Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm Yours

When I woke up this morning, I was going to blog about something different. I had the title, and the subject picked out, but for some reason, I felt prompted to watch this youtube video that my best friend on the planet made last summer. You see, I'm going to be speaking on Daniel and the Lion's Den this Sunday during our last h2o of the year, and as I was thinking about Daniel, I started thinking about my buddy Willie, and the incredible song he wrote for my mom. I posted this song once before, right after I heard it the first time, but I hope you will indulge me in this repetition of something that I believe is a true testimony to a beautiful life of faith in King Jesus.

You may already know this, but my mom went to be with Jesus on June 6, 2007 at 1.10PM. She fought cancer and a number of other ailments tenaciously, and through all of the pain, she never stopped loving and blessing others around her. If you want to read more about her last few days in the hospital, I recommend reading my archives from may and june of last year in particular. I actually took some time and read them again this morning.

This song really portrays vividly the last few days we were able to spend with my mom on this side of the veil. It also describes in detail the simple life of faith in Jesus that we are called to live. This morning, I've found myself walking around the house driving around town, and generally doing my daily routine with this chorus echoing in my mind. "I'm Yours!"

I miss my mom, and it is good to re-visit the past, and remember all of the times--both difficult and joyful. This song carries me back into the hospital and the times we spent sitting with her, laughing with her, sharing stories, and loving and being loved.

As you read this blog, and listen to this song, I ask you to reflect on where you are with Jesus. My mom was radically changed by her faith in Jesus, and it made even metastatic breast cancer seem trivial in comparison to the greatness of His love toward her and the overwhelming abundance of love she had to give even as she spent her last moments with us.

May you know Him, and may His love flow through you so that you can join the chorus of the saints who have sung with Daniel, Stephen, Willie, and my mom, "I'm Yours, I'm Yours, forever and always I will be Yours!"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I should have posted this a while back, but I didn't. Toward the end of last month, my canvas group went on a "faith venture" in Washington, DC. It was an opportunity to explore a new area, and look for God's fingerprintsin the world around us.

We started our day (after driving from Winchester, VA, and riding the metro into the city), with a trip to the holocaust memorial. In a sense, we were spending that time exploring the depths of darkness that lie in a sin-filled human heart. We know the names of people like Hitler and Eichmann, but it's not like they were able to orchestrate their plans alone. They held the sway of the people, and they were able to implement their ideas with the blessing or the silence of the multitude.

As we walked through the memorial, I couldn't help but think of the many times in history when people fell silent in the face of evil. The Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, are a few that come to mind. But it also makes me think that there may be evil happening right under our noses that we have fallen silent toward. Of course there are a million causes we can work toward, but I think we need to be very aware when there is evil at work.

After the memorial, we ventured into the city, and eventually made our way to the tide pool, Jefferson memorial, and the cherry blossoms that were a gift from Japan after the Second World War. Those blossoms bloom every spring. Just like blossoms have been blooming and driving my allergies crazy for the last month!

But blossoms are a great reminder. Blossoms remind us that we are people who have hope. Blossoms emerge to remind us that fruit is on its way that will sustain and nourish. Blossoms reflect that there is still beauty emerging when life can seem kind of ugly. Amid all of the death, despair, injustice, and cruelty, God gives us blossoms to remind us that life goes on.

And I think He does it to remind us of our calling. We see the blossoms on the trees, but we can also be the blossoms in the lives of others. We can be the beauty that others see, and get filled with hope.

As you live out your day today, choose to be a blossom in this world that seems so full of decay. And while you are at it, keep your eyes peeled, you may just see some of God's fingerprints in the lives of those around you, and in the circumstances of your own life.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Non-conformist--Faith Under Fire

This week at h2o, Ben Allen, a local YoungLife leader, continued walking us through our current series The Non-Conformist. Specifically, he told the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and how this story bears lessons for each of us. Not familiar with these guys, check ‘em out in Daniel chapter 3.

Daniel’s three friends refused to worship an idol (a ninety foot tall statue of the king of Babylon). As a result of their refusal, the king of Babylon told them that they were going to be placed in a fiery furnace. The king was going to burn them alive for their rebellion.

Many of us believe that we would do the same and die for our faith, but the irony of it all is that as much as we think we would be willing to die for our faith many of us lead lives filled with compromise.

Not only did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse, but they said that their God could deliver them—but even if He didn’t deliver, they would rather die than worship something other than their God.

