Gasping for breath, I stumbled my way towards the water fountain. Basketball practice was killing me, and I thought I was in shape…. I had been running cross country for the past couple months and I had been playing with my friends nearly every weekend. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I was getting beat on fast breaks, I was falling asleep on defense, and I kept passing the ball to the wrong team.
I needed water….
I gulped down as much as I could in the alotted break time my dad, the coach, gave us during halftime of our scrimmage. I took a deep breath.Then I charged back onto the court and I gave it all I had….
2012 was one hell of a year.
I’m sure we all had our share of enjoyable, painful, sad, funny, and loving experiences as the months seemed to fly past us, and I know we all are relieved to be done with our 1st semester finals. With all of this in mind, the break serves as a time to rest, relax, and refocus ourselves for the new year. As we make this transition to the 2nd semester, let us not forget what we as Christians must take note of during the waning days of Christmas.
Christmas is the celebration of birth and renewal. In a world full of so much pain, darkness, and suffering, a light was sent down to guide, heal, protect, and save us all.
A mess of a planet, what cleansed to perfection.
It’s hard to be Christian, especially for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We lose track of ourselves, we make mistakes, we fall short. Even when we think we have been carrying out the message of Christ to the best of our abilities, we still mess up.
Sometimes we need a waterbreak.
I encourage you all to take a drink.
Take a breath
Turn to the Image of Christ at the Stable
A perfect child was made out of a sinful world. A light was made out of darkness.
Forget the sins of our past year- that’s behind us. That no longer matters. We all miss shots, we all make mistakes on defense, and we all make bad decisions.
We all falter at the true glory of the annointed one.
But God needs you back out on the court- We can’t fix a broken world unless everyone is ready to work their best to do so.
So take a deep gulp.
Let the holy water run through your vains again.
And Be the Change You Want To See In The World
Peace and Thanks,
Note: This post is a sequel to Love is Not Just a Christian Thing.
In light of the current Israeli-Palestinian religious conflict sparking up, I think some things are needed to be said:
The amount of violence and hate being exhibited right now between some of our Muslim and Jewish brethren is very hard to take in and my heart goes out to all those effected by the recent attacks. Religious wars can be very horrifying and detrimental to many, and I think we all can agree on the fact that we need peace between these differentiating belief systems.
Aside from political motives, one of the main reasons religious wars occur is because each opposing religion believes that they are the “true religion” or in cruder terms “the best religion”. The thought process for each side goes along these lines: “My view of God is correct, and whatever the other side is preaching is simply false and wrong and because of this they deserve to be punished.”
As Christians we all seem to agree that hatefully and violently condemning another group for having different beliefs than yours is definitely not the right way to be going about things, and opposite to the belief of extremists, no God hates or wants you to harm those of opposing views.
Up to this point you’re probably thinking “This guy is preaching common sense: Don’t condemn other religious beliefs, strive for peace, love your neighbor, yada yada yada” But here’s where things get dicey…
How can we as Christians say that shooting a gun at a Muslim for not believing in Christ is immoral and not a thing God would want us to do, but at the same time believe that those who die not believing in Christ will end up burning for eternity in the pits of hell because it’s God’s will (John 14:6)?
There seems to be two contrasting views here:
1) God doesn’t want to us to harm non believers
2) God will eventually send the nonbelievers to hell (“which is not exactly the safest place around”)
This is the parodox of Christianity: How can we tell our non-believing friends that God loves them, if eventually our god is going to send them to eternal punishment?
Sending someone to hell doesn’t sound like an act of love to me….
In the words of The ole’ Bishop John Shelby Spong:
“God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition. I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.”
I myself am a Christian. Meaning, I love Jesus and the messages preached in the Gospels, but I don’t think those who think and/or believe differently are necessarily evil or wrong.
Everyone on this planet is always trying to search for the essential truth and religion is a means for finding it. We all have different interpretations of this truth, and we all have different relationships with this truth. But never should we ever condemn someone else for having another truth than us. Religious diversity should be celebrated, not sent to the bottom pits of hell.
God is love and surely “anyone who is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40). We all have different ways of learning how to love better (whether it be through atheism, Judaism, Christianity, etc.), but in the end it’s all still love. So please… Let’s stop the fighting…..
As for Christians, maybe it’s time we fix ourselves on some points like:
– Does everyone need Christ to be enforced upon them?
– Is hell what we really what we think it is?
