"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What people think

I heard some words of wisdom from a grandfatherly friend today.

"When I was 20, I worried what others thought about me. When I was 40, I didn't care what others thought about me. When I was 60...I realized others weren't thinking about me!"

Ha!

Oh to learn to measure our worth as the image bearers of God, so deeply valued that our Creator died for us! So much more valuable than the thoughts (or lack there of) of those around us!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

My Struggle, My Freedom

I have a pretty typical testimony for a kid who grew up in the church. At least, that's what I thought.

I prayed "the prayer" when I was 5 or 6. I'm sure that I didn't understand everything I was committing to, but I did know who Jesus was (at least pretty well for a 6 year old), what he did, and that I would much rather be with him for eternity then in Hell.

As I grew older I began to have doubts. Not to the divinity of Christ. Not to the saving power of what he did for us all on the cross, or the proof of his divinity through his Resurrection. No, I simply doubted who I was to Him. In Him. Was I really in Him? I doubted my salvation. Honestly, I've wrestled with these doubts my whole life, But I Knew I made a decision for Christ and I Knew what I believed. So why? Why doubt? I pushed it all away as spiritual attacks or simple insecurity. I kept my doubts as to who I was to Christ pretty secret. I might talk about them, but very rarely did I let people now that the doubt I was describing was my current state of being. How humiliating for a Christian College graduate and youth pastor to wonder if he were truly saved! But when you can't shake something so eternally significant, it sends a person soul searching.

Pastor Skip has been preaching about the Holy Spirit. The ultimate sign of a true believer is the presence of the Holy Spirit in their life, because He is promised to all believers. A couple verses that have really grabbed my attention lately are these:

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.--Romans 8:14
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!--Galatians 6:22-23

These verses are very clear. Those who are Christian's are led by the Spirit. It's not the "good Christians" are led by the Spirit (there are no levels of Christianity--you, me and the Apostle Paul are all on the same plain). Its not we should be led by the Spirit. Its not that we get some advice from the Spirit every now and then. No! The Holy Spirit is not Jiminy Cricket. He is God! He takes the keys, we become the passenger. The Holy Spirit is in the driver seat of our life. He leads the way. That describes the life of a Christian.

When looking at the fruits of the Spirit, it doesn't say it would be nice if a Christian displayed these qualities. It doesn't say certain Christian's produce certain fruit (I'm the banana of Patience and you are the apple of self control). No! It says these are the things the Holy Spirit produces in the life of the believer. They are present and growing in the life of every believer.

I looked at my life and I had to say, I don't know if I see these things as true in my life. I mean really, really true?

If the living, all powerful Creator God was living inside my life, wouldn't I be certain of something like that? I mean, if I can be aware of something as small as the flu bug inside of me, I should be aware of the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God! I don't think a God that big can hide! If a God that big was in a tiny package like me, I--and everyone around me--should see him spilling out.

So, things just didn't seem to be adding up. I believe in Jesus Christ, yet I don't know that I see the evidence of the Holy Spirit in me...and I should. Ephesians 1:13 says,

"...And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago."

There is no special incantation, no magical formula, no task to complete that could make me a Christian or fill me with the Holy Spirit. It is only (and completely) belief in Christ. He saves me, I don't.

9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. Romans 10:9-10

Haven't I done that? It just doesn't add up. I see so many people who would claim to believe in Jesus--believe they believe in Jesus--and yet there is no fruit to suggest this is true.

You can fake fruit, but eventually everyone will be found out. Grape soda doesn't grow on a vine.

There are two pretty important words in that above verse--Lord and Believe. It is good to grasp what they mean.

This is how I understand these words.

God carries all authority in Heaven and on Earth. All other authority is myth. God simply lends his authority to others, but ultimately all authority is His. This is the authority that he gives to Jesus Christ our Lord.

God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. --Ephesians 1:22

To believe Jesus Christ is God incarnate is to believe that he carries ultimate authority. To believe he is the ultimate authority is to submit to His authority.

