The Naked Green

2005.8.11 Thursday

Vacation, Part II

Filed under: Following Christ, Vacation — Mr. Green @ 9.22 am

My plan to make a daily documentation of this vacation has not worked out so well and was quickly discarded after arriving at family camp. One thing was that I was so busy, I didn’t have much time and two, what we were doing didn’t seem so exciting in the explaining. We played lots of great volleyball games, some cards, several family meals and events, lots of good discussion, a variety show, lots of carb ingestion and I built a raft with my brothers. I guess I don’t have quite the energy or skills that my brother Stevish has, so I left the storytelling up to him.

One clear message throughout the week of “Family Camp” for me went beyond fun and games. In all the fun was fellowship. Good, old fashioned Christian love and unity. In the unity was a clear picture of God’s gracious blessing and faithfulness. All of my grandparents’ family (including a brother), which brought us to 52 people not only were able to make it to Family Camp, but they all profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour! God is good and we were overwhelmed by the reality of His goodness as we spent time together and worshiped Him.

I am now in Michigan with Jamie’s parents and sister who was able to attend Family Camp with us. I have just finished the book my Dad gave me, an autobiography by Chinese Christian Brother Yun with Paul Hattaway, The Heavenly Man. In this book, I also saw the goodness of Jesus and His mercy even though Brother Yun and many other Christians experienced intense suffering and persecution. He teaches hard and important lessons of suffering, discipline and Biblical study as a part of the Christian life which has convicted and encouraged me. Yun describes his struggles, temptations and even disobedience showing even more that Jesus is gracious and loving in using us as His vessels.

Praise God!

2005.5.15 Sunday

Our New Home!

Filed under: Following Christ, Homefront — Mr. Green @ 4.10 pm

Because our loan fell through, we’re now renting a beautiful place with great potential. It will take some work to “make it home”, but I think we can manage. It’s quite a tight fit, though. Hard to find a place to relax in 70 square feet and besides lights, we have no electricity.

We decided that it would be better to let our stuff reside in our storage unit while we seek asylum elsewhere…like our parents’ home. Thankfully we have a place to go, but we really want to either get into the house we’ve been “buying” or move on to something else. It’s hard to be in limbo.

Our pastor gave a good sermon today, Understanding The Season. It got me thinking that we’re probably in a “sowing season”. We’re spreading lots of seeds, but only the harvest will show us which seeds bore fruit. I’m glad we had that word today and feel good about the “season” we’re in. Not the most comfortable or exciting, but with the breath of God it should produce great results.

2005.3.19 Saturday

Christ’s Company

Filed under: Personal, Following Christ — Mr. Green @ 10.58 am

I’ve been struggling with balance, lately. I’ve been working a lot on web design lately, which is also my hobby. It’s wonderful to do something I love and express the God-given desire and skill to create. I feel like it’s detracting from my relationships, though…my relationship with God and my wife, Jamie. It’s not that I work all the time, but I always seem to be thinking about web design…trying to escape into the world of XHTML, CSS, PHP, etc.

Often in my prayers, I have been telling God that my budding business (really a seedling now) is His. Today, I echoed that saying, “Father, you are the owner of this business.” I started to say, “if this business gets in the way of my relationship with you or Jamie…” then I remembered that I just made Him the owner. How would God’s business detract from His primary concern of relationship? It’s good to know that Jesus is the CEO and I’m going to have to trust Him to do what’s right for the business.

I’ve got a lot of great ideas for design and I want to recognize the source of creativity, Jesus Christ. I have also said it before, but I’ll say it again: Jamie is my inspiration! If you ever want to make some good art, find yourself a wise and creative queen and do whatever it takes to marry her.

2005.2.14 Monday

Hunger in Hearing God

Filed under: Following Christ — Mr. Green @ 10.39 am

I’ve been seeking God’s direction in my life for a while now. I just don’t seem to hear what He’s saying. I realized before that He wasn’t being quite, but I just didn’t have the ears to hear, so to speak. I’ve come to a different conclusion recently, that it isn’t about not hearing His voice, but not recognizing it.

