Monday, October 18, 2010

Table For Two, Please

It always amazes me of how God deals with each person in their own way. The destination is always the same, but the journey is very unique. And in each of us, there are all sorts of different gifts/talents/abilities. Sometimes it seems like everyone either plays guitar or piano. My mom always wanted me to learn piano… I ended up learned the drums. The other night while at an all night prayer meeting (of which I made it until about 3 am or so), we were at a location that uses some resources of a particular ministry that I don’t necessarily prefer. None the less, hopefully someone is able to still meet God in some form or fashion. There are God given gifts (Rom. 12:3-8), Jesus given gifts (Eph. 4:11) and Holy Spirit given gifts (1 Cor. 12:7-11).

Right now, the ‘church’ is undergoing a major transformation. People are just looking for more. They’re tired of meetings… they’re looking for true relationship and true fellowship. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong w/ meetings. A corporate gather has it’s time and place. But Christianity is about a relationship. A relationship between you and God, you and other believers and you and the world. Some folks won’t even SAY the name of God because they feel it’s not reverent enough for them. And that’s fine per say. It does bother me some when some people are wearing ball caps in a corporate gathering. Especially when that cap has NOTHING to do with God. But I usually let it slide, although I would prefer them take it off at the time. Just like it’s polite to take your hat off when your praying OR during the national anthem. It’s just something done out of reverence for a particular time. So in that aspect, I can understand a little why some may not feel comfortable in saying or printing the name of God or other aspects of His Divine nature.

I for one did not grow up saying Mr. or Ms. and the person’s first name. But when living in the south and parents are trying to train their kids to address me properly, they throw in the Mr. Shawn (for the record, I personally don’t like it). I grew up calling my religious leaders by their first names. Respect is a position of the heart, not just in a title. In my talking with them, my respect and given and shown. And most leaders nowadays just introduce themselves by their first names anyways. So, needless to say, it gets confusing at times. I personally don’t want those of whom I’m ministering to not looking at me because their trying to be respectful. I want to make eye contact with people and show them that they matter to me. I love it whenever people I’m friends with come up and give me a hug.
I’ve personally found over time that the more love you have for someone, respect and reverence comes automatically. But all this to say that I see a different way of the church learning to ‘fight’ a battle: in the Spirit, in a position of son ship, knowing our full authority which is as a child of God. I’m not talking about just having proper theology (which is important), but it’s out a love relationship you have with Jesus.

It’s like there is a difference between saying “I don’t want to watch that particular movie or engage in that particular behavior because of these reasons” and “I can’t watch this particular movie or participate in this particular behavior because my church doesn’t allow it.” The first one is moreso addressing that fact that YOU as someone who is in a relationship with the Lord and knowing it will hurt that relationship that you don’t want to engage in a particular behavior. The second one is rules and laws put on by someone else. I just spent a couple days at a local apologetics conference, listening to various messages about defending the Christian faith. That’s good and well, but sometimes it’s like if you can be argued into the kingdom of God, there is probably a good chance you can be argued out of it.
If you look in the Old Testament, the Israelites were given rules via Moses from God to not engage in certain activities. If you look in the New Testament, Jesus starts to make it more relational. He wants to examine the heart of the person and their motives. That’s because He wants the relationship with the person more than just a list of do’s and don’ts.

One of the most impactful things that has happened for me was to experience the presence and love of God for myself. When you experience God, there is something that happens that goes beyond comprehension. Mere seconds in the presence of Abba Father can do what listening to hours and hours of sermons will never be able to accomplish. Why is it that whenever a child is hurt, the first thing they do is run into the arms of their parents or someone they know loves them?

Monday, October 4, 2010


I do a decent amount of work on computers. Whether it's fixing them up for friends or just using them, they can tend to have problems from time to time. And there are quite a few factors that go into that. Such as if they're well maintained or not. Today in talking with a friend of mine, we were talking about just sharing life and what exactly does it mean to be a Christian, or someone who is hopefully 'Christ-like'. But what does that even mean?

The Bible covers a lot of different issues. There are wars and battles, romance, hatred, love and many other things. One thing I noticed is that God doesn't use folks who have it all together necessarily. A lot of the main folks of the Bible had issues. Some of them were murderers or adulterers or had other various forms of problems. And yet, God still used them. (Sweet, there is still hope for me yet :) ).

