Friday, November 30, 2007

Barbarians At The Church Door

"I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am completing what remains of Christ's sufferings for his body, the church. God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his message in all its fullness to you Gentiles. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to his own holy people. For it has pleased God to tell his people that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory." (Colossians 1:24-27, NLT)
In the Greek the word "Gentile" can be translated as a race of people or nation, but it was also a derogatory term used by Jews that meant foreigners or barbarians. This was the view of most Jews during Jesus' time. They despised the influences of foreigners, the Romans. They viewed the Romans as barbaric, crude, and destructive to their worship and obedience to God. They wanted to kick them out of their country.

How many churches today look at those that are not familiar with church, the un-churched, and treat them like Gentiles? The un-churched are our barbarians, who are rude, vulgar, and so many want to kick them out of the church (or create programming in our church that discourages them from wanting to stick around).

Most churches today are absolutely terrified of letting a little dirt walk in their doors. They want to be safe, secure, and unchallenged. Let's be honest; inviting the barbarians in means more risk and more challenge. But what would happen if we took these barbarians, like Paul did, reached them for Christ and equipped them for ministry?
"So everywhere we go, we tell everyone about Christ. We warn them and teach them with all the wisdom God has given us, for we want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. I work very hard at this, as I depend on Christ's mighty power that works within me." (Colossians 1:28-29, NLT)
Maybe if we, like Paul, would make the purpose of the church to reach today's Gentiles, the un-churched, then we too would experience the same kind of awesome rewards Paul saw happening: spiritual maturity that hungers for more, people constantly devoting themselves to a deep relationship with Christ, church members rising up everywhere to serve and lead, a people who see it as their job to share the Gospel, teach, and instruct others (and not see these solely as the job of the pastor), the motto "to live is to Christ and to die is gain" would be stamped on the heart of our members, challenge and change wouldn't be something we dread but rather it would be something we get excited about (God will be on the brink of doing something awesome and you'll get to participate), etc.

So why do we read so often from Paul, yet so often we do not follow the example he gave us (as God has commanded us to; 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1)? People are terrified of change. I've been told that the older a person gets the more terrified of change a person gets. We have to fight this fleshly, sinful fear of change within ourselves and reach the Gentiles of today.

Paul took the very vessel his people hated, Rome, and embraced it as a vessel that could (and did) spread Christianity across a continent. Inviting the barbarians in, and not so they can come to start dressing like us and playing church like us, but genuinely desiring their presence to minister to them, will impact our church, our community, and on to the world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Elders & Deacons, Part 3

View the updated and more complete version here and the downloadable take-home version here.

In closing up this studying on Elders and Deacons let's look at one last important part concerning elders, what exactly does scripture say they're supposed to do? What does scripture say concerning how the church is should treat the elders?

Duties, Responsibilities, and Cautions of Elders
  1. Those who are living in unrepentant sin within the church let the elders publicly rebuke them in the presence of the church. (1 Timothy 5:20-21; this goes along with Matthew 18)
  2. Elders should not be quick to appoint any person to ministry. (1 Timothy 5:22,24-25)
  3. Elders must realize they are caring for God's flock, not their own. (1 Peter 5:2)
  4. They are to lead out of eagerness to serve, not out of obligation. (1 Peter 5:2)
  5. Elders are concerned for what they can give, not for what they can get. (1 Peter 5:2)
  6. They lead by example, not force. (1 Peter 5: 3)
  7. Elder are to mediate great (not little) debates. (Acts 15:2)
  8. They are to guard themselves and all of the church members. (Acts 20:28)
  9. They are managers of the church. (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 5:17)
  10. Elders are to care and tend to the physical and spiritual needs of people. (Acts 20:28; James 5:14)
Treatment and Caring for Elders
  1. Pay your elders well, a high wage. (1 Timothy 5:17-18)
  2. Don't give attention to accusations brought up against elders unless it's been brought up by 2 or more. (1 Timothy 5:19; this goes along with Matthew 18)
  3. Young men don't be prideful and think you know better than the elders. (1 Peter 5:5)
Also see Elders & Deacons (Part 1) or Elders & Deacons (Part 2).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Preacher And The Teacher

A few of the conversations I've been having lately got me thinking and I figured why not share my thoughts on my blog, right.

