"Every man leaves a lasting influence... that will affect future generations for centuries to come. But let's face it, not all legacies are the same. Some are productive, others are destructive. Some are illustrious, others are infamous... what kind of a legacy will you leave behind? A spiritual legacy is one that money can't buy and taxes can't take away, it is passing down to the next generation what matters most."
Steven J. Lawson

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Aslan's Country

Today, I saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which is new in theaters. After the last installment, Prince Caspian, which was huge disappointment, I was hesitant to see another Narnia film if Disney was involved. Then I heard that Disney was out of the picture and over the next several months, I heard nothing but hopeful reports online that the producers were trying to regain what they had lost with the previous film, which was any symbolism that can be found in the book, as well as a sense of childlike wonder that the first film had. All that being said, when I actually saw the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is amazing how even if people miss the message of these stories, God allows the message to still come through, despite man's efforts to hide the Christian themes within them. Another great example of this is the film Amazing Grace directed by Michael Apted, who also directed Dawn Treader. This film sticks very closely to the book, much more so than Prince Caspian. The beautiful and powerful themes of faith, courage, overcoming temptation, and ultimately, grace and redemption all permeate through the film. This may be my favorite of the film so far, and certainly it was my favorite book.

The most noble of the characters in this particular story is a brave mouse named Reepicheep, who teaches one of the main characters about courage and honor. Eustace, the spoiled and bratty cousin of Edmund and Lucy(who return from the previous story) learns some very important lessons about faith, courage, and honor from this adventurous mouse. During the course of the voyage, each child is tempted by their own sinful desires, and Eustace succumbs to his own greed when he finds a cave full of treasure. As a result, he turns into a dragon, but in the process, learns humility, and realizes he needs Aslan to save him. Instead of looking at Eustace, however, let's look at Reepicheep, because he is the one who reaches Aslan's Country, which is the title of this post.

Reepicheep has all the qualities that I would like to have more of. He is courageous, loyal, hopeful, a fierce friend, and has deep faith. He longs to sail to Aslan's Country, which allegorically serves as the equivalent to heaven. He believes that it truly exists and cannot wait to get there. In the greatest hour of need, Reepicheep is there to fight. He never turns away from danger, but meets it head on. He hopes for the day when he will get to see Aslan again and travel to his country. In the film, there is a great scene where he is singing about Aslan's Country, when Lucy asks him if he really believes that it exists. His answer is "We have nothing if not belief."
I will go ahead and draw out an application from this character. If Aslan's Country symbolizes heaven, then I think Reepicheep helps us see how we ought to be. Do you long for "Aslan's Country" like the mouse? Do we seek to bring hope to a broken and sad world while we are here?

Revelation speaks about heaven and gives us hope for the day of redemption. Chapter 21:4-5 says " He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And He who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new." This is a promise. Whatever challenge or trial we face, no matter how sad or painful, we have a great and sure hope that one day, the great king will return to redeem our broken world. The more I think about heaven, the more hope I have and the more I long for it. Do you? This is not the way things are supposed to be. There is something greater coming. Are you hoping in that and longing for that day? As for me, I want to see Aslan's Country...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Adventure and Wild at Heart

Do you remember being told by your mother to go play outside growing up? I do. Before I quit homeschooling in the fourth grade, these words were heard in our house quite often. Perhaps a solid 75%- 85% of my day would be spent outside, playing with my brothers in whatever creative activity we found ourselves. Our imaginations ran wild as we played cowboys and indians, building forts(even an entire "colony" at one point) or having jousting wars on our bicycles. My mom would lock us out on beautiful days where we had no excuse to be inside. The world was our playground, okay, maybe not the entire world, but at least 40 acres of land... Some of my fondest memories are of the many adventures with my two brothers(often accompanied by my older sister as well) having dirt clobber fights, making mud pies in the rain, or playing football before supper.

