Monday, December 7, 2009

favorite christmas movies of all time

One of my favorite things about Christmas time are the movies. There are so many great ones, and unfortunately you only get to watch them one time a year without getting depressed... So, in the spirit of Christmas, I'd like to share my favorite Christmas movies of all time.

1. Home Alone

2. Elf

3. The Santa Clause

4. The Grinch

5. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

6. The Muppet Christmas Carol

7. Jingle All the Way

What are yours?

Friday, December 4, 2009

unconditional love for sinners

One of my best friends is a self-proclaimed non-believer. She doesn't know if she buys into the whole idea of Heaven and Hell, and she can't come to grips with the fact that faith, not works, establishes a relationship with God. She believes there is a Creator, but she struggles with the concept of eternal life and justification. How is it fair that "good" people would ever have to endure Hell? We've talked for hours and hours about all of these things, but in the end she just isn't sure if she can ever "believe" that.

We've remained best friends despite our differences, and I've told her multiple times that I will love her and do my best not to judge her whether she ever becomes a Christian or not. That is true, but then yesterday this thought ran through my mind: "Nate, you're being so patient and gentle with her, you're doing your best to explain Scripture to her, you're remaining her friend even though she disagrees with you... It's about time she became a Christian! You've done everything right, and God needs to reward you for your faithfulness to this girl."

After having that thought, I became extremely convicted. Was I only being her friend and loving her because I thought it was the best strategy for her to become a Christian? Was my love based on an expectation that because of my hard work she would naturally accept Christ?

Jesus loved sinners expecting nothing in return. God remains faithful to us even after we turn the bride of Christ into a whore. Who are we to base our love for nonbelievers on the condition that they become Christians as a result of our love? We should love sinners because Jesus loved us... not as a strategy for them all to become Christians.

As you attempt to love people, remember that the reason you love them is because of your uncontainable gratefulness for what Jesus did for humanity on the cross; not because you think it's the best strategy for evangelism.

I'm going to love this girl whether she ever believes in Jesus or not, because Jesus is never going to stop loving her... in fact, He is jealous for her love!

Friday, November 27, 2009

true life change

One of the most frequently used buzz phrases in church world is "changing lives". A lot of people would claim that the way you determine a successful church is based on the lives they are changing. Numbers don't mean anything if people's lives aren't being changed.

But what does it mean to be "changing lives"?

For a long time I thought that life change meant a person's life was improving. If a person was able to apply principles to their life and as a result "live better", then their life was being changed.

The more I study it, though, the more I think my definition was way off. Spiritual life change is not a life that is improving, it's a life that is being swapped. Life change is literally a change of lives. It's not one life that is gradually becoming different; it's changing from my life to Christ's life... meaning there were TWO lives to begin with.

Teaching principles to improve behavior and lifestyle is great, but it doesn't help someone truly change their life. A person will gradually begin to improve their life once the life swap has already occurred. Before principles can improve a person's life, their life must FIRST be changed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

structure of the local church

One question I've been wrestling with since I've been at Moody is what the local church in America should look like. Since being here I've received some opposition towards the way Grace does church in Clarksville. I've gotten lots of questions like: Do small groups provide accurate means for discipleship? Is the governmental structure too corporate, and as a result too secular? Do topical messages truly teach the Bible? Should the environments be tailored for believers or non-believers?

Honestly this has made me question a lot of the ministry principles I've learned the last few years. Last week at Catalyst Chuck Swindoll made a cool statement about church structure.

"We must be willing to leave the familiar methods without disturbing the Biblical message."

In other words, the method should not be unwavering, the message should be. The church should be structured in a way that reaches people without changing the message of Christ.

The problem, however, is that a lot of the modern church models are being attacked for their lack of Biblical basis. Questions arise over whether or not these new models are holding firmly to the New Testament's teaching. Today at Missions Conference a missionary from eastern Europe made this statement, "Our experience of church is not based solely on Biblical teaching."

Every church has a system and structure. That system is never FULLY Biblical, because the Bible doesn't fully describe what the system should look like. Therefore, anytime a church clings to a system, they are clinging to a man-made idea.

Here's where I currently land on the issue of church structure/systems:
There is no perfect system, BUT some do work better than others.

It is generally accepted to do church differently in other countries because of culture, so why should it be critiqued when the American local church creates a system to better appeal to culture? Craig Groeschel says it this way, "To reach people no one else is reaching, you have to do things no one else is doing."

Our ministries should be designed to make the message of Christ as relevant as possible. If that means the structure of the local church in America needs to change, then let's change it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

welcome to college life nate dog

Lots of thank you's go out to all of you who have informed me that I haven't updated my blog in a while. While I was aware of the fact that I hadn't written in a while (which seems decently obvious to me considering it is my blog) it still means a lot that you missed reading Moons From Burma.

I took a month off from the blogging world so I would have time to adjust to my new life. It's easy to think you know a lot and have a lot to write about when you're a senior in high school and lots of people look up to you, but being at the bottom and having few friends makes you realize exactly how little you know.

This next chapter of my life is going to be one that teaches me a lot of humility. I think God is trying to teach me that true satisfaction is found only in Him. I've known that as truth for a long time, but I've never had to deal with the reality of that emotionally. What's your first move when the friends you've had for four years are gone, the parents that used to get on your nerves aren't there to get on your nerves anymore, and you have to do your own laundry? I think the answer is get to know Jesus more.

Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

For a long time I was unaware that I had let my circumstances shape my faith. Are you letting your circumstances shape your faith, or are you relying on your faith in Jesus to control your circumstances?

Friday, July 31, 2009

rush hour 3

I was watching Rush Hour 3 last night with some friends, and for some reason the DVD froze right in the middle of the fight scene between Lee and his brother on the Eiffel Tower. So... basically I have no clue how the movie ends. If you enjoy being a spoiler, I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

relevant student ministry

In September of 2005 6 students sat in my living room for the first ever Grace Community Church "youth group" time. Taylor Hughes, Austin Hughes, Lauren Grizzard, Clark Davis, Claire Davis, and myself. Parker and Jeremy came occasionally because they were a little older, but those were the core six. Now just four years later over 100 students gather at Remix every week. The only explanation for that is God.

I just got back from my last trip with Relevant Student Ministry. Four years ago this time Grace hadn't even started, and my view of God and ministry was so small. My last four years have truly been the best four years a high school student could experience, and I'm so incredibly thankful for all of the opportunities Grace has given students to plug-in and serve.

I ran across a journal entry from June 8, 2008 today, here it is: "We're down to about 40 kids a week now in Remix. We've gotta gain the momentum back. Please bless that God, and help make our hearts pure."

Obviously ministry is much more than numbers, but now I know that God answered that prayer. The fact is that God knew what He was doing with the six of us four years ago. It was a huge step for us to leave established youth ministries and come to something with 6 people, but God had a bigger plan in mind than any of us could even begin to imagine. My hope is that God will continue to raise up leaders at Grace who aren't satisfied with where the movement of Christ is in our city. The numbers have absolutely nothing to do with God's presence, but I hope SO BADLY that our student ministry never becomes a place that values complacency. Too many student ministries are content with maintaining their comfort with their church friends. Relevant is about connecting with students who aren't there yet. Hopefully that's what it will always be about. I'm going to miss Remix next year!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

keep people informed: asg seven

As you begin to execute your already big vision, make sure you keep people informed along the way. This is probably my biggest weakness, and it hurt me in big ways. I'm really good at working things out in my head, getting a plan together, and starting work. The problem is you begin moving a fully loaded ship forward without giving the crew and passengers time to get ready. We've all heard the mutiny stories that take place on ships, and I'd bet a lot of them happened because a captain tried to move the ship without informing the crew.

