Saturday, September 1, 2007


Wow... it's been a while since i've been able to post on here. Sorry guys!

Last month was absolutely crazy. I guess I should start by saying i'm now living in Branson, MO and i'll be here till next August. I'm participating in a program called LeadTime, which is a division of Doulos Ministries. Doulos ministries is comprised of Shelterwood and LeadTime. Shelterwood is a teen residential care facility which houses teens with varying issues. Through the program, the teens live in a setting with other teens and are mentored and counseled regularly. LeadTime is a program which trains post college age men and women to be servant leaders. We are also discipled regularly and live in residence with the teens in the shelterwood program while serving as their "big brothers/sisters." We also take classes full time to develop our ministry and enhance our personal relationships with the Lord. The classes cover topics such as the Life of Christ, The life of Paul, Spiritual Disciplines, and Personal Discovery. I would love for everyone who sees this to take a few minutes and check out the website:

I've been here since August 15th and i'm absolutely loving it. I was very overwhelmed and somewhat homesick in the beginning but the longer i'm here the more confident I get that this is exactly where the Lord would have me to be for this year. The girls in the shelterwood program are amazing and i'm so thankful to have the opportunity to live with them and minister to them throughout this year.

I'm going to do my best to post weekly and keep everyone updated on what is happening here at Doulos throughout the year and I would greatly appreciate the prayers of anyone who happens to stumble across my posts. Please pray that God will give me the wisdom and strength to minister to these young ladies in the way he would have me to and pray for each of the girls in the shelterwood program as they uncover and deal with whatever issues they are facing. I'm also continuing to raise financial support throughout the year so please pray that God will continue to provide as he so lovingly has so far. Thanks and God Bless!

In Him,

Monday, July 16, 2007

I have the answer!

So very rarely in my life do I have the opportunity to say... "I have the answer!" But, believe it or not, I think I do... or rather, God had it all along and He was just gracious enough to reveal it to me.

Anyway, as you can tell from my last post I had many questions regarding this whole concept of "guarding your heart" as it relates to relationships. Check this out:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~Phillippians 4:6-7

Isn't that just amazing? So many of us are familiar with verse 6, but what i've realized lately is that sometimes God must be yelling... "KEEP READING CHILD!" Basically as a result of following all of the instructions Paul gives us in verse 6, the peace of God (which is completely impossible for us to stand so don't even try... just enjoy!) will GUARD OUR HEARTS AND OUR MINDS because of Jesus Christ. In all things this peace will guard our hearts... whether that be in relationships or from the wreckage of the world around us, or from the pain of a broken family or from ANYTHING we can ever imagine. The best part of this, in my opinion... is that God must know it is pretty much the greatest challenge on earth for us as humans to guard our hearts from all of these things ourselves so He says... "here, do this & i'll take care of that for you through my Son."

Our God is so amazing. He loves us for absolutely no reason at all and He has us in the palm of His hands at all times... whether we realize it or not.

Truly Blessed,

PS: If anyone actually reads these things... let me know. I feel like i'm talking to the air here people! hehe

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Guarding Your Heart

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do."
Proverbs 4:23
Guard your heart... this is a concept i've been tossing and turning over the past couple of weeks in my head, and I must be honest, i'm still not sure how exactly to "guard my heart."

The Hebrew word for guard is Mishmar which by definition means, "place of confinement, prison, guard, jail, guard post, watch, observence." I can't help but apply this verse to relationships because that is the circumstance I have most often heard it applied to. And when I am in that situation, this verse is one that always comes to my mind. I have many many questions about this so if anyone out there in blog land has any input (or actually reads this) it would be greatly appreciated.

1. How do you balance guarding your heart with being open to opportunities God presents?
2. How do you know when to let your guard down?
3: Will God reveal to you "who" is worthy of letting your guard down for?
4. If He does... how do you know? What will it look like?
5: What happens if you don't let the person in that God is wanting you to and you push them away? Will God send someone else, or have you pretty much blown it?
6: What if you let your guard down because you feel like God is leading you to do so and the person you let it down for tramples all over your heart?
7: If you feel like God leads you to let your guard down because it's the right person, and it turns out not to be... what will be different when it IS the right person?
8: How do you put your guard back up without blocking out every other opportunity that comes your way in the future?
9: Is it possible to put your guard up or let your guard down whenever you feel like it?
10: What's the difference between guarding your heart to glorify God and guarding your heart because you are afraid of getting hurt?

Now... if your heart affects everything you do, how do these scenarios impact your actions and in turn your relationship with and service for God?

