Friday, February 29, 2008

His plan

I find it easy to believe in His plan for me when everything is working like clockwork. There is no stree in my body, there is an easy spring to my step. It is easy to keep a positive mental attitude about everything.

And then a brick crumbles. Something goes wrong. And then another brick crumbles. Something slips away. After a while, His plan is not so clear. I start to get caught up in the day to day. It seems hard to see what is going to happen in the next few hours, let alone the next day. Before I know it, I am running to stand still. Exhausting myself while frantically trying to plug the leaks in the dam that is my day to day. Ummm...what happened? Uhhh..Where did God go? I used to really start to freak out.

I think that even the most devout Christians can watch their resolve crumble away. Am I doing the right thing, am I headed in the right direction. Why do I feel awkward around everyone? Do I fit in here? So many things flying through my head. Panic sets in.

It used to be so easy for me to just let it slip away, convince myself that I just didn't care. I would fold into myself. I would immerse myself in the day to day. I would shut everything else out, shut people out. I would throw myself into whatever I happened to be doing. Those things I was doing would start to define me.

They don't define me anymore. I have a new perspective. I realized: God is still there. He is ALWAYS there. I just needed to take my hands off of my eyes. It is easy to get caught up in the moment. To cover my eyes when life gets hectic. But by trying to hide from the world that keeps on going, I would lose sight of God. In putting my nose to the grindstone, the only thing I could really see was my feet.

When things get rough, I have learned that even if I cannot see the path, I can see the light. Yeah, I might fall down. I might stumble a bit, but I can still see.

I need to keep my eyes on God, which automatically lifts my chin which lifts my eyes which allows me to see.
God's plan is good. His path for me is known to Him. Even if I waver, He does not.
I believe in Jesus, I trust him. That is enough.

You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.
Psalm 73:24 NLT

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Your Footprint

"Today, you have 100% of your life left."

"Why don't you want to do what you know you should do? The reason you don't is that you're in conflict with yourself."

"Do what you fear most and you control fear."

"I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed; and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying."

"Repeat anything often enough and it will start to become you."

Tom Hopkins

Point is:
Never give up. If you give everything you do everything you have, you truly cannot fail. You leave your mark on everything you do and an impression on everyone that you come in contact with. It's your choice what kind of imprint that is.

People talk a lot these days about "carbon footprints". How do we impact the ecosystem?

I remember a poem about "footprints". I don't think that we could truly ever fill those, but what's to stop us from trying? I don't think that we could ever go wrong in trying to follow those. Ecosystem aside, how do we impact the world?

What type of trail do you leave behind you? Blazing a trail forward in the correct direction is only beneficial if those that follow can find it.

Bring it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Crazy Beautiful - Chasen

I have been hunting for this song for a while. I heard it on before retreat and it has been stuck in my head since.
Anyways, the band is called Chasen. The song is called Crazy Beautiful. I like the beat, but I am going to put a poll up to see if I should actually buy the cd. Be sure to vote on the right hand side of the page.

So, what do you think?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lunar Legacy

Last Wednesday night (February 20th, 2008) from about 8:30 PM CST till about 10:15 pm CST if you looked up, you should have seen something similar. Pretty amazing. Crazy beautiful, if you like that kind of stuff.
According to NASA, the next one will not occur until June of 2010.

That's over 2 years from now. Half of High School. For most, half of college. If you live till you are 86 years old...that is roughly 2.6% of your entire life.

What will you be doing? Where will you be? Where will you be going to?

What choices have you made? Which ones are you proud of? Which ones do you regret?

The choices you make today help to define who you will be.

Who will have left you? Who will you have left?
Who will still be with you?

Take a moment, breathe in. Then think about it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Misteaks Happen

Keep Right

Misteaks Happen. All the time.
I make them more than most (I feel anyways). but we all make them. Big and small.
Sometimes we don't know that we are making them, sometimes we mean to.
The only thing that we can do is try to minimize how many we make and the damage that they cause.
One way to do this is to try and do the right thing, no matter what. Not always easy.

