Friday, October 24, 2008

Answering the call

Can I just say that I absolutely love Paul's introduction in Romans. It is so powerful and impacting. He pretty much sums up the Christian faith in six verses and immediately challenges his readers to respond to Christ. All these arguments between denominations over doctrine and what not are blown out of the water because THIS is the underlying principal of being a follower of Christ. THIS is all that really matters.

Romans 1:1-6 - 
"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God - the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding the Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ."

Jesus was the promised Messiah that is seen throughout Old Testament prophecy. Christ was fully man, a descendant of David. Christ was fully God and empowered through the Holy Spirit. Christ died AND was resurrected. Through him, we are saved BY grace and are called to share his saving grace with others. And boy am I thankful, as a Gentile, that I am among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. You are too! Christ has called each of us to answer his call, both as Jews and Gentiles. Christ has called you. Have you answered his call? 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Ok, I really don't have anything special to say. I am still alive for anybody that may have been wondering that. Just real busy. Working on fall carnival, fall retreat, a concert at the church in less than a month, and getting things going for a mission trip to Mexico.

But, to keep some of you all entertained for hours. I decided to share a little secret with you that I stumbled upon/ remembered. You see, apparently I used to have a blog (xanga) but never really thought of it as blogging, probably because all I did was complain about UCA. But I thought I would share it with you since I'm pretty sure nobody knows about it anymore. It's quite funny and please remember that I have matured a little since then and grown a lot spiritually. But, I found it quite humorous to read through, so here ya go, enjoy.

Like I said, the only people that knew about that were friends who had xanga (only about one of which I still talk to today). Have a great day and don't allow yourself to get to I have. But I know it will all slow down when I head to Nashville around my birthday then Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Crazy? Yea, a little bit

I had the incredible opportunity to go skydiving in Siloam Springs this past weekend with some friends. Let me just say, WOW! It was an absolutely amazing experience that I would love to do over and over again. The experience started with flying up in a tiny plane (with plenty of duct tape to get your heart racing) above the clouds to a total of 9500 ft. Then, as I'm sitting right beside the door (literally my left arm is pressed against it), the door flies open and you look out with wind rushing into your face and think "what in the world am I doing up here." Then the fun part starts, maneuver into position to jump then "ready, set, jump" and your are falling through the air (I reached a top speed of 130 mph). The experience is unlike anything you would ever imagine. As your falling (still above the clouds) and looking down at the ground and across the horizon, it doesn't even feel like your falling. Heights isn't even an issue because you are so high up. Like I sometimes get nervous when I'm going up a shaky extension ladder, but everything was so far away, you don't even feel like you'd ever hit the ground. Falling was such an adrenaline rush. Way more than anything I've ever done before, which things like rock climbing, rappelling, white water rafting, skiing, and a sky swing. Then you pull the chute and feel like you stop (and no, its not painful and doesn't feel like your shooting back in the air). When falling, the wind is crazy loud but once the chute is out, it is so peaceful. No noise whatsoever except for just a touch of wind and the conversation between you and the person your with. At one point we even came to a complete stop and it was dead quiet and such an amazing experience considering the noisy world that we live in today. Then as your floating down back to earth, you look around and see the earth from a whole new perspective. We were right over 412 and looked over at Springdale and Fayetteville. Just looking down and seeing God's creation from a much broader scope. A lake here, a pasture there, JBU over there, cars running around looking like little ants. It was such a glorious experience and time over God telling me "This is what I see." We get so caught up in our minute daily lives, so focused on what is going on in our office or our living room that we don't ever step back and allow God to show us His creation from His point of view. Make an opportunity for yourself to experience God's broader creation rather than being so focused on your personal agenda for the day. Go to the top of a mountain/hill, take a hot air balloon ride, go skydiving, take a hike, whatever; just don't miss out on God's glorious creation because your so focused on man-made things like this computer your looking at right now. 

And don't be overly concerned with playing it safe and keeping yourself out of harms way. God created you with a heart for adventure, I promise. Don't starve your heart of the adventure that it desires. Live a little, do something that scares you. Witness to your neighbor (just talk to your neighbor), go on a mission trip, whatever it is, don't let fear keep you from experiencing life its fullest. I've dislocated my shoulder 7 times in the past 28 months. Does common sense say to quit doing those things that would cause me to dislocate my shoulder again (like playing basketball or going skydiving)? You bet it does, but do I let fear and pain control my life to the point that I am no longer enjoying it and enjoying the pleasures that God has placed in my heart? Nope, I went skydiving just last weekend (a week and a half after dislocating my shoulder), I'm playing basketball tonight (2 weeks after dislocating my shoulder while playing basketball). Live your life, thats what God wants you to do.

