i am in no way perfect and i certainly struggle with pride as much as the next guy, but i have become more aware, as of late, with practicing humility in all areas of my life.
the problem with humility is that it is often misunderstood. we hear the word 'humility' and we think of 'humiliation.' humiliation is when someone is put down or shamed or made look bad. basically, someone is placed in a lowly state.
to be humble is to willingly place ones self in a lowly state - so as to not allow pride to control ones life.
Jesus practiced humility in that he served the unservable, loved the unlovable and, in turn, reached the unreachable.
Lent should be a time to remember the importance of humbleness. we aught not think of ourselves higher than we our. standing on soap boxes screaming at the world... yelling without listening... it is futile. it is not Christ-like. and frankly, it's time for the church to grow up, shut up and serve the world.
opinions are just that... opinions. truth is truth. when we try to mix the two, pride will no doubt creep in and before we know it, we have lost all sense of humility. if we are not careful, that will lead to our own humiliation and demise. sometimes it's not about being right... it's about being light... a light that extinguishes darkness. [1 john 1:5-10]
remember who it was who wanted Jesus put to death? the pious religious leaders, filled with pride. if only they had remained humble in heart, mind, word and action.
we are a merely a week away from the day of remembrance... the day Christ took to the cross - in the humblest of ways - so that we may have life. don't forget what humility has done for you.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Listen. "Listen to the sound of the falling rain". Hear. "Hear the birds chirping". Two words we use interchangeably in today's culture. Is there a difference... and does that difference matter?
The verb "to hear" means to be aware of sounds in your ears, so when there is a sound (for example the radio is on) and you receive that sound through your ears.
That verb "to listen (to)" means to pay attention to somebody/something that you can hear. So when you listen to something or somebody you make an effort to hear it or them. When you hear something you usually don't have to make an effort — it just happens (provided your ears are intact of course.)
So in short, yes, there is a difference. Listening is only possible when one hears an audible sound. Anyone (with intact hearing) can hear but not anyone can (or will) listen.
All too often we get caught up in our own lives and hear the world around us but never stop to listen what that world is saying. Have you ever wondered why some people aren't open to sharing with others? Maybe they realized that those they thought were listening were instead only nodding their head along at the words but taking no time to process what was being said.
How often to we take the time to listen to others? When we ask someone "How are you", do we really want to know how they are or are we asking as a conversation filler? What would happen if someone broke down and really answered the question... would we listen or just hear the words and pray that they would end soon b/c we have something else on our plate? How often do you hold back the truth of "how you are" because you realize that the "asker" isn't really interested?
What stories are we missing... what stories do you have to tell? If only we would just learn to listen...
~Jen Beck, The Voices Within Me
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
lately the sun has been shining and the snow has finally melted. people have gradually wandered out from their comfortable homes and migrated to the streets, parks and open spaces. when the sun comes out, the warmth it emits becomes a sort of catalyst for play. everyone is free again.
sliding boards. swings. scooters and bicycles. basketball's bouncing. children running. dog's walking. life is happening. all courtesy of the sun.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
i want to be free again. the sun's warmth reminds me of how much i long being in it. sadly, I don't always have that same longing to be with God's son, Jesus. i get preoccupied with stuff. forget to pray. forget to study. forget to spend... time... with... Him.
Jesus wants me to be free. free to play. free to be alive. not bound. free! it is my desire that we might all allow the righteousness of God to shine through us - like the sun - so that others may experience the warmth of Christ like we have.
i don't want to reject or forget Jesus' love. here's to hoping the warm spring sun reminds us of the warm, growing love of Jesus. let that love... let that righteousness shine through you today. in your work, in your home and in your play.
