Friday, December 26, 2008

everybody's a 'wanna be'

While I was participating in the holiday shopping movement that swept across America the last few days, I was honestly a little over whelmed by all the stores and check out lines. I'm not a big shopper to say the least, so because my shopping stamina isn't very well developed, every time I looked up at the aisle I would get light headed and feel sick to my stomach.

This lead me to sitting down on the mall benches for the majority of my time at the mall. While sitting on the mall bench, there's really only two things to do: Update my twitter status, or people-watch. Because I haven't fully bought into twitter yet, I decided to people-watch.

As I observed, here is what I noticed: Everybody is a "wanna-be".

Everybody either wants to be somebody else, have more of something, dress more like a certain someone, or fit into a certain genre of people. It doesn't matter their age, color, or social grouping. Everybody is a "wanna-be".

It's really easy for me to believe that though. Honestly you can see why people want to try and be something their not. It's so easy to think that the best way to get a girl is to "be" a certain way, because obviously if "being" the way we are was working... we'd already have a girl. That's just one example, but I think the root of the "wanna-be" problem is one small sad simple thing: lack of self confidence. If a person can be fully confident in who they are, then it really doesn't matter what other people think.

The insight I've gained from all of this is very important to me. Here's the principle: The most successful people are going to be the people who learn how to manipulate other people's desire to be more like something, and can market that particular something the best. Whether that's fair or ethical I'm not really sure, but I really do think it's true.

Is it possible for the church to market Jesus in a way that makes people want to be more like Him? I hope so. Jesus is the best product there is to offer, but I think a lot of times Christians make Him look like He sucks.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

experience at the episcopal church

Last night I went to a Christmas eve Episcopal service with a friend. She warned me before hand that it was a lot different than my church and that I might hate it. Haha that's always a great way to prep someone for something.. "Yea, umm.. this might totally suck, but we're gonna' have a blast!"So I was going in not really knowing what to expect.

As it turns out, I actually had a pretty good time. It was extremely different than my church, but it was pretty cool experiencing their church service. Plus, I got to drink real wine for the first time, so I got to be exposed to that side of culture as well.. haha. Unfortunately I woke up this morning with a hang over..

No but seriously, here are some of my thoughts on the night.

Everything was very routine. If you're a regular attender, you know exactly what is about to happen the entire time. That is just a matter of preference, but to me that makes it hard to reach people because they feel a little awkward not knowing what to do. All the prayers and stuff that the priests say are prayers that are already written down. They read them aloud and the congregation then also has a part in the prayer. That is a pretty cool aspect of the service, hearing all the people saying simple truths about God in unison, but I think it also takes away some authenticity. To me, God is worshiped the greatest when we speak our own thoughts to Him.

I guess that's really the main thing that stuck out to me. If the tradition represented in that type of service helps people worship and truly connect with God, then that is great. For me, however, it's easier to see the massiveness of what Jesus did for me when there are two electric guitars, an awesome keyboard station, a drummer effectively using the crash, and a flaring bass player all tightly playing an anthem together. Like for instance Glory to God by Steve Fee.

I did have a great time at the service though, and I'm glad I went. It's always good to observe things like that to see how you can improve your own ministry, because to me the ultimate purpose of ministry is to make it easy for people to experience God.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the metaphorical scale hand


I was having a conversation with Taylor Hughes yesterday at a basketball game. As usual we were having an in depth discussion about an insignificant topic, so while we were debating the different theories behind time travel, a pretty interesting concept was brought up. Surprisingly it had absolutely nothing to do with time travel, but it's still interesting. Here's the question:

When people use their hands and do the whole metaphorical scale hand analogy to talk about weighing out different options, is the hand that ends the highest the one they are choosing, or are they supposed to choose the hand that is the lowest?

The reason this is so confusing is because you could argue on behalf of either hand. I mean the hand that's the lowest is the hand that weighed the most, because obviously the side of the scale that sinks is the side that had the most weight placed on it. So in the metaphorical scale world, wouldn't the fact that the substance placed in the hand that sank signify that there was something about that substance that made it the most important? And if that is true, then wouldn't the decision represented by the hand that sank also be the decision that carried the most weight, making it the best decision?

But at the same time, the hand that is highest is "on the top". Think about all the energy that would be used to reach down and pick up the decision resting on the lower metaphorical hand. Not to mention the fact that if you picked the decision on the lower hand you'd have to carry around the HEAVIER of the two objects, which would be more of a burden than if you had selected the higher of the two metaphorical scale hands. Obviously if you had to choose two things to carry around all day you would choose the one that weighs the LEAST.

So I guess what it all boils down to is this final question: Is it the pros of the substance placed in the metaphorical scale hand that causes the metaphorical scale hand to sink, or is it the cons of the substance that causes the metaphorical scale hand to sink?

We may never know.. but I think I've landed with the highest metaphorical scale hand being the hand in which the best decision is resting.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

5 tips to winning a high school election

I was googling some different things and ended up finding this site giving advice to people running for high school elections. There were lots of cool slogans people could use and that sort of thing, but I thought it'd be cool to share my opinion on it all. This year I'm Student Body President at Rossview High School and have run many many times for student council elections.

Let me clarify very quickly for our cynical readers that I in no way claim to be an expert on this subject, I do, however, have experience.

Here's 5 tips on winning a high school election

1. Give a good speech.
So many people try and load their speeches with their own "responsibility testimony" or something. Instead of that approach, make your speech short, to the point, and cast vision for what you're going to do differently once elected. I'd say 90% of the time in high school elections the person who appeals the best with their speech wins the election. If you're not funny, don't try to be. The last thing you want to do is try and make a joke that is over people's heads. You'll stick out to people more if you're up there less. Just be succinct. Honestly how many high schoolers do you know that like to listen to speeches?

2. Campaign during lunch.
Lunch is the one time during the day when all genres of kids show up together. Use that time to spread the word that you're running and gain momentum for your campaign.

3. Don't make promises.
People like to say "don't make promises you can't keep.." I'm proposing not to make promises PERIOD. By all means talk about things you want to change, but avoid being cliche as much as possible. Lameness is one thing that you can't afford to be associated with. Whatever you do, never say the line, "I'm not going to make any promises... except that I'll do my best and work my hardest if you elect me...."

4. Say your name multiple times.
I can't tell you how many people have told me they would have voted for me if they could have remembered my name. When you go to give your speech put it in there two or three times if you have to. Even if you go over board people will remember you, and when they go to vote they're going to pick a name they recognize.

5. Be nice the other 180 days of the school year.
In all honesty you could give Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream" speech and be a jerk to everyone the rest of the school year and you'd lose the election. Don't be fake, be nice the whole year... not just at election time. Campaigning starts now, not a week before the election.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

defining a god thing

A popular phrase that gets tossed around in church world a lot is the phrase "God thing". A God thing is when something happens that can't be explained and it becomes apparent that God was behind the scenes working everything out. Real God things are very incredible and can really change people's perspective on who God is, but I think the church as a whole has started to become too quick to label stuff "God things".

I don't want to publicly criticize anyone in particular, so I'm going to try and be careful with this explanation, but the reason I started thinking about this whole "God thing" idea is because of a recent use of the phrase that I thought seemed a little skeptical. There was an event that had been planned for months and about a week or so before a few details hadn't been worked out yet. Thankfully everything ended up working out and the event was a success. After the event was underway and all systems were functional one of the leaders of this event made the statement, "man.. it's just really a God thing. We had a lot of last minute details fall through on us and I'm just so pleased God worked everything out to his glory.."

I don't mean to be judgemental or criticize the intent of this person's heart, but it seems to me like this is an example of where the phrase "God thing" is not exactly relevant. A God thing is when something unexpected happens and God works everything out in a supernatural, unexplainable way; not when the person in charge is lazy and neglects the responsibility that GOD gave them, and then manages to throw something together at the last minute and the final result is just ok.

God things are amazing miracles... not an excuse for poor planning.

Bottom Line: Leaders in the church world don't get to work less and not stress over details simply because they're expecting a God thing; a Godly leader does everything to his or her ability and then lets God work out what they have no control over. A detail that was never thought through is not a detail that can be rescued by a God thing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

ben reed's little guy

My good friend Ben Reed is officially a daddy. Obviously he didn't do it on his own.. Laura had a lot to do with the kid too, but I just wanted to give a shout out to Ben here on Moons From Burma. He's an awesome guy and I feel like I could go and talk to him whenever I need to. He's going to be a really good dad, and Rex is going to be blessed with a great family and two outstanding God honoring parents.