A pastor delivers a message on Sunday morning. If he's a good pastor then the message is from God's Word. There are many different forms of giving a sermon that have been studied and learned, but that's not what's been on my mind. I've been thinking about why the pastor choses the topics he shares with his church. We'll call the two types the preacher and the teacher.

The preacher is a man who looking for something meaningful to share with his congregation on Sunday morning. His motivation might be different from another preacher but they all have a few things in common, "let me tell the people something about what God's Word says concerning how they should live their life (or the kinds of things the church should be doing)". That's a little vague, but vagueness is exactly how the preacher will often operate. One Sunday they're talking about God's Love, the next they're talking about how homosexuality is a sin, the next they're talking about "end times", and sometimes they're doing a study on a book from the bible but every week that changes subjects too, all of which is good stuff but it's lacking something.

It's sort of like a 3rd grader going to school. When they get there a teacher begins working with them on their times-tables (multiplication; at least that's what I was doing in the third grade). But what if this teacher started trying to teach the same kids, who were working on their times-tables, how to count from 1 to 10? And then at the next day of school they were being shown calculus? Sometimes that's a bit like that with a preacher pastor.

Now the kind of pastor that's a teacher is really different from that. The teacher knows that when the kids are working on their times-tables you don't start throwing calculus at them and you don't bore them over and over with the stuff they already know and are already doing a great job of applying. This is true of the teaching pastor. He knows his students; knowing what they already know and then makes every effort to get them to the next depth in their walk with Christ.

Am I making sense?

The pastor who is a preacher will treat Sunday morning like it's the only time they get the teach their congregation so they try to play to everyone in it at all their various spiritual maturity levels, and they usually will only reach maybe a quarter of their congregation, if they're lucky. But the teaching pastor will begin by seeing where his students are and begin to get the whole class to move to the next level.

The preaching pastor is not focused on the church moving forward, but rather he's just trying to motivate some people to get some things done around the church, and that's exactly how he preaches. The preaching pastor provides something good to listen to and some good things the church can do. The teaching pastor provides purpose, the next level, and vision. It's more than just how should I live my life this week, but it's "let's get this right as a church" and when they're done there's another place the teaching pastor is going to take them.

Do you see how these can be handled very differently on a Sunday morning?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Google Analytics

On Oct. 7, 2007 I discovered Google Analytics from another blog and by Oct. 8th it was up and running. Google Analytics is a website tracker, basically letting you know how many visits your got and where they came from (and a lot of other nice things).

I've been blogging now since June, although I didn't get serious about it until October so I'm doubting Google Analytics would have had much to say before Oct.

The stats show that since I re-thought about blogging (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), which was just a couple weeks ago, has already made some impact. I'm thinking the new name may have been a good choice.

Here are some stats just for fun.
My top 10 referral sites (places people clicked to come to my blog):
  4. direct (means they typed it in and went straight there)
  6. google/organic
Out of my referrals some generated people who looked at my site longer than others. Here's my top 5 length views from referrals (I only included those that had at least 10 referrals):
  5. direct (means they typed it in and went straight there)
Out of my referrals which ones are generating the most new visitors, in the form of top 5 again?
  5. direct (means they typed it in and went straight there)
This stuff is interesting to me. The last thing that got my attention was visitor loyalty, the number of people to return to your site. Apparently I have 46 people who have visited the site 50+ times since Oct. 8, 2007. Out of the 444 people that stop by 151 have not returned, but 116 of them have visited the site 15+ times.

I wonder if all of this is accurate.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Elders & Deacons, Part 2

View the updated and more complete version here and the downloadable take-home version here.

The common questions of the church today is "who should be running the church?" and "what should our leadership look like?". By and large many pastors have been turned into deacons, spending 80% if their time doing acts of benevolence, while a large number of churches have deacon boards acting as elders, when they're not biblically qualified to do so, ruling the church and rarely diving into benevolence.

