Romans 5:6

Love, even if it hurts - Jesus Christ

Apr 28, 2010

Honest to God

Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.-- Winston Churchill

I have come to a very harsh reality this morning as I was preparing for class. Am I honest? Many would use the word integrity but I have pretty much camped on the word honest. If you are anything like me this word conjures up images of the past. When you could walk down Main Street without hearing sirens or gun shots and safely purchase a cream soda from the candy store clerk. You may be asking yourself, "Well OK to whom do you have a problem being honest too." My feeling is that I am not too honest with myself any more. In my communication to God I know that I have nothing in which to hide, mask, or lie about, but to myself I show no such transparency. To myself, I hide, divert and redirect as much truth about myself as I can. In front of God I know that I am a man in need of much help and grace and rarely do I offer the same to myself. A wise man once told a story found in the book of Luke; he talked about trees bearing good and bad fruit and about two men who built a house, one on solid ground and the other on sand. To be honest with you, I have heard these stories told hundreds of times and applied in a thousand different ways. However, I must share with you a revelation, a reviewing if you will that I had this morning. Neither the bad tree nor the man building on the sand was ever honest with themselves in what they were doing. The man building the house on sand never stopped and said, "Wait a minute! What am I doing building a house on sand, I need to stop immediately." Instead, he continued and we know the result. The tree never stopped to think what it could do differently to produce better fruit. I pray that we have the bravery and courage to be honest with ourselves and our faith. I hope that we exchange what is real within ourselves and that truth overlaps in how we communicate to the world.

Mar 20, 2010


I Believe in the brotherhood of all men, but I do not believe in waisting brotherhood on anyone who does not want to practice it with me. Brotherhood is a two way street.

Malcolm X

The bonds of brotherhood surpass expectation and want. The bond brother’s share can help when helping does not help; it is a glass of water to man in the middle of the ocean. Not growing up with any brothers or fathers I really do believe this is the one relationship I have been unjustly deprived of. I never expected to need it as much as I do now in this time of my life. Having brothers makes me feel saved though I never knew I was ever lost. I am truly blessed by God that I have a clan of fellow warriors that help me, carry me, push me when all I want to do is lie down and call it in. How can we follow this Jesus and then deny the community that he has so richly and lovingly opened the door to? I pray that we as fallen people begin to trust in our inherent need for each other. We must break through our own barriers and walls and dig tunnels through our defenses to allow much needed communication and love to pass.

Mar 5, 2010

People Like Walnuts

Have you ever sat on a porch cracking open walnuts shells for the savory meat in the middle? I love this simple yet repetitive task because it offers a peace of mind rarely found in the day to day humdrum. Inevitably, you always comes across the one nut that does not want to crack. Instead of dropping it and continuing with another one you spend the next 15 minutes giving this one nut your undivided attention. After several colorful words and a couple cracked nails you have crushed the stubborn thing to the point the meat inside is unusable.

Youth work is a lot like this. Every group of teenagers, or people in general for that matter, have that one stubborn mind that refuses to crack easily. Instead of focusing on the easier more pliable minds we respond to the challenge and attack like our honor is at stake. Days, weeks, maybe years go by with not one budge and we are left burnt out and exhausted believing that we have in some way failed them, ourselves, and our God. A great man once told me to focus on the ones that respond and let God work on the ones that don't. This is completely opposite of what my instinct wants me to do. I want to be the wise Yoda that take the rough and rude pupil and mold and shape him into a respectable warrior... for God of course. Instead, I am quickly learning that God must be the slow moving water that erodes the hard shell of doubt and apathy away. I guess the question is do I have the patience to allow God to work in his own time table. I pray that we find the movements of God peaceable and reaffirming instead of slow and annoying. I hope that we first crack our own shells before we work on the surfaces of others.

Mar 3, 2010

Closing the Gaps

· The concept behind this and much of the problems are caused because teenagers communicate like Chewbacca from Star Wars

o It’s incredibly difficult to talk to teenagers especially when their hungry, tired, or awake. Have you ever noticed that Chewbacca never has subtitles when he talks, everybody just understands him but you the watcher. We laugh at this but we know that when you were a teenager you had the same problem in trying to communicate to your parents and grandparents. In Sudan Texas the church of Christ is an older church it has been there sense the founding of the city and the congregation has a hard time communicating to the younger about their traditions. For example we had a gospel meeting once that the elders wanted to invite the youth of the community to. So we sing songs about ebon and pinions and white palaces, we are using words like thou, thus and thy and I notice that slowly, one by one the kids start losing focus.

o I have grown up in and out of the church of Christ and I remember my grandpa taking me aside and teaching me the ins and outs of old school worship. What I received from that was the why in my grandfather’s worship. So much of our job in maintaining this family is translating our faith from generation to generation. How do we bring the wealth of spirit, maturity and love from the older body parts and deliver them to the newer arms, legs and shoulders in such a package that allows them to understand more easily.

o Here are some questions we must ask.

