Friday, December 22, 2006

The Christmas Challenge

32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Luke 6:32-35 NIV

Thinking about these verses through the lense of this Christmas Season, Jeanine and I have really been challenged to reach beyond the normal giving of gifts to friends and family. Really, the idea was born out of the Christmas Challenge at Southland Christian Church last year as they charged the congregation with going and being Jesus on Christmas Day. Through that challenge and the drive to remember what Christmas is all about, we decided to extend this challenge to our families.

We purchased gift cards from area grocery stores, restaurants, and department stores (Target, Walmart, Kroger, Cracker Barrell, Applebee's, etc.); one for each family group. They were then given the challenge with the following parameters:

  1. Gift cards can be used in one of two ways: They can be given as a gift card, or participants can use the card to purchase an item that they believe will fill a need.
  2. Gift cards, regardless of the method, should be used to help someone that the participants do not know.
  3. The challenge should be completed within three weeks.

We encouraged everyone to be as creative as possible with their gifts; keeping in mind that people's needs manifest in different ways, participants should be open to the Lord's leading in this project. Our prayer for this project is that each person would be blessed by the opportunity to share a gift of love with someone outside their typical zone of proximity.

Each person was asked to come here and tell the story of how the gift card was used. The stories will be written in the comments section of this blog. Check back soon and see how this Christmas Challenge does (or doesn't) play out. We'll see :)

We certainly wish each of you a Merry Christmas!

Celebrating Him,

Justin & Jeanine

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Finals are over, Now what?

From : Justin -

What a semester and what a week! Of the 91 pages I wrote this semester (not to mention the other 44 that I was in collaboration on writing and editing), and the nearly 50 hours put into a video project, about 20 of those pages and 25 hours of the video were crammed into the past 5 days. Of course that doesn't count the couple thousand pages of reading I had to do this semester (there was a lot of "skimming" involved :) I closed down the library three nights in a row this week only to come home and continue working into the early morning hours. In the midst of it all it can be easy to forget why we're all doing this, and what its all about.

As I just pause even for a minute to look back on the semester I can see some amazing transformation that has taken place in my life. Through the development of accountablility relationships, consistant time in the word, the meeting of a small group affectionately known as "the fellowship", great friends and the love of my wife - God has revealed Himself and His amazing love in so many ways. It has become more and more clear that God has called us here in our brokenness to be prepared for ministry regardless of the when and where. It's not until we realize that the murderer and adulterer are loved just the same as the devoted church goer that we can begin to confess our own sins and begin to move to a deeper relationship with the one who created us and died for us.

This truely has been an amazing semester, difficult for sure, but the "ordeal" is good. As Os Guiness puts it, we have two callings. The first is to relationship with God and the second is to our vocation. It is has been this first call that has deepened to new places over the last few semesters and through it has come some initial discernment of my second calling. So, finals are over - Now what? I continue to chase after the one who made us and came to redeem us; to strive to be a better husband and to love people. I pray that the coming semesters will be more of the same as I still have a lot to learn!

Have a great Christmas!

Celebrating Him!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Can White Boys Rap?

Under any normal circumstances I would say it is highly unlikely, at least that it would be any good. Rapping is like dancing - better left to those with a little rhythm!

Jeanine and I just got back from one of the coolest concerts I've ever experienced. Right here in Versailles, KY the west coast sound of Mr. Paul Wright filled the ears of a meager little audience. Just the man and his guitar praising the one who put the song in his heart.

If you've never heard Paul Wright before click on the picture of his guitar and check out his tunes on myspace. Not only can he rap but he can make a six string rock. Acoustic Rap - seems almost like an oxymoron but this guy has got it and gives it all for the glory of the Lord. The poetic creativity bottled up in this one guy just flows so naturally - what he calls Freestylin'.
Christianity Today says: “Paul Wright...redefines the singer-songwriter image by demonstrating how creative and revolutionary one can be with this classical musical form. Wright’s music is nothing less than a compelling fusion of progressive pop, energized rock and the pure essence of early hip-hop expression.”

One of the most awesome things about this intimate concert setting was at the end - there was no encore - Paul Wright came right off the stage and talked with each person there! Jeanine and I got to say hello and share our gratitude. He was just a real guy, I'm pretty sure we could have hung out, but I was just too shy to ask....maybe next time! Jeanine did get an autograph on her new CD and we had an incredible time.
This white boy can rap! Paul Wright - Freestylin' for the Lord - Go check him out!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Crowned for a Night, Royalty for Eternity

Luke 14:12–14: Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Whenever I was feeling bad about myself growing up, my mom would always remind me that in the end, I was a princess. I'm a daughter of The King, heir to a heavenly throne. I'm not sure that I always bought it completely, but now that I'm older I understand far better what she meant. Further, I’ve come to understand that I’m not the only one; far from it, in fact, I’m in very good company…

Last Friday I attended Southland's annual "Jesus Prom". Sarah and I went last year, and this year we brought Justin and Matt along with us. We volunteered for the games and activities part of the evening, where ‘promers’ could play games like corn hole, ring toss, and other such classy prom games. Sarah and I volunteered to give out prizes to promers who won -- and everybody always won. Justin and Matt had especially interesting jobs – as part of a live production of "Deal or No Deal". Justin declined the host position and instead acted as a very good looking stage hand, and Matt was the Elvis impersonating banker. Good times.

However, far better than hosting games for the ‘promers’ was the joy of getting to share the evening with them. From the coronation of every promer in the room, to the movin’ and groovin’ on the dance floor, it was such a joy to see everyone forgetting about his limitations and truly feeling like royalty! As we prayed for at the start of the night, we all saw through new eyes, even if just for a few hours. Those in wheelchairs danced the night away, the mute had deep conversations, and the weak were strong -- we could see others as Jesus sees them, and hear as Jesus hears. We got a chance to do what we should all have been doing all along – exalting the least of these, showing love to those who may seldom feel it. And in the end, Jesus was right, it was we who were blessed.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Getting Started

Welcome to our new Blog! We are new at this and look forward to learning as we go along. Right now Jeanine and I are both a little swamped with school and its been a semester that has no doubt stretched us both.

Back in October we had the opportunity to visit the Smoky Mountains. It was so beautiful to see the transformation of the leaves as Fall is in full swing down in Tennessee. We got to see some pretty awesome pieces of God's creation and we've posted just a few pictures here from our trip.

Thanks so much for stopping by! We will be posting more soon!