Friday, April 11, 2014

Running on Empty

Have you ever been driving along and all of a sudden that little red light appears and tells you that you are running low on gas?

Has that ever happened to you when you were driving in an area you weren't familiar with?

It has happened to me a couple of times. Not only was I stressed out about the fact that I didn't have enough gas in the car but I was extra stressed because now I have to find a gas station in an area that I don't even know where a gas station is. It is actually quite funny how when you don't need a gas station there is one on every corner but when you do, you can't find one. I have driven down road after road looking for a gas station while that little red light seemed to get brighter and brighter. I have even had to pull into a full service gas station before because it was the only one around and I didn't want to run out of gas. It is not a fun situation to be in but more often than not I find myself letting that little red light come on before I fill my tank.

Gas is what makes are cars go, we can't drive without it. Without gas we would be stuck on the side of the road or never even able to leave the driveway. We need a full tank of gas so that we can go where ever we want to go whenever we want to go there.

The same can be said for our spiritual tanks. Too often we go through life running on empty and we don't take the time to fill ourselves spiritually. This is easily overlooked with everything that we have going on in our lives. We go to church on Sunday morning and we think that is enough to get us through the week. We don't realize that we are actually running on empty and by the time the next Sunday rolls around we are coasting in on fumes. We need to take time during our week to pray, to read the bible, be a part of a covenant group, or a bible study. We need to participate in mission work or volunteer work. We need to take time during the week to fill our tanks, if we don't then we become empty and that is a hard place to be especially when we don't realize that we are running on empty.

Make sure that you take time to fill your tank. God is here for you and he wants to be in relationship with you. The thing is, we NEED to be in relationship with him. We need to fill our tanks so that we can go out into the world and fill the tanks of others.

We must be full in order to be the hands of feet of Christ for the world. Don't wait for the red light to come on. Go out there and fill your tank!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

10,000 Strong

I wanted to take a minute and thank everyone that has ever read my blog.  Over the past three years I have written my thoughts, loves, and opinions on the pages of this blog and you all have taken the time to read the entries and for that I am humbled and very thankful! 

Last night, I had my 10,000th viewing of a blog entry.  That means that 10,000 times people have taken the time to open my blog and read one of my entries. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for giving me a small place on the web where I have a voice! 

I am excited to continue and thankful for your support.  God is good, All the time.  All the time, God is good!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Noah: The Lord of the Rings version?!?!

Please remember that these are just my opinions and I encourage you to form your own.  I also encourage you to wait till it comes out at Redbox so you are only spending a dollar on it!

Yesterday we took the youth group to see Noah because we have been talking a lot about the story of Noah this year during youth group.  Our theme this year has been stepping outside of the box.  We have talk about how we need to step outside of our boxes of our comfort zones to try new things and go out into the world and be the hands and feet of Christ.  We talked a lot about how Noah did this by following God and building the ark.  This was a huge step for Noah knowing everything that was going to happen with the great flood. 

The youth were really excited about seeing the movie and the ark on the big screen.  I will say however that this movie is an "outside the box" interpretation of Noah.  I believe that it had its good and valid points but overall I had a hard time with the movie especially knowing the story from the bible.  Here are the things I took from the movie:

The Biblical Parts:

Noah was in the movie with his wife and their three sons, Ham, Sham, and Japheth. 

Noah is a descendant of Seth

Methuselah was the grandfather of Noah

The world was depicted as a cruel and sinful place

There was an ark

There was a great flood

The animals came two by two (ALL of the animals came including the snakes!!! Yikes!!!)

A Raven was sent out to find land

The Dove was sent our and returned with an Olive Branch

Noah got drunk and naked (Surprisingly both in the Bible)

There were references to Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

If you didn't know that Cain killed Abel, you sure did by the end of the movie

The creation story was told with parts of it being biblically based

The parts that made it seem like the Lord of the Rings

Adam and Eve were portrayed as glowing alien beings.

There were rock monsters which were fallen Angels that came down to help mankind after they were considered sinful.  The creator encased them in earth/rock and doomed them to roam the earth.  They were known as the Guardians.  They also helped Noah build the ark.

