Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chuck Norris

So my book reading adventures continue and this past Friday I just finished reading Chuck Norris' biography. I remember getting this book from a friend who knew of my love for all things Chuck and sadly I had the book for 3 years until I finally picked it up. Thankfully the wrath of Chuck never came down on me. Legend tells Chuck doesn't have a chin behind his beard, but another fist. So glad I never saw it. But in any case I'm glad to finally learn more about this action star whom I enjoyed watching for the last 5 years of my life. There were so many new things I learned about Chuck.

There were many things I have taken away from reading the book and the first being Chuck Norris all throughout his book talks about his faith in God. When you see is work whither it's on Walker: Texas Ranger or his numerous movies it isn't always oblivious. Sure he'll have his moments of being morally good but you can find people who aren't Christians who are morally good. But with Chuck he received a lot of spiritual influence from his mother who seems like a really solid believer from what I've seen in the biography. The very last chapter of his book is entitled, " God has plans for you." I can't say I've ever found anyone outside of Christians circles who would be so bold in admitting in a God or saying that he personally cares about us.

The other this is the openness Chuck shows throughout his book and revealing just how broken his life is. If you've never read any of the "Facts" people have made up about Chuck or even watched his movies, he is jokingly made out to be perfect person. Chuck reveals all of the hardships he's experienced in his 60 plus years of being alive. Ranging from his very humble beginnings in Oklahoma to mistakes he's made while being with women. I admire Chuck's honesty in admitting to having an affair with another woman during his first marriage and having a baby with them. woman. Also mentioning how his first marriage ended due to growing distant from his wife and then remarriage sometime later, this was unrelated to the affair.

It reminds me all of Hebrews 11 and the list of faithful people God used in the times of the Old Testament. Throughout scripture God has ever used "perfect" people to bring him glory (unless you count Jesus, who was God in the flesh,) but broken people. Here's an example-

"By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.32And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. "

Now none of these people lived 100% righteous lives and didn't always show loyalty or love towards God, let's look at four of them briefly
- Moses: Who was very hesitant to speak our behalf of God to the Pharaoh of Egypt... even though God provided him with so much.
- David: a man considered to be a man after God's heart, sleeps with another man's wife and has him intentionally send to the front lines of a battle to be killed.
- Samson: Whose unfaithfulness to God was matched only by the strength he gave the Israelite.
- Jepthah: After making an oath to offer a sacrifice to God if he won a battle, sacrifices his daughter despite going against the law laid down by God.

Even when I think about my life right now and ministering to College students, I am no where near perfect. Whither it's my speech or actions I don't always do what's right. If I were the one who placed staff at college campuses to reach students for Christ, I probably wouldn't pick me. But God is so much more bigger than us and can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. God can certainly use our actions for his good and make himself known to others. As Paul mentions in his first letter to the Corinthians in reference to something troubling that's in his life- "three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

So going back to Chuck, he saw so much success in his later life but as with these biblical figures was far from perfect. I'm really glad there is someone like him around. He's certainly more relateable in light of it. I'm also glad he's around to roundhouse kick terrorists and give cheesy one- liners.

Friday, September 09, 2011


I have made it my goal to read through the growing stacks of books I've gotten over the last few months. I think I've broken a personal record for how many books I've gotten at one time. This summer I think I got 19 books when I was in Colorado. As a kid I read a lot of Science Fiction novels from well known authors such as Michael Crichton, Ray Bradbury and Harry Turtledove. I still enjoy reading and as I've been growing in my relationship with God have not only extensively read the bible but read books written by Christian authors from modern times.

One book I spend the summer reading was an amazing book called "The Search for Significance" by Robert McGee. The focus of the book is helping Christians to learn how to be free to enjoy Christ's love while no longer basing their self-worth on their accomplishments or the opinions of others.As believers of Christ we are susceptible to four lies in varying degrees in our lives.

The first being "I must meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself."

