Tuesday, August 30, 2011


     "Tristan, tranquilo (Tristan, chill out)!" pleaded my Tico mom, Cynthia, I turned from the sink towards her with a puzzled look on my face. She continued,  "Que siempre están haciendo, se sientan y se sigue (your always doing, sit and be still)."  We had just finished eating supper and after we had finished I had gathered the dishes and began to wash them for Cynthia, at least to my American mind I was just trying to help. However, in Costa Rica time is something you spend with each other not something you count or keep track of, and although I was trying to help, I had given the equivalent of the "cold shoulder" to the lady that acted as my mom for several weeks by getting straight up from the table. The African Christians have an interesting saying on this, "Americans have watches, but we have time." How often do we, especially in the United States, get so busy serving and doing "good" things that we forget completely about spending time with our Heavenly Father?

38 While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha g welcomed Him into her home.h39 She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord's i feet j and was listening to what He said.k 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, "Lord, don't You care l that my sister has left me toserve alone? So tell her to give me a hand."
41 The Lord o answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,p 42 but one thing is necessary.q Mary has made the right choice,rand it will not be taken away from her."
Luke 10:38-42
Although serving is great and I hope each one of you are actively serving in your local Church and community, be careful that you don't forget that God speaks in "a still, small voice." It is difficult to hear what God has to say when you are being pulled ten different directions. Following Christ is more than bringing others to Christ or discipling younger Christians, although both of those are incredibly important, you have to get alone and listen for what God has to say to you. The times that God has revealed himself in incredible ways to me have all been times when I have been alone, either having a private time of worship or studying the Bible. I challenge you to take thirty minutes to an hour each day that you get completely alone, with nothing to distract you, and just wait patiently on the Lord to speak.
Usually my God time goes like this:

  • Praising God for who He is and what He has done
  • Purifying my heart: confessing any sin, preparing myself to go before the throne of God, asking for my ears and heart to be open to what He has to say    
  • Pleading with God to reveal Himself, to give me a glimpse of His glory; that He would speak to me 
  • Worship, through music and proclaiming out loud his glory and majesty (Psalms are great for this)
  • Then I begin to study a Scripture, I read through it several times and then go through it verse by verse meditating on it and digesting what it has to say
  • Thanking God for what He has revealed to me and for what He has done in my life


     In closing, I want to remind you that we are commanded to "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10, but at the same time we are commanded to " Go, therefore, and make disciples s oftall nations,u baptizing v them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember,wI am with you always,xto the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20. Go forth and share your story share what God is doing in your life, no one can discount a personal experience, and you don't have to be an incredible spokesman to share your own personal story.

Speak, Lord, in the Stillness
Speak, Lord, in the stillness
While I wait on Thee;
Hushed my heart to listen,
In expectancy.
Speak, O blessèd Master,
In this quiet hour,
Let me see Thy face, Lord,
Feel Thy touch of power.
For the words Thou speakest,
"They are life" indeed;
Living Bread from Heaven,
Now my spirit feed!
All to Thee is yielded,
I am not my own;
Blissful, glad surrender,
I am Thine alone.
Fill me with the knowledge
Of Thy glorious will;
All Thine own good pleasure
In my life fulfill.
Like "a watered garden"
Full of fragrance rare,
Ling'ring in Thy presence
Let my life appear.





If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find out how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


      Death isn't an easy subject to write about and it is pretty uncomfortable to read about it, but unfortunately death is constantly around us; a fact that I was made all too aware of today. Elijah Tolbert, a 17 year old was killed in a motorcycle accident. Honestly, even though Elijah went to church with me for a year or so, I can't say that I knew him too well apart from playing pickup games of basketball and shooting pool with him. However, I did know him well enough to say that (and I think everyone who knew him will agree) he was a great guy: nice, genuine, and had a nice jump shot, but in the blink of an eye all that was stripped away. All that mattered at that point was whether or not Elijah had accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, which I can say with confidence that I was blessed to call him a brother in Christ.
      Life is short, we are not promised tomorrow, so what are you going to do with today? Are you going to continue to live without making any sort of impact? The majority of Christians live their entire lives without making any more of an impact in the world than they did the day before they came to have a relationship with Christ. So what about you? Will you continue in mediocre Christianity or will you take up your cross and live a life of radical abandon, no reserve, no regrets?

