Friday, December 24, 2010

Love is miraculous

It's true. Love is miraculous. As you celebrate this Christmas, remember the miraculous event you are celebrating. A woman who was well past her years conceived while her husband wasn't able to speak the entire pregnancy. A virgin conceived by the holy spirit and gave birth to a son who confirmed many different prophecies in his birth alone. Both Mary and Joseph escaped the kings edict on killing the first born. Shepherds and wise kings were able to find the manger based off a star alone. Mary gave birth IN AN ANIMAL ENCLOSURE. And this is only the small list of miracles that occurred during this time. There are so many miraculous implications stemming from this birth. Such as, the God of the universe sending his one son down to start a life that will ultimately end in the saving sacrifice that will give undeserving sinners like you and me eternal life with Him (John 3:16, Romans 5:8 . . .). There are so many miracles!

So as you spend time with friends and family this Christmas season, keep in mind what you are celebrating. Maybe your family is annoying or hard to get along with, a family it so hard to show love to. Well you are a sinner and a rebel who doesn't deserve God's love but guess what, He loves you anyway. Maybe you didn't get everything you wanted this Christmas, maybe you didn't get anything. God has already given you eternal life with Him, the greatest gift possible. Stop worrying about your gifts and go give the same gift to others! Love is a miraculous thing. It's hard to not be selfish, it's hard to be forgiving, it's hard to be slow to anger, but the more you show this miraculous love, the more you will experience peace and joy.

Whatever you do this Christmas eve, this Christmas, this New Years, practice this miraculous love! Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Love is Trust

After one of the scariest landings of my life into Portland International Airport, I saw that it was raining (unusual, I know). All my eyes could see were the clouds above, the rain falling, and the lights all around me. Now, I love the rain, but what if that was all you saw? You might lose faith that there were even stars or a sun even if you had already evidenced it earlier in your life. As our plane took off sailing through the horizontal strokes of rain and eventually through the clouds, I saw what I could never have imagined while sitting on the Tarmac thirty minutes previously. There was a perfectly clear sky with tons of stars peering in and an especially bright one that radiated the sky. For thirty minutes we flew just barely above the clouds with nothing but the stars above us. But then the time came for us to descend and we slowly dropped down into the clouds. Every now and again, a wisp of clouds would fog my view of that bright star but then it would pop right back into view until we finally got low enough that the star was gone all together. Soon the rain pierced back into view, the city lights down below and nothing but clouds to see above.

How often is that the case with us? We know the sky is out there; we know that God is out there and will take care of us. We have HIs promises. We have the assurance of our salvation. But soon the world envelops us, things began getting cloudy, it seems like a one joyous rainfall will never end. And we lose faith, we lose our trust that God always has us in His hands, that He will always guide us no matter the decisions we have in life. I know I fail at this a lot. I have a lot of decisions in front of me that I have been wrestling with for a while. Where do I continue my schooling? Do I stay in Arizona or do I trust that God would take care of me if I moved? Do I worry about a money making career or go into ministry and have faith that God will provide? You might have similar questions like what will I do after I graduate? Or should I do a missions project to somewhere? Will God provide for me financially? Sometimes it feels like there is no future in sight, There is no hope left. But God promises us a future and a hope (jer 29:11). God promises us heaven. He promises us salvation if we believe in the love he showed us through Jesus on the cross. All we need to do is fly up above the clouds sometimes and be reminded of that. We need to be reminded that the light still shines brightly. And we do that by getting into our bibles and soaring up into the words God wrote to us.

One of my first posts was that love is not fearful which involved the story of my summer project. But what does it mean to be not fearful? The antithesis of fear is trust. When you go bungee jumping, fear is stemmed out of a lack of trust in the rope. When we fly in a plane and it begins to jump around, our fear ignites out of a lack of trust in the airplane. When we go into a test and fear that we won't get the grade we need, it grows from a lack of trust in our studying or from a lack of trust in our teacher to write a good test. Just the same with as we fear our future, our safety, we are not trusting in the Lord to take care of us.

So from now on, dwell on that. Constantly strengthen your trust in Him by reading His words to you. Have no fear. Be courageous for the Lord is with you wherever you go (Josh 1:9). As you continue to soar above the rain and clouds into the light of God you will be able to forge on down on the ground with more trust.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Love is subtle

You ever have those days where it feels like you just wake up and instantly Satan is just attacking you? Like he picked this one day to try and break you down? That was me one day last week. Instantly, from the point that I woke up, I just heard lies and questions began forming in my head. It starts off small, "You aren't very smart!", "There is no way you could accomplish anything!", and then it just rolls and grows, "Does anyone even like you?", "Would anyone even want to hang out with you?", What could you possibly achieve in life?", "No one loves you!" "Look at all the mistakes you've made!" "You are a failure!". All morning, through my math class, and my walk home, my mind was a war zone. A war zone where I felt like no one was helping defending me.

I remember praying as I walked to battle all of the lies I was hearing, pleading with God to help me. To open up my heart at that time I will share what I said. I believe my prayer went like this: "God, Dad, Friend, Is this all true? Why do I feel like this? Why would you allow anyone to say this? Show me that You love me right now because I need it. Send someone to me, to reaffirm that I am not alone, to reaffirm that You are with me, Be with me!"

I was on the verge of crying as I walked through campus and then back home, just trying to get to my bed as fast as I could. And then out of no where, literally in front of my neighbors front yard I feel a text come in on my phone. "Hey man, are you on campus right now?" responding with a "I could be soon", I continued to reach my front door proceed to my bed and let out everything I had been holding in. text back..."You want to go get in the Word together?" - - - "Um yes, yes I would."

After going and hanging out with him and reading the Word, and researching different aspects of the Bible, I was suddenly better. God answered everyone of my questions. Soon the rest of the day, which I had planned on skipping, was suddenly enjoyable. The rest of the weekend ended up reaffirming over and over how much God cared about me; How much God saw in me; How much God believed in me. On an encouragement paper that everyone wrote on, I received notes that turned everything around. "Your confidence, boldness, and desire to lead have blown me away. Your simply caring acts have touched my heart"...."The men are growing so strong and it all couldn't have happened without you leading in faith" . . . "Your doing an awesome time leading the men this year and building a community between all of us"

Love can seem like its being given in the most subtle of times, but it may have a huge impact on the person you are loving. You never know where the other person is at during that very moment. So next time you think that love isn't love unless its something big, remember that even a simple text message, a simple note, a simple time spent is all it takes to defeat the enemy of love.

Go out and love today

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Love is not hypocritical

"[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, Love never fails."
1 Corinthians 13:7-8(a).

When you think of love, what do you think of? Many times in this culture, love is what you say to your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife; it is what you feel when you are the object or giver of favored importance; or maybe it's just a word that passes around that never really has any meaning because of overuse or bad experiences. That is not love! I repeat, that is not love!

We are all hypocrites. Every single one of us. We all do things that we shouldn't have done, that we didn't want to do, that we look down on in ourselves. We don't bear all things. When the going gets tough, my first inclination is to drop it. Why would I bear through something if someone had wronged me? I can't possibly look passed all that. But I know someone who will.