It’s about time we quit worrying about the afterlife because in all honesty, none of us knows what’s really going to happen . But what I do know is this, we are here living life on Earth and as long as we are here we should work together to fix our broken planet because pointing fingers at each other over who’s right or not is not going to get us anywhere.
The bible first and foremost should be a guide on how to love our neighbor best, so as Christians is it really in our best interests to use it as a weapon of condemnation?
It’s time we stop using levitical law and millennium old views on marriage to condemn our homosexual brethren, and it’s time we stop morphing verses to use as negative propaganda against nonbelievers.
It’s time we stop using the bible to hurt and condemn others…….
So let’s quit worrying about heaven and hell, and let’s put all of our our focus on love together as one big family.
Humans will never be able to prove whether or not a God exists, or whether or not one religion is right. But I do know this…. Love exists and love is not just gay, straight, Christian, atheist, or Hindu. Love is love.
So let’s stop focusing on trying to earn victory over other belief systems as Christians, for it would be in the best interest of the world for us all to simply just let love win.
Peace and Thanks,
Howdy folks! I hope that all of you guys didn’t have as stressful of a week as I did, but even if you did, be rest assured, because it’s Friday and absolutely nothing is better than Friday.
Bible Study Recap
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[b] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1 John 3:11-24)
This is quite a well written passage talking about how as Christians we need to push aside our hatred and dislike for one another and instead we should be focusing on more on what Jesus commanded us that we did which is “Love one another as he commanded us.”
Now one of the things we discussed revolving around this passage was how this election year has divided Christians into two hateful factions again each other which is easily evident by the political blowups on facebook after the presidential debates, and I think this article can serve as a great guideline for what Christians should keep in mind during the November races.
Friday Afterschool Meeting
1) The lockin planned for the weekend was sadly canceled, but it has been rescheduled for the weekend of Nov. 9-10, so mark this date on your calendar so you can make sure that you will be able to attend!
2) Please pay your $5 dues if you haven’t done so yet
3) Weekly Events: Monday Morning Prayer by the Flagpole (7:15-7:30), Tuesday Fellowship Lunch- Rm. 121, Thursday Bible Study Lunch- Rm. 121, Friday Afterschool Meeting- Rm. 121 (3:30-4:30)
4) Keep your eyes open for tapioca sales coming up soon
1) We played some games
2) We had share time between each other over how our weeks had all been
3) We had an open minded discussion about the issue of Homosexuality.(I’m not going to force any type of opinion on you via this post but I would just ask if you all would kindly take the time to view some of these different commentaries, sermons, and book excerpts on this issue from a very wise pastor, Adam Hamilton.)
– Here is another sermon of his on the topic (I recommend this one alot)
As a club, when taboo topics like these are brought up , I want us to aproach them in a respectful and (hopefully) educated manner. I think as Christians we can’t put aside these issues as things we shouldn’t talk about because we can’t grow in our faith unless we take a look around and analyze issues like homosexuality. We need to realize that people are leaving and criticizing the church on issues like these and unless we don’t take a moment to seriously bring these issues at hand into light, we are lying to ourselves that everything is and is going to be all right. I want everyone to know that CSU cares about these types of issues and that no matter what stances or beliefs any one of us officers (or members for that matter) has on these types of things that we always remember to carry out God’s greatest commandment which is to Love everyone as he has loved us.
Well that ends it for this week folks. Have an awesome weekend and enjoy this moment of zen!
Peace and Thanks,
Hey guys! I apologize for this being up so late, my internet was out for a couple of days… But here’s last week’s CSU recap!
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23)
This passage relays the one of the final messages Jesus gave to his disciples before he descended into heaven. For a great and profound (and a little theological) commentary on this passage, click here.
Friday Club Meeting
1) If you haven’t paid your dues yet, please bring $5 the next friday meeting!
2) Weekly Schedule of Events (Monday Morning Prayer- at the flagpole, Tuesday Fellowship Lunch- Rm. 121, Thursday Bible Study Lunch- Rm.121, and Friday Afterschool Club Meeting- Rm. 121)
3) There WILL be a CSU lock in of sorts this friday. So PLEASE stay posted!
4) Tapioca Sales are coming up soon
1) We had small groups
2) We ended with Sanctuary. (This is the Gospel Version- Please watch it)
Well that ends it for this week…. I hope to see all of you at the event Friday evening and I hope that you all have a fun and amazing spirit week centered on Christ here at Bellaire.! And as always, here is your weekly moment of zen.
