Thursday, December 29, 2011

Honeymoon with My Brother by Franz Wizner


SPOILER ALERT
            Review
            Honeymoon with My Brother is an excellent memoir documenting Franz’s life after being dumped at the altar by his fiancé and girlfriend of nearly a decade.  Franz did not get much of an explanation of what happened, who was at fault or where to go from there.  His brother flew in and decided that they should go ahead and have the wedding, just without the bride.  Everyone was already en route or at the destination anyways.  The next suggestion Franz’s brother, Kurt, made was for them to go ahead with the honeymoon, besides everything was already paid for.  After their one week honeymoon Kurt and Franz decide when the two arrive back to quit their jobs, rid themselves of most of their possessions and then decide to travel the world together; and that is what they did.  Franz and Kurt traveled the world for two years and hit fifty-three countries along the way.
            I wish I could say I did the same thing.  That after the breakup my housemates and I embarked on a journey around the world where I learned the meaning of life from an Eskimo in the Arctic.  That my best friend took me on a road trip where we picked up a random hitchhiker and he traveled with us while learning who I was.  Nothing like that happened.
            I picked myself off the ground with a lot of help from God, friends, the power of prayer, and a never ending stream of Dr. Pepper. 
            What I learned from this book is the early chapters are filled with the memories of his former fiancé, Annie, the unresolved conversation and the tears that flowed without ceasing due to all the hurt.  Then the travel begins and it is line after line about travel with Annie mixed in briefly.  When I picked this book up I was really looking forward to reading a conclusion of how Franz got over Annie and how everything is perfect, happy, and fine!  But, the conclusion was just the end of his travel.  Telling the readers he is going to keep on traveling learning more about other cultures what’s out there so he can shape his mind even more.
            That was the message that I needed.  When you read the book you get so involved in Franz’s travel that you forget about Annie.  You learn there is more in life that a relationship and a broken heart.  There are broken people, broken cultures, and people begging from the crumbs off the table. 
            That’s where I am today.  I’m not over her, not quite yet.  Still learning, still growing, by God’s graciousness He is allowing me to keep on living life.  I want to be so active in ministry towards others that when people see, ‘read my memoir,’ they won’t be seeing Annie like with Franz’s life, but they will see my travels, my ministry here on earth.  I want to be a servant and maybe God wants me to be a servant more than I want to be one, and showed me I can only do it by myself?  I don’t know God’s plan and never will.  I’m just going to try and love God best I can. 

I came across this quote and wanted to share it with everyone who has ‘been there’ for me.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
- Henri Nouwen


Top of Form

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why I love the NBA








It’s that time of year again, and it is not just Christmas, but the NBA season tips off on Christmas day!  Boy, am I excited!  I love the game of basketball ever since I was a young lad and I have also been a Houston Rockets’ fan ever since I can remember.  I did go through a phase in my growth spurt when I wanted to be like Kobe or Dirk and rise above the defense, so I do admit to owning a few Dirk and Kobe jerseys.
            I wasn’t very good at basketball staring out.  I could barely dribble and it took years for me to dribble properly, not put the ball on the floor when I was posting up, and so on.  When things were tough in my life ever since I was a little kid if I ever needed an escape I would head to the driveway and just shoot.  Shooting is the greatest stress relief I have ever encountered.  With that came my love for basketball.
            I try hard to love college basketball, I really do!  But, it is hard when every great player is one and done and there are no dynasty’s except for Duke, which I do love.  The scandals are too much and scandals in the NCAA just make you shake your head.  It’s hard when I watch and none of the players ring a bell in my head and you know more about a coach’s scandals then his x’s and o’s.
            I can talk NBA with just about anyone and I know all the players.  I love following the players, watching my team and others that are great!  I love following every headline and showing compassion to players I just feel so sorry for.  Like Kris Humphries, sorry man life will get better, although you did sign up for some of it with the TV show.  But Mr. Humphries you are a good rebounder you will do well.  There are the players I try to like even though they do the stupidest things like change their name to Metta World Peace.  But, I love all the stories in the NBA no matter how relevant to basketball.
            If there is a player that everybody hates, I probably love him.  Kobe and Lebron are two of my favorites in the game.The storylines are unparalleled in the NBA and everyone can relate to the game of basketball.  Everyone in their life has shot a basket and understands basketball.  During the lockout the guys played in pickup courts and their hometown gyms, does not get much better than that.  Basketball never stops!  While these guys are not all walking with the Lord the way their mama’s taught them and are not giving 10% of their $101,000,000.39 shoe contract to the needy they play a game I love.  Basketball is a game I love where I met some of my best friends playing.  Met some of the nicest people and some of the worst people in my life.  Where I strengthened my body and tore it up at the same time.  Where I got to wear some of the slickest looking shorts and the worst looking mask for my broken nose.  I thought I would get to wear a RIP Hamilton mask, instead it turned out to be something Dwight Schrute would wear when he was playing hockey.  I’m ready for it to come back and cheer on my Rockets!  Cheer on the game that I love and just enjoy the game of basketball!









Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My top albums of the year


Now that the year is coming to the close I have decided to review the best music albums I purchased this year courtesy of iTunes.

Pop

 
Such a wide category, but I have to give the crown to Adele’s latest album entitled: 21.  This is her second album and the main inspiration for the album came from none other than a broken heart.  "It's [21] different from 19, it’s about the same things but in a different light. I deal with things differently now. I’m more patient, more honest, more forgiving and more aware of my own flaws, habits and principles. Something that comes with age I think. So fittingly this record is called 21. The whole reason I called my first album 19 was about cataloging what happened to me then and who I was then, like a photo album you see the progression and changes in a person throughout the years. I tried to think of other album titles but couldn’t come up with anything that represented the album properly, I kept swerving 21 thinking it was obvious. But why not be obvious?"
– Adele, on her personal blog, discussing the inspiration behind the name of her second album.

Top three songs

1)  Someone Like You

2)  Turning Tables

3)  One and Only

Christian/Worship

Jesus Culture Awakening: Live From Chicago Album Cover

I decided to choose a worship album that reminds me of worship at a church I have recently been attending.  Drum roll please… Jesus Culture Awakening Live from Chicago.  Excellent album, and I’m not a big fan of live performances, but this album makes me feel like I’m standing at Beltway, yes it is repetitive at times, but great sound overall.

Top three songs

1) Break Every Chain

2) Father of Lights

3) I Surrender

Country(ish)

 The Civil Wars: <i>Barton Hollow</i>

This was the easiest category for me to decide on and I chose The Civil Wars’ Album Barton Hollow.  I have never heard a duet with such harmony and chemistry like Joy Williams and John White.  If you are looking for an album that soothes the soul this album is for you.

Top three songs

1) To Whom It May Concern

2) Poison & Wine

3) Falling

Rap/Hip Hop/R&B

This was the hardest category for me, but the nod goes to Drake’s sophomore album Take Care.



            For those that really do not know me I have a deep interest in rap/hip hop/r&b ever siince I was able to download music off Kazaa.  I can relate to so many of the themes in these albums, again I say themes.  Those are other stories, for other days.

Drake’s Take Care Album is filled with every song being a hit.  “Drake's lyrics mostly eschew boastful raps for introspective lyrics that deal with topics such as failed romances, relationship with friends and family, growing wealth and fame, concerns about leading a hollow life, and despondency.”  -Wiki   Besides the wealth and fame I can relate to all of what Drake speaks.

Top three songs- all edited, of course…

1)  Shot for me

2)  Doing it Wrong

3)  Marvins Room

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Psalm: Taking Her Out, Putting Him In


Been two months since I’ve heard your voice.
All my thoughts and dreams  run to you;
You were the one who got me through.
I woke up with you always on my mind,
But you are no more; you’re behind.
I was empty, hole in my chest.
I thought my life with you was the best;
Will I ever get through this?
I have no hope, no rock, no foundation.