Believing in Christ means submitting to Christ.

This is what it means to call Jesus Lord.

So many of us desire to have Jesus be our Savior, but He cannot be our Savior if he is not our Lord.

Oh, how I beg you to hear and accept these words!

The Holy Spirit will not lead a life that has not submitted authority over to Jesus. I could "believe" all the right things, but not submitting authority to Christ showed that I didn't really make Jesus my Lord. Which shows I didn't truly believe that He is my authority. I think that is what Matthew 7:21-23 is talking about when Jesus says,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

They thought they belonged to Jesus. They really believed it! But they weren't obedient. They never handed over their false authority to the Ultimate authority. And for that reason, they were sinners believed righteous; lost souls believing they were chasing Heaven, but destined to Hell.

Luke-warm Christianity is a myth, a lie from the pit of Hell. We MUST know our authority, because the consequences are eternal.

I've believed myself a Christian all my life. Was I? Had I truly submitted? I don't know. But this is no guessing game. No more playing around. I'm handing over all authority. I want Jesus to be my Savior and Lord. If he is going to be one, he must be both. I want to be led by the Spirit, producing good fruit. I don't want to doubt any more. I know who I belong to because I believe. I really believe.


24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.--Galatians 6:24-26

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Live as one who is Forgiven!

My heart rejoices in the Lord Jesus Christ! That he would pay the price of my sin in whole; that he would punish my sin by substituting his own life on my behalf; that he would call me righteous--make me righteous--in the sight of God, not because of anything I have done, but completely by what he has done for me! Hallelujah! Praise Him!

I cannot add to what Christ has done. I cannot earn His gift to me.

My heart is convicted of my sin against my Holy Father. For all those times I've diminished the Cross into a lie. "If my sin is paid for in full, then let's go on sinning so that grace may abound!" Oh how foolish. And yet I know I have thought such things.

John Piper says, "So if all you can see in the Cross of Jesus is a license to go on sinning, then you don't have saving faith. You need to fall on your face and plead that God would open your eyes to see the compelling Glory of Jesus Christ."

The cross is not the place where sin is excused but the place where sin is killed. When we see the cross as an open door to continued sin, we see a lie, and miss seeing the true glory of Jesus Christ. Jesus meets us in death so that we can meet him in new life! He did what we are completely incapable of.

Sin is conquered. The enemy defeated. He can attack me all he wants, but he'll never deal the death blow, because the weapon of unforgiven sin he does not hold against me!

Here is an article that I urge you to read. I beg you to read! Don't let sin keep you from Christ and service to him. If you are not a Christian, ask Jesus for the complete forgiveness that only He can give. If you are a Christian, walk boldly into the thrown room of God with Jesus as your High Priest and live as one who is forgiven!

read John Pipers "Gutsy Guilt"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Eyes

One of my all time favorite quotes--"Following after Jesus isn't just about having better vision, its about having new eyes." --Shane Claiborne.


God takes dead people and gives them new life. The old is gone, the new has come. We don't have to settle for old, sin-fogged eyes anymore. Christ gives us his! I have glasses that I almost never wear. I'll pull them out when I'm driving at night, pop them on, and it almost always catches me by surprise. "I didn't realize my eyes were this bad!" I thought I was seeing things so much more clearly.



The Minnesota-Iowa Baptist Conference annual meeting's theme this past week was "Seeing with New Eyes." Sometimes living in the comfort of a small town "Christian" community, a person's vision can slowly dull. I was challenged to see with Christ's vibrant vision!

Lots of great things are happening in our conference. People are looking at our world with new eyes; Kingdom of Heaven vision. One of these new visions is our Nordic-Baltic ministries; walking alongside pastors in countries like Sweden where 80% of the population is atheist and only 1-2% go to church. The fields are white for harvest!

God is giving a vision of church planting to our conference. Converge Worldwide has the goal of planting 350 churches by 2015 with 60 of those churches being planted by our regional Minnesota-Iowa conference! No small task-its one that requires new eyes.

