Latest

Sterile Christianity

Lately I have been sinking further and further into a state of uncertainty. I am unable to measure exactly how far down I have gone, but each fathom adds weight to lungs whose breath I exhausted long ago.

It has been too long since I have read my bible, it has been too long since I sought counsel with the Holy One. Every time someone does something that reminds me I feel that twinge of guilt. Outwardly I have opposed the long hours at work, but inwardly I have been thankful for the distraction. One single focus until I am too tired to think at all. It has been glorious, even though I know it will only get worse the longer I ignore that small voice.

I watch people. Too often I judge people. Lately I have been humbled from people who I thought could never come close. I am a rule follower. I love them, they help keep me safe. I attempted to make being a christian into a list. I prayed, I read, I raised my hands. Not that in those things I never found authenticity. Yet I missed the point. I looked down upon those not following the rules, acting in a way contrary to the way iI thought Christians should act. I sterilized my Christian walk. Thus far I have done a good job of hiding this inner struggle. A few close to me have caught a glimpse but I forced them from pursuing the truth. A month ago I felt as if I was on the verge of perfect Christianity, or near as one could get. Rules had deceived and twisted me into thinking that could be possible. I never bluntly called it that but never the less. I had a thirst for the bible and an understanding of it as never before. Like a dam being built waiting for that single crack that has it all come crashing down. I feel like I have been tied down with struggles unable to get loose. Like I keep trying to climb stairs, able to get just so far before I come tumbling down only to begin again. A useless act without first finding something sharp. I am placed in positions that require leadership by people who believe and want to invest in me. I fear I can only let them down. I apply pressure on myself that is unrealistic. My sterile walk has reached a point I can no longer ignore. I want to be that leader people think I could be. I have to find a way through an obstacle course of my own luke warm tendencies. The say Christianity isn’t easy but it ain’t rocket science. The problem is it calls you to do the things you don’t want to. Swallow your pride, love those you don’t feel deserve it, even though you are justified in not. Learning to live for God in your every day life. Most likely getting it wrong more than you get it right but the attempt itself meaning everything.

God here I am. All of me. Everything. Wholly yours.

I want to ask forgiveness for sins you have already forgiven.  I want to apologize for acting in ways I knew better, for letting myself get in the way of you and me. Let me accept the help from those you have put around me for strength.

Amen

Advertisements

Devoted Camp (My Perspective)

Just got back Friday from camp. I would be lying if I said it was all fun and games. I honestly had a great time. Enjoyed the music, the speaker, the recreation and getting to build a closer relationship with some of our students. The week started out with high hopes even though we had a few kids get sick last minute and not be able to come.