After two months sworn I heard a new voice? His voice.
You have come into my life because I asked you to;
You are getting me through this mess and
Will be with me forever and always.
You have filled my every desire. I put my trust in you.
My life with you will never end, this is for the best;
Will I ever understand your unconditional love?
For you are my hope, my rock, my foundation.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Grief Part II




Do not hurry as you walk with grief; it does not help the journey.
Walk slowly, pausing often: do not hurry as you walk with grief.
Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden. Swiftly forgive; and let Christ speak for you unspoken words. Unfinished conversation will be resolved in Him. Be not disturbed.
Be gentle with the one who walks with grief. If it is you, be gentle with yourself. Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, pausing often.
Take time, be gentle as you walk with grief.

From Celtic Daily Prayer

            I was first given this quote from a friend named Heather, who quickly passed it on to me from an email she had received from one of her professors.  I received it a few weeks after the breakup and really enjoyed meditating on these words.  So, many people were telling me, “Get over it!” “Move on!”  “You’re better than that!”  The list of encouraging one liners goes on and on.  That was not what I needed.  I didn’t want to just get the memories out of sight and out of mind.  I had ‘unresolved conversation’ and memories that came like a thief in the night.  I still have conversation that hasn’t been finished, memories that hurt like an open wound, and broken dreams like a broken glass scattered on the kitchen floor.  I gave up trying to put the pieces of the glass together, it hurt too much and I was doing it by myself. 
            Am I all better?  No, but I’m getting there.  By walking slowly, swiftly forgiving, surrendering to God and allowing him to mold me through this ordeal.  I along with God’s grace and mercy will get better. 
            There is a buddy of mine, Luke, and a lot of what we do is talk football.  He made a great fun fact about a team and I told him, “Thanks Coach.”  He then replied,” I know football better than anything else in this world except grace and love.”  I want to be an expert in God’s grace and mercy, not accounting and law.

My prayer

You are good.  Allow me to feel you in the lonely days, allow your voice to drown out the sorrow in my heart when the haunting memoires overwhelm me.  Lord, you are the ultimate counselor that I should be going to in all times when I’m overwhelmed.  I do not always understand you and your ways.  Eternal God, it might take me an eternity to know you.  Thank you that time is of little consequence to you.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

This Thanksgiving

             This Thanksgiving, God means something different to me than most holidays.  I’m closer to Him than I truly have ever been, but it has taken a lot of work.  This holiday was meant to be different; I was supposed to be more ‘complete.’  This year I will not be sitting around a dinner table with potential in-laws, faking a smile here, nodding accordingly here, and checking the football scores on my iPhone at the opportune time.  I thought that’s how this Thanksgiving would be, but it’s not. Life changed for better for worse. These two months have been the longest of my life and I have thoroughly enjoyed them looking back.  Now that the fog has lifted I’m starting to see the road again, just a different road.  A more unselfish road, a road that is not self seeking, slow to anger, not proud, a road that is teaching me to walk again.  E.L. Doctorow said, “Grief is like driving at night, you cannot see any further than your headlights, but you can make the whole journey that way.”
            I’ve grown in ways I could not fathom.  When we tell God that He is our refuge, that is simply not good enough, God wants us to demonstrate that He is our refuge.  He did that to me this semester, and I pray that He continually humbles me.  I was humbled greatly this semester.  I am thankful for the pain and the suffering.  I will be real with who I am and the pain that I have gone through, a classmate of mine, Tammy Marcelain shared this wonderful quote with me and it echoes how I am trying to cope with what has happened in my life:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

I’m not going to hide what happened, I’m not going to run from it, I’m going to be real with the situation.  Grow from it the best I can with God’s grace.  I’m a broken man saved by God. 



