Tuesday, December 29, 2009

5 Minute Life Story

So Joanna and I have this thing that we call a 5 Minute Life Story. In short, it is when you take the time to listen, I mean really listen, to someone who might otherwise just be overlooked; and in turn they share with you basically their life story.

We have had this happen all sort of places: Grocery stores, the mall, department stores, and tonight it was the movie theater.

My friends and I went to go see Sherlock Holmes, which I highly recommend, and after the movie we went out to get coffee. The problem is that even though we live near a big city, Nashville, we don't live close enough for everything to stay open late, so after trying Starbucks, Boarders, and then even McDonald's, we returned to the movie theater. There is a special going on on Tuesdays that you can buy a small drink and small popcorn for a dollar each! So, it ended up being a perfect place to chill after the movie.

Anyway, after drinking the very small drink rather quickly, and seeing that no one was left in the lobby, I went back to the counter to see if I could get a free refill on my already cheap drink. The girl, Allie, proceeded to refill my drink and as I asked how her night was going and stopped to listen....

I learned that she was not having a very good night. She was sick, and wished that she did not have to work so much, but also she did not wish to go home because it was not a good place either. She said that she wished she was busier so that she did not have time to think about everything that was going on. She could not have been out of high school yet. It is at this time that I wish I could just stop everything in life and listen, as long as she needed....

On the way out, the was another theater employee started to share about his life.

I find it amazing what happens when you actually listen. We have heard about people breaking up, a girl whose boyfriend was too pushy sexually, we got to know a girl in our last town so well that we would go see her volleyball games, and much more.

When was the last time you ask someone how they were doing, and took the time to listen?

You might be amazing what people will tell you.

It all makes me wonder, How often are people actually allowed the place to share? The reason it means so much to them that we listen, is because most people struggle to find someone who will....

Will you listen?

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Real Fireplace

In our new apartment, we have a real fireplace. Not one that uses electricity or even gas, but a real wood fireplace. I must admit that I am kind of addicted to making fires. I always have been, but now I have one at my finger tips all the time.

The thing about a real fireplace is that it doesn't just happen. You cannot just click a remote or turn a handle. You have to find wood, find starter sticks and paper or pine cones, you have to poke at it and work on it.

Sometimes it happens really quick and nice, and other times it doesn't even really work at all.

It started me thinking about relationships. Relationships don't just happen (much to Facebook's and Myspace's dismay). They take effort, giving, pain, sacrific, poking, and love. You have to work on them. Much like a gas fireplace, we have tried to replace the hard work of real fire, with an easy substitute; we have replaced real relationships with easy substitutes.

Think about all your relationships.  What are the ones you really work on them? The ones that you truely spend time and effort on?  How much more to they mean to you and probably to them?  This is not just because they are special, but it is because they are real...

I recommend making a fire (in a safe place) sometime, a real fire. See how you have to keep an eye on it, keep working at it. Maybe it will lead you to rethink your relationships...

A story begins...

It seems that so much of our time working on staff at a church is spent trying to produce the "best" church experience.  We worry about what people will say if we do this or that; we wonder if people will like this; we don't try things for fear of running people off; we spend so much time guessing and tiptoeing around...

I feel like if there is one thing in life and in ministry that matters at all it is relationships; relationship with God and relationship with others.  That's it.  Not programs, not buildings, not stuff, but relationships.

What if all of our focus was spent on these relationships?  What would change in our churches?  What would change with how our churches interact with their communities?  Would it be harder or easier?  Would it be more fulfilling or less?  Would it matter?

I don't really know, but I have some guesses, but all I can really do is go out there and live it.  Not in a cliche type of doing it because it is the next best thing in a book, but because it is what I feel called by God to do.

I hope to report back with stories... we will see

In faith, hope and love...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Writing and guitar...

Many times, I find myself wishing there was more time in the day.

I know I am not the only one who has ever thought this but it is time to do something about it.

For me, I want more time because I dont have enough time to write and think and play guitar...
So, I am going to start writing songs and playing them on guitar...

What do you wish you had more time for?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A gathering of people who share life together

What if the church was simply a gathering of people who share life together?

I love thinking about these things, and I find myself thinking about them a lot. The only struggle I have is that when I look at what other people do in response to questions about how the church could change or about what it could be. It seems they almost always abandon everything including their church and tradition in order to start over.

For me, for whatever reason I have this strong need to help the current church shift. I cannot justify just starting something new and forgetting that I am a part of a huge tradition of people seeking God.

