Saturday, August 30, 2008

In Just Five Hours...

That's how much time I and a group of new friends spent in the Windy City last night and oh how so much happened!!! This trip was the first of many excursions to Chi-town. Just so you know, as I have been corrected by my very kind friend Zach Wetendorf, it is pronounced "Shy-town." This is confirmed and also challenged by great nickname masters.

We decided to drive down, which was a bit painful, taking what could be a 30 minute drive nearly two hours. Truth is I didn't mind and no one else in the car really did as we got the chance to have good conversation. This would have been more frustrating of course if we were going to work at one of the ridiculously tall buildings in the heart of the city, or performing at the symphony, or if we had dinner reservations. But none of these were reasons for our little jaunting in the City. The Art Institute of Chicago was having it's final weekend of free nights so I made a last minute decision to head down with a group of about ten to check out some sweet art.

I wasn't too aware of what pieces were in the museum, but was able to see some fairly famous works, which was awesome. The one we are all most familiar with is the one seen here, called American Gothic by Grant Wood. This has been parodied countless times in films, photos, cartoons, etc. It was interesting to read the story behind the photo and to see in person what Wood was trying to depict. Those faces were probably genuine as his dentist likely vowed to pull everyone of Wood's teeth out for making him do this and the daughter stared at her father mad at his volunteering her to do this. Maybe I am reading too much into the painting, adding my own flair, much like those who read too much into the text of Scripture, adding their own flair. Dangerous.

Another piece that was familiar to me and I believe is fairly famous was a Post-Impressionist work called A Sunday at La Grande Jatte by Georges Surat. The only reason I think this one is famous is because I put it together as a puzzle during one of my Humanities classes back as a junior in high school. That and just as I looked it up on Wikipedia I was reminded it is one of my favorite movies, Ferris Bueller's Day Off during the scene where they all go to the Art Institute. The scene is more memorable to me because of the cinematography and score. But I digress.

There were several other works I really enjoyed, including some photography and an entire collection devoted to miniature rooms, but I shan't tell anymore of the museum because there's so many other things I got to do and see.

We split up for about an hour, so I decided to head down to Grant Park for the 30th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival. Among thousands of people I arrived as Dee Dee Bridgewater was wrapping up her "Tribute to Betty Carter," which I found fascinating really. I don't know much about jazz, save a History of Jazz course I took in undergrad, but there was something electric about the songs she sang. The final number was a mini tribute to a jazz musician I have heard of, Nina Simone, called Four Women. Extremely powerful.

One observation that brought me joy were two men adjacent to each other. The first was an older black man, maybe in his 50s or 60s, standing, still in his McDonald's work uniform. He had headphones around his neck which were plugged into a sweet 1980s Sony Walkman clipped to the wasteband of his pants. I saw his pearly whites exposed in elation over the smooth voice of Ms. Bridgewater. Just to his right was a white man of a few years younger, shaved bald head, sitting in the grass with his arms holding his legs together in the Indian-style. He was just as enthralled, though his expression was a close-mouthed smile and a continual rocking back and forth. I thought it so neat to see jazz music bring these two gents together. I would be remiss if I did not share that I pray for this kind of elation, joy, and unity found in Christ, where it is true, pure, and everlasting.

I left the jazz festival feeling really good, in awe of the fact that I am living in this place and have been given this opportunity by God. It is still extremely surreal. However, I was brought back to some semblance of reality, though an odd reality, when on the street corner, rivaling the jazz just a block away, was your friendly neighborhood Mennonite choir, singing melodies to Jesus and handing out evangelistic CDs. I can picture Alanis Morrisette singing,

It's like Mennoniiiiiiiiiites in the Windy City,
Rivaaaaaaling the jazz festival...

We got to talk with Matthew from Canada who told us they do this every Labor Day Weekend. Though extremely ironic, I thought it was quite cool. I'm surely trying to work through what evangelism and missions looks like in this culture and in a city of this size.

Our final excursion of the evening was hitting up Navy Pier. By this point most of us were content with just standing around and talking. A few got on the famous Ferris Wheel. The highlight to this and the rest of our night was the great theological discussions that took place over eschatology (end times theology) and the spiritual gifts. What a privilege and joy to be in a place where so many are thoughtful about their God, loving Him not only with their hearts, but also with their minds. They also were so kind to sing "Happy Birthday" to me.