Get someone on your team who GETS the vision and understands your mental direction who can put everything together in outline form. Make sure this person has skill sets that are opposite of yours. For me, I need someone who can think about small details. You may need someone different. The reason this is important is so you can walk someone through your plan before going public. If it's a person that's opposite of you, they can think about the aspects of the plan you haven't even thought of. I can't tell you how many times I tried to move something forward before getting buy-in from key people, and as a result the ship ended up going in reverse.

After you talk through your plan with the key person, then inform the rest of your team, and eventually the entire school or organization. You need to give people a little bit of time to get ready for the newness of your idea, and also to gain momentum before moving forward. While this is true, in school world the year goes by SUPER QUICK! Especially in hind-sight! So you don't have time to waste! Do the planning for the entire year during the summer if possible.

Keep people informed. Test your ideas before pushing them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

creating systems for worship teams

For any organization to maximize its potential, GREAT systems have to be in place. You can have poor systems and still reach your potential, but your potential will just not be very potent.

One of the most important areas of church world is the worship team. If a church wants to maximize the potential of their worship environment, then it obviously makes sense that a GREAT system would have to be in place. The problem is this: the system builder types are typically not on the worship team. Usually the worship team consists of extremely abstract/creative people and people who simply want to help setup and tear down stuff. Both are vital to the team, but neither are especially gifted at building systems.

The temptation is to just let the worship environment take care of itself, because after all, creative ideas are probably flourishing already. However, creative ideas are not a system. If your goal is to maximize potential, you need a great system; which means you need a system builder. You need someone who can sit down and figure out how to get every part of the worship team on the same page; someone who can build a framework in which the creative ideas can be executed. Every second of the worship time needs to have been thought through with an ultimate purpose in mind.

The reality is that most worship leader positions are filled based on musicianship and vocal ability, not on LEADING ability. There are multiple types of leading that must be done in order to truly LEAD worship, and I would argue that the majority of it takes place behind the scenes on Monday and Tuesday, not on stage Sunday. So, if you are going to really take your church somewhere in terms of worship, you need a system in place. What that ultimately means is that you need a leader in your worship area... in addition to an artist.

Systems can be hard to build for a group of abstract/unstructured people, but ultimately there needs to be a great one to maximize your potential. You need structure to succeed, which also means you need a structured person on the team.

Monday, July 6, 2009

apologize for mistakes: asg six

Even if you are making a conscious decision to do what's right and not intentionally take advantage of your position, there will be instances where your integrity is questioned. In those moments, apologize for your mistakes. Chances are you made one even if you don't know what it is.

Don't, however, allow anyone to wrongfully accuse you of anything. Be nice and apologize for the misunderstanding, but defend yourself if you feel you have done nothing wrong. Remember, if your character is questioned, your influence is soon to disappear.

**Also as a side note, a good way to formally apologize for mistakes is through a letter. It shows you are sincere and puts your side on paper so it can't be lost later in a "he said, she said" argument.

Apologize for mistakes. Protect your character.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

short and sweet communication

The last couple weeks I've had to send out a few messages to get the word out about some summer events for Relevant Student Ministry. What I realized after sending them is that a lot of people don't actually read anything beyond the 1st paragraph. The same COULD be true about blogging world as well.

Here's something I'm experimenting with: Put the information at the top of your news emails, and put the conversationalized greeting stuff after the info. That way they will get the necessary info regardless of how long they spend on your email.

I've gotten 3 messages today from different groups I'm in on Facebook, and all 3 of them were long and started with "Hey! Hope you're having a great summer. Just wanted to let you in on..... bla bla bla...." THEN, somewhere in the middle of a paragraph they threw in their info. I don't think that system works.

Shorten your messages and put your info at the top.

Monday, June 29, 2009

integrity comes first: asg five

Being in a leadership position will give you lots of opportunities to be out of class. I've heard countless times from people in the hallway, "man, are you ever in class?" The truth is, I was in class a lot more than I could have been. Because again, being in a position of leadership in the school will allow you a lot of freedom.

There are plenty of students in the school who will take advantage of every opportunity to be out of class. They will know which teachers they can get a note from to skip, and they will do that often. The one thing that allows you to stay respected, despite the fact that you are questioning the system and pushing the envelope, is the depth of your character. The standard is set higher for you as a leader than anyone else in the school. You can either choose to take advantage of your position, or choose to never compromise your integrity. It will be a lot easier to take advantage of your position, and choosing not to compromise your integrity WILL BE overlooked, but that's who you are as a leader. You can choose to do the right thing regardless of whether or not anyone is going to notice or give you recognition.

If at any point you're caught intentionally being dishonest, the respect people have for you will be gone immediately. So put your integrity first. Put it above everything.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

why do you believe in jesus?

Here's two questions from the book Community by Adam Robinson:

If no one you knew believed in Jesus, would you?

If everyone you knew suddenly decided Jesus wasn't really the son of God, would you?

Wow. Thinking about those two questions really blows my mind. Essentially the question is this: Is your belief in this Jesus thing REALLY based on your own personal relationship with him, or just based on the culture you're living in?

The person who got me started on my spiritual journey was my dad. As a kid he is the one who taught me about the Bible and explained what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus. Because of that, he has more influence in my spiritual life than anyone. If he came to me and said, "Son, I really need to talk to you. I don't believe in Jesus anymore.." what would I say?? If the person with the most influence in your life came to you and said that, what would you do? Would you still choose to believe it or would it cause you to change your mind?

Do you follow Jesus because HE'S convinced you he is who he says he is, or do you follow him because you assume the people you respect are convinced? Wow. I don't know.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

strength finder results

I'm a huge studier of personalities and personality tests. Typically I talk about MBTI, because based on what I've read I think it explains people the best and is most accurate, but lately people are talking a lot about Strength Finders. I took the test and here are my results.


Strength Finders:

Focus- People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.

Relator- People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

Deliberative- People who are especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.

Futuristic- People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.

Belief- People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.

Strength Finders has helped me understand certain traits I have a whole lot better, and also how I can use those traits for my benefit. I recommend buying the book and taking the test. Haha I know my opinion about such things really inspires you..

What are your traits?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

big stuf 09: time

At Grace we take our middle school students to Student Life Camp and our high school students to Big Stuf. Student Life has a lot more organized activities and structure, and Big Stuf has a lot more free time and better production. The last thing you want in student ministry is a hyper middle school boy who can't find a place to invest his energy... and at Big Stuf there are too many of those potential situations.

Getting to experience both camps the past two years has been really cool. I really enjoyed both camps, but took different things away from both of them. As a whole, though, I think Big Stuf is probably the best camp a high school student in America could attend. Here are a few main thoughts from the week.

1. The production was excellent this year. As much as I love Steve Fee and Kristian Stanfill, I'm really not sure anyone could have done a better job leading this week than Eddie Kirkland did. He is the type of guy that knows how to get out of the way and allow you to connect with God. Also from a production standpoint, the stage was the coolest stage I've seen in my four years at Big Stuf. Awesome.

2. Our group really meshed well. In years past there's always been some kind of drama to arise at some point during the week. None of that happened this year. Everyone got along, everyone stayed focused for the most part, and everyone had a good time.

3. Service flow and transitioning could be much smoother. I love Lanny Donoho and think he was so much more focused and host-like this year, but I still just think they could do a better job of organizing their services. Multiple, multiple times Lanny would come out and explain what we were about to see in a video. Just show the video! If the video fits it will explain itself. Also, the placement of videos I thought were off a lot of the times. I almost felt like they just had a bunch of cool videos they wanted to show and so they just threw them into the service somewhere. They could have started with the videos in a lot of cases and it could have made more sense than Lanny coming BACK out to explain what was about to happen. It's not that I don't like Lanny, I just think we see too much of him sometimes.

