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Baptism. . . October 9, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity, Church.
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Looks like I’m getting into the habit of posting videos here. Well, I promise. . . next post I’ll actually write something.

We’ve got our baptism service coming up on October 26. It’s one of the most beautiful services our church has. Witnessing dozens of people announce to the world that they’re joining the Jesus Movement is an awesome thing.

But beyond that. . . they’re telling everyone that they’re new creations. They’ve been reborn and renewed, and they want the world to know.

To find out more, go to the Liquid Church Baptism page

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Saviour King. . . October 3, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity.
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This song is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It speaks so powerfully of Christ’s work and our response.

Who I want to be. . . October 3, 2008

Posted by Nate in Personal, Spirituality.
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It’s difficult to put into words the string of emotions I’ve experienced over the last several days. I can say this much: the week hasn’t been an easy one. Oddly enough, the major struggles in life are the ones that make us grow. If it weren’t for the hardships, we would never mature. We would never become the people God desires.

Paul wrote these words to the church in Philippi: “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” In the very next paragraph he begins to talk about his imprisonment.

I’ve found that to be a huge source of encouragement. Paul basically says: “You’re going to grow. You’re going to become the people you were meant to be. I’m on that same journey; in order for me to become that person, I have to go through chains.”

So I look forward to becoming that person. I know who I am, and I know who I want to be. And in order for who I want to be to become who I am, I’m going to have to go through many difficult circumstances.

The femininity of God. . . September 23, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends, Spirituality.
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Last weekend I was enjoying the final Saturday of the summer with some friends at the Bancrofts’ house. We had a fantastic time. As a side note: David, (the Worship Bloke) and Jess are fantastic hosts. If you’re ever invited to their house, don’t pass up on the invitation. You’ll regret it if you do.

Anyway, moving right along. I noticed something while there. Men are distinctly men, and women are distinctly women.

We’re each designed to have certain attributes that God placed within us. On the surface, they’re exhibited in things like our choice of drink and conversation. I have no idea what the women were talking about, but the men were talking about video games, technology, blowing stuff up, recording equipment. . . Okay, so “blowing stuff up” wasn’t really in conversation, but given enough time, it might have shown up.

But there we were, standing in a circle near the fridge, enjoying our beers and conversation that girls might interpret as mere grunting.

In the other room, the women were chatting about God-knows-what and sipping their glasses of Cabernet or Merlot.

But when the men entered the room, the conversation didn’t shift to male conversation or remain female. The dynamic changed. . . and as the exchange continued, the conversation grew spiritual.

I think that’s evidence that the man and woman were meant to come together on a spiritual plane. There’s something deep about that connection, even when there are multiple people in the room and many of the relationships are purely friendships.

Sure, there are deep conversations between women as there are between men. But there’s something unique about the exchange that a man has with a woman. It’s deeper somehow.

I think it’s a completion of God’s image in us. Whenever man and woman come together on any level—conversational, emotional, physical—the image of God has been put together.

While God has chosen to reveal himself in a distinctly masculine way, it would be presumptuous of us to view him as entirely male. God transcends male/female distinctiveness.

That’s not to say he’s neither male nor female. That would be to deny the fact that our gender distinctions aren’t part of God’s image in us.

God possesses qualities of both Man and Woman. He is both the Warrior and the Mother Hen.

I’m still exploring this idea for myself, but I find no reason to deny God’s feminine qualities. Moreover, I find reason to affirm that God does, in fact, transcend the gender differences.

Like I said, he has chosen to reveal himself to us in the masculine. But if we deny his femininity, we begin to say that God’s image is more pronounced in Man than it is in Woman. That’s an unfortunate conclusion because it leads to the abuse of the authority God gave Man.

Again, I’m still figuring this all out. Feel free to challenge me if you’d like. I’m very open-minded about this topic.

