tokens and transgressions

I recently started working with Mckinney Church again, but this time as the 6th grade girls intern instead of the college intern...quite the change! We did an all night lock-out last Friday night, which is actually similar to what the Chinese do to terrorists as a form of torture, only they don't eat pizza and play laser tag. Anyway, from 12:00 am until 3:30 am we were at this put put arcade place. Everyone had this giant cup filled with tokens and I began to play this one game with a few other kids. Its one of those games where you drop the token and there are two levels filled with tokens. The point is to get yours to land on the top level which is moving and push off tokens onto the next level, which push tokens over the edge and essentially wins you lots of tickets. This is the game that made me realize how easy it would be to become a gambler. I, along with several students, used all to most of our tokens on that game; just putting them in one right after another and each time hoping that this would be the big one that would put us on top.
I had a small revelation today that this is sin. I am not arguing that an arcade game is sin or that playing it was sin. I am saying that that is how sin works. We are drawn to something, see something, feel something, want something and so we test it out. We are looking for it to do something for us, fulfill something. Maybe it does, but even if it does it is only for a second. So we keep putting tokens in, each time hoping that this will be the one that leaves us needing nothing else. Just one more. Just one more. Just one more. It just never does though. There is nothing on earth that leaves us needing nothing else. It is only Jesus.


Luke 4

I am passionately in love with The Village Church, here in Texas. It has been one of the most redeeming parts of this whole seminary experience. I have never been and not learned something that seemed to shake me to the core. Last night was no different. Matt, the pastor, just has a way of communicating that leaves you wanting to hear more of the Word. The only explanation I have for this is an incredible gifting and touch of the Holy Spirit. Anyway, on to my point. Last night he preached through the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4. He pointed out that Jesus used Scripture as the answer to temptation. If you have at all been exposed to the church you have probably heard this same application. But Matt said it in a way that I had never heard before. He said that many times we think that Scripture is some kind of magic wand that we wave in the face of temptation to make it instantly disappear. It isn't a magic spell. Scripture is a lens, the only lens. I once read in a book that Jesus didn't come to establish another religion, He came to show us how things really are. This is what Matt was alluding to. The Scriptures show us at the deepest level of reality what the world is like. When temptations come they help us to see it how it really is. They show us the reality of sin, its death and destruction. They show us the true nature of life and joy and hope. They show us what God is like, that He is not holding out on us. They aren't our wand, they're our lens. We must know Scripture, hid in it, meditate on it, hold to it, because without it we cannot see rightly and we will always fall prey to temptation.


Paradise 2008

My first semester at seminary I was placed with my advisor, Dr. Richard Ross. Dr. Ross is a powerful man of God with vision and passion from the Lord. He told us in the first couple of months last fall that the Lord had been waking him up at 3:00 am with a vision. This vision woke him up every morning for a week. What he saw was a large open field, with a magnificent throne in the middle and young people coming from each corner to worship at the throne. After more than a year of praying, planning, consulting, sharing and dreaming Paradise 08 was born.
On May 25th, 2008 in a feild in Lacygne, Kansas, thousands of teenagers from all four corners of the U.S. will come to worship the King from sun up to sun down. No merchandise will be sold, no royalties will be made, no speaker will be heard, not stage will be present, no band member will be visible. For one full day, people will worship Jesus with no other agenda in mind. You need to check this out. It is going to be massive. God is doing something here, it is his vision, it is His glory.
Check it out Paradise 08


Good gifts

Matthew 7:9-11 says, "What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Jesus reveals a bit of the character of the Father here. The Father desires to give good gifts to His children. What are these good gifts God gives us? My professor told a story about his son when he was young. His son got a large splinter in his foot that broke off deep under the surface. My professor took one look at it and knew he had two options; take him to the clinic and let someone hurt him badly, or he must hurt him badly. As he and his wife held his son down his son said, "Daddy, daddy! Stop! Why are you doing this?" The father knew if he left that splinter in it would abscess, become infected, etc. Did this father give His son a good gift? YES!

We have such limited understanding. We believe that good gifts are health, wealth, comfort and happiness. What we don't see is that God desires our growth not our comfort and everything he does is for this purpose. Though we often miss it, God is orchestrating, moment by moment, opportunities for us to grow. This is how the Father gives us good gifts.