Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Will Never be a Writer

This weekend, my mom walked up to me as I was sitting down in the kitchen and slapped two big binders down on the table in front of me. Apparently, she had gone up into the attic, rummaged through my old homeschool materials, and found a bunch of the essays that I had written during my wee years. It was this period that I wrote about in "Ego Hotline."

So, naturally, I started to look through them. As I read them out loud to my friend, some of the essays had me crying with laughter at the "quality" literature that my 9 year old brain had concocted. However, this one stood out to me the most. It's called "Eliminating Reports," and this, my friends, was my final draft.

Reports are nothing but a bore. I really despise them. They do nothing for me. I am not even going to be a writer when I grow up. Reports are hard because I cannot figure out the main idea or the reasons of the report. I can neither concentrate on the report. Reports take me so long to do. Just yesterday, I spent three hors [sic] on a report. I will try to make a plan for eliminating them. My first plan is to by a lot of goats and tell him to eat all the reports. If that doesn't work I will create a virus that will infect everybody and make them think reports are useless.

My first plan to eliminate all the reports in the world is to by 10,000,000,000 goats and tell them to eat everybody's reports. All the people on earth will suffer the wrath of making me do reports. I will keep the goats hungry so all they will eat is reports. Once I do that everyone will think there is no use for reports because the goats are going to eat them. I think this plan will work.

But if the first plan doesn't work, I have a PLAN #2. I am sure this plan will work. I am planning to create a virus and put it in everybody's bodies by touching everyone I see. The people I touch will touch other people which will make the virus spread. The virus will make them think that there is no use for reports. And there will be no more reports.

If my plan does not work I will just have to learn to not be stubborn and learn to do reports better. If I do that maybe I will learn to do very good reports. Then my mother won't make me do reports every day.

Past all of the innumerable use of the word "report," past my pent-up anger against writing, and past my ingenious plan to rid the world of reports, one sentence made me chuckle when I read it.

"I am not even going to be a writer when I grow up."

All I have to say is be careful about where you say you will never go, for you might soon find that God has already bought the plane ticket for you to get there.

RMP: Two Hands

I'm not going to start this RMP with the usual praise that I give the bands I like, because I'm gonna let you decide if you like it for yourself. And this song might help you a little in that process, in a good way.

The band is Jars of Clay and the song is called "Two Hands." The message of this song is essentially that we live our lives in a constant fence-riding position of pushing God away with our sin while having a desire to love Him. Basically, this is the worst possible place to be in. Think about it. You're not jumping fully into the promise of "satisfaction" the world offers with its sin and banality, but you're also not diving into the true promise of real and complete fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. You live in the land of suck.

The goal of the Christian life is reflected in the chorus, which loudly proclaims, "If I had two hands doing the same thing - lifted high."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Best Compliment I Ever Got

One of my favorite ministry sites is with an organization called Youth For Christ. The specific area I'm involved with is called Campus Life, and mainly consists of relational ministry with high school students. What I love about the ministry is that most of the witnessing that occurs happens naturally through life-on-life interactions.

Well, in one such time, we took a group of students to see The Avengers. (I'm going to say that since I love explosions and super-heroes, this movie was an easy A in my book.) Afterwards, we were hanging out with the students at our local Mickey D's. Everyone was having light conversation when one of the students thought he'd tell me a joke. Nice, right? Turns out it was an inappropriate joke about women.

Now, whenever someone tells a joke that needn't be said, I always try to reflect that I don't like that kind of thing without making the other person feel like a toolbag. And, with this particular student, he already knew that I had a high amount of respect for women, having discussed virginity, purity and the like with him in the past. Well, as we were sitting down and eating, our interaction looked a little like this:

Student: "Hey wanna hear something?"

Me (innocently): "Why, sure, young fellow!"

Student: (Insert inappropriate comment.)

Me (with a glare): "You're going to jail."

He proceeded to laugh uncomfortably and I chuckled at the whole situation. A few moments passed by, and he followed it up with this jewel of a comment:

"You have too much respect for women."

That, ladies and gentlemen, was the best compliment I've ever received. It was like the student hocked up a diamond out of his lungs and handed it to me, dripping wet with all the glory of a newly birthed jewel. And before you ask, yes - it was just like that. Pretty much to a tee.

My question is, why don't we, as Christians, get "insults" like that all the time? Paul says, as an encouragement to his disciple Timothy, "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim. 4)

If we, as young believers, are supposed to set the bar when it comes to the way we live in front of others, shouldn't the world, which has a much lower standard, look at us and marvel at the heights at which we live?

