Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Inspiration from "The Hobbit"

"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all."
~Helen Keller

I watched "The Hobbit" last night with two of my good friends.  While the film was amazing, especially in 3D, I left with much more than a smile.  I found myself to be inspired.

The movie begins with a view of the everyday life of "Mr. Baggins," a hobbit.  Right off the bat he has an unexpected visitor come an offer him the adventure of a lifetime.  Scared and confused, Mr. Baggins immediately declines the offer and runs inside his house to where he thought he would be safe.  However, later that night he finds the foreshadow of an adventure on his doorstep and inside his house before he can say no.  

Thirteen (maybe twelve, I don't remember exactly) dwarves rummage through Baggin's pantry, dishes and cabinets while tracking mud on the floor and having burping contests.  Baggins naturally freaks out because he is not in control and feels threatened by this unexpected company.  Next Gandoff (the leader of the pack) offers Baggins a great adventure and a seemingly unbelievable role to play in the journey.  Baggins refuses, thinks about it, and refuses again.  He says he does not want to leave "home", the comfort of his books, his maps, and his fireplace is where he belongs, and he would rather play it safe than go on an adventure that does not even promise him a safe return, much less his life. 

Fortunately, the next scene shows Baggins changing his mind, grabbing his bags and running full throttle into a   life-changing adventure.

I found this first part of the movie to be the most inspiring and relatable.  You see, there comes a time in each of our lives when God, much like Gandoff, offers us the adventure of a lifetime; one that will change our lives forever.  He never forces us, but gently explains the offer (leaving out all the details of course,) then leaves the decision up to us.  Although He has hand picked us for the journey and prepared us beyond our knowledge to thrive through it, we as humans doubt and fear the unknown, thus making for a terribly hard decision.

The safe, logical choice is to stay where you are comfortable.  Stick with what you know, safe and secure.  Yet the downfall to this is that you never grow, never change, never see the next level of the glory of God.  The fact is, we're being selfish.  We are choosing our preferred lifestyle over God's.  Who knows what kind of people you could help through your adventure if you open up to the uncertain.  (Check out Dorothy.) The second choice however, gives us a big huge box wrapped tightly with a bow.  We know it's huge and we know it's exciting, but we have no idea what to expect.  All we have is hope and faith that God will carry us through the journey and teach us to be stronger men, wiser women, and more gentle people of love.  

I've seen one friend after another come to this point.  I wrote a short book on my journey through this decision process.  But my question is--have you came to this point?  What did you do?  

Perhaps God is tugging on your heart right now, asking you to leave the familiar and jump into his arms for a journey you'll never forget.  Will you trust him?
We were all designed for a specific role to play in a huge adventure, but if we doubt ourselves we are doubting the God that created us.  Listen to your Lord and jump into the unknown with him.  He wants to give you that exciting life if you'll let him.

P.S. For more inspiration and to find out how Mr. Baggins held up, watch the rest of the movie--in theatres now.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, 
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

"The wicked man flees though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a  lion."
Proverbs 28:1

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith;
be courageous; be strong."
1 Corinthians 16:13

What is God gently tugging you to do??

Monday, January 7, 2013

Semester Reflections: Dorothy

At the end of every semester I like to reflect and pick at least three big themes God has helped me mature in during the previous season.  Many times this takes the form of an essay, journal entry, or blog post.  Today I journaled and now I am blog posting, hopefully you can relate and respond to my lessons as well.

Without going into much detail, the three big themes I picked out for Fall 2012 are DorothyGrace, and Money.  I plan to go into more detail on each theme in separate posts.  First, I shall conquer Dorothy.

Hopefully you all know the lovable character Dorothy from the movie "The Wizard of Oz."  Dorothy is a young girl searching for who knows what when she finds herself in the middle of a tornado that whisks her away to a magical city of munchkins, witches and a large yellow brick road.  After landing in this city, Dorothy's mission is finding her way back home.  Along her journey to find the Wizard of Oz, whom has all the answers, she picks up three friends who are also in search of something.  Throughout their journey together they encourage each other, laugh together and cry together.  The group of four find themselves fighting evil monkeys, begging gatekeepers to let them pass, and all sorts of other exciting things.

The reason I have titled this post "Dorothy" is because I heard a sermon once about doing discipleship "Dorothy style."  It really helped put discipleship in perspective for me, and when my roommates and I watched "The Wizard of Oz" about a month ago, it hit home to me what Dorthy-style discipleship was all about.  In fact, I realized that had been a huge theme of my semester here.

Dorothy did two things that capture the essence of discipleship.  First she entered in.  Dorothy was on a journey when she met Scarecrow.  She had one task to fulfill and she knew how to get there.  Very easily could she have dismissed Scarecrow and went on minding her own business, making the journey alone and deceivingly much faster.  I see most of us today doing just that.  We are very task-oriented individuals, and we are also very aware of the ever ticking time-bomb.  Therefore our society tends to think the "me first and me only" mentality is the fastest and easiest way to go about a job.  When in fact, this is a lie from Satan.  "Me first and me only"  leaves you lonely, confused, and destroyed by Satan.  Dorothy understood this, and so she chose to enter in.