Methuselah had magical powers of healing and making people fall asleep by simply touching them.  He was either a hypnotist or based on someone who comes a little later in the Bible who heals the sick. 

Methuselah is the gateway between the Creator and Noah.  He gives Noah some drugged drink so that he has the visions of the flood and the ark.  If I were Noah I would of thought I was tripping on something instead of seeing what the Creator wanted me to do.

There was a protagonist that is able to chop this way through the side of the ark with a small axe and hide within the ark with Noah and his family.

This protagonist eats one of the animals of the ark, which of course makes the animal extinct.  He also kills another animal to get Noah to come down so he can kill him.  One of the kids said this animal was a unicorn which I found funny.

There are some funky creatures throughout the movie that are mythical
There are magic glowing rocks that by simply crushing them you are able to make fire, or put them in a hallowed out tube and you have a rocket. 

Since there were no pharmacies we have to rely on the magic tea leaves to tell us if someone is pregnant.  (I am still not sure how she knew!)

I don't understand why Hermione Granger pull out her wand, flick her wrist and make a boat appear.  Ok I know that has nothing to do with the movie, but she will always be Hermione Granger to me!

Things I just didn't like or get

 Sham, Ham, and Japheth were young in the movie and didn't have wives.

Noah was by no means a righteous man in this movie.  There were plenty of moments that made you question why the Creator would of chosen him.

Noah did not walk with God or have a relationship with him.  He was not talked to directly by God but instead through a dream followed by a drug induced out of body experience.

The movie was based on cleanings the earth and starting the world over.  This involved the protection and preservation of the innocent animals. Noah did not believe that the Creator wanted mankind to survive because of its sinful ways.  He told the family how they would each bury each other until Japheth was the last man on earth and humanity would end.

Noah's hair style changes about 5 times during the movie but no one else's hair changes.

The movie was very eco friendly which I get in one sense but not at the sake of destroying all of mankind.

Things I thought were Interesting

It was a neat concept that they created a smoke from herbs that would calm the animals down and put them to sleep so that they could survive without them attacking each other.

It was pretty cool to see the flood form and the ark battling the rain and flood waters. 

The flash backs to earlier stories of the bible were interesting.  Some of them weren't accurate but I guess they don't have to be accurate to be interesting.

The new world after the flood was neat to see.

Final Conclusion

I didn't like the movie which is sad because there was so much potential there.  I think there is a lot of ways that Hollywood could of used "movie magic" to depict different things from the Noah story and still keep to the Bible narrative.

As Emily put it as we got up to leave the movie theater, "The book is so much better!"  UPDATE:  It was Pete that said it, Emily just happened to repeat it louder :)  Either way they are both right!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Those who arrive survive!

As many of you know one of my favorite TV shows is the Walking Dead.  This coming Sunday is the season finale and then I will have to wait over 6 months until it comes back on.  This show is about the zombie apocalypse where the zombies roam the earth and attack the living.  Although I don't believe that the zombies are the real threat in this new world, maybe that's a different blog post, this post is going to be about the:

The top 10 things not to do during the Zombie Apocalypse!
(Probably makes more sense if you seen the Walking Dead)

10.  If you see signs that say "Those who arrive survive"  talking about a safe community, do not go there. Turn around and run the opposite way!

9.  If come across a town that seems wonderful and great and led by a guy that seems to be genuinely concerned about the people that live there and overly friendly but the town has built an arena where at night they have two people fight each other while tied up zombies are circling around them for entertainment purposes, get out of there!  What all the sudden during the zombie apocalypse there aren't basketballs anymore?  No one can teach the kids ballet for a recital? No one can play the guitar? You can find nothing else to entertain you? Get out of there as fast as you can.  The leader may have an aquarium of zombie heads.  I'm just sayin! 

8/  Don't walk backwards anywhere.  There is no reason to walk backwards.  Anytime someone walks backwards they stumble and trip and fall right into a zombie and either die or get hurt.  Just don't walk backwards.