In part one we learned that deacons and elders are two different offices; one was designed to rule and one was designed to serve. So, in part two I want to take a very light look into the roles of elders and deacons just by looking at their name.

The Name Of An Elder
"From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them, '. . .Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers , to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.'" (Acts 20:17-18a,28, NASB)
This is not the only passage that contain defining points of what the role of an elder is, but this passage makes it clear that the elder is an overseer and a shepherd. So let's start by looking at the Greek to see what the meaning of these words are and what it tells us about the functions of an elder:
  1. Elder, πρεσβύτερος (transliterated as presbuteros), simply means someone advanced in years, an old man.
  2. Overseer, ἐπίσκοπος (transliterated as episkopos), sometimes translated as bishop, means a superintendent and guardian.
  3. Shepherd, ποιμαίνω (transliterated as poimainô), means to act as a shepherd, to care, to rule, and to tend.
The Name Of A Deacon
Unlike elder, the word deacon is not given multiple names that define it's role, but it has one that is very powerful:
  1. Deacon, διάκονος (transliterated as diakonos), mean a servant or minister.
What Does A Name Teach Us?
Practically everything! We learned that an elder means:
  1. . . .an old man because older men are supposed to be respected, wise, and full of experience (something not always true of today; but certainly true of an older man who has devoted himself to Christ). . .
  2. . . .a superintendent because they're supposed to direct and manage the work of the church. . .
  3. . . .a guardian because they need to be able to shoot wolves. . .
  4. . . .a shepherd because they need to huddle the sheep together, watch over them, and guard them. . .
  5. . . .care and tend for the people because because people are hurt and broken, and this especially means going to the places no one else wants to go. . .
  6. . . .and rule over the people because God loves us enough to send some who are gifted through His Spirit in such ways to direct us to places in our relationship with Christ that we could have never imagined; we need to be ruled (Hebrews 13:17).
We learned that an deacon means:
  1. . . .a servant because they're in service to someone else, in submission to other leadership, a heart to wash the feet of others. . .
  2. . . .and a minister because they are the representatives of Christ, the hands and feet.
Service is something the church must do more of. One of the church's primary functions is supposed to be about serving one another. But the work of serving is extremely time consuming and if done as the church should do it is a never ending demand. This is why deacons were created so that elders would be free to do their other obligations (Acts 6:4) such as teaching and discipleship.

Also see Elders & Deacons (Part 1) or Elders & Deacons (Part 3).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dog Sitting

So this is Lilly (yellow/white) and Bennett (black/tan/brown/white). We're dog sitting Bennett for two of our dear friends during the holiday season so they can travel. They're brother and sister and they love to play fight, although occasionally it turns into more than just playing. I'm just happy they listen to commands. . .most of the time. I'm really enjoying having both of them around, but wow they're a handful together! Josh and Bethany have dog sit for us many times and this is our first chance to repay the favor.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Elders & Deacons

View the updated and more complete version here and the downloadable take-home version here.

What are Deacons & Elders?

Deacons and elders are two distinct and different offices of the church. If this were not true then why would Paul, in Philippians 1:1, makes an address to the elders (ἐπίσκοπος; also translated as overseers or bishops) and deacons (διάκονος; also translated as servant or minister)? And why would Paul, in 1 Timothy 3:1-13, list off qualification for elders (v.1-7) and then the qualifications for a deacon (v.8-13)? The answer is simple, and should be obvious, they are two different offices within the church.

What Makes Deacons & Elders Different?
There are a few places in scripture that give us some indication to the difference between of deacons and elders. To begin with, let's just look at what's available through looking at the qualifications of each in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 (click on the image to the right to see the qualifications compared).

Notice what they have in common and then look at what's different. Also, notice how they're very similar in some way with a few key differences. For example, both have to be able to manage their homes well, but for elders it adds that if he can not manage his home how would he manage the church; and elders aren't allowed to be a new convert, but deacons simply must be tested first.

