Las Vegas Plans!

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Does our (fb) status matter?

When i was growing up, they were called chain letters. Then they became forwards in emails. Now, they are facebook status updates.

If you love God, repost this in your status to prove that you do.

If you have a great daughter, repost this to your status to let them know.

I’m more of “this” than you are cause I post “this” in my status update.

I guess all i really wonder is if people repost these things because they actually think it’s achieving something. I’m sorry, but i don’t care how many times you post one of these updates, if you don’t go out and do something, it counts for nothing. You can join groups that support your cause, you can become a fan of something wonderful, but I hope that people realize that facebook and the internet are tools that allow us to make a difference, but joining these groups and posting this updates are not such tools.

If we want to make a difference, if we really care about a cause, our actions and our resources should be involved. Wether that is volunteering your time, giving of your money, or personally saying I love you, get out and do something.

It’s possible that many people post these things and then follow through and do them in real life. (aka. tell their loved ones how much they care or volunteer for a cause) Just a quick note to encourage all of us to live life for all we can and not allow a status update to cure of us of the guilt that comes when we haven’t done enough. Actions speak louder than words status updates.

Examine our lives, Celebrate our loved ones, and Drink deep with our actions.

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Sick on St. Patty’s. At least I got company.

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Hardship in Haiti


The tragedy in Haiti has been tough to witness.  I visited Haiti in my early twenty’s for a mission trip and was moved by the people that I met and ministered to and with. I remember being struck that it was not like anything I had ever seen. I remember going to the market in Port-au-Prince and seeing the Presidential Palace. To see it in ruins is heart breaking. Even more disturbing to me though have been some of the comments that have been in the public forum about God’s hand in all this. There have been people claiming to know the mind of God and even more specifically to know God’s mind towards the Haitian people. To say that God is punishing Haiti for the sins of their ancestors is really appalling in my opinion.

It is logic like that that allows people to sit in their glamorous homes and not be moved by the plight of the poor. “They deserve it, it is their punishment,” or “they don’t have to live like that, their choices keep them there”. There are over 2000 verses in the New Testament alone dealing with the neglect of and caring for the poor and yet many are never moved to do anything to help those that are in need.

When we hurt, God hurts with us. God never promised our lives would be free of pain or trial. In fact there is much more evidence to the contrary. Looking at his disciples we can see that all were persecuted and died martyrs deaths as they followed their faith.

“In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” – John 16:33

It seems evident to me that no matter what happens in life, we will experience grief, pain, and hardship. God’s promise to us is that we will not go through it alone and that he will not allow what the enemy intends for evil to succeed in the long run. Even in tragedy, God will bring something beautiful from the ashes. In this horrible time, God’s love will be seen and known in the midst to bring strength and peace to people who are hurting.  Will you find a way to be a part of what God is doing to minister to the people of Haiti?

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Blue Moon Rising

New Years Eve 2009 was the first Blue Moon in 20 years and this is the story of how I was able to make it an especially memorable night for me and Amber, the woman I love. I proposed to her and it was a pretty special adventure for us. It was a very exciting time and of course half of the adventure was in the preparations.

Amber and I had talked about getting married, even in some detail,  for the past couple of months. We both liked the idea of going to Las Vegas for a destination wedding because it seemed to make the most sense financially and because we and our friends have had such great memories traveling there together. Stage one of making this a total surprise was to make sure Amber wouldn’t think I had a ring for her. As we talked about the possibility of getting married I mentioned that I’d been thinking of asking my mother for my grandmother’s engagement ring.  I told Amber that my mother was very sentimental about the ring and might not like the idea of letting me have it for our engagement, but that we should wait to see if my mother would “approve” of her when we went to visit my family this February. Amber seemed fine with it and never gave it much more thought. Secretly I had already asked my mother, gotten her approval, and taken the ring to the jeweler to have it freshened up in a new setting so that it would be more sturdy and durable for Amber, yet keep the mythos of the ring. (She’s a stylist and is rough on her hands due to the nature of the job.)

