Monday, March 31, 2008
Its now 10:01 and I am officially starting a new faze of my life... How awesome is that!?!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Yeah I know that it sounds good and we never really fully get joy out of struggle but what could the world look like if we tried? Is the next leader in the fight for unity, peace, and world freedom the next advocate for a hunger-less future and a disease free planet, the person who decides to embrace the horror of this world with a joyful open hand? Will it be the individual who finds beauty in even the most horrific of situations? Not in a morbid way but in a way that allows us to dig deeper, in a way that gets us past the help and love and feed the need states of mind, and into an understanding of God's plan mindset. What does that look like? Is that crazy? What if instead of WhatDoTheyNeed it was really WhatDoWeNeed, what do we need to figure out that the answers are in front of us, that all we need to do is take action that all we need to do is realize that God has a plan and it is going to be carried out regardless, but as long as we are here we might as well jump on board. What if we took the 'joyful struggle' approach and instead of turning our heads from what is uncomfortable we looked it dead in the eyes realizing that we can be the key component of something great. How much more can we see accomplished in our lifetime if we actually make an effort to accomplish them? See I believe in a good, loving, just God who wants nothing but the best for everyone, no matter what! God is giving us the opportunity to supply the best for all, not just our comfortable suburban selves. When opportunity knocks what are you going to do about it?
WhatDoTheyNeed? -- Us to take advantage of opportunity. Possibly.
This post is a jumbled mess and I apologize for that.
PS John some people aren't trying to write profound things they are just more intelligent.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
PS I am oober excited right now.
There has been a revelation to me over life that there are a lot of fine lines. A multitude of areas in life where it is certain that reason must be used to dictate a drastic outcome. A detail, a motive, a conviction, an understanding, or even an accidental step can change a situations dynamic in such a way that it can and will directly affect an outcome. Usually the line is clear, usually it is separating right and wrong. The thing is though, that life usually isn't usual.
And so we are faced with the line. We are faced with the understanding that we must choose between one option or another. Today, like many times over the last month, it seems life has presented the line of selflessness versus stupidity. Mainly with the regard to loving people. At what time is it OK to not put yourself out there any longer for the good of someone else? At what point is it OK to not leave yourself a sitting duck? When does it become appropriate to pull out of the uphill fight to make sure you don't get knocked out?
I follow the leadership model of Christ, I love Him, I strive to be like Him, I want to love like He loves me. I wish I could do that. I wish I wasn't human, I want to be perfect, I desire to live up to His glory. Yet I keep failing and my inability to love like that, to be completely selfless, patient, and understanding, has driven me to the brink of thoughts like; "is it worth it to even try to be patient, selfless, and understanding?" The only thing that seems to be producing any fruit is my lack of sanity and a lot of confusion.
Knowing that I am broken, that I am a sinner, and that my heart is persuaded by the world. I have to face the brutal truth that I am self-centered, that my need weighs heavy. But I must keep myself in check. A couple questions keep circling my mind, "is loving this person about me, or is it about them? Is loving this person to fulfill my need or is it to extend the love of Christ?" I know that my role as a believer in Christ is to be just that, a believer. To have faith in the fact that no matter how broken I am, no matter how bad I feel that I am at loving this person the way I am intended to, no matter how rough and unfair I think I have it, that by committing myself to God and that person that He will use me. By committing myself to His work and allowing Him to use me there will be an impact, that people will grow, that the kingdom will be advanced. I am slowly starting to realize that it is not about me, it isn't even about the other person. It may be for the other person, but it is not about them. It is about making an example of Christ' love. Even if it is a broken example, at least it is an example. If I want to be like Christ, then I am going to have to try my hardest to attain that goal. The greatest thing is that I don't have to be perfect. Grace is AMAZING. We must take the blows and trust that God will keep picking us back up.
I have found only one trace of stupidity that pertains to the line between selflessness and stupidity and that is that I am stupid for thinking that there is another option other than suffering through selflessness.
God is good... All the time.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
This thought of the "wake up call" has really got me exploring the idea of dormant convictions; areas in my life that have been affected, I have realized it, seen a transformation of healing towards the better and then over time completely ignored it. In a less confusing way; I see a need in my life, I act on that need to improve my life, things get better, I become comfortable, I forget the need and I am back to square one. Its a vicious circle.