-The beginning of the week-

The first night was like the awkward first date. We were just meeting Chuck Hooten (well almost everyone, because JJ knows EVERYONE) for the first time. It was rocky but it was different and already he was introducing us to songs we had never heard. The speaker was great, but not the most energetic, so Tony took a little getting used to but he made up for it with some powerful preaching of the word. I honestly felt like something was off that first night but I just figured it was me, in combination with it being the first night. About halfway into the second day I knew it wasn’t just me. Everyone seemed somewhat downtrodden. I couldn’t have pin pointed exactly what the feeling was but there was a sort of tension in the air. On top of it all, we had several things that just were hindrances. One of them being my car all of a sudden acting as if It was not going to start every time I tried to start it. So we go into the next night of worship and preaching. Seriously great night, Chuck was amazing. One of the deepest worship leaders I have ever had the chance to join in worship with. He sang Christ is Risen which will, at the least for our youth group, become the anthem for the week. Tony brought it, great preaching about adoption. Explaining the parallels between human adoption and our spiritual adoption by Christ. The only problem was it seemed no one in our group was paying attention or even attempting to be involved in the service.It had been like that all day and the night before. So after every service at night we had “Church Group Time”. This is where we meet together to talk about how our day was, and really point out what stood out each to us. On the second night we went into that meeting with a very downtrodden feeling. JJ refused to say a word before he got in to the room and everyone paying attention. He started that meeting by saying something like..”I normally try to give grace wherever I can. Where others around me are usually considered the Law I am usually grace. Tonight I am being forced to be the Law and I don’t like it.” Like I said we had a spirit of defeat going into that room. A student earlier had mentioned he wanted to go home. We had leaders who’s kids had called begging for them to come home. We had a student who came into the camp having just attended their grandfathers funeral the same day. We had students just wandering off and other acting really immaturely. Oh yeah and the girls dorm had the fire alarm go off at 2:00 AM (Yeah AM) for a false alarm. We were already getting beat up before that day began. In that meeting JJ conveyed his disappointment. Then he did something no one expected. He told the kids. “This needs to be worked out and it is not something we leaders can do. You need to do it amongst yourselves.” Then we left, we walked down the hall and let them talk it out. We expressed our feelings of frustration and hopeless feeling. Not being people who usually look for spiritual warfare behind every rock, we all agreed we were being attacked. After about 5-10 mins we went back in. We still don’t know what was said but there were a few in tears and everyone seemed to have grasped the seriousness of our situation. I almost forgot before we left JJ asked if anyone wanted to go home to raise their home and JJ would take them home. That same student approached JJ and told him he wanted to go home. He ended up taking him home at 11:00.Which is a 3 hour ride there and back. There was a couple of other tension building moments that added to that already emotionally draining night. We ended that day bruised and broken but I still felt hope. Honestly I think one of the biggest take aways I got from camp happened that night. HE IS IN CONTROL. Even though I myself and everyone else were ready to let that painful day end. God still let me feel a sense of hope. A sense of peace that he was in control. Things looked grim but God had a plan. Honestly, he had to because I just couldn’t believe that was all camp was going to be.

Wednesday…

….began normally but there was something missing. The tension that was weaved throughout the first two days was not there. It was subtle but it was definitely gone. We went into worship that morning and there was a huge difference in us all. We began to really join into the worship. Family group times seemed more meaningful. Worship and Tony that night were engaging and spirit lead. Church group for the first time that week actually worked like church group was supposed to. Kids talking about what they learned. Uplifting each other. We had 6 kids confess that they made commitments to Christ. It was a complete 180 that only God could have produced.

Which reminds me of something Tony said this week. “Jesus likes to take a mess and turn them into a messenger” I believe that is what God did. We were broken, we were a mess that seemed so far gone there was no way we could have picked up the pieces. God did. We ended the week strong. The last day was bittersweet and over too soon. We came home completely exhausted and ready for bed. Yet we all came back closer to God, and closer to each other.

 

Camp was phenomenal.

 

Oh btw remember my car? Turned out the battery was pretty much dead. I got it completely replaced free of charge. Oh and the students who were wondering off and others causing trouble stopped. The girls dorm had the fire alarm go off a few more times, but I personally found that funny. Whether we want to believe, or want to give him the credit. God is always in control. We may  not understand these trials now but we don’t see the whole picture like he does.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Thoughts on Marriage

I have no plans for this in the near future. I would have to find someone before this is even a possibility. (It takes two to make a thing go right). I have heard this phrase many times lately and I am beginning to really ask myself how I go about doing this. The phrase is “Marriage is not about finding the right person, but being the right person.”  The goal is to work on being the man God called me to be and the rest will fall into place. Not to say that we should not date, but if we focused more on developing our own faith journey. We would leave less room for heartbreak. LeCrae has this song called “Just Like You”. I may have burned a hole in my cd from the many times I have played that one song. The song talks about the people who stepped into his life to replace the father he was missing. The end of the song is what wrecks me though. He says “then in stepped Jesus”. Teaching him how to be the man he is supposed to be.

“I wanna be like you in every way,
So if I gotta die everyday
Unworthy sacrifice
But the least I can do is give the most to me
Because being just like you is what I’m ‘spose to be
They say you came for the lame,
I’m the lamest
I made a mess you say you’ll erase it,
I’ll take it
You said you came for the lame,
I’m the lamest
I broke my life, but you say you’ll replace it,
I’ll take it.”

