3.27.2009

Spiritual Life - Book Critique


A Book Critique Of Spiritual Life The Foundation For Preaching And Teaching By John Westerhoff

Introduction

The book Spiritual Life The Foundation For Preaching And Teaching by John Westerhoff will be summarized and analyzed in this paper for the purposes of understanding it’s implications in the everyday life of the Christ-follower.

Spiritual Life - Critique

In the movie Dan In Real Life, starring Steve Carrel, one sees the story of a widower father of three girls trying to keep “everyday life in perspective”. Dan is columnist in a reputable paper entitled in which he weekly publishes his column, “Dan In Real Life” where readers can send Dan questions dealing with anything in “Real Life”. The topics of the column seem to mainly deal with parenting and the family. Through a series of events in the movie we see that Dan is really just trying to hold it all together and in a very telling moment he confesses. “So I haven’t been reading my own column”. This is unfortunately where many preachers and teachers of God’s word find themselves, figuratively, in their relationships with Christ and their congregations. They haven’t been able to live out a life that echoes their teaching.

In his book Spiritual Life The Foundation For Preaching And Teaching, John Westerhoff’s heart is to bring pastors and church leaders some encouragement. He’s attempting if you will to write a column on “Pastor’s In Real Life”. He gives carefully guided and thought out steps in order to help aid the preacher or teacher in the areas of his or her own spiritual life.

Westerhoff defines the spiritual life as “…ordinary everyday life lived in an ever-deepening and loving relationship to God and therefore to one’s true and healthy self, all people and the whole of creation.”[1] His major emphasis is how to make ones spiritual life it’s absolute best from Sunday through Saturday, 24/7.

Westerhoff begins with one’s relationship with God stating, “This love affair with God is the one and only end of human life. All else is means. It was for this relationship that we were created and have our being.”[2] He spends a great deal of time explaining how “The health of our spiritual life is also directly related to our image of God.”[3] It’s in this mindset that everything else is based.

However it seems as though it is in how Westerhoff asks the reader to view God in which one might find themselves both intrigued and cautious. Westerhoff tends to lean towards the spiritual journey and imagination being key elements to the correct and fruitful spiritual life. He encourages a “shift in perfection from the God who is total mystery, the one who is majestic and unknowable, to the God who is loving parent and friend.”[4] Knowing God as friend is indeed biblical. That’s what the cross was all about. Jesus atoning sacrifice on the cross paid for the sins of mankind and made away to make an infinite, “majestic and unknowable” God intimate, personal and knowable. God made Himself human so He could have a relationship with us. One might be cautioned however to not forget that God is still indeed God. Just because He became knowable doesn’t dilute the fact or take away from His deity. He is still God and still on the throne of heaven.

With that being said, it is still important for the preacher or teacher to understand and know God not only on a intellectual theology level but, on a personal and intimate level as well. Westerhoff would say “We need to turn from abstract theological concepts about God to narrative, poetry, and song. We nee a new awareness of the visual, the artistic, imaginative, associative, and relational activities of the mind.”[5] While these things are good and necessary to explore in ones journey to be shaped and molded more into the image of Christ one must be careful to find a balance. Too much of one side or the other and it’s easy to stray into the realms of legalism or liberalism depending on which end of the spectrum one finds themselves in.

While it’s true that imaginations and or images of God are foundational for the spiritual life when those imaginations and images stray from guidelines of scripture one must be very cautious. One must be careful that their image of God is determined by God and not by flawed human imagination.

Another highlight of Spiritual Life is the section on embracing suffering. Westerhoff tells the sort of a rabbi and his student in which the student tells the rabbi he loves him. The rabbi questions the student with “Do you know what hurts me?” The student a bit taken back replies that he doesn’t know what hurts the rabbi but, that he merely wanted to express the fact that he loves him. The rabbi responds with “…don’t you understand? You cannot love me if you do not know what hurts me.”[6] Westerhoff wraps up this section with the statement of “It is those who have been able to identify with the weaknesses, the sin, the misery, and the needs of others, because they know their own, who are able to explain to others the nature of God’s providence.”[7]

Recently there has been a large resurgence of Christ-followers interested in the “Love your neighbor as yourself” part of Matthew 22:35-40 “Love God. Love People.” passage. This resurgence has caused a great deal of amazing things to happen in many lives. Christ-followers have started to take responsibility for past actions and are trying to live out their faith before they speak it. While this is a beautiful and tangible expression of the love God has shown for His followers one must be careful again with balance. Serve with love? Yes. Serve and never share the love of Christ? Let this never be. If one has a cure for this disease of sin, how then are they loving if they choose not to speak?

Conclusion

While Spiritual Life The Foundation For Preaching And Teaching by John Westerhoff has it’s high points one might do best to not take the entire volume for truth and exhortation of the believers. Some of what Westerhoff states could end up leading a young Christ-follower down a path of cultic ideas and thoughts. One should use caution when reading and hold the text to a tight scrutiny when held up to the truths of Scripture.

Bibliography

Westerhoff, John, Spiritual Life The Foundation Of Preaching And Teaching. Louisville:Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.


[1] Westerhoff, John, Spiritual Life The Foundation For Preaching And Teaching (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994,) 1.

[2] Ibid.,

[3] Ibid., 3.

[4] Ibid., 21.

[5] Westerhoff, John, Spiritual Life The Foundation For Preaching And Teaching (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994,) 21.

[6] Ibid., 30-31.

[7] Ibid., 32.

3.24.2009

My Top 15 Influential Albums Post (Finally)

Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you.... they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. They might not be what you listen to now, but these are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world.

I take this list very seriously. Each of these albums has truly meant something to me for one reason or another and different moments in my life. They are not listed in a particular order. Let me know if any of these albums impacted you in one way or another. What are your 15?

1. dcTalk - dcTalk
"Hu Hu Heaven Ha Ha Ha Ha Heaven Ha Ha Heaven bound, Right!" Wow. This is the very first cassette tape (yes CASSETTE TAPE) I purchased with my own money. For that matter it was the first album I was allowed by my parents to purchase. They were a little on the conservative side at first concerning my music. Then I began to listen to some more CCM styled artists. dcTalk was one of those first bands that grabbed my heart for music. My favorite tracks on this album are Heavenbound and Hallelujah.

