Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Newest Aspiration

Surfing. I want to learn to surf. (Speaking of which, does anyone reading this either know how to surf or know someone who knows how to surf who would be willing to teach me?)

I love the water - the lake, the river, the ocean, the pool, you name it. It's one of the huge perks to living in the lowcountry of South Carolina. While I don't aspire to be one of those surfers out catching 50 foot waves that could kill you in an instant if you fall, I think surfing east-coast-style looks incredibly fun accompanied by enough thrill to get my adrenaline pumping and my heart racing.

When's the last time you felt your adrenaline pumping? When's the last time you chased an adventure like surfers chase the perfect wave? "When's the last time you said "wa-hoo!'?" (the movie "IQ", anybody?)

I don't want to live a boring life. I want to have stories to tell, adventures to share. I want to push the limits, and I believe that's exactly how God made me - and you. We weren't created to live safe, average lives. God created us for the extraordinary. I'm not talking about doing stupid things and being reckless with our lives, but I am talking about dreaming big and working hard. I'm talking about running a fever brought on by an infection called life.

Who's with me?

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Evil, Tragedy and the
"Why" Questions that Have No Satisfying Answers

Miscarriages, Suicides, Gang Initiations involving the rape of an 85-year old woman, Child Abuse, Deadly Car Accidents, Kids with Cancer...this list could go on and on. I'm mentioning here only the things I've personally encountered in my first few years of ministry.

And then there's the inevitable question - "Why, God, why?" I can give the neat, theological answer, i.e. we live in a fallen world where evil is a reality and God did do something about it when he sent Jesus Christ to die so that we have a way back to God and have ultimate victory over sin and death. I could talk about the work of redemption that we get to be part of and how Paul says in Romans 8 that though we groan now we also wait patiently for the hope we have in a future that will exceedingly diminish our present sufferings. There's nothing shallow about those answers, and yet they don't satisfy the gut-wrenching agony when terrible things happen, especially to someone we know and love, especially when they happen to us.

So what do we do with our anger? What do we do with our confusion? What do we do with our hurt?

If we follow the lead of the psalmists, we take them straight to God. So many of the Psalms are cursing songs and songs of anger, songs of lament, they are the cries of people living in a broken world who know their pain is real and they express it passionately to God, the One who loves them, the One whose heart breaks with them and for them.

So, I guess what I'm saying is feel what you feel and put those feelings honestly before God. Don't tidy up your conversations with God, He already knows your heart. And definitely don't stop talking to God altogether - let Him hold you, even and especially when you're kicking and screaming.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

After the Message

Every vacation, every retreat, every worship experience inevitably comes to an end…then what?

In our encounters with God, do we become like the people who are always living for their next vacation?

Our encounter with God isn’t meant to be an every-now-an-then event – it’s an everyday relationship

Psalms – written by people who understood that God was part of their every moment and their every day

Talking to God from the slimy pit, the mountain top, an understanding that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it

Psalm 139:1-10

vv. 7-10 – there isn’t anywhere we can go where God isn’t already there

My vacation with my family is over, it’s a once-a-year opportunity to be together, catch-up, enjoy each other separated from the schedules and demands of the everyday, but still we go back to the everyday yet we don’t forget each other – I call my mom everyday

How often are you calling on God? How much of your everyday does God get to be part of?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

You know those essays you had to write the first week back to school in your elementary years...what you did on your summer vacation? Well, unlike the elementary school days when summer vacation lasted two and a half months, summer vacation was only a week this year, specifically, this past
week, and it was awesome! Here's what I did and what I learned...

- I went to Holden Beach, NC with Clark, Jacob, my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, my nieces and my nephew (sometimes
the be
st vacations aren't about r&r, they're about the pure joy of spending time with the people you love, even when they're 6, 3, 2 and 17 months and have endless energy that starts before 6:30 every morning :)
- I surfed with a bogey board, a raft and just me - the raft got me the farthest (not sure that there's a deep life lesson here, just fact)
- We made homemade ice cream and I remembered being a kid and how long it would take for the ice cream to be finished and the almost unbearable anticipation. But, I also remembered how worth the wait homemade ice cream is (this one's obvious, folks, good things come to those who wait, Is. 40:31)
- my niece Liza and my mom re-taught me how to play "go fish" (when you need something, just ask - the worst someone can tell you is no, or go fish)

- the joy of the Lord should make you want to jump, jump, jump, move, move, move and raise the roof, roof, roof (my niece Ruthie learned this at VBS the week before comi
ng to the beach and spent every evening entertaining us by singing this song and dancing around the house - a not so subtle reminder to
live with joy)
- last year we found tons of awesome shells in the water, including multiple conch shells and whole sand dollars, this year I found none (you don't always get what you want)
- I exercised every day, ate twice as much as I usually eat and thoroughly enjoyed both activities (taste and see that the Lord is good, Ps. 34:8)
- there's so much more, but I'll stop for now - what did you do and what did you learn on your summer vacation, chime in and let me know...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where Did I Go?

