a journey rekindled

It’s been 2yr since I’ve started this blog and I sheep­ishly have to admit I’ve lost focus and gone far off from my main premise. How­ever, by grace I’ve been reminded of my core val­ues. Now, from the other side of the spec­trum, I begin my jour­ney back to the path I had set out for orig­i­nally. Per­haps this time it will inspire a whole dif­fer­ent group of people.

The jour­ney begins with more to come soon…

the benefit of athletics in christianity

I just fin­ished run­ning an Olympic Triathlon. “Olympic” clas­si­fies the dis­tance of the triathlon. It involves swim­ming 1500m (.93mi), bik­ing 40k (24mi), and run­ning 10k (6.2mi). It’s pretty intense and takes a fair amount of ath­letic abil­ity (which I never knew I had in me til this summer).

One of my friends who I train and run triathlons with came along for the ride just to watch my race. On the ride home we talked about the inten­sity, fatigue, and moti­va­tion that came with this race. We then began point­ing out all the par­al­lels that these races have to the Chris­t­ian life.

There’s obvi­ous par­ralells that you could think of:

  • Press­ing on towards the mark
  • Not being dis­tracted, but focus­ing ahead
  • The pain and suf­fer­ing that comes through the journey
  • Ups and downs. Some­times feel­ing like you can’t go on and other times get­ting the 2ndwind and feel­ing good

There’s a more prac­ti­cal par­al­lel, though, that I’d like to point out. Triathlon (and races in gen­eral) take a con­sid­er­able amount of dis­ci­pline to pre­pare. I’ve had to dili­gently get out and train (even when I don’t feel like it), I’ve changed my diet and cut out things I really like, and in gen­eral I’ve invested a lot of time and money into this.

By dis­ci­plin­ing my mind and body in this way, I’ve seen it carry over to my spir­i­tual life. There’s a dili­gence to talk to God and let him talk to me, even when I don’t feel it. My will power to say “no” to sin has increased. My mind is sharp­ened and on edge towards spir­i­tual things.

Per­haps this dis­ci­pline can be achieved through alter­na­tive means, but I’ve found ath­let­ics to be one of the most effec­tive tac­tics among many things I’ve tested and tried in the past. As a bonus, I’m liv­ing health­ier and feel great because I’m in the best shape of my life.

For those of you “over the hill” who say that your days of ath­leti­cism have passed, I don’t want to hear it. I’ve been beat mul­ti­ple in pre­vi­ous races by men and women in their 60s and 70s. So you see, there’s hope even for the older!

Seri­ously, though, our down­fall in Chris­tian­ity often comes down to our lazi­ness which is inbred in us by the lazi­ness of this cul­ture. Hav­ing a high work ethic in your job doesn’t always count because it’s moti­vated by money and advance­ment. Out­side of work, if we were hon­est, most of us aren’t as hard work­ers as we are in the work place.

How­ever, ath­let­ics require self-​​motivation. So does the Chris­t­ian life. There you go, my thoughts on why being involved in ath­let­ics can be/​is ben­e­fi­cial to the spir­i­tual life.

reformers are the new legalistic fundamentalists.

The thought hit me about a month ago. I don’t know why I’ve never seen it before, but it’s true, clear as day. The mod­ern day reformed guys (and girls) are no dif­fer­ent than the very thing most of them grew up in and reacted against–namely the legal­is­tic, tra­di­tional fundamentalists.

Let’s start by defin­ing legal­ism. Legal­ism is tak­ing an extra-​​biblical stan­dard that you have cho­sen for your own per­sonal holi­ness that’s inher­ently good and apply­ing that expec­ta­tion on every­one else, using oth­ers as a gauge of your merit, and find­ing assur­ance of your sal­va­tion through your mea­sur­able standard.

So, in walk reformed guys. It’s edgy, it’s cool, and we’re bring­ing accu­rate, bib­li­cal truth back into West­ern Chris­tian­ity. These guys know what the Bible actu­ally has to say about issues, they know bet­ter than to think we can attain right­eous­ness through works, and they know their the­ol­ogy, so weaker-​​minded legalists…watch out!

