He’s Got Demons?!? Cool!

“He’s got demons?!? Cool!”

-Gonzo

It is these four words that brought tears of joy to my eyes when I was a little kid, and many times throughout the year you may hear my brothers and I quoting this. I’m twenty-six and I enjoy The Muppets. I may need to join or create a support group for people like me, at least I’m not living in my parent’s basement or something like that. I’m a normal, healthy, successful male who enjoys things such as The Muppets, Home Alone, old school cartoons, and women. Nothing wrong with this picture at all.

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve never met anyone with demons. Situations like the following movies portray: such as “Insidious”, “The Haunting of Connecticut”, “The Exorcist”, “Paranormal Activity”, “Amityville Horror” or even “The Shining” have never presented themselves to me, and it leaves me with a feeling of want. I don’t pretend to be a tough guy, I would probably lose all bowel control but I just want to say I’ve seen it. Last year I’m pretty sure I got as close as I ever will when a previous girlfriend and I went to a haunted house and a woman came running out crying, her body contorting in weird ways and seizing. I was enamored. And scared to death. Pretty sure I peed a little.

Our family used to spend most of the summers growing up using a camper, and I recall one particular summer in Illinois where I met some girls who practiced magic. I believe I was about ten years of age and saw them cast spells where they could change people’s eye color. That was pretty sweet. But I digress….

Demons. There’s such anticipation and expectation with that word. When I hear that someone has demons, I want like the reincarnation of Satan to come out the side of their head and start foaming at the mouth or something. Imagine my surprise when I was sitting on the side of my friend’s fireplace last night and I came to the realization that I had demons. My first thought was, “SWEET!”. Like Sean William Scott and Ashton Kutcher in “Dude, Where’s My Car?” You can get a better idea by watching this video.

But then I realized that these demons are unlike the demons that Kermit has in “Muppet Treasure Island” nor are they the same demons that the old lady has in M. Night Shyamalan, (who not gonna lie, my brothers had their eyes closed, and I wished I would have closed mine). Also, my demons aren’t the same as the man who they called Legion, where Jesus cast out the many spirits in Mark 5. But I did come to the realization that I have a demon, or two, or three for that matter.

During a recent bible study among friends, there were three particular verses that have become a underlying theme; forgiveness. For the sake of clarity, I will provide the context:

“Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you most clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others”. Colossians 3:12-13

Blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it a million times. And like Jay-Z, I always just “brushed it off my shoulders”. (On another note, where can you get a spiritual blog that incorporates Jay-Z, demon possession movies, and The Muppets all in one? I propose nowhere). But this time hearing these words and listening to some of the individuals apply it to their own lives,  it stuck.

People are dirty. They do dirty things, evil things in fact. I’m guilty of it. I probably hurt people on a daily basis, some little, some big. And people have hurt me, hurt those I’ve loved. I’m a pretty easy going, fun-loving guy, but actions such as those don’t make me want to hug you, they make me want to hit you with my car. But who likes to forgive? I don’t.

But you see Paul isn’t really giving us anyway out of this. I have faults, so I must accept the fact that they have faults. And since God forgave me of all the times I did Him dirty, which I’m sure it’s similar to Santa’s naughty list on me, that I must forgive those who did my wrong. Makes sense, but how is it related to the who demon thing? Well, I’ve held onto these feelings for so long that they have become who I am; the bitterness and anger, which makes me feel tortured on the inside. It fuels my daily ventures and prevents me from becoming the man I want, the man I should become.

How many times have I directly lied to someone? Oh geez. Misled them? Twice as much. Manipulated information? Yikes. Done something I knew I shouldn’t but I wanted it anyway? Zing! I could go on forever, baby.

Paul is telling us to forgive. Easy as that. It’s a command. If we do this, he then promises that we can live “together in perfect harmony”. Also, if I choose to forgive, I’m being an excellent representation of who Christ is. Double bonus. What else? I’ll be happy again, joyous, even. The weight is lifted off my shoulders. That’s why I’ve always been so attracted to Eminem. Nobody has lyrics so dark and heavy as Eminem. The hurt, anger, and bitterness seep into his lyrics like a porous sponge.