§ Do we conform to the younger generation and sacrifice our traditions?

§ Do we submit to the younger generation’s spiritual needs and expectations?

§ Do we think what worked for the last generation will work for this new one?

§ What do we keep and what do we lose? What needs change and what do we need to desperately hold on to.

· The problem!

o In the past Grandparents, Parents, and children grew up in an environment where they could share, teach, and instruct on values and information on family, community, and society. Now we have the peer to peer community that is quickly becoming exclusive. Texting, Face book, Twitter, and MySpace are not the problem here and I don’t believe that we will be able to identify any single cause or affect that is to blame.

o Dr. Diane Shallue says - This lack of intergenerational contact leads each generation to see itself as a separate subculture rather than an integral part of an entire community, a perspective that often leads to conflict and competition rather than cooperation.

o Do we segregate our teens into their front right section of the church building and believe that we have down our job for the week?

· The solution

o There is no miracle elixir that I can make you digest to just magically solve this problem. All the papers I read go as far to say there is no one program/ministry/event that can fix this.

o Religious institutions/churches are some of the only places in this country where older people, younger people, and in-between people can come and mingle on a deeper level. Jesus called this thing the church and he built this after the format of the family. Here we have an excuse to get together and share with one another our spiritual defeats, and victories. Where else in your daily habit are you surrounded with such a wealth of cross generational wisdom and understanding?

· How did God do it?

o How did God do this? How was he able to pass instruction to each generation?

§ He did this through memorial’s in which parents and teacher have an object lesson to teach truth and tradition.

o Before we read Joshua we have to qualify the relationship God has with the Israelites. For the last 40 years God has wanted to destroy Israel time and time again. It’s hard to see the merciful God through all of the threat God makes. It is amazing to see a people so blessed with all of the visuals that they have been given and still doubt. The only thing that is worse than doubting God’s existence is losing belief in his power.

§ Have you ever doubted your mother’s authority? How about your grandma’s?

o As said before they have been travelling for 40 years waiting for all the people who left Egypt 20 years and up to die for their lack of faith. So we have this new generation coming up with only 2 original people who remember the slavery of Egypt. A lot of conflict is heading their way as they prepare to enter the land promised to Abraham and they will have to be reminded constantly of what God has done for their ancestors.

o It is important that we pass on traditions and pass on what we have learned to the next generation, right? If we refuse to learn from our past then we are destined to repeat it, but how can we learn when no one is willing to explain it. If we refuse to teach it and in turn learn it how can any of us hope to escape the cycle of conflict?

· Joshua 3:7-11 the Jordan crossing and memorial

o You wonder at this point if they ever surprised by God and what he has them doing. Remember that God is doing all of this to show them that the “living God is among them”. God could have had them use conventional methods to get them across the Jordan but he doesn’t.

o The first point we must get from this is the impression a living God leaves on his people. Are we a community of people, families and individuals that exemplify a church that serves respects and glorifies a living God? Are willing to do the impossible based on a firm belief that God is active and not just reactive. What I mean is, do we believe in a God that’s acts only when he is attacked or do we show this community a God that is proactive in His love for them. Do we communicate that belief accurately to each other throughout the week?

o The second point is imagining what this looks like to the city of Jericho just across the river. Hundreds of thousands maybe millions of people just crossed (supernaturally) a river and is now posted right outside their door. These traditions, this community is not just for us it is for the people out there also.

§ I say this so we understand the importance of the communication and memorials that we must have in here with each other.

§ God tells us that judgment will begin within the house of God, and if we are barely saved then what’s going to happen to the lost

· Joshua 4:1-7 How can we do it?(Notice 2 things)

o The purpose was so that parents have a reason to explain to their children what God has done for them.

§ So when you are traveling along and you come across this part of Israel you can stop and teach your children what God has done for you.

§ I want to challenge those who have kids to take some time and explain some of the things we do, communion, baptism, why we meet on Sunday’s. Use yourself as the story, and becoming a teacher will require you to learn.