7.  Don't assume that a zombie is dead.  When you are walking around a there is a "dead" zombie on the ground because it isn't moving, don't assume it is!  Come on people, that is just a zombie playing possum.  The minute you walk past it it's going to bite your leg and we are going to have to cut your leg off so you don't become a zombie. You know what they say about assuming!

6.  While searching for food, if you come across a giant can of pudding don't eat it all by yourself.  Maybe I want some pudding.  What I can't get no pudding?  Come on it's the zombie apocalypse, share the pudding!

5.  Don't go out at night.  Really people don't do it!  I mean why would you want to go out at night there are zombies out there!  Do you want to die?

4. Remember this simple equation:  Closed door = Zombie behind it!  So when you go into a house looking for supplies and there is a closed door in front of you, if you got to open it just know there is a zombie behind it so you are prepared! 

3.  Don't drive a motorcycle.  We all know that noise attracts zombies.  Could you pick a louder vehicle?  It's not a problem while your traveling but the minute you get to you destination your going to have every zombie in a 5 mile radius headed your way.

2.  Don't shoot from the hip.  When shooting zombies you have to be accurate and hit them in the head.  This isn't an action adventure movie where you can shoot from the hip or turn your gun sideways like some sorta zombie killin gangster!  Aim down the sights.  If I have learned nothing else from playing Call of Duty I have learned to aim down the sights.

1.  Never say to someone "I'll be right back..."  You won't be!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A secret I have carried for years...

When I was a kid, probably around 10 or 11, my brother and I went for a couple of weeks to stay with my Dad's parents, my grandparents, in Baltimore Maryland.  While we were there both my Grandparents had a hard time figuring out what to do with us.  My Grandpa would offer me a quarter to rub his head and then would fall asleep in the chair and start snoring.  I always stopped after he fell asleep because I knew I had earned my quarter.  My Grandmother would have us help in the kitchen.  She loved to make this sweet, and I mean sweet, applesauce so my brother and I would help her out.

I spent most of the time in the backyard trying to catch the rabbit that was eating from my grandparents garden.  I set up a trap for it.  It was a box with a stick holding up one side of it.  I tied a rope to the stick.  I then placed carrots and lettuce under the box and waited behind the lawn chairs for the rabbit to come.  I did this every day but the rabbit never would go under the box. It was so frustrating.

This however is not the secret that I have carried all these years.  Here it is.  To keep my brother and I under control, like we were unruly or something, my Grandpa went to the store and bought us each a sleeve of gumballs.  There were about 10 gumballs in each sleeve.  He showed them to us and told us that if we were good each day we could have one gumball. He then tacked our "Good boy Gumballs" as he called them above the door to the kitchen.

My brother and I were good for the first couple of days and we got our gumballs.  It was a good system that my Grandpa worked out.  Each day we got rewarded for being good.  Here's the thing, my brother and I were very sneaky.  On about the third day when my Grandparents had decided to take a nap, my brother and I found our way into the kitchen.  I took a chair from the kitchen table and my brother stood outside the kitchen door keeping watch. 

I moved the chair over to the doorway and stepped up onto it.  This gave me enough height to reach the top of the "Good boy Gumballs".  I opened my brother's pack and asked him what flavor he wanted, he said, "cherry!"  So I slipped out all the gumballs until I got to a cherry one and I tossed it to him and then placed all the rest of his gumballs back into his pack.  I then got mine down and got a grape one.  I tacked both of the packs back up, slide the chair back under the table and my brother and I retreated to the basement to watch TV and chew our illegally acquired gumballs.

We were never caught, Grandpa never counted how many gumballs there were and we never did it again.

Wow, thanks so much for letting me get that off my chest!  It has been eating at me for years!

At least maybe you got a laugh out of it!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Drops of Jupiter

The other day I was taking a shower and I noticed a drop of water slowly rolling down the wall.  It was very slow and deliberate in its path as it rolled down the wall, that is until it met with another drop of water.  Once the two drops connected, the original drop was larger and moved so much faster down the wall.  The more drops that connected the faster that new drop traveled down the wall until it reached the bottom and ultimately went down the drain.

