So I have been struggling with some internal things recently. I have been worried about where I am spiritually and how I have been leading my youth, but God spoke to me through the silence of my small little closet office. I was thinking about a friend of mine who is going through some hard times. This friend shared with me some pains going on in their life and how they feel a distance from God. I have felt the same way at times in my life. After we got of the phone, I went on about my business but I was thinking about this person in the back of my mind. I was hurting for my friend. I opened up this book called A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants. I also thought to myself how we try to rationalize what happens in our lives with God. We ask for forgivness and move on like it never happened. I do this not only with God, but others in my life as well. Forgive and forget. This passage out of this book is so awesome. God really spoke to me today through it and I thought, hey why not share it with all 3 people that read my blog anyway? I have this blog in hopes that someone in China or somewhere read it, if they can read English, and get something from it. I hope God speaks to anyone who is reading this, because this excerpt is AWESOME: 
A little Preface-
I went to a Youth Ministers Seminar last Saturday. We learned a lot and one thing that stuck with me was this: Before we read a story, a passage of scripture, or something else; clear your mind. Let all your distractions not distract you. Just sit down, relax and breathe for 30 seconds. I did that before reading this and it changed how I read it. I also wrote it out and that brought it into more light and more meaning for me. God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.

But God is in reality no matter what unreality our practices and our
ponderings imply.He is forever trying to establish communication;
forever aware of the wrong directions we are taking and wishing to
warn us; forever offering solutions for the problems that baffle us;
forever standing at the door of our loneliness, eager to bring us such
comradeship as the most intelligent living mortal could not supply;
forever clinging to our indifference in the hope that someday our
needs, or at least our tragedies will waken us to respond to his
advances. The Real Presence is just that, real and life-transforming.
Nor are the conditions for the manifestation of his splendors out of
the reach of any of us! Here they are; otherness, openness, obedience,
-From The Captivating Presence by Albert Edward Day

Father God,
Why is it that I think I must get somewhere, assume some position, to
be gathered together or separated apart in the quiet of my study to
pray? Why is it that I feel that I have to go somewhere or do some
particular act to find you, reach you, and talk with you? Your
presence is here; In the city- on the busy bus, in the factory, in the
cockpit of an airplane; in the hospital- in the patients rooms, in the
intensive care unit, in the waiting room; in the home- at dinner, in
the bedroom, in the family room at my workbench; in the car- in the
parking lot, at the stop light.
Lord, reveal your presence to me everywhere, and help me become aware
of your presence each moment of the day. May your presence fill the
nonanswers, empty glances, and lonely times in my life.

you speak to God, and He speaks through you...

Man God works in some crazy ways. Get this, I was singing in both services yesterday. I was excited too! I was sang "Beautiful the Blood" by Fee. I have been practicing this song for weeks and I just love it and the lyrics!

So there I am at the 8:30 service. Wearing a chior robe 2 sizes too small. Got my "baby G" (my Gibson guitar) all tuned and ready for playing some awesome tuneage. Right before I go up I prayed this simple little prayer, "Hey God, listen this song is about you not me. Let these people hear this song and the meaning of the lyrics. I am just singing and playing, but use me to get the message across to the folks sitting in the pews. Amen!"

I was pumped.

So there I am, "baby G" strapped on. Check. Mic on. Check. Voice clear. Check. Everything was ready to go.

I start to play. I am hitting all the right notes. It is in tune. Everything s moving perfectly. Suddenly, as I hammer my finger down on A string to play the C G string pops! . No big deal. I kept playing. It sounded a little hollow without the G string in there, but I kept on playing. It still sounded good and I got all pumped up again!

As I continue on into the second verse, I hear another pop noise. My D string popped too!

I kept trying to play, but all I heard was the two broken strings clanging together like bells in a church! My face went redder than a tomato. I laughed a little and looked at Scott, our music minister, and he told me to keep going. So I did. I stopped playing the guitar, I tapped it to keep my beat and was playing the chords in my head, and sang the song acapella.
I was SO embarrassed. People in the congregation probably didn't know the difference, but I was still ready to burst of embarassment. As soon as the song finished, I bolted off the chior platform and into the halls of the church. I grabbed a coke zero which is like my crack.
After the service, I couldn't really take it to face everyone as fear of laughter, sheer embarrassment, or whatever other reasons. People came up to me after and said such encouraging things to me. They told me it was a nice recovery and the song came out great. My pastor said that they heard the words more and less distraction of the guitar. I started to really think about this.
I prayed that simple little prayer, and God let the people hear it. He spoke through the lyrics to the people out in the pews. Maybe some were changed by it, maybe none were. All that matter's is Christ spoke through me in song, to the congregation of the church. Through my embarassment, I realized that God was up to something yesterday. He wanted me to just sing to Him and for Him. Not for sounding good or any other reason. The reason was straight up Him. WOW. I am amazed by my amazing Father. I gotta have more trust in God. We used this little rhyme last night for our talk on cantaloupes, "trust is a must. If we don't trust, we're dust!"
Proverbs 3:5-6 (New International Version)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Have more faith in God. He uses circumstances we expect, but most of the time, God can be unexpected. He can be 2 broken strings on a guitar in order to speak through the silence. God is good.

re-culturing discipleship...