Some of the buzz words that fly around me a lot are things like revival, prayer, fasting, Bible reading, community, authenticity, life, Holy Spirit ... just to name a few. I have been in more 'church services' in the past few years than some have been in in their life! Sometimes, i just get burned out on meetings, and I just want to spend time with folks. Luckily, it's very Biblical to eat together with food (a lot of times, we call it 'breaking bread' which is just another term for eating together.

I've also done some street witnessing/evangelizing. The idea is is to go out and tell people about Jesus. Usually we'll go to the malls and look for our victi.. I mean people to talk to. I've found a couple things out in my day.

1. Oddly enough, this kind of evangelizing isn't my strong point. I prefer the small group or one on one and discussing issues and really digging into people's lives.

2. There is a right way of doing this and a very wrong way. Some people prefer the all out hell fire brimstone type of preaching, usually done with a bull horn and saying things like "everyone who doesn't believe in Jesus is going to hell", which is a very true statement. This is called the 'turn or burn' approach. But just because it's a good idea, doesn't mean it's a God idea. There is a difference.

I've had it said to me that some people speak or preach in such a way that it sounds like they WANT you to end up in the fiery pit.

So what am I getting at? What I'm getting at is that there is a search going on in many people's lives for truth, love, satisfaction, fulfillment and over all general purpose. People are looking for love. People want to connect with other people. We are made for relationships. Christianity is about relationships. God wants to reconcile us, His Children, to Himself through Jesus. Even the atheist knows John 3:16. God loved us first. (I'm His favorite by the way.) He started it.

Have you ever been in a crowded room and felt very alone? There is nothing quite like being in a crowded room with music blaring and trying to have a nice conversation with someone. Nothing like telling your life story to someone a foot away from you while loosing your voice in the process. Sometimes, I just feel burned out on church meetings. Today I had an AWESOME afternoon talking with a friend from my church body. We talked for probably a couple hours straight I think. We just shared life! Unfortunately, there wasn't food involved (I know, that's breaking the Mennonite 11th commandment). But it was still just sooo very life giving!

Nowadays, there is a lot of talking about what kind of church bodies there are out there. We have bodies that are thousands strong (mega churches) and then there are some that are many a dozen or so (house churches or micro churches) and there are some that are maybe just a couple hundred strong (a typical community fellowship). And there is the difference between church growth and church transfer. But it's about you growing spiritually that makes the difference.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm looking for the Life of God to be brought out. Sometimes I feel like I have spiritual ADD or ADHD. I just can't sit still for the life of me! You could glue me down to a chair and I'd probably end up just carrying that chair with me as I pray for folks. I can't sit still at times!

Some of my current favorite scriptures are John 14-17, Romans 8, Psa. 42:1-2 and Psa. 84. Just to name a few. I don't know about you, but I'm on this search for authentic Christianity. I'm looking and searching for authentic life in Jesus. You may be messed up as all get out but desiring a change. You may be thinking "yeah, I've got issues to work through, but I'm gonna look to Jesus for the real change." Hop on board and we'll figure this thing out yet. God's looking for open and willing hearts.

Women Serving 'In The Church'

Does the Bible ever seem to contradict itself at times? Keyword there is “seem”. The Bible is the infallible Word of God. It is complete truth. People all down through time have tried to prove it wrong and have ended up believing in the Word.

I like to ask tough questions. I don’t mean to get controversial, but I do like to get to the bottom of things for myself. Just recently, I threw the question up on Facebook about women in ministry and in preaching roles. For myself, I have sat under some ladies and it was evident that they had studied and what they had to bring is very scriptural. Other times, I was wishing I was back at the sound board and little by little keep turning them down. I’m sitting there thinking “is this going somewhere?” I also know that women like to talk. I know that women can talk for hours and not say a thing.

All this brings up an interesting situation. Because certain verses in the Bible say that women should be silent. But then other verses say that if women prophesy, they have to have their heads covered. Seems a bit contradictory. “Ok, so you can’t talk. But if you do, you need to have your head covered.” It’s like ‘what?!?!’

A large part I think is what do we consider as a ‘church meeting’. I know Sunday mornings ‘we have church.’ First off, people are the church. A building is just a building. You can’t have a meeting without people. Try it and let me know how it works for you. Given the fact that people are the church body, that opens a new can of worms. Because then it’s like ok so when do we decide we’re ‘having church’? Is it just a Sunday morning or given the fact that we are the church, you could almost eliminate women speaking altogether! I’m not advocating that by any stretch of the imagination. But what is going on here?