Follow this link to see a clip from the movie:
(I apologize there was no embedded option on this video.)

Dorothy could have easily kept going, ignored the scarecrow, and  focused on her desires, but instead she chose to enter in to a relationship with Scarecrow.  As you saw in the video, first she asked him a few questions about himself, then she introduced herself, and soon she was helping him down off of the pole and inviting him to journey with her to the Emerald City.  THAT is what discipleship is about.  Entering in.

The same process is repeated when she meets Lion and The Tinman.  Dorothy is quick to invite others along for the journey, despite the fact that she herself has not much clue of what to expect or what to do.  That's where her second inspiring action takes place, she journeys with.  Discipleship isn't about knowing everything then pouring out to others when you think you know enough, it's more about journeying with others and finding out TOGETHER what it takes to achieve the dreams and goals God has put before each of you.  You don't have to know everything and you definitely don't have to need only to lay everything before God and take each day one step at a time--you and your teammates.

The biggest blessing of this fall has been living with two of my sheep.  I've seen and lived discipleship on a deeper level than I've ever seen.  It's been extremely hard, it's been very humbling. and its been very encouraging.  The growth and beauty I've seen come from these two girls has been more of a lesson for me than anything else I've experienced.  I've seen first hand how one person can't go in the journey alone, and the value that close Christian community brings to a family.  This was how the church was designed to live.  This is how the Acts Christians did life.  Discipleship was life.  Life was discipleship.  Today we separate the two, when in fact it was meant to be one sanctity.

At times during the semester I tried to hard to focus on my outward ministry, and it was during those times that our household was rocky and tense.  It took a great roommate and friend talking frankly with me to pull me back in.  The truth is, God blessed us all with the community of each other, and first and foremost that is our focus..."to build one another up in love."  It may have took several months for me to understand the opportunity at hand, but living and breathing discipleship daily gives believers the perfect opportunity to serve God by "not giving up meeting together...encouraging one another daily..etc." (Hebrews 10:23-25)

What a huge blessing this Dorothy Discipleship semester has been.  God has really humbled me and taught me throughout it all, but I am forever grateful for the opportunity and praise my God for his goodness.

If you have a chance over this break, I'd like to encourage you to watch "The Wizard of Oz."  Study Dorothy and how kind and gentle she is while she invites others to join her on her journey.  However, she realizes the journey isn't about her at all.  It's about helping others find what they are looking for too.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's Not Just a Game-pt. 2

(...Continuing from Part 1)

GUYS:  1. You are equally as stupid, 2. It's not your fault you're stupid, 3. you're worth more.
     Point one:  You are equally as stupid in the fact that I can tell any girl three simple rules to follow in the right setting and in a matter of minutes you two would be eating out of her hand.  How do I know this stupid stuff?  Because it's all a silly stupid game.  Flirting and dating is all meaningless.  How wildly easy it is to catch a target of the opposite sex.  I have had numerous conversations with guys who are well known with the ladies, and they all seem so surprised that I know the tricks to their trade.  What is more, they are appalled that I can name the tricks that women play so easily on them!  The heart of a man needs to know that he has what it takes, that he is the stronger sex (in many different aspects), and that he will not be rejected by the woman he wants.  Therefore, a woman needs only to touch on these three things and you melt to pieces.  Understand your heart by reading these past posts:  A One Woman ManMaking the Standand Rise Up Warrior!
    Point two and three:  It's not your fault for a few reasons.  First I will throw your default card that we all know very well (at least we should all know this), you are wired differently.  Men were created very visual, very sexual, and very physical...ladies, not as much.  Second, there is something wrong deep down in your heart that God needs to affirm.  The three things in your heart I mentioned earlier need God's affirmation or you will seek answers from any woman who pays attention to you.  Like the girls, you too need to take a journey into your masculinity with the Lord and seek out his perspective on things.  I suggest reading Wild at Heart, by John Elderedge.

TO ALL: If you are on the player side of the dating game, stop and ask yourself if you are treating your brothers and sisters in a Christ-like manner.  Are you pointing them to the gospel?  Is God's grace and forgiveness a theme in your life?  Can they quickly see the light of the Holy Spirit in your actions and words? Or are you fending for Satan by helping others fall into lies about their identity, their heart, and their eternity?

The victim side needs to ask, am I trusting God to lead my dating life or am I falling for anything?  Am I prayerfully seeking God's will or am I shallowly jumping into the hands of strangers?  Would God be pleased with how you've handled his most precious gift... your heart?  Does the way you handle your heart honor the Lord and point others to do the same, or is it causing everyone more pain and destruction than necessary?

I love you all dearly and pray that the Lord uses this to open your eyes.  YOU are worth more.  I see it.  God has a plan for you and he sees your value.  Pray that he would open your eyes to see your own value and to cherish it the way he wants you to cherish it.  You must love yourself fully in order to love others at all.
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