Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New way to be human (taken from www.xanga.com/selaheto)

"we are all the same, human in all our ways and all our... pain"...

it's been almost three weeks since i last blogged. i've been trying to develop this entry for quite awhile now. i think it's about time for me to try and "write this on paper" and see where it'll take me. while we were playing at a coffee house one night in Grantham, PA, one of their very own missionary was sharing something along the lines of how he struggled sometimes as a missionary. he felt like he had to play "the perfect christian". that was the very same night that i felt God reaching out to me and screaming in my face. it's been awhile. it's about time again...

a common misconception about missionaries, i believe, is that they have to be somewhat "ready" for ministry. and hence all the sophisticated application procedures from all the missions organizations as well as churches. there's intensive training to ensure that people are "ready for ministry". there's nothing inherently wrong with that. i believe it's an essential quality to have - spiritual maturity, or even just discipline. it's important that people are signing up for what they're signing up for. it's true. but at the same time. that's what gives us the unnecessary pressure that we feel sometimes don't you think? as worship leaders, as missionaries, as Christian bands, or even, as Christians, we feel the pressure. we feel the pressure that we have to be somewhat "holy-er" than the people we're "ministering" to. we feel like we have to have life all figured out. we feel like we can't fail. we feel like, we just can't be "human"...

i'm often asked to write something on the blog from the ministry that i'm a part of this year. i'm often asked to share more with others about the things that i'm learning. i'm often asked by others to update them on what we're doing as a team on the road. when these requests come up, i feel the need to live up to a certain level of expectation. i feel like i have to tell them all these glorious "God-stories". i feel like i need to tell them about how much we're learning as a team, how much we're growing as individuals, how we're getting along really well, how we're traveling to all these cool places meeting new people, how all these lives are being touched and changed "as a result of our ministry". basically, i feel that people want to know that all is well, and that "their prayer" is "working"...

this time around, it's a little different... but not at the same time. you'll know what i mean in a moment... but this is my God-story...

"we are all the same, human in all our ways and all our pain..."

that's a line from the song We Believe by Good Charlotte that we cover. this, lately, has been one of my favorite things to share with whoever i'm "ministering" to on stage. i've been reminded that we ARE indeed, all the same. i was reminded that even though i've been chosen to be a "full time minister" this year, that i don't need to be perfect. i'll never be perfect. i need to STRIVE to be like Christ, but i will never... be Christ, himself. i was reminded that it's ok to struggle. it's ok to slip. i'm not saying that it's ok to indulge in sinning. but it's ok to be a sinner. it's ok to be human!

that sounds like Eliot is starting to be all apathetic about his faith and his walk with God...

think again. i think you're wrong.

"we are all the same, human in all our ways and all our pain...

(so let it be) there's a LOVE that could fall down like rain,

(so let us see) let forgiveness wash away the pain,

(what we need) no one really knows what they are searching for,

(we believe) this world is crying for so much more!" - We Believe, Good Charlotte

that's our message isn't it. we struggle. God helps us. we slip. He encourages us. we fall. He picks us up. we sin... over and over again... he died for us... ONCE and FOR ALL!

that's our message. our message is that we're NOT perfect. we're human. we're all the same. whether it's inmates, Christian students, non-Christian students, seniors, single moms, the abuser, the abused, the broken, the empty, the losers, the nerds, the rejects, the jocks, class clown, the pastor, the average Joe... we are all the same. human. that's what we are. that's who we are. we can't help ourselves. we are all the same. we can all somehow relate to each other. we're born sinful. we're sinful no matter how hard we try. we all struggle. we will always struggle no matter how hard we try. we are... all the same...

that's our message. we are all the same. but God wins! he conquered death and has washed away all our sins, that's only if WE BELIEVE.

so what do we do? I believe... you believe... but so what you might ask. well it might be somewhat of a rhetorical question. but this is why we do what we do - we believe... in this Love. we are just the same as the people that we minister to or maybe even just those that we come into contact with day to day - at Wendys for brunch, at Subway for dinner, at church setting up, at host homes tearing down, on the streets playing ball, and wherever else doing whatever else. we are all the same... the key word in this phrase is this... human in all our WAYS and all our PAIN! that's why we want others to hear the message isn't it? we are all human. we're all sinful. and as a result of a sinful nature... as a result of sin... PAIN! that's why we do what we do...

it's so easy, as a minister, as a Christian (i believe those two words are synonymous), to think that ministry is JUST a responsibility. it's JUST an obligation. it's JUST... part of what you signed up for. NO. i think those are all TRUE. but there's MORE. let me draw ANOTHER example from ANOTHER song that we cover...