They went through the fire, and they came out alive. Even the soldiers preparing the fire were consumed by it, but these three men were not burned. Amazingly, there was what appeared to be a fourth person in the fire, and the fourth had an appearance like a son of the gods.

When we step out in faith, God doesn’t leave us hanging. He may not deliver us like He did these three, but He will walk through it all with us.

When we make a stand for God in the midst of persecution—God gets glofied.

Further, when we are willing to resist, we are able to be even greater witnesses to other people. King Nebuchadnezzar said that there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way. By resisting the temptation to go with the flow of this world, they were able to win the heart of the most powerful leader in the world.

Often we are tempted to give in to the sway of this world. We gossip, we become gluttonous and indulgent, we lust, and we give in to all kinds of “every day” temptations. Rather than waiting for someone to throw us into a furnace, perhaps we should learn to resist in our every day existence.

How do we overcome?

According to Ben, and more importantly, the Bible, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Take some time and look to the One who leads and guides us.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Seder, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Tonight we join in a very ancient tradition, and one of the longest running traditions i've been part of in Morgantown. Tonight we celebrate the passover. We clear the house of leaven as we also search our hearts for sin.

We remember the deliverance brought about by YHWH, God Almighty. How we were once slaves, but now we are slaves no more. This night is different from all of the other nights.

This ancient meal was celebrated by our Jewish ancestors in anticipation of the coming of Elijah, and the coming of Messiah the LORD. This was the meal that Jesus enjoyed with His disciples on the night He was betrayed.

For us, as we gather, we remember all that God has done in our midst over the past year. We remember how God delivers us. We remember His promise that those who bless us, He will bless. Those who curse us, He will curse. We remember all that he has done through the cross and the resurrection.

And we celebrate. We celebrate the meal. We celebrate the blessings of God. We celebrate our community. And we celebrate the hope that we have in the Messiah Jesus, and the importance of the message He has commissioned us to share.

And we hope. We hope in the days that are to come. We hope for loved ones who may not know the beautiful way of Jesus. We hope for a greater taste of Shalom this side of eternity. We hope for the return of our mighty King.

Remembrance. Celebration. Hope.

May you take time to day to remember, to celebrate, and to hope in the One to whose Kingdom is infinitely better than anything the kingdoms of this world have to offer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lending a Hand

Lending a Hand, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this picture earlier this Spring when my dad and I went down to our cabin for a little fishing, rest, and relaxation. The photo has little to do with this blog entry, I guess, but it does make one reflect a bit on the beauty of creation and how everything seems to work together for the good of the whole ecosystem . . .

Anyway, my buddy Matt and I were talking on our way to the zoo on Tuesday. He's got a great friend and rugby buddy who is in the military and is about to be deployed to Iraq with a group of soldiers who have the responsibility of working in a prison where military prisoners are detained. I don't imagine that it's a fun job, and these men are traveling far from home for several months to serve.

Matt thought it would be cool to send a care package. He asked me if I would be willing to help. Matt has been a great friend for many years. In fact, he and I (along with a handful of others) started the American Indian student group (ONAI) on the campus of WVU. He's a Cherokee.

Of course I wanted to help. I asked him what I could do. He said that he would like to send food, books, magazines, Bibles, and things like that for the soldiers. He would also like to send toys, shoes, and clothing for the Iraqi people that are living in extreme poverty.

Right away, I started putting together a package. Yesterday, I gave Matt some mini-footballs, a bag of shoes and clothing, a handful of Bibles, and sundry other books, and 96 copies of "more than a carpenter." (I found these while cleaning the garage the other day; I have no idea where they came from or how long they were in the garage, but I was grateful to find them a good home).

I thought it was really cool that Matt was going to these lengths for his friend to serve his fellow soldiers. I also thought it was cool that these soldiers were contemplating ways they might be able to make life a little brighter for some of the iraqi citizens.

Who knows what good may come from those books, Bibles, and more that were able to be sent? It's nice to think that these small gifts might make many lives brighter.

You know, we have little opportunities like this that present themselves every day. Little opportunities to serve others and bless others. Little opportunities to ask for help instead of trying to do it all by ourself. Little opportunities to make life brighter.

As you walk through your day, take a moment and ask yourself--where can I bless others in my actions and attitudes today? Where can I help others be a blessing?

