Sunday, June 26, 2005

Fun With Photoshop

This is my first Digitally Blended Photo of the Rocky Mountain National Park (wasn't this a fun trip, Lauren?)

I blended two photos together, one where the trees were lighted correctly, and one where the sky was, and when you put them together, well, you get what I saw that day in February.

Isn't our God the Best Artist of All Time, to have made this world for us? If that's not proof there is a God, I don't know what is.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Flesh On Bones

We had a Camaroon Evangelist speak at St. Andrews this Sunday. He is one of these Missionaries to the States with the purpose to awaken the US Church. You know the prophecy in Ezekiel where the bones gain flesh and then receive breath for life to be given back to them? It is an amazing illustration of the direction God wants to go with the American public. I would not be surprised to see a revival of the faith like we have yet to see in the States if we take preachers like Pastor Jonah seriously. You see dramatic change happens in two steps: The Bones must first obtain flesh, only then can God breathe life back into his people. Flesh represents strength. I get frustrated when I hear people so excited about these kinds of messages because they aren't thinking of the challenge. They expect fast results, easy results. Healing is not easy. Healing is like growing new flesh. Bones don't walk on their own. We have to heal before we can live again.
I know I'm right because I've seen the alternative fail time and again. Those who do not do the healing work, rather, ignore their wounds and stuff their pain, are rendered powerless in the fight for the Kingdom. I tried to ignore my junk and serve God but I was distracted and fruitless. The more I think about it the more I think I just need to say that you can't ignore self-development.
Another thing about the Ezekiel prophecy that is good to remember is that it is only God who breathes life into us. I can see in every person I encounter examples of how we all try to create fulfillment, whether it is through cars or jobs, movies or video games, music or sports. It seems Satan has successfully sent us on a wild goose chase for things to improve our lives when all along fulfillment is in Christ alone.
Apparently perfect love casts out all fear. Perfect love only comes from God. When God loves us, and we accept that love, fear leaves us and we gain strength. Perhaps accepting God's love is synonymous with gaining flesh on bones. Perhaps His breath is the excitement of knowing God that compels us to share the good news. Perhaps that is why people with little or no flesh seldomly share the good news, or if they do, they are not very fruitful because they lack the credibility to proclaim victory if they don't have it themselves.
I know, I know... You don't have to be victorious over sin and failings to be an effective ambassador. I hope it didn't come across that way. All I am saying is that ignoring the whole of our experience is dangerous. The pain we have from broken relationships, that's important.
The pride we get from doing the right things, that pulls our gaze toward the mirror instead of where it should be, on Christ.

Those are my thoughts as of late. They are not well delivered as proof that there is a God. But you know what? The only proof I will be able to offer through this venue will require reflection, serious thought to the validity of my words and trust in the feelings of hope, excitement and joy that what I wrote may be true.

Friday, June 03, 2005

It's about time my summer started to pick up!

I had my official "First Best Week of the Summer" this week. For those who don't know, I spend the better part of the week with my best friends down in Redondo Beach where they have an apartment. One of them, Jordan, hooked me up with a job at Coldstone of Long Beach making ice cream cakes. When I'm not doing that, I hang out with the guys and this week has finally blossomed into the quality of life I desire most.
What was so good about this week? It started with conflict, of all things. Jordan made a comment that another one of my friends/roommates took offense to and responded quite passive aggressively. That led the upset friend, Royce, to have to come to grips with the way he handles problems when the two of us were at the Men's Group Tuesday night. Going through Foster's Celebration of Disciplines, this week's focus was corporate confession in which I was able to go deep with a bunch of guys, further deepening my newly made connections in a new community, and having the opportunity to confess my sins.
I believe it was that same night that Royce, Eric (the last friend/roommate of the apartment) and I dove into a long conversation about Ethnic Inequality and the unfortunate reality of the situation that lasted til 2 in the morning, only for Eric and I to go into even deeper stuff, personal stuff, like confession, that made my night. I love connecting deep with people!
The next great thing that happened this week was spending the whole day with Eric at church where he is the Junior High Director. Eric, Matt (his JH right hand man and fellow men's group member) and I ran errands, talked theology and hung out with kids for hours as Wednesdays are the night for Pipeline the Outreach program at St. Andrews Pres. I am slowly growing more comfortable around the kids and see great potential in those kids. I'm feeling a connection forming with one kid, Zach. We'll see how that goes this summer. After Pipeline, Eric, Royce Chuck (Eric and my old High School Leader and current Head of SAPC's Youth Program) and I went out for dessert and to wind down the night. It ended up being a continued conversation about Ethnic Inequality, except Chuck did an excellent job reiturating the point Eric and I failed to, that the media has no social responsibility to portray equally valued ethnicities as caucasians are. Anyways, that ended well.
Yesterday was great too. I went to coffee (except I got Chai... I leave beans for my Mexican food, not my beverages) with Eric and his Mentor Chris. We went over a lot of stuff, only to run into Chuck along the shore to talk about the current church problems. That sparked conversation about being stewards of God's money, how the reality of finances isn't easy, and all the emotions and frustrations that come along with it.
I had P. F. Chang's for lunch with Jordan, Andie and some of her friends after not giving blood, gave firewood to Eric for a campout he's having for the 8th graders, and played my first nine holes of golf ever (okay, it was only Pitch and Put, but golf nonetheless) with Jordan, bought stuff for their patio, and had my first Taco Truck Run of the summer.
I feel enthusiastic for the weeks ahead, for more time to pour into my friends, show some kids they are valued, and improve some other relationships that need help. God is good at never letting me waste time for too long.