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Meaning – 2/3/11

So, I have a confession.  Embarrassing as it is, I must speak.

I actually really like “Firework” by Katy Perry.

Despite the fact that I don’t really think too highly of some of her decisions or most of her music or the fact that she shoots fireworks from her.. chest… I have to say, the song hits me right where it’s supposed to hit.


A lot of people got up in arms a few years ago because a professor decided that the reason that his students were acting selfish or self-entitled was because, back in the day when they were in diapers or kindergarten, a certain someone told them they were special: Mister Rogers.  It got to the point that one news channel were questioning if we could even describe him as evil.

Now, while I don’t like people who are proud, self-centered, or think they deserve anything and everything, often I would prefer that to the opposite possibility: people living lives without a sense of meaning, uniqueness, and identity.

Maybe it’s because it’s because of my past.  I felt very alone and lost my identity after a tough move in middle school.  But after a life-changing experience at camp, I found my life in the life of Jesus.

Maybe it’s because of my present.  For the past few months I’ve been dealing with some depression, anxiety, and other stuff that clouds up the mind.  There are days when I need a reminder that my life has meaning.

Maybe it’s because of my past, present, and future.  I have been, am, and will be involved in ministry, probably for the rest of my life.  Specifically younger people, children and youth.  I have a calling to them because, I believe, they are ones at the crossroads of life, vulnerable and hurting.  Of course, all people are hurting, but children and youth are still forming their identity and I would love to help them.

But we are all searching for some meaning, whether it’s in religion or philosophy, literature or science, family or friends or love or war or nation or nature, we all want life to mean more than the day to day.  We want to believe that we matter more than just a handful of dust.  And while we are just that, we are so much more.

I believe that God sees each person as a unique creation, an individual work of art.  He loves and cares about each person he has made and wants them to know how special they are to Him.  Now, we are not God’s gods.  He does not worship us- we are still to be reflections of his glory.  But just as a painter loves a picture of a flower for the glory of the real existing flower found on a canvas, God loves us and loves the image that He has placed within us: the image of God.

When I speak to kids or youth or, well, anyone, I hope (and it is hope, because I fail every time I know) to tell them they are unique and special and loved.  Specifically in the eyes of God, but honestly sometimes I’d rather a person simply find joy in being unique even out of the context of faith.  I know, I shouldn’t.  I too believe the that life lived outside of serving God is not a full, abundant life.  But all life outside is not feeble and pale.  People can find true joy in being loved by family, true happiness in their ability to play a sport or make art, true identity in the context of community.  Sure, the family or community or sport or art or whatever is giving them joy may not be properly directed towards the Maker of all things, but nevertheless, He is the Maker of all things.  Including joy, meaning, acceptance.  Satan can try to twist and pervert and change those good graces, but that’s all.  He can’t manufacture them himself.  So when a youth is accepted into a clique, is that a good thing?  Maybe acceptance is, but that situation isn’t.  When two people of the same gender enter into a relationship, is that a good thing?  Maybe love is, but that loving relationship isn’t.  When a parent showers down affection upon their child even though the kid is a brat and will grow up with an ego the size of Montana, is that a good thing?  Maybe affection is, but the actions aren’t.  I don’t know.  These are just my thoughts.  They are fueled by the faith in the Maker and Maintainer of Good, but I can’t completely speak for Him.

So, baby, you’re a firework.  Come on let your colors burn.  Make ‘em go “Ah, Ah, Ah!” You’re going to leave them all in awe.

“You don’t have to feel like a waste of space”
”You’re original, cannot be replaced”
”Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed so you can open one that leads you to the perfect road”

Are these things that we are teaching our kids, telling our friends?  Are we believing it ourselves?  Sometimes this is why I have trouble with the idea of absolute depravity.  I feel that even though we sinned and made a mess of this world, it’s still not our world.  God is still Creator and Redeemer, and while he saved us at the cross, He saved us forever before that and forever after.  Incarnation.  Image of God.  Omnipresence.  “I will be with you, even to the end of the age.” God has come and made his home among us.  And though we perverted ourselves like picklers pervert cucumbers, at the core, we are still creations of God, just like a pickle is still a cucumber in nature.  (Yet I still hate pickles.)