My Thanksgiving Prayer,

Most Awesome God,

            I am thankful for my housemates, Joe, Wesley, & Kristian.  They are taking care of me through it all and I am grateful for their love. 
Countless professors and staff at ACU who have shown me love beyond a student/teacher relationship.  You all care for me and I am so grateful for you all. 
Bob , you are a Godly man and reminded me that I have a destiny and it is good. 
Casey, you listened and were real with me.
Andy, you showed me the book of Exodus in a different light.  When I came to you and said I was in the wilderness, you said our lives are a wilderness, but God is faithful.
Steve & Lynette, you two got me to stop looking at myself and looking at others and realizing we are a people of hurt.  When you took me to jail and I was able to pray with those at Middleton, I finally understand 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”
Bill, One day at a time sir, one day at a time. 
Randy, you showed me how to let go and give it over.  You taught me that God is using this death of a relationship to prepare me for the work at Lifeline next summer.
Mark, you surround me with such a warm embrace and told me, "The depth of your pain reflects the depth of your capacity to love."  I will keep loving.
Brent, I love you for who you are and how you treat me like a brother.  Your encouragement and love has been a Godsend.
Heather, thank you for your affection, words and love.  Your laughter is contagious.
Bethany, thanks for walking with me and sharing your pain and reminding me life does goes on.  You are a beautiful person.
Luke, thanks for being you, the sonic runs, making me sing and go to God when I didn’t want to.
Chris, thank you for the many times praying with me right on campus in crowds of people.
Jim & Linda, thank you for your love, wisdom, encouragement, and strength to pick me up.
Aunt Kelli, There is so much to say thank you for.  I love you and thank you for being more than an aunt, thank you for being a servant to all those around you.
God, you bless me in all things.  I will rejoice in your steadfast love.   In your Son’s name I pray,

Amen.

It’s been and will continue to be a long road, but the pain and hurt reminds me that this is not my home.  1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4
While this place is not my home, I will love the best I can with all I have towards others and not just a particular person.  Thank you God for shaping me, never be content with your creation.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Joe Paterno Should Be Blamed

In response to the recent article in the Optimist about the firing of Joe Paterno I would like to present my reasoning for his firing being justified.  I love JoePa as much as the next sports fanatic and I feel like he is my grandpa without ever meeting him.  He’s built a great legacy on wins, morals, and pride.  Gwin in his article refers to Paterno as an “icon for the university.”  All of us who follow sports know that Paterno is bigger than just football.  He is higher than the former athletic director, Curley, and former president, Spanier.  I agree with Gwin that Paterno is much bigger than football.  But, that is just it, Paterno is bigger than football, he is more than just wins and losses.  Gwin tells in the article it is not Paterno’s job to be involved in the personal lives of students.  This is where I kindly disagree.
  When JoePa recruits for his football team, he promises thousands of parents your boy is in my hands now!  When the former graduate assistant came to Joe Paterno in the beginning with the allegations this is what the face of Penn State should have done when the graduate assistant approached Paterno with the allegations: “Our lives just got tougher, but we are in this together.  I will protect you and I will put you under my wing and give you the best support I can to stop what you just saw.” 
            But, that did not happen, Paterno just passed on the message knowing that boys were being raped from eye witnesses.  The face of Penn State could and should have done more to stop those horrific acts done by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.  The nation of Penn State is in outrage and shock and rightly should be.  The grandfather figure we all know and love so well who we have branded the face of Penn State did nothing more to stop the injustice being done to children then pass a note on to a colleague.  Joe Paterno cannot be the face of a university with the inaction he demonstrated in this ever developing case.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christians need to love, despite judgment