Ya they can define the finer points of sote­ri­ol­ogy, have a formed opin­ion on N.T. Wright’s new per­spec­tive on Paul, and they always have fan­tas­tic off the wall, the­o­ret­i­cal hypothe­ses about some the­o­log­i­cal trea­tise. Oh, and at any given time you can ask what they’re read­ing and they’re sure to be work­ing on 2–3 books, not includ­ing the Bible (that’s a given because of course if they’re read­ing the­ol­ogy books that would only be on top of their Bible read­ing, so we won’t ever ask about that).

These guys are doing good. They feel pretty good too. They never would impose their stan­dards on some­one else. They’re the essence of devout Chris­tian­ity because obvi­ously being steeped in knowl­edge is a strong indi­ca­tion of a person’s spir­i­tual temperature.

Are you catch­ing the drift yet? Mod­ern reform­ers are find­ing their merit/​assurance in what they know. It’s mea­sur­able. If you can under­stand the ins and outs of the gospel then surely you’ve got the gospel in your heart because only a per­son who’s blinds have been lifted can under­stand the gospel. It’s a good feel­ing to go to bed hav­ing fin­ished up your fifth Christian/​theological book this month. And at least you know more than the major­ity of Chris­tians you come across and even more than 34 of your own church.

Herein lies the ironic over­lap of tra­di­tional fun­da­men­tal­ists and their reac­tionary coun­ter­parts, the reformed circle.

Do you see other similarities?

how to live life and be a christian too

You can’t!

There’s no dichotomy. There is no room for liv­ing life and try­ing to fit Chris­tian­ity into it. Chris­tian­ity demands every­thing and is the whole of your life. It was never promised to be fun or easy. It is a road of many sac­ri­fices. There is a cost, but the eter­nal rewards far out­weigh the tem­po­ral ful­fill­ment that this life offers.

…that’s what I keep try­ing to remind myself of any­way. It’s hard to find ful­fill­ment in Christ rather than the idea of Christ. The lat­ter leaves us dis­ap­pointed and search­ing elsewhere.

In the words of a dear friend tonight, he says, “I’m not say­ing you can’t have fun. I’m say­ing fun isn’t a bib­li­cal con­cept. What is a bib­li­cal con­cept is life and death.”

That’s heavy. That’s truth. That’s reality.

a psychology of modern prayer

Let it be known from the start that this is not a the­ol­ogy of prayer, nor is it even an objec­tive stance on the sub­ject. These are merely obser­va­tions and con­sid­er­a­tions that I’d like to leave with you on the tra­di­tional and some­what mod­ern approaches to prayer.

Prayer preach­ing. This goes out to those pas­tors who went over their unof­fi­cial allot­ted preach­ing time. In an effort to get a few last words in and drive the point home, they take the oppor­tu­nity of their clos­ing prayer to do so. It ends up they’re not really pray­ing to God, they’re con­tin­u­ing to preach to the peo­ple with their eyes closed. The prayer goes some­thing like this:

Dear Father, thank you for the mes­sage we heard this morn­ing. I ask that we would com­mit to liv­ing by these prin­ci­ples. Our hearts are prone to wan­der, but your Word says we need to stay in prayer to fight this war. We can­not let the desires of this world to pull us from doing what’s right. We must stay in com­mu­nity, call each other, and encour­age one another to stay strong through­out the week. Thank you for the strength you offer, but we must rely on it daily and ask for it daily. Etcetera, etcetera. Amen.

Group prayers. These are becom­ing less pop­u­lar, but still found in many tra­di­tional churches often on Wednes­day nights. A time is set aside for the entire church (no mat­ter the size) to pray out loud. In these prayer meet­ings, there’s always the reg­u­lars who pray. Usu­ally one of them starts it off, often after a few moments of awk­ward silence (espe­cially for vis­i­tors who are unac­cus­tomed to this prayer format).

There tends to be a con­sid­er­able amount of peer pres­sure in these groups. Depend­ing on the spir­i­tual matu­rity of the indi­vid­ual, there’s an expected time to pray and a cer­tain level of elo­quence. Though no Chris­t­ian would say there’s an expec­ta­tion, each indi­vid­ual tends to self-​​impose the expec­ta­tion upon them­selves. In between prayers, there can be lengthy times of silence as the group waits for some­one else to pray. In the mean time, peo­ple are count­ing down how many more reg­u­lars are left to pray.

