Friday, July 30, 2004

what is a fanatic?

les and i watched a documentary on the hell house last night. i've heard about it but it was interesting to see what the fuss was all about. some parts were definately disturbing but more than anything it left me with lots of questions. my first instinct was to think what a bunch of freak shows. that's exactly what the devil wants churches to do to each other. they aren't freak shows they are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. i know their heart is in the right place and their motives seem to be pure but they just seem to have a different view on how to witness to others.

does it make a difference if we decide to cross the line of faith because of fear or because of reasons such as myself, desperation. i accepted Chirst into my life when i was eigth at an alter call. do those moments, those calls for salvation really work or it that just one step closer to understanding the bigger picture.

alter call or not i believed in God at a young age. i was raised in a family that believed in God and even went to private school till 5th grade. i believed in God but i thought it was more about checking the right boxes. if i checked these boxes and did what i thought a good christian is supposed to do then i'm a good christian and God is pleased with me. i missed that what God wanted from me more than following the rules was a relationship with him. how did all that finally click? i don't really know. i still think Gateway is one of the reasons why it finally sunk in. i can still remember the first ah-ha moment i had as a believer. john did a sermon on how our relationship with our parents can affect our relationship with God. i couldn't grasp God's unfailing love for me. i didn't understand that even though i didn't always feel God'
s presense that he wasn't abandoning me and that he loved me no matter what. that still wasn't the life changing moment for me. i heard that message and i so desperately needed to hear it but it was only brought me one step closer to really understanding. what was left for me to do was to surrender, to trust, to let God have control of my life. for me when the time came it was an easy decision. it was either finally give my life completely over to God or it was death. my way wasn't working anymore and with every breath i was reminded how meaningless and empty my life was. i was empty but even then when all i wanted to do was die my life wasn't meaningless. i don't know why i'm going in to all of this. maybe i'm just trying to understand. trying to understand how do you reach someone? how do you possibly explain to them how valuable they are and how much God loves them and longs for a relationship with them. it;'s not about checking the boxes. the interesting thing about the rules is that the more you grow in your relationship with God you just seem to naturally follow the rules. there's no need to hurt yourself or others anymore. don't get me wrong i screw up all the time but it's different now. i'm not the same.

i know i kinda cringe at the scare tactics some churches use to try to evangelise to seekers. if God could talk though a donkey can't he also do good through things that seem like they are doing more damage than good? maybe everybody really is different and some people need the hard cold reality of the heaven and hell message. i don't know.

one thing that i did see that made me really question where my passion for God has gone. i know raising of the hands amd speaking in tongues and all the intense prayers and all the "fanatic stuff" freaks some people out. heck it's kinda weird to me as well. why is there a difference in the way we worship God though? those people in that church seemed to be so inhibited. is it a show? is it easier to dance like king david danced when there are other people to join along? whatever it was to them meaningful or not it really made me think of my worship. am i too worried about what others will think? am i completely letting go and worshipping my God? am i unashamed to be undignified?

i used to wonder about heaven. i used to think being in heaven and worshipping God all day would get pretty boring. i had no idea how wrong i was. i just had no idea what worship is. worship is supposed to be for God but in a lot of ways i really think it's for us. we get to worship God. when we are able to let go and truly worship we get a glimpse of his glory, a glimpse of his love, a glimpse of our wonderful God. just to be in his presense even if only for a breif moment is worth more than anything.

the hell house portrayed hell as a fiery place where you are in constant torment. i don't know about all that. i think hell is going to be the absense of God. we live in a crazy world. a world full of hurt and pain but we also live in a world where God lives in his people. as empty and lonely as this world can be if we seek it God's presence is still here. Without God there is no love and that is what we all desperately need. how awful to stand in the presence of God and then realize that you have to spend an eternity without him. that to me would be hell.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

love

i realized something yesterday about my ability to love others.  when i am connected to God and feel loved by him then my ability to love others shoots through the roof.  i've been going on day after day forgetting about the basics.  i heard a song on the radio yesterday and for the life of me i can't remember the actual words of the song but the artist was singing about was amazing and wonderful life was because they were created to fall more and more in love with God.  it's that simple.  God created us so that he could love us and so we could love him back.  the bible says that God is love so no wonder after being in his presense i would feel so loved and be filled to the brim to love others.

believer or not we all have a desire to be loved.  i think this desire surpases all others in life other than maybe our basic instincts for survival.  people go around most of their lives looking for love.  many of us respond in crazy ways in order to avoid rejection because we just want to be accepted and loved.  fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of commitment, fear of needing help, the list goes on and on.  it all stems back to our need to be loved.  we were created to do life together.  we were created to live in community.  we were created to love.  yet so many of us isolate ourselves from the one thing that makes this life meaningful.  why were we created?  to love.  why is the world such a hard place to live in sometimes?  we are so fragile and when we never experience love it reaks havoc.  if everyone was easy to love then would it really be love?  would we understand how powerful love is if it can so easy?  would we understand the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us if love was as easy as winking an eye?  we fear what we don't know and for many of us that means we fear love.  what a sad situation.   

