Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Idol of Success. Part Two.

A lot of people must've been praying for me in the last 24 hours!!!

...I couldn't find my ipod shuffle for the last week or two and i was bummed because thought for sure i had lost it. BUT I found it in the corner of my back pocket yesterday!

I also got pulled over this morning. I wasn't even in a hurry. I was going to fast out of a stoplight without even thinking about it, but the cop let me off... and that never really happened to me!

Anyways, Two weeks i posted on dealing on the Idol of Success that i discovered while reading Jeremiah in Central Wesleyan's young adult group. Well, I got stuck again on a few verses.
(or at least the "God" in your belief system)
Jeremiah was complaining that God offered peace to his people while opposition confronted them.
"Ah, Sovereign LORD... you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, 'You will have peace,' when the sword is at our throats." Jeremiah 4:10-12

The funny part was God didn't deny it or make an excuse.
He said, "Yeah! I offered peace but your actions deserve punishment so be ready."
11 At that time this people and Jerusalem will be told, "A scorching wind ...blows toward my people, but not to winnow or cleanse; 12 a wind too strong for that comes from me. [a] Now I pronounce my judgments against them."

My logic would struggle if i failed and nothing i did was right. i would expect an explanation from God.

God's punishment wouldn't help me if i was looking for a God of success.

I would be holding God to his promises, reaping punishment for my own sins, and blaming God.
It would be satirical to blame God because he is not ashamed of what he is doing. He is holding on to His promise, that success isn't always worldly, and that true success will follow a love and obedience of Him (John 14:15; Jn 15:10-11), not just words.

God's punishment would help only if i was in need of Him.
Not just in Need of Prestige, wisdom, or money
But in need of someone to help me find Purpose, Truth, and Love
Finally, the question was raised by Todd, "What do you do when you are under ungodly authority?" I didn't speak up because i couldn't articulate this, but in the Submission chapter Celebration of Discipline Richard Foster concludes,
"Revolutionary subordination commands us to live in submission to human authority until it becomes destructive."(p124)

My Ankle will Be Okay!

After an x-ray and a nurse checking it, it was decide that i strained my ATFL(anterior talofibular ligament). I am up and walking, but the full recovery should take a few weeks. Apparently the ATFL is the main tendon down the side of your leg to your foot. The pop i heard was the tendon sliding around my ankle. But as you can see from the picture, i had a little reason from caution after i rolled it off the side of my skateboard! Good to go.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thoughts on Success

Had an all-nighter with the jr. highers Friday night, played worship on Sunday morning, and carved pumpkins tonight. It has been a full weekend.!
This isn't completely thought out, but i sat down one night and thought through what i wanted and it came out as follows.

What do i want?
-To Be Debt free
-To Get back to New Zealand
-To do a quality joba at SpringLake Wesleyan but not over quantity
-To be Learning and Finish Master's
-To Perform Present Ministry- write book, iwu sermon, blog
-To Find a girl at some point

What are the next steps in getting there:
-Become responsible for life payments: 80-10-10 model
-Prioritize NZ- call churches, send letters, call people
-Get on Top of Finances: car/insurance/cell/loans/insurance
-Say no at church outside of hours- get core responsibilities of games, videos, web going and move on.
-Cultivate girl relationships and push self to look

What would i call "Succeeding in Life":
Future Wife:
-Her To Feel Secure and Know my eternal love for her
How? Remember Wedding Date, always intrigued, always awed

-To know they are loved, important, needed
How: Quality time and vocalization of these things

-First, To Be Generous
-Then To Be Wise(frugal)
-To not be controlled by money
How? 80-10-10 rule (10%tithe, 10%saving, live off 80%)

-Know that i have worked hard
-That i have accomplished what was required
-Be good and getting better at what i do.
How? Prioritizing

Christian Life:
-Humbly remind myself as much as possible of my never ending need for God
-Do Everything in my power to choose God and His Purposes
-Have time for people
-Help People by Sharing
-Enjoy People

-Focusing on Important before Immediate
-Focus on Eternal(Unseen) before temporary(seen)
-Always Learning
-Always Preparing
-Always Relational
-Always Truthful
-Knowing Needs & When to play and do what i enjoy


-Know When to be Disciplined(restrain pleasure) and Know when to Enjoy.
-Learn the idea of contentment.
-The idea of the journey.
-The value of balance.