So, how does this apply to wake up calls? Once we realize that we have lost that conviction it is usually too late, once we have the understanding that we need help we are usually too deep to get ourselves out, when pride has taken us in the opposite direction that we were headed we most often cant find our way back. In my life the things that throw me back into reality are "wake up calls," those times in life when you are acting out of character and have no regret what so ever and something happens and the light turns on. When you can almost feel God flick you on the forehead and say, "its time to wake up, its time to deny yourself, its time to be the man I have intended you to be."
To me those times are the best. To me Life makes sense when I have gotten that wake up call. To me I know things are alright, because when I am receiving a wake up call, it means I had intentions to do something important. You don't get a wake up call on the days you intend to sleep in.
Now I understand why we must take up our cross daily, pursuing holiness doesn't take a vacation... even if we are on one.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Yesterday in what seems to be becoming a trend trip to OKC the study and the thoughts were wrapped around men and our expectation to be warriors. Warriors for what we believe in. Warriors for God, righteousness, our faith, the people we love, even the people we find hardest to love. Warriors for the ideals, beliefs, and motives that we are most passionate about.
In a great revelation by the ever talented speaker Craig Groeschel I was challenged to realize that men are intended to be warriors, to be fighters, and to no get pushed around. And that really over time society, and mainly the church has made men into nice, easy, pushovers with no backbone for what they believe.
So I guess the question that has really been going through my mind for the last year or so is this; "If the cause isn't worth fighting for, then is it really worth anything at all?"
Today during my quiet time (which was actually pretty loud due to the atmosphere at this coffee shop) I dug into Hebrews 10. No real reason, but I guess since it is Easter I am drawn to the thought and studies of Christ's greatest sacrifice for us. I am drawn to the fact that JC was the greatest warrior of all time and that his manly efforts led to the cross and the grave and reserection, which led to my freedom and burden-less life that allows me to do even the simplest tasks like writing this blog. Hebrews 10 rocks, its convicting though so if you don't want anything to do with that maybe choose a Dr. Seuss book instead. But in all seriousness it clicked today. Wrap your mind around this and see where it takes you...
Hebrews 10:26 says, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left." This passage to me is great because v.24 talks about encouraging one another, v.25 talks about fellowship and accountability, and then there is v.26, the verse that we, at least I, often try to overlook, lays it out there and says: personally you need to start taking care of your own business -- quit hiding and go to work. If we back track a little bit and take a look at 'Brews' 9:27 it seems to put that statement into great perspective saying, "Just as man is destine to die once, and after that face judgment." Are we not we not to take care of business while we are here on earth? 10:27 talks about the only thing we have left if we deliberately keep on sinning is a fearful expectation of judgment.
So I guess here is my point. If we just sit back and be complacent pansy Christians all we end up becoming is fearful, guilt-stricken, complacent pansy Christians. -- If it doesn't take works and a fight to get into heaven that is one thing (and an argument for another time), but those works and fight sure help our sanity in the time being.
Historically the biggest impacts came with struggle, persecution, work, and of course a fight. Ghandi, MLK, Mandela, and of course JC, have shown extreme proof of this. And have also shown that through persistence, patience, perseverance, compassion, and the heart of a warrior, a heart that is not afraid to take a stand for what they believe in that their goals are attainable. That a true difference can indeed be made. -- So back to the manly warrior soapbox, I guess there comes a point in time when as men we are asked to fulfill our role of being just that; men. We are asked to be figures of authority, we are needed to be a refuge for safety and trust, we are put in the position to be the protector or even a guardian. We as men must be patient and compassionate. We must not show disregard for emotion. We must be persistent without being overbearing. And we must have perseverance to battle our weakness. If we aren't balanced gentlemen we can't be perfect warriors. We must fight and we must fight smart. We can't run into life, into battle, without a game plan, without direction. The time to go to battle is today, why are we so comfortable that nothing seems worth fighting for?
So I guess that brings me back to my question. No matter the capacity, whether it is for humanity, spirituality, or just an argument over coffee with a thought provoking friend: "If the cause isn't worth fighting for, then is it really worth anything at all?"
The past 24 hours have been without a doubt in my mind probably the biggest wakeup call of my life. I am really starting to grasp the statement that Christ made in the Lord’s Prayer when he said, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Actually there is a lot of the Sermon on the Mount that is suddenly starting to click… Matthew 5:44,46-47, (But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?) it just seems so clear now.
What does loving your enemies really look like? I know that love is patient and love is kind and all that jazz, but when the time comes that we are faced with, in some cases, our deepest fear—how are we supposed to love it?