Our small group has been going through a video series by John Bevere called, Drawing Near. One thing that hit me was what he said about God wanting us to learn to discern His voice. God wants intimacy with us and real communication. He can certainly let me know something even if I’m outright trying to ignore Him, but perhaps He wants to be a bit more subtle…to draw me to Himself. That helped me a lot allowing me to seek after relationship with Jesus in the ways I know how, speaking to Him and listening…though I still don’t feel I hear clearly.

There are two sorts of beliefs and I can’t quite separate them nor find their roots. One is more about choosing your path by the grace of God, according to your understanding of His will. The second is listening for God’s direction and obeying. As I said, these are very much intertwined, but it seems that a Christian comes from one side or another in making decisions. The problem for me is I seem to be stuck in the middle…or on both sides, actually. Perhaps I’m making more of it than it needs to be.

I believe that we can’t sit around waiting for God to speak. Love and obedience means action and we must be that moving car (in a worn out analogy) for God to steer us. I also believe that God speaks directly to His children through the Holy Spirit, The Bible, others, etc. This may not even be a problem, but it causes me much confusion. I don’t think or feel that I know Him well enough.

2005.1.31 Monday

Scary Sleep

Filed under: Personal, Following Christ — Mr. Green @ 9.04 am

I was driving home from my Mom’s birthday party yesterday afternoon when all of a sudden, my head went BOOM! My eyes opened to watch my body quickly direct the car back onto the road and off the large median. I had some sort of revelatory blankness up there that, coupled with the painful shock, gave me an adrenaline pumping fear and alertness. Alert to the fact that the other cars around were avoiding me. Alert to the fact that I came to a grinding halt at the yellow light just ahead. Miraculously, I instilled no damage on the car, nor did I damage any of the nice trees on the high median which, I assure you, was not made for driving on. I’m glad that Jamie is safe in Michigan right now and I thank Jesus for protecting me (as I’m sure he did)!

It wasn’t really my fault. It was the car that actually went up there. I wasn’t directing it at all as my brain apparently either shut down or went somewhere else. I guess twelve hours of snow plowing with no sleep will do that to you. Somehow I safely made it through the last 25 minutes of the drive, surviving by fear and a constant muttering to myself about whatever I saw and especially, where I was.

Returning home, I promptly got undressed and into bed for a seven hour nap. The cat decided that was enough before eating was essential, so I got up. After eating some breakfast (or something) and feeding the cat, I read for a bit and snuggled in for my real seven hours of sleep. It was the cat that woke me up again, which was a good thing for once because I had my alarm set for Saturday’s wake up time. Not that it mattered much as the company I work at is on a two hour delay.

Thinking about the experience again this morning, I realized that many of us are like that too. We’re cruising down the road with no driver. God wants to come in and take the wheel to make sure we’re not flying around doing damage to ourselves and others. He wants to drive in style, not a piece of junk, so He plans a work of renewal and restoration that will make us the envy of that new Mercedes. Who is your owner and driver? Are you going the right way, but keep running into things, knowing that when the turn at the bottom of the hill comes, you’ll be headed for destruction? I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but Jesus wants to be the driver in your life. He wants you to end up parked in His beautiful mansion. He even goes way beyond this allegory, desiring a relationship with you! Don’t wait for a BOOM to wake you up!

2005.1.21 Friday

Problem with Floating

Filed under: Following Christ, Web Design — Mr. Green @ 11.40 am

I was uploading some content to our church website and thought of a great simple idea for the pastors’ bios. The idea was to have a border around each bio and float the header over the border. I’m sure I’ve seen it lot’s of places and it’s so simple, it only took me a couple minutes to implement the necessary CSS. That is, until I tested it in IE. It broke up all over the place! It was late, so I went to bed and didn’t sleep well leaving something unsolved.

