Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mere Tomfoolery


The main reason for writing in here this time around is so I could post this picture. I just uploaded my STINT pictures from my external hard drive to my computer so I can have access to them and remember all the amazing times. This is one of my favorite pictures I took all year. We were on our final team trip, finding our way to the beautiful island of Sicily. We had a crazy, delerious time on the way down and ended up in paradise. The whole time was amazing, including when this shot was taken. I decided to take some time with the Lord by stopping at a cafe' near L'Isola Bella (The Beautiful Island), which is pictured in the background. This picture encompasses the serenity of enjoying a nice caffe while listening to the waves crash up against the rocky beach--truly admiring the work of God's Hands. I still don't believe it was me there...

And in other news, I finally have a picture of my new car! I have been taking pictures with my camera sparringly due to the fact that the screen is almost completely broken. I have to send it in to Casio for repairs, so I figured I would take some pictures before I couldn't have any access to it for possibly weeks. And I am sure that in these weeks I am going to have many opportunities to take some amazing pictures and I shall be kicking myself in the rear for not sending it sooner!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Very Encouraged Part 2

I hope that you have read part one so you can enjoy reading part two as much as I will enjoy writing it.

Tonight I had to make phone calls to supporters. If you are raising support, you know what comes over you when having to make calls. It is fear of the uncertainty, not really being sure how people are going to react to you calling them. My first few calls were made to set up appointments with people this week, all about which I am excited.

Then began the conversations that were such a blessing to have. I shall highlight three.

1) I called my friend's mom. She and I talked a few weeks ago and she told me she was interviewing for a job that she was really needing. I called after the interview to see how it went and I got her voicemail so I left a message. Then tonight I decided to call back and she picked up. She began telling me about the training she was going through for her new job so I, being quick to figure things out, realized she had gotten the job. It made me so happy to see the Lord providing for her needs and I look forward to hearing about the lives she changes.

2) Then I called a couple of supporters from my old church. They were so ecstatic to hear from me and we talked about what I have been up to and what they have been up to. Then they revealed to me how happy they were to hear from me through letters and e-mail. In fact, they appreciated it so much that they saved every letter and printed the pictures I would send in my e-mails and placed them all in a folder specially made for me and what God is doing through me!!! They kept telling me how much they appreciated hearing from me and how I have affected their lives. All I could say was thank you, Lord!

3) Finally I talked to a woman who I worked with in the Lions Club. She helped my club set up an art show for the blind called MindSight. Well she told me that God had been doing amazing things in her life and she is just finishing up building a house in the town of Alachua, which is near Gainesville. The conversation overall was so great and she made me want to be up in Gainesville so much faster to visit her and spend time relaxing in the farmlands!!!

Like I began in the first part, God has totally changed the way I view things. He has done it through people. I thrive off of relationships, whether deep or shallow. I love people...and God knows that.

Much love in the grace of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Very Encouraged Part 1

Man...what a shift in the way I have felt lately. To be honest with you, reader, this past weekend was rough. I was struggling in seeing the grace of God and His love for me. I wallowed in self-pity quite a bit as I found myself with nothing to do on Saturday. I sat and asked a hundred questions to myself and God pertaining to what I am doing with my life in these days.

It is difficult not being out there in the trenches--not aiding with the hurricane relief, not being in Italy serving the students in Salerno, and not being up at the University of Florida as this ministry seems to be kicking into high gear. Adding to that is the fact that I have very little fellowship with other believers down here and much of the fellowship I do have is limited to church service and a few conversations with the pastor and my buddy Chris. The intensity of community felt in Salerno is something I long for and hope to achieve to some degree with my staff team at UF. So to sum it up simply, there is a longing to be where I am not.

Impatience.

But reader let me tell you how faithful God is. You may know this or you may not, but God's grace is more than sufficient for my needs and the needs of all His children. I know this, but how quickly I do forget my position in this world and where I stand with the Lord. John 1:12 says "But to all who did receive Him, who believe in His name, he gave the right to become children of God" (ESV) and a few verses later it is beautifully written that "from His fullness we have received, grace upon grace" (v. 16). Dwelling on this and meditating on the fact that Christ "must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30) allows me to once again come back into the perspective of knowing my place in Christ.

