put a lid on it...I am

I have had a really good day today. Let me tell you why today has been so good. Are you ready? I will wait for the hair on the back of your neck to settle, or if you are Geoff Grubbs the hair on your back because you have no hair on your head at all. Today, I have prayed for as many people as I can think of. I have been working hard on trying to get my life back to where I need to be.
As Mark Batterson and the Celtic Christians put it, I am chasing the wild goose of the Holy Spirit. Though I may never catch the wild goose, I know that it will take me places that I wouldn't think to go.
I started off today in a good mood because I just felt better about life. I had a positive look on today before the sun was up. I spent time and I went to my office in my apartment, I sat down in the ground and I prayed to God. I prayed for my day, for those closest to me, I prayed for my youth, for my fiance' and her kids at school, for my pastor, friends, family, my church, those churches whom I know the pastor at. I spent a very long time praying and it was very refreshing. The problem is, sometimes I don't think I know what I am praying for.
How often do we feel stuck praying for something? Those of you who read this blog and are in the ministry, we are too often stuck with praying for meals at family functions because we must be closer to God than everyone else. Do not get me wrong readers, I love to pray and do not have a problem at all doing it. But how often do we really understand what we are praying for or about?
I prayed, not too long ago, that I want to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that I can't contain it. I prayed that it would just be contagious to those around me and that a fire for God just start at this church. I basically told God, you know what Bring it on. I am ready. Well, I didn't know what I was in for. I challenged God and He has more than answered my prayer. However, I have not handled it the way I should have. I believe God was testing me to see if I could not contain the Holy Spirit that I challenged Him to give me. I got stressed and I shut down.
Friends, I want you to know that no matter what, Jesus is always there and will love you. He died for us to open up a relationship with us that transcends all understanding. I can't shut down when I get stressed. I can't do the things I feel are most important. What is most important is that I am performing for an audience of one. I am working for the one who died for me. I am in love with God more than anything else in this world. I just pray that those who start a relationship really push prayer and seek God's face, not His hands.

who versus how...

Reading this book "Relationships Unfiltered" by Andrew Root is really kicking my butt. It is talking about incarnational and place sharing ministry. Let me explain myself here:
Incarnational ministry is what most people believe that ministry should be. To put it simply it is to love people as Jesus loved people.
Place sharing ministry is a form of incarnational ministry, yet it takes it a step further. We see that Christ came down to earth to dwell among us and to live and breathe and talk like humans. Jesus was fully human as He is fully God. He knows what it is like to be in the depths and pits of human life, but to also go so bold to be in the joyous parts of our lives as well.
Too often, pastors or youth pastors alike, and I am just as guilty as the next, paint a picture of Jesus as this man with a nicely trimmed beard, white robe, smile, pearly white teeth, and flowing, long conditioned hair. The only time we make the image of Jesus bloody and beaten is to bring the shock factor (i.e. Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ)
Let me pose this question to my blog readers: Where is Jesus' body buried? If we wanted to go visit His grave, where would we go?
I will give you a minute to think about this. Google it if you need to find the location. Ready for the answer?
The answer is the Christian faith is the Christian faith because we believe that there is no tomb, or at least there is no body in it. We believe that Jesus is alive today!
I am starting to believe that all theology, ministry and faith begins with the question of Who? Who are you? Who is this Jesus of Nazareth? Who is the one who heals? Who teaches with Authority? Who is this?
In the same way, I believe that the question How? is a question of disobedience. How is God present in Jesus? How can I be good? The problem with the how question is that even if you get a right answer, theres no need to encounter the living person of Jesus Christ.
Who is the better question here. Who is a question of encounter; it's a question that assumes Jesus Christ is still living and moving in our world, continuing in ministry, and encountering our person with His person. Who is about a relationship with Jesus Christ as living and still active in the world.
The question of how on the other hand is absent from encounter. It does not need a living Jesus. It is simply a theoretical question. How can be solved on a chalkboard and then walked away from. Who demands change and transformation.

Are you sitting here, being hit by these words I am writing? Are you sitting here wondering what the heck I am talking about? All I know is, I want to know WHO Jesus Christ is and not How He lived. I want to know the change of getting to know the person of Jesus as He becomes my person. The Who question makes Jesus Christ not a logo for our religion but a living person who encounters our own person.

