Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Loaves and Fishes

Loaves and Fishes, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Last spring, my mom taught me how to bake bread. I was speaking to a group of people about how Jesus is the bread of life, and I realized I didn't know a thing about bread. So I figured I would do what I always do whne I don't know how to do something--ask my parents. (and when they don't know, I google it). I've been trying to learn some of these basic life skills like baking bread, but that's not what I want to write about today.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking a lot about Jesus and Him taking some kid's loaves and fishes and using this seemingly small amount of food to feed several thousand people. I mean it's pretty wild because the kid didn't have a lot, but when he was willing to put it in Jesus' hands, Jesus was able to use it to do something greater than the kid could have ever imagined.

I think it's the same with us. We can take an apparently small thing. Like five minutes of prayer. Or 10% of our income. Or a few minutes to do community service. Or a few items of clothing that we no longer wear. And when we are willing to take those things, those resources, that stuff, and put it in the hands of Jesus, then He is able to do something amazing with it.

We get a blessing in being able to yield our stuff. Often we don't get to see what happens with it, but that money, that time, those clothes, and those prayers, do amazing things when we yield them to Jesus.

The real irony in my mind is that it's really all His anyway. He gives us the privilege and the responsibility of giving it back to Him so He can do even greater things with it and we get to be part of it. That's pretty amazing trust on His part.

And while I was writing this I started thinking, don't our lives really belong to Him? I mean, not just our prayer time, or the time we go to a church or when we read our Bibles, but the whole thing. Every heartbeat, every breath, every ounce. It belongs to Him.

And when we give our lives to Him, He even takes all of our sins, our screw-ups, our mistakes, and makes something beautiful out of our lives too.

Is there something you've been holding that you feel like God may want you to place in His hands? Give it to Him and see what he does with it. (and if you feel like it, leave a comment on this blog to let the world know what God did with your loaves and fishes.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

International Justice Mission

Autumn in Tiltonsville, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have frequently been hearing about this group called the International Justice Mission. I highly recommend you look into this group, and take a look at their website.

After asking my old roommate about this group, I found out that they played a major part in his call to study and practice law. I also found out that his office used to be the office of the president of IJM, Gary Haugen. Honestly, I am blown away by the overlap there. (Reminds me of another friend who lived in a house where I think VIncent Van Gogh used to lead a Bible study in Amsterdam.)

So, I could write a bunch about IJM, but you can find out about them on their website. So go check it out!!!

In the meantime, as you are reading this blog, consider this. God made you for a purpose. In fact if you read Ephesians 2.8-10, you find out that God redeemed you based on nothing you have to offer Him (i. e. nobody is "good enough" to earn God's favor). But He also redeemed you for a purpose. We were made to live out a calling that God has uniquely made each one of us for.

What is yours? Are you living out your calling? Have you deeply considered what God wants you to do with your life? What is stopping you from living out your call if you aren't doing it? As the lenten season commences, I think it offers us a great time to examine our lives, and to be reminded of God's call on our lives. How do we change the atmosphere of the places where we live work and play? How do we live out our calling in such a way that we reflect God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. What does God want you to do with the life He has given you?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

ash wednesday

Today, Christians around the world celebrate Ash Wednesday. It's a pretty interesting tradition, and one I have participated in for four years now. (Last year we had an Ash Wednesday service for h2o).

For me it's kind of interesting. I didn't grow up in a family that observed this holiday. So I thought Ash Wednesday was like Arbor day or something like that. People probably planted ash trees on ash wednesday. Boy was I wrong.

In fact, I never saw anybody with ashes on their forehead until my freshman year at WVU. I didn't understand why one of my friends had something smudged on her forehead. And then I saw other people who had the same thing.

A few years ago, one of my mentors told me he would go every year to get ashes. So I asked him why.

He said that even though he didn't come from a tradition that celebrated ash wednesday, he liked the opportunity it gave for him to reflect on his walk with Jesus, and how it marked a time for Him to identify with Jesus and symbolically journey with Him (along with millions of other Christians) on a forty day wilderness period of self-denial.