Through Christ I have the right to become a child of God.
Through Christ's fullness I have received, immeasurable grace upon immeasurable grace.
And as Christ increases, in order for me to truly see and enjoy His glory, I must humbly decrease.

This began encouragement in ways I have never received before. First came a stern reminder of God's grace by a message given at church from my boy Chris, a 22-year old who's passion for God and His Word truly shined in those moments on the pulpit. The Spirit spoke volumes to me through him.

Then a great lunch with some folks from the church...great Chinese buffet.

Then tonight was the culmination.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Learning...

God is utterly incomprehensible and every natural attempt to know Him is simply idolatry. All we do as humans is create concepts of a God based on the moral climate of our generation. These days God is "all-loving" and fully accepting of all supposed "good" actions. Many others remember a God who was all-condemning, having no mercy on anyone and sending everyone to hell for any "sinful" action they would commit. These are man-made concepts of God and have no place in our language.

We do however have the opportunity to "press on to know the Lord." But how if He is incomprehensible? How if we are incapable and can only reach idolatrous concepts? The great paradox is solved only by the power of God Himself, linked to man through His Perfect Son, and being fully accomplished by providing man with the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. This is only part of the great glory of Christ. We know Him as Redeemer, Savior, and Friend, but may we open our eyes to the Majestic Christ. The King, who in His all-consuming glory, brings us to true, everlasting and eternal life. This new life in Christ is now governed and guided by the Holy Spirit and it is He who reveals the Father to us. All Three are bound in perfect Tri-Unity. If Christ were any less than God Himself, we could never know the Father because then Jesus would just be giving us a picture of the Idol God. If the Holy Spirit was not God dwelling in us, the God revealed to us would fall infinitely short of the One True God. Thus we know in certainty that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, are One and are all necessary for us to know Our God in heaven, however limited that knowledge may be. I will take this ever brief taste that I know lasts a lifetime than to go an eternity in thirst and anguish.

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness...
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
(Psalm 149:1-2, 6)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tears Stream Down Your Face


The day was geared up to be an amazing day. I spent a little time with my mom in the morning. Went back to the old high school to get a taste of nostalgia. Had a birthday lunch at Ruby Tuesday provided by my boy Jason. Relaxed a little. Then I prepared for the drive.

I had driven there only once before from Orlando and it was when I first got my license. Back then I could have sworn it took at least three hours to get there. The radio in the '91 Stang struggled. For any kind of continuous music entertainment I would have had to bust out some of the old 80's Arena Rock cassette tapes my aunt and uncle owned for there was no CD player to be found. Nonetheless, it was the longest journey I had embarked on and one that shall forever remain close to my heart.

This time driving to this destination--this final destination--was seemingly much quicker than I had anticipated. With many miles in the dust over the course of these past six years, I realized that the city beyond the horizon was actually a faster drive than to the haven known as Gainesville. I knew I could get there in an hour and a half and not have to worry about facing any felony speeding charges.

The city beyond the horizon has lost its allure.

But in this case something special was to occur. Patrons from all over this fine state were traveling toward this one magical location in order to see a performance that had the potential to invigorate and inspire. As the numbers on the milemarkers dwindled to 60, then 55, then 50, my mind drifted everso softly into a world where only finely-played instruments and beautifully-written lyrics could be heard. Growing less and less aware of my surroundings and more and more fond of the sweet lullaby prancing around in my head, I found myself abruptly brought back to reality when the hard, pounding techno beat from my phone began to ring.

'Twas a gentleman who had made the decision many a month ago to travel from a different location in order to converge paths with me at the same city to witness the same magical performance. One word was all I understood from this poor soul's mouth:

Postponed.

Everything else became muddled and highly indecipherable. Yet the one word resounded.

Postponed.