Today during communion at church, a time when I am called to reflect on the blood that Christ shed for me and the brutality that he put his body thru to forgive me, it finally dawned on me. Christ died to save not just me from my sins but everyone from their sins. See the thing is that inevitably if we are serious with ourselves there are probably some things that we think that we have done that are too big for even God to erase, but in all reality he can take care of us no matter how measurable the feat. The thing that I have always failed to really realize, to truly grasp and wrap my mind and my heart around is the fact that no matter how bad the sin is that has been committed against me, Jesus still died for that too. If someone was to murder my mother in cold blood in front of my eyes the same grace would be extended towards that as if I was to have skipped class earlier in the day… So the realization that I have had today is that in all honesty no matter how devastating the transgression how unreal the event Christ loves that man just as much as me and is waiting patiently to free him of his burdens to wipe their sins clean.
In turn if I do not love this man with everything that I have inside of me I am actually acting in a direct dismay of my God and am in no way trusting the kingdom. Part of my faith is not just believing that the good things that feel warm and fuzzy inside are purposely placed in my life but that even the moments that make no sense, that drive me to the brink of depression, that give no reasonable understanding as to why they should happen to a person are actually placed in my life for a reason also… and I must trust that even though I don’t understand, those moments are also for my good. Casting Crowns have recently written a song titled “Praise you in the Storm” and that is a perfect statement. What is the point in having faith, in anything much less our King, if we are only fair weather fans? What good is a trust that turns on and off as easily as a light bulb. If I am committed to my Lord then I must love all of his children, all the time, as if they were my own, no matter what, no matter when, no questions asked.
I think that I am going to start something new today. Well at least add some structure but who knows where my mind will wander. I think that each day I am going to pick a word, today starting with the letter “a”, tomorrow the letter “b” and so on. The word will be pretty random, I will pick them from the Merriam-Webster dictionary and they will be partially screened. Once a word is chosen I will wrap my thoughts around that word and the meaning of its definition, maybe the implications of the word, we will just see where it goes. So today we start with “A”… here we go.
Attrition- the act of wearing away by or as if by rubbing. – A reduction in numbers as a result of resignation, retirement, or death.
This is already tough. When the word attrition is said the first thought that comes to mind is naturally the attrition rate. And just the turnover in personnel. But the word attrition can span much farther than just the inability for someone or something to retain employees. Attrition should I believe expand to personal and emotional things as well. Let’s say for instance in the case of holiness, someone that is pursuing holiness or someone that is striving to be the perfect image of something is destined to fall short. There is just no way, no matter what it is, to become the perfect mirrored image of what we are chasing after. So in that logic each time that we do not meet our personal, spiritual, or whatever standard that has been set we are in some way losing apart of ourselves. In the case of holiness each time that we fail there is attrition to or of our faith. The perfectness that we were striving for will never be met and a piece of has been taken. Now not to say that we cannot achieve that same faith or somehow fill that void that we have created but for the time being there is an attrition rate on something that is not just personnel. I guess it would be safe to say that attrition is a weakening. So I guess my question is what does the antidote of attrition look like? And when people start to realize the answer to that question I cannot wait to see our world flourish. – Why is it that no matter how tired you get of something there is always something that can bring you back? How can people say that there is nothing in the world that could make them join that organization again, or do that activity again, yet before they know it they are in the middle of the storm wondering how they got there? What is it about the things that consume our lives that we just can’t ignore? Why is it so hard to give up the things that completely drive us crazy and consume all of our time, but it is so easy to neglect the things that are relaxing and we have no time for? I guess maybe the real question is what are we giving our life to? And maybe the better question is why can’t we trust that other people can handle the tasks and do just as good of a job as us on the things that we let control our lives? Why can’t we allow others to take the light? Are we attracted to doing good or are we attracted to people seeing us do good? These are just a few questions on my brain. The thing that I think the more I contemplate this is that the problem isn’t, are we able to let go or do we want the light, but is rather we can’t truly trust. The best leaders are the greatest followers, and the greatest leaders are the best delegators. So really if we want to succeed we need to first be able to take advice and allow others to take the reins at the same time giving people more responsibility and not looking back. Who would want to work harder for you?... The guy who you give a responsibility but then you hold his hand the whole way and you correct his every move to be like yours. Or. The guy who you tell the task and then put faith in his abilities conversing with him a few key times over the course of the project. The fact of the matter too is that when you coach everybody along you run out of hands to hold with.
