Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Banana Christmas Tree...

I noticed it about a month ago. If you go to the Taylor Bend YMCA you may have seen it yourself.

I walked upstairs one day to head to my workout, and there it was; a Christmas tree. However this Christmas tree was oddly decorated. It had clusters of grapes and bananas and other fruit placed all around its branches. It also had the usual things like lights, tinsel, and the star, but honestly the only thing that stood out to me was the fruit.

So, I hurried off to start lifting weights (its seems like I am always in a rush at the Y) and as my iPod was singing to me and my muscles were cussing at me, for some reason the thought of the tree decorated with fruit would not escape my mind. In my head I was trying to think of reasons why someone would decorate a tree like that, but I came up empty. I decided to walk by again, look at the tree, and see if they had some kind of program or activity they were promoting through this display. After all, they do frequently use creative means for advertising upcoming events and programs. Upon further inspection, I could see no evident promotion. For whatever reason, I was intrigued by a pine tree that was clothed in delicious fruit.

It was different than what I expect out of a pine tree. Because it was so odd to me, I desired some sort of explanation for it. This is nothing new. I mean, who doesn’t demand an explanation when something exists in a manner that is contrary to their understanding of the world. Bananas don’t grow on pine trees. What gives?

So I ponder a little further and it hits me. The words of Jesus in Luke 6:43-45 come to mind.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

While I suppose in a forest of pine trees there is no morality at stake if a tree were to literally bare bananas, it goes without saying that the tree with the bananas would stand. I want to be a banana pine tree. I want to bear fruit that is memorable. I want to live selflessly in a way that causes observers to notice the fruit so that they may ponder about my fruit in the same way I pondered about the banana Christmas tree. I hope that they can look at my life, and upon seeking an explanation for the odd fruit they see, I hope that they will find God.

I don’t want to be like an ordinary pine tree. I want to stand out to the world like a banana Christmas tree.

What about you?

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Man, this past week has just reminded me how blessed I am. A vacation with great friends and Christmas (be it a late one) with a wonderful family.

I am humbled and blessed.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Post Election Thoughts...

So, this has turned out to be quite a long read, but I hope you will give it a shot!

Let me start off by telling you exactly where I am coming from as a voter. I am one of many who desperately wants a third party to get some recognition in our political system. For me, the libertarian party is the party of choice. I like small government, personal responsibility, and liberty in lifestyle. So I went back and forth for a while trying to decide if I would vote for Barr and his libertarian crew. In the end, though, my decision was for John McCain. What it came down to for me was priority. For me avoiding an Obama presidency was more important than making a statement for the Libertarians and since most third party votes come from conservatives and disgruntled republicans, a third party vote served as an aid to Obama and the democrats. So I voted McCain and Obama won, but it’s all good. I felt a lot of pride anyways. It was historical to see our first black president elected and I am glad that I was able to witness it. I appreciated the words and attitude of McCain’s concession speech and I really hope that Obama’s speech is more than rhetoric, but that it is actually reflected in the way he governs our nation. I guess we will see in the next four years.

Let’s remember this, God is sovereign. This has been true under W., it was true under Clinton, and has reigned true all the way back to George Washington. It will remain true under President Obama and it would have remained true under president McCain. Psalm 103:19 reminds us of this “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”

Christians seem to go into shock when some tenet of our faith and morals fails to succeed in our country’s legislation. Let us remember the ancient Israelites of the Old Testament. For years and years they were governed directly by the very word of God. His commandments and laws were given to Moses and used as the backbone of their nation. Guess what! They were still engulfed in sin. They still battled evil among their selves. They still behaved in ways directly opposed by the word of God. When we fast forward, what do we see? The only answer to this was Christ. In fact, the whole book of Romans tries to get it through our thick skulls that law will never save us, only Christ can. No matter how many laws we pass that honor Biblical principles and no matter how many Biblical principles we neglect, it is the pursuit of Christ that will change us all for the better. And just as Christ does not impose himself on any of us, we cannot impose Him on others through our law. Government and legislation, in my view, are really meant to keep a nation in order and to protect its citizens; not much else.