...
...

"WHAT??? I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS!!! WE WAIT ALL THIS TIME AND GET ALL EXCITED TO GO AND SEE THEM! AND IT'S POSTPONED!?! FLABBERTOMJECTORY! GRASSBLISHEMSHIRE!"

Postponed.

The band has yet to let the fine patrons who were to be in attendance know when they shall make up the day and provide for us the joy that was siphoned out of our insides and absorbed into the desert sands of life.

Postponed.



Well that was dramatic and fun to write. I hope you found it somewhat comedic. The rest of the story reveals that we all decided to go to the "city" anyway. I met up with Zach, Stephanie, and Kent at a thrift store. They made some very interesting purchases and then we decided to go get some grub and walk around for a bit. I was a bit off that night. The best word to describe it--uncomfortable. Or maybe...

Postponed.

Much love in His grace.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Crazy Days

The days are getting crazy here in Port Orange. I am working a good bit and 7-Eleven grows more and more interesting as each day goes by. Here is the story from today.

The weather has been pretty horrible here and because of a tropical storm there were no kids in school today. As a result of this and other factors the store was not as busy as it normally is. Well 12:15 rolls around and a couple of guys come in for lunch, getting some drinks and pizzas. After a short while we notice that something is going down outside. There is this old, green Ford pickup parked in one of the spaces on the far end of the lot and four cop cars are surrouding it. This grabs our attention and soon we notice that one of the cops has his gun pulled out and pointed inside the back of his window. There are other cops racing toward the truck with their guns ready to fire if anything was to go awry. Soon a large white man comes out of the truck and they have him do all these weird things like get on his knees and lift up his shirt. Then he had to walkk backward towards them and eventually the handcuffed him. We all thought that some drug bust had occured or maybe they had stolen something big. Well here is the real, but vague, story:

Apparently the guy and his friend (the one in the back of the cop car) claimed to have been making payments on the truck. Well something went down to where they had commandeered a dealer tag for the truck and we believe the truck was stolen as well. The cops proceeded to take the tag off, repo the truck, and leave the guys out in front of our store with all of their stuff. They just sat there. I walked past them not knowing what to say, ergo I said nothing.

Oh thank heaven for 7-Eleven!

Other than that all goes well here. I trust that support is going to kick into high gear soon and I hope to be in a good position come the time I leave for Atlanta for a short, but very needed, conference.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Something quick to ponder

I have heard this in prayer before and as I heard someone praying for it in recent days I began to wonder if this is what we should be asking God--"Lord, would you become more real to us..."

I honestly stopped my focus on the prayer and started to think about this request. I began to ask God if that is what we should be praying. First of all, I am pretty analytical about how my prayers should be lifted up to God and how we talk to Him. I may even be overly critical, but as for now I am not sure if that is the case. I think we have an amazing privilege in being able to commune with God on a regular basis through the power of prayer and repeating a bunch of "Lord, God, Father, would you do" etc. makes me wonder how genuine I am in my prayers and how much I simply want to fill the air with my voice and not have a pause in my speech.

With that said I was asking God about this and the answer, I believe, is pretty simple; actually it was confirmed to me in a song by Shawn McDonald. Here are the lyrics:

"Won't you come and fill
won't you come make me more real.
Take this life
Won't you change this life
Come and make me whole."

The point made in the song and what I know truth to be is this: God is. I live by that and things come into perspective. In true, unabashed reality, God always is and we are simply a product of His wonderful desire to create. As much as we build ourselves up, the fact is we are merely human. Though the most powerful living creatures on Earth we are again simply that--living creatures...on Earth.

We are limited. We are flawed. We do not control all things.

So God is. And we are. With God being who He is and us being who we are, who needs to become more real? As God is, always and forevermore, we must live our lives as such and beg to become more real as He is real. He is the One who will make us whole and as we step closer into His light, reality will become clearer. That which was once in darkness shall be exposed to the light and take shape, defined by the beauty of God, not by the hideousness of death.

Much love in His grace.