Ultimately, Big Stuf is awesome and I absolutely love it. That doesn't mean they can't improve on a few things. I'm sure there's probably some principle or strategy behind their service flow, but I think it would be more strategic to take into account the fact there are some extreme detail oriented people who have to sit through their services. Personally I don't really mind all the randomness that goes on during the service, but I think it would be way more effective if the randomness was built into a structure rather than the structure being defined by the randomness. The whole Lanny Donoho stage presence is hilarious when he's with Andy or Reggie on stage interrupting them, but it can be a little overwhelming when he's by himself.

I do love Lanny Donoho, though. Just to clarify.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

student life camp: night three

Here's the final video from camp. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

student life camp: night two

Another awesome day at camp. Here's our 2nd video!

Friday, June 12, 2009

student life camp: night one

We've had a ton of fun today here at camp. Here's some of the guys in my room.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

middle school camp kicking off

Tomorrow is the big day! 25 of the craziest, most ridiculous, hyper-active, and out of control middle schoolers will be heading to Talladega, AL for Student Life camp. I'm so excited to see what God has planned for us this weekend! It's going to be such an awesome opportunity for our students to connect with God in a real way (not to mention make a ton of "you remember the time when..." type stories.)

Camp is just an opportunity for us to connect with each other and build on what we experience every single week at Remix. Please keep the students and leaders in your prayers this weekend. Pray that we would all be safe, have a great time, and ultimately learn how to live more like Jesus. We'll be posting videos, pictures, and stories all week on the blog... so be sure to check this weekend for updates! Next Stop... WHATABURGER!!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

question the system: asg four

Every time you walk into a public high school you're also involuntarily walking into one of the biggest bureaucracies in the world. There's a specific chain of command that every decision must go through, and honestly I think it's a really inefficient system, but that's beside the point. Since that chain exists, every student in a leadership position is caught in a very awkward tension; they have responsibility without authority.

This tension is honestly what causes most student leaders to be completely ineffective. There are tasks you're supposed to complete, but you don't have any authority in the system to complete those tasks. Frankly, there's tons of stupid processes that students would have to go through if they actually wanted to make a difference, and it can seem pretty unrealistic to fight those at times. No matter how impossible or time consuming it feels, constantly question the system.

Just because someone says, "this is the way you have to do that," doesn't mean that that's the way you have to do it. It means that's the way they would rather you do it, and it also probably means that's the way everyone else has always done it. In that moment, though, if you question the system and act differently, you can set yourself apart as a leader.

Sadly, most teachers at the school aren't going to share the same passion for improving that student leaders are. Because of that, questioning the system causes you to stick your neck out a little bit. Your reputation is somewhat on the line when you get approval for something that goes against the system; so make sure you have a plan. The worst thing you can do is push for something that is outside of the norm and then not have your ideas together and it flop. Trust me, that's a crappy feeling.

Bottom line: Question the system. Get the principal on your side and push the envelope.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

the center of family ministry

The last few days I've spent a lot of time reading through lessons for Kids' ministry. Part of my responsibility as a Family Ministry intern this summer is to pick out material for a mission trip to New Orleans in July. We'll basically be doing Crosstreet (which is our weekly ministry for kids at Grace Community Church) and a back yard Bible club type deal for kids in New Orleans. I've really enjoyed over viewing the curriculum.

One thing I've landed on through the whole process is this: Regardless of the principles you are teaching, Jesus must be the center. It's so huge to teach kids "bottom lines" and simple truths and principles about character, but if Jesus is not at the center of all those things then at the end of the day, to me, you've done more harm than good.

I'm currently under the conviction that the world needs more people willing to stand up for Jesus than it needs people with solid morals. Jesus saves the world; ethics just preserve it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

empower followers: asg three

Obviously one of the most talked about leadership principles is that of delegation. There's no question that the more people there are working on something, the less that each individual has to contribute to a project. The problem, however, is that people with extreme amounts of leadership have a tendency to think that other people are not competent enough to perform the tasks that need to get done. It's so easy to feel like no one else even understands what you're trying to accomplish, and even if they did they probably couldn't execute it in the way we want them to... right?

Actually that is counter-productive for a couple of reasons. First of all, if you are being bogged down with routine details you're not free to make sure the entire vision as a whole (that YOU crafted by the way) is being executed properly. It's easy to become so loaded with details that the entire idea becomes stalled. Great great leaders know when to lose the battle to win the war. Sometimes letting go of details is essential.

Second of all, if you are a leader you should be able to sell your followers on your idea. If you do that effectively, then wouldn't it make sense for them to be excited enough that they want to contribute in their own way? If you want people to get on board with whatever you're doing, they have to have a voice once they're on board. Otherwise, you're going to destroy a whole lot of potentially positive energy.

If you want your vision to be a success, other people obviously have to want that as well. Sometimes that may mean the end result looks differently than you thought it would, but the vision is bigger than the shape of the result; the vision is the difference you wanted to make. Empower your followers.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

twitter's picture problem

Friday night I attempted to change my profile picture on twitter. Originally it was just not replacing my old picture. I was a tad aggravated, but I thought it would maybe just take a few minutes to register or pend or something. So I went to bed and didn't think much of it. Saturday morning the problem still existed, but now my old picture was missing also. Instead of having a picture I had a little box with nothing but my name written in it.

I would love to say that the problem is behind me now, but unfortunately that's not the case. It's now Tuesday morning and I still don't have a picture, even though I've attempted to upload one over 200 times. Also, there are 8,000+ people with the same problem. What's so frustrating about it all is that they JUST LITERALLY 5 MINUTES AGO gave us any updates to the problem at all. In fact, I am now updating this blog post, because at the time it originally posted they hadn't given us ANY info! At least they have actually acknowledged the problem now!

If you're having this problem too, please don't be a jerk and write them a mean message or anything, despite how tempting that is. I'm doing my best to remain calm about the problem, even in the midst of its ridiculousness. Instead, just be annoying and constantly tweet @twitter using the term Picture Problem!

Monday, June 1, 2009

hillsong united in nasvhille

Saturday night Hillsong United played at Belmont in Nashville. They are one of my favorite worship bands, and it was so awesome getting to see them live. I'm an evaluator, so I couldn't help but notice a few things they do that make them so powerful.

1. Lyrics. Obviously that's the most important thing about their songs. A lot of worship songs seem like just a cliche' way of telling God what we tell him in every other song, but Hillsong communicates their vision for the Christian movement in every song. I love that because it stretches everyone to surrender fully to God.

2. Transitions. To me, the thing that makes them so good is the way they go from absolutely nothing to absolute energy so quickly. Five or six times there was nothing but a pad playing underneath, with all the lights off, and then all it would take is a hard snare or tom beat and all the lights are on and everyone's in.

3. Preparation. No one was using a music stand for lyrics or chords. That's just expected from a professional band, but when a worship band can do that, to me, it shows that they are worshiping with the audience. In churches I think that's one thing that could really make a difference on stage.

They're awesome, and I loved worshiping with them Saturday night.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

proverbs 13

I was going to write about just one verse, but the whole chapter is so good. Here are just a few verses that jump out at me:

Proverbs 13:1 (ESV)
1 A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

Proverbs 13:3 (ESV)
3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

Proverbs 13:13 (ESV)
13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.

