Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Sledgehammer, Tampon Machine and the Risen Christ (Part 2)

...So I found myself surrounded by the quiet on Wednesday night enjoying the peacefulness and serenity that an empty college campus provides. Reading books for leisure and sipping coffee was never so enjoyable. However after the first couple days of this I began to get a little anxious. I was surprisingly ready for people to get back. Jacob and I had watched all the movies and television shows we could handle. We had played all the video games we wanted to play. But most importantly we were ready for the cafeteria to open back up. JBC had closed the food services so that the students working there could return home if they so desired for Easter. We had our fill of nasty fast food. We had given up on making our own food in the dorms years ago. Failed experiments with combining microwave popcorn and Taco Bell sauce packets, Wal-Mart brand saltines and homemade jelly we found outside a random door, and of course anything off of the island at the Wally.

Sleeping-in way to long accompanied by the stale smell of a guys dorm room caused a title wave of laziness to wash over me as I sat there in my dorm room Saturday afternoon. I had to do something productive. The thought of starting my homework entered my mind for a split second until it hit me. I ran down to Jacob’s room to find him in the same atmosphere as me. Lazily sitting on his bed sifting through an old milk crate of record albums Jacob greeted me with that familiar greeting, “Hey booojj.” (not a typo)

“A FORT.” “Do you want to build a fort today,” I said excitedly. Jacob’s posture changed from sleep mode to attack mode. “Holy Crap! Yeah man I’m all about that,” were Jacobs words. We decided we needed about ten minutes to get ready, you know steel toed boots, flannel shirts, beards. I mean we were building a fort for crying out loud. When we met back up ten minutes later neither of us looked like what I just described. I was wearing a pair of basketball shorts, t-shirt and tennis shoes. Jacob had on sandals, a tank top complete with a howling wolf and of course his cut-off jean shorts. I noticed that Jacob was holding a twenty pound SLEDGEHAMMER. I didn’t even have to ask Jacob saw my eyes hit the sledgehammer to which he told me that he didn’t have any tools and he figured we needed some. I agreed and off we went.

There was only really one place for us to go, not because JBC lacked the location for potential forts, but because the place we decided on was too perfect. Johnson has an area down the hill from campus off in the woods were they dump large items of trash that are too big for normal trash pick-up. Items like furnaces, refrigerators, washing machines and stoves all make this their final resting places when they are no longer needed.

Jacob and I were in fort building heaven. We had everything two college seniors needed to build a fort, a lot of junk and sheer boredom. We quickly came across an old hay rack feeder which became the foundation/skeleton of our fort. We continued to sift through the rubble and found 10-12 sheets of tin which became the walls and roof we needed to complete this operation. We finished the fort by adding the essential door and fire pit, along with an old TAMPON MACHINE we hung inside for decoration.

We took a deep breath, wiped the sweat off our brow and looked on with pride in our new creation. So this is what God must have felt like on the 6th day of creation. I haven’t been back to our fort since I left JBC for the last time, but every Easter as I celebrate the RISEN CHRIST I will remember our fort. And it was very good.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Sledgehammer, Tampon Machine and the Risen Christ

One of my favorite things about attending the hollowed institution on the banks of the French Broad River is that students do not have classes on Mondays. For some very good reasons, which I will not expound upon in this post, Johnson Bible College (where a heart can grow its wings) gives their students this day off.

One of the great advantages to having Mondays off is when there is some national holiday that doesn't fall on Monday you get even more time off from class. Case in point:

My senior year, Easter fell during the week that was not over our Spring Break. In past years the two had come at the same time negating any chance of extra time off over Easter. But as I mentioned this year Easter came at the perfect time.

Being the observant Christian college that it is, Johnson decided to give their students not only Good Friday off but Thursday as well. (As to not throw off the class balance) That was all it took. Thursday off Friday off Saturday off Sunday off Monday off, and the entire campus was cleared out by late Wednesday night. With the exception of some staff, a broke down car in the parking lot, and the poor married students with jobs, the campus was desolate. Or was it?