We don't believe all things. There are certain times where I believe that someone else can't get better, can't be forgiven, or that they could never live up to their aspirations, let alone that I could. But I know someone who does.

We don't hope all things. In fact, I don't even know that I hope a little of the things. The word hope comes from the meaning, "to confidently expect". When you or I look out around this world, do we look at it with confident expectation that it could change? that it could get better? Do we live our lives every day in the confident expectation that heaven is just around the corner? I know, with an emphatic NO, that I do not live this way even an eighth of the time. But I know who sees everything, beginning and end.

We don't endure all things. We can endure for a little time hardship, or suffering, or ridicule, but to what extent? I know someone who hung on a tree til death, who died for our sins, and endured everything so that I could be with Him.

Love never fails. God never fails! In essence, when we look at these characteristics, we all become hypocrites to love. Only God himself can claim that characteristic.

But that doesn't mean we just stop. We strive to have all of these characteristics of love. So how do we get there? By striving after God. I quote Jon Courson a lot, but I just love the way he writes about this. "The only way [to exhibit this kind of love] is to let Jesus Christ live it through us, for He is the embodiment of these characteristics. . . . As I walk with the Lord, talk to the Lord, and learn about the Lord, His Spirit produces this character in me ever so slowly, but ever so surely." I realize I am a hypocrite, and I realize that when it comes to this, I mess up a lot, especially with the people that matter most to me. But as I continually walk with the Lord, and read about how he lived and loved, I find myself more and more inclined to live the life he exampled.

When the world sees this type of love, they won't get it. Jon quotes again, "people will accuse you of being blind to certain situations. But they will be wrong. Agape love is not blind. Quite the opposite. BECAUSE love sees MORE, it's willing to see LESS". God has forgiven us all. The person you are bitter about, the person that pretended to love you; He even forgave you and me. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God's love on the cross, never fails!

He is love!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Love does not seek its own

Before I go back into 1 Corinthians 13, I want to go a little into something that's been on my heart as of late. Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast entitled "Last Words" by Ben Courson, in which he talked about living every day like it's our last day before we go to heaven. As I sat there thinking and looking across campus, I began to take the topic deeper into what it might look like personally. When we think about sharing with others, some of the thoughts that cross our mind (or at least mine) are: Well I might as well share this with this person because I am not going to see them again - or - We become so afraid of sharing, or so content with our lives that we end up not sharing with them at all. BUT WAIT A SECOND. where did our view of eternity go? Instead of sharing because we might never see them again, share BECAUSE you will see them again in heaven! Instead of being afraid to initiate conversation, realize that you might never get the chance to share with that person again! Instead of being content with your life, remembering that any moment could be your last moment this side of eternity, and then what? Would you be happy with your life or would there be anything that you would want to do differently? DO IT NOW. Think about what it will be like in heaven with all the people you have and could effect. What a joyous thought!

ok so back to the verses:

1 Corinthians 13:5-6 - "[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth"

That first part, "does not behave rudely" can be a tough one. Yeah, obviously don't behave inconsiderately of those around you; Don't be hurtful. But as obvious as this verse is, I'd like to take it deeper. What about preachers, such as the ones that come to our campus preaching hate out of a supposed "love" to see them come to God? I would consider that rude, or as the KJV puts it "unseemly". When people thronged toward Jesus, it wasn't because he cried in the streets (Isaiah 42:2, Matthew 12:19), It was because He exuded love to others so much that the common people heard him gladly (Luke 12:37) and it was the religious people that about had a stroke. That, for the most part, seems to have completely switched. Many of the preachers I have experienced on campus that attack students, seem to be ridiculed and not a word from their mouth is taken in by their listeners. It saddens me that their love is not the love of 1 Corinthians 13.

Love does not seek its own, or in other words, it is not selfish. Raise your hand if you struggle with that one. Our tendencies are naturally selfish. What career do I want? What would earn me the most money? respect? love? And the world sits and wonders why so many marriages fail these days; Why there is so much depression; Why there is so much jealousy and fighting. If we would all just treat others the way that they would want to be treated, placing them higher than ourselves, what a world this would be!

Love is not provoked, Love does not think evil, Love does not rejoice in iniquity. When we began to see things unselfishly, these cease! When we are provoked, it is because we are cheated or treated unfairly. But that is based on the premise that we deserve respect. Jesus, of which should garner the most respect, was completely ridiculed and challenged, and yet he was never provoked; He always thought good thoughts! OH, How I would love to daily learn to live like Jesus and not be provoked as I so easily do. And for those that provoke me, I want to learn to be able to hope the best for them, and not rejoice in their iniquity as so often my selfish desires and pleasures tell me to do.

Love rejoices in the truth! When others are lifted up, I want to be able to rejoice. Love rejoices when others are praised or blessed or doing well. It rejoices when there is truth. It is the opposite of jealousy, of greed. It rejoices when someone turns to put their faith in Christ, in the truth (as seen with the angels). Love loves when truth is the highest standard.

A lot of these passages on love deal solely with the topic of being unselfish. Lifting others up above yourselves; placing their eternal picture, higher than your own. So going back to my first thoughts, love those around you today, this thanksgiving week, this year, until your appointed time to meet Jesus. Its not a question of fear or carelessness, it's one of unselfishness, of LOVE!

Watch this!!! ---HERE---
Sums everything up!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Love suffers long . . .

I thought leading up to thanksgiving, that I would go through 1 Corinthians 13 one small step at a time so that we can see some characteristics of love, but more importantly, characteristics of God. Over the next week, I am going to try and take a snippet of some of the characteristics from verses 4 through 8, and apply them to stories in my life presently or to apply them to areas in our lives we can all learn from. So with no further ado,

1 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV "Love suffers long and is kind; Love does not envy; Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up."

One of the ways I love to look at these verses is to replace the word Love with the word God. Afterall, in 1 John 4:8 we read "God is Love"; both being the Agape form of the word love which can only be described as a heavenly, unconditional love. So God suffers long and is kind. Do you believe that? Lets look first at the cross! God so loved US, that HE hung on a tree and DIED so that we might be found completely forgiven and completely righteous. You might say that Jesus was God and that he could not suffer, but then you hear his cries toward the father "why have you forsaken me?" Truly know that Jesus suffered long for you and for me! and not only did he suffer but he was kind as he looked over at the guilty thief and said, "Today you will be with me in paradise" and then looking at all of the people responsible for executing Him (everyone really), and saying "Forgive them, for they know not what they do!" That is merciful and kind!

But you might say, "Well God has never been kind toward me! He has left my life in shambles after taking my job away, or He took my friend away from me at such a young age, or He didn't prosper me to the point in life that I thought he was directing me!" The list really can go on and on. But I urge you to reexamine whatever issue it is in your life to doubt God's love for you. The Lord can give, and the Lord can take away. We are just called to trust in faith, and follow. Maybe you lost your job and it's caused a lot of stress and heart ache at home, but maybe God has a more important place for you or maybe its so you can take a season getting a chance to love your family more. Maybe a friend or family member died at a very young age and you wonder why a loving God could do that to you or to that person! That is a tough situation indeed, but so many times does God work through areas like that. Its different in every situation but just take some time and look for the light, look for what God might be trying to tell you. Love does suffer long, and is kind!