Yet, all too often, we blend right in. We talk the same way, make the same jokes, treat others with as much disrespect, and generally live in such a way that makes us indistinguishable from the people we're trying to witness to! Why on earth would they want what we have when we live just like they do? Now, I'm not saying to live like a holy-roller and be snobbishly unrelateable, but simply to make it a point to let your actions be "above reproach." (1 Tim. 1)

Just sayin'.

Monday, May 21, 2012

RMP: Break Out

Maybe this is just the rebellious side of my sinful nature, but I always loved attacking Pharasaical, legalistic tendencies. This is mainly because I grew up surrounded by a lot of churches that had barely, and begrudgingly acknowledged that drums are somewhat acceptable in a church service.

What a relief.

Anyhow, I'm taking the next step. And, no, I don't mean hardcore, or death metal. I'm talking about dubstep. That's right. Dubstep. Check it out, and love it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Attack of the Stream

75 middle school boys. All nighter. Pizza. Basketball. Xbox. And a whole lotta swag. Put that all together and what do you get?

A BO factory. No lie. Those boys could not have used enough body spray (not even enough to set off a smoke alarm) to get rid of the smell.

I am, of course, referring to a lock-in that my church hosted a few months ago. It was pretty horrendous exciting. They let us use the gym and the cafeteria, but I spent most of my time in the cafeteria, cleaning after the pizza-gore-fest. Since the cafeteria was doubling as the video-game room for the night, it was kept dimly lit, so after two hours in there, my brain was getting the idea that it was time to hit the sack. I was tired, sweaty, and in desperate need of a nap.

I walked to my car at about 2:30 in the morning to try to get some sleep, and, as I soon found out, this was apparently the ideal time to turn on the sprinklers. And since I had parked next to the soccer field, my car was fair game for getting drenched by those laser beams of water. (It doesn't make sense, I know, but just keep reading.)

I got in my car, slightly cracked open the windows for air, and got into a fetal position to sleep, but I soon realized that the sprinklers might has well have been bass drums as far as the sound they made when their streams hit the roof of my car. So I climbed into the drivers seat, and started to reverse my vehicle, only to discover the one thing that would ruin my night. It was so mischievously sneaky that I had no time to prepare myself mentally for it. In my weakened, exhausted, drained-by-middle-schoolers state, I was no match for what  was to occur in the next moment.

What happened?

One single-minded, targeted stream of water gushed through the miniscule opening in my window to drench the left-back side of my head. One might think that such a stream couldn't really be all that powerful, but I'm pretty sure my church contracted firemen to make sure that sprinkler head had enough pressure to blast away anyone foolish enough to walk too close to the glorious might of those surges.

Satan must have taken a tip from those sprinklers, 'cuz he works the same way. He is not a fair fighter. His entire career is focused around attacking you at your weakest - when you're family's being ripped apart, when everyone's abandoned you, when you just don't think you can take another step, when you haven't had a chance to rest in forever. This is when the dirty is done. After all, if he exists solely to "steal and kill and destroy," he will take every low-down, dirty, wretched punch that he can get in while you're already down. (John 10)

But get this: Satan's not a prize-fighter; he's the wimp that gets his blows in after you're down for the count. It's what he did to Job, and it's what he tries to do to us.

So, keep an extra-tight guard in those times when life's got you more weary than you think you can handle, and find your rest in the Lord. It's why he told us, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11)

Monday, May 14, 2012

RMP: Still Waters

Ah, there's so many good things I could say about this video, but I'll just start off with saying that this guy has some mad talent. Basically, this is an acoustic classical guitar piece with no lyrics. (I believe the original song has words, but not in this version.)

In any case, this guy's talent makes me think of one thing: in the world of Christian music that has a target audience of 35-year-old single soccer moms, we have a very basic appreciation for music. Our tastes have been so dummed down to only ever hearing four chords that we often lose the essence of technically difficult pieces. Now, this may just be my pride speaking, but I do honestly believe that when you do something, that you should do it to the fullest extent of your ability. If you're a musician, delve into your art and get as musically, instrumentally, and lyrically deep as possible. Show that you appreciate the art that God has given you.

Same thing goes for whatever field you're in. Whatever you do, do it as well and as beautifully as you can, and then when everybody starts to praise you for your "talent," immediately deflect all the glory back onto God.

It was his to begin with, anyway.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sunrise Teeth and Me-Monsters

My teeth are somewhat yellow. I like to think of them as golden. Not too noticeably disgusting, just enough to remind you of a sunrise at the beach.

At least that's what I like to think.