The campus wasn't completely dead. I along with Jacob Mapstone decided to enjoy the peacefulness and serenity that would accompany a vacant college during a five day break. For me one of the main reasons for staying came as a result of the eight hour trip back to Francesville in the previous month. You might be wondering why would a poor young man who desires above every other desire to preach the word of God make this long trip back to Francesville in the middle of February. One word, Superbowl! (Please someone comment me and tell me how wrong I am. That you look it up and the origin of the Superbowl is actually this meaning it’s actually two words. PS-Anyone reading this remind me to tell you about a sermon I preached where one of the teens corrected the accuracy of my sermon during invitation time)

My friend Chris has a finished basement complete with his own movie theatre. In his movie theatre Chris has two rows of four recliners hooked together. The second row of recliners in elevated above the first row in order to see. The screen is 120 inches wide. For those of you who took math at JBC, that’s 10ft wide. High Definition projector, speakers, subs, track lighting and NFL Sunday Ticket accent an already beautiful room. Now you might think that Chris is a Colts fan being that he grew up in Indiana his whole life, but he is a die hard Steelers fan. Because of our mutual love of the Steelers, Chris would invite me over every time I was home to watch the game. The Superbowl was no exception. All that to say, I stayed at school during our five day Easter break because of my recent travels....


Friday, October 26, 2007

A Salute to Jacob Mapstone

During this post I will salute the legend we know as Jacob Mapstone. Over the next several posts I will share highlights and some stories of the enigma known as Weston, Jason Stone, and the infamous Captain Cloud. Be sure and ask us all about the highlights written below. The post soon to come is one of my favorite Jacob Moments. So here's to you Jake I hope all of you enjoy these highlights:

The Ironing Board
Watching Corking Romano During "The Fight"
We Almost Roomed Together
I'm On Your Side
Zube's Band-Aid
My Room Sophomore Year-Recliner/Naps/Stench
American Movie at 2 am
Adventures with Foggy McFogerson and Captain Cloud and oh yeah Kelly Harris
The Zit
Care Bears/Cool Running’s/Anything Remotely Emotional Sophomore Year
Letter Jacket Day
Late Nigh Run to B-Dubs and All That Followed
A Real Bad Haircut (Locks of Love)
Jesse's G-Ma's Homemade Cherry Jelly on Saltines
Jelly Beans with Steve

Steve VanHorn
Jesse Watkins
And the Late Taylor Brown (Late not because he is dead, but because he's late)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Conversation With Pills

I recently came across a quote by Bob Dylan that was posted on the Facebook of an old friend of mine. It's a good thing that Facebook keeps us up on all the happenings in our friends lives. I mean it would be difficult to make it through a day not being able to know at any moment which of my friends have changed their picture, mood, status, clothes or hairstyle. I can't imagine a life of not knowing who is writing on who's wall and who suddenly changed their relationship status from single to engaged. So here's to you Facebook "News Feed." (reader should detect a strong sense of sarcasm)

"People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient and repent later."
-Bob Dylan

This quote strikes a chord in my mind not because of its inaccuracy but because of its truth.

This realization led me to ask the question, "Is a belief still a belief if you compromise that belief?"

George Barna is a Christian researcher who conducts opinion polls studying the religious beliefs of Americans. In a book called Real Teens Barna explores the "Mosaic" generation (1994-2005) The research that Barna expresses concerning this generation is fascinating, but the thing I found most striking was this statement:

"...the mosaic generation is abundantly comfortable with contradictions."

Now with this in mind we go back to the question, "Is a belief still a belief if you compromise that belief." Our grandparents would answer No. Our parents and many people my age would say No. But I wonder about this Mosaic Generation. I would like to think that they would all answer No right a long with me, but I am not sure that they would.

What I see as a youth pastor is Bob Dylan's quote in very practical ways. I see the answer to this question being "No" when I ask them in small group or when they happen to read my blog. However I see this question being answered "Yes" in much of how they live their lives. The life that they live on the Internet through their Myspace or Facebook is often a far cry from what I see on a Sunday morning, at a week of church camp or on a mission trip. I have the privilege to get to see a heart beautifully open to God. I see their passion, love and humility. This is one of the greatest joys that I have as their youth pastor and someone who cares deeply about the direction of their life.

On the flip side some of saddest times come as I look through their Myspace and Facebook pages, confront a unrepentant heart about being caught in a sin or over hear a conversation at school I "wasn't supposed to hear" when they thought I wasn't there.

The fact is I feel overwhelmed. If this is true of this generation, if they really would compromise their beliefs all the while planning to repent later, if that is really how this generation operates, I am scared to death. There aren't enough books, seminars or retreats for us to take care of this problem. We aren't gifted or equipped enough to change this type of mindset. So this is it. My first and last blog as a youth pastor...unless

We serve a God that can make the sun stand still in order to redeem us.-Joshua 10:1-15


We serve a God who can deliver us from darkest places in our lives.-Daniel 3:19-30; 6:1-28


We serve a God who'll always fight for us when our hands our raised to him.-Exodus 17:8-15

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Its a spiritual battle. We can't win this battle with a 5 step program we learned at Youth Specialties. We win this battle with arms raised in prayer pointing toward the reckless raging fury of Almighty God. Pray for this generation.