Let’s briefly look at some of the issues that have been brought up in regards to the Obama presidency. First we have abortion. This is one of the Conservative/Christian token issues. And let me assure you that I find abortion to be a terrible thing. I consider myself to be Pro-Life, but I do get so frustrated with some of my fellow Pro-Lifer’s. I think too often we have a view of our Pro-Choice, liberal neighbors as being in love with abortion. As if they carry around punch cards (remember Subway’s cards back in the day?) collecting abortions to get some sort of prize. I’m pretty sure from talking to people and from my own speculation that 99% of Pro-Choicers think abortion is terrible. The difference is they see it as a necessary option despite its horridness. I think many of them view an abortion the same way we might view open heart surgery. No one ever wakes up excited that they can have open heart surgery, and though the whole process is indeed scary, one is still glad to have the option open to them. And yes, I realize the difference is that open heart surgery does not have the same moral question to it that abortion does in the debate, but I really want you to get the idea that most people, whether Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, don’t like abortions for abortion sake. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t walk away from this thinking that I agree with that stance, but I do believe in order to change people you have to understand where they are coming from. I also don’t believe that legislation is the answer here. As I said earlier, change comes through Christ, not through law. Let those struggling with the decision of an abortion see Christ in us. Imagine if the young girl, single mom, or poor couple trying to make a decision about abortion came into contact with a Christian family or congregation that pledged to help them raise this child. What if they saw us loving our kids, working hard to be successful with our kids even though times are tough? I have to be honest with you, as a youth minister I see kids who get no attention from their parents. I see kids whose parents aren’t the slightest bit involved in their life (even though they live under the same roof.) Many of these parents would be the first to declare their Pro-Life beliefs while their own kids are falling through the cracks. So, let’s lead through the example of Christ. Legislation is never going to change people’s attitudes on the issue.

And this moves me on to America’s poor. Of course, as I learn more about the world the idea of America experiencing any real poverty almost seems ridiculous to me, but that is not the point of this. One of the biggest criticisms we heard about Obama as he ran his campaign was this idea that he would “spread the wealth.” That he would tax those Americans who make a large amount of money and use that money to give to our poorer citizen’s. This money would be dished out directly in some cases and through government programs in other cases. As an advocate of personal responsibility, I do have a hard time accepting Obama’s policy here, but I will say this. Christians, the answer is simple. We should be taking care of the poor. That is Biblical. We may not be able to do it perfectly, but we sure could do better than we are now. I know I don’t do near as much as I am capable of doing. Can you imagine the testimony America would see for Christ if the church truly stepped up and took care of our poor in this country? Can you imagine a situation where Obama’s notion of spreading the wealth would be a moot point because Christ’s bride was meeting the need of the people? You can get upset that politicians want to distribute the wealth around, but I wonder if God isn’t looking down thinking “well, you aren’t doing it, so someone has to.”

There are plenty of other issues that could be discussed, but I am not going to get into them now (by the way, last I checked Obama and McCain agreed on gay marriage.) The bottom line is this; real change will come through Christ, not through our laws. The way we reflect Christ when it comes to abortion, poverty and whatever other issues we consider will make a much more significant impact than any legislation. Anyone can go to rally, hold a sign, and chant, but through the Holy Spirit we can do more by living lives that honor our principles. I fully acknowledge that it is not an easy task and that I am just as guilty as anyone at not being proactive enough in my life to bring real Godly change to my community, but let’s stop looking at politicians and start looking at ourselves, and most importantly, let’s look at Christ. Christ is change.