Though I was weaker than my two brothers, I always did what they did. They were probably more gun-ho than I was, but I loved tramping through the woods and fields with them. I think my love for adventure came from these special times, but also from things that I read and watched on film. My favorite things to read as a boy were historical fiction and nonfiction, biography, and adventure. All of this incensed in me a desire for adventure, but this desire strangely did not really come alive until my senior year of college.

Before I explore that history however, I want to discuss the book Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge, as well as my ideas on both adventure and what I believe being wild at heart means for boys/men. First of all, let me say that I do not believe there is anything wrong with wanting some excitement or adventure in your life. The only problem comes when you pursue it at the cost of your relationships with family, a job, or even your own life, or the lives of others. More important however, is that adventure-lust may be a sign of discontent, or longing which realistically, only Jesus can satisfy. According to Webster's Dictionary, adventure is "a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome." There have been countless accounts of people who, with the lust of adventure driving them, have caused pain to family and friends, spent thousands of dollars, and even lost their lives in pursuit of glory. This is foolish and a waste of resources and life if done with selfish ambition, that ultimately destroys more than it achieves.

Today, I believe that men are looking for some way to make their mark on the world, and adventure sports seems to be a great way to do that. If you are a hopeless romantic like me, you may desire adventure to experience what the great explorers like Shackleton, or others may have experienced as a way to do something in a spirit of heroism and honor, which seems especially void these days. In some ways, I long for adventure because I want to push myself and test my abilities. Of course, there must always be wisdom in this.
Wild at Heart has been vastly popular, but I feel that it gives an unrealistic and even unhealthy view of manhood and puts too much pressure on men who may be reading the book. Eldredge pulls from his own experiences and tries to impose them on young men. He misapplies scripture
to fit it to his view, which is misleading young men down a path of idealistic dreams.

To be wild at heart I think really only applies to us as men in the sense that we are designed in a way that reflects the attributes of God in a male way just as women reflect His attributes in a female way. God has designed us this way. As Christ is the head of His bride the Church, so we are designed to be the head of our family and of our wives. We are the provider and sustainer of our family, as God is to His children. Mothers provide nurture and care to her children, which
reflects God's care to us. God has designed us in such a special and unique way to be mirrors to reflect our Maker. The way we express things or do things may be more physical, but that is the way we have been wired by God.

As a boy, it was a normal day if my brothers and I came back with torn pants, muddy faces, and a few cuts and bruises. We were interacting with one another as boys will: with physicality. Typically speaking, if a boy gets a chance to wrestle in the rain and get dirty will do so, while a girl will probably stay inside and play with her dolls. Forgive me if I have just given in to a stereotype, but I think that this seems to be the common experience of most children. We were adventurous boys who remain adventurous as men, though maybe in different ways than when we were young...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Of Friendship, Sacrifice, and The Tales That Really Matter

Weather always affects my mood. If it's cloudy, wet, and windy, my mood turns either depressive or melancholic. If the weather is cold, but sunny, particularly around this time of year, my mood becomes reflective, slightly depressive, but more reflective. This is especially true around sunset. Maybe there is something in the air or the change in the leaves' color that does this to me. For some reason, other than the fact that I love cold weather, I love this time of year. It seems natural to reflect on your life at this time in the year. As of this week, the weather started out cold and rainy, but has turned to windy, cold, and sunny. And so, this post has been inspired by the weather, thoughts and reflections over the last two days, and The Lord of the Rings.

I have been reflecting and musing over the last two days on the subject of friendship. It brings one great joy(in my humble opinion) to a person when there is sweet fellowship with a dear friend. The times when bonds are made, experiences shared, and advice given, can provide some of the deepest and richest times in a person's life, where human interactions are involved. I believe God made fellowship with friends sweet so that we might get a foretaste of our union with Him in heaven. When that thought is rested upon, excitement fills my heart and I begin to long for heaven just a little bit more. In those sometimes long breaks in fellowship with dear friends, when the desire for fellowship with a person is so intense, then is the longing for heaven made greater. Though you may not see that friend again, we do have the hope of one day seeing them again in glory. I have friends that I have not seen in two or three years and I long to see them again, but even if somehow I don't ever see them again, there is the promise of being reunited in Heaven.