Congratulations Ben and Laura!

www.benreed.net

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

sweet night at remix

Tonight's Remix experience to me was one of the coolest experiences in Relevant history. The setlist had some of my favorite songs and my keyboard parts were cool and it was just a very powerful set.

Solution
Happy Day
Inside Out- transitioning into Glory to God (new awesome song from Steve Fee)
You are God by Charlie Hall which was great because:

We started the Godview series put out by XP3 this week. I am really looking forward to the next few weeks at Remix. I think it's going to be a very important series in connecting the dots between what we do AT REMIX, and spending time with God on our own OUTSIDE of Remix. Just a few thoughts/points from the night:'

Bottom Line: The most important thing about a person is what they think about when they think about God.

In my video blog on colors I talk about the different perceptions that people can have when they look at colors, and the same is true for God. We all say God and we all know WHAT God is when society says the word "God", but we all have COMPLETELY DIFFERENT views on who God actually is. The challenge for tonight was to spend time with God and see if our perception will start to change as we learn more about Him, because obviously we've all known people and had our perception of that person change as we spend more time with them and get to know them more... and it's the same with God.

Anyway I'm looking forward to this series and I really hope this will change and strengthen our view of God.

www.relevantstudents.com- check out that site and listen to michael's podcast! Great message!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

rossview sweeps clarksville

I've got some big news for Rossview fans! Are you ready? This fall Rossview beat Clarksville High in EVERY SINGLE SPORT! Let me say that one more time... EVERY SINGLE SPORT!

Volleyball
Boys Golf
Cross Country- lets be honest.. can you say Jake Rainey?
Football- Warfield Champions
Girls Soccer- Great win tonight!

Not to mention girls golf where we won a STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!

I've said from the beginning that this was the year that everything changes, and I think it's safe to say that that has become a reality!

I love Rossview with all my heart! Go Hawks!

Monday, October 20, 2008

restarting after a break

Coming back from fall break proved to be a challenging task in my leadership skills today. How do you keep motivating people to stay behind a vision after a break if you struggle to stay motivated yourself? Taking breaks can either really help an organization gain momentum or really hurt the momentum you had before the break. I think it's definitely good to take take time off to rest and refocus, but the leader's job is to come back even more fired up than before.

Here's the principle: A leader can't come back from a break without a plan of action if he wants the organization to continue moving forward.

Sadly I know lots of people in leadership positions that don't have a plan of action and honestly never had one. The question then is how did they end up in that position? Hmm...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

haunted woods: adams tennessee

So tonight I passed up watching the UT game on pay-per-view to go to the Haunted Woods in Adams, TN. Now that the night is over and I have time to reflect, I'd say that was a big mistake(which is saying a lot considering the state of UT Football this season..) Because of the whole legend of the bell witch thing Adams is supposed to be a very scary and "wet your pants" sort of town, the haunted woods doesn't do the town justice at all and I'd almost go as far to say that I've been more scared walking from my truck inside the house at night than I was the majority of the time walking in the woods..

If you're trying to decide whether or not to feed your Halloween spirit this season, let me advise you to feed it elsewhere. The Haunted Woods is very lame and ultimately a waste of 10 bucks.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

presidential debate


I just finished watching the latest debate and I was really impressed tonight. In the last few I feel like McCain has really struggled making his points and has really looked inferior to Obama simply because of the difference in their speaking strengths. Tonight I feel like was very different. McCain to me seemed very sharp and focused. For the first time in this campaign Obama really was put on the spot a couple times and put out of his comfort zone; something that he has done to McCain since the start. Regardless of who people decide to vote for, I really hope that tonight just took some of the attention off of Obama's polished speaking skills. Whether I agree with their politics or not, a candidate's ability to speak to audiences should not determine their worthiness to be the leader of our nation. What America needs right now more than ever is a leader who can take us in a positive direction, and just because someone can speak eloquently does not make them a great leader... it does, however, make them appear as a great leader initially, which is kind of scary to think about. Hitler was a great speaker, and seemingly a great leader in the sense that he got lots and lots of people behind a very weak and evil vision, but isn't leadership more than just motivating people? Isn't a REAL Godly leader someone who can move people in a God-honoring direction?

As a final note- one of the greatest leaders of the Bible was Moses. If you remember he was also a very insecure introvert who hated public speaking. He had been hurt by people in authority and it was his integrity that made him qualified to lead the people of Israel. Maybe a man's heart is more directly related to leadership than a man's tongue..

Monday, October 13, 2008

beeson's global center

I had one of the most spiritual few seconds of my life today. I'm in Birmingham, Alabama for a few days visiting Mary who goes to Samford university, and I was walking around the campus so I decided to stop by Beeson Divinity School. They have this thing called "The Global Center" where they basically connect the movement of Christ to the rest of the world. In this museum looking exhibit they spotlight a bunch of missionaries and their stories. They also give some quotes from some of these missionaries, and as I read some of them I must admit I got a little teary-eyed. Here are some of the ones that stuck out to me:

"If I am killed, it will be while I am speaking. Believe me, I will not be silent."

"I have been threatened many times. I face daily being picked up by soldiers. But, while the opportunity is there, I preach the Gospel."

"We must come to realize that unless our love is demonstrated practically, our Gospel will sound hollow and unconvincing."

"My advice to missionaries is to proclaim the Word more and argue about it less."

We take Christianity for granted so much in America, and these guys were giving up their lives for it. For some reason I feel like these guys would hate the majority of churches in America. I wonder why that is... maybe because we're all missing it. I don't know what the answer is, but I just know that I was extremely convicted today as I read that stuff.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

colors: video blog

This is my first ever video blog. My first ever video blog.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

charlie the unicorn

Yesterday I was told about this video entitled: "Charlie the Unicorn". Thankfully I was given the ENTIRE play by play from one of my good little middle school friends, but I must say the video actually may give the play by play a run for its money. I mean typically the detailed explanation you would receive from a young video watching friend would serve the video justice... and then some, but on this particular occasion I think the video is better than the extremely long, over-exaggerated, hard to follow explanation. Normally I don't find this sort of thing funny, but there's something about the voices being used for the other two unicorns that makes me laugh out loud.

Watch for yourself and tell me what you think!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

operation serve

Today our church did an event called Operation Serve. The entire purpose behind it is to just serve the community wanting nothing in return, which is a really awesome purpose by the way. We had all kinds of projects going on from remodeling houses, to block parties, to making hot dogs for people at car washes, the bottom line is we just wanted to do something nice for people.

My job was to hand out bottled waters in a Wal-mart parking lot and help people load their groceries and put away their carts. Honestly compared to some of the other projects that were going on, I had a very small and seemingly insignificant job. That being said, it was crazy some of the responses I got. Some people were very reserved and wanted absolutely nothing to do with a total stranger handing out a potentially poisoned water bottle. Other people were very open and welcomed the help.

The most significant response to me though, was the person who simply said, "why?" Like, why in the world would a total stranger just want to come and help me put up my groceries? Like don't you have anything better to do? One guy even told me, "no thanks, I don't have any money to give your church right now..."

That is so crazy to me! How ridiculous is it that people would be puzzled by a church that just wants to be nice to people? Shouldn't the concept of a church doing nice things for people be the norm rather than a confusing gesture? The church as a whole has made so called "evangelism" so impersonal and complicated. There's this thought that the only way to help the community is to go out and hand out lame tracks, read verses to people, and ask them if they know where they're going to spend eternity. All those things would be awesome if they worked, but we're dealing with people in a Wal-mart parking lot that are surprised when I offer to put up their buggie, don't you think trying to ask them about their salvation might come across EVEN MORE intimidating and confusing?

As a final thought- isn't it possible that simply doing nice things for people could change their perception of Christians, and as a result have them open their minds to the idea of giving Jesus a chance? If Christians would just focus more time on being nice couldn't we change the entire look of the Church?

Some would call that idea "liberal Christianity", and "watering down the Gospel", I think those people are missing it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

evaluating vision

Going into this year I really wanted to use my position as ASG president to make a difference somehow in the school. Last fall I started writing down things I thought needed to be improved within Student Council in order for them to be as effective as possible. I read a lot of books last year (well.. a lot of books in comparison to the amount of books I've read in previous years.. which is zero..) about crafting and carrying out a vision. So when this year started, I was already miles ahead of the game because I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish.

Our vision as ASG is very simple; Make it easy for students to be involved. We want to do everything we can to motivate students to become active at school.