Proverbs 13:20 (ESV)
20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

These are all so huge for me in my life right now. Sometimes it can be so hard to do what's right, but ultimately what's wise is best. I hope one day I can have real wisdom, but my dad used to say it won't happen until I'm 35... that's the legal age of wisdom. (According to Article II of the Constitution anyway... haha)

Friday, May 29, 2009

a christian revolution

I tweeted earlier about a frustration I had paying 9 dollars for a movie ticket. Almost immediately people were commenting to express their frustration as well. This struck me as a little ironic. I mean of all the things to be upset about, we as humans, or more specifically Americans, choose a couple extra dollars at a movie theater to be angry about.

As I think about this, I realize I've spent a lot of time motivating people to be upset about things that really don't matter. First of all, I love Seinfeld. When you boil it down Seinfeld is pretty much just a show about characters getting mad at pointless things... and then arguing over the significance of it all. Then you look at me during basketball games. I bet I've yelled at more people for not cheering at basketball games than anyone in the history of high school sports, and even more at the referees. In the same category, I was apart of turning a nice, civilized community of Rossview students into complete savages before the Warfield Game. I've stopped eating at restaurants, stopped getting my haircut at a certain place, stopped reading books, stopped taking family photos, etc, etc, etc simply because I was frustrated. I recognized a problem of some kind, complained about it, and eventually began attempting to convince others to share my beliefs.

To quote George Costanza, "What kind of sick society are we living in...?" We seriously allow ourselves to become completely infuriated with stuff like cars double parking? Or waiting for 3 hours at a court room... or worse... the DMV? We are so fast to voice the ridiculousness that exists in paying 9 dollars for a movie ticket, YET, at the same time, in the midst of all that purely insignificant crap, we claim to have a faith in Jesus Christ that SAVES US FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION, and we do nothing? Seriously? What are we doing?

Can someone please get pissed off about something that matters?!? Can someone please get pissed off about the fact that the world is in absolute desperate need of rescuing?!? Can someone please get pissed off about the fact that there are children being sold into prostitution by the millions all over the world?!?? Can someone please get pissed off about the fact that in Africa millions of people lack one of the most fundamental ingredients to existence on planet earth??!?

I'm so sick and tired of watching people who carry the solution to all of those problems get frustrated over movie tickets, and I'm one of the biggest ones! Honestly, I'm such a huge hypocrite in so many ways. I've spent so much of my high school years wasting opportunities to share the solution with so many people who need it. So much so that I'm fully convinced that in order to find true satisfaction in this life you have to have given everything you have towards sharing the solution.

Please, if you are a believer, stop being consumed with desires to fulfill your earthly needs, and start moving in the direction of surrendering everything you have for the ultimate purpose of sharing the solution with the rest of the world. Until we as believers begin doing that, nothing we say or do will carry any weight with nonbelievers. If we say we believe in something as big as the movement of Christ, how can we not focus our lives around that belief? Equally as important, how can nonbelievers even take our faith seriously if we aren't willing to surrender everything we have for the sake of what we believe?

"If I am killed, it will be while I am speaking. Believe me, I will not be silent." -Haik Hovsepian Mehr, Iranian Missionary and Martyr

It's time to embrace a revolutionary spirit as Christians. Taking the solution to the rest of the world through love.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

fight negativity: asg two

Principle: Productivity is greater than negativity.

Regardless of the leadership position, there's going to be negativity. In fact, if you're an exceptional leader, you probably even bring a lot of it to the table yourself, especially before vision casting. Since negativity is inevitable, how do you deal with it?

As a leader you know that there's not a more vulnerable moment for you then when you have to explain your new awesome idea to a negative person for the first time. As soon as you experience negativity, take it head on. Don’t be discouraged by questions you can’t answer. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know”, even if you’re ridiculed for it. It’s much better to say that then make excuses, even though it’s easier to make excuses.

If you have a great idea, there’s always going to be someone who questions it to death in the early stages of the idea. Just because you don’t know the answers doesn’t make it a bad idea, even though you’ll feel embarrassed and idiotic after the conversation is over. Include POSITIVE thinking people in the process of working out the details. If you try to do it all on your own you’ll end up stressed out and 3 weeks will pass before you do anything with your idea. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED!

Instead of letting the negativity go to your head, just work on the idea. Negative people lose credibility at the door of a successfully completed project. In fact, productivity slams the door in negativity's face.

Productivity is greater than negativity.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

wisdom or knowledge?

I asked a question earlier this week: Is there a difference between wisdom and knowledge.

I think now the answer is yes. A person who is intellectual could tell you facts, answers, and probably make a lot of smart remarks, but a person who is wise has the ability to bring insight to a situation. A person who is wise is able to make good decisions in the midst of uncertainty. I think this would explain why so many smart kids at school are the same ones who make poor decisions outside of school. A truly wise person realizes how his decisions affect him.

Throughout high school I was so frustrated that a person who would choose not to participate in stupid stuff was constantly looked at as no-fun and no-nonsense. Sure there's a time for silliness, but isn't there a greater purpose to life? As Christians, shouldn't we have a greater standard than the standard of the world? What if the passion so many teenage Christians put into goofing off was put into living a life worthy of the calling we've received?

Ephesians 4:1 (NLT)
1 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

That is the wisest thing I could do.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

think big: asg one

Principle: Think Big

Before you can make a difference, you have to know what needs to be different. Today in church world there are tons of people thinking big and outside the box, but in the school setting there's hardly anyone. If you think church is bad about establishing routines and traditions, you should try going to high school. Plus, at high school you have a bunch of "leaders" (or at least people in leadership roles) who don't even want to be there. Think about trying to convince a bunch of teachers who are already over worked to get behind your student project.

Despite those initial struggles, continue to think big. Even if there’s no one else who has a vision for what can happen where you are, continue to imagine what can happen. Everyone would love for things to improve, they just don't even realize anything needs to; don’t worry about it. The sky is the limit. Don’t shoot small because you’re afraid you can’t pull off the massive or because you feel like no one else gets what you're doing. Shoot big and if you miss and come up short you’re no worse off than if you had just shot small to begin with.

Think Big.

Monday, May 25, 2009

asg principle series

Now that graduation is over, my reign as Student Body President at Rossview High School is also over.(And I say that with much satire). You can read about the goals and vision for the year HERE . Unfortunately we didn't accomplish everything I had hoped to, but we still did an awesome job and definitely paved the way for creative leaders in years to come.

The biggest problem facing our team this year was that we were the first who ever wanted to really try and accomplish anything. The fact that we pushed the envelope is going to save leaders in the years to come a lot of trouble, because we've already fought a lot of their battles. That being said, I learned a TON from this experience. So over the next few weeks I'm going to be posting the top 10 principles I've learned from ASG. They will be short and hopefully applicable to anyone doing Student Council stuff, kind of like Bill Hybels' book Axiom.

Stay tuned! The first will go out tomorrow!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

adjusting leadership roles

Now that school's over, almost all of my leadership roles are over as well. It's definitely proving to be a weird adjustment for me. Before when I would read books and blogs and listen to talks and podcasts about leadership, I had a place where I could try and apply the information right away. As I read or listened I could think, "How can that be implemented in (blank)?" Now that I don't really have a leadership (blank), I don't know how to apply leadership principles to my life.

What do people do when they don't know where to use their gifts?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

coach mang

I finished my first period Government exam this morning, successfully completing high school. (Assuming I passed the exam..) Coach Mang is the US Government teacher at Rossview, but probably most importantly he's the Defensive Coordinator for our football team. He's well-liked by all the students, and is definitely respected.

Coach Mang and I have had somewhat of an interesting relationship this year. He was always extremely encouraging to me with everything I wanted to accomplish this year, and I would like to think he respected me for trying to get people behind the football team. That was all during the 1st semester, though, and I didn't actually have him as a teacher until the 2nd semester.

