Sunday, August 22, 2010

Solitute 2

I drove three hours to a spot that I found on the internet. I didn’t tell anyone where I was going, but I came prepared with fishing gear. I arrived very annoyed because in my three hour car ride, it felt like everyone managed to call or text me and so I didn’t end up with any quiet on the way up. At the lake, there was a sign that said this was an eagle nesting spot. I thought that was pretty neat so I told God that it would be cool if I saw one. I started walking to find a spot but I was still frustrated because I had wanted to go fishing but now I was overloaded with supplies and I was getting eaten alive by bugs. That was when God smiled. He sent a hummingbird to entertain me. I love hummingbirds, they are my second favorite animal. They are so cute and the flit and buzz and they just make me smile. I thanked God for that. As I kept walking along the lake, there was a boat off to my right with passengers that were staring in my direction. I looked back when I realized they were looking over me. They whisper shouted to me that there was an eagle over my head. Sure enough, a baby eagle was in the tree above me! I tried to take a picture but it flew away before I got the chance. God said to me, “I love you. This is our moment, it wasn’t to be shared.”  Again, I thanked him and kept moving so as not to be eaten. I was so excited. I found a spot to set my stuff down, but I kept walking around briskly because the bugs wouldn’t leave me alone. This began to annoy me because I felt like this was a very symbolic time. I am out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do, and still I am walking quickly. The bugs were a symbol of my busy mind that wasn’t giving me peace and rest.  I was frustrated and wanted to sit down, relax, enjoy fishing, and be able to just soak in God. So, I went back to my car, changed into jeans, coated myself in bugspray and went back. A silly little chipmunk was throwing acorns at me. As I sat down to fish, a huge male eagle skimmed across the water and caught a fish. I was so overwhelmed with God’s love, because he let me see two eagles, just because he can! 

The next day, I went to fish at the dock. I can't remember the last time I successfully fished from shore. I told God it would be cool if I could catch a fish today. I caught three. Nearby, a baby eagle sat watching me and I was convinced he was going to try and steal one of my fish. To be honest, I would have given it to him… I read 1 Corinthians. Later, I saw another male eagle flying and it had a snake in its claws. I watched it eat it! Like I'm not joking. It sat on a tree branch on a tree across the water from me, tore off a piece of snake, cocked it's head back and did that gulp-head-bob thing that birds do because they don't have teeth. That was the best thing ever. I knew God really loved me right then. 

After that, I guess I decided I was done. I wanted to come back and journal and solidify the things I had learned, heard, and felt. I was reading 2 Corinthians 3 when I came upon the verse about, “Our adequacy is from God.” and that challenged me a lot. I don’t allow people to speak into my life and I put myself in positions to do it for other people. I guess I am trying to cover up my insecurities about being competent. I know I am skilled and capable, but I fear that I don’t have value sometimes. I realized that God won’t ask me to do more than I can and in him I am actually adequate. As I roll into my job as an RA this year, I know that I am capable and equipped to do what God has set before me and I know that I am adequate because God is good.


At the beginning of the summer, I assumed that I would leave the  Saturday after my internship ended. The closer I got to that date, the harder it became to think about leaving. Elizabeth also put a little pressure on me to stick around a couple days and I wanted to spend more time with my host family. I realized that there was going to be a gap of time between the end of my internship and school starting. It dawned on me that this would be the last time that I would be responsibility free in my life. After I get married, even if I check out for a few days to be alone, I’ll still be responsible for my wife. I began to feel a nagging thought that I should take a few days to spend time alone. The idea itself annoys me because I like people and being around them. Not being with people feels like choosing to stand in the desert in the middle of the day for no good reason. Why should I subject myself to agony and torture? I have friends, I am a pretty cool guy, why should I choose to be alone? But, I knew that God placed it on my heart to spend a few days alone and I know better than to ignore his calling. It is a 13 hour drive from GA to WI and I set aside 4-5 days to do it. 