Next on my agenda was trying to make sure that we would have a fun, light hearted, yet memorable night. I was a little nervous as to how I would plan a fun packed evening without giving away the fact that it was going to turn into the night of my proposal. A few months ahead I started talking about how I really wanted to make a real date night for Amber and I the  next time I visited. (Amber and I live 9 hours away currently) Although we had gone out many times together, we had never in my opinion, had a real “great date night”.  I intended to fix this, I told her.  She agreed to let me plan a “great date” for us and I told her our plans were for New Years Eve.

I talked with several close friends before the date and asked their advice and one piece of advice stuck with me the most. ‘Plan the night, but not the proposal, just let it happen at a moment that is really fun and reflective of your relationship’. This really made sense to me and I kept it in mind as I planned the evening and planned on looking for the most opportune time to “pop the question”.

The evening started out with us going to Headwaters Park to go ice skating. Walking in and finding that it was ‘cash only’ and that I had none seemed to be just the perfect start I was hoping for. We headed back to the car and were off to an ATM to get some green. Having paid, we headed out to get our skates and our bruises. Surprisingly neither of us ever fell as we talked about some of our favorite and most memorable times over the past year. Not wanting to press our luck and end up on our keesters, we headed out to our second stop of three for the evening.

Fort Wayne’s Botanical Gardens was our next stop. Inside there were Christmas displays, a tropical display, and a southwestern display. As we walked through we talked about dreams for the future and what kinds of stories we’d like to be able to tell in the future. Outside there were some metal artwork displays along with a courtyard full of Christmas decorations. Music was playing and the the lights danced along to the music. I noticed that it was snowing and the the courtyard was covered with snow and that  it was beautiful. I thought that maybe this would be the time. What happened next only confirmed my suspicions. Amber busted out doing some goofy dances that were references to some of our favorite TV shows. (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia & Arrested Development) This had to be the moment. It was silly and funny and yet beautiful. Those are definitely words most would use to describe our relationship.

Pulling each other close and laughing hysterically I told Amber that unlike my past, this relationship seemed to make more sense than any other.  She had no idea what I was really saying. I told her that I wanted us to share lots of amazing, beautiful and meaningful stories together. She still had no idea what I was getting at. Hands shaking I took the ring from my pocket and said “There is only one way to make sure that this night is one of those stories…”  Dropping to one knee I held the ring and her hand and continued, “and that’s if I ask you to marry me.”

At this point Amber was in a state of disbelief, excitement, shock, and confusion. She looked at me and said, “Are you serious? Is this real?” Eventually she gave me the answer I was looking for and with enthusiasm said “Yes! Please get up!” After several minutes of explaining how I had pulled all this off without her knowing we headed out to dinner at Eddie Merlot’s and then to our close friend’s house for a cozy New Year’s Eve party.

So that’s how it happened, as best as I can remember at least. Amber says she never heard me ask her to marry her and didn’t see the ring until I stood up, but this is my side of the story and I’m sticking to it. Sorry that this entry is a little sappy compared to most, but I figured it was a special occasion and that it would prove to be helpful to keep the memory alive if written down to share with others. May we all enjoy moments that only come “once in a blue moon” a little more often.

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Top 10: New Year’s Resolutions All Men Should Make

I’ve shared here before that I have mixed feelings about New Years Resolutions because so often people make them knowing in their heart that they will not really follow through with them or lack the resolve to do so. I also think that the idea behind resolutions is a good idea though because to take time to reflect on our lives and decide to make some changes is a wonderful thing, something that shouldn’t be done only once a year though. So with that being said, I found this article at askmen.com and thought it was worth passing on because I think that each of the thoughts are things that should be considered often in our lives.

Top 10: New Year’s Resolutions All Men Should Make.