The next day, I made up a simple html page with the same basic CSS and had the same problem. The borders from the bottom bios were mostly gone and the top bio had some of the remnants littering its content. There was also a problem when I implemented width, which caused the header to jump up over the border in IE. Take a look at the CSS floating header problem and my workaround (You’ll have to view them in IE to get the “special effect”).

What I want to know is why IE has a problem removing the bottom margin on a floating header. Actually, I really want to know why it can’t handle simple CSS. Am I doing something wrong? If anyone can take a look at the code and let me know what’s happening, I would be grateful.

I would like to thank God (yes, God) for the workaround on this one. The night before, after cell group, I prayed and realized that God wants to design websites along with me. He cares about that area of my life too and if it’s really ministry, then of course He’s involved. I had no internet connection at work in the morning and turned to God for help. I think He likes when we involve Him in what we’re doing and give Him credit for accomplishments. He made the mind after all!

2005.1.11 Tuesday

Vision in the Laundry Room

Filed under: Personal, Following Christ — Mr. Green @ 4.06 pm

Almost exactly 24 years after I was born, I sat down in the laundry room and saw a headline in The Denver Post. Over a large picture of two young guys wearing hospital masks outside were the bold words, “Thailand: a mission redefined*”. I don’t ever read the paper nor had I ever seen one in the laundry room, but I had to wait for the towels to get done and the article looked interesting. Flipping the newspaper over to see the bottom, I noticed the sub headline, “As Springs-based Christians race to help, what they find horrifies and transforms them.*” The caption for the picture was also visible: “…They are volunteers with Colorado Springs’ Youth With a Mission, which plans to send 120 teams to the country to aid in rebuilding.*” By the way, the guy in the article is 24 years old!

Wow! That was enough to catch me. I grabbed the laundry and the paper and headed back to the apartment. I showed Jamie the article and she got excited about the possibilities. I thought she might have just thought, “hmm…”, but she began talking about the possibilities. Could this be the direction we’ve been looking for? Perhaps the semi-closed doors we’ve been experiencing were God’s way of making us wait. Just earlier that night I was pondering the difficulties I was having becoming an electrician. I was thinking about taking a risk and leaving my job which seems like a dead end. Not wanting to make a rash decision or get all superstitious about events, I went to bed, deciding to call YWAM today about it.

All the work I’ve had today, kept me busy until I took my lunch break. I called YWAM and an enthusiastic girl took down my information and was exciting that we were interested. She explained some of what they’re looking for: individuals and groups for short-term trips to help rebuild as well as long term missionaries willing to commit to the effort. The more I talked, the more excited I became at the possibilities. I knew it was more than possible if it’s God’s idea and I started thinking about getting my church involved. In fact, just last Sunday, our pastor announced that this year will be the “Year of Outreach”. The girl mentioned that they have community nights on Tuesdays and that we could stop by some time.

I called Phil, a good friend, our cell group leader and the worship leader in our church. I told him what had been happening and suggested we attend the community night for our cell group some time (also on Tuesdays). He was fine with the idea and mentioned that he was just telling the pastor two weeks ago that he felt a burden to go help out in Thailand! We think the church will definitely be on board if we plan something.

While I spoke with Phil, I got a message on my phone. It was from Jonathan, one of the leaders of the Tsunami Relief effort at the Colorado Springs YWAM base. He had gotten my information and was getting back to me. I called back and we shortly discussed where Jamie and I are at and what is happening with YWAM. He will know more information at the end of the week and will keep me posted.

I will be spending some serious time in prayer about this to try to determine God’s will. The excitement I’m feeling is the highest it’s been in quite a while and I look forward to what God has in store. I know it will be hard work and tough on us, but I always seem to be most fulfilled when I’m ministering to others. Just yesterday, I asked God that He would make my heart like His, giving me His love for those affected by the tsunami. He knows I’m a hands on person and this may be His answer (so soon)!

*All quotes: Meyer, Jeremy. “Thailand: a mission redefined” The Denver Post. Sunday, January 9, 2005. Page A1

2005.1.6 Thursday

Naked I Go

Filed under: Following Christ — Mr. Green @ 8.10 am

Today is January 7 and here is the verse on my new Bible verse calendar:

He said, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
-Job 1.21 [WEB HNV]

That’s a great verse for realizing the proper perspective and attitude on life. It’s also a good one for this blog (Naked Green).