As a Methodist, when I go back to our beginnings with Wesley, they really seem to fit with everything the "new" churches are trying to do. The problem is that current churches are in no way similar to where the Methodist church started.

So how can we help the current church notice that they are missing it; to help them see they have missed one generation already and are on the road to miss several more?

I think one way to do this is to simplify what we are doing. We have a program for everything as if the programs themselves are a way to salvation. What would it look like if we cut out many things we currently do and just intentionally gathered together?

I think that there would be a lot of good that comes from this.

How would we still do worship of God without all the exact same people doing the exact same thing every week?
How would relationships between generations change?
How would staffing the church change?

What if a churches focus was simply "Loving God, Loving Neighbor"?

What if the church was simply a gathering of people who share life together?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why does it have to be so complicated?

Why do we make church and being a Christian so complicated?
We have committees for everything...WHY?
We have events for everything that we do...WHY?
We have certain ways we must do a worship service...WHY?
We have divisions of ministries based on age...WHY?
We are so worried about maintain our buildings, and not relationships...WHY?

We feel that there are certain expectations for things...WHY?
We build the most elaborate and expensive building, often for twice a week..WHY?
We hire staff to build programs to...WHY?
We try so hard to get people in the buildings, but we never go to them...WHY?

What if it was simpler?
What if it is supposed to be simpler?

What if we gathered together, shares our hearts, good and bad, knowing no matter what we are loved. What if we shared our true unfiltered lives together, and as a community...we shared in communion?

Why does it have to me so complicated? WHY?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Missions in Church

I feel that a lot of times we think that missions in a church setting are only for those who are already part of the church. For some reason it has become looked down upon for visitors and seekers to join in...WHY?

This generation born from 1980s til now see the great desire for justice in the world. They know that we are all to play a part in redeeming the world...they just might not know that is what it is.

WHY can we not invite them to join us in missions; the churches way of redeeming the world? WHY can't mission be the main focus of the church?

WHY are we scared to invite others to join us in serving?
WHAT do we fear will happen?
WHAT if this is what the church is supposed to do: Figure out where God is working in the world, join in, and invited others along too?

Break the Circle

Maybe the reason we don't hang out with non-Christians too much or want them around much is we are afraid that they might see us mess up and be real, not perfect...and with us not being perfect, we fear that that might make them think our faith is not good enough...but it is when we are real, and they see that God invites imperfect people to the journey...that is when they want to join in.
So they want real, we don't want them to see the real us, so how can we break this circle...WE MUST BREAK THIS CIRCLE

Saturday, August 8, 2009

too long...

So it has been so long since my last post. I think that maybe it is because I have struggled to be inspired or chalenged in such a way that I needed to think externally. Since the last post, Joanna and I have reallized we are called to move cities and start semenary.

Now, four months later from our first talk about this, we have moved to Brentwood, TN. We are both working at Forest Hills UMC, and we are both going to semenary!!!

It seems like so many times we think that God moves so slow, that we have to wait for him to finally listen to us... Well, in this case, God acted so fast, it felt like He had to wait on us. I wonder if this is how it really works?

Maybe God is waiting on us for the BEST thing, and we feel like we are waiting on God but for the GOOD thing. Maybe the reason we feel like we are waiting on God is that we are waiting for the wrong thing?

As Always... Just thoughts.
Can't wait to start thinking again!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Heaven Christianity

There are Christians out there who believe that everything is about getting to Heaven. They have faith in God so that they can get into Heaven. They try to convert others so that they can get to Heaven. There are even evangelism tracks out there called "Ticket to Heaven."
I have asked myself a lot: "Is this really all Christianity is about? Getting to Heaven?"
I think for me Heaven Christianity bothers me because it is a selfish Christianity. If I become Christian because i want to go to Heaven when I die, that has everything to do with me and almost nothing to do with God.

Heaven Christianity= Selfish Christianity

This is also seen in how people view god. There are beliefs and even song lyrics that literally say: "Jesus was born to die." They are ignoring everything in the middle; His life, miracles, love, healing, teachings...if all Jesus was born for was death, could not God just sent him down as a man to die?
Jesus' life was the example to us not only in how to live, but He showed us how much God loves us.
Christianity, being a follower of Christ, should have everything to do with God and very little to do with us. It should be a LOVE focus, not a Heaven focus. Following God has just as much merit in the present, right here and now, as it does in the future when we die.
I want faith to matter now. It has to matter now. I want God's love to pour out of me and Christians everywhere. I want to live a life focused on what God wants, not what I want.
This is something I can just say and go on with my life, if I do I am no better than Heaven Christians. I must live it out, my life as a living sacrifice to God.