Monday, March 22, 2010
5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;
we all are good at things. we all have gifts. some serve a specific purpose where as some may seem random. do we give credit to God for the gifts he has given us? do we recognize how some of our gifts and talents may be useful beyond where we could imagine?
as the body of Christ, each member has specific gifts to offer to the community. these gifts - when intertwined and interconnected with other members gifts - bring us closer to unification. it might be safe to say that true community can't take place unless there is unity. look at the word community... you find the word unity within it.
we all need each other. and in Christ we find what we need.
do we recognize our gifts? do we bring out the best in others? can we see how God has given those connected with us gifts that, when meshed with ours, work to make beautiful melodies? God-sized songs of grace and love!
just like the human body - each part of the body makes up the whole. each part is useful for something specific. together, the body can do mighty things.
this is how the body of Christ should live. productive, unified lives living out grace and exemplifying all that Jesus is to the world.
how are you living your gifts today?
Sunday, March 21, 2010
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Les Christie has done his research. this book if filled with lessons and examples of the trials and successes of creative people.
he uses these stories to show the in's and out's of how creativity can fuel a youth ministry.
this book is very practical, as well. you will find numerous examples of ways to increase your creative energy and boost your imagination.
i would recommend this book to any youth leader - but i think it also applies to anyone, in ministry or not. it's inspiring.
if you are a creative type - you will no doubt enjoy this book immensely. if you are not - READ THIS BOOK and awaken your creativity!
View all my reviews >>
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Our life is dependent upon dead things. Ever think about that? Unless we are going to eat the food right off of the vine we are consuming things that were once alive and growing - but are now dead.
With today's arrival of spring, we are reminded that new life is upon us. springing up all around us. the shift in the weather allows for the cycle of life to begin anew again. death is giving way to life right before our eyes.
the perennials are coming up, the trees are budding, seed-bearing plants will soon be in bloom.
it's amazing if you stop to think about it, isn't it? Nutrients from the earth give life to what once was not living.
consumable plants and vegetation springs to life, grow to full potential, and in many cases fall off the vine and dies, thus making it useful for food, which gives life to living creatures. what an amazing cycle of death to life!
Jesus teaches us how to die - so that we may truly live.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
~ Matthew 10:39
it all starts with a seed. planting seeds brings about life. What seeds are we planting though?
Are we who we say we are?
Willing to put to death the sinful things?
Death is the Engine of Life.
funny how the cycle goes, isn't it? the new spring serves as our reminder that we are not greater than our own mortality. we need a form of death to self, before we can truly live.
there is this shrine over in Japan - called the Ise Shrine. it's a 10,000 year old shrine made out of wood... it is not recognized as a historical landmark because it made of wood. so how has something made of wood withstood the test of time? because it gets rebuilt every 30 years - to the exact scale. this has been the plan for this shrine developed from the beginning. the shrine is always new, recycled old made new again… and again… and again. (2 Corinthians 5:17). the Ise Shrine preserves itself.
Our skin is the same way - it dies off - new skin comes every 30 days. our very skin is a cycle of death to life - because fresh, new life is best. it’s the skins way of PRESERVING itself.
the same was meant for not only our bodies but our souls.
Jesus was in the business of preserving life. how did he do that? salvation.
as we near the time when Jesus willingly went to the cross, may we come to remember and trust that Jesus saves.
do you want to preserve your life?
Forget the former things
do not focus on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; are you aware of it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in dead lands.
I provide water in the desert
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
~Isaiah 43:18-20 (adapted from NIV)
you were dead. become alive.
Friday, March 19, 2010
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.
41"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
A person who resolves to begin regular morning exercises usually does so not because he already has physical fitness but in order to get something he does not have. Once one has something he can be anxious to keep it; previous to that, he is anxious to get it.
Therefore, begin your practice without expecting anything of yourself. If you are fortunate enough to sleep in a room by yourself, you can quite literally and without trouble follow the instructions of the prayer book:
"When you awake, before you begin the day, stand with reverence before the All-Seeing God. Make the sign of the Cross and say:
"In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Having invoked the Holy Trinity, keep silence for a little, so that your thoughts and feelings may be freed from worldly cares.