This weekend. . . September 17, 2008

Posted by Nate in Christianity.
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Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by what’s going on in life. There are countless weapons at Satan’s disposal that he can use to weaken the believer: sexual temptation, spiritual complacency, burnout. . . the list goes on. Over the next five weekends, we will learn how to successfully defend ourselves against our Enemy’s attacks and become warriors in the army of God.

Malls, Mexican food, and men. . . September 14, 2008

Posted by Nate in Friends, Personal, Spirituality.
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Who would have thought an afternoon doing some shopping at the Garden State Plaza and topping it off with a great meal at On the Border would yield a conversation about discovering who God wants us to be?

During the course of our dinner chat, my buddy Matt brought up an interesting thought about mankind’s primary relationships. He is first to connect with his Creator, for this is the chief of humanity’s priorities. He is then to connect with the woman, for this is the creation God designed intently and specifically for the man. All other relationships must take backseat.

As he talked about man’s responsibilities and purpose in relationship, my other friend Courtney brought up a frustration that most women have with men: they don’t step up. They’re weak and unwilling to follow their dreams of changing the world for Christ. They’re unwilling to become the men after God’s heart that they were designed to be. They’ve lost the will to be men.

As a group of single twenty-somethings, the natural inclination for us was to discuss how this affects our past and potential relationships. So let me follow that train of thought for a bit.

God designed us as sexual creatures. He placed His image on our lives in many ways, and our connection to each other on the sexual plane is just one of the myriad ways He’s done that.

Think about the idea of God loving the world. He longs to connect with the world, to share His joy with all of Creation. But Creation has not known or seen His love or is unwilling to experience His joy. So He places His Son into the hands of Creation and hopes that Creation accepts His proposal of love.

Parallel that with the man in his love for the woman. He longs to connect with the woman, to share his joy with her. But the woman doesn’t know his love or is unwilling to experience his joy. So he places his heart into the woman’s hands and hopes that she accepts his proposal of love.

Ironically enough, the woman wants more. And she deserves more. Like Courtney said, men have lost their willpower. We know what it means to be a good Christ-follower—trust Jesus and love others. But we’ve forgotten what it means to be a good man.

I know her frustration all too well.

I’ve dreamed big. I’ve longed to serve God with all that I am. I’ve desired to follow in the footsteps of men like King David, King Josiah, the Apostle Peter, and the Apostle Paul. Everything inside me cries out to God to allow me the opportunity to do great things for His Kingdom.

But I’m afraid.

I’m afraid, not because of outside forces or society’s push. I am determined to stand strong against that. I’m afraid, not because my friends may think I’m crazy to attempt such incredible things for a God I can’t even physically see. My friends would support me 100% in such an endeavor.

No, I’m afraid because of myself. I’m afraid because I know my flaws and my failures. I know my sins and my selfishness. I’ve seen myself falter time and time again.

That is why I’m afraid.

I dream to take on the world. I dream of doing great and innovative things for the Kingdom like Scott Harrison at Charity: Water, Tim Lucas at Liquid Church, and Shane Claiborne at The Simple Way have done.

But I’m afraid because I’ve seen where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I’ve been trudging through the mire of lust, barely able to come up for air. I’ve sloshed through the swamps of pride and selfishness, weakened by the downward pull of upward desires.

But worst of all, I’ve suffered through the guilt of my sin, and I’ve been robbed of my dreams. I’m afraid of the evil that I’m capable of.

So to all the “Courtneys” out there—women longing for men who will lead them, boys who are looking for men who will mentor them, and other men searching for strong men who will guide them—I have one request for you: pray for us. Pray not that we’ll come into your lives, because odds are we’re already there. Pray that we’ll overcome our fear of ourselves. Because when we overcome that fear, we’ll finally step up. We’ll become the leaders you want us to be.

Because I, for one, want to dream big again.

But this time, I want my dreams to come true.

Under the steeple. . . September 11, 2008

Posted by Nate in Church, Friends, Personal, Spirituality.
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Tonight is eerily quiet. Yet in the silence, a deafening collision has taken place. Two worlds—that of a simple, unassuming, sheltered life; and the world of unspeakable pain, betrayal, and abandonment—have crashed into each other.

