Neil - Changes and Growth

Growing and Discerning...After the Heart of God

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mother Theresa and a Journey

So I have to ask myself the many times have I said the following:

"What is God calling me to do?"
OR how many times have I said

"I'm just looking for my calling. I just want God's will in my life. I'm just waiting to do what God wants me to do, whenever that is"

I said these things ALL the time. I thought they were the right things to be believing...but then something happened that changed my opinion.

I heard a speaker in a class give a talk, and he was referencing an interview a reporter had with Mother Theresa. He asked her the following question:

"So when did you know you were called to feed the poor and serve here in Calcutta?"

Her reply is unbelievably insightful:

"I wasn't. I was following Jesus Christ, and this is where He led me."

How amazing is that. Let's unpack that a bit.
This completely flipped my outlook on God's calling in our lives right away. Was I doing the wrong thing? I kept thinking there was this lighta at the end of the road I was heading to, that when I got there, I would be in the center of the heart of God, and I would then be able to know what my calling was, and I'd embrace it with open arms. Everything I was doing in the mean time was to prepare me for that if that destination was all that really mattered.

I really wanted to do God's will. I thought this is what God wanted. And it is, of course...but God's purposes are going to get accomplished no matter what. It's a fact. But that doesn't mean that God's will is always done. We don't do God's will all the time. God doesn't want people to sin. These are results of God's will NOT being done. Everytime we sin we are disobeying God's will...and it just reminds the world that evil is always present.

So bringing us back to the Mother Theresa comment. What can we do then? If we aren't truly "called" to do things? What if we never have that 'dream' or that 'vision' that tells us what God wants us to do? Simple. Ask ourselves the question: "What can I do right now to please God?"

Follow Jesus Christ.

That's what mother Theresa. God's will for our lives is to follow His son. So right now, the only thing we can to and be sure it is God's will is to follow Jesus Christ. Don't worry abo[ut finding a calling...worrying about making money...getting married...Do we not trust God to take care of these things? We are to focus on this one thing. Follow Jesus Christ...are we not confident that if we do this He will lead us to where we want to go?

I was reminded when hearing this story: Faith is not a destination, it is a journey. So let us follow someone that knows the best journey for us to take - and be able to say the same thing Mother Theresa said.

"I wasn't[called to serve the poor in Calcutta]. I followed Jesus Christ and this is where He led me."

This was the paper i turned in reflecting on the first 5 weeks of the "Perspectives" class I'm taking.

Check it out if you'd like

There are SO many different things I could write here! The first and foremost thing I took from week 1 was the importance of glorifying God. Too many times we take the Bible as being about us, and what God can do for us, and what we can do to glorify Him. But I don’t know if I could have answered this question correctly prior to week 1. God Gets most pleasure out of us when we glorify Him – Scripturally this is unarguably true, and we can glorify him by glorifying his name, and making all aware of His name and His love. That is what God wants more than anything.
Another discovery, which now seems ridiculously obvious, is the importance that God’s name be preached to all the nations as a necessity, and not necessarily as something we should do. Countless numbers of scripture verses have been brought to our attention supporting this. Not only SHOULD we do this as the body of Christ, but we MUST do this. Basically, according to scripture, the awakening for me was the cause-effect relationship of this. Matthew 24:14 Unarguable supports this when it says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” This WILL happen for the end to come. Amazing. God is going to accomplish His purposes…so we should do all in our power to be a part of them. No matter how hard people try NOT to help God or evil tries to stop Him, He cannot be stopped.
The speakers were unbelievable as well. It is SO tough to soak in all the information every speaker says every week, but I can honestly say every week I walk out of class with some sort of theme I take out of every speaker that sticks with me. During week one, I became convinced that we are really on Earth to do one thing – Glorify God. I then also became convinced the best way to do this is to witness…and I am using this word with (2) definitions. First, to proclaim our allegiance to Christ in public and in the way we live, as the disciples did. Next, to tell all we can about the importance and glory that comes along with believing in Christ. In a later week I discovered this as only half the battle in evangelization…it is also important to help those we share with in learning how to follow God, which is what happens after we commit our lives to Him.
In Week 2, Dr Robertson gave his “Cat and Dog Theology” Lesson…and I have to admit, I was immediately skeptical by the name; however, I was immediately impressed once he got into his main points, and I began to really get excited about the entirety of the class as a direct result of this. The main point I took from this was to focus on what JFK used to say about our country – not what it(HE) can do for us, but what we can do for it(GOD). What does God want from me? What does God get from me? Why does God love me? What can I do for Him? These were among the questions I began asking myself immediately…and I immediately saw a shift in my direction in prayer and my approach toward missions. And as an add-on to that…when we truly accept grace, when I realize that Christ is truly in me, I don’t just say “I get God,” it also becomes, “God gets me.”