The complete and correct prayer is one in which the words of the prayer are accepted by both thought and emotion; attentiveness is therefore needful. Do not let your thoughts wander; imprison them again and again, and always begin anew from the point where you left off praying. Thus you learn patience and watchfulness.
A person standing at an open window hears the sounds from outside; it is impossible not to do so. But he can give the voices his attention or not, as he himself wishes. The praying person is continually beset by a stream of inappropriate thoughts, feelings and mental impressions. To stop this tiresome stream is as impracticable as to stop the air from circulating in an open room. But one can notice them or not. This, say the saints, one learns only through practice.
When you pray, you yourself must be silent. You do not pray to have your own earthbound desires fulfilled, but you pray: Thy will be done. It is not fitting to wish to use God as an errand boy. You yourself must be silent; let the prayer speak.
Your prayer must have four constituent parts, says Basil the Great: adoration, thanksgiving, confession of sin and petition for salvation. Do not be concerned with or pray for any private matters, but seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).
~from 'The Way of the Ascetics' By Tito Colliander
(thanks Patrick for showing me this)
Thursday, March 18, 2010
(it was for a monthly youth worship service we call The Breakfast Club)
on march 14th for our Breakfast Club youth worship service, we took the music of Coldplay and designed a worship Eucharist around the songs.
here is the order of worship with descriptions about each segment.
(all music by Coldplay)
played Life in Technicolor ii video
Played the song: Life in Technicolor (instrumental)
breakfast foods were available.
Scripture readings (with Life in Technicolor playing in background)
Psalm 63 (all 11 verses)
O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water...
The light shines in the darkness...
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full...
HUGS + HANDSHAKES
Played alternate video to Viva La Vida found on Prospekt's March EP (iTunes)
After a brief period of announcements, we moved on to...
The Scientist video (from Rush of Blood to the Head)
after video - brief description/explanation of Logic vs. Emotion (the song has a lot to do with these two things).
took the line from the song I'M GOING BACK TO THE START and briefly talked about 'when God gives us second chances.' Examples sited: the story of the Gerasene Demoniac (found in Mark 5) and Saul's conversion to Paul. (found in Acts 9)
song: A Message played live by Bryan. (A Message is from the album X & Y)
Question for Prayer/Reflection: Who do you know is in need of a message of love? how might you bring them that message?
students were asked to reflect on these questions during the song.
SPEAK 2 ME
Katie chose the song Fix You to play. Lyrics were posted via Power Point.
after the song, Katie shared about what she felt the song was about and how God speaks to her through the lyrics.
THINK ABOUT IT: imagination
for this segment, we talked briefly about 'imagination'.
can you draw?
how 'bout sing?
can you dance?
can you act in plays?
if i were to go and visit a kindergarten class and ask them those four questions, i would bet that every hand would go up for each question. you, on the other hand, probably would claim ability in one, maybe two of those areas.* (*idea taken from the books All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten by R. Fulghum and Awaken Your Creativity by Les Christie)
somehow, as we get older, we lose our sense of wonder... we lose our imagination and we seem to feel like we are lacking in creativity. perhaps we could blame this on the system... a system that has not given us the freedom to learn in a variety of ways... but regardless, the older we get, the more inhibited we become. we lose that inventive nature that is, i believe, a part of our DNA.
(The purpose of) education should be to create men and women who are capable of doing new things, rather than simply repeat what other generations have done.
Knowledge is a child with a mind and a crayon.
~MC Serch of 3rd Bass
HOW TO JUMP START YOUR IMAGINATION:
climb a tree
hang by knees on monkey bars
swing as high as you can
roll down a hill
spin like crazy
take a different route...
do random things
(students were encouraged to add to this list...)
We then looked briefly at Genesis 1 - how we are all made in the image of God...
on the Power Point, various images that symbolize God's imagination and creativity were shown. (waterfalls, field of flowers, butterflies, sunsets, etc.)
Students were challenged to recapture our God-given creative, imaginative abilities - much like children, while the video for Coldplay's Strawberry Swing played. Strawberry Swing is a very creative, imaginative video, to say the least.