The second " I must be approved (accepted) by certain others to feel good about myself."
The Third "Those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished."

And finally the forth- " I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless."

As I read everything that Robert McGee had to say in the book, I really had to take a hard look at my life up to that point. I can certainly see how in some respects I had given into these lies, even before knowing Christ. Even as a staff member with Cru, I have felt there's no room to fail or that I will avoid taking risks that might bring about failure. At times I've had situations where I felt very tempted to feel if I were more mature in my walk I wouldn't have made certain mistakes.

Thankfully God in his wisdom gives answers to these lies as outlined in the book which correspond to the four lies:

1.)We are Justified by God- This means that God has not only forgiven me of my sins, but also granted me the righteousness of Christ. Because of justification, we bear Christ's righteousness and am therefore fully pleasing to the father. (Romans 5:1)
2.)We are reconciled. This means that although we were at one time hostile toward God and alienated from Him. Consequently, we are totally accepted by God ( Colossians 1:21-22.)
3.)We are propitiated. Propitiation means Christ satisfied God's wrath by his death on the cross: therefore, we are deeply loved by God. (1 John 4;9-11)
4.) We are regenerated. This means that we are new creations in Christ (John 3:3-6)

We cannot hope to find our identify in people or in our performance. They will never satisfy us since we are all broken people. I am reminded of what God tells Jeremiah in Jeremiah 2:13-
"for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water."

We are always prone to going to someone else other than God to found our significance in life and the things we always go to never satisfy. But sadly these things leave up just as empty as we came to them and disillusioned.Whether it's finding your identity in winning a sport or saying the most funniest jokes to impress friends, it all ends the same way. Only God truly knows what we need and it is him. He is the living water we need in our lives. It's key that in light of these lies to do just that, to recognize they are lies and replace them with truth from God himself. As it tells us in Romans 12:2

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Beyond a shadow of a doubt the promises and truths in scripture which God reveals will never change. As it tells us in Numbers 23:19

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

and again in Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ {God} is the same yesterday and today and forever.

It's very comforting especially for me to know I do not have to do anything to earn God's favor because Christ has already done so. I could never do it on my own and either could any of us. For now that things are set right between us and God we do things out of the great and boundless love he has for us.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

It has been.... A Red Dawn

As I packed for my time out in Colorado for new staff training with Cru, I as any normal man gave no real thought to what shirts I would pack. I tossed in my Ravens Jersey, some dress shirts and even a dress jacket but there was one very important piece of clothing that was missing. That being my Red Dawn shirt. And why would I need such a shirt for a trip like this you may ask? Simple... sit back as I share the tale of Red Dawn.

It all started in 1984 when the Soviet Union decided it would be a fantastic idea to invade the U.S. The Soviets had plenty of options as to where to invade first and for whatever reason choose Colorado. Sometime during a quiet September morning students at a local Colorado High School witness paratroopers falling into the field behind them and open fire on everything that moved. As students (notably Charlie Sheen among them,) rush out of their hometown Calumet, the situation worsens. Soviet troops along with Cuban and Nicaraguans are up in everyone's grills and rounding up citizens. ( To this day I can never fully explain why or how the Cubas and Nicaraguans were caught up in this. I think in the communist draft for assembling a team to invade America, all the good picks were gone when it was the USSR's turn.) Naturally things look bleak for the home team.

For about a month, the kids who did escape are living in the woods and are led by none other than Patrick Swayze and hope that everything will blow over. Sadly the occupation takes a turn for the worse yet again. After seeing the atrocities of the Soviets, the kids form their own rebel group named after their high school mascot, the wolverine. For about 3 months or more the group fights the occupation in Colorado. As you can imagine much shenanigans ensued and eventually the Soviets are defeated.