The fifth week saw Russ Munion give his portrayal of the first (3) missionaries. The thing that strut me right away about the first one, William Carey, is that he was in India for SEVEN years before he had his first convert. I know very few people, if any, have that kind of patience. Did he go about his missions in the right way? No, not at all. Of course not. Why? Because nobody had ever done it before! His courage and faith had to be UNIMAGINABLE to do what he did – to TRULY take a leap…and take his wife, his kids, in the the belly of the beast. God praise Him for his work, and praise God for allowing people to love him THAT much. I pray I can have a fraction of his faith and patience in the Lord. These three men among others laid blueprints for us to follow, and allow us to learn from their mistakes, be inspired by their leaps of faith, and learn from their successes as well.
LOVE the class –wake up every Tuesday morning not being able to wait for the night!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Refrigerator Faith

You know, just to start off with a random thought I heard today. How often do we in our lives have "a refrigerator Bible?" You know, the type of Bible where, ya know what, I know if I eat when I need it, I'll be fine. I know I'm supposed to feed from it every once in a while, not all the time, but just enough to tie me over until the next time?? I've been, AT BEST, this good many times in my life. Think about it. I bet MOST Christians have this type of a Bible, myself included. Then, when we finally do get to the refrigerator, what do we do? We open it up, we grab the leftover Stouffer's Lasagna(It's always better the 2nd day), we grab the cake...we grab the good stuff. We don't grab the raw liver, or the pig's feet, or the mayonnaise that has been in the fridge so long its beginning to grow fur. We grab what we know is good - what we know will satisfy us.

How many times do we do this in life? How many times do we do this with the Bible? We stick to what works. We look for the verses about love, and encouragement. We stick to the New Testament - why? Because its awesome stuff! We know it! we know God promises us these things, and we never get tired of hearing it. That's all great, it really is. I do it ALL the time. But what about the rest of the story? What about the chicken liver? what about that maynnaise? It's in the fridge for a reason right....Don't we owe it to ourselves, and to God, to see what it has to offer??

Now I am not of course suggesting we eat the mayonnaise with the fur - in fact, I hate all mayonnaise, but you get my point. I want to find out what it has to offer...I HAVE to find out what it has to offer, what the connections are. Sort of hit home yesterday doing some reading:

Gen. 45:4-8

"Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt."(from

Old Testament. The stuff we know, the stuff we rarely view as other than a story, but here's what jumped out at me. Joseph says here "It was not you who sent me here, but God." Josephs brothers, his flesh and blood, turned his back on him, or even worse, abandoned him, by selling him into slavery. And after all that time, when facing his brothers, what did he do? If you know my brother you know darn well what I'd do. I'd come out swining most likely - the Years of anger growing inside me(watering the 'wrong' parts of my life - see yesterday's post). But Joseph said "God did this to me, not you." What if we viewed everything every person does to us in our lives as God doing it to us? What if God said we let him down? What if God yelled at us for wrecking our car when we were teenagers? What if Jesus himself were the person we were holding resentment towards because of something they did to us 5 years ago? How crazy is that. I don't know about you, but for me, it would be gone in an instant. How could I ever be mad at Jesus for doing ANYTHING to me after all of the things I have done to him through my sin?
But that is essentially what it is. We always preach and know that God is in control:

