So I'm back. Been in hiding for a while. Kinda was in the blogging desert actually, but what happened this morning forced me back into the blogging world. Can I just say that I am incredibly proud of my daughter? Riley, at a whopping 3 years old, shocked the heck out of me this morning. We were on our way to drop her off at a friend's house. I was listening to some music, thinking about stuff I had to do today. Riley wasn't saying anything---just chillin' in the backseat. I thought this was probably due to the fact that she's not really a morning person. Most of the time she wakes up pretty cranky. Anyway, one of the harder songs comes on and she says, "Daddy", and I'm thinking she's going to tell me to turn it down cause she's not really awake yet. Instead she says, "Daddy, turn it up!" Turn it up?! What?! Heck yeah, I'll turn it up! The song is called "Kaliforn-eye-a" off of P.O.D.'s "When Angels and Serpents Dance" CD." It's one the hardest tracks and she wants me to crank it! So I cranked it up. Duh. To top it all off at the 3 minute mark (see link to song below) she made the rock out sign with her hand and started banging her head and laughing the whole time. Her album is due out this spring.
So here's a pic with our buddy, Shane Claiborne. He doesn't really know us, yet he knows many like us. We can't help but feel like we know him because he's so stinkin transparent when he writes. When we asked him to take a picture with our youth group (he was speaking at David Lipscomb University) he replied, "Y'all brought your group down here? That's awesome! Keep doing what you're doing!" We will. This pic just seems right. Shane's basically a part of our youth group--without a doubt! Seeing him felt like seeing a long-lost friend. If you haven't read "The Irresistible Revolution: Living As An Ordinary Radical", I strongly recommend it. The Irresistible Revolution: Living As An Ordinary Radical Short Interview with Shane (AUDIO)
Went to bed late. Got up Early. Things stirring in my soul and and I can't turn off my mind. Last night at L1 was amazing. I keep asking, "Why me--why do I get to be a part of something so awesome?" I'm on the greatest journey. Seriously. There are people who wonder if God is real--if he really is out there. Beyond that, they wonder why he would care about us. I've seen God working in the lives of his people--stirring in the hearts of his creation. Doubts are laid to rest. It's not slight-of hand or some other kind of illusion. God is real and he is calling us back to him. I love that fact that I get to witness and be a part of it. Katie, Ian, Hollis, Morgan, and Wes--you guys are amazing and treasured by God. Welcome to the journey--I'm stoked to be in the trenches with you! Welcome to the Journey Video
I was driving into the office today and starting thinking about all my "stuff." Over the past year I've been on a journey of self-examination. Most of the time, I'm not too stoked on what I find. I have so much, while most of the world scrapes by to survive. Dangit--I want to "live simply so that others may simply live", but I suck at it. I'm a tech freak and I love all the gadgets that are out there. At the same time, If I added up all the money that I've spent on cool gadgets over the years--well, I could've put several children through school in Uganda. My heart is changing, but my habits are slow to catch up. What should I be doing with the resources I've been blessed with? I know the answer, but I'm not as quick to act as I should be. I'm done with excuses. I hate that I get numb to my true feelings by the shiny toy in the window. I want to change. I don't want the "stuff" anymore. It has no real depth. I want to be the hands and feet that reach out to the suffering and love them. My "stuff" can get in the way. Well, actually it's my pursuit of "stuff" that gets in the way. Two of the things I've been called to do as a Christian--love God and love people. A pastor that I really respect, Matt Chandler, gave a sermon in which he said, "Outside, people in this world are dying, and we're drinking lattes, man. We're drinking lattes." This wasn't a call to stop drinking coffee. It was a call to open our eyes to where our treasure is. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Will I spend $4 on a cup of fancy coffee but not do the same to help the hurting in this world. $4 a could change a life--FOUR BUCKS A DAY!! We'll spend it on coffee--how much more is the value of human life? I've talked to some people about this and some feel overwhelmed. They say "The problem is so huge, What can we REALLY do about it." They go on to talk about corrupt government in these countries and how persecution will always be there and that the governments have to change before any REAL help can come to these people. I honestly think this logic is just a way to make themselves feel better about not getting involved. Yes--the idea of changing corrupt government seems rather intimidating from where I sit in my cubicle. But that's not going to stop me from doing everything I can to help the suffering. BTW--not only in other countries, but in the ol' U.S. of A. as well. Check out this story adapted from "The Star Thrower", by Loren Eiseley:
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"
The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."
If everyone thinks the problem is too huge, than no one makes a difference. Will you make a difference? Will you be the change?
I recognized something this weekend. I need to get out of the way more often. Let me explain. In my job as a youth minister there is a lot of planning and strategy. Sometimes I imagine the best possible setting for God to move. Is the music right? Was the message good? Are the lights too bright? God will surely move if the lights are a bit lower. And so on and so on. While planning for events is important, this mentality is obviously completely ridiculous. The funny thing is that I know this, yet I still fall into this trap sometimes. And then it happens. God totally blows my mind and shows me that I should seriously ask for His input more often. God is HUGE--so much bigger than I can comprehend. I finished a teaching series on Sunday night. As I was closing the evening, I told students that I would be available to answer questions and that they should see me if they had any. Honestly, I thought the teaching was ok but nothing to write home about. It's at times like that in which I think that if I had been more inspiring--well--maybe God would've moved. Ha, ha! Time for The Mind Blower to do His thing! A new student approached me as others were leaving. He said he needed to talk to me and then he proceeded to tell me about how he was searching, looking for truth, and that he was going to keep coming because he felt like our group was a place that he could do that. After we were done talking, I asked God to forgive my short-sightedness. Honestly, there are things happening with the students in our youth group that are beyond my comprehension. Lives truly being changed --that's what I'm seeing. I'm trying to get out of the way. Seems that planning is fine, but over planning (when you think you have to be on top of your game or God won't move) just puts God in a box that He's gonna obliterate anyway. Thankfully!
Blogging--didn't think that I would do it, yet here I am. Keeping this thing current--that will be a challenge. I need to see if Jill will help me make this thing a bit more welcoming. We need some pics or something. Everything is so--black.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."--The Apostle Paul. Trying to be more like Christ--its a battle most of the time. Loving God and loving others--to REALLY do that--takes work. So I'm trying.