Friday, June 25, 2010

Don't Speak- Online/Texting

It's been a few weeks since we looked at the Don't Speak series but we tackled another topic this past Wednesday and will wrap it up the week after next. This week we looked at how we speak through text messaging and online services such as Facebook. I was up front with the students about how this was not a message on how you shouldn't use these means of communication, but to take a look at how you use them. Even if you don't use these the scripture we looked at still applies to everyone's life.

The popular verse Ephesians 4:29 tells us to build each other up instead of tearing one another down. The word "unwholemsome" in this verse refers to that which is rotten or putrid, such as rotten meat or fruit. When we allow words to come out of our mouths that are unwholesome or tear someone down, those words are like rotten meat. Just plain nasty! The verse goes on to say that our words are to "edify" or build up others. We should only speak words that are positive and build others up. When we become Christians it is no longer our nature to speak unwholesome words. Christ set the example for us by never allowing anything but words of edification to come out of his mouth.

So then you might ask: "If I text or Facebook something is it the same as saying?" Of course it is! Proverbs 23:7 says that whatever we think within ourselves, we are. Also God knows our thoughts so when we think unwholesome words then its the same as saying it to Him. If we wouldn't say the things we text or Facebook to someone's face, then we shouldn't be saying it at all.

Prayerfully consider the words you use. Do you build people up or tear them down? Are you a positive person or always negative? Do you use avenues such as texting and Facebook to tear others down, gossip, etc? Ask God to search your heart on these matters. If you are using these sources as means to tear others down, gossip, etc., then I suggest you separate yourself from them. It's not only driving a wedge between you and the people you are talking about or against, it's driving a wedge between you and God!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Past Mile

Well as you notice it’s been a little while since my last post. In fact, my posts from Centrifuge just seem to have ended. Well on Thursday of Centrifuge I had to come home to be with my wife because my father-in-law tragically passed away.

One thing about me is I have trouble being honest with people. I know immediately that sounds bad and sounds like I have a lying problem but that’s not what I mean. What I do mean is that usually I’m not open with others and usually hide my feelings. I tell the students from time to time to be honest when asked the question “How are you?” and really tell the person how you are. Many times we like to respond to that question with “Good” or “Fine” but at the same time be crying on the inside. Each time I encourage the students to respond with the truth I usually tell them that I know it can be hard because I hide my true feelings that way.

I guess the reason behind my lack of openness is both because of my insecurity and because of my trust issues. Insecure as in I tell myself “they don’t really care what you’re dealing with” or “you’ve already said enough”. My lack of trust in people leads me to say to myself “they don’t care” or “they’re going to turn this against you and hurt you” or they will “gossip about you”.

I say all of that to lead to a point of honesty with any person who for whatever reason reads this. I know that I am unable to be completely honest on my blog or twitter sometimes because just as I’m teaching the students right now our words can hurt others, and sometimes just don’t need to be said. So I know that some things that I feel just don’t need to be said. I will however say that we’re at a point where we need your prayers. I feel like over the past mile we’ve been sucker punched or kicked in the gut. Well to be honest (there’s that struggling point) it actually goes way beyond just the last mile but that’s where I’m going to briefly put my focus.

The last month has been extremely hard. I had to gear up for a month of busyness because of the scheduling decisions I made, but other things occurred as well, such as they usually do. I was first out of town a week for my seminary course. You know that if you read this blog. I was then going to be home for just one week before taking the students to Centrifuge camp. Well during that week I spent 2 days in bed with what was probably the worst stomach virus of my entire life. At the same time our air conditioner quit working and so after a temporary fix we were notified that we would probably be replacing our unit soon. Soon as in it probably won’t make it through the summer. Then on Friday before leaving for Centrifuge I spent the day at the hospital as my cousin Josh was having a minor heart procedure. Well the doctor ended up discovering a birth defect and that would require open-heart surgery to repair the defect.

We left for Centrifuge and it was an excellent week, but I received the terrible phone call that my father-in-law had tragically died. I had to pack up, gather the students and tell them that I was leaving to come home to be with my wife. I went to rent a car (which turned out to be an experience) and headed home. This was and still is an incredibly hard situation. There will always be questions and “Why’s” that remain unanswered here. My main focus is to be a comfort and support for my wife.