2. Our Lady Peace - Clumsy
I'm pretty sure I've purchased this CD about 4 or 5 times. I keep wearing out the disc. This was before iTunes... Our Lady Peace brings some great memories of High School years to my mind. This album really opened me up to a strong lyric influences alternative rock. When I think back to my favorite 90's artists OLP is almost the first artist to come to mind every single time. While I love everything on the album stand out tracks for me are Superman's Dead, Automatic Flowers, 4AM, and Clumsy.

3. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
Sufjan opened me up to the entire genre of modern folk music. I fell in love with it and haven't been the same since. John Wayne Gracy Jr is a standout track for me on this one. Later I realized it was about the serial killer... weird.

4. Jars Of Clay - Jars Of Clay
To this day this is one of my favorite albums. Every track is well crafted and memorable. I can put this album on now and listen to it all day without ever getting bored of it. Musically it has inspired much for where I am currently as a singer/songwriter. This album included the mainstream hit Flood and the CCM hit Love Song For A Savior. While Jars of Clay has received it's share of flack for "crossing over to the mainstream" I've stuck with them. In my opinion this is still their best album. The new album comes out very soon we'll see how it compares.

5. Passion: Better Is One Day
I remember laying facedown in my bedroom one morning during my quiet time before school weeping listening to this album. When I think of the period in time I learned the most about music as worship it was when this album was released. I listened to it over and over and over again. We listened to it on the bus heading out on youth trips. I learned almost every song on the album on guitar and led with them in worship during our youth group worship sessions. This album can be described for me with the word "shaping". It really did shape the way I viewed God and worship and my role in that. I love it to this day, though now looking back I wish it was a bit better produced.

6. MXPX - Life In General
This band was another that introduced me to the genre of pop punk rock and for that matter the Tooth & Nail label. Had it not been for MXPX I would have never picked up a Songs From The Penalty Box Vol. 2 album with the band Zao listed on it... but that's another album.... The Life In General album is a nonstop ear full of fun pop punk music. Mike Herra's very identifiable voice slurs lyrics over the machine gun fire snare of Yuri and Tom's amazing guitar licks. This album had the most play on the way to high school in the mornings with my Dad driving the the truck, my dad taught JROTC at my high school so I rode with him in the mornings and evenings. He used to talk about how he would have liked the album had the snare just been a bit softer. He said the same thing about Blink 182 and actually liked their harmonies better but, wished they would sing about something decent.... for me MXPX took the top spot for pop punk artist of my youth and this album took the cake with Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo in close second. My favorite tracks were Doing Time, Southbound, Chick Magnet, and Andrea.

7. Zao - Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest
I might as well mention this album now after it's sneaking into the last album. I first heard Zao from a Songs From The Penalty Box Vol. 2 Tooth and Nail / SolidState artist sampler where the track A Fall Farewell begins with the line. "I woke up one morning and he was dead." What followed was a brutal metal mayhem like I have yet to experience again. The song came from the album that is listed above. To which I was pleased continued the metal mayhem going much longer than one track. It was this album that caused my mom to coin the terminology of "the screaming meemies" and made my dad think that I was listening to "demonic music". It was this band that opened me up to "christian hardcore" and influenced much of my work with "More Than Living". Zao is a very complex band. Their entire history is chronicled in the DVD volume "The Lesser Lights Of Heaven". It's about 5 hours long. I'm telling you it's really extensive. They have a new album coming out in June.

8. Skillet - Invincible
Most of these albums I've noticed are albums that, for me, defined a genre. The idea of mixing electronic loops and metal guitars stood out pretty heavily in this album. This was a major switch for the grunge rockers Skillet as lead singer John Cooper traded his long brown locks for a bleached blonde do with characteristics that reminded me a little bit of A Flock Of Seagulls. The band had toyed with looping on their previous effort "Hey You, I Love Your Soul" though "Invincible" was a far cry from the bands self titled album. I got the chance to see these guys live a couple of times around this era of their music. They were always great and stand out tracks live and on the album alike for me were: Invincible, You're Powerful, Best Kept Secret, and the hidden track Angels Fall Down, which made an appearance on the bands worship album which followed this release later the same year.

9. Sigur Rós - ( )
I've seen and heard and even been apart of some strange bands. Sigur Rós takes the cake for me for some strange but beautiful music. Sigur Rós, at the recommendation of a dear friend, album ( ) was an album that had me laying on my bed in my dorm room with the lights off staring at my ceiling just listening and being lost in the sound for hours. I had never heard anything like it. I literally started listening to it just to try it out and before I knew what happened the album was over and I had been completely caught up in it. Though the lyrics are sung in a language that is completely made up I almost imagine the vocals as an instrument all on their own as this album sweeps over you. Great music. Strange... but great.

10. Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
While I will be the first to admit that morality is not something found on this record.... for a portion of my life this album was all I listened to. Along with Our Lady Peace I have purchased it probably about 5 times. I would wear the CD out then head to the local pawn shop or record exchange and look for a used copy for a couple of bucks. My favorite thing about this album however is the lyrical crafting of Stephan Jenkins. I am consistently blown away by his writing. It's clever and witty and minus the vulgarity brilliant. While this wouldn't be my first choice for a listen today it has to make my top 15. My favorite tracks on this album tend to stay away from the radio friendly 3EB many are familiar with. While I love this entire album standout tracks include: Motorcylce Drive By, God of Wine, London, Thanks A Lot, and Narcolepsy.

11. dc Talk - Jesus Freak
Now, it feels to me a bit against principle to have a band make this list twice... I'm a little OCD like that. This album can't go not being on this list. For one I would say that it marks a pivotal point for mainstream Christian rock across the board. dc Talk was a well known household name and came out with this album and it literally rocked the pants of families everywhere. From this point out it was more than just dc Talk it was Toby, Michael, and Kevin. This was THE defining album and in my opinion their best. Standout tracks include: Colored People, Jesus Freak, What Have We Become, In The Light, Mrs. Morgan, and Like It, Love It, Need It.