§ Duet. 6:4-9 teach these diligently to your children. I get PASSION from this.

o The memorial is useless (not powerless) if nobody teaches others what it means

§ It becomes just one more thing in the way of your path. No one learns and no one grows. So many of Israel’s problem stem from this one fault, the priest’s stopped teaching and people stopped caring.

§ It was in times of trouble that Israel was reminded of God’s authority and of all his reminders of his power.

o In fact most of Israel acts as a constant reminder of the great responsibility the Israelites have to communicate their past to the next generation. They had Jacob’s well, Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim, Hebron where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah were buried, all of these things were to remind them all of the teaching points they have at their disposal.

· The greatest and hardest thing we can do on this path of recovery is take off our blinders and open up to people. This is a continual process that requires a lot of maintenance.

o This may require a facebook fast or imposing a facebook fast.

o This make take the form of cancelling texting

o This may mean asking Morris out to lunch, or taking Connor out for coffee.

o We have to break down and really get to know each other.

§ Asking questions about our walk in Christ, purity and parenting hardships.

o We must use the opportunities around us to discuss Church and not push it.

Feb 15, 2010

I'm Sorry

I'm sorry that life sucks
I'm sorry that it is tough, unresponsive and stiff
I'm sorry that I am helpless when the hurt, pain, and suffering happen.
I'm sorry to say goodbye
I'm sorry that I must move on
I'm sorry that I cannot take you were I am going
I'm sorry to make you cry
I'm sorry make you feel distrust and anger
I'm sorry to befriend you and then mislead you
I'm so for myself
I'm sorry that I am not able to repair
I am sorry
I am hurt
I am disgust
I am the problem without a solution
I am the reason, cause and circumstance of redemption
I am what I am
I am the pruner and pain giver
I am the gate that closes and opens
I am the door you run through and the window you must break
I am the death and the life
I am the decider and judge
I am and you are not.

Feb 5, 2010

Please God...send someone...just not me.

Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. - God

Happy are you, oh Israel! Who is like you? A people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph!
- Last words of Moses, the servant of the LORD.

I am inadequate. I am unworthy to be doing this. I do not deserve this. There has to be someone out there that can do this so much better than I. It feels like a poison doesn't it? Do you feel this seeping down your spirit, coating everything it touches in a slimy ooze that no matter how much you scrub, scratch or claw at, it just wont come off. Do you notice the dimming light of life, vitality and grace slowly close as inferiority consumes you in it's warm death. The worst thing about this is its true. When rubber meets the road are we really worth the effort. A great man once told me that the greatest thing I ever did in my life was drive the nails into the bleeding wrist of the LORD. In church building after church building, do we fill the pews with numb, dislocated individuals loosely connected to a body all ready fragmented and broken? Moses, when he stood before God, gave every excuse in the book. He held nothing back in the contempt he held himself in, never concerned with how God might see him. Did he look back on his years being a prince looking down on his relatives? Was guilt and remorse slowly tightening its grasp around his hairy neck? Moses had 40 years to reflect, repent and forget, and here we find him in front of a burning bush that is making him rub his nose in it. Was that what God was doing? If I were Moses I would have wanted so badly to run from that place and immerse myself back into the calm life of a shepherd and husband and leave God to his own machinations. If I were God I would have made Moses remember all that he did; show him aerial views of his murder, of his arrogance over his brothers. However, God does not do this; instead, he embraces a broken man thats believes he is not worth the effort of a loving redeeming God. Yes at first God is furious, wouldn't you be? This man whom God created tells God that he doesn't know what he, God, is doing. Crazy right? But in the end, when all pretenses and excuses are brushed easily aside, Moses lays his heart down.

"Please God...send someone...just not me."

I mean really haven't we all said this at one time; yet God time and time again refuses to do what we say. Knowing that there is someone better for the job, or worthy of the responsibility; God still looks at us in the face and says I want you and you are perfect for the job. That is truly beautiful because He could do this by himself and instead he chooses you and I to do it. Worth does not factor in with God, Thank goodness for that or else nothing would get done. God factors in Christ and in that equation you are worthy, you are capable, you are everything that is needed to make real lasting things happen. Really let this sink in for a moment. God knowing what you would do, knowing what we would do to his son once he got here, he did it any way so that we might have a chance to work together. It is easy to look at ourselves as incompetent, unworthy sinners but it takes real effort to see us as God does. In God's eyes we are worth everything. In God's eyes we are real people, not the fake ones we have become so accustomed to but living breathing talking beings. I pray that you see in you the worth that God sees in you. I pray that we embrace hope, life and faith instead of popularity, culture and this life. God bless