So why do the two share some qualifications? I think everyone would agree that whether we're talking about deacons or elders they are both a type of leader in the church and both should be godly individual. Those seen in both are simply the basic qualifications that should be seen in the leaders of the church.

So why do the two have some different qualifications? In short, because they're supposed to be doing different things in the church. The qualifications are God's ways of having the right kind of people for the kind of role He desires for them to have in His church.

The Whole Deacon & Elder Thing
Before I continue there's an important point I have to make. There is an amazing amount of controversy over this subject. So many denominations have different takes on the subject and even my own denomination (Southern Baptist) is showing division on the subject.

So what's the problem? We're all following the Word of God right? Well, yes and no.

The problem is churches/denominations that take, or have taken, far too many liberties with God's Word. It makes sense when we as believers have to "fill in the blanks" when God's Word isn't specific about a subject, like dating. But we're supposed to take what God has given us and make use of it for what He left open. He left things a little open so that we would have freedom to adapt ministries, not so that we could argue over it's exact meaning and somehow end up not following at all the part He did make clear.

I know within my own denomination when I hear the arguments over elders and deacons so many of the stances are based on historical accounts and tradition. Why isn't it based on a simple re-examining of God's Word?

Looking Deeper: The Roles of Deacons & Elders
What if God designed deacons and elders to have two different functions in the church? It should be obvious that there's a good deal of truth to that just by looking at the qualifications of each. This is how deacons came to be created:
"Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.'" (Acts 6:1-3, NASB)
The office of deacon was created to free the apostles, who functioned as the first pastors/elders, to pray and prepare to minister the Word. The Apostle became overwhelmed with trying to tend to everyone, so much so that their ability to preach, teach, and disciple was being hindered. They needed servant-hearted men.

The office of deacon was created for the purpose of handling the benevolence ministry of the church. Even the word deacon means servant.

Now let's look at some places that give us insight into the role of an elder:
"From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them, '. . .Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers , to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.'" (Acts 20:17-18a,28, NASB)
"The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching." (1 Timothy 5:17, NASB)
"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13:17, NASB)
"Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." (1 Peter 5:1-4, NASB)
It's clear that elders are to rule their flock and even more clear that deacons are supposed to take weight off their shoulders by handling the benevolence ministries of the church.

What About Deacon Boards?
Are deacons boards unbiblical? What we do know is that deacons should not be ruling the church. That's the function of an elder or elder team/board. How do you know when the deacons are doing far more than just handling the benevolence of the church and beginning to rule the church? Consider these 3 items by Howard B. Foshee in The Ministry of a Deacon:
  1. When all major recommendations from church operations and church committees are screened by the deacons whether they should go to the congregation.
  2. When the pastor and staff members are directly responsible to the deacons rather than to the church.
  3. When the use or expenditure of major church resources, such as facilities and fiances, must first be approved by the deacons.
Also see Elders & Deacons (Part 2) or Elders & Deacons (Part 3).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Once Upon A Time I Could Draw

With my parents moving they needed me to clear out everything. When I got home, with what was mostly junk, I found a lot of my old drawings. It must have been over 100 drawings in the stack that my mom decided to hold on to.

Once upon a time I wanted to be an artist. I remember beginning to draw around age 10. It started with Sunday comics from the newspaper. Most of the time it was Garfield and Odie. By my freshmen year of high school I was drawing like the picture to the right. I would doodle and draw all the time.

I got into so much trouble at school over drawing and doodling. I remember my freshmen year of high school my math teacher caught me drawing a female superhero (I think it was Jean Grey). Well, I wasn't done with it and he caught me in the act, but because it wasn't done yet. . .well, let's just say he thought it looked like the beginnings of a pornographic drawing and he really laid me out in front of the class.

I remember being 15 or 16 and I got the flu. I was home a little more than 2 weeks. I remember starting to work on the one to the left when I was feeling better, and then I got sick again. I never did pick it back up. It was going to be Wolverine and Sabertooth facing off. I loved drawing Wolverine.