If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find out how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Friday, June 24, 2011

House of God

     One of the coolest things 6:8 Ministries is taking a group that most of the time has no construction experience and using it to build a house for a family in desperate need. As you can imagine, with only 3 or 4 days to build a house it doesn't end up looking like the Taj Mahal. In fact, there are usually some crooked boards, bent nails, and smashed thumbs but when you step back and look at it you don't see crooked boards, you see a brand new home. This is exactly how the Church is, none of us are perfect, we all have faults and we don't always line up perfectly; together we form the House of God. The key word is together, so often the Church-I'm using a capital C because the Church isn't a building or denomination it's all the followers of Christ-divides itself over things that should not matter. That is like pulling out a support wall in a building, the whole building collapses.
      I have always been aware of the way many churches are divided over racial lines, since when was that Biblical? What would happen if instead of instead of having predominantly black and predominantly white churches if we just had Church? It starts with the leadership of the church, pastors if you don't change your mindset from what will make my congregation happy to what is going to better the Kingdom of God, things will never change. One of the best examples of this is Pastor Michael Catt of Sherwood Baptist Church and Pastor Daniel Simmons of Mount Zion Baptist Church, many years ago they forged a partnership that has grown stronger and closer over the years; did they lose members of their congregation? you betcha, but honestly do you really want members that are that opposed to bettering the community of God, polluting the rest of your congregation? Fellow Christians, it's up to you to help your pastor make this transition, are you willing to welcome a brother/sister in Christ that may look different than you? You shouldn't have any problem with it, especially when you think about how different, how ugly you looked in God's eyes before you were covered in His Son's blood. Another major dividing line, that I have really noticed since being in Costa Rica, is social status. If you saw a homeless man in your church, would your first thought be something like "What is he doing here?" Yet he is exactly who Jesus would have been hanging out with, the beggars, hookers, and thieves. At what point did "the least of these" start living in a gated community? Because, for the most part that is who we spend most of our time on. Yesterday, I was in Tiribi one of the poorest barrios (neighborhood) in Costa Rica and as I saw the joy that the people living there, in a hopeless situation, and it hit me who is poorer and more deprived, the comparatively rich Americans or these Costa Ricans who have absolutely nothing? Honestly, I've never seen the same joy on the faces living in the so called exclusive communities in the United States. It's high time we stopped looking at the color of skin or the thickness of the wallet, took the plank out of our own eye, and brought all of us crooked boards together to form the House of God. 

And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”  
Acts 2:6-11

Oftentimes, what we notice in this passage is that everyone heard the preaching in their language, but what I want you to see is that every part of the known world was represented. This is a true picture of what the Church is supposed to be like, people from every walk of life coming together to bring glory to God.
12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slavesd or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts,e yet one body.
21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
1 Corinthians 12:12-25
This is another passage that is no doubt familiar to you. Because we are all created different, we must work together in order to accomplish the will of our Father. 
I guess what I've been try to say is, as followers of Christ we need to come to the point where instead of seeing differences big and small, we see each other as our Father sees us, His children.

