Tuesday, July 29, 2008

After a slight hiatus...

Hey blogging world and readers!

Sorry that it has been such a long time since my last update. Life has been a little bit crazy and a little bit different for multiple reasons. I've been on a mission trip, housesat for a lovely family, and really just haven't had much to write about.

First off, i will describe a little bit of my feelings post mission trip. We went to tijauana, mexico for a week to build houses for families that were either living in poor conditions or didn't have a house to begin with. (which i suppose is still poor living conditions...) This was the first mission trip that i have been on that was more focused on work and construction than on the relationships with the people. It also was the first mission trip that i have been on that was trans-generational. We had 9 year old kids and 65 year old men, all working toward the same goal. 

Overall, this was a very difficult and challenging mission trip for me. It wasn't as much of a spiritual mission trip as it was a construction trip. This challenged me in my faith, even as i've come back to america and gotten back into the groove of things. Another challenging part of the trip was the students. I've never really realized how fickle and self centered people can be. As i dialogued with Jake, he basically said, "welcome to the dark side of student ministry". Jeez. 

So basically, that put my faith into a funk. I was fairly disheartened because the mission trip that i went on wasn't the time of growth and the mountaintop experience that i'm used to. This reverberated into the way that i have viewed the idea of a church at taylor. Let me explain.

The more that i've thought about it, the more I've become unsure with the idea. I now have started to see the positives in the ideas that people like david and Blackwasp proposed from the start. Reshaping Vespers or something would be good. But to counterbalance that, I still think that this should be a very bold program. Basically, i think that discussion should happen the entire first semester about TU church. If the idea came to fruition too early, it would be underdeveloped, which is the last thing that it needs. 

To everyone who reads this, i would ask that you pray for the idea of a church or program at Taylor. Also, pray that i can stay focused on what God wants from me in this coming school year. I'll do the same for all of you!


ps- sorry that this post was so vague and ambiguous! Its been a while since i last blogged, and i'm getting back into the swing of things!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Viva La Mexico!

Tomorrow morning at the literal buttcrack of dawn, A team from the church I'm interning at and I will be traveling to Tiajuana, Mexico to go do some real work! We'll be building 3 houses and a soccer field (how you build a soccer field is beyond me). Pray for us that we will have the energy to complete our work to the best of our ability while fully showing God's love to the recipients of the homes and the individuals we'll be working with. I know God has big plans for the trip!

Until then, everyone's homework is to read news, go running, and live out one of your wildest daydream imaginings. (I recently was thinking about how the world would end if air suddenly turned opaque, lol)



Thursday, July 10, 2008

The purpose of a church at Taylor University

What would the purpose of a church at Taylor serve?

I asked this question a while ago in a blogpost, and I think now I will try and answer that as best as I can. Hopefully the Dave Matthews i'm listening to can help me out. :-)

As many people that go to Taylor have realized, not everyone that goes to TU is a practicing christian. Some people go to church or read their Bibles every once in a while, but it isn't enough to constitute a strong relationship with Jesus. There are even some people on campus that are in opposition to christianity. A good example of this lack of spiritual concern on campus can be seen in chapel attendance. I know that chapel can be boring, and I know that sometimes I don't want to go or haven't gone, but there have been times where 5 guys from my floor have been at chapel. My floor is made up of 80 people. 

Another example is the growing problem with drinking on our campus (this was brought up by students). Now both chapel attendance and drinking are slippery slopes to use as examples, but they both have some of their roots in a much larger problem: spiritual apathy. It is this spiritual apathy that is a major cause in things like breaking school rules or cheating on schoolwork (another problem brought up by the student body). Now being realistic, I know that you will always have people that will break rules and cheat. Taylor isn't the garden of eden, and its not ever going to be. I'm pretty sure that the garden had more hills and less corn. :-) 

So, as a student that wants to try and combat this wave of spiritual apathy that is growing through campus, what can I do? How can God use me to stop the spread of disinterest in Him? My first thought was to make sure that rules were more enforced in my dorm. Being an RA, I could do this effectively. If rules were more strict, people would not want to skip chapel or break rules because of the consequences. 

That isn't my place though. Yes, I must enforce rules, but that isn't going to change hearts. Its the relationships that I have with my peers that really change me. Its when I see someone else cares for me that I can then be open in the relationship. Its when I see the passion that someone has for something when I can also be passionate about it. I can't tell you how much I really hate watching sports, but when there is a really intense basketball game on and everyone is on the edge of their seats around the TV, I have to watch. I feed off of other's passion. 

A great example of someone who is passionate about life is Tyler Kessler, or as he was more lovingly known as T.K. He just recently graduated from Taylor, but while he was on campus he lived on my floor (Penthouse W00t W00t). Throughout the entire time that I've attended TU, I've seen people drawn to him because of the general excitement and life he approaches everything with, whether it be relationships or a ministry. Because of that, I saw other amazing men come underneath his wing and become involved in the floor and in great ministries because of him.