This past Monday my cousin had his open-heart surgery. The doctor had said that a birth defect that caused an aneurysm to press on his aortic valve would need to be repaired. After going in to fix everything they said it was the worst that they had ever seen. The aneurysm was paper-thin and could be seen through. They removed it and replaced the aortic valve. The doctor said “I don’t know how he’s still here” as the aneurysm should have already burst and killed him. Of course we all know that it was God keeping His hand on him and protecting him. The reason that this all came about was that he was about to go to the police academy but the doctor wouldn’t sign off because of his accelerated heart rate. If he had went on then this wouldn’t have been discovered and he would at some point died. I’m so thankful to God for protecting him, but at the same time it’s drained life out of me knowing what could have happened.

So with that little glimpse into the past mile of my life, I’m honestly saying that I’m struggling. There have been plenty of other “kick in the shins” over the past month that I’m not going to share. I’m exhausted and I currently feel like I’m breaking down. We need as much prayer as possible. I’m currently finding it hard to find joy. I’m not trying to complain or whine, but to be honest with I am currently experiencing. At the same time if you are struggling, hurting, or just plain exhausted from life then my prayer is that you will find joy, strength, and healing in God. Please pray the same for me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Centrifuge Wednesday- Obedience

Wednesday's characteristic that we studied was Obedience and looked at the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. One thing that makes me crazy about God is the way He orchestrates everything. Not only has the pastor's message been along the line of some of my Wednesday night messages this year, but also we studied about Daniel and his friends recently at Disciple Now. We see how these men stood together in the face of adversity. They had the option of going their own way which would have probably saved their life. Instead they chose obedience to God and guess what? He saved them anyway. The verse that always speaks to me is Daniel 3:18 when the proclaim that God will save them, but even if He doesn't they will still choose to praise Him. I usually read this and think about how if we are ever faced with death that we should stand up for Him. While that's true for some reason it really stood out to me this time that even if we are faced with (fill in the blank) that we must still praise God!

Pastor Chad preached out of Acts 9 and the conversion of Saul. He focused mainly on the obedience of Ananias. We were challenged with the question are you more concerned with your calling from God or your own comfort? He stated that the blessing of the gospel is Jesus, and not anything else. It is Jesus alone that we must seek.

Group devotional time we continued to look at this thought of obedience and I had the students make lists of both blessings and costs of being a follower of Christ. After reading John 14:23 I wrote on the dry erase board- LOVE = OBEDIENCE. The truth of the matter is if we truly love God then we are going to obey Him.

Night Life this time was the variety show. We were encouraged to dress up as our favorite historical character. There were some pretty funny costumes. I wore my Chuck Norris t-shirt! There were 5 acts on stage that all performed music. My favorite by far was a girl that played the acoustic guitar (yeah I'm partial to that instrument) and sang "Hope Now" by Addison Road, such a solid song.

One final note about everything so far is that I have been so impressed with the Bible study. Last year's was incredible as well. I love the fact that this year each day builds on the next. First day was love. Second day was obedience and Thursday is sacrifice. I'm so thankful that God led us to North Greenville University this year and I believe we are definitely being blessed here this week!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Centrifuge Tuesday- Love

On our first full day of Centrifuge we studied the character trait of love. Love is a word that has definitely lost its true meaning over time. We will use the word love with just about anything. We say we love a certain food, an outfit, vehicle, etc. But the truth is we don't love any of those things.

For our quiet time and Bible study we looked at the book of Jonah. If you grew up in church you probably know the story and usually the focus is that of how we can't run from God. This time we looked at how God loves us so much that he will relentlessly seek us. Because of that love and the fact that Jesus died for our sins then we should in turn love Him, and love others.

The pastor's message of the night was based out of Acts 2:22-24; 37-39. I didn't do a great job of taking notes because I was enthralled in the message at the time. The best I can describe it is that Chad spoke the same messages I have over the past 6 months. He summed it all up when he asked the students "do you love God or do you love the stuff He provides?" He went on to say that if we are truly saved then we will see the love of God transforming our lives because we won't be content staying the same. True repentance is when we see God's love and we stop walking the sinful way that we are and instead decide to walk the opposite way toward God. As we were dismissed to go to group bible study we were asked the consider how the cross is a representation of God's love and to examine if we are truly a follower of Christ. After reading some scripture and discussing the cross, we spent a few minutes in silence for us all to examine if we truly are a follower of Christ.