THINK ABOUT IT: past / present /future
played the song: Glass of Water (from Prospekt's March EP) (lyrics on Power Point)
some of the lyrics:
Scared of losin' all the time
He wrote it in a letter?
He was a friend of mine
He heard you could see your future
Inside a glass of water
With ripples and the rhymes
He asked 'Will I see heaven in mine?'
The song largely has to do with (as the lyrics go) how we can often Spend our whole life living in your past
Going nowhere fast.
We humans tend to stress about the past and worry about the future.
Students were given a piece of paper with the words "I WANT..." written at the top. Students were given a pencil and were asked to finish the sentence: "i want..." and to write about it on the page.
Jesus provided a way of life that is not filled with stress or worry (Proverbs 3:5-6). Jesus gives us life to the full. (John 10:10)
Participants were then given a glass of water (refer to lyrics of Glass of Water) and encouraged to 'drink up the present' and to not stress about the past and worry about the future.
While the song Clocks played in the background we talked about time and urgency and busyness. urgency can often bring a sense of chaos or fear to one's life. Sometimes time (or lack there of) can lead to hectic lifestyles that prevent us from connecting with God or hearing from Him.
this transitioned into the song A Whisper (from A Rush of Blood to the Head)
I hear the sound of the ticking of clocks
Who remembers your face
Who remembers you when you are gone
I hear the sound of the ticking of clocks
Come back and look for me
Look for me when I am lost
And just a whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper
i briefly talked about 'The Story of Isaiah' found in 1 Kings 17-19 were Isaiah has a confrontation with the prophets of Baal and calls down fire from heaven... in the end, the false-prophets of Baal are annihilated, yet Isaiah gets a fearful sense of urgency and flees. He hides out in a cave and wonders if God has forgotten about him. (note lyric from A Whisper: come back and look for me when i am lost...) But God finally speaks to him, not in the wind or earthquake... but in a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
paralleled that despite his fears, Isaiah had specific God-given gifts and abilities and was asked to use them to help connect people to God.
played the song Yellow (from Parachutes)
Scrabble boards were set up and students were invited to spell out one gift that they felt God had given them. these gifts inter-connect with other people's gifts. when we work together, we can accomplish much for the sake of Kingdom advancement and helping those in need.
Referenced the song Lost! (from Viva la Vida) and shared a few examples of people who were 'down but not out.' Gideon. James J. Braddock. Rocky. Kurt Warner. (many examples could be referenced here)
Romans 5:1-5 Persevere! Hang in there.
2 Corinthians 4 "8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
If we remain focused on Christ - we will remain in His light and we will be assured that nothing can or will remove us from the Love of God.
I reminded students that the name of the latest Coldplay album is Viva la Vida... which means "live life!"
We have to remain focused - or we lose our imaginative ability... we forget that God is a God of grace and grants us a second chance at life... we aught not to mess it up.
i found this website: http://www.eyechartmaker.com/ where you can customize your own eye charts. i printed off a variety of charts with hidden messages in the charts (Y R U FOCUSING ON THE WRONG THINGS?; etc.) there were a variety of Eye focus charts under each chair.
i then closed by playing the song Death and All His Friends (lyrics) (song facts)
No I don't wanna battle from beginning to end;
I don't want a cycle of recycled revenge;
I don't wanna follow death and all his friends.
Living life means you can't follow death and his friends... the things that lead to destruction. God's plan is life. Live it! live life. Drink up the present. GEt busy livin' or get busy dyin'.
played song Now My Feet Wont Touch the Ground as the service concluded with prayer.
the service lasted about 70 minutes. it could be made longer or shorter very easily.
director of youth ministries
christ united methodist church, louisville, ohio
We who were called to be Your people
Struggling sinners and thieves
We’re lifted up from the ashes
And out came the song of the redeemed
The song of the redeemed.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
8 Praise our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
what sort of sound are you making? are you taking credit for things God has done?
