Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Gospel and Next Year

I have listened to this sermon twice from Hudson Community Church. It is called "Justified Sinners" and based out of the end of Galatians 2. It has been impacting my view of the Gospel and is sinking into my life. You can listen to the audio HERE or see the video HERE. Feel free to leave feedback.
"Right at this moment you are more deeply flawed than you have ever dared to admit to anyone, even yourself. And right at this moment you are more deeply loved than you have ever dared to dream."

"If I live my life like this, saying this is what I have done, and God asks "Why not Hell?" and I say, "No hell for me, look at what I've done!" I am still completely self absorbed. Bricks are good to stand on and look at other, to build walls, to build forts...but the cross is only good for one thing. The cross is an instrument of death."

"Once you've paid the death penalty, you are paid in full, there is nothing more you can give. In the words of Clint Eastwood, "When you kill a man, you take everything he has and everything he is going to have."
The cross takes everything you are, ever have been and ever will be. All your good deeds and all your bad."
"What does it cost your God to love you? [Some people's answer] is, "Oh it doesnt cost him, he just does?" What kind of love is that? That is not like any love we experience here on earth. All love is costly!... If you dont believe in a God of wrath and a God of hell, then when I tell you "God loves you," you dont have any idea what that means. It has no power to change you... And if I you think you are a good person and just need a little bit of grace and tell you that Jesus died for you, you will yawn. You will say, "Yea I know, of course he did, because I am worth it." And it will have no power to change you."

I don't think I have said this on this blog but I will not be returning to Italy next year to work with Agape. I have loved my time here and love what God is doing but I don't know if this is what God is calling me to long-term. So I am going to take this next year and explore. Try new things. Hopefully find my passions and what God wants for me. Two things have given me a lot of peace about this. One was an interview with Randall Goodgame found HERE. The quote that he said was, "as I eventually gained more discernment about my gifts and passions, I realized some time last year that I needed to go... I learned that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. It seems like something I should have learned a long time ago, but I’ll take what I can get in the wisdom department." I love Agape Italia and I am fairly "good" at this job here. But I still dont know if that means I should be here long-term. I might be coming back, but for this period in life, I wont be.

The second thing that helped me was a worksheet I did on identity. I realized that I have been basing a lot of my identity on what I do. So you ask me who I am and I would answer, "I am Chris Rule and I work for Agape Italia...." I realized that identity is deeper. Who we are is deeper. If it is just what I do, then my identity is constantly changing, and I was afraid of that. But my identity is that I am a child of God, I am appointed to go and bear fruit that will last (John 15), that I am loved and accepted by God because of Jesus and he is with me always. That doesnt change if I am in full time ministry, a journalist or a janitor.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Davide - A Spring Break Story

Who would have thought that the long-haired kid with the longboard strapped to his backpack and rocking shorts, a ‘stache and a soul patch was Italian. I have never met an Italian like this. But Davide was Italian, sure enough, and he spoke fantastic English. So me and two spring breakers from the first week sat down and started to chat.

Turns out Davide is a surfer who had spent the last 3-months in Hawaii. He loved American’s and speaking in English and wanted to hang out more, so I was all about it. More specific, he is a body-surfer but lest you think that is weak, he has surfed a 14-foot wave on one of his boogey boards; these aren’t your $25 Wal-mart Styrofoam boogey boards.

So the next week, Davide came to grab lunch with me and some guys from Ole Miss who were in town for their spring break week. Isaac and Gabe (Ole Miss) hit is off with him and they spent the entire afternoon together. Davide even went touring with them, because he had never been to a lot of the churches. As they spent time together, Isaac began to explain what the meaning behind churches is, why God came, what the Bible is, and who Jesus is and what he did.

The next day he got lunch with us again and spent the entire day with Isaac and the guys again. Isaac continued to walk through the basics with him, explaining that Jesus truly was God and came to live a perfect life, die as the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins, and rose again to conquer death once and for all. And because of all this, we can have a relationship with God through Jesus and can learn about this in the love-letter that God wrote us (which we call the Bible). This was news to Davide, something he had never heard, and when he heard it and knew he could, he made a decision to follow Jesus and start this relationship with God!

I wasn’t there during most of this conversation but I met up with him the next week to hang out. He had already read through the Gospel of John and had some questions. We got the chance to hang out, talk, and it was so encouraging for me to see that he legit, for real, a new brother in Christ! I am stoked to keep talking with him, to see how God continues to help me grow through this and also how God helps him grow in this new faith.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Links for the Lazy

Dear faithful blog reader(s),
I am sorry I have alienated so many of you by not writing often. I promise to change my wayward behavior when they shorten this cast on friday. And I promise to write how I got the cast too. But right now I can only type with on hand, so this is gonna be short. Enjoy the pictures and check out the links for some worthwhile reading. Much love.
Perhaps our inability to abide repetition, our constant looking for something “new,” has a lot more to do with our weakness and failure than it does our becoming “mature.”

Interesting thoughts on our culture and the desire for new experiences.
As punishment for a "major offense," such as fighting or stealing, students are told to place both hands on the seat of a leather chair and brace for what Nixon calls "a whippin'." Before he begins, though, he sits the child down for a quiet talk about why he, or she, is in trouble. He tries to determine if a deeper issue, such as a problem at home, might warrant a meeting with a counselor. If the child shows remorse, Nixon will often send him or her back to class without a spanking. Otherwise, he makes sure he is calm, and he makes sure his elbow is still. Then he delivers "three licks" to the child's rear end. If the child is a girl, then a female administrator does it. Some of the kids cry. Some are silent. Some want a hug. And after the child is sent back to class, still stinging, Nixon sits alone in his office and thinks about what the child has done, and what he has done. "If I could burn that paddle in my stove," Nixon says, "I would. This is the worst part of my job."

Check out this article. It is what good parenting and correct discipline should be like, in my humble opinion.

Check out musical artist Adam Agin, who had this to say in a recent blog.
I'm not saying I have lost all of who I was, but I sure am trying... I want to grow, break, build again, and come back stronger. Dare I say, hurt is worth it."

Generation Me
This is a short, quality read and a sad indictment on our culture... lets pray it changes. Check out this worthwhile read.

But no matter how you were raised, the handiest cure for narcissism used to be life. Whether through fate, circumstances or moral imperative, our culture kept hubris in check. Now, we encourage it.....Treating the whole world as if it works for you doesn't suggest you're special, it means you're an ass. As an antidote to a skyrocketing self-worth, Twenge recommends humility, evaluating yourself more accurately, mindfulness and putting others first. Such values may seem quaint, maybe even self-defeating, to those of us who think we're special, but trust me: it gets easier with practice.