"Everything in the heavens and the earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything...your hand controls power and might and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength" - 1 Chron 29:11-12

So this we know is true, so essentially isn't it God himself doing the things around us? Building us up, breaking us down? I am challenging myself to look at my life this way anytime I get sinful feelings towards circumstances around me. Rather than asking God "Why are you doing these horrible things to me Lord(or fill in the blank with the name of a...let us say brother =))" we can ask "Lord Break me so you can build me up again." It's really an amazingly intuitive way of thinking about circumstances around us...I hope that I can only have of the insight Joseph had, so I may recognize similar situations, no matter how minor they may seem.
Again, its not what I write on here which is important - it is the way I LIVE MY LIFE that is the most important...let me not forget this.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weeds vs. Fruit and a side of Chili

Okay...haven't done the online journals in a while, but now we're getting it back! I've been up and down lately, but the big change in my life is the recent assurance that change will be coming soon. I've been living in Kansas City for about 16 months now and the Lord has put it on my heart for the first time, as I knew would happen when I moved here, to start moving in new directions...I'm still not exactly sure what that means just yet, but I'm going to be patient and trusting in the process.

Gal. 5:19-26

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. "
Anyways, VERY good message today at church. The pastor, Dan, is traveling to China to pick up his daughter that he is adopting...really nice story actually, but he recorded the message before leaving, which we watched on video. He began by starting with a story another leader within the church had told him. Let me set it up for you.
IT started with him feeling called in some way to "water everything green" in his yard. So day in, day out he would be watering everything in his back yard which was green. I found myself picturing the guy just standing in the back of his yard, with an estranged smile on his face...almost as if he was high, just smiling...hose running...And one day he was back watering with his cousin, and the cousin said:

"What are you doing?"

"Watering the plants." he replied.
"Uh...those aren't plants. Those are Weeds."
The leader then looked for a minute...and replied.

The connection is great. So many times in our lives we 'water' things - good and bad alike. The It is a VERY sensitive thing to do. If we spend time in prayer, and focusing on our spiritual life, we will grow. By doing devotionals, constantly making the right decisions, and spending time 'watering' these parts of our lives, growth is inevitable.
On the contrary...we can go the other way with this one. If we water the other parts of our lives, the sinful side of our nature, this will grow. I'm sure we can all relate to this - I know I can. IT always starts with (1) LITTLE sin. Then it just grows. Sometimes when I was in college i would make it a point, just as an example, to not drink any alcohol at certain points. My senior year I once went 40 days without drinking...which doesn't seem like much now, but back then it was. I was improving in my spiritual life every day.
But then I'd go out and have one beer, then two...and the next time three...and it would be a while before I realized I would be falling into the same patterns that got me to the point I was at in the first point. Now alcohol isn't really a big problem in my life...even if it was it isn't's always been controllable to me, but i feel many of us can relate to this story. In fact, just writing this makes me want to have a boulevard Wheat! It's a Kansas City Beer. I've had a 12 pack in my fridge for a good month and a half now...i always get too tired to have one and fall asleep!

Anyways, back to my point. When we water these "sinful" things in our lives - whether it be alcohol, or lying, or jealousy, they will grow inside of us. And the problem with watering? We can't water more than one thing at a time. So if we're spending our time watering the bad things in our lives, the good things will begin to die. The leader in the church our pastor was referring to looked around his yard to see the fruit and plants in the other parts of his yard dying...because he was focusing on the weeds. Everybody knows this is true...when we're growing in sin, our spirit will wither; however, if we water our spiritual lives - the 'fruit' -and continue to do so, the sin inside of us - the 'weeds' - will wither away....but if we ever decide to step on over, and 'water' the weeds again, they'll come right back.

So it is my prayer that we would spend our time focusing on the fruit in our lives - and watering the fruit, so the weeds and sin in our lives will die. Let this be continual.

