Romans 5:6

Love, even if it hurts - Jesus Christ

Dec 12, 2008

Thomas’ Computer: a short story loosely based on real events
Chapter 8:"The Walker"

Red was a weathered old paramedic. He had been doing it for 30 years now. Like his father before him he enlisted in the military as soon as the government would take him. His brother Richard Lighten choose the easier path to the disappointment and estrangement of his father.
“These kids now-a-days haven’t seen nothing,” Red slurred to the man next to him at the Rooster bar responding to his unasked question. Red Lighten was gruff, and sometimes a difficult man. Like a child that really never got over not getting what he wanted for Christmas
“I mean come on, this one newbie almost puked trying to take this guys pulse tonight,” the man next to him, wallowing in his own problems, mumbled a quite agreement. “When I was his age I was pulling shrapnel out of people’s chests, holding children’s innards and intestines and then ate a full breakfast…pish… kids… no stomach,” as Red mumbled other accusations against the new E.M.T. the bar door opened with a slow and annoying scratching sound also letting in the cold and with it a man who seemed to be wrapped in the dark of night.

“Shut the door! Man alive” yelled a now belligerent Red to the mysterious man in the door way. “Kids today don’t even know how to close doors… no stomach…born in a barn.” Red continued to mumble and stutter other grievances.

The walker moved with precise and purposed steps from the door to a seat at a table four feet from the drunken paramedic. Though Red gave no consideration or showed any concern for the Walker presence. However, the others in the bar became immediately uncomfortable with the strangers overshadowing presence. The walker said nothing to the waitress who asked for his order; glad to be done with her duty she hurried away to the back to retrieve more beers for the now quite customers. Dressed like some demon cowboy with a used cowboy hat that masked his face, he wore a heavy coat that hung to his body like sin. The only noise that escaped the shroud of darkness that covered his face was the heavy breathing of unforeseen dread, like air itself was trying to get away for fear of being swallowed by the walker. With unseeing eyes he slowly turned to the paramedic only feet from him.

“Lighten?” the sound of his voice was like crude oil slipping down a smooth pipe. If the bar was silent before he spoke it was now utterly catatonic now. To the people around him he sounded like death himself, as if with a single word he could call down evil to do his bidding.

“What? Whhhho..? I’m a veteran!” not knowing to whom to address he spoke more to the whole bar than to anyone specific. in the silent bar he was taken aback by how loud he sounded. “What in the desert hare is going on,” starting to realize his surroundings, he sobered quickly.

“Lighten?” again the walker spoke but this time emphasizing his want for a reply.

Finally seeing who was addressing him he could feel a cold hand clawing down his throat reaching for his very heart. A chill from the bottom of his conscience to the top of mind struck him and an unwanted shudder took him. “YYesss,” replied the frightened man, “what yuu waughnt.” Without further announcement or conversation the walker slowly, methodically got up from his chair and walked to the door with a slow look over his shoulder.

As the walker’s weapons systems fixed on poor Red as he walked slowly home, he proceeded to follow him out of town. As he climbed deftly over the rim of the ditch he had been hiding in, he heard the last dying breath of the young man he found earlier that night. Without meaning to kill the boy, who claimed to be a healer or medic or something, the walker had removed his legs to ensure he would go nowhere. Apparently human’s can die with the removal of limbs. The now legless horse appeared to have died hours before, suffering from the same apparent lack of blood the man did.

Nov 4, 2008

Thomas’ Computer: a short story loosely based on real events
Chapter 7:"decisions"

Like an eerie lost ghost looking for a soul to torment, the wind blew against the cowboy’s gently thinning hair. A shock ran up the cowboy’s spine and as raised dots covered his tan and aged skin he looked 10 years older than he actually was. The moon spread out its cold chilly fingers on the earth trying to catch any exposed flesh. The storm had left several trees missing it branches and several homes which in turn found them coming through there ceilings. Before, the clouds had acted as a warm blanket over the earth trapping in the warmth and not letting it escape out to space as it so desperately wanted to do. Now that the clouds have gone the once captive heat was free to go and with it left all comfort. The cowboy was sitting rather uncomfortably behind an emergency vehicle with is shirt front ripped open exposing his white chest to the elements while the new paramedic was taking his pulse. The cowboy was amazed at how the stars felt so close to him at this point, like he could reach up and touch them with his finger, if gentle enough he might even pull one down and keep it like a boy would do to a captured frog or bug. “Breath,” harshly asked the older, rough looking medical technician.