I will leave you with these last words. Anytime I hear the word “forgiveness” I am reminded of one of my all-time favorite comedies, “Just Friends”. I love this movie because Ryan Reynolds is in it, and he makes me giggle like a little school girl. Also, take note ladies, it’s because he always gets put in “the friend zone”. But one of the main characters, Anna Faris, who is equally amusing, sings a song entitled “Forgiveness”. Now I will not put a link up on this site, but I will inform you that it can be found on a site called YouTube (the video that is 2:45 is preferrable). But consider yourself warned.

“Forgiveness, is more than saying sorry,

Forgiveness, means accepting people’s flaws

To forgive is divine.”

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Happiness: It Makes The World Go Round

What defines happiness for you? Is it an entertaining movie? A relaxing vacation by the beach? Spending time with that special someone? A porterhouse steak, medium rare, with a side of vegetable blend? A good book? Have you ever noticed that some individuals are just happier than others? Throughout my life I have attempted to make myself choose to be a happy person, but I will admit, sometimes it is much easier than normal.

A few weeks ago I took a position with a new employer and spending quite a bit of time away from home. I must admit, I enjoy it. It’s me, the car, my music, annoying drivers, and  no.one.else. Just a few weeks ago I visited the St. Louis Arch by myself. I realized that I hit a new low when they forced me to get my picture in front of the arch, just me. HA! I have become “that guy”. But I digress. I’ve attempted to read a book a week while I’m on the road, to try and combat the downtime that I have when I’m not studying with school or swimming.

Last night I was in Urban Outfitters, a clothing store that caters to that hip-young generation, one that I am far from being apart of. If any of you know me, you realize that my sense of “style” is somewhat lacking. I went through the clothing racks, receiving weird looks from those around me. I wasn’t fooling anyone. However, I do enjoy the plethora of books that that they have at their disposal. Books such as: “Things I Want To Punch In The Face”, “Understand Rap”, “Unbored: The Essential Guide To Serious Fun” or even a sacrilegious favorite,”Dancing with Jesus: Featuring a Host of Miraculous Moves”. But this day, as I was going through the books, giggling until I had tears running down my cheeks, I decided to pick up two books entitled, “I Hate Everyone” and “Happy: Secrets to Happiness from the Cultures of the World”.

According to the book “Happy”, “everyone’s level of happiness is about 50% genetically determined (your ‘happiness set point’), 10% comes from external factors, and the rest comes from how we perceive our circumstances”. I would say that for the majority of my life, I was able to make the best of any circumstances that came my way, and be happy, or better yet, joyful. For a while, I lost that, and I’m just now learning to pick that back up.

Sometimes we allow others, those external factors, to determine the level of happiness that we experience. Just last week a friend called me talking about their douchebag of a boyfriend and how they didn’t attempt to bring happiness into her life, but instead just brought turmoil, pain, suffering, and a broken heart. My response, which is always easier said than done, “move on, and find someone who appreciates you for the person that you are”.

The majority of Americans have our needs met, and even above and beyond that. I probably have made more money this past year than I have the past four years combined. More possessions, trips, great food, and activities, but the happiness factor just isn’t there. We let our circumstances dictate our happiness.

I wish happiness for everyone. Honest. Those I hate, those that have done me wrong, mistreated me, and especially those who have loved me. But I refuse to continue to allow the actions of others to determine how “happy” or “unhappy” I am. Keith is a local homeless individual who lives along the White River. His living conditions include a woodfire stove, enclosed tarp-tent, and a king-sized mattress (which stinks with mildew).

Last week I picked Keith up one morning for breakfast, and that particular morning I was feeling pretty low. I must admit, I was ticked as the morning went on, because Keith was happy. A fifty-five year old homeless man, who, with the exception of a cat and dog hooked to a leash, was all alone. What does he have to be happy about? His business went bankrupt due to the economy, wife left him, and left him with nothing. Not gonna lie, suicide would be looking pretty good. But he was happy.