There are six things that you should ALWAYS do after making a mistake:

1. Apologize. Immediately. Sincerely. And never couple an apology with an excuse. Of any kind.
Just don't do it.

2. Learn from it. The course of life is a steep learning curve for us all. Don't miss the lesson.

3. Don't repeat it. This may take time to master, but will save you and others pain in the future.

4. Atone for it. With God. With others. With yourself.

5. Forgive. Yourself. Or others if you are on the recieving end.

6. Forget it. Not the lesson that you learned from it, but let the transgression go.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

LOL..No motivation.

So I had absolutley NO motivation to work this morning. Even though I have a mountain of work, and I went surfing. It was between this video and the one on Digg about an underwater lake. But this one won out. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don't leave it at retreat.

I still don’t know who got more out of Winter Retreat 2008…the students or the leaders? I saw so many people have a moving experience that it was truly amazing. I am still reeling from the incredible, unbelievable amount of love that poured out of each of you. For God. And for each other.

I spoke to my team (wiki-wiki GREEN!) before we broke camp. All weekend I saw students step past their boundaries and truly gel as a group. What I told them (In a nutshell) applies to the entire Crew: “You all worked together as a team. You got to know, worked with and had fun with people that you would not normally hang out with. Don’t let that stay here. Take it with you. When you see each other after retreat, remember that you all grew together. From here on out, continue to grow together. Do not forget it and do not leave it here!”

Paul Hinzman (our great speaker with the crazy insane dodgeball skills) spoke about serving others. I think that most of, if not all of us grasped that concept.
Don’t leave it at retreat.
Paul also talked about the Crew becoming the driving force for Christ in the Chicagoland area. I don’t think he was lying.

It is as simple as stepping out of the boxes that you leaped out of at retreat. Don’t let others push you back into your old mold. Believe in what Christ means to you. Believe in yourself. Believe in your friends. Believe in The Crew.
You have been renewed by retreat. I don’t think that any one of us can deny that.

Rekindled. Reformed. Reforged.

Take this momentum and run with it. Every single one of you has it in you to push forward for God. Leaders lead by example. To me, all of you are leaders in one way or another. Each of you lead in different areas of life, each of you have your strengths. Each of us has our weaknesses. Every single one of you has something to contribute. As part of The Crew, you knit together into a whole and your strengths shine while faults become less glaring. What you do to further your faith, your church and your love is up to you.

Together, The Crew holds the spark for a truly unique revolution.
I know that a fire burns in each of you.
The spark lay in your hands.
What you do with it is up to you.
Bring It.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Winter Retreat

It is finally here!
Winter Retreat 2008!
So very stoked!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Senseless shootings at NIU

A week ago, a gunman stormed into a Lane Bryant store and shot six people. yesterday afternoon, a former graduate student from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb,IL killed 7 people that were attending an oceanography class.

I am still stunned by the Virginia Tech shootings less than a year ago.

I am just, I don't know. In shock I guess. My heart and my prayers go out to the families that are affected by this. But really, it affects all of us doesn't it?
It scares me that as much compassion pours from my heart, I can't help but to feel a little bit numb to events like this. What is wrong with me? What is wrong with people?

I spend time with the youth at the Stone Church in Palos Heights.

Whenever tragedies like this occur I feel a true affirmation for my decision to work with the youth.
I would like to think that through programs such as these young adults will come to know God.
I would like to think that through programs such as these young adults will come to be better human beings.
I would like to think that through programs such as these young adults will come to touch others lives in a positive way.

Pastor Erik spoke last Wednesday night about body image. But during his talk he touched on a couple of things that really popped out at me. One is that people that are hurting do terrible things to themselves(eating disorders etc). But the flipside of this is that we sometimes do terrible things to people that are hurting. Is this because we don't recognize the hurt? Or is it because we are in some way hurting ourselves?

In in one sentence, he broke into a concept that I feel is long overdue in the world:
"It is time for you to start a revolution."
He was talking to the students. The youth. Some who will be going to college next year, some starting high school. In a nutshell he was talking about stepping outside their comfort zone and talking with others that they would not normally talk to. To reach out to others that don't know Christ.
Pastor Erik, Amen.