They thought I had a heart attack just then, he said to himself. Maybe I had. I mean I hope I did, if didn’t then what happened to me? For the last hour the cowboy had been arguing with himself, wondering if this was all a figment of his imagination or was he really hearing people in his head and talking to men in spaceships.

“Charlie!” exclaimed the Cowboy loudly. The M.T.’s, believing this to be the sign of another heart attack, held him down as he tried to get up. He had forgotten that he left Charlie in the outskirts of town thinking he would only be in town for an hour and it had all ready been 4.

“He’s my horse you idiot,” and with much grunting and cursing the cowboy rose to his feet. He must have been unsteady for the techs swiftly grabbed each arm and tried to lead the stubborn old man to his seat. Not knowing if he should go back for his horse, who was his best friend. As his mind was trying to urge his body to go back for Charlie, he felt an urgent need to go back to the house he delivered that package to. He was torn between the two. For some reason he had it in his mind that he would never see his dear old friend ever again.

“Look can you do me a favor? There is a horse outside of town and by the looks of you he won’t like you a’bit but can you fetch ‘em for me?” as the confused techs watched their patient run down the street they heard “his name is Charlie damn it and make sure you get it right.”

As the strange cowboy vanished behind a set of homes the older MT said to the younger, “well if that didn’t happen as often as it does; I would’ve thought that was very weird.” As the stricken green MT climbed back into the vehicle a faint echoing howl swept across the street giving the town a horror movie feel that he did not like at all.

“That sounds really close you know? How far do you think?” Mumbled the newbie

“Who cares? I’m calling it a night.” He didn't liked this kid anyway.

Nov 3, 2008

The Greatest Trick

I am currently studying for a youth rally that I am afraid will fail for some unforeseen reason. There is no proof or reason but I somehow feel that this will not go by smoothly. I’m studying the cross of Christ and its impact on people in their daily lives. Josh Tucker is doing the other lesson and I have complete faith that he will do his part with quality and purpose. I look at the life that Jesus led and all of the sacrifices that he made while he was still on earth and I shudder to think that I would last as long as Jesus did. Three years is a miracle that I could never achieve or duplicate. Sometimes I wonder what it is I am doing here on earth, trying to be a minster in world that is clearly not caring how and where it is going. I am sitting here listening to a gaggle of boys pretending to talk like men, or at least what they think men talk like. I cannot help but feel sorry for them and their obvious blinding of the world’s control over their “free choices”. I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “THIS IS NOT REALITY!” I know they would not listen, instead they will retreat deeper into their subconscious routines and belief structures that have trained them from birth to accept this as reality. However, in their speech I still hear doubt and searching for what “real”, like an infant trying out new words and seeking correctness from its parents. I pray that God gives us the courage to help people see what reality is and what captivity does. May the lost see the light and may we be bright enough to show them.

Oct 22, 2008

All great nations fall

I like most of you are scared about where our country is going and how fast it’s going there. I try my best to remain politically neutral when it comes to politics. I don’t believe that the United States is the church and therefore I don’t know if we can apply Church characteristics and attributes to it. Jesus is the head of the church and not this nation. I, like many Christians, am struggling with amount force I should assert in this nation. As all nations go it is guaranteed that they will go out someday. I listen to the comments of our older, wiser generation about the moral level of their days and how far it has come. When I look forward to our coming struggle with issues like homosexual marriage, allowing non-wed couples to adopt, socioeconomic class struggles (thank you CNN), abortion, embryonic stem-cell research… etc. I’m not going to rail against any particular party, person, or group. I must remember that God will give peace to his people and that one day, no matter how bad it gets, that Jesus will come back for me. What physical action should I take to save a sinking ship I know will never recover? How much sand should I bail out of a quicksand pit to save a dying animal in the middle? I agree with what Pippen said while standing on the balcony with Gandalf in Gondor looking out to see the subtle yet violent glows of Mount Mordor climbing closer. I can't stand war but standing on the verge of one you couldn’t escape is worse. May we all find peace and comfort in this coming storm, also, I pray we find the courage to fight whatever spiritual and physical battle we must for the Kingdom of our lord and king. I'm not a defeatist or a pessimist, I’m just scared for us and where we are going. You can call me a realest. If you are not all ready praying for God’s will to be done here then please do so. God Bless you and may God’s kingdom increase.