is your sound a melody - pleasing to the Lord?
is your song a song of redemption or a song of lament?
honesty is what the Lord desires. Jesus taught the disciples to live transparent lives and to sing songs of praise. (Luke 10:20-22; Luke 19:37; Matthew 5:16)
I woke up this morning, and in the darkness before dawn, i heard the sounds and melodies of praise from the birds in the trees. their songs ushered in the sun as dawn began to break.
it served as a gentle reminder that all living things should sing their praises to the Father of all things for the many gifts and blessings he has bestowed upon us. during this time of lent - we are reminded that the greatest gift to us was the gift of His son, Jesus.
my praising should never cease.
i praise you Father for the sacrifice.
i praise you Father for the gift of life.
there is no other who could pay the price.
i praise you Jesus for your sacrifice.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
i wonder how many times this verse from Ecclesiastes ran through the mind of Jesus has he awaited his time to go to the cross? Jesus was all about timing. there are many instances where he acknowledged that the "time was not right" yet for his full purpose, plan and sacrifice for all men to be made known to all. he knew when the time would be right. (see John 7:6; John 7:8; John 8:20; etc.)
the time had not come, yet, because there was more to be done before the cross. more time was needed for healings, teachings, relationship building... more time to tear down walls and break stereotypes... more time to reach the unreachable and love the unlovable... more time needed to spend with outcasts and sinners...
Jesus was all about timing.
He knew that there was a time needed for rest. (Matthew 11:25-30) A time to eat what the Lord God provides. (Matthew 12:1) A time to provide for others. (Mark 6:30-44). a time for honor (Mark 14:6-8). A time for healing. (Luke 7:21) A time for prayer and praise. (Luke 10:21) And a time to live in the same way as one speaks... to have word and deed fully aligned. (Luke 14).. a time to live out one's faith as the Spirit has compelled.
Jesus also knew that time was of the essence (John 7:33) and that at a certain time, it would be the time... (Matthew 26:18) ... to face the reality of His calling. despite His divine patience - waiting until that God-ordained moment of His death - as a means of salvation for all - he never avoided to speak the truth about the importance of dealing with repentance here and now.
"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" ~Mark 1:15
the question for us today is this: what time is it? how much time are we wasting? there is a time for everything. what time is upon you... upon me... upon the world right now?
what is the Spirit compelling us to do right now. not tomorrow. not yesterday. now?
if time were a glass of water* - we might feel the urge to stare into it - wondering if the ripples might tell us the future; wondering how full or empty is the glass. worrying about the future, while living in the past...
or we could come to realize that the glass of water represents the present.
why sit there wasting time wondering and worrying about past and future events? we should drink up the present... drink it up! and live our life in the way that would bring glory to God.
the time is now.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
can you draw?
how 'bout sing?
can you dance?
can you act in plays?
if i were to go and visit a kindergarten class and ask them those four questions, i would bet that every hand would go up for each question. you, on the other hand, probably would claim ability in one, maybe two of those areas.*
somehow, as we get older, we lose our sense of wonder... we lose our imagination and we seem to feel like we are lacking in creativity. perhaps we could blame this on the system... a system that has not given us the freedom to learn in a variety of ways... but regardless, the older we get, the more inhibited we become. we lose that inventive nature that is, i believe, a part of our DNA.
i've always thought of myself as a creative-type... i often desire and aim to 'think outside the box' but i am still bound by that imaginary 'box'... it is even hard for me to think beyond the quote-unquote "box". i've had conversations with peers whop think they have zero creative ability at all. i do not believe this to be true for anyone.
the system confines us at times. our way of life confines us.
have you made a playlist? taken a different route to work? cooked a meal? written in a journal? taken a photo? we have opportunities to 'be creative' day in and day out - but do we take advantage of those opportunities to use our imaginations? we have forgotten the freedom that comes when an imagination loosed.
recently, i watched the Coldplay video for the song Strawberry Swing and my mind was set free. i entered a world of an imagination explosion. [watch it here]
i was reminded that life is bigger... so much bigger than what i make of it. it is too easy and comfortable to compartmentalize life... keeping things nice and neat inside the box. but there i no freedom in that box!
i remember in college my Christian Theology professor told us to draw a picture of God. so i drew God... he had long hair... strong muscles. a beard. infinity logo on his chest. a cape. and he was holding the world on his finger, like a basketball player spins a basketball. (see below)
the professor told me my picture was wrong. he had no imagination. he couldn't think of God outside of his box, i suppose.
