Sunday, January 25, 2009

Preaching the Gospel to others, when they can't preach to themselves.

"Preaching the gospel to myself each day nourishes within me a holy brazenness to believe what God says, enjoy what He offers, and do what He commands."- Milton Vincent (HT: Of First Importance)

Lately, I have been going through a lot of stuff in my personal life. I have seen sin birth new sin which births other sins. I have fallen into self-pity, which leads to loneliness, which leads to many deeper issues. But through this, Christ has been faithful. I have been incapable of preaching the gospel to myself daily on many occasions but Christ has put many Godly men in my life who are constantly reminding me of what Christ has accomplished already. I have been reminded that there is no room for self-pity because my identity and joy is in Christ. I know much of this sounds cliche but I trust they are cliche because of how good the truth is. 
So what has it looked like. I have had to remember the gospel often, and when I don't I have had to be honest and vulnerable with men in my life. Through this, I am reminded that whatever I am living in guilt and shame about, has been redeemed by Christ and that there is no condemnation for me, under Christ. So I rest in grace, I rest in the fact that I suck at loving Jesus but He continues chase after me and draw me close.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My sin, Eustace and a big great lion

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treador (The Chronicles of Narnia), there is a character named Eustace. Eustace is a bratty child that wants everything his way all of the time. He is selfish, prideful and no thankful for anything. At one point in the book Eustace finds his way to a dragon cave and filled with treasure. His greed causes him to fill his pockets with diamonds and put as much jewelry as he could on his small arms, but he gets tired and falls asleep. Through his sleep and because of an enchantment, his greed turns him into a dragon. This outward expression of many things going on in his heart begins to change him. He finds his way back to camp and is somehow able to communicate who he was and learns to be thankful for his friends.
Now what I'm getting to, even though his heart is changing... he is still a dragon. But in the night, Aslan (the Christ-figure who "is the son of the Emperor-beyond-the-sea, who saved me (Edmund) and saved Narnia") comes to Eustace and has him follow him to a bath/pool. Before Eustace is able to bathe, he is told he has to undress. He realizes that Aslan meant that he had to shed his scales, so he begins to scratch off as many of his scales as he could, but no matter how much he scratched off there was still more. He is then told that Aslan would have to do the work of taking off his scales, that Eustace' work was insufficient. Eustace describes his experience 

"The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything anything I've ever felt. The pleasure of feeling the stuff peel of."

Through this, he is made back into a boy. Aslan places clean garments are put on him and the work of being "better" begins in response to what Aslan has done.

I share this because of how true this all is in my life. There is so much junk, so much outward expression of my sin that is always present that I try peel it off myself. Sometimes this is out of fear of Christ taking that blow to my heart, even though I know it will ultimately lead to my joy. But I really love this process that takes place. Despite, Eustace's efforts, it is Aslan that takes away his scales and places undeserved garments on him, just as Christ has stripped away my sin and given me undeserved righteousness before him. 
So I don't know if allegories are something that "speak to you" but I know for me they do. There is something about seeing something that is going on internally, played out as a story. It gives me a new perspective and a deeper appreciation for Christ and His work on the cross. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I have been reading “Spectacular Sins” by John Piper . In it he says “ Christians in the west are weakened by wimpy worldviews. And wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians. God is weightless in our lives. He is not terrifyingly magnificent. His sovereignty is secondary (at best) to His sensitivity.” (pg. 13) He goes on to talk about how when we are grounded in the scriptures, the whole of scriptures, we will have a deeper understanding of a strong, powerful, good God that gives and takes life. This understanding will lead our faith to not disappear during hard times but instead grow because of our understanding of who He is.
This has been hard for me to read. None of this is “new material” for me, but it is convicting to think about how easily my view of God will shatter because of hard circumstances. My prayer for myself and for you is that we might grow in a deeper understanding of how big and great God is. As I are teach about how “God is in charge of everything” (one of the foundational truths in the preschool ministry at The Village), that we will really believe it and find hope in this truth. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Josh's best of 2008

This year was a good year. Throughout the year I have lived with amazing people, travelled the entire west coast, started an amazing job. I have kept up with great friends and made some amazing new ones. I wanted to give some of my personal "best of 2008" list. 