I thought that was pretty cool. I mean, folks don't take time to reflect much. Plus, what a great way to connect with God and to examine your life.

As the ashes are placed on people's foreheads, someone tells that person to "Turn away from SIn and Be Faithful to the Gospel." Pretty simple message, and a good reminder to examine our life and take some time to connect with God in a fresh, new, or deeper way.

In the past I have fasted from sunrise to sunset, with total abstinence from food from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. This year, I'm thinking about a total life overhaul. Never should anyone enter into this period thinking they are earning favor with God. Rather, it is a time to let go of distractions that we might enjoy God and the life He has for us even more.

So what changes are you thinking about making during the season of lent? Are you giving up or adding anything to your life to enrich your enjoyment of God?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

White House

White House, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Monday, I traveled to DC to participate in a recently developed tradition of watching the WVU Georgetown game with a number of friends and passionate WVU fans. (No comment on the game, except to say that I would love to have John Beilein for a coach--he's a class act, an advocate, and he's willing to step up to defend his players).

Another tradition I have is walking around the city a bit anytime I take a metro into the city. It was a bit colder monday than I would have liked, but it was still great to walk around. I even had an opportunity to visit a Starbucks that I usually go to with my friends--it's in the old firehouse, and I think I first went to that one with our Amsterdam mission team from 2003.

I walked to 1600 pennsylvania avenue while I was there, and I snapped this picture. Of course it's a familiar sight, and I as I stood there, I thought about the weight of responsibility carried by the folks who have lived there over the years. What a powerful office, and what an immense responsibility.

The city is all a buzz with the scooter libby trial, and interestingly as the linked article alludes, bloggers are playing a role in covering the trial.

It's exciting to see this wave of technology begin to catch on. It's exciting to see how much it is being used, and how it can help shape and inform our world. I guess bloggers all over the world share a tremendous responsibility and a powerful office as well.

Come to think of it, we all bear a responsibility and a powerful office as people made in the image of God. We're supposed to reflect something of who He is to one another. Sometimes, I wonder how we are doing with that . . . how are you doing with that?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Brianna's Baptism

Brianna's Baptism, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Just in case you were getting worried that my life is all about basketball, I figured I would let you know some other news happening! My good friend Brianna Huffman (the youngest member of the Huffman clan), received Jesus as her savior this past October, and took a step of obedience to Jesus by getting baptised yesterday at Chestnut Ridge Church.

It's been great watching Brianna, Ryan, and Brett (the Huffman's) grow in their faith here at WVU. And even though Mountaineer Basketball is really exciting, it's even more exciting to see people come into the family of the Kingdom of Jesus, and embrace the beautiful way of the Messiah.

For me, it is truly the greatest thrill to see people come to find hope, salvation, and a better way of living through trusting Jesus.

I think it was a great day of celebration for the entire Huffman family, and I just appreciate the way each one of them have encouraged and inspired me in my own relationship with Jesus.

I hope this picture can be an encouragement to you as you go about your day!


Upset!!!, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
If this is the first news you have heard about this, then you need to crawl out from under the rock where you've been living. We beat UCLA Saturday, and I was there--as were several thousand other mountaineer fans!!! This is probably the biggest upset in WVU history, and, the entire game was exciting.

What made this game better for me was the fact that I could enjoy it with my dad and brother in law. A win with family is even better than just a win. (don't get me wrong--a win against the #2 team in the country is great no matter how you slice it!)

In the words of Tony Caridi, "It's a great day to be a Mountaineer wherever you may be!!!" And this evening, I will be in Georgetown hopefully watching the mountaineers beat the hoyas (whatever a hoya is?). Be sure to look for me on TV with a few of my DC friends.

Rousing Words

Rousing Words, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Saturday, I went to the UCLA game with my dad and brother in law. For the last two years, my dad and I have made a habit of sitting in the student section and enjoying the home games together. As my degree comes to an end, this will probably be one of the benefits I miss the most.