12. Incubus - Morning
While morning is the follow up to the album that put them on the map, Make Yourself: which included tracks like Stellar, and Pardon Me. Morning was the album that proved this band could maintain a fan base for as long as they wanted to make music. From start to finish Morning is a non stop sonic journey into the heart of life's greatest moments. Standouts include: Wish You Were Here, Aqueous Transmission, Under My Umbrella, Warning, Circles, Blood On The Ground, and Mexico.

13. Dashboard Confessional: The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most
Chris Carabba may now be known for being annoying and whiny but, I guarantee that at one point everyone who gives him crap has put this album in and cried to it. Yeah I know this already sounds emo and for many modern emo could be defined by this album. Emo = short for emotional music, came from the punk seen with bands like the Refused and morphed into something much much different. This album is one to roll the windows down in the car and blare the stereo singing off key with no regrets. This album marked my leaving high school summer and shaped much of my early song writing in my college years. My favorite tracks include: The Brilliant Dance, This Bitter Pill, and Screaming Infidelities

14. Norma Jean: Bless The Martyr Kiss The Child
I have to be honest about this... when I first heard this album... I hated it. Norma Jean (formerly known as Luti-Kriss) was and is still one of my favorite metal bands. They changed they're name and released this album which shaped much of modern CHXC to this day. I remember hearing it and hating it... I didn't feel structure. I didn't feel anything. The more I listened.... the more I found structure and beauty in the drop tuned guitar growl and the Scott Cogin's signature voice screaming lines like "Christ is not a fashion fleeting away." This album is a must have for any metal fan's collection. Standouts for me include: The Shotgun Message, Face:Face, I Used To Hate Cellphones But Now I Hate Car Accidents, and The Entire World Is Counting On Me And They Don't Even Know It.

15. Silverchair - Freakshow
I used to sit in my room and try to make my voice sound like Daniel Johns he's still one of my favorite vocalists. This album wins over Neon Ballroom for the simple fact that it's had more plays on my iPod than Neon Ballroom. This album combines solid rock guitars with soothing and yet at times angsty vocals. It's catchy and heavy and beautiful all at the same time. I still love it. A favorite b-side that didn't make it on this album made it to the Godzilla: Soundtrack later in it's life called Untitled but standouts on this album are Slave, Freak, Abuse Me, Lie To Me, Learn To Hate, Cemetery, and The Closing.

I'm sure there are many of you that are reading this thinking... what about this album or that album. Let me stop you. I would say there are many other albums that have shaped me musically and as a person. However this is my top 15. Yours is different. It's ok. : ) Blessings and love.

My Fight With The Wii Fit & My Coffee Table

This is my ear. It's gross and pussy and bloody because I got in a fight.









Yes. I got in a fight with my coffee table. That's right my coffee table. Why did I get in a fight of the coffee table?










Well I guess you could say that Wii Fit instigated it. Yeah. Wii Fit started the fight. Yeah Wii Fit was the instigator.








Here's how it all went down. This morning I woke up earlier to spend some time on the Wii Fit because, lets face it I need to spend more time on the Wii Fit. So I got up. Set up and started going through some aerobic and balance exercises then finished up with the Yoga poses. I went through all of the poses and on the screen and on the last few you don't use the balance board. You lay flat on your back and go from there. Well I sat down and got ready to lay down. As I was laying down I didn't by chance look behind me to see the corner of my stone coffee table looming in the shadows. I slammed my right ear and head pretty hard into the corner and a hot burning sensation filled my head. My cats thought this was hilarious and quickly ran over to me and (I'm pretty sure they thought I was fresh game to be scavenged the lionesses in them came out ) began to lick and purr. I shooed them off and continued with my Wii Fit. I was trying to be quiet as my wife, Kristin, was still asleep. I started to get a little light-headed so I quit and put my hand up to rub my ear and drew back a bloody nub. I was bleeding like crazy. I quickly wiped off my ear and woke my wife because I couldn't see where the blood was coming from. Turns out it was this tiny cut up inside my ear. So that was what went down with the Wii Fit Coffee Table Fiasco this morning.

Some people play Resident Evil 5 for their blood and gore. I play Wii Fit. : )

Calling On The Gods

In Norse Mythology there are a number of gods and goddesses for many different things. You had Thor the god of Thunder, Forseti the god of justice, and Loki the "trickster". (pictured on the bottom from left to right) These gods had significant ploy with the people who followed them. There are many places in mythology where a human in great need or in the middle of a quest or a king going to war would call on the power and grace of the gods. In some cases the gods would come down and meet with those calling on them and strike deals for their services. So to win a war may mean sacrificing a child or eternal servitude in chains. While some gods seem to err more on the side of good there are others who err on the side of evil.

I was thinking about the lyrics to a song "I Can't Do This" by the band Plumb. The chorus lines repeat the phrase "I can't do this, I can't do this by my self, I can't do this, I can't do this God I need Your help." This is the same situation we find many humans in the Norse Mythology as well as where we find ourselves so often in our modern everyday lives. We're left feeling lost and confused and frustrated. We feel like we can't make it through like we can't do it. Then we call on God for grace and power. For those of us who know Him as our savior and can call ourselves Christ-followers there is not exchange made for God's services. We serve a God, the one and only God by the way, who longs to know us and do good things for us. He wants the best thing for us. God isn't some tyrant sitting up on a cloud firing lightning bolts at people. He is a greatly personal God who longs to have relationship with us. In fact rather than asking us for something in order to have the relationship He gave all He had. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die via crucifixion for the sins of mankind.

For some great blogs to answer the question "Is Jesus God" checkout the following posts.








3.23.2009

Belief & Doubt

James 1:5-6 (NCV)
"... if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous to everyone and will give you wisdom without criticizing you. But when you ask God, you must believe and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown up and down by the wind."