Did you always want to be the person in school who attracted everybody? Did you always want to have that magnetic personality that everyone clung to, thought you were the coolest person, and you knew how to be attractive to people? I want to be the type of person who does not care about the latest trends and how to be cool with students. I want to be able to invite people and students into my life as they invite me into theirs. Step by step I want to show the students my love for God and be relational with them in a way that does not have a means to an end. This is a way that God and His ministry He placed before me will thrive.

Are you searching for WHO Jesus is or HOW He was?

making a significant connection...

I am amazed at technology. Just sit back and think about how much power we can have, just at the tips of our fingers! If you turn on a light switch, and hoping that the power bill has been paid, we have electricity on demand. That is crazy, to think that in any dark area of my house, I can turn on a light and it not be dark anymore. And that is BASIC technology. Now we have super fast computers, we have touch screen mp3 players and cell phones. Technology has come a long way. Some may say that it connects us with the world and with everyone else. Facebook, for example, is a way to stay "connected" with friends and people that you didn't really hang out with in high school, yet you want to stalk them and see what their lives are like now.

It's funny to think about connections. We all have some sort of connections to the world. We have our family connections, friend connections, internet connections. We have all sorts of connections. God created us to have these connections too!

If we look at Genesis 2, we see God telling Adam to name all the animals. Now, up to this point, God had said that His creation was good. It was complete. However, when He saw how lonely Adam was, God said that it was incomplete. We thrive off of connections with others.

Adam did as God told him, and named all the animals. However, this was not Snow White where all the animals interacted with Adam, made his clothes, and sang songs. These animals did not care for Adam nor love Adam. He need companionship. So God laid Adam down, made him sleep, and during his sleep; God created Eve out of Adam's rib.

Adam was elated through this. Adam had someone to share his feelings and thoughts with. He could show her around, be with someone. Adam had made an instant connection. We must make a significant connection with those around us. We can not live a life outside alone. It will literally kill us!

Look back at the movie "Castaway". Great movie, and Tom Hanks creates himself a companion out of a volleyball. Does this matter to him? No, because he needed companionship. If he did not have it, do you think he would have survived on the island for 4 years? I don't think so.

So as we walk through this world, your community, and even your home; try to make those significant connections with those around us. It is then that we can plainly see that we need that same significant connection with Christ.

hypocrisy...

Hypocritical. Two-Faced. Facade. Farce. Liar. Cheater. Disgusting. Sad. Sorry. Forgiveness. Woeful. Depressed. Anger. Ugly. Redemption.

Do any of these words resonate with you? Do any of these words hit you straight to the heart? I can say that at one time or another in my life, I can apply each of these words to a situation that has happened in the past. I am sure that I can find a specific event in my life that one of these words can describe said events.

Unfortunately for me, a lot of these words has been thrown around at others also. Why is it that when people are faced with the truth, we try to lesson the blow by displacing the blame on others? When we are caught in sin, do we not use the words we are human, or everyone else has done something worse? We always try to bump our sin down a notch so that the blow is not that big.

Let me tell you something readers, whether I take a pen from somebody or if I murder somebody, sin is still what separates me from God. I have been raised in a way that tells me that I should try to block the blows from people or just roll with the punches. In the end, I will be a better man because of it. People, this is just not the case. If we are "rolling with the punches" in life and not throwing our problems and joys and fears to God, what are we doing?

Christ and I share a relationship. It is a personal relationship where Him and I talk, we laugh, we cry, I read His word. Christ and I share what a true relationship should be. Christ has been with me through the muck and the mire. Christ has seen me at my peek of joy. Christ has walked miles with me in my shoes, or sandals for those who know me. However, why is it that I always try to make my sin OK? Why do I try to rationalize my behavior?

In my own life, recently as a matter of fact, I have seen a large amount of sin in someone close that I know. This person has betrayed HUNDREDS of people and has deceived possibly the whole world. This person has lied to me, his family, and everyone he knows to protect himself. However, when confronted with his sin, this person simply says that he is the first person to do it. Others have done worse than he has. He must be the only person in the world who has sinned against God. This person even told me that I am perfect because I point out their sin and not my own.