Tomorrow I'll write my thoughts and response to it.
NOW on the lighter side of things...last night was AWESOME! My roommate and I attended a Chili cook-off at an Episcopal church- I ate a good pound of chili. There were TONS of different kinds of chilis, and we were testers...and ate more chili then I knew what to do with. Now if you know me at all you know how much I appreciate good food. I could DEFINITELY be a food critic - If God called me to do this i would be SO pumped - but...I know that's not my calling. Oh well...=)

We then went to the Plaza to watch the KU-Mizzou game, and loved seeing the Jayhawks come away with the win - just gotta hope they can get it done in March this time! They've had some bad luck in recent years.

Alright, NFL playoffs are on - and even though Da Bears are out, I still enjoy it... and I have a stouffer's Lasagna in the oven. Sunday is a great day =)
and I thought everybody would find it amusing that I went to add some pictures after writing this, and typed "weed" in a google search, and wouldn't ya know...What do you think came up??
It's actually called 'granny smokin the weed.'

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

GEEZ it's been so long since I've updated the good 'ol blog! I've moved to Kansas City to take the job I interviewd for with WESCO international. It's going great, I just moved into a great house and am learning as quickly as I can. I start an intensive learning program today, even though I've pretty much been doing my job the past couple weeks(THROWN into the fire, quite literally. You really learn quick when you learn through your own screw ups!)

One of my big challenges in moving here, as I knew it would be, would be to find a church as comfortable as St. Stephens was for me in Sewickley, PA. I loved it there, and more importantly loved the people there, which is the most important thing to me. I've been attending "Heartland Community Church" since I've arrived, going on Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights. It's been decent - All of the services are contemporarty, some were actually all prayer services(Tuesday nights), which was nice. But the church has adopted a "Go" mission statement as they are in the process of moving buildings, and seem to be pushing this new transitional phase greatly. It seems great if I were a part of the church already and involved, but I'm not, so at times I feel uncomfortable.


I went to a new church - recommended by a Mentor I've met with per recommendation of Peter Moore, my good friend and Mentor from back in Pittsburgh. The church is the Church of the Resurrection, a Methodist church, and my great friend Paul and I went there to attend service on Sunday to hear the pastor, Adam Hamilton Speak. I had already heard good things about him from Sherree Funk, another friend from Pittsburgh who had encountered him. We sang 2 hymns, and the sermon was on the Parable of Buried Treasure. The talk was great. He was quick, efficient, and effective. I loved how he focused on one topic - Buried Treasure - related it to Christian Faith - it was very effective.

Why did I like it?? Here's why - I am a Christian. I believe things and have done things the Bible says are necessary for Salvation. I have a personal relationship with God, and I understand Mature Christian faith doesn't happen ovenight - it's a lifelong process and is difficult. But...(there's always a but isn't there?) I often feel there's something out there I just don't get. In the same respect there are times when I feel like I do 'get it.' I feel that I did that day on the vineyard, God put a feeling of peace all about me that day, as if I DO get it. But Sin and human nature bring so many other bad things to me and bring me back down. Anybody who has ever had more than a 5 minute conversation with me about my faith knows this and how much I stuggle with this and have struggled with this for years. The only 2 things more difficult for me to understand are accepting God's grace, and understanding that Jesus was in fact God Himself. And again, it's okay to not 'get' it all the time.

Adam Hamilton, the pastor, understood this, and made a couple observations. But he convinced me for the first time in my life, by admitting that he too didn't "get it" yet, that there is still hop. He then referenced a song by U2 which, after reading the lyrics over and over, now LOVE. Most people have heard it:

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2

I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you
I have run I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
Only to be with you
But I still haven't foundWhat I'm looking for
But I still haven't foundWhat I'm looking for

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire
This burning desire
I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone
But I still haven't found What I'm looking for
But I still haven't found What I'm looking for

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
But yes I'm still running.
You broke the bonds
You loosened the chains
You carried the cross
And my shameAnd my shame
You know I believed it
But I still haven't foundWhat I'm looking for
But I still haven't foundWhat I'm looking for

How good is this last verse. It struck me right in the gut.


While I may now what it is I'm looking for, and understand how desperately I need and want to find it...