Oct 20, 2008

Thomas’ Computer: a short story loosely based on real events
Chapter 6:"truth sucks"

“I’m not your father and your mother is not… well… not your mother,” lightly remarked Richard Lighten to his now stone faced son. As Thomas’ world slowly crumbled before his very dark red eyes, he couldn’t back a burst of laughter. Like he was the ring leader of his own circus and he was also the main attraction.
Almost conversationally Richard continued, “For the last 18 years I have thought about how to say that simple phrase… I’m sorry for whatever its worth.” Richard had thinking about how to word it but always came to the same conclusion. Keep it simple. Richard was hoping that Thomas would see he willingness to be straight forward and admire him for it. This was not what Thomas was thinking. Thomas’ only reply was the vivid color his eyes were using to communicate silent frustration and confusion.

Alisha, doing all should could to hold back the flood of tears could hold back no longer and let out a silent sob. Her hands crawled along the table surface looking for the hands of her son; she hoped he still was her son. Richard remained stone still, as if he was under inspection and his life depended on him not moving. Only the sounds of breath exhaling from nervous lungs could be heard.

“Mummy?” murmured a sleepy little girl in her mother’s warm arm. Without finding its quarry, her arm retracted from the table and wrapped around the child.

What do you say to that? Reply Thomas to himself. Scrambling for words to break the awkward silence Thomas was only able to say “Ok, what happened, why, where, when… what the...”

Taking her emotions back under her control she said, “We all need to sleep on this for right now. Tomorrow, when we have all thought about this we will answer all of your questions.” Without looking at her husband or uttering a sound in his direction, she got up to put her baby to bed.

All the while Thomas was left at the table wondering to himself; if these two were not his parents then who is?
Thomas’ Computer: a short story loosely based on real events
Chapter 5:"the package"

The thunder from the storm raging outside sounded like monsters trying to break into the house through the roof. Rain steadily beat against the windows threatening to break them in if they continued their resistance. The vibration from the central heater was felt through the floor as Thomas gentle turned the package over in his nervous hands.

Who could this possibly come from? Asked Thomas who was slowly turning into an anxious 12 year boy Christmas morning about to open his presents. His eyes turned a bright shade of green, like the color you would see on a plant in spring about to release its flower for the entire world to admire. As another shot of lightening temporarily dimmed the light of his average room he began to fumble delicately with the tape that barred his entrance into its mysterious chambers within.

As most boys his age, he began to pump his legs anxiously like a runner warming up before a race. “Why I am I so excited to see what’s in this box? “ Thomas remarked verbally. Reluctantly tuning down, he dropped the box on the ground and looked at it like it was a device trying to control his mind. As the thunder buffeted the house the groan of the bed was inaudible as he stood up and turned for the door leaving the package unopened and looking rather disappointed on the ground. Walking down the stairs that lead to the kitchen he could hear the hushed hurried voices of his parents at the kitchen table where his 2 year old sister was playing under the table with his old dump truck which had her Barbie doll elegantly seated on top commanding her loyal subjects (imaginary) with grace and beauty. “What are you guys talking about?” asked Thomas not trying to sound as sharp as it came out.

“We’re talking about the box you received earlier today,” replied his mother. He could see the faint streaks tears recently wiped away from the napkin she held in her hands.

“Yeah, who dropped it off by the way,” with his mother opening the subject Thomas felt free to pursue it. “I mean was it a messenger? Because I wasn’t expecting anything.” As Thomas opened the refrigerator he had to move half of its contents just to grab a Dr. Pepper.

His father replied, “We were hoping you might be able to enlighten us.”

“No, I haven’t opened it yet,” trying his best to cover his bright green eyes to conceal his anxious desire to find out what it is. “Do you want me to bring it down and we could open it together?”

