“If it's true I live in a world where hope has all but died, and if I really have a living love alive in me,
How am I letting it be known? How am I letting it be seen?
These are the signs, these are the signs of life: the love that proves there is a living faith inside…
These are the signs, these are the signs of life: the compassion and concern that make this world turn…
These are the signs of life!”

-Steven Curtis Chapman

Monday, July 26, 2010

Getting Through the Door

Even the government doesn’t want me as their sign language interpreter. Or… something like that.

Recently, I was to work at a governmental place as an interpreter. So, I do my normal procedure: get lost, wander around until I find the place by accident, go through a security metal-detector-thing, fail, and go through again, and find someone who can point me in the right direction. (Directions and passing security metal-detector-things are not among my strengths.)

This is a high security building, so I ask security officers who I need to speak to in order to get into the proper place. I showed them my ‘terp ID badge and verification forms for work, etc., to prove who I am. They respond: “We don’t have a sign language interpreter scheduled today.”
That really wasn’t my question. So I tell them specifically what thing I’ll be interpreting for, the agency I work with, all that stuff. They say no. I tell them I’m going to call my Contact Person in case there was a miscommunication. They say no phones may be used on the premises. I ask if one of them could call to verify instead. They say no.

They won’t let me move forward, and where I’m at, I really can’t go back outside. The extra time I had before the assignment starts is almost gone.

Then - my awesome teammate shows up. He walks through security (passing the metal-detector-thing the first time), comes up to the SAME security guys, and goes, “Hey guys! How’ve you been? Listen, Casey and I are interpreting soon; would you mind taking us back to the room? Thanks.”

And like magic, they let us go to the right location, my teammate leading the way. No questions asked. No need for justification.

It made me come to two logical conclusions:
1. Not even the government wants me as their interpreter.
2. Sometimes, you can’t get where you want to go, without someone else to get you there.

Okay, so number two is actually my main point: I’m suck without someone to go ahead of me. Without my teammate, I wouldn’t have been able to get in. (At least not on time.) Likewise, without Christ – I wouldn’t be able to make it to Heaven.

I had proof that I was a legitimate interpreter today: my ID, my forms, etc. but I didn’t have the right person to get through. In life, you can have all the “right things”: do good works, feed the hungry, be honest, help old ladies cross the street, take care of orphans and widows. All of that stuff is good! But if you don’t have the right Person – that person being Jesus Christ – you’re stuck. You cannot make it into Heaven on your own, if you don’t have the right Person to go ahead of you.
Jesus is the only way to Heaven. It's only through Him that you can be fully justified and allowed to enter.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” – John 14:6
That’s what I learned today. And I have a new story to add to my growing list of “One time, when I was interpreting…” stories. It’s almost as amusing as when my student kicked a live roach at me...

Following the Leader,


Friday, July 16, 2010

Happily Ever After: Snow White

I love fairy tales. Growing up, you couldn't drag me away from books and movies that were full of princesses and happily ever afters. Right now, my church is doing a series where we're studying Fairy Tales to find Biblical principles, called Happily Ever After. This week, we studied Snow White.

Now, I'm sure you know the Snow White story: the beautiful girl who was banished to the forest by her evil step-mother. She ends up finding shelter in the woods, where she sings with the forest animals, meets the seven dwarfs, and is taken in and is accepted and loved and has peace. The dwarfs told Snow White that when they left for work, she shouldn't open the door to anyone. Unfortunately, when Snow White was alone one day, an old woman came to the door and offered her an apple. Snow White allowed temptation to rise, and she opened the door, took the apple - which happened to be poisoned. When she bit the poisoned apple - she died.

Back when God first created the world, he set up a beautiful garden for Adam and Eve. It was a place of acceptance and love and peace. God told them they could eat from any tree in the garden, except one. (See: Genesis 2:17-18) They were in a perfect world... but temptation came, and Eve gave in, eating from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and offered it to Adam who eat from it as well. Then - they died spiritually. By committing that act of disobedience, they sinned, and therefore became disconnected from God.

Get it: by opening the door, Snow White disobeyed the dwarfs who made the rule for her own protection - and she died. By allowing temptation to lead to sin, Adam and Eve died. In Snow White, everyone is in mourning. Adam and Even are thrown out of the Eden. It's hopeless.

Back to Snow White: a prince comes, and he finds here in the middle of the dying forest. Even though she's dead the prince still sees her beauty and worth and he gives her the Heimlich maneuver (yeah, that's not in Disney version!) and she comes back to life as the poisoned apple is dislodged from her throat. He offers to marry her, and Snow White agrees. They go back to the the Prince's kingdom, and they live happily ever after.

The same way, a rescue mission was sent to Earth from God himself. The Son of God came down, and sacrificed his own life so to save his beloved ones. We were DEAD and yet when God looked at us, He saw something - and He valued it as worth saving. He brought us back to life. And just like the prince in Snow White, he offered to let us come back with him. Never forced, but offered to give us that Happily Ever After in His kingdom, where we're going to find acceptance, and love and peace again.

Hopefully, this will make you want to reread the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-3 specifically) and maybe reacquaint yourself with your own personal Prince, who went on the ultimate rescue mission to bring you back to life.

"For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

Thankful for the Happily Ever After,

P.S. If you want to hear the sermon online, you can go to: www.forwardfellowship.com
and click the "Listen to Forward Fellowship Sermons Online" button. You won't regret it!

Monday, July 5, 2010

World Changers

“The world needs dreamers, and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

I love that quote because it’s about people who change their world.
I hang out with a group of “world changers”. It sounds cliché, but I am absolutely, one hundred percent serious.

These people, my friends, have a vision to change the world. Not “changing the world” in that disconnected, crazy way that really doesn’t have any impact. These people have dreams that involve seeing a radical change in their own lives. A radical change in their families. A radical change in the city where we live. A radical change in our state, country, continent, and the rest of the world.

But they don’t just dream. They do. They make friends with people who believe and behave differently. They talk to the baristas at Starbucks and have conversations with servers when we’re out to eat. They look for ways to serve each other. There’s no competition to be the best, no desire to “one up” each other. When we’re together, there’s just laughter, and teasing, and Cuban coffee, and attempts to teach me Spanish, and late-night trips to Denny’s.

They’re dreamers who do, and doers who dream and above all else, they’re REAL.

They are flawed too – at the girl’s small group on Tuesdays evenings I attend, I hear stories of broken families, of broken lives, of broken hearts. The word “broken” comes up a lot, actually. They’re not perfect, and they don’t act like a pseudo-Jesus with the holier-than-thou attitude. They admit they don’t have it all worked out. They just genuinely try to live like Jesus modeled.

I want to be like that. Their passion and zeal for Christ and radical change to our way of self-centered thinking has the potential to be infectious.

I want that. It has a cost of course: it means being uncomfortable, putting myself out there, and chucking my pride out the window. It means diving deeper with God, and letting Him be the one who really makes the difference.

Though Christ, I choose to become a world changer – a visionary that both dreams and acts.

Changing from the inside out,