May we never tire of doing good, that Jesus Christ may be glorified all the more in our lives.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day

Earth Day, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, yesterday was Earth Day, and I took a short afternoon trip with my old friend Matt Thorn and his friend Tuyen. This lioness was posing so perfectly I had to take a picture.

So since it was earth day yesterday, I thought I would share a few practical ways you can practice better stewardship.

1) Practice Sabbath. It's good for your soul, and it's good for the earth to take one day each week and chill out. There will always be more work to do, so take a break one day each week and live simply.

2) Walk, ride a bus, or a bike. Of course this is sort of a no brainer, but it needs to be mentioned. If you live in town, even a small town like Morgantown, there's bound to be a bus route nearby. BIking and walking are great exercise too, and they sure beat sitting in traffic for a long time on warm spring afternoons.

3) Carpool. Here's a nifty idea. Next time you are going to a big event with other people you know, and you can't really walk or ride your bike, go together. Are you really that busy that you can't just enjoy the company of others, and let go of the independence that driving your own car offers you? Here's some great places to carpool--church, The Pittsburgh Zoo ;), sporting events, concerts, lectures, dinner, coffeeshops, and parties at friends houses. to name a few. Save $ and save on your footprint by carpooling.

4) Give the electric a rest.. Turn off lights when you aren't in a room. Set your entertainment center up so that it is on a power strip that is turned off when you aren't going to use it. (DId you know that stereos, TVs, etc. are using power all of the time so your remote will work when you point it at em--eliminate that waste of power from the "phantom charge.") You can also save a lot simply by switching to Compact Fluorescent bulbs. (Look at that One Billion Bulbs savings link down the sidebar). Switch out your bulbs, and join our group!!!

5) Give the heating and cooling a rest. Our ancestors didn't have a constant indoor temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Drop it to 65 or lower in the winter, and raise it to 71 or higher in the summer. You will reap dividends in savings, and you will help reduce energy waste. I'd even recommend getting a programmable thermostat. Then you can save even more because you can program it to shut off when your home is empty.

6) Get a reusable bottle. There's a lot of debates out there about Nalgenes vs. glass or metal bottles. Here's the deal. Regardless of what you use, if you aren't buying previously bottled water, you are reducing the amount of plastic that needs produced (most of which ends up end landfills!). So start using a reusable bottle, and make sure you keep it clean!

7) Recycle!!! It's not that difficult, and most towns are starting municipal pick-up. You will be amazed at how little waste you produce when you start recycling. It's kind of fun to take stuff to the recycling center too and see how much waste is being prevented.

That should do for now. I might write some more at a later time--we can all use frequent reminders, right? The most important thing to remember with all of these steps and more is that we do these things as an act of worship. We practice stewardship remembering that this whole world belongs to God, and when I take steps to care for it, I show my appreciation for the Maker of all things.

Happy belated Earth Day!

And also, if you have some practical tips you would like to share, leave em as a comment on here. If you start one of these practices, like joining my CFL group, let me know!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Remembering A Year Ago

I realize it has been over a year, but I didn't get around to blogging about this, or much of anything last week. Around this time last year, evil made it's face known to blacksburg, VA. Thirty-three people were killed, and many more injured in one of the worst shootings (as if any shooting is good) in American history. Reading my friend Matt's book brought the story home much more vividly.

I remember watching footage on television. Television puts some distance between us and the events that shake our world. Interviewers from every major network were having conversations with survivors and prominent people in the Virginia Tech community. My friend Jim was on Larry King Live talking about the response of the faith community during the event. My friend JR flew in from Los Angeles, and last week, put together a very extensive blog entry reflecting on his experience with the tragedy.

Looking back from a year later, I still have a myriad of emotions. You see, I was distant from the shooting. I had friends there, sure, but I wasn't there. My friends had to walk through this tragedy though. The day after the shootings, I was on my way to a conference which was supposed to have some of my friends from Blacksburg and other places at it. On my way, I got a phone call from my sister. My mom was getting taken to the hospital. It was supposed to be a precautionary measure. I drove for a few miles and then turned around to be with my mom and family. My buddy Brian Shope was in the car with me and he helped me make my decision.

When I think about the tragedy at Blacksburg, I also think about my mom, and her fight against cancer. Looking at my blog entries from a year ago, it was cool to see how family just surrounded and cared for my mom.

