Archive for the ‘Randomness’ Category

Let Me Tell You About CJ

August 24, 2009

Okay so I’m back from Lake Champion, and I cannot even begin to express in words the experience.  But however, I did want to share a couple stories, starting with one about a camper named CJ.

Working on the ropes course, we get to see kids face their fear every day.  We also see fear ruin what could be an amazing experience for that camper.  But what I really got to see was my life expressed on the ropes, and God using my time at Champion as a ropes summer staffer to teach me more and more about my relationship with Him.  At the ropes course we have whats called the pamper pole.  I don’t know why its called that but I personally think its because once you get to the top you feel like you’re going to crap yourself.  But the way this thing works is it is a 40 foot telephone pole with staples for climbing and at the top there is a about a 1×1 foot platform.  Here the campers climb up and then eventually stand up on the platform as the pole continues to wiggle and sway with the persons body wight shaking it.  Then once standing, the camper is to jump off and try to hit these hanging frisbees which are about 8 feet away from the pole, a very daunting task.  Once they jump off the belayer catches them and lets em down slowly to the ground, allowing the camper to feel as if they were free falling for a second.  Very spider man meets flying squirrel type maneuver.  So this camper CJ goes up and makes it almost to the top.  This guy is a pretty tough little 8th grader, from in inner city, talking about how easy it will be to this.  Right before he stands up he freezes and hugs the pole at the top.  He refuses to move or to get on top of the platform.  For about 45 minutes, me and a couple other ropes people try to talk him through it but he is not budging.  It got to a point where the only way he was coming down was if he could climb down backwards, which is not allowed because of danger reasons, so he just hung out up there for a good hour.  I’m belaying him and starting to get pretty tired of holding this kid up.  All he has to do is let go of the pole so he will swing away from it and we can let him down, but he doesn’t.  His reasoning is that the rope will not hold, and he’ll fall and die.  CJ at one point had both feet off, and one arm, but REFUSED TO LET GO. His only fear, the strength of the rope, was now being proven that its safe and yet he still doesn’t let go.  Him holding on at this point is literally doing nothing at this point to support his weight, and all of his weight is being supported by this “incapable rope.”  Eventually one of our ropes interns went and did a rescue on CJ, and was able to let him down.  CJ who had been in tears for the past half hour and now curled up in his leaders arms sobbing.  The cool part of this story wasn’t CJ making it down.  The amazing part is that God used CJ to show me what MY life is like.  What i was able to realize is that I AM CJ.  Everything in my heart knows that I can trust God, His will for my life, and His ability to hold me up, but I still refuse to trust Him.  I always need the security of something else, which makes no sense, because us like in CJ’s case, that thing we hold on to is really HOLDING US BACK.  I keep thinking of what it must have been like for the disciples every time Jesus asked them to trust Him.  They argued and didn’t believe but Jesus proved reliable and faithful each and every time, just like that rope.  Once they “made it down safely”, I wonder how many found themselves in tears needing to be held.

This story was such an amazing encouragement and conviction to me this summer.  I can’t even start to fathom what God will be able to do with me when I finally start letting go!

Hope you enjoyed it, and got something out of it.  More to come.

Cheers,

-Brandon

Gone for a month!

July 24, 2009

Hey Guys!

I’m gone for a month serving at Young Life’s Lake Champion in NY!  I’m sure I will be posting as soon as I get back around August 22nd.  I look forward to seeing what this month brings! Feel free to send letters or cool care packages!

Brandon Havas
Summer Staff
Young Life Lake Champion
247 Mohican Lake Rd
Glen Spey, NY 12737

Check back in a month!