I started reading the book of James today. It's been a little while since I've read it and I decided to begin going back through it. Since I just finished up Hebrews it also goes in sequence so that's convenient. I normally kind of skip around in my Bible as far as books go. I rarely read everything in the canonical order. This morning as I was reading I obviously came across the above verses. It got me thinking about when Solomon asked for more wisdom than anyone on the planet and God gave it to him. The kicker for me in these verses is how we are to ask God for wisdom. We have to go into it with belief and trust that He will do what what He says He'll do.

Do I pray that way?
Expecting God to actually do something?
Or do I just h
ope it will all work out in the end?
If I'm honesty with myself, as I hope you will be, sometimes I don't pray like that.
I pray as if it won't help.
I ask God for wisdom as if I don't really want it or think He can give it.

That is a sad state of mind that I need to correct.
God forgive me for when I'm to self centered to let You be God.

3.22.2009

When It Rains

Here are the lyrics. It’s written from the standpoint of someone struggling with how to make their faith real from day to day. It reminded me after I wrote it a little bit of the Psalms in which the psalmist writes “How long Lord till we... How long Lord till You...” The psalmist is wrestling with things of God he doesn’t understand. Thanks where this comes from. Someone trying to make it work but still not sure how all the puzzle pieces fit together or even if he has all the pieces. Let me know. Thanks.
WHEN IT RAINS:

I have faith to move mountains to the deepest of the deep
Ponder life with my warm cup letting my leaves steep
Watching morning come shinin’ through the trees
With all these songs I’m singin’ are there any I believe?

Can you show me now, a faith to live today
Cuz I’ve been trying and Mister sometimes when I’m praying
God feels so far away
I know He’s close but I only see Him when it rains

I’m trying to mirror on the surface who I am underneath
It’s harder than at first glance to let the deep cry out to deep
I know Your promises are true, here in my heart I keep
Storm clouds seem to follow, so I’m on my knees
Can you show me now, a faith to live today
Cuz I’ve been trying and Mister sometimes when I’m praying
God feels so far away
I know He’s close but I only see Him when it rains

How long Lord, till I see Your face?
How long Lord, till we experience Your grace?
God give me the strength to make it through the day
Cuz lately I only see You when it rains.

3.19.2009

Could Jesus Have Been God's Son, But Not God?


I don't have too long to write this as I forgot my charger this morning and my batter is slowly waning away. I had a thought. I'm not saying I agree with it. My wife and I were talking through some things last night at the question came up: "If someone doesn't believe that Jesus is God, but does believe they are God's Son and the only way to heaven... do they still go to heaven?" I've spent some time thinking through this... I even dreamed about it... and to be sure I'm not sure where I rest. I've always said it's what you do with Jesus that shapes everything. And (this is me thinking out loud) if Jesus were not God but, God's Son and still lived a sinless life that would make him able to still be the pure spotless lamb that died on the cross for the payment of sins...

Now don't get me wrong I do believe that Jesus was God's Son and God at the same time. He lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and conquered the grave because he loved you and I and didn't want to leave us in the sinful state we're in without a way out.

It just gets a little tricky. I'm hoping to hash this out with one of my good friends this morning. What are your educated thoughts? I don't want opinion. Give me scripture and basis for your arguments. I have enough of my own opinion trying to get out of the way of scripture. I don't need more of that. I need solid answers. I'm digging deep in the Word this morning for this one.

3.17.2009

We Still Don't Know What Love Means by Jamie Tworkowski

This is such a good post I decided to repost it on my own blog.


I've been listening to Ray Lamontagne for the last couple years. Ray is a brilliant songwriter who delivers stories in something like a deep smooth whisper. He has that golden voice but I think it's his honesty that I connect with even more. His songs seem to be born from questions and pain, and if I myself am honest in saying more, I think I connect with this because I am a person who thinks a lot about pain. I wrestle with the broken stuff in my own life and in the lives of the people around me. I have a lot of questions.

It is for all of the reasons above that some friends and I drove 500 miles from Florida to Atlanta to see Ray Lamontagne play on a Saturday night a couple months back. We parked and made our way excited to the door, and as we took our place in line, I heard it:

"You're going to Hell."

The man's voice was loud and not kind and he added his thoughts on fornication and homosexuality, angry answers to questions that no one was asking. In the first moment I was shocked and I then I was sad and then I was walking towards him.

"Do you think this is working?," I asked.

I figured he would be excited that someone actually wanted to talk to him, and he certainly seemed prepared for an argument. Instead, the yelling guy told me that I would need to talk to a different person, pointing toward the younger man to his left. (The yelling guy needed to keep yelling.) Now, this whole thing surprised me because I had no idea that these people had assistants. I guess the kid was learning the ropes, hoping to be prepared to yell on his own within the next year or two...

I told the kid that they needed to stop, that they were only doing damage, offending everyone. i told him that people respond to love, and that I could hear no love in their shouted judgments. His response made me more frustrated, and after a brief back-and-forth, I rejoined my friends in line and entered the show.

It took a while to calm down and let it go. In theory, the yelling guy and I believe some of the same things. "We're on the same team", you might say. But I believe in a God who maybe doesn't scream at people the first time he meets them. Evangelism aside, screaming at strangers seems a horrible marketing plan to me. I believe in a God who places a great emphasis on love, a God who loves people and asks his followers to do the same.

By the time Ray took the stage, I was able to enjoy the show. The best music is the kind that moves you, reminds you you're alive, takes you on a journey. I smiled through the opening "You Are the Best Thing", imagined during "Empty" and remembered during "I Still Care for You". I had been hoping all night to hear a song called "Jolene" and so I smiled again when it's opening chords arrived as the encore.

The song is a story song about a man lost and looking back on a broken relationship. You can see it from start to finish and the chorus echoes the words "I still don't know what love means". It is a confession, something like a question. Something in me stirs when I hear it - there is freedom in honesty and those are words I can sing myself.

And it hit me during that encore that I wished the shouting man could have heard Ray Lamontagne sing those words. I wish he could have attended this show he chose to protest. I don't know how hearing happens - how certain things move and change us, but I wished it could have happened to the guy outside.