I scanned a few of these picture just for memories, so I would remember that once upon a time I could draw.(This one was huge; it took two scans and I had to put the two together)

Resigning & Moving

So this Sunday I informed the church that I've taken a position at another church. My wife and I will be making the move to Florida soon. It's exciting and feels weird at the same time. I think it feels weird talking with people and not knowing what their reaction to me leaving is.

Some of the reactions hurt, but in a good way. When I noticed one of my youth's eyes getting red and tearing up, that got to me. When a husband and wife said that were really enjoying getting to know me better and now were leaving, that got to me. When I was called a member of someone's family, that got to me.

Parting can be really difficult, but God has made it clear that it's time for me to go. In fact, I think God has been saying it for a while now. There are many things I'm going to really miss about being here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, most of all will be the relationships that have been formed.

I think these last two months here will carry a lot of emotional difficulty, but I'm looking forward to what God has in store for Sarah and I.

(Sarah recorded this with my new camera.)

The New Camera

So I'm really happy with the new camera. It's really easy to use and takes really good shots. I wish I remembered to bring it yesterday to the puppy party we had a Nags Head Park. Oh well. Here are two shots with it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It Arrives Tomorrow

My new camera is supposed to arrive tomorrow. I'm excited!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New Blog Name, Part 3

Okay, so this is turning out to be rather tough for me, but I'm starting to narrow it down. I suggest to my wife, for her input, "Authentic, Relevant Ministry" and her response was, "two adjectives. Why not just Authentic Ministry?" I thinking that just may be the direction I'm going to go.

Now, as I think about who I would like my target audience to be I have to think about what I really want to talk about and who I want to attract. I want to talk about the things I learn and try in ministry, my mistakes and successes. I want to talk about re-thinking leadership and all that comes with transitioning (not from an expert, but as I learn and figure things out). I want to talk about what God is doing in my life: the fun, the random, the personal, how much I love my wife, and the challenges.

Any comments or thoughts on "Authentic Ministry"?

Also see Part 1 and Part 2.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Skillet, Chris Tomlin, Toby Mac, KJ-52, Barlow Girl, Todd Agnew, and Lifehouse

So I did the BMG thing where you order 7 CDs and they're all free (you do have to pay shipping which cost me about $20 which isn't bad for 7 CDs) and you're required to buy one more within a year and once you do then you get 4 more for free. So I just on this. . .

I just got my shipment in today which contained 5 of my 7, 2 are on backorder. So here are my reviews, even though all of these have been out for a while.

I pulled out Comatose by Skillet first (October '06). I love the heavy sound they produce. The very first song "rebirthing" energized me. Now I only listened to each song once but the first thing that really comes to mind is how authentic the lyrics are. The first half of the CD they are tackling tough subjects like cutters (or possibly suicide) and addiction in a very real way. The lyrics are just powerful.

The negative is I'm wondering if this is a CD I can listen to over and over. I mean, as real as drug use and similar subjects are, do I really want to be hit with that reality over and over. Again, I've only listened to it once so I'll might have to come back to this.

Next I pulled out The Yearbook by KJ-52 (April '07). I've enjoyed his previous work, but after listening to about 75% of this one I stopped it. I just couldn't get into it. Nothing grabbed my attention. Maybe I'm hard to please, but I'm struggling to like this CD.

Next I pulled out See The Morning by Chris Tomlin (September '06). Okay, I didn't get to listen to all of this because my wife came home and I became busy with eating dinner and then other things, but so far this is the best one. Each and every song is something I know I'll be playing over and over in my suburban. I've only been to Nags Head Church a few times but I noticed some of these song from songs I've heard the MilePost13 Band rock'n it out to (also check out their music director's blog, or whatever his title is over there).

Okay, so Toby Mac and Barlow Girl are up next (I haven't had time to listen to them yet) and hopefully Todd Agnew and Lifehouse will arrive shortly.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

New Blog Name, Part 2

So I started thinking about being "market-driven" as Nathan suggested, and I agree with him, so I started thinking about who is my target audience. This is creating some conflicts. . .but only minor ones. I want to be able to attract a certain kind of people but I also want to put up goofy stuff that have nothing to do with the topic and just share life stuff as well. Sometimes there will be a devotional-ish post (thought provoking) and sometimes a discussion post (even though I don't have much of an audience).

