Monday, July 26, 2010

Romans 5 - The Message

I am not usually a fan of The Message, but Sharon Hardwick (a close friend of mine) post Romans 5:2 (MSG) as her facebook status. I couldn't get the words out of my mind. I hope Romans 5:1-11 from The Message blesses you as much as it did me today.

Romans 5

Developing Patience
1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

3-5There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

9-11Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Everything is Different: Paonia, CO Mission Trip

31 of our members are in Paonia, CO on a mission trip geared for our younger high school students. We have been here since late Saturday evening. This trip has been very unique since the youth leader here has requested that we rethink our idea of service as opportunities to build relationships. Therefore, among traditional service projects like painting, cleaning, and yardwork, we have gone hiking in the Grand Mesa, played Ultimate Frisbee, and participated in a devotional during a lightning storm on a canyon rim!

Here are a few pictures of our adventures thus far!

Gunnison River, US Hwy 50

Clint's "jam session" at the church lunch

Josh at Craigs Crest in the Grand Mesa

Maggie, hard at work

Bethany and new friend Tori cleaning the baptistry

Katelyn working on polishing the church's woodwork

Maggie Sue and me on the North Rim of the Black Canyon

Amy taking in the view of the Black Canyon

Lightning storm across the canyon

Our experience tonight was unbelievable! We ended the day with a devotional on the North Rim of the Black Canyon while we could watch a lightning storm across the canyon. Tonight rivals any of the most incredible nights in youth ministry. It was amazing! After our devotional, we drove back into Paonia. The group that was in my van seemed to be a little speechless so Josh wound up playing some worship songs (Shane & Shane, Chris Tomlin, etc) as we began the way back. As we sang along in a contemplative, awe-struck mood, the storm had closed in and we drove through a nice rain storm. Thankfully, we all made it back safely and it made for a refreshing night! It is hard to describe in a few short words, but tonight was something to remember!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Palo Duro 20K

I recently signed up for the 29th annual Palo Duro 50 Mile - 50K - 20K Run/Walk. Fortunately, I was sane enough to register for the 20K event (~12.5 miles). I will be camping with a friend from college and his brother. The event will be on Saturday, October 16.

I will confess, I have not been running as much as I would like or need for the level of health I prefer. I have now registered for my first trail run and a marathon (which are two weeks apart) in October. As mentioned in a previous post, I also talked Jacinda into running as part of a 6.55 mile x 4 person relay. I have a lot of training and teaching to do in the upcoming months. I am nervous that I may have filled my exercise plate too full, but I am inspired because I know that now I have paid for it, I will be there! Let's just hope I am ready!!

If you are interested in joining me for my first trail run or you just want to know more about what Nathan and I will be doing in October, click here.

Music Monday (on Wednesday): "Everything is Different"

I was at camp the first part of this week, sorry for the delay on this post.

Our high school group leaves for Paonia, Colorado on Saturday for a mission trip. Our group will help the local congregation with service projects and community awareness, but our main focus is loving and developing relationships with their teens. Our theme is "Everything is Different." When we come into contact with God, we are changed.

I have chosen "Everything is Different" by Shane and Shane to honor next week's theme. This video is actually when Shane Bernard taught the song to Shane Everett. For a better sound, look them up at I chose to play the raw version of this song because it is a unique look at what these two guys do and how they don't try to be higher or mightier than anyone else.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm a Bus Driver

I am currently in the process of going from a CDL permit to license so I can continue driving the teens to our events, but without a CDL driver present in the bus.

My CDL face

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Going Home is Weird

A little while ago, my home congregation asked me to come home and talk about my current ministry and take the opportunity to express my thanks for growing up in that congregation. I did this last night. It was an incredible experience and a really uplifting evening. But I did not expect for a few things to happen. It has been 7 years since I left my parents' home for college and began attending another church home. When I walked in the church building, it was all very familiar yet strange. The rooms looked smaller. The kids younger than me were now taller and stronger than me. A girl who was my 4-year old buddy was now in the youth group and could not find memories of me. It was very strange to me that everything looked and even smelled the same as I remember, but it all seemed new at the same time.

As I mentioned earlier, the evening couldn't have gone better. It was a huge blessing and truly touching experience for me. I loved hugging people who had made such a large impact on my life. It was amazing to be encouraged by the affirmations they heaped on me. It was weird, though, like I was a kid again. It is nice being the kid sometimes. I needed the opportunity to be the kid last night.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Review: "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years"

I recently read through A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don Miller. I found it provoking and a quick read. I encourage anyone who enjoys good stories to read it.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a book of story; specifically, human's story. Miller writes in a way, however, that made me think he is writing about his own story. Later, I felt as if he were writing about me. Finally, I realized he is writing about each human's personal relationship with God and we all have a story to live. I learned a lot about listening to God and the difference of making decisions and simply allowing myself to react to the actions of others.

Honestly, I found myself depressed two-thirds of the way through this book, but I loved the first 192 pages! This portion is exciting, humorous, hopeful, and fun to read. Miller is very humble, but not as self-deprecating as he can be in his other work. Actually, his honesty is raw ... and this is what kept me reading through the final pages when his fun book turned into real issues that I would rather not face. Don't get me wrong, I love when authors write about issues that need to be dealt with. Remember, he writes in a way that makes you feel that he is writing about you. This book should make its readers feel uncomfortable at some point. This turn was so sharp and unexpected, it took me about a week to appreciate what he does with the final portion of this piece. Initially, I was disappointed by his negativity, but he was so open and genuine that I pressed on. His negativity is actually acceptance of reality: so many of us live in a trap of desired utopia. He seems to imply that we put pressure on ourselves to dream up our lives like movies. Over the past week, I have noticed my own tendencies to day dream a perfect story, only to be disappointed when I wake to the reality that is life. In daydreams, we don't dream about paying bills, brushing our teeth, and paying traffic citations, rather falling in love, sleeping in, climbing mountains, and being rockstars! We leave out the part about the being dumped, sleeping in through that important meeting, running down the mountain to avoid a lightning storm only to break a leg, and the lifestyle that being a rockstar would eventually demand. I needed the time since I read Miller's book to digest that his whole point is be content with what God has given you. It is so easy to be caught in the utopian idea that one day we will live "happily ever after." Miller reminds us that in real life, we still have bills to pay, teeth to brush, and traffic citations to claim.

I didn't enjoy reading these "negative" thoughts, but after letting them ruin my recent daydreams, I must agree! We all have days in which we must learn to be content with the realities in our lives and try to live out a story that pleases God through any frustration or pain. I think the writer of Hebrews puts it this way, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5) When I think about it this way, this is an encouraging message!