Fear not, blogophere, I have not disappeared. This week I find myself in Central, South Carolina. "Where?" you ask. A town called Central in the upstate where the campus of Southern Wesleyan University is located. I'm here as the camp speaker, spending the week with 200 students in 7th-12th grade. It's been a long time since I've been to camp, but much like previous camp experiences I'm encountering God in new ways and this week especially I'm enjoying the incredibly powerful worship with Jamin and our Ashley Ridge band.

I've realized and remembered in our time here how fortunate we are as a church with the musicians we have, but even more so the hearts of those who lead us in worship. In other words, Jamin has been rocking the house up here - y'all would be proud!

I'm off to find out what's happening at rec today, but in case any were concerned or had given up on me, I'm still around.

Keep looking for God to show up and surprise you in the most unusual places and incredibly ordinary ways!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

"The Gospel for iGens"

I read this article last summer and I came back today in preparation for a week of talking to teenagers next week at the Breeze conference. It's incredibly helpful and I definitely encourage you to read it!

For those of you who are reading this blog b/c you prefer reading the synopsis version, let me do what I can to quickly summarize:

Scot McKnight argues that different generations need to hear the Gospel differently. He focuses specifically on the emerging adult generation (18-30 year olds - including me) which grew up on Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. Our upbringing was filled with what many call the "self-esteem movement." Mr. Rogers taught "I am okay." Sesame Street took it a step further and taught "We're all okay." As a result, we have a generation that feels pretty good about itself and therefore doesn't connect with the message that we are sinners in need of a Savior, hence Jesus. We need a different starting place.

McKnight says, "If this generation likes Jesus, and if iGens have the chutzpah to think they are like Jesus, then let's start with Jesus." In other words, to reach today's 20-somethings we need to start with Jesus' life and his passion to reach the least, the last and the lost. "Nothing mesmerizes iGens like the kingdom vision of Jesus."

This isn't new. Check out how Paul preached to the Greeks, who thought they were pretty cool.

The Gospel message doesn't change, but the way we share it must.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

"I'm like 99.9% parched here. I need a cola."

Anybody? Anybody? That's from the movie "Just Like Heaven" and it's said by the same guy who played Napoleon in Napoleon Dynamite (lights just went on all over the blogosphere).

You know the feeling he's talking about? The feeling of being so dehydrated that you can't even produce any more spit to swallow (okay, maybe that was a little gross). Anyway, hydration is key, especially this time of year. I saw on the news yesterday that we need 2-3 glasses of water every time we step outside to stay well-hydrated. Unlike the quote above though, a cola won't work. You see, it matters what we put into our system. Some things though they may be fluid and taste temporarily refreshing, ultimately dehydrate.

So it is with our life and faith. Without Jesus, we have no spit (wait, maybe that didn't come out right). Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:14 that if we drink the water he has to give us, we will never be thirsty. However, if we continue to look for refreshment and renewal and life in other places, we will always be thirsty and always be searching.

We can spend so much of our life thirsty and not knowing how to quench our thirst. Jesus says, "Let me take care of that." We need to fill ourselves everyday with Him. We need to realize we're parched and go to the only One who can meet our every need.

Are you parched? When's the last time you visited Jesus' well?

Monday, July 05, 2010

After the Message

Is God looking to have an encounter with you and you’re missing it, or if you’re being really honest, you’re not looking for it and maybe even avoiding it?

What if God sees how I’m living? What if God wants to change something I don’t want to change? What if God wants me to do something I don’t want to do?

I Samuel 3:1-10

v. 1 – Samuel grew up in the Temple, learning from Eli to be a minister

- in those days, the word of the Lord was rare, not many visions – no explanation, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest it wasn’t because God disappeared

vv. 4-6 – Samuel doesn’t recognize God’s voice

v. 7 – Samuel did not yet know the Lord, kind of funny when you think about where he spent all of his time – how many of us show up, go through the motions, but do not know the Lord?

v. 8 – “Boy, if you wake me up one more time.” (this is what Eli’s thinking…), realizes it’s God and tells Samuel to say to the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

When’s the last time your prayers and your day began with that phrase?

“God, I know you have a plan for my day. Jesus, I know you have saved me for a reason. Instead of me sitting here and telling you how my day is going to go and asking you to sanction it and make it easy, how about I listen and you tell me, your servant, how it’s going to go.”

v. 10 – and so begins Samuel’s life as a spokesman for God

Are you listening for God, or are you kind of okay knowing He’s there and keeping him at a distance so He doesn’t change the way you live your life?

Too many of us are living as Christian atheists – we believe in God, but we live as though He doesn’t exist. (Craig Groeschel)

Today, we’re celebrating freedom – maybe the freedom we most need to exercise is the freedom to speak to God, listen to God and follow Him.

In the coming weeks, we’re going to talk more about what an encounter with God looks like, but today we need to answer the question, do we want one? Are we listening?