Thursday, August 28, 2008

The things I do for Jesus...

This is what I do for Jesus. I tease my hair and act like a mad scientist.

Two weeks ago I went to Camp Watermarks with 68 middle and high schoolers from Coastal Community Church. It was such an honor to get to lead these kids as God molded and shaped and reached them - sometimes for the first time.

We really did have a good time. We had a zip line and a ropes course, I went skeet shooting and paint balling (let me just say... nothing is quite like pelting middle schoolers with paintballs to relieve stress - it was glorious). We also did this crazy thing called a blob where you jump off a 15 foot tower into an airbag and then crawl to the end of the air bag. Someone else jumps off the tower and throws you into the air to land in the lake. It's good old fashioned camp fun.

I guess I still haven't explained the mad scientist thing. Our theme for the week was "Lost" like the tv show, so before each night session of games, worship, and teaching, the leaders did a skit. To be honest, it had almost no point. It was an excuse to let the kids laugh at us. This was actually good for me because I tend to feel uncomfortable in silly acting situations, but I really enjoyed it. Now, my performances were certainly not Oscar worthy (my accent ranged from something like German to something like English to the Lucky Charms leprechaun), but it was a good experience in stretching for the Lord.

Seriously though - it was a great honor to be involved in these kid's lives. I look at this picture and dream big dreams for these kids. Can you imagine what God will do with these kids some day? My legacy in Christ is found in these kids. Their growth is my offering to the Lord.

Lord - I pray I have served your children well. May their lives be my fragrant offering to You.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

More Quick Olympic thoughts...

First, Michael Phelps is insane. His body is superhuman.

Second, I had a Wendy Chinn moment watching the Olympics the other day. She always cries when they show human interest sports stories. I laugh at her for this. But... I have to eat my words. I watched a story about Kirsty Coventry who was the first Gold Medalist from Zimbabwe. I might have shed a tear or two.

Finally, on a more solemn note, the controversy over the Chinese gymnasts breaks my heart. If you haven't heard, there's been a significant amount of evidence to say that these girls are much younger than the required competition age of 16. However, as of now the IOC has said they will accept the girl's Chinese passports that show them all to be 16. There is no good outcome to this situation. If these girls are 16, they are underdeveloped and tiny with too much pressure from other people for perfection. If they are not 16, I don't believe it was their choice to lie. If illegal passports were made this is clearly a conspiriacy that goes VERY high into the government. That would go completely against the spirit of the Olympics. And what happens if proof comes out 5 years from now and these girls are stripped of their medals, how heartbreaking will it be for them! And for a cheating that wasn't their choice! And think about our American girls, their golden moment will have been stolen by cheating. Being a given a gold later would not make up for that.

Just some thoughts....

Now go cheer for Phelps!!

Bad Dinner Conversation!

Turn on the TV!

The topics you're not supposed to talk about at a dinner party: politics and religion. That's exactly what's going on at CNN or MSNBC right now. Everyone should flip on the tv and watch Pastor Rick Warren interview Senator Obama and Senator McCain. This is awesome.

More thoughts to come later.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


One quick update!

Ok, so since the Olympics began a few of us had been joking on badminton (see previous post and the Vitamin water commercial). We laughed at how it was this game we played when we were in elementary school gym class is a very competitive olympic sport. Who plays this sport besides 4th graders and senior citizens?


My friend Amanda spent three years teaching school in Indonesia. As we were watching the Olympic coverage last night (which by the way - my heart broke for the Chinese gymnasts and the American girls who lost to them... but I'll post about that later) she was looking on the nbc website and said, "Hey, badminton is on! Indonesians are crazy about their badminton - I would never play with them!"

What!?!? I laughed out loud. I now have my answer:

People who play badminton:
1) American 4th graders
2) American Senior citizens
3) Indonesians (who are apprently quite good at it too)

So... life lesson: if you want to play badminton competitively, move to Indonesia. =)

Sunday, August 10, 2008


So... already hooked on the Olympics. Three days ago I laughed at everyone who was so excited about them, but I now remember why the Olympics are awesome.

First, you get to watch absurd sports like team handball and women's weightlifiting. (106lb girl lifted 258 pounds over her head! How is that humanly possible??) And how cool is it that a woman from Belarus played a woman from Singapore in badminton? (I should have taken elementary school PE more seriously - I didn't know I could win a gold medal!) Where else would this match occur? And who knew American women could fence?

On Sunday I talked with NexGen (our middle school Bible study) about how being a disciple of Christ is like competing in the Olympics. Paul refers to the idea of "running a race" a lot in the new testament and I like the symbolism. These are all basic concepts but never bad to think over from time to time:

1) If we are going to a disciple we have to train hard.
1 Cor 9:24-27

I can't imagine that Michael Phelps or Shawn Johnson loved every minute of their training. I'm sure there were days when Michael didn't want to get out of bed to swim for the 10th time that week, or Shawn didn't want to get back up on the balance beam after missing an element 5 times in a row, but they persevered.