This blog was previously posted in the optimist at the below link.
In the past two letters to the editor, we have seen one pushing for rights for GLBTQ community, and one saying they should not be accepted.  Let me present the ‘in the middle’ approach I have come to take.
Being homosexual is not sinful. What is sinful is carrying out those thoughts and living a life of sex outside of marriage.  A point that was made in the last letter, was that homosexuals are not born that way.  That issue is so much more than just a yes or no.
What if people are born with same-sex attraction?  What if they really couldn’t change their attraction for the same-sex?  What about sin that we are born into?  You are born into an abusive home; your dad is an alcoholic.  You are born into a sinful environment exposed to sin and a lifestyle that is natural to you.  You live a life and have relationships on the outside that are Godly, but on the inside your natural tendencies are still there, abuse and alcohol.
That is sometimes how homosexuals are.  They live a life that is uncomfortable on the outside, being with the opposite sex, but they do if for acceptance.  They are not acting out on their desires, but they still have them.  They are trying to do right, but aren’t.  It’s a big dilemma we face as Christians, and we are called to love everyone.
Yet some homosexuals choose to live a life of celibacy.  Is this wrong?  Are they openly sinning?  I believe this is the point I’m trying to make:  homosexuality is not a sin, but acting out on the desires and having sex outside of marriage is.  I pray that this entire world would be attracted to the opposite sex, but I believe it is so much more than just that.  Is it a choice or not?  That’s just too hard to tell, and I’m not in any position to answer that, but I do believe God put all people on this earth for a reason.  We are to love others and be Christ to them.  However a person may be, I will love them for who they are.   God loves all of His creation, and I would hope that we as a Christian people do the same.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An accounting major applying for a pastoral care internship.


Today I interviewed for an internship with Lifeline Chaplaincy in the Medical District in Houston, Texas.

 Lifeline is “dedicated to providing compassionate support to the seriously ill, their families and caregivers, and to being an educational resource for crisis ministry.”

I am an accounting major looking at law school applying for a pastoral care internship.  Today ACU brought in about 25 churches and ministry organizations looking to fill them with students from here, Pepperdine, Harding, etc.  I got calls, emails, texts, from a few churches looking for youth interns, but I honestly don’t think I could be a youth intern.  Here is why:
            I worked camps at ACU a few summers ago and I got put with the younger kids, why?  I have no idea; I’m a serious, laid back, relational guy dealing with six year olds.  But, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will never forget it.  One thing that really stuck out to me most during KidQuest was our praise time at the end of the day.  Our praise time consisted of learning songs, motions, and jumping up and down a few times.  The ones, who know me well, know that is the exact opposite of my personality.  I found kids gravitate towards me who were down, who didn’t want to be there who wanted to talk just one on one.  These kids were why I did camps, the one on one time was and is what I live for.  In considering being a youth intern I could not stand up in front of a 100 kids and exclaim, “God is so good, all the time!”
            Yes, He is awesome and good, but I can’t do that.  I’m real!  I’m open and I want to talk to kids about their struggles and how they do better in their relationship with Christ.  Lifeline Chaplaincy if I get a chance to work there will give me the opportunity to minister one on one to help those in their toughest time.  To be a support and an attentive ear to reaffirm them and love on them the best I can with God’s help.
            I’m an accounting major, why?  I don’t really know, numbers come easy to me and accounting and taxes are easy to me.  I’m battling a lot with what to do in life?  What profession does God want me in?  How can I best serve His Kingdom?  Right now, today, I believe I want to be a family attorney.  I want to help families who are going through difficult times and be a counselor to them and help them navigate through difficult times in their lives.  I believe the experiences I have endured and been blessed to go through are shaping me to counsel others in some way and I believe this is how I can do that best.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Grief


How should we grieve?  What are the magic words to make the hurt go away?  What do you say to someone who just lost a loved one?  When will the hurt and sorrow disappear to where you will feel, well like you once felt?  Pain is there, it always will be and will keep coming. 
This semester, I have felt pain; I have felt lost love; I have felt pain that I never thought I would or could feel.  Does it get better?  Sure, for a while then something else, something small, something big, our lives are a constant grief cycle.  In talking with a professor on campus about my recent struggles I told him,” I feel like I’m in the wilderness lost looking for direction.  That God is trying to tell me something that He could not have told me earlier.”  His reply was simple.
He said, “Our lives are a constant wilderness!”  I meditated on what my professor said.  It’s true, so very true.  I’m going to hurt, I’m going to feel, I’m going to suffer!  I’m so thankful that I do hurt, that I do feel, that I do suffer.  I truly feel sorry for those that go and live this life without confronting their emotions, masking them, and pretending that everything is ok, or pretending for so long that they ‘believe’ that everything is ok. 
When we struggle with our thoughts, talk to your feelings, acknowledge their presence.  Don’t shrug them off and mask them over and over.  God is bringing pain and suffering for a reason to build us up and make us stronger.  Our lives here are but a breath, we have one life here and after this an eternity of rejoicing and praising our Father who is in Heaven, what a day, what a day that will be.