What do these things mean to our church in little Fosston Minnesota? I was reminded that we are part of something great. God is moving, and he is inviting us to jump on board. Do we see Him and the harvest all around? Give us your eyes Lord Jesus!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I won't try to be better

My friend Tim and I have been leading some youth together every Friday morning through a video series put out by Voice of the Martyrs. In it we have been able to get a glimpse of the underground church in Vietnam, and hear there stories. It tugs at your heart and rips at your soul to hear a sixteen year old girl tell how the first time she went to prison for being a Christian was when she was twelve years old. There she was beaten, and almost raped. She was given one meal in her three day stay. In those four years since her first prison experience she has been jailed many times, yet she still clings to her faith.

Through watching these videos I've been flooded with guilt. I look at the differences between "us" and "them", and make a division. They are the "good" Christians, and we are the slackers.

I love being a youth pastor. It is amazing to witness a person's life beginning to be transformed by the living God. It can also be very discouraging to see that youth aren't always the same people on Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings that they are the rest of the week. Facebook is a valuable tool. Sometimes I can learn more about a kid in two minutes on Facebook then I could watching them for two weeks at youth group. Sometimes it breaks my heart. Double lives are lived; there's this disconnect between the "Christian" life, and everything else. I know this is true because I see it in my own life too. I know what movie I watched this week while alone in my apartment. I know what thoughts come to my head. I know the lies that pass my lips, the anger boiling in my heart, the self-righteous judgement I pass on others (and these are just the sins I'm aware of, lets not forget the evil my dial hasn't tuned into yet).

So I watch these Vietnamese Christians, and I feel guilty. Instantly I think, we need to be better! And I challenge the youth, "How can we be better? We need to be like that, but we're not!"

If only we were better.

After one of these meetings I left with an ugly feeling. Something didn't sit right with me. This reaction didn't seem appropriate. The Christian life is not about being "better".

Its about knowing God.

I can live my whole life striving to be better. It will only leave me exhausted. I am incapable of making myself better--we all are. We have all wandered so far off the path we don't even know how lost we are! The old patterns keep on showing up. OK. I'm lost. I've seen that tree before. Even when we think we've fixed up one area, there's another spot that hasn't been touched yet. "...And all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..." Heard that one before?

There is a lie that has sunk so deep in me that more often than not I don't even recognize its there. I believe if only I was a little bit better God would love me a little bit more. All of my energy focuses in on me and becoming a better person rather than on God and getting to know my Creator more deeply.

Why do we waste so much focus and energy on being better? I am tired. I'm worn out. I'm sick of focusing on how lousy I am. I would much rather focus on how great God is. I can't make me better. God can...and so much more.

A friend of mine said, "Men strive to make bad men good, Jesus came to make dead men live!"

In knowing God, we will be transformed. We are given a new life entirely. We trade in the dead version for the living one. The more we know God, the more our lives show we know him.

Maybe it isn't that the Vietnamese Christian's are better than us. Maybe in relating to Him through suffering, they know God in a way that we don't yet.

I have a new foundation to start from. Rather than looking at my youth group and thinking, this is something that will make us better--we should go to the soup kitchen because it's what "better" Christians do; I start from the place of longing to know God more intimately. We go to the soup kitchen because that is where Jesus is at. "Whatever you do for the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you do for me." We'll meet Jesus there, and lives will be transformed.

That's so much better than just being...better.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Have you ever drank Dinosaur pee?

The other day, I lay on my couch looking up at the wall wondering what/who the carbon in the plaster on my walls used to be. What if my walls literally could talk? What kind of dead animals formed the lime that formed the plaster that lays on my walls that hold the pictures that hang from nails to tell the stories of artists (who are also dead)? I'm really just laying pictures of stories on top of a wall made of stories. What kind of stories are they? Would I gasp, cry, laugh, yawn? And what of the dust in my carpet? Whose remains are those? What were their lives like? would I laugh at their jokes? would I cry for the injustice they faced? If they weren't dust in my carpet and we lived and walked at the same time in history, would we have been friends? Whose carpet will the dust formerly known as Tyler once indwell?