I don't understand it readers. I don't understand why people try to constantly berate you with the truth, and then we shrug it off like nothing happened. My plea to everyone who reads this blog today is to cast everything upon God. When we try to lesson the blow, what we fail to realize is that sin still separates us from God. It is sickening. When we displace blame on others, we are still guilty. Others have done worse things in our own eyes, but sin is separation from God. Sin is anything against God. It is all equal to Him. We, here on earth, have different levels of sin. Yet, Christ took that sin for all and we dare cast Him aside to make our sin less or appear less?

A true relationship with Christ, or with anyone, is when you share their fears and their joys. I may know somebody, but I don't really know who they are until I see them at their lowest and live it with them. I must be there and follow the great example Christ showed us on this earth. Christ talked with those who people thought He shouldn't talk to. Christ healed many that were deemed unhealable (made up word). Christ loved everyone, no matter their social status or their background. Christ came to know people for who they were. Why can't we follow this example? Why can't we man up and try to act as Christ did? I will be the first to admit I have fallen short in my life on many occasions. In fact, even as I type this blog, I know that I need my time with God. I always try to find the approval from the outer world. I am always trying to seek approval from those the approval does not matter. What matters the most is that I honor God in all that I do, say, think, pray, eat, see etc. I must honor God with all that I am. Christ has seen me at my lowest point. He has seen me at my highest. It is time to take THIS model of ministry and apply it to my life. I am still and will always learn what God has planned for me. Who knows what lies ahead. The only thing for me is that I see Christ for who He really is and I show that love and grace to the world of people that I encounter.

Maybe I should start a Waffle House ministry? I wouldn't be able to fit in the booth if that is all I ate, but there are all kinds of life that walk through those doors! God will bless me, but readers, pray that God blesses those around you and also to bless you! Pray that you share this personal relationship with Christ and that His love exudes through you so much that no one can deny that Christ is real. Let Christ live through us and let the Holy Spirit work in us to do a mighty work through us. Just remember these words, people don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care.

my stomach speaks...

Today, I sit here writing this post as a way to inform people of how funny Christians act in certain situations. If you are a Christian, please take a minute and look around at your life. Do some of you have the fish symbol on your car, yet yell at traffic when they won't do what YOU want? Do others have the tshirt on that says, "Body Piercings Saved My Life" and on the back it has pictures of Jesus' hands that were nailed through. Or yet, one of my favorite tshirts is " abreadcrumb and fish" playing off of an obbious abercrombie and fitch shirt.
It is so funny how we try to turn anything that is in pop culture and make it Christian. Why do we do that? The other day I heard a The Fray song on the Christian radio station here in Atlanta. Really 104.7? The Fray? They are in no way Christian yet we always try to turn pop culture Christian to keep up with the times and to be more hip and popular.

I can't say I am not as guilty as the next person. I have a bunch of tshirts with Christian sayings, I listen to Christian music. I am the most generic Christian if there ever was one. Here is another thing Christians do; when you go to camp, what is one of the meals you can always expect? Lasagna! That's right readers, the pasta is always the way to go. It is cost efficient, feeds close to 5000 and serves its purpose for food. I think of all the trips I have been on, pasta is a general norm in the Christian camp scenes.

This blog post, however, is not to bash on the Christian culture, that is ever changing with the times and we are just trying to keep up. This post is to bring out some of the crazy ideas that we have as Christians, yet one thing is still constant. Jesus Christ is always constant, He has never changed, nor will He. Yet, we try to form Jesus in this image of a white man with a beard and a white robe who loves hugs, high fives and drives a hybrid car with the cross sticker in the window and the fish symbol on the back left. Why do we do this so much? Why do we have to turn Jesus into something He is not? Jesus can relate to anyone and can love everyone, but we try to manipulate the way He is and the image of Him to fit the different scenes of the social system of the world. Jesus is not Tony Hawk. Jesus could probably to a 1080 spin in the air on a skateboard if He so desired, but He probably wouldn't.

Too many times, I walk down the street and can easily see the offense that others see in this world. Our problem is we are not communicating Christ to those who need to hear it. We are communicating salvation and then dumping them off into a church or a group that loves God. That is fantastic, but how many people can sit around and say that if we had never been to church, became a believer, entered into a relationship with Christ, and then was thrown to the lions den of a church service, that we would know what was going on?




