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Archive for April, 2009

columbine_breaking_news_photography

Every generation has a defining moment.  Everybody has days that will foever be ingrained in their memory.  While there are have been a number of those moments and days in my own life, there are few that I remember with such emotional clarity as April 20, 1999.

It was on this day 10 years ago that news quickly spread across the country of the horrific events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.  Two armed students entered the school, opening fire and tossing homemade bombs killing 12 students and a teacher and then turning their guns on themselves.

I remember coming home from school that day (I was in 8th grade, which in my district is included at the high school) and being glued to the coverage on CNN.  Fear, grief and uncertainty overcame me as I watched the continuing reports.  There are images (like the one above) that will be forever ingrained in my memory from that day.  Students running for their lives out the door of their high school, a place that up until that point had always seemed to be a “safe” place.  No high school would ever again be considered “safe.”

Even more than the media coverage, though, I was shaken to the core by the stories that began emerging regarding the supposed martyrdom of Rachel Scott and Cassie Bernall.  I had heard ancient stories of people who had been killed for their faith, but the emerging stories (whether fully true or not) of these girls being questioned about their faith in God or being targeted in the shooting for their Christian faith made such martyrdom a reality.  These girls were just like me – typical American teenagers who happened to be actively involved in their churches – and in an instant they were gone.

In light of this year’s 10th anniversary of the shooting, I have been re-reading some of the books on my shelf about the stories of these two girls: Rachel’s Tears and She Said Yes.  I first read these books in high school, and re-reading them has allowed me to revisit some of the emotions and challenges that I faced as a high schooler dealing with the nation wide impact of the events at Columbine.

Now, 10 years later, I choose to remember: not the violence and tragedy of that day, but rather the hope that I have seen rising up as a result.  The events that took place on April 20, 1999 will forever be etched on our minds and hearts – may we rise to the challenges, remember the lost, and embrace the hope of healing.

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… really hurts.

So, as I’ve been participating in the Hundred Pushup Challenge for the past 5 weeks or so, I’ve been getting a little bit of an ego boost in the form of arm and shoulder muscles that had been previously non-existent.  That ego boost has also been a bit of a pride boost. (Just picture me parading around the house in a sports bra and sweatpants flexing my arm muscles in front of every mirror – it’s actually kind of ridiculous.)

So, yesterday (on Easter Sunday, no less) as I sat with some of the youth from PLC at the Easter Pancake Breakfast, I was bragging (just a little, I swear!) to them about my buff arms and washboard (ha! not yet) abs from working out.  So of course on of them was like, “prove it!” and challenged me to an arm wrestling duel.  Well, being the competitive soul that I am, I had to take her up on the challenge and easily defeated her on the first try – piece of cake, right?  Yeah.  So then she told me I should arm wrestle Scott.  Since my ego had already been inflated at that point, and I was pretty confident in my new found arm strength, I took her up on the challenge and prepared myself to pin Scott’s arm to the table.

After several minutes of hard-fought battle, neither Scott nor myself were getting anywhere in the battle.  We were at a stalemate (and I was pretty proud of the fact that I was holding my own against my super buff fiance).  Then, perhaps in a moment of brilliance, that youth grabbed both our arms and pulled both down causing me to “lose” the match.

And that, my friends, is when I began to feel it.  Soreness began to creep into my shoulder.  Oh, the pain.  And today, it was multiplied.  My arm is weak.  I fear the gravity of the injury, so I’m waiting it out before I jump to go see a doctor about it.  Either way, I’m feeling the consequences of my pride, and if I can tell you one thing, I can tell you this: pride hurts in the end.

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Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you – unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was burried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.  For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.  On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them – though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.  (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 NRSV)

This, my friends is the promise of Easter:  Christ crucified has risen from the dead!  Like Eric, today I am reminded of the promise that Jesus is more than a “good man”.  A good man doesn’t do much for me other than give me a warm fuzzy feeling.  The Son of God in human flesh crucified, dead and burried and then resurrected from the dead – that is a promise that I can cling to.  That is the promise that gives me hope and joy.