There are five marks of a true friend: Vulnerability, Trust, Faithfulness, Accountability, and Love. True friends are those who see your sin and weakness, but who push you to the cross and challenge you; who truly desire your best, and who love you unconditionally in spite of your brokenness. These true friends lay down their lives for you. This is the kind of friend that I wish to be to others, and the sort that I seek out in people. In Christian vernacular, we might often refer to them as brothers, as they are our spiritual brothers if we are both in Christ. In my own life, I know that I can converse about anything with those that are closest to me. I know that I will not be judged and they know that I will not judge them for anything spoken or done. There is great comfort in knowing this, and in having complete trust with another person. If one of us does cross a line or if we follow a path of sin, each of us expects to be called out and opposed in love by the other person. A true friend will always be willing to speak truth to their companion even if that person does not take it well. Proverbs 27:6 says "Faithful are the wounds of a friend..." Friends are faithful, even when it hurts...

While thinking bout friendship, I thought of famous examples of deep committed friendships. The most famous in the Old Testament that exemplifies Proverbs 27:6 is the story of David and Jonathan. I Samuel 18:1 says Jonathan's soul was knit to the soul of David. Jonathan loved David as his own soul, and even though his father King Saul tried to kill David, Jonathan protected David behind his father's back. Jonathan risked everything for David, and became vulnerable to the point where he actually took off all his outer garments including his robe, sword, and belt, and gave them to David. Jonathan knew that David had been anointed as next king, but instead of bearing resentment toward David, he humbled himself and recognized that God had appointed David as Saul's successor.

Friendship also requires sacrifice. Sacrifice may take different forms throughout the course of a friendship. It may be simply just yielding your wants and desires to the other person's desires. Perhaps it may be giving up your time for your companion even if it is inconvenient. In some cases, it may be actually giving your life for your friend. Jesus certainly fell into this mold when he died on the cross for his friends, that they may have eternal life. Jesus demonstrates what it looks like to be ultimate friend because He lived it out in His interactions with the disciples, giving up His time and energy, and because He went to the cross for guilty sinners so that we might be called His friends.

An example from literature that readily sticks out in my mind, is the relationship between Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings. Sam was as loyal as they come in this epic masterpiece. Sam, who loved the Shire, who was afraid to leave, remained loyal until the quest to destroy the ring of power was complete. He was charged by Gandalf the wizard to never leave Frodo's side, and he took it to heart. Even when through the deceit of Gollum, Frodo believed that Sam was against him, Sam remained true and came to Frodo's aid in a dire situation. Had it not been for Samwise, Frodo would not have completed the quest to save Middle-Earth.

In the end of The Two Towers, Sam makes a speech about the tales the really mattered. He says that the heroes in those stories had plenty of chances to turn back, but they never did. Why were these stories ones that really mattered? Because they had something to teach the audience. Stories where the hero, through his own lust or doubts, would have failed had it not been for his loyal and trustworthy companion, are my favorite kind of stories. Legends often tend to have the characteristic of teaching the audience some valuable truth. Arthurian Legends for instance that tell the tale of King Arthur and is brave knights on a perilous quest, are moral lessons on courage, loyalty, and faith, as well as friendship and brotherhood. Who likes stories with nothing but fluff? The best stories are weighty and have great meaning to them. Even greater are the stories that give us hope and point us to Jesus. Look at the Old Testament, which is full of stories. Each one is a foreshadowing of someone greater than those in the actual story. The entire Old Testament points toward a coming Messiah who would bring hope to a dying world full of brokenness and sin. Modern examples of stories that serve more as allegory are The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. The tales that demonstrate our brokenness, our need for someone greater than us; that point to Jesus, those are the tales that really matter...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Amazing Grace...Jesus Removes the Scales