I think I went back to him in my mind because he is also the reputation of The Church. We are known to the world as something like the guy outside. We tell people how to vote and think and live. We shout our judgments. We are quick with our answers and slow to confess our questions, maybe slower even still to meet other people in theirs.

A shouted "You're going to Hell" is an awful introduction to a God who desires to love and know His children. Ray had my attention with "I still don't know what love means." I can relate to that, and I can't help but think that a lot of other people can as well.

And it's interesting that all of this happened on a Saturday night, because Saturday nights set up Sunday mornings. Some people stay out late, hunting for meaning and answers in songs and bars and a thousand other places, because they're certain that our Sunday mornings would only be more like shouting strangers. But what if we were known as a people in true pursuit of love, a people committed to representing it well? What if we were known for constantly showing up to wrestle the needs and questions around us, and what if we took it so far as to be honest about our own.

Jamie Tworkowski is the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. Jamie's TWLOHA blog is one of the most-read blogs on MySpace and he speaks frequently, bringing a message of hope, help, community and honesty to universities, concerts and churches throughout the U.S. and as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom. Jamie will be speaking at Catalyst West Coast in California next month, and again at Catalyst in Atlanta this Fall.

Giving Plasma & The Acupuncture Bias



Recently I went with my friend Jordan to give plasma. I'd been toying with the idea for a long time and the night before after attending a rec league championship for one of my students Jordan had sold me on the idea. So I got ready. I psyched myself up for the process because, I'm not a fan of needles but, after doing some online research I felt like it was an important donation and that I could really help people by giving my plasma.

Jordan picked me up around 12 noon after I took my cat to the vet for her yearly check up. We went and picked up a few things and then headed to the donation center. I filled out the forms and waited with Jordan to give plasma. They measured my veins rating them both "yellow" and sent me back to sit down.

Finally after about an hour I was called into a little room and had my finger pricked for a protein/iron blood test. During this time the guy pricking my finger, who did a good job I didn't even feel it, asks me "Have you been to a doctor in the last month?" I asked him if the Chiropractor counted. He wasn't sure so he went in the back and asked about it then came back in and said, "The Chiropractor is fine, you don't have acupuncture done do you?" "Yes. I do." "Oh... when was the last time you had it done?" "Monday." "Oh..." After this "Oh" he threw my blood sample in the biohazard container. "I'm sorry man you can't give plasma."

I was a little ticked. I had just sat through and hour of forms and such only to find out I couldn't give plasma? I kept my cool and asked if he could explain to me why exactly I couldn't give because of acupuncture. Acupuncture is reatment of pain or disease by inserting the tips of needles at specific points on the skin.
He called a young lady in from the back who explained that acupuncture is considered by the F.D.A. as an alternative medicine source. Since this form of acupuncture uses needles that aren't necessarily approved by the F.D.A anyone undergoing acupuncture is not allowed to give plasma.

While I'm still not sure I completely understand the whole process I was wondering your thoughts on it. Anyone with a medical background have a better answer for me rather than, it's just not allowed? I'm just interested as to the reasons behind it.
Anyway thanks for journeying with me. : )

A World Full Of Broken Promises

We have all, at one point in time or another, made a promise and broken it or had a promise made to us only to have it broken. The hurt on the breaking end can be minimal or it can be pretty unbearable... it can be shattering. It can turn worlds upside down and inside out only to leave a person a shadow of who they used to be.

It's a hard thing to live in a world full of broken promises. Maybe you've had promises broken by a parent... Maybe there's a father who never shows up when he says he will or a mom who seems to not care about the little things. I grew up in a home with none of those things. I am very fortunate and grateful and can't imagine what it's like to have those type of promises broken.

It's an awesome thing to know that we can hold on to a God who doesn't break his promises.... that's right he can't break them. Check this verse out in Hebrews 6.

Hebrews 6:18 (NCV) "These two things cannot change: God cannot lie when he makes a promise, and he cannot lie when he makes an oath. These things encourage us who came to God for safety. They give us strength to hold on to the hope we have been given."

It's really encouraging to me to know that despite the type of world we live in I can rest in my Father, God, who never fails to keep his promises. He never fails to show up when he says he will. I can rest, as the Hebrew writer describes, safely in the arms of my Lord and Savior. I can't imagine going through life without his protection and his consistent unconditional love.

Blessings to all. I hope you can find the same rest I have in the arms of my dear Savior.


3.16.2009

What Is Spiritual Formation?

Introduction

For everyone on the planet there exists a spiritual life. Every person living and breathing and walking around on this third rock from the sun called earth has a spirit, whether they believe it or not. Just like everyone has a spirit, everyone experiences some sort of spiritual formation. Some take the road of unbelief thinking that their spiritual formation doesn’t exist and some follow religions based on different man made gods and goddesses. In doing so they are in fact forming the depths of their spirit to be open to some of the darkest forces present in this realm. Then there are some who open their spirits up to the light; the purpose of this paper is to answer the question “What Is Spiritual Formation?” from the perspective of those who have opened themselves to Truth and Light, the Christ-follower.

What Is Spiritual Formation?

Spiritual formation is the process by which a Christ-follower is molded and shaped into become more like Christ. This process can manifest itself through the forms of relationships, events, spiritual disciplines, or personal reflections. Spiritual formation is ultimately spawned directly from the hand of God. He brings into the life of the believer various encounters in order to shape them to be more like His son Jesus.

The prophet Isaiah likens this process to the relationship of a potter and his clay. “But LORD, you are our father. We are like clay, and you are the potter, your hands made us all.”[1] God is our Potter he is the ultimate source of spiritual formation.

God can choose to mold us and shape us through the people He brings into our lives. He chose to do this in the life of King David in the form of correction. In 2 Samuel 12 we see how God sends the prophet Nathan to David in order to call him out on his sins with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. David is broken over the encounter. One can see his remorse in Psalm 51 where David writes a prayer of forgiveness.

Author John Westerhoff likens spiritual formation to a pilgrimage that one might find himself on; with various tasks and obstacles to overcome and take part in.[2] One might be reminded of the fictional work Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan in which the main character Pilgrim goes out on a quest that through trial and tribulation draws him closer to God.