His father, Richard Lighten, was reserved man prone to few words and even fewer facial expressions. He was a retired army Colonel that saw a lot of action in both desert storm and the current conflict. Currently he was trying his hand as an electrician making good money, but doing it mostly to keep himself busy. Richard loved his son and wanted him to know that but found it hard to show him in any way that Thomas would understand.

“Mom are you ok?”

“I’ll be fine hunny, just go up get the package and we’ll talk.”

When Thomas came back down the stairs he could hear very clearly his father.

“Alisha, we must, if we don’t… when will we.”

Sobbing openly by this time, “how…do you think he will react? Hunny put the tuck on the floor please.” Amanda had decided to make her presence finally known by driving the truck straight up her mothers leg.
When he hit the landing he did his best to hide his reaction from overhearing them.

“Are you guys sure everything is ok?” his eyes now turning dark brown showing his inner turmoil.

“It will be ok. Just open the package,” not used to the angry tone his father used; he robotically brought the package to the table and began to open it.

Once the tape was removed, Thomas opened the cardboard lid and peered down at a silvery rectangle with an apple symbol in the middle of the rectangle seeming to have a bite taken from its side. As if a physical weight was lifted off his parents they sighed in unison and leaned back in their chairs like they had just been running and were now taking a rest. It was a computer, actually it was Macbook pro. As if it were made out of egg shell and any jerky motion would destroy it, Thomas gently removed it from the box.

“Is this why you guys were freaking out?” he addressed his parents still having a look of amazement on his face.

“No, we thought it was something completely different love,” said Alisha clearly relieved.

When Thomas lifted the lid and moved to turn it on it turned on all by itself. A strange voice came from the device making it sound like it was possessed. Without Thomas knowing microsystems turned on and routines began to whir to life, a series of hypersonic messages were sent from the computer to the mind of and equally unknowing cowboy 2 miles away.

“Siiuurr, wii neeeded yous now.” The cowboy, thinking he had seen it all, passed out right on Main Street.

Sep 24, 2008

Thomas’ Computer: a short story loosely based on real events
Chapter 4 "Messenger"

“ell nnu teek pleeez?” ask the messenger from the landing craft

The cowboy understood none of this for he was still arousing from the considerable shock he received when Charlie bucked him off.

“Wh..hhhat?” muttered a frightful cowboy.

He could not believe that only 5 minutes ago he was riding east towards Bozeman, MT minding his own business. When the bright lights first appeared silhouetted against the coming storm in the far distant horizon, he thought he was having a stroke. At first, he thought “oh, great a stroke out here in the middle of nowhere.” After the initial scare he accepted his soon to be fate rather quickly. Instead of the expected blackness to consume his tired mind and release him from his flesh, the light continued to get brighter and then turned in his direction.

“What in the seven blazes of hell?” Exclaimed the cowboy to his equally scared horse.

The craft looked like a mix between huge Cadillac from the 60’s and a pincher bug. You know, one of those super long, super opulent cars with the long tail fins on either side of the trunk but at least 20 feet long and 15 feet at its highest point. Instead of the interior cabin, though, there was a bubble like cockpit which could give the pilot the ability to see 360 degrees in all directions if indeed that was where the pilot was, if it had a pilot. In the front protruded to long pincers which the cowboy found to be exceedingly intimidating. If you where to step 100 feet back you would find this scene very comical. It looked like a cowboy was being attacked by a huge ant from some cheesy sci-fi western. As it landed Charlie finally had enough and threw the cowboy 4 feet and then ran as if he was several years younger.
As the dust finally decided to settle, the cowboy attempted to get up but failed horribly. For some reason his legs refused to obey his staunch order to rise and his bladder taking notice of the rebellion released its contents to the dissatisfaction of its owner. He felt like he was in the movie when the earth stood still and the aliens made first contact. However, in real life things moved a lot more quickly because the messenger in the craft had other jobs that evening and he did want to go home before his children went to sleep. A door swung open where there was no door before and a tall man replaced it. He swiftly moved to the man on the ground and then cursed unintelligibly to himself under his breath.

In butchered English he said “Diz pakeag iz tho nnu. Pleeez teek.”
As the shock wore off, his hand took the package as if it thought it now had the right to make decisions on its own.