Peo­ple tend to be very dis­en­gaged which you can eas­ily tell by sit­ting in the back and watch­ing as you see the over­whelm­ing major­ity with their eyes open, look­ing around, check­ing their phones, inter­act­ing with their kids, or some other obvi­ous action of dis­en­gage­ment from the main event.

Per­son­ally, my obser­va­tion has been that 8 out 10 times, smaller groups tend to be more pas­sion­ate, engag­ing, and deep in their prayers over­all. Also, I’m not sure how spirit led the prayers are or how help­ful they are if most peo­ple are dis­en­gaged. It seems like peo­ple pray some­times just to pass the time and con­tribute to the prayer time end­ing. How can we make these more engag­ing, spirit led, “flow­ing”? I have some thoughts (but that’s a dif­fer­ent post), but I don’t think we should rel­e­gate to fault­ing only the indi­vid­u­als for being dis­en­gaged. There’s also a respon­si­bil­ity of the lead­ers to…LEAD…people into engagement.

“Cap­tain obvi­ous” prayers. I’m not really sure the psy­chol­ogy behind these prayers. They’re some­what bib­li­cal as we can see by look­ing at exam­ples in the Psalms. Pos­si­bly it’s peo­ple who haven’t devel­oped a higher prayer matu­rity and this is a safe fall back. These prayers are those when a per­son states truths about God. That in itself isn’t bad because David does that a lot, but in restat­ing truths, he typ­i­cally had an agenda and pur­pose that he was lead­ing up to. Some peo­ple state truths and just leave it at that. Not nec­es­sar­ily wrong…this is just an obser­va­tion that stands out to me.

List prayers. These prayers often are pre­ceded by prayer requests. We store all the requests in our mind and then pray through them while men­tally check­ing them off. Here are some of the pit­falls. When there’s a list, it becomes goal ori­ented, and the goal is to get through the list. Usu­ally each item on the list is allot­ted the same amount of time. They’re very cookie-​​cutter and typ­i­cal words included with each request are: give them peace/​comfort/​strength, in Your time, may Your will be done, help them to trust You, etc.

Fer­vent prayers. This is some­thing that is not psy­cho­log­i­cal but entirely spir­i­tual, but lack­ing in most prayers. I’m a firm believer that God answers prayers, but he hears the prayers of the earnest and fer­vent per­son. Both of those char­ac­ter­is­tics can­not be fab­ri­cated. It’s a state of being direc­tion­ally pro­por­tional to our walk with God. If the fervency/​relationship is miss­ing, we default to psy­cho­log­i­cal ruts as men­tioned above.

what’s wrong with local church planting? just about everything

I told an old col­lege friend that I thought church plant­ing was unbib­li­cal and I’m pretty sure he thought I fell off the deep end. He quickly explained what his def­i­n­i­tion of church plant­ing is and asked how I could dis­agree with that. I had no qualms with his def­i­n­i­tion, but what he may not real­ize is that his def­i­n­i­tion is def­i­nitely in the minority.

Here’s my beef with the preva­lent model of church plant­ing. The whole thing is peo­ple putting the cart in front of the horse and very lit­tle reliance on the work of the Holy Spirit. Here’s what I see, and cor­rect me if I’m wrong.

A church is a body of believ­ers. All ele­ments within the church such as elders, dea­cons, build­ings, wor­ship teams, etc are all prac­ti­cal out­flows. How­ever, what hap­pens is some guy gets an idea that he wants to start a church some­where across the coun­try. Why not in his home­town or in a neigh­bor­ing state? That’s for another post.

So, he starts rais­ing sup­port, starts a blog (if he’s really pro­gres­sive), takes a “sur­vey trip”, begins writ­ing down a plan for the first church-​​done-​​right, fig­ures out a name with a great story/​biblical expla­na­tion behind it, finds some min­istry part­ners, and then fig­ures out a cul­tural strat­egy to get peo­ple into this great church that doesn’t even exist yet.

Therein lies the prob­lem. I thought a church was a made up of a group of peo­ple? Yet, you’ve already got a “church” and you’re try­ing to find peo­ple for it? That doesn’t sound like a church to me and def­i­nitely not a healthy way to start one.

