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 K├╝bler-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.