Cheers,

Brandon

Lives Are Our Worship

June 22, 2009

The other day I had the privledge of going to see a good friend of mine get married.  To be in the experience of everything going on that night, I definitely felt overwhelmed and very excited.  It’s almost weird to watch someone your age get married, because it finally hits you that you’re growing up and becoming a big kid.  On the way home, I had a real sick talk with one of my buddies about how we as Christians share the love of God with others.  Immidately the thought of “evangelizing” came up in conversation.  Of course, to us, we automatically assumed evangelizing meant going around, going up to people, and asking them if they wanted to hear about God.  This has been coined “initiative evangelism.”  Honestly, in my opinion, that just scares people, turns them away from God even more.  Who goes out to lunch by themselves and wants someone (usually a group of two or three) coming up to them and asking them if they’d like to know God personally?  I’ve seen this on the beach as well.  However, before I get hated on, I would like to acknowledge that this is no way is a bad thing, because I’ve seen lives changed by this, but I’m not all for it and it just my opinion.  This is getting off topic however.  The main point of this story was that when we think evangelism, we associate it with one thing such as street preaching or talking to people about God.  Afetr talking with my buddy, we were able to come up with what we felt true evangelism was.  To us, it was anything that involves showing the love of God on others, so that they may come to know Him.  Period.  This can take on many, many, many forms.  The real point of this post was to emphasize that how we live our lives is our worship.  Our everyday lives are viewed by many, and all the people who are around us.  We have so much influence by how we live our lives, because that is where people can see us for who we really are.  I honestly think that is where God shows up the most because He is reflected in everything we do.  People see God is us.  It is very easy to tell people that you are a Christian.  It is very easy to even tell people that you love Jesus, or go to church, or even read your bible.  That all means nothing if those poeple don’t see the love and character of Jesus inside of us. I’ve sadly seen it all too many times where people acknowledge God with their lips and deny Him with their lives.  Even more sadly, I’ve seen it in myself.

I went for a run today and I always do the iPod music on shuffle thing because that way I don’t have the same music playing every time I run.  Today for some reason I wasn’t in a very good mood, so I just needed to get out of the house and clear my head.  The first song that came up was a worship song, which ordinarily I would not listen to while running, but today was different.  It made everything feel right.  It made me realize, as I was running, that God wants to be part of every aspect of our lives.  So I asked God for the rest of the songs that were played during my run to be worship ones, because I feel that He was using that for me today.  Lately in church during the music worship, I have just felt stagnant, not really getting into it.  I have just gotten into the habit of the weekly church service and making it a chore rather than an experience with God.  My run today was like no worship service I’ve ever had.  That 40 minutes was the most uplifting time with God I have had in a long time.  God was really putting on my heart that He wants my life, every aspect of it, to be centered around worshiping Him.  Then all the other things, like “evangelism” would fall into place after that.  I will have no choice but to show others who God is through the way my life is lived and the love that fills me up from Him. And coming back to end with the story that I started with, the marriage of my two friends yesterday exemplifies what I just wrote about.  It is a testament to God’s love and grace and it is being shown through those two being together to everyone who knows them, and I’ve seen personally lives changed by them.

OUR LIVES ARE OUR WORSHIP

That’s all I really have, and as usual it is in it’s random thought format.