The main event for the year in high school is Homecoming. In all honesty, I really dislike homecoming, but I did my best to plan the week according to our vision. This is the week following Homecoming, so this week has been our week to sit back and look at how we did. This is really my first experience truly evaluating a vision. Did we accomplish what we meant to accomplish during Homecoming? Did our vision get carried out?

It's been cool getting to feel important as I "evaluate our vision". Obviously student council isn't a world changing organization, but this experience is still good experience I'll be able to use in the future. Now that Homecoming is over we really get to start looking ahead at the rest of the year, and I really think we're going to do some more really cool things... but with our vision in mind the whole time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

english class

I'm currently sitting in the library at school. Our English teacher has just assigned us this "Coat of Arms" project where we have to create our own coat of arms that represents us. I've had quite a bit of experience so far this year designing shields.. haha but I'm having a little more trouble getting motivated to do this shield than I had getting motivated about the Warfield Shield. So we have two weeks before this whole thing is due so I'll probably end up pushing this whole thing aside until next Wednesday or Thursday.

The bottom line is that I absolutely hate projects like this. I don't understand how this project could somehow educate me or impact my life in any way. What difference will this stupid Coat of Arms assignment make in my educational career? It's not like after designing this thing I'll identify my true calling in life and go work for the International Coat of Arms Department located in Canterbury, England.

Projects like this are crafted by teachers in order to add unnecessary distractions to our life. This project has the capability of capturing enough of my energy that I could be prevented from doing something that really matters. I hate it, and literature is over rated.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

the oc bike riders

Tonight after Pray 08 these guys came into the church wearing biking gear. It was initially a little strange to say the least, but I got to talking to them and apparently they are riding their bikes all the way across the country trying to raise money for a life guariding program in Nicaragua. Not your typical charity but kind of cool.

So we were talking and I asked them when they needed to be home from the biking expedition, and they said by November so they could vote. That lead to me asking them where they were from and who they were voting for. It turns out they're from California, and like most Californians they are voting for Obama. It was during this conversation I learned that they are actually from Orange County, California... also known as The O.C.

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of the soap opera "The O.C." (which I know is a little weird seeing as I'm a 17 year old male... anyway) I was extremely excited when I learned they were from the REAL O.C.

Pretty cool thing. Hopefully they'll get on here and comment their website and blog so we can follow them on their quest to safen the waters by providing life guards and flotation devices for all those who are incapable of swimming.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

darkness

A few months ago I was in this band called Kadence. We were a band for about two months, and in that time we managed to play 3 shows... one of which was Battle of the Bands at First Baptist. We actually won battle of the bands, which was pretty cool, but it was kind of apparent from the very beginning that there was some tension in the band that would need to be worked out eventually if the band was ever to survive. Well, the band apparently broke up about two weeks ago. I had quit the band right after we won battle of the bands because I felt like the style wasn't really what I was going for, and also I really didn't have time to be in another band when I'm already in the Remix Band. After a few minor disagreements they all decided it'd be better just to stop the whole thing.

So last week some of the guys from what was previously known as Kadence approached me about starting a new band. All the reservations I had about the band before still existed, but I decided to hear them out and practice with them before making a decision. So I went to practice the first time and was asking very direct questions about the future of the band. Questions like, "what's your goal? what kind of music do you want to make? what's going to be different about this band? why do I need to be in this?"

When I heard the answer of one of the guitar players, I knew I had to at least give it a shot. A guy who is a mega mega huge Led Zeppelin (or however you spell that) fan, a guy who basically could be described as an 80s rock solo, said this, "Man... I don't know what it is, but I just wanna make songs that are like... about God and stuff..." When I heard that it got me so fired up I can't even describe it. This is a guy who two years ago had never even been to church! He had absolutely no concept of who Jesus was or what He did for us all! This guy isn't perfect... not even close for that matter, but two years ago he started playing in the Crosstreet Band, a kids band we have at church. Because our church decided to give this guy a shot at playing he was able to be exposed to the Gospel!

I hear of churches all the time who won't allow good musicians to play simply because their lifestyle isn't "up to par", or "acceptable for leading worship". What the heck does that even mean? None us are worthy or acceptable to lead worship! Hebrews 4:16 says, " So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." Anyway that's a whole other argument..

The reason I wrote this post was because I wanted to give a preview of one of this band's new songs. At the very end there's this really huge bridge/chorus thing that says,

"The lights went out a long time ago, but the darkness reveals the love that was shown."

The idea behind that chorus is that a long time ago we all messed up, but in and through that mess up, the love that Jesus showed us all when he died on the cross is revealed the most. I really hope we get to record that song one day!

Anyway have a great week guys!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

warfield: the whole story



Tomorrow is the big day. The biggest rivalry in Clarksville is Clarksville High School VS. Rossview High School, hands down. Tomorrow is the football game between these two schools, and the best way to express how excited I am about this game is to look at the time at which this is being published. It's almost 11:00 as I'm writing this, meaning that I've stayed up way too late in anticipation for this game.

Being the Student Body president at Rossview, I decided about four months ago that we needed to specifically put an impact on this game as a school. It's great to support the rivalry in general, but I felt like it needed to be spotlighted in a more unique way than just being one game out of the season. So immediately upon being elected I started brainstorming things we could do to promote the game, and that's when the journey began.

I ended up landing on the idea of making a name for the football game and having a trophy of some kind that could be passed back and fourth to the schools each year. The next step in all of this was getting approval and getting everyone on board with this idea. So on May 23rd, 2008 I sent Laura Martin (the ASG president at Clarksville High) a message on facebook. I explained to her what I wanted to do and just asked if she was at all interested. Thankfully she loved the idea and she wanted to move forward with it. So we both got three people from each of our schools to meet at Starbucks one day and simply sit down and figure out a name and a trophy for this game.

The meeting lasted about three hours, and the first two and a half of that was spent thinking of names and trophies and etc. We were talking about calling the game "The Gator Bowl" or "The Moose Head" or "931 Turf War", but none of them really clicked with all of us. As we were about to settle on one of those names and call it a day, we got a call from a girl named Katie Snyder, who just happens to be the daughter of the Clarksville High coach. She said she had an idea for the game, but wasn't sure if it was any good or not but just wanted to pass it along. When she told us we all knew right away that it was the right name. She called it "Warfield", because of Warfield Blvd. that connects the two schools. Immediately ideas started being thrown around by the rest of us about what all we could do with that, and at that moment "Warfield" stuck.

As for the trophy, we wanted it to be a "massive shield" that could be called "The Warfield Shield". The only problem we were faced with now was finding the shield. So I searched the Internet constantly looking for places where we could customize our shield or simply get a shield period, but was having no luck. About two weeks before school started we were running out of time and needed to come up with something fast. So me and Luci Knott were driving around Clarksville one day going from pawn shop to pawn shop just looking for a shield of any kind. We were at our last store when a customer in line heard us talking about a shield. He came over and said, "you guys are looking for a shield?... is that right?" I wasn't real impressed with the fact that he had over heard us talking, I mean anyone could do that... so I was like yea yea yea we're looking for a shield, and he said, "that's the craziest thing! My best friend sells shields down at the Flea market on Saturday mornings! You'd have to get there real early though if you wanna get one!"

Being somewhat scared of going to the flea market alone, and also a little skeptical about having to wake up at 6:00 in the morning during the summer, I kind of played it off and acted somewhat uninterested. He kept insisting he could help us out though so I figured we could at least give this guy a shot. On Saturday when we showed up they had four shields left, and one of them happened to be just the size we were looking for. It was mustard yellow, and I wasn't real happy about the color choice and wasn't sure if we could paint it, but we had one week to get a shield or the whole thing would be called off... so we got it, $120 dollars worth.

Immediately we got it painted by our art department at school, and then Sporty's awards put some emblems on it for us, and the shield was made. Both principals at the school agreed it was a great idea and the rest is history.

Tomorrow will be the first of many Warfield Games to come, and I hope with all my heart that Rossview wins tomorrow. We have never once beaten Clarksville High in the eight years that we've been a school, but this is the year that everything changes! Be at Warfield tomorrow at Rossview High School, 7:30 PM kick off!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

block dude

It's been a long time since I've blogged, but I must be honest I've been struggling with the purpose behind blogging a little bit. You'd think a world renown blogger like myself would be completely sold on the whole concept of blogging, but that's not exactly the case. That could be a whole post in and of itself though, so I'm just going to go on with the original thought that caused me to write this..

The past few weeks at school I've been using my calculator a lot because of pre-calculus (typically referred to as "pre-cal"..). Since I've been taking my calculator along with me on my journey through Rossview so often lately I've grown somewhat close to it. I haven't named it or anything because originally I thought that would be really lame, but the idea is growing on me. Anyway so I've been carrying my calculator with me a lot.