I began the first leg of the drive in the late afternoon. I wanted to formally start my solitude so I pulled over at the first place that got my attention; a state park. Upon getting to the gate I realized there was a parking fee and I didn’t feel like paying it so I pulled into a drive to turn around, but it t wasn’t large enough to do a u-turn, so I followed until it ended in a cemetery. I figured God knew that I was going to end up here so I parked and got out. The first set of thoughts were the obvious ones about the brevity of life, priorities, what matters most, the point of my year, the big scheme of things, and so on. As I continued to walk around I began to notice all the graves with couples. Each man’s grave had a date that was about ten years before the women’s dates. I began to think about what I wanted to leave Elizabeth with so that she could eventually move on. Still on my walk, I came across a grave with a married couple who had the wife die in childbirth. I couldn’t imagine anything worse... a series of worst case scenarios began to flood my mind. I started to wonder what would keep me faithful to God if the worst things I could possibly imagine came true. I was pretty annoyed at God for hitting me quickly as I started this journey of solitude. I left that cemetery full of questions and with no real answers. So, I read Matthew.

I headed for Nashville, and was able to connect with Elizabeth’s brother Ben. He was gracious and invited me to a concert with him at RocketTown. A scream-o band playing was named "This Is Hell."  I agreed. Outside, we ran into one of his friends. This guy was covered in tattoos, had gages in his ears, and was smoking a pipe. But when he heard Ben was traveling to New York for a show and I was on my way to WI, he asked if he could pray for our traveling safety. (Talk about judging a book by its cover, I was blown away.) After that, Ben, his friend Ryan, and I went to Qdoba to eat. We chatted awhile about life, love, and fathers and then we parted ways. I don’t know if my time spent with him was particularly meaningful, but I know that sometimes in life, it is just nice to have people around. I drove a little ways outside of Nashville before I parked at a rest stop to sleep for the night. 

 The following day, I drove a couple hours to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. I think it was a real town because I found a Starbucks and I spent the day there. My agenda for the day was to read Romans. By the time I had gotten to Ch. 3, I had already forgot all the great stuff from the first couple chapters so I changed my approach. I went back and began to journal about what I was reading. I came to the overwhelming realization that Romans is an awesome book. I don’t know if I ever really understood before all the treasure that Romans has to offer. The neat thing was, all the questions that I had asked in the cemetery were starting to be answered. Of course there were things there that I already knew, the obvious things. But a lot of what it was was head knowledge turning into heart knowledge. Like the verse about the Spirit testifying with my spirit, totally true!  I think I fell in love with the gospel as I read Romans. Not kidding. I saw Paul wrestle with all these issues and yet, he was free because in the end, God is the one who enacts, maintains, and upholds everything. The fear of falling away isn’t on me because He is holding me to himself. And, I know he will continue to. It was a very freeing moment to me. It was in that all those answers came. The thoughts about what mattered most, what I needed to invest in, and the big scheme of things, etc. all fell away. The answer is, of course, not an epiphany, but also it was an epiphany. The Gospel. I want to help Christians strip off the garbage that clouds their vision and help them ask the question, “What is getting in the way of loving the gospel?” Paul was correcting  and coaching them so that they could appreciate the gospel. I discovered that what I want to leave Elizabeth is a love for the gospel. A legacy where the stability comes from Him, not me. A love that for Him that feeds my love for her. I guess when I realize that everything else is outside of ourselves and we become expendable to his plan, it is easier to follow. I felt so free and not afraid. The other main thing I took away from Romans was that we are to identify with Christ more than just feeling or thinking like him. We aren’t just trying to put ourselves in his shoes. It is way more mystical that that. I realized we are to allow him to be our life. In a sense, I am to be him. His life is my life. It is a much stronger connection that what I thought. 

Tired from so much spirituality, I headed to taco bell before turning in for the night. On the way, my best friend called me and told me he was coming to stay at my house on his way to Chicago and wanted me to be there. I decided that I could do that, so I got up the next morning, read Mark, and drove home. It was interesting to read that Gospel on the other side of all my realizations about God from Romans. Everytime Jesus spoke, I was like, “wow!”