John 15:12-13
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Lord, teach me to share this love, to live this love



Today we spent 30 minutes in silence in youth group. Fast from sounds to focus on God.
I have to say there is something about removing all inputs so we can truly focus on God.
For me, there was a sense of peace. Peace, that even if I am not running around trying to do all I can, God is still in control. There is just something about knowing God is God and I am not. There is a great and deep peace within that.
I need to remember this more often. I need to know taking time for me is OK.

People in my life - Journal

Tomorrow, I get to hang out with about 35 people who work with teens, some of my favorite people in the world.
One of the things we are going to talk about is who were the people in our lives that have made the biggest impact.
Here is a partial list of mine in no order:
Kelly G
Jill Q
Jill K
Dr Olds
Susy Boner
Emily McLemore
My Parents
My Grandparents
Paul Boner
Steve - my brother
Bishop Spain
Mark Acker
The Limbauchers
Sally Smith
Cara L
John Wade

My prayer is that I can be this kind of person to others in my life.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 12th - From my Journal

Be Still....

There is something about taking time to stop that really makes you think. It is probably because unless you stop, all you are really doing is reacting. Reacting to life, reacting to situations, reacting to people.
By taking time to pause each day to think, reflect, and listen; I have found I get more done, I feel better about my days, I listen more to others, and I grow.
The last one is my favorite, GROW. Life can often seen routine, bland, boring, and sometimes worthless. I have found myself, a lot, feeling stuck like I can't grow. What I am realizing is that it is not where I am, it is I was not taking a pause.
I want to make a commitment to myself to stop more. I want to grow, I want to learn, I want a challenge. I want to know God and myself more. I need to stop ad truly listen to my soul.

Lord, in my stillness may I grow to know more fully that you are God and I am not.

March 11th - From my Journal

Why does it seem so hard sometimes to rely on God?

I know I have had times in my life where things did not go how I wanted them to, and I have and do struggle in these times to rely on God.
One time like this was when I tore my ACL along with everything else in my knee. I was being recruited by 200 college and universities for football, and when this happened it really messed up my big recruiting year. Needless to say, many schools stopped recruiting me and I struggled to rely on God's plan. I wondered, why me? I really struggled with not being able to be active like I had been my whole life.
Through it all, and every situation since, I have learned that it is in these times it is those around us that help us rely on God. People praying for us, people relating to us, people being willing to listen to us.
It is through community that we are brought back to the table with God, remembering to trust and rely on Him. I cannot thank all the people who have done this in my life. The only way I can think of is to try to be this type of person with those in my life.
1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Lord, guide me to guide others back to you...

March 10th From my Journal

Worth, Value

These are interesting words. It seems like people have all different ways they find their worth: how much they make, what they own, maybe even how many kids they have. For me, one of the ways I find worth is being able to share with people.
This is the reason my lent commitment to write in my journal everyday have turned into post on my blog what I write on my journal each day. I want to share life with people, discuss topics, hold conversations. The hard part is that a lot of times, I struggle to find worth in this way. Maybe others are too busy, sometimes I'm too busy, sometimes the relationships are just fluff with no depth.
One of the things God is teaching me through this journal is that in the end, when all else is stripped away, the one place I need to find and will find my worth in is Him.
People have all different ways they find their worth; I want mine to be in God.

"For You have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother's womb
I will ever praise you!"
-Psalm 71:5-6

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 9th - From my Journal

I really don't like pushy Evangelists...

I guess the real reason behind it is because I feel like they have an agenda to get me and others saved so they can feel good about how great a Christian they are. First off, having an agenda means your focus is not about the relationship or the journey, but they are focused on the end goal.

I believe God is LOVE. Not a romantic guy/girl love, but a true unconditional love. What this means first is that it must be about relationships. Love cannot exist out in the middle of no where, but must exist between: between humans, between God and mankind, between God and God's self, that is why God is a trinity.

As Christians, we are to exemplify this Love to the world, the only way to do that is relationships. The only way to have real, true, deep relationships is to take time, effort, and honesty it needs to exist. When we make these efforts, we find it is so simple to share our faith we know who they are and we can relate with them.