Best Work Environment:

-When i get to focus on the task at hand
with no guilt of immediately completing other pressing responsibilities.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Does God Still Perform Miracles?

Psalm 77:6-7, 10-11,
My heart... asked:
"Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?..
'Has his unfailing love vanished forever?"

Then I thought, "To this i will appeal; the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. i will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, i will remember your miracles of long ago....

This is David?!? This is the one who slayed tens of thousands, who defeated Goliath? Crying out to see if God will still perform miracles?! Having to look back to the plagues, the Red Sea, Joshua and the wall, to see that God still does miracles?!

I forget...
He didn't know of the miracles to come! The visions of the prophets, the miracles of Jesus and his miracles, and the power of the early church!

We see that miracles surrounding David in history. It is almost humorous to think of David having to look back to remember God still performed miracles when we see them all around him in history and the scriptures.

Yet here we are today, some of us lost in our perspective asking the same questions. You know God is great... but is he really still performing miracles? What ever your situation is that may make you ask the same question as David, the answer is YES.

it was so great to meet a girl named Tes this last week at small group. She permeated the life of someone who had met our victorious Lord. She began to talk about her trip to Africa and how she saw people healed, demon's exorcised out of friends, and prophecy being spoken over people.

No matter whether you see it in first person or not, No matter whether God may seem distant from you, No matter whether you have current proven miracles right in front of you or not, rest assured that there ARE miracles being performed around you.

That, just as David was surrounded by historical miracles in the midst of his questioning, know that God is at work and that you are surrounded by past miracles and plenty of miracles to come.

David Goes on to profess:
Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?"
You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples." 13-14

Thursday, October 25, 2007

So Good. Part 2.

Comically, whenever i get to this place of contentment it must be borderline cocky, because i always seem to be humbled right afterwards!

Three Years ago, i started to jump higher than normal. I loved it when i was playing basketball, but this soon landed me with a torn ACL.(seen below)
Well last night, I could ollie higher than ever before. It was a good night so i decided to bust out my skateboard instead of my longboard to see if i could still pull any tricks. While i was skating and waiting for a friend, i rolled my ankle It definitely swelled up and was irritated.
And my short-term health insurance is more for major accidents so i didn't know how much i would actually do to get it checked! It will be okay though. Also, this is small, but the youth group game i was in charge of tonight was a "shoe-in" and i bombed it. I felt good about this game because i had done it in the past, so i didn't prepare well.

I feel like God consistently humbles me or Satan frustrates me in the realm of irresponsibility, insurance, money, and/or physical accidents. Especially around the time that I mentally concede, "I finally feel in control of things." How does that work? What does this mean? Questions i don't have complete answers for!

I rest in verses like Psalm 73, but always wonder at least a little bit whether it is testing, temptation, or just stupidity. This is my life. I feel like this blog is a consistent theme of my life. Like if i were to write a top 5 articles of my life, most of them would be positive but one sad one would be the consistent humbling of God.

One problem of being a single young adult:
I want to be less self-centered. Most of the problems i deal with center around me still. I know that changes as your grow into a family and/or community, but i hope i get better at this even now being where i am.

So Good

This has been the first week that i have been able to just enjoy myself. I have had this overwhelming sense of there is more to do (with support raising especially) until this week. This last Saturday, i went to a wedding and it was SO good. It was just a lot of fun. Since then, life has just been a little bit lighter. Tuesday night, i laid my head down on my pillow and i was not exhausted, but i was not worried about having a lot to do. Life was good and moving forward. Life is getting to a place where my mind is at ease. Where i know the task is great and there is plenty of work in front of me, yet i know God is in control, and i am okay working hard and just being day by day. So good.

I just wish i could learn a lesson like this once and never have to learn it again

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What Does God Want From Me?

Before i get thoughtful, i just thought you should know that I cooked Dinner for the Family Tonight!
Chicken alfredo, salad, garlic bread, and oreo shakes for dessert! (with a little help from Suzie)
I forgot to take a picture before, but the chicken alfredo was allgone afterwards as you can see!
Does God have a perfect Brent in mind? ...for now or at any point in my life?
Is there a certain job, a certain personality with strengths and no weaknesses, a certain amount of hours i should sleep, certain places i should be financially etc.?
How would God see you as the perfect _____(insert your name)?