"there are many prodigal sons, on our city streets they run, searching for shelter

there are homes broken down, peoples' hopes have fallen to the ground from failures.

there are schools full of hatred, even churches have forsaken, Love and Mercy.

may we see this generation, in its state of desperation, for your Glory." - Tears of the Saints, Leeland

the song goes on to say that "this is an emergency". that's why we do what we do, yea?

"there's a new way to be human"... a line taken from a Switchfoot song. im just stealing this line to develop my blog. i believe that MY new way to be human... is to EMBRACE the fact that i'm human. i failed. i fail. i'll always fail. He won. He wins. He'll always win. He loved. He loves. He'll always love... he can't NOT love. because He himself... is LOVE... we are to live with a sense of urgency, not necessarily to CONVERT people. but imagine this, there're people rolling on the floor with agonizing pain. on the other hand, you've got what it takes to heal the wounds. what would you do? it's not about scoring "Christian points". it's not about a salvation rate. it's about a love. it's about LOVE, Himself

"there's a love that could fall down like rain... let forgiveness wash away... YOUR pain..."

there's a new way to be human... just BE human... and not anybody else... embrace your humanity. embrace... his supremacy, sovereignty... and mercy...

Love. really is more than just a four letter word...

just speak without sound... that's Love...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

on the road again...


I have been shamefully neglecting of my responsibility to post on this blog... I don't even want to admit the last time I blogged. BUt I am alive, my team didn't kill me off, or leave me Duluth somewhere :) . Don't worry Mom!

Life is going amazing! I am just sitting here in my host home, in Raleigh, NC and just wondering what it is that I should highlight on these past few weeks...

We have just come out of a wonderful time in Florida! We spent about two weeks there and have been loving the change from our cold-weather homes to the warm, breezy, and wonderfully sunny Southern states! I think we are all perfectly content to "slave-away" in these conditions. :)

We set foot first in Florida and before we had time to get excited, we arrived Pensacola, Florida. We got to spend some quality time with Jolene and Christian McArthur (CTI Alums) for a couple days. Really awesome, they treated us really well! Even treated us to haircuts! I don't know if that is cause Jolene is a sweetheart, or because she was sick of looking at our shaggy musician dos...

Pretty soon afterwards, we were in Navarre, Florida, where we spent time 5 days working in and around the Hurlburt Airfield. We meet up with Greg Copeland "Cope" and his wife Susan and all their adopted kids at the youth group there at the chapel on base. Seriously, one of our favorite stops; hands down. These people have such a testimony and such an amazing journey that they have had to face the past year. In August, Cope's son, Jarren was hit by a drunk driver and died instantly. The previous CTI Team in 2006/2007 had a chance to meet him & found out what a passionate guy he was for his family, Christ, and life.

To be taken away at such a young age was a huge blow to his parents, his sister, family, and his friends in the youth group and church community. We had a chance to work with them during those five days, and believe me, we learned more than we realized. Taught us more about the beauty of life and the beauty of God's love in such concrete terms in just those couple days. The youth just rallied around Cope and his family, it's overwhelming and very touching; blew me away with the love they show and how at the end of the day, they are still able to admit that God is faithful. We had a chance to play in the church, for the youth group, for a outreach night, and at a detention center. It was emotionally draining, but really a blessing.

Cope was pretty sure that the detention center was the reason we were brought to Navarre, to the Airbase. We got a chance to play a concert and present the gospel for some of the young guys there...all of which were around 13-19 about. We were touched and burdened when they came up to us after the concert and just wanted to talk about their lives, asked prayer requests, and just wanted advice...It was really cool.

we learned a lot that week...I can't speak for the whole team, but we all had our own stories to tell after that...