It made me start to think about people and their everyday problems.  As we go through our day, we often encounter a problem or situation that makes us feel uneasy.  If we only have that one problem during our day we can usually deal with it because it moves slowly and there is only one thing to worry about. If that problem however is met with another issue or problem then things get harder.  The more issues and problems we have the harder our day gets and the faster our day turns from a good day to a bad day.

We can all handle one problem at a time but when life starts to hand us multiple issues and problems our life gets harder.  I call this the droplet effect.  For every problem (drop) we accumulate, the faster our problems drive us down until we are drained of all energy.

I can think of specific days when the droplet effect has greatly influenced my day and I felt myself drained of energy and at my lowest point.  It is a very lonely and sad place to be.  However here is the good news, the next day washes us clean and we start anew.  A new day gives us the opportunity to attack each problem separately and keeps us from being dragged down so fast by a bunch of problems. 

We can lift our problems to God and know that he is there for us and he will watch over us to make sure that we don't become overwhelmed.  We can ask him for help when the droplets start to run together. 

Know that there is always tomorrow, a new day filled with hope.  If we allow ourselves to stay down too long because of the droplet effect, we may never be able to pull ourselves back out again!

Now that she's back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there's a time to change, hey, hey, hey

Drops of Jupiter: By Train

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Playing COD = Conversation about God?!?!?

I am an avid gamer.  Some of you know that some of you don't.  In fact it was some of my youth that first introduced me to online video games.  I love to play.  I especially love to play Call of Duty.  I enjoy all the aspects of the game but I really enjoy the online multiplayer part of it. 

The only problem that I have with the online part of the game is the fact that anyone with a microphone can say anything they want to.  They can use fowl language, pick on each other, or just sing into the microphone. I can deal with it because I can mute it and I'm an adult but when you are online and someone has bought Call of Duty for their 10 year and they are cursing into the microphone, it just doesn't feel right.

You can't imagine how many times I have heard little kids cursing and talking about people's mothers, sex, and using the N word.  It is horrible.  I usually mute other players unless I know them.

Recently I have become friends with 2 other gamers.  They are both in college and I enjoy playing with them because we play as a team and they don't curse every other word.  We often play for hours on end and have great conversations about life and what's going on with each other.

The other day I was talking with one of them and he said to me,

"Hokie (Hokie708 is my screen name) what do you do for a living?"

I was a little scared about this question at first because not that I didn't want to admit that I worked for a church and with youth, but I didn't want to scary him away because he didn't really know me and we were just having a good time while playing a video game.  Ultimately I decided that I was going to be truthful and let the cards fall were they may.  I said;

"Cuddie (Cuddiesforreal is his screen name).  I work for a United Methodist Church in Raleigh NC, and I am the Director of Youth Ministries."

"Really? said Cuddy, "And you play video games?"

"Yes I do!" I said, "And I really enjoy playing games, in fact I actually have had some great conversations with my youth while playing video games.  They have a tendency to get so involved in the game that they are very relaxed when I talk to them about other things going on in their lives that they don't seem to care how much they share.  I guess in a way it is a great way for me to minister to my youth."

"That's pretty cool. I went to youth group when I was in High School and I really enjoyed it.  I loved my youth pastor and am really thankful for the advice he gave me over the years.  I miss it."

"Have you been to church lately?" I asked.

"No, you know the college thing, but maybe I should go.  Do you think God is mad at me for not going?"

"No, I don't think God is mad at you, I just know that he wants to be in relationship with you and if we step away from church for too long it makes it harder for us to come back.  You should go or maybe there is a bible study or Christian group on campus that you can get involved with." I said.

"That's a good point.  I am going to have to think about that.  You know that I am going into the Army after college right?"

"Yep, you mentioned that." I said.

"I am excited but a little scared at the same time."

" I am sure that it is scary.  I tell you what, why don't we take a break from playing for a minute and let's pray about it." I said.

"That sounds good, let's do that."

So we spent the next few minutes in prayer together.  I prayed for him and then he prayed.  Who would of known that in the virtual world of video games, God was right there with us.  We met because of playing a video game online and now we have a connection that is greater than playing video games together.  Thank you God for being there and thank you for allowing me to share with someone I don't really even know!  I hope we continue to be in contact for a long time!