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Help For Tuscaloosa

Having been through a pretty big natural disaster personally, Hurricane Andrew in 1992, I thought I was prepared for what I was going to see.  I was dead wrong.  The distinct path of the tornado left total destruction in its wake.   It had no mercy.  The sights and smells were that of a third world country.  It was literally as if a bomb went off, much in the sense my mom would describe my room in high school. The question that kept popping up in my mind was, “Where do you start?”  I was overwhelmed for the residents of Tuscaloosa and at the same time humbled by their positive spirits.  Hope in the midst of such despair can only be God.

Since returning home, I am drawn to the fact that I must go back.  There are months and months of intense tearing down ahead and eventually rebuilding.  The media will cease their coverage, as ultimately some other tragedy will take its place, but the fact is Tuscaloosa will need volunteers for a very long time.  I think everyone who is physically able should take the short drive over.  It will change you.

— Andrea Myers

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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Difference Lent Made

Having never participated in Lent, I did not have many expectations going in. So one night in the Oasis when Mark asked the group what we would give up, I decided to not listen to secular music for the next forty days.

After looking at all the Christian music on my iPod and deciding that, while the Chris Tomlin I had was good, I knew I would need something other than the five-hundred Zoe Group albums I had from my mom to even things out. So after getting some Christian music from friends and doing a little shopping on iTunes, I went straight to Kenya the day after Lent started.

Preparing my mind during the first several days in airplanes, airports, and vans travelling through the African countryside for what was to come by listening to music that praised our God was amazing. It is difficult to describe how well it helped to purify my mind just by removing Satan’s foothold in my headphones he so loved to use. Hearing God’s praises sung all day helped me see the beauty of Christ in everyone I came in contact with in Africa.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this decision was having effects in all aspects of my attitude. When I was in a bad or foul mood, I couldn’t listen to music that my flesh wanted, so that I could revel in my bad mood or feel empowered by anger like I know happens with so much of the other music these days. Instead, I had to sit in silence and chill out, or I could find ways to worship God through all of it by the music and thoughts I put into my mind. Also, when I was in a good and happy mood, I was able to give thanks and glory to God for what He had done. Because I had not listened to a ton of Christian music in the past, this new addition of God to my lyrics helped me to see Him in a whole new way.

Also, because the music that I listen to goes with me almost everywhere I go, having God’s music everywhere I went allowed God to be decompartmenalized in my life and allowed him to be present in so many more areas of my life than He had been. When I listened to songs that directed my thoughts toward Him in all different situations, my beliefs and conviction to live for him were no longer confined to church or chapel situations.

I constantly had Hillsong or Chris Tomlin lyrics in my head and it helped me to have God on my mind. Having His praises constantly on my mind encouraged me to put and see Him into so many common parts of my life. It really did open my eyes so that I could see more of what He was doing, or what needed to be done. My thoughts were much more in line with His and I could sense my attitude becoming more like that of Christ.

Now, I’m not saying that just listening to Christian music made me become a super-Christian and completely changed the way I saw everything around me, but things were different. And I believe that this difference in the direction towards godliness is what God wanted to show me. Seeing the differences after changing just my music led me to wonder how much all of our stuff really does distort our view of God, and what we are missing around us when our minds are focused on exactly what everyone else’s minds are focused on. The music that was different than the world’s allowed me to see and think about the world differently and reveal God to me in places I had never seen Him before.

— Ross DeJarnatt


 
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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The End of Lent…Or Just the Beginning?

Well, it’s almost over. For the past 40 days I, along with many, have given up something I do in my every day life in order to get closer to God in time for Easter. I know I’m not the only one when I say that this has been an extremely productive time in my life in my walk with God. Since I’ve given up TV shows and Facebook, I have had time to do so much more with my day.

I think a cool thing about Lent is that it’s kind of a second chance at all the failed New Years Resolutions. It’s much easier to have a goal for 40 days than one for a whole year. But if you can do 40 days, what should stop you from 80, or 100, or even a year? I don’t think that after Lent is over, you should just check it off your list and think you’re so high and mighty. Lent is a time to get closer to God and improve your life along the way. For anyone doing Lent, I would say to not stop. Keep going. Because you know that you’ve felt better, and more productive in the past 40 days than you have in a long time. For me, Lent has been a confidence booster. I now know that I have the self-control to manage my time more wisely and use it for God’s benefit. I’m not saying that you should never eat chocolate again, or never watch another TV show, but even cutting back a little can make a big difference. So if your Lent was as successful as mine, think twice before completely ending it. God may still want to do great things through you and your goals.