“wwwhhhaaaattttt?” questioned the now thoroughly confused cowboy. “Are you what I think you are?”

Yet, without a reply the man did a terse about face and quickly walked to his ship. From his position the cowboy could not see the man climb back into his cockpit and radio his station in orbit around the moon that the package was delivered and he was going home. His other jobs would have to wait because his wife would not be happy that it took him that long to deliver that package. They had a new born baby to look after.

As the craft started up its engines, if it had engines, and at first slowly rose from the ground. The higher the craft rose the faster it got and with a deafeningly loud BANG disappeared into the fast approaching storm. As if on cue Charlie poked his head around a small hill he was hiding behind to see if the craft was finally gone. Seeing that the coast was clear Charlie started walking back to see if his master wasn’t vaporized.

“Thanks Charlie,” said the cowboy rather sarcastically. “Never mind, I probably would have done the same.”

Charlie nibbled on his shoulder as sign of apology. With much reluctance his legs finally gave back control to the cowboy and he slowly got up.

“Did you see that Charlie?”

Sep 22, 2008

A teen's childish prayer

This last Sunday I was a witness to a miracle. In Sudan Texas I am a mentor/teacher to a handful of kids crazy enough to think I know what I’m talking about concerning spiritual matters. One of these teenagers name is Tanner Testerman, he is 16 and thinks he has everything under control. Like most his age, who being raised in the church have a spiritual education equivalent to 6th grader. They know that Jonah was swallowed by a fish/whale/mammal/dolphin (they know debate still rages about this sensitive topic), and they know that Noah built an ark where a bunch of smiling men, women, children and animal lived in for 40 days and nights. They know that Abraham was old and Sarah was older, and that Jesus was some sort of sheep or lamb on our behalf. They man needs to be saved, but they nothing of what they need saved from and why they needed to be saved in the first place. I have spent the last year trying my best to help them understand the reality of the bible and the life of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To tell you the truth I have been getting incredibly frustrated with myself for not “doing enough” for these kids. Two weeks ago Tanner was asked to lead a prayer for the fruit of the vine, his very first prayer by the way. As I stood beside him in front of the communion table I began to get nervous on his behalf as he asked everybody bow their heads to pray. What came out of his mouth did not fit any standard we might have for what a prayer should sound like. He muttered several word repeatedly and mumbled some more only to end his prayer with a quivering unintelligible th..than…thank yyyuooo God. I could not describe to you in words at how proud I was of this young man; furthermore, I could not even imagine the love and honor the LORD must have felt to have this young and confused man finally talk to him. As I said above I have witnessed a miracle this last Sunday, because after some study and encouragement Tanner lead a prayer after the devotional we had Sunday night. What came from his mouth was both beautiful and well said. I have been so focused on what I could do for these kids I have completely forgot what it is that God can do through them. There is no other job like ministering to people, to be able to help and be helped along this road we call life is like no other experience I have ever had. Finally, when Tanner said his amen and raised his head I wasn’t too shocked when the next thing he said was “I think I’m getting pretty good at this.”

Sep 20, 2008

Thomas’ Computer: a short story loosely based on real events
Chapter 3 "The Storm"

What makes a storm believe itself so pompous and haughty to deserve the whole of the sky? Can such a creation claim that much space to simple relieves its energy like a little boy that had too much water before he went to bed. I wonder if God will allow me to make that same claim, thought the lone cowboy. The storm, now forming in the eastern sky was beginning to take the shape of any enormous dragon set to consume the world it so jealousy looked upon. The yellow lights of the city gave the elemental dragon the look of a golden encrusted belly similar to Smaug that Bilbo so gallantly fought against. Maybe this was his long lost relative escaping its own realm searching for worlds that could sustain its equally enormous appetite. Of all creation the cowboy felt he was most akin to a storm. Except this whirlwind had blown out long ago; long lost to the world so quickly advancing upon him. Like a storm he had blown in from what seemed like a faraway place only to scramble up everything he touched, set fire to people’s hearts, flood others expectations, and then when all his huffing and puffing and blowing refused to knock down the piggy’s home, he ran away to the wilderness where he has been ever sense. Yet, are we not all susceptible to the same nature. We come on the scene of life believing we have earned the right to be front and center like some comical play set before a grand audience. When we perform our short and inglorious act we are pushed off the stage like trash expended from a grotesque vending machine. Once expunged from the theatre we succumb to the fact that we are useless and there for dedicate our lives to remembering what it was like to be front and center and in the spot light. But as this cowboy was to find out he was neither used nor discarded. On the contrary the cowboy was about to find himself in the middle of a hurricane that would envelope both his life and the lives of all the people on this small stage called earth. Now all he had to do was deliver this small package to kid he had never met, in a town he only dimly remembered, and in a society he long ago abandoned.

