Monday, November 29, 2010

With age comes....

Yesterday I turned 30. Yeah, I know, no one thought I was that old, but yeah. 1980 was a good year :-)

I like having a birthday near the end of the year because it gives me a chance to not only evaluate my January-December year, but also that year in my life. Last night I thought this through and was finally okay with being 30. My birthday is when I make resolutions, not New Years. But the things I decide to do are more powerful than resolutions because they take place on my birthday, it's more personal that way.

27 was a bad year for me. Really bad. I made some of the worse decisions in my life (and I knew better!) and suffered relatively light consequences considering what could have happened. I was depressed for most of that year and running from God with a lot of intentionality. I didn't want Him, I didn't want to do what I was supposed to be doing because that had never really been fun before and I wanted to have some fun. I was dumb.

28 rolls around and I struggled with some big decisions and knew I just couldn't make them on my own. It took me almost a full month to get my work schedule set so that I had Sundays off, but I did it. I darkened the door of a local church the first Sunday of 2008. I went to that church because the building looked cool and it looked big enough that I thought I could just remain anonymous. No one would pay attention to me and I could follow through with my birthday resolution with minimal fuss. I was wrong.

Sunday morning I went to Sunday school then the church service. Pretty normal, only slightly awkward.
 I filled out the communication card because that's just what ya do. Monday evening (while shoe shopping) I got a phone call from the pastor followed by a phone call from their student intern. This goofy kid invited me to their college and career Bible study Tuesday night. As I was talking to him, I looked him up on facebook (his picture is startling, is it not?). Despite his profile picture, he was so nice I decided that I would go at least once and check it out. Afterwards I joined the group for dinner and was invited to Rhythm on Thursday night.

I wasn't going to go. I really wasn't. I was tired, it had been an awful day, all I wanted to do was go home and drink. But I went anyway. I was late, missed part of worship, and sat in the back. The music was loud and I didn't know any of the words, but it made my tired face smile a little. Then this little bald guy got up and start bouncing around and preaching about heartbeats and rhythms and I don't know what else. I couldn't tell you what he talked about, but I can tell you the God I saw in this little guy. He was a powerhouse.

Since then, I've been hooked. Literally. God flipped my life upside-down that year and hasn't not stopped.

When 29 hit, I knew it was going to be a good year. My friends through me a "surprise" birthday party and it was fabulous! This was the year Genesis got planted. I remember telling Lewis I wasn't a church planter, it just wasn't what I saw myself doing. I was wrong. (Noticing a trend?) God blew my mind this past year with everything He has taught me and is continuing to teach me. More has happened durning my 29th year than I can tell you. To sum up, I now work for that little bald guy who is also my pastor and friend. I also work with that silly kid from the phone who has become one of my greatest friends. There's so much more, more than I could ever hope to type. Maybe I'll write a book some day.

But for today, I'm 30 and I'm excited about it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

HP books according to Draco Malfoy

Draco Malfoy and the Rejected Handshake
Draco Malfoy and the Better-than-Potter’s Broomstick
Draco Malfoy and Hagrid’s Bloody Chicken
Draco Malfoy and the Year His Father Would Hear About
Draco Malfoy and the Inquisitorial Squad
Draco Malfoy and the Vanishing Cabinet
Draco Malfoy and the Year He Realized He Had Been a Douchebag

(Source: skykingcat)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm just as strange as you...

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

-Frida Kahlo

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thoughts on Freedom...

What is freedom? Where does it come from and what does it require of me?

In the first 13 chapters of Exodus we meet a nation of enslaved people. God heard their cries, sent them a leader, and took 13 chapters to get them to walk out of the city. When God set the Israelites free from the Egyptians, it wasn’t just a matter of Him setting them free and then they sat around and were just “free” in their own little lives. Their freedom required something of them. If they wanted to be free, they had to not only accept the work that God was doing in their lives, but they had to pack up their stuff and actually walk out of the city of their captivity. They had to walk away from that which held them captive. Now, you wouldn’t think that that would be a difficult decision. You might not initially think that walking away from oppression would be something you would actually have to think over, but let’s look at this a different way.

The Egyptians were holding the Israelites captive and treating them like slaves. But what if the Egyptians were holding the Israelites captive but treated them like equals or better? Would the Israelites still recognize their enslavement or would they come to an acceptance and say, “well, that’s just how things are”? It’s easy to recognize enslavement when it’s painful or oppressive. It’s easy to look at slavery and say, “that’s bad and should never happen! We should fight that.”

What if enslavement is somehow masked as something that’s not so bad? What if we are walking around this world, thinking we are completely free, but in actuality are completely enslaved? Only this isn’t any kind of slavery history has ever recognized before. It’s completely unearthly and entirely spiritual. Ephesians 6:12 "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Our freedom will not be gained by fighting people, or even by “just getting through today”. There are days when we feel like “just getting through” is doing pretty good, thank you very much. But is that the life of freedom Jesus died so that we could have? Of course not! I have a hard time believing that the Savior of the Universe DIED just so we could force ourselves to push through another day! But how do we break this dynamic we have with the world? It’s so easy to just jump on the “God bandwagon” and expect to go out and conquer the world and fall flat on our faces. How do we free ourselves from this tether that the world has on us?

I don’t have any magical answers that will somehow make that light bulb turn on over your head and help you see something you have never seen before. Like Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” Here is what I have found in my spirit to be true. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot free ourselves. We have to let ourselves die. The Bible says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20 NLT). Crucified. Dead. No longer living. Powerless. That is what our old lives must become if we expect our new lives in Christ to gain any momentum. We simply cannot go on living our lives as we have been and still expect God to free us from those lives. We have to be willing to walk away from them. Now, we can’t always afford to walk away from our jobs, but we can walk away from the group of gossips around the coffee machine. We can’t always physically walk out of our situation the way the Israelites did, but ask and watch as God provides a place for your spirit to find freedom and rest within your stressful situation. Be willing to be changed, ask, and then watch as God takes a sinner and slave to sin and grants a freedom that no words can express!

Will you have troubles? Of course. Will you struggle on probably a daily basis? Naturally. Will people mock you and treat you badly? Probably. Will you sometimes wonder if this was a good idea? Could be. Will you be alone? Never! In your lowest valley, He is there. On your highest mountaintop, He is with you. On your way from one to the other, He travels by your side.

Romans 8:38-39 (New Living Translation) “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”