I guess I had no idea what I was in for when God brought me to Liquid Church.

Real life isn’t all smiles, hymns, organs, and a big steeple.

Real life is broken. It’s ugly. Consider yourself fortunate if you haven’t dealt with substance abuse, a cheating lover, rape, alcoholism, suicide, physical abuse. . . need I continue?

So I have to ask myself, Is this the world I want to set foot in?

Am I ready to face the ugliness?

I’m not gonna lie; my own life is full of its ugliness. Lies, deception, addiction. But suddenly my brokenness pales in comparison. My life was truly sheltered.

So what’s it gonna be? Am I jumping in? Or am I running back to what’s comfortable? Maybe I prefer the organs, hymns, and steeple. Where secrets are kept locked away for fear that the parishioners will shun, and the elders will discipline. Where relationships are skin-deep because no one knows the real me. And no one knows the real me because the real me will get the fake me into trouble.

Keep smiling, everybody. God loves you. And so do we. . . as long as you’re not broken.

Or maybe I should embrace the ugliness. Where secrets can safely come out because people embrace the pain, and they mentor and suffer alongside. Where relationships connect at the heart because people know the real me. And people know the real me because the fake me doesn’t exist.

It’s scary because I’m vulnerable now. We all are. We’ve admitted that we don’t have it together. We’re afraid because we think that we’ll lose each other if we expose our brokenness.

Because that’s what happened under the steeple, isn’t it? We lost friends because the real us wanted to come out. We were judged, ridiculed, laughed at, scolded, disciplined.

Misunderstood. Rejected. Scorned.

So maybe this messy life is where I belong. After all, the first step to healing is admitting there’s a problem. I always thought it was strange how no one ever had problems under the steeple. And those who did weren’t far from disappearing.

No wonder people are afraid of the Church.

Power source. . . September 9, 2008

Posted by Nate in Friends, Scripture musings, Spirituality.
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As the thunder rolls softly outside my window, I start to think about all the times life has sent storms my way. I’ve been through some rough ones, but hearing about someone else’s hurricanes always seems to put things into perspective.

I’ve never experienced the loss of a limb, for instance, or the heart-wrenching pain of betrayal. So I guess I’m writing with absolutely no authority when the worst pain I’ve experienced is the constant rejection of the offer for a date. Well, that and a multiple-fracture injury to the jaw, chin, and teeth.

Oddly enough, I’d say that the source of strength through each one of my little storms is the exact same source of strength for everyone who’s experiencing a tornado ripping through his/her life.

In Liquid Kids we’ve been teaching the kids how to tap into their “Power Source” (the Bible) to gain the superpowers that they need to face the trials of everyday life. It’s funny how that power source never changes.

I know that at least one of my friends (most likely more) is suffering through some unbelievable pain—pain I can’t even possibly comprehend. But I’m pretty confident in my power source. It’s gotten me through some pretty rough times, and I know it’s strong enough to get you through them too.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture.

Romans 3.31-39 (The Message)

Transition. . . September 4, 2008

Posted by Nate in Personal.
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My blog has been, to this point at least, a very detached blog. I’ve spent a lot of time on each entry, poring over words, agonizing over just the right verb, stressing over modifiers. . . But I think from now on I’m going to introduce a new face to this blog.

I’m not doing away with my overly thought out blog entries, but I think, in the favor of actually keeping you updated on the goings-on of a twenty-something in New Jersey, I’ll try my hand at the layman’s blog. I’m not yet sure how I’ll go about this, but regardless, I hope you’ll enjoy.

Thanks again for reading!

God bless!

Be back soon. . . September 2, 2008

Posted by Nate in Personal.
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It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything. I had a pretty rough week that included a couple big emotional upheavals and one major physical upheaval. I’m still not quite at 100%, but I’m getting close, so stay tuned for an update. I promise, I’ll get back to writing as soon as I feel able.

God bless, and thanks for reading!