Does God see one model of how i should be? of where i need to get to?
Is he happy watching me develop or is there always a missed opportunity of what i should be?
What is my life story to be?
a Job? Righteous Prosperity
a Jesus? Loving Teacher
an Abraham? Responsible Father
a Moses? Miracle Wanderer
a Jacob? Wrestler with God
Does it matter whether:
I influence the masses or the few?
I prove myself responsible over a lot or a little?
I become almost superhuman or humble in my frail humanity?
I search the depths of God or master the obvious truths?
How do i set my life to love people?
How do i set my life to apply all of Brent to serve God and others?
How do i live this life to the fullest?
How do i live with certainty, purpose, and confidence?
How do i learn to love, know, and listen to God?

Questions i ask myself ever so often without full answers until they come around the next time.

My Tribute to Spring Lake Wesleyan Church

I have loved it hear so far.

Every Monday we have staff devotions at 9am. At the end, we break out into groups and pray over the prayer requests handed in by the congregation. It is amazing to see those requests tangibly covered in prayer by not just one person, but the whole church staff.

The youth staff is great.
Josh(left), Dan (top), & Julie (bottom)
Dan Ward is the visionary leader (speaking and vision youth pastor)
Julie O Kelly is the work horse (administrative assistant)
Julie Collins is the coordinator (discipleship youth pastor)
Josh Carroll is the production (worship intern)
I'm the random game guy (programming intern)

They all do great at what they do, and by no means are limited to this description.
Everyone just enjoys working with each other.
Julie O Kelly, Josh, & me at our first event

The senior pastor Dennis Jackson is a working fiend, but does a great job of not letting work define him. He often becomes teary eyed as he shares his heart with the staff. Him and his wife Gwen have led hear faithfully for the last 10 years

The staff is very candid and real.

The church is known for being great at investing in people and making sure that you feel included and important. It is a good thing happening here.
My time here is running short(7 weeks), but the people are cool and i am learning a lot.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Eighth Wonder of the World & Random Musings

The Magic Sock Trick: The Eight Wonder of the World! :)
It is an amazing trick and i baffle myself every time i do it. I put my dirty laundry in the washer and dryer and somehow come out with completely mismatching socks every Single time. Below were the rogue socks from my last load of laundry. I mean i don't remember only taking off one sock at the end of the day and i don't find extra single socks lying around... So...how in the world did this combination come out of the dryer? I think this 8th wonder of the world is too great a task to try and tackle or explain, but just something that each household has to accept as a fact of life.
Can 5 Pounds Really Make that Much of a Difference?!?
I don't know why, but i have this five pounds that has always haunted me. During college i usually fluctuated between 195-200lbs. Now it is 200-205, but that five pounds is the difference between looking at myself in the mirror and seeing a pooch in my belly or not. Not only that, but the main determinate is usually not how much i exercise but how much i eat. That is sad days when you like to eat! No real deep meaning to this thought, just letting you into one of my many everyday battles. it is rough life, i KNOW!!! :)

Funny quote i read yesterday:
“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”
lily tomlin

Friday, October 19, 2007

Surfing on Lake Michigan with the guys

It is about that time of year! It is windy, so it was time to get out in the water. This is the Grand Haven Pier.
I ended up taking Tyler(15) and Drew (12) out for their first time.
They both made it to their feet on my 8' board, but not for extremely long
i only got a little time before it went dark
But thanks to my brother-in-law's inspiration, i have learned that i can do about a 2 second head stand if the waves are too small to do much on! Thanks b.

What I Wish I’d Known When I Was Twenty

Two Guys blogged on this title so i thought i would add my two cents.
First, These were my favorites from:
stumbling and mumbling and
big tommy speaks
1.Don't care so much about what others' think about you...This, though, is easier said than done.
2. Learn to play a musical instrument.
3. People regret what they haven't done more than they regret what they have done.
4. We adapt to our circumstances.
Great wealth won't make us very happy, nor will solitude make us too miserable. Extreme and persistent happiness or unhappiness is therefore unlikely. Life's a 6 out of 10.
5. Beautiful women are often insecure.
6. No-one's as confident or accomplished as they seem.
7. Family Matters. Most of us are blessed with immediate families who care about us far more than we realise – I certainly am. Not telling them about our lives or failing to introduce them to our friends is thoughtless and hurtful. I still need to work on this!
8.. Keep Fit.
9. Black People Actually ARE Less Intelligent Than Us. I can’t believe you fell for that.
10. Bullies Must Be Tackled Head On. There is only one way to handle bullies.
11. People That Appear Wise Are Not Always So.
12. Adolescence Is A Long Period. Quite simply, I don’t think I was at all grown-up until my late twenties. It is now clear to me that growing pains go well beyond our teens.
13. Old Friends Matter. Meeting new people is exciting and worthwhile. But I don’t have any better friends than my oldest schoolmates,