So when you go to the blue button on the calculator labeled "APPS" you get to see all the applications your calculator contains. It's pretty common to have a Finance application and some problem solving programs and a variety of other arithmetic calculating functions.. so when I turned there I wasn't surprised to see any of that. I was, however, extremely disappointed that Mirage 05 had been deleted. Mirage 05 is this game system that you can put on your calculator, featuring Avalanche and Falldown. Avalanche and Falldown used to be my favorite games and I owned the high score for a very long time, but when I went to play them I realized they'd been deleted. So as I was going through this very depressed stage of my day, I realized there was this application called "Puzz Pack". I was intrigued so I clicked on it and saw this program labeled "Block Dude."

That's when it began. The last two weeks I've done absolutely nothing at school but play that game. Basically there is this dude trapped in this calculator simulated world and he has to try and escape by walking into this door. The only problem is that someone keeps rearranging all of his blocks in really weird ways to make this task very difficult for our friend, so you have to control him as he re-rearranges the blocks so he can make it to the door; this is why he has been dubbed "Block Dude" I assume. While I love playing the game, I think the real question behind the game is not how to get to the door, but who the person is that keeps re-arranging the blocks. Who is it that is constantly torturing Block Dude? That is the real question..

On a more serious note, I've advanced to Level 9 and I'm now convinced that it's impossible to beat. No one I've talked to at school has made it past Level 9, although there are two others who have advanced that far. If there is anyone out there who knows how to beat Level 9, I'd love to hear from you. I've been playing it for the last 4 days and have made absolutely no progress.

Welcome back to the blogging world Nate Dog.. you were missed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

the vision principle

The last few weeks I've really been letting you guys down. I've reached the point in my life where I get to have real responsibility, and I haven't exactly learned how to manage my time to where I allow myself to enjoy the responsibility and not get extremely stressed out. All that to say- the last few weeks I've been really stressed and that is the reason for my blogging negligence.

Yesterday the remix band lead worship at Grace. That was an awesome experience, and I'm so glad we got to do it! It did, however, stress me out. Making sure everyone is on the same page can be extremely difficult sometimes.. Yesterday in the first service we had just finished playing the intro of Hosanna and I looked over and saw that my good friend Levi, one of the electric guitarists in the band, had an intensely confused look on his face. Trying to sort through the millions of reasons for his confused look isn't exactly something I had time to do considering the fact that we were in the middle of the song! So I did the only thing I knew to do, I yelled, "Levi! We're playing HOSANNA!" Immediately he looked up at me and said, "Ohh", and started playing the song. As funny as that story is, it was still stressful.

Today was freshmen orientation. The last few months I've been working on ways to make that flow as simply as possible so that it could be as productive as possible. I think simplicity and productivity go hand in hand. So today was the day all the work would either result in a success or a massive failure... I think it turned out to be a success. I also got a cool compliment out of it. Scottie Hill said, "I think Nathaniel is the new Mr. Bigstuf of Rossview..." Being compared to ole Lanny Donaho is a pretty cool thing, even though he talks a lot.. haha just kidding.. I've learned my lesson on accusing camp directors of being talkative... or at least accusing them on my blog. And I really do love Lanny Donaho, although I'm not 100% sure how to spell his last name..

As you're probably beginning to pick up on, I like to end my blogs with a principle I've learned. Today's is a pretty useful one for me. Lately my dad has been talking a lot about the difference in being a manager and a leader. (http://www.ronedmondson.com/archives/88) With that in mind, here's the principle:

Leadership without management sucks. Sorry for bluntness. Even a great great leader with a huge and important vision can really screw up his vision without knowing how to manage. I figured out today that I am most definitely more the leader type than the manager type. Three months ago when I started planning for Orientation I had a vision of what should change to make it better than ever before. I put lots and lots of energy into getting that plan on paper and getting the teachers and principals behind it. That was leadership. Today at 7:00 when it was time to get put all that into action in an organized and detailed way, I was not the best person for the job. I got by because I knew and loved the vision so much, but what I really needed was a manager to make sure it all flowed properly.

A great vision needs great leadership and great management to survive. (I made that up just now, but couldn't you see that being in a book or something?...)
Successful Vision= Leadership+Management

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

august 3rd

As many of you know, the next few weeks are very crucial weeks in the planning for Remix. Over the past year Michael has been casting a vision about what it would look like to have a student ministry that is shaped around Loving God and Loving People. In fact the first few weeks he was in Clarksville he preached a series over those two ideas. I'm not sure that Michael knows this or not, but I listen pretty closely whenever he starts talking about different ideas he has for Relevant Student Ministry as a whole and also Remix, and as this year has gone by I've slowly started to understand what Michael's vision is and been able to make that my vision as well.

The reason I say all of that is because I think there's a principle about leadership there. Michael never called me into his office and said "listen Nate, I need you to get a picture of where we're going." He just started including me in discussions where he was evaluating and asking questions about what was next for Relevant, and as he included me and gave me things to do I started catching on.

That's really the same way I caught on to the vision of Grace too. My dad never handed me an outline of the type of church we wanted to create, but as we started talking about different things together I slowly began moving in the same mental direction as he was.

So I think Michael and my dad get an A+ in vision casting. I'm so thankful that they have both given me opportunities to serve and be apart of what God is doing at Grace. All that being said, THIS SUNDAY AUGUST 3RD the Remix band is leading worship at Grace. Last year we played one song, this year we're doing the whole service. If you've never been to Remix or seen what the student service at Grace looks like, make sure you're at Rossview sunday, because we're going to be doing Remix on a Sunday morning for the whole church to experience. It's gonna be awesome! We have lots of really cool intros/instrumentals made up and hopefully (if they turn the music up... sorry if you're a little bit on the elderly side, meaning 34 and above, and you don't like loud music. Remember we're BRINGING remix to sunday morning. At Remix it's loud.) it will be an awesome view of what a Remix service would look like.

Be there this Sunday August 3rd.

Friday, July 25, 2008

productivity>negativity

First let me apologize for not blogging this week. It's been a very busy week but also a very educational week... meaning I've learned a lot (which is somewhat surprising because typically people say that I'm a know it all..?)

There are a few specific areas where I channel my energy. Girls (or girl singular I guess), ASG (which is student council), and Remix (our weekly gathering for students). It's probably pretty obvious which of these categories is the most fun, but because my goal isn't to turn into some kind of sex god I try and focus time on the other two categories as well, and this week I've spent time on them all equally. Here's the categories brokendown for the week, minus the girl category because I really am not sure that I should share such information:

ASG- As student body president, I'm trying to revolutionize the way student council is done. Normally student council is responsible for planning 3 things: Freshmen Orientation, Homecoming, and Winterfest (Homecoming and Winterfest are both dances by the way). To someone wanting to do student council in an average way, I'm probably the worst canidate because I absolutely hate dances, but remember I'm trying to REVOLUTIONIZE the way student council is done.. so I'm actually the BEST canidate if you're looking for someone to improve things.

We have Freshmen Orientation coming up on August 4th, so I've been busy the last 2 months planning it in a way that will make it appealing and useful to an incoming freshmen. In the past it's been very unorganized and thus unproductive, and those are two words I hate when it comes to something I'm in charge of, so I've been making lots of changes to ensure excellency. My dad has pointed out that my biggest problem, though, is that I'm so busy working and planning stuff by myself that I don't fill others in along the way. This can be detrimental when trying to get others on board with your vision.

So last night I get an email from a girl asking "what the deal is for orientation". Now, this is a girl who is very much involved in ASG, so I'm pretty sure she knows what the deal is, but this is just a reminder to me that I need to fill others in and communicate more effectively as I'm planning.

Remix- We've taken a break from remix over the summer, so we're gearing up for the launch date on Wednesday Aug 13th. It's going to be exciting but there's still a lot of work to be done. I'm currently serving as the "Remix Band Coordinator" ... you can thank Michael Bayne for the official sounding title. Basically I arrange the songs and lead practice with the band. We're in the process of learning the new songs on the new Remix practice CD, and I'm really excited about what God is going to do through the production side of Remix. Even though I'm heavily involved in the Production/Band/Large Group side of Remix, I think life groups are really where life change is going to happen.