If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find out how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 6, 2011

But if Not

     The Friday before I left for Costa Rica, I received an email from Auburn University stating that my scholarship was being revoked. I wasn't really shocked by it, as I've stated in "A Little About Me" I didn't do so great in my first semester of college, but it was still pretty devastating as it was the only way I had been able to attend Auburn. After spending a couple of days stressing over it I began to pray about it (more than a little bit backwards prayer should be first). My first few prayers were "Why me? I've been following Your plan." Of course then the Holy Spirit convicted me and I realized I didn't even deserve to live much less to receive a higher education. So often followers of Christ, especially in the United States have a sense of an entitlement, when in reality we aren't entitled to anything except for eternal condemnation in hell. How often have you asked God "why me?" when something terrible happens? Before I go any further I think its important to point out the difference between asking why and asking why me. There is nothing wrong with asking God why something happened as He tells us that everything has a reason; however, where we get into in trouble is when we start asking "Why me? I don't deserve this!"
     The first thing we need to remember when something happens is that God is still in control and always will be. God did not have to send Christ to die on the cross in order that we would have a way to heaven, in fact, He could have just ended things after Adam and Eve messed things up in the Garden of Eden, that is what I would have done. Somewhere in the history of Christianity we forgot about this and decided that we are entitled to a comfortable life, when Jesus never once said that following Him would be easy. We have become an extremely man-centered society instead of one that is solely focused on God. Sure, we give God some glory when we get a huge blessing, but that is similar to throwing a dog a milkbone after it rolls over; what happened to Solo Deo Gloria, to God alone be the glory? Instead we take credit for the good and then question God when something not according to our plans happens. Have we forgotten who God is, you know, the Creator of everything, the Sustainer of life, Jehovah-Jireh God our Providor, I could go on but hopefully you've gotten the point, it definitely isn't about us.
     Think about what society would look like if instead of focusing on ourselves we devoted ourselves to God. Next time you start to question God, remember who you are talking to and remember that you are nothing and deserve nothing but hell. When we come to God in prayer we should first check the condition of our heart, praise God, and confess any sin and plead for forgiveness and then make our request which should never be a demand (we don't deserve anything remember) and if you really have given control over to God you will have no problem praying "but if not God I will still serve and love You." After I realized the error of my prayers this is what I immediately did and let me tell you there is nothing like the peace that comes from knowing that the same God that holds everything together is in control of your situation.

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.
2 Chronicles 7:14-16

If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find out how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Friday, June 3, 2011

...In Perfect Peace

As many of you know, I am spending the summer in Costa Rica serving with 6:8 Ministries. It has been awesome to see what God is doing here and I know it will only continue to get better. However, anytime God is doing an incredible work Satan tries to put a stop to it. The past couple of weeks Satan has been trying his hardest to stop what is happening here and frankly I was scared even though God had already shown me in a very clear way that He is faithful to keep me and protect me. Then one morning I opened my Bible to read Proverbs; however, for some reason I did not notice that I had turned to Isaiah instead. This is part of what I read,
"You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on You
because he trusts You"
Isaiah 26:3
As I read this I felt my fears and worries melt away and found true peace and rest in God's arms. As I leaned back in my chair praising God and thanking Him for his continual faithfulness, I reflected on the events of the past weeks, how God had showed up and showed off and made it abundantly clear that my God is greater than anything Satan can throw at me. I'm reminded of Romans 8:31,
 "What then shall we say to these things? 
If God is for us, who can be against us?" 

With God on our side there is nothing that can stand against us. How any Christian can read Romans 8:31 and continue to walk around timid and scared to live out the faith boldly is beyond my understanding. Life is difficult and so often it gets more difficult (to the world's eyes) the closer we get to God, but if you truly place your faith in Jesus Christ you find peace and joy in the midst of difficulties and trials, a peace and joy that to a non-Christian is seemingly impossible. We recently had a team here and while having a discussion with them one of them mentioned that so often Christians read a promise in the Bible such as, "You give him perfect peace..." and think "that's great" but never claim it, just like salvation is available to all but some never accept it. So I encourage you to act on God's promises place your complete trust in Him, give up control to Him and gain freedom in Christ and a peace that surpasses understanding. To my readers, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"

If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find out how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Control Freaks