Anyway, to end off this soapbox ramble, let me just say three things.

1. You are so very unique and special and loved.

2. Tell the people around you how much they mean to you

3. Remind yourself of 1 and 2 every day

Oh yeah, and Jesus loves you.

Extra Credit:

Look at the songs that GLEE has done and see how many of them speak of hope, identity, finding meaning and joy.  It’s such a common issue we all struggle with, especially those in high school.  We all need a reminder here and there.










Beautiful or Beastly? – 2/5/11

This is a theme for yesterday and today, from TV and Internet browsing and thoughts running around in the fields of my mind.

First, I took a look at http://www.totalcreeper.com/ after a redirect from some comedy site (BTW- IT’S NOT PORN or anything dangerous or such.  Just sad.  Might be bad language)  It reminded me a lot of the horrors of http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/ (IT’S JUST LIKE ABOVE, but definitely bad language.)  Sad words, sad thoughts.

Next, I have been watching the Glee marathon on Oxygen.  Yeah, I know.  But the episode I just watched was partly about the character of Beist and her challenge to see herself as beautiful.  And Kurt trying to find his voice and identity.

Finally, the ad for a new movie showed during the commercial break: Beastly.  http://www.beastlythemovie.com/  Either it’s good planning by the people over at Oxygen to run the commercial during the “Beist” episode, or a God thing.  Or both.

The other day, we were sharing our pet peeves, and I thought about what I wanted to say.  People who clap out of time.  That used to be my old standby, but I actually like it now.  Eggs?  No.  Two and a Half Men?  That’s just obvious.  People who like Two and a Half Men?  That’s just cruel.

So I said something along these lines: “I can’t stand people who refuse to open their minds and look beyond their area of understanding.”  That is awkwardly phrased, and it was probably more awkward than that.  But it was such.

It is a pet peeve of mine.  Learned in elementary school where I got to know people of different cultures, relearned when I saw myself being a cruel little kid to the “less cool” kids in school, empathized when I became one of the “less cool” kids from middle school to high school and generally understood over my life as an outsider, an oddball.  Not just that I can’t stand it when people look at me and don’t understand who I really am, but even more when people see my friends or others and can’t look beyond simple appearances.

We are a culture of image.  We try to imitate the beautiful, successful ones, whether we realize it or not.  Even our idea of “perfected bodies” or “angels”- we typically think of bright glowing skin (usually white) and youthful, thin, unblemished appearance.  What if we spent forever in eternity as chubby individuals with potmarked faces for every sin we committed on earth?  Now, I’m not putting out a theological view—simply dreaming a “What If?”

People are beautiful.  All people.  And not just some on the outside, some on the inside.  It’s both.  Because as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  But you’ll argue, “Does that mean beauty is subjective?  Are there any standards of truth, goodness, beauty?  Yes.  External.  Because the beholder is God.  And we are his art.  Yes, we are sinful and fallen, much like a painting that has been destroyed over the ages.  But God is the painter.  He sees the original as well as the present condition as well as the redeemed possibility.  And when He looks at us, He sees “the image of God” within us all.

The difference is the person who refuses to see the beauty in others.  Like a wire coiling around itself, all they can see is things from their perspective, their eyes, their standards.  And so they look at others and see them as nothing but animals and creatures.  Such is the case with the websites above.  They throw around insults and tear down other people that they forget it’s supposed to be humor.  Sure, maybe you can laugh at someone’s awkward clothing or bad hair day.  But it just gets twisted and perverted and turns wrong—such as seen before.  If you say, “But it’s just a joke.”  I say “Fine.”  But the words we say and the words we read are like air we breathe.  If we breathe out foul air, there’s probably something foul underneath.  If we breathe in foul air, it’s gonna get at us eventually.  Now, yes, those people are loved by God and beautiful as well.  Heck, I’m sure their wit is God given. And I’m not better than them.  This is just a personal thought of what is going on over there.

In Glee, we see people trying to find their identity, find their own meaning in life.  I’ve posted about it before.  Probably a lot of the same thoughts are coming up again.  But with Beist, we see a person who is so unlike others, so foreign to the norm.  It’s almost impossible to find a person that can say she is lovable.  But Will steps up and does that.  And he seems honest.  Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but can we do the same?  Speak love and beauty into the lives of others?