This weekend, I watched the film Amazing Grace, which has become one of my favorite films. The film is about William Wilberforce and his lifelong battle to end slavery. However, this is not why this is one of my favorite films. The film includes John Newton, as he was Wilberforce's pastor and mentor and his story ties into the whole slavery issue. Newton was a former slave ship captain until his radical conversion by the grace of God. This grace so profoundly impacted Newton, that he penned the hymn Amazing Grace in 1779. It has since become arguably the most popular Christian hymn of all time. So, back to the film, the best two lines in the film are in the same scene where John is dictating his account as a slave ship captain, when Wilberforce enters to speak to him. The old preacher says "Two things I know; they are that I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior." This to me was summed up in the hymn Amazing Grace. The second greatest line in the film is really a question he asks of Wilberforce, "I once was blind, but now I see, did I really right that?" William replies "Yes, you did." With tears in his eyes, John exclaims, "Now at last it's true!"(what is truly ironic is that at this point, John Newton was actually blind!)

As I watched this film, I wept because for some inexplicable reason, it was made more real to me when, in a very moving scene(other than the one mentioned above), Wilberforce sings the hymn in a very clear and moving voice. The words, as I listened rang so clearly in my heart, that I began to cry. That night, as I realized that my life has been a continual cycle of essentially throwing God's grace in his face, I knew that I had to take radical action to change my ways.

Today, I made a connection between the line 'I once was blind, but now I see' and a very powerful scene(and my favorite) from the C.S Lewis classic The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
The scene in question is a scene where Aslan confronts Eustace, a selfish and rude boy from the real world, who has turned into a dragon because of his greed. Eustace vainly attempts to rid himself of the scales, and return to his regular state yet, every time he tries, it doesn't work. Finally, Aslan tells Eustace that he must undress him. And so even though it was very painful, Eustace let Aslan tear off the dragon scales with his claws. After the painful process is over, Eustace is a boy again, and a much humbler, and grateful boy than before. Eustace finally understood that he needed Aslan to do it for him, because only he could change him.

This is a beautiful picture of what Jesus does for us. Aslan represents Jesus in the Chronicles of Narnia, and is the perfect allegory for how we need Jesus to remove the scales over our hearts and eyes so that we may see the truth about ourselves, and about him. Without the fierce love of Aslan, Eustace could not begin to understand his need for Aslan to remove the scales, so that he might begin to really live. We are no different. Sin has blinded our hearts to our condition, and our need for a savior. The scales are so thick over our eyes, that we have no hope of saving or changing ourselves. Instead, we must let the Lion of Judah tear the scales away, however painful it will be. This is what Jesus does by his grace. He allows us to see that we are sinners and that we desperately need a Savior. Even after we are saved, the great Lion must continually tear away scales to change us and transform us through the process of sanctification. This makes grace that amazing! The question I have to ask myself is: Am I willing for the lion to tear away at me? Jesus, tear the scales away!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christ Bids Me Come and Die

One thing that I have kept hearing over and over again throughout the last several months is the phrase "count the cost". Of course, this phrase is often associated with Dietrich Bonhoeffer from perhaps his greatest work The Cost of Discipleship. This is not the first place we see this phrase used however. Jesus commissions us in Luke 9:23-25 to take up our cross daily and follow after him. If I would follow after Jesus and be his disciple, I must die to myself and carry my cross daily. Counting the cost of following him must therefore be taken with solemn and courageous hearts. Jesus offers a life of suffering and trial, not a life that is carefree, but he does promise that he will be with us as we walk that road.