Friday, October 10, 2008


So I was reading in Acts today and came across a passage that hadn't ever really grabbed my attention before. Then I started thinking of a good friend of mine who tends to fall asleep everytime he is in church.... sometimes while he's on stage. Haha. 

Acts 20:7-12
  "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. 'Don't be alarmed,' he said. 'He's alive!' Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted."

So, the next time your having trouble staying awake in church, use this for inspiration to stay awake! Eutychus was lucky enough to have Paul come down and save him even though he fell asleep during his sermon. Your pastor may not be so kind. 

But the reason I think Paul is so eager to restore him to life (even though he fell asleep during his sermon) is because of the boy's heart. The boy wanted to be there, he was exhausted yet he still made the effort the be there to hear God's Word. (And the impact ended up being far greater than he expected when he showed up). How many times do we find ourselves feeling too tired to go to church? So we just lay in bed and skip. God understands that you've had a busy week (and your pastor may understand every once in a while too) but what greater place to find peace and rest than in the presence of God and His people hearing from His Word?

This story also hits home to me personally. I used to be one of the teens that just couldn't stay awake during church. Something about sitting there quiet and still for a very long time (and usually in a church that always felt too warm to me) that really tried to put me down for the count. Now years later (and I still find myself struggling to stay awake occasionally), I find myself in the position of youth pastor teaching students that can't stay awake either. But rather than get frustrated or upset, I am simply glad that they have the desire to be there and know that God is going to speak to them one way or another (I just hope I don't have any students dying during my lessons!)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Behold Behemoth...

Well, I was reading in Job 40 this morning and read about the behemoth and really just decided to try to figure out what exactly the behemoth might be. I remember all too often of hearing people say that dinosaurs appear in Scripture and then citing this "behemoth." So, I decided that I should figure out for sure what I think this animal is and I thought I'd share my opinion with you. Now of course if could be an animal that is now extinct that we don't know anything about, but I'm gonna stick with animals that I actually know about. First off, I'm going to rule out any dinosaurs like an apatosaurus (widely known as a brontosaurus to most people) because I tend to rule out any possibility of dinosaurs with the flood. Maybe I'm wrong on that... but maybe I'll look into it and talk about it another day. So, back to the behemoth. I really believe that God is speaking about a hippo right here, let me explain my reasoning.  Job 40, starting in verse 15.

15Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. Clearly, this animal is an herbivore. 16What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! This is clearly one stout animal, and when you look at the area of the Jordan river, the biggest animals were probably the elephant, hippo, and rhino. Hippos are said to have extremely strong stomach muscles. Just look at the belly on this guy!

 17His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. This is probably one of the most confusing verses... and the one that opens up the widest variety of options and puts into question many others. Some translations will say that tail could possibly mean trunk, which would make an elephant a prime candidate. But many translations say "stiffens" rather than "sways" meaning that his tail is hard like a cedar rather than long (besides I've never really seen a cedar move like an elephant's trunk before). From what I understand, a hippo's tail actually becomes stiff when it becomes frightened or when it is running. And if you look at a hippo's tail (their tails are much thicker than I thought they were; see below) and imagine it being stiff then I could see how it may seem like a cedar.

18His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. 19He ranks first among the works of God, yet his Maker can approach him with his sword. 20The hills bring him their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby. 21Under the lotus plant he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh. 21The lotuses conceal him in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround him. 23When the river rages, he is not alarmed; he is secure, though the Jordan should surge against his mouth. Sounds to me like this animal spends a whole lot of time "hidden" in the water. 24Can anyone capture him by the eyes, or trap him and pierce his nose? This animal cannot be captured by somebody because all you see are its eyes and nose above water. This animal is too big to try to drag around by a nose ring. What animal can you think of that stays in the water but all you can see is its eyes and nose? 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

J'eet Yet?

I'm going through David Nasser's bible study "A Call to Die" with my students and what I read today really got me thinking, so I thought I'd share a little.

