Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Highlights

Some quick highlights of yesterday, before I go to bed:

I went to a Halloween party, dressed as Saddam Hussein. Several people figured it out without me having to tell them, but I was definately acused of being 'Mussolini' and 'Adolf Hitler.'

I met my first North Dakotan. It really does exist.

Darjeeling Limited was wide-released and I just found out last night.

I went to an army surplus store to find my beret, and the lady working the counter was french, and bent on selling me everything in the store.

I won the 'most likely to commit genocide against the Kurds' award with my costume. Kind of bitter sweet. More bitter, actually.

Only one more wake up until Farm-O-Ween. I'm excited about that.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hotel Rooms


A good time to blog. I am currently sitting on a hotel room bed, in Brunswick, GA at 10:11am on a Friday morning. Ogden Tabb and I drove a group of HS students down to watch the Evans High football team get beat up on by the Brunswick Pirates. It was a heart breaker of a game, but I have had a blast so far this weekend. The kids that were riding in my car got into a food/trash fight with another car in the caravan on the way down. I spent the better part of half an hour yesterday cleaning Zebra Cakes off of my windshield. But it was fun. Over the past 24 hours, I've been confronted with the reality of Young Life, and what kind of impact I now have the potential to have through it. Last night, Ogden and I stayed up until 4am with 7 or 8 high school guys, playing poker and watching Blood Diamond on HBO. The poker game itself was fun, if not drawn out, and full of curse words and expletives. As guys dropped out of the game, they slowly disappeared outside to smoke or worse. It was the trenches.
One of the guys told me something that stuck. He said that he loved Young Life camps because they let kids chew tobacco. Now, as I write that, I know what kind of flags it should throw up in righteous, God-fearing Christians' minds. It should be our goal as a ministry to keep high school kids from chewing tobacco and smoking cigarettes, right? I mean, isn't the role of the church to keep people out of sin, and to tell all non-Christians what's wrong with how they are living? I've recently come to udnerstand that the answer to that is no. Strikingly, no.
It hit me, as I was lying awake in this hotel bed last night, that Jesus never told the people he touched to get rid of their sin, and then he would heal them, then he would free them, then he would save them. He even said that he had not come to save the righteous, but sinners. Kids need love, and I have been tasked with loving them. I am not asked to put limitatinons on my love. I am asked to love them wit a Christ-like love; which means no conditions, no minimum standards. Its not about accepting or not accepting lifestyles. Its all about accepting and loving people. And I love that we are in the business of loving people.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My First NASCAR Race (and hopefully my last)

This past weekend, I went on a road trip with a group of Young Life leaders to Charlotte, NC to watch the Nextel Cup (something or other) NASCAR race. I was told that attending one of these races was something I HAD to do at least once, so I figured I'd give it a fair shot. Overall, I'm glad that I went. I had a blast hanging out with the guys, and I learned something new about myself: I am not a NASCAR fan. Plain and simple, its just not for me. But, as always, perspectives:

NASCAR is the only 'sport' in which the fans' cheering has no effect on the outcome of the competition. There's no way the driver can hear them cheering or booing over the roar of the engines. The fans can hardly hear themselves over the roar of the engines.

I encountered a low quality of human being. There are few stereotypes that are unfair to the people they stereotype. The stereotypical NASCAR fan deserves every bit of his.

Drunk people seem to have their own music soundtrack playing in the back of their minds that no one else can hear. They're always dancing. Or leaning.

You have to be drunk to enjoy NASCAR.

332 repetitions of anything is too much.

Urinating is a trough is possibly the most demeaning expirence one can have.

NASCAR announcers sit and talk constantly for 3+ hours, about almost nothing.

The most useless pieces of equipment on one of these cars are the headlights.

There were a suprisingly high number of very good looking women that the race, for some reason.

People in Charlotte hate Jeff Gordon.

The smell of burnt rubber reminds me of Honduras.

I have never in my life been so confronted by my own insignifigance in the overall picture as I was on Saturday night, amidst more than 150,000 other people. This is an enourmous world. And to be sitting in one place with that many other people, it hit me that I really don't matter nearly as much as I believe I do. With such an over crowded world, its hard to believe that God cares enough to single out each and every one and love them individually. He is far greater than I am.


and that's about it. I would say give NASCAR one shot, and only one, if you ever get the chance. Its quite an expirence.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

DC (Don't) Talk


I had an interesting conversation with a friend earlier in the week, the highlight of which was me being ostracized for not being a fan of CCM artist Stephen Curtis Chapman. Don't get me wrong, I have in the past been as big a SCC fan as anyone could be, when I was 12. The point of the discussion, however, was my trying to explain my aversion to the Christian culture without offending my friend who is completely immersed in it.

I am a big fan of quality music, and there are very few 'Christian' artists that make what I would classify as such. It seems that one can put out whatever low-quality music they want, and as long as they slap Christ's name on the label, it's guaranteed to sell. It's been happening for years, with bands like PFR and Petra, on to Skillet and Reality Check, and continues today with GRITS and Reliant K. Too many bands sing unoriginal, predictable lyrics over the same three or four chords. I find myself disgusted by the way they misrepresent the name of Jesus. I believe that anything that carries the name of Christ should be overflowing with originality, creativity, and beauty; seeing as how Christ is the incarnation of a perfectly original, creative, and beautiful God. I get sick of seeing t-shirts and bumper stickers that take some cliché advertisement and change the wording around to make it 'Christian.' There is no innovation, no attractiveness in the Christian culture. I cannot imagine anything more hurtful to the image of God in the world's eyes, than to see His people constantly put out run of the mill, annoyingly imitative propaganda. As the people of God, we should be all the more tapped into his perfect innovation and creativity. If we claim to be the very offspring of God, then the rest of the world should be taken back by how beautifully fresh and artistic He is through us. But instead they get Third Day, Bibleman, and copycat "Got Jesus" t-shirts.

But there is comfort in being sheltered from the world, which is why the Christian industry not only exists, but thrives. Though it seems to me that the calling on our lives to reach the unreached would mean that we have to take initiative and enter their world, just as Christ entered ours. How can we be Christ to people that we are sheltered from? How can we impact a culture that we know nothing about, because we hide from it? There is far too much harvesting to do for us to be locked away in our Christian safe-houses, with our Christian friends, listening to our Christian music and reading our Christian self-help books.

I've been trying to reconcile my faith with the lack of connection that I feel with the Christian industries that produce artists like Mr. Chapman, and the Christians that pursue them. It seems as though these institutions are in place to capitalize on a market opportunity. I would like to encourage anyone reading to dive into the art and literature and music and film of the world. There are such beautiful manifestations of who God is and how wonderful life in Him can be, interlaced in the creations of man. There is so much more beauty in Monet, Il Postino, and Pablo Neruda than there is in Tobymac or the Left Behind movies. If God is the God of creativity; if God is the God of beauty; if God is the God of truth; then why in the world do we embrace a second-rate counter culture that nullifies who He truly is? Let us embrace the beauty that is all around us and let us especially embrace His beauty that He has manifested in the culture of the very people that we are called to minister to.

For thought:
Philippians 4:8: "If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things."

Romans 14:14: "As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that (nothing) is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean."

Acts 10:15: "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

Mark 7:15: "'Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean''"