Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Gospel

There was a time in my life when I was separated from God. I lived according to my sinful nature, and tried my hardest to run from Him (Isaiah 59:2).  But even while I was still yet a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8).  God sent the One who knew no sin, to be sin for me, and you, so that in Him we may experience the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He gave me the choice to receive Him, as He has given everyone, and through belief in His Son he has taken away my sin in exchange for eternal life (John 3:16). Where I once was separated and felt far away from Him, I have now been brought back to him through the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:13). There was nothing that I did that caused me to earn or deserve what Jesus Christ did for me (Ephesians 2:8-9); it was solely a demonstration of His great love for me.  My only aim in life from this point on is to finish the race that he has called me to run (Acts 20:24).  Regardless of where I end up in life, I hope to always live out His last commandment that was to make Him famous to the world (Matthew 28:19-20). In everything that I do in life, I aim to do it as if I were doing it for my Lord and Savior himself (Colossians 3:23). Yet I know that even my greatest accomplishments in life, whatever they may be, don’t even compare to that which He has done for me (Isaiah 64:6).  I also know that nothing can separate me from the love of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:35), because nothing in this world can compare to the glory that will be revealed on that day (Romans 8:18).  My hope for you is that you would come to know that there is nothing you can do to escape Him (Romans 8:38-39), and all that He wants to do is to know you more (Psalms 8:3-4). And lastly, my prayer for you is that the eyes of your heart would be opened, so that you would come to know 3 things:  1-the hope to which he has called you; 2-the riches of His glorious inheritance that is you and me and all who believe; and 3-the incomparably great power that is in those of us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18-19) Amen. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Kevin Wise

I'm gonna tell you a story. Right now, this story is not a feel good story. But this story isn't finished yet. The end of the story right now won't be the end of the story forever. The end of this story right now is hard to explain, but there is a lesson in it for me, and I think one for you as well. I need to hear that lesson. Here is the story.

There was a young man. He is a phenomenal baseball player. He is pretty well known and respected in his community. He always treats people with respect and kindness. He stood for a lot. A hard worker who  is an outstanding person both on and off the field.

 I met Kevin Wise when he was a 7th grader, I was then a senior in high school. We held a one day spring baseball camp out at the high school, inviting local middle school baseball players to come out and practice with us and learn from us for a day. Kevin was one of the guys I spent a lot of time with that day. I remember watching him move around and thinking, this kid is going to be pretty good one day. He batted left but he threw right. He had a gun hanging from his right shoulder for a 7th grader. I liked everything about this kid. I like his game, I like the way he called me sir even though I was 18 years old and unworthy, and I liked the way he carried himself.

But he wasn't just talented. This kid worked hard. He had a motor. He wasn't satisfied in just being a good athlete, he wanted to be the best athlete. He was no giant. Kevin wasn't the one to tower over a crowd or to have to duck under a doorframe or a low ceiling. But he had a huge heart. He was a young man of good strong moral character, who went about his business the right way. He never expected to be given anything, he had and was always ready to work for everything.

Fast forward now to Kevin's senior year in High school. By this point Kevin has had an illustrious high school baseball career and has received a scholarship to go play baseball at a Division I school, one with a great baseball program. He has developed a reputation for his faith in Jesus, his athletic ability, and his personality. I don't know Kevin that well. I never really have. I'm 5 or 6 years older than he is. But every time I see him we always catch up. We talk about baseball and life and what is soon to come for him when he starts his collegiate career. We also have a lot of mutual friends, and I see the effect he has on other people. I hear the way they talk about him.

So one Friday afternoon in the early spring Kevin has baseball practice. The season is starting up soon. It will be his last one as a high school player before he goes off to play in the fall. He goes home after practice and goes to bed like normal. He is supposed to have practice the next morning.

But Kevin never makes it to Saturday morning practice. Friday's practice was his last. Kevin passed away that night in his sleep.

I told you from the start that this wasn't going to be a feel good story. I meant what I said.

I don't know why things happen. Sometimes I say that I wish I knew why, but I'm glad I don't. It teaches me to continually rely on God's sovereignty. I don't know why Kevin died. I can't see the answer to that question right now. But I trust one thing. I trust that one day, there is an eternal value that I just can't see yet. Somehow, something is going to happen to bring glory to Jesus Christ because of Kevin's life. Maybe it will be one of his teammates coming to know Jesus, maybe someone in his family, I don't know. But I trust that God has a plan and this is working in perfect concordance with that plan. It's the only way you can explain something like this. A 17 year old outstanding young man, a great athlete in great shape, going to sleep at night and never waking up. God has a plan I just can't see it right now. One day I hope He will show me.