I've always been self-motivated, but the 2nd semester of my senior year proved to be problematic when it came time to wake up every morning. I ended up being tardy to his class a lot, which caused me to have a few detentions, and I also missed his class a bunch too. So much so that last week I had no more days left to miss, and no more tardies to give.

Despite the fact that I knew all of that, I was late to his class one day last week. Just based on the rules Coach Mang had to write me up. After he did so, however, he called me up to his desk and said, "Mr. Edmondson, give me one good reason why I shouldn't turn this in." I responded with, "because you are an extremely knowledgeable government teacher, and I respect you a lot." That must have been a good enough answer, because he ripped up the tardy note.

So I'd just like to say thanks to Coach Mang for cutting me some slack even though I didn't deserve it. That's what grace is, and I really appreciate Coach Mang doing that for me, especially since we all know he is extremely capable of executing justice. Haha, thanks coach Mang. Good luck next year, and try to keep that Shield!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

he is coming soon

I probably shouldn't be up this late on a Sunday night.. but... what's it really matter? I can't go to sleep right now because I have to keep listening to this song over and over. It's called The Saints by Josh Wilson. Listen to it HERE. In the bridge of this song it says,

He is coming soon, He is coming soon, He will take his bride he will make her new. He is coming soon, He is coming soon, to carry us home.

The powerfulness of those lines cannot be explained. When I hear that I can't help but just raise my hands and jump up and down. As Christians that is our entire hope. That is all we can look to in this world, because if those lines are not true our entire faith is stupid. If it is true, though, I can't help but hate myself for all the things I've put above that hope. Every day is an opportunity to live out that hope, and I need to do a better job.

Go listen to the song.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

principle of the path and government

The principle of the path is taken from Andy Stanley. The principle is this:
it's your direction, not your intention that determines your destination. In other words, the choices we make determine where we end up; not simply where we want to end up.

I've been thinking a lot about this principle recently, and have started to try and apply it to the government's place in our lives. It's my conviction that the government's job is to do what people can't do for themselves. People can't fight wars, build roads, make currency, set up a banking system, etc. They can, however, get jobs, spend money, buy houses, buy insurance, raise their kids, etc. I feel like the American system is designed in a way that allows people to better their lives if they want. This isn't to say that circumstances can't arise that cause good people to be without money, a job, or a house.

Going back to the principle of the path, if it is ultimately a person's direction that determine that person's destination, then what role should the government play in this whole process? If a man's decisions determine a man's place in life, then what should the government do to help that man?

This is where I've landed: The government's job is to ensure that all men are given equal opportunity. It is not the government's job to ensure that all men end up at an equal destination. To me, this principle goes hand in hand with the principle of the path. The government should be designed to give equal opportunity to all people. If, however, a person does not take advantage of that opportunity (due to the principle of the path) it's no longer the government's job to take people to a better destination, because a person's direction, when given an equal opportunity as everyone else, determine his destination.

I'm afraid that America has started to move from a "legitimate concern with equality of opportunity to an illegitimate preoccupation with equality of results."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

ron edmondson: where are you?

My dad has not blogged yet today. It's 10:30, so I guess he still has time to get something up real fast, but anyone who knows him knows that this is a pretty big deal. I mean we're talking about a guy who blogs multiple times a day. The fact that it's more rare for him to have NOT blogged than to have blogged 3 or 4 times in a day says a lot about him as a blogger I guess.

Honestly I'm a little nervous.. I mean.. is he ok? Has some catastrophic event happened? Is he even still alive?

Ron Edmondson: Where are you??

Saturday, April 25, 2009

here's to the night

Tomorrow night is prom. For whatever sappy reason I've been listening to the song Here's to the Night by Eve 6 ALL day. I've probably gotten on a lot of people's nerves (more than usual) by singing it constantly. The chorus and melody of that song really make me sad. Knowing that TOMORROW is my senior prom absolutely blows my mind.

The thing is, I really don't even like dances. It's not like I've been waiting for the magic that exists in prom all my life or anything; it's the fact that my life really is going by and I can't stop it. In less than one month my high school life will be over FOREVER! There have been so many awesome things happen in high school, and all of that is about to just go away. I've known some of these people my whole life, and I'm just leaving them all in just a few months.

I guess in the end what makes the reality of that alright with me is the fact that I'm without regrets. Sure there are TONS and I really mean TONS of things I would change, but I'm ultimately without regrets of anything that's happened.

So tomorrow's one of the final milestones in this portion of my life, and all I can say is I'm looking forward to getting drunk and having sex for the first time... just kidding. In all seriousness, some people can't wait to be done, but I really am kind of bummed. I'm sure my parents are happy though, because I've been a lot nicer to them lately.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

southern baptist review

Thanks to my dad's constant and eternal twitter updates I ran across this article. I guess something good really can come out of twitter...

Anyway you can read the article here. Basically the membership and baptisms of the Southern Baptist Convention are declining.

I've been a Southern Baptist all my life, and as far as I know I agree with them doctrinally, but all I can say is this: The fact that the Southern Baptist Convention is declining doesn't mean that the movement of Christ is. Just reading some of the comments from Southern Baptists you would think that the entire planet is just rejecting Jesus and God and the whole deal... that's not the case. The movement of Christ can't be stopped or declined no matter how hard any of us try, and simply because people as a whole are running away from Southern Baptists doesn't mean that they are running away from God.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I'm learning more and more that I'm somewhat of a cynic. I don't think that I'm pessimistic, but I'm definitely skeptical. I'm really not sure what causes that part of my personality, but it's definitely there.

Because of this trait, I'm very quick to point out and be turned off by lameness. Not goofy lameness, but just stuff that I feel is a waste of time and energy for all of humanity. This trait can be good when it comes to evaluating things and trying to improve, but it can really suck when it comes to encouragement and building others up.

When you combine this trait with the fact that I'm also very introverted around people I don't know, huge problems can arise. I'm very quick to write off things I feel are lame, even if those things are people. I'm very much aware that this is a problem, and am trying really hard to not be so cynical when it comes to individuals.

My question, though: Is there a place for cynics?

Isn't cynicalness or cynicality, or whatever the correct suffix is to make cynical a noun, a trait that can be used for good? I definitely want to get rid of it when it comes to the way I interact with others, but I feel like it also has potential to help me design and implement excellent strategies someday.

I don't know. Anyway... Is there a place for cynics?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

the importance of seeking wisdom

As a senior in high school with lots of responsibility, it's very easy for me to start thinking that I know everything there is to know about life. I've experienced a lot of life, and even completed my first ever cross-country road trip this past week.

Sadly, though, the life I've experienced is still very limited life compared to actually being in the real world. I have a feeling that when I look back on my current life 5 years from now, my struggles will seem very small and easy. Despite knowing all of that, I still struggle with lots of decisions every day.

Thankfully, even though a lot of my friends would call me a know-it-all, I know that I really DON'T know it all. Tonight I had a long talk with my dad about stuff I've been going through, and I'm extremely blessed to have a dad who is wise and wants to share his wisdom with me when I ask. I hope to be a dad like that too, and also always be open to the wisdom of those who have been where I want to be one day.

Typically bloggers would leave a Bible verse here to re-iterate what they had said, but I'm just going to put Proverbs and Ecclesiastes... just read the whole book!

Monday, March 16, 2009

the kindle and iphone changing the scope of the world

Tony Hill recently blogged about the Kindle and iPhone and how he can read books without even having a book in his hand and SO much more. You can read about it HERE.

My question is how all this new stuff is going to affect the transfer of information 50-100 years from now. For millenniums(is that the plural form of that word?) whichever civilization understood the importance of books was the civilization that was able to prosper and rise to the top scientifically, philosophically, martially, infra structurally, etc. The emphasis on libraries as a place to obtain and share information has been absolutely HUGE ever since the human race could. The fact that the Library at Alexandria burned down is like a major setback to archaeologists.