I wanted to add something from the original posting in regards to this topic. This is a music video by Josh Wilson that deals with loss and heartache and seeing God's love. check it out, HERE

Love does not envy; Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.
This might sound simple, But God is completely sufficient in Himself. He does not envy for anything and does not parade Himself (or as the KJV translation puts it "vaunteth itself up"). God in his sufficiency still loved us enough to send His Son to die for us!

So how can this verse apply to our lives and help us love God and love those around us? In a commentary by Jon Courson, regarding this passage, he writes

"The person who understands that 1 Corinthians 13 is most fundamentally talking about the nature and character of God's love toward him personally will be one who inevitably overflows with love to the people around him".

If we are to seek after God, and God is love, and these are the characteristics of love, then we ought to remember these are the qualities we strive after. So when we are around others, no matter what they do to us, we suffer long and are still kind. That might seem incredibly hard, but next time a situation arises, look back at the cross and remember God's love toward you and maybe, just maybe, it will help you figure out how to suffer long. When you are around others, don't parade yourself, or puff yourself up, for blessed are the humble! Don't envy after what others have, or what you yourself want, but learn that contentment with earthly things, is the only way to strive after heavenly things!

I'll continue with verse 5 and more of the characteristics of God in the next couple days. Until then, love God, and love people, and apply these characteristics into your daily situations.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Love is dying to yourself

To start this post off, I am going to introduce a video to you. The video is the music video for the song SMS by David Crowder Band

To see the video follow this link

I am going to kind of lay out one of the main ways i interpreted it, even though there are so many ways this video can be taken and each are beautiful. This isn't even my favorite interpretation or the one i think the song is dealing with most. I wholeheartedly believe this is the song of the love of Christ, of God. The interpretation I am telling you is a little different but it has so much more to deal with where I am at personally right now. We are only really focusing on the plant at this point. continuing on, as I see it there are three stages in this song, Birth . . . Pause . . . and Growth.

When the video initially starts you see a plant slowly growing up to a flower stage which is what flower plants are supposed to do. God initially has given us life, He has given us His word, He has given us creation, He has saved us! He has given us a blooming plant so that we might give it to others. In the entirety of the video, the plant never dies, just as when we truly grasp the life God has given us through his son, our newly found plant can never die. But also notice, that it never grows. Now turn with me to the lyrics for this first stage of the plant.

"Send us a sign, a hint, a whisper. Fill me with life 'cause I am listening. Come break the quiet, breathe Your awakening. Bring me the light 'cause I am fading. Surround me with the rush of angel's wings. Shine Your light so I can see You, pull me up, I need to be near You. Hold me, I need to feel loved. Can You overcome this heart that's been overcome?"

Notice the phrases on a lot of it. The word "me" or "I" or other references to oneself occur 10 times! And isn't this true? At least it was for me, that when we first grasp this new life, we have the tendency to think that it's all about us. How many times in our prayers do we talk to God and ask him to bless us, to protect us, always seeking some way of God glorying us, then us glorying God. and yet the plant is still alive. . . because get this, God DOES love us! Even when we are overcome, God is listening and working in our lives.

The second part of the song is the pause. I referenced it earlier, but notice the plant has no growth. It is just stagnant at that one stem! Life goes on in the video as they enjoy creation, and then themselves, and ultimately just life, and the plant is always there! Just never growing. to this we go back to the lyrics

"You sent a sign, a hint, a whisper. Human, Divine, Everyone is listening. Death laid low. Quiet in the night is stirring, All around the rush of angels," and then back into the first chorus

At this point, God gave His son Jesus as the sign that was asked for. In this verse, it tells the story of Jesus right up to the point of death. So often we are told to live our lives based on the example of Jesus. We fall into a legalistic mindset as we do this if we don't first place the love of God in the forefront. And we can also fall into a self righteous mindset as we compare ourselves to those around us because they might not be doing something we agree with or they might have even messed up. We can't just strive for the life of Jesus without first recognizing the death of Jesus. Without love, works are dead. Notice the chorus during this part is identical to the first because at this stage in life, or in a situation, We still have grasped that it's not about us, its about God!!!!!

But then guess what: Jesus did die! He took every sin, every screw up, every self condemning act, and He took it upon Himself, and He died! He conquered it! He rose again, leaving it all behind so that we might have grace, life MORE abundantly, and know what true love is. And until we grasp that, nothing else matters! The lyrics go on as the girl in the video dies, and say, "O, the wonder of the greatest love has come!" and then notice the alteration in the chorus as this once stagnant plant, explodes!

"shine Your light so ALL can see it, lifted up, 'cause the WHOLE WORLD needs it. Love has come, what joy to hear it, He has overcome, He has overcome!"

There is no reference to me or myself, the focus is on the entirety of the world, on everyone around us! All of a sudden a life that had just been mediocre, fully recognizes the love of God, the sacrifice of God, and there is no looking back. The plant must explode! Jesus had to die to make that plant explode.

On a more applicable note and just a little about how this has been going on in my life. I read a commentary the other day about Isaac and Ishmael reconciling after their father's death. There was a whole applicable story entitled "Someone must die". And it takes the external act of having to have their father die for them to come back together, and applies it personally that when their are separating circumstances, the only way to reconcile it, is that someone must first die. Right now in my life, there is a lot going on where relationships once stood, walls have been built up; where healthy friendships once were, deserts have grown between. And it's been challenging to figure out how to handle certain situations. But then I look at God and his sacrifice, and suddenly it makes so much sense, someone has to die! You can't live your life with walls everywhere, someone has to die, YOU must die to yourself and make things right!

Everything comes back to love and the love God showed us

Monday, October 18, 2010

Love is vast beyond all measure

Let me first begin by writing you the lyrics to one of my favorite raw worship songs. Let this truth flood over you.

How deep the father's love for us; How vast beyond all measure
that He should give His only son to make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss; The Father turns His face away
as wounds which mar the Chosen One bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon the cross; My sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life. I know that it is finished.

I will not boast anything; No gifts, no power, no wisdom,
but I will boast in Jesus Christ; His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward, I cannot give an answer,
But this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom.

Amazing, right? I don't know where you are when you read that or what's going in your life, but always know: the father's love for us is deep and vast beyond all measure.

About a week ago, A group of mine was going over a packet entitled "Shrinking the Cross". The basic message that I pulled away was that whenever you forget how much the Father loves you, whenever you let guilt overwhelm you, whenever your view of the Father becomes one of condemnation and punishment, you are severely shrinking the cross. We're all screwed up. We all have our constant mistakes looking at us in the face, but you know who doesn't? God, our Father, whose son took them from His presence and buried them deep away. For three days my sin and your sin caused such a searing loss between Father and Son BUT know this: It is finished, Jesus rose again! Our dad in heaven loves us SO much! Doesn't it just cause you to want to run after his arms? to love him as much as possible back?