How many times has the water I drank this morning passed through a dinosaur?

I am not staring at the plaster on my walls asking these questions because I've gone crazy. I'm not on drugs and I'm not eating yogurt past its expiration date. I've been reading an amazing book called Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl; Wide Eyed Wonder in God's Spoken World. Child like joy and wonder spill from the pages and puddle in my heart. I've never heard anyone else write about God's amazing and excessive creativity found in every unique snow flake in a four foot drift. Most people don't think like that. Maybe we should. I've been reminded that the world we live in is big. Lots of stuff happens here. Lots of stuff has happened here. I am a mere spec in a story that began when God spoke some words in a language no human could ever speak (you try speaking a mountain) and the story continues in more directions then all the people who have and ever will live could comprehend combined. I find utter joy in my smallness. Not because I'm insignificant, but because in my smallness, Christ died for me. The infinite creator took the shape of the finite, becoming one of us and giving His life on a little speck named Tyler's behalf. God spoke all we see into being. He's a God that chooses his words very carefully, and cares for them immensely. He created each little speck of a person, writing each one of their stories. He created all of the billions of galaxies (one of which our little dot called earth--inhabited by little living specks--finds itself nestled in) swirling about and expanding outwards from a single point where the first "Let there be..." rolled off His lips.

I have a relationship with that God. He tells me to call him Father. He is the author of my story.

When I look at the vastness of all there is, all there was, and all there will be, I begin to wonder...what really is the value of the story of a speck. But the thing is the stories overlap. The characters intertwine their stories, influencing the other specks. If one speck influences the story of five other specks, and in turn those five specks each influence five more, well, one speck can contribute to a pretty grand story. In the bible, a small band of twelve specks walked with God-Speck Incarnate. Before he ascended to Heaven He told them to go and make disciples. They did. Speck multiplication. Now we have the church which is called the body of Christ. It takes lots of cells to make a body. It takes lots of specks to make the body. "There are no small parts...just small specs" as the saying goes.

My story has value, but what happens when the plot thickens and unexpected twists occur? What happens when certain characters don't enter stage right when I think they should? What if I'm playing a sheep when I really wanted to play Wise Man #2?

Yes, I do get to make decisions in this story, but lets not forget who's really in control. Can I question my story, or even more so, my Author?

"Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me to know."

God knows the pages that I have not yet seen. Would I ever say to Shakespeare, "Bill, to be or not to be. What kind of stupid question is that?" Or to Jane Austen, "Elizabeth should marry her cousin; think of all the crazy sequel potential that would provide!" Or to Mark Twain, "Why can't that dang boy just paint his own fence!" Perhaps I should let the Author be the Author. When a character looses site of their role in the plot they certainly can't contribute much to the greater story.

Let the creativity of the Creator remind me that I'm part of his grand piece. Let my purpose be that of pointing to the Author of the greatest story. I'll take that role.

Life

I've felt a need to blog for a great while because of all the changes taking place in my life in the past few months. It hasn't been for lack of things to right about, but rather its the overwhelming mass surplus that has kept me away--I just don't know where to begin.

What things have happened worth note?
-program directed at camp
-Winnipeg Folk Festival. (I hope that can become a Summer staple).
-family reunion.
-two Family camps (so thankful schedules allowed us to be together)
-brother-sister camping trip at Itasca
-A couple of good ol' adventures down the Roseau River with my friend Ben.
-visiting my dear brothers and sisters at Valley View Bible camp
-a move
-and a new job as Fosston Baptist Youth Pastor

You see, a good blogger would have blogged about each of these events, pulling out the ironies, beauty, humor, lessons, and details in full.