This week I've done lots and lots of work on all three of my areas of energy, and experienced negativity in every area. Here's what I've learned though:

Productivity is greater than Negativity. No matter how much negativity you have to face going through the process, at the end of the day the productivity is what will stick if you stay commited to the vision. I'm only 17, so that concept could change as I experience more life, but right now I think that's true. (Although when dealing with women, there's really no rules or basic equations that can accurately be applied.)

Productivity>Negativity.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

big dogs

When I was about 3 or 4 we had these neighbors that raised hunting dogs of some kind. I'm no expert in the study of hunting dogs, or even hunting for that matter but apparently hunting dogs are capable of killing things... which kind of makes sense I guess. What I was told as a kid, however, was that these dogs were dangerous. I remember having strategic family planning meetings where we would discuss different scenarios that could occur and what my reaction should be if those scenarios were to ever play out. Most scenarios were probably way over the top because I had a pretty wild imagination at the time, and I don't ever remember having to use any of the neighborhood survival information that was being covered in the meetings while playing outside.

That being said, the ultimate result of these meetings was not me becoming keenly aware of how to respond to a canine attack, the ultimate result was me becoming terrified of big dogs. This is a problem that I still struggle with today and I really see no light at the end of this dog house looking tunnel.

What I do know is this, everywhere I go there seems to be a big dog of some kind. In Brazil there were big big dogs everywhere. At my previous babysitting job there were three big dogs. In New Orleans there was a fire station-owned dog that was rather large and dirty and scary. Today at Amanda Boles' sister's house there was a big dog. In I Am Legend there were lots and lots of insane/rabies-infected big dogs. It doesn't matter where you go there's always a big dog there to end the fun that potentially could have occurred.

One thing I've learned though is this: no matter how big and scary the dog is, the owner's story is always the same. "Aww (insert the name of the owner's dog) wouldn't hurt a soul! He's the nicest ole dog you'll ever meet." As if anyone who volunteers their house for people to come over is going to admit that their dog would hurt one of the guests. As if my fear of big dogs is going to be eased by the OWNER'S defense in the dog. Like, I'm not concerned with how your dog treats YOU, considering the fact that it knows you and lives with you all the time! I want to hear someone who doesn't know the dog say it will be ok.

I know that at some point I need to get over my fear of big dogs, but the bottom line is this: there have been too many news stories done on kids being attacked by a big "friendly" neighborhood dog for me to believe that YOUR big dog is "the nicest ole dog you'll ever meet." Your dog may genuinely be a nice dog, but I don't feel comfortable taking your word for it.

****If you own a big dog, I apologize if this offended you in anyway. I realize that the term "big dog" is a stereotype in the world of pets that may be far off base, and I will still come to your house if you have a big dog, I'd just rather you make arrangements ahead of time to ensure my safety upon arrival... maybe a big stick or something... it's nothing personal.

Friday, July 18, 2008

mbti

I am constantly thinking and analyzing things. Sometimes I really like that part of my personality and other times I hate it. When it comes to thinking and planning projects I love it. When it comes to pursuing girls... I hate it. Either way I'm an analyzer no matter "how you slice it" (which is a lame expression by the way, but I chose this expression because "slicing" is kind of a form of analyzing.. you know?).

Anyway I really enjoy trying to figure out other people's personalities. A few years ago my dad got really into this thing called personality testing and ever since I've been really into it too. One of the things we talk about constantly is how people's personalities affect the way their responding to a particular situation (another form of analyzing on my part.)

Because I'm so interested in personalities, I want to give you guys a chance to talk to me some. You all listen to me talk a lot, but now I want to give you guys a chance to let me know a little about you. So once every 4 or 5 posts I'm going to try and do a post that gives you guys a chance to respond. This is the first survery category: MBTI

Myerrs Briggs Type Indicator- I'm really not sure how to spell that, but that's what MBTI stands for. This post is aimed at me figuring out what the personalities of my viewers are. So if you're familiar with your "type" I would appreciate you posting it for me. If you do not have a clue what I'm talking about, heres the online test:

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

If you do not know your 4 letter combination, take that test and then post it. It wont take you very long. If you know your 4 letter combination, post it!

Thanks guys

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

lightening bug moment

On Wednesday nights my parents have small group, so I stay at home on those nights and typically play video games. I'm a fan of games like NCAA Football, Madden, 2Kx sports games, Zelda, Super Mario, Mega Man, etc. My favorite game of all time, however, is Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. I actually love that game so much I'll probably give it a post all to its own eventually.

Anyway you can only play video games for so long before you become extremely bored... that happened to me tonight. I had nothing to do so I decided to waste some gas and go drive around on some country roads. I love getting out on the road where there isn't very much traffic to just drive and think. Very cool. So as I was on my way to Henrietta, Tennessee (birthplace of Pat Head Summit) a pretty rare and significant occurrence occurred (which is what occurrences tend to do...) A lightening bug splattered onto my windshield.

My first thought was "so what, I haven't washed my truck since August...", but then I realized the awesomeness of this moment. When a lightening bug hits your windshield the lightening bug guts continue glowing. If you've never seen that happen before you're missing it out because it looks really awesome.

Anyway, that was a cool moment in my life today. Probably not life-altering, although I'm sure I could make a lame illustration out of it if I wanted to. Like, "if we read the Bible, it's Light will direct us away from windshields... metaphorically speaking of course..." But I'd rather just enjoy the moment for the moment itself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

the template concept

Depending on how observant you are, I have officially changed my blog layout and template. If you're unfamiliar with the blogging lingo (which is highly improbable considering the fact that you are reading a blog) basically that just means I have made it look differently. I think that the way a blog looks is just as important as the information it's displaying. Honestly if a blog looks uncool I don't want to read it, regardless of what the person has to say. Up until this point I feel like I've been letting my readers get the short end of the stick when it comes to the template their blogging leader has displayed for them to look upon while they read what I have to say. (I also think from this moment forward we should be willing to acknowledge me as "The Blogging Leader". ) So I want to apologize for not giving you guys more of an appealing look.

Most people would nod their head in agreement with the above paragraph. It's a relatively simple principle that they way something looks generates our interest. One example of that would be a pretty girl... I see her and then become interested. Another example would be house cleaning. Anytime we have guests at our house my mom and step mom become extremely ridiculous about the degree of clean we must reach as a family... which is probably why we have a house cleaner come every other Wednesday.

Obviously the way something looks directly affects how quickly our interest is sparked. You fell in love with my blog because you're absolutely fascinated by how well I blend sarcasm and reality... but you would have fallen in love much sooner had my blog template looked more appealing.

This principle is very easy to recognize in every area of our lives, yet we are still designing churches that do not look appealing on the outside. Trying to create a church that is appealing on the outside is a threat to some people. There is this thought that exists that if you design a church that is appealing to the unchurched, then somehow you've lost sight of Jesus or God or the Gospel. Why? Isn't Jesus the most appealing thing that there is? Shouldn't church be THE MOST appealing thing on the outside?

My friend Michael blogged recently about Perry Noble and how he liked him basically because he wants to create church that the unchurched like attending. (http://www.michaelbayne.net/) A guy wrote back a long post disagreeing with this principle saying that church should be for believers, not a tool for evangelism. Michael wrote him back a very nice reply, but I'm not quite as nice as Michael. I think that statement Church should be for believers, not a tool for evangelism is one of the most ignorant statements that someone can make. I don't know that you can miss the big picture anymore than that. All my life I've watched church be done for churched people and I don't ever want to be in a church like that again. The church should be a picture of who Jesus is, not a place for Christians to feel good about themselves.

Bottom Line: The way something looks initially, directly affects our interest in that something. So let's make church appealing and designed with excellence, because Jesus is appealing and he most definitely displayed himself in a way that attracted unbelievers. Maybe it's time to change the template of the church.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

new orleans

Man it's been a while since I've been able to blog. It's crazy how much I start to miss the blogging world once I am away from Internet access for an extended period of time..

This past week I was in the city of New Orleans at Mission Lab. Grace took a team of 20 down there to just love that city, and it turned out to be a really cool deal. In the mornings we would go and clean up neighborhoods by pulling weeds, chopping down bushes, digging up trees, etc. In the afternoons we did a Bible Club type thing for some kids in Ward 7. There hasn't been a single ministry for kids in Ward 7 since Katrina, and so it was really awesome getting to go in and tell those kids about the Bible and ultimately about Jesus. We had some kids accept Christ, and it was awesome watching God work through us down there.