And knowing that we are all flawed, let us also not judge and condemn others. Pour out the love you've been shown to all those around you! Encourage and build up those around you and provide them a community. Our fall retreat this weekend was all about community, and oh how important it truly is. We must not put up facades and walls to protect our dignity for in so doing you become even more lonely. So often do I do this and so often do i feel that repercussion. True community is honesty, vulnerability, love, grace, and as fall retreat pointed out: Desperation, Passion, Mission! so go out today and love on all those around you as you remember that God's love for you is:


God's bridge reaches to wherever you go!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Love is Sometimes Unnoticed

The time? 2:00 am. After 2 large pizzas and a rigorous session of Nintendo 64 with the boys, which included Mario Kart and Pokemon Stadium, we decided to cool off by heading outside into the refreshing 80 degree nighttime temperature. Nothing special, just four guys sitting in the front "lawn" talking away. But then, something we never would have expected happened (or maybe could have based on where we were), something that changed our whole night! I'm going to call her "untied vans" because that was her shoe of choice. But first, let me provide a little background info on where this all occurred. We like to call it "Frappe Snowland" also known as Charley's, Joey's, and soon my house. It is located in the sketchy old neighborhood south of 6th street near Campbell. If that means nothing to you, know this: It can be very creepy, ESPECIALLY at 2am. So here comes Untied Vans walking down the road BY HERSELF, talking on the phone. Seeming a bit odd at first, we kept an eye on her as she walked to the next intersection and stopped. She then flipped a 180 and came and walked by us again before stopping just in front of the neighbors house and then turning to ask us where we were. By now, the next 2 hours of our life were completely changed.

Untied Vans, as she tells us, is from Delaware and has a very distinct mix of a Southern and a Bostonian accent. She has been in Tucson one week, and as we came to know over and over again, works at the mall as a makeup sales person. Oh, and Untied Vans is completely drunk! She tells us, with distinct usage of the word "y'all" repeated over a hundred times, that she lives way off on the east side near Pantano but has just been kicked out of a party because of some girls boyfriend issues (and really just too much alcohol). She asked us how far it was, of which we replied, "about 10 miles". . .And then she informed us that she was going to walk there .....and walked off.

So we sit and ponder what just happened before we realized we couldn't let this girl make the last decision of her life if we didn't have to. So we followed her a couple blocks to another intersection and asked her if she would like a ride, of which she said "no", she has someone else coming to get her. So as she talked on the phone to various people (and informed us of who they were as she talked and a funny story about them) we talked to her and basically watched out for her. Apparently a "cowboy" friend she had just met was coming to get her at the intersection. She found a strange liking to Charley who she thought looked smart and "pettable". It was good conversation, but as she tried to prove that she wasn't drunk and could walk in a straight line better than any of us, she got angry and walked away.......again

Relentlessly not allowing this girl to be alone, we split up, two waiting at the intersection, and two following her two more blocks to the major intersection of Broadway and Campbell. She eventually called her sister who had agreed to come pick her up (which probably should have been the first thing to happen. Untied Vans then just walked across the major street while we attempted to protect her from cars and we ended the night talking in the Safeway parking lot until the sister arrived (and the guy who was supposed to pick her up at the intersection the first time). All alone now, we walked over to circle K, feeling accomplished that we had kept her alive, and then crashed back at Charley's (or the smart ones) house. The time was now past 4am.

All this to say, sometimes when you share love with others they will never remember a single ounce of it; Sometimes it will pass right under the radar. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't love. Don't just love for the recognition, or the favor, or to get it returned, or to fill a longing inside yourself. Love because they are more important than just another person; Love because they are our neighbor's no matter how we might view them; Love because they need God's love just as much as we do; Love because He first loved us!

He'll notice you! I guarantee it

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Love is Indescribable!

It has been quite a battleground this week. For some bizarre reason I was getting really attacked this past week or so (or possibly up until the point I was told I was going to be men's team leader for Cru). My heart and mind have been getting beaten down and it was really wearing me out, and i assume my relationships were wearing as well. Over and over again in my mind are the feelings of inadequacy, of fear, of awkwardness, of being unloved. Some days, I would be alright, and others, I wouldn't know what to think as Satan continually lied to me. How could I possibly influence the other guys in my group? Who would ever listen to me? Why would anyone want to hang out with me?

I came to a point yesterday, where I was sick of it and so I went to worship God at the Friday night worship service. I got there early to do some pre-game reading done and to get ready to beat up this constant source of lies and confusion. When worship started, I focused in on giving my entire heart and mind to worshiping and talking with God. At various points during worship, I would flip open my bible and read something - and on one occasion I flipped to one of my favorite areas: God's promise to the captive Israelites during the Babylonian rule.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, AND I WILL LISTEN TO YOU. And you will seek me AND FIND ME, when you search for Me, WITH ALL YOUR HEART.

Of all the times I had doubted, I knew God was listening to me. Worship continued going amazingly as I just focused on God. You ever have those instances where you are worshiping, and you can't do anything but look up? It almost seems like you are staring at the ceiling, but it's like you are looking past the ceiling, past the clouds, past the planets. Or where you feel so loved by the father that all you can do is wrap yourself up into a ball as he comforts you? You probably all have different experiences but you know the feeling that I am talking about. When I first came to write this, i brainstormed what I would title it. What was I feeling? of various ideas were: Love is comfort, Love is Joy, Love is life, Love is surprising. All of those are correct, but when it came down to it, I felt more than just joy or comfort. What I felt was indescribable.

The pastor kept interjecting worship with prayers that just struck me. He would pray for more love on those that needed it, and just for a fatherly love to guide and comfort. At one point, he even had people pray around people that needed a hug from God. To say the least, I think i was supposed to go that night.

So take heart all you are hurting, confused, or under attack, call upon and pray to God with all your heart and you will find Him. HE WILL LISTEN TO YOU. He will comfort you, provide joy for you, direct you, protect you, and ultimately, He will unconditionally love you.

Its Indescribable!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Love is Addicting

So what do i mean by that? is addicting. There's a whole realm of possible meanings that could take on. You could be addicted to receiving love from others, You could be addicted to the love of giving to others, to the love in relationships (or the sense of not being alone), to the search of love, you could be addicted to the love of inanimate objects like your possessions or money or work, the list really does go on and on, and not all of the addictions are bad forms of love addictions. It's just getting rid of the bad addictions first that's the hard part. This is probably going to be one of the more open and hard posts that i have yet written, but bear with me. I don't feel like this is just a singular problem here that I am facing, but a universal one.