I'd like to say I'll share about some of these experiences in the next few days, but I prefer eggs on my plate (sunny side up, please) and not on my face, so I make no promises.

Let me just say that God is good, and faithful. I am thankful that God is a good story teller, and that I get to play a role.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Daycare or Daycore? (...admittedly one of my worst puns ever.)

video

This is my friend, Conner. Out of all my friends less then one sixth my age, Conner is my best. One of Conner's favorite things to do is make videos with the computer's camera. This day I taught Conner the intricacies of hard core dancing. Namely:

Head banging (which he refers to as "bed bang"). Making an angry face. Punching the air.

Conner figured out air guitar all on his own. This makes me very proud. I also taught him crowd surfing, but it's just not quite as cool with two people in your mother's dining room.

Monday, May 10, 2010

To Risk

"To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and
dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because
the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing,
does nothing,
has nothing,
is nothing."

– William Arthur Ward

Sunday, May 02, 2010

We'll be more than fine if we get a spine

I was hit with a challenge today in a Mark Driscoll sermon I listened to.

To many of us Christian guys are cowards. I see this as being a deep struggle in my own journey, and I think I agree with Driscoll in it's widespread nature; a plague of lethargy and fear that has swept over the men of our churches leaving a bunch of timid boys in its wake.

The smallest demographic in the North American church today is 20 something males; men who should be stepping up to the task--embracing ministries, forming families, doing our job of sharing the Great Commission, and spreading the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead we embrace adolescence for 10+ years of our life and refuse to become the spiritual leaders God calls us to be. We live as consumers rather than producers. We'd rather fight battles through Xbox then fight spiritual ones.

In Driscoll's words, we are evangelly fish with no spiritual back bones. We look for the path of least resistance rather then the path that brings God the most glory.

There are many areas in life where I continue to cling to adolescence--area's where I haven't "became a man and put childish ways behind me" as Paul puts it.

The truth is that as Christians, we should be the most bold, the most honorable, the most manly guys engaging the culture we live in--transforming the kingdom's of this world from the inside out; spreading the eternal kingdom, vanquishing the disease of self and living to reflect his glory.

here are some verses that have challenged me to man up.

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."--Micah 6:8

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."--2 Timothy 1:7

Saturday, May 01, 2010

I'm Known

Its been raining. The grey clouds seem to accentuate the vibrancy of the green grass and the flowers in the garden are screaming with bright colors. Sometimes, Its just nice to take a walk on a drizzling day; breathing in the freshness of the newly washed ground, and the sweetness of the air.

I have been in a somber, reflective state of mind this week. With the new green of Spring, I am once again reminded that change is just around the corner, filling me with both excitement and anxiety. Knowing that I will soon move even further away from friends, and away from my family leaves me feeling very much alone.

its scary to be alone.

The other day, I caught up with a good friend. We talked about old college friends; people we care deeply about, but for some reason or another have lost touch with. That can leave a person feeling guilty; to be so close for a season and then to know nothing of each other the next. He said something to me that lodged deep in my mind. "Friendships aren't marriages." God sometimes brings people into our lives for a season, and only a season. I find that a bit scary. Maybe because it forces me to trust God in all seasons.

We all desire community; a place where we feel like we belong. We all crave intimacy; someone who "gets" us. Someone who truly knows us--and still loves us. I think that, most of the time, I trust God in his provision of community. I am thankful for the communities God has provided me with in the different seasons of life; amazing friends who really care about and love me. I am thankful for the Church.

It has been harder to trust God with intimacy. Intimacy is a gift we share with only a few people, and with God himself.

"Friendships aren't marriages." The intimacy I share with a friend is nothing like the intimacy between a husband and wife. As a single person, that hurts a bit, because if I am honest, I crave that kind of intimacy. I long to experience the kind of intimacy that binds two people together as one flesh.