The same thing happened at blacksburg too. Blacksburg is a lot like the town where I live, Morgantown. There is a sense of family and community there. And one year ago, that family walked through one of the most challenging moments of their history. And one year later, they remember. They remember where they were, what they were doing and how their life was changed.

So do I.

May we all take some time today to cherish the friends and family we have, and to remember a year ago.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Listener Project and Holy Eyes

Saturday night we had a couple of really interesting bands playing at sozo. It's really cool to see what my good friend and coworker Cameron King has done with regard to the concert scene at sozo. I spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights in the space taking in a variety of events, from a night of social activism with the people fromBead For Life to our weekly open mic on Friday. I am simply blown away by the events and opportunities we have been a part of over the last few months. I may do a future blog post on some of the amazing local artists who have been featured at the space, but for this entry I want to let you know about a couple of great bands I was able to hear Saturday night. Listener Project and Holy Eyes.

The first band, featured in the video above is Listener Project. This group comes out of Arkansas, and they call their genre of music "talk music." They are definitely a unique sensory experience. While at sozo, the group used a trumpet, a bass, the human voice, some loops, and even a washing machine for creating their distinct sound. I had never heard anything like them before, and I really enjoyed their show. While they performed, they had images from an old cartoon playing in the background that added to the eerie and idiosyncratic style they brought to the stage. If they come to your town I recommend checking them out. They are humble, colorful, and provocative. The song above explores the way products are marketed to us with a claim to meet our every need and our every whim, but in the end they never satisfy, and so we should want our money back. I like the idea, because it ties in nicely to our recent h2o message (I tried to get the band to come to h2o, but they were rolling out of town before it started). Anyhoo, give em a listen if you like music and a message that's a little off the beaten path. They are definitely innovators.

The other band, Holy Eyes, is on a two week tour here in the states. They come out of Holland, around Utrecht. Actually, as I talked to these guys I recommended that they check out the church my friends are part of in amsterdam, Zolder50. When I pray for churches and for communities, I find myself praying with fervency for my friends in Amsterdam. So Holy Eyes has more of a hip hop sound, and they rap about faith and life, and try to share lessons in their songs. They bring a lot of energy to their shows, and they rap in both dutch and english. (If you've never heard a bi-lingual rapper, it is a beautiful, but largely unappreciated art form). For all of my friends at the zolder, you should definitely check em out. And if they come to your town before the return to the Netherlands, go to a show and support 'em.

Music is a powerful medium for carrying a message. And these folks bring such a rich and eclectic performance to their music that it can almost feel like an Andy Kaufmann-esque experiment with music with all of the tension, humor, and thought provocation.

Check em out and give em a listen, and let me know what you think!

The Nonconformist-Uncompromised

I took this photo during a recent faith venture to Washington, DC with a group of friends from h2o. I thought it was a great representation of a life that didn't conform to the norm.

This week at h2o, we started a new series called The Non-conformist and the name of this week's talk was Uncompromised. The series is looking at the lives of Daniel and his friends, and how they refused to conform to the ideals of the society within which they were placed. Daniel and his friends lived in a very difficult time, and they were eyewitnesses of one of the greatest tragedies in the history of their people. The defeat of Judah by the Babylonians, and the subsequent deporting that took place. Daniel and his friends were children who were brought into the most powerful Kingdom of their day, and they were given many "opportunities" to assimilate and find their identity in the new Kingdom. All the while, they resisted; they didn't yield their identity or try to "blend" in with everyone else.

There are ways in which they experienced the same culture as their babylonian peers, but they experienced it differently. They used every opportunity they had to glorify God. When it came to education, they pursued education in Babylon with diligence. But when it came to compromising their faith in YHWH, they were unwaivering in their commitment.

They wouldn't eat the King's food or drink his wine. I wonder if anybody would have faulted them for it if they would have. You see, I think that's the way compromise sneaks into our lives. We justify every little thing, and nobody really makes an effort to call us out. It's almost like some sins are somewhat respectable in the eyes of most people. And maybe that's just our problem.

This all the forces at work in this world are bent on making us just like everybody else. But God is interested in conforming us to the image of His son. For Daniel and his cohorts it wasn't necessarily the foods themselves, but maybe it was what those foods represented. Those foods and wine represented Babylon and all it had to offer.

Sometimes I think our lens gets hazy and we become somewhat blinded or forgetful when it comes to understanding our place in God's story.