God can not be contained. and i don't believe he wants us to be bound by anything, either.
Perhaps that is why Jesus enjoyed the company of children. because the got it. they were free. they saw a bigger picture... an unending landscape of which to paint or draw or act or sing... to create and imagine. they were joyous. they loved the life God had given them.
Picasso once said "all children are artists."
Children are imaginative. isn't it time you recapture some of that? imagine. create. live free. see the beauty of God in full.
16"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him.
"Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read,
" 'From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise'?
14Jesus said: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
*from the books All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten by R. Fulghum and Awaken Your Creativity by Les Christie
Monday, March 15, 2010
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
remember those Sprite commercials from a few years back? "Image is Nothing - Thirst is Everything", they boldly proclaimed. "Obey your thirst. Drink Sprite." the campaign was widely successful, boosting sales that bumped Sprite up to the #4 most popular soda. The advertising subtly promoted Sprite while poking fun at the way other brands advertised their product. Sprite, in essence, sold their product by developing an identity that appeared to not care about image whatsoever. yet, this anti-image became their claim to fame, so to speak. this newly claimed image was something they cared a lot about - as it gave them notoriety. they didn't want to be like the other guys - and their promotions of being different than the rest proved to be effective.
we learn early on that God created the world, including mankind - and we know that we are made in his image... the image of God... but do we claim that image? do we understand the notoriety that comes when we claim the name and image of Jesus as our own? when we embrace the image of God - that image personified in Christ Jesus as an image of love and righteousness - we embrace a sort of anti-image, at least in the eyes of the world.
Romans 12 calls us to transform to this God-breathed image. this anti-image is an image of humility (Romans 12:3a), of sound judgment (vs. 3b), of specific gifts given to us by God himself (vs. 6-8), of sincere love (vs. 9), of joyful hope (vs. 12) and of self sacrifice and service (vs. 17-21). that is an image that is contrary to that of worldly activity.
we are called to be different... to embrace God's image and the purpose and plan that go with that image. when we do, it is a beautiful thing. it's everything.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
one's spiritual journey will last a lifetime. perseverance on the journey is sure to produce character and character, hope. and we know that hope will not disappoint us at all. but one must strive to 'keep on keepin' on.' the journey is long but fruitful, for all who stay rooted in Jesus. this, however, does not mean the difficulty will not come.
we walk in the light, but darkness surrounds us. that darkness, if we allow it, may creep in to parts of our being that can lead to a distancing of our connection with God.
no matter how far or long we walk with Jesus, darkness will come. how prepared are we when that happens? how will we respond?
darkness of the soul may also come when one is consumed in Christian service over an extended period of time. many dedicated followers of Jesus have also experienced what is referred to as the 'dark night of the soul.' Mother Teresa experienced this as have many others. this period of 'dark times' may result in the waning of foundational elements of ones faith (prayer, spiritual disciplines, etc.) those elements may not appear to connect individuals with God as they once did. it may appear that God has abandoned them.
this period of darkness - this period of question, confusion or of filling one's heart with stress or doubt can lead to a new 'awakening' of sorts. think of Peter. he certainly experienced his own darkness when he knowingly denied a connection with Jesus. look at the awakening that took place within him when he answered Christ's call to 'feed my sheep.' (John 21; Acts 2)
i heard a quote once that i have not forgotten: "to appreciate the sunrise, you have to wait through the night.'
perhaps that period of darkness... of emptiness... of feeling nothingness just may lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of God's light and his purpose and plan, not only for you, but for all humanity.
keep on keepin' on. rejoice in your suffering. because in the end, hope will not disappoint. this i believe.
