"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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blood Money

I watched the movie Blood Money this evening.  I left me swelling with emotion.  I am livid with anger, burning with empathy, and desperately saddened.  What really hurts in watching this movie is that one of the seventh grade girls from youth group--an innocent, joyful, young girl--came to see this movie and was exposed to the great evils of our country.  I am glad she saw it, but it hurts.  Because this sin so rampantly penetrates our society, it is necessary for young people to see truth, even gruesome truth. It is best that they know the truth now, so that they will be ready to take a stand for whats right when that time comes.  It rips out my heart that twelve year old girls are being extorted to make decisions to end life; facing unfathomable pressures from every angle--family, doctors, friends, counselors, and boy friends to terminate a life; facing these pressures from those who should be walking with them in their vulnerable, fearful place and supporting them in the difficult decision to preserve life.  Millions of lives destroyed because of a brilliantly crafted lie fueled by greed for money and the fires of hell itself. 

My anger does not lie with the women who have been deceived into taking the life of their child.  I deeply hurt for them, and desire to show them the love of the God who can forgive them and bring them the peace they need.  My anger is that so many are being deceived into believing such pure evil is good.  How can humanity, the image bearers of God, live out such evil?  This is our depravity, this is our condition without Christ.  My anger is with the deceiver and I want to penetrate his dark lies with the burning light of truth.

To think of the discarded body of a baby, an image bearer of God, in the bowl of a toilet; it ruins me.

  If you are a human being you need to watch this movie. 


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oh Tom Sawyer, you rascal you...

Here is my latest graffitied thrift shop painting. 

Why did Tom Sawyer have to white wash the fence in the first place?

Conspiracy Theory: Tom Sawyer is Banksy.

For those of you who don't know Banksy, he is a famous, yet unidentified (until possibly now...we're onto you Sawyer...), street artist. You can visit his website here.

It was fun uniting my favorite artist with the stories of one of my favorite writers as a kind of tribute to both of them (though I'm not so sure either of them would necessarily appreciate the tribute). Also a tribute to Jim Daly. It is his painting I defaced, after all (I've colaborated with many a gifted artist this way...they just don't know it).

Banksy is part of a new documentary called Exit through the gift shop about street art, the commercialization of art, what makes art art, etc.  It's brilliant.  Like Banksy himself, the movie is enigmatic.  Its hard to tell if whats playing out is for real or a beautifully crafted hoax.  Personally, I don't care one way or the other. 

Hulu is streaming it here for free!  I warn that the movie is rated R; there is some course language, and, well...graffiti is illegal. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What I know about women

Many years ago, I decided that I would begin to write down everything I know about women. here is everything I have learned so far.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1 Thessalonians, Love Letters and Youth Ministry

I just read some from 1 Thessalonians, and I was delighted by these verses.

"Dear brothers and sisters, after we were separated from you for a little while (though our hearts never left you), we tried very hard to come back because of our intense longing to see you again. We wanted very much to come, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us. After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus when he comes back again. For you are our pride and joy."--1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

Isn't that beautiful. I almost blush reading it; it sounds so much like a personal love letter between lovers. Just a few tweaks, "My dearest love, Though distance keeps us apart, my heart remains with you. The intensity of my longing to be with you is unbearable! It is you who brings me joy!" I can almost smell the perfume on the parchment!

But its not a love letter between two lovers. It is a letter from Paul to a body of brothers and sisters in Christ. The love and bond that Christians share with one another is the most beautiful example of relationship the world can see. The rest of the world's relationships are centered on causes, interests, societal relations, hobbies, but for the Christian--we are bonded together by the living Spirit of God! And for these particular believers, they were also bonded together in there experiences in suffering for the sake of Christ. No wonder Paul was so joyous. These believers accepted the message Paul preached to them as the very words of God, because through the leading of the Spirit, they were the very words of God! They knew Paul had been persecuted for this message, and they knew they would be persecuted themselves, yet they held firm. What a great joy to Paul to be able to know that he will stand with these believers on the day Christ returns. These men and women who once were lost in sin, now willingly suffer for the sake of Christ. Is there any bond in all humanity like that of the body of Christ that endures hardship together, yet stands firm?