Favorite new albums of 2008
1. Jon Foreman- Spring and Summer
2. Sigur Ros- Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
3. Coldplay- Viva La Vida
4. Death Cab for Cutie- Narrow Stairs
5. Dave Barnes- Me and You and the World

Favorite books I read in 2008 (not all written in 2008)
1. John Steinbeck- East of Eden
2. Mark Driscoll- Death by Love
3. Malcolm Gladwell- The Tipping Point
4. Dietrich Boenhoffer- The Cost of Discipleship
5. Shane Claiborne- Irresistible Revolution
6. John Piper- Spectacular Sins (I haven't finished yet so I didn't know if I should count it, otherwise it would be higher on the list)

Favorite Movies of 2008
1. U23D
2. Mamma Mia
3. The Dark Night
(I can't come up with 5 good movies in 2008, sorry)

Favorite Moments of 2008
1. Seeing all of my friends again after getting back from San Diego!
2. Getting an internship at the church and absolutely loving it.
3. Leaving for tour (again)!
4. Seeing good friends in Seattle while we were both on tour. 
5. Attending Mars Hill Church for about a month in Seattle.
6. Playing Walmart tag in Salem Oregon.
7. Firepits (all of them)
8. Once again getting to sit outside with my roommates and discuss Jesus every night (almost)
9. Seeing close friends again for the first time in a really long time (those that had moved away)
10. My first worship service at The Village after I returned home, amazing. 
(This would have included a political moment but being that I live in Texas I deemed it unwise)

Those are a few of the amazing amazing things that have happened this year. I really do think i have changed. I have seen Christ work a huge amount in me. I've learned the depths of my selfishness, pride, idolatry, and anger among many other things. But in learning that I have seen Christ remind me that His grace is sufficient to cover those things. Because He took my sins on the cross, I can have life despite all of the stupid crap that I have done in 2008. 

Sunday, September 28, 2008

So how was it?....

warning- I write this for me. I tend to forget EVERYTHING (worst memory ever) and need to process through my time with IC so I thought that writing out some of it would be helpful. You are more than welcome to read as it is more insightful than I have shared with most. 

In recent months, I have gotten a variation of the same question over and over again, "How was it?" Given, most people ask wanting to hear "Good, and how are you?" But I am not one for the script so I usually tell them that that is big question and I don't think I have the time but that it was really good but really hard. That is what most people know, it was really good but really hard. But I feel like many of my friends that have asked sincerely want to know how tour was, what I saw, what I learned, what I hated and everything else so I would like to share some. 
I left on August 13 2007 and arrived in San Diego and was greeted at the airport by two guys named Seth and Ben. Seth would later become one of my best friends. We went to the roadie house and waited for everyone else who was already there to return from the beach. That night we had many introductions between strangers and cheesy name games in an attempt to learn a little more about one another knowing that we each were in for what we thought might be the craziest and best times of our life those next 9 months. After a few weeks of booking we headed for the road, tour had finally begun. My team and I headed north on the 101 and the 1 to begin the 6 week tour speaking at high schools, churches, coffee shops and other random venues. We returned back to San Diego with 8 new additions to our roadie family, including my spring teammate Josh. We lived together as a family of 45 in 1 house for about 3 months. There were so many ups and downs about that house but overall I wouldn't trade those three months for anything. We had many great memories- man nights, the hole in the wall bar by our house, many 21st birthdays at a place called Yard House. 
But through that fall, I may have been having the time of my life but my soul was in a very dark place. I had stopped praying, reading my bible, listening to sermons and couldn't stand christian music because of the conviction that it bought. To make things worse, any time that I struggle with spiritual apathy my answer is to surround myself with people because in social settings I thrive and don't have to think about my junk that I keep in. So through this I really started to doubt God's presence in my life and didn't know what to think or feel. So going into December before coming home from christmas break I prayed that He would use my time at home to remind me of His goodness  and start to draw me near. I arrived home to answered prayers. I spent much of the break with one of my best friends, Andrew. Andrew poured truth into me again and again and never stopped to remind me of God's goodness. I asked Andrew to be praying for me and I knew that he really would be. So I arrived back in San Diego and started to learn what discipline could look like there or our tour. God was so good in showing me ways to be in his word and in prayer on tour. Through the spring tour, God was so faithful in drawing me closer to him in ways that I hadn't known before. 
The best/worst part of God drawing near and that it was happening on tour is the junk that is revealed to you. I learned that I am incredibly selfish. Incredibly selfish and if you didn't catch that I tend to be selfish. There were many times that I was so uncompromising and ungracious to my teammates and so different from the Jesus I was praying to. So through my time on tour, I learned, even more so than before, the depths of my depravity. I am such a arrogant, selfish, prideful, bitter and many other negative words ending in "ful."
So how was it? Good. Hard. It was easily one of the most growing moments I've had in my life. More than one friend has told me how different and changed I am. I learned the priorities that things should be in (theology etc.) and noticed my tendency to want to correct people for things that aren't important and mainly to only make myself look smart. But those 9 months were also some of the hardest in my life and I could never do it again. But saying that, if I had a time machine I would never change the fact that I did it. It is a ONCE in a lifetime experience and should remain that way. 
Coming back was kind of weird. The movement director at Invisible Children referred to coming home as stepping out of "Narnia" and I didn't realize how true that would be. I look back at the last year and it feels like it didn't even happen and that there was a Josh here in DFW living life as normal and one on tour doing the IC thing. But God has been gracious through the past few months since being back. He has given me back valued friendships and given me many new ones. 
I pray that God continue to work in me and though I hate it, continue to reveal more and more of my problems so I can start to give the control over to Christ for Him to work those out. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Article from Gonzaga- Spokane WA