So the question begs an answer. Am I counting the cost? Jesus commands that I give up everything to follow him. I must be able to say with Paul that "everything is but loss, for the sake of Christ." Do I see the worth and beauty of following Christ? Am I willing to give up everything on this earth for him? Heavy questions to ponder and consider. The eternal life promised far outshines any earthly gain or wealth that can ever be attained here in this temporal existence. This life is fleeting and will pass away, but life eternal will never fade away. How could I ever trade the glorious riches of eternal life in Christ for cheap and fleeting idols that only weaken and destroy? Yet, the tragedy of this is that, often I do drink out of broken cisterns that hold nothing. May it never be, that I would trade what Christ has paid for with his own blood, for empty promises that broken cisterns offer!

A life filled with pain and suffering would be worth the cost if it meant spending eternity in the glorious presence of my God! A life of sacrifice would be worth it if it meant that I had the joy of heaven to cast my vision toward! Jesus, give me the courage to deny myself, to walk the hard road, and to follow after Thee; to gladly share in Thy suffering, and truly count the cost of following Thee as a disciple.

If you know anything about the extraordinary life of Bonhoeffer, you know that he was martyred on April 9, 1945 for resisting the Third Reich. He gave his life for his fellow believers in Germany and entrusted himself to his Savior, which enabled him to face death with the certainty of being united with Christ. Bonhoeffer was able to count the cost of following after Jesus because the grace of Jesus Christ compelled him to live a life in total surrender to his Lord, and live sacrificially, even at the cost of his own life. Bonhoeffer himself wrote these searing words, "Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again... It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life." This was certainly true in Bonhoeffer's life as he lived it out to his tragic death only nine days before he would have been liberated by the Allies. Perhaps the greatest statement he ever made was this:"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." His life is a poignant example of how a man ought to live for God, but more importantly, it points to the great sacrifice of Christ who took up his cross, and died that I might live. Christ bids me come and die, and so I die...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Men with Brave Hearts: Part II

So control. Self-control is important for many disciplines in life. It takes self-control to rein in anger; to control fleshly lust, and train yourself for spiritual as well as physical pursuits. Without self-control, greed, lust, anger, and other vices would be more prevalent in the Christian life. Self- control also helps one handle fear. Part of bravery is having the self- control to take hold of your fear and use it for good. Having self- control can also make it easier to do the hard thing. I want to be a man of self-control because I don't want my life to be one of unchecked emotion and impulses.
In Part 1 I spoke of fear and how it can cripple you. In my life, fear of making the wrong decision about something has seriously crippled me in being a man of action.This year, I hope to develop more of a broad, and long term vision for my life, and for the Kingdom of God. I want to turn my fear of the future into action and hope for what God has in store for me. A friend told me last week, "Tyler, I think this year is going to be a year where you learn to do the hard thing." He's right. A man who trusts in his Lord will not be afraid to do the hard thing. If I must learn through mistakes then I will, but I am tired of not being a man of action. My heart has grown too restless. I want to step out in faith and be a man with a brave heart.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Men with Brave Hearts: Part I

The other day I was listening to the BraveHeart soundtrack which got the mind gears cranking and turning. When you think of that great film, words like freedom, courage, and manliness tends to come to mind(at least in every guys' mind). William Wallace was a man who loved his people, his land, and his home, and fought to keep what was rightly his. At this point in history, the 1200's, the British controlled Scotland and harassed the Scots, taking their wives, burning their homes, and imposing outrageous taxes on a people who could not pay.
After having enough, Wallace decided it was time to fight back. He spent years trying to unite all the clans together to fight against the English. William was later captured and executed, but he died for what he believed in, and eventually, the Scottish, led by Robert de Bruce, gained victory over the English, and won their freedom.
Today, it seems rare that we hear of a man with a heart of courage, of conviction, and vision. But just because we do not hear of them, in the news or common every day conversation, does that mean that those kind of men do not exist. Certainly we know about men like George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and others who had convictions and stood up for what was right, yet what about those not written in the pages of history? Men in everyday life, who lay down their lives, who live out their beliefs with conviction and sense of purpose are just as honorable as the famous men we read about and admire.
It may be said that perhaps courage and vision are lacking in our present generation, and I believe it to be true. boys want to stay boys and not grow into mature manhood. Few young men have long lasting direction and vision for their lives. I confess that I have been one of those young men who tried to postpone growing up because of fear and comfort. I have never been an extremely courageous person, fear of the unknown crippled me because I had no vision for my life. Once a man begins to build a vision for his life, and marry that with his God given purpose, that fear though it may creep back up, will be controlled.
Part II coming soon!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Like Thy Brother Jonah