I think all people, both single and married, crave deep intimacy. We want to be known, or at the very least to feel known. Its tricky, because to really be known, we have to really be open, but that leaves us exposed. So we run and hide naked in the garden, the stench of forbidden fruit on our breath, from the very one who was our satisfaction. We long for intimacy but we run from the pain it can bring. So we look for the substitutes. For some that means hoping from relationship to relationship, never sticking around long enough to really be known. For others its a centerfold in a magazine who is never disappointed and always eager to give herself away. Or maybe its getting lost in the perfect romance of a book or movie that always ends with a happily ever after and the perfect kiss. We all have this sense ingrained in us that intimacy is very important; that it needs to be fulfilled. We all seek different salves to dull the pain of intimacy broken and lost. Deep down we know that something we were created for isn't being met.

I am not married, but I do know that no marriage has perfect intimacy. A friend spoke on Ecclesiastes the other day. Solomon was right when he declared, "Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless." There really is nothing new under the sun--God has given us great pleasures to enjoy here on earth, and he gives us other people to connect with; but even in these good things, there is a point at which the things of this life can no longer satisfy, and the eternal must. As my friend put it, the desires of this world eventually hit the ceiling, leaving us longing for heaven.

Maybe, if I am really honest with myself, my longing for intimacy isn't so much a reflection of my marital status, but more so my spiritual status. There is something incredibly beautiful about two people deeply in love becoming one flesh through the holy covenant of marriage; I hope I find that some day, but I know that it pales in comparison to the intimacy found in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. Two people can become one flesh, but when we become Christians, the living God indwells us! The Holy Spirit lives in us, the one who created us and knows us--the way we want to be known--lives in us and love us--the way we want to be loved. Then he invites us to know and love him too.

It is scary to be alone, and unknown. But I'm not. I just need to remember that.

"As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God."--Psalm 42:1

"My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God."--Psalm 84:2

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Conquering BBS, nice people and big decisions

I have BBS. What is BBS you ask? Well, it is a rather personal issue; not information one generally shares (or chooses to read about...and yet, here we are). We blog wackos will talk about (just about) anything from the perceived privacy of our own homes.

BBS--"Bashful Bladder Syndrome."

...I get shy.

It is estimated that one in ten suffer from this completely legitimate, not-ridiculous-at-all condition. I don't have it as bad as some, but in the presence of others it takes extreme concentration (...think waterfall, think waterfall!), turning on a bathroom fan or faucet, or waiting for the guy in the next urinal to...umm...finish before I can...well you know. Let me tell you, its a really bad deal when two Bashful bladders end up using the urinals right next to each other.

What possible reason could I have for sharing such ridiculously private information? Last week I was staying in the home of a couple I barely know, and when I went to use their restroom, I was able to "spell pig backwards" freely without even thinking about it!

I was staying at the house of Pastor Skip and Linda of the Fosston Baptist church. It was this experience that revealed to me just how relaxed and at ease I was thanks to their warmth and kindness. A guy has to be relaxed to overcome such great odds!

But really, the greater purpose in my writing is to express the warm and welcoming spirit of all the people I met in Fosston...not so much to talk about my bladder (are you relieved? Ooooh! an unintentional pun!).

I was in Fosston last week to meet with the elders, youth and youth leaders of the Fosston Baptist church to talk about the possibility of stepping into their youth pastor position. Their current youth pastor, Steve, leaves to plant a church in Moorhead this June. It was such a great blessing meeting all these people. Such a warm welcome. I spent a great deal of my two days in Fosston laughing and/or soaking up all the wisdom and knowledge Pastors Skip and Steve were pouring on me. It was such a great experience that even if it doesn't result in me filling the position in Fosston, I know that God wanted me there for the experience of it; so many nuggets of wisdom to grab, and being able to witness the beautiful love these volunteer youth leaders have for the youth group was wonderful. Wow! I can learn so much from their passion.

