woven

Woven is an ugly word. It’s just not fun to say.

But it’s the only word I can think of when I picture what happened this past weekend at Mission.

I taught in the junior high and high school services again this weekend, but this time it was different. I actually don’t really want to talk to much about it. I don’t want to ruin it.

I felt… CONNECTED.

Connected to the gospel.

and to the God that dreamed it up.

and to the students in the room.

and to the Church that I still believe is the hope of the world.

We didn’t have enough seats. Students and staff were everywhere. And everyone was leaning forward as I read from God’s word.

I am in awe.

I don’t like when people say “Good job Ryan!” after I preach.

I don’t want them to miss the point.

I am a mouthpiece. A loud, sweaty, Jesus-loving mouthpiece.

The gospel really is good news ๐Ÿ™‚

A question for Christians

I’m guessing that most of the people who swing by this blog are Christians, or perhaps you were at one point but you no longer identify yourself as one. Either way, this question is for anyone who has personally decided to become a follower of Jesus at some point.

Why did you decide to become a Christian?

I shared my testimony this week with the students at my church, and I told them why I did. I had spent a year investigating the claims of Christ, the resurrection, prophecy, other religions, etc… and I became convinced. I placed my faith in what I believed to be true.

I surrendered to truth.

I walked away from my old life out of obligation. I felt that I had to. I walked away from friendships because I thought I had to. I quit drinking, stealing, drugging, fighting, and lying because I had to. “It’s the least I can do” I would say. I even dated a Christian girl… a really sweet girl, but she was at the opposite end of the dating spectrum for me. She asked me to pray for dinner one night out with friends and I had no idea how to. I said, “You pray, it’s so much prettier“. I was a Christian because I was convinced.

But now I’m a Christian because I’m convinced it’s the best kind of life. I still believe it to be true, but I also believe it to be the best way to live. I honestly enjoyed my old way of living, and I walked away from it expecting some sort of joy in the next life as a reward… but now I’m motivated by the life Jesus offers TODAY. I wasn’t drawn to it at first, but now I’m all in. Joy, pain, suffering, prosperity… whatever. It’s all a part of the abundant life that Jesus came to put on display and invite us into.

What about you?

Were you CONVINCED by truth or were you COMPELLED by a way of life?

Grace in my face

This past month has been brutal on my soul. I have just been carrying a huge burden. A big, fat, heavy burden… and it was all about having to announce our departure from Calvary. I knew it was the right thing to do, but it didn’t make it easier.

But today is a new day. I feel no weight. I’m a little nervous about the new role at the new church, but I’ve got peace about it all. I think it’s because I’ve been given so much grace.

Every single person at Calvary has been remarkably encouraging and positive throughout this whole process. Everyone.

I’ve heard so many horror stories about pastors transitioning to new churches (I was a part of one), that I couldn’t help but be a little bit worried about this one.

But this has been so good.

Grace in my face… thank you Calvary Church ๐Ÿ™‚

Miss California on Gay Marriage

I’ve haven’t said anything on here about the gay marriage debates going on this year. I’ve always been worried that I would be misunderstood, no matter how articulate I might aim to be. That’ll probably happen, but… here we go anyways.

I read a handful of blogs and articles this morning from some church leaders and other Christians that have been so… unChristian. I’ve already noticed a huge uproar of support from Christian bloggers for Miss California after her response last night in the Miss USA competition. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet:

I know that Perez Hilton is an openly gay gossip blogger. I only bring that up because he was visibly upset with her answer, which meant there was only one right answer for him.ย  He asked for her opinion and he got her personal opinion. She didn’t impose her convictions on him- she shared her honest feelings because she was asked to.

But I don’t want to talk too much about that video- I’m more interested in the response from the Church so far. I won’t link to anyone, but I’ll just say that I’ve already read a handful of condemning and unloving responses from people who are supposed to be speaking on behalf of Jesus. I actually agree with what some of them say, I just can’t stand how they say it. I’m a conservative in regards to the gay marriage debate… I just don’t open my mouth unless my words are loving. All I hear is gong gong gong from the people doing most of the talking.