This semester in our Youth Staff devotional on Monday mornings, we have been reading Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchvidjian. The author takes a close look at the story of Jonah and shows how it is more than a story of a man being swallowed by a great fish, rather it is a testament to the grace of God to rebelling sinners. In fact, the subtitle is God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels. The title fits all of us because we are rebels in need of grace. The author's primary objective is to get you to see how we are just like Jonah. We see that God doesn't pursue Jonah only once in this story during the storm, but actually, the entire story is about God relentlessly pursuing both Jonah and Ninevah and calling both to repentance.
More and more, I begin to see just how much like Jonah I really am. Even though I have been saved by God, my heart is still sinful and will still run away from God and after idols. God's grace is not a one time deal. I know from my own life that I am in constant need of the Father's grace. It is only by His sovereign mercy in my life that restrains me from following the sinful desires of my heart to my own ruin. Why don't we see how destructive sin is in our lives? Why would we ever want to trade the glorious gift of life for things that can only bring us death?

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Am

This last week has been challenging, yet it has also been good and a blessing. I have been filled with doubt and uncertainty as I struggle to find work. Waiting on hearing back from employers is not the most fun thing to do, and usually I want results pronto. It was definitely an area that I was trusting God with. In my personal devotion time with the Lord, I have been reading through Genesis as I try to work my way through the Bible in a year. Recently, I have been going through the motions and not really getting much out of it, so with a little encouragement from someone far wiser than myself, I read the first chapter of Ephesians to mix it up, and try an exercise. From this passage, we get a list of things that Good has done for us, and also a list of who we are because of those great acts performed by God. So I made a list of "I Am" statements out of Ephesians 1. My list is as follows:
1. I am predestined
2. I am forgiven
3. I am redeemed
4. I am saved
5. I am sealed with a promise
6. I am blessed
I am all these things because of what God did before the world was ever created! And if He predestined us how does he not know what we need? Why did He do all these great things for us? Because as Paul writes in verses 10 and 11 that it was all according to His will and purpose. That purpose was "... to unite all things to him, things in heaven, and things on earth."(verse10). What a great encouragement! After reading this chapter, my confidence, not in myself, but in the Lord rose, and I was greatly encouraged by this reminder of the gospel. It totally changed my view on my situation and trust in the Lord. The Lord has a plan for us all, we just need to entrust ourselves to Him, in faith believing that we each have a purpose and role in this world, and live as children of the Lord who is the Great I AM.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A New Identity