Spiritual formation may not always be the easiest process for the believer. God can use an event such as a mission trip or the death of a family member to draw one closer to Him. God’s heart is to shape and form His followers for the better, this may mean getting rid of some things. Very much like a gardener prunes back his plants cutting away the dead and old to allow for new growth so God cuts and prunes the heart of the believer to allow for new growth in the Spirit.

Biblical Instruction

The Bible is clear that spiritual formation is necessary in the life of the believer especially in the form of discipleship. In Jesus ministry he was all about people. He gathered 12 followers around him and from them took 3 to really pour deeply into. In his final instructions to his disciples Jesus commands them to go into all of the world making disciples and baptizing them in his name. It’s obvious from Jesus example and commands that discipleship and mentoring are important to this whole spiritual formation process.

Personal Experience & Insight

In Isaiah 64:8, as mentioned earlier, we are described as clay in the hands of God. He is our potter constantly molding us and shaping us to be more like the image of Jesus. While God is the Potter in my life and has shaped and molded me and continues to do so he has brought many men and women in and out of my life to aid in my spiritual formation.

The first of these people helped to physically bring me into this world. My mother is the largest and most significant influence on my spiritual formation of all others. From before I was born she prayed over me in her womb and after I was born taught me much of what I know even to this day about prayer and tithing. She led me to Christ at the age of six. If I were to pick up the phone and ask her I know she has prayed for me even today. She helped to make Christ come alive in my life.

The second major influence on my spiritual formation is my good friend and whom I consider my pastor, Darien Gabriel. He was my youth pastor from the time I was in 7th Grade all through High School. It was under his leadership and direction that I took leadership roles in worship. He taught me what it means to be a worshipper off stage. There was one night where he actually washed my feet along with some others in our youth group as a sign of servant leadership. I had the privilege to do a youth internship under his leadership during my college years and to this day he is my close friend and mentor. He was never afraid to let me fail in order to learn. He pushed me hard to live in the image of Christ, to walk in the dust of my Rabbi if you will. I am ever grateful for his help forming me spiritually in the areas of leadership.

Though I don't know where he is now or what he's up to, a youth intern named DJ Miles shaped much of what I know about corporate worship leading during my junior and senior year of high school.

The pastor I currently serve with in the PowerSource, Middle School ministry I'm apart of, Jeremy Rader, has taught me more about living a life of integrity by his example than most men I've known. Integrity flows through every part of his life.

My wife has taught me much about how to be less selfish. I grew up practically as an only child since my brother and sister were both out of the house and grown by the time I was around I was handed a bit of a silver spoon. She grew up with a brother and sister in house and is far more generous with her things than I am.

Finally the most recent and one of the largest spiritual influences on my life has been my current mentor Matt Wilkins. He invests so much in my life specifically to shape and mold me to be more like Christ. He challenges me with tough topics and exemplifies the type of man I want to be as interact with my wife and family.

There are many more men and women beyond these listed here that have helped in my spiritual formation processes. These are just a few that have really made specific deposits into me. They are such a blessing and I'm thankful that the Potter chose to bring each of them into my life for those times.

Conclusion

Spiritual formation in the life of the believer is necessary. It’s a continual process of growth that shows evidence of life. Though it may not be the easiest to go through the end result draws the believer closer to the heart of God and that is a good place to be.



[1] The Holy Bible: New Century Version. (Belgium: Thomas Nelson INC., 2005,) 470

[2] Westerhoff, John. Spiritual Life: The Foundation For Preaching And Teaching. (Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 1994), 10-11.

The Hands Who Helped Shape The Clay

In Isaiah 64:8 we are described as clay in the hands of God. He is our potter constantly molding us and shaping us to be more like the image of Jesus. While God is the Potter in my life and has shaped and molded me and continues to do so he has brought many men and women in and out of my life to aid in my spiritual formation.

The first of these people helped to physically bring me into this world. My mother is the largest and most significant influence on my spiritual formation of all others. From before I was born she prayed over me in her womb and after I was born taught me much of what I know even to this day about prayer and tithing. She led me to Christ at the age of six. If I were to pick up the phone and ask her I know she has prayed for me even today. She helped to make Christ come alive in my life.

The second major influence on my spiritual formation is my good friend and who I consider my pastor, Darien Gabriel. He was my youth pastor from the time I was in 7th Grade all through High School. It was under his leadership and direction that I took leadership roles in worship. He taught me what it means to be a worshipper off stage. There was one night where he actually washed my feet along with some others in our youth group as a sign of servant leadership. I had the privilege to do a youth internship under his leadership during my college years and to this day he is my close friend and mentor. He was never afraid to let me fail in order to learn. He pushed me hard to live in the image of Christ, to walk in the dust of my Rabbi if you will. I am ever grateful for his help forming me spiritually in the areas of leadership.

Though I don't know where he is now or what he's up to, a youth intern named DJ Miles shaped much of what I know about corporate worship leading during my junior and senior year of high school.

The pastor I currently serve with in the PowerSource, Middle School ministry I'm apart of, Jeremy Rader, has taught me more about living a life of integrity by his example than most men I've known. Integrity flows through every part of his life.

My wife has taught me much about how to be less selfish. I grew up practically as an only child since my brother and sister were both out of the house and grown by the time I was around I was handed a bit of a silver spoon. She grew up with a brother and sister in house and is far more generous with her things than I am.

Finally the most recent and one of the largest spiritual influences on my life has been my current mentor Matt Wilkins. He invests so much in my life specifically to shape and mold me to be more like Christ. He challenges me with tough topics and exemplifies the type of man I want to be as interact with my wife and family.

There are many more men and women beyond these listed here that have helped in my spiritual formation processes. These are just a few that have really made specific deposits into me. They are such a blessing and I'm thankful that the Potter chose to bring each of them into my life for those times.

Spiritual Authority: Do I Have It?

This morning I was asked a question about Spiritual Authority.

Quite frankly it was do I have it? More pointedly do I feel like or live like I have it.