So let me ask you a question. Have you bought into another story? Are there areas of your life that have forgotten God's great story of love, mercy, reconciliation, and restoration? Now is as good a time as any to take stock and let go.

As Paul Reminds us in his letter to the church in Rome, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Let's renew, and let Him transform us--so that we, like Daniel, might transform the place where we live for the glory of the Messiah.

Monday, April 14, 2008


UnChristian-Manipulative, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.

Last night, Mark Byrer finished off our series at h2o dealing with themes from the book Unchristian. I highly recommend the book for anyone who wants to look deeply at the image problem of Christianity in the west. Last night Mark looked at the image of Christians as manipulative. Many see Christians only as people who are trying to broker a deal for souls. Once the transaction, often in the form of a prayer, has taken place, the Christian apparently has little to do with individuals. If the person seems to be resistant to the faith, then the Christian washes their hands of that person. While that may not be true, that is the perception of a healthy percentage of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29.

So what is a Christian to do to change this image problem. We can't get around the fact that we are called to share our faith, but it becomes a question of how we share that faith.

Mark gave folks three ideas to take away in consideration of the current climate in America.

1) He encouraged us to THINK. Maybe we need to think a little bit differently in terms of how we share our faith. Maybe more people need to take a greater role in walking with people through life, and not stopping at the point of conversion.

2) He encouraged us to LOVE. Often Christians can come across as insincere. It's almost like the behavior of a business person so intent on closing a deal, they stop caring for the people they are working with. Perhaps, we can all learn to love a little more and a little better.

3) He encouraged us to LISTEN. Many times, folks start telling people what they think they need without listening to hear what they really need. Maybe if we listened more and spoke less we would be able to help people walk through their very real pains in life.

As I listened to Mark's message, I couldn't help but think we could all use a little more thinking, loving, and listening as we share the most important message in history.

The gospel of Jesus is the most important and thoughtful message that has ever been uttered. It is the most sincere message of love that has ever been communicated. And it is the ultimate response to the hurt and brokenness we see in this world.

May you share Jesus well in action, attitude, word, and deed. Your life could be the only representation of Jesus or the Bible many will see.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

When Answers Aren't Enough: A Brief Review

Reviewing Matt's Book, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Well, it's about a week after I had initially told you about my friend Matt Rogers, and his new book, When Answer's Aren't Enough: Experiencing God As Good When Life Isn'tand I was among the many who ordered it last tuesday from Amazon. Last week, as a result of your purchase (if you bought it!), Matt's book soared to #1 in Christian living, #2 in theology, and #80 overall on Amazon's best-seller list. Thanks for helping my friend out and drawing attention to His book. If you are interested in buying a copy, you can grab one online here.

So I wanted to give you a little review of it, and even give you some other suggestions. First, Matt tips his hat off to a couple of personal mentors, Madeleine L'Engle and Philip Yancey. The former I'm less familiar with, but Yancey is probably best known for his books that deal with pain and suffering both physical and emotional including Disappointment With God and Where Is God When It Hurts.

Matt's book isn't a novel, nor is it really a long treatise on a subject loaded with theological terminology. It's a book of essays, meditations, and reflections on his life as he has walked through the intense suffering of being present for one of the biggest campus tragedies in history. Last April, Matt was sitting in a Starbucks 10 minutes away when Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 other students and professors while injuring many more and then turned the gun on himself.

Matt, a pastor at a church of 800 students in Blacksburg, walks openly through his own anger as he saw people who were apparently trying to turn his campus into a circus during the time. He also expresses joy amid suffering as he witnesses people come together to care for one another during this difficult time in the history of his school.

Because his book is really a series of short meditations broken into three segments, it lends itself to being a fairly easy read. While the subject is anything but "easy," Matt concisely shares his frustrations, his fears, and his motivations and hope in his first book. I would strongly recommend this book to anybody who is feeling a bit jaded with their faith. Because it is broken down into very small chapters/sections, it makes it easy for a person to take their time through it, and not feel overwhelmed by the text.

One of my favorite concepts about the book is that he does give the answers to the tough questions--he takes about two paragraphs to do it. He then says that giving and knowing the right answers isn't that difficult--but he further states that walking into the middle of suffering and finding God's goodness in it can be a supreme challenge. Especially in a world where people are searching for and giving single paragraph sound bites to answer deep hurts of the soul.

