Winter Youth - Day 2

Wow, I'm tired. I stayed up way too late.

Yesterday was a challenging day. I haven't processed it all yet. If I could try to summarize day one, it would be live your life for an audience of one. Day two is harder, but I think it would be don't trade the gospel for pleasure or performance.

Eric talked again about those people who after knowing Christ for a while (or grow up in the church) base their "How am God and I doing?" question by pointing to how they compare against other's live...and how much time they spend reading their Bible, going to church, etc.

He drew a picture with the heart of the gospel in the middle and two kinds of people, one on each side. The right side were those who have Jesus + pleasure and the other was Jesus + performance. On the pleasure side their sin is overt, obvious, their goal is happiness and they abuse grace, using it as a license to sin. The performance side's sin is covert, not usually seen as sin, their goal is worthiness, and they abuse grace by not using grace.

The point is that the gospel is offered to both. In fact, many (most?) of Jesus' teachings were such that those who were the obvious sinners always got the point, and were found forgiven. Yet those who 'had it all together' missed His message.

Eric's final point was great. If you don't realize, don't know that Jesus already won, already satisfied it all, then you will just be performing a cycle in your life. You will try to do a bunch of stuff to gain God's favor. When you sense that there is no hope in that, you will turn away, seeking pleasure. When you find that pleasure is empty, you come back to trying to read your Bible better and slip right back into performance mode.

I hope I've spoken well of what Eric shared. It was challenging and a great new way of sharing very old ideas. He's set us up for tonight's talk with this.

The start of the gospel is accepting His acceptance of you.

Hope you have a great day.


Winter Youth - Day 1

If days two, three, and four bring the same fight and strength of message that came from day one, I'm in for not only a real treat, but a lot to consider as I head back to real life.

For starters, we had a great time with our group, much of the day hanging in our room, Safeway and conversing about subjects from God to how bad the boy's room smelled. Leading us in worship this year is Future of Forestry (formerly Something like Silas...and don't ask me about their name!). So far, they are doing a great job energizing us, helping us spend time listening, and singing some of the greatest hymns to a bit more modern sound. (Think U2, Chris Tomlin) Dave the horn guy is the MC. He's pretty cool. I hope that he can continue to mix up his routine.

Our first session speaker was Craig Gross of the not so often together Craig & Jake, and of XXX Church—an organization that calls itself the "#1 Christian Porn site" with its goals being to be an aid to people struggling with pornography.

Anyway, Craig told a few stories about different people down the road of sin. His main point was that sin is fun, but that it is fun for a season, and when we don't end it now, we don't know how that season will end. His stories emphasized that well!

(Real quick here, the theme of the week is The Gospel with light and dark being painted at the different sessions—Craig painting darkness and the way out, Eric Knox painting for us the light.

Eric is great! He shared the story of a guy on Venice Beach who could keep 15 plates spinning on 15 sticks. He talked about how for many of us, the Christian life becomes plate spinning. We become a Christian (or grow up one) and begin to add things to our life to, well, be a good Christian; things such as Bible reading, praying, going to church and the like. Not that these things are bad, they're great, but many do theses things "not to experience God's grace, but to gain God's grace." And worse yet, we do these things so that others will know that we are good Christians.

He shared the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector from Luke 18. He told how the Pharisee's was a plate spinner, comparing his deeds to all the other people he was not like. However, the tax collector laid low and said "I am the sinner." He didn't even say that he was one of many sinners, just the sinner. He acknowledged his need for God.

Eric asked us what would reading your Bible look like if you didn't have to read it? What would going to church look like if you didn't have to go to church? What would praying look like if you didn't have to pray. Because the truth is that we don't have to do these things as Christians. And any feeling that we have to do these things comes from a sense of basing your Christian life on others and their view of you.

Wow, this them echo's our pastor's saying of "Live your life for an audience of one."

I'd share more, but I've got to go wake my guys up and get to the first session for the day!


Merry Christmas

Wow! I've had a hankerin' to blog for some time, but just haven't found the time. From the amazing wind storms of last week, our church staff Christmas Party, to all that went along with Christmas, it has been exciting.

Saturday, Ali and I spent much time making onion and clam dip, my dad's famous chocolate-chip cookies and strawberry cheesecake squares. Sunday morning reminded me of my Costco days, getting up to be to church by 6:45 am. We played a special number written by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. That was fun. Jon Knapp rocked out!

After church, Ali and I went to my parents for my dad's side of the family get together eating a wonderful dinner, singing Christmas carols and exchanging gifts. It seemed that after a short nights rest we awoke, and went to Ali's parents for the morning. What a wonderful relaxing time!

We drove to my parents in the afternoon for time with my family and Matt & Annie, (Also wonderful) :) and capped off the night with my family and Ali's family all over at her cousins' house for quite a feast. I am so lucky that my families love each other so much!

Today I counted up Christmas gifts, money I had from my birthday 6 months ago (and yes, nobody wished me a happy half-birthday), and some gift cards and I got an 8GB Nano! Woohoo! Thank you all who gave me this present! I've had lots of fun already and even figured out how to put my Google Calendar on the iPod.

Ali and I are cleaning and packing for Winter Youth, a 4-day high school retreat at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion (I know...I'm really roughing it!) with around 1,500 students and leaders! It features great speakers, bands, worship times, a choice of seminars, and of course, the annual trip to Old Navy for the amazing clearance sales. Last year, two of the guys and I bought the same jacket!

I'm brining my laptop, so hopefully I'll find some time to blog.

I hope you had a great, restful Christmas.



A Great Day

I just have to take this time to say what a great day it is and why:

  • I took my last final of the term today and won't head back to school until January 11.
  • I played guitar on Justin & Jessica's 6th Christmas album. (Which you'll be able to hear at a later date).
  • My brother returned from the blogging dead with a great post.

  • So those are my reasons for the great day. How about you?


    Happy December from Oregon

    It's been a while since my last post. I thought I'd just say hi, I'm still here, and finals are quickly approaching. With only one class next term, these could be some of the last scholarly finals I take. (But really, do you actually take them?)

    If I may, while I'm already blogging, quote Marko who quotes Tony Campolo:

    We do not take god into places where he doesn’t exist; we join god where god is already at work.

    ...Good thought to chew on.