“I hope you’re ready for this Thomas… whoever you are.”

Aug 29, 2008

Thomas’ Computer: a short story loosely based on real events
Chapter 2

“git oft me!” withered a pathetic looking boy from under the foot of an impressive looking football player named Bud
“Now why should I even consider that for what you did?” rumbled the burly 11th grader

You see the problem with this situation is not only the boy under the oppressive foot of an 11th grader but he himself was a grade higher ad 2 years older. From the time puberty decided to invade the boys all ready hectic life, to his not so exciting 18th birthday, he was considered… well just average. Nothing about this boy could be labeled anything more than average. He had an average nose attached to his normal face, he stood at an average 5 foot 8 inches, which also made him ineligible for the “jock elite”, and he made average grades in his average school. His hair was average brown which matched his average clothing all the way down to his average shoes, he lived in an average neighborhood with average neighbors. However, there is one thing that makes this average boy not so entirely… average.

“Oohhhh, look his eyes are turning red, this must mean he is getting angry, hahahaha,” taunted the ogre.

When the boy was born the doctors believed that he had some sort infantile virus which centered on the iris. What the doctors could not explain is how the boy’s eye color could change so quickly and with such vivid colors. Within the first minutes of birth the boy’s eyes had changed every color, from white to yellow, from purple to black. The doctors, finally, had to conclude that the boy’s ciliary body produces different chemicals depending on different moods which causes the iris to react, creating a collideascope effect. Mr. and Mrs. Shmelder, like most parents, loved their boy regardless of any “defect” he might have. However, the other boys he went to school with did not share his parent’s acceptance of his ability to “eye shift”.

“Hunny… why are you sad?” asked the boys loving mother.

“Mom stop reading me like that.” Though the boy was trying to sound like a man he was doing a poor impersonation.

His mother did not have to look into her sons static blue eyes to understand her sons inner agony, all she had to do was listen to the way he trudged through the front door.

“Rocky thought I was looking at his girlfriend again,” muttered the defeated boy, “which of course I wasn’t.” that was a lie. She was beautiful. The boy thought to himself ‘How could I stop my eyes from turning pink, or stop my heart from running away every time I see her.’

With an exhausted grunt the boy all but whispered “I just don’t understand.”
With an air of finality which his mother was incapable of penetrating, he retreated into his own world where everybody viewed his average life as something more. With every foot fall on the stairs that lead to his room, he retreated deeper into the life he lived in. This realm of fantasy that existed in his head. When he grasped the cold bronze door knob to gain access to his cluttered room, he saw a small package standing like a lone guard in front of his door. The boy, slowly and with much reserve, bent over and picked up this lone guardian.

“MOM! Where did this package come from?”

Though he was trying to keep his excitement down he was doing a bad job of it. Before any reply could come back he walked into his room and shut the door behind him, which made the broad “KEEP OUT OR YOU WILL DIE...SISTERS INCLUDED” sign fall from its position on the door, replacing the package as the lone guardian in the deserted hallway. As infinite possibilities rolled through his now clearly excited face, he began to open the tightly wrapped package. Starting with the removal of the sticker with the word THOMAS scrolled across it. This of course was his name.

Aug 26, 2008

Thomas’ Computer: a short story loosely based or real events

When in ages before such lights of such brightness were less frequent they would only cause confusion among those blessed enough to witness such extravagant beauty. In others, worship would be the only justifiable action to take in view of the lights bright radiance. The lone cowboy could only consider those in his life that have made the same lofty claims as he now can make. “I have seen what no man has seen and yet can I remain sane in a reality that rejects such outrageous existences.”