If the youth at Stone Church were to start a ripple, there is no telling where it will end. Embracing your Christianity does not always mean yelling at the top of your lungs about Christ. But it does involve embracing the things that Christ embodies: Love, Acceptance, Grace, Compassion. Live your life, but be strong in your faith and do not be afraid to make the right choice. So many are so quiet in their faith. I am not proposing that you run up to people, grab them by the shoulders and scream "COME TO GOD!!!!" Bring a friend to an event. A small group. Anything. If you nudge one person a week, that's 52 people that now have a seed planted in their hearts.

Let's face it. There was not much NIU police or anyone else could have done to prevent yesterday's horrific events once they were set in motion. But what if this grad student had been part of an organization such as The Crew. Or had a friend that brought him to Church. Things may have been different.

A revolution starts with a ripple. A murmur. A nudge.
Jesus was quite possibly the most perfect revolutionary. Think about that.
Christ paid the ultimate price for us. For me. For you.
He never put a price tag on it. He never really asked us to give anything for that gift.
What can you do to pass this gift along? What are you willing to do to pass this gift along?

We have winter retreat this weekend. It's totally your choice what you do with that.

P. Erik:
That Revolution?

I say: Bring It.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I wanna grow old with you.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yah. It is cheesy. But I just wanted to say Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. Especially my wife Katie. She inspires me to be a better person, a better husband, and a better Christian everyday.
I love her and I feel that I am the luckiest guy in the world to be with her.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lightning never strikes the same place twice

lightning strikes Christ the Redeemer

This is an interesting picture of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue is the highest point in the city, yet this is the only time that it has been documented that it was struck by lightning.

Opportunity knocks but once, so be ready to answer the door when it does. This may apply to events in life: job offers, chances to make new friends, mend old rifts etc...but

This picture made me think. In this life of once and done chances, Christ was the only true "Deal of a Lifetime". In dying for us, He offered us redemption. If we fully open the door to Him, He offers us the gift of living forever. Lightning may strike that statue again sometime. However, Christ died but once. In doing so, He asks only that we have faith and believe in Him. This gift's potential is limited only by how far it spreads. By how many believe. By those who are saved.

A lot of times I think soley in mortal terms. I get stressed about stuff that in the end, just doesn't matter.

In some places, I have been asked to put a date on when I was "saved". I could give you a general date of when I started taking my faith seriously, but when I was "saved" would be tough. If I had to put a number on it, it would go something like this: 2/13/2008, 2/12/2008, 2/11/2008, 2/10/2008, 2/09/2008, 2/08/2008, 2/07/2008, 2/06/2008, 2/05/2008, 2/04/2008, 2/03/2008, 2/02/2008, 2/01/2008, 1/31/2008, 1/30/2008, 1/29/2008, 1/28/2008, 1/27/2008, 1/26/2008, 1/25/2008....I could go on, but you get the idea. I feel like I am saved everyday.

I could never possibly match the awesomeness of His gift. So I do the only thing that I can.
I have long made it the mission of my life:
To never stop giving or helping. To never stop telling. To never stop believing.
For Him. About Him. In Him.

I know that He will lead me to where I should be, not where I want to be. Because as hard as it is to remember sometimes, what I want, really, just isn't important.

Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

Monday, February 11, 2008

Nonna's NO-NO

The good thing about this insanity is that this bout was fleeting. This Time.

The Challenge:
Nonna's Challenge

The Fare:
A bit of pie.

The Winners:
Winners of the Nonna's Challenge

The Not-so Winners...till next time:-P

Down but not out!
Joe, Valient but defeated.
Completly Crushed
Yah. That's me disliking the bitter pizza of defeat.
Through all this we learn to chew your food, and keep your elbows off the table.


Doug, The Beast.

We will be at it again in two weeks...I think that it will take that long to digest.

Another Definition of Insanity

Just because the previous post is about something so UN-healthy, here is a guy that is the epitomy of health.
The clip below is of Damien Walters, a gymnast. Insane.

The amount of practice and dedication that it would take to accomplish these feats are nothing short of amazing.

Define Insanity

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

-Benjamin Franklin

Although I generally concur with Ben's definition, I would like to propose another:
Nonna's Challenge.