To be honest with you, I’ve had some downright awesome encounters with God on a road trip in a van! We were praying and singing and people were reading different scriptures…. Is that church? Can you see how the lines would get a little blurry when you take the official meetings idea out of the picture? When you set aside the foul notion of ‘going to church’ rather than ‘being the church’ (quote from Dr. Brown… gotta give credit where it’s due).

I understand that at the time of Paul’s writings, there were certain things going on in the culture whereby he would’ve wrote what he wrote. But if it wasn’t for modern day, why put it in there then? There is a lot about the Bible that I have yet to learn. After graduating Bible school, it seems that the more you learn, the more you don’t know to an extent.

For myself, I see different ladies in the Bible who had leadership roles or positions of authority. Ladies like Deborab, Esther, Priscilla, Pheobe, just to name a few there. And I know for myself, I’ve been taught by some AWESOME ladies who have been able to really speak into my life. They didn’t hold any titles and/or positions, but they were just ladies who were mature in the Lord and I trusted to speak into my life. And their words were on the mark. But it wasn’t in any kind of official setting, but it was just a time of fellowship. So this is stuff that goes on in my mind. Just thought I’d share it w/ you all.

Healing Is In The Blood

One of the things about Jesus and what He did for us on the Cross is the job of reconciling us to God the Father and restoring us to our rightful place and position in Christ. This morning as I joined a prayer meeting before our church service started, we were praying along the lines of abiding in the presence of God and allowing Him to fill us up. Out of the blue, I started to think about one of the quote that is found on the Statue of Liberty. It reads "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" (Or this is at least one of the quotes that is there. There are a few other quotes as well.)

In any case, as I was praying into this, the Holy Spirit brought Matt. 9:12 to mind. It's where Jesus is sitting and eating w/ the sinners and tax collectors (a big no no) and He tells those inquiring about what He's doing that its not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. And that He hasn't called the righteous but sinners to repentance.

During this time, I was praying that God would save me and our church from just mere boring services and church meetings. But that we'd be a people marked by the very presence of God. When someone comes in that is messed up, they find a people that want to work w/ them to get them back on track with the Lord. For some folks, this is quick and over in no time. For others, it may take some time.

I don't know about anyone else, but I know of folks who have some messed up lives. Luckily, I personally was spared from a lot of junk, although the Lord is always working on me to refine my character (He disciplines those that He loves.) But I was thinking about the spiritual implications of the above quote and how it applies to the church. America was founded by immigrants. It was founded by those who wanted to start over. It was seen as the land of opportunity. And a lot of that stuff is still the case today. (It's a generalization, I know we have our share of problems and issues. I'm quite well aware of a lot of the junk that happens in the political sector.)

But I was asking the Lord about the implications and what He was showing me. Part of our job as the church is to be like a hospital. We bring in the wounded and we get them cleaned up. We pray with them and look out for them and love on them. My friends list on here includes some interesting characters. But I love it because I'm able to love on people as Jesus did and hopefully I'm representing at least a little bit of the life of Jesus in me.

What was really neat was that later on during the service, during a part where prophetic words are given at times, one of the speakers mentioned the exact same verse above! I was like "wow, the Lord is saying something right now about this..." I knew all of this before, but sometimes, you just need a fresh revelation of it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

God Is Variety

During my last visit to my parents, I was on my computer and youtubing various videos of different worship songs. At one point in time, I put in “joyful joyful, we adore thee” and I found a version of that song done by a house of prayer in the United States. My mom and sister were in the room and they asked me to turn it up. So I did and just walked off and did some other things for a moment and just let the music fill the house. We all kind of started singing along.

I don’t know about anyone else, but there is just something about the hymns that just hit me every time. There is just soo much meat in them… I listen to some of the modern songs that are sung in a worship service and some of them just seem superficial and lacking any real substance. None the less, I’m sure those songs are ministering to someone somewhere.

But I got to thinking about the various music varieties and even the various sermon varieties out there. I know for myself, I like a healthy mix of both. There are times when in listening to music, I like the softer soaking genre and then there is the time when I’m looking for something more upbeat. Same goes with looking for a message or a sermon. There are times when I’m looking more for like a teaching one and then there’s the time when I’m looking for a really challenging message. One to really get me stirred up and ready to do something.