(If you are reading this I never make it past ‘A’)
What is the difference between right and wrong? No maybe not moral right and wrong. But in common generalities of right and wrong. The difference doesn’t have to be something catastrophic. I mean if you are driving 35 mph you are in the right but if you are driving 36 mph you are in the wrong, if you place the dinner fork on the right side of the plate you are in the right but if you the desert fork isn’t at the head of the placemat then you are in the wrong. Is that really going to change the way someone lives their life? I think not. So is the difference between right and wrong, moral and ethical misbehavior aside, just a slighted perception of our forefathers? Or do we really believe that that dinning etticut is really something to worry about. And so in that case I guess the old saying, “If loving you is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.” Is actually correct, because whose to really say what is wrong. Now don’t get me “wrong” there are things that are morally decisive and there is a whole slew of thoughts that go with that but I am just talking of petty everyday if the outcome is one way or the other no one will really know or care kind of stuff. I guess the cool thing is that no one knows who is “right” so it might as well be me.
Just for the sake of knowledge; the definition of right is correct: accurate, or consistent with the facts or general belief. And the definition of wrong is holding an incorrect opinion about a person, thing, or matter (interesting that ‘place’ wasn’t listed but the rest of the characteristics of a noun where).
Do ever get the feeling that no matter what happens, no matter how bad it gets, no matter what the circumstances that everything is going to be alright? Ever just been hit in the head with that blunt object that just says no matter how much you have hurt me, no matter the dishonor or embarrassment that the people that are closest to you, the people you truly love aren’t going anywhere. The billboard in your imagination is lit up with bright lights and reads “we are a team, nothing will separate us.” I have an amazing family. The best part about my family is that no matter what we have done to one another there is nothing that is going to separate us. We are like a puzzle, maybe rough around the edges at times, but without all of the pieces in perfect order it just isn’t complete. We do have the uncanny ability to be stubborn, like many families I am sure but what separates us from the pack is that no matter how mad one of us is trying to be at the others we can all see right through it. Now can we be frustrated and angry at one another, OF COURSE. But the ability for us to go 24 hours with a true vengeance I find to be completely impossible. ---- Why is it the things that we feel that we want the most in life must wait? If its relationships, fine dining, children, fall (and it is the dead of winter), to meet our maker, the list goes on. Have we ever just sat down and really from the bottom of being with no regret no second guessing just leaned back and asked for the thing that at that particular time we wanted more than anything else in the entire world and it was instantly given to us… I mean absolutely instantly given to us. No hesitations no waiting for delivery, nothing, just “here Mr. McCord exactly what you were wanting right this way.” Maybe it’s because the things that really want, the things that we value the most, the things that mean the absolute most to us… are sitting right in front of us in the first place. Could it be that we spend too much time and effort searching so hard that we forget to live in the present always wondering about the future? Maybe the future is really the culprit of problem. Maybe it is are inability to adapt to ourselves, always striving to be someone different, never willing to make the most of what we got that is really what is killing us in the first place. We are the only species on this planet that holds any regard to the past, which for arguments sake could be what makes us the most sophisticated species. Or maybe the past is what is dragging us down always comparing ourselves to what came before never allowing one another to become the next great thing. And why won’t we let one another advance, become the next best, what makes us try to hold one another back? Is it pride? It could be, but I think it is even simpler than that. What if it is just plain fear of what could be? What if pride, don’t get me wrong a very dangerous trait, isn’t really our main motive of malice, and discouragement, could it be as simple as fear? Really what is fear? Our resources tell us it is a feeling of anxiety, anticipation of danger, worry. What if even that is too complex? Concern of the result; that seems like it could be the attribute that trumps pride. Seriously think about it, anytime we truly discourage someone, make an active pursuit of stopping someone or something’s action is usually out of fear. See I don’t think our pride really gets in the way when others are doing things, I think pride mainly just gets in the way of the one who is trying to build it. I think fear is what fuels our persistence against others ambitions. Not the fear of their recognition but the fear that the outcome of their action could be detrimental to the future. Which brings me back to the point, are we as a whole really living for today, or are we just in constant struggle with what’s ahead. In conflict with the things that at this point we have absolutely no control over? So I guess it comes down to, “what are you ordering today for tomorrow?”
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
In retrospect this "tourist" trip was one that will affect me for a lifetime. It was not my first time in OKC, but it was my first time in OKC in the rain. Rain doesn't seem like a life changing factor but in this case, in this city, in this community, rain made this trip a complete impact.