Sincerely Confused,

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

All-Powerful God

"The Lord is slow to anger and great in power... His way is in whirwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet." ~Nahum 1:3

I've decided to take a step away from The Sacred Way for a little while because God has been speaking to me in so many different ways recently that I must share some of these experiences.

Yesterday evening, as I prepared to get some things done around the house and watch a movie with my Mom, the sky became black and that really annoying weather alert beep came across every station on the television. The next 10-15 minutes in my house were pretty scary, to say the least. I've never seen a storm this bad and my 70 year old neighbor, after it was over, said she hadn't either. Quarter-size hail fell, the wind blew harder than i've ever witnessed (so much that it ripped one of the wood panels off of our fence), and the rain blew completely sideways, so hard that we couldn't even see out our windows, and the power was out the rest of the night. I'm convinced it was a small tornado. Here are some pictures of the damage...

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

God really put a never before realized reverence and fear of Him into my heart through this storm. He is so powerful. With one word, He created the universe and He created that storm yesterday. I don't really even know how to put into words how it made me feel other than that God is in control. He can control the weather and He can control the circumstances of my life; my career path, my education, my family life, my ministry, and my relationships. He knows what He's doing and He is sovereign.

He also showed me that no matter how big the storm may look around me, I can rest in the fact that He is protecting me and working everything together for my good. Even when I can't see out the front window because of the rain, I can rest in the fact that He has ordered my steps and is only waiting for me to trust in Him. After witnessing the worst storm of my life, I also witnessed the most beautiful sunset i've ever seen...

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God is good. He is powerful and sovereign. He knows what we need better than we do. Trust in Him, no matter how big the storm around you may seem.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord." ~Jeremiah 17:7

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Spiritual Disciplines

"God has made me as bread for his chosen ones, and if it is necessary for me to be ground in the teeth of lions in order to feed His children, then blessed be the name of the Lord."
~St. Ignatius, Early Christian Martyr

I started a new book a few days ago entitled The Sacred Way by Tony Jones. It describes in detail the spiritual disciplines practiced by the saints during the early years of the Christian faith... mainly ones practiced by the Desert Fathers and Mothers and by monks. This book is so rich in content that I hardly know where to begin with this series of posts. So, I guess i'll start where it does... with spirituality.

What do we think of when we hear the word spirituality? Is being "spiritual" something that happens automatically upon salvation, or is it a process or practice that we must discipline ourselves in order to achieve? Seventh century mystic, Brother Lawrence's definition of spirituality: "the practice of the presence of God." I like the emphasis on practice... it implies that being spiritual is not something that just happens to us, but something that we must work towards and sacrifice for. Tony Jones offers this definition, "the goal of Christian spirituality is to be enlivened by God's Spirit." I also like his definition because it shows God's action through the process. God's Spirit must enliven us... He is the one that gives us His Spirit and defines our spirituality, by His love and grace, not by our own works or deeds. I hope these definitions make sense and coincide in the minds of others as they do mine, although intellectually, I realize they seem to be oxymorons.

So how do we reach this spirituality? There are many specific disciplines outlined throughout this book that are proving to be interesting and beneficial in my own spiritual life. The ones discussed are: silence/solitude, sacred reading, The Jesus Prayer, centering prayer, meditation, The Ignatian Examen, Icons, Spiritual Direction, The Daily Office, The Labyrinth, Stations of the Cross, pilgrimage, fasting, the sign of the cross & other bodily prayers, sabbath, and service. As I study these and practice some of them I plan to blog what i've learned and my reactions to these practices.

I hope this seems as interesting to some of you as it does to me & I hope you enjoy the next few blogs. These disciplines led the saints of old to follow Jesus so wholeheartedly and sacrificially that they made statements like the one at the beginning of this blog and I know that this kind of devotion is what we need today and with God... we can all arrive there.

In Him,

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Religion... it boils down to Relationship

I must state first and foremost that I am writing this post, knowing full-well that the topic I plan on discussing is very touchy one... to say the least. With that in mind, I offer a disclaimer: These insights are written with the intention to spark some contemplation within the Christian community regarding how we view our faith and what exactly we mean when we call ourselves "Christians." They are not intended to cause debate or offense and all comments on the topic would be greatly appreciated. So let's get this started...

A couple weeks ago at a youth group meeting, I posed this question: "If you had to describe Christianity in one word, what would it be?" I got a variety of responses including faith, love, salvation, and even a reference to John 3:16. I then offered my response, which was "relationship." After all... what makes Christianity unique in the miriad of other religions throughout the world? Relationship.