I could write at length and speak very specifically about the details of Matt's book, but I would much rather hear your thoughts about it. I may write a longer review to be posted/shared elsewhere at a later date, but for now, I will simply say--give it a read and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dad and Daisy

Dad and Daisy, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Yesterday, my dad and I drove to our recently acquired family cabin to do a little fishing, and see how the place weathered the winter. We had to do a little cleaning and fixing up where parts of the place had settled, but by and large things looked great. The ground around the place was really soft, like all ground is the first time you walk on it after a long wet winter. The grass was super green, and the weather was beautiful. We couldn't have asked for a better day to travel.

We ventured out for a little fishing, and left Daisy, my dad's dog, in the cabin where she would be safe from the rapidly flowing waters of the Shaver's Fork of the Cheat River. Of course she found this isolation and separation intolerable, and spent the entire time we were away from the cabin (about 30 minutes), chewing and scratching and barking at the door. While we couldn't hear her from the stream, when we returned toward the cabin, we could tell she was protesting vehemently her rustic imprisonment. So she joined us for the rest of the trip.

We didn't catch a thing, so after about 3 hours, we called it quits, and headed back toward Morgantown where we enjoyed a bowl of our family recipe Chili, and the NCAA championship.

It's been great having Dad and Daisy up here, and I hope they will come to visit more often as the weather improves. Today, I had a lot of work to do (story of everybody's life, right?), but we are planning to spend a little time hanging out this afternoon.

It's good to spend time together with family, and although we didn't catch any fish yesterday, I believe a good time was had by all--even daisy once she wasn't left out!

Hope you are able to spend some time today connecting with others, and enjoying the beautiful spring weather!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

UnChristian: Hypocrite

I really love this photo I found on flickr that really captures the essence of this week's message from h2o. We continued our series called UnChristian by looking at the number one word used to describe Christians by Americans age 16-29, and that word is hypocrite.

David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons in their book UnChristian state that Christianity has an image problem and suggest that there is something that can be done about it, but that it will require change. As I said last week, they work for the Barna Research Institute, and they did a survey among Christians and non-Christians about their perceptions of the church. 85% of non-Christians age 16-29 said that the word hypocrite came to their mind when they thought of Christians. 47% of Christians in the same age group had a similar association.

So what are we to do about a statistic like that. Are we to just say that it's persecution? Are we to justify ourselves with clever little slogans like "we're not perfect, just forgiven?" (Because to the world outside the church, a quote like that is heard as "we're not perfect, we're just bettter than you.") Maybe we could spend a few million on marketing so that we could show that we are not as bad as people think . . . That could be a catchy line "Christians, we're not as bad as people think." On second thought, maybe not.

Kinnaman and Lyons' answer to the problem is similar to what I've thought for a long time (so it kind of makes me feel like I'm in a league with smart researcher dudes). They said that until we are willing to be transparent with our lives, admit our faults, and work to correct them, we won't have an audience with most people.

People don't expect Christians to be perfect; they really don't expect anyone to be perfect. They want people to be real, to admit their flaws and their brokenness. And that's the last thing anybody really wants to do. We really love wearing masks. But if we are going to be different from the rest of the world, I think we're gonna have to start by taking off our masks and finding some people who will ask us the difficult questions and help us to see our blind spots.

It starts with you and me though. Gandhi, after reading Matthew 7.3-5 paraphrased it to say that "YOU must be the change you want to see in the world."

Here's to starting a day, a week, and maybe a life motivated to being a different image of what a Christian is! Will you find someone to talk to, take the mask off, and be intentional about growing to be more like Him?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Small Step for Change

In honor of my mom who passed away last year, I am joining with my sister and others to participate in the Wood County Relay for Life. I would love it if you could join with us to raise money and support cancer research. You can click here to join our team or make a donation.

If you participate, you will joining people around the world in celebrating those who have survived cancer, remembering the people we've lost, and supporting the lifesaving mission of the American Cancer Society. Besides that, you will be hanging out in Parkersburg, WV with some cool peeps, and you get to see where I used to "kick it" back in the day!

As we walk our laps, we will each be taking a small step for change. Last year we had a lot of laughs, and shared a lot of hope, prayer, and great spiritual conversations. The more folks who join the team, the more fun it will be too.

As we walk our laps, we will each be taking a small step for change. Last year we had a lot of laughs, and shared a lot of hope and prayer. The more folks who join the team, the more fun it will be too.