All this in just five hours...well seven with traffic.

By His Grace.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And A Hush Fell Over The Crowd

Today was my first day of real seminary classwork. I have been out of school for four years now, taking just a few classes over two summers through Crusade, but this promises to be different.

My only class for the day was Biblical Theology & Interpretation. To put it in as simple terms possible for both my own understanding and yours, this discipline is concerned with the storyline of Scripture, with one defining characteristic being that it's temporal, or subject to time. I will probably share more in the future, but just think of it in terms of the question, "How do particular themes in Scripture develop in light of the different authors involved through Genesis to Revelation?"

That paragraph was for those of you interested in what I am actually studying. The rest is just a fun story from the class itself. My professor for the course is none other than the Dr. D.A. Carson. Many of you may not know who he is, but I can tell you that he has most likely influenced your understanding of Scripture. He is regarded as one of the eminent scholars on the New Testament and is known widely around the world. He has written mad crazy books (around 45) and speaks at like 200 conferences a year (that is a rough, hyperbolic estimate). His name is venerated here at Trinity and is one of the main draws. Just Google him or check out this funny website about him to get a small taste.

Now I am going to be honest, I have only read a few pages of one of his books, but know enough about him to know he's "kinda a big deal." People know him.

Anyway, we were a pretty social class of about 100-150 this morning at 8:15. Everybody busted out their laptops of various shapes and sizes; I had my trusty yellow notepad in my Gator leather folder. I was a bit intimated and may bring my Mac to class next time.

I was having conversation with a new guy I met named Josh, while hearing all the clamoring of other voices around me. Then I see him come in. We all see him come in. Dressed in a sweet short sleeved dress shirt with tiny red and white checkers coupled with a red tie, theDr. D.A. Carson innocently walks down the stairs to the lecture area carrying a box of papers and a faint smile.

Literally the entire room got quite. People cut their words off mid-sentence. Everyone watched his movements as if we were on a safari seeing a lion for the first time, not wanting to blink.

Was this the guy who writes all the books?
Was this the guy at all the conferences?
In all the videos online?
He's real?

It was quite funny to me. Hilarious in fact. I had a hard time containing a spontaneous eruption of laughter. "Is everyone serious?" was my initial thought. I then turned to Becca on my right and said, "this is funny." Those were the only words uttered out of my mouth in the deafening silence. Other than that I was a sheep like everyone else.

Truth is, Dr. Carson does deserve a lot of respect. His contribution to evangelical Christianity is something I am only beginning to understand, but I do know without much effort that I am indebted to him and what Christ has done in his life both in terms of saving him by His grace and also gifting him with the talents he has to serve the multitudes. I am grateful that Dr. Carson has responded faithfully to God's call on his life and look forward to sitting under his teaching as much as possible.

By His Grace.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thoughts From The Whirlwind Past And The Storm A'Comin'

Well I've made it to Chicago and thus to Trinity. I just finished unpacking and I am destroyed after a couple weeks of living like the Energizer Bunny.

First, Russell and Molliann's wedding was beautiful. It honestly was unlike any wedding I have ever been a part of in terms of detail and number of people. I felt like I was part of a wedding week as opposed to just the rehearsal and wedding day--friends were coming in town all week, we had feast after feast, we all helped get everything together, and there was great fellowship with my boys. I have been thrilled for both Russell and Molliann for quite some time now as I have seen firsthand how they wonderfully compliment each other. As a result they have a healthy relationship that I firmly believe seeks to honor Christ. I have witnessed Russell grow more into the man God is making Him, which is such a joy for a friend to see in another friend. I have also seen Molliann develop such an intimacy with Jesus in such a short period of time as the Spirit has done such great work in her heart. Those two together make a great couple and I am so thrilled to have been part of God's joining them together in marriage.

This time Jimmy and Kelly read Scripture. It was the Scripture that Jimmy read which really touched my heart because of the glorious implications involved in such few verses. It is one of my favorite passages in all the Bible and I got to preach from it my last time speaking at Crusade. It is Philippians 2:1-11:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

My eyes started tearing up at the part which says that God has highly exalted Christ's name above every name and that every single person everywhere will bow to Him one day, it doesn't matter if that person is a Christian or not. We will all humble ourselves before the King--it is just a matter of where we will actually be. I am filled with joy at the thought of worshiping Christ forever and it will be so wonderful to do so with my friends and loved ones, like Russell and Molliann. Congrats to you guys...