In this movie, we see a guy who is all wrapped up in himself and he looks down on others, so he is changed to be ugly in the eyes of the people who once loved him, and he has to find someone to love him as he is.  Okay, yes, I just told you the plot of Beauty and the Beast.  It’s a take off of that story.  But relevant all the same.  When we turn to the point of seeing all others as beasts compared to our own beauty, we turn into beasts ourselves.

So who do you look down on?  Who do you “feel sorry for”?  Who do you pity?  Who do you ignore?  Who do you hate?  Who are you disgusted by?  Who can you not stand?  Who irritates you?  Who is awkward beyond all belief?  Who is ugly and gross and weird and just wrong?


They are the beautiful artwork of Creator God, Incarnate One, Redeemer and Lover of the soul.

So love them.  Love him. Love her.  Love them like you love yourself and maybe you will see the beauty of the “beast”.


I will try to do the same.  I have no handle on this.  I fail as well.  But now that I am aware of it, I can try.  Try.  Yoda was wrong.  There is try.  But you try by doing.  So do.  Try.  Love.


Home – 1/18/11

Home is not where you live, but where they understand you”- Christian Morganstern

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”- Maya Angelou

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”- Charles Dickens

“Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved.”- Ann Douglas

“There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits”- Robert Southey

“Home is the most popular, and will be the most enduring of all earthly establishments”- Channing Pollack

“Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserved; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind…cast-off and everyday clothing.”- Harriet Beecher Stowe

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.- Maya Angelou

Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.- Billy Graham

Home is where one starts from.- TS Eliot

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.- Oliver Wendell Holmes

I really don’t have much to say after all these wise words.

But I was in four homes this weekend.

One was a home of living.  A place where I reside and eat my meals and go through daily activities.

One was a home of friends.  A place where I visit from time to time and interact with a family’s life.

One was a home of family.  An old home that is ever new, that I get to come back to on occasion.

One was a home of faith.  A place where I serve, and participate in ministry and worship.

At one place I was welcomed by perhaps two people, which consisted of asking about Christmas break.  Other than that, I was left alone.

At one place I was welcomed and hugged and inquired about details of my life and things of the future.  I was given a place that was my very own and felt loved.

At another place I was greeted by no one, given a hello or two and thrown the occasional question about life.  This was all very polite and seemed to be going through the motions.

And at another place I was engaged in conversation, taken out for food and entertainment, loved on with time and attention, words and actions.  It was a brief stay, but it was a true home.

I will not say which is which.  But I will say this: There’s no place like home.



Names – 1/10/11

A few months ago, I spoke at Elementary Chapel at Cypress Christian School, as I do occasionally.  I spoke about Names.


What does your name mean?

My name is Evan Christopher Weppler.

Evan means Young Warrior / God is Gracious (or Young Warrior of God’s Grace, as I like to see it)

Christopher means Christ-Bearer.

Weppler means Weapon/Shield Bearer.

So I am a Young Warrior of God’s Grace, Christ Inside, Shield at my Side.

Mister Rogers, on the other hand…

Well, Mister Rogers has become a hero of mine lately.  Involved in television and children and fantasy and more, all as his ministry to families everywhere.  I noticed some similarities between our names a while back.

Fred McFeely Rogers.

Fred comes from Frederick or Alfred.  Frederick means Peaceful Ruler.  Alfred means Wise Counsel.  So, Peaceful Ruler of Wise Counsel.

McFeely means Chess Player (or Chess Player’s son, really.)

Rogers means Famous Spear.

So his name is Peaceful Ruler of Wise Counsel, Chess Player, Famous Spear Bearer.  My name is Young Warrior of God’s Grace, Christ Bearer, Shield Bearer.


Grace/Peace.  Old/Young.  Ruler/Warrior.  Spear/Shield.

Anyway, all of this doesn’t really have anything to do with my point.

But Names are amazing, aren’t they?  You hear your name in a crowd and jump to attention.  The name of a good friend brings a smile to the face.  Everyone has a different name (Well, yes, there are many many many many John Smiths and more in the world, but still with all the combinations of First, Middle, and Last names, there is a wide variety.)