Let’s con­sider for a moment per­haps some­thing a lit­tle more bib­li­cal. Last time I checked, the apos­tles were just going out, preach­ing the gospel. Some­times they stuck around for a few years, some­times they were just pass­ing through. They didn’t raise sup­port (though some churches sup­ported them). They had jobs and they made their own liv­ing as they trav­elled around. As men and women came to know the truth, they began meet­ing reg­u­larly, and voila! they had a church.

Going with the intent to plant a church and with pre­con­ceived notions about how it’s going to work is 1) unbib­li­cal, 2) will most likely dis­ap­point, 3) is harm­ful to the poten­tial real church body that you might have. I feel like the men­tal­ity of these church planters is “I’m going to go be a pas­tor or bust”. If it doesn’t work out, they either give up or go some­where else where they think it might work bet­ter which calls into ques­tion whether the Holy Spirit was really lead­ing in the first place.

Instead their should be a men­tal­ity of “I’d like to live here, work here, and while I’m liv­ing in this place, I will inten­tion­ally make God’s name famous.” That way, if you don’t see a con­vert in 5yr, it’s no sweat off your back because you didn’t come with the intent to build a “church”, you don’t feel the pres­sure of sup­port­ers with expec­ta­tions, and con­vert or not, you’re still accom­plish­ing God’s direc­tive for every Christian.

Sec­ond, these pre­con­ceived notions do not allow for the spon­ta­neous work­ing of the Holy Spirit among a church body. Instead of let­ting the church organ­i­cally grow, let people’s gifts come out and uniquely serve in the body, and the church mak­ing deci­sions among them­selves how they want their spir­i­tual fam­ily to func­tion; it’s all dic­tated by some guy who comes in think­ing he’s got the right way with­out real­iz­ing that the Holy Spirit is far larger than he can com­pre­hend and works in ways we have yet to see.

So, do I have a prob­lem with this model of church plant­ing? Yep…a big one. I’m more a fan of liv­ing life that glo­ri­fies God and mak­ing dis­ci­ples while you’re at it. Let­ting the out­flow of that hap­pen nat­u­rally and in God’s timing.

As a clar­i­fi­ca­tion, I rec­og­nize that most things are prac­ti­cal out­flows of a group of believ­ers, but some things are man­dated once a church has formed. These include elders, dea­cons, and the sacraments.

church fellowships are as bad as facebook

Most churches have “fel­low­ships”. No, it has noth­ing to do with Lord of the Rings. It’s the Chris­t­ian term for “hang­ing out”. Some churches have fel­low­ships weekly, monthly, quar­terly. Every­one gets together, brings some food, and they sit around and talk while the kids play hide and go seek in the church building.

As time goes on, peo­ple make their way from group to group and hop in on dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tions as pre­vi­ous con­ver­sa­tions become unin­ter­est­ing. As peo­ple leave, every­one smiles and wave good­bye, and the church lead­er­ship con­grat­u­late them­selves for another suc­cess­ful ful­fill­ment of Acts 2:42 (they devoted them­selves to the apostles’ teaching and the fel­low­ship, to the break­ing of bread and the prayers.).

How­ever, in the grand sceme of things, very lit­tle was accom­plished. No one knew Jenny had an unex­pected bill that she’s strug­gling to pay. Or Dean who is strug­gling with how to be a strong spir­i­tual leader in his home. And cer­tainly no one knows that Susan just lost her vir­gin­ity last night. Peo­ple don’t talk about that, fel­low­ships are happy times. Besides, between peo­ple pop­ping in and out of con­ver­sa­tions, no one ask­ing Susan insight­ful ques­tions about her life, and Dean not feel­ing com­fort­able pos­ing his ques­tion to 12 other peo­ple, noth­ing is ever said.

Peo­ple crit­i­cize Face­book for being the essence of fake friend­ships. Really, these church fel­low­ships have been rel­e­gated to noth­ing more than Face­book rela­tion­ships. Brows­ing sta­tus updates, being enter­tained by funny quotes and pic­tures, and then mov­ing on to the next pro­file page. Sorry, but that’s not true fel­low­ship. That’s not liv­ing life out with the body. Those aren’t qual­ity relationships.