I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

Wendsday, October 30th

Alright so right now I'm sitting on a plane in Providence, RI, and I was talking to the flight attendent for a few minutes about the camp I worked, and why I was going to Chicago(my Sister's wedding) - because that's what I do. I talk to people. Everybody I know knows this about me. The conversation struck up because I had to explain to her why the hell I was in Rhode Island! I asked for a pen to write with, and she came back with a coca cola pen - and it literally took me about 15 minutes to figure out how the hell to make it work! I was so MAD! I'm an idiot. Anyways, turned out all I had to do is twist it instead of pulling. Yea, that's how I roll.


Neil + ANYTHING = Neil is a moron =)

Yesterday was my birthday. Yes, i know, hold in your excitement. I'm 24 now. After about 7 days on the vineyard, I took the ferry at 12:15 back to reality. No more sweatervests, no more sailboats. Another counselor named Matt, whom I met there, and I then drove to his place in Connecticut to stay the night. Seeing as it was my birthday, we wanted to make a little detour, and hit up the Fox Woods or something like that casino! It's always a good time. I proceeded to lose about $75, but it was tons of fun. We got a 9 in on the country club his parents were members to this morning, which was awesome(I love Golf - you know, they say Golf and sex are the only 2 things you don't have to be good at to enjoy). I then headed up toward Providence, stopped through New Haven to see another friend I made at the Vineyard from Yale. So now Im leaving RI on a plane of about 26, so I have about 4 rows to myself, AND its the exit row, so I just popped in a perkaset and am about to pass out!

Anyways, some amazing things happened the last couple of days at the vineyard. Have you ever been meditating, or praying, and you seen to get little glimpses of things you haven't experienced(I guess you could call it the PRE-dejavu phase)? 2 days ago, I was in our cabin praying, looking out the window and watching rain fall, and I swear I got this overwhelming sense of the Spirit - I saw light, I felt God's presence, and I really felt I was looking at God's glory. It was only for a split second, but it happened 3 times that day. It was amazing. I have found myself more and more becoming delighted in my faith...and I truly feel eager to seek, and of course I have felt more and more peace. One of my onstant prayers is to know the desires of my heart - because I don't know what they are! But He does...

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

I love this psalm(37)

This has helped me in making my decision for a move. God is going to work in my life no matter where I end up, and I am now convinced that he has left it up to me to decide where I want to be, and He'll take it from there. Makes the decision SO much easier with that kind of confidence on my side doesn't it??

Alright - the medicine is kicking in now, so I'm gonna doze off(it's about 9pm). I'm meeting my brother at the Airport, than my grandma is going to pick us up. Time to get the usual Italian Beef sandwich, Gyros, stufffed pizza, vienna beef hot dogs, and all of the other brown bag heart attacks that come with the food I love so much in Chicago, the city I love.

Biking and TOUGH questions

August 26, 2006

What an exciting day! Yesterday I took a 24-mile bike ride - and I rezlized something...I need to invest in a bike! They are so easy to get around on and I feel more tired after running 3 miles than riding 24 - Maybe it was because I was able to ride across the entire island in about 45 minutes, but it was quite amazing.

Anyways, after buying a $20 "Black Dog" shirt, and checking out the other half of Martha's Vineyard, I came back to the North shore, where I attended a "tough questions" seminar - it was supposed to be for the kids but I was SO intrigued by it. Some of the most amazing things I heard involved creation, the flood, and the sacrifices. Let me explain.

We all know the story of Adam and Eve. Eve tempted Adam to eat from the Tree(Well, Satan did, but that's another subject...Women are NOT the root of all evil, even though this is what I tell everybody!) of Good and Evil, and in taking a bite from the Apple Sin was introduced into the world. We all know this story. But through this seminar I learned something very interesting. The Greek and Aramaic translations of the word "Adam" we see in the Bible today directly translated simply means "man." Therefore, while it is a popular belief Adam was ONE man, it is not outside the realm of possibility that "Adam" is used to represent many men. How nuts is that...Just a theory of course, but interesting nonetheless. If this were true, it would of course mean God created more than one man in the beginning, which would also create a good objection to the whole "Incestual" past that would have had to occur for procreation.

