May 25, 2010

Trip Lee- Between Two Worlds - June 22

I am a super-huge fan of Reach Records. One of the artists on this label is Trip Lee. Now if you haven't heard yet, this guy is so legit. I love his rhymes and beats, but better yet I love his heart for Jesus and The ministry. I promise you, if you want to listen to some uplifting and challenging tunes, this will be a great buy--June 22!!! Peace

May 24, 2010

sharing in His suffering

Recently I read a passage from the Bible that I have put up on my white board. It comes from Philippians 3. You can read it HERE.

Like any other scripture I was trying to learn, I wanted God to teach me more about what that means. Wow. Not so smart on my part ;). Here's the dealy. I was expecting hardship, or pain, or drama. But no. I have been learning that one aspect to the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, and being like Christ, is on this side of heaven we will constantly be misunderstood.

You might be like, "Why is that suffering?" But look at it this way. Jesus was misunderstood by almost everyone He came in contact with. People were constantly sifting His "motives", Jesus was constantly under the microscope, Jesus was always being misjudged, misunderstood and especially, misquoted. Could you imagine being 100% completely right/holy (because your... duh! GOD) and people still not believe you? Or believe what you say? Or believe your motives? How frustrating must that have been for Him in many ways?

Now Jesus is God, and also Jesus was perfect, therefore He is blameless no matter what. I say this because even as Christ-followers we are all subject to the fall, so the point Im trying to make is my suffering is not exactly the same as God being misunderstood, but I digress.

Back to the point of the post... Have you ever been misunderstood? Have you ever had words put in your mouth? It hurts. It is heart-wrenching, especially when you care about the people involved. And I think the worst place for this can be in the church. Many times people (I am chief of sinners here) only see something from their limited perspective and are quick to throw up hands (either to fight or to give up). Both sides can actually be misunderstood. This too is part of the problem of the fall.

But I think as a Christian, it's going to be a given in our life to be misunderstood many times. I think this is one of the parts of the "fellowship of the suffering". This side of heaven is NOT perfect. We all fail, and we all fall short. And I guess the bottom line is many people will hold you up to a stringent standard, but not expect that from themselves.

So be it. I learned/am learning a hard lesson about being part of the fellowship of His suffering. So I have to praise Him in both good and bad. I trust that God will work all things to His end and for His glory. But this is a hard fact of life, it might not be on this side that we see that work out. But again, glory be to God.

May 22, 2010

Great is thy faithfulness... PART2

so anyways... back to the story...

So God specifically told me that I needed to go to Orlando. I whined for about a day and finally made the call to cancel my plans to Germany and reroute myself to Orlando for the summer. Well... a quick snag. It was too late to get financed for the trip to Orlando, because it was about two weeks away. (It's a long story, but you have this big process you go thru with IMB/NAMB to get funded for your summer trip as a student... yada yada... long time)

So I think, "well God, looks like this confirms it! I gotta go to Germany!" Boy was I relieved! After all, following God is very rational, because we serve a very rational and practical God. Obviously, there was no way to get to Orlando. Right???

Right. There was no way to pay to get myself to Orlando. But I heard God tell me. "That's where I want you to GO."
Damn. I was cornered. I had a little savings and not much else. Now this is the time where you usually hear... "Then this random check came in the mail for $2000, and God paid for the whole trip, because what God orders, He pays for!!! Glory Halle---"

No... Didn't happen.

If you wouldnt mind going with me to this verse, Matthew 13:44 Did you read it? I'll be here when you get back, just click the link, or pull out your Bible.

I had to empty my pockets to go to Orlando. I had nothing... I went for it, because I KNEW God was telling me to go. Just like you are reading the words on this page God was speaking into my heart so that later (even now 10 years later) HE would receive GLORY. God was preparing a story that would put the spotlight on Him and His son.

So I recall feeling a little sick to my stomach that I had no money left. I paid for my flights and was hoping I could make it the whole summer on what was ultimately a "faith" budget. (When you have nothing it really is a "faith" budget. lol) I still remember boarding the plane and taking the first leg of the flight to ATL. I just couldn't believe I had missed the trip of a lifetime to Germany!!!
* * *

As I write this I realize there is a heck of a WHOLE lot about that summer that went on to change my life, my view of God, and my heart. But one of the biggest things that happened, was that I met my wife. Her story about coming to Orlando, was just about the same. She was reluctant, almost disappointed to be going to Orlando. She thought "Whats in Florida!?!?"

This week 10 years ago I saw my wife for the first time. I still remember seeing her for the first time. I was devastated by her beauty... I had never seen a person more beautiful in my life. I couldn't even start up a decent conversation with her when I first talked to her. It was an EPIC FAIL.

But then God reminds me that it's not my business to worry about making my own way, but to trust HIM. So I knew that since God was a rational, practical and sensible God, that I had a snowball's chance in hell to date this girl. So I needed to get over it. But something in the deep back of my heart trusted God. Obviously since the title of the last two posts is not "how everything is really sucky.." you know that this gorgeous Jesus-follower became my bride. Despite myself, God found a way for Kim to actually see what God sees in me. She loves me. She loves me so hard. We are best friends. And it's all Jesus' fault.