When Alex arrived at my house, I spent time with him, played games, hung out, and when he left on Sunday, so did I. 

Winding Up

I had been downtown the entire week before and sort of lost touch with what was happening back at the church. I was even excluded from the weekly team email. I assumed I wouldn’t have to work that Sunday evening because I hadn’t been a part of any of the planning. During church that morning, however, Emily texted, asking me to help. I was in another town with Michael and Grammy, so I just about to eat lunch, so I couldn't, but I told her I'd get over there as soon as I could. They took me to Chicago’s for lunch which was ironically humorous to me in Atlanta, but it was enjoyable. After that, I headed over to North Point to help set up for the ice cream thank you party for the leaders of the beach trip. Thus beginning my process of closure of the summer. I heard many small group leaders share of their experiences and how great they thought the event was and that was so affirming to all the planning that I had helped with. For instance, one mom attempted to register her son after registration was closed. Their family was going through a really tough time, so Kevin put extra effort into getting him in. He asked for favors, and did a bunch of extra work himself. This student was a problem all week-- misbehaving and sneaking off. The last night, however, he stood up to receive Christ. He wants to stay involved at North Point. One voluntary leader signed on to be a permanent leader after falling in love with the students she was with. For me, all my students still text me on Sundays asking if I am coming. I sat in on small group that Sunday. It was so cool to see the students at church after having them for the week at camp. That first night, the small group leaders didn't follow-up on what had happened during camp, and that shocked me. That's what I was so excited about being back at church together. So after small group the three of us talked about all the things that had happened at camp, and how they could follow-up with their students. I think their group will continue being awesome.

I spent one more week at North Point after the Mission trip, and it was kind of weird. After getting used to the fast paced environment that I been a part of all summer, I felt like it came to an abrupt halt. Monday was weird. Everyone was lethargic and chill and no one was running around planning things. Monday was Clay’s last day, he was headed off to Dallas Theological Seminary to continue working on his doctorate. Him saying goodbyes, filled the air with a somber mood. After that everyone was pretending that they weren’t saying goodbye on Thursday. It was just a weird week. I had already begun to detach through the mission trip knowing it was the last thing on the agenda and the thank you party on Sunday. I was ready to move on and think ahead towards the coming semester. It was almost funny to see everyone ignoring the imminent detachment. 

At the all staff meeting, we shared our experiences from the summer. It was a neat time and they even applauded for us at the end. I was excited about that because I’m pretty sure that Andy looked at me during that time. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Love Without an Agenda

It turns out that I like the homeless. How did I reach this conclusion? The hard way. I previously had a bad taste of the homeless coming from my experiences of homeless people in Chicago who bug you until you pay them to leave you alone. For my internship this summer I volunteered to go downtown with some students to work with the homeless for a week. Okay, honestly, I didn’t even want to go on this trip. Elizabeth took me to the train station and I was complaining on the way there. It wasn’t that I hate students or didn’t think this opportunity was a good idea, but I was worn out from all the ministry I’d been doing this summer. I was dreading for several reasons: I knew it was going to be a lot of work, I didn’t know what we were going to do, and I didn’t know anyone. But, I had signed up, so I went anyway. 

I arrived at the train station to a chaotic mix of parents and students all looking for direction. When they realized I worked for Northpoint, they turned on me. I had signed up to go because I like to work with students. I had no idea about all the other details. Mallory, the person in charge hadn’t shown up yet and I was bombarded with signed parental permission slips and a myriad of questions about the if’s, where’s, and what’s. I’m good at thinking on my feet so I made up assuring answers to calm the anxious parents. When Mallory got there, I readily shoveled all the forms and questions to her, and stood close by to help the best I could get the trip moving. 