I find when going to minister somewhere that it’s vitally important to get the Lord’s heart for the people and not just something that YOU think is necessary. The Lord knows what His people need. When we minister out of what WE think is necessary, I can guarantee you it will most likely flop. Sometimes, the Lord puts a burden on your heart and it’s meant to just pray into it. It’s not something that is meant for corporate prayer at the time but it’s just a private thing right now.
Some like to just focus on repentance, which is necessary but that’s all they ever focus on. They never get anywhere else. They never mention about the life and power of the Holy Spirit and the grace that is given to succeed. Others just focus in on worship. Some are very strong in the Word but there is no life in it. Some are all just into the Holy Spirit but there is no grounding in the Word.
All in all, it’s vitally important to see what is on the Lord’s heart and receive from Him to give off to others.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Intimacy Factor

I have been in countless church services throughout my life. I grew up in the church. Mainly, the ‘charismatic/Pentecostal’ circles. So believe me when I say I have experienced many different things. I’ve been on foreign missions trips and ministered in various churches in the region where I currently live (Charlotte, NC) and growing up (Lancaster, PA). During these services, I’ve experienced some really awesome things like prodigals coming ‘back home’, the sick healed, the lost finding Jesus. I’ve experienced a lot of interesting ‘manifestations of the Holy Spirit’. Some quite bazaar to your natural mind. All that to say that I’ve been around the proverbial block.

And can you believe that all that stuff really doesn’t satisfy? I mean, all the above is really neat and interesting and it gives you some awesome stories to tell around the dinner table or some awesome conversation pieces. But I don’t think that when I stand before God on Judgment Day, He’s going to be asking about that. I don’t think that it’s something that is of importance to God. Yeah, He’s proud of me for being a son and pursuing Him. But it’s more about a relationship between me and Him that He’s concerned about.

A number of years ago, I was asked to speak at a youth retreat. So in the time leading up to it, I was praying and asking the Lord what was on HIS heart for this event. I wanted to preach a good “revolution” message, rally the troops, that sort of thing. But during the prep time, it just wasn’t coming together. I had a few notes and some awesome compilations I thought would be neat to share. But it still wasn’t coming together. The morning of, I was sitting in a room with two of my friends who came to help minister and the speaker from the previous night, Steve Hoffman. Steve looked at me at one point in time and said “Shawn, these kids have grown up in church. They know all the right things, they know all the rules. But most of them have never had an encounter with God Himself to make a difference in their life.” Those words went like a dart right into my heart.

That morning, the Lord gave me John 15. I quickly read it and knew somewhat of where I was going. We can have all the services we want; you can do all the conferences you want. But when there is no intimacy with the Lord, I wonder at how much of a difference all that is going to make. People nowadays are crying out to be heard. They’re crying out to feel needed and wanted. They’re crying out for relationships! They’re crying out for a depth of a reality! They’re open to the supernatural and wanting to see if the church has anything to offer more than just meetings and hype and a whole lot of talk. I think that many people want to see if we as the church can put actions to our words.

Let me take a step back here really quickly. There is nothing wrong with church services and meetings and programs necessarily. But when that is replacing a true intimacy with the Lord, it gets scary. Whether you attend a small house church or a community church or a mega church, that isn’t the point here. My question to you is do you know the Lord in a deeply personal way? Do you have a life giving relationship with Him? I know that at times its hard to pray and hard to read the Bible. Sometimes you may have those times where you feel like all the prayers you pray and the Bible reading you’re doing isn’t amounting to anything. But it does make a difference. Remember, a relationship takes work. There really is no cookie cutter way for it. There are emotions and feelings involved.

A number of years ago while in Bible school, the leaders decided to shut the school down for a couple days and just have a time of prayer and fasting. I was noticing a difference in the direction of the school and it was starting to concern me just a bit. This school was known for its revolutionary mentality and it seemed like we were getting soft. And then it dawned on me: maintaining intimacy in the church truly is a revolutionary idea! As I said earlier, being in different churches I have seen a lot. All these programs that were in effect didn’t seem that productive. The church was being more influenced by the world rather than the other way around. The saints weren’t being equipped for the work of the ministry. It seemed like a lot of it was a one man show done by the pastor or leader of the church.