After group devotional time our Night Life activity was the County Fair and some of the students dressed up in cowboy/cowgirl attire. I'll post some more pictures tomorrow because as we were on our way to the coffee shop I realized I had left my memory card reader in my room.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Centrifuge- Monday

Well after months of preparation and prayer we headed today to Centrifuge at North Greenville University. What an exciting day this has been. I can't help but sense the presence of God on this campus and in every worker for NGU and for FUGE. I can't wait to see what God has in store for us this week.

The theme for this year's camp is Kairos: Defining Moments. Kairos is the Greek word for "time" and is often used to define a time in crisis when a critical decision must be made, that defining moment. It is in these defining moments that our character is shaped.

Here is a little rundown of today. We arrived to campus and received our shirts and made our group picture. We played some games and then went to a briefing on the tracks offered and the students were allowed to fill out their track choices. After dinner we had our first worship service, getting to hear from worship leader Micah Watson and camp pastor Chad Poe, and also a sneak at this year's "Adventure Now" series. It was a short worship service but one full of energy and definitely one where you felt the Spirit dwelling there. After splitting up in their Bible study groups and getting to know their group leader, we went to the gym where we were involved in an event called "Organized Mass Chaos". There is no way to describe it other than that. I always thought that was what Afterschool was but I was wrong. This was an awesome time and lots of fun. We then were introduced to our church group leader and had our first night of church group devotions which will be the time every night where we are able to get back together as a church group. Pray for me as I will be leading these times.

After dealing with wireless signal issues and lack thereof this is the only picture I was able to upload. I'll find a better signal tomorrow and upload some more pics
I wanted to close with one final thing about this first day. The worship band came out and opened the night with "Salvation is Here". I love leading worship and playing guitar, but this was an incredible time for me personally to reflect on the lyrics of this song. You surely know this song but read this lyrics and let them sink deep within you.

God above all the world in motion
God above all my hopes and fear
I don't care what the world throws at me now
I'm going to be alright

'Cause I know my God saved the day
And I know His Word never fails
And I know my God made a way for me
Salvation is here

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don't Speak- Gossip

Last week while I was away taking my class Dr. Sam Olsen filled in on the "Don't Speak" series with the topic of Gossip. Since I wasn't there I don't know everything he spoke on but this one point he made pretty much sums up this topic. We (all humans) were created to glorify God. When we gossip we are not glorifying God. We are tearing people down instead of building them up.

On a side note but relating to words, here is a great article written by Jason Gray about how we use words. It's a long read but definitely worth it.

And here is the video to go along with the topic of gossip:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Out of Commission

Well I have been out of commission for the past few days. Yes I did survive my one week module course. It was an incredible week. Very exhausting and draining, but really good at the same time. It will take a while to really download all of the material and so I may have some posts in the future that come out of it but its definitely a good thing. One thing is that it was good about giving me a fresh view on how big God is. I don't mean "size" big but just how incredible He is.

I've heard it said many times that you know something good is about to happen when you face attacks or troubles. Well we've had a few this week. Nothing major but I believe it is definitely a sign that God wants to do some huge things. After coming back from my module course I am home one week, then off again for a week of summer camp. I knew that this week would require of a lot of work and long hours. Things kind of got flipped around on Saturday when we got home from a family outing and our house was hot. I'm hot natured so this wasn't exciting in the least. It seemed out air conditioner wasn't working and so we went to stay with my mom for the night. Monday we reset it and it worked again. We were so thankful....but then about 5 hours later it wasn't working again. Monday morning we had someone look at it and they filled it up with freon but it appears that there is a leak. They are going to check it out in a couple weeks to see how much of a leak there appears to be but it looks like we'll end up having to buy a new unit. Oh but lets back up a few hours. I woke up at about 4:00 am with a stomach virus. I won't give any details but it wasn't pretty! So now I'm recovering from a stomach virus. So I'm still alive but working on gaining my strength back. This isn't the week that I would have picked for these things to happen. But I believe that in the midst of everything it is a sign that maybe we're under attack. I know that God wants to do huge things next week in camp and so Satan will do whatever to mentally take me down before camp even gets here. That happened last year as well but we serve an incredible God and can take heart in knowing that Jesus "has overcome this world" and the enemy has been defeated. Please pray for my strength and pray for our students as we go to have an incredible encounter with God next week.