For me I loved the other the top idea of a country like the USSR invading and how a bunch of high school kids resisted them so fiercely. It makes a me a firm lover of 80s films. It seems that is all the 80s was... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Ever growing Family

Ever since I became a Christian in the fall of 2005, I traveled around the country every year. My very first trip out of state was to Panama City Beach, Fl to share the gospel with Spring Breakers when I was a freshman. How amazing it is to see God at work since then. I have been to 33 states and once out of country. With every year, God shows me more about himself and many about what I have through Christ. I am so glad that God has shown me over the years, a sense of family. If you were to tell me six years ago I would become a Christian and experience so much, I would never believe you. 2011 was no exception. What an amazing opportunity to join staff this summer with Cru in Ft. Collins, CO. After waiting two years I finally got to embrace the dream God had given me.

The Journey out to Colorado was meant to originally to take 3 days across the country and my trip was meant to be 1750 miles long. Going into my third day of traveling in Iowa on my way to Lincoln, NE, I was so excited to be in Colorado the following day. Sadly my plan would be interrupted with the loss of my second car transmission. The first transmission I loss was while I drove on I-70 in Maryland so I had little to worry about in the way of resources and friends to help. In Brooklyn, IA, the place where it broke down this year, I would not have the same situation. It was slightly stressful situation as anyone would imagine but in the midst of it I knew I could trust God. I really couldn't believe how things would play out in the next two days. By God's grace he provided a staff couple in Des Moines that I was able to stay with. In addition, the money I needed for gas and labor expenses to repair my car were provided for! After two days of waiting I could drive the 10 remaining hours to Colorado. You can imagine how thankful I was to after such a long time getting to see the Rockies.

As I first arrived to new staff training on June 15th, I rushed into the school we were meeting in for a night session. It was so encouraging to see so many people who were joining staff. On that note it was great to be around so many brothers and sisters, many of which I had never met up to that point. After 5 days of traveling I finally made it, I could not stop thanking God for getting me there. The next six weeks would further assume me what I have in Christ.

I’ve never been to Colorado and I never really thought I would even make it this far in life, graduating from a college and working for Cru. I loved my time staying on Colorado State University’s campus and having the Rockies only 1 hour away. I couldn’t have picked a better place and time to join staff! It was a privilege to go through some amazing times and some very difficult times with my brothers and sisters. Whither it was going through our classes or watching a Rockies game, it was good to know I had people, to have family with me every step of the way. There were times during the week where our huge group would break up into smaller ones and meet every Wednesday. It was helpful to me to get to know some of my brothers on a more personal level and share our struggles and victories in life. I value that so much to have opportunities like that. That was something I really missed out on growing up and not being able to be vulnerable or open with my parents. I love knowing that my family does not stay within the boundaries of man’s blood and legality but through the cross. I am reminded of John 1:12-13 which says “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” I am grateful to know that I am not at all alone in this world; I am a child of God. To know my family is in Texas, California, Virginia, and Indiana and beyond the U.S. gives me comfort.

As a child I could never really count on my parents to be there when I needed them. As I was taken out of the family by Social Services in 2003, I had little to ready me for the world which I was forcibly made to grow up at times on my own. As I saw where my parents fell short I have seen my family in Christ make up for it in big ways, especially with getting to Colorado. So many people were gracious enough to sacrifice time, prayers, and money to help. When I first came to Christ a leader from Cru shared the gospel through a booklet called “Would You like God Personally?” At first I never gave much thought to the title but was very eager to trust in Christ to forgive me of my sins and have a personal relationship with God. Over the years I have since just how good God is and how he has really met me where I am at. I had many hurts from unmet needs in my real family and other families I was a part of. But to see God providing me with my true family through the body of Christ has helped me to continually trust in him. As my true father I believe God will provide what I need, even when I don’t know. I am confident that wherever any of us are Christ will provide for us and deeply satisfy us more than anything in this world.

I am excited to see most of my new staff brothers and sisters in Georgia at the end of October!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

St. Francis of Assisi

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” One of St France of Assisi’s most remembered quotes, one that over the years I just can’t agree with.