     This semester I have let myself get out of shape and Thursday my kind boss didn't help matters by buying the office pizza for lunch. So I decided I was going to start running again, so later that day I went for a run. The first mile everything was good I was breathing a little heavy but that was to be expected. As I passed a mile and a half I started thinking maybe this isn't such a good idea but I was halfway done so I kept on running. At two miles someone stopped me and asked if I needed an oxygen tank and a wheelchair and I ended by walking the last half mile back to my apartment feeling defeated and dejected about not being able to finish the run. 
     So often this is how Christians live their lives. We realize that we have been living in sin and decide that we need to change. So we start off on our journey back to Christ, but instead of giving control of our lives back to Christ we decide that we can make it back on our own. At first it appears that our way is working and we weren't expecting it to be easy so at the first sign of trouble we keep on doing things our way. Soon it appears to us that we have come a long way  from where we were, but at the same time Christ still seems so far away. This is where a lot of times we get into trouble; we don't know which way to go and oftentimes we end up going back to what is familiar, are sinful ways. So now we're stumbling and gasping for air, but we still haven't allowed the One who could carry us the rest of the way to take control. 
     This is something that for most of life (and even now occasionally) that I struggled with. I felt like I could control my own life and I really didn't want to give anyone else control. However, during my first semester of college my life began to fall apart; I lost all desire for engineering, which is what I have wanted to do my whole life, I was struggling in most of my classes, which had never happened before, and the thing that was worst to me was that I could feel myself losing control and I hated it. Early this semester, while trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life, I looked back on my life and realized what a mess I had made trying to do things my way, so I decided that I would give God full control of my life, not just parts of it but all of it. Has everything been perfect since? no, but a few days later I realized God was calling me to full time missions, giving me a purpose again, and I finally understood the phrase "a peace that surpasses understanding," when you give control to God you no longer have to worry, because you have the God that created and controls the universe leading your life. I leave you with a challenge: spend time in prayer repenting of any sins and getting your heart and mind purified before the Lord, then surrender your entire life to God's control. This is a lengthy passage but I encourage to read all of it since we so often take parts of it our of context; Luke 12:22-32 says,

 "22And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.31Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
 32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also"

If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find out how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Olive Press

This morning at Sherwood we watched a video entitled "The Story of the Olive Press" unfortunately I could not find the video, but I will try to convey a sense of what was in it. Bear with me through the history lesson I promise its important to what I have to say.
After olives had fully ripened and turned a dark purple they were picked by shaking the olive tree until they fell to the ground. They were then placed into a large bowl shaped stone. A large millstone with a pole running through the middle of it would be pushed around the inside of the bowl by a donkey or ox. This would result in the olives and their seeds being crushed into a paste.
The paste was then placed in bags made of ropes and place on a large stone. A wooden beam was placed over the bags and weights would be added one at a time. This stone is on the far right in the picture below.
The oil that came out of with the first weight was called "virgin oil." This was the finest oil and was used for cooking and anointing. The oil that was pressed out after the second weight was added was used for light and for medicinal purposes. Finally what came out with the third weight, or press, contained large amounts of lye and was used to make soap. 

Now here's where things go from boring to awesome. The Hebrew word for olive press is "Gat Shemanim" if you have ever been to an Easter Service I'm sure you know that after the "last supper" Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray. Gethsemane was located at the base of the Mount of Olives and the Greek word Gethsemane means "olive press." So Jesus went to an olive oil factory to pray. Reading the crucifixion story I can not  help but draw the parallel between the olives being crushed until the oil flowed freely and our Savior being beaten until his precious blood flowed just as freely. A few more parallels with the olive press and Christ can be seen. The first press or the virgin oil was used for anointing and the title Christ is derived from the Hebrew Messiah and means literally; covered in oil, anointed. The second press was used for light and medicinal purposes; Jesus is both the light of the world and the Healer of our brokenness. Finally, the third press was used for cleansing and Christ's blood was poured out to cleanse us of our sins. Just some things to think about this Easter.

If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find out how to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.