The way we communicate Christ today is almost shameful. Some of us are so intent on getting souls saved, but not worrying about them after that we lose more people that way. Why do we always come across so brash and hypocritical? People who are not believers sit around and wait for the Christian to mess up, then we brush it off saying we are not all perfect and we will sin occasionally etc. This is a mess! We need to get our focus on something and someone who has been constant this whole time. God! He has never changed, nor will He. If He did, He would not be God!

So the next time you see a shirt that says "King of Kings" under two hamburger buns, that looks like the burger king symbol, please ask what that really means. Is Jesus a burger joint? Is Jesus relative to fast food in any way? How does that relate to someone who never knew God or did not care to know God?

And last, but surely not least, please 104.7 The Fish (A Christian radio station here in Atlanta), do not play any more pop songs that have nothing to do with Christ. Just because we can find a Jesus meaning in most things, does not mean that one is there.

As I step off my soap box, put on my Christian shirt and walk out of this room, I hope you will take a second to find out who the true God is. Underneath all the pop culture, white robe, bearded man we see Jesus as, find out who He really is. Can you also find a way to communicate His love to someone without having a means to an end by just getting them saved? Can you communicate Christ in a way that establishes a true relationship with someone where you know their fears and their joys?

a ministry of influence...

Influence is a powerful thing. As we look at the word of influence, we can see it as many things. Influence can be a bad thing. It can lead to good things. However, if we are trying to just squeak by in our Christian relationships by just influencing people, we are going to get nowhere in the world of ministry or the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

There have been many "influential" people in this world that have motivated major movements in the history of the earth. We have such "influential" people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This man influenced an entire generation to change their views on the worth of human life. Many other men and women throughout history have done many great things to change the thinking and perspective of how people live their lives. My question is simple, was Jesus one of these influential people?

"Influence" comes from the Latin, "influere" which means "to flow into". Did Jesus simply "flow into" the lives of many people and change their perspective of life? I would like to submit that He did not.

Jesus walked among us, being fully God and fully human, to live and breathe amongst the people of earth. He came to bring a message of hope, love, and grace. Jesus brought to us a new life. He did not show us this by simply convincing a few people to change the world. He showed us His love by dieing and raising from the dead. Christ showed love and compassion to all. He offered us this love and compassion in a life that was not centered on the things of this world, but the things of Heaven.

Mark Batterson wrote in his blog earlier about identifying idols in out lives.
So how do you identify an idol? Here are four idol identifiers:

1) What consumes your thoughts? Your daydreams are idol clues. If it's something you think about more than God then it may be an idol.

2) What bad habits do you struggle with? Your addictions are idol clues. An idol is something you cannot control. It controls you.

3) What do you spend too much money on? Your spending habits are idol clues. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also!

4) What produces your strongest emotions? Your intense emotions are idol clues. If you want to identify an idol, all you have to do is identify your emotional attachments.

Identifying an idol takes a tremendous amount of soul searching. And you have to be brutally honest. But you cannot tear it down until you name it.

When we join in on the ministry of influence, we see the person of influence as idols in out lives. Look at these 4 steps Mark wrote about. Can we see how following those who have a ministry of influence are idols? Now do not go and send me emails or comments about the people who have changed history. I acknowledge what they did was great and how they did the things during their time period was just as great. But let's look at Jesus, who was the ultimate rebel of His time and how He did not live a life of influence, but a life of love and place-sharing.

When you have a relationship of influence, the point of the relationship is to move the person past the bond of you and that person. It is the means to an end. Having a place-sharing relationship means to stand in fully for the person. This does not mean to where the person takes no more responsibility for their lives, but in a manner that joins people in existence and invites them to share in ours.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and a theologian who was arrested during the Nazi regime during WW2. During this time, Dietrich was sentenced to death at a concentration camp. The concentration camp was a few days journey from where he was sentenced to death. During the time of travel from Berlin to the concentration camp, Bonhoeffer befriended a Russian solider. The two became friends and while they were in the back of a truck for many hours, since the trip was a few days from Berlin, the solider began to teach Bonhoeffer Russian.

It came to be the night before they were going to die. All of the prisoners had figured it was too late for the Allied Forces to come in a save the day, so Bonhoeffer stood up and asked all the other prisoners to partake in worship and communion. As almost everyone agreed, Dietrich looked at his new friend, the Russian solider, whom refused to partake in the communion. He was an atheist and a communist. The Russian felt it would go against everything he knew and believed in. Dietrich sat down beside the Russian solider and said that he was not going to partake of it either. For if his friend would not take it and Bonhoeffer did; he would not only be denying his friend but he might have been denying God as well.