Did you know most peo­ple can only main­tain 6–8 close rela­tion­ships. Yet we hang out with 70, 150, 1000 peo­ple at these fel­low­ships and walk away think­ing a very spe­cial rela­tional bond­ing occurred. It’s ok if you don’t talk to every­one in your church. That doesn’t mean you have any less com­mu­nity. Try­ing to talk to every­one and main­tain some con­nec­tion only takes away time from delv­ing deeper into a few lives.

So what does true fel­low­ship look like? Well I call it authen­tic com­mu­nity, and it hap­pens every day. Peo­ple call­ing each other, going out to watch a foot­ball game, see­ing a movie, com­ing over for din­ner, work­ing on a hobby. It’s peo­ple liv­ing reg­u­lar life…together.

Simple Rules for Eating Healthy in 2012

It’s a new year, and for many of you, you’re try­ing for the umpteenth time to exer­cise and eat healthy. I’m one of those peo­ple, and this year I’m com­mit­ting to a non-​​traditional diet that has very sim­ple rules. In my expe­ri­ence, you can loose weight and nour­ish your body with­out hav­ing to count calo­ries, fat, carbs, etc. I’ve already lost 10lb this year.

In my new healthy eat­ing lifestyle, it’s not so much a num­bers game as it objec­tive based eat­ing. Read on and see what I mean.

Dos:

  1. Drink 2 liters of water a day (3 liters in hot­ter weather). This helps with the diges­tion process so food doesn’t sit and accu­mu­late. It also flushes out tox­ins and is good for your heart and vas­cu­lar system.
  2. Eat more greens. The more raw the bet­ter. If you want an easy way to get your veg­gies, you can either drink a cup of Green Machine a day or look into Juice Pluse.
  3. Eat slower. Eat­ing fast has proven to cause weight gain and it’s harder on your diges­tive sys­tem when you don’t allow the enzymes in your saliva to do their part in digest­ing the food. Try chew­ing your food until it’s a pulp. Eat­ing slower also will help you eat less. Your brain doesn’t rec­og­nize how full your stom­ach is until about 20min after you start eat­ing. Try tak­ing a smaller por­tion than nor­mal, eat­ing slower, and you may find that smaller por­tion quite satisfying.
  4. Sup­ple­ment with vit­a­mins. The 3 big ones are fish oil, multi-​​vitamin, and B vitamins.

Don’ts:

  1. Stop drink­ing soda (pop, coke, what­ever you call it). When I stopped drink­ing car­bon­ated drink years ago, it was amaz­ing how the dif­fer­ence one choice like that made.
  2. Cut out red meat. Not say­ing you can’t have it occa­sion­ally, but if you’re really ana­lyt­i­cal and need me to break it down for you, I’d say only allow one serv­ing of red meat a week. Alter­na­tively you should be eat­ing white meats like chicken, turkey, and fish.
  3. Don’t bring junk food into your home. It should be an auto­matic given that when you do your gro­cery shop­ping, ice cream, chips, and candy (or any other food in those aisles) don’t go in your shop­ping cart (the excep­tion would be for a party or holidays).
  4. Stop eat­ing fast food! There’s noth­ing more to be said about that.
  5. Watch out for cheese. If it’s an option to put on your sandwich…opt out. If there’s a meal with sub­stan­tial amounts of cheese in it, def­i­nitely stay away. There’s a lot of fat in that stuff.

The last rule is that if you’re going to choose to eat healthy, you need to choose to live healthy all around. The real­ity is, eat­ing is only part of it. You need to com­mit to mak­ing healthy choices through­out the day. Cut down on tv watching, exercise daily, have hob­bies, get out and socialize.

Don’t fol­low this list to loose weight, do it to pre­vent or help your already exist­ing high blood pres­sure, dia­betes, con­ges­tive heart fail­ure, etc.

5 reasons why commitment and responsibility trump the independent life

Most young peo­ple (and even older adults) run from things that might tie them down. A full time job, buy­ing a house, mar­riage, etc. They want to live a life that’s free. A life where if their desires change, there’s noth­ing hold­ing them back from fol­low­ing through on them. At a quick glance, peo­ple might say that inde­pen­dence is the sim­pler life. There’s less respon­si­bil­ity and there­fore more joy (after all, that’s what this blog is about, get­ting the most out of life through simplicity).