We danced the rest of the reception after they left and I got to say goodbyes to a lot of students I am close with. Some came over afterward for a little after party with one main topic of conversation being height. Bottom line, I would rather be 6'2" than 5'7" and there is no 6'2" guy who would rather be 5'7".

I went to bed late, got up early, and hit the road. 17 hours later I was in Chicago. The air was cool and crisp, the sky clear, just like it is right now as I type. The roads suck, but that's ok. The campus is much more beautiful than I remember it. Right now I am drinking from a fire hydrant and everything seems surreal. I have yet to rest, but covet the time I get to, which is hopefully tomorrow. But I am here. I am a Midwesterner now and will be adopted teams in this region as I have no real ties, except to the Gators of course and the Magic.

The first...THE CUBS!!! Oh I hope to go to Wrigley soon to catch a game.

Courses start on Wednesday. I have yet to hear from UPS. They jacked me up today, but that is another story.

I miss Florida and my peeps there, but I am ready to start afresh and anticipate a lot of fun in the coming weeks. Jesus is so good to me!

By His Grace.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quick Update

Writing regularly is proving to be tougher and tougher as each day passes and the move becomes more of a reality. Many people, for some reason or another, think I am already in Chicago. That is a false belief. I would like to dismiss the thoughts most have and let you know that I am still in Gainesville. Only three days left, all of which shall be consumed with Russell and Molliann's wedding, my packing, and hopefully saying some goodbyes.

I do have a few ruminations floating around regarding Scripture as the Lord has been impressing much on my heart as of these days. Two things in particular:
  • In reading Luke 15, a chapter I preached on in my biblical interpretation and communication class, the Spirit revealed something to me that I never really picked up on before--the truth that God rejoices in repentance! I hope to expound on this in a future post, but I think it is common for myself and many others to not recognize this profound truth that God is joyful when we run to Him in repulsion of our sins. For Christians in our culture we are either frivolous with our sin, thinking it isn't a big deal, or we are so guilt ridden with sin that we are afraid to run to God in repentance. The call to repentance exists regardless of how we view it, but to know that our Father in heaven delights in it should be good incentive for us to turn from sin and toward Him. How beautiful this is!

  • What really is a "quiet time?" Does it consist of going in a small room, no noise, just the Bible, on our knees or prostrate, crying out to God for hours or can it be a time at [insert favorite coffee shop here], lots of caffeine and people to distract us as we look up constantly listening to David Crowder or Chris Tomlin for 30 minutes? This thought came to me for a number of reasons, but it is also in light of Matthew 6 where Jesus repeatedly teaches about "our Father who is in secret" and that we should practice certain disciplines "in secret." Do you have any opinions? What is a "quiet time?" Is there a norm? How do you usually spend time with the Lord?

That is all. The time continues to go by...

By His Grace.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Congratulations Rick and Christina!!!

Today I got to celebrate alongside many others as we witness the marriage of Rick and Christina Kingsley. I was privileged to read Scripture during the wedding, taking some time to meditate on it this morning. Instead of the oft used 1 Corinthians 13 or Ephesians 5, they chose Ephesians 3:14-21:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It was a very special day as both are very close to me. This passage hits close to home for them as newlyweds, for all married couples, for me, and well for all Christians. Today and every day is about Christ's love, a love that surpasses knowledge. This allows us all to be filled with the fullness of God. Congrats Rick and Christina. You guys are the JAM.

By His Grace.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The God. Our God. My God

I love my home church, Creekside Community Church for so many reasons. The Word is preached clearly and accurately; the people are extremely loving; worship is not confined to the time we express it through music; and I have been fed so fully there.

This past weekend was no exception as I was personally ministered to through the devotion given by Pastor Steve Gregg. One Sunday a month, instead of a sermon (a longer time given for exposition of Scripture), someone usually gives a devotion (like a sharing of meditation on Scripture). Pastor Gregg shared from Psalm 86, which is a beautiful psalm of David. What I share here now is one of a few things that stood out to me as Pastor Gregg was sharing.

He Is The God
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.

-Psalm 86:9-10

The first point that is crucial for all to understand is that the God of the Bible is not one god among the pantheon of gods man has created. He is not a god alongside Allah, Krishna, Vishnu, Molech, Baal, or the millions of other gods. He is the only true God (John 17:3). The God of the Bible is a Triune God--God the Father , God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. I am not going to get deep into the doctrine of the Trinity, but you can read more here if you are interested.