And so now to the reason I’m blogging about names today.  In both of my classes, we spent a considerate amount of time hearing each other’s names.  And not just their names, but their stories as well.  For the two go hand in hand.  Who can think of the name Barack Obama and not picture the whole drama of his rise to Presidency?  Who can hear Shakespeare and not instantly think of “to be or not to be” and “a rose by any other name” (although that rose quote kind of goes against my thoughts)?  Name and Story, like Chips and Salsa, a dish that must be consumed bit by bit, bite by bite.  That is why we get to know people first by name, then by story, then more and more as we go.

I have been in classes where I just can’t remember people, even if we are close and have had great conversations.  But it gets to the point that you can’t ask for their name.  Seriously, we need a word for those people: people who we know very well but cannot remember their name.  It’s like eating the Salsa without the Chip—it’s just not as good.

But how great it is to know another person’s name.  We connect to each other through knowing each other’s names.  It’s like a doorway into their life.  (Yes, a Name is a Chip and a Doorway.  And a Magnet and a Jewel and… and so on and so forth march the metaphors.

But how amazing it is to know God by name.  He told Moses his name- Yahweh.  Jehovah.  I AM.  And God came in the form of man.  Emmanuel.  And we came to know him—Jesus Christ.  And in the name of Jesus Christ, the mountains rise and demons fall.

And God knows us by name.  And not only by name, he knows the hairs on our head, the cells in our brain, the veins in our body.  He knows our heart, our soul, our self.  He knows our name.  He knows us.  He knows me.  He knows you.  And he wants you to know him too.

Do you know more than the name?  Of a friend or a God?  Have you stuck to the chips and not tasted the salsa?  It’s spicy, but oh so good.

Know the name.  Know the story.  Chips and Salsa.  Mmmm.



Person to Person – 1/7/11

The holidays are always wonderful, not just because we take a break from school and celebrate traditions and culture, but mainly because we spend time with the people we love. I went to London with my family and had a number of sweet memories. Before that I visited with friends and relaxed at home with my sister. And this past week, I’ve traveled around, meeting friends, playing games, having conversations, loving people, being loved.

I am a person person.
There are people people, but I’m not a people person. That stresses me out. When I arrived at the retreat for Forest Glen counselors, there were too many people around talking and greeting each other– I didn’t know who to talk to, who to hug, who to greet, so I just went over to the ping pong table and played with one of the kids. The one on one, I’m great at that. Even when it looks like I excel at talking to large groups of people, it’s just because I’m making a whole bunch of single connections. I was never good at “popcorn talking” where one person says something and another person says something and the conversations “pops” around to different things. I’m better at thinking about that one person at that one moment in time.
Mister Rogers was the exact same way. When he spoke on his show, speaking to millions of children around the country, he focused on speaking to that ONE child in front of the television screen.
We get that weird feeling, when we look at George Washington on the dollar bill or the Mona Lisa, when the eyes in a picture follow us around. It’s a little off putting, a little awkward, just like when a person actually looks at us when we’re talking to them. It’s right, but also feels wrong.
Now I’m not allowing the over-individualistic tendencies of Americans or modern day Christians to take over. No, speaking to the one is something that has transcended the years. Jesus spoke to Zaccheus in the tree, the woman who stole a healing touch, the children on his knee. He broke the rule of talking to everyone at once and no-one at all, the way we think we’re supposed to be when making speeches or sermons.
But when we talk to the one, we are connecting heart to heart, soul to soul. We are recreating the simplicity of two humans interacting, like Adam and Eve at the beginning of it all. There’s nothing like it. Nothing like it at all.
Then again, maybe I’m generalizing, and making my personality the norm. Maybe you’re a people person and can connect to thousands at once. Cool. I’m glad you can. I’m happy being a person person. We’re each just one person anyway. God has made us each different. Thank God.
Special Features
Read either Leo Tolstoy’s story, “The Three Questions” (if you need to be validated by reading a story by a famous author, or maybe you just like Tolstoy. No judment.) or the text to a children’s version by John Muth (with animals, so its fun.) What do you think? Do you agree?