 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; 
   he delivers them from all their troubles. 
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted 
   and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, 
   but the LORD delivers him from them all; Psalm 34:17-19
O, Lord my prayer is that you deliver me from all of my troubles, but Lord I will rejoice in the hope, the true hope I have in you, the message of your salvation, the only thing that stands firm when the world all around me is shaking and moving uncontrollably.  God thank you for allowing me to feel pain, discomfort, and to be brokenhearted, no one saves me like you do, and no one loves me like you do.  Lord allow my heart to desire you and only you.  O Lord, thank you for calling me a child of God, when I break my promises against you daily.  You save me each and every day; you are the author of love. 
Amen

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why I do Prayer Request Night?


Almost two years ago I started doing something on my Facebook called Prayer Request Night.  I had no idea what kind of response I would get, or if I would even get a response. This is how my particular “Prayer Request Night” goes.  Every Wednesday night in the evening when the most people are on I simply put, “Prayer Request Night comment or message.”  If you comment on my status that’s a public prayer request and me along with tens of others will see that and be praying about that for you.  If you message me a prayer request that is something that will stay between me, you, and God. 
When I came to ACU nearly two years ago I was overwhelmed by the Christian environment and the bubble that encompasses students here.  I went through doubt about why I was a business major and if I should switch to biblical text or missions, that’s another blog on its own.  But, I did look at everything in my life and how was that furthering the Kingdom?  Facebook was something in my life that I was on several times a day and was not feeding me in any way.  Praying for my friends was something I could do.
I do believe that there is a deep power in prayer and I know it because of what’s it’s done in my life.  Coming from a broken home to a broken engagement, my prayer life is phenomenal.  My fellowship is not always what it should be.  I cannot be in a church and be broken ready to be in tears over something when everyone around me is smiling, fake or not.  I love real people, I love being real with my pain, my emotion, and everything that makes me who I am today.  With prayer I can be real with others and God.  It’s because we close our eyes, we do not have to keep this fake smile on our face we can bow to God and He sees our heart and who we truly our!  Our God is good, our ultimate counselor and whenever He breaks you to where you cannot feel anything in your life and you are as empty as you have ever felt, that’s when God is begging for your attention.  Your desire and heart should be after Him and Him alone. 
I love praying for myself and for others.  At this point in time I have 1,319 friends, some of which I’m just barely acquaintances, but I want to pray for every single one of them and show them God’s love from a broken man.  When I post my status, I’m not looking to be nosey or looking for a new piece of gossip, I’m looking for people’s hearts, looking to encourage and help others the best I can.  That’s why I do Prayer Request Night.  As many of you know this has been a ROUGH month to say the least, but once again God is good, and He has revealed His goodness by prayer, when no one understands me, He does. 
Let me pray for you however I can, however small your request to the biggest need only our Father can understand.  Prayer is not a one time thing, but a continual dependence upon Him and that’s what I want to show my facebook friends. 
            If you ever need something you can always message me, post on my wall, comment on my status, text me, call me (281)-76-5944, email me jda09a@acu.edu. 
I pray that what I do encourages in you in some way that draws you closer to God.