The light now reduced to a small glimmer of the once overpowering sun it had been only a few short seconds ago, shrunk into the expanding glow of the fast approaching sky father, who would soon reclaim his rights to the heavens. Slowly and with many cracks, clicks and a general protest from his sore and overused back, the old cowboy attempted and succeeded to get up from his dusty earth bed and begin the old routine of preparing for the quickly budding day, which started with saddling his old horse.

“Did you see that Charlie?”

Charlie gave the cowboy a long look that the cowboy assumed as a definite yes. Though the horse was old he was not blind. Actually, as far as creatures were concerned, Charlie was one of the smartest animals, humans included, the cowboy had ever known. If you were to ask the cowboy who he trusted with his life, he would pick his horse. His reasoning behind this choice was quite simple. Charlie didn’t mind if he didn't talk very much and Charlie never complained, couldn’t say the same for those he claimed friendship with and he doubted the family he had left would do the same.

“Do you think people would consider me crazy, Charlie, if I told them what transpired this morning?”

Charlie just stood there and assumed the cowboy must be joking if he thinks people don’t consider him crazy all ready. The cowboy was never the one people you would feel comfortable going to if you had a trouble or needed help. The towns that he did go into never cared much for the cowboy's ancient traditions or his ancient horse. Why should they? He thought. Cars, cell phones, go, go, go, the fact that everybody has a place to go and seemingly no time to get there. That must be why they go so fast,

"Kids," the cowboy muttered under his breath, with head shake approval Charlie always gave to the cowboy's none verbal rants.

The cowboy had all he would ever need here in the wilderness under the free sky. With such companions as the stars that made their illustrious show spread across the black stage of night. How could one get tired of such pompous entities that so righteously allow you to peruse their lofty performances for so little of a price? Price? The cowboy did not often think of the price that he paid in order to experience the events we currently find him in. For a price was most definitely paid to free him from the bondage that so ensnared our hero. If you think I have made a mistake to choose this lone and alone cowboy as the protagonist of our story you are the one that is mistaken, for a hero he is as a hero he always was. Hero’s are in us all, no matter how little or how big they might be. But as this man will come to find, discovering the hero in yourself is a journey that will take you through the heights of joy to depths of suffering, through the mount of olives to the place of your death.

Aug 12, 2008

Together All Aroundness

Life is full of change and wrongly balanced weights. This simple yet complicated fact is something I have known for some time. It’s like getting stuck in one of those mirror mazes that you see cliché style carnivals in small towns. You feel like you should be old enough to navigate through this thing with no problem, but you get more and more frustrated at the fact that you can't. I wonder why things must change. I'm not talking about the type of change that you feel when one of your favorite shows on T.V. is canceled or moves to another time. I'm talking about the kind of change that shakes your very concept of happiness and being.
The older I get the more I realize that life is a magnificent equalizer. Everything has a balance, a reaction to ever action and a versa to every visa. When one thing moves or shifts everything else feels the consequence of that one small movement and seek a similar counter. Imagine if you will a platform on a very large fulcrum balanced perfectly.
Am I trying to challenge our concept of reality? Or am I just musing about something everybody has an opinion of yet never shares with people around them. When you pick up your cross you are forfeiting your right to control your life. When you pick up your cross you will deny yourself and live only by the permission of your King. However, this Lord is no dictator but has given you permission to live and sets his holy throne in you taking up permanent residence to give endless blessings. In essence, change becomes the pieces that make up your life. It is only then that God shows what true balance is. It’s like a world that is always just a little off and all the people on this world live with this “natural” feeling that life will always be a little off. Even if you were to come from another world and correct the problem by adding the weight that was taken so long ago, people will have a hard time adjusting to what is correct. When Jesus decides to affect the lives of those that come in contact with him he will leave them “unbalanced”. Things that once held no controversy or the people that everyone assumes “have it together” no longer seem right.
When we are confronted with the changes that God demands of us to make, the only reason they don’t fit is because we live in a crooked world. It is the Spirit in us trying his best to make us more like we should be and who once were.
What does all of this mean? When you feel like you have got all of your “things” together it is surprising how quickly God can spread those “things” all around. As cliché as that sounds, it’s kind of his thing. So when you feel unbalanced. When all of your unquestionables are in question and all of the people in your life take on a different light. May the God who is all together around you and through you, bring you the peace that you so desperately need. Know and be comforted that God knows, intimately, that you are in need, and he is the one who will give you what you need to be “balanced”.