I remember one time, I was having ice cream with an elder in a church. I simply looked this gentleman in the eyes and asked “Can you name me one time when you had a life changing encounter with the presence of God?” He sat there for a bit and eventually just shook his head no. My heart broke for this guy. You can have all the proper theology and it’s important to know the Word of God! But is it coming out of a heart attitude that says “I NEED to do this” rather than “I WANT to do this”? Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is take a theological truth and turn it into an experiential reality.

Take this as an encouragement to develop and maintain true intimacy with the Lord. The Bible says that we’ll be known by our fruits. One of the best ways, if not the best, is to spend that time with Him. Since each person is different, it’s going to look different for each and every person. Dig into the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to cultivate that intimacy with Him.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Remembering The Wonders Of The Lord

For New Year's Eve, my church did a little bit of testimony time. And during that time, the Lord was bringing to my remembrance things that He has done for me over the years and the things I have done.

The Lord has been truly good to me over the years... I'm not surprised on that at all. There have obviously been some awesome points and then some things I wish I could go back and change.

But as my testimony goes, (see "The Hardest 18"' for that) I grew up in the church. I would have to give a VERY big thank you to the Krasley's for their servants hearts to take a bunch of rowdy teens down to a youth conference in Pensacola, Florida. I had heard about the Brownsville Revival and decided to go and check it out. My life has never been the same since. But it was during this time that the Lord really started to change things around for me. It was also during this time that I had to make some decisions about future schooling. What kind of school am I going to go to. I decided in the next coming years to first go to Bible school. I ended up @ FIRE School Of Ministry.

I remember after moving down to Charlotte, NC to attend FIRE that FIRE had just moved everyone up from Pensacola to Charlotte. During our first church service, Dr. Brown asked for everyone who wasn't living in Charlotte a week ago and now is to stand up. Almost the whole church body stood up (about 300 people. I can imagine what Moses must've felt like, only he had to move a few more people than what FIRE did). And then FIRE was getting settled in and starting a new school in a new city. The sacrifices that had to be made, but most folks didn't mind. The Lord was doing stuff in our midst, and that's what we cared about.

We had some explosive/powerful classes and church services. But most importantly, the presence of God was in our midst. Sometimes I feel like I'm ALWAYS in transition. Probably because in certain terms, I am. Always being transformed from glory to glory but the Lord keeps changing things, keeping me on my toes. The relationships I've made over time are priceless... wouldn't change it for the world. Having all sorts of varying opinions around keeps one sane and level headed. If there is one thing I've learned in the past couple years: the more you learn about God, the more you realize you know nothing about Him and have more to learn.

If there is one thing I can say that has drastically changed my life is coming into an understanding of who you are as a son or daughter of the King of Kings. When your secure in your sonship with the Lord, trivial things just don't really affect you like they have before. Because you know who your Daddy is and you know that you have full authority to go into the Throne Room at anytime you want and desire. You don't have to wait for someone else, you have access yourself. You can cease your striving and just relax and contend for rest in His presence. A chapter that I have continually go through my mind is John 15. Now, that's just me perhaps. It's different for each person because each person is different.

I've been in mega churches that just seemed dead and I've been in small groups and we started to pray and worship and His Presence just sweeps in. And I've been in mega churches that the presence of God was very evident and small groups that very dead. It's not the quantity but the quality. And quantity doesn't guarantee quality.

These are just a few of the things I think about when Remembering the Wonders of the Lord.

Ministry: What Is It?

Here are a few links to different pages about it:

That's just something to get the wheels turning. But what is 'ministry'? I mean, can you be in 'the ministry' and work a job in the market place? Or is it confined to just what preachers do on a typical Sunday morning? I know of folks who are out there on the street corners and they're 'preaching'. They're delivering the Word of the Lord (or so one hopes). I've heard some street preachers and some speakers and they just sound mean. Then I've heard some and what they have to say sounds totally different! But both groups are saying the same thing!

One thing I've come to learn over time is that it's important of HOW something is being presented. When the speakers blood vessels on their neck is bulging out and they're face is bright red, that can be a turn off to some because they sound or come across as mean. I've had people give me messages and it seems like they're yelling right in my face. So I step back and they just follow me. Then I'm like "ok, i'm right in front of you and i can hear you just fine.... you don't have to yell." One of the things that I love to do is listen to a child present the gospel. Usually because they haven't been tainted or hurt by people and their message is just so pure. Speaking out of a wounded heart tends to just hurt others. People can feel the attitude behind what your saying and if its not done in the Holy Spirit, its most likely just going to hurt others.