Random stuff that happened while we were there:

First of all you should know about this thing called "The Sugarshack". Day one of camp the camp director promoted this scandal called "The Sugarshack" over and over advertising that it was the greatest thing to have ever been introduced to a camp anywhere. He emphasized that this was a place we could all go at night to get late night snacks and drinks and caffeine etc. So being the way I am I made a HUGE deal about the sugarshack. I tried to lead cheers within our group about the sugarshack, I tried convincing others to get on board with this crazy thing called the sugarshack, and as it turns out... the sugarshack is actually the dumbest thing on the planet.

The sugarshack was about 1.5 miles from our dorms so walking there was a very big deal. So on the first night of camp we walk there and it was closed. I figured it was because we were too late because we arrived around 10:30. So the next night we decided to give it another chance. Day 2 we make the trek to the sugarshack, and as fate would have it, it was closed again. After wasting 3 miles of my life, I decided it was time to boycott this place called the sugarshack. My problem with it is this: The camp director acted like it was the most awesome thing ever... and it was never open!

Also there's the pool fiasco. It's open 4 hours a week. 8-10 PM on Monday, 8-10 PM on Friday- dumb.

Then there's the dorm controversy. Apparently the camp was trying to separate boys and girls into different dorms for obvious sexual reasons. So there were boys dorms and girls dorms (supposedly). The only problem is there were girls staying in a room in our dorm, and boys staying in a room in the girls dorm. So because of that reason the lady in charge (who was a rule freak and pretty paranoid all the time) would yell at us for having our shirts off in the hallway. Her reasoning was that it was a co-ed dorm and so girls didn't need to see us with our shirts off. Ok, that's pretty understandable. Here's what's really stupid: One night a group of our girls were in the lobby of our dorm playing cards, and the lady comes in and says they're not allowed to be there because it's a boys' dorm. Naturally I argued with her.

Either A- it's a co-ed dorm and girls ARE allowed to be in the lobby playing cards, or B- it's a boy dorm and guys ARE allowed to walk around with their shirts off. Being the controversial church that we are, we decided to take a stand. So for the rest of the trip we walked around with our shirts off anytime we were in the dorm. That was the least we could do to stand up for all basic logic everywhere!

Last thing- if you've been following the pickle story, you know that we've taken "Dong" on every single trip down I-65 this summer. Well, being the absent minded pickle guardian that I am I accidentally forgot the pickle on this trip. I was extremely distressed on the ride down there, and then had an idea. I could text my good friend Taylor Hughes and ask him to pick up the pickle and mail it to Mission Lab... so this is what we did. On Thursday afternoon the pickle arrived in New Orleans via the United States Postal Service. Rain, Snow, Sleet, Hail, Torching Louisiana heat, those guys deliver- and deliver they did! Dong was able to join us for the remainder of our trip.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

truth or dare

While everyone is waiting for me to post some thoughts for the new Oratory on Christianity, I thought I'd share with you part of my old speech on risks.. this was the introduction:

Truth or Dare is one of those games everyone plays at some point growing up, but in 5th grade, it’s really not a game… it’s really just a sly attempt for guys to hook up with women… not just women though, but 5th grade women.

It was Christmas break, and the girl was Shelby Richmond… it’s pretty safe to say we were in love. Despite all the “masculine” qualities that I posses, I couldn’t quite get up the nerve to ask her out on my own. So, I devised a plan that would accelerate all that “let’s go out for coffee stuff” and just get to the kissing. So, I organized an innocent little game of Truth or Dare, made my best friend dare me to kiss Shelby, and then just made sure I had on plenty of chap-stick. As long as the plan was executed to perfection, I was about to collide with my destiny.

So, when I was dared to kiss Shelby, of course I had to act like I didn’t know it was coming. “Dude are you serious?!?? You really want me to kiss her?!?” But finally, I made my move. I took Shelby into the closet we had set aside for “outrageous dares” (creepy sounding… I know) but suddenly, despite all my planning, despite all the time I had spent daydreaming, just waiting for this “mature” moment, I realized that I actually had to kiss her. I mean you can’t pass once you get INTO the closet. This wasn’t my fantasy world anymore… this was reality. Even though kissing Shelby Richmond was at the time my destiny in life, when it came time to actually do it, I realized it was also my greatest fear.

A lot of us live our lives in that kind of a moment. We know what we want to do in life, what we’re really passionate about, what we really want to accomplish, and the question is not if we have what it takes to reach those goals, the question, is if we’re willing to step out, and risk the possibility that we might fail.

Mark Batterson’s book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, is about risking failure and facing your fears, in order to follow your dreams. He writes, “Sometimes our greatest opportunities come disguised as man-eating lions, and how we react when we encounter those lions will determine our destiny.” When the opportunity presents itself, when all of your planning boils down to one moment, when your dream is on the line, are you gonna go for it, or watch it go by because you’re afraid to take the risk?

At this point in the speech I launched into the part where I connect the intro to the bottom line for the speech. Maybe I'll share it with you someday

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

church talk

I haven't officially started brainstorming yet, but I've been thinking nonstop the past few days about my next Original Oratory. Like I said in the post, "christianity oratory", I want to do my next speech on Christianity. Again I'm not sure the exact direction I'm going to go, but that's the broader topic.

Last night me and a friend were looking for something to do so we decided to show up at this girl's house unannounced. We're very close friends with this girl, and so we've reached the point in our relationship where it's ok to do that sort of thing. When we pulled into her driveway her parents were outside walking the dogs, so we got out and started casually carrying on conversation. They told us that this girl was not home but that we could stay and hang out if we wanted. Typically that would seem like a very weird thing to do, I mean not many people go over to their friend's house to hang out when the friend isn't even home, but we enjoy talking to her parents so we stayed anyway just to talk to them.

We ended up talking outside for about an hour before it got dark. We talked about all sorts of different things, but mainly we talked about their experiences with church. See, my friend, the girl, and the girl's parents all go to a different church than I go to, so it can get kind of awkward whenever they start talking about church stuff. But I was being a good sport and just listened as the parents kept talking about problems associated with church as they know it.

The main focus of the conversation was the contemporary service their church has. They don't feel like it reaches anyone. They think that the message is often way too deep and never covers material that can be applied to anyone's life. They say that all of the students skip the service if they can. So they started asking us (me and my friend) what we thought should be changed to make church better.

Now being the only person in the conversation who does not attend their church, it was kind of hard for me to come up with any real useable material they could apply to the service to improve it. So I stayed quiet the whole time. After some intense discussion on the topic, the dad of this girl said to my friend, "See that's the problem. You wouldn't invite your friends to the service. I mean I know I wouldn't invite MY friends! Now, Grace (the church I attend), that's a church people can invite someone to without feeling ashamed. They can just wear whatever they want and feel comfortable."

I don't type any of this so that you can use inferences to figure out which church I'm talking about or be negative towards any particular church or anything like that. I’m also not saying that my church has all the answers or that we’re better than everyone. I'm telling this story for a reason, here it is:

I'm sick and tired of churches having a mindset that a contemporary service is going to fix all their problems. I can't tell you how many churches in our city have decided to start a contemporary service so they can satisfy the younger congregation at their church. They think that if they suddenly use a guitar in one of their services that lost people will just begin flocking in to come home to Jesus or something. Obviously, based on the story I just shared, this is not the case. They still have just as many problems in the church POST-contemporary service as they do PRE-contemporary service. People are not looking for a service that is "contemporary" (that word is the most traditional word in the history of the world by the way), people are looking for a group of people who love them regardless of their dress, flaws, mistakes, screw-ups, or hangovers. People want to be in an environment where they can simply be themselves, not have to put on a fake face for the church people. Until churches begin to realize this, we'll continue to see contemporary service after contemporary service pop up all over America without any real church growth occurring.

It's easy to see from an outsider's perspective that the problems at the church from the story are all problems that revolve around leadership at the church. If churches do not start having an attitude of grace, the "revival" the church is looking for will not take place, regardless of how great the music or preacher is.

Bottom Line: It would be better to have the hymnals out and sing every hymn in the book, but still have an attitude of grace, than to have the greatest lights, music, speaker, etc in the world but judge people when they walk in the door.

"Everyone needs a place to start over... that place is Grace." (That’s the slogan of my church.) I hope so much that we never lose sight of that vision and actually continue to live by it.

Monday, June 30, 2008

the female

I have this theory that there is a magnetic forcefield of some kind revolving around all women. Not only that, but men have some kind of metal substance buried deep within their retinas that causes them to be drawn towards these women. I don't really believe that, just while I was typing I thought it would be kind of funny if that really is how it worked, but now that I'm re-reading it I really don't find it all that humorous, but I'm going to leave it in there because I started typing this in response to what I had just previously written and deleting the first 2 sentences would require me to delete this sentence as well and that would result in me losing everything I've typed in this entry thus far...

