Tuesday, November 17, 2009

10 Things That Increase My Love for Christ: #5- Memoirs & Biographies

I am a book worm- I love reading. I am also a super fast reader and can somehow read one or two hundred pages a day and still retain a good portion of what I read. By far one of my favorite genres of literature is the “Memoir & Biography” category of books. I love reading about adventures, hardships, the lives of men and women who love Christ, and even the lives of men and women who don’t love Christ.

I will highlight three that I have recently read and enjoyed oh so much. The first is called “Churched” and is written by Matthew Paul Turner. Churched is Turner’s attempt to recount his childhood growing up in and out of fundamentalist Christianity. It is extremely funny and a great read. The second is one I just finished reading entitled “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls- a heartbreaking and warming tale of her childhood growing up in a dysfunctional family and with crazy (literally) parents. The third, one of the best books I have ever read, is entitled “Beautiful Boy” by David Scheff- a gripping narrative of his son’s struggle with a meth addiction and the havoc it caused in his family. One of the highest compliments I can give a book is by saying that some point in the book made me cry- I cried multiple times throughout Beautiful Boy.

There is something about reading stories of life, the good and bad, that stirs up my heart to follow Christ with everything I have. It makes me realize that we are all a little (or a lot!) dysfunctional and should nevertheless be pursuing a worthy story. Do you like Memoirs and Biographies? Any good ones you’d recommend??

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Untold Cost

In many ways, I feel that preaching/teaching regularly is very similar to being an artist. You are constantly expressing yourself, being transparent and vulnerable (if you are doing it right), and letting others enjoy just a snapshot of hours and hours of your work behind the scenes. In another sense, artists are typically defined by their music and career in much the same way that being a preacher is someone you are more than something you do.

Isaac Slade, the front man for The Fray, expressed his thoughts on the life of an artist in an interview for “Fair Fight”- a documentary included in some versions of their latest album. His words have proven very true in my own life and my heart resonates with them completely.

“You set out to do something- weigh the risks, how much it is going to cost, and what it is going to require of you. If that is something you can afford then you go for it. At the beginning of this, I guessed what it was going to be like, how hard it would be, and I thought it would be worth it and ran after it. It has cost a lot more than I thought it would- personally, relationally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. It is way more draining than anyone ever told me it would be. I definitely get the sense that those people in visible situations that are far more famous than us are extremely lonely people. Most people do not have any idea what it costs- your constant transparency and vulnerability to people you’ve never met. All that to say, it is worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hard Choices

Four years ago, during my senior year of high school, I started attending a Bible Study on Sunday nights that was led by my senior ‘Worldview and Apologetics’ teacher. This Bible Study was not like other ones- we went straight through Scripture and seemingly tackled every issue that the text raised, afraid of no hard truths. I loved it and went regularly for over two years while Chris, the leader, slowly trained me to lead it without him.

By the time I became the Youth Pastor at First Colony Christian Church (January of ’08) I was leading the group by myself, though we still met at Chris’ house. I named the group “Collide”- a place where Scripture, honesty, and fun meet and collide with each other. Over the years we have studied the book of Revelation, Acts (the longest study ever), Luke, Romans (2x), Hebrews, and even Ezekiel.

When I was promoted to Pastor at Fc3 and my good friend Adam was made Youth Pastor, I began training him in much the same way that Chris did to me. A little less than a year later, I have now completely removed myself from the group. This past Sunday was my last Sunday, for two reasons: 1) I am way overcommitted with other obligations and 2) Adam is ready to lead the group by himself.

Many of my favorite memories over the past few years come from my time spent at Collide, every Sunday night from 6-8. I have also seen God do so many cool things in my own life and the life of the youth that attend. I have invested lots of time and prayer into many of these youth and it is, and will be, hard to step back. But, sometimes we have to make hard choices in order to be able to fully commit ourselves to what God has entrusted to us. Made any hard decisions lately? Do you need to make any?