Childhood – 12/22/10

“I never read an autobiography in which the parts devoted
to the earlier years were not far the most interesting.”
– CS LEWIS, “Preface” of Surprised By Joy

It took me a few tries to read this sentence. Was he saying that the early years were boring, or that they weren’t boring or…? Well, I pulled the ole “pull out the contrasting contractions” trick and it made sense.
Isn’t it true, though? Yes, in biographies we like our adventures or romances or humorous anecdotes, but aren’t the childhood tales the most “right”? Though another person’s childhood might differ from us in many ways, we all experience the same emotions, fears, desires, and hopes. When you read of another person finding friendship, dealing with a parent’s death, struggling through school days, etc. the words jump up off the page at you, causing you to call out “Yes! I agree! Of course! I hated that! That happened to me!” Or, as Lewis put it- “What! Have you felt t hat too? I always thought I was the only one.”
We all start out as children. There’s no skipping over those years. They are our formative years. I spent them in England and Norway.Where were you?
This is why I love to hear about other people’s childhoods– the TV shows they watched, the games they played, the books they read, the friends they had. It’s so much easier to find a connection from those days because that was when we were so ready for friendship. We bonded over pudding and kickball and Nickelodeon and colors. It is the smallest things we share in common. When we get older, we pursue the large issues at hand, trying to pledge ourselves to a group or system or company, becoming a majority or minority or somewhere in between. We like swimming in the sea with a million others when its just as fun (if not more) to sit on the shore and find shells. The little things.
It is the little things that affect us and make us who we are. Lewis describes three small moments in his childhood that carried with him for the rest of his life. They come from reading and remembering, simple thoughts and memories. But for Lewis…
“The reader who finds these three episodes of no interest need read this book no further, for in a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else.”
In those little moments, he experienced something larger. He calls it Joy. He was surprised by Joy. Hence the title.
He goes from talking about Joy to talking about pain, grief, sadness, mourning. His mother has died and he experiences the loss, though different from his father, in ways that are very real and very heart-wrenching.
In childhood, there are the small things. But we do not escape the monsters. Death is real. Joy is real. Life is real.

Many wish to hide children away from big problems, scary monsters, depressing times. Some think that the happiness a child experiences from hearing his mother tell a story is low and sentimental, not the true happiness which philosophers seek. Yes, children grow. Yes, they are developmentally different from adults. But God does not withhold his hand. He sends rain on the evil and the good, whether child, adult, or elder. Every good and perfect gift is from above, and he gives them to all, not just those who are ready to comprehend them. He spoke to Samuel as a boy and called teenage Mary to be the mother of God. Children experience Joy. Children experience Sorrow. Children meet Evil every day and every night, and when they applaud the fairy tale’s happy ending, they are cheering on the Good they know is real.

“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fearof childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” Lewis, “On Three Ways of Writing For Children”

Childhood. It is short, small, but highly important. It is the stem that forms the apple, the stream that flows into the river, the word that changes lives. We must never forget its value.


Dessert: Mister Rogers spoke a lot about the real-ity of childhood. He comforted kids and helped them know there are no such thing as real monsters, but didn’t pretend that those real real monsters didn’t exist: Death, Pain, Loneliness, Loss.
“Almost all of us who have been parents have had the feeling of wanting to give our children perfect lives, lives without pain and sorrow, but of course none of can. There are many times in life when we can’t solve our children’s problems or get rid of their fears. Perhaps all we can do is to provide a safe, loving place and a willingness to listen.”
Being there. Love. Doing the little things that matter ever so much.



1 Corinthians 10 and more – 7/20/09

Well, last week was great- hanging at the mall, visiting at the Davidhizars, seeing counselors, watching Kung Fu Panda, meeting with Brandon, seeing Jeff and Maggie, speaking in Jr. High and High School, and overall work…

So- what’s in the Word today?

1 Corinthians 10
We aren’t to fall to grumbling, sexual immorality, testing the Lord, or idolatry.
God gives us a way out each time– why did Paul list these four? Are they suppposed to be the definitive list, or are they just four of many sins?
Grumbling- God satisfies us. He provides for us. He gives everything- How can we grumble?
Sexual Immorality- God lives in us. Our body is a temple- How can we treat it in sinful ways?
Testing the Lord- God is faithful. He proves that over and over again. How can we lose faith?
Idolatry- God is God alone. He made everything, including our idols. How can we lose focus?