I want to model my life after that.

Behind the scenes

I have been involved in the Youth Group at my church for over a year now. It is the first time I have really been involved as what I guess you would call a leadership position in a youth group. I say that hesitantly because that still feels odd to call myself that. Then I think of Jeff and I feel a little better about myself (thank God for a church where Jeff can be a youth leader 🙂 j/k). Seriously though it has been a very eye opening year. I have heard many people comment about being involved with youth. Too many comments are negative.

“Glad it’s you and not me.”

“Teenagers are just so selfish and full of drama”

I can tend to agree with this to some degree. But my rebuttal is “so were you and I at that age” Too many people who consider themselves adults are still that way. One assumption is that students don’t seem to live in the real world. People also like to assume that youth pastors have a “cake” job. They get to hang out and have a good time. All the time.

I. beg. to. differ.

I cannot begin to explain the way God has been breaking my heart over our youth group. Cue Brandon Heaths song “give me your eyes”. I have begun to see things I missed before. Too many youth deal with issues that incase soo much hurt for someone that age. Parents divorce (on their birthday).Broken homes. Drugs. Alcohol. Suicide. Sex. Abuse. Porn.

At such a young age they are already tainted by the sin of this world. I understand that we are born into sin. It’s inevitable. It is just heart breaking to think they are beginning to lose that child like innocence earlier and earlier.

Youth pastors deal with these issues on a constant basis. Being that person these kids talk to about all the sorrow they experience. It has to take a toll.

All of this would seem hopeless and beyond redemption .
Without God. Without Jesus and the cross. It changes everything.

I thank God for JJ and Beth. For youth pastors and youth leaders. Shining the light for those dealing with so much at such a young age. I would be mistaken to dwell on the pain and sorrow. We have a good time in youth. We laugh and sing and dance. Most of all we love. I have seen friendships begin. Bonds created that won’t be forgotten easily. Two football players from separate schools who should by definition be rivals. Begin one of the biggest man crush’s I have ever seen. I am constantly humbled by the faith some of these kids have.

These are people who are the next in line to run the world. To change the world. Be the next President. Create the next iPad. Respond to the worlds cries of hunger and thirst. Reach the lost. How could we not invest in them?  We have no choice but to put our hope in them.

We can’t let them down.

Pain has a way of making us more honest

As I sit here by myself on a saturday night. I struggle with the feeling of loneliness. Loneliness is one of the core reasons for my dark past in pornography. It was a terrible way to deal with that feeling. Far too often we pretend to be ok. We have a fear of being truly open and honest with another person. So we fake it, you say “I’m doing ok” or the ever popular “I’m just tired”. Which is a load of BS. Then we begin to suffer. We hold in those feelings, we pretend to be ok which only makes them worse. I don’t understand why I feel lonely. I don’t understand why I struggle with insecurities. I don’t understand why you have the troubles you are having.

But we do.

We.ache.

This is why music and movies and books are so important to so many of us. They are people tangibly sharing their aches with all of us

and
we
connect

on a level that far surpasses the normalcy of our every day lives.

I believe this is why the standard sunday morning of church doesn’t work by itself. People meeting together in a living room growing together. Allowing a place for them to be completely honest without fear of getting it wrong. Now that is church. Seth Godin used this amazing analogy in his talk from catalyst this past year. He said that some people make good cupcakes. The first time they made cupcakes they followed directions and did ok. They continued to follow that recipe and continued making good cupcakes. Then you have those who also started following a recipe and made good cupcakes. Eventually though, they began experimenting. They weren’t afraid to make bad cupcakes. They weren’t afraid to get it wrong. But Eventually they make something more than good.  That’s how a favorite of mine like the cupcake with a chocolate chip cookie baked inside came about.

I think too many of us are like the first group of people. We are so afraid of getting it wrong we never change or evaluate how we live. We are so afraid of not being a good christian or a good person we won’t admit we have problems. This is when things get fake.