I confess that the idea for this post was provided in part by my dear friend Sammy Rhodes. Today, I was listening to the first RUF podcast from this semester at Georgia Southern University. The theme of this talk was "Identity Crisis". The identity crisis dealt with here is the identity crisis experienced in college. So I am unabashedly borrowing this theme to share with you about my identity crisis and how it ties into the issue of manhood.
It is my observation that most high school teens are in a constant state of angst and drama. They worry about fitting in and being liked by their friends, while being bombarded from every form of media that they have to look a certain way, do certain things, and have a special personality type or they won't be "cool". Identity is something that teens spend their every waking moment being anxious about. I know personally, as an awkward kid in middle and high school, I was always worrying about others thought of me and tried to be one of the in-crowd.
Once senior year rolled around, my identity, was in my mind, cemented in a comfortable place. Only when I started college, did I realize that I was mistaken. My desire for approval came back, and this time, I understood that it was idolatry. My world changed. The idea that wanting others' approval was a form of idolatry was new to me.
College is an exciting time for anyone, but a time where you experience things that shape you for the rest of our life. Your identity shifts again as you grow and (hopefully) mature in an adult. They tell us that they are the most exciting times in our lives. In college, I never fully figured out who I was as a person, or what I wanted to do with my life. I felt directionless and frustrated, but was constantly being reminded that my identity was not in what I did for a living or if I was athletic or not. Once I was identified as a sinner justly deserving God's wrath and in desperate need of a Savior. Now that I have been saved by God's boundless grace, I have a new identity. My identity is in Jesus Christ. Because he is my identity, I don't have to worry what others think about me, or how cool I look simply for no other reason than Jesus views me as his son covered by his grace and free in him. I was reminded of these truths today while listening to "Identity Crisis". Thank you Sammy for the reminder!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Be Not Discouraged!

This week has already been interesting! On Monday, we had the annual slipn'slide extravaganza at Mark Ballard's home which was also the day that I sprained my foot. The slipn'slide was made from three large tarps that reached to about one hundred feet down a long hill in Mark's front lawn. Pretty epic! I made it down the slide three times without incident, but the fourth time, my foot got caught underneath me and somehow twisted as I made it to the halfway point. Turns out that I sprained my foot and sought medical attention soon thereafter.
Today, the pain is subsiding, but my foot still looks very black and blue, and swollen. As for the job situation, Bank of America turned me down, and it appears that I will be getting a job at Chick-fil -A. While this is not my ideal place to work, I am trying to trust that God knows what he is doing and be thankful that he has provided a source of income for me. Today also was a day of endless reflection on Statesboro and friends and family there who I miss fiercely.
Again, the Lord has provided me with a great community here who are encouraging and who are excited to walk with the Lord. In times like these, when discouragement gets me down, and threatens to weaken my faith in Jesus, I am reminded of Joshua 1:9 that says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." That is a rock solid promise!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On the Move...Again

Well, I am now officially moved into 667 Monticlair Drive here in Macon. I spent a restless night in my new home trying to fight off congestion, but I feel extremely blessed to be here with a believing family and to experience the community of believers in another area of the state. Tomorrow, orientation starts at First Presbyterian Church and then off for two days to an undisclosed location for our first retreat to kick off the Internship.
After a summer of living in Tennessee away from my church home, I feel better about moving off again and starting a new chapter in my life. My host family, the Bechtel's are extremely kind and generous. I already feel like a part of the family. Mr. Gary Bechtel is an avid reader and a history buff, so I feel that we will get along very well. The Bechtel's have a girl, Tarver in her Freshmen year at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, and a son, Sam 14 in highschool. Sam gave up his entertainment room downstairs for my room, which was very gracious.
Today, I tried to get familiar with the area and drove around Riverside. My favorite go-to place will probably be Barnes and Noble only 15 minutes from the house! I am excited to be here and eager to see what God does this year in my life!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sacrificial Love

It has been some time since my last blog post, and I apologize, but I have been very busy. This week I have been out in the forests making benches and handrails, as well as clearing off trails in the Cherokee National Forest. The Lord has blessed me with some creative and talented groups to work with and I have been fortunate to pass on some wisdom to the kids who have been under my supervision. Just today I was able to share with some kids today about the fruits of their labors and how even when they are tired and hot, they can still have fun and enjoy being in
God's creation, working with their hands and enjoy the finished product. Even though the groups are here for only a week, we are given the oppurtunity to have fellowship with believers from all over the country and work and serve others together. I try to remind the kids that they are here to serve and demonstrate the love of Christ to others whether it be painting a house or cleaning someone's yard. Through my interactions with youth leaders and youth, God is teaching me patience, love, and kindness.

