I’m sure by writing some of this, I will offend people. But sometimes we have an experience, where to keep silent would be offensive to who we are. I don’t mean to over-dramatize what I’m wanting to talk about…but mainly to highlight this is not just being “thrown out” without forethought. I pray this can and will be heard with a right ear.
There is a place nearby that is well-known. I hear regularly from parents and teenagers alike who ask me my opinion. Up to this point, my opinion has been based only on exploring their web-content, and hearsay from others. Fortunately, I was urged recently to check it out, in support of a close friend who was going to be there.
I hesitate to actually put the name of the place on this post, as someone who loves it may accidentally come across my thoughts and start some sort of “smear-campaign” against me. I’m not looking for a fight, a debate, or even a big discussion. I’m just putting my experience into words.
Up to this point, this place has been innocently presented (to me, at least) as a place where those “outcast” by society can experience the grace and love of Christ, in an environment that’s safe, where music can be enjoyed, and a good time can be had by all. What I experienced fell short of that description. Very short. In fact, the only person to mention God at all was effectively cussed off-stage, and made fun of by most of the crowd.
Teenagers (mostly younger girls looking for approval, and older males willing to give it) of many different backgrounds were there, along with adults who I at first assumed were chaperones; but later realized were more of “enablers”…offering to light cigarettes for the minors who were in need.
Can this place be used by God? Yes. I believe there were people there who honestly wanted to hear the music, and not get shot. I was one of them. But we were in the minority. Mostly, it seemed…here was a place where I could do anything without my parents finding out. Smells of tobacco, alcohol, and yes, even marijuana…were mixed in with the expected smells of teenage sweat and too much perfume. One teen who was there recognized me...and said this was the last place he expected to see me. I think that says a lot right there.
To the bands that play there…I can understand. Today, you pretty much need to play wherever a stage is offered. To those who attend to hear their friends’ play…totally with you. That’s why I was there too. To the parents who’s children tell you they want to go….GO WITH THEM…at least the first time. It can be a great opportunity for you to discuss life choices after you go home, or the following day.
Am I against venues that allow bands to play, and teenagers to attend? Not at all. But I think this place does the community a large disservice when it presents itself as a safe and positive hang-out where “Christian” bands play…and leaves it at that. This environment is no more safe than letting your teenage daughter or son hang out at the local bar on open mic night. There is so much more I would say, but I feel I’ve said enough to get a message across. To the teens/parents who already support this venue…sorry if I’ve offended. I do believe there must be some good going on here…but I think it’s very important to be honest to the community about the very real problems that are present.
I realized I haven't blogged for quite sometime on my incredible daughter, so here goes nothing.
Addison has turned ONE!!! She's walking like crazy, and learning new words/sounds all the time. For a while there everything was "ball!" But now she can actually do "dadda", "momma", "down" (when she's done eating), "cheese", "dog", "balloon" (which sounds like a slurred version of "ball", and a few others that we're trying to figure out what exactly they are. She is also picking up the ability to beat box with daddy...although many times it just ends up being spit everywhere. :)
Along with the new words are new facial expressions. Many of you have seen the "old man scrunched face smile"...or the "fake cry" face. These are both classic.
Addie has also learned how to give hugs!! These are incredible after a long day of work. She's beginning to learn how to blow kisses, and has begun working on her ability to actually kiss.
I was talking with a teen not too long ago, and we were talking about God's ability to know our thoughts. Sometimes as a believer, we get so busy with life...it's hard for us to set aside, or remember to set aside time to actually speak or write words to God. He knows our thoughts/hearts after all, right? What does it matter if I don't actually say the words everyday?
The thing is...I know Addison loves me. Everything about her life points to needing me, and her smiles and hugs communicate so much gratitude and emotion towards me as her father. I "feel" her love for me. But....I can't wait for the day my daughter can actually look at me and say "I love you daddy". Wow. Just imagining it gets me excited. I love that girl so much.
God created by speaking things into existence with words. (from the records we have, at least....I wasn't there) He didn't just zap things into being. So words must be pretty important right? I have to believe....with all of this....that me actually taking the time/effort to speak a prayer out loud, or write to God what's on my heart...means a lot to what's going on here.
Will I love Addison more than my second child, just because she can say "I love you" to me, and the other one is still working on it? No. Both of my children will be loved...because they're my children.
I read an article this morning, that goes right with my latest post on the body of Christ, and our greencards.
As much as I want to show love to other members of our body....you do have to have some respect for the law, right?
Check out this story, and let me know your opinion.
I'm not so sure I would've debated with the government on this one. I mean...the order from the judge originally came in 1997...when she had no son. She made the decision to stay and have a child here in the US.
This woman's story made me wonder what exactly someone must go through to become a US Citizen....so I did some checking around...