God showed this so well with Christ. He became flesh and dwelt among us so that He could truly relate to our situation, and so that we could no longer use "you don't know" as an excuse.

To many people are turned off from being a Christian by evangelist who don't and aren't willing to get to know someone good enough so they can no longer say "you don't know."

Evangelism is not and should never be a way of life where you walk so closely with God that people cannot help but draw near to God. The way it should work is that people who you have relationships with, friends, students, kids, adults,etc. cannot help but learn about God, not by words but by your life, and in doing so they grow to better know God.

"Share Christ with everyone you meet, when necessary use words." - St. Francis

1 Corinthians 13 (parts)
"Love never gives up
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head
Isn't always "me first"...
...puts up with anything
Trusts God always
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies!"

Lord teach me to be this love.

March 8th - From my Journal

March 7th - From my Journal

I love how people are unique. Today I spent a great day with Joanna. During the day I was reminded of some of the ways we are different.

Joanna is very motivated, this includes things from the largest to smallest tasks. We got up today and had a list of things to do; Joanna's mission was to finish that list. She also has this internal thing telling her to go..go..go..go..go..all the time.

For me, I don't really know if I have ever made a list; let alone felt compelled to complete it. Also, unless there is a pressing need for something to get done, I usually won't worry to much about getting around to it.

Today, these to sides met, which is something that happens a lot. In the end, we were able to hang out with each other a lot, and the whole list was completed!

I know I have already learned a lot about and from Joanna. I am now more motivated at keeping things in order and finishing things as son as I can. I think she has learned from me that it is OK to chill and relax every once in a while.

I believe we can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at other people. We are all unique and have something unique to offer.

Lord, teach me to appreciate everyone in my life.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 6th - From my Journal

I have found that there are a lot of things in my life that I spend a lot of time on that in no way are important: Free online computer games, TV shows, etc.
It seems like I do these things because they are simple and mindless and relax me, but when I really look at them and how I feel, all they do is drain me and leave me with an uninspired, more bored, and unmotivated feeling.
I know I am far into lent, but besides journaling which leaves me refreshed and inspired, I think I am going to spend much less time online and more time reading and being outside and with my wife!
When it comes down to it, I want to live an inspired, motivated, deeper life!!!

March 5th - From my Journal

Have you ever felt helpless?
I feel that way a lot in my job as a youth minister. There are situation that happen with parents, church members, and even non-church members when I feel helpless.
One example was when I was in the office on a Sunday morning and an older man from the church started lecturing me on the idea that how I dress is ruining the youth of the nation. I know this was a bit of a stretch, but the idea that he felt it was his place to lecture me about this knowing full well I could not talk back without making it a bigger issue... I FELT HELPLESS.
When I am instructed to put on an activity that goes against my ideology and philosophy in youth ministry by a person who does not even go to my church, but since it was coming from the district lay person I have to... I FELT HELPLESS.
When I receive a call from a youth whose parents are fighting all the time, or they tell youth youth they are not good enough, or they keep the youth from participating in activities and community because they are worried what their child might share...I FEEL HELPLESS.
It seems that every week and sometimes everyday there are situations that come up where I feel helpless.
I know that in God alone can I have hope in the He is in control, that He is with me, that He loves me, and in the end He, LOVE, WINS!

Isaiah 40:27-31
"Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
'God has lost track of me.
He doesn't care what happens to me'?
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go, God lasts.
He's the creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And He knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
Gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
Young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait, [HOPE], upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
They walk and don't lag behind."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March 4th - From my Journal

It seems like it is so easy to make a list of the things we want to be better at, things we feel like we messed up, things we wish we were. Why it is so simple to focus on the negatives, but also so hard to make a similar positive list?
I wonder where this comes from because looking at children they seem to focus on the positives. Ask a child what they are good at and they will give you a huge list. So when does this change? When is the shift? When does our focus change from positives, what we excel at; to what we don't excel at?
I think that some of it maybe our education system. When a kids starts getting grades, he focus become what they need to improve, not what they got A's in. Society has decided that kids need to be well rounded and good at every topic and subject. I don't know anyone who enjoys every topic. Even those who get straight A's, they enjoy some classes and have to work really hard at others. All this does is teach kids they are not good enough at life. It says they don't measure up.
Why can't we focus on what we are good at and passionate about? What if each of us focused on our strengths and grouped with others with different but compatible strengths?
To me this is what Paul was talking about when he talked about the Body of Christ. Each focusing on the strengths given to us by God, having faith that God has equipped others around us to make the rest of the body. We don't have to be the whole body, and when we try to be we fail at what part we are created to be.