So please don't tell me what God can't do.

I am the son of a Mexican migrant worker who only ever knew toil and poverty. My mother and I were beaten by her first husband. I grew up in a trailer, and lived below the poverty line most of my life. I remember times that there was only beans to eat. But God was with me then...

I grew up with horrible self-esteem problems, and ran to every known thing to quench the pain of this life. I got drunk when I was 13. I wanted to kill myself daily. I was depressed more than any teenager should ever be. I smoked weed and lusted heavily in high school. But God was with me then...

I had a full ride to school, but failed out my first year. I was desperate and lonely. I drank very heavily. I had to work my tail off for the 7 years while going to school. I didn't think I had what it took to make it.But God was with me then... (and I was the first person in my whole family tree to graduate from college.)

God was, is, and will remain faithful. You may not believe in God, especially in His son Jesus. But I ask you, look at my life! Look at what He has done. I am a damned mess, but He has taken this mess and found a way to bring beauty, joy, rightness, goodness, wonder, passion and hope through his son Jesus. I have so many reasons to point to Jesus, because HE IS LIFE!!!

It was my first year in college when I heard Jesus call me. I cried out to Him, and He heard me. Now 15 years later, here I am...

May 21, 2010

Great is thy faithfulness... PART1

You may not know me, but thru this blog. Or you may know me in real life. I'm not sure why you decided to stop by, but I'm glad you did.

Today I want to talk about God's faithfulness. Last night I was thinking about how God has brought my wife and I along on a crazy ride. The funny thing is it hadn't hit me much until last night... Why, maybe because I have been so busy lately? Maybe because God decided to pull back the curtain for a second? I dont know. But in this moment I was overwhelmed by a rush of gratefulness like I have never felt...

I wept out loud. Hard. I made those weird choking sniffle gulping squeaky sounds while crying! It was in that moment that I remembered that 10 years ago this week God moved my life right where it needed to be. So ten years ago I was slated to be a student summer missionary to Germany. I was going to kick it on the beach the whole summer and do "american clubs" (not sure why "american club" would be a good idea, but that's another story) with teens that came to visit the beach. I was STOKED. I love working with teens and I just imagined myself playing the guitar on the beach and chillin all summer with German kids who needed Christ. How SICK is THAT!?!?

Back at home I was working as a janitor at the Baptist Student Center. I would go in late at night/morning and clean, vacuum, sing to myself really loudly ;p. I was cleaning off the desk for the BCM director (who btw is still one of my good friends, he is now @ Rice) and I happened to see this loose page that was actually a plea for male student summer missionaries in Orlando, FL. It really was that a PLEA, because this was for people who wanted to work with children and lame stuff like pool ministry...

Anyways... This is one of the most distinct times I ever sensed God telling me. "THAT's where I want you to go this summer."

WHAT?!? I was not happy. In fact I tried to rationalize that it was just all in my head. Why would GOD tell me that? I was almost on my way overseas (which at the time I was certain was my future). Why the junk would you call me to Orlando???

May 20, 2010

Holler atcha boy!

Hey guys,

Check this out. I just put a formspring page up. What is that? Good question. It's a page where you can ask me any question about anything (within reason obviously., i.e. no dirty bird questions, or psychiatric history... well i actually might answer that one) Anyways, here is the address.

Ask me anything(almost)!
What's my hair color of the month?
What's my homewtown?
Who's my favorite existential writer before 1800?

;)> happy questioning. Ill try to answer within the week.

"To-NOT-Do List"

Do you find yourself spinning too many plates? How do you feel at the end of the day? At the end of the week?

At Grace Fellowship, we have been going through a series entitled "balanced". In this series we have learned that many times we have so many "things" in our lives that call out for our attention. Many times we are not really sure why we do all these things, but we do them anyway. A nice little house. Kids on a nice little soccer team. A nice little boy scout troup. A nice little gymnastic class. A nice little science fair. A nice little country club membership. Pretty soon, it goes from "nice little" to "friggin' killing me you evil horrible big" schedule/life.

So STOP it...

God is calling you to Him...

I give you permission to take a few seconds and create a "To (NOT) Do List"

What is God asking you to let go of?

What I want you to do is write it down. What is the thing that you need to stop doing???

Write it down, and then put a due date by it (when you will STOP doing this):
Is it too many soccer games? STOP...
Too much overtime/sacrificing family time? STOP...
Trying to keep up with the neighbors? STOP...

I'm fighting with several things now in my life that must be given to God. Trust me, it's hard to do. But we need to. Today.

May 17, 2010

Glory to God: Zac's story

A few weeks ago I taught a message that was about "being ready". I wanted to teach that no matter what circumstances you go through, if you make one God decision after another, you will be ready for whatever life brings. I believe this is true with all my heart. Just take one step toward Jesus at a time and He will do the rest.

This video is about a man named Zac, who worked at NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He served in the IT department at this church. A year later he came down with cancer. He passed away yesterday after battling with cancer for the last part of his life. But Im sure everyone that knew him could tell you that he loved and lived for God. He lived well. This is his story.

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.