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.