Now, whether or not you voted for Obama or McCain, Obama won and will be our new president when W. steps down. My friend John Wallace wrote a good post on the way a Christian is to treat their government leaders. If you are a Christian your responsibility is to honor him, respect him and pray for him. The bible tells us that leaders in the government deserve this from us. It is also our duty to confront him on issues where he may err. There is nothing unbiblical about debating and exchanging ideas with a leader we disagree with, however the Bible mandates we do so with love and respect. It urges us to teach gently and warns us not to get caught up in foolish discussions. I’ll be honest. As I looked through the world wide web (mostly on facebook) I saw a lot of rude, hate-filled talk by Christians that embarrassed me. Let’s move on and seek unity until there is a need for a debate, and when that time comes, let us bathe it in prayer and handle it with gentleness and respect.

And for those of you are still persuaded that somehow Obama is some sort of incarnation of evil that will doom America, I hope you will change your thoughts. I hope you will realize that while there may be some changes in our nation, America isn’t going anywhere. And even if by the slightest chance it does, America is not our home, but Heaven is. If, however, you are unable to change your thoughts, let me remind you of the book of Habakkuk. Yes, it’s one of those highly neglected minor prophetic books from the Old Testament. Essentially the prophet Habakkuk gets in a heated discussion with God about the prosperity of evil people. Habakkuk is upset that the evil are prosperous and doesn’t understand why God would allow them such success. God’s simple answer is that he using them to execute his will in ways that Habakkuk is not able to understand at the moment. Remember, like I said at the beginning, God is sovereign. So if you can’t be persuaded that Obama is not a wicked man out for the doom of America as we know it, at least take refuge knowing that God is in control and uses people and circumstances we can’t understand to do his will. Also, on a side note, I would have said the exact same in this paragraph about McCain had he won.

Your thoughts?!?!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congrats Barry...

I know that a lot of my friends and the people that I see on a regular basis were McCain supporters. I voted for McCain too, but nonetheless, I am still experiencing pride for Obama's accomplishment. I feel good to be able to see the first black man elected to the oval office. I am also glad that McCain conceded with respect and honor.

I will expound much more on my thoughts about this thing tomorrow or Thursday. I have been thinking all day about what I have to say about this whole election thing. But just a couple quick thoughts...

1) God is sovereign. That is a truth that remains no matter who is in power.

2) Christians, even if you are disappointed, pray for your president. Like him or not, he is our leader and needs wisdom and protection from God.

More tomorrow!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Show...

So the Anberlin show at The Norva went down tonight. Man, I love living ten minutes away from The Norva. Joe, Mark, and I were hanging out and I was getting text updates from Joe Snow about what was going on. We didn't really wanna see anyone who was there except for Anberlin. By the time we arrived we completely missed There For Tomorrow. We came in on Straylight Run's last song (Hands In The Sky Big Shot.) Then we listened to Scary Kids Scaring Kids' set. They weren't bad. I have never given them a listen before. They sound like they could be good for working out too.

Anberlin played and were amazing. They put on a great show and Stephen has an honesty about him in the way he performs and presents himself. Overall the show was hype and exciting. The band played flawlessly as far as I could tell. Certainly they are one of the better live performers I have ever seen (Thrice is still the best, but heck, I am bias with them.)

Here is the set list...

Never Take Friendship Personal
Paperthin Hymn
A Day Late
Dismantle Repair
The Unwinding Cable Car
Hello Alone
The Feel Good Drag
The Resistance
---pause before encore---
(The Symphony Of) Blasé

And here are some videos...

Anberlin - Dismantle Repair from chris on Vimeo.

Anberlin - The Resistance from chris on Vimeo.

Anberlin - Fin from chris on Vimeo.

I also have videos of A Day Late and The Unwinding Cable Car, but I am out of Vimeo space. Anyways, hope you enjoy these.

Another incredible thing was the lack of politics. You usually expect bands to preach politics to you, but unless we missed it with the first two bands, there was no politics. Amen.


Heading out tonight to the Norva with Joe and Mark to see Anberlin. Pretty stoked. Anberlin is probably one of my favorite bands of more recent years. Too bad New Surrender was a let down from Cities.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Contrast...