What I (Brent) wish I would've LEARNED by the time i was 20. (in no order)
1. 10-10-80 Principle- Save 10% Tithe 10% Live off 80% of income. This is Money Management 101 that i wish would've been ingrained into me when i first started dealing with money.
2. Focus on Strengths and Don't Feel Bad. God has gifted you a certain way, so focus on what you are rather than what you are not.
3. You Need People. Although people are more effort and might slow you down initially, you can accomplish exponentially more with a team in the long run.
4. It's Okay to Not be Grownup Yet. Not knowing everything does not mean there is something wrong with you. Just be responsible and enjoy the stage of life you are at.
5. God made everything that is good in this world. Trust that he knows what he is talking about, and that he has an upgraded version of everything that brings us pleasure, fulfillment, fun, and happiness.
6. Christians do not have to be serious all the time. For some reason to be a hardcore believe, sometimes i feel like you have to be deep, analytical and lose all of your sense of humor, playfulness, flippancy, & immaturity
7. Know Your Personal Needs and Prioritize Them. I need to have alone time with God, exercise, and people time for a day to be amazing. It is just a part of my makeup.
8. Life is a Journey, Not a Destination. I hate... absolutely despise this phrase! I am so goal driven that this phrase just irritates me. Yet there is so much truth in it. When ever i find myself frustrated, it is usually because i am not enjoying the journey.
9. Get Over Yourself. The quicker you find self-worth in God and the quicker you can get over your own insecurities, the more you can get out of your own way to help others. I am NOT saying neglecting yourself is the answer. I am saying that being in a state of willingness to sacrifice your wants and desires when it is needed for the greater good is PRICELESS.
10. There is a Difference between Truth & Reality. And let us never... NEVER use the excuse of the "Reality to choose," to choose something other than what we know and sincerely believe to be True and Right.
11. Life is All About God, Therefore life is all about Love. Love is unconditional. Other times, Love makes life situational. Love makes life unpredictable. Love gives life purpose. Love gives each human hope. Love makes us do things we normally wouldn't. Love is something we want to trust. Love seems to be humanity's ultimate desire. Love reshapes our life. Love helps us keep our jobs, social life, and personal being in proper perspective. Love is where we find our self-worth. Love is where we help others find true self-worth. Love consumes the thoughts of this world. Sometimes Love is too much to explain. Love goes beyond words. Yet when you experience Love or even a poor attempt at Love, you can't help but desire more. Love is Good.
(If you believe these statements to be true, go back and replace the word "love" with "God" in each statement because they are interchangeable. Everything that is love is of God.)
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God 1 john 4:16 NIV

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Knowing My Strengths

I am reading the Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanleyand on p21 it gives this amazing example about focusing on your strengths:

Should a baseball batter whose batting average is .253 (which is mediocre at best) spend more time working on his hitting? Maybe, but if this person is an amazing pitcher named Greg Maddux, certainly not at the expense of his pitching. His skill with a bat is not what makes him an indispensable part of the lineup. "The moment a leader steps away from his core competencies, his effectiveness as a leader diminishes."
One BIg Idea of the book is that it is much better to focus and hone in on your strengths that come natural while letting people with another strength set fill in the weaknesses rather than spend countless extra hours focusing on how to overcome your weaknesses in an attempt to become well rounded.

So i took the test that comes from NOW Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham. Here were my 5 main strengths:
  • Includer
  • Woo
  • Positivity
  • Activator
  • Relator
Read below to learn more about my strengths

"Stretch the circle wider." This is the philosophy around which you orient your life. You want to include people and make them feel part of the group. In direct contrast to those who are drawn only to exclusive groups, you actively avoid those groups that exclude others. You want to expand the group so that as many people as possible can benefit from its support. You hate the sight of someone on the outside looking in. You want to draw them in so that they can feel the warmth of the group. You are an instinctively accepting person. Regardless of race or sex or nationality or personality or faith, you cast few judgments. Judgments can hurt a person's feelings. Why do that if you don't have to? Your accepting nature does not necessarily
rest on a belief that each of us is different and that one should respect these differences. Rather, it rests on your conviction that fundamentally we are all the same. We are all equally important. Thus, no one should be ignored. Each of us should be included. It is the least we all deserve.

Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. Some people shy away from starting up conversations because they worry about running out of things to say. You don't. Not only are you rarely at a loss for words; you actually enjoy initiating with strangers because you derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection. Once that connection is made, you are quite happy to wrap it up and move on. There are new people to meet, new rooms to work, new crowds to mingle in. In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet-lots of them.
You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation.Some call you lighthearted. Others just wish that their glass were as full as yours seems to be. But either way, people want to be around you. Their world looks better around you because your enthusiasm is contagious. Lacking your energy and optimism, some find their world drab with repetition or, worse, heavy with pressure. You seem to find a way to lighten their spirit. You inject drama into every project. You celebrate every achievement. You find ways to make everything more exciting and more vital. Some cynics may reject your energy, but you are rarely dragged down. Your Positivity won't allow it. Somehow you can't
quite escape your conviction that it is good to be alive, that work can be fun, and that no matter what the setbacks, one must never lose one's sense of humor.

"When can we start?" This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You mayconcede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuableinsights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only actionleads to performance. Once a decision is made, you cannot not act. Others may worry that "there are still some things we don't know," but this doesn't seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning.
You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can't. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.
Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people-in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends-but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want
them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk-you might be taken advantage of-but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Idol Of Success

I am attending a young adults small group at Central Wesleyan that is reading through Jeremiah. Through the first 3 chapters we have read over and over again about Israel's idols of wood and iron. God mocks them calling out to these created objects to save themselves. I was trying to make it personal because i know i don't struggle with the temptation of putting a Buddha idol in my room.
What it came down to was this.
What am i putting in the place or even what is trying to share the place with God in my life? (because God DON'T share either!)
The overwhelming answer to what has made me doubt was my capability to be an adult via my capability of making sure i set myself up for worldly success. I think we deal a lot with this as Americans. in Celebration of Discipline Richard Foster says,
The mass media have convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality.... This psychosis permeates even our mythology. The modern hero is the poor boy who purposefully becomes rich rather than the rich boy who voluntarily becomes poor..Covetousness we call ambition. Hoarding we call prudence. Greed we call industry(Foster 81).

We have convinced ourselves that coming out on top in this world is the way to show God best. This may be good at times, but Jesus overall taught that riches were dangerous, that leadership required a humble servant, and that coming out on top of this world was definitely not our first priority.

In trying to compensate for my poor financing skills and my young boundary setting, i had place the idol of success in competition with the voice and words of God. I began to question whether i would be a success if i never got completely out of debt or was never recognized for my leadership. I forgot that although maturity is big and growth essential, they must never share the authority of Lord over my time and life. All that from just the first three chapters of Jeremiah!?! Excited about the rest.
Lord, help me to remove the idol of success from Your place and to be ever wise in learning from the Israelites that idols that have come before should never be taken lightly because they will be likely to tempt my weakness again.

Why can't i do everything?

I can't put myself down just because i am young. So often i have thought something was wrong with me because i didn't have everything figured out. In 1st grade i tried to be cool with the 3rd graders. My jr. high friends i wanted to be a high schooler. In High school, it was a compliment to be mistaken for a college student. As a 23 year old i wish i was more responsible like my parents. Yet, We all know that our heart goes out to the 11 year old girl who has way too much make up on and is trying way too hard to be something she is not. You want to tell her so bad, "Just enjoy being a kid. You will grow up soon enough." I didn't realize until today that i was that girl... figuratively speaking! :) I need to enjoy being 23. I am growing, but i don't have finances, time management, and direction all figured out and that is okay. I am being worked on until the day of completion, but that does not mean i am deficient. Just not everything i will be capable of. That is not a put down, not something i have to strive to complete now, but something to work towards and look forward to when i get to heaven. God help me to strive forward with an intensity that is of you and help me to be know that i am completely loved and acceptable in this moment to you as well.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Life's current Status

I scare my extroverted self sometimes by thinking i am introverted than i want to be. I have been craving alone time lately and i am not sure if it is God drawing me to solitude or whether it is me trying to escape the responsibilities of life. We will see over the next few days. I have A LOT of work to do. I have a lot of amazing blogs that are just too raw to post, so hopefully i will start putting out some good stuff here as i become more efficient with my time.
God spoke some good truth into me today about being present and content. I will share later.