Of course, we can all come up with good enough excuses to stay in each of these sins (what I talked about in Jr High). But in the end, they don’t hold up. And why should we rely on them, when God gives us promises that endure much longer than Satan’s excuses?

In the end, we have freedom to partake of these things- But why would we want to? It’s not good for us, not good for others (and we must think about others first), not good for God’s glory.

31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

This has been my life verse (kind of) for a long time- It’s so good.
1. Do everything for God
2. Live an authentic life- pointing to God, not causing others to fall
3. Please others- Seek the good of others- Ultimately, that they might come to know Christ

Worship. Witness. Service.

I pray that I might be able to do this today, this week, for the rest of the summer- in all my life. Praying for the Jr. High and for the High School and for the Mexico Team- Work…



Up Late Thinking – 7/11/09

Three words, which individually are fine, come together and wreck havoc on a person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Up- Usually I like being up. It means I’m awake and living life.
Late- I’m usually late, in the day and at night. I’m used to that…
Up Late- I’m usually up late, watching TV or reading.
Late Thinking- I guess that’s procrastination in motion- and I’m used to that.
Up… Thinking – Positive Thinking? I like that as well. It’s a great thing.

But, Up Late Thinking means one thing and one thing only.
Brain Mush

I’ve enjoyed a simple day. I slept in, and I’ve been needing the sleep. Then I went to go see a movie with a good friend and we talked for a little bit. I spent the evening with my family, watching “Music and Lyrics” and “Knowing”- two very different movies. I relaxed and worked on my latest ru, and after a while, headed to bed. But, there’s a lot of thoughts racing through my mind. It didn’t help that a friend texted me as I was going to sleep and “perked my curiosity”… I was already thinking about where he is and it just fed the flames.
My friend’s out at Camp Good News, in Forest Glen, in Huntsville, TX, i.e., my home.
I’ve gone there since I was eight years old, worked there since I was 15, and made some lifelong friends there (although, I don’t think I can say “lifelong friends” til I’m 86 or something…). It’s where I was fed as a young Christian, it’s where I rededicated my life to Christ and really started my Christian walk, and it’s where I saw God move in many ways and help me understand my vocation. I love the place, the people, the principles, and the part I’ve been able to play at camp for the past few years. But this year, God did some recasting, and I’m no longer in that production. (To borrow more theater terms…)
He placed me here at Cypress, which has been good. I’ve seen little bits of good that I’ve done or experienced. But it’s not the same as camp. In many ways. I miss it. I wish I was there but also love being here. Like always, I’m torn between two places. Once it was England and Norway, then it was Norway and Cypress, then it was junior high and high school, then it was high school and college, CCS and Baylor, Cypress and Waco, CBC and… where? What’s interesting, is that for all that time, from age eight (when we moved to Norway) and onward, I’ve had camp as a retreat, a safe place, a home away from home. Twelve straight years. There’s very few things that have been that consistent in my life, after many moves and many changes in life, other than my family/friends and my faith. And my Father. Now that camp is “gone”, for me, for now, at least, what must I rely on? Those things that have been faithful over the years. My family- I love being here and spending time with them, even though we mainly only watch movies and TV and sit around together. For the first time in a long time, I’ll be around for my mom’s birthday– hopefully we can do something special. Friends- This has been hard, because I’ve had this huge chunk of time to be home and see people- but time has flown by, and there’s still so many people I want to spend time with. This doesn’t mean I’m popular- only that God’s given me many chances to serve and love others. Faith- I sure hope that I’m back on track, faithwise. College life has been hard, and knocked me out of consistent pursuit of God. I want to want Him more, I want to want my faith to grow- and I think it is. My Father- He is so faithful. So good. So present. I wish I could realize it more- more often, more potently, more consistently. He is the God that was there at Camp Good News and is there at Camp Good News- the God that led me through the years at Cypress Bible Church and is still leading here at Cypress Bible Church- the God that has me home- the God that gives me home- the God that is my home.
I must remember to make Him my rock, my refuge, my safe place- because in the end, He is the only thing that doesn’t change. He’ll always be there- and I hope to be there with Him.