Another question was raised about sacrifices. Why were many people told by God (before Christ) to sacrifice lambs, calves(even sons, although never actually done), etc. to God? First, let's look at why Christ was the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of God in the form of man, for all of mankind, to wipe away sin. Before this, lambs, calves, etc. were sacrficed as a cost for sin, and were therefore not needed after Christ. It is also said those were so we would get a fraction of the understanding of what the sacrifice of the Christ, the Son of God, meant to God. Now let's look at the crucifiction.

The temple (which was where most of these sacrifices took place) in Jerusalem is said to have been destroyed after the death of Jesus on the cross. Put simply, this very well could have been a symbolic destroying to show there was no longer a need for the sacrifices, for the ultimate and only necessary sacrifice now had been made.

Psalm 37:4
"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Wednesday, August 30th

Monday, October 30, 2006

An Arab Sailing?? Yep!

August 24, 2006

"I'm sailing away..." - Styx

They say there's a 1st time for everything, and today was my 1st day of sailing! In fact, I was on a boat on the ocean for the 1st time ever. Being on the East coast, on a boat of about 50 people, I was the only person to have never been sailing before let alone on a boat. In fact, most of the kids said their parents actually had sailboats of their own(FOCUS, the org. i was working for, is a private school ministry).

This is the thing that occured to me today. I had SO much fun - relaxing on the deck, reading a book, talking to the kids. Getting a good tan(which I like to call 'enhancing' my already dark skin). Then I started talking to the deckhands(the work crew). There were 5 of them, all between the ages of 20 and 25, which is right where I am. The captain/owner of the ship told me the story of the ship - he was 24 - and his fatehr had owned the ship and now he and his brothers were running the business. The had literally been doing this their entire lives. That blew my mind away...and if you know me you know exactly why that would get to me. I thought about it later and just couldn't grasp the idea of doing the same thing, of loving something that way, my whole life. I don't think I could do it. But the more I thought about it, it met me. This guy has it figured out. He is leaving HIS dream. He LOVES doing what he does every day of his life, and knows what he wants to do with the rest of hit. Why shouldn't he do this? Good for him! He's sailed to the carribean from MA. He's windsurfed in Maui. And he's good at it. i would LOVE to say i'm good at surfing...what little surfing I've done, it is one of my favorite things to do - but I'm not blessed at being good enough at it for a living, so God has other plans for me. I don't have the slightest clue right now how to sail. Before today, I thought "starboard" meant the little starcruch snacks(Yes I was a fat kid, still kind of am at heart).

But seriously, he KNEW he had a calling. And he's living it, and loving it. But that's's not for me. I love being able to do different things - Where as the captain of the ship didn't want to do different things. I may not be great at anything (that I know of) right now, but I'm good at a bunch of things, and I'm thankful for that. I'll take the gifts God has given me, and keep striving toward my goals and figuring out God's will in my Life.

Okay, now it's time to go listen to boys talk about masturbation and "joysticks"...Um....I wish I was kidding. It's what you get when you room with middle school boys!

Remember this my friends...

"God's will is exactly what we would chose for our lives.. ifwe knew what God knows!"

My verse I prayed today...

Isaiah 26:3 "You willkeep in PERFECT PEACE those who trust in you, whose thoughtsare fixed on you"

Doubt, doubt, and more doubt! - It CAN be good you know =)

August 23 -

I doubt. I doubt every day of my life. I doubt every time I sin. I listen to the lies that tell me there isn't a God sometimes. In my mind...

My heart keeps me in check. In my heart I know there is a God. Of course there is. So...then why do I always go through spells where I think I don't nee Him, where I am the controller of everything, that there is no influence on me, that I can change things on my own? As human beings we feel the need to be wanted and accepted all the time, if we say we don't we're lying. God gives this to me openly, yet I constantly find myself turning to others instead of Him for this acceptance. I often wonder if solitude would be good for me. I know we are intended to be with other people - Juesus was ALWAYS with other people - always. But so am I. I've lived alone, but I'm always doing something it seems. I have quiet times, but usually no more than an hour or two at a time. Would a week, a month, or more effectively, even a year or more alone help me understand the mysteries of God more? I would solely rely on Him if this were the case as relying on others would not be possible. The initial reaction to this is "of course" - so here is the question. Why don't we do this if it would make us closer to and help to understand better our God?? I don't know...