Lately, in a quite convicting manner, I have noticed that I leave way too many doors open to fuel my addiction for searching and receiving love from others. I have been single now for over a year, and until this last year, I had never realized how many things were wrong with me and how many things I have a hard time going without. I was in love with eventually finding someone that would love me for who i was. This last year, I left so many open doors that pretty much whenever someone who incredibly attracted me walked into my life, I tried to see if there was any possibility there. Over and Over again this cycle continued as various attractions became implausible and other ones presented themselves to me. And lately, God has really been grabbing a hold of me and shaking me awake and showing me there is something wrong with this perception. Its hard for me to not find love from others. I think that is a sinful subject a lot of people deal with. We have a hard time when others don't love us or don't even like us. We feel as if when someone disses us, or ignores us, or pushes us away, that our little center of the universe is falling apart, when through all of it, we should be the ones reaching out and loving others and leaving ourselves on the "planet" of Pluto (which i refuse to accept is not a planet!)

I can call what I have been the last year or more "single" but have i really been? When seeking love is still the central idol my life revolves around, am i really single? Just because there is not a significant other in someones life does not mean that they should inevitability call themselves single. From what I have come to believe lately, a single heart is one that is secure. One that is not constantly seeking to be un-single, to be loved, to be filled. Being single means to be completely wrapped up in Jesus, secure and growing in who you are, and loving others with no intention of needing them to love you back. This is so much easier to write then to live.

Here's my goal for myself, and if anyone reads this and wants to join me, feel welcome, but i refuse to leave the door that longs to be loved, to have someone special in my life, open. Whenever I want to feel loved, I am going to give it out instead. I am going to constantly live out everyday growing in the Word of God, enveloped in who He is. With girls, I am going to quit seeking out plausible attractions and just love the girls around me as the sisters they should be. And most of all, I am going to pray because when you talk to someone all the time, you begin to grow together in love. And God is definitely someone I would rather spend my time seeking after! I believe he is the source of the love i find myself so lost in and I will run after it.

I hope and pray that all of us, instead of being addicted to the love we get, get addicted to pouring it out on others; instead of being addicted to relationships, being addicted to your relationship with God; instead of being addicted to a feeling, being addicted to the word of God, which shows exactly what true love is.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Love is Crazy!!!!

Really, think about is crazy. The truest form of love, expressed all over in the Bible, the kind that loves your enemies even after persecution, the kind that loves others as yourself. According to what the world sees and lives, the love depicted in the bible is crazy and deprives ones self from moving forward or from being strong. I have been reading a lot about love in the Bible and from the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan lately. The more I learn about true love, the more i realize how different it actually is then what the world sees true love as.

-They see love as a feeling, a temporary and conditional feeling, whereas true love is a choice, not based on emotion, but on the unconditional love of Christ given to us.

-They see love as something to achieve or to get from someone, whereas true love seeks to give to others, at all times seeking one others being, higher then themselves.

-They see love as the bond between husband and wife, family, friends, whereas true love seeks out the poor, the needy, the ones who wrong us, the forgotten, the unknown.

If I were to be wronged and betrayed by someone, to the world's standard I should stand up for myself and fight back. But that is not at all what the Bible teaches. The bible says to love your enemies, to turn the other cheek, to forgive. The world would look upon me crazily if I didn't seek back revenge. They would call me weak. What I've come to understand and instill in my heart more and more, is that it doesn't matter what the world thinks. True love confuses the world.

Have you ever loved someone so much that you went crazy? not literally maybe, but figuratively. All you could think about was that person, all you wanted to do was talk to that person, everything you did was purposed to spend time with that person. That's crazy! And what if this person you loved so crazily betrayed you by making fun of you or ignoring you? Would this "love" continue, or would you begin to find feelings for someone else? Now imagine this...God is you in this analogy, and you are the one he is crazily in love with. You have ignored him, not given him the time of day, and you have betrayed him by constantly choosing sin over him. The world says seek revenge and move on. But God does not belong to this world. His love transcends all! After being betrayed and ignored, forgotten and denied, God did not give up, but sent his one and only son to die for us!!! After all we've done, God still has chosen you.

From the beginning of time, he knew you, he knew everything about you, he intricately crafted you inside your mother's womb, guided and disciplined you through your life, and set up a path so that you might hear his Word and be saved. That's crazy to me! How could God love me that much when all I do in a day is get in a groove and forget him most of the time, and then betray him with all my sins and shortcomings? And after i finally grasp that love (of which i seek to do everyday) how can that love not pour out from me? And not just to those who love me back, but to those that have betrayed me, like i have to the One who loves me more than anything i could imagine.

As I learn more about this true love, I realize, we can't be bogged down by what the world thinks love should look like. Our job is to love God, and to love others! Simply stated. I want my love to be so evidenced by the world, that they call me crazy and push me away. I want to love God so much that it makes others uncomfortable as a child is when his/her parents kiss. I yearn to share this love, to give, to serve. I yearn for a movement in all of our hearts to make this love so widespread that the world know longer knows what to do.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Love is Unconditional

I thought I would keep going on these early posts with characteristics of love that people know but never really grasp. Love being unconditional is one of those concepts. Just about everything on our planet is conditional. We live in a highly selfish society where love is only given to those that deserve it or have done something loving toward us first. When someone does do something loving toward us, we automatically assume its because we did something to deserve it. Its so hard for us to understand what unconditional actually means. And I know some of you out there are like, "I know what unconditional means, I'm not stupid", then you are just like me! So many times in my life, in so many different areas of Christianity have I felt like I knew the answers to everything, and to be completely honest, I do know a lot of the knowledge of what is in the Bible. The problem I continually face is instilling the knowledge I have into my heart; To not just know what it means to live your life a sacrifice for others, but to actually have it in my heart to go do it; To not just know that I don't have to fear because God is with me at all times, but to actually step out and trust in that promise; To not just know and understand what love is, but to actually love on others. Until you truly know and feel what unconditional means in your heart, you can have the definition, the language of origin, the pronunciation, you might even know how to use it in a sentence, but it will never really mean anything to you. I'm about to get real open in this posting so be prepared. A lot of times in my life I find myself feeling like a failure, sometimes due to the stupid situations i constantly find myself in, sometimes due to fear and not being able to step out. Whatever the instance is, lately I have been feeling like that. I'm constantly struggling with thoughts of why anyone would even want to merely like me or hang out with me. Just this last week in a car ride in the middle of the night, I found myself getting angry at myself because I couldn't even get over the fear of taking a risk and being honest. A lot of times like that, (it may sound silly) but then I automatically assume that I'm a failure, and because I am a failure, then they must not like me anymore, and it just goes down hill from there. It's severely dampened a lot of the relationships Ive had with people. And I don't just find myself in these situations with friends; I find myself doing this with God a lot too. I can never wrap my head around no matter what I do, God will always love me and want to keep spending time with me. I forget God's love; I forget that God fearfully and wonderfully created me. If I could take 10 minutes of your time to go check out a video of part of the "How Great is Our God" tour. It changes my perspective every time i watch it.

