Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two Books

I am currently reading two books that have me thinking about all sorts of things. The first is Rob Bell's Love Wins. I have been a fan of Rob Bell's since high school when I first watched several Nooma videos at a bible study. Just last summer I showed the Nooma videos to my high schoolers during Summer Nights. When I heard a few months ago about Rob Bell's new book I was really interested to read it. Everything I heard made it sound like he was now a universalist. "In Christianity, Universalism can refer to the beliefs that all humans either may or will be saved through Jesus Christ and eventually come to harmony in God's kingdom" (Wikipedia page on Universalism). I wasn't familiar with this theology and so I was curious to see how Bell dealt with scripture. I am only 100 pages in - so I still have a ways to go. In the beginning, I liked the way he continued to pose question after question. Questions that Christians have wondered for centuries. At what age is a person held accountable for their response to the gospel? Who really knows the heart of anyone but God? If you really have to pray a specific prayer to accept Christ into your life then what about the criminal next to Jesus on the cross who simply asked Jesus to remember him? I liked how Bell posed that each individual's journey to coming to faith was different. Ok. Fair Enough. But then he started getting into things that were a little off base biblically. He talked about how the words "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" weren't in the bible. Ok so maybe those exact words aren't in there...but what else could Jesus mean when he said "Follow Me" than to be in relationship with him. It's hard to be with some one, spend time with someone, follow someone, and not call that a relationship. I think Jesus absolutely invites us into a relationship with him. He also doesn't like to talk about a future reality. He wants to only deal with the here and now. "To say it again, eternal life is lessa bout a kind of time that starts when we die, and more about a quality and vitality of life lived now in connection to God" Bell, pg 59. There are some theologians who place to much emphasis on life after death. There are others who place more on the here and now. But I believe it's both. I believe eternal life with Jesus starts immediately when you accept Christ here on earth and continues after you die. "For it is my Father's will that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" John 6:40. It's here now and it's later and then. It's forever. Bell in the beginning of his book also goes back and forth about why is it only those who accept Christ that go to Heaven? If he's asking that question then he must also wonder why Jesus even came. Jesus came to bring the dead to life. Jesus came to make a way for us - after all he tells us he's "the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through him" John 14:6. Why would God send his only son to come and die for us? To reconcile his people. To put all the brokenness and messyness and sin of the world on his shoulders. He came and lived the life we should have and died the death we should have. What about all of that Rob Bell? Are you undercutting the work of the cross? Now to be fair I'm only on page 100 - I've got more reading. But this is where he has me right now. If in the end it doesn't matter who you were, what you did, what you believed...love will win and you'll be Ok...then why did Jesus have to die?

Here's the other book I'm reading, Robert Coleman's The Master Plan of Evangelism. I've only read the first two chapters of this book, but again and again I find myself thinking about Jesus's plan of ministry. The book talks about how Jesus loved the crowds, cared for them, healed them, loved them, wept with them...but ultimately Jesus spent his time with his twelve disciples. Recently I wrote down a list of kids that I feel "responsible" to love and minster to in middle school and high school in South Tampa. The list is incredibly long and filled with teenagers who desperately need the love of Christ and desire to grow closer to him. Jesus - who was fully God - chose twelve. It is a comfort and helps me direct my time. I'm still figuring this thing out. The thing that blows my mind the most though is the ones that Jesus poured into for three years...not that a pastor poured into, that Jesus himself poured into - of those twelve - one betrayed him, one denied him, and all abandoned him. If this doesn't show the power of free will then I don't know what else does. In John 6:66 it says, "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." I know the feeling I get when a kid stops coming to youth group or a bible study. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for Jesus to have some of his disciples walk away from HIM. That is crazy. The had love and truth directly in front of them - life to the full - and they turned away. I am continuing to navigate the time that I spend with teenagers and how best to pour out myself to them. July 1 marks the second anniversary of being the youth director at First Pres. God has done incredible, amazing things. He has shown me the power of his Spirit in ways I have never seen it before. I am anxious to see what year three holds - trusting in his power and grace. Leaning upon him for where to go, what to say, and what to do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


God's painting on a canvas bigger than anything we could see or imagine. --Louie Giglio

We've been watching The Heart of Passion series with the high schoolers of HUB during Summer Nights. Last night we watched, "Hope: When Life Hurts Most." Louie described life as a whole as a beautiful canvas that God is painting. We can't see the whole picture - but God is working everything for eternal good. Despite our circumstances, when you look at the cross you can be assured that God loves you...even when your circumstances may be telling you otherwise. It was beautiful to watch teenagers who have dealt with hurt and pain come to a point where they could see the beauty of the cross and understand that their lives are being painted on God's canvas. What's at the center of the canvas? The part of the picture that shines most brightly and the eye can't help but be drawn to over and over again? The cross.
I found this picture on the internet...I just googled canvas. I love how the prominent feature is a tree. Just like the cross.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Southwind 2011

Sixteen girls plus one high school leader plus me equals 18 girls who made up my cabin! It was a phenomenal week and such a testimony to God's grace and relentless love. I'm grateful for the chacne to continue to grow with these girls back in Tampa!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Neath the Pines of Palma Ceia

On Friday, June 3rd, Matt and I went to Plant High School's graduation. I hadn't been to one since my own in 2005. It was such a fun way to celebrate and support our 2011 seniors. We are certainly going to miss them next year.
Matt and I realized we didn't take a picture of the two of us. Since we were in traffic for forever trying to get out of the fairgrounds, we decided to snap a pic!

Forget the Spring, It's Time for Summer

I guess you can say I took a wee hiatus from blogging. So rather than trying to back track and go over everything that happened from February to May, I think I'll just start fresh in June. A little time spent at the beach was a nice way to kick off the summer for Memorial Day Weekend!
Matt finished up that Friday and we were able to spend three days with everyone!
To keep the beach days going...I took my 10th grade small group to Frenchy's for dinner as a surprise. Five of us were able to go. I can't believe these girls are halfway through high school!