Cheers,

Brandon

Shackin’ Up

June 19, 2009

Recently I just finished reading “The Shack” by WB Young.  It really got me thinking about a lot of things, but most importantly my relationship with God.  I think way too often, we as “Christians” put our reationship with God in a box in a way that always comes down to rules, guilt, and spiritual rituals.  I found myself in that boat.  Everything I did wasn’t centered aroud God but based on Him.  I think thats the problem.  That we try to equivilate everything to God, which is impossible.  I don’t think He wants us to make everything conformed to Him, but He wants us to be so tight with Him that everything we do coinsides with Him.  I got to thinking about how we live our lives.  I am starting to learn to hate the “what would Jesus do?” bracelets.  God does not call us TO BE Jesus but TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP with Him.  Does that make sense?  He wants us to be in such a relationship with JC that we have a heart like His, that we see like Him, so that we are not doing things out of forced rules but out of pure love.  I don’t think I can fully understand God’s love if I am willing to separate Himself from me, if I’m willing to put Him in His own little corner of my world.  I like to “put God first” when it’s convienent for my life or my time.  The main thing I was getting from this book is that we need to get back to the place where we first come to know God, and forget all the preconceived notions we have about Him and how being a Christian works.  I am now convinced that the word “Christian” is a verb.  It is the literal meaning of Christ in us, love flowing in and through.  Claiming to be Christians is a big name we put on ourselves.  People don’t see what that is unless we are intentional about letting Jesus take control of our lives and therefore letting our words and action be an overflow of that.  For me, “The Shack” was a wake up call.  It took me back to realizing that I was making my relationship with God a burden or an obligation.  It reaffirmed the love of God in my life, even when I didn’t trust God to be God.  It also made me see the importance of forgiveness, and not just forgiveness of sin by God, but forgiveness to others in our lives, to help tear down walls we have put up.  One of my favorite parts of the book is when the main character Mack is with God at the shack, and gets a chance to meet his father for the first time since he had died.  There were many issues between Mack and his Dad but when he was able to see through the eyes of Jesus, he ran and embraced his father, as tears were exchanged and forgiveness overtook their relationship right there.  When Mack is asked to forgive one more person in his life (the killer of his daughter) he is very stand-offish.  He in no way thought he would be able to forgive the man that kidnapped and murdered his daughter.  Jesus explained the concept of forgiveness to him again, in a way that he had never heard it.  Forgiving does not mean ever forgetting, but taking your hands from someone’s neck because you have been trying to choke them the whole time and not letting go.  Jesus explains the forgivness of God and how important that is so a relationship can take place between us and holy God, and how this was all possible because of Jesus and the love that He exemplifed on the cross.

Bottom line:  Being in a relationship with God is not about rituals and rules, but about love and letting God be the center of every part of our lives.  This has really changed the way my relationship with JC has worked these past couple weeks, which carries over into everyday life.

I know this is a lot, and a bunch of random thoughts, but sorry thats how I roll.

Cheers,

Brandon

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished, he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”-Romans 3:23-26

A Prayer for God’s Grace

June 2, 2009

The other day I was at church and the pastor gave a talk about “a prayer for Grace” and what it meant to pray for God’s Grace daily and find it in our lives.  That really got me thinking about my short 21 years and how God’s Grace has transformed areas of my life that I have so often overlooked.  I’ve realized that I have either taken grace for granted or just been too prideful to accept it.  There have been times in my life where I see other people who accept the grace of God no matter how big they screwed up, and then they allow it to reshape their lives.  It’s weird though because I still find things in my life or in my past that I feel that God could never forgive me for, almost like I think there is a sin too big for God to handle, one that was just a bit taller and wider than the cross that He hung on.  This weekend was a wake up call for me, that God’s grace CANNOT be put into a box.  It can’t be narrowed down or specified to a certain area of sin.  God’s love doesn’t see us as who we are, but what God has made us through Jesus’ death.  I still can’t wrap my head around that.

The church did a pretty cool little thing where there was a series of people who came out on their stage and shared a story on a peice of cardboard.  On the front it would say something like “found my identiy in parties and sex” and then on the back it would have a statment such as “Loved by God who calls me His own” proclaiming the way God not only pursued their lives to change them but to change their hearts and extend a gift of grace that could be found no where else.

There is nothing we can hide from God, but at the same time there is nothing that we can do to not be loved by God.  I think that we need to be constantly praying for God’s grace to come into our lives and transform our mess, into a message, a message of hope and love, of new beginnings, of restoration and purification.

I think we just need to humble ourselves enough to be at the point where we realize we NEED grace, because there is nothing else we can do to solve that disconnect from God that sin causes.