Now enters the next question: How can we take people that are passionate (like T.K.) about Christ and christianity and combat the spiritual apathy on campus?

There is a multitude of ways that this question can be answered. In no way is the idea of a church the only way. I talked to Rachel Sawyer last night and she had the great suggestion of reshaping Vespers (a sunday night bible study). Justin Heth suggested that this idea be implemented at an already existing church. Many more have said something about just creating another organization or group on campus that can act out passionately. All of these are great ideas! My first thought was a real church on campus, and here's why.

I've been reading the book unChristian by Dave Kinnaman. The book is all about what the newest generation (our generation) thinks about christianity. Some of the things people said about christians is that we're judgmental (I felt great about wanting to be harder about rules) old fashioned, boring, and sheltered. Sadly, I have to partially agree with these observations by non christians. We can be all these things! This applies to Taylor more and more as the amount of non christians on campus grows. So where have these non christians gotten these views of the judgmental, old fashioned, and boring christians? More than likely, Church. Church is the initial place where a non christian interacts with a christian. 

Honestly, I haven't really found a strong church home at Taylor. It probably is mostly my fault for not getting directly involved, but I don't really feel a strong communal connection with any of the churches that I have been to in the surrounding area of Taylor. The churches do seemed old fashioned to me in a sense, and I have been bored in church (not just at Taylor). Now I'm not saying that a Taylor based church should constantly keep someone entertained or occupied, but there is a huge opportunity reshape the way people think about church. So now it comes to it, the real purpose. 

I think the purpose of a church on Taylor's campus would be to combat the spiritual apathy on campus by reshaping people's minds about Christianity, the Church, and Christ. This would be done through the people in the community that the church is in: Taylor. The topics at the church can be the things that Taylor students are actually concerned about, and what the Bible has to say about those topics. All in all, it would be to get people excited and on fire once again for a life in christ by showing them there is life in the church. To show that the church can change, that it isn't judgmental, and that it is concerned about the things of today.

Now obviously there are many questions that follow this. What does a student church look like? What about other's in the community? How would it be operated? What would draw someone back after you talk about the thing they care about? How would this be funded? Who would lead it? There are 1,000's of questions that can be asked and they must be asked. I'm sorry to the people that I've talked to and I've not been able to answer some of these. I felt like I had to have an answer whenever I talked to someone about this idea. Since then, I've realized that if God wants this to happen, it will. I don't have to have an answer for everything or everyone, because my trust is in God. 

This is the way that I see things, and I would love to hear how you see it. 

Thanks so much for listening to me rant! I hope to see responses to this soon. :-)

In Him, 

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Un- Flippin- Believable

I don't know how else to describe this beyond Glorious.

This is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time!


Restoring a Bridge

Yesterday i read a wonderful article about the church, christianity, and the way that they interact with the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and trans-sexual) community. The article was written by Andrew Marin, a straight married man that was at one point signed on to play division 1 baseball at a big school. What, not really the type of person that you'd expect to be writing an article about gay or lesbian people? Well, he didn't expect it either. 

Marin begins the article by describing the way that he was brought up: conservative christian family, very heterosexual, Bible believing, and completely ignorant of the GLBT lifestyle. Marin goes on to describe his view of GLBT people what he saw on TV... "I believed I knew gays and lesbians very well because I saw them on TV, I saw the cross-dressing pictures of them at the Pride Parades and I heard "the" rumors." This line of thinking falls dangerously close to my own view and paradigm of gays and lesbians. I'm sure that it also is hitting pretty close to home for most everyone that reads this.

How many people do I actually know and have a strong relationship that is in the GLBT community? I know it feels like this is a little bit removed from most of the circles that we hang out in, but it really isn't. So the question then now is, how can I as a christian bring Christ's redeeming love, not the negative baggage associated with the church, to the GLBT community? 

Its really quite simple really. Its so simple that its often hard to identify. We are called to love people. Those people being gay, straight, black, white, old, young, cool, or hip, it really doesn't matter. How much different would your interactions with the GLBT community look if you approached it with a visage of love as opposed to one of condemnation? 

GLBT's have been beaten over the head by christians that being gay is wrong and they are going to Hell if they don't change. I don't disagree that being gay is wrong. The Bible explicitly states that it is a sin, but imagine how you'd feel if someone approached you and told you that judging people is a sin and you are going to hell. Personally, I would avoid the person! Focusing on whats wrong is not the way to show people the love of Christ. We should look at the GLBT community with eyes that see people, not a sexual orientation. I know that there are many other pitfalls throughout the issue of GLBT's and the church, but we could change the whole tone of conversation between an ever growing subculture in our lives and the church that we are a part of by simply being unconditionally loving.

After the sex scandal of President Bill Clinton, Billy Graham was seen at a press conference that Clinton was speaking at. A surprised press person asked Rev. Graham why he was there at the press conference with the knowledge of that Clinton had recently done. The press person expected Graham to condemn the president's actions, but Billy Graham had a different agenda. Rev. Graham simply stated to the press, "its the Holy Spirits job to convict, Gods job to judge, and my job to love."