Fear

When we allow fear to cause us not to act. When we allow our fear to result in inaction. It keeps God’s intention for our lives from ever fully developing. Trust me I am no stranger to fear and inaction. Honestly it could be one of the most prominent stories of my life right now. I am changing that though. There is a verse that my small group grabbed a hold of this week. Psalm 4:5 “Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.” In other words give up your worries and trust in God. I am currently putting this to test. Especially over the next week or two. I hope you can too.

My name is Jamison Smith. I ache.

What about you?

What I take for granted (or words unspoken) part 2

Friends (My second Family)

I have recently been challenged by a friend to memorize Philippians. I don’t say this for any sort of praise or compliments. I say this because in this time I have come across a verse the hast taken hold of my heart and how I pray. The verse in particular is Philippians 1:3-4 It goes something like this ” 3 Every time I think of you I thank my God for you. 4 Whenever I pray for all of you, I pray with Joy” . I pray these verses almost every day. These people, these friends in my life mean very much to me. I am not the greatest at showing it I know. I apologize for that.
Alright no more stalling….

Chris and Megan
I don’t know what exactly to say. What you both have come to mean to me is without words. When I first met you, attempting to film a video my first few months at RPC for Married Life Live. I approached you and asked why you weren’t married and to get married immediately so that I could use you in my film. This is around the time Chris had his big poofy hair and a full beard. I thought this kid is one of those indie kids who was like “Dude”. Lets just say you proved very quickly that looks can be deceiving. Megan if I could point out only one thing I remember about you it would be  how nice you were and TWLOHA(okay thats two shut up). You wore the shirts and talked about it quite a bit. For good reason I later found out. You both invited me to the only small group that had anyone younger than 28 at the time. It was an interesting group of people. I grew to know you both very well over the past years. I remember Chris sharing with me that his wife and I were identical in personalities. Talking to you on the phone, wishing you both were closer. Then you did move closer and I am pretty sure I owe you rent and grocery money for the many nights I have stayed with you. I sent a check a while ago, it must have been lost in the mail. I have come to you many times for advice. I’m sure not all of those times you wanted to help me but you always did. I enjoy watching you as a married couple, not perfect but trying to do the best you can at putting God first and each other second. I love the messages encouraging messages you write on each others bathroom mirrors. You have challenged me and had a hand in helping me grow closer to God. I am being forced to prepare myself for your departure. I know that draws near. God has great things in store for you both. I hate the idea of you not being apart of my daily life. I love you both dearly.

JJ and Beth
The time has passed so quickly since I first met you and your family. It seems like yesterday I was asking who is the funny guy with the huge goatee, to sharing hotel rooms. I feel I instantly hit it off with you both. It took a little time but I grew to love your kids as well. You have both challenged me as a leader. Honestly I had a hard time seeing myself as a leader until I began getting involved with you both. You both are amazingly creative in your own ways. It was an aspect I didn’t realize I was missing till you brought it to the table. I have grown close to you both, whether it has been because of the lack of space (that house was way too small) or my need for advice and friendship. You both model a marriage I hope to apply to my own someday. I have always said I would consider adoption when I get married. You make me think I could not avoid it. You are so great with Jahid, Hamee, and Karam. They are great kids, and resemble their parents in many great ways. JJ you are the first person I have found who matches my love for David Crowder. I didn’t know if anyone could understood that man crush of mine. You have made me feel like one of your family since the first day you moved over. The long day that changed into night as we unloaded and moved you into a house 3 times too small for you all. You have become a big part of my life as well. Some how you attract the most ridiculous people. But you always find the craziest adventures. I am a very organized and planned out person. You force me to be spontaneous and learn to welcome change. I don’t say this to slight my youth pastor or my youth group. There are days I wish I was in your youth group growing up. You challenge kids in ways I was never challenged. You give me advice and help only to the point of directing me. Even though actually telling me would be so much easier, you help me to grow by letting me make my own decisions. I want to scream at you when you do, but thank you for them now. Even the future situations that haven’t happened but I know will. I love you and your family very very much.