Will you make a small step for change with me in Parkersburg May 16th, 2008?

Birthday Visitors

This past Sunday, I returned from a faith venture in the DC area to find three guests waiting for me at my house. My dad, my sister, and my dad's dog, Daisy. They had made the long trek from Parkersburg to Morgantown to spend a little time with me on my birthday. Thankfully we had semi-decent weather for Morgantown in late March, and we could enjoy a little hike--something it appears everyone in my family enjoys doing. (My mom enjoyed the outdoors, but her knees were in such bad shape she could never really hike with the rest of us, but she always enjoyed being out and about.)
After taking me to lunch at Texas Roadhouse , we came back to the house, picked up Daisy and headed to one of my favorite hiking trails nearby. (Can you believe there was still a 40 minute wait at Cheddars @2PM?) I would tell you about the trail, but one of the things I enjoy most about it is that not a lot of people know about it, so it's like a private sanctuary. In fact, it was such a nice day I was a little concerned the trail would be crowded, but we were the only car there when we arrived.
The trail meanders along a mountain stream, so one can enjoy the sound of the water as one hikes (unless it is summer and we haven't had a lot of rain, and then this is one of the most depressing places in the world to be!)
Anyway, it was great to share this space with my sister and dad--if only my brother were here to enjoy it also. (sigh) I often go to this trail to think and to pray. There's a spot where I like to go (I took these photos from that spot) to sit, pray, reflect, and soak my feet in the cool mountain water (I typically will do this year round!)
Unfortunately we couldn't linger too long in the woods on this trip. They had to return home, and didn't want to arrive too late. Regardless, I think my dad and sister enjoyed their visit, and I know I really enjoyed sharing some time with them.

Maybe I'll see more of them as the weather warms up, and maybe my brother Chuck and my other brother Willie will make their way out here too!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

One Life

A friend of mine is trying to coordinate an event on the campus of WVU in partnership with the ministry of World Vision, a Christian organization that does a lot of work in poverty relief in the world. My friend, Matt Crum, just sent me the link to this video that he wanted to share with our community at h2o. His goal is to mobilize people to do something about the AIDS epidemic that has been destroying Africa. Personally, I think it's a great goal, and I hope we can help him in his efforts here in Morgantown.

While you might not be able to join in this work here in Morgantown, I couldn't help but think that this video could be a good reminder of the very privileged life everyone who reads this blog lives. I just spent over seventy dollars on food at the grocery store. Unless I am intentionally fasting, or simply forget to eat (which happens more often than I like to admit), I never have to worry about where my next meal comes from. Clean drinking water, is just a twist of the faucet away.

And yet, there are over a billion people for whom that is not the norm. While there is a limited amount any one person can do about problems like these, any one person can do something. It is my hope that over the course of this year we would all make some change to make this world a better place for those who have absolutely nothing.

We each have one life to live--what will you do with yours?

Book For Sale

OK, first off this isn't an April Fools joke. This is for real. A friend of mine at Virginia Tech just published his first book. It's calledWhen Answers Aren't Enough:Experiencing God as Good When Life Isn't, and it's available at Amazon.

Personally, I haven't read the book yet, but I imagine it is a pretty solid read. Philip Yancey, a very well known author, has been meeting and speaking with matt over the last year to guide him in his writing, and through his own processing of a very traumatic experience.

Yancey had this to say.

"No campus pastor should have to face the questions Matt Rogers did after the shooting at his school, Virginia Tech. Then again, caany of us avoid these very questions? Tempered by tragedy, Matt explores both doubt and hope, and emerges with compassionate wisdom."

You see, Matt is on staff with GCM (the ministry I work for) at Viriginia Tech. He was there last year when 33 people were shot and killed in Blacksburg, VA. And he had to both help students walk through this difficult time and go through it himself. While I haven't read the book, I just finished ordering it from amazon.

And I want you to order it too. We are trying to get as many people as possible to order it today so that it attracts greater attention. If book sales suddenly surge upward, it will mean that more booksellers will take an interest in Matt's book, this means more sales, but more importantly it means more people will have an opportunity to consider God beyond all of the scholarly intellectual answers to suffering. It also means a huge savings for you because it's about $5 cheaper to order it from amazon than it would be to purchase it anywhere else.

Will you help my friend matt, and order a copy of his book? I would love it if you posted a review here too when you read it. Have a great day!