Picture 1 :(trying on the airbase parachute outfits)
Picture 2: (hanging out at the beach)
Picture 3: (with the youth group at Hurlburt )


We then headed out to St. Petersburg for the week/weekend and played a couple school chapels and church concerts/youth concerts. We had a chance to go canoeing in the area, which was a
mazing! Woo hoo....And with pictures to prove our fun, we were content :) After a 3 hour long trip we rush to our concert, filled with sand and salt water, but feeling very happy with ourselves...

We headed to Titusville and meet up with Amanda Beesley (Summer teamer 07' ) and then headed out to Palm Beach to spend more time with Alums - Nick and Kristen Castiglione (Fulltime members 04-05) . Palm Beach had lovely weather and lovelier people, we played for school chapels mostly. School kids are so high on life, especially the middle schoolers...I'm surprised they are conscious at 6 am.

Then it was goodbye Florida and hello South Carolina! I think Jessie and I had the real luxury, cause we got to go to Swan Lake and spend a God-filled morning just getting to do nothing but take in the beauty of the place. Seriously, thinking of the place, makes me feel poetic...

Now we end up in North Carolina! Where I am right now! I love , love it here...seriously...great place to stop, beautiful place. Lovely people, except for the bitter rivalry between Duke and UNC...but thats for them to work out... :) but i like it here.

We just played at Hillsong Church in Chapel Hill, NC this morning arrived in Raleigh this afternoon. It's great, cause this is where our president and program director of CTI grew up, so you can guess all the stories that we will glean from their past life embarrassments . It is very enlightening :)

Such kind hearts and amazing accents...i love the south :) too much , they are too much :)

Anyways, i think we are having to much fun. Tomorrow is a day off and after doing the emails to the office and other "work" related items, we are going to find a mini golf and grasp this warm weather the life of it, and enjoy it for maybe the last time.

Things to pray for:

- team unity
- renewed focus (we are halfway through tour!)
- our families and situations back home that distract us...
- that we don't take life for granted
- Cope and Susan and the community at Hurlburt Airfield
- blessings on the host families that have offered to open up their hearts and homes to us...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

...to the southeast...

We left St. Louis and continued to travel southeast into Indiana. There, we got to hang out with Tim's family and home church, Harvestime Temple. When we arrived, we set up and then spent some time with some of their youth. They have a program there that disciples kids into music ministry - it was a privilege to play a few songs and talk to them about ministry.

We played a concert the next night for the energetic youth group, and even got to have a tour around historic New Harmony (thanks to Sherry and the Boettchers!). It was great to get to meet Tim's family and friends and minister with them.

We traveled on from there to Tennessee. Our route took us near Nashville, so we took an extra hour to stop there and hang out. We made it to the Grand Ole Opry, and then drove around until we ran out of time. Maybe next time we can stop and do something... :)

The Biers hosted us for the next couple of days. It was a blast hanging out with them, and even though Lydia (CTI alumnus) wasn't around, the rest of the family welcomed us with open arms. Shawn, Renee and I got a tour around the area by foot, while the others played games and watched a movie. A big thanks to the Bier family for a very relaxing pit stop!

After that, we drove down through North and South Carolina to Lawrenceville, GA. The people of Georgia got a big surprise - they actually had a half inch of snow, which hasn't happened in 5 years! We weren't sure how many were going to brave the weather, but we're so happy for the good turn out - it was so neat to minister there. We did a youth concert for Grace Evangelical Church, and led worship the following day. While we were there, we had the pleasure of spending time with CTI full-time alumnus, Dale Madden. I believe at last count, we had seen 18 alumni on tour, since we started in August!

From there, we rode down to Ft. Valley, GA, to do a program for Grace Evangelical's sister church, Grace Pointe. We had a blast playing for the youth there. They actually invited 8 churches, and it's a good thing several of them didn't come - because the sanctuary was full!

Afterwards, there were 40 pizzas for us to fill our bellies with, which was more than enough for everyone there. Thanks to the Grace churches for an awesome weekend.

We finally made it down to Florida! We stopped and visited CTI alumnus Jen Auld in Tallahassee before continuing to Pensacola to stay with Christian and Jolene (more CTI alumni!). (I do have a question - whose idea was it to make the panhandle of Florida be Central Time Zone??) Christian and Jolene were so generous with their time and resources, and we are greatly indebted to them for all that they did! It was so awesome hanging out with them and resting. Thanks, guys!

Thanks again - more to come later!