This Link will take you there

Doesn't that just blow your mind? the whole series of videos, if you ever get the chance to watch them, will rock your world. Sometimes in our lives, we forget about small details like that. We live what we see, and we forget what we don't. God's unconditional love is one of those things we have a hard time seeing. Getting into the word this morning, and listening to songs of God's love, and reading what God is doing in others life has all helped me start my day today. I've fallen away lately from getting into God's word as Ive been traveling, which is probably in part why I find myself feeling like a failure all the time. Every time I watch that video, I can't help but remember the love God has for me. Guys, He will never leave you! grasp that today. His love is unconditional. Don't just know it, Go and live it. No matter how many times you feel like a failure like I do, take heart, for God is still there lifting you back up. So take his hand, get back up, and continue to try and love Him as he loves you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Love is not fearful

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18.

I have spent the last two weeks in the amazing, beautiful, picturesque city of Durango, Colorado. In this post, I hope to offer at least somewhat of a good snapshot of exactly how awesome my time was there. Fear was conquered for sure! ok, so here we go, try to keep up.

Day 1: The Drive I left at 5:15 in the morning out of Tucson (which to my surprise was the exact time of the sunrise) and then I continued to drive through Phoenix, Payson (beautiful city!), Navajo Nation, and finally entering the southern Rockies of Durango Colorado. On my arrival, I met something like 7 or 8 girls and then 3 guys. Luckily after North Dakota arrived, it balanced out to 8 girls and 7 guys. We played some epic games of pool pig, ninja, and other various games and discussions to get to know each other. Not much really happened the first day (other than the fact that i fell in love with Durango) so with that, we move onward.

Day 2: Souls, Falls, and Welts I woke up in the man loft of the lodge (my only night ever sleeping up there because it was too hot). It was the fear of vulnerability day. We opened the day with some awesome worship, and then got right into our soul to soul groups where we opened up and shared about our lives and our fears. It was just a great time talking and opening with one another. Later in the afternoon, we did some epic trust falls of a scale i had never encountered. Little did I know I was afraid of falling, but i learned one thing at the fall that i would carry with me the rest of my time there and for the rest of my life. Rip it off like a band aid. I walked up, without even showing a sign of being afraid and fell straight back. Later we busted out the paintball slingshots and played in the rocky slopes near the lodge. For my first time playing paintball, it was pretty sweet. I still have not had the pleasure of getting hit with a paintball, even during our civil war shootout (which is where we just stand in a line with no cover and just shoot at each other. That night, I slept in the rightful spot outside on the deck with my sleeping bag and a mattress. After that one night under the stars, and the beautiful sunrise to follow, I was hooked.

Day 3: Confrontation, Durango, and Rafting I woke up with the three other guys (Mike Rich and Dakota) who had decided to sleep outside as well, and was greeted by a beautiful sunrise! The first of many to come. Today was one of the first scary days i encountered. I was freaking out all morning. We had to go to various stores in Durango, and a) tell a cashier that Jesus loved them and b) confront the manager about the content and placement of the scandalous magazines by the checkout lines. I confronted Walmart about their magazine along side with Kadi, and we actually were able to have a pretty good talk with the assistant manager who did not like the content as well. I felt very accomplished because I was freaking out. This may be a surprise because I hid it so well, but believe me, just about everything I did, i was freaking out inside. After we went to one of the grocery stores, we saw a beagle get hit by a car and we tried taking it to the hospital but it died on the way there. That was hands down, the saddest part of the trip. We also had to give blood on this day, but not to use it as an excuse, I was having some heart panic attacks which was kind of scaring me and raising my blood pressure. So I was unable to partake in that task along with a lot of other people. We all met up after that and ate at Serious Texas Barbecue which is some pretty legit food. And then we all went rafting as a group. That was pretty darn sweet. I love me some rafting. Once again, we slept outside that night (Dakota decided to sleep out in the middle of the field). By the way, the temperature on most nights was in the low 30's.

Day 4: Repelling, Darkness, and Trust After eating breakfast, and having a wonderful talk on Identity and then the contrast between trust and fear, we split into two groups, one of which would go repelling first, and one that would go exploring caves first. My group was the repelling group. It probably took us 45 minutes just to all get our waist straps on right. We decided Kadi should go first because she was obviously the most afraid. And even though it took her forever to make it over that initial drop, she conquered that cliff like a champ. I then went next and just ripped it off like a band aid. After that, i stuck to taking pictures of everyone else going. 3 hours later, the other group arrived and we switched places and drove down to the cave. i had no idea what to think of this activity but afterward it was one of my favorite things. It was dark, and muddy, and there were a lot of holes and deep crevices. When we got to the back, we took some group pictures and then had a moment of pure darkness before heading back out. It was such a great day just to learn that no matter what we go through, God will always be there, no matter how dark and backed up we get, God will always be there, and when we choose to step out in faith for Gods Glory, God will always be there.

Day 5: Testimonies, Sharing, and crowns in heaven.
Talk about getting out of your comfort zone, today was the most uncomfortable day for me (it will also probably be the longest story). We each were assigned to various churches in Durango, Bayfield, and Ignacio, and we had to get up in front of the church to share our testimonies. so a little background for you, what i consider my home church is Applegate Christian Fellowship in southern Oregon. It is a church of around 5000 and there is an outdoor amphitheater as well as an indoor normal church area. One band in particular is the worship leader there, Seven Places, and many other lead singers and artists (such as kutless) come out of this church so its always filled modern hip music. Fast forward to my small church in Ignacio. Im sitting there in the pews of Ignacio baptist church and so far the average age of the people walking in in around 70 or 75. Finally a couple younger people enter and lower that average just a little. To start us off, we read out of a hymnal which was an experience for me. Oh and i forgot to mention, there were 23 people at church that day. So after the songs, i got up and gave my testimony and before i knew it, all was done. The pastor then went on to talk about pretty much the same topics as me, finding your identity in God and being a child of God. I thought that was pretty tizzight. So then the people that were at the small towns of Ignacio and Bayfield met at a church in Ignacio and we went sharing. Background on this town...Ignacio is a hard hit town of poverty, drugs, and alcohol. At only a population of a little over 1000, 50% is probably from the Southern Ute Indian tribe. We tried walking around and talking to people but there was hardly anyone outside. Me and my partner, who was just entering his freshmen year of high school; grown up all his life in Ignacio and Durango, went door to door, searching for people to talk to. After getting the door shut in out face once, being completely ignored once, and then getting turned down once, we finally found a guy who was entering his house from his car and got into a conversation. He said he was brought up in a christian home but isnt real proud of where he is right now. i shared a little of my testimony with him and asked if he wanted to develop a relationship with God so that he can feel proud of where he is right now. He said he didn't have time and left for work. So the first evangelizing experience was quite a time. That night we watched the Bema video which is a video of a sweet skit done at a church which encompasses the part of heaven where we are given crowns based on our work on earth, and us laying our crowns down at Jesus' feet. It was an amazing video!!! Definitely affected the way i look at things. Everyone should get a chance to see the video. Well that is all for day 5. A lot of story, but not very many pictures taken.