The whole weekend walking around an underpopulated, gray, gloomy, tourist mecca of the southern Midwest, Bricktown, OKC, we kept coming to the same conclusion... This new entertainment district hasn't seemed to figure its identity out. Nothing really seemed to go together. Did it want to be based around the baseball and basketball facilities? Did it want to be known for its "Brick" history? Was the canal the focus? We could never figure out the point of the area. The weather was gloomy and the morale of the people was low, it was out of season for crowds to be drawn, and plus it was a Sunday and a Monday (even though it was St. Patty's day), but even with that said everything just seemed off. Then it was time to leave and the rain set in... and then the uneasiness of the area started to make sense.
On the way out of town we made our way by the Federal Building memorial. I had been there before, but never in the rain. I remember what seemed like time stopping in '95, but had never felt the impact like this. I remember practicing bomb drills in elementary school after the fact but never felt the devastation like I did on Tues. This visit was different. This visit put a lot into perspective. Maybe it was the rain, maybe the conflict in the middle east, maybe my anxiousness for our time in Africa, maybe I just wanted to be affected more. I'm not real sure, none-the-less this was different. It was just an eerie stop at the memorial. It was gray, it was empty, it was drizzling rain in a way that was more inconvenient than anything. And through all that it hit me. People never really do forget, people never quit hurting, people never really feel safe again.
We get a sense of those things because we are forced to believe it by hearing it from Government officials day in and day out in regards to 9/11, but until now I don't think I fully grasped what the impact of terrorism, hate, suffering, and loss really was. I guess it is more ignorance than anything.
There were not many people at the memorial probably because of the weather or maybe because it was mid day Tues. but you could feel a tension, a sadness, a sense of misunderstanding in the atmosphere. It was one of those times in my life when my heart was tugging hard and a sense of clarity started to come over me. Its not that Bricktown had not found its identity, its not that Bricktown didn't know what it wanted. OKC had been robbed, OKC has been put in a situation where it must move forward but never disregard its past. Its not that people don't forget, its that people wont forget. Terrorism isn't just an act that affects someone and in time is easily dismissed, it is an act that drags the life out of communities, cultures, and people. Terrorism is an act that can leave a thriving community in an identity crisis trying to move on but never wanting to forget.
My eyes were opened this damp weekend in OKC. My mind was cleared of ignorance and my heart was willing to wrestle with the idea that we are global citizens with a responsibility, not just to see justice and end to poverty, genocide, hunger, and terrorism, but we are a people who has a responsibility to support the hearts of fellow brothers and sisters that have been devastated. That even though we have not been directly affected we have a duty to not forget either. The suffering is what allows for healing, the willingness to be ONE and understand is what allows us to keep going.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Dear Friends and Family,
This summer I will be traveling to Africa with a group of people representing Ichthus student ministries on campus at Kansas State University. While on our trip to Africa we will spend six weeks in Uganda, working with the Arch Bishop of the Anglican church, we will go through two weeks of evangelism training, and getting acclimated with the culture and the people, followed by four weeks of serving in different capacities, that include but are not limited to, working in orphanages, schools, AIDS clinics, etc… While in Uganda we will be paired with Ugandan college students that have the desire to serve in the same capacity and field as us. Proceeding the six weeks in Uganda John Nunnally, a friend of mine with the same aspirations and vision for the nations, and I will be traveling to the southern parts of the continent to further experience the culture and witness the lives of our brothers and sisters in need. During this trip we plan to visit an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, to put into perspective the ease of our lives and experience the tragedy that is happening around us by genocide and civil war.
In order to make this vision a reality we have come to the conclusion that we must raise $6,000 each to cover the expenses necessary for a trip of this length and magnitude. The funds raised will go to cover travel expenses, as well as food and housing for an entire summer of service.
I am asking first and for most for prayer as your biggest form of support for our summer. We know that without the guidance of our Lord and the unending support, thoughts and prayer from home our trip will not be a success. I am also asking that you consider helping support our trip financially, so that I can have the opportunity to fully realize my role as a global citizen and the impact that my heart for the nations can accomplish. With our departure date being June 10, 2008 we have set a deadline of May 15, 2008 to raise the needed funding, with that said we ask that you please consider contributing sooner than later. All donations are tax deductible and checks can be made out to: Ichthus Student Ministries.
For further information on what we intend to accomplish while on our trip please feel free to contact me, and visit our website www.whatdotheyneed.net which has a more in depth look at our vision for the summer, and will also include updated blogs, photos, and videos of the progression of our trip.
Thank you for your support,
3221 N. 131 St. Kansas City, KS 66109