Now, I personally don't mind open air preaching and speaking in front of others. But some people seriously get sick at the idea of it. And everyone has their method of ministering. Some its out in the public sphere... some its from the pulpit and some its over a cup of coffee/relational evangelism. That's the beauty of the Body; everyone has a different way of going about it. I'd say that as long as your keeping the message right on and your doing what the Lord has called you to do... go for it.

The Great Commission is to go and make disciples. That is ministry as far as I'm concerned. Your making Jesus known. Your going to be dealing with all sorts of issues that come up. Some have been hurt more than others. I'm grateful for different giftings and callings in the church body. You've got the God-given gifts, the Jesus given gifts and the Holy Spirit gifts. And when all work together, it usually gets the job done.

For me personally, my method's have changed over the years. I used to just love to preach a good hard message... and I still do. I like to hear hard messages as well. But as I've noted before, when done in the wrong spirit, it doesn't come off well. Especially when your preaching out of hurt. But more so over time, I've come to value to small group settings. Where you get into the nit and grit with people. And you get into their lives and get deep. I don't mind speaking a hard message, if it's what the Lord wants of me. It's important to always speak on what is on His heart and not just what YOU think is good.

Changing the World, One Person At A Time

(Posted Dec. 16, 2009 on Facebook)

I was just realizing the other day that it's been about a year and a half since my grandpa died. I was thinking about the legacy that he left to me and what kind of an impact he made on my life. One thing for sure that he drilled into me was servitude.

Just to give a little back ground to his death, the very last thing that he said was to his pastor and it was something to the effect of "How can I serve you right now?" Immediately after that, he grabbed his chest, fell forward on his knees and then onto his front and died. That's at least what i'm told.

So it got me to thinking... what kind of an impact am I making on people's lives? When I leave a room, are people glad i'm gone or are they like "man, i wish that guy would come back, he's fun to be with." Not in some superficial way and man pleasing, meaning just saying things that people want to hear... but am I leaving a pleasant feel with the people I come in contact with? How am I impacting their life? For the better or for the worse?

Being that I'm a 20 something single, I frequently get called on to do the jobs that probably not many others want to do. And that's fine. I don't mind helping out in a pinch. That's what I'm there for. I don't have to necessarily 'check in' with anyone and let them know what's going on with me. Which has its advantages. I can fill in the cracks where needed.

I've been helping out with teaching the Royal Rangers at our church this past year. And it has been a blast! I have loved being able to use what the Lord has given me and mentoring/discipling the younger generation. It's funny because i'm not teaching the children of the guys that taught me. So that really keeps me on my toes theologically. lol.

But I've learned that it's fun to serve! When you're secure in who you are as a child of God, you can serve and not get credit for it and still have a blast. You get in, do the job and get out. And as far as many folks know... it just got done and they're none the wiser! I've once heard it said that if someone wants authority, don't give it to them. But when someone wants responsibility, give it to them with authority. So in that aspect, the Lord has been really teaching me stewardship and having a positive impact on someone's life.

Just For Fun...