Peace and Thanks,
I have to admit, this year has been easy for me so far. I’m not involved in very many clubs, I certainly haven’t gotten any mountains of homework yet, I’m confident in myself after another amazing summer, and I only have five classes, so I’m out of school pretty early every single day (cue the chorus of groans from every senior with seven classes). I don’t say these things to brag or to scoff at the amount of work other people are doing or anything like that. I say it because despite all these things, I have trouble getting to sleep at night. I spend hours of the day contemplating what’s going on around me, what people are saying, what people are doing, the way people are doing things, and the reason for which they do them. Weird, I know, but people interest me.
After all, as a club, the first thing that occupies CSU is God, the second being the people around us. It all hearkens back to Matthew 22:37-40:
37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’b38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’c 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I often think about what that means for us to love our neighbors as ourselves. There are obvious things that come with love like respect and a lack of judgment, but I’ve felt for a long time that there’s more to it than that. Let me get to my point. As a culture, young Christians have done a lot better than previous generations when it comes to acceptance and respect and no judgment, but I think we’ve lost a lot of our evangelical zeal. Granted, in the past, evangelical zeal has led to mass murder and ostracization, but I think we can learn from our ancestors and turn zeal into a positive idea that affects many for the better.
I see that we’ve lost some of our zeal when kids sit alone, when a kid’s getting made fun of, even when the only people at CSU events are ones that have been going to church for a long time. I hate seeing Christian groups fail in making a difference outside the group meetings or even in the group meetings. One instance that comes to mind is last year, when a girl came with her friend to a CSU meeting one Friday. (I won’t say her name because she still goes to Bellaire). One of the first things she said was that she considered herself an atheist, or at best an agnostic, and the room kind of froze for a few seconds. Everybody was uncomfortable which is understandable, but I don’t think anyone really made her feel welcome as an outsider to the faith. We failed her. I failed her. Moments like these weigh heavily on my conscience.
Those moments stop me from whichever direction I was headed in and make me think hard about what happened. What made her say that then? What stopped us from responding in a way that was loving and Christ-like? I guess the big question is this: Why is it so hard to bring people to our Lord and Savior? I mean it seems like it should be simple. You tell somebody that Jesus died for them, that he sacrificed himself so that our sins would be forgiven, but people don’t seem to respond. They don’t like feeling indebted to some unseen deity that they didn’t ask for or want in the first place. They were fine being independent and strong long before they had ever heard of this Jesus Christ guy that we’re always talking about at CSU. Maybe it’s pride; maybe it’s something about the vastness of God. I don’t know. I don’t know what makes me different from these people. I don’t know why the life I’ve lived has allowed me to know God better than most people my age. Honestly, I don’t. So I had to ask myself that question: What about my life has brought me to God? I had to really think about it, struggle with it, and I’m still struggling with it, but I can’t hope to bring people to the love of God if I can’t even remember how I got there in the first place.
And so begins the long, tumultuous journey of my faith. I can’t remember the exact moment of my first exposure to the idea of God, but it had to have been sometime during my first few years in the church, the church I still attend: WestburyUnitedMethodistChurch. It was here that I learned about God for the first time. I went every week because my mom wanted me to, just like any other three-year-old kid. I can’t recall any church before Westbury, and I don’t really know what brought my mom to Westbury in the first place. I don’t even remember moving at the age of three from my original home town of Brookshire, Texas to Houston, the city that’s been my home practically as long as I can remember.
What I do remember is the fifth grade; there was one Sunday in particular. In the children’s department of the church, in the first Sunday school room on the right sat fifth-grade me, a much younger, much chubbier, and much sadder version of myself. I couldn’t tell you anything specific about that day. All remember is this feeling, a feeling like I didn’t belong, like what I was doing didn’t matter, like church didn’t matter. It was a dark transitional time in my life where my level of maturity may have qualified me to join the youth program of the church, but my age kept me trapped, longing for something more than the story of Noah’s ark told with a picture book. Going to church for my mom wasn’t enough anymore.
My wish for permanent leave from the children’s department was granted the Sunday before I entered the sixth grade as I walked up the stairs to greet Randy Zercher, the youth choir director, for the first day of choir practice for the year. To be completely honest, I didn’t want to go. The memories of children’s picture books seared my brain to the point where I didn’t think the youth choir could be any better. Words can’t describe the sweet relief that came to me when the adults treated me like I might actually have some knowledge about something and when I looked around to find older kids, kids I could actually look up to. When I had been one of the oldest kids in the children’s department, there was no one I could really look up to. Even in my elementary school days, I admired the Agape youth choir and the high school experience of its members.