i have definately learned more about love being married.  dating is fun but the real adventure begins when you say i do.  i had no idea how selfish i was.  i guess i entered marriage thinking only about myself.  what does this marriage mean for me?  what can i get out of it?  it sounds horrible and i hate to think that this was my mind set but it was and sometimes it still is.  but it's not all about me.  i didn't commit to life being happy all the time.  i commited to love les even when he leaves the toilet seat up, even when my needs aren't being met, even when i've had a bad day or he's had a bad day, i'm commited to love him even when marriage freaks me out and i'm terrified of getting hurt.  i've committed to love him.  it's the most amazing thing i've ever done and sometimes it's the hardest thing too.  you go so long living life as an independent individual and it's hard to want to give some of that up.  it's not just a me anymore it's an us. 

i never knew how much marriage could be like our relationship with God.  as an individual we could go off and do whatever the heck we want to do.  we can choose to go alone or we can choose to let go of some of our freedom to gain something so much better.  just because we can do whatever we want doesn't necessarily mean that it's good for us.  across from me in another cubical is the man i married.  the man that has committed to love me even when i'm being a brat, even when i'm depressed and not very much fun to be around, even when stupid birth control has turned me into attila the hun, even when the things he used to think were so cute have become annoying.  he's gonna be there and he's gonna love me.  i don't know how people do it without God.  i really think it takes God to love the partner that you have picked for life the right way and i think it's through marriage that God is able to reveal just how much he loves us.     

Monday, July 26, 2004

obsession

i never really thought about it but i think most people are obsessed with one thing or another.  call it loyalty call it being influenced by something but i think we all find one or two things to spend most of our time thinking about.  my obession has become my job.  am i performing the way i should, what are my next steps what am i going to do with leaders, how many parents did I piss off today, the list goes on and on.  i've been obsessed about the wrong things.  i need to go back to the basics and become obsessed with God again.  waking and sleeping God used to be foremost on my mind.  you would think since i'm in ministry thinking of my job wouldn't be such a bad thing.  i've put God in a box and i need help trying to take him out again.
there was a time when i tried to be more transparent.  i wanted to throw away all my old masks.  a brand new school year is almost here and i really want to set the new tone for high school and middle school.  in our high school service i want it to be a place where stduents can be real.  a place where they don't have to carry around the masks they wear on a daily basis, a place where they don't have to have it all together.  i used to think that everyone besides me had it all together.  now i'm starting to learn that it's the people who claim to have it all figured out and the people who seem to have it all together are the people you need to be most concerned about.  if i want crossroads to be a place where students can come be themself then i need to drop the mask i'm carrying.  honesty isn't that what we all crave anyway?  i think mostly i just want to be honest with myself. 

lisa slate got baptised today.  it's so cool to see her so fired up.  and the circle comes full swing.  it's really interesting how God works.  she's been doing really well with kate too!  she's going to a small group, reading the purpose driven life, going to church it's really awesome.  i have to be honest my first reaction to all of that is how much i suck.  how come i failed at all that?  i'm sure preoccupation with les didn't help.  i'm just not the one to walk kate over the line.  maybe i'll never be the person that helps people make the final step towards the line of salvation.  i guess that's okay but i plan on watering a lot of seeds along the way.

GOD I DON'T WANT TO OBSESSED WITH THIS JOB ANYMORE.  I WANT TO BE OBSESSED WITH YOU.  I AM SO LOST AND SO EMPTY WITHOUT YOU.  PLEASE TEACH ME HOW TO STOP BEING CONTROLLED BY FEAR.  I NEED YOU!      

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

i leak...you leak...we leak

i did a lesson a couple weeks ago based on God's love. while trying to prepare for it i came across the following two passages.

"Love covers all offenses." Proverbs 10:12
"Love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

i didn't quite understand this at the time. i probably still don't even right now. i understood how God's love should cover all of our offenses but i didn't understand how love could make all things right. how can love possibly cover the deep scars that so many of us carry around? the problem isn't with love it's with the way that we throw that word around. love the way God intended it isn't the same love that we as humans have twisted it around to be. we have made love to be about ourselves. i've made love be about myself. what would it be like to get rid of our sinful self-centered nature?
how would we be different if we weren't always so concerned about ourselves? how do we fix this problem? it all comes back around to love.

the first and greatest commandment is the love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength. what the heck does this mean? how do you love God? the bible says that you show your love to God when you obey his commandments. this is true but loving God is not about checking the boxes. it's not about following the rules. look at the pharasees they followed every rule and checked all the neat pretty little boxes but we know by their actions that they weren't motivated by love. so if it's not about following the rules how do we truly love God? well how do we genreally end up loving people? by getting to know them. get to know God and what you end up finding out is how much he truly loves you. when you realize how precious he thinks you are how much he loves you more than anyone else. when you begin to truly undersatnd the sacrifices he made just to be with you you can't help but love him back. his love is so great that it spills over to other areas. it allows you to love others in a less elfish manner. when we begin to grasp how much God truly does love us we begin to drop some of the habits and behaviors that we have picked up to mask our deepest desire to be loved.