Sunday, July 28, 2013

Online Hiatus

You may, or probably did not, notice I haven't been active on the internets the past week and a half. There is a series of good explanations for that, as well as, some stories about it all. So bear with me as I show my last bit of time.

Amber got home from camp. So on the 18th, I headed to her house hours away and spent a few days with her and her family. It was really nice because I like that area of the world and I sort of miss it when I'm not there. It's way greener than it is here in Lindsay and I like me some green! It was really a nice mini-vacation to recoop and prepare for Falls Creek with my youth group. You see, it all worked out very nicely because Amber wanted to go with me to camp. But I'll get to that.

That Saturday, we headed to Ada to move Amber and Ashlie's furniture to the new house in Ada. It was a good work-out and even more fun just getting to know the family and such. From there we headed out to Ardmore to stay with my family for a couple of days. We had supper with my parents at Two Frogs, stayed with my mema and just relaxed. The next day, Sunday, we got my sister and her friend and headed up to Lindsay to get ready for camp. By 11:00pm, we were all ready to get going to Falls Creek!

It's my first time being a youth pastor. It was my first time going to camp with a baptist church, which  means it was also my first time going to Falls Creek. It's a very different environment than I'm used to in terms of the freedom each particular group has. I wasn't used to that in a camp so the first full day was a little rough. By Wednesday, it was all a well-oiled machine and the students really started getting something out of it. I learned a lot of things to do and not to do. I began to understand why people enjoyed being there so much. And most importantly, I learned why I love what I do so much. Each person I teach is different. And they ARE people. They aren't just students or just kids. They have minds, wills, and emotions of their own.

I was grateful for Amber being there because she is PHENOMENAL with girls. I'm a typical guy. I don't speak with tenderness very well and girls of a certain age need that. So I have dropped the ball plenty of times in that regard. Amber is awesome where I am not so great. I watched the woman I love show me how to love her even more that week. We were there for the kids but got to know each other even more. I could not have asked for better sponsors either. God was all over every thing about that week. It's always going to be in my memory as a good week.

Amber and I had to leave early Friday, though. Our friends Kaleb and Micah had their wedding Saturday. Micah had her bachelorette party that Amber went to and I was a groomsman. Without going into too much detail, it was all awesome and we're so happy for them!

If you think a few days can't change your life for the better, just wait. It happened to me. It can happen to you too. I was shown a picture of God's ferocious love for His church. I saw true love. I see what I want to do. God is revealing things to me that I wouldn't have seen had I simply not gone through this summer. I'm grateful for EVERY THING that has happened. God is good.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Death, be not proud

"Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die."
-John Donne

Of all things right now, this is the poem I'm obsessed with. 

It isn't about you

I read this today. I had heard it. I had seen it. I knew who said it before I had finished reading it. Yet, the words still seemed new to me. So why do I care for it? I care because of the last line; "It was never between you and them anyway."

I've been called a lot of things. Prideful, arrogant, selfish, conceited, self-absorbed, and other things I can't say in a public forum. And those charges, at one time or another in my life, have been true. But it's been a couple of years since. The strange thing is, these accusations continue to fly at me. Did others not get the memo? Did they not see what's up now? Do they not recognize faux-arrogance or sarcasm? I don't know but here's what I do know: God paid for my pride as much as for their judgement.

Forgiveness isn't a person-to-person thing. It is holy. Forgiveness doesn't happen outside of God in any capacity whatsoever. Mother Teresa's words ring true. "Do _____ anyway." Live you life despite of what others say about you or to you. Because your forgiveness of them is not for them; it is for you. Consequently, your freedom is not for you; it's for others.

Forgive others and show what freedom is; freedom is forgiving others. Although in our culture it isn't "proper" to say it like this, what happens is God forgive someone. You don't. The Pharisees were right; only God has the power to forgive sins. That why Jesus did it. That's why we say it; because Jesus forgives through us.

If you've wronged me, I forgive you. If I've wronged you, I hope you can forgive me because I've already forgiven myself. If you harbor that, it is only to your destruction. Be light to others. Shine.