I get this challenge from Paul. First, do I love the youth in Fosston Baptist youth group with that kind of intensity? Second, where do I find my joy? Does my joy come from delivering a good Wednesday night talk? How many laughs I get at a joke? How successful an event was? Or am I experiencing joy because youth who were lost are making Jesus the Lord of their life, and I can know that I will stand next to them on the day of Christ's return.

I know I have sought my joy in petty things. I really want to strive to see young people know the Lord. I don't want to miss out on that kind of joy.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Well, that's awkward.

One of my favorite websites is AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com. What family doesn't have it's own unique set of quirks? The beauty of this site is that it collects all of those goofy, awkward, sometimes cringe-worthy moments that just so happened to be caught on film and puts them all in one place (its like the family reunion of the internet). These tend to be rare jewels; diamonds in the rough...unless you are a member of my family. My family thrives in in capturing the awkward for posterity's sake. I like to think we have at least a bit of self awareness though. Most of our awkwardness is intentional. I think it is birthed out of my dads desire to always take a unique family photo for our Christmas card. Here are a couple from the past. I blogged about them here.

Sometimes, however, awkwardness abounds without intention. These are always the best photos in my opinion. I look at this photo, and even though I know me, I'm scared for this child! I blogged about this photo too. That post is here.

There are many other photos I could share; perhaps sometime I will. For now I'll share just one more.
Today was a monumental step forward in my families awkwardness as one of our family photos was added to AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com! Our basement was struck in the flood of '98 that swept through Roseau. We thought it would be kind of funny to pose in front of our trashed lawn. That explains the garbage. Nothing can explain my sock-sandal combo. The AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com address in the corner of this pic is like a badge of glory. I am so proud!

Do you have any awkward family memories? Catch any on film?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Written in the snow

It is funny the thoughts that come to mind when we miss friends. I knew that one of the great challenges of moving to such a small town by myself would be the challenge of loneliness. This loneliness has dredged up some very random memories; particularly memories from my days at Prov; a small school in Manitoba, Canada--just a few clicks south of the edge of the world.

I was thinking of one of my dearest friends from those days, my bud Dom. I haven't talked to Dom in years, but I love that guy. He was a lot like an older brother. The memory that plays in my head is one night driving back to Prov in the earliest hours of the morning on a brisk winter's night. ...Well, its not so much our drive back, but the moment in the parking lot after returning. I can't even remember where we had been...but it must have been a coffee shop because by the time we got back, nature was calling. So we did what any college aged guy would do in freshly fallen snow in the wee (funny that I chose that word) hours of the night with no one else around. There, in the quiet parking lot we signed our names in the snow with recycled coffee "percolated" through our systems. As I wrote my name, it looked very similar to my handwriting in kindergarten. Some of the letters were almost distinguishable. I just barely finished the e and r of Tyler. When Dom had finished I walked over to see the work he had left behind. Fully expecting a choppy, scribbled "Dom" the yellow letters spelt out "Dominick" in perfect cursive hand writing. No man could pee his name better. It was like he had signed the Declaration of Independence (even though he couldn't...he's Canadian).

Out of all the great moments I shared with Dom--adventures, theological discussions, moments of support and accountability, challenges, laughter, secrets, and prayer--this is the memory that jumps to my mind. Were there other moments that were more significant to our friendship? Most definitely (we weren't that weird) but even those dumb little foolish moments with friends become significant and special. I am thankful that I can look back on them.

Memories of friends are a special gift that have provided comfort in times when I've felt alone. They remind me of God's goodness and provision. God has blessed me with some truly amazing friends. I think when we share friendships in the body of Christ, we feel joy--so thankful that we could be so fortunate as to have such a special friend. I can think of so many moments of pause; looking at my brothers and sisters in Christ and thinking, I can't believe how blessed I am to call these people my friends! We see the Holy Spirit in our friends, and so what attracts us to them--what we love in them--is God shining in and through them. This is why there is such a great bond in the body of Christ.

Just as God brought beautiful people into my life in the past, I see God answering my prayers now for relationship. I am in awe of the beautiful, unexpected ways in which He provides friends. I am excited for all the new stories--both the significant life transformation ones, and the stupid silly moments I'll look back on years from now thinking, "...well there's a random memory. Man, I miss that guy."