As I established myself into the choir, I met Nicky Forger, the lanky eighth grader who would soon become my best friend throughout middle and high school. Soon after I would meet my other future best friend, Andrew Riggs, whose deep voice and quick wit captured my attention like nothing else. Sixth grade was like a wonderland with two new best friends and whole group I could look up to. The youth choir soon led me to the youth group of our church where many of the kids from youth choir, including Nicky and Andrew, went after choir practice.
Everything went smoothly from then until high school. At some point, everybody has to acknowledge why they come to church, and I didn’t do so until 9th grade. The conclusion I came to was that the whole God thing, coming to praise him and whatnot, that was okay, but what I was more interested in was hanging out with my two best friends and other cool people in the youth group. I remember noticing the divergence between myself and the other youth my age that I had grown up with. They had their group of friends to hang out with just like me, but the whole God and church thing wasn’t just a Sunday activity for them. I remember hating that one girl often posted scripture on Facebook. My friends and I ridiculed her, making claims that she thought she was a better Christian than us, like she was better than us or something. We couldn’t understand how she could be forward, so obnoxious as we called it, about her faith. Needless to say, I was lost.
Fast forward to the summer after 10th grade, specifically the trip my youth group went on to Daytona Beach where Chris Tomlin led worship and Louie Giglio gave messages for five days, twice a day. It was amazing! Never before had I been pumped up to sing Christian music and hear a message for five straight days. I couldn’t have imagined actually enjoying an experience like that before I actually went to Daytona Beach. Louie would talk about topics that really related to me like sadness, lust, making time for God, and living my life for God. When Louie finished talking, Chris Tomlin would come and sing more songs, and I couldn’t help screaming out in praise to the Lord. Something finally clicked to where I understood that as a teenager, I could make a difference in the world as a disciple of Christ, and in the process, I would be happier than I had ever been before in my life.
There is a point to all this rambling about my life. I’ve gone to church for a number of reasons since I began attending as a three-year-old at WestburyUnitedMethodistChurch. First, I went because my mom wanted me to go. That reason lost its pull in fifth grade. Then I continued coming because I met my two best friends that I could go to church to hang out with. That reason stopped being relevant in ninth grade when Nicky got his license and suddenly, I didn’t need to go to church to see my best friends. The reason I go to church to this day, the reason I call myself a Christian, the reason I read my Bible every night before I go to bed, the reason I lead worship and stay involved with the youth group and sing nearly every Sunday morning with the church choir is that I love God. I don’t just acknowledge His existence. I don’t try to keep Him second or third in my life after myself and my friends and family. I’ve tried that before. I’ve tried minimizing God’s role in my life, tried telling myself that I could be independent and strong. I simply can’t, and I don’t think anybody else can either.
Have you ever gone up to someone and told them, “I believe in God who sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins because I am weak and incapable of living without Him.”? Chances are you haven’t said something like this before, or you haven’t said it enough. I firmly believe that there are people in our school, in our community, in our world who don’t know God and don’t know why He’s so important to Christians. I believe there are those who are lost, maybe following a different religion or maybe following no religion at all, who can benefit from this message that we have a God who loves for us and cares for us. Maybe you’re not great at quoting scripture, and maybe you don’t have visible proof of God, but you do have a story. You do have a reason you’re a Christian, and if you don’t, hopefully CSU is helping you find that story. If you don’t have a reason for becoming a Christian yourself, how can you expect others to find a reason to become a Christian as well?
In the end, even your personal testimony may not be enough to convince someone to study the Word and live a life for Christ, but that’s okay. Sometimes the only way for someone to accept Christ is to attempt to fill the hole in their life with other things. What we can hope for as Christians is to convince others to forgo that step in their faith, to prevent others from filling that “God-shaped hole” as I’ve heard it referred to with everything except God before they realize that they need a Lord and a Savior. We can hope to get them coming to church not because their mom wants them to, or because they can hang out with their best friends there, but because they love the Lord. It’s all about the Lord. And if you’re like me, this fact alone will help you get to sleep at night.
