into the wild

After re-reading John Eldredge's Wild at Heart in August, it only made sense that our guys small group went to see the new movie Into the Wild.

It was a good movie with a lot of really good thoughts and points. I think Sean Penn may have tried to get a little too artistic by including some completely unnecessary scenes, but overall I was impressed.

What surprised me most was the conclusion the main character came to at the end of the movie. Not what I was expecting from the one movie trailer I'd seen. But it was a good surprise.


lessons from a pit bull...

last weekend i was enjoying a rare dinner with my girlfriend. we decided to eat picnic-style outside on her front lawn. just as we were finishing our food we spotted a shadow in a parking lot across the street.

before long the shadow became the silhouette of a fairly big dog. a couple more seconds and it became clear it was a pit bull. based on my past experiences with big dogs, i was already picking up our picnic and moving toward the house.

but this pit bull ended up being a nice one. he didn't have a collar, but his chewed up harness made it clear that, at least at some point, someone had taken care of him. with no one in sight we fed our new friend and put him (and yes, it was very clearly a him) in my girlfriend's backyard for the night.

around 4 in the morning it started to rain, and though the dog had a safe place to stay, he decided he wanted out. he jumped two chain link fences and was gone - at least for a little while. three hours later he showed up on the front steps, crying to be let back into the backyard.

to me, the dog's journey was symbolic of my own at times. God has given me everything i need to survive and enjoy this life. yet at the first sign of something uncomfortable the fences feel more like preventative boundaries.

like the pit bull jumping the fence, i forget God knows what's truly best for me and try to do what i believe is best for me. at for a short while, it might seem like the right decision. but ultimately i have to humble myself and come back to the God who knew the best path for me all along.

i may not be the biggest fan of dogs, but i'm not so different from them at times either.


velvet elvis

I've always been a fan of the Nooma videos, so I thought I'd give Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis a read.

After watching the videos, a lot of the book's content was pretty familiar, but I still really enjoyed it. I really like Rob Bell's writing style - it feels like he's with you in the room talking.

More than that, I really like the picture he paints of creating authentic community in today's culture.

Overall, a good, quick read.


live the gospel...

By nature, I'm not much of an eavesdropper. But I happened to hear part of a phone conversation one of my friends was having with his roommate from college. Really, all I heard was the very end...

"Live the gospel."

That was it. Just "live the gospel."

I think that might be the coolest way I've ever heard a conversation ended. It's an amazing encouragement between two men who want to make much of Jesus with their lives. It wasn't softened by a routine "see ya later," or "take care."

And in three words it says so much more than that.

We'd all do well to follow my friend's encouragement. Problem is, it sounds much simpler than it actually is.


on the right track?

A few guys from church have been meeting and talking about the book Wild at Heart. This week we had a really good conversation about a question that I think almost everyone has to ask themselves:

Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing with my life?

How do you figure that out? I mean, I can't answer that question with any certainty. Most people my age probably can't. And because we can't, we start playing these crazy games trying to figure out God's will for our lives.

When that doesn't lead to a conclusive answer, I get restless, frustrated, go through a mini quarter-life crisis - or worse, I just go about my routines and ignore the question in the first place. I'm pretty sure none of those actions do anything to answer the question.

So here's where I'm at on the situation. Even if I can't answer that question with any certainty, if I feel like I have battles worth fighting in my life, then I at least know that I'm not wasting my life. And if I'm not wasting my life, then I can't be too far off doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

But that's me. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've got any...


five weird habits

About two weeks ago, I was tagged by Brian to post on five weird habits. So without further ado, here it goes.

1. Hair Twisting. My hands don't keep still very often, so other people (and especially my sister) catch me twisting my hair. Sideburns, leg hair, arm hair - it doesn't really matter. Since I can finally grow semi-respectable facial hair, that's been the hair of choice lately.

2. Repeating Songs. I've been known to take a few songs and play them over and over again. To honor this weird habit, my college roommates have made playlists of the songs I played the most.

3. Cookie Eating. When I eat those big cookies like the ones from Mrs. Fields, I eat the inside first and save the outer ring for last. It's a habit that started in high school for no apparent reason.

4. Inspirational Movie Scenes. My junior year of college, I watched the last 20 minutes of Braveheart every day for a month. No joke. At that point, I felt like I had a lot of battles to fight and I love the end of that movie. Still, that's pretty strange.

5. Sports. I root for the Philadelphia Phillies and Kansas City Royals. No explanation needed.


truth outranks experiene

Twice a year new missionaries come to Avant for Candidate Orientation Program(COP). This time around i had the opportunity to teach several sessions. The topic: "Telling Your Story"

Now at first I was a little intimidated. Not so much of teaching or talking in front of a group of people. Between college business classes, BYX and youth services at my church, I've gotten comfortable with that. Rather, I was intimidated by the fact that I was teaching people with more experience than me on the subject of telling stories.

Missionaries are professional storytellers. Think about it. They go to the ends of the earth to spread the gospel - God's story. When they're not doing that, they're writing updates and talking at churches, telling stories of God working in and through them. It's a missionary's job description to tell stories.

Who am I to tell them how to do that? At least that's what I was wrestling with several weeks ago when I was figuring out what to talk about. But then it hit me - truth is truth no matter who speaks it.

Truth outranks experience.

What would the world be like if people with good ideas kept their mouth shut because they didn't have experience in that field? Even worse, what would the world be like if we heard those good ideas and ignored them simply because of who said them. The apostles were some of the first to flunk out of Rabbi school, - what if people ignored the truth they spoke?

Armed with affirmation, I compiled my sessions on "Telling Your Story." And I'm pretty sure I taught with a confidence that would have been missing without this realization.

Now I will always respect the experience of people who have done something longer than I. They have learned so many lessons that can only be learned from successes and failures. So in the future, whenever I'm in a position of speaking or teaching to those more experienced than I, this will be my motto:

Respect Experience. Follow Truth.