It is with the assurance of that promise that I now step out of this Lenten Journey and into the hope of the resurrected Christ.  I pray that you were blessed both in this Lenten Season as well as in today’s joyous Easter celebration.

May you know the hope and promise of Christ raised from the dead.

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Well, so much for a regular update on the status of my 101 Things list.  I haven’t even been very good at keeping up the list here at the site.  I did go back and make some updates, though – so here’s what’s new with 101 Things:

#1: Call one friend a month just to catch up
I’ve done a fairly decent job of keeping up on this one, making some intentional effort to connect with friends the good-old fashioned way over the phone.  So far, three months and at least three phone calls.

#20: Read the Bible in its entirety
Thanks to seminary classes that require a fairly heavy amount of Bible-reading, I’ve been keeping up with this one.  So far: Matthew, Mark, John and Galatians (all for classes), and Philippians (during my silent retreat at Mowana)

#30: Attend 30 On-Turf Youth Events
Three PSHS varsity basketball games, one community league indoor soccer game, and a spaghetti dinner sponsored by the PSHS volleyball teams.

#43: Complete the One Hundred Pushups Challenge
I began this program at the same time as the Two Hundred Situps Challenge.  After four weeks of the program, I am currently able to do 32 consecutive pushups.  I’m hoping to be able to do 100 by the time the next few weeks are over!

#47: Tackle the Tower
Finished!  February 7th Scott and I joined a group from PLC to Tackle the Tower for Ronald McDonald House.  It may not have been my best athletic performance to date, but I did it nonetheless!

#49: Complete the 200 Situps Challenge
Finished!  After completing only four weeks of the six-week challenge, I was able to do 210 crunches on 4/5/09.  I will be finishing the last two weeks of the program and then maintaining by doing a minimum of 200 crunches three times per week.

#52: Read and Finish 101 Books
I’ve definitely been keeping busy with this one – between reading for classes and a voracious appetite for personal reading that I’ve had lately, my list now includes the following titles:

  • The Shack by: William P. Young
  • The Synoptic Problem by: Mark Goodacre
  • Mad Church Disease by: Anne Jackson
  • She Said Yes by: Misty Bernall
  • The Way of the Heart by: Henri Nouwen
  • Holy Bible, Human Bible by: Gordon Oliver
  • Eat This Book by: Eugene Peterson
  • The Last Word by: NT Wright
  • Fundamentalism and American Culture by: George Marsden
  • The Real Billy Sunday by: Lyle Dorsett
  • Crazy Love by: Francis Chan

In addition to those, I’ve got about nine more that I am currently in the middle of reading both for class, ministry and personal enjoyment.

#53: Spend an entire day in silence
Finished!  In fact, I spent two entire days in silence while on a personal silent retreat at Camp Mowana from March 22nd through 24th.

#54: Watch 101 movies I have never seen before
Added to the last list are: Wall-E, The Final Cut, and Down With Love

#82: Go one week without logging into Facebook
Finished!  And beyond a week, since I gave up Facebook for Lent, it has currently been 41 days since I was last on Facebook.

#88: Spend at least 15 days at Camp Mowana
Two down, 13 more to go!  I’m definitely hoping to make a few more silent retreats down to Mowana during this 1001 days, and hopefully a few trips with the youth group and this goal will be more than met!

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Although you wouldn’t really be able to tell from looking out my window at the 3 inches of snow that fell today, the seasons are beginning to change.  Winter turns to spring.  Academic busy-ness turns to spring fever and summer fun.  The ministry madness of the Christmas to Easter season begins to turn slowly to the more relaxed pace and flexibility of summer ministry.

As I was glancing today through my calendar for the next few months, I couldn’t help but notice something.  While there certainly isn’t a lack of work to do, events to plan, and family functions to attend in the coming months, they are looking significantly less full than the past few months have been.  Things are beginning to wind down for a season – you know how I can tell?

