I am still trying to get used to all the transition. The living situation is not bad, but the move from a small to big church is a transition that will take some time. Learning all the new software, all the new people, everything. Needless to say, it is going to be a good transition.
This church is very youth oriented. I think most of the students are excited to meet me and I also think that God is giving me a great vision for this group. I just have to keep seeking God to know it is His direction, and not my own.
I was reading my Bible while eating Cheerio's this morning and I came across a really cool verse.
Psalm 71:15 (New International Version)
15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.
These are some pretty sweet words. David talks about God making his enemies confused in the first part of the Psalm. He asks for God to make their minds confused so they may not say bad things about him. A few verses later, David brings up this and says man He came through. You made them confused.
God really does come through with everything; it just takes time. I am looking forward to what God has ready for me at McDonough First United Methodist Church. This is a very exciting place and a very blessed time to be in the will of God.
Saturday night, me and 15 of my friends went out to Buffalo Wild Wings. It was a good way to say bye to everyone close to me here in Auburn. It was awesome. Then Jeffrey and I dominated at Time Crisis 2. That's right, we went to the bowling alley and played video games. I also went on a Safari ride with him and Clint, and also shot some moose in Alaska. All in one day. And by all these adventures, I mean I played video games. Go ahead...I will wait on the judgment to pass. The good news is, Jeffrey and I saved the woman from the weird dude with one eye who can take 3 million shots to the body before dying. (Just in case you were worried)
Yesterday was the hardest day of my life. I had to say goodbye to the greatest group of kids ever. I love them so much. It was a great day. The church had a luncheon in my honor, I got to say a few words to everyone, and then some of the students stayed with me the whole day and hung out. And yes, I played video games then too. I also got to just hang with the students, play loud music, and laugh about great times we shared. I couldn't have asked for a better day. I cried a lot, and real men cry (read John 11:35).
I am so excited about being in the will of God. Though I may say it stinks to move, I know it is all part of the greater plan. God has huge plans for me McD First and I can't wait to just meet the new students, start a great ministry team, and show Christ to these students in a new, innovative and relevant way.
When I went to Chrysalis, back in November '02, we had a saying that is very common. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. I am so excited for Christ to reveal to me the next part of His plan for me. I will miss Auburn and Dadeville, all my students, and of course all my great friends I have here; but I know the Lord has plans for me. A card I got yesterday said the very well known verse in Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version) 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
These words mean a lot to me and mean more to me now that I know what it is like to be in the will of God and fully depend on Him. I am still struggling with several things in my life, which I am in prayer for, but I know God is opening this huge opportunity for me to further His kingdom with the students that need it.
My whole life I was told to surround yourself with good people. I was raised to have a great core group of friends. What I mean by this is have about 4 to 5 people who you can be nothing but honest with and they be honest with you. Those you can depend on no matter what, when or where. My friends are the greatest. They will always be there for me.
I had a very interesting conversation about the people you surround yourself with. There was a guy at the Dadeville McDonald's whom I asked to sit with me. He was by himself and he was about 16 or 17. I asked him about himself and what he does for fun and general questions. We started talking football (in small town, football is the big thing) and he started telling me about his friends he hung around. I asked him what do his friends think about him? What do they do when everyone hangs out? I wasn't trying to pry too much. All I was doing is trying to invest in this students life.
He proceeded to tell me that his friends were bad news. He was a Christian but it was hard for him to act like one. He told me that once he is around his friends, the sheep follows the Shepard and he was a sheep. He did what they did, even though he knew is was deliberately against God. He asked what do you do to get yourself out of these situations? They have been his friends his whole life, and he did not want to leave them behind.
It is interesting. When in a group setting, when we are younger, we tend to take the mentality of that group. We choose to make that decision. It is a unique sense of behavior. When in social settings we sometimes wear a facade to fit in with the group. I told the student about a little thing that we did on the ski retreat. Something simple. I told him that darkness can never overcome the light. I said imagine a pitch black room and you are trying to find your keys and all you have is your cell phone. What are you going to do? Use the cell to find the keys. The cell phone light guides your way to find the keys. It is the same with God.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
The light of the world, Jesus, is inside us. I told him that he can be that light to his friends, just let Christ lead the way!
Evangelism is fun!
Today, for me and many others, the number 5 is a reminder of five years ago. When I was a senior in high school, Bill Venable Jr. and Coach V were both killed. It was a huge reality check for us when it happened. Life is really short. Remembering them today is a sad time for me. Bill was a friend of mine, not great friends or anything, but we did hang out on occasion. He was so funny and he loved the Lord. What really stood out to me in his and his dad's life was the way Christ spoke through their death.
The death of Christ, though really bloody and beaten, was the most beautiful act of love ever done. When I was at the funeral, and I looked around the packed out sanctuary, with people sitting out in the halls and the narthex, it was a reminder to me how something so tragic can be turned into a huge message from God.
I will never forget the NIGHT after the murder, and we had the candle light vidual at the school, Mrs. Venable came up with her son and daughter. Her first words were thank you, and then she proceeded to say she forgave the murderer and his family. She had no grudge against him. I was taken back by this act of love and forgiveness. I have never seen an act like that before. Now I am reminded of forgiveness a lot and see it more often. It has also taught me not to hold a grudge. What is the point? It can only hinder what God has planned for you and the other person.
I hope, from reading this post, that we understand that Christ does forgive. We can see Christ in a lot of actions through other people and instances in our lives. God loves you and forgives your sins. He says they are thrown as far as the east is from the west. Wow! I get chills just thinking about it.
Forgiveness has been very imenant in my life recently. With close friends and with other things in my life. God has truely blessed me with the best friends and support I could ever ask for. I am so grateful to God for His grace and forgiveness.