Right now I am just beat with seeing so many people throw away and waste their lives. Maybe I'm a little sensitive to it since I have been contemplating on this tragedy with Crystal all week, but in the course of one week I see one person die and affect a family in ways that just show the importance of making life meaningful, then a few days later I see people who are just throwing their lives away and living (and quite poorly at that) for the moment.

On days like these I wonder if I should have just gone into a career with computers instead of serving and working with people. I definitely feel like I can relate to what Habakkuk was talking about.

How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

--Habakkuk 1:2-4

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Death Is Profane...

I’m a little frazzled this week as I try to collect my thoughts on a tragedy. Even though I am basically an outsider to the situation, it is still not something that I am indifferent to as I observe. The bottom line to all of it for me is that death is profane.

So what happened? Crystal, a girl my sister has been friends with since middle school mysteriously passed away this week. She had visited the doctor with pneumonia –like symptoms a few days ago and before anyone knew it, she was laid up in the hospital in a coma while all her body’s systems began to fail. And eventually her body just gave in and she passed Wednesday morning. Death is so profane.

I got into the mix because I am a minister. At one point Tuesday night they were quite panicked (understandably so), expecting that Crystal could go any moment so they called me to come and pray with the family and pray over Crystal. When I arrived, it was in the midst of confusion and heartbreak (as would be expected). The family was also looking for a priest to give Crystal her Last Rites (a Catholic Ritual.) I ended up spending a few hours with this group of people that consisted of friends and family of Crystal.

The hospital had us in a private room and as we sat in this room, the dynamics were just so odd. Everyone is experiencing variations of fear, grief, sadness, and hopelessness but they all handled it differently. Some sat quietly in their own thoughts. Some cracked jokes with each other. Some talked about things they remembered about Crystal. Some just talked about things completely unrelated to anything that was going on. Everyone handles these types of situations differently.

The vibe in the room constantly changed. One moment it would be dead quiet. Then a phone with a Chipmunk’s ringtone would ring and laughter would erupt. Conversation would come and go. Group conversation would happen, and conversation between two people would happen. People were going back and forth between visiting Crystal.

Finally we got together as friends and family and prayed together. Prayed for those hurting and mourning, prayed for a miracle, and prayed most of all for peace and understanding that only God can give. Then I did something I have never done before. We went down to see Crystal, in her coma, and prayed over her. It is a picture that will not leave my mind. There I am with her parents, asking God to heal her, to bring her back, and that if such a miracle is not in his will, to at least grant us peace and understanding and to display grace to Crystal and her family that is deeper than my understanding can comprehend. It puts things into perspective.

So much sorrow. So much hurt. So much wrong. The thought “death is so damn profane” has not left my mind since that night. If you remember, please pray for the grieving friends and family. I have been asked to do the funeral, so please pray for me that God would use a confused, 25 year old kid to bring comfort and peace to friends and family of Crystal.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A New Blog...

So this is where the count down has led us. I have moved here from my xanga, however like others (Chris Woolard for example) I will continue to check and comment in the xanga universe (that sounds like some japanimation term). I will not likely copy my posts though. Hopefully I will find some time to spruce this blog up a little bit, but I am hoping to write more here and to write about things that are a little deeper and more important to me (as opposed to the typical "school, work, gym, busy").

And if you haven't heard yet, then you need to head over to another blog I am a part of. Http://markandchrisfightfat.blogspot.com. Mark and I are starting our weight loss contest tomorrow (or today depending on how you look at it). The weigh in is at 8:00 am. I checked myself out tonight, and all I could say was "Man, I need to lose this weight." But you can hit up our contest blog. You can sponsor one or both of us there. We are each challenging sponsors to give a dollar per pound that your chosen player loses, but if that is a bit much of a commitment, you can pledge any amount you like. Just hit up the blog and send us an email.

Let the games begin!