In a nutshell: Half a pizza, 5 minutes. Technically you have 30 minutes and you get a T-shirt, BUT to get your name on the wall, you have to eat it in under 5 min and 5 seconds (the current record). A few of us from the Crew embark on this crusade tonight at around 7 pm. Doug, Joe, Josh, John(hopefully), and I plan to at least get our T-shirt. Aldo and hopefully P. Erik will be there to hold the buckets and cheer us on.

I have never attempted anything like this and I predict a massive stomach ache afterwards. I will be timing us all and I will post pictures when it is done.
Wish us luck, feel free to send some Pepto Bismol.
This whole idea brings one image to mind.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Difference

noun [U]
(an expression of) understanding and care for someone else's suffering.

noun [U]
the ability to share someone else's feelings or experiences by imagining or knowing what it would be like to be in their situation.

There is a distinct difference which is defined by caring enough to know the difference.

A lot of times I think that when we hear about stuff in the news, or about a person we know that is going through a rough spot, we as humans respond with the wrong one. Maybe it is just me.

Sometimes, like with a tragic event such as the shootings at Lane Bryant, we struggle and strive to respond with both.

Other times I think that people kinda just toss one or the other out there (kinda like fishing) to a person that is hurting, to see if they respond to it in an attempt to help.
Yah, I know.
Pretty cynical.

I know that sometimes people can get so wrapped up in their own lives that they forget to pick their head up and look around. (I know that I am guilty of this sometimes)

I believe that as Christians it is important to try our best to understand not only the world around us, but the people around us as well. Figure out what makes 'em tick.
While we can never "truly" empathize with another individual because, well...we are not them, we can do our best to try to understand what they are going through.

In order to do this, I think that we need to listen TO not just listen AT the people in our lives. A lot of times with our busy schedules, we listen for what we "think" we hear...not what our ears are actually recieving.

God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Sympathy can be expressed for almost any situation.
Empathy only comes through understanding.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Not new you.

Look...This is gonna be pretty brief (hehe). I have never really been into new years resolutions. Probably because they never work. Ha. Truly, the only one that can make it work is me.( + a whole lot of help from God).
I have never stuck to them.

But I realized that I am actually really angry with myself. I have some bad habits. I have been trying to be good, but they keep creeping back into my routine. Anybody else get really disappointed/angry with themselves? Sure you don't.

Anyways. I am putting myself on trial for the next two weeks. I can do two weeks. Can you?

I don't know that anyone reads this much, I probably only have one reader (read: ME)
But I am challenging myself to a two week sprint, till Youth Retreat with the Crew.

Anyways. I am challenging myself to give up my biggest vice starting Tuesday morning when I wake up(None of this midnight stuff).

Here's the thing: Be honest. Do you think that you can do two weeks without giving in to your biggest vice (this is not one of those fast food deals, or giving up sweets, or soda). Everyone has that one thing that they know they are not supposed to do (gossip, slander, fibbing, being lazy etc).

Do you dare to do this with me. It's an honor system deal. The only two that will know that you broke it are you and God. So, the only person that will hold you accountable is you.

If you are up for it, just sound off that you are in by leaving a comment.

I don't want to know your vice (again the only person that knows what you are giving up is you). Here's the catch. No slip ups. No oops...ok I start over...Oh...wait a minute, okay....start.....NOW.

No. None of that.

Now, those of you that read this and don't do this (you know who you are), at least ask yourself why.

No vice for 2 weeks.
Can you do it? If you are reading this still...WILL you do this. Well?

Bring it.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Attitude adjustment

So, try as I might to be an uber-positive person, sometimes I do feel like Frank.
This video of a Comcast commercial is a perfect example of how attitude can affect someone's day.
I think that sometimes, people forget how they can affect another persons day.

Simply smiling at someone and saying "Good Morning!" can go a long way.
So today, give it a try. Hold the door for someone you don't know. Go out of your way to do something nice for someone. Even if you are having a terrible day, put a smile on your face and help someone out. Even if at first your smile feels fake to you, I think that you will be suprised to find that it is contagious and your day might feel a little less grey. Besides...if you smile all the time, it makes people wonder if you are up to something.