Friday, March 12, 2010
my brother in law, Jerry, enjoys running marathons for fun. anytime our families are together, he's always sure to get out and run every morning. a few years back, i decided to take up running... not because i ever thought about running a marathon - but because i wanted to start doing something where i could set a goal and see it reached. and so i started running and eventually reached my goal and ran in a couple of 5k's here and there. i'm happy to say that for the most part, i've kept up with it ever since.
i knew it must have brought Jerry a little bit of joy to know that i was, in someways, following in his footsteps. the thing is, i used to be scared to go running with him, because he was such an accomplished runner - much faster!
then one day he invited me out to run. i was surprised at how patient he was, since i was obviously slower. little did i realize that he was patiently increasing the pace and before i knew it or realized it, i was running a steady pace that was a full minute faster than i usually ran.
running with him and like him enabled me to run in such a way that i thought was not possible.
Discipline in a Long-Distance Race
1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
~Hebrews 12:1-3 (the Message)
this faith race we're in? Jesus has already ran it. finished it. conquered the hills and valleys along the trail. who are we running with? are we trying to do this faith thing... live this faith out on our own or are we willing to run with those who have trained harder, pushed further and given more? will we follow their lead? will we notice the trail blazed by Christ himself? do we see the big picture? can we see the finish line? are we running the right race?
i don't want to lose focus... lose my sight... i want to be challenged. i need to be challenged. who knows what you or i can accomplish if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus - the author and finisher of this race of faith.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
the halfway point. 20 days in. 20 more to go.
i wonder if after 20 days in the desert Jesus knew he was at the halfway point. i wonder if he even knew what day it actually was. days blending into nights. extreme heat and light transitioning into cool darkness. alone with only his thoughts and the ground beneath him, Jesus, at some point, experienced great temptation, common to all men.
hungry. thirsty. dirty. exhausted. did he still have a sense of wonder? was it hard for him to focus? did his yearning for water get in the way of his focus on God the Father and His divine plan for all humanity? were his senses heightened? did the birds sing for him? bring him comfort and solace? was he feeling high or feeling low?
at the halfway point, was he tempted to call it a day and leave before it was time?
perhaps there is a foreshadowing here - to his impending death on a cross. his ministry began in isolation. and it ended the same way. i wonder if he felt some of the same emotions on the cross. hunger. thirst. temptation.
but he was prepared. perhaps the desert prepared him.
thank goodness he didn't give in. 40 days was what was needed - he didn't take the easy road, but stayed til the end... endured the temptations, and was perhaps better equipped to face what he would face during the events leading up to the cross.
when have you been tempted to take the easy road? when have you wanted to call it a day and not stick with it? what plan might God have for you that might mean enduring and overcoming great struggle and/or temptation - so that God may be glorified?
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
the compelling stories in this book are what makes it special. harper and gross alternate writing about how Jesus loves: outcasts, broken people, the forgotten, skeptics, gluttons, crooks, porn stars and even religious folk. their stories and experiences are so genuinely molded that i couldn't help but feel like i was a part of their story, too.
it was easy to be drawn in.
both authors make great points that should compel one to strive to be like Jesus and love like Jesus.
chapter four, written by Craig, was by far great story telling. this chapter was titled 'the forgotten' and spoke of how sometimes the community of believers inadvertently leaves some behind... alone... forgotten.
the most interesting segments came at the end when both authors write about their experiences befriending and dialoging with porn star Ron Jeremy.
i would recommend this book to any and all. it's not a difficult read at all. great stories. practical. honest. real. what more could you ask for?
View all my reviews >>
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" 9Some claimed that he was.
Others said, "No, he only looks like him."
But he himself insisted, "I am the man."
10"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.
11He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."
12"Where is this man?" they asked him.