The train took us downtown where we exited and walked to an a building that housed the organization called  “Safehouse.” This is where we received our assignment for the week. It was simple; to serve with unrequited love.  Joe, the pastor at Safehouse, challenged us to use this opportunity to give without expecting anything in return. He referred to it as “Love without an agenda.” Other than that, he really didn’t give us any assignments, which I hated… at first.

Every night of the week at Safehouse, a different church would come in to lead a cook dinner and lead a service. Our job was simply to hang out. This seemed strange to me in a way. I’m so used to being told to serve, cook, building, evangelize, or something. This simple plan of hanging out didn’t seem like ministry to me. We hosted a makeshift youth group with a bunch of silly icebreaker games. The high schoolers invited homeless people and we’d just hang out and connect with them. This seemingly meaningless assignment quickly turned amazing. 

Within minutes of our first night of this, one of the girls had given her shoes away and was walking around in socks! This set the tone for the rest of the week. We went to parks, hosted meals, and just hung out with the homeless. As people have asked how this trip changed me, my answer is that the highlight of my trip really was seeing the students flourish in these circumstances. It was a huge confirmation of my calling to work with students and see them be changed. This generation is not a lost cause. They are incredible!

One morning, Joe asked if we were comfortable washing feet and giving people new socks. I remember the taste of bile clawing at my throat. I’ve been to Iraq and been in a number of uncomfortable situations, but that might be the line for me. I hugged the homeless people and held their hands as we prayed but I didn’t think I was capable of washing their feet. Joe asked for volunteers and I kid you not, every student raised their hands. There were other jobs to be done and students could have chosen other things, but they all raised their hands. Joe only chose seven lucky students, so, thankfully, I did not have to swallow my bile. But these students were off the hook! 

One day, we made pancakes. That was mixing things up a bit because most shelters only make dinner. The students eagerly went to the neighboring parks to find homeless to invite them. Then, they served the meal with enthusiasm. One of the group members decided that we needed some background music, so he turned on his iPod. That was fine, but as the first song had rhythm, some students were inspired to “show us what they got.” They jumped on stage, and started showing off some dance moves. Pretty soon some homeless people were being pulled on the stage to be taught how to do the dance. Soon, it turned into a wild dance party. It was unreal. I am not exaggerating, two hours later, the iPod had played every Michael Jackson song I know and every song that narrates a dance. It went through every song I knew you could dance to and more, it was unbelievable. One homeless person could do the entire music video dance for “Thriller.” The founder of Safehouse said that, “I have never seen these homeless people smile so much”-- which is saying a lot coming from him!

One night a student started crying as she was telling me about a conversation she had having with with one of her homeless friends who had told her he was thinking about committing suicide. The longer she talked with him, the more connected she became. By the end of the conversation, all she wanted was for him to tell her that he’d still be around tomorrow. She learned that there is nothing she could do to change him. She could only love him that moment in time. And cry.

Another student traded shoes with a person who was wearing the wrong size. It didn’t matter that they weren’t his size either. The funny thing is, he thinks he got the better end of the deal. I saw him at church the next Sunday and he was still wearing them.

I could share so many more stories, but because you are already bored, I’ll close with a final thought. Out of everything I saw and experienced through this mission trip, I cam away feeling such a confirmation of my calling and so excited that the future of the church is in the hands of such a passionate generation. We were not forced to tell anyone the gospel, we weren’t given a 5 point tract to hand out, we didn’t have a trick question, we weren’t doing apologetics. These students were just loving these people and the gospel was brought by love without an agenda. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

North Point Does Camp

Camp is the event that my internship has been working towards this summer. The goal: relocate 1,200 kids to Panama City Beach, Florida for an encounter with the life changing God and bring them back again without any mortalities. (Only one guy in my group came back with stitches. So I think we did pretty well.) I was assigned to be a temp small group leader along with one of their two permanent small group leaders. As the substitute for the other small group leader I felt that I came in with a disadvantage. They knew, liked, and missed their other "real" small group leader. So I battled with feelings of inadequacy. We were to lead fifteen 10th graders and share two condos in a massive beach resort that the church rented out. I occupied the smaller condo with the seven more well behaved guys. Without revealing too much of the personal experiences that were shared, I will say that God came and moved amongst the guys in my group. It was dramatic. The first small group time that I was present for, several of my students shared parts of their story and tears. They shared about feeling like their parents or grand parents had neglected or not liked them, and what it was like the first time they felt affirmation. They shared about addictions they were choosing to fight against. I hadn’t known whether or not I was connecting with them, but after that group I knew we were brothers.