The point I am making is that there is no other god like the God of all things, and Him being a Triune God is at the core of that reality. He cannot, nor should He be, likened to any other god, like people have a tendency to do. We should also recognize that we did not create Him, but God created us. Therefore we have no right to dictate what God should be like, again another thing we have a tendency to do. He is the God of all things, He reigns in the heavens, and He can do whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). The beauty behind this is that God is pleased to make us happy in Him, as Psalm 37:4 states, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.". Sadly, those who choose not to acknowledge this wonderful truth miss out on real joy, not the crap shoot joy we seek in temporal things. As David wrote, "You alone are God."

He Is Our God
I continued reflecting on this, that God is not a god among gods, but is the one God and remembered that He is not some distant God who has created things and let them run their course, but that He is intimate with His creation. In fact, He is our God and this "our" implies relationship:
The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
-Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Notice that immediately following the truth given that the Lord is our God and that He is one God, is the command of complete love. This command is given to the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy, but is extended to us all now in these days. This is a communal thing, that we as a people, as a "nation" are to collectively love God with all that we have. Now I am sure that some would say that the command of love is on par with forcing to love, but in reality love of heart, soul and might can never be forced. True love of any kind can never be forced.

This is why we must never neglect meeting together (see Hebrews 10:24-25), letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly, "teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness" in our hearts toward God. (Col. 3:16). This is worship, the lifting up of God, exalting Him in our hearts to His proper place over all things, glorifying Him, He Who is the God and our God.

Again, for those of you who read this and have not given your life to Christ, I tell you that the God of the Bible is our God. Our God "so loved the world [all of us] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). He is the God who causes the rain to fall on both the good and the evil (Matt 5:45); He gives to all and no one is forgotten or neglected by Him. Providentially we are all given food, drink, shelter, clothing, emotions, etc. by Him in various ways and forms, by His common grace--His kindness and mercy to undeserving sinners like you and me--gives you life in order that you may know Him personally through His saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ--in order that you may know Him as my God.

He Is My God
"I give thanks to you, O Lord my god, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

-Psalm 86:12-13

This whole psalm written by David is in fact an intimate prayer to his God. Not only does he express thanksgiving and love toward God, but he also acknowledges repeatedly God's abiding, deep, everlasting love for him. The God of the this world and of the Bible is so personal that I, along with David and the multitudes can call Him my God. Paul wrote about this on the collective our level in Romans 5:6-8:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
But Paul took this collective outlook on the death of Christ and applied it directly to himself as he wrote to the Galatian churches:
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and give himself for me
-Galatians 2:20b
Everytime I read this passage I literally get chills because Paul was not present at Jesus' death; in fact, Paul hated Jesus and all people who called themselves followers of Christ even years after Jesus died. Jesus didn't say on the Cross, "This is for Paul of Tarsus." None of this occurred. But by the grace of God through a radically life-changing encounter with Jesus Himself, Paul wrote this piercingly intimate words of Christ's death being applied toward Him. And by faith I can say the same thing, that Jesus loved me and gave Himself up for me. He is my God and no one can take that away from me.

Now, I who am a wretched man who has done nothing but walk in defiance against the God of all things, can worship in Spirit and in truth alongside the people of every tribe, tongue and nation of our God only because of grace extended to me through wholehearted trust in the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ--my Savior, my King, and my God.

The God. Our God. My God.
By His Grace.

Give Blood Yo!

These days have flown by. But I want to stay committed somehow to writing consistently. I am working on a reflection of Psalm 86 and other Scriptures, inspired by church on Sunday, but the hour has gone by, it's 2:30 in the morning and I am fairly sleepy. Hopefully I will be able to get it up here tomorrow with better concentration.

In other news, I gave blood today for the first time in a while. Here is my moment to ask all of you to give your blood if you are healthy enough to do so and are able to get through all the questions without needing a doctor's notice. I am not the prime example of one who gives as it has been years, but if you are not a regular donor, please consider taking the 30-45 minutes necessary to provide for a worthy cause. Here in Gainesville LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is currently giving away free movie tickets. They are always doing something cool like that as added incentive to get us off our butts and into that awkward trailer of theirs.

