Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How to shave a beard? i got a crazy story for ya..

I shaved another guy's beard!

What? I know when a lot of people see me, they question whether or not I can shave my own beard properly (I have been known to look like a borderline terrorist) who on earth would let me shave their beard?

Well, i was sitting with one of the guys that is a regular at our food pantry ministry and noticed that when he sipped his lemonade, it had to filter through his moustache to get to his mouth. Not only had his mo grown over his mouth, but his beard was almost long enough to get caught in the zipper of his jacket.

Now i know this guy pretty well, and felt like i was at liberty to ask him when the last time it was that he had shaved. He didn't give me a time reference, but he said the last time he lost his job was when he had enough money to afford a shave, so that was it.

I think it was just out shock that i just kinda blurted out...
"AFFORD?!?, Where do you go to get a shave?"

He told me that he went to a barber once and it cost him $19 to get his beard shaved, and that he didn't have enough money to go get it done again.
So that pre-empted another flabergasted, shocked statement that wasn't thought out, or through, not thinking of the get the idea..

"Dude, i'll do it for ya for free!"

Almost immediately after I said it, I regreted it....becuase i just realized what I had asked...probably one of the most awkward offers that i have ever given in my life.

There was still hope that he would knock me back given the wierdness of what I had just said, but with a big, delighted grin on his face......i knew what was coming.

"No you wouldn't!?!"

I sure would. One week later I cut, buzzed and shaved my way through this poor guy's beard in about an hour (with only a couple of razor cuts.....eeek!). He was so happy he could hardly keep the smile off his face, and he hadn't even looked in a mirror yet. My back was killing me from leaning over for that long, but i couldn't help but share in the joy he had on his face.

I don't tell this story to try and point out the good deeds that I unassumingly throw myself into, I wanted to tell it because i believe that there are some basic BASIC needs that some people have in our communities that all of us (including myself), continue to look over because of it makes us feel uncomfortable. Some people just need someone to talk to and someone to listen to them without feeling uncomfortable.

This guy was physically and mentally disabled and probably couldn't hold a razor straight if he tried (I'm not that much better, i soon figured out!). It seemed like he also didn't have the means to get his beard shaved and probably wouldn't be game enough to ask anyone to do it for him. It was a step out of my comfort zone (and probably a step out of his too!), but he really does look like a new man. I wish I had before and after pictures.

~Lord, I don't know where you intend to use me or send me or keep me, but I pray that you would reveal part of Your plan to me. At least enough to know what I should be doing now. Keep my heart searching and questioning, but not over the things of this world. May it be restless over You. Allow me to keep that focus, for your purpose. Amen~

Sunday, September 17, 2006

So today I enjoyed the last of my free time that I think I'm going to have for a while...

But it was some good free time! As you can see, i decided to be real geeky and take a picture of my new planner. It's a pretty beefy thing, but it's one of those organizers that has everything in it (including a spaces for 7 CDs!!). OK, i'll quit being a dork I guess. I got to enjoy some time in worship (me and my guitar), messing around with that photo and talking to a good friend from Dallas. Oh man I miss that city!

But I've noticed that, that city has been quite a source of worry for me lately. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE Dallas, but I worry because it's a place that I hopefully see in my future. And anytime I start thinking about the future.....I worry.

Do you ever have that problem? I think for the last couple weeks I've been living in the future. I've been fretting about where I should go next, stressing about what I'm going to do for a living and hyperventilating about how much money that will make me!

Don't live in the's a scarey place.

I started planning out all my stuff that i'll be doing for the next week and writing it down in my new planner and it's pretty exciting (return to dork phase). I'll be organizing and planning some youth events this week, as well as studying for a financial class and tommorrow I'll be starting Vineyard Leadership Intstitute (ministry training for our denomination). VLI will be just like going back to college because it's about 20 hours a week worth of study and reading! Today I'll also be working on Christmas plans, food pantry and organizing my work schedule.

Enthralling stuff I know........I agree with you, it all sounds pretty boring. But it's so much better than worrying about the big picture. It's almost a blessing to have so much to do and to focus on now, so I can stop worrying about what's going to happen later. I know God's got a plan.....can't I be happy enough with that?

I kept a good verse with me this week:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all that you do and He will direct your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6

Thats a pretty good promise for me. I just hope I can keep my heart in good shape. I know it's going to be hard with a discouraging job and a little bit of free time. But I'm so blessed to have a Saviour that cares about me and my well being. I know that whatever the fall He will lift me up.

But when and where is all in the future...

Right now I've got to get some sleep......goodnight!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

So Long Sweet Summer...

Well....summer is officially over. And life has officially begun.

Yeahp. You know that time in your life when you're actually done with college, are out on your own, and can make your own schedule and do what you like?

Sounds great huh?

Well for someone like me that is used to doing something 24/7 and usually has a plan for the next step in my life, I've found myself at the end of the suburban street, and at the beginning of the gravel road. In other words, i have no idea where I'm going, or what I should be doing, or what direction I should take.

It's so hard to keep a future perspective when I'm not content with where I'm at. Don't get me wrong, I love the people I'm staying with. They have been so helpful and giving to me. The Gilberts are an amazing family and such a great reminder to me that God is willing to take care of me wherever I go.