Let me share this hilarious story about the trip: All during the week the guys had been testing me to see what my boundaries were. I had told them I was in the army and so they kind of imagined that I was like an army ninja warrior. They were a little bit afraid of me I think. I liked that perception... there are advantages to being feared... you know what I mean? To continue with set-up, they had a game that they thought was hysterical. If one of their friends left their phone unattended, the someone in the group would hide it. The student whose phone it was would get frantic when they realized it was missing and they would retrace their steps to the beach or the conference center looking for it. This would result in a raucous laughter. That would enlighten the tortured student that his peers were guilty, but instead of telling him where it was, the other guys would play the hot or cold game until the student found it.

This particular night, the game turned sour. One student informed me that my cell phone had been stolen off the counter in the room where I had left it (Mom, I just want you to know that I did actually know where I had left it) it was about 1:30 am. I informed the guys I was headed to bed and that my phone had better be there when I arrived. I rose and walked very slowly towards my room. No one moved a muscle. As I entered the door frame of my room and observed that my phone had not been replaced I heard quick movements behind me. A door behind me slammed shut and the muffled sound of another slamming also. I wheeled around and ran to the first door. They locked it. Foolishly they didn’t realize it was the type with the hole in the middle that you could pick easily. The one student who had been the scapegoat that week assisted me and we were through that door in a matter of seconds. Entering the room I looked around and saw no one. But, I did notice the closet door was now shut. I swiftly moved towards it, twisted the doorknob, and heard five squeals. “He’s at the door!” I gave it a good shove but even me in my glorious might am no match for five squealing 10th graders. I managed to crack it open enough to see their wide-eyed terror beset 10 eye balls before they would slam it shut again. I looked for something I could jam into the door to keep it open, but couldn’t find anything that wouldn’t damage the frame so I searched for other options. Above me, I realized the ceiling tiles crossed the closet too. So I climbed up on the counter and pushed the tile out of the way. Sure enough, I had easy access to their space. I wasn’t big enough to crawl through, but from here I knew I could rain down terror. I yanked the tile off the closet side, growled and gave scary fingered grimace look! Five frightened squeals responded. I climbed down and shoved the door to make sure they would stay put and went to the kitchen to grab a few bottles ice cold water. I poked holes in the tops of the bottles, which made instant spray guns and climbed back on the counter. Grinning through the open tile leading into their tiny space, I drenched them. Four boys collapsed to the ground squealing like the Wicked Witch of the West, but one of my brighter students kept his head and continued to hold the door closed. I emptied a full bottle on their heads then jumped back down to the door. Thats when my co-conspirator jumped up on the counter and poured another bottle down on them. This solicited more screaming but no progress. It was time for a new approach. My assistant had a great idea and ran to get his spray deodorant. He climbed back on the counter and pumped our torture chamber full of odorous fumes. As I began to get a whiff of this scent, I knew they must be near death. As the coughing began, the door game suddenly switched. They wanted out, so I reverse my role in the game too. I held the door shut a few moments longer, laughed, then let go. One of the students fell backwards over his friend and I raced into the closet. seeing that it was 5 against 1, the same smart student grabbed me from behind and said “ I’ve got him, grab him!” while another student said, “he’s got him, run!” and four squealing boys bolted. I quickly turned the hold I was in into a headlock in my favor. I told him, “You don’t have very good friends..” He whimpered back, “ I know.” So I took him with me into the main room of the condo. The four 10th grade men ran to the corners of the room, but one of them quickly returned my phone and cried out “It wasn’t me..” in a trembling high pitched plea. We all became friends that night. For those of you who don't know: that is what male bonding is all about.