Update 1.50pm: …except that I pulled off two pages which, unfortunately, does not make it Friday. I can’t believe I didn’t look at the very large date above this post. All day I’ve been writing the sixth on orders. I got caught up on one order and thought, “wait, it’s the seventh, that’s what I wrote about”. Oops! Well, it’s still a good verse, just ignore it until tomorrow if you want.

2004.12.22 Wednesday

Jesus and Christmas

Filed under: Following Christ — Mr. Green @ 2.52 pm

I have long been of the opinion that Christmas originated as a pagan holiday [or maybe not] and have wondered whether I should celebrate it due to its origins and the fact that Christ was almost definitely not born on the 25th of December. I have decided to celebrate it because it has obviously changed in meaning over the years (in fact, today it’s largely secular again) and it’s a great time for family and showing love. I think it depends more on “how” we celebrate a holiday than “when”.

Adam Ellis wrote an article (Mars Hill Christianity) that really made a good point and touched my heart:

Christmas always makes me think of Paul on Mars Hill. You may find that odd, but it goes back to my Dad. Dad was (and is) a preacher for a fairly traditional Church of Christ. Many of these churches frown on celebrating the birth of Christ on Dec. 25 b/c it probably wasn’t the actual date (if you don’t understand this “logic”, just thank God and move on). Dad would always preach on the birth of Christ anyway, and when questioned about it would explain it by saying he was following the pattern of Paul on Mars Hill. Paul used a pagan idol and pagan poets and philosophers to teach the Greeks about the true God, or stated differently he used what they knew to tell them about what they didn’t know. Dad would always talk about how silly it would be at a time when almost everyone turned their attention to Jesus for us to talk about something else. I thought it was brilliant then and I still do today. –more–
[Emphasis mine]

That is brilliant and I will have to keep it in mind as all the “hustle” distracts me from my Lord. We should be focused on Jesus at all times, but why not be especially sensitive to and thankful for His incarnation upon this earth during this season that has been set aside just for that a long time ago. I plan to be a better witness of Christ’s love this season. Thanks for sharing, Adam!

Side Note: If you want to take Christ out of Christmas, an X is not the way to do it. The origins of the term “x-mas” is certainly Christian. In fact, even trying is kind of pointless as the word Christmas literally means Christ Mass (as I learned from Stephen Lawhead) and was instituted by the Roman Catholic Church. Taking the Christ out of “Christmas” is impossible semantically, just call it something else if that’s what you want the 25th of December to be.

2004.12.12 Sunday

Drive with God

Filed under: Following Christ — Mr. Green @ 8.07 pm

God helps those who turn to Him with a broken heart as I found out yet again on Friday night. A lot of my failures all came together and woke me up with a clear picture of my need for Jesus Christ in my life and the lack of love in my heart.

I went for a drive to nowhere in particular and poured out my pain to the Almighty Father. He heard and gave me a wonderful peace. I ended up in an old chapel on the campus of a local college, where the meeting had just ended. I was left in peace as I sat in one of the back rows and prayed earnestly. When I was alone, I went up to the front and kneeled down to humble myself before God in worship as I continued to pray. Just before the security guard locked the last door, I believe God showed me something. He wants me to trust in His Son, Jesus for discipleship as well as seeking someone out to disciple me. That’s what I care about: Being a disciple of Jesus and making disciples.

I have a long road ahead, but I praise God that He cares for me! I hope to be the godly man Jesus has called me to be, to be subject to Him and those He has placed over me and
to be a servant-leader to Jamie as well as those God places in my life as disciples.

Update 2004.12.13: Chris at Our Greenroom wrote a good article today: Christian or Disciple? It’s good to know that others are pondering this as I think it is essential that we focus on this more in our churches and in missions. I’ll be pondering this some more even as I strive to be a disciple of Christ.

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