Even though I’ve been a Christian for only 5 years, I run into people every now and then who believe that you don’t need to mention the gospel to people or understand what they are saying in relation to France’s quote. They will sometimes reference this quote and from my understanding some do believe it is not the responsibility of every believer to preach or share the Gospel. I recall having a friend once telling me that using tracts with the Gospel in them don’t work any more in the United States, that evangelizing (actually using words,) wasn’t effective in general. Truthfully I was very angered by that…. I become a Christian by someone sharing such a tract, listening to them verbally sharing the Gospel and then seeing how they conducted themselves made a difference. It was so helpful and meaningful to hear a person tell me about Jesus. Having someone sit me down helped to make sense of so much. I realize it is by Jesus Christ’s blood that we have been forgiven for our sins and we can be in a relationship with God again, but honestly how could we know all this if someone didn’t tell us why he died and revealed its meaning? I remember too a time when I spoke with the same friend who shared with me about a experience when he really committed his life to God and acted differently. One day at work a co- worker walked up to him and said:

Co Worker: Hey Larry I’ve noticed you’ve been acting a lot differently than usual, I think I know why.
Larry: Oh yea?
Co Worker: You’re a Vegetarian!

We can’t assume that everyone will know what we believe unless we say it, if we don’t I would say we aren’t really seeking to fully met a person needs…. especially the spiritually needs. Even if people see us being good and moral, how can someone know we are different from the kind doctor we go to or the clean out politician we see on T.V. who has no faith in God? It is not what we do that defines who we are but it is who we are than defines what we do. Through God’s word spoken to apostles and prophets we know this… through his word we receive our identity. And because of it, it changes our lives; his love compels us to be different and changes our thinking. People ought to be seeing the difference in our lives and that should make them thirsty for what we have. But often they still don’t come to us and ask how we know Jesus unless we bring it up. For me I can validate that, although I went to high school with some Christians and I never once ask them about their faith or what the Gospel was. It’s worth mentioning I didn’t even know these some of these people were Christians until years later. At times I heard about how they were involved in various religious groups or events, but that doesn’t always reflect a sincere trust or belief in Jesus. For whatever reason all of them never did bring it up or even thought I was a Christian myself, so they never brought it up, it was all assumed. Unless someone spoke to me and took the initiative, I saw no need to bring it up.

It bothers me sometimes to hear people believe that by simply acting a certain way and not verbalizing any thing, people will automatically assume you’re a Christian and want to be one. In addition they may say “well I’m just not good with talking so I won’t even attempt it, they will figure it out. Or even worse some may say the Gospel is unnecessary for this day and age and actions will be more sufficient. Who are we to down play the Gospel and think it will do no good? God, the author of the Gospel is so much bigger and wiser than us. Nothing in this world will keep him down. What happened to trusting God and believing he is who he says he is? For all of us who are Christians, didn't someone once take the time to tell us about Jesus? Didn't it give meaning to who that person was and what they did? How much did it affect you?

One thing we need remember too is it is a part of our nature not to turn away from God and not seek after him. Romans 3:10- 12 tells us “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” All through out the Old Testament and especially in the New Testament we see God pursuing his people. Jesus Christ is our most prime example as we see all through out the gospels. Yes its true Jesus is meeting the physical needs of people healing lepers and the blind but what else does he do? He preaches about the Kingdom of God. He makes known what he believes when he physically meets a person’s needs. He illustrates it through parables and is even straight forward to his disciples in the Gospel of John. I for one really need to follow more closely the example of Jesus and not be silent. We all need to do the same.

With every opportunity we have to interact with people who don't know the Lord, we can't stand by and ignore a possible chance to share the gospel. Some people out there may never see another Christian or may know Christians but are silent like I said. Why should we deny people the chance to hear the Gospel, to share something that makes us vastly more happier than anything else in the world? The world won't change unless people are changed on the inside by Jesus and learn of his actions through the Gospel.