“And God is able to make all grace aboud to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”-II Corinthians 9:8

“Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”-James 4:5-7

Cheers, thanks for reading

Brandon

Lost and Insecure, You Found Me

February 24, 2009

so I’m sure all of you know this new song by the Fray, “You Found me”.  I am in love with this song.  Its just catchy and fun to sing to and a great piece of music well put together.  But then I started listening to the lyrics and really breaking down what the song was saying.  I think this song is about us and our relationship with God.  I think we are always thinking that God leaves us hanging and that He is not there when things are falling apart.  How we are just waiting on a call from Him.  But really I think God uses this to teach us patience.  He does this so that we rely on Him for everything and that we stop relying on our own strength to get us through.  I think He does this because He loves us.  Because before its all said and done, He finds us, when we need Him.  I love the term “lost and insecure” because I feel like thats how we are in this world, without God.  We are nothing. We are insignificant.  We are lost.  But God steps in to find us, He loves us.  He finds us lying on the floor.  When we’re desperate and call out, He’s there.  When we fall, He’s there.  When we call on Him, He’s there.  When we turn away, He finds us no matter how far we run.  God finds us at our lowest form, humans, sinners, evil, liars, rapist, terrorists, murderers, adulters, cheaters.  And He loves us and continues to pursue our hearts even when turned from Him and our faith is falling short.  I think these verses and bridge are about how we call and beg to see something, and we miss it, so God does His thing, and finds us.  

 

I’m attaching the video as well, enjoy!

 

Cheers,

-Brandon Thomas

 

Verbal Jellybeans

February 9, 2009

So I have gotten the sweetest opportunity this semester.  I get to work at a children’s clinic for the next ten weeks with children with disabilities.  I’m super stoked about this chance.  I’ve never gotten to do something like this so needless to say I am very very excited.  One of the biggest challenges for me will be to keep my kid excited for the entire two hours.  It wont be hard when its time to play on the huge gymnastics trampoline or all of the air mattresses, but when it comes time for the “language/reading” section, I imagine it will get tough to motivate the child I’m working with.  So why am I writing about this?  One of the things that the staff encourage us to do is give the kids “verbal jellybeans”.  These are basically compliments to encourage the kids and let them know that they are doing a great job at whatever they are doing and also just to make them feel better.  Everybody likes to be loved on, ya know.  So I got to thinking about how I live my life, but more specifically in my relationships with other people.  Am I a person that someone can come to and be encouraged by?  Am I someone that by talking to, they will feel better after talking to me?  I’m I known for building people up?  Probably not for the most part, and that saddens me.  Its all too common a practice for us to be short with somebody or cut them down to make ourselves feel better.  I don’t want to be that guy.  So how amazing would it be if our brains, hearts, and mouths lined up and we were just nothing but people who out poured love, instead of sarcasm or hate, because if we’re honest, we don’t love it when someone acts like that to us.  Golden rule right?  Why is it so hard?  I’ve been struggling with that question for a while.  So it would be my hope that we could all be candy stores of “verbal jellybeans” and lets see how that changes our every day encounters with people and see how that will affect our relationships with them.  

 

let me know what you think.

 

cheers, 

-Brandon

Sometimes Keys Just Don’t Work

January 21, 2009

I just wanted to share a quick story.  My car does this thing every now and then where the key will lock and cannot be turned.  When it does this, it lasts for about 30 minutes and involves a lot of shaking and yelling the the car until it starts.  After about 10 minutes of that last night I figured it would not work, so I went into the McDonald’s and got a coke, because they always make everything better.  Then when I got back to the car I tried to figure out why it would not start.  And then I started thinking, maybe God is just using this time for me and Him.  Thinking about it i realized that I had not just sat in silence in the past couple days to just talk to God, let Him know whats going on.  So I spent about 15 min or so just praying out loud, not trying to even mess with the car.  I thanked Him for who He is, what He was doing in my life and just prayed for everyone and everything I could think of at the moment.  Then I realized that the car being stuck there for that 25 minutes was because God was using it to give Him time.  He knew that I had pre-occupied myself recently and not taken some time for Him, so He made some.  So I thanked Him for that, and about 2 minutes later, thats right, you guessed it, the key turned and I was on my way.  

I guess the point of all of this is to encourage you to always make time for God, because it is obvious how much He wants us to, because He loves us.  He wants us to grow in Him, fall more in love with Him, and do great things through Him.  God intervenes all the time, sometimes we’re just moving too fast to catch it.  