May 13, 2008

Ministry Mouse


Lately I have been incredibly worried about what my ministry will look like. What I mean is that I have wanted to be a minister sense I was a little kid. I have always known that it

was the only line of work that I could do that would make me happy and give me a sense fulfillment. Don’t get me wrong though, when I say fulfillment, I mean that working for God and for his church is the highest calling I could hope to attain to. But lately I have felt afraid that I would not be good at it. It’s funny to think that I have wanted to be a youth and family minister for so long and now that I am drawing near to that profession, I just might be not gifted well for it.

I’m not looking for validation nor am I looking for people to tell me “oh Joe but you are gifted for ministry.” What I do want people to think about is how God calls us to do things we don’t necessarily think we are capable of doing. I am going to do ministry as an occupation for the rest of my life. Though I know I will struggle and fail many times, I also know that God calls me by who he sees me to be and not by who I actually am. When God confronted Gideon he didn’t call him what he actually was, a coward, instead, God called him what God thought he was, a mighty warrior. The only way Gideon could be a coward is if he decided to maintain the same status he always held, instead of accepting the status God thrust upon him. I’m not saying that just because God calls us warriors we can get a gun and fight in Iraq. However, it does give us the right to hold our heads high and do things that are impossible, improbable, and even things we think we are not gifted in.

Apr 28, 2008

Life of Youth Work

I have done youth work now for five years. I have interned, practiced and failed youth work for the last five years. I still get nervous at the thought of standing in front of 10-15 teenagers and try and teach them the concepts and laws of their creator and savior. Four years ago I lived in a remote part of the United States called Bozeman Montana teaching and mentoring people who probably should have been teaching and mentoring me. Now after four years of traveling and wondering I find myself back in Bozeman asking God how he got anything done while I was here. The college and youth group that I so foolishly tried to lead and "straighten up" was God's group all along. The older I get the more and more I come to realize that God is God and is most definitely not. It was not that while I was working with the youth in Bozeman that I believed I was God, however, I did believe that the work going on in Bozeman revolved around me and it was my job to keep the work of God going.

My favorite verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. I love this verse so much that I decided to get this tattooed on my back in original Hebrew. The concept and message of this verse is incredibly simple and applicable to anyone anywhere. Trust in the LORD with all of your heart and never lean on your wisdom or understanding. In every way acknowledge him in ALL that you do because it is He that will carry you through. The Hebrew word used here for LORD is the most cherished name of God, Jehovah. This name is the national name of God by the Jewish people. When a Jew hears this name he is to recall the God of the covenant. It was Jehovah that came to Adam and Eve after the fall of mankind and promised the solution to the sin problem man just created. Jehovah was the God that came to Abraham and promised him a land and a nation. Jehovah is the God of the Law of Moses which he gave to his people promising them that if they keep the law and followed him, God would bless them and give them more than they ever imagined. However, Jehovah is the God that ripped the land and the nation from them when they failed to follow him and keep his commandments. Jehovah is all we need and is worthy of our trust and respect. He has never backed down from a promise and has never lacked to provide his part of a covenant.

In our ministry and life it is this God that is in control. We cannot depend or lean on our understanding of what ministry should be or look like. As ministers and workers in his kingdom we must depend on the wisdom and understanding that comes from God. Now if you are anything like me you have heard that same statement spoken hundreds of times with no definition of what is this wisdom and understanding. The experience I do have in ministry is just enough to know that I still lack this understanding. But the end of v. 6 is what I love the most. The understanding of God and the wisdom that he does provide us is enough to carry us through. I always think of a father leading his child through a trail in the mountains. The child doesn’t know of the dangers off to the side of the trail, he only has the father’s assurance that if he follows close by the child has nothing to fear. When the child stumbles and falls the father is there to encourage and even pick up and carry the hurting child to the journeys end.

I leave you with that encouragement. May your ministry never be your own but God’s. May you trust in God and lean on his wisdom and be amazed as to where he will carry you.