I am not one for sappy goodbyes, or anything like that. In fact, sometimes I prefer not to show any emotion. However, I am leaving my church and moving back to the home state of GA. I resigned December 20 from my church in Dadeville, AL.
It is a really bitter sweet affair. My last church I worked at was not that hard to say bye to. The students, of course, were hard to say goodbye to; but not that hard to leave the church. Now when I am leaving DFUMC, I get really sad. I have lost sleep and all I do is constantly think about my kids and where they will be in a year, who will be leading them etc. It is a tough road to go down, but I know that where I am going is going to be God filled.
Some of the students from the new group have been texting me, adding me as friends on facebook and just a lot of other things. They seem to be really excited about me coming, and this makes me think the whole transition is going to be pretty smooth.
I was dreading this morning. I cried last night, I cried today. I told my students and the church congregation that I was leaving on the 25th. What a crazy day. I tried to maintain my composure as I fumbled my words and told everyone I was leaving. One thing that meant a lot about me was that I got to help serve communion. This was very special to me.
Though I will miss my kids and miss the church, I know that I am in the will of God. I still have a lot of kinks to work out in my life, but this will be one of the first times in a LONG time that I know I am in the will of God. I am sad to leave my friends; I mean Auburn has been my home for the past 5 years. We all move on and so must I!
Here are a few of my lesson notes from my lesson tonight:
Image is EVERYTHING
Today, everyone and everything tells us that image is everything. We must have the newest gadgets, the coolest cell phone, the best rims on the car, best sound system etc. Image shows people we mean business. If we go somewhere and we are dressed sloppy and wear old smelly clothes, people will think we don't take care of ourselves. If we dress really nice, people might look and think highly of you.
Why do we always have to look the best and have the best things? Do we just want to show the world how much money we have? Or are we just finding our love in material things?
I love to get new clothes and wear them around. I like to look good...on occasion. I care about how I look. I want people to look at me and see a person who takes care of themselves, a person who can speak well, a funny person, and many other things. Our image matters because we want others to think only the best of us.
When I was in high school, all I cared about was what others thought about me! I would do anything to get people to like me, I would always try to keep up with the latest trends. But after a while, I got sick of it. I was tired. I was alone. I had A LOT of nice things, but I wasn't happy. I was finding my joy in earthly things.
Let's look at the story of Samson.
In Judges 16:6-22, we read about Samson, this strong Nazirite, whom everybody loves. When I say he is strong, think hurcules on steroids. He was a big dude! To show you how strong he is, listen to this:
Judges 14:6 (New International Version)
6 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.
That is some muscle. Can you imagine a lion coming at you, and you sit there, look at your nails, then rip it apart with your bear hands?! That is awesome! Now, lets look at Samson and his strength.
See, Samson and Delilah fell in love, and the Philistines (enemies of Samson) wanted to know how to get rid of his strength. So each night, she asked him. For three nights this happened, but Samson lied.
I think he was just trying to show off to her. It says each time he told her how he could loose his strength, he would snap (string, rope, and fibers of his hair) them like a string. He just wanted to show off his muscles and say hey baby, look at me. I got all you need right here. I got this awesome hair, huge muscles, I am the best looking dude in the desert. I am all you need!
Delilah, like I said earlier, was planning to take his strength away though. The philistines offered her silver to figure it out. So on the fourth night, Samson finally revealed his weakness. "If you shave my head, because my hair has never been cut before, I will loose my strength and good looks. But don't worry baby, that will never happen." (So I edited it a little)
Once she got the truth out of Samson, she called the Philistine leaders in, while Samson was sleeping and shaved his head. YIKES! That stinks! Just think, you wake up one morning after never cutting your hair in your life and suddenly your bald. Your strength is gone, your good looks are gone, everything was taken from you in the middle of the night.
I am here to tell you now, that our image, though important, is not everything. I don't need a big chain, huge Escalade with 20's and throwing $100 bills around to show how important I am. All I need is the strength I find in God. I can shave my head, loose my hair, and I know I could loose some weight too, but I know that God is the only image I am worried about.
I do like nice things, I have some too; but only because God allowed me to have them. I have been blessed on occassion and it has been great, but there are times I do not have nice things, and life is tough. I know though, if I pray, and constantly seek God in my life and His direction for my life; His image is the only image people will see also.
Now I, being the expert skier that I am, never fell once. I was however sick and I did only ski about 6 times down the easy slopes, but I am still one of the best skiers in the world. This video will show you my amazing skills, and remember this was the EASY slope!
OK, so maybe that wasn't me. However, I was almost as good. And when I say almost, I really mean I would look like a rag-doll flying down the mountain if I ever tried anything like that.
The rest of the people that went, students and chaperone's alike, snowboarded. I and 2 others decided to ski! However, we were the ones with the NOT so wet butt's at the end of the day! Maybe a few of them knew how to snowboard a little, however, the rest of them were beginners and needless to say, I wish I had my video camera.
My most, well from what I was told, memorable moment was when Clint decided to try to snowboard. Keep in mind he has never been before. Well he was coming down, didn't know how to stop and took out a ski instructor. How awesome is that! Apparently she acted like she wasn't mad, but you could tell she was. Way to go Clint.
The group had such an awesome time. From watching and listening to Taylor do the 64 ft. 3 man swing, and as he was coming down listening to him scream like a little girl; it was an amazing trip. I have some big changes coming up in my life, but I am glad I got to spend this time with the students. They just kept telling stories about the skiing or snowboarding. They kept talking during small groups. God is really moving in their lives and there is nothing more I could ask for than that!
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