I have also been wondering, after reading "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller (def. a must read), to what extent we as so called "Christians" have been substituting this relationship Christ intended for his followers to have with him... with a "formula-filled religion." In my opinion, it's an overwhelming truth within our faith that has stunted our production of spiritual fruits for way too long. I say this not to bash "organized religion," but only to make the point that I do believe, to some extent, it has replaced that sacred, holy, and loving relationship God longs for us to have with himself. Allow me to quote Donald...

"And that's the thing about being religious; it isn't this safe place in the soul you can go, it has just as many booby traps as any other thing you can get yourself into. It's a bloody brothel, in fact. Jesus even says there will be people who will heal other people, but when they die He is going to say He didn't know them. It is somewhat amazing to me, once again, that all of Christianity, all our grids and mathematics and truths and different groups subscribing to different theological ideas, boils down to our knowing Jesus and His knowing us."

Think about the "best Christian" you know. How would you describe that person? There are members of my youth group that use this terminology often to describe those Christians they admire and look up to. When I hear it, I ask them, "What exactly do you mean by they are a 'good Christian?" I get a list consisting of things such as this: regular church attendance, honesty, nice, don't smoke, drink, or curse, don't have sex, Bible knowledge, etc... I'm sure i'm not the only one who has heard this list.

But, what if, when describing a Christian we admire and look up to... instead of rattling off a list of do's and dont's, we would say something like,

"You can just tell he/she is in love with Jesus. He radiates from them. Whenever i'm around them... I can feel His Spirit flowing out of them."
I will go out on a limb and state that I think Jesus Christ would much rather have a follower that exemplifies the latter description. Is our "religion" as we know it getting us to that place? In my opinion, it isn't. What we need is a relationship revival. Christians need to determine in their hearts that they are going to seek God in everything they do, everything they say, every thought they think, and every decision they make. We need to determine that we are going to work at building our relationship with Jesus just as we build our relationships with our families, friends, and significant others... by loving them, talking with them, listening to them, and most importantly... speding TIME with them! He needs to become our priority... and when that happens, all of the do's and dont's will flow naturally from our closeness to Him. Until then... we will continue our measly attempts to follow all of the rules on our own and we will continue to fail. We've missed the point... relationship is what God desires, period.

In Him,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Two Types of People...

This may, to some, seem to be a somewhat odd post to begin my new blogging adventure... but I believe i'm willing to take the risk.

Yesterday, to celebrate Memorial Day, my Mother and I decided to spend the day at a public pool right outside of our hometown. After arriving and finally finding a place to spread out our towels among the masses of people who also decided to venture to the pool on Memorial Day (I know... go figure), I decided to go ahead and go for a swim, despite my inclination to lay out for a while beforehand. When I made this suggestion to my mother, she said, "OK, but let's get in the shallow end." I gave in to her wishes and eased my way into the pool... freezing and making every attempt to avoid the splashing of the, what seemed like, hundreds of flailing children around me. "Why did I let her talk me into getting in over here," I thought to myself.

This scenario got me thinking about why in the world she didn't want to just jump in at the much more exciting, 10ft. deep end of the pool. It was then that I realized there are 2 types of people in this world. Type #1 eases their way into the shallow end of the pool, shivering and dreading every drop of water that touches them until, finally, they get up the nerve to submerge themselves completely... then realizing the relaxing coolness of the water and allowing themselves to enjoy the swim. Type #2 decides easing their way into the pool is much too time consuming and uncomfortable so they march straight to the deep in and jump. Sure, jumping may be a shock to the system at first... but is quick and requires much less uncomfortableness and thought. Besides... you can always get out if the water is too cold, right?

I'm definately a jumper... After this epiphany, I began to wonder if this tendency could translate at all into the circumstances of my life. I resolved at a resounding... duh! I love being a jumper. It is fun and exciting, yet uncertain and scary all at the same time. I can see this tendency in decisions i've made throughout my life. When I decide I want to do something, even if it seems outrageous... 9 times out of 10, it's going to happen. I can see this tendency in many relationships. I trust quickly and I have a lot of faith in people. This causes me to become attatched to people and relationships very quickly. I'm also impatient... the time it takes to ease your way into something just seems so mundane to me. Just jump... that's how I have lived my life.

I must admit, this tendency does get me into trouble. I get really excited about things really quickly, and it only takes the smallest doubt to send me straight into a screaching halt... like ice cold water. That being said... I thank my God for all of the "easer's" in my life. They keep me grounded and bring me back to reality when I need it. They force me to be patient. If you are an easer in my life... (i'm sure you know who you are) thank you!

No matter whether you are a jumper or an easer, my prayer for each of us is that we would realize that God made us either-or... for a reason. God bless those jumpers who move things forward and aren't scared of the risk of ice-cold water and God bless those easer's who are tuned to reality and keep us jumpers from hypothermia.

In Him,