So, all that aside, I have titled this post "the female" (singular) because I have come to the conclusion that all girls are the same. Granted there are personality traits that vary from girl to girl, but there are a few key levels in which women are all the same. Unfortunately I haven't figured out how to use the fact that I've realized this to my advantage yet, which is why I'm currently single. (However if you are interested, follow the lead of another blog-reading friend of ours and leave a love comment anonomously but leave a call back number, this way I can get in touch with you.)

Anyway, without giving away any details that would sacrifice my chances with this particular girl, this last week I adopted somewhat of a middle school crush. Basically I saw this girl in a public place somewhere here in Clarksville, and for whatever reason I was hooked. I know this seems like a pretty shallow way to begin liking someone, but I'm sorry that's how it started. Now, 1 week later I'm a little confused.

For one, how did a stable, firmly planted guy like me stumble onto this path of confusion? I mean I've never in my life just had a time when I started liking someone at first glance, so it doesn't make sense that it should start now. For two, why am I writing about this situation in my blog? Shouldn't the details of such emotion be kept private? No, they shouldn't. Here is why:

I think that there have been way too many jokes tossed around about guys not being able to understand women. There have been far too many women call men stupid for not being able to understand what she is thinking/feeling. There have been far too many men pursue a girl only to have their confidence shaken because of the mind games they enter with women. So, the reason I'm publicizing this is to let all people everywhere (although by that I mean all the people who read Moons from Burma) know that I am done playing the game. I'm only 17 and I have had enough. While this new strategy of mine may only last a few short weeks, as of right now I am finished. If I am pursuing a girl I should be able to just ask her out and her say yes or no. There is no reason anyone should have to go through the mental agony or awkwardness that is associated with dating a girl, because in all honesty awkwardness sucks for everyone.

So to sum things up, I am going to pursue this girl, but I'm not going to play any mind games. I am not a Jedi Knight and I am not fleeing from Imperials, therefore I should not have to play mind games. If the girl is cool with that then we will have a relationship, if she is not then I'll be writing back to let everone know that the plan didn't work. Wish me luck gentlemen!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

superheroes

For whatever reason I've always loved super hero cartoons. When I was 3 my dad bought me a video collection with 2 superman tapes (featuring a total of 12 episodes), and one tape (6 episodes) of the Super Friends and their adversaries. Cartoon Network used to do a special on the Justice League during the summer around lunch time and I can remember taping all of the episodes and watching them over and over again. It's so crazy how the awesomeness grows exponentially when you add more and more superheroes to one episode.

I'm not sure why but I've never fully grown out of my fascination with super heroes, and I find myself from time to time watching those old videos in my VCR before I go to bed. There's nothing like Brainiac triggering a laser beam to destroy the planet earth and Superman escaping the thresh-hold of kryptonite just in time to save the day.

This summer at Grace our kids ministry is going through this series called Superheroes. Each week there is a video that has a real life problem that the kids could face, and it takes that problem and uses these superheroes to give advice on how to handle the situation. Each Superhero has a character trait that serves as their special ability. There are like 5 or 6 different superheroes: Kid Confidence, Guts Girl, The Forgivenator, Captain Compassion, and a couple others. Those superheroes then take a story from the Bible and show how the story in the Bible used whatever character trait they're focusing on.

Being the superhero fanatic that I am, this has been just as exciting for me as it's been for the kids. The graphics they use for this series are incredible, and I actually look forward to seeing what story from the Bible they'll use for each of the superheroes. Here's what I think is cool about this whole series:

They don't try and turn characters from the Bible into "superheroes". If you've grown up in church you've sat through enough lame sermons or kids programs that tried to make Moses out to be a superhero. While Moses is one of the most Godly men in all of the Bible, there's nothing appealing to an 8 year old about an 80 year old with a big white beard. Typically when churches do this whole "Superhero concept" they are like.. "well we've all heard of superman and batman, but who's heard of Noah?!?? Now he's the real superhero! Real superheroes don't need to fly around and use weapons! Their strength comes from doing God's Will!"

While all of that is true... it's also all incredibly lame. Rather than try and convince everyone that Moses and Noah actually are superheroes in their own way, this series takes a made up superhero that has an awesome looking costume and uses them to tell the story of the REAL superheroes. I think this is much more effective with the kids because after they see the awesome looking guy they're already engaged when you start talking about the Bible character, and the Bible character is what we ultimately want them to know.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

christianity oratory


At school there's this club called the NFL (National Forensic League). When I first heard of this club I despised them because they called themselves "The NFL". Now I don't know about you, but to me there's only going to ever be one NFL and it certainly does not deal with Forensics... it deals with football. To me it was almost a mockery to even consider calling your organization the same thing as the most watched sport on tv, but prejudiceaside I joined the club my sophomore year. Basically the NFL is just a complicated name for Speech Team (apparently though speech team isn't official enough).

So anyway I joined the speech team and began doing debate. I hated it. It's pretty much the dumbest thing I've ever been apart of (besides boys state). My passion is to speak. Even though I'm very much an introvert I've always seemed to be good at public speaking. Debate dealt with very little speaking and a whole lot of research... research is most definitely not my passion. So I got out of debate and moved to an event called Original Oratory or OO.

OO is a 10 minute persuasive speech about anything you want. So I decided to do my speech about Risk Taking last year. The premise of the speech was the game Truth or Dare. When I was in 5th grade I played truth or dare with a group of friends and ultimately ended up having my first kiss. So the tension in the speech is that even though I really wanted to kiss this girl, it was actually one of my biggest fears, and to see the vision for our life come true, we must be willing to face those fears. So that was the idea behind last years speech and I ended up placing 3rd at the NFL qualifier, so I was one place away from going to Nationals.

So this year I'm going in kind of as a front runner so to speak. Whenever you go to a competition you go into a classroom with 6 other people and you all give your speech to the same judge. As you're looking around the room you immediately are intimidated by certain people because you know they're really good. So it's been cool ever since the NFL Qualifier to look around and see the people's faces when they realize that the great Nate Edmondson is competing against them haha.

With all that in mind, now I have to start writing my speech for next year. I'm not sure the exact direction I want to go with my speech yet, but I want the topic to be Christianity. That's a pretty broad topic I realize, but I really think it will be cool because it's so different. No one that I've ever heard has done a speech on Christianity. I'm not talking about like a salvation message or anything, just a speech about problems that the church has created and what Jesus intended for the church to be. Like I said I don't have a clear direction yet, but I have a feeling lot's of blogs will be written soon as I begin brainstorming on this speech topic, so stay tuned and subscribed!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

jesus freak

This post may be somewhat more of a controversial one, but I guess that's ok considering the fact that no one would read my blog if I said the exact same thing someone else is already saying... which is kind of the whole purpose of a blog anyway I guess. Although I'm not sure that last sentence made any sense, so we're just going to move on to the actual reason for this post.

In the mid-early 90s a hit song by the name of "Jesus Freak" was released by a band by the name of dc talk. (take the fact that it was released in the early 90s and then try and explain to me why Way-FM still plays it...) Anyway the purpose of the song is basically to encourage people to stand up for their faith and be willing to look ridiculous and be humiliated for Jesus... which I guess is why the title "Jesus Freak" is so appropriate.

Another song talking about freaks is the 1981 hit single "Super Freak" by Rick James. It's safe to say this song offers a tad bit different message, but I think it's ironic that here we have 2 songs talking about freaks, but one is intended to be a positive kind of freak and the other is intended to be a negative kind of freak. Not to be cynical here, but I want to propose the idea that there is really only one kind of freak... and it's not ever a good thing.

Freak- noun; a person or animal on exhibition as an example of a strange deviation from nature; monster.

That is dicitionary.com's definition. Obviously based on this definition the word Freak is not a good thing. So, why then does dc talk urge us to be Jesus Freaks? Here is why: There is this huge misconception in the christianized "church" world that being "different" because you're a Christian somehow involves being a social outcast and getting made fun of. Apparently there's a verse in the Bible that says "be in the world not of the world" (I'm just kidding.. yes I know it really IS in the Bible). But I don't think that that verse is suggesting Christians should be dubbed "Freak" just at first glance.

Think about the movie Celtic Pride. If you haven't seen this movie, I wouldn't suggest watching it. It's really not all that funny and it's pretty long. Basically these HUGE Boston Celtic fans kidnap a star basketball player for the team they are playing against in the NBA Finals. Anyway, they’re sitting there, trying to watch their team in one of the most important games of the entire season and then out of nowhere some annoying “Christian” comes up and proceeds to get in between them and their view of the game. He’s holding a John 3:16 poster and says, “Jesus loves you!” What do they do to this man? They beat him up. Why, because he was annoying, REALLY annoying. In fact, some might venture as far as to say he was a "Jesus Freak".

