hiding your faith??

i am sitting in Fido, next to two men, well actually a boy and a man. They are busy discussing the boy's desire for a future music carreer. He wants to be a christian artist, without being a christian artist. the boy wants to express his faith with out being "outed" by his audience. how interesting it is to me that his greatest passion in music is to Glorify God and present his faith as a message to others to grab a hold onto. and yet his mentor is trying to tell him to "temper his message" so that other don't feel like he is preaching to them. I have been studying idols over the last few weeks and how often we are told truth in a way that we are deceived. follow me here for a moment. We are given, told, or presented truth but the way that it is presented is skewed just a bit so that the conclusion we come to is actual a lie or falsehood. Thus we can back the evidence that lead us to a false belief with scripture that has been taken out of context or paraphrased in a way  that you don't notice.

Back to my current situation... this boy is seeking wisdom from a man who is most likely a great man who is well intended. To his credit he is giving great advice when it comes to how to practice and prepare for a showcase. But in the midst of all of this great advice is the attack on the truth of Christ. There is nothing this mentor is tell this boy that is not truth but the way he is saying it distracts this boy from his greatest desire to speak Christ from his message.

It has taken everything in me not to look at this boy and tell him, Christ is in you! let Christ shine! don't be afraid to label yourself a christian. Yes some of your fans will be offended but the truth of the Gospel is offensive to those who deny Christ! But do you really want to live for Christ while hiding your faith?

God is good

i am convinced that the power of prayer is not so much in the swaying of God's heart to our cause as it is in the aligning of our focus and efforts with God's heart. God knows the promises he has made to us, and he is forever remembering us. There is nothing that comes into our life that he is not keenly aware of, and prepared to bring about blessing from the tragedies. I say this with hesitation as i know there are some who read this and think how can the death of ___________ be a blessing, or how can my illness be a blessing, or how does _______________ ever become good?? I have walked through enough life to know that sometimes the depth of darkness feels as though it is crushing you beyond your ability to survive. As i look back on my life i can honestly say i have made some poor choices and i have been the victim of others poor choices, and while i would never want to relive those i would never want to live my life without them. They have made me who I am today, they have given me a depth to my relationship with the Lord that i could never have achieved with out suffering. I also know that i would have been crushed under my heartache if it had not been for prayer. For the peace that surpasses all understanding that was imparted to me as i held onto the truth that God had not forgotten me, that he was at my side, that he knew every thought, that he captured every tear, that he had a plan, and this...this moment... this tragedy was not a surprise to him. Nor did this tragedy have the power to thwart God's plan for my life.

I don't know why God allows some evils to exist or some extreme cases of suffering to occur... i can't see good in all tragedy, and i don't understand how people can physically survive some of these evils. . . But i know, I believe and i stand firm that even in the midst of these horrifying evils...God is good.

a little encouragement... HOPE

I have the amazing privilege of working in ROME, GA this week with FBC Augusta, GA  youth camp 2010! This is my second time with the group for a summer camp. I was so impressed my first year to watch how well the leaders loved the students and how much they desired their Growth no matter what it required of them as leaders, from early mornings to late nights to strange games and Tye-die and soap sculptures. . . Today i spent part of my day on the ropes course watching students attempt to climb a HUGE tower on very small ropes or a wiggly swinging ladder. it was amazing to me to watch these students conquer the task laid out before them. for some it was the challenge they waited all summer for, while others started up the ladder and you could quickly see that this was the last place they ever wanted to be in life.

It breaks my heart to see a student start up a ropes course element only to stop just a few feet from the starting point and say ok i'm done... let me down. I am convinced these are the students who believed before they ever put the helmet on, that they were not able to do it. From the beginning they never believed in themselves.

then there are those who make it almost to the top only to stop a few feet short from completion, as though all their efforts have been poured out and there is no more drive or hope left in them.

And then there is rare student who is determined through all their doubt and fear that they will complete the task. As though it is a battle for life and death and maybe in someway it really is that important, because they know that if they don't complete this task, the seed of doubt will grow in them and forever limit their abilities to believe they can do more then they think.

while all of these students were present in our group there was one thing that transcended all of their thoughts. . .  the POWER of encouragement. it was as though a few words from those at the bottom of the tower could change the outcome of the one on the tower. just at the brink of giving up another team member would yell some encouragement upward to the tower and the climber would begin again or be energized for the moment. the end result. . . more success for a greater number of students who needed to see success in their lives.

i can't help but parallel this to life...how often are we ready to give up and then someone comes along and offers us what we do not have...HOPE.

