What has been your experience with small groups or life transformation groups (LTG)? What have been your trouble and your rewards? How do your small groups or LTGs differ from the rest? Looking at where the church has been and some of the decisions that it has made in order to adapt and survive, I wonder where small group’s stand? Are small groups the future of the churches of Christ? Will they be the main ministries and avenues for the church to reach the un-churched? I have seen small groups take on many forms and many directions but they seem to be here to stay. I feel that small groups can serve a very important role in our congregation’s ability to remain relevant and personal. It is becoming more and more common that families are constructing bubbles around their homes and personal lives. These bubbles are constructed so thoroughly that they are becoming harder and harder to bust. For the sake of fellowship and personal interaction these bubbles must be taken down and I believe small groups do just the thing. We must stop living our lives so independently from each other that we become embarrassed when we invite one another into each other’s homes. I believe that small groups remind us that we are a part of bigger family and that we hold responsibility to the greater body of Christ. However, we must continue to be challenging and very much real with one another. as both leaders and learners we have to push our comfort zones, challenge our presuppositions of the bible, and merge with one another in our love and passion for the community in which we live in.
Nov 17, 2009
Why do we as men love action and fighting movies so? I mean when I think of all of my favorite movies, most if not all of them are action movies. The closest I could come to a romantic movie that made my top ten was Pearl Harbor with Kate Beckinsale and Ben Affleck. I love the idea of old school, knights in shining armor rescuing his beautiful love interest from mystical dragons of the past to cybernetic zombies sent from the future. Some of the things that God has built in us men continue to surprises me more and more; we as man actually want to be a man. Not just a man for mans sake, but to be a man for the sake of our wives and for the sake of our God. I always thought that leadership required dominance and therefore to be a man meant to be above or over everything and everybody. Instead, I am finding that leadership and dominance are not connected and it is submission and humility that are bedfellows and it is they that should become our shields and helmets. With the heart of love, courage, and understanding we have nothing to fear, no flying dragon terminator zombie from the past can stand between us and the man God wants us to be.
Well I guess I might as well jump on the 2012 band wagon before all of the seats are taken up. In as little words as possible the movie 2012 was like every other end of the word story Hollywood has ever come up with. What strikes home with me is that one woman’s sister here in Simi Valley believed that she received a vision from God telling her to sell everything and move to Jerusalem because Jesus is coming back soon. I wonder if we go through these violent cycles because we feel that we do have an expiration date. I read an article a while ago about Y2K and the author said that every generation on earth has believed at one point that the world would end during their time. Yet the world continues to spin and defy all the prophets and seers expectations. The movie it’s self was very entertaining, I mean come on how awesome is it to watch all of Southern California slide off into the ocean. The acting was horrible absolutely awful, but what do you expect when every five minutes one of the characters has to say goodbye to their child for an additional ten minutes of tearful agony. All in all I am so glad that trust in God, though it is hard and lifelong, helps us to realize that God is in control of both the earth and our future.
Nov 13, 2009
I love coffee, in fact I love the feeling I get when I drink coffee, especially on a cold day. Is there anything better than sitting on a porch hearing the cold rain beat helplessly on the roof while drinking a hot cup of smooth caffeinated beverage? The coffee almost acts as a protective ward against the cold as if it was the cold itself you are fighting against. When you are frigid and icy, drink a warm soothing coffee and feel the spidery web of heat and comfort spread throughout your ice clogged pipelines piercing every crook and cranny in your body. Feel the furnace of contentment hitch on your internal subway system bringing with it the satisfaction of energy and renewed purpose to all your cells.
I remember when I was a child attending bible camp up in the high Sierra Nevada’s, I loved the mornings. The dew covered everything like frosted icing, capturing trees and benches in its magical spell. I remember waking up and seeing my own breath escaping from the cracks of my sleeping bag like a dragon’s breathe billowing from a deep cave below the earth. If I got out of bed I believed that the cold would get me and all the warmth I had worked all night to accumulate would all be lost on the frozen tundra of the morning. Putting my fear aside I leaped from my bunk and as quickly as could I gather all my warm clothing and wrapped them around me like a protective cloak against the bitter winter chill I knew was awaiting for me outside the door. Slowly I walked from the cabin to the cafeteria, capturing as much as I could of the wintry scenery being laid down before me. When I entered the building I saw several adults standing around a mystical, power enduing liquid dispenser that they couldn’t seem to pull themselves away from. I, being the young intrepid boy, was too embarrassed to enter their fellowship, so I stood in the shadows and waited for the warmth to return to me. However, as silent as I tried to be one woman saw me alone on the bench shivering in my 13 layers of thanksgiving patterned sweaters, my step dads XX2 long sleeve shirts, old sweats and my long johns, she gathered me under her arms and ushered me into the magical ring of adults. Though I could hear the laughing being held under their breath I was more entranced by the container on the table. What is? What does it taste like? Nasty, bitter, sweet, tasty? Will it is give me bad breath or make me smell better? I didn’t feel the cup that she pushed into my hands, I didn’t feel here push the cup to my lips and spill the contents into my open mouth. However, I felt, no I experienced the taste of my first cup of warm, delicate, delicious coffee. I could feel my insides begin to waken and turn, I could hear the motors in my head begin to spin and whirl and forever after that moment I knew nothing would ever be the same.
Nov 11, 2009
I have recently finished reading through the Sci-fi trilogy by C. S. Lewis, beginning with “Out of the Silent Planet”, “Perelandra”, and His Hideous Strength”, and I must say it was quite different than what I expected. To go further, I really don’t know what I did expect when I began this very complicated but very inspiring novel. The first two books are astonishing in their following story of Ransom; both if you’re reading them together or if you’re reading them individually. The third book, however, was too often over my head in it analogies and storytelling. Through most of the book I had to reread the cover to make sure I was not reading Lord of the Rings. His Hideous Strength was awesome in its truths about marriage and especially how God views the relationships between man and wife and everybody else.