He is teaching me humble leadership and servanthood, whether it be with a group or with fellow coworkers. When I have projects with another coworker, my first inclination this week was to take co-command or to take charge myself, but the Lord humbled me, and made the opposite happen. My sinful nature doesn't want to take the back seat; it wants to be first, but I am reminded, that even if the other leader wants things done differently than how I want them done, I must be a peacemaker, and deal with my jealousy and pride, and die to myself.

I am truly thankful for the community of believers here at Eagle Ranch. We have recently finished the book of James in our staff devotional, and our goal each week is to hold each other accountable to the things we are learning each week in our study. Also, we take prayer requests and pray for each other throughout the week. One of the raft guides, Justin Boldt, worked with me this week in the forests and has also been my accountabilty partner. He is always there to confront me in sin, and to encourage me in my walk with the Lord. God has greatly used him to point out sin in my life. Justin has been a great example to me of one who sacrifices himself for others. This is the greatest thing that I have learned over the last three weeks. Every day, I learn just how selfish my heart can be, but everyday I learn how gto be selfless and to love others, even those "difficult" people around me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Blessing of Community

This is my first post in over a year! I think I finally found a purpose or direction to go in with my blog, so I am going to keep it updated every week or every other week from now on. Well, I have gotten a job working in Tennessee at a rafting company called Eagle Adventures for the summer, and I have been here for about two weeks. I spent this last week training, doing activities such as our climbing wall, indoor games, spending time with elderly, and interacting with mentally and physically challenged adults.
It has been a challenging week both mentally and emotionally. Being away from the things that I am accustomed to has been hard, but phone calls help alot! Also, working with mentally and physically handicapped people at a place called Industrial Opportunities Incorporated was heart breaking. We saw some adults with severe handicaps some of whom are told by their families that they cannot do anything, yet here they are being useful making medical supplies, bags, belts, and even car parts for the military.
So on Tuesday, we took a youth group from Pearl, Mississippi to work with the people at IOI and interacted with them, ate lunch with them, and we trainees supervised the youth as they interacted. Then the next day, IOI brought people to Eagle Ranch and they tried the climbing wall, ate lunch, and they kids put on a puppet show, which everyone from IOI loved. it was such a blessing to see the smiles on their faces.
On Thursday, we went to the community center nearby and danced to Bluegrass music with the elderly who come there every Thursday. That was fun and the kids really got into it! Then we ate lunch and interacted with them. One man I spoke with named Doug, was a WWII verteran and told me that he had been captured by the Germans who then burned his arms sdo that he could not use his weapon. He continued gto talk to me and I learned much aboiut his life.

Then on Friday and Saturday I had a chance to go whitewater rafting for the first time and it was awesome! I ended up going two more times on Saturday when the river was very high. Even though I'm not training to be a river guide, I am able gto spend alot of time with coworkers who are, and so far it has been a great experience getting to know people from all over the country. In fact, the guy that I room with is from Savannah and he know four people that I am friends with! Talk about small world... His name is Matt Holland, and we have had many good conversations not only about our Christian lives, but also about music we like, people we both know, etc.
The other guides that Iam becoming friends with are Joe Carroll, Sam Hovan, and Justin Boldt, all three of whom go to school in Texas, Virginia Brown from Arkansas(we call her Pepper, but that's another story), Steven from California, and Elizabeth Heck from Massachusetts. All of us but Steven are Christians and live on the ranch, but Steven is hoping to move onto the ranch this week and bunk with me and Matt. He is open to Christianity, but doesn't attend church or spend time around Christians, so it is our hope that we can get him involved in a bible study that us guides are starting on Wednesday. Please be in prayer for that!
It is through these simple interactions that our group is able to share the love of Christ to those we come in contact with and learn more about what it means to love others in a fallen, and broken world. It is a remendous blessing that there is a small Christian community with us guides here and we have already become friends. What a great start to the summer!