If you have ever been out to eat with me in public then you know that I have this odd habit/ability/whatever you want to call it to put away sweet tea like nobody's business. On a side note, I do love sweet tea! Just about a week ago, I drank like 8 glasses of sweet tea at a restaurant during lunch....8 glasses! I imagine the waitress thought there was something seriously wrong with me. Needless to say that I spent the rest of the day going to the bathroom. When I was younger, I came to the conclusion that I must have multiple stomachs (like a cow) because it didn't matter how much I ate or how full I was, I always had room for more to drink (usually sweet tea) and dessert. So back to sweet tea, pretty much the most amazing thing available to drink in the whole world. As I sit somewhere and drink sweet tea, it is so satisfying and refreshing, yet I continue to want more. 

Matthew 5:6 says: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." In his bible study, Nasser says, "It is a spiritual paradox that when we are thirsty for God and we drink, he satisfies us and yet leaves us thirsting for him even more. When we are hungry for God and eat his nourishing word, we are refreshingly satisfied and yet we are hungry for much more." I have discovered this to be so true the past couple months. As I continue to seek God and spend time in Scripture, I am filled and find satisfaction but my hunger only grows. As I spend time in Scripture and alone with God, my desire for that time continues to grow as well. I want to challenge you to find ways to satisfy that thirst and hunger that you have for God so that He will continue to grow your hunger for him.

Monday, October 6, 2008

PB &...... S....?

So I had some peanut butter and syrup sandwiches last night after church for dinner. Why, you may ask... Why syrup? Why blog about it? You see, my mom got me hooked on peanut butter and syrup (which is way better than peanut butter and jelly) many many years ago. It got to the point that she would ask each of us on Sunday night what we wanted for dinner (the options were usually leftovers from lunch or some sort of sandwich) and I would ALWAYS answered Peanut butter and syrup.... "w/ love." You see, my mom made them so much better than anybody else because she made them with love. She would explain to me that it was easy to do and that I should just make my own; but I would argue that I NEVER made it as good as she did b/c it wasn't made with love when I made it. So last night, I got home from church and decided to have PB & S in memory of my old Sunday night tradition, but guess what. It just wasn't as good. My theory still holds true that mom's cooking, even if its just a sandwich, will always be better than my own because she always adds that one special ingredient.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ADD Encouragement

So, in my continual increase with this inability to keep my attention focused on something, I have read a passage of Scripture that has really spoken to me and provided encouragement that I can still be effective even if I chase a few rabbit trails while I'm teaching.

Ephesians 3:1-15 - 

1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--
2Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation; as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was to me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

...14For this reason I kneel before the father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

Did you see Paul's ADD moment? The rabbit trail? Paul opens chapter 3 to pray for the Ephesians but then "gets distracted." You don't know how many times I wander off and talk about stuff that doesn't have anything to do with my "planned" lesson. But maybe it's stuff that the Holy Spirit actually lays on my heart right then and there because it is what my students need to hear before hearing the rest of my "planned" lesson.

The Ephesians needed to hear Paul's "rabbit trail" right then and there to prevent alot of future confusion and discouragement. Paul calls himself "the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles." Paul is actually in prison when he is writing this letter to the Ephesians and he basically says "I'm in jail for Jesus because of you Gentiles." If you look at Acts 22:21-22 then you actually realize that he is in prison because of the Gentiles. He is sharing with the Jews in Jerusalem about his Damascus road experience and says "Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' The crowd listened to Paul UNTIL he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, 'Rid the earth of him! He's not fit to live!'" Then they through him in prison and he starts writing letters. The Jews had no problem with the Gospel, it was the fact that Paul was gonna share with Gentiles that got them all stirred up. Now back to Ephesians, Paul begins this rabbit trail to comfort the Gentile Ephesians so they aren't discouraged and feel like it's all their fault that Paul is in prison. He begins to explain to them the mystery, his purpose that was given to him from God to share the Gospel to all the world. He encourages these believers to be confident and not discouraged because of his sufferings b/c it is all part of God's plan. So he breaks up his prayer mid-sentence to explain God's plan, then resumes his prayer in verse 14. (Notice verse 1 and 14 both start "For this reason I") 

Anyway, just a random thing that jumped out at me while reading Scripture. And some comfort for me and maybe some others as we teach Scripture or share our faith or whatever that it is sometimes ok to have an ADD moment and chase a rabbit trail. Maybe the person your talking to really needs to hear something that has nothing to do with your "planned out" talk.