Now, initially us Christians' first thought would be to applaud this behavior. "We're taking a nonchristian activity and promoting the Gospel!" While this is true, we are "promoting the Gospel" at a non-Christian event, we're also ruining a chance to reach people! We are forever crafting an annoying image in people's mind when they think about this man named Jesus. Because we decided to be "Jesus Freaks", we've actually just annoyed someone and turned them away from the Gospel.

I'm not saying that Christians should be unwilling to stand up for their faith, but there is a HUGE difference in standing up for your faith, and getting in people's faces and looking like an idiot for the sake of the Gospel.

Bottom Line: A freak is a freak. To a non-believer who knows nothing about Jesus or anything that He did for them, there is no difference in a Jesus Freak and a Super Freak... there just both freaks.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

grace is the word

This post is about how I first encountered the concept of Grace.. sorry if it's long.

I guess I should probably go ahead and tell you that I’m one of those stereotypical kids who was raised in a Southern Baptist house with “Southern Baptist” ways of thinking and a very conservative political stand point. When I was little, I was pounded pretty hard with the Christian morals and philosophies and what not, which I think is a good thing. My dad always told me that there were people out there who didn’t think the same way as me, but I never really knew any of them.

So, in elementary school I was for the most part surrounded by Christians and people who thought the exact same way as me and as everyone else in my family. It wasn’t until middle school that I really got to see anyone who thought differently than me. His name was Ted. At that point everyone called him Teddy, not really sure why, he doesn’t really look like a bear or anything. He is like 100% different from my family. My family isn’t real artsy, his family is. My family doesn’t read a lot of deep intellectual type stuff, his family definitely does. We love steak, not sure if he eats steak, but as liberal as he is, you’d have a hard time believing that he does. I don’t think he’s a vegetarian, but if he eats meat, it's like the little chocolate covered ants or something, not steak, and his family will definitely be voting for Obama not McCain (Although lots of republicans say that McCain is kind of liberal too, so I'm not sure that's a great example). So, throw all that together, put us in 6 classes together when there’s only 6 periods in a school day, and chances are you’ll have to talk at some point. I’ve known Ted for 6 years now, and we are still good friends. We’re not the types of friends to go spend the night at each other’s houses or anything, but we talk at school and stuff.

The first year and a half or so that I knew Ted, we just debated all the time. It didn’t matter about what, politics, religion, Shakespeare/Donald Miller, evolution, whatever, we were just always debating. Then, my dad was called into full-time ministry. That basically means he had to go to church all the time instead of going to a real job haha… He then discovered something. It is a little word that I can say now has really changed my entire life. It is called Marijuana… just kidding. No, seriously though the word is grace. This word has absolutely, without a doubt, changed my life forever. It has taught me to look at Christianity from a whole new perspective, but also to look at people who want nothing to do with Christianity differently. It has shown me that there is a way for people who have never been labeled “good” to actually stand a chance in the world. The concept of Grace has also been the single most influential idea in Grace Community Church's dream.

After I was introduced to this new concept of grace I started to look at my friendship with Ted differently. In the beginning I basically just thought the best way to "live for Christ" or whatever was to argue with him constantly. I thought if I could ever prove him wrong then maybe he'd suddenly believe Jesus was the son of God or something. Just so you know, that typically doesn't work. Typically if you argue with someone nonstop and eventually prove them wrong, they'll end up hating you. Thankfully that didn't happen with me and Ted. Once I understood the grace idea, I started just being his friend. I tried to stop arguing about big world changing concepts and just see how he was doing and what was going on in his life. Ted isn't a Christian, but he has started attending church at the Unitarian Universalists place, so that's an improvement.. haha just kidding. So even though Ted has not chosen to believe in Jesus yet, at least he knows one less Christian that's a jerk.

Here's what I think is sad though: I grew up in church and at church and under church and every other prepositional phrase ending with church that is possible, but it wasn't until I was 12 that I started being taught what it meant to live by grace. I still in no way understand it fully, but it took 12 years for me to even hear about it. So, I think that Christians need to stop talking so much about politics and judgment day and just start being nice to people.

That's pretty much a condensed version of my spiritual autobiography I guess.

Friday, June 20, 2008

the pickle story


So, you've heard about Whataburger, and now it's time for you to hear (or read I guess considering this is written out and not being spoken to you... much like a book) the 2nd great adventure that I have partaken in this summer. This story will go down in Gcom Church history for all of eternity.

The old animated Godzilla tv show on cartoon network used to start out with a song that went like this "Up from the depths, thirty stories high, a rage of fire, stands in the sky. Godzilla!" Something like that. The words may not be exactly right.. but it's definitely the right amount of syllables. Anyway, Godzilla for those of you who don't know is a giant green fire breathing dragon of sorts. He threatens the existence of such phenomenons as King Kong, dirty pirates, and Orientals (not to single them out it's just that typically they are the ones in the film). So, with that being said, Grace Community Church has found their Godzilla. He is not a dragon/dino/lizard, nor does he breathe fire or reek havoc/destruction, but he IS green! And Godzilla is the only mythical creature I feel is worthy enough to be compared to the pickle.

It all started as a small joke in a gas station on the way to bigstuf. It was then that I saw this gigantically large pickle resting near the check out line for 99 cents with the reading "Tart and Tangy!" "Snack on the run!" The thought then occured to me that this pickle looked awfully like something that I am not going to name(you're going to have to use your imagination with me as I walk you through this process... I'm going to be as honest and mature as possible about this, but you should know on this trip in a van of 10 guys there was no way we were going to be mature or responsible or even spiritual for that matter about the events that were about to take place.) Now, being a guy striving for attention I could not pass up this opportunity to amuse. So I bought the pickle.

After revealing the pickle to the entire van, and hearing the dozens and maybe even thousands of jokes being tossed around, we decided to name this pickle. It's name is as follows: Dong.

Enough said. I still have the pickle and it is still the mascot for Relevant Student Ministry. Lanny Donoho had his picture taken with this pickle, and it has also been to student life camp.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

whataburger

This blog was made possible by Amanda Balls.

Well, this summer I've made 2 very interesting trips down I-65. The first one was to bigstuf and the second one was to student life camp. I've shared various stories and experiences about those 2 trips in previous blogs, but there's one key ingredient that I've failed to mention: Whataburger.

If you're new to the phrase, you should know... it's actually not a phrase, it's a word (which is the reason no spaces exist between the individual words what, a, and burger). Much like Captain Planet, when these 3 powers combine you are left with one incredible superhero, or in this case supermanager. (Although there were actually 5 powers needed for captain planet).

As we were driving to bigstuf the desire to feed on delicious food overtook all of us and so naturally we decided to eat at Chic-Fil-A.. God's chicken. However, unbeknownst to us the sovereignty of God was at work on that trip, and He directed our path (Psalm reference) to the whataburger. One could draw the conclusion that Whataburger is God's red meat.

No but basically we saw it and the guys in the van voted and came to a unanimous (which i don't really know how to spell) decision that whataburger seemed like the wisest food choice. If you're as confused as I was as to why it's called whataburger, don't worry, you're not alone. Apparently the name in and of itself is a mystery. Think about all the possible ways to say Whataburger.

"What? A burger?" WHAT A BURGER! What a... burger?

Ok.. there were more in my head before I began typing.. however, I think you get where I'm going. Anyway, the question "what is a whataburger?" has been asked SO many times... they even carry little brochures inside explaining exactly what a Whataburger is. I found this so enthralling that I had to make a big deal about it. So I called the manager over and began asking him questions about this "Whataburger". Little did I know, this guy was a walking whataburger advertising campaign. So he pretty much talked for about 4 minutes (which is pretty good while talking just to be talking about some random restaurant) on the history and vision of Whataburger Enterprises. Because I recognized the passion inside of this man for his restaurant, I decided my good friend Duke Boles (see levitation principle blog post) needed to hear this. So I gave Duke a call and then the guy proceeded to talk to Duke for another 4 minutes about what a whatburger was/is/and will continue to be... over the phone!

In conclusion, Whataburger may be 2nd only to Five Guys in the race for the greatest burger joint on the planet. Not only do they have great food, a great name, and very nice restroom facilities, they also have great advertisement superheros... or in this case, Supermanagers.