So here's a website that talks about what is required to even apply for US Citizenship. Notice a couple of things:
1. Under "good moral character" (a very vague category), you cannot apply if you are, or have been a "habitual drunkard". If only American Citizens would be at risk of losing our citizenship for things on this list. :)
2. You have to pass a test on US History and Government Knowledge. I gotta be honest here....I'm a pretty intelligent guy, and I only scored a 72% on their 25-question practice test. (I didn't know the Civil War was also about individual states' rights) But with a little studying, the average person who really wants it, could be motivated to know more than the average American even does.
You also have to fill out this form ...which actually asks if you've ever actively been involved in trying to overthrow a government. Huh....guess that's a good question.
So with a little research, studying, and time...anyone could become a US Citizen, right?
So how is this such a difficult process.....and what needs to change? Obviously this is seen as a daunting/impossible task by so many.
ps. For kicks, I checked out Canada's requirements.....good news for the habitual drunkards...no rules against it here! Overall a much easier application process....and free medical care, right?
Reading an article this morning that discussed our country's policies on "illegal immigrants"; I was struck by how the information was presented. More often than not, discussions like this happen with an "us/them" mentality. But here are some interesting points they made:
1. As members of the body of Christ, we are called to allegiance to Christ, above country, above lifestyle, above everything. To see anything else before we see Christ, in ourselves or another person, could be idolatry of that thing.
2. Currently, over 9.4 million of our nations undocumented residents come from Mexico, and other spanish-speaking areas.
3. Over 78% of Latino residents surveyed, confess Christian faith.
4. That means, over 8.1 million people in our Christian family are affected by our nations' views/legal stances on citizenship, etc.
A great article about how some in the church are responding, that's far too long to copy/paste, but a very interesting read, can be found here.
It's hard to combine rational, "take care of our country/future/safety/etc" thinking, and the grace these writers are speaking of. I'm not sure if I'm ready to personally offer my basement bedroom to an undocumented family, even if they are a part of the family of God. (just ask my biological family, sometimes I just want my house all to myself) How does all of this combine with submitting to authority?
Maybe someday, like those in the article....I'll be forced to decide where I stand. In that moment, may God be with me. Until then, I suppose that's why it's good to be thinking/praying/discussing these things. Because I doubt this is an issue that will go away ever...and the way the Church abroad responds will play a HUGE role in our communicating the gospel to the World.
Recently I've experienced God in a way I would not have expected, and I have my greedy nature, and Wheel of Fortune to thank.
Most of you know by now, that this past Thursday I competed on Wheel of Fortune. The show will air on Monday, September 17th, and you can all watch me make a fool of myself. What you won't see, however, is the peace in my soul that day.
I struggled with so many aspects of the show. Obviously, I prayed fervently that God would somehow "bless the wheel" so that I could do well on the show. For the 2 weeks leading up to that date, it was on my heart and mind more than I care to admit. About a week before the show aired, I was struck by how much of my energy was spent asking God to bless me that day....and how little time I had spent praying for others recently.
My whole being seemed consumed by this opportunity. I'm ashamed to think of the prayers/conversations I may have overlooked because of this preoccupation in those days...but I smile remembering the times spent with God those few days before we left. I prayed for His forgiveness...I gave the burden of caring about the show into His capable hands, and asked that He would teach me to pray more, and pray less selfishly. (which I suppose, could still sound selfish).
If any of that makes sense or not, the point is this: Sometimes we forget how much we believe in prayer, until we find something that (even selfishly) reminds us...we believe prayer is effective. So with this realization came a renewed sense that I need to be praying. Praying for people in my life. Praying for my family. Praying for my church. Why? I believe God has created us as "beings that pray".
As for the show....we had a great time, and whether God touched the wheel Himself or not......we don't know for sure. But I'm still thankful for the experience, and for the reminder that PRAYER plays an important role in my life....and I need to be involved in it more often.
The question for you then...might be...what would motivate you to pray more? Why wait until something does? If you believe in prayer...pray. :)
He has shown me this recently through the Hershey's sub-company of Reese's.
Anyone who knows me well....knows that since early in High School...I've been frustrated at Ice Cream toppings in general. Disappointed that the only way I can get decent peanut butter on my ice cream is to go all the way to Dairy Queen or Culver's. Or buy an entire can of their topping, and somehow keep it at home.
I've always wondered why no company was taking advantage of putting liquid peanut butter in a squeeze bottle (much different than Skippy's tube version) so that I could enjoy it at home.
Until now. Recently, at our local Kroger...I've discovered Reese's Peanut Butter Ice Cream topping....right there near the chocolate syrup. WHOOO HOO!!!
I've looked it up online a little....and so far can't find it listed as a product...so I wonder if we're a test market, or if they don't make it anymore....either way....I should buy a lot. :)