Amen.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Caesera Philippi

One of my favorite sites out of the whole trip was Caesera Philippi where Peter confessed that Jesus was Christ.  Jesus was known for doing things a bit out of the ordinary and coming to Caesera Philippi was one of those things.  Originally, the place was called Paneas in honor of the Greek God Pan, whose shrine was located there, and the whole region was especially known for their pagan worship.  But, Jesus did not care what the region was known for or who was being worshipped.  For me this would be like my accounting professor taking me to a company meeting at what was say, Enron, to learn about some of their accounting standards. 
            One thing we do not give our savior enough credit for is how he faced temptation.  He faced temptation so well that we do not even realize He was being tempted.  Jesus took his disciples to this region that was wicked and evil and He asked His disciples in Matthew 16:13 “…Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  Peter answered in verse 16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 
            As we were sitting around doing our devotional at the foot of this cave where idols were for sure present, you got a sense of wonder at the grandeur of the rock around the cave.  The rock was massive, thick, and solid.  It made you feel very minute and inadequate standing next to the magnificent stone.  Right there, next to the cave where idols were worshipped and the last thing that was on people’s mind was God, Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus told Peter in verse 18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
            For me, this site was one of my favorites of the whole trip because it showed me just how strong Jesus was and is today.  As I stood next to and looked into the cave where 2000 years ago others worshipped false gods, I got a feeling of darkness.  Jesus was there in the height of existence of pagan worship and He stood stronger than ever.  He was not shaken and knew that wherever He was and no matter how much evil surrounded Him, His father was with Him at all times. 
          There have been and will be times for me where I might be near or even in a place like Caesera Philippi where all I can see is a black abyss.  But to know that nothing will conquer our Lord is comforting and powerful and aslo know that we serve a God who cannot be moved, that His rule wipes out all that is evil and wicked.  His love will prevail.  Sometimes we need to realize and confess who Christ is and get rid of the blackness in our life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My baptism in the Jordan River

One thing I have battled with in my faith is my baptism.  I was raised Baptist and remember getting baptized like it was yesterday at my home church, First Baptist Church in Mont Belivieu.  I can recall going up to the front of the church and getting hidden in Bro. Glenn Howard’s arms away from the crowd at the time because I was so shy.  I told him I was ready to get baptized and I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart.  After the closing song Bro. Glenn announced my profession to the church!  I was thrilled, people were shaking my hand and calling me brother.  I was so excited and remember the next Sunday getting baptized. 
            I walked in, wearing my white robe into a hot tub of water and wondering if Jesus did the same thing.  I got submerged and at the time was not to sure of what that was about, all I knew was I that Jesus was real and was related to God.  I was also just 8 years old. 
            When I moved to Leakey, Tx I was 16 and started going to church at Concan Church of Christ and began questioning my commitment to God.  I doubted if God recognized my baptism at 8, because I did not fully fathom was truly happened and what my LORD did for me on that cross.  I talked to Coach Crafton about it several times who was taking me to church there and he told me to go for it.  The truth was, at Concan, on a good day had about 50 members 99% were all baptized.  I was nervous about going forward and telling people that I shammed God when I was younger, the guilt continued to weigh me down. 
            June 12, 2011 all the guilt I had was taken away.  I walked into the Jordan River like a young child, smiling from ear to ear; I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. The water was not as deep as it should have been for a 6’ foot man like me, but I got on my knees and looked to the heavens.  Mr. Austin, who is not related to me , but I’ve really grown to love as man of God, told me how proud he was of what I had overcome so far in my short life.  I have felt like I’ve battled through a lot in my life already and I know God is ‘holding every tear’ for me.  The LORD is so good to me and has always replaced a scar with a beautiful blessing.  Mr. Austin then submerged me in the Jordan River along with all of my doubts and sin, and I came up a new man. 
            There was no dove come down, but what there was a feeling of peace and calm I have never truly experienced.  I felt like I was with God and He was with me there at the Jordan like I had never experienced Him before. I got out of the water and knew that I was in the same body of water that Jesus Christ was.  While, it was not the same location it is still an amazing feeling to have that connection with Christ.  I am thankful for God’s love and the miracle of baptism and how you can truly be cleansed not because of special water, such as the Jordan, but because of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross.  I cannot fathom the land here in Israel, I can just thank God for the privilege He has given to me.  We serve an awesome God!