How­ever, I’m going to argue against that premise and lay out 5 rea­sons why hav­ing com­mit­ment and respon­si­bil­ity are more free­ing and enjoyable.

1. In order to build a life of sub­stance, there needs to be a solid foun­da­tion. You can’t build a sky­scraper on sand, nei­ther can you move up in life if you never set­tle down and take on respon­si­bil­ity. I’m not speak­ing of only mov­ing up finan­cially. In all areas of life, there’s room to grow, and growth requires a firm foun­da­tion (phys­i­cally and emotionally).

2. Per­ma­nence allows for you to invest. Whether it’s invest­ing in rela­tion­ships, the com­mu­nity, your church, etc. Not that you can’t make a dif­fer­ence in a person’s life in a short time period, but some of the most reward­ing moments in life are see­ing your hard work and invest­ments grow and mature over time.

3. Rou­tine takes away the stress of the unknown. Some could argue that hav­ing bills, a fam­ily, and a full time job can be stress­ful. On the other hand, it can be just as stress­ful when you’re always won­der­ing if you’ll get enough hours this week or if the you’ll have enough free­lance projects, your retire­ment, when that spe­cial some­one is going to come into your life, and liv­ing pay check to pay check can be rough when your car unex­pect­edly dies.

4. Sta­bil­ity and reg­u­lar­ity build cred­i­bil­ity. As you invest in those rela­tion­ships, your net­work grows, and assum­ing you’re a per­son of char­ac­ter, so does your rep­u­ta­tion. This is another aspect of mov­ing up (from point 1). A good name is to be more desired than pre­cious met­als (that’s what the Bible says). And as a Chris­t­ian, a good name is what you want because it implies an abil­ity to more effec­tively min­is­ter to other peo­ple and have influ­ence in their lives.

5. Per­ma­nence in the begin­ning allows for more inde­pen­dence in the long run. As you work that full time job, as you put in the years in one place, and as you build your sav­ings account, the oppor­tu­ni­ties abound. Per­haps you can’t take week­end road trips all the time in the begin­ning, and maybe you can’t spend the sum­mer back­pack­ing through Europe, but a well planned and invested life will give you more oppor­tu­ni­ties in the long run to do just as many, if not more, amaz­ing things that your friends did in the first few years of their young adult­hood. Because when you reach your 30s and you find your­self well estab­lished, your friends who didn’t want to set­tle will find them­selves fac­ing a harsh real­ity that they’re 10yr behind the eight ball hav­ing to start a career, and their days of inde­pen­dence will for the most part have ended, while yours are just beginning.

 

*Side note: If God’s called you to live a life as a missionary, evangelist, or mil­i­tary per­son­nel, that’s a dif­fer­ent story. I’m talk­ing about the peo­ple who aren’t nec­es­sar­ily look­ing to God’s leading.

2011 — Recap of My Life

This past year will def­i­nitely go down in the record books as a crazy roller coaster! It all started with a carry over from 2010. I was wrestling with a lot of things spir­i­tu­ally that were induced by my trip to Kenya in Novem­ber 2010. Dur­ing that time of search­ing and con­fu­sion, I got involved in my first dat­ing rela­tion­ship. God taught me a lot through that. It didn’t work out for the obvi­ous rea­son that we were in 2 dif­fer­ent worlds spir­i­tu­ally. In the end (June), God used that rela­tion­ship to reaf­firm my spir­i­tual con­vic­tions and set me on a path that pur­sued Christ more pas­sion­ately than I ever had in my entire time as a Chris­t­ian. More on that later…

Along with a rela­tion­ship, 2011 started a 12-​​month pro­gram in Para­medic school. This proved to be the great­est chal­lenge I’d ever encoun­tered in my life. Over the course of the year, I encoun­tered doc­tors, nurses, and mil­i­tary spe­cial forces who had at one point been through Para­medic school. They all agreed that it was the hard­est thing they’d ever done as well. Because of jug­gling work, school, and clin­i­cals, I lived out of my car a week at a time. Sleep was min­i­mal and so was my social life. Unfor­tu­nately, there’s not a whole lot of sto­ries to tell about my life in 2011 other than the count­less emer­gency scenes I went on at work and clinicals.