Can we see from this true story that having influence only leads past the bond, but to an end. Here we can see the Dietrich, being a pastor and theologian, sat with his new friend during the end of their lives. In the final hours, he did not deny him; he stood and sat there with him. Readers, my challenge to you and myself is to simply live beyond what we know. We must live for Christ, who has opened up that relationship for us. Christ has offered eternal life and His relationship with us and vice-versa is not the means to an end. For those who love and accept Christ and live for Him and be a disciple of Christ will live forever in eternity with Christ. Move past being influential and be in a position of place-sharing.

the first blog...

This is my first blog post of the new year. Feels kind of weird. Not like a "I am so nervous I am going to pee my pants" weird; more of a fresh new can of tennis balls. How many readers out there love to open a fresh new can of tennis balls? When I open up the can of fresh new tennis balls, it smells awesome. It reminds me of the new car smell. So I guess, to this point of my blog post I am just about to open the fresh new can of tennis balls. Are you ready to pull the tab and smell those awesome chemicals?!

Now that was an odd way to start off the new year and the first blog post of the year. It feels strange that we are here in this place today. Outside the ski is blue, clouds are white, and the air is about -30 degree's but it is still another day to live and breathe the word of God.

I feel like we should all gather around a camp fire, grab our snuggies, and just talk with each other. Over the past week, I have been on a visit to the ER, seen several people crash on a ski slope, and have watched the eyes of the youth open up to a world almost new to them. I have seen my eyes open to a whole new perspective of ministry for the new year. Want to know what it is? We are just about to tear off the tab of the tennis ball can. Ready?

Relational ministry has been a facade in the church for years. What do I mean by this? Well, as ministers who work in the church we are supposed to be relational with those around us. However, I feel that the church has had the intent, for a long time, of using a relationship to have people turn their lives over to Christ. Therein, using their salvation as a means to an end. Sometimes, we in the church only care about the numbers of people saved and baptized, which are both great, don't get me wrong.

Why do we always have to have an agenda for something when it comes to relationships? True relational ministry should not have a means to an end. The relationships you form with those around you should be a TRUE relationship. In order to really know a person for who they are, we must walk with them in their shoes. A true relationship is defined as knowing somebody as well as yourself. You know their fears, their heart, their joys, their pains, they sorrow, their melancholy areas of life. We must also experience these times with them also.

For years, I have been trained to think that I must filter through relationships with one goal in mind, the salvation of the person. It was always my intent to sit down and form a great relationship with somebody, only to try to turn their life to God. I should be a disciple of Christ, but do you think Christ came down to this earth for the sole purpose of a means to an end? Absolutely not! Christ came to this earth to live amongst us, to bring us to salvation, but to live with the people and know them and have their same fears, joys, laughs, cries etc. Christ was fully God but He was also fully human.

This is not to put down the passion of those who want to do relational ministry. This post is to simply inform us to think outside our box for just a minute. This post is to get you to ask questions about the daily life we lead. Do we always live for God? Why is it we most always have a purpose to get to know somebody? Is it because they have something we want or may need later? Are we just looking for a favor or to REALLY know the person?

As a Minister of Youth, I can not sit here and tell you that I am doing the best at relational ministry. I think that the youth in my youth group have a good understanding of who I am, where I have been, what I like and don't like. Maybe they know even my weight. However, do they really know me as a person. Do they know that sometimes I cry myself to sleep because of what is going on through my parents right now? Do people know the real me? This also begs the question, are you being real with yourself and those around you? Are you hiding aspects about your life to those who you want to hide them from? People may not know the best thing about you, or your joys, or your laughs, fears or anything else about you.

My question to you today is, are you being relational with those around you? Are you striving to honor God in being a disciple? Are you becoming friends with the new person at church or in your office or at school simply because you have a means to an end?

Have you opened the can of tennis balls yet? Do you smell the aroma? Can you picture how they are new and fresh? Open the heart of your true self and let Christ be revealed through all you do. Honor and glorify Him so that is shines through. Don't get to know people just because you want something they can offer you. Get to know the real person and who that person really is. It is then that we can disciple them and show them the grace an forgiveness that Christ offers to all.
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