Building – 7/9/09

Many thoughts on this…

This summer, as I am interning at CBC, I am doing a lot of little things. Going to meetings. Making PowerPoint slides. Supervising games. Hanging out with students. Lots of little things- but little things can be oh, so important. The question is, when and how do they matter?
In all this stuff, I am building. Building up the Student Ministry. Building up my own experiences in my life. Building up students. Planting and watering seeds. Laying down boards and putting in nails. Each little bit matters. Like Paul says, “you are God’s field, God’s building”. If I were a farmer, and I focused on just one row of plants and made sure that one row was well planted, well watered, well tended—- well, that would be okay, but what about the other 95% of my field? Likewise, in building a house, I could make sure that I make a perfect wall, all the boards aligned neatly, each nail where it should be. Unfortunately, if I only cared about one wall, I wouldn’t be building a house, I’d be building a… wall. And likewise, in ministry, we can’t just do one thing well. Now let me explain. I don’t mean that if you are going into ministry, you have to work with preschoolers and middle schoolers and young adults and the elderly and you have to run the food ministry and the Bible clubs ministry and the worship ministry and you have to be on top of your prayers and your service and your Bible study and……… you don’t do everything. You can’t do everything. God has assigned each of us an area of service, of work. However, he rarely will give us one row, one wall. And rarely will we only have the responsibility of planting the seeds, or only having to buy the nails. In ministry, you are over a few fields and a few buildings over your life. Now, if you’re smart, you’ll be like Moses and follow his father-in-law’s advice— share the load! Jesus told us to pray to the Father for more workers- and we should! We can’t do everything. However, we will do alot. And it’s a little overwhelming sometimes. I’m not in charge of that much in this internship, but helping plan our retreat and working with students on other stuff, it’s amazing how MUCH stuff has to get figured out. Details. Bits and pieces. Odds and ends. But it all has to come together, we all have to do our jobs so that the building is standing strong and the field is thriving.

And in ministry, it’s sometimes a little annoying how little you actually can do. Now, normally during the summer I’ve worked at Camp Good News at Forest Glen in Huntsville, TX- this summer God has me here, but sometimes I wish I were back there (for different reasons). And one nice thing about camp ministry compared to church ministry is that you’re dealing with a microcosm compared to a macrocosm, a week compared to four years, a small group compared to hundreds of students. At camp, you can have campers come in, hear God’s Word, be encouraged, grow, and have a transformation by Friday. You get to see it all happen- it’s like putting coal under great pressure- you see diamonds emerge. God is mightily at work at camp, for many reasons, but especially because it’s directed towards Him- kids get to be away from family, friends, TV, games, the internet, the world. Here in church ministry, we work in the everyday, the normal, the regular world. We have students for a few hours per week, and each time once they go home, they’re back in the world again (not that they’re “out” of the world at church- it just means that they get a superconcentrated focus on Him while they’re at church… hopefully.)

So what’s hard is that we can really do so little. I go see movies, have lunch, have conversations, talk on Facebook chat, and do other stuff with a bunch of middle school and high school students- but will it matter in the end? It would be nice if I could change a student’s life through a deep conversation- but usually it doesn’t happen. Instead, what I must aim for is building a relationship with them. And I must be careful what materials I use. I can build a relationship in which they look highly upon me and I get the glory. I can build a relationship that tears us both down with bad stuff. I can build a relationship directed to idols or things that don’t last. Or I can build a relationship directed towards God.

Unfortunately, it’s an ongoing thing. I have to be careful and wise in how I build each relationship and spend each moment of hanging out. I’m laying boards and watering seeds- but are they the right boards and the right seeds? Time will only tell. And that is why we need faithful pastors and leaders that will continually build on students, help them grow, be faithful and see them through the middle school/high school/college years. But we can’t do it so we can say “Look at Johnny- he’s grown so much because of me!” Instead, we must humbly thank God for our chance to participate in Johnny’s growth, and prayer that God will continue to send people Johnny’s way to help him grow more and more. We have to do a lot of letting go in ministry, because God is constantly moving people in and out of our area. But that doesn’t mean we stop serving. We keep working where we are called—- and God does the rest… : )

Alot of thoughts. Even more… But I’ll stop here. And post the Scripture that influenced these thoughts.