Day 6: SNOW DAY!!!!!
So this was the day when we were supposed to go on a solo camping trip, but overnight while most of us were sleeping outside, it began to snow. Mike and Rich and whoever else left that night, woke up in the middle of the night and moved inside, telling us, "guys, its snowing, you might want to come in" of which i replied "perfect" and covered myself in my sleeping bag. April, Lindsey, Kadi, Dakota, and I woke up that next morning covered in around 2 inches of snow. it was majestic. The low that night was in the low 20's and the high the next day didn't even reach 60. With that said, we ended up not having our solo that day. We, instead, had a free afternoon where me, Joel, Paul, and Dave hiked down to the waterfall near our lodge. We took a lot of pictures of the waterfall and the rapids. We even tried damming the flow of water (not very successfully). It was a beautiful area for sure. Not too much happened on this day, other than more games of pool pig, and an epic game of signs.

Day 7: All Alone ...
Today is the day, . . . the day we would spend 24 hours in the wilderness alone. The temperature had risen enough to enjoy the time with God. We spent all morning packing up and getting oriented with our equipment. I brought an extra pair of clothes, a sleeping bag, a lighter, a flashlight, two ropes, a plastic tarp to protect us from weather, and a bag of food. Nate walked me out to my awesome camp site near the marshes where the only way to get to it was to cross a log. I set up my camp site by getting the fire wood and preparing the fire pit. I made a bench, a pulley system to hoist my food 20 feet in the air, a sundial, a bathroom, and a devotional bench in the shade. It was sweet. Oh i forgot to mention i brought my guitar too and spent multiple occasions just worshiping. I read the entire book of second kings. I walked about about a half mile to the rapids on 3 occasions to read the bible while i was perched over the water on a cliff. When my sundial hit about 7pm the sun went behind the trees so i started my fire and ate. it wasnt long after it got dark that i huddled up in my sleeping bag, let the fire dwindle, and fell asleep under the stars for a peaceful night sleep. The solo would continue on the next day.

Day 8: Reunion and grueling hikes
The next morning, it took me 45 minutes and a thumb blister to start my fire because everything was damp. I then ate my food, worshiped and had some more devotionals. When my sun dial hit 11 o clock i packed up and headed back to the lodge. Found some sweet areas to take pictures such as the one to the left when i found a nice little rapid. After we got back to the lodge, we repacked, ate lunch, and headed straight back into the wilderness for our grueling leadership hike. We were split into 4 groups of 4 members and then leaders. My group only ended up with 3 students, Alyssa, Katie and I, but we had 3 leaders, Leah, Jesse, and LouAnn. The leaders were only their for safety and couldn't help out. One student had to lead the group however they thought necessary and one student had to be absolutely silent. We rotated positions every hour. They dropped us off really far away, showed us the mountain we were trying to get to, and gave us a elevation map. We had to cross a river on a log, then climb a grueling ravine that climbed 2000 or so ft in elevation, and then climb a really long trail to get up to the lake in the mountains. It took our team 4 hours and 30 minutes and we were the first ones to the lake. But another team who left after us, got there in 4 hours and 18 minutes. The other two teams were a story in themselves. One team had to use a rope to wade across the river and got there in 5 and a half hours. The other team ended up getting a ride to the lake. They still ended up at about 6 hours. We made camp at the beautiful lake but i didn't have my camera so you have to take my word for it. We ate, and then went to bed out of exhaustion.

Day 9: Hiking back and hangin' in Durango
After a BEAUTIFUL morning, a walk around the lake, devotionals, and breakfast, we packed up and hiked back downhill to the lodge. The rest of the day was pretty much free, so after taking a short nap, Dakota woke me up (and kadi because she fell asleep too) and the three of us plus Stephanie, April, Alyssa, Joel, and Katie drove down to durango to hit up the town. We went to Coldstone and then on Kadi's request went to Ralph Lauren where everything was extremely expensive. Other than that, not much happened. Another game of signs occurred on the way back (my sign was a wildcat, repping the school!!!). I got to watch veggie tales on the drive. That was basically the day. very chill.

Day 10: Evangelizing in Durango day 1
I do not have any pictures of the next two days, but the last day had a lot so i will be posting pictures from the last day. Anyway, Today was also one of those days where i woke up and just wanted to quit. I get so scared when I have to go share the gospel and its not because I don't want to share the love I have, or that I am scared of confronting others, or anything. I just don't ever know what to say and my spoken word is so hard and slow to formulate sometimes so i always think i am going to screw something up. Anyway, i was scared out of my socks. I was very happy when I got paired with April though. She is an amazingly kind and loving, and listens very well, so I knew it would be a good sharing experience. That calmed me a little. Me and April were dropped off at a park around 1:30 and were told to "meet at the rock at 4 o'clock." sorry it was just so catchy. We found two guys enjoying a summer lunch and April asked them if we could join them and if they wanted to take our picture survey. One of the guys was named Skyhawk, and was a native American in the process of moving. The other guy, forgot his name, was a very analytical science oriented guy. April and I took turns asking them questions on the Soularium of which SkyHawk would talk for 15 minutes each time. It was a great conversation that really provoked thought in both of them. Sometimes Skyhawk, who had a spiritual background, would go back and forth with the other guy who was agnostic. We went through the gospel with them through the 4 spiritual laws booklet and then finished the conversation just talking about animals and stuff. When we were done it was 3:18. We tried to start another conversation with another guy and got through the pictures with him but he didnt want to talk any further. After that 10 minute convo, me and April didnt really have any time left so we walked along the river and chit chatted about lives and i took some pictures on her phone. It turned out being a great day!

Day 11: day 2 in Durango
I was getting kind of sick on this day so it wasn't the best day for me at all. It was hard enough being out in the sun of durango sharing. For that day, I was paired with the awesome Stephanie! We were dropped off in the South East corner of downtown durango. Being in the park was so much easier for me. In downtown, it seemed like everyone had an agenda and were in very large groups. We ended up, well Stephanie ended up talking to someone who was working at a booth for a while. After that, I was just getting so overheated and overwhelmed. We walked down the entire downtown and then ended up sitting at a bench for a while in the shade and just talked about things that bothered me. Then one of the main leaders, Kyle came up, and no sooner did he arrive and ask us how we were doing, another pretty drunk guy came up and asked us a question of which Kyle jumped on and started a very long conversation that led into his spiritual background and the gospel. After being very overwhelmed and put on the spot, i shared my testimony with him and he got very serious all of a sudden because he felt he had abandoned his children by leaving for war. We gave him our contact info and told him to think about it. He kept telling me to reconnect with my dad, of which we told him to reconnect with his heavenly dad. That night, I started feeling very sick and feverish and weak and we had to give a 10 minute teaching on a snap shot of God. I had chosen true love while i was on my solo and had gotten the entire outline done and all the verses ready but had since not had time to finish it. After everyone finished theirs. I had to give mine without my notes and completely from memory from 4 days prior. It wasnt very good but i got most of my point across and only forgot one verse and point of my outline. after that i was feeling ready to pass out. I immediately went outside and went to bed.