The other cool thing about this position is that along with youth pastoring in Fosston, I would become the program director (or something to that effect; the title has yet to be determined) of the Baptist camp for the Red River Valley. It's this camp in which I had my first youth ministry experience. It would be amazing to be able to pour into the camp that has played such a significant role in my life; helping to make it a more healthy and vibrant ministry, all the while working alongside some very cool, very passionate, and wise people.

I am meeting with pastor Skip, pastor Pat (from my home church), and Lake Bronson camp Director, Boyce this Tuesday to talk about what this camp position will look like.

Please pray with me for this up coming meeting, for wisdom as Fosston Baptist and I pray about the possibility of me taking on a role at their church in the months ahead, and for humble obedience to go wherever God leads.

...I suppose you could pray about my bashful bladder too, but that's not quite as important. Just think waterfall.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Picnic in the park: good idea. Picnic in Jurassic Park...

My latest thrift shop painting piece. I paid $8.50 for this mediocre painting, but I thought the set up with the huge empty, T-Rex sized space was well worth it. At least now we know what the kids are looking at.

I realize that it has been quite awhile since I last posted anything of substance on here. I will try to share some of the things God's teaching me, and what's going on in my life very soon, but for now, this is SO much easier.

Oh, lazy blogging apathy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When I was 5, I named our cat "Black-Spot-White". True Story.

I love thinking about names; what I would like to name my children one day, how certain names become common, their meanings and significance, the joy of a good nick-name, what it means to be named by God. Names...so special.

This was a bad joke I thought of, and then drew. I post allot of my art on Facebook, but I guess this is a good spot to post it too. Do drawings make bad jokes better (do they Family Circus, do they)? I don't know--sometimes Get Fuzzy's jokes aren't all that stupendous (and every now and then, Darby Conley will hit one straight out of the park with sheer brilliance) , but the drawing is always phenomenal, and the expressions in the characters say more then the speech bubbles ever could. I have neither the skill in joking, nor drawing to reach that level of humor yet, but I think I am going to start practicing drawing out jokes; even my most groan-worthy ones. It could be fun to one day reach a caliber at which I could do some freelance. Just a bit of a dream.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Conceited things come in small packages

My mind has been stuck in a rut lately. I've never thought of myself as a worrier, but when you can only seem to focus on one thing, I suppose that would be worrying. I'm not even concerned with the things I need. I have allowed my mind to be consumed lately with the desires of my heart; wondering if God will provide for my deep want.

A wise couple in church today shared some comments. She said, "We don't need to worry for ourselves as Christians, because God has already promised to take care of us. What we should be focused on is our cup overflowing and spilling onto others. They should be our concern."

He then chimed in to say, "The fella who is wrapped up in himself makes for a very small package." Ha.

I am a small package. I need to be ripped open and spilled out for others.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hello MP3PO!

A couple months back, I wrote on here that my friend Taylor and I have started a indie music blog and gave you a link. Well, we promptly changed the name of the blog, and therefore the web address, so that link became useless within a few days. If you are a music fan of the indie persuasion, please check out our blog at http://www.hellomp3po.blogspot.com/. I have been introduced to many of my favorite artists by Taylor, so maybe he can do the same for you.

Also, if you would ever be interested in contributing a post to our music blog, let us know!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Creative Morbidity

A few years back, my cousins and I just couldn't hold it in. Our creative juices splurged forth in morbid Christmas prankfulness. Making a few slight adjustments In Aunt Iris's kitchen, a pig that usually holds both spatula and whisk, gave them up for rocks and slingshot, performing heinous acts of violence on Christmas deer.

This year, having the absolute perfect snow, my cousin Nathan, my sisters, my mom, and I all went outside to make some snow creations. Maybe we felt suppressed as children (I mean, I wasn't even allowed to watch ninja turtles, come on!), but morbidity emerged once again. This time in true Calvin and Hobbe's snowman fashion.


In the morning, gravity added its creative hand, causing our poor snowman to bend in the dizzying agony of snowball cannon pain.