1 Corinthians 3
1Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?
5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
16Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
18Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[
a]; 20and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”[b] 21So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas[c] or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Speaking and God – 7/8/09

This last Sunday I spoke for the first time ever on a Sunday morning before the Jr High. Sure, I’ve shared my testimony, made announcements, led a little worship, acted in dramas, told stories, spoken on Wednesday nights, led Sunday school classes, and such– but this was my first time to actually speak on a Sunday morning before a large group. Now, I know- there’s nothing magical or outright special about a Sunday morning- God can use a Wednesday night as much as a Sunday School lesson as much as a message on Sunday morning. However, speaking on a Sunday morning feels, I don’t know, official. Like I’ve joined a special club or something. Sunday morning is the typical big message for any church or youth group- and now I had the privilege of giving the big message.
It didn’t go great.
The series I’ve started is called SLOGANIZED!, how slogans affect our lives in more than just our fast food choices. The first week was HAVE IT YOUR WAY, talking about our selfishness and pride and how we like to control our lives, when we should really live lives of surrender and selflessness, praying “Your Will Be Done” and living “Have It God’s Way”. Honestly, I think the idea rocks like granite. I first came up with it… I guess senior year, and shared it with David. He had another direction, and it didn’t happen. But when I got this opportunity to speak, and when I found out I could do my own message, I soon realized what I wanted to talk about. So, the message is solid. It’s about how we shouldn’t conform to our culture, but be Christ-like. How we shouldn’t treat God like an employee, a side order, or forget Him, but we should see ourselves as His servants, His fellow workers, His children, how we should see that He is fully satisfying, He is all we need, and He permeates every aspect of life, and how we should serve Him, follow Him, and glorify Him. How we should be on the guard for the lies in our culture and develop good habits of selflessness and surrender. So as I said, the mssage is solid.
But it didn’t go very good.
I was working on it late Saturday night, finishing my PowerPoint, finishing my outline, my thoughts. I knew my overall message was good, but the details were confusing me… I was trying to figure out what stuff I had to leave out, and what stuff I needed to keep. And I made my PowerPoint pretty much the basis of my talk, because I wanted it to be visual and a help to the kids as I talked. And then on Sunday morning, when I uploaded the PowerPoint to the computer, it wouldn’t load the font that I had used in 87% of the PowerPoint. So I looked through it, made a couple changes so the words would stay on the slides, and was ready to talk. The computer crashed or froze once or twice while I was talking, which meant that I was without my slides for a little while. And then, when I had them again, the font changes I had made weren’t there, because I hadn’t saved them. So the tech guys (God bless em!) changed the font sizes and types as I talked. And we had about 2/5 of our typical group size, so it wasn’t as big of a group- which meant I couldn’t talk at them, I had to talk to them (which is good, but hard). And it was my first time to talk up there with a mic, and so I was trying to walk around and talk but then my voice would falter, I’d kinda do some trembling, and I would have to take a break to breathe. I sometimes looked too much at the slides, sometimes talked too much about one point, sometimes didn’t talk enough about one point, didn’t put enough focus on Scripture, dragged out the message, went over my time, and more…
It really wasn’t my best.
I should have practiced during the week– using the mic, timing myself, figuring out when to look at the slides, when to look out, when to walk around. I should have made my slides and outline earlier so I could memorize them. I shouldn’t have been dependent on my slides- they’re good, but I can’t depend on technology, cause it can fail. I should have made it more from Scripture, more practical, and more relatable. I should have prayed more, prepared more, practiced more.
It could have been better…

And yet…
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. 

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words

I need to be sure and make sure to be sure that I am resting fully on Christ and Him crucified. Let His sacrificial life be the example. I must be honest, and share my testimony of what God has done in my life. I must listen to God and speak His words. In the end, my fear and weakness and trembling didn’t stop God. He spoke what He needed to speak, touched the hearts of students, and used me along the way. Man, it’s encouraging to know that my eloquence isn’t the main strength of a message- it’s my focus on Christ and what He’s done. Yes, I do need to do my best. But in the end, it’s Him. It’s not me. It’s Him.