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:23 am
2. How do you like your steak? Medium well
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? 2012. (In my opinion, don't waste your time and money on it.)
4. What is your favorite TV show? I like 'Lie To Me'
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Somewhere in a suburban area. close to the city and country.
6. What did you have for breakfast? Didn't eat breakfast this morning actually... i usually don't.
7. What is your favorite cuisine? They all have something different to offer... it depends on what I'm in the mood for.
8. What foods do you dislike? Spicy foods
9. Favorite Place to Eat? Usually somewhere reasonably cheap with good food and fellowship.
10. Favorite dressing? Thousand Island i guess...
11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? '94 Geo Prizm. I call it the Teal Tank or Teal Taxi (A story behind both of those...)
12. What are your favorite clothes? Something that covers me... lol
13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Sooo many places to choose from... I think its easier to say there are few places i would care NOT to visit...
14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? full i guess...
15. Where would you want to retire? Retirement? Who said anything about retiring?
16. Favorite time of day? sleepy sleep...
17. Where were you born? Ephrata, PA
18. What is your favorite sport to watch? American football or Soccer
19. Who do you think will not tag you back? ....
20. Person you expect to tag you back first? .......
21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? umm......I don't know!!
22. Bird watcher? what about them?
23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Lean more towards night but if i get to bed early enough the night before, i can do morning.
24. Do you have any pets? not that i know of... unless you include those dust bunnies that try to hide from me around the house (they think i don't know they're there... but i see them.. lol)
25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? not that i know of... unless you know something i don't... I just got a job @ Radio Shack, does that count?
26. What did you want to be when you were little? I think a politician...
27. What is your best childhood memory? Fourwheeling at the cabin w/ the family or traveling somewhere...
28. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog person all the way.
29. Are you married? No, thanks for rubbing it in... (pours some more salt in...)
30. Always wear your seat belt? if i'm not in the car, i'm probably not wearing it...
31. Been in a car accident? yep
32. Any pet peeves? when someone says they're gonna call and then they don't.
33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? mush rooms and extra cheese
34. Favorite Flower? a rose i guess... don't really know flowers all that well
35. Favorite ice cream? Moose tracks
36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Five Guys I guess... don't really know.
37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? once
38. From whom did you get your last email? Facebook i think...
39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Best Buy or Radio Shack or some other electronics store
40. Done anything spontaneous lately? played a game of hacky sack
41. Like your job? i just started it... i guess
42. Broccoli? good stuff
43. What was your favorite vacation? i guess the last time i went to the beach with my family.... there were things about it and i didn't like but oh well.
44. Last person you went out to dinner with? George Burton
45. What are you listening to right now? iTunes library on random. Currently a Third Day song
46. What is your favorite color? Blue
47. How many tattoos do you have? none and i plan on keeping it like that...
48. How many are you tagging for this quiz? dunno
49. What time did you finish this quiz? 6:40 pm
50. Coffee Drinker? yep

RIP Grandpa

(Posted Nov. 10, 2009 on my Facebook)

It's hard to imagine that it's almost been a year and a half since my grandpa went home to be in the arms of Jesus. I can actually still remember the night I found out and the week that followed. I remember I was crying buckets pretty much all week. Don't get me wrong... I was and still am extremely happy for Grandpa. As far as I or my family knows, he didn't suffer much at all. Or at least he didn't let the family know. And he died while doing one of the things he knew all too well: serving people. I'm grateful that my grandma wasn't there immediately because of the fact that it probably would've scared her really bad.

It was during this time that I learned a ton of how to really console folks. Everyone handles death differently. For those who know the Lord, it's a very joyous and yet saddening thing. It's joyful because you know that the person is with Jesus, their Lord and Savior. Now, obviously for someone who doesn't know Jesus as that, its a much different end. Some people cry a lot and then some you might have to slam their hand in the car door to get a tear. Since we're all unique beings, we all express ourselves differently. And my grandpa's death taught me a lot in how to minister more effectively to people in these situations and in life in general.

Being a guy, when someone comes to me with a problem, my immediate reaction is to fix the situation. I want to right the wrongs. However, that is sometimes the wrong approach. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just spend time w/ the grieving people. I can tell you this: it helps nothing to put on a false face. It's ok to express emotions. Letting folks deal with the problem at hand is way better than giving them a lecture. Let the grieving one do the talking. That's what i learned. And don't be surprised at what you'll hear. Let the emotions out and let the healing process take place.

Things like this usually aren't a once and done thing. It takes time for healing to take place. I know for myself, i'll be doing fine a lot of the times and then something will happen and a memory comes up. Now for me, I worried more about my family more than anything. It's literally like when you loose someone who used to do everything and suddenly they're not there anymore, others get to step up to the plate. The body gets to be the body and fill in where needed.

I'm soo grateful for my grandparents home church there, New Life Fellowship in Ephrata. They totally stepped up to the plate. For the viewing, they have refreshments for the family and they just opened their hearts to us.

So, I hope this was beneficial to someone out there. That's why I wrote it.

The Hardest 18"

Sometimes I feel like I don't have much of a testimony. I mean, i grew up in "the church" and i never really had a rebellious phase. I asked Jesus into my heart around 4 or 5 years of age, was baptized in water around 9 and just recently re-baptized in water about a year and half ago. Then I was baptized in the Holy Spirit about 12 years of age. You would think life would just be all fine and dandy after that, right? Man, I wish that was the case...