During breakfast I asked Keith, “what do you have to live for?” and his response startled me…”I love life. I love nature and the beauty that comes with each day”. Now here is a man who makes the most of his circumstances. We had a good time, I dropped him off, and then immediately sprayed down my car with Lysol. (don’t judge me, I bought his breakfast).

I’ve said all of this to say, find what makes you happy and if there is something or someone out there who brings more turmoil than joy, then find someone else who will. Each and everyone of you deserve happiness. Search for it. Find it. Embrace it. Love it. And treasure the moments that it brings.

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Heroes

Heroes. We all have them. I did. Whether it’s the local fireman, United States soldier, actor, fictional character that possesses super-human powers, a friend, or even a parent. There are many heroes in my life, too many to give credit here in this thought. My brothers and I have always had a love for these fictional characters previously mentioned, my parents probably spent hundreds of dollars on action figures and their corresponding accessories. I bathed with them, slept with them, snuck them into school, church, and probably even weddings and funerals. They went everywhere with me, I simply didn’t want it any other way. Several years ago these characters began to take on a whole new meaning in my life, the major motion picture. Primarily only Batman and Superman received such recognition, but now these characters such as Spiderman, The Avengers, Green Lantern, etc. made new films, and audiences were able to connect with their personalities, struggles, and victories. It’s difficult to put these feelings into words but I somehow always felt a strong connection to these normal “super heroes”, the men who attempted to live normal lives but would often hide behind a mask in order to protect their true identity. A bond was established. A connection between these characters. These individuals wanted to live normal lives, but something deep down in their being was at constant war. Does Batman sacrifice his own life in order to save the millions of people in Gotham city? Does Spiderman risk losing everything in order to save his precious Mary Jane? What made them so special? Why weren’t they able to throw those things aside and say, “No, that’s not the life I have chosen for myself, I will live my life this way.”? When you get down to the bottom of it, they were full of conflict, frustrated at life and their inability to ever make a real difference in the world around them. As I mentioned several weeks ago, I initiated “The Strong” challenge in my life. At the same time, I picked up a newly released christian book and began reading it to go along with my six-week devotions. This past week one of the chapters focused on the Old Testament book, Ecclesiastes. I won’t lie, the majority of the O.T. is way over my head, as well as the New Testament. Ecclesiastes was no different. However, over the past week, I developed a new understanding and established a new connection to a lifelong hero, King Solomon. Let’s establish several things: Solomon was king of Israel, the wisest and smartest guy to ever live, a literal Casanova (700 wives and 300 concubines. WHAT UP?!?!), and one of the wealthiest guys to ever live! How can someone like that not be a hero? He literally had everything all of us ever wanted, worked or wished for. However, the entire book discusses his distaste for life, his frustrations regarding the monotony and how all of his actions in this life are meaningless. Talk about depressing. But that’s exactly how I feel on most days. I wake up every morning at 5:30am, work, study, exercise, establish/nurture friendships, help people (some of whom I could care less), and better my life, go to bed after midnight, and then hit the repeat button. My life is an extended copy of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day”. It sucks. Every so often I will become so overwhelmed at how hard I have worked, and the so little that I have accomplished. This is exactly what Solomon is saying,  the entire first two chapters. He opens up with saying, “everything is meaningless”. Thanks, Debbie Downer…. “I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless–like chasing the wind” (v.14). He speaks of his frustrations that he cannot take his possessions, wealth, intelligence, and accomplishments with him into the afterlife, and that his children get to squander all of his feats. He talks concerning his attempts at finding contentment, throwing elaborate parties, enough for twenty-thousand people, Jay-Z doesn’t have anything on that kind of shindig! He sought wisdom, earthly possessions, built great architectural feats in hopes to be remembered, and then of course sex (ie all of the wives/concubines). (Chapter 2). What was his answer to this? “…in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now”. Simply, no one will remember us. We’ll die and then drift into oblivion. Like these super heroes with whom I connect with, Solomon is searching, searching for an answer to make that difference, something that will fill the void. Is the void complete in the arms of a woman? May not hurt, but there’s something missing. Solomon said that he denied himself no pleasure, which turned him to “hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless” (2:17). However, Solomon finally lets us in on a secret that brought fulfillment into his life.