Especially the second book, “Perelandra”, caught my interest out of the three. This book introduces Ransom to the world of Perelandra (Venus) in its infancy, without sin and without corruption. Just like the Garden of Eden there are two and only two people created on this world, the King and the Queen. What I appreciated the most about this book is how the author was able to describe the quality and innocence of the inhabitants on the planet, which was focused exclusively through Ransoms interaction with the Queen, sense the King is not to be found. In this world Ransom finds out just what Earth is missing out on and just how much humanity has lost when it fell into sin. Not only is there no shame in his nakedness nor any hint of lust for the Queen (she's naked too), but there is perpetual youth found in living in a pure and innocent environment. The author associates the very fact that we age so fast and our life seems so small to what sin and temptation has done to us. Ransom spends several months with the Queen trying to figure out why he was sent there, when a space craft enters their paradise bringing with it the embodiment of evil and temptation. Ransom is proven inadequate in fighting against such cruel logic and deadly sin, and no matter how “right” his arguments or how desperate his pleas become for the queen to stop listening to the tempter, the Queen continues to listen. This simple truth is powerful it actually frightening to me. All the time, do I feel like I have no power to overcome evil in other people’s lives, let alone my own. The Devil our accuser does such marvelous job in making us feel incredibly insufficient in defending ourselves or our God. However, God does not see us through our own eyes, thank God, he sees us through his eyes, through which we become more than capable, instead, we become conquerors. Finally Ransom understands that the only way for the woman to have a chance at remaining free he would have to physically destroy the tempter. Again this is an awesome truth because for all of the tempter’s eloquent use of word and his demonic aura, he is still limited to worldly barriers whereas God is not so limited. This is something that we MUST remind ourselves, the world is limited, temporal, and finite and it is God that is limitless and omnipotent. If we were left to our own devices, well... we've seen what we are capable of doing under our own devices. What I learned from this book and what i have learned from C.S. Lewis so far is that God has done everything, he has given everything, he is willing to spend the most and travel the furthest in order to save us from ourselves.
Nov 6, 2009
It seems so impossible that so much hate can consolidate on such a small planet. It is a wonder that we have allowed ourselves to continue existing for so long let alone making God destroying us yet again. I wonder what life was like for Noah when he read the papers and watch the “news”, did he feel like killing himself because of the lack of hope or lack love or lack compassion. I know those things (hope, love, compassion) exist but it hurts to know that the average person does not get the chance to hear those things. I wonder if Noah was close to insanity by the time he got on the ark. I wonder if he ran up the passage way to get on the ark as soon as he could because he could no longer take it. I see a wave of destructive, bigots, racists, emotionally charged people willing to eat each other alive willing to tear at one another’s throats because of what their “righteous” beliefs compel them to. I hate the fact that others represent my Christ so wrongfully and so full of judgmental hate. I hate that people call for tolerance and then threaten anybody’s views that contradicts their own.
It is so hard not to hate, almost impossible to refuse destruction in a self destructive world. Sometimes the power and the hate in this present reality overwhelm me and allow me no glimpse of the world I am being pulled to. Like somebody being pulled out of a sinking ship, I feel the freezing water cover my whole body; I can actually see the icy grips of rage and apocalypse drag me down. The only warmth I feel is from the hand that is firmly and tightly pulling me, dragging me, ripping me from the gallows of animosity and from the depth frigid apathy. Truly, it is amazing how something can seem so impossibly warm when the whole body has become numb from the cold.
Nov 3, 2009
How important is singing to you? How often do you just do it? Do you do it only when you are in the shower or at church? Singing, to me, is how I get spiritually fed. There is nothing I love more than being able to express my thoughts, prayers, blessings and praise to my God through the voice God has given me. To hear that same praise that is escaping my own mouth and also the mouths of all my brothers and sisters, to know that we are saying the same God-pleasing words, encourages me to no end. Even on a completely non spiritual level, scientific studies have proven that those who sing have a lower heart rate, decreased blood pressure and greatly reduced stress levels. It seems then that God created us to sing not only to bless him and others but also to bless ourselves. I remember when I was young in the youth group and this girl started coming to classes and bible studies. She befriended everybody almost immediately, she had, and has now, the most beautiful spirit about her, she was a born servant and an amazing encourager, the only problem with her was she could not carry a tune if it could cure cancer. She would be the first to tell you that too; however, it never stopped her from proclaiming her love for her God, no matter how many people she carried off tune. To see the heart of someone so willing to praise God regardless of how she sounds to others or how others think of her singing; it is both humbling and greatly reaffirming. It humbles us in how we think others hear us when only God is listening, and it affirms our God’s love in hearing us just praising him with what we have. If any of you has ever met Tara Pipes, to say that she has a poor voice is the last thing, if ever, that you would notice in a worship experience with her. The fact that God wants to hear us is such a blessing, is such a great task that we must throw down our assumption of what we sound like and presuppositions of what is culturally acceptable.
I believe that we should become like sunflowers. We should adapt, twist, and turn with the direction of the sun (double meaning, get it?) not because we can or should but because me must to survive. Praising God throughout the day and night, lifting your face in his direction. It frightens me so much that some youth groups have stopped singing for fear of actually repelling people; instead, singing should be that which draws the people to the family. Not because it sounds good, but because the man dying of thirst needs water to survive so does the human soul need words to praise the God that created all things.