I honestly mean it when I say I thank God for you all every time I think of you. You mean so much to me I doubt I could ever begin to describe it. There are others that were not named but I can’t see the screen through these tears I can no longer hold back. To not have you in my life would not have allowed me to grow as much as I have these past couple years. Thank you so much for putting up with my crazy thoughts and worries. 

This word has always stuck with me and I believe it is one of the best ways for me describe what you mean to me.
 Ohana
Definition: Part of Hawaiian culture, ʻohana means family in an extended sense of the term including blood-related, adoptive or intentional. It emphasizes that family are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another.

How Does The Moon Shine?

This past saturday I went with our church’s youth group to Winter Jam. For me I would consider this a very exciting event because of my love for music. Christian music in particular because of who the music is intended to point you towards. This is my second year going as a leader. Quick Side thought, can I tell you how much this weird’s me out? It is not something I see myself as. Any way. First of all, can I point out that I am no longer as hip to today’s Christian Music scene as I had believed I was? For majority of the bands, I was clueless as to the songs they were singing. There was in fact one name that had really drawn my attention to such a gathering of bands. DAVID CROWDER BAND. When told that the Newsboys were the headlining band. I quickly responded with “Next to Crowder? Your pulling my leg!” ( I must note here that after the concert I was left with instructions on how to remove foot from mouth). So after the hustle and great adaptions to an unexpected number of students showing up to go to the event done by JJ. We got to our seats and the Pre Show began. Not knowing most of the artists and sitting next to sadly a very nice man who had amazingly bad breath. I chose to sit down for most of the time (avoiding the poisonous gas above). During this time a thought struck. Who are these 21 thousand some odd people here for? Was it the cheap food? Most definitely not. I really began to ask myself if I was there to celebrate and worship God. Or to feed my teen girl like giddiness for David Crowder. Then I began to ask myself how many other people were there to see their favorite band sing their favorite songs. Or to celebrate their love for the almighty. Now before you get defensive and get ready to put my blog on your blacklist I really want to point out that I am not saying that going to concerts or having a favorite artist is sinful. Or that Winter Jam was in it for the money because I don’t believe either. I am just raising the question as to how often we forget who these bands are attempting to reflect. Because that is what they truly are. Moons trying to reflect the Son. ( I have to apologize for that Pun it does bother me when people do this, yet I could not, not do it). Seriously, these are people putting lyrics and sound to the vibrations in their soul trying desperately to express how they feel about our great and glorious God. I truly find music in general to be a spiritual thing. A look into one’s soul usually longing for something more. Again though I must beg the question as to who we are getting excited about. If it makes you feel any better Winter Jam pursued persuading people to help almost 500 orphans get adopted through Holt International  throughout the entire night. So much so that I am still considering it now after two days. Back to the thought at Hand. Are we looking too shallow and missing who these bands are reflecting and falling short at just the bands themselves? I then wondered if the bands ever wondered this themselves. I certainly would if I was apart of one. I will say that by the end of the night I was convinced that I had to be wrong. At the very least about the bands themselves and the Winter Jam organization. Just about every band in some way or other shared the gospel even if only quickly. They invited those who did not know Christ to accept Him. Winter Jam in and of it self had a few people come up and share some encouraging or challenging words and again shared and gave the chance to accept Him. I feel Winter Jam was a Christian event if not done right, at least done to the best of their ability to represent Christ. At the same time we were able to have a good time and party in the name of the Almighty. This also presented a chance for our youth group to get to know one another and continue to build those bonds. So now do you understand my questions?

Please please please don’t react badly or get angry at all for any of this. I am just thinking out loud as you might say. I  in no way mean to slight anyone or their favorite band. I am in every way just as guilty.

P.S. Thank you all for the encouragement, especailly you Mrs. Anderson.

P.S.S. JJ if you are reading this I owe you lunch.