When stuff like this happens sometimes I loose perspective and I get frustrated or ask why, but I think a better thing to do is turn to God's word. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I'm thankful that I knew Kevin. I'm thankful for the young man that he was and the impact he had on people. I'm thankful for the lesson that is in Kevin's life for me. The lesson that this life is fleeting. It can be gone in an instant. It's not important how far you can hit a baseball, how much weight you can lift, or what you have in your bank account. What is important is who you are in Christ Jesus, what He has done for me and for you, and making him famous in our lives and our world. What am I doing with my time? How am I maximizing my impact on God's kingdom? How can I live best for Jesus today?

I pray that whatever God's will for Kevin's life would come through now after his death. Thats why I said in the beginning that this story is not over yet. It still has a lot of chapters to go. I pray that lives would be changed, and that Kevin's legacy now will come through in helping to make a disciple that makes a disciple that makes a disciple of Jesus.

Whenever I think about where Kevin is right now and what he is doing right now, my mind goes numb. I can't even begin to imagine. I want to know what he sees, who he is talking to, what he is doing. Pictures and images can hardly form in my mind to think about what he is experiencing right now. I can't imagine. I will see it someday, and maybe I will see him someday. I might even joke around and ask him why he didn't want to go to practice on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Window

It's 4:45 AM Central Time. For all of you back on the east coast thats 5:45. I'm up eating breakfast with my man A.Lee. We decided the other day that we could basically be married because we are together so much and don't want to try and kill each other. (You can follow his blog at We both have pretty much the same thing going on in front of us, his is a little big more nutritious than mine. We both have 3 eggs scrambled with some spinach. He has a lot more veggies and some ketchup, I have cheese in mine. We both have 1/2 a cup of steaming oatmeal in front of us, he has flaxseed and fresh blueberries, my blueberries are little ice bricks because they are frozen.  It's quiet, really quiet. The thunder that we fell asleep to the night before that was really dogs doing shuttle runs above us has died down now.

It's dark outside, but the blinds are open. We have our other roommate to thank for that. He doesn't really sleep, I'm pretty sure of it. He just sort of naps. He wakes up before the sun is even thinking about coming around again. I wish I was as disciplined as he is. He loves getting up and sipping his coffee and watching the news in the morning, and he likes to open the blinds to let a little bit of the world into 3B.

As I'm pounding my breakfast before going to work, I'm thinking. I'm looking out the window and I'm thinking about something. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Its something Jesus is showing me. He is slowly pulling back he curtain in front of my eyes, revealing another unique attribute of Himself to me on His time, at His own pace.

He is showing me how versatile he is. He is showing me just how unique and unpredictable He can be. He has been this way for my entire life, but only now is He allowing me to see it. I grew up going to a church where everyone was white. We always sang the same songs. We always recited the same words. We always stood up, and then sat down, and then stood up again. But I didn't get it then. I didn't get much of anything pertaining to Jesus then. I didn't want to. I didn't take it in for myself. I thought it was my parents thing. I thought it wasn't for me. Thats not they way that I experienced Jesus. I had to get into a new position. I had too look through a different lens. It took a much different presentation of the gospel for me to see it clearly and be able to apply it to my own life. Things could have turned out a lot different in my life. There were a lot of things that could have gone a lot worse for me. I don't really know why they didn't, other than that wasn't Jesus' will for the way my life would play out.

The thing is, as I'm looking out this window, thats how I see the world in this moment. I see it through my own eyes, from my own perspective, from where I'm located.  I can only see a fraction of the world right now. I can only see a couple of parked cars underneath the street lights. There is so much that I can't see from where I am. There are so many amazing things about the world that I have no idea about because of my own perspective. The fraction of the world that I am exposed to right now isn't even worth measuring.

How we view Jesus is the same way. Our perception of Jesus is limited to our experience with him in our own lives. It's like how I used to think that Jesus spoke English because that I speak English and that is the language that I understand and am able to read God's word in. It's like how I used to think that if it wasn't a hymn that was sung in church on Sunday, it wasn't a Christian song. Gahh He is so much bigger than that.

Open your eyes to really see the gospel. See it in a different light. See it for what it is, the Good News, for all the World. The story of how Jesus came to save every toungue, every tribe, and every nation. That Revelation 5 stuff. Don't limit Jesus. You're cheating yourself. Get away from what is comfortable and experience Christ for yourself, not because it's just the way you've always done it.  Develop an understanding that our God is versatile. He isn't in any one particular style of worship, genre of music, or any other 'box' that you could think to put Him in. He is bigger than that. Way bigger. He is in everything. He created everything. Thats one of the things I love about Him. He looks so different depending on your perspective. You could travel to opposite ends of the world and He is just as present and alive in either place, the only thing that might change is the extent to which we are aware of Him.  