 

Cheers,

-Brandon

Influence

January 19, 2009

Today at church Pastor D laid down a sick message.  We started a new series about influence and leading ourselves to follow Jesus, even in the heat of the world.  Today was especially something I needed to hear.  Lately it feels like I have been falling off the bandwagon a bit spiritually because I haven’t been plugged in.  Being at home I have a church but thats pretty much it, and a couple solid friends but I was really missin’ Mosaic, (check it out at Mosaicland.org), because that is really where I feel like I learn, grow and am challenged.  Tonight the main message was about “leading myself”.  Pastor D really focused on how God is using us to be Kingdom growers, but that will only happen if we are willing to drop what we have and follow Him.  Sometimes that can be easy, but most of the time that can be hard.  We all have things that are “ours” and we like to think that God is just cool with us having them.  It can be a struggle with sin, an idol, etc….PD challenged us with 4 commitments we should make to help us in being a Kingdom influencer.  They are 1) ask God to grow us daily through prayer and bible study. 2)participating in connection groups 3) Honoring God in our finances, being good stewards. 4) Sharing our faith with others and taking initiative to invite them out to church.  I believe if I could follow these commitments God would really start to use me in ways that I never thought possible.  One thing he said tonight really hit me hard, and I can’t shake it out of my head.  He basically said that if we are not following Jesus closely, He will not be able to use us as effectively. It took me a while to comprehend that but then I realized how true that is even in my own life.  When I am completely fixed on Jesus, I have a passion to share Him with others, strive for purity, and just be more loving, but when I drift away from Him and have to keep trying to find a path it’s hard to be effective, loving, caring and aware of Him being present in my life.  He closed tonight by giving us three characteristics of an influencer; they are that they seek to please God and not people, they live with an undivided heart and their life reflects the favor of God.  It would be my encouragement to you to take these challenges and characteristics so we can give our selves a true examination. Are we the hypocrites who say one thing with our mouth and do another with our actions, or are we being Kingdom influencers in which our life is reflecting that of God?  The reason I ask is because when I’m honest, I have been the first, the hypocrite and I pretty much think its time that stopped because I want to see God do amazing things in and through me, just like He could and will do in you, if you let Him.  

 

Cheers,

Brandon

I’m not religious, I just really really love Jesus

January 8, 2009

I’ve really been thinking about what it means to live a life worth living.  Also I’ve been trying to figure out what that looks like in both my life and the lives of others.  One of the main things I’ve found is that this “life worth living” looks different for every single person.  The one thing that I think holds us back is guilt.  I’ve caught myself trying to live too much out of a rule book as opposed to living totally in love with Jesus.  The one thing I always hear is, “wait can you do that? because aren’t you really religious?”  And I hate that because its become clear that we as Christians have made being one boring and undesirable.  We make it look like being a Christian means living by the no-fun rule book set out by God.  So my answer to that question is, “no, I’m not religious, by any means, I’m just very very in love with Jesus.”   I think even now its so easy to concentrate on where I fall short of God’s standard, and then get down on myself and dwelling on it.  I’ve come to the conclusion that God has not designed our lives to be lived in guilt and shame, but freedom and in a relationship with Him.  Even though I do have that relationship with Him I still always catch myself just trying to follow rules.  It seems like all my prayers are “God please help me not do this or that” or “God I’m sorry”.  I think God does want us to confess and ask for His strength, so those prayers aren’t bad, but He also wants us to include Him in everything in our lives.  So throwing up prayers like, “God, just wanted to let you know you’re amazing” or “God I just want You to use me tonight when I’m at the bar to influence someone positively”.  So maybe if I lived my life more concentrated on Him instead of concentrated on “rule breaking”, I would find myself more alive in God than I have ever been.  The last point I wanted to hit on, is that we cant compare ourselves to others.  Everyone’s Christian life will look different.  If we compare ourselves to others we will have a tendency to judge them, envy, or think of ourselves as lesser or worse off.  Their living a life totally in love with Jesus can look completely different from ours.  Comparing myself to others has been really easy for me to do lately and thats not a good trend to get in to.  

 

cheers,

Brandon 

 

“because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”-Romans 8:2

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”-Galatians 5:1