Sunday is a 15-year-old African boy living in a displacement camp. With both of his parents dead, Sunday must fend for himself in a camp full of people with virtually nothing. Sunday wants to be a doctor, yet he is sent home from school every day because he cannot afford a uniform.  Invisible Children told Sunday's story in a film screening in Cataldo on April 10. The goal of the screening was to raise awareness about the ongoing war in northern Uganda. Invisible Children volunteers asked students to get involved to help stop the war, mainly by writing letters to senators urging them to support peace in northern Uganda. 
Invisible Children came to Gonzaga during its spring tour, during which it travels the country to show the film and raise awareness. The film shown in Cataldo was not the original "Invisible Children: Rough Cut," but an updated version focusing on the story of Sunday as a supplement to the original film, which was shown Wednesday in Wolff Auditorium.

Josh Orr, a roadie for Invisible Children, decided to get involved with the program after seeing the film last year. For three weeks after seeing it, all Orr could do was talk about the film and show different people. Orr decided to apply to be a roadie on the "Schools for Schools" tour in fall 2007 and spring 2009. 
"I couldn't see those images on the screen and not get involved when I knew there was a way," Orr said when addressing the audience that filled Cataldo. "I couldn't give in to that kind of ignorance." 

After the screening, Orr discussed many ways for students to get involved and urged everyone to take the time to write a letter to a senator. In addition to asking senators to support peace, the letters were to ask senators to allocate $2.5 million to help the displaced return home.

"I learned the power of my own voice," Orr said. "We are closer to peace than we've ever been." 

Orr discussed other ways to help, including the Schools for Schools program and the Bracelet Campaign. The Schools for Schools program raises money for pre-existing schools in northern Uganda with the goal of providing them with funding for clean water, books, technology, teacher training and buildings. This year, people raised $1.7 million for the program. High school students raised most of the money through creative projects such as Guitar Hero tournaments and carwashes, Orr explained.

"Our generation has been stereotyped as selfish," Orr said. "We have seen the youth step up, recognize a problem and do something about it." 

The Bracelet Campaign provides jobs for adults in displacement camps, an otherwise unemployable war area. The handmade bracelets are paired with a short story about a child who has been affected by the war, such as Sunday, and sold, not only to provide a product but also to raise awareness. 

For more information about how to get involved, visit 

Orr emphasized the power of the individual to help. Rather than a few rich donors who keep the program running, 90 percent of donations for Invisible Children are $20 or less, Orr said.

"We are a bunch of smalls making something big."

Taken from

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thoughts on Faith and Activism

For the past month I have been in a constant struggle of what the balance between faith and activism should be for myself. What I mean by that is, if we never look at the heart of the issue isn't it just liking cutting the grass of a lawn filled with weeds? It grows back, sometimes stronger. But I also know that Jesus has a pretty big thing for the poor. He loved them to the point to say that by helping them you might be entertaining angels (and no, I will not proof text loving the poor with the out-of-context James verse).
So where does this leave me? I could continue to focus on the short term of great things but that falls short because it never gets to the heart or I could focus on the long term but then exclude everyone who doesn't agree with my intentions, which I don't want. 
So where has my struggle gotten me? I think its an individual heart issue. All things not done for the glory of God is sin, and I think "all things" was pretty serious. There are people who work for non-christian groups who are living out the gospel and doing it all to the glory of Jesus and there are people who are with Christian groups who are doing everything to the glory of their own name. I am starting to think it has a lot to do with intention. You see, before the foundation of the world God chose me, for no reason of my own He decided to love me to the point that he sent his son to die for me. This kind of love can't be static, it has to move forward and must be shared. So whether it is a "christian organization" or not, when asked why you are doing things your response is "because Christ loved me, I want to love you and love you by (humanitarian work)" but then say to someone who doesn't have the same religious views as you "but look, if you don't like my intention but like where I'm going with this... join me in building this world."
But I don't have this "resolved" in my head and probably never will. And as far as a christian group that doesn't cater to immediate needs.... I think you're a joke.
So for some secular groups that have some killer Jesus-loving people working for them check out Invisible Children or Data and for some christian groups doing great things check our Mocha Club or Blood:Water:Mission.
Your thoughts?
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