In any case, that lie that I tell myself doesn't usually work, so there was a point in my life where I tried to whiten my teeth. I used some whitening strips that my brother had and wasn't using. I noticed something about these strips, though - they are only long enough to cover visible teeth. Do they whiten the molars or help any of the teeth reaching towards the back of the dark cavern that is your mouth? No sir.

It's only natural, though, after all. Why spend more money to make a longer strip that whitens teeth no one ever sees? (Unless you're one of those people that laugh with a mouth wide enough to swallow a watermelon.)

Got me to thinkin', though. We do that a lot. Brighten up and polish the things and people in our lives that usually get the most attention. It's only natural to make the person in the limelight shine, right?
"...and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor..." (1 Cor. 12)
Uh-oh. If this passage (which is all about how we treat different members of the body of Christ. Just go read it before you read this. Everything'll make a lot more sense.) is right, we've got some issues to fix. Because - and be honest, now - how do we treat the parking lot attendant at church on Sunday mornings?

Or the custodian?

Or the people teaching small children?

Or the guys who work the sound board?

"Their jobs aren't as important as the pastor's or worship leader's!" For the fool who utters that phrase, I hope you never drive a car, spill your coffee, make babies, or have ears. 'Cuz, if you do, you're in heaps of trouble.

But even if we treat them nicely and don't say something along those lines, we don't hold them in high esteem. Even with all of our politeness and benevolence, we still hold the idea that their jobs are somehow not as big of a deal as some others who so happen to be in a place where they get a lot of attention.

And considering the fact that most of us (including me) are me-monsters, we aspire to be in places of recognition and fame. We need people to notice us for our feats of spiritual strength, when the reality is that:
"...the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." (Luke 22)
Serve? Blech. That does not sound appealing. But the truth is that God doesn't desire someone who can be an amazing speaker. He wants someone who is willing to serve and be brought low. Because, ultimately, it is God who deserves all the recognition and praise, and how dare we even think about attempting to steal that from Almighty God?

So, my encouragement to you this week is to get out there and honor those who are doing the jobs that don't get looked at with as much praise and fame. Get out there and thank the people who make the limelight work.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

RMP: Instead Of A Show

I'm a big fan of music that has a unique sound, and Switchfoot is a great example of a band that fits the bill with music that is original and technically innovative. However, what always gets me the most is powerful lyrics. And as far as that goes, Jon Foreman (Switchfoot's lead singer) has always been exceptionally talented with using words in such a way to get a distinct and powerful point across.

Jon, at one point in his career, released some solo stuff that he did without his band. It's refreshingly different from what Switchfoot has generally done musically, but maintains the same powerful lyrics that have made me a fan.

This song is off one of those solo albums called "Summer." In a nutshell, it basically puts Isaiah 1 to music. If you're not familiar with the passage, it's basically God coming against the people of Israel for making a big show out of having the appearance of worshiping God while not having a true heart of worship.

One of my favorite lines?

You turned your back on the homeless
and the ones that don't fit in your plans.
Quit playing religion games;
There's blood on your hands.

Essentially, the song addresses what true worship is supposed to look like. So, check it out. You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flipping Some Tables.

I recently rolled my ankle while on a skateboard. I was trying to do a kickflip, and let's just say me and the board had a falling out. Well, to put it more accurately, I had a falling down. I landed with my weight on the wrong part of my foot and my ankle was thus stretched past its limits.

It hurt.

So, naturally, I fell on the ground and threw my sliding gloves up in the air out of pain. I covered my face with my hands and moaned and groaned and whined until the pain died down. In short, I made a spectacle. After all, I wanted people to realize I was hurt.
"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."
He was making provisions for His mom then? He was in so much pain. Why did He use one of His last, precious breaths to make a way for a lowly woman to be taken care of? One word:


In fact, that's its definition. Love is to be so moved for someone else that you no longer care what happens to yourself. Love is to be so consumed with another's well-being that you forfeit your own. Love is to unconditionally, eternally, radically, passionately, and single-mindedly pursue someone's success at the cost of yours.

And Christ's love did not only extend to his mom who loved Him in return.
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23)
Forgive them? The people who had brutalized his body and beat him to the threshold of death? To all outward appearances, Christ's crucifixion is the epitome of foolishness, but underneath the surface, there lies a shining light of impenetrable, mind-shaking truth - love.
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Having reached both ends of realizing that Christ's love applies to the "good people" and the bad, there lies no room in between for you to think that you aren't loved. I don't care what you've done - it'll never be as bad as murdering God Himself.

If our objective is to reflect the God that resides in us, that means loving people despite themselves. That means putting up with their mockery, gossip, back-stabbing, selfishness, hate, indifference, abuse, and torture and loving them through it.

It is a truly table-turning action.