Get to know Jesus. Let Him show you who He really is. Don't put any boundaries or limits on Him. Don't just take it from somebody else.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dying to Live

I'm dying to live. I think deep down we all are. We are programmed that way. We all want something more. We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. There is a reason that people work themselves to death for their entire lives trying to achieve some status, trying to accomplish some goal, and then when they get there they look back on what they have done and say, "This is it?" "This is what I've worked for all my life?" "Was it worth it?"

I can't think of a greater example than this than Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, winner of 3 Super Bowls, 2 of which he was the MVP. This is not a Brady Bashing session. I'm not a player hater that crushes a lot. The dude's stat sheet speaks for itself and its hard to go against. He is one of the greatest QB's in the game today. But I saw an interview with him once where he said something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. In 2005, after Brady had won his 3rd Super Bowl in the last four years, he said, "Me I think, God, there's gotta be more than this?""Why do I have three super bowl rings, and still think theres something greater out there for me?"

Are you for real? Man this type of stuff just can't be written. This is America, a country that glorifies it's sports stars, particularly football, and especially the quaterbacks. This guy makes millions of dollars a year to play a sport. He is married to a supermodel. This is supposed to be the dream, the most fulfilling life you could ever ask for. He is supposed to be at the ultimate, the highest high, and he is looking back saying, "there's gotta be more than this?"

I'm dying to live. I think Tom is too. I want to be part of something more than Dave. I don't want to spend my life chasing after the American dream. I don't want to be comfortable. I don't want to live in a big house and drive a nice car. I don't care. I want to live, to really live. "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain," Phillipians 1:21. Paul said that, and I believe he was being divinely inspired when he said it. I'm dying to live. I think deep down we all are, because I think that God designed us that way. I think that when God made human beings, he intentionally left a little hole in us somewhere. Not a physical hole where some anatomical structure is lacking or absent, but a metaphorical hole in our soul, in our being, in what makes us who we are. A hole that can only be filled by really living for Christ. Letting him rule our mind, body, heart, our actions, our words, how we spend our time, how we spend our money, how we treat each other. Nothing else can fill that hole.  Nothing else can quench that thirst. I love gatorade, they have revolutionized sports nutrition. But they are liars. They don't quench my thirst. I could pound one and then 30 minutes later be lookin for some water. Only one thing really quenches my thirst, and that is Jesus.

But talking about living for Christ, and going out and doing it are two different things. When you wake up in the morning, whether you know it or not, its on, and the choices you make over the course of that day have consequences. My grandfather David John once told me, "If it were easy, everyone would do it." At that moment we were talking about getting a college degree because sometimes, all the time, when it comes to doing school work I need a little discipline. But I think that it holds true to living for Christ too. Jesus said that the gateway to life is narrow, and the road is very difficult, and only a few will ever find it (Matthew 7:14). I want to go down that road. I want to find that life.

I'm dying to live. 

btw: i put the link for the Tom Brady interview down below in case anyone wanted to see it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Opener

I've never really liked blogging. I always thought it was weird. But as I get older I feel like I'm growing up a bit. I used to take whatever was given to me and hold on tight to it as if it could never change. I would have never had a blog. But that was then. Now I'm a thinker. Now I like to challenge stuff that is given to me and think of all of the different aspects about it. I like to read books now, at least the ones that interest me. I like to get in deep conversations with people about stuff that really matters. And I'm learning more and more each day that I don't really care what other people think about me. John Wooden once wrote "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are." (I would play for that man if he never won a single basketball game as a coach just because of the man he was.) I do hope that other people can look at my life and see my faith and how I'm striving to be the man that Jesus wants me to be. But at the end of the day all I can do is try to be that man, people are going to see what they want to see.

I have no idea what all this blog will entail. If i had to guess I would probably say there will be a lot of Jesus in it. I love Him. He is important to me. Then after that probably some stuff about weightlifting, some frisbee, some christian rap music, books, youtube videos, and sports will probably find their way in as well. Really anything in my life that I think is worth sharing. I've wanted to start a blog of some sort for a couple of months now dating back to the fall of 2011, but only recently when my roommate Alex stepped up to the plate and made one did I muster up the courage to take the plunge. I'm not the brightest crayon in the box, and I don't know if this blog will benefit anyone at all other than my own sanity, but if thats the case then I am fine with that too. If you like it, then keep reading it. Shoot me a text or a message about it whatever it was that struck you. If you don't like it, I'm sorry and I hope that you find whatever it is that you're looking for someday.

I guess you could call this 'My Opener.' In weightlifting this is what you do. You have an opener, a weight that you know you can hit. In baseball this would be my leadoff hitter. Someone who I thought could get on base and get something going. I don't even know what I'm trying to get going through this, but I pray that God will take whatever it is and whatever it becomes and use it to glorify His Kingdom in some way. I pray that with everything about my life, this is just one aspect.