God's beauty:

Its scientific name is Eucalyptus deglupta, but it’s also known as Rainbow Eucalyptus, Rainbow Gum, or Mindanao Gum. I see it as one of the many ways God reminds his children (us) that His creativity is beyond our imagination or understanding! For God desires to wow us, simply by being him.

the river, environmental pressures and my gum

earlier this week a friend and i decided to spend a few hours kayaking on the Chicago River, yep the river that runs through the city and the river that they dye green for St. Patty's day (and the one that remains green for weeks after). it was a beautiful day and for the most part an uneventful trip down river, minus the moment in which a tug boat operator (captain?) asked us to just play around a bit up stream so he wouldn't run us over with the barge he was pushing (did you know tug boats don't tug they push...just a little random fact for you) Part of what we noticed was the incrediable amount of filth, trash, and debris in the river. We would see who could find the most random object floating in the river, from the "how did that get here" to the "why did that get here" to the "i don't want to know that is in here". I even found a grapefruit, but opted not to eat it.

then we came upon it . .  . the aeration station. Large tubes that blew air through the water from the depths of the water. At first it looked like we drove through someones bubble bath then after the foamy top cleared the water was pristine. not for long but in the 1/2 mile that followed this aeration station the water was clean and the fish plentiful. The very thing that gives life to water (AIR) had completely changed the environment nearest the source, however you travel to far from that source and the debris begins to reappear the stagnate water films over and wildlife is not so active.

let me make a quick tie to life really obvious in this moment; when we remain close to the life source (Christ) we have an environment, a personality if you will that is completely different then the pressures of the world that surround us. but as we navigate life away from our source we begin to cave to the environmental pressures that surround us.

no matter how much we try, through our own power to beautify ourselves, we will fail. and when we fail we will succumb to the pressure around us. what do i mean by this? take a look at the picture below. What do you see?

a factory? pollution? if your good with details you may have seen the life saver. but do you see the beauty? no this isn't some artistic interpretation this is hidden beauty. ok let me help you out. . . see the brick posts on the right and left side. there is an iron fence running between them and every so many feet there is a planter box of red and yellow flowers. can you see them now? there are 5 in this picture... ok i know it is not the greatest picture in the whole world (remember i took this from a kayak) but they weren't that easy to see in person either. .  . why not. because the ugliness that lies behind this attempt at beauty over powers us. the reality of everything else over powers the attempt to beautify this.

as i sat there thinking of all my attempts to beautify parts of my life that are simply sinful it happened.... I succumb to the environmental pressure that surrounded me.  i am ashamed to even type it. my mother would be so disappointed. it has taken me 3 days to post this blog because of it. here i am sitting my kayak both convicted of attempts to cover my sin with unnoticeable beauty and at the same time impressed that someone would put all the effort into attempting to add beauty into a spot that looked hopeless (that is a whole different sermon) and then . . .

i wish i could say it just happened that i didn't even think about it that it was involuntary that if i had thought about it i would never have done it .... but i can't say that because i did think about it and i did weigh my choices and i choose wrong...even when i knew it was wrong i some how justified myself into thinking it was excusable because of the environmental pressure.... i spit my gum into the river.

Memorial Day Weekend

I guess I should be writing about a BBQ or some celebration I attended but that is not what this weekend was really about. My close friends laugh at me when Lee Greenwood’s : God Bless the USA begins to play, because no matter what time of year it is I begin to cry. I have tried to thank soldiers in the airport or on planes but I always start crying before I open my mouth. I am constantly reminded that I am free. . .

I am free to choose my attitude. I free to succeed. I am free to fail. I am free to respond to God’s grace, mercy, and provision any way I wish. I am free to write this blog, and choose the content of this website, I am free to travel the country teaching about the Love and sacrifice of Christ, I am free to do all these things with gratitude, I am free to play the victim of life, I am free to be angry at the world, I am free to love the world.

I am free….

But my freedom has come with a great price, paid for by men and women who choose to sacrifice for me. (yeah…I’m a bit teary eyed even at this thought) They don’t know me and most will never know how grateful I am for their choice to sacrifice so much that I may do what I desire with out fear.

This weekend more than ever: “I am proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free and I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me…..”