It's another beautiful day here on the island and sunny as ever. And I pray God's will is being done. This day and every day.

- The Chicago Bears will be starting their season soon - and a Super Bowl title is in my sight. The cubs may not win many games from here on out, but I still love them too...but its time for football season. Go Bears!

Tennis and the Island I'm on

August 22, 2006 - 5:14 PM

TENNIS! After morning prayer and meetings I was talked into a game of tennis - what a great time. After playing a double match we just stuck around and hit for an hour or so and I remembered why I loved Playing tennis so much back in high school and in college. I played through my sophomore year in college, but am not determined to play more!

All of the kids began arriving around 2pm, and they're all about here now...The weather today on the vineyard is amazing - 80 and not a cloud in the sky. Some sand volleyball and whiffle ball have dominated registration, and I'm tired from both!

In prayer last night, we prayed for things that were needed in order for us to be "present" here this week. For me, that meant letting go of what has been occupying all of my prayers and thoughts! Tough to do - I'm in the process of deciding whether to move out of Pittsburgh, a place I love, in order to pursue career moves, not to mention my decision as to whether I should pursue a career or continue in ministry. Originally I thought this little sabattical would give me the chance to ask God for guidance and figure it out, but the last day has changed my mind. It's up to God - not me. Where He sends me I will go, wholeheartedly. Las night, after some fighting, I was able to release this decision up to Him finally. Might sound crazy, but it's not up to me. I love Pittsburgh, other than Chicago it may be my favorite city. The idea of moving to Kansas City is scary, but seems great as well - there are spiritual highs and lows involved with both places, I realized this when I visited KC last week. Staying means reamining in ministry most likely and leaving means workin in business...FOR NOW. I've realized we don't have to be involved in full-time ministry to serve God's purposes for the Kingdom - He has different callings for each of us. I see myself, in fact I almost want to say I know(but I know better!) I'll be doing full-time ministry as a career at some point in my life, but I'm starting to get the feeling God is going to take me through some hard lessons, and break me, and build me up again, to mature my faith so I'll better be ready to serve in that way down the road, and not necessarily right now. Kind of scary, but I know he sees the end result for me, and knowing this gives me strength and courage to do things now.

And maybe the FREAKING cubs will win a game while I'm gone the next 2 weeks...I'll be at Wrigley IN a week and half by the way!


These are posts from the past couple months I've written...

August 22, 2006

So 2 nights ago I stayed in New York Cityin a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air type house, in the 4-bedroom poolhouse, as a matter of fact. That day began by witnessing a truck flip right in front of me and my travel companion(Peter Moore)'s eyes, which was...well...freaking weird and scary. We pulled over right away, and after realizing nobody was seriously hurt(SOMEHOW both passengers walked away without a scratch) and a police officer arrived and interviewed us, we continued east toward NYC(Turns out the guy fell asleep at 10am on the road...NEVER drive when you're tired!).

Yesterday we left NYC, went through RI and CT and arrived in New Bedford, MA, in order to catch the ferry over to Martha's vineyard, where I am preparing to work a middle school camp with an organization called FOCUS which Peter in fact founded many years ago. After taking some time to check out the old, run down fishing town, I got my first glimpse of the ocean. It's always amazing to see it for that first instant every time you go, even though I had seen it over a dozen times before(if you didn't know, I "get around" - in the non-sexual way =)). I always think about what certain things looked like thousands of years ago - whether a shopping center, or a house that now stands there was covered in endless fields, or even if the ocean itself...just standing on a beach staring at it, looked the same. Unbelievable...because the ocean probably has looked the same for hundreds of thousands of everyone.