As a pastor biblically I have Spiritual Authority. It comes from Scripture and through Jesus. To be honest, I don't feel like I have this authority for the majority of the time. It's easy to get lost in the politics of the week sometimes and forget to rest in my Father's arms.

The path to authority is earned. It's earned by the deposits I make in my people that I am to shepherd.
If I claim authority in Jesus name I had better know what he would do in that situation.

Responsibility is the backside of the coin for Spiritual authority...

I feel like a lack of respect for spiritual authority stems from something much deeper.
A lack of respect for God and His holiness...

So how do we teach this?
We must model it in our own lives.
We must teach it by how we live.

Am I doing this?
Do I love like I have the authority of Scripture and of Jesus Christ backing me?
If not... why not? How do I fix it?

3.13.2009

Tetris: A Product Of Communist Russia


I have to admit when Tetris first came on the scene for my family it was on my Nintendo Gameboy. I wasn't a big fan of the game but, my Dad loved it. He would steal off with my Gameboy for hours addicted to these little falling stacking blocks looking for his next high score. I was content with Super Mario Bros. and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Arcade Game for my NES console. Recently I purchased Tetris Party Wii Ware from the Online Wii Shop for my Nintendo Wii. I've become addicted to the game. I feel like my Father... not a bad thing at all. : )

Regardless, yesterday on my TiVo I noticed a little link on my Nav screen that asked "Who Stole Tetris?" It turns out to be a documentary on the origins of Tetris and how it came to be the monster game we know today. Turns out the rise in popularity from this little game had much to do Russian Communism.

Tetris was developed by Alexi Pajitnov. He can't sell the game because it's communist Russia so he began giving it away to his friends. They gave it away to their friends and so on and so on. The game spread so far that all kinds of people began creating their own versions of the game and selling a few copies here and there for a couple of bucks. Then this guy Robert Stein, owner of Andromeda Software, comes along at a trade show sees the game in action and rather than go through all the Iron Curtain Red Tape to purchase the software he simply steals it.

Stein then begins to sell copies in the States and people are buying it because they think he actually purchased the rights to the game. So he makes a big sale to Robert Maxwell's gaming company. Robert Maxwell was a major player in the media scene during this time. Soon everyone is selling their own fake rights for the game. Before the rights were every official purchased Tetris had already become the best selling game in the USA and in the UK. So the Russians figure this out and create a company to manage the rights to Tetris.

So suddenly everyone is trying to purchase the rights for Tetris. Nintendo met up with the Russian officials pull out a game cartridge of the game and the Russians were upset because they hadn't authorized any type of production like this. So Nintendo pulls out a check and writes it for the cost of what they had sold a few of the games for and the rights to Tetris. The Russian government immediately sold Nintendo the rights to Tetris.

The Russians then locked Stein into a contract where he could only receive rights for the game from a computer. Now there was some dispute over what a computer could be so the Russians in the last moment through in a clause to the contract stating that a computer was anything with a monitor and a keyboard. So at this point in the game the only things Stein can make any money off are PC rights; no NES no Gameboy, nothing but a PC. Stinks for him right? But, I guess he got what was coming to him.

The sad part of this is that the original developer Alexi Pajintov never received any payment for the game. This was due to the communist culture of Russia at the time.

Tetris however is truly a classic game. It ranks up there with Solitaire and the like and I have a feeling it will be around for a long long time.

3.10.2009

My Constant Battle With Sleep

There are nights like these when I just can't sleep. I'm not sure why but, I know for sure than sleep and I don't get along as much as we used to. I attribute some of this to back problems I've had since high school. I've been going to the chiropractor recently for that however and through adjustments and acupuncture I think some things are starting to straighten out loosen up and help me out back there.


I laid down for bed around 10:30PM played a quick game of Spore on my iPod Classic, beat the game for the first time, and closed my eyes to sleep...



I guess you figured out how well that worked. I've tried to sleep on the couch, on the floor, all over and nothing. I'm inches from taking some sleepy time medicine but, I'm not game on taking medicines I don't need. I need to sleep, I don't have a stuffy nose, cough, fever, etc...


So here I am blogging. Sometimes blogging makes me sleepy so here I am. Trying it out. Writing to everyone who never reads these posts in the first place about my inability to sleep well assuming anyone will care. Yeah right. Well... Not much else to say. Got a cup of water, gonna try and sleep now... yawning excessively. Goodnight all who care to read.

The Love Of Our Lord

Listening to Punk Goes Pop: Volume Two this morning. Steaming it from imeem.com feeling pretty god about the mix so far. There a re few I could do without but there always are. Reflecting this morning on the love of Jesus and specifically how to love like Him. How to cary His example of love over into my life. In John 15 Jesus says in v.12 "This is my command, love each other as I have loved you."(NCV) It's not an option. It's a command. Jesus then continues with what 'the greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends." v.13 Wow. Jesus did this ... he literally fleshed this out. His flesh and bone has town from his body during his scourging before the cross so much that he was unrecognizable. The man of sorrows found in Isaiah. Jesus thank you for the cross. Thank you for the cost you paid no greater love have you ever showed to me than to be nailed to the tree. There is no one like you God.

3.09.2009

FOX NEWS ARTICLE - Losing The Faith?

A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

"No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state," the study's authors said.

In the Northeast, self-identified Catholics made up 36 percent of adults last year, down from 43 percent in 1990. At the same time, however, Catholics grew to about one-third of the adult population in California and Texas, and one-quarter of Floridians, largely due to Latino immigration, according to the research.

Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

Christians who aren't Catholic also are a declining segment of the country.


In 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001 and about 86 percent in 1990. Researchers said the dwindling ranks of mainline Protestants, including Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, largely explains the shift. Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population.

The report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February through November of last year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. The findings are part of a series of studies on American religion by the program that will later look more closely at reasons behind the trends.

The current survey, being released Monday, found traditional organized religion playing less of a role in many lives. Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious wedding ceremony and 27 percent of respondents said they did not want a religious funeral.

About 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths. And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents — 1.2 percent — said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria.