Speaking of awkward, the biggest challenge you may face is getting through the questions they ask during screening. It's not that the questions are hard to answer due to content. No, it's because the people asking them say them as if all the vowels are missing and they need to get them all out faster than the Americans in the 4 X 100 Freestyle Relay. I had to concentrate so hard as the girl spewed each question out as if her body was rejecting the words and wanted to puke them up, that I stared weirdly at her with my mouth open. She didn't look at me the whole time so the odd contortions my face made went unnoticed. I asked her "What?" enough times to make the process go about as fast as it would if she spoke to me like a normal human being instead of one who has an Intel Pentium 4 Processor for a brain. I am going to have to think of something creative to do during that time when I give blood again. Maybe I can answer "no" so fast she will have to then ask "What?" to which I would reply with a nice, "HA, Sucka..........Nooooo, I do not have syphillis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea, nor have I had sex with someone who does in the last 12 months."

That would be funny.

I also used a really cheesy, but maybe effective analogy for evangelism. The girl was asking me what I was doing with my life and told her I am going to back to school because I love Jesus and want to share Him with others, etc. She asked me why I do what I do so I brought it back to Christ with this line, "In reality, Christ gave his blood for us so that we could not just have physical life, but eternal life." Immediately afterward I thought, that is either really cheesy or extremely Holy Spirit inspired. With either being true, I laughed to myself. Christ's death is no laughing matter, of course, but sometimes we--well I--say some of the darnedest things as one of his messengers. I wonder if He laughed with me.

Since it will be eight weeks until I can donate again, maybe you can take my little joke or the analogy and bring it with you to the nearest blood bank. You have the chance to be both funny and do a good thing. Make jokes. Give blood. Share Jesus. Have fun.

By His Grace.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Some Info On Where/How I Is And What I Was/Am/Will Be Doing

I typically don't write in the fashion of giving a minute-by-minute or the ever popular "this is how my day was." But there is a lot of transition going on right now and the next two and half weeks will be a whirlwind. So to give you just a picture of what the dilly-o is, I wanted to highlight a few things:

Read/Reading: My reading has been fairly decent and diverse this summer. Began with several short biographies in the Swans Are Not Silent by John Piper. Then moved on to finish the behemoth Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand while also reading Leading With A Limp by Dan Allender and the very popular The Shack by William P. Young (very mixed opinion about this one). I finished Atlas Shrugged a few weeks ago and as you may have followed moved on to Desiring God by Piper. I finished that early last week and am currently reading a fascinating biography of Jonathan Edwards, called, of course, Jonathan Edwards-A Life, by Geroge Marsden. I am also doing a quick (I use the term loosely) read through the Bible to prepare for my seminary studies and for the sheer delight in God. I am well aware of the fact that the reading I have done this summer in no way compares to the vast number of pages I will read in the months and years to come. This may sound sad, but I am pumped!

Music: One thing that goes right alongside the books I read is the music I listen to. Two bands and albums basically dominated much of my summer, which does not include the typical musicians I listen to like David Crowder. The first is Bloc Party's Silent Alarm, a delicious Brit Rock treat. The other is Death Cab For Cutie's Transatlanticism, which includes the beautifully melancholic track at the heart of the album by the same name. I must have listened to that one JAM at least 50 times. I am a huge fan of film scores as well as I thoroughly enjoy composers like James Horner and Hans Zimmer. Spattered throughout this summer have been Zimmer's scores for The Holiday (don't laugh...listen to it because it is really good despite the movie) and Gladiator. Currently I am listening to Band of Horses first album Everything All The Time particularly for the track The Funeral. I bought the CD yesterday and have listened to the album probably 15 times. I have come to realize I need to listen to an album at least 3-4 times before even attempting to make a verdict on how I actually like it. There are some though, like Paris Hilton's album, that I don't need to listen to at all to tell you that I don't like it. I just don't. I just laugh instead. I think my laugh sounds better. Or any sound that comes out of my for that matter.

Movies: I have seen a mixture of movies both in the theater and at home. Of course the movie of all movies this summer is The Dark Knight. Nothing will top that for a while. I recently watched Batman Begins and thoroughly enjoyed seeing director Christopher Nolan's ability to maintain strong continuity between the two films despite fairly different storylines. At home, Frat Pack movies have dominated the screen, Zoolander the one viewed the most, to the point where much of my conversation with certain friends is merely lines quoted from the movie. However a recent classic was watched this evening as it has been on my mind of late due to a suggestion for a friend to see it for the first time. The film is Heat, the first movie both Pacino and DeNiro acted in together (The Godfather Part 2 doesn't count because they never actually had scenes together). My favorite seen obviously is when they are on the screen together, interacting for the first time ever, both in the movie and in their acting careers. Michael Mann shot this scene perfectly and the dialogue between the two is so well acted out, creating a friendly yet tense atmosphere. If you haven't seen it, do it. Do it now.