But I've got to gripe about my job for just a little bit! Maybe it's just because I'm coming off a three day stint where i've been working from 10am-7pm....but I'm almost positive I can't stand my job. I work for the school catering business Aramark, and most of my day is reserved to preparing food and cleaning dining rooms. A short part of my work day is spent serving students and sisters (nuns), which I see as valuable ministry time. But it has been real difficult to stay positive.

Yesterday, I got delegated to scraping food that had stuck to the pans after the students were done eating. That got me pretty low...

Sounding good now?

But after I was done I went and hung out with my buddy Luke. It was just a great time to sit and relax, and chill (even though we were supposed to be working on youth stuff for our church). We just got to sit and talk about our futures, about life and about God's plan through all of it. He reminded me of a verse that I have kept with me all day today. It's one that we usually remember, but don't usually take into context:

"I have learned to survive on almost nothing or everything. I have discovered the secret to living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with little or plenty. For I can do everything through Christ, who strengthens me."
- Philippians 4:12-13

Even though I'm going through some discontentment with my job, I know that God has a plan. He has not trained me and grown me to live in a life of fruitlessness and discouragement. Although I am stuck to serving and cleaning at the moment, I know that God has a purpose for it, even if it is to grow my endurance and prepare me for what's coming.

It's funny how this one little thing can put everything into perspective for me. I am discontent with this job. But I am also a youth pastor and a ministry student. Two things I absolutely love doing. Two things that I am praying will be fruitfull and encouraging and effective. I'm praying that God will change this whole city, but I can only start with where I am.

Right now I'm in a valley...but with God's grace I am not fearing the worst...He has always, and will always walk beside me and carry me to where He needs me.

"Even though the journey's long,
and I know the road is hard.
Well the one who's gone before me,
He will help me carry on.
And after all that I've been through,
now I realize the truth
that I must go through the valley
to stand upon the Mountain of God."
-Mountain of God, Third Day

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I am Already and Not Yet

So i know i haven't posted in a while....
I know I haven't written about my summer...
I know I've probably lost a lot of readers...
But it's time to move on and get back in the blogging groove.

I hope you can read the post before this one on Pat and Mary Beth. They are two people I lived with this summer that changed my life. They are amazing, and I miss them so much! Anyway, onto other things...

Ever wondered what Jesus was talking about when He would talk about the coming of the Kingdom?

I didn't.

But just recently I watched this DVD by a guy named Derek Morphey, which completely blew my whole concept of Christianity out of the water. Before I continue, lets look at a couple of passages from the Gospels.

From then on Jesus began to preach. "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near." - Matthew 4:17

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, "When will the Kingdom of God come?"
Jesus replied, "The Kingdom of God isn't ushered in with visible signs. You won't be able to say, 'Here it is!' or "It's over there!' For the Kingdom of God is within you." - Luke 17: 20

OK, so is the Kingdom of God here or is it coming?

The answer: IT'S BOTH

Logically it makes no sense, which is why many theologians have decided to define it by calling it "Kingdom Language" (well.....its definately not English!). I guess the point of that is, is that we are supposed to be confused by this and have to try to define it within the context of "God's plan" or "God's Truth".

If we take the coming of God's Kingdom to mean the arrival of His glory on earth, where His name is lifted above all others, where the blind will see and the deaf will hear and where Christ is present to all who believe......

.....then this idea of God's Kingdom being Already here and Not Yet here at the same time, now makes perfect sense to me.


Have you ever witnessed something so amazing and miraculous that you find it hard to put into words the emotions you've felt? Maybe at times when you've fell in love, or witnessed a beautiful sunset, or had a prayer answered or hit a moment, like me, where you just can't explain the amazing thing that is happening to you right now in the present moment...

...That is the Kingdom of God.

Yet we don't feel these things all the time. Truth is, our bodies probably wouldn't be able to take it. Even the most hardcore Christians aren't beeming with joy 24 hours a day (although sometimes we think we ought to be). Infact, there are moments where we feel totally upset at life. We fail and we fall. We sin and we sell ourselves out. And we do it all the time.

...We are human afterall.

And God's Kingdom was not meant for this world. We want to be in God's presence all the time, but the truth is, our human bodies probably couldn't handle it. When we cry or laugh, our body jolts and jiggles and we are overcome with emotion to which our body uses these avenues to find a release. In quiet reflectful times we can also be overcome by insight and wisdom that we can admit we have had no part in aquiring.

The fact is that God blesses us, in moments, with his coming Kingdom. He gives us a window into what will come when Christ finally returns. The Kingdom is within us, yet we have not yet experienced it all. But it is near.

There will be a time when Christ returns and those that believe in Him will be taken to His Kingdom instantly to live fully in the blessing of God. Yet for now, all we have are these glimpses. They are fully given by God's grace...yet our relationship with him deepens our experience. We are able to see more clearly God's kingdom in our lives because we are interacting with Him more.

What an incredible promise from Jesus...

The Kingdom of Heaven is near...

The Kingdom of God is within you...

I am Already and Not Yet...