Come the Fall, my school load had slightly light­ened (that or I was use to the abuse by then), and I decided to go through fire­fighter school on top of Para­medic school which I regret­ted every minute of; but I made it through and have that under my belt. God was also teach­ing me lessons about what it means to live sold out for him. I’ve always had the men­tal­ity that my respon­si­bil­ity is no dif­fer­ent than that of a pastor’s, but I reached a point of enlight­en­ment in the Fall that I am a grown man and I can no longer fear con­fronting those older than me and chal­leng­ing oth­ers to pur­sue Christ more.

An image came to mind that encour­aged me. It’s that of a 16yr-​​old boy who fal­si­fied his age and now is on a shut­tle boat about to land at Nor­mandy on D-​​day. As the door drops, bul­lets are whizzing by, and friends are drop­ping dead all around him. He now real­izes that he’s no longer a boy, but a man, and though there’s an over­whelm­ing sense of fear in his inner­most being, it’s time for him to man up and charge for­ward onto the beach. I feel that rep­re­sents so well the feel­ings and think­ing process that I went through this past year.

Since then, I’ve spent a great major­ity of my time dur­ing the week at a local cof­fee shop down­town called Rem­edy. Over time I’ve come to know all the work­ers and most of the cus­tomers. It’s proven to be a fan­tas­tic loca­tion for min­istry. Mul­ti­ple times a week I have oppor­tu­ni­ties for dis­ci­ple­ship. Part of man­ning up is just cut­ting to the chase with peo­ple and ask­ing them where they’re at spir­i­tu­ally. The con­ver­sa­tions that have ensued have been incred­i­ble! On a num­ber of occa­sions I’ll have other peo­ple who are lis­ten­ing jump into the con­ver­sa­tion and in no time there’s an impromptu Bible study of 4–6 people.

Another bless­ing that Rem­edy has brought are the num­ber of close rela­tion­ships I’ve built with solid believ­ers who are actively serv­ing in their churches through­out Knoxville. Speak­ing of serv­ing, I was con­victed about the lack of ser­vice I had in my church. I felt that despite my insane sched­ule, there was no excuse or exemp­tion for peo­ple not to serve in some way. So, I talked to my wor­ship leader who’d been want­ing me to play bass gui­tar and he lent me his to learn and start play­ing in wor­ship. From there, I’ve now taken it upon myself to serve the church by encour­ag­ing other mem­bers to find areas to serve in by ana­lyz­ing their gifts and if need be, cre­at­ing min­istry oppor­tu­ni­ties if some­thing doesn’t exist already.

One other thing that God has chal­lenged me to do this year is find some­one that I can reg­u­larly dis­ci­ple. It didn’t take long for me to find that per­son. I’ve been meet­ing with him weekly and doing an overview of the Bible as well as teach­ing sys­tem­atic the­ol­ogy. I also work with him rela­tion­ally by hang­ing out for recre­ational pur­poses at var­i­ous times dur­ing the week.

The last thing that I can say is that in Octo­ber I lost my job, and was with­out work for 2 weeks. God was good and pro­vided me a posi­tion with the largest ambu­lance ser­vice in the world, but they were just start­ing up an oper­a­tion in Knoxville. I was 1 of 8 peo­ple that was hired to be on the ground floor of this oper­a­tion. It’s been the best job in EMS I’ve ever had or seen. My work part­ner has proved to be a very good friend that has gone out­side of work and great men­tor as I enter into the role as a Paramedic.

And that’s it in a nut shell. Now I’m a Para­medic. I’m very excited about the prospects for this com­ing year. I have a list of New Year Res­o­lu­tions you can check out. Also, there’s some pic­tures of events from this past year.

God bless!

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prac­tic­ing on a dummy

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my para­medic class

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get­ting ready to do a clin­i­cal in surgery

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after a day of fire school

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UT foot­ball game

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one of my many crazy scenes

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play­ing pool with friends

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first con­cert — Lady Antebellum

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sib­lings

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church lead­er­ship team play­ing ball before church

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impromptu Bible study

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