Friday, November 21, 2008

Youth Convention.

This week, Cory, Josh, and I are at a youth convention in Nashville. 5,000 youth pastors. And we are one of around 300 exhibitors in the booth area representing Training Ground. I have never been part of a trade show before, so it is quite amazing to see so many ministries represented.

I became a christian in high school, but it wasn't till college that I really become aware of all the ministries, missions, and activities, and events around the country. It is quite eye opening to see how many are focused, and targeting youth in everything from frisbee evangelism, to missions.

We really wanteed to come, and explore, and be amongst those here as a place for young youth pastors, as well as their high school students with a high school summit at TG, that we are doing in 2009.

One thing on opening night was looking at the booths. Some seem 3 stories high. Others are 4 booths wide. There are some with huge banners, and colors, flashy things, and tons of big screens. Others like the father and daughter next to us, that lead youth groups to do inter city missions in a town in Florida, they have nothing fancy, or bright or expensive. just the words on a banner, and a few pictures. and some of the finest people we have met. with huge hearts.

another great one, probably my favorite is the compassion international booth. they have an interactive booth where you walk into a typical hut of a family from a country in africa (not sure which), and see how they live, and what things they have inside. i love that. 20 years from now, I think I will remember walking in there. mainly because I have not walked into a condition like that before, and they brought one persons living condition in africa, right into a convention hall between all the flashy stuff.

It is easy to judge, critique, evaluate, and ask what is the best booth, or did we do it well compared to the rest, does our booth speak to our mission, or catch peoples attention? Since we never have been to a convention, we really didn't know what to compare it to when we built it, and by God, that is probably our saving grace.

Josh labored weeks back on a 8 feet by 8 feet fake log cabin style building, with pictures, and a few items that get used while the young men are out there.

looking around at the other booths, it is also good to be reminded there are so many ministries out there. similar. different. and thank God. being part business minded, there is always the pull to try and differentiate your product, and make it sound like the best, and when you are away from others doing the ministry, it is very easy to feel that temptation rising inside. while there is always the good, the bad, and the ugly, i must say, it is good to be around our neighbors here, from light and sound, and big and small, and see there is some mighty good work being made, by some mighty good men and women for God in all arenas. different, and all part of their way of seeing God's Kingdom. and being one booth. I think booth #126, in that family.

Or also described as...

"that booth in the corner with a dead animal somewhere on the wall."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Earthlink. Woes.

I recently was charged $21.99 to my account from an earthlink account. I had signed up for the free service awhile back, used it for about a week, and stopped. Problem was I never canceled. It was a 6 month free subscription. Till the 31st of this month. Thus, my regular charge kicked in. $21.99. I have not used the account for 5 months. But I never canceled. So, I called up to cancel 3 days after being charged for this month's service, and with the hope they would consider my request to refund my money.

I spoke with a gentleman, and then a supervisor named Jeremiah. He was a gracious man, explained the policies, and how he would not be able to refund the money. I understood their dilemmna. Why give money back to a customer who is leaving? He should have read the policies, etc. I understand. They would rather keep my $21.99 then see my side. And to be honest, I can at least respect that as a business model. I clicked that little box thing with the million words that somewhere in there had their policies. My fault.

But what they lost, guaranteed is a customer for life. Maybe I would never come back to them, anyways. they are probably backing on that $21.99 gamble, than getting me back one day. it was worth it to them. but what I mentioned to the supervisor as they send it on, is to put my blog site, and let them know that I would be sharing their policies on my blog. and that I will be recommending to everyone to choose another internet provider. not earthlink. they have their policies, and well, this was mine. share it with a few of you.

The power of the internet is we actually have more of a voice. and I would love to see Earthlink help a brother out, and show some grace. We could all use it in this economy.

I hope they respond. I would love to share that with you.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cold blooded killing

I began to ask myself, could I kill an elk, which I had grown to love so much, and had brought me so many things?

It felt close to the likes of murdering a good friend.

Would I be able to look deep into my sight, and squeeze the trigger of my rifle on a helpless animal that’s only defense against me was simply running for its life? Could I spill blood, and take life, even, should I? Was it moral to kill? Christlike? What Would Jesus Do? Oh gosh, did I really say that?

But it was a good question. Would Jesus chamber a Remington bullet, dressed in 3-D seclusion camo, and creep around the ground, and kill? It had all been fun and games, and very nostalgic, and romantic up to this point. But these were some serious questions.

My dad was not a hunter. He shared a story that while he was a boy he watched his father out hunting, and remembers one moment in particular seeing him mercilessly kill a raccoon in the tree at their house. He was a young boy, and watching what appeared as a pet get shot down, did plenty of harm to his soul and for good reason.

He decided that for him, hunting was not an option. And as I began to enter into this scenario, I began to see those scenarios too.

It would hit me in moments. I would sit outside my house that backed up to a bluff called Ute Valley park where I had made a little shed for reading and praying. A doe or buck mule deer would stroll by with its family of little bambis, gazingly slowly by, and looking at me in the shed, almost peering into the glass to say hello, so kind and gently. I would pretend to raise a rifle, and pull a trigger, and the feeling was close to a mobster going on a killing spree with his tommy gun at a spaghetti joint. It felt so cold and dark. How could I kill Bambi?

I would watch rabbits munching on grass as well. I starred at them, and seeing them like I would a family at the mall, enjoying themselves and out for a day of pleasure and fun. It brought such odd and mixed feelings. I so deeply wanted to hunt, and yet how could I kill these furry innocent things?

This was going to be a big decision. Going against the family beliefs. It appeared, to hunt was to turn my back on my father’s opinions, and some of my own, and join the company of men as Al Capone, Jimmy Hoffa, Jeffrey Damer, and Charles Manson. Killers. And yes, there killing was with humans, and mine being an animal, but it was pre-meditated, and it was a life, and a bullet that I had aimed to take it with.

It brought up many more questions. Especially the really spiritual ones.

As a Christian, I knew that God’s order was about life. Jesus words, “I came that you might have life.” The gospel was about resurrection, being raised from death to life. Eternal life. Restoring life. Healing life. It seemed hunting was moving in the clear opposite direction of that. From peace and unity to lawlessness and murder. Death and destruction. From Ghandi and Martin Luther King back to Rambo.

As I drew closer, and kept going on hunts, and watching things get shot, I knew it was just a matter of time before that moment was going to be at hand for me. You didn’t just go to watch, eventually that trigger of death would be with my finger on it. The beautiful scenery and landscapes, and comraderie amongst men, and God in still silent meadows that had been so surreal, would all change with the thunder crack of a rifle, and a bullet through the heart, and my hand on a knife digging into fur and hide, and straight through into red fleshy meat with my hands covered in blood.

It seemed a gruesome sight. And it was sobering. This was not paintball, or video games where things were safe, and there was always the reset button. These actions were permanent. And I could not take back what I had done, once I had taken the shot.