I work for a church that took great strides to protect the traditional definition of marriage in last year’s Prop 8 votes. Our lead pastor has a huge heart, and his motivation for doing so was out of love, and in an effort to protect our church from future legal battles. I say that before I post this so nobody will get mad at what I say next ๐Ÿ˜‰

I emailed Tony Campolo earlier this year and asked for his thoughts on the issue. He gave me permission to post them here.

Dear Ryan,

Concerning Proposition 8, I wish the Church hadn’t come out against it. Whatever our convictions are on this issue, the reality is that we sent a message to the gay community that let them feel that we Christians are their enemies and that we are out to hurt them. ย It’s not the message that we wanted to send and I am heartbroken that it has been received that way. There is no doubt that they feel that we are against them. ย The marches in LA and in San Francisco over the past week say it all. They are demonstrating not only for their rights, but against the Church; and the fact that the Church came out so strongly against them did not help the cause of Christ. I personally am conservative on the issue, but I don’t see how my beliefs and convictions and lifestyle are in any way endangered by giving gay and lesbian people the rights that heterosexual couples enjoy. I just don’t see it. Maybe I need some spiritual guidance more than you do.

Sincerely,
Tony Campolo

I feel like Miss California did what she needed to do. She answered a question. The response from some people has been sort of like a fist-pumping in the air with a “YOU TELL EM GIRL!” attitude. Like we won a battle. If it’s a battle then… are gay people the enemy?

I’m proud of the way my church handled themselves this past year. I might not have done things the exact same way, but I always knew that our leadership’s motives were pure and loving.

I can’t say the same for MOST of the other churches out there.

I wish they would just be quiet… because they’re making enemies out of people who are being pursued by God. People who Jesus died and rose again for.

They’re proving their points but burning down bridges.

What do you think about what Tony said?

How is YOUR church navigating these waters?

How would you have answered Perez Hilton?

How can we show the love of Jesus to the gay community?

look through the turn

“You have to look THROUGH the turn, not at the ground in front of you.”

look-through

That was the first bit of instruction I heard at my motorcycle training class back in 1999. I bought a motorcycle, but I had no idea how to ride it.

People who look at their front tire while on a turn will soon be removing bits of pavement from their body. The rule is simple: you will go where you look. So, when you’re turning, you have to look through the turn to the end of the turn.

Fix your eyes on Jesus…” Why? Because you will go where you are looking.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

You will go where you are looking.

If you spend all your time looking at all of the things in your life that are screwed up, you’ll be stuck. If you’re just focusing on the sin you’re trying to avoid, you’ll probably never have victory.

Look through the turn- or you’ll just keep crashing.

People don’t need help discovering their darkness. They will need help seeing their potential.

Who changed you– the person who pointed out your wickedness, or the person who encouraged you to look through the turn?

my anniversary present

I’ve been hounding Lindsay for a couple of years now, and she finally buckled. On Monday she brought this home for me ๐Ÿ™‚ She was going to buy me one for my birthday but I told her not to. We just didn’t have the money. We were going to go out of town for a few days to celebrate year #2, but we ended up staying in town, which saved us at least a few hundred bucks.

So she, being an amazing wife, spent that extra money on this. My justification for spending this much money was that DOZENS of my students own an Xbox, and now we can play each other live online. Or they can come over and play. And nothing shows a student that you love them more than blowing them up with a grenade in a video game.

anniversary-present

one day left to live

What would you do if you only had one more day to live?

Would you zip up the wing suit and go for a fly? Would you spend it with your love? Would you jump in the freezer and hope for a miracle?

The question is a little bit morbid, but I think that your answer will say a lot about your priorities and values.

I guess I never thought about it… but this hit me today as I was preparing for my sermon: on his last day on the planet, Jesus washed people’s feet.