Lets just love. 

If this interests you, check out this website.

Monday, July 7, 2008


I've never realized how jealously relational God really is. 

Recently i've started reading in Genesis with plans to read straight through the entire Bible. I've never actually done this, so i figured that now was as good a time as any to start. With all the changes, plans, and developments that are forming in the church, in my generation's paradigm of what the church looks like, and my school, i thought it was good to go ahead and start again from the beginning. :-)

Anyways, I'm currently in the middle of Exodus and God has really surprised me. A lot. The first thing that has stuck out to me is how specific God is! He has such an order to things, it seems almost tedious. He gives exact dimensions to the ark of the covenant, exact materials to build it out of, and the craftsman he wants to build it. He even gives minute details about the clothes that the priests should wear when serving in the Tabernacle. The attention to detail and the state of orderliness that God demands is astounding! 

At first glance I think, "Man! God is really uptight and demanding!" That is my first reaction. Thinking about it in context, my view shifts and becomes one of understanding. Think what our world would look like if god didn't love order. All the world is based upon laws: laws of nature, social laws, laws of the covenant, etc. Imagine if God haven't been meticulous about how Atoms are arranged. Or if gravity was wishy washy in certain places. He demands order from the Israelites because in order obedience is required. As the Israelites worship God in an orderly fashion, they are obeying God's law, which is ultimately what he wants. 

On another note...

Today, we can all agree... Apple is in the business of stealing lives. Observe.

Also, here is why I don't watch TV.

Update on the TU church:

As more people have been introduced to the idea, the spectrum of reactions continues to grow. Some people are really excited for it, while others have their misgivings. Both views help to develop the idea of what the church could be. the more people that I personally talk to about it, the more i realize how much we need to involve God in this entire process. I've already found myself disheartened in some areas, but I've realized its because I've been trying to do somethings by myself. As a believer and a community member that is trying to cause positive change in the community that I live in, I need to center every action around God. If God wills it, a way will be found. :-)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mystery Substance Part 2.

So as i walked out of the garage this morning, i had to notice the stuff that is just chillin in the rocks in front of our neighbor's townhouse. As i described in my last mystery substance post, it is sort of like wet sugar, that somehow can miraculously transform into a chalky white looking substance. Hmm.

Based upon observation today, i have noticed very little change. It has gone from the white chalky back to the wet sugary look. The only thing that i really noticed was that there wasn't nearly as much of it as there was when i first started my observations. This leads me to believe that it has been washed away by some of the strong storms that we've had around the area. This also shows that it is not biodegradable. Whatever it is, it can be sure that it will be under scrutiny from me for as long as my internship lasts. 

This morning as i was sitting in my office i got a call from Jake (the minister that i'm interning under) summoning me to the basketball courts for some mad HORSE games. The middle school minister Darrin and the worship minister Neil were also there ready to play. Never in my wildest dreams did i imagine such a competitive game of horse could be played. There were many red faces, missed shots, and ridiculous shots made by everyone... except me. I think God gave the world basketball for enjoyment. I also think God gave me basketball to keep me humble. :-)

An update on the Taylor church idea:
As i have been talking with more and more people about the idea, i've come to realize that before it gets to a point of forming programming ideas there must be some fundamental groundwork laid for the church. Jake today brought up the point that if we do teach about things we can't have messages portraying different viewpoints of the Bible. This means we have to set the goals, guidelines, and aspirations of the church. Who can do this? I'm hoping that soon more and more people will want to become involved in the idea of a campus church. As soon as there is some semblance of people wanting to actually implement this, we can organize a time or place where ideas and thoughts about the infrastructure of the church could be discussed. Be this a blog, website, facebook group, or actually meeting, I'm not sure. I am sure that of all the people that i have talked to, every single person has not batted the idea down, but they have been excited about it and seem willing to help out in any way they can. 

We can start by discussing this: What would be the purpose of a campus church at Taylor? 

I feel like once this is established, other things will fall into place. What does God want us to do with our community? How does the Holy Spirit want to move us holistically in the future? Please, respond to this either on your own blog and add a hyperlink or leave a comment! 

On another topic, I'm currently researching a little bit about the cultures of ancient middle eastern peoples, specifically the Moabites, Ammonites, and Israelites of and around the time period of the book of Judges. If anyone has any information about these cultures or time periods, i would greatly appreciate it. The research is for me personally, not for my church. I'm interested in the types of metals that they worked with, the types of weapons that they used, and the regions that they lived in. Hah! I'm a geek. :-)

Another question that i heard from my good friend Travis Whalen that has really challenged me is: Are small groups for everyone?

Think about it and respond. Use that Noggin that God has given you! :-)
Oh, also... if you get the chance, check out Newton Faulkner by order of Rachel Sawyer. She has superb music taste, so if you are looking for superb music, listen to Newton Faulkner.

Aaand, I'm out.