The study also found signs of a growing influence of churches that either don't belong to a denomination or play down their membership in a religious group.

Respondents who called themselves "non-denominational Christian" grew from 0.1 percent in 1990 to 3.5 percent last year. Congregations that most often use the term are megachurches considered "seeker sensitive." They use rock style music and less structured prayer to attract people who don't usually attend church. Researchers also found a small increase in those who prefer being called evangelical or born-again, rather than claim membership in a denomination.

Evangelical or born-again Americans make up 34 percent of all American adults and 45 percent of all Christians and Catholics, the study found. Researchers found that 18 percent of Catholics consider themselves born-again or evangelical, and nearly 39 percent of mainline Protestants prefer those labels. Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues.

The percentage of Pentecostals remained mostly steady since 1990 at 3.5 percent, a surprising finding considering the dramatic spread of the tradition worldwide. Pentecostals are known for a spirited form of Christianity that includes speaking in tongues and a belief in modern-day miracles.

Mormon numbers also held steady over the period at 1.4 percent of the population, while the number of Jews who described themselves as religiously observant continued to drop, from 1.8 percent in 1990 to 1.2 percent, or 2.7 million people, last year. Researchers plan a broader survey on people who consider themselves culturally Jewish but aren't religious.

The study found that the percentage of Americans who identified themselves as Muslim grew to 0.6 percent of the population, while growth in Eastern religions such as Buddhism slightly slowed.

3.06.2009

I'm A Christian: by Maya Angelou

I 'm a Christian...

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,"
Now I'm found and forgiven.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
and need HIS strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
and need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
but, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain,
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
who received God's good grace, somehow.

3.05.2009

Compassion Is A Dirty Word

























This act of desperation is wearing me thin in fact
I can't hold on to this anger deep within
It's a movement beneath the weight of the winds
It's congruent with my heart breaking for this

So dig deep
Dig hard
Dig straight through the dirt and down into the heart

I'm feeling compassion brewing within
But will I stand here and watch without loving on him
As he sinks on down through the waves
When I have the capacity to save, his life

So dig deep
Dig hard
Dig straight through the dirt and down into the heart

I'm tired of just throwing money and problems
With the billions we spend none of it will solve them
But If I reach out just for one moment
To break out of this mold I have been holding...

If I dig deep
If I dig hard
If I dig straight through my comforts and do something hard

He can be free
He can have heart
He can be washed off and cleaned up and have a new start

So dig deep
Dig hard
Dig straight through the dirt and down into the heart


3.03.2009

A Screaming Little Girl In My Church Growth Class

I'm in my church growth and evangelism class right now with Dr. Towns. Across the room from me there is a little girl, talking and screaming at the top of her lungs about her love for her daddy. She's sitting in his lap and crawling all over the desk and Dr. Towns is very calmly ignoring her. Wow. It's a snow day for almost all of the schools in the immediate area so this little girl is her with her daddy. She's talking non-stop and it's really hard to concentrate. The thing is this girl doesn't care about anything else but her daddy. She wants to play with him and talk with him. She doesn't care that class is going on. She doesn't care that she's distracting... all she wants is her daddy. While this is greatly aggravating to me and a few others around me I've started thinking about this girl and her out loud love for her daddy. Leave it to me to over spiritualize but, I can't help but thinking about how God must want us to be like that with him. When's the last time I cared about nothing else around me except for being with my God, my Daddy? When is the last time I have so recklessly and unashamedly run after God like that? I love Him. I've told God this and He knows it. I just can't help but think about the comparisons the apostle Paul (the apostle formerly known as Saul) makes in Galatians to Christ-followers as "children of God". Jesus calls little children unto himself and scolds his disciples for turning them away. Maybe this is a picture of how God wants us to be with Him? Maybe God wants nothing less that for us to be completely infatuated with Him. Funny how a screaming little girl in my church growth class can teach me so much...

I Think All Electronic Devices Hate Me Today: Galatians 5:13 Says...


So my car had a little bit of trouble making its way out of my apartment complex this morning. It took a bit to warm up (a la the cold). Regardless I made my way out on to 460 East with a really hurried red Tarus behind me who zoomed past me and and around me and slid down the exit ramp almost running off the road due to ice... yeah... wow...

I made it to the office and parked in a visitors spot out front so I could unload a large amount of items in my trunk that needed to come up to the office. I unloaded, I dragged my loot upstairs, I organized my office, talked to Jeremy for a bit, went back downstairs, got in my car to move it and it won't start... that's right. It won't start. I don't understand how if I was just driving it five minutes before it's now not starting...

I pulled out my cellphone to call Brian Claprood (a la recommendation Jeremy Rader) as Brian is pretty much the best in the office for knowing how to do something no one else knows how to do. I called him and talked to him for a bit about my situation and we're going to look at it this afternoon after the battery warms up. I took my TRBC tag out of my window and left my car in a visitors spot. Oh well. After I hung up with Brian my phone went dead. Like white screen of death no response on the keypad, completely dead.

I smacked it on my steering wheel twice and it started back up. The cellphone... not the car... though that would have been great...

So now I'm here in the office drinking my coffee, thinking through design options for a late March calendar and reading in Galatians 5 where the apostle Paul (the apostle formerly known as Saul) writes about the freedom we have in Christ. In verse 13 it reads like this:

13 My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love.14 The whole law is made complete in this one command: "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."15 If you go on hurting each other and tearing each other apart, be careful, or you will completely destroy each other.

Verse 14 is actually a quotation of Leviticus 19:18 but, re
gardless this got me thinking. How often to I use my freedom in Christ as a get away card. Have I done things before... knowing they are wrong and justified it by saying "God will forgive me. He forgive
s all sin." While this statement is true in this context it's sickening. May I never use God's forgiveness as a crutch and cheapen the salvation I am given through the death of Christ Jesus on calvary.

I'm not sure how I went from electronics hating me to Galatians... oh well. Guess it's a picture of what my brain feels like this morning.
Blessings.

I also lost the Samaritan Gun for my Hellboy figure... I know it's geekish but, I'm pretty bummed it got lost on the transition between my home and the office.