  • The number of youth events on my calendar has dropped.  SAC lunches are down to a minimum (due to upcoming holidays that fall on the 2nd Sunday of the month) and we’re preparing to wind down this academic-year-season of youth ministry at PLC.
  • There are fewer classes on the calendar this quarter.  Since one of my registered classes this quarter is Field Study, which is mostly taking place in conjunction with my ministry at PLC, I have fewer classes per week and at least the notion of less homework.  It’s a nice reprieve and lead-in to summer.
  • My little sister graduates from college in a month!  Even though her academic calendar finishes up about a month before mine, I’m already hearing the sounds of summer.

In addition to the change in perceived busy-ness, I’ve noticed a bit of a shift in my ministry.  What does this season look for me as I face a calendar with fewer events and more office hours?

  • Evaluation – For the first time I am facing the end of this academic-year-season of ministry knowing with certainty that I’ll be continuing in my ministry in this place.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately reflecting on how we’ve done youth ministry this year at PLC and trying to figure out ways to build on that for next year.
  • Relational Connections – I’m beginning to step up my efforts in connecting with youth on their “turf” through coffee connections, texting (as much as I despise it sometime) and just checking in to see how they have grown during the course of the year.
  • Future Planning – I’m in the early stages of figuring out where Youth Ministry at PLC will be headed next year.  We’re in a place right now where some shifts are beginning to happen, and I’m excited to see where God is calling us to go this Fall.

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did_two_hundred_badge At the beginning of Lent, I thought it would be a good idea to use some of my newfound free time to improve my physical fitness.  After a gruelling orientation workout at Bally’s back in December, my eyes were opened to the fact that I just wasn’t as “in shape” as I used to be (if I ever was in shape in the first place) – so as Lent began I set out to improve my physcial fitness by taking up both the Two Hundred Situps Challenge and the One Hundred Pushups Challenge.  Each challenge is a six-week workout program designed to help you work from wherever you are to the point of being able to do exactly what the challenge states.

In my initial challenge at the start of the six-week challenge I was able to eek out a mere 26 crunches.  After the two-week exhaustion test I was up to 44, and slightly concerned that I wasn’t going to make it to the goal of 200 in six weeks.

Well, last night, after four weeks of the six-week program, i did it.  I set out to do my week-four exhaustion test, aiming for at least a hundred.  Well, I got to 100 and kept going… and going.

210!

It just goes to show you that anyone can improve their physical fitness.  I still plan to complete the six-weeks of workouts, and then aim to do 200 crunches three days a week after its over.

What’s next?  Maybe I’ll shoot for the Couch to 5k Challenge to improve my cardiovascular fitness.

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100_1376

It seems hard to believe that holy week is upon us: the jubilance of the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, the dramatic events of the last supper and intensity of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal, trial and passion of Christ’s death on Good Friday, the period of solemn yet hopeful waiting on Holy Saturday, and then the glorious Easter celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  It is a week that covers the whole gamet of emotion and one that deserves much more of our attention than what it often receives.  Holy Week begs for pause in our lives – pause which serves to remind us that this life is not about us.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” John 3:16-17 (The Message)

It is in the observance of Holy Week that we are to be reminded of those events on which all of eternity hangs.  Our eternal destiny is secured by our faith in this one thing: Christ crucified and Christ risen.

May we be reminded this week of the ultimate sacrifice that was paid in behalf of our sins – as Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, submitted himself to the penalty of death as the sacrificial lamb for the sins of all humankind.  May we not make light of this sacrifice but once again be reminded of the greatest gift that has ever been given.  And may we open our hands and hearts to accept that gift.

May the remembrance of Christ crucified and Christ risen capture our hearts once again during this Holy Week.

Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, poured out to death
Many times, I’ve wondered at Your gift of life
And I’m in that place once again
I’m in that place once again

Once again I look upon the cross where You died
I’m humbled by Your mercy and I’m broken inside
Once again I thank You
Once again I pour out my life

Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross, my friend

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