With all this new technology, what place are books going to serve? If I can carry 20,000 books on my kindle, then why do I need a library? Obviously librarians are already facing that problem because of the internet in general, but what happens if this magnificent giant server crashes? All of our information is subject to being lost forever. Now that's somewhat of a 1984 approach to looking at society, but isn't it possible? Is it possible for humans to become so technological focused that paper eventually becomes completely irrelevant? It's already happening with the music industry, and what's stopping "the reading industry" from doing the same? And is that even a bad thing?

Eventually colleges won't even have to assign text books... or even have class for that matter. With online conferencing and what not. Maybe I'm taking the grandpa approach to looking at the changes in society, but isn't there part of you that questions whether or not this rapid change of social interaction is a good thing? Is the government ready to regulate all of this? Can the government adjust to the changes as fast as the changes come about? Is it possible that this whole new technological revolution is ultimately just going to bring about anarchy?

I wonder how God is going to use all of this for his glory? I think the initial reaction is for us to jump on board quickly and believe that God is going to use the kindle for his renown, and he is more than capable of that! I personally think, though, that this will all last decades, and then eventually people will feel an intense desire to connect with something bigger and more intimate than a screen. When that happens, I think they'll find Jesus. Either way, God will find a way to make himself famous through it all, and I'd love for him to let me in on the details so I can be apart of it.

As a final thought... I don't think the world will ever become MORE technologically focused than interpersonally focused simply because you can't have real sex technologically.. at least that I'm aware of.. unless of course the institution of marriage and sex becomes significantly redefined through this whole process.. which the institution of marriage is already becoming less and less valuable to society.. so I guess we'll see.

Friday, March 13, 2009

choose your own price marketing idea

I just saw a news story on a Java street cafe in Ohio that is letting their customers choose their own prices for everything in the store. Whenever a customer walks up to pay for their coffee, sandwich, muffin, etc. they allow the customer to decide how much they want to pay for everything they're about to buy.

Think about that for a minute. The CUSTOMERS get to decide how much the items they're buying are worth. Is that not the most logical, brilliant marketing strategy you've ever heard of? Not only does it make the customers happy that they are getting to determine the price of their food, but it also challenges them to examine exactly HOW MUCH the American dollar is worth! This business is redefining popular sovereignty in the market place.

If Americans could simply pause long enough to question the prices stores charge, and make a decision that their dollar is worth more than the business is saying it is, then prices would drop all over the country because the value of the American dollar would go up exponentially to consumers, because ultimately value is all in perception.

This is one of the coolest ideas I've heard of, and the best part is they are still meeting their bottom line. Americans need to be able to believe in the economy if it's ever going to get better, and this idea is a HUGE way to do that.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

brewing ideas

I'm in the process of developing some really big ideas that no one knows about. I feel like these are they types of thoughts that have to brew inside of me for a long time before I know what they are... even though that doesn't really make sense. It's weird how some people can have big ideas and be seen as successful entrepreneurs, whereas others can sit and think about big ideas and be seen as mentally insane. I would argue sanity has no place in the development of big ideas.

Are big ideas kind of like beer?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

middle school small group

I lead a small group at Remix for middle schoolers. The common ingredient present in just about all middle schoolers I've ever met is the ingredient of a developing sense of humor. In Social Studies they use the terms Developing and Developed when referring to countries to decide if the country is economically, systematically, and infrastructurally stable. A developed country is one that is stable, a developING country is one that is not and is trying to improve.

I think this principle can be applied to the personalities of middle schoolers. They are all developING countries. None of them really know what they want to be when they grow up, or have any clue as to how not cool some of the so called "cool" things they participate in are. The same could be said about all age groups to the next age group, though, I guess... so it's probably safe to say I'll say the same thing about myself 5 years from now.

What's cool is that we have the opportunity to shape their developing personalities right now. They are essentially just play-dough that those who have influence in their lives can just play with. The only problem is that we can't control WHO they are being influenced by; the only thing we can do is take any ounce of influence we happen to have and try to shape more effectively than the other influencing factors in their lives. That's the challenge, and honestly it's not enough to explain that the Bible is real and they need to believe it... for them to be shaped to look most like Jesus, the influencer has to be willing to be shaped like Jesus as well. Honestly, that's a lot of pressure.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

loops with garage band

I just recorded my first two real loops with garage band. Garage band is so cool and easy to use, and I'm really excited about getting to create and record a lot of different loops and easy listening electronic music. There's nothing I love more in the music world than a few well thought out loops and melodies put together to form one super loop.

Here's the link if you'd like to listen to the new songs:

The new songs are called Hong Kong Noodle and Please Don't Stay Long. Check it out! They're really awesome!

More songs to come!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

ifaith message

I had a request to post my message from last Saturday at my first ever preaching thing. I'm putting the outline, but without specifics in some of the stories because I was able to be honest with the audience when I did it, but could possibly make the people in the stories feel a little awkward if they were to read... so keep that in mind. The theme of the Disciple Now was iFaith, and keep in mind that this would probably make a lot more sense when I went to deliver it then when it's just sitting here in outline form.. I will say though, I only looked at my notes one time when I was doing it, and that was simply to read scripture... so I was very happy with how engaging I was able to stay.

Nate's Message:

Bottom Line: True faith changes the way we live.

If we are who we say we are as Christians, then shouldn’t our faith be the most important thing in our lives?

Intro: Story of me at the basketball game against Northeast. Someone asked me to be nice to the players, I asked this person not to talk to me the rest of the time.

Link: In that moment I put my love of basketball above my relationship with this person, even though SHE was more important to me than basketball. In this moment my focus was taken off of what I really cared about, and set on something of less importance. It’s not even that basketball is a bad thing, but it still distracted me from something I care about even more.

Tension: Think about that situation in terms of your relationship with God. A lot of you would probably say that you BELIEVE in the Bible, and Jesus, and God, and the whole thing, but how many times do we let other things become more important to us than our faith?

Talk about when the iPod first came out, I was actually on a church trip on the way to Gatlinburg. Two girls on the bus had one, and everyone was so fascinated by it that they were the most popular people on the bus.

The iPod was such an amazing gadget, and the people who had the iPod were so proud, that everyone on the bus knew about it and wanted to listen to it. Shouldn’t the “iFaith” be the same way? As Christians, if we have this amazing faith, then shouldn’t that be THE most important thing in our lives?

When the Luci and Layne got the iPod, it changed their reputation on the bus… Shouldn’t the iFaith change our reputation as Christians?

Shouldn’t our faith change the way we live our lives?

Story of Samson: Emphasizing the fact that he constantly allowed other things to become more important than his faith.

Judges 16:20.

The Lord had left him. Samson continually let his faith become less important than his love of everything else. Even though Samson had been chosen by God, and even though he believed in God and the Bible and the whole deal, you never would have known it by looking at his life, because his faith wasn’t his most important thing.

Story of a friend and her conversation with a non-believer.
The non-believer told the friend that he doesn’t want anything to do with Christianity because of what he sees from Christians. As the friend and I talked about this, we came to the conclusion that he was probably right. As we thought about the Christians we know, we realized you really can’t tell a difference between the Christians and the non-Christians.

Think about your Christian friends for a minute…
My Christian friends gossip more than my non-Christian friends. Sometimes they complain more. They do more sexually. They are harder to talk to.

Finish Story of Samson

Judges 16: 28-31

I was in Panama City for a camp… Eph 4:1

Eph 4:1- Live a life worthy of the calling you have received, because true faith changes the way we live.

Story of a friend's house… If I had gone into that room there’s no telling what could have happened.