But on a more serious note, I was extremely impressed with the way that North Point does camp. Because they bring all of their own small group leaders down to substitute for camp counselors, that camp "high" is experienced by someone who will be there to follow-up when the students get home. This also gives the small group leaders a sense of value, because they get to see that their work is worth while. Every single one of the fifteen guys in my group admitted to me that this trip had been life changing. The talks had been about how when a person experienced Jesus, their lives are forever changed. They used the stories of people Jesus had met to relate this truth-- Zacheus, the Woman at the Well, the Rich Young Ruler-- to name a few. It was incredible. The speakers did an amazing job of making it easy for the small group leaders to ask good questions and leader their students into imagination-enthralling relationship with Jesus. It was awesome. The last night, 14 of my 15 guys told me and the other small group leaders specific actions they were going to do when they got home, from witnessing to relatives to respecting authority figures to breaking addictions. It was incredible. One guy gave his life to Jesus. The 15th member told us that he wasn't there yet. He was no longer an outside observer, but he wasn't ready to be all the way. But he's moving closer. It was unbelievable to me that he was comfortable telling us that, glad that he had come, and that he was committed to coming back and learning more. So... feel free to ask questions if you want me to fill in the blanks, but overall, it was better than I could have imagined.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More Life in Georgia

A large package came in the mail the other day with Grammy’s name on it, she was thrilled. Inside was her brand new, shiny walker. After Mr. Shalom assembled it, Grammy could be seen doing laps around the kitchen. She was even excited about the “secret compartment” underneath the seat. She exclaimed, “I can keep my purse, my water, my jacket, or whatever I want down there!”

One Friday, said I to my maiden, “Lets pack a cooler with food, sunscreen, bugspray, water, and my handy five finger shoes equipped to meet all my outdoor fancies and go for a hike!” So we set out for the North Georgia frontier, excited for what awaited. As we neared our destination, I realized I was hungry. We began to see signs announcing the quickly approaching “Earl’s BBQ.” I know that whenever you are in a foreign land, it is polite to eat the traditional food of that place, so I was interested. After I exited the Highway, I couldn’t find Earl or his BBQ anywhere. But, I did find Reba. She owned an all day buffet... Elizabeth warned me about places like this. She claimed we would be served by people without teeth, wearing camouflage. These are the types of restaurants where overalls are the fashion choice most days. Anyways, I ignored her as I walked in and greeted them with a familiar, “Howdy.” This is similar to a "hello" or a "hi" everywhere american is spoken. (Here in the south, they have their own secret language.) Sure enough, our waiter, though perfectly courteous, was wearing a camouflage apron and a John Deer shirt that stated, “Will trade wife for tractor.” I poke fun, but I will admit that I was served the best BBQ I’ve ever had. They are doing something right. Our destination was a location called "Tallulah Gorge." This place made for a perfect day of rock jumping, swimming, hiking, and playing. At the bottom of the gorge, there is a waterfall that is one big rock set at a 45 degree angle. The water rushes over it, and if you sneak out to the middle of the fall, you can actually use it as a huge natural waterslide! Awesome. We came home sweaty and exhausted but we were happy.

I spent a weekend in Chicago. Let me begin this short story with a quote from a picture of me on facebook, I’m a "two-time award winning best man.” This is true. In the last two months, both of my best friends have gotten married and I was the best man at each. I traveled to Seattle for one and Chicago for the other. They were both certainly memorable and filled with many stories. In short, the bookends of Jon’s wedding were certainly unforgettable. There were tiny mishaps like no air conditioning to a guy being picked up by an ambulance next door to the reception. The ceremony itself was beautiful and passed without a hitch. I didn't drop the rings. So, that's good. The rest, including the bachelor party, is just memories.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I got Swag

What is wrong with people in the south? Apparently, if you get shiny lights and point them at a rock, fifteen thousand people will show up to watch!