I'm probably making this harder than it should be.

Anyway. . .the word relevant kept coming to mind. Originally it was relevant church and relevant faith, but then a short list began (with the help of my wife):
1. In Search of Relevancy
2. The Search for Relevant Faith
3. The Call to Relevancy
4. Relevant Youth Pastor
5. Relevant Ministry

Other words that grabbed my attention for possible use:
1. Authentic
2. Emergent
3. Application

Still searching. Still desiring discussion, thoughts, and ideas.

New Blog Name

So I could use some brain-storming help. When I called this blog "Recording God Given Adventures" I really didn't know if I was going to stick with blogging and so I just made something up real quick. I really don't like it and I've enjoyed blogging. Since I'm going to stick with it, I want a better name.

Here are some thoughts:
1. Keeping It Simple.
2. Authentic, Real, and Transparent (ART).
3. Faithful, Available, Teachable (FAT). . .okay, that's two acronyms; what's up with that?
4. Re-Thinking, Re-Discovering, Re-Awakening

If you've been reading my blog and you see the kind of content I'm producing, what's a good name to describe it? Even if you don't have a name idea but you're getting some tidbits of thoughts, please share them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Goofing Off With Graphic Design

I've been playing around with the idea of designing some new pages. I really don't have a real reason for this. . .other than to just have some fun. The first one was a page that was inspired by a business card I saw that was designed by my brother-in-law and the second one. . .well, I was just thinking about pirates and treasure maps.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Condemning & Judgmental vs. Love & Grace

Why do so many people view the church as a place of condemnation and judgment rather than place of love and grace? This is a question I had my small group leaders ask my youth last night. What kind of image do those who don't attend church have of us? And why are Christians seen as condemning and judgmental? This attitude toward believers didn't magically just happen. Something made this image of us take shape.

Here are a few things that come to mind, mistakes that have been made by Christians, and are still being made, that give fuel to the claim that we Christians are condemning and judgmental. Please comment and add to the list:
  1. Christians who act disgusted by people with tattoos and piercings.
  2. Christians who expect non-Christians to come to them (attend church).
  3. Christians who make accusations about people (or a group) based on opinions rather than truth.
  4. Christians who say one thing and do another (hypocritical).
  5. Christians who attack more than they love (how Christians have related to homosexuals is a good example of that).
  6. Christians who value tradition in the church (their mom's way of doing things) more than what's culturally relevant.
I've got more, but here's a start. . .so. . .to be continued.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Spaghetti Dinner

More of the poster designing skillz. . .

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I'm Nine Years Old. . .

. . .well, at least that's how long I've been a Christian. It was 9 years ago this month that the truth became clear to me and my life changed. In a day I wasn't the man I once was. The people I lived with began to see change in me over time, but I had a lot of struggles and a lot of battles I went through. I went from very heavy use of alcohol, mild use of drugs, immoral relationships, practicing witchcraft, and some other self-destructive behaviors to suddenly dropping all of that. God's gift to me was that I lost my taste/desire for most of the really difficult stuff at the moment Christ entered my life, but I still struggled with the habits and thoughts that led me to the destructive path I was on. The first two years of being a Christian were really hard for me.

The moment I accepted Christ (which basically means when I dropped my constant reaching for control over my life and gave it to Jesus) I was blessed to have awesome people I didn't even know praying for me. Actually, they were praying for me before I accepted Christ. One of those people discipled me. He taught me how to read my bible. He taught me the importance of getting involved in ministry that impacts (you and others). Thank you Craig!

Nine years later.

When I look at what was important to me then and what is now important to me, what a world of difference! The longer I run this race called life the more I learn of what it takes to be a better runner. Now I'm a little more than 3 months into marriage and God is teaching me more about this race.

What an awesome God, that He would take a blind fool like me and renew my mind, not just once, but constantly! I'm still pretty much a blind fool in many senses, but I have an incredible guide leading my way and I'll gladly follow Him anywhere.