"I don't know," he said.
sometimes my words can not add to what has already been written. the story above is compelling enough.
what things have happened in your life so that God might reveal himself to you and others?
what personal stories or words of testimony have you been given so that others might draw closer to Jesus?
the entire 9th chapter of John is riveting. read about how Jesus takes this instance of a man born blind, heals him by rubbing mud in his eyes (of all things) and then uses it as a teaching moment about spiritual blindness. things happen for a reason, friends.
(after severe questioning by the religious authorities about how this man was healed, this is the man's response:
25He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"
26Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
27He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?"
28Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from."
30The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."
34To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out.
we don't have to know much. we just have to know Jesus.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
the essence of faith is lived out in community. no one was meant to be alone. there are no 'lone ranger' Christians, either. the faith was build around the idea of community. Jesus' ministry was, at its roots, about building a kingdom - a community of sorts - with followers of the Way living out examples of love (and all that comes with that) for all the world to see, hear and experience.
Jesus showed us the way to build community. Think of how he reached out to the woman at the well (John 4), the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) or the Garesene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20). Just a few examples of people on the fringe... lost or alone... outcasts. the lowest of the low - then Jesus comes along and extends a hand. provides correction. loves unconditionally and offers a means to a better way of living.
these are just a few of the many magnificent stories of Jesus. the most interesting thing is this: what happened after Jesus offered love? individuals who had these encounters with the Savior went and entered the community - sharing their magnificent stories of Jesus' love and grace.
check it out for yourself! what happened next to these people?
the woman at the well - after being offered 'living water' went and told everyone about Jesus.
28Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" 30They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
the woman caught in adultery was given a second chance, told to go and sin no more. she immediately became a follower of Jesus and was welcomed into that community.
Zacchaeus, after having that Jesus encounter, gave money to the poor and hosted a fellowship meal at his house. (Luke 19:5-10) what a way to build community!
after Jesus cast out the demon's from the man in the region of Garesene
19Jesus said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
people were in awe.
what a way to build community. this is what Jesus does. He built up a community of believers based on love... it's amazing how far an extended hand or a simple conversation can go when one follows Jesus' example of community building. we should willingly follow such an example.
we weren't meant to be alone. that is not God's plan.
build up communities based on Jesus' example. live out love. share stories. extend your hand.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Jesus Changes Water to Wine1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
4"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come."
5His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.a]">[a]
7Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
8Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."
They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
11This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (NASB) John 2:5
This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. (NASB) John 2:11
One of the wonderful truths in this passage is not that Jesus did a miracle. It is that Jesus cared enough about the hosts of the feast to rescue them from social embarrassment and possibly legal trouble. He cared enough to make wine! He cared enough about the guests that He made the best wine. He cared enough about Mary’s distress that He rescued her.
Jesus saved the best for last. what a way to begin his ministry to the world. reminds me that the best is always yet to come.
Saturday, March 06, 2010
The human heart, I believe, is capable of several types of emotions. Money provides a more physical, tangible one but being close to someone who is always on your mind, someone you can trust and be loved by, I think, is a totally distinct emotion for the former . Thus, to dismiss their feelings is, at best, callous and careless.
Finding someone who appreciates and cherished you as much as you do him is not easy, if at all possible. A combination of self and chance that ensures such bliss is hard to come by. The emotional anguish that one feels is very real.
The world collapses around you and the word "love" becomes another word in the dictionary. I am not advocating a life of indulgent self-pity but I think that the feelings of the young must be recognised.
I believe that in a world where domestic abuse, divorces and one-million-dollar settlements have become so common, it is all the more pertinent that we give some merit and consideration to the angst of the teenager, lest it manifests itself in some monstrous fashion.
~ Paul Tan
love is more than a word. perhaps the use of the word in so many misconstrued ways has brought about an absence of understanding of what 'love' really is. words can only, truly go so far. it's action that gives words meaning. how are you misusing the word 'love'? how might we all be guilty of using the word 'love' callously - without action or meaning behind it?
18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
~! John 3:18