Hey guys! I hope your weekends have all been fabulous as always and I’m pumped to see you all next week at school (and hopefully at CSU events and meetings). And without a due, here’s last week’s CSU Recap:
Bible Study Recap
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19: 1-10)
This passage is referring to the story of Zacchaeus, the short tax collector. It really does prove how the love and might of Jesus could change even one of the most schemish and dirty tax collectors into a man of kindness and devotion to the Lord. For a short and sweet commentary on this passage click here.
Friday Club Meeting Recap
1) Weekly CSU Events (Monday Morning Prayer- outside by the flagpole , Tuesday Fellowship Lunch- Rm. 121, Wednesday Pilgrim Lutheran Big Brother/Big Sister Program Afterschool (Rides can be provided, so please let us know if you need one), Friday Club Meeting- Afterschool in Rm. 121)
2) WE NEED YOUR $5 DUES ASAP- Please bring them with you to the next CSU event you attend!
3) Keep your eyes open for CSU ran Tapioca sales soon
4) There will be a CSU Lockout October 19-20th at Westbury UMC! If you know of any parents that would be willing to supervise and attend the event please let us know because we need all the help we can get! Alot more information on this will be coming out soon, so keep yourselves posted!
2) I gave a message on love revolving around this video. I think that it’s pretty self explanatory. If we truly want to declare ourselves as lovers of Christ, we need to be less focused on preaching messages of hate, heaven/hell Christianity, and exclusivity between eachother, but more focused on preaching and living out messages of peace, understandment, and most of all, love.
3) We split up into small groups and had some awesome discussions.
4) We ended with Sanctuary.
Well that’s it folks! I’ll end here with your weekly moment of zen, and I hope to see you all next week!
Peace and Thanks,
CSU’s first Q-A session occurred a couple weeks ago and it was a great success! Unfortunately not all of the questions that were asked were able to be answered during the meeting, but we have taken the liberty to answer some on the blog. So here goes nothing:
1. My friend was born Jewish, and he was “baptized” as he says, by my Christian friend in his pool. Is he really Christian now? Am I wrong in telling him that he is not Christian?
First off, the majority consensus throughout the various sects and beliefs of Christianity is that only an ordained minister can conduct the sacrament of baptism, so to call the “baptism” conducted by your Christian friend a real/authorized baptism is incorrect. Secondly, you are not fully wrong for telling him that he is not Christian. Some Christians believe that you can only truly declare yourself as a Christian if you have underwent the baptismal process, while other Christians will tell you that you can declare yourself Christian without the necessity of baptism as long you consider Christ to be your personal savior and redeemer. But to be safe, If I were you, I wouldn’t worry too much, because as long as God is on your friend’s heart at all times, I think that speaks more than any of the hypocritical Christians we prominately see in our churches today.
2 With so many faiths in the Christian religion, how should Christians relate to other Christians of different faith?
One of the true blessings that I get to witness every week, is the joy of being able to pray, study the bible, have fellowship with, sing, and dance with students of various denominations and belief systems without the outbreaking of heated biblical arguements, hate, or intolerance during the CSU meetings we have on tuesday’s, wednesday’s, and friday’s. Sometimes it can be really difficult to deal with people whose views you completly disagree with and don’t want to have anything to do with them. In fact, even we CSU officers share different opinions and interpretations on various scriptures and biblical topics. But, we realize that we are a very diverse club, and we try our best at every meeting to not offend or encroach upon anyone’s personal beliefs because we want Christianity to be more of a binding unit of love than that of a divisive unit of hate. In the end, we all love God, so that’s what should matter most to the club, not trying to out-argue eachother about “who is right” or not.
3. Why is there still poverty and war in the world?
…………….This world is not a fun place to live in……. With so much hate around us, it’s hard alot of times to believe that God still loves us…….. I’m not going to attempt to answer your question directly because I simply can’t answer it. One could point out, that it all started with the the quest of humanity to gain the fruit from the forbidden tree of knowledge, but again, there’s no right answer to this.
Is world peace achievable?
I don’t know the answer to that question either….
What I can tell you though, is this:
We as Christians have a specific role in this world (and a specific role here at Bellaire High School). We are here to be the “glue” which melds together the various ethnical, cultural, racial, religous, gender, and social boundaries which influx our world with hatred everyday. And the only way this “glue” can continue to stick these various divisiions together is if we continue to preach the good messages of the Gospels while keeping love in our hearts and minds always. World peace may not end up being a true reality. But hey, we can’t know if we don’t try our hardest right?
Peace and Thanks,