"Orthodoxy- or "faithful thinking"- has long been the foothold of theological education. But orthopraxy- the faithful practice of Christian life- has been the way the church has formed disciples for centuries. Discipleship isn't something you learn just by studying it; at some point you have to do it. Arguing whether information or experiences of formation come first is a chicken and egg argument; it really doesn't matter since both are essential to Christian discipleship. Spiritual disciplines, or practices, are simply enacted beliefs; they're embodied orthodoxy. Theological study is simply the unpacking of centuries of Christian life that gave rise to texts and traditions along the way. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy- faithful belief and faithful practice- are the two lungs of Christian discipleship. You can get along breathing only on one lung, but you can't breathe very deep and you don't live as long or as fully when you use both lungs, which is clearly what God intends."

This is an amazing quote. I got chills when I read it in the current book I am reading, A New Kind of Youth Ministry. This quote tells us that we not only need to know our faith, but we must practice it as well. We must use both lungs in order to breathe out the goodness and grace and love of God.
Today, at the ys One Day event, the speaker equipped me with a new passion. I went through training with a friend on how to bring on the Bible to students. How to teach them and help them understand how it can effect their lives. Many of the tools I will utilize from this conference will be great! I will be growing deeper in my knowledge, understanding, and practices of Christ. In order to teach and show God, I must know God. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
It would pain me to see seniors not only graduate my group, but graduate God at the same time.

don't judge a book by its cover...

I was looking at this youtube video and the name Susan Boyle popped up. Heard of her yet? Well she has gained a lot of internet fame because of her rendition of "I dreamed a dream" from Les Mis. I am not a musical fan and can really care less, but this video is simply amazing. She sings better than you could ever think!
The more I watch this video, the more I begin to realize that I need not judge a book by it's cover...

long long time ago....

I remember the times of being a kid and walking around and not having a care in the world. It was fun and adventurous! I could be going on a jungle safari through Africa and trying to hunt rare animals while forging the river (or creek in my case), and the next second I could be fighting the enemy while defending the castle for the king.
My life as a child was really interesting. I had a great upbringing. My parents showed me much love, always had clothes on my back, a roof over my head, and the occasional new Ninja Turtles action figure!
I miss those days. I have now become a slave to repetition. I have a general schedule I follow every day! What happened to my imagination? What happened to the times of old? Who says times of old anymore? I miss those days, but lately there has been a fire lit under me. There has been put this passion and desire to just finish.
Today, I walked in to work for another busy day and another great day of Holy Week. To me, it was pretty normal and I was refreshed from a great night's sleep. However, after running some quick errands I was presented an article from the AJC from 2 weeks ago. It was from a former member of this church who says the church has turned into more of a stock holders convention and a "pledge drive". To him, the church has become a place more of business than an actual church caring for the hungry and the needy and taking care of the sick and disenfranchised.
When I read this article, I was LIVID! I was mad! I didn't know how to react.
I was furious! However, when I read on in this article, I don't see a person just bashing the church I am now a member and employee of, I see a person who is hurting. Maybe the church has lost touch with it's basic foundation a little bit. The writers argument was simple. The church worried more about building new things and raising money rather than helping those outside the church walls.
It is a valid point. And it hurt me to read this guys pain. He had been hurt by some actions of some extreme members in the church. My pastor said it best however, the church is just that people. We are not perfect but moving towards perfection. This was a slam dunk comment to me!
We, the church or the people, we try to do our best to show the image of Christ as much as we can to as many people as we can. As I look into my own heart and life now, I see that this is an area that is completely lacking in my life. I have been deemed the spiritual leader for the future of the church and maybe I have not done my full part. I know that God has put this new passion in my heart and to be not afraid of the circumstances! All I have to do is be myself and let God be God. I have always been a numbers person and when I see low numbers I get bummed and beat myself up for it. However, after talking with a good friend of mine, I know and have known that I have to just treat God as God. It is simple!
The person who wrote the article has had some hurt in his life. He says he doesn't attend church much more but talks to God every day. I have seen this in my own personal life with my brother, but he is now a follower of Christ. I can only pray for this person who wrote the article and pray that they find a church fitting for them. But more importantly, I pray this person comes back to the loving God I know and have learned to just let go and trust! He knows what is best for me!
We as the church do not need to be afraid to share the gospel with others. Treat God as if He can do big things, because the surprise is, He can! If we have the faith of a mustard seed, I have a firm belief I can move a mountain!
My mind still has big ideas. It may not be defending the castle or a safari, but I know that it is to tread through a dark world with a light the only God can guide with. Having that light in front of me and following in the footsteps that were walked before me, and with me; I know my God, the creator of the universe, can change even the most callous of hearts. He can do big things around the world, and even change the life of the person in the pew right next to you.
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