The Rest Of My Time Before The Big Move
Things are changing rapidly. The house I have lived for the past 2 1/2 years is being de-bachelor-fied/de-male college student-ifed, which basically means it has received a female's touch of class. I have to say it looks really good and I am really excited for Russell and Molliann. Their marriage will mark the end of my time here in Gainesville, in Florida, and this era of my life. So this is the rundown for the rest of my time if you want to keep track of me as many people's first question for me is, "Where are you these days?"

  • This weekend is a bachelor party for Russell and Rick Kingsley, who is marrying my old STINT teammate Christina Griggs! The party is the whole weekend, planned by none other than the sweet AW's. It is marked by all things manly. There will be 20-30 guys joining us, so it should be intense. Also, my cousin is graduating from UF! Congrats Jenna!

  • The following week I am finishing some things up in Gainesville, then driving to St. Simons, GA for Rick and Christina's wedding. I shall be reading Scripture during their wedding. This promises to be mad crazy fun, and I trust much dancing will occur. If no one else dances, I will. I will be that guy. I am really excited for those two getting married; they are both wonderful people who love Jesus, know they are loved by Him, and want to share His love with others.

  • The last week in FL promises to be hectic as my Auntie is moving back to Florida from New Jersey. I will be seeing her, my mom, friends, and others down in Lake Mary, saying my goodbyes. I will be helping Crusade I am sure with the first week of activities. I will be packing and saying goodbyes in Gainesville. And then there is Russell and Molliann's wedding, where I shall be a groomsman. I am so thrilled to be a part of their marriage and that day. I love them both dearly and count it a privilege to have my final day in Florida coincide with lives being committed to each other before us and God. I know He is pleased.

  • The very next day I leave in the morning, car packed as much as possible with ALL my belongings (I have always sought to own only as much as will fit in my car...that's getting harder as I get older). I shall get on the road with a 6 pack of Red Bull, David's Ranch sunflower seeds, an iPod full of glorious music, and make the drive straight to Chi-town in order to arrive and be ready by Monday, the 25th. Wow...this is really happening...

If you care to catch me at all, please hit me up and I will try my best to meet up with you at some point.

So that's where/how I is and what I was/am/will be doing. Craziness.

By His Grace.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Obama, The "PoMo?'

Great op ed in the USA Today posing a very interesting question about this candidate.

Obama, the "PoMo."

I am also adding a link to the comments on the blog where I originally found the link to the op ed. Feel free to comment on that blog or my own...or both if you're ambitious!


By His Grace.

Monday, August 04, 2008

When Does One Enter "The Real World?"

This title of this post is the question I pose to you all who read my notes. Last week I heard the phrase "the real world" tossed around a lot. The only people that seem to be in the real world are those who tell other people, "Wait until you get into the real world. Then you'll know what I'm talking about." It doesn't really matter what they are doing or what stage of life they are in; I have seen high schoolers, college students, recent grads, married couples, old people with kids, etc. all use those lines. They all seem to have some kind of grasp on this "real world" that I've never really gotten or understood myself.

So when do I get into this "real world?" It is absolutely never ever ever mentioned in a good light. It seems like a dark, scary place, where one is getting audited all the time, people are slitting each others throats for a dollar, and no one ever smiles. Is that the "real world?"

Is the "real world" when your parents stop paying for your car insurance and cell phone or when you're living under a bridge downtown, eating out of dumpsters, standing around a fire in an oil drum just to stay warm?

Is the "real world" the vicious climb up the corporate ladder where you compromise your values and step on the faces of your friends or is it not being able to find a job anywhere because you are a convicted felon who isn't trusted even though you've turned your life around and just need to start somewhere?

Is the "real world" a daily routine of getting out of bed early, drinking coffee, going to work, then the gym, coming home to watch a few TV shows only to go to bed at 10:00 to do it again the next day? Is the "real world" a 40 hour a week job that you absolutely hate and maybe do only "15 minutes of real, actual work?"