Day 12: talks, jumps, trees, waterfalls, bonfires!
The last full day! We spent the entire morning going over our spiritual gifts and stuff like that. I found out mine were Teaching and Serving which i would have already thought. My 3rd was a little surprising. it said leadership. ...We had one on one time with our disciplers. Mine was the awesome Nate, who taught me a ton of ways to make my next year work with men's group. He taught me bible study ideas, and men's hangout times, and soularium tables on the mall, ways to get get guys interested and grow our mens group for cru. I learned so much. All the men in Cru better be getting prepared for an amazing time! We are going to step up to the plate and become the leaders we are supposed to be. After that, Dakota, April, Katie, and Lindsey went to the waterfall and took some sweet pictures. We took awesome pictures jumping off rocks, we freestyle climbed some aspen trees. We shot some clay pigeons. I hit the first 6 or 7 in a row before missing. The hidden talents i keep finding in myself. bizarre! And then to finish it off, we had a massive bon fire, where we burned the old deck and the old foos ball table and a bunch of other stuff. It was A-MAZE-ZA-ZING! We then slept outside for our last night :(

Day 13: Durango and the Drive home...
The last day, we had to say our good byes to the ones flying out. We all packed up and cleaned. Over the duration of the trip my tire had deflated, apparently it had a nail in it. So after I packed, I had to go to town and get it fixed which was only 12 bucks and i got 3 free sodas and water for the trip. Dakota, Kadi, Steph, and Lindsey, and I went to serious texas barbecue one last time, and then went shopping downtown to all the sweet stores. We each got color changing sea horses to remember our time. But then, sadly, everyone had to leave, so i went back to get my fixed tire remounted on my car and drive the 9 hour 15 minute drive back. I ended up taking an accidental detour but never panicked. i ended up just going through a very scenic northern part of navajo nation in arizona. (the roads were horrible!) I got back at a little after 11 at night. And that was my trip!!!!!!!!!

If you would like to see all the pictures, they are on my facebook here, here, and here!!!! i thoroughly hoped you enjoyed my story and pictures. It was such a great experience!!! Have a great day!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Love is undeserved

Its been a crazy week! I seriously don't even know where to start. I have seen God's love in the most real way and yet I still can't seem to get it. Just today, I fell back into my same old trap of letting my feelings get the most of me; trying to tell God what I want instead of letting his love rule my heart. And all this frustration and doubt just a day after barely getting through a day alive (by the grace of God) ok, so maybe we should rewind and start at the beginning of the weekend where I did a lot of reading and devo time.


My favorite character in the old testament of the Bible is Elijah!!! I can definitely relate the most to this guy and so going through my devos again this week, I find myself in 1 Kings reading about the story of Elijah. A little back drop action for you: Elijah had just prayed for no rain and it came to be. He survived during the drought and famine through crazy miracles of God. He healed a widow's child. He took on 450 prophets of Baal and showed them up. He then prayed for rain fervently and God miraculously provided rain again after 3 years. This guy is a titan of faith. And yet, just after all this, we find Elijah in a cave, hiding from a single women, complaining to God that he is the only true prophet left and that God should just take his life. But look at what God does here as Elijah throws his pity party.

1 KINGS 19: 9-15
And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then the LORD said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

This passage rocked me in so many ways! first off, I too, after just witnessing the power of God, often times find myself depressed, feeling alone, or just plain frustrated with life. Elijah, here, feels alone and he lets God know. But what does God do? He simply allows Elijah to think. In this passage, Elijah is on Mount Horeb (mount Sanai) The same place where radical miracles had happened to reveal God's purpose to his people. Elijah is probably expecting God to come to the place and show him a sign or a miracle, BUT God comes in a still small voice instead, asking him the same exact question. Elijah's response is identical. He still feels alone, probably frustrated that God's plan isn't lining up with what he expects anymore. And yet, after this, God still uses him and tells him to go, get back up on his feet and continue serving the purpose. That is amazing to me. If i would have been God in this situation, I would have given up on Elijah who has seemed to quit when the slightest thing fell against him. But i am not God, and I am thankful, because I am most likely more like Elijah, and I definitely need God's grace and patience everyday. So i read this on friday, not thinking incredibly much about it.


While heading home from our men's retreat, sleeping in the passenger seat, the driver lost control of the vehicle going 75 on the freeway in pretty heavy traffic. In my complete incoherence, the vehicle did a 180 degree turn went across two lanes of traffic, went off the road between two trees and went reverse first into a ditch. All I remember is a loud commotion, screeching, and the loud impact of the car into the ditch. I have no visual memories. And then the craziest thing happened: Me and the driver both walk out of the car with no bruising, no cuts, no pain, completely fine. Only after I walked out of the car, did I truly wake up and realize what just happened. We hit no cars. We went around a tree backwards and missed it by just under a foot. And then we dropped 2 or 3 feet into a ditch, completely ripping apart both bumpers of the car (without setting off the airbags). The impact snapped the guitar in the back seat. I will have pictures of just how miraculous this all was soon, but for now entrust my description. God's hand was on that car! He wanted us alive!


Oh how quickly I fall. I just took part in a miracle on my life. I might not have been here today, and yet I still forget about God's love almost instantly as I get frustrated with my own life. I struggle with feeling alone. And this feeling often leads me to getting into a bad mood or depressed. And usually its because of girls. I have this deep instilled fear inside of me that I will have to spend the rest of my life alone, and so I wrongfully spend a lot of my time trying to work things out through my strength, searching for girls to like and trying to make it happen on my time. Today, I got frustrated because the girl I have gotten myself interested in seems to continually push me away. Quickly, I become frustrated, jealous, bitter, and it takes a while as I sit there in my cave, to begin to listen to Gods small, still voice asking me what I am doing again? So if I have learned anything from this weekend, It's that God's love and mercy are completely undeserved. How could I have ever deserved to live through that? How could God still love me after all I have done and here continue to do? I dont know the answers to these questions, but I know that he does.

And that amazes me.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Opening Statements

It's 11:30 at night. I tried going to bed around three hours ago, and yet due to the heat in my room, I have found myself staying up creating this blog.

Over the years, especially this last one, I have learned a lot about love. And not just your typical love that you hear everyday in songs, on television, or at the movies. I am talking about TRUE love, agape, the love only God can perfect. I have had my failures, my victories, my heartbreaks, my joys, my deserts, my mountain tops. My view of love has flipped completely around multiple times in the last couple years of my life. But one thing I have stayed firm on is the overwhelming love from God that I have witnessed in my life. I may not know how to perfectly love others all the time, but I know someone who does; I may not not feel loved by those around me all the time, but I know someone who does love me; I may spend a lot of my time and effort trying to find love in my life, but then I remember I already do have a love who will take care of me no matter what!!!!

As I make more posts in this blog, know this: They won't all be happy. They won't all be sad either. But I can promise you this: That as I live the journey that is life, when I overwhelmingly catch a small glimpse of God's infinite love, I will write about it; when I get down and depressed and wonder where love is, I will write about it until I figure it out. When I see the beauty and complexity of life, I will write about it. This is my life, every part of it. No editing the frustrations, nor the joys. This is my journey after God's heart. This is my journey to find what true love is . . .