See, whenever you decided to get serious about your relationship with the Lord, literally all hell comes against you. For some, it's like Murphy's Law kicks into full effect. Because the target that is put on your back just keeps getting larger and larger.

I started out in private school, at a smaller Mennonite school in Lancaster, PA called Lititz Area Mennonite School. My family came out of the Mennonite church was I was about 18 months old (that's according to my mom). And we started going to a local charismatic church called DOVE Christian Fellowship. So, I remember growing up in church and being charismatic, you sometimes see interesting things happening. Nothing like snake handling or things like that, but the Holy Spirit moving and people's physical bodies hitting the ground or shaking or other things like that.

I can remember one meeting, it was the first time I had ever seen anyone 'slain in the spirit' or 'fall out', whatever you want to call it. I was just like "wow, that's... interesting." I was like "shouldn't someone help the person, i think they just fell over..." My parents informed me as to what was going on. And i accepted it because I didn't know to question my folks more about it.

But I can actually remember the night I asked Jesus into my heart. I don't remember the exact date, but I can remember what we were doing. At that time in my life, it was just my older sister Shalyn, me and my younger sister Amber. My younger brother Austin wasn't around yet. But my parents would tuck us into bed and pray with us. This night, my dad just said "if you want to, while i'm praying, you can just tone me out if you want to and ask Jesus into your heart." (Nowadays, i just tone them out without their permission at times.... but that's for another note...) So, I asked Jesus into my heart, to be my Lord and Savior... I wish I would've known better what I was getting myself into. But I was young and naive.

I can also remember the day I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and shortly there after, starting to pray in tongues. We were having a special children's church and they were speaking on the baptism of the Spirit. At the end, they asked for anyone who wants to come up and receive it, to do so. So, I thought "what do I got to loose?" So, I went up, got prayed for, felt really nothing and went back to my seat. They said to just start to pray. So I did. I tried to say a few things, which mainly sounded like gibberish. But at the end, the speaker said "ok, i'm going to close everything out here with a quick prayer." At the end of the prayer, when they said "and in Jesus name, Amen." That's when everything let loose on me. I started to pray in the Holy Spirit! I at first thought it was someone around me, but I quickly realized it wasn't! Later on, I was talking to my parents and they explained to me what happened.

It wasn't until a couple years later, me and my friends started to pray for revival. Now what exactly were we praying for... I'm still trying to figure that out and that was well over 10 years ago. But then we heard about this church in Pensacola, Florida that was experiencing revival. It was called the Brownsville Revival. So, we decided to go down to the youth conference called "Branded by Fire". They weren't kidding. There was a fire of the Holy Spirit there that just charged me. I can remember the first night there, they lined us up in lines to pray for us. This little older lady comes up to me and just puts her fingers to my forehead and says "Lord, Brand him with your fire." Next thing I know, i'm laying on my back looking up at the roof of the civic center we were in. I tried to get up but the Lord wasn't through dealing w/ me. I was glued to the floor and I couldn't move. So, i just laid there for a bit longer until I could move. At which time, my right leg would start twitching sporadically. It wasn't a medical condition at all. It was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

That night, the speaker spoke about the Unsanctified Slide. I think everyone left at this point in time and he was just talking to me... or at least that's how it felt. I wish I could fully explain at that happened at the youth conferences, but that would be a novel. Let's just say that the Lord shook the hell out of me... quite literally.

All the while, I was in public school. And I was pulling full time missionary status in the school. I was there to demonstrate Jesus. And despite myself, the Lord STILL used me. All this to say that all these years the Lord has been teaching me and training me how to demonstrate His love to a hurting and dying world. I entitled this the "The Hardest 18 inches" because that is the length between your heart and your brain. I knew all the right things to say and do growing up. But until it becomes a reality in your heart, it's just head knowledge. Now, the Lord can use the head knowledge. But more than anything, He wants your heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. We don't invite the Lord into our minds, but into our hearts.

A part of the calling I feel I have is to awaken a sleeping church. I can do evangelism and reach out to the lost and dying, those who don't know Jesus. But my main concentration is dealing w/ those INSIDE the Body of Christ. If i had to loosely categorize my life, I would say that my giftings lie in the prophetic pastoring and teaching. Yes, the Lord still uses in me in all sorts of aspects. He can do that. But those are the areas that I feel the strongest in.