I'm not sure, though it seems like everyone else but me has a good idea of what the "real world" is. What about you? Can you tell me what the "real world" is? I I gonna like it? And if I don't, can I stay away or will I one day inevitably be sucked into the darkness that it is only to become that guy who says along with everyone else--"Wait until you get into the real world. Then you will know what I'm talking about?"

I'm trembling.

By His Grace.

Friday, August 01, 2008

All Young Men Should Read This!

I found this while at The Resurgence. This a great resource who's M.O. is "a movement that resources multiple generations to live for Jesus so that they can effectively reach their cities with the gospel by staying culturally accessible and biblically faithful."

Here is the post from contributor, Mike Anderson:

5 Dangers For Young Men - J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle's writing will punch you right in the face. He was an Anglican Bishop to the working class of Liverpool during the industrial revolution. He had tough words for tough people, and we could all use a bit of a challenge. I first learned about Ryle by listening to a Sunday school message he delivered. Ryle wanted the kids to know that they were accountable for their actions, so he told them the story of Elisha calling 2 bears out of the woods to kill some kids who mocked him. Could you imagine a little kid's response to that? You can be sure Ryle will bring the truth, no matter how difficult.

1. Pride
"Young men, take to heart the Scriptures just quoted. Do not be too confident in your own judgment. Stop being so sure that you are always right, and others wrong. Don't trust your own opinion, when you find it contrary to that of older men, and especially to that of your own parents. Age gives experience, and therefore deserves respect. "

2. Love of Pleasure
"Youth is the time when our passions are strongest—and like unruly children, cry most loudly for indulgence. Youth is the time when we have generally our most health and strength: death seems far away, and to enjoy ourselves in this life seems to be everything... "I serve lusts and pleasures:" that is the true answer many a young man should give, if asked, "Whose Servant are you?" "

3. Thoughtlessness
"Not thinking is one simple reason why thousands of souls are thrown away forever into the Lake of Fire. Men will not consider, will not look ahead, will not look around them, will not reflect on the end of their present course, and the sure consequences of their present days, and wake up to find they are damned for a lack of thinking.

Young men, none are in more danger of this than yourselves. You know little of the perils around you, and so you are careless how you walk. You hate the trouble of serious, quiet thinking, and so you make wrong decisions and bring upon yourselves much sorrow.""

4. Contempt of Religion
"This also is one of your special dangers. I always observe that none pay so little outward respect to Christianity as young men. None take so little part in our services, when they are present at them—use Bibles so little—sing so little—listen to preaching so little. None are so generally absent at prayer meetings, Bible Studies, and all other weekday helps to the soul. Young men seem to think they do not need these things—they may be good for women and old men, but not for them. They appear ashamed of seeming to care about their souls: one would almost fancy they considered it a disgrace to go to heaven at all. "

5. Fear of Man's opinion
""The fear of man" will indeed "prove to be a snare" (Proverbs 29:25). It is terrible to observe the power which it has over most minds, and especially over the minds of the young. Few seem to have any opinions of their own, or to think for themselves. Like dead fish, they go with the stream and tide: what others think is right, they think is right; and what others call wrong, they call wrong too. There are not many original thinkers in the world. Most men are like sheep, they follow a leader. If it was the fashion of the day to be Roman Catholics, they would be Roman Catholics, if it was to be Islamic, they would be Islamic. They dread the idea of going against the current of the times. In a word, the opinion of the day becomes their religion, their creed, their Bible, and their God."

Anderson then concludes with some of his own thoughts and advice to pastors:

"Most young single guys spend their time playing video games, watching porn, drinking tons of cheap beer, and going to the Taco Bell drive-thru after midnight. Pastors—quit being wusses, and tell your young men that it's time to grow up, quit living for themselves, and follow Christ."

My Thoughts
These are some very challenging words from Ryle (who I would love to have been kicked in the butt by) as I am a young man myself. The words from Anderson are also challenging as I seek to pastor young men myself some day and may in some ways fear them and their opinions. The bottom line is that there is an enormous need for young men to lead in the cause for Christ and His Kingdom! I sincerely pray for myself and for all you young guys to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first in our lives, setting the example of what it means to live for His glory. I also pray He will reveal to us through these truths from Ryle how we are failing, loving this world more than Him, that we may repent and strive together for the sake of His gospel!

By His Grace.