Lord, teach me that I am not the body, and train me to be the best part of the body I can be.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 3rd - From my Journal

After writing for the past week, I have made several observations. Today I want to focus on one: Handwriting.

I think that handwriting is quickly becoming a lost art of creativity and expression. No longer do people write note, they text. No longer do people write letters, they email. No longer do people take notes on paper, they type them on their computer.

I think this is all very sad because handwriting can be such an expression of who we are. Take mine: I think it say I like things simple, so I print. It says I rush sometimes so it can get pretty sloppy. I am a lefty which means I hold my pen weird. My writing would also tell you that I am a bad speller.

I want to charge each of us with keeping a great form of expression and creativity alive: Handwriting.

I think I am going to try to not only write in my journal, but start note taking on paper and pen again...


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March 2nd - From my Journal

I have to admit that at points journaling is a great release and pause in my day to sit and reflect. Other times thought, like right now, I struggle with where to start or even what to write at all.

I guess this is a part of maturing in this discipline, that even in the valley of writing, I must push through and try to enjoy even the struggles of feeling like I have nothing worth saying.

I do have to admit though, even now, uninspired, unguided, there is something about the act of writing in pen in a journal that guides your, or at least, my mind to PEACE.

March 1st - From my Journal

A lot of time we take life too seriously. We worry about things that in the big picture don't matter. We worry about things like what other people think, what we wear, how much money we have, etc.
On of the things we have been talking about in youth group is this idea of Communion, this community where all our focus is on God, and in this God is with us. In this Communion, we experience love, joy, and celebration, but also pain, tears, and struggles. The beauty of it all is we are experiencing what the Christian church is supposed to be. Tonight, we heard a talk about the soul that deep within in us is the part of us that truly knows God. Then we had the GREATEST DISCO EVER! Free from feeling like we need to look cool, not worrying about what others thought, but just having a lot of fun dancing to classic songs with a Disco ball!
I think the reason we worry about unimportant, trivial stuff is that we in a way have been taught to take ourselves too seriously...

Micah 6:8 - "But he has already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love,
and don't take yourself too seriously - Take God Seriously."

Lord, teach me not to take myself too seriously.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Feb 28th - From the Journal

Day four, and I have already missed yesterday. It is amazing how I had a great free day, but failed to stop and write.

There are a few ways to react to this: I can get really frustrated with myself, say "I can't do it" and stop right there. I have found that I do this a lot with things in my life. If they are not easy and simple I quit, but other times I have pushed through and the reward has been great, like learning guitar.

Today I choose option two. I am going to push through, continuing through my failures into perseverance.

James 1:2-4
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed. not deficient in any way."

Learning guitar was something I really wanted and felt called to do. It was not something I could just pick up and do. I had to practice, fail, and hurt (My fingers), but I am so glad I persevered. I use music to relate to God. Without being able to share that, I would struggle, knowing I was "deficient."

Lord, teach me to persevere.

I am currently blessed with this great music room!

Feb 27th - From the Journal

Feb 26th - From the Journal and then some

I wrote this in my journal based on my last entry, but I wanted to add something more to it so here is the quote with an illistration

Feb 26th - From the Journal

"When one makes a commitment to God it is the greatest joy and hardest struggle. I find when I make a choice like this, almost anything becomes a huge block in the road.
The only way to push through is to seek God. From the biggest to smallest task and distraction, seek God. When we feel depressed or stuck, seek God. No matter Good/Bad, Hard/Easy, Joy/Pain...Seek God.
During this time, I must remember to

The Journal

I wanted to share what my journal looked like, simply because I really like it. I have find it hard to get a journal that it not frilly or girly. It is hard for me to be inspired by that. So here is the one I have, it is simple, but it speaks volumes.

Feb 25th - From my journal

"John 1:8 - 'He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.'

I think that one of the first things that we need to learn in following Christ is that we are not Christ. In fact we are not anything really but pointers. Here to point all we interact with to Christ through love.
The trick is that sometimes in pointing, our finger starts to turn to us. We begin to try to fix everything: we try to fix people, we try to fixe relationships, we try to fix ourselves. But it is not is that is the light that lights the darkest places, it is Christ. When we try to take it on ourselves we struggle, we fail, we get broken, we hurt others. When we try, we are missing the whole idea of Grace.
Grace is this first loved idea that God loves us before we do anything. This also means God is ready before we know we need anything.
If we go to God, and point others to Him, God will heal. We must start with ourselves; admitting we are not God and accepting the beautiful LOVE and GRACE and PEACE that comes with it.