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A Rock or the Devil?

jesus&peter

“Get behind me, Satan!” (Jesus) said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Imagine having a conversation with Jesus and your friends. In this conversation, as you share your thoughts and opinions, Jesus looks at you and says that God the father is at work in your life and that the Holy Spirit has plans to use you greatly for the Kingdom of God. What a moment that would be. I think it would be quite natural to feel a real sense of pride and honor that you are where God wants you to be, in an area of spiritual growth and maturity. Now imagine your surprise when only a few minutes later as you continue to share your “wisdom and insight” Jesus turns to you and calls you the father of lies and that you are a stumbling block to him. Wow. What a turn around.

When it comes to the hot topics of our day, I believe it is very easy for us to act like Peter. In some ways our faith may be very mature and God is pleased with us as we journey with Him. In these moments it is very natural to be proud and honored for the growth that the Spirit has provided in our lives. It’s easy to identify with this part of Peter’s story, but the other part of the story is one that is not so easily understood or realized. Even in our mature faith, is it possible that we have in mind the things of men and not of God? Are there areas of our lives and faith that have been polluted over time with the themes of men: power, control, and arrogance instead of the themes of the Kingdom: service, love, and humility?

I continue to realize that there is nothing in life that is as black and white as when I was a youth. The world of comic books are so appealing to so many people because they allow us to have a clearly defined “evil” that is readily identified and easy to attack. The journey of faith is one that keeps us humble and always seeking to be where God is encouraging us as being a “Rock” and not as being “the Devil”. May we have eyes to see and courage to admit when we’ve been too quick to make judgments and form opinions that might not have the things of God truly at heart.

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Those Christians

JJJ01
While I was recently in New Orleans with for the 2009 ELCA Youth Gathering, I had the opportunity to hear one of my favorite authors Donald Miller. His book Blue Like Jazz made the New York Times best seller list. He was going to be a keynote speaker on Saturday night and it was something that I was definitely looking forward to during our adventures at the gathering. The students were aware of this and so we even showed up a little early to the Superdome hoping to get floor seats and be a little closer to the action. There was one story that he shared that I’ve thought about several times since. He said that as he was traveling he overheard two ladies talking about the disaster of Katrina in New Orleans. They spoke about how they were disappointed in the events that happened after the disaster with the lack of “urgency” that they saw from the government. It was the next comment he heard from them that struck him most. “Do you know who’s really helping out down there? It’s those Christians.” He then discussed how he hoped that this would be something that would be heard more often, that “those Christians” are really helping out and making a difference in the world.

During the youth gathering, it was estimated that all the service work we would do over our short time together, would be more than could be accomplished in 3 years with the current amount of service work that is being put in. I hope that in my community, the actions of the people of faith can really begin to promote the stereotype that “those Christians” really want to make a difference and help our neighbors. May God’s grace, peace, mercy and love be seen in us today.

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What is Boldness?

Champion-of-the-universeSometimes I hear people use the word boldness and I’m almost positive they would be better off using the word arrogance. Working with people of faith on a regular basis I hear language that says the gospel message needs to be shared boldly. In case you are wondering, the gospel message as discussed in Christian circles is the “good news” that God loves us so much that He has made a way for peace with Himself, others and creation through His son Jesus Christ. So my question is what do people mean by sharing the gospel message with boldness? If it means that I’m not embarrassed to say that I trust and believe in the good news than I guess I understand and I’m okay with that idea. If it means that I act like I’ve “arrived” and know it all because I believe the “good news” than I’m really confused. Somewhere being bold and unashamed to share my beliefs about the good news even though it might not be accepted, has been replaced with arrogance about my beliefs in view of the beliefs of others. God’s love and grace cannot be seen in us when we act as if we are better than others. The good news can only truly and honestly be expressed in the stories of God’s grace in our lives that help us through our sin, pain, and daily adventures. My question for today is…am I arrogant about my beliefs or do I share them without being embarrassed and with humility? May God’s good news be communicated clearly in the way I live my life.

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DR 2009 Video

 
DR Video 09

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Filed under Dominican Republic, My Journey