Urge them to live a life that reflects their faith. What would happen if we started to put our faith above popularity, sex, school, sports, and money. The world doesn’t need more funny middle school guys, more flirtatious pretty girls, or better athletes; the world needs people who are willing to put Jesus above everything else.

Bottom Line: True faith changes the way we live.

If we are who we say we are as Christians, then shouldn’t our faith be the most important thing in our lives?

Friday, February 20, 2009

rossview advances to the region

Tonight Rossview beat Northwest in the first round of the district tournament. We've been struggling as of late, losing 6 of our last 7, but tonight all of that was erased. By winning tonight we qualified for the regional tournament next weekend. Tomorrow we'll be playing Northeast in the District Semi-Final game in Springfield. We've played Northeast close twice, and tomorrow I think we can come away with a win.

I'm not going to be able to be at the game tomorrow because I have my first ever preaching gig at a church in Kentucky. It's only the second game I'll have missed this year, but I'm missing it for something I love even more than basketball.

Tonight after the game I was able to be in the locker room with the team, and let me just say that was probably one of the coolest experiences ever! I've been in the locker room after a lot of games, but I've never seen the team as fired up and happy as they were tonight. Those guys are some of the goofiest people on the planet, and I absolutely love all of them! Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, those guys have made a huge impact on the way I view life. Their ability to laugh and enjoy moments is so incredible, and I'm so glad I accepted the offer last year to be the Student Assistant Coach.

Thanks to Coach Jackson, Coach Blake, Coach Williams, and Coach Hudson for letting me hang out with the team and be apart of the best program in Clarksville! I love Rossview basketball probably a little more than I should, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to get to hang out with the team!

Go Rossivew tomorrow! I'll be praying for you and will get the church in Kentucky to pray as well! Haha... if we win, I get to keep this marble basketball piggy bank in Coach Jackson's office... haha I've been waiting a while for this chance!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

tribute to a good friend, ethan smith

Today Ethan qualified for the state wrestling tournament. This has been one of his goals since he was a freshman, and today it became a reality. Right before his final match started, I had one of the weirdest sensations I've ever felt. It was like all of a sudden all of the experiences I've shared with Ethan were running through my brain. I know that sounds like a very stereotypical thing to say, but it seriously happened. I remembered being a sophomore and driving down to Sycamore to watch him in the regional tournament then, and thought about all that's happened in both of our lives since then. We've had so many conversations about so many different things, and I felt like I relived them all in a span of about 3 seconds today.

He ended the match by actually breaking the other guy's ankle.. that's not exactly how I imagined him qualifying for the state tournament, haha but it makes for a cool story. Today Ethan accomplished a goal he's had for a long time, and he deserves it. He works harder than anyone I know, and I'm very proud of him.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

dog poop

My dog has recently formed a habit of pooping in the house. Some how I step in it literally every time! It's probably one of the most irritating things about my life. The grossest part about it all though, is that the way I realize that I've stepped in it is by the smell that is following me around. My first reaction is to smell my armpit... haha, that strikes me as very ironic somehow.

The good news is I think I've learned something from it all. A year ago my dog was just as potty-trained as the next dog. She would stand by the door when she wanted to go out, bark a few times, occasionally jump up and down. Oddly enough she hasn't barked in about a year either, and I think it's interesting that the bark is so closely tied to the poop. Anyway it's crazy how fast habits can be broken! We slacked up on the discipline for her pooping in the house just a few times, and now suddenly it's become a NEW habit, and one that stinks... (pun.. lame..)

One of my dogs passions is pooping, because she has to do that to survive. When just a little discipline is added to her passion- she forms habits. If I could just add a little discipline to my life I could probably bench press a lot more than I can now... and probably be a lot more productive in all areas of my life.

Discipline makes a lot more sense to me now.

Also as a side note- discipline is the same word as disciple, just with an -ine at the end instead of an -e. Anyway...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

reflections with the fray

I got the Fray's new album today, and I like it, but it's not really the direction I wanted them to go. I wanted them to be a little bit harder than they were in their first album, but the easy listening is still good for reflection.

I was accepted into Moody Bible Institute last week. I've wanted to go to Moody ever since I was a freshman, so being accepted was kind of the fulfillment of a goal, and that feels really good. Now that I'm accepted though, it feels really weird to know that high school really is coming to an end.

I can remember being a freshman looking at the seniors, knowing that one day I'd be in their position. I ran for Freshman Class President the first few weeks of school. That's the only election I've ever lost, and it really through me for a loop. This is one of the only times I've ever verbalized this, but losing that election really caused me to lose a lot of self confidence, and in some ways I still haven't completely recovered.

I lived a lot of my high school life looking at the future. I was constantly looking for something that I could be respected for. It seemed like everybody had something. Whether it was sports, clubs, friends, girl friends, whatever; I felt like I didn't have any of that. Those feelings have caused me to make a lot of stupid decisions. I've pursued girls for selfish reasons. I've been rejected by girls I'd pursued for unselfish reasons. I've put down friends to build myself up. I've never tried out for sports for fear of failure.

Now it's kind of weird to look at those feelings. Most people would probably never know that I struggled with who I was for the majority of high school. All of those feelings have taught me a lot, though. I've learned a lot about life through my fears. Never pursue a girl for selfish reasons because in the end it will only hurt her and you. But just because you pursue a girl for unselfish reasons doesn't mean it will work out either, and the reality of that hurts most... especially when you know you had pure intentions.

More than anything I've learned that I have to accept who God made me to be, and not care about what a friend, girl, adult, pastor, musician, or anyone else thinks. If I'm not confident in who I am then I'll never be the man God wants me to be, and that is my ultimate desire. The Fray's new CD has in a way made me a little depressed, because I've been thinking about the life I've always known coming to an end, but thinking about all of that has ultimately made me realize that all the insecurities I have and will struggle with are taken care of by my God, and it amazes me to think that God can use me even with all of my insecurities.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

faith and force power

In the book of Judges we meet Gideon. His story is one of my favorite Bible stories because of the whole battle aspect of it all. Anytime a Bible character can kill like 30,000 men... it's pretty cool.A popular part of Gideon's story is the whole "throw out the fleece" thing. Gideon wasn't sure if it was really God asking him to kill the Midianites, so he tested God twice with the fleece.

I'm preparing to speak at a Disciple Now about faith, so this week I've been reading a lot scripture dealing with the idea of faith. When Jesus is talking to the disciples at one point he tells them that with the faith of a mustardseed they could move mountains.

As I was sitting at my desk reading that, I decided I would try it... but on a smaller scale. There's this little hole in my desk that my dad drilled so we could run a bunch of different cords from the outlet underneath the desk to the top of the desk... anyway, there's a hole in my desk. Also on my desk is this big bouncy ball that fits nicely into the hole so that it can sit in the hole without falling through to the floor... following? (I'll probably get in trouble for writing this part, but I feel a little awkward talking about holes and things fitting nicely into them.. maybe that's the teenager in me... or maybe that's the guy in me, I'm not really sure.)

So I decided I would throw out a fleece of my own. I sat the bouncy ball right on the edge of the hole in my desk, and asked God to move the bouncy ball into the hole. I prayed very spiritually and intently for about 5 minutes... and nothing happened. I have absolute faith that God CAN move the bouncy ball if he chooses, but I lacked faith the entire time that he would actually do it, because honestly it doesn't seem like God ever does anything like that anymore.

In the Bible we see God actually doing crazy things like that for people, but to be honest I've never actually had anything like that happen to me. I understand that now we have the Holy Spirit and things are a little different spiritually than in Gideon's day, but I kind of feel like God should pass some of that power along to the Holy Spirit. (Sorry if I'm completely misunderstanding the Trinity, I haven't had any formal Biblical training yet..)