Today, for the first time since Christmas, the weather was warm enough to get out and create dastardly sadistic scenes once again. Mom helped me out! What kind of sick and twisted mother-son duo does this stuff?!!?

Once you have had a taste of snowman violence, you cant escape it. Here is our inspiration. The one and only Bill Watterson and his comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes

Thursday, January 14, 2010

God loves Haiti


In light of such horrific tragedy in Haiti, it is easy to ask questions like how a good God could allow such horrid devastation and tragedy. The ultimate answer will simply be that we cannot know. It is not a satisfying answer, nor a comforting one. We can dig for answers in theodicy, delve into the mind of Augustine, but in the face of suffering even the best explanations seem trite. There will be no comfort for the father whose child has been crushed in rubble.

This isn't an ivory tower issue. This issue dwells in the streets alongside the suffering.

As Christians, we simply have to trust that our God truly is a good God. That his love for the Haitian people is deep, and it is wide, and it is limitless. Asking how a good God could allow such atrocity is asking the wrong question. Instead, being believers in a truly good God, we must ask ourselves, as the hands and feet of Christ, how do we show that our God is good? In the face of evil, how do we demonstrate Christ's love?

Watching the news coverage can be simply overwhelming. How do we help the helpless? The greatest way in which you and I can make a difference is through prayer. I struggle to see what impact a few uttered words can make in the lives of an obliterated nation thousands of miles away, but they aren't just hollow uttered words. When we pray, we communicate with the creator of the universe. He is love, and He is light. Through our prayers He will penetrate the darkness and accomplish more than we could fathom.

Our generosity is also needed. Nearly 80% of Haiti lives under the poverty line; two dollars a day or less. This poverty is only intensified in light of the earthquake. Our money is needed; whatever we can afford to give will make a significant difference. Here is a link to a site that lists different organizations who can use your funds to make a difference.

Reject Apathy

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I have good parents.

I love my church. There are times when I feel guilty that I am not in full time ministry yet, but I am so very thankful that I have had the opportunity after five years of being away at college to get to know my home church again. It is so wonderful coming back and establishing relationships as an adult. I feel so greatly blessed to be a part of such a beautiful community. God has done (and is doing) great things in Roseau and all around the world through this small body of believers. I am so fortunate for such a great training ground of what it means to live and serve as the church before steping into a leadership position of my own.

This evening my parents and I went to listen to a young lady from our church who for the past few years has been ministering in China. I love hearing how God's Spirit is working throughout the world because of the faithful witness of believers. There are so many young missionaries that have come from my church, young men and women less then ten years older then me, who are earnestly, excitedly and diligently sharing God's love and good news in full time ministry.

Many young people feel a pressure from their parents to "make something of themselves". Make lots of money, be successful, make a name for yourself. Growing up, I have watched my parents greatest respect not fall on those role models who have landed jobs as doctors or lawyers or business men and women, but on those who have surrendered so much in order to live out the Great Commission daily. I should clarify. It is not that doctors and lawyers cannot, and do not live out the Great Commission daily. I applaud my friends and family who have become Christian examples of godly lawyers, doctors, and business people; certainly there is a mission field there as well that is just as significant as any other. I just say, there was no pressure in those directions for me growing up. My sister just took on a position in an inner city youth mission which requires her to raise full support, and I don't think my parents could be more proud. I see a great pride in my parents through their partnership in both prayer and financial support of several missionaries. They have shown me in ways words could never that they truly want to see their children choose eternally significant paths then to see us make good names for ourselves, our have huge houses with rooms we could never fill.

Being a college grad, in debt, without medical insurance, working a minimum wage job, and knowing I have devoted my college career to pursue a ministry that will never make me wealthy causes me to think about money every now and then. OK, worry about money every now and then. Then I remember that simply by living on North American soil, I am rich. Financially, I am incredibly wealthy; rarely in need or want. I am blessed. Even more so, because I am a Christian, I am wealthy. I have a heavenly inheritance, and because God gave me godly parents, I have learned to see what is truly valuable.