Last weekend, Elizabeth decided to treat ME to a date. I know, shocker. Let me explain the rules of our dating contract. Most of you know that every Thursday night is date night. This is a time that no one or no thing is allowed to interfere with; its our time. However, as part of the contract, if we ever failed to comply with the regulations of the contract, due to extinuating circumstances, Elizabeth is responsible for redeeming the date by planning a substitionary date. In other words, if we miss a date night because of thanksgiving, christmas, etc. Elizabeth gets to plan the make up date at her discretion. To give you an idea of how this works, when we missed a date because I was at Alex’s wedding, she made up for it by taking me to see a Nascar Race. Georgians…

Anyways, back to the story.. Her newest date idea was to take me to a place called Stone Mountain and have a picnic. Stone Mountain is the South’s response to Mt. Rushmore. Let me describe it to you in this way: picture a rock, okay its a big rock, but its not exactly a mountain. It’s Georgia’s best effort at a mountain. Then picture a hundred drunk dixie boys repelling off the side chipping away the stone to create a monument to their favorite confederate generals. I know, I know. I don’t know how I’m surviving down here either! Every night of the summer they put on the world’s largest laser show spectacular. And, I’ll be honest, I like the shiny things as much as the next guy. It is a thirty minute productions where they used lasers put to music to create movies. They played a variety of songs which included songs by famous Georgian musicians, songs that mention Georgia or the south, or just patriotic songs in general. They used visual effects including projectors and fireworks to supplement the lasers. However, to make the experience more unique-- earlier that night, there had been a soul music concert there. So we had the added benefit of sharing this experience with no less than fifteen thousand brothas and sistas. We were unaware until we arrived that we needed a bucket of fried chicken and a skull cap in order to fit in. That is an absolutely unnecessary joke, but I thought I'd go for it while I could. Sorry if you're offended. Over all, it was a pretty fun show, and if you are ever in Georgia you should go. It is free once you are inside the park. I won’t even admit that I cried when they played the national anthem.

In other offensive news, this past Tuesday night, several days after the Stone Mountain episode, Elizabeth and I joined Mrs. Shalom for a movie night. She chose a movie that she had just gotten called Food Inc. I won’t go in to much detail, but I’ll say that it is a documentary describing how food gets from a seed to the table. It was rather upsetting. The film described the cruel treatment of workers, farmers, and animals. As a result of this production, Elizabeth and I became organics-- even on date night. I took her to an organic fast food restaurant (who even knew that existed?). The cows we were eating as hamburgers were not genetically engineered, and were allowed to graze on grass rather than fed corn. No more Taco Bell date nights for us! And this commitment has lasted almost 6 days!

Every Wednesday night, the other interns and I lead a Bible Study. We created this event and affectionately named it SWAG. No, it doesn’t stand for anything deep or spiritual like Students Walking After God or Seven Weeks Accepting Grace. Honestly, it is the name of the Cologne one of the guys I work with wears. In its defense, it smells delicious. Swag isn’t just a name though, its a style. My style. Anyway, we are doing a study on 1 Timothy. We aren’t really teaching it as much as we are just reading through and allowing the students to interact and discuss the material. It is a throw back to old school youth group which is ironic because we’re at NorthPoint. We are meeting a need the students asked for; going deeper. We are teaching them how to study the Bible. Overall, our first night went very well. So much so, in fact, that several students came up to thank me. I thought that was weird, since when do you get thanked for reading a chapter of the Bible? I’ll say this for NorthPoint, one of the things I’ve noticed is that the students don’t know much about God but they are passionate. I’ll take a passionate, naive student over a scholarly, apathetic one any day.

I can’t believe I am half way through my internship already, it seems like I just got here. I love and miss you all. The sun is hot and the humidity is oppressive, but God is GOOD!