During the 1 hour ferr ride, we passed through the Elizabeth Islands, and through Woods Hole, MA, where the Oceanographic Institute is. Peter Moore, informed me Emperor Hirohito(Emp. of Japan during WWII), when coming to the US to sign peace agreements and surrender after the war, requested only to see one thing while in the United States, and this Oceanographic institute was that one thing.

After about a 20-minute doze off session, something startled me. Our minds are so dangerous. I found myself seeing people around me dying, thinking about people in BAD ways - I feel so helpless sometimes, you know what I mean? It's the same when you're a little kid, and you're all alone in the dark. You are fine for a few minutes, but then that infamously haunting "Unsolved Mysteries" theme music gets in your head, or you start playing through the next "America's Most Wanted" episode, in which you are the main character. And it's all in your head, but now you are scared out of your mind. You know all you have to do is stop thinking about it and you'll be fine, but you can't. It's too late. We become prisoners of our own minds. I get that way - and Satan must love it. I know immediately when these thoughts enter my mind. I know they're bad - I know I shouldn't think them, but it's too late. Before we know it we're sinning over and over in ways we're not even aware of, and all we can do is pray or fall asleep until we forget it ever happened, until the next time it happens, which we know it will. Bottom line: it's terrible. What can we do about it? In the book of James as well as other places in Scripture, we are told to focus on our hearts, and be transformed from the inside-out. Or in other words, rather than changing our outward actions, by changing our heart our outward actions will reflect those changes. This is a process, bu our damn human nature screws us up, and makes us that much more likely to fall into the thought trap, yet again we must first learn to NOT ACT on those thoughts, THEN work on elimination the thoughts...

We keep on trucking...We'll find it...He'll help us find it...

It takes time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Great day!

SO...Yesterday I had another Job interview, as a Operations Management Analyst at WESCO(Don't ask, I have no idea what that exactly meant), and it actually went pretty well. I went downtown, interviewed with 6 people, talked their ears off, as I often do, and went on my way. As I was driving home, I began reflecting on how the interview went. It went great right? Here I was, interviewing for an unpublished job, getting first dibs on an interview to be on a management track for a fortune 500 company. And I wasn't EXTREMELY Excited about it...excited a bit, sure, but it didn't seem enough. I began thinking to one of my interviewees when he asked me "what would be your ideal job right now?" I stopped for a brief second, having never been asked this question, and thought about how to answer. A professional soccer player? A TV broadcaster? A sports Agent? An Actor? Sure those all seemed great, but without stuttering and before I knew what I was saying, I blurted out -

"I have to be in a position where I am constantly building relationships with people, and my success or failure in that position is based solely on the foundation of those relationships."

I was amazed and startled by my response - wait a minute...I'm an idiot, how did I say something that sounded so great? I know it was God talking at that moment...and I'm taking it as a clue as to what He is calling me to do...I don't know what it is yet, but what a great start.

The next few weeks should be exciting, I'll be looking at the possibility of moving, and staying, but either way, transition awaits me, and I love it. Keep praying for me and thank you to those who have been!

Funny Cartoon...I love it

Purifying Silver

Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it. " If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

God wants to see himself in us...but do we think he can??

Friday, July 21, 2006

Yep - The Seal is a's been over a month! Anyways, been CRAZY busy lately, I am working as a Youth Pastor now at St. Stephens in Sewickley, PA for the summer, as well as working a few soccer camps to make a little extra money. And of course, a few trips here and there. In my spare time I have kids waking me up at 8am on Saturdays to hang out, and have been praying and searching to write the next chapter of my life. Right now it's looking like it's between staying here, and moving to KC...and for the first time Moving to KC I would say has pulled even, giving my head the idea that it's about 50/50. Can't wait either way!

I'm actually very busy right now writing my sermon for Sunday...I'm speaking for the first time, and am actually very excited about'll be fun. This is what I live for! I love talking =).

This is a poem my friend Elizabeth sent me from Maya Angelou. Great words - Take a look:

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."
> When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.
When I say... "I am a Christian"> I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.
When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow!

I'll try to keep updating everybody on the "life of the Seal" - in the mean time, I hope everybody is doing great - pray for me if you can!