— Amy Davis

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Lent

 

The Highs and Lows of Lent

Last month I was involved in the 28/3 Challenge. It really helped me grow not only closer to my youth group, but to God as well. I could definitely see change, and I liked what i saw. Right after that ended, however, the idea of “Lent” kept popping up. I personally have never done Lent, but after some thinking I knew it was definitely something I wanted to do. 

I personally have decided to give up TV shows, and reduce checking my Facebook to only once a week. Being my confident self, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. Especially compared to the 28/3 Challenge. Once, with another church, I gave up Facebook for 90 days straight, so how bad could 40 days be. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Those of you doing Lent know how it feels to think you’ve been doing this for forever, and then look at the calender and find it has only been 2 days. This has been my experience, but that’s the beauty of Lent. It is a constant reminder, and truly tips the scale of how you spend your day.

These first two weeks have had their high and low points. Something that the 28/3 Challenge taught me was to slow down. You can’t just squeeze in a little time with God, and then move on with your day. It really helps if you will just stop and be quiet for just a few minutes and really concentrate on what your main goal is. You’re not just giving up something, you’re replacing that time with getting closer to God. I think if I can just remember that, this will be a very successful Lent.

– Amy Davis

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2011 in Lent

 

Mentoring; Entry 1

I’ve only been a part of the mentoring program for the past 6 months or so…maybe not even that long. I’m still learning so many things about how to lead, how to be Jesus and see Jesus, how to be humble in the learning process. The little girl that I mentor, who I will call “S”, is a treasure. Her heart sees other people who are hurting, or left out. A few weeks ago, while we were drawing a picture for her teacher, she was telling me about a girl in her class whose hair kept falling out. My heart sank as I listened to S describe the ways that the other kids in class make fun of this girl. But S said, “I don’t know why they are all so mean to her. She’s really nice. She’s my friend. I wish she wasn’t sick.” I am so thankful for the way that the Spirit reminded me, through S, that shining His light in the darkness is strikingly beautiful. I tend to apologize for my “brightness” sometimes, thinking that I should water down or pull the shades on what Christ has declared truth. In the name of “tolerance”, I follow our culture in mellowing out and sidestepping people’s toes. I love that S can see who needs love, and freely offers it. How awesome would it be for all of us to return to the childlike heart of loving without fear of rejection, and trusting without fear of being alone. That is when Christ is nearest, I think.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot recieve, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (Jesus in John 14)
Blessed be His name!
– Bethany Welborn

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in Mentoring

 

My Thoughts on Lent

I just read a very graphic and horrendous description of the crucifixion of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  The scene of this event shown in the movie, The Passion, as difficult as it was to watch did not really do justice to the pain and suffering our Savior endured for over 3 hours.  And to think He did this for me and for all.  There is absolutely nothing I can do to fully express my appreciation for this but I can try to love Him the best I can and to love others what ever or where ever they are.  During these next 40 days which leads up to Easter, the traditional time Christians have remembered this sacrifice, I plan in a very meager way to remind myself of the sacrifice and love Jesus had and continues to have for me.  I will not eat any sweet desserts nor chocolates during this time.  Obviously this is not fasting but by avoiding this addictive pleasure I will more frequently be reminded of what He has done for me.  Each time my weak mind drifts toward this desire I will try to transfer those thoughts to His sacrifice, His love and His grace.  And I will pray my life will better reflect my love and thanks to Jesus.

Larry Johnson

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Lent

 

It’s Over…

The 28/3 has officially ended. Actually it ended three days ago but this blog still counts. 28/3 was an amazing experience that has helped my prayer life and relationship with God tremendously. I am so glad that I accepted this challenge and I hope that I continue with it even though it has ended.
– Hayden Ellis

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2011 in 28/3 Challenge