Before the game though, I was thoroughly impressed. Coach John Beilein came over to the student section and shared his heart with the students. He encouraged students to be supportive and cheer loudly, but not to indulge in some of the disrespectful cheers and behaviors of a few students that had emerged over the last few home games. He told the students that they were smarter than some of the phrases that were coming out of their mouths, and to consider the fact that somebody's grandma was over in another section, and another person's little sister was on the other side of the colisseum. He also shared the fact that we would be on national television, and it might affect future appearances if we don't show the nation today that we are a class act.

I appreciated his words. Sometimes folks get a little wound up, and say/do some things that are inappropriate, and I can't think of a more eloquent and respectul way to communicate with the students than the way Coach Beilein went about it. He's a class act through and through, and I really appreciate what he has done for the reputation of the university, the team, and the fans.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pitt Woes

Pitt Woes, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, I went to the Pitt game with my dad and brother in law last night. There were many expressions similar to this one I captured, all through the stands. It was a tough loss.

But it was good to be with family. It's always good to be with family. I think that's one of the beautiful things about a life of faith. No matter where we are, we are with family. God, exists as Father, Son, and Spirit. But beyond that, we have the community of faith that becomes our extended family. Because of Christ, I have brothers and sisters literally all over the world. Some are suffering, some are very wealthy, some are depressed, and others are lonely. Regardless, we are family.

Have you taken any time to consider your family both locally and abroad?

It sure beats thinking about that Pitt game--yuck!!!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Swinging into Balance

Swinging into Balance, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I love this picture of my former roommate, Nic Culp. He lives in North Carolina now with his beautiful wife, Tara, but from time to time they come up for a visit.

Over the last few weeks we have been talking about a concept of rhythm and balance in our lives at our campus church service h2o. Have you ever noticed your life getting out of balance? Sometimes it just feels like everything is slightly out of step. And it isn't just a spiritual thing. Physically we get our lives out of rhythm when we don't get adequate nourishment, rest, and exercise. Emotionally we lose sync when we become reactionary victims of circumstance. Mentally we find ourselves out of balance when we allow our minds to gravitate toward things that aren't true and good, or we begin to surround ourselves with lies that pollute.

Of course over the month of January I worked hard toward a physical goal of 100 miles of running (which I accomplished!!!). But over the last week, I have largely ignored physical exercise. As a result, I found that my mental, emotional, and spiritual lives took a hit as well. Of course my spiritual life helps to bring other things into balance, but having other areas out of balance will swing us out of rhythm too. You know what I mean?

Last night I went running for the first time in a week. It was amazing what setting aside a little bit of time for exercise meant for my mental, spiritual and emotional sharpness?

Do you feel out of Rhythm ever? How do you adjust and get back on track? I'm discovering that running is very helpful for me. It's a tool that I have ignored for most of the last seven years of my life, but one I'm becoming aware of again.

I find that once I lose rhythm it takes a focussed effort to bring myself back into sync too. It's so easy to let inertia carry me instead of being intentional with time and efforts. Take some time today and evaluate where you are mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. If something needs to change, don't wait! Make it happen today!!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Goals, Resolutions, and Changes

I was sifting through some pictures I took with my new camera on New Year's Eve, and I found this beautiful picture of my mom. I thought everything about this picture just looked so crisp that it needed to be shared with the whole world (er, at least the folks who peruse this blog). I'm hoping to see her sometime soon. I saw her on Martin Luther King Day, and hing out with her for a bit before she had to go take a stress test--as though raising up three kids was not enough of a stress test. She did fine and she has one more round of chemo to go on February 14th. What a valentine's gift--chemotherapy! Thankfully the new drugs she is on don't take all day to dispense.

So about goals. I don't know if you noticed to the left, but I ran over 100 miles in January. So I don't have to be quiet for 48 hours. Now that one month of 2007 is down, how are you doing on your goals? Did you set any for the year? It's never too late to start you know . . .