So during the lent season this year, the 40 or so days leading up to Easter, a time set aside to grow, as Christians, in our relationship with God, I have decided that instead of giving something up this year, I feel lead to take something on. I am going to journal everyday of lent. This may seem easy to some and dumb to others, but for me it is what I need. To explain here is my first unedited journal entry on Ash Wednesday:

"Feb 25th
There is something about journaling that scares me. I think that some of it is that I want it to be good, so I should have a finalized thought first. Sometimes I think about starting, but then I do something else first and forget to come back to it.
I guess what I need to do is challenge myself, that no matter what, no matter how good or bad, no matter when or where, I am going to stop for long enough to think, pray, and journal.
I have had this journal for two weeks and until now I have not written even my name in it. There have been several times I have takes it out even with pen in hand and did not touch it.
Today, I challenge myself to write in this journal for everyday of lent. I want to use this as a way of slowing down long enough to listen deep within me, in my soul.
My prayer is God will use this to teach me about myself, good, bad, and ugly; that His Spirit would guide me to love more purely.
This is my challenge and prayer, now it is time to do it."

From here on, I am going to write in my journal everyday of lent, and hopefully beyond. When I have time beyond that I will post them to the blog dated so that it will flow better. Pray for me because this is really something that is not going to be easy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Great Divorce - by C. S. Lewis

So I have always struggled with reading. It was probably because in school I had to read 5-8 books each summer, and it really made it more of a chore as opposed to a joy. So until about six months ago I had never enjoyed reading a book and have almost never finished one.

Now I have started getting into reading. I have found a few books so far that I have really enjoyed: Blue Like Jazz, A New Kind of Christian, Youth Ministry 3.0, and a few others.

I just finished a new one, The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis. I have to say, I have read some of his works, but this was the first classic I have finished.

I really love the depth that C. S. Lewis writes from. It is refreshing from a usually more shallow world. Lewis has this unique ability to share this depth of thinking in a very creative and somewhat simplistic way.

This book is a story about Lewis’ view of Heaven and Hell. The title refers to his response to the book by William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Lewis shares how he strongly feels that there must be a separation between Heaven and Hell.

Through His very clever story, he shares how he feels it might work in the afterlife. I must say that I had never seen it in this light before, but after reading it all the way through I can really agree with his views.

I would recommend it as a great read. If you are in a place where you want to think deeper about some or your beliefs, specifically afterlife beliefs, this is the book for you.

I think that I am going to read The Screwtape Letters next.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I love how things change...

Looking back over my life, I find it amazing how my understanding about and sometimes even my beliefs themselves change. I don't know how else to put this other than to explain one of these specifically:

Prayer. Prayer is something that can mean very different things to different people: who you are praying to, how you are praying, with whom you are praying. For me, prayer has been something that I have really grown and changed in my understanding throughout my life.

At a child, prayer was something we did in church, at meal time, and at bedtime. I knew who I was praying to, God and Jesus, but outside of that I did not know much else.

As my faith grew, so did my understanding of prayer. I started to see how even the Trinity worked within prayer. As a teen, I figured out that through the help of the Holy Spirit, we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. This helped me start to understand about it being so much more than a help and thank you list.

I came to a funny place in my first year in college where I was struggling with if prayer was even needed. I mean I knew and believed in God, and he knew my thoughts before I asked, and I knew I was truly forgiven. So why pray, why not just live it out? For a while, I actually stopped praying, with words at least. After a while, I really felt God speaking to me about this. He was sharing that by the simple act of praying, you are acknowledging that I am God! Once this was stated, I started to pray again.

One struggle I have always had is the corporate prayer. It always seems like a contest with words, how long you can pray, and how you can make you voice sounds different and all of that stuff. Within struggling with this, I actually learned more about personal prayer, which is where I am today. Prayer is not a list, it is needed, and most of all it is about a relationship. Prayer should be like sitting down to coffee with a great wise friend or mentor. You want to do it, you want to listen to what they have to share, and you want to ask questions and share your life.

Prayer is a conversation that we get to have with the one and only powerful, deep, loving God. I know that I need to sit down with Him more…do you?