And think about a time you had to train for a sport. You know how hard that first mile was? But after a few weeks of training, you ran that mile again and man - it wasn't so hard! It's really cool to see that kind of progress.

Being a disciple is not going to be a joyous experience all the time, in fact - it's a lot of work. But the two things that make it worth it are 1) those times when you look back and realize how much you've grown and 2) those times that God really works through you to affect someone else. What incredible experiences to represent God.

2) We have to run our race and no one else's. (1 Cor 12:12-16)

Picture Kobe Bryant doing Equestrian or LeBron James playing badminton - it cracks me up. Vitamin water did a commercial a while back about this and, though hilarious, is unrealistic. Both those guys would get absolutely whipped if they played any other sport but basketball. Why? Because basketball is what they trained for. Imagine a cyclist coming into the Olympics and then trying to compete as a swimmer. They might do alright because they're in such peak physical shape, but if they are a naturally good cyclist and have trained for years in that sport, it would be a waste of their talent to do anything else.

God desires for us to run our race. All too often I look at the worship leaders and think, "man! why didn't God give me a voice?! I want to do that!" But that's not the gifts God gave me, and do anything other than His path is not living up to the purpose He made me to do. Now, if I chose another path, it doesn't mean that I wouldn't be somewhat successful. Potentially I could dedicate all of my time and money for lessons in guitar and voice and do alright, but I will have missed the other places God really wanted me to be that would have been a much better fit.

3) All the sports receive the same medals. (2 Timothy 4:7)

Even though certain sports get more publicity than others, every athlete that steps up on a medal stand will receive the same reward. Whether archery, trampoline, kayaking or basketball, a gold represents the highest achievement in the specific event; each gold medal winner had to dedicate years to reach that level. Still, there have been thousands of gold medal winners whose names I'll never hear, let alone remember. But they're perseverance and dedication was rewarded.

The race that God has designed for me may never get my name in the newspapers. Of the tasks that God desires for us as Christians to do, I would guess as many as 90% will receive little or no thanks. But they're extremely important tasks. We can't all be pastors or deacons - if we were, who would play with the kids or prepare the coffee and food? In the end, God will reward us for our obedience - not by the measure of how many people know our name - but how joyfully we served.

One last thought...

Do you ever watch the medal ceremonies? I love to watch the pride that the gold medal athletes show when their country's flag is raised and their national anthem is played for them. At that moment, I can't imagine that one of them is thinking about how bad they're injuries have been, or how many times they've thrown up after a hard practice. They're drinking in the moment that all that sacrifice was working toward. It has to be the most exhilarating experience.

I imagine heaven will have that kind of experience. If I really work hard, and dedicate my life to being a disciple of Christ, some day God will turn to me and say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." To receive that kind of acknowledgment in heaven for work I've done on earth, makes sacrifice here look like peanuts.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Trash Cans and the American Dream

Ok, I'm going to rant for just a moment or two.

Background: about a month ago, my roommates and I moved into a rental house. We love this place. It is spacious and in a safe neighborhood, right on a golf course. There's plenty of room for people to come hang out and allow this to be a community house. For two of us, this is our first time renting a house. For the other two, they rented a house in Blacksburg, but only a townhouse here. Also, growing up I lived in a really relaxed neighborhood outside the city limits where the regulations were basically "don't burn down your neighbor's house."

So now to the story: we have been working on getting one of the youth group kids at church to come mow our lawn to raise money so he could go to camp. Well, because of some phone tag and the lack of a mower, it's been about 2 weeks so admittedly, the grass is pretty long. Well Sunday we got a knock at the door. "Hi, you must be the new tennants. We have a really active homeowners' association here and I just wanted to warn you that you need to cut your grass or people may call the city."

"Oh," says I, "I'm sorry, I know it's much too long, I'll do it tomorrow."
Now, the man was very cordial - but definitely direct.

Then Monday (the next day) at work I got a phone call from our property manager who said that we got a CITY CITATION for our grass being too long and our TRASH CANS BEING VISIBLE FROM THE STREET. Not at the street. They were up next to the house, minding their own business, no trash sticking out - just visible from driving by.

Really? Is THIS the American dream? At first I felt bad. Then I got angry at whichever neighbor decided to tattle to the city about our misplaced trash cans. Then I just felt sad.

We (being upper-middle class America) live inside our comfortable bubbles where the most important thing we have to worry about in the day is the length of our neighbor's grass and the placement of their trash cans. We as a society (and me personally) don't even love our neighbors enough to know their names. More than a month and I haven't said more than hello to most of my neighbors.

The American Dream: a perfect house filled with 2 kids, a dog, a cat, and 3 fish with 2 nice cars in the driveway and a pool out back. Is that all there is? In the relentless pursuit of this dream have we missed something? When the fulfillment of our lives is based on the positioning of our neighbor's trash cans, we have missed something!!

I don't want this. I mean, I love this house, and I genuinely have a desire to be a good steward of this house. But I never want to live with such a near-sighted view of the world. Behind those houses with misplaced trash cans (and perfectly placed ones), there are people. People whom God is seeking.