My dad blogs a lot about my blog, but this time I'm going to mention his.
In this post he talks about understanding how our opportunities and experiences relate to our faith... or something like that.

Anyway, here's my question I guess: What kind of faith is needed to move stuff? Do you have to have faith that God is capable, or that he's actually going to respond in the individual situation? I just need to know because to be honest I feel like this whole faith thing can potentially give me the equivalence of force powers.. and that would make me a lot more like Luke Skywalker than I currently am, and probably a lot more like Jesus too, considering he obviously had the power of moving mountains down and Luke struggled to move the rocks correctly on Degobah.

Alright, this had completely pure intentions when I started, and now it's turned into a relation of faith to star wars.. not sure how that happened, but the intent of this was actually pretty serious and genuine... originally.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

music and church

There's huge discussion in church world about the purpose of music in worship. Obviously denominations feel differently about it, but even churches within the same denomination have tons of differences and opinions. I've always been taught that music's purpose was to help lead others in worship, but that doesn't really explain how to go about using music to do that.

An argument that often comes up is how to get the congregation to sing during the songs. The thought there is that if people are singing then that reflects their heart's desire to worship, which I think can be very true. I've always based how much a person is worshiping by how much they are getting into a song, because for me that is a pretty good way to tell if I'm worshiping. Obviously though any worship leader/churched person would tell you that "it's all about what's going on inside of the person's heart... " That is made clear by 1 Samuel 16:7.

Intertwined with that argument, however, is the battle between music being played as a "worship song" and as a "performance". There's often lots of criticism towards performance based music. I think the reasoning there is very good- if a band is simply playing music to perform then they aren't attempting to lead the audience in worship.

I still agree with that perspective to an extent, but tonight I've started to reconsider that whole ideology. I had an extremely close friend of mine tell me today that the most uncomfortable situations for her are those where she is at a worship service. This was a huge shock to me, because this is a friend who absolutely does not get put in awkward situations. She is absolutely incredible about not being socially awkward... ever! I admire her so much for that because I'm one of the most socially awkward persons there is! Anyway, she said that she always feels so uncomfortable whenever there's words on a screen and a leader at the front wanting people to get excited, clap their hands, sing, lift their hands... pretty much anything a Contemporary worship leader would be doing at a worship gathering in today's church world.

Now I'm not saying that this one girl's perspective should completely revamp the way we approach worship environments from now on, but I do think it's something to consider. To be completely honest I'd never even thought about someone feeling out of place in a worship service, especially since our services are designed to make people feel welcome.

She finished by telling me that if she could just sit and listen to music and not be expected to sing that she wouldn't feel as out of place. That mindset contradicts some of the worship perspectives mentioned earlier, but if the goal is to reach nonchurched people, then maybe our churched way of viewing worship might have to change..

One final thought, when people attend a concert there is no pressure to sing, yet people walk away appreciating the music and getting into the songs. Is it possible for people to connect with God without there ever being any direction given from a leader? Can songs themselves lead people to the heart of God? And if so, then maybe that's a direction the church should take worship, because the ultimate goal is to enable people to connect with God. All just thoughts... and I'm not discounting worship leaders at all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

crumb flavored doughnuts

Last Sunday I was in a gas station to get a snack. As usual I got a Root Beer, but the food substance is always up for grabs. Debating between Shock Tarts and Doughnuts, I began to scan through the doughnut flavors. There were the usual chocolate and powdered sugar flavors, but then I saw a flavor I'd never seen before... it was called Crumb.

Now I'm not an expert on much of anything, but one thing I know is that "crumb" is not a flavor. It could possibly be considered a description of a snack, but not the flavor of a snack. There are some flavors that can be descriptions and flavors, such as Orange, but crumb is not one of those. Crumb I'm not sure can even be a description of a snack though, because crumb is a noun not an adjective. A crumb is like the decomposition phase of a snack. After the snack has fulfilled its purpose, lived its life, been eaten, it leaves behind its remains. The bottom line is that crumb, regardless of whether or not it could be considered a description, CANNOT be considered a flavor. There are tons of flavors that leave behind crumbs, so it's practically impossible to trace crumbs in general back to a single flavor.

Keeping all of that in mind, now think about the decision I was faced with when it came time for me to pick my snack for the day. Despite how absurd it is for the doughnut company to think that they can name one of their products "crumb", I decided to give them a chance. I asked the cash register lady if she knew what the crumb flavor was, and she wasn't interested in participating in the conversation. Anyway, all that to say, the crumb flavored doughnuts (and I use the word flavored lightly) were actually very good. I'll most definitely be getting them again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

the second semester begins

I began my final semester of high school this morning. Typically during the second semester you just continue the same schedule you had during the first semester, but apparently that's not what guidance intended for me to do today. I got to my 1st period class and the teacher told me I wasn't on his roll. He said it wasn't a big deal and that he was sure "they" would work everything out, so I didn't think anything of it.

I continued through my day until I got to 3rd period Government class. As he called roll I noticed that he went through the E's alphabetically without saying my name, so I obviously raised my hand at the end and told him that he didn't call my name. He then proceeded to tell me that I was on his 1st period roll, and that I should be aiding for the library during 3rd period. I must say, it's kind of embarrassing to be in a class of 30 kids and then be asked to leave.

So somehow or another I'm now sitting in the library, and let's be honest... it's pretty exciting. The whole dewy decimal thing is a little over exaggerated I think, but other than that everything seems to be functioning pretty well in the library world.

The good news is in my normal schedule that I was following today, I have aiding 2nd period. So now that I'm in the library 3rd period I've gotten to experience life with two whole hours of doing nothing in school. It's actually pretty awesome. I'm wondering if I had not gone to guidance to correct this whole problem if they would have ever even noticed that I was missing. I mean I could have just continued to slip through the cracks of the school system for the entire second semester with two aiding periods and very little work.

Oh well.

Friday, January 2, 2009

the world spins madly on

There's a song called World Spins Madly On by the Weepies that has really made me think. I've really struggled the past couple of days to find the motivation to do things that really need to be done. There's so much stuff I'm responsible for these next few months that only I can do, and for some reason I can't seem to convince myself that the stuff actually matters.

There's a line in the song that says, "I watch the stars from my window seal, the whole world is moving, but I'm standing still." The whole point of the song is that regardless of what happens, the world is still moving forward. The reality of that really kind of shocks me. I mean I can try so hard to do so many things, but at the end of the day the world is going to go on regardless of how successful or unsuccessful I've been. How many 17 year olds have there been throughout history who have had the same desire I have to make a difference, but simply lost passion and as a result we've never heard of them or their story. Yet the world is still functioning today despite the fact that a potential world-changer never took his chance or contributed to society in any way.

The whole world is looking for contributors. Even the Christian world. I got an email just a couple of days ago that has potential to be a huge connection for me down the road. While I was so excited when I first read it, now I'm a little skeptical at the whole system we live in. There's this new Christian networking movement that is sweeping across the nation with the idea that if you can make the right connections you can put yourself in a better position to do ministry later on in life or something. Honestly the fact that I blog is probably because of that idea, but why is it even worth it? If the church in America, me included, really wanted to make a difference "for the Kingdom", wouldn't we just work harder to invest in the community we're in, rather than blogging and trying to know the right people?

These are all thoughts and not necessarily what I believe at all, but right now I feel like the bottom line is that the world needs an X number of people to make the world function, and the rest of us are just filling gaps in society or something. Whether we try and make an impact on the world is irrelevant, because ultimately the world is just going to move on without us. I guess the only thing we can hope for is Jesus being who he says he is, because otherwise we're wasting our time. The world doesn't care about individuals, the world cares about contributors.