“So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from Him? God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please  Him…” (2:24-26)

Word! The answer. Boom. Life’s pleasures are from God. Why do I hate life? Because I’m trying to enjoy these pleasures without Him. Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk this earth merely stated that it was impossible with enjoy life without the deity who gave us that life. This was not the answer I was looking for, nor was is particularly the answer I wanted. Therein lies the turmoil, the struggle of my inner-self, which part of the double-personality of Kris Elkins do I please? The next time I begin to feel frustrated with life, I need to remember that it’s temporary. My actions are not permanent, and mistakes can always be corrected. However, this life on earth is not what is most important, it’s the life that awaits me in eternity, whether that will be a life of joy and happiness versus a life or turmoil and pain is yet to be decided. Up to me. My life is meaningless, meaningless without the one who created me, purposed me to uplift others through giving Him glory.

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Rat Race

“Veronica and I trying this new fad called uh, jogging. I believe it’s jogging or yogging. it might be a soft j. I’m not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.” -Ron Burgundy

A little over a month ago I decided to partially withdraw myself from the social media scene and people for a multitude of reasons. I needed to take time to discover myself, find things that I found enjoyable, rearrange priorities, and break away from certain aspects of my life. That first week I woke up, got in my car, drove to BGIndy and forked over a large sum of cash for a bike and accessories (excluding the helmet, just couldn’t cover up my money-maker).

Within the first two weeks I was biking fifty plus miles at a time, and feeling ambitious. I quickly discovered that I could fuse my music and inward frustration and take it out on my bike. With renewed vigor I set my eyes on the Hilly Hundred. While at this time I have not yet participated in it, I will let you guys and gals know how it turns out. My costume will at some point make an appearance as well. I realize that this will be quite difficult, and I feel that there are realistic expectations during this event (probably walking my bike up most of the hills).

However, the Hilly Hundred did not seem to be enough of a challenge, as I’ve had about five weeks to think things over. I then looked into Olympic Triathlon events, the biking and running are rather easy, but the swimming, well let’s just say that I’m about as good as swimmer as Jack in “The Titanic”. Sink like a dead weight. My first swim at 5am with all my old friends at the YMCA proved to result in a 0.2mile swim. I was exhausted. So exhausted that I didn’t have the energy to feel uncomfortable when I showered off with all these old, very old, very very old white men.

Anyways, now that you have developed an adequate mental photograph of my graphic description… I quickly contacted a friend and pleaded my case that I would need to brush up on my swimming techniques if I wanted to succeed in this new endeavor. That following Sunday, the church that I attend went into a “Strong” Challenge, focusing on life qualities and how to incorporate those into spiritual gifts. The preacher referenced the Apostle Paul’s words in Hebrews 12 “let us strip of every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us”. It hit me. Who the heck cares about my time? I don’t. I just want to brag about the fact that I finished the race. Whether it is the Hilly Hundred or an Olympic Triathlon.

Just last week I finally incorporated my clipless pedals into my ride throughout Indianapolis, Carmel, and Noblesville. I apologize to the drivers from 17th street all the way to 172nd street. I was an absolute mess. People kept providing encouragement, telling me it would be a piece of cake, that clipless pedals are safer, more efficient etc. They failed to tell me how much they would suck in the beginning. Literally broke out in a cold sweat every time a stop sign/light came up and would start jerking my feet out of my locks like I had Parkinson’s or having a seizure. Needless to say, I fell down. Several times. I would jump up, look around to make sure no one saw, that and to see if I was about to get run over.

The thing was… I jumped right back up. Scrapes. Bruises. Blood. Damaged pride. Fear. They were all involved. But I jumped right back up and got back on my bike. Was it because I couldn’t walk my bike home wearing those ridiculous cleats? Or was it because I was determined to conquer these upcoming endeavors?  I’ll let you decide, but it was probably cause I didn’t want to look like an idiot clomping around on the side of the road like an high school girl who’s never worn high heels before. But the key is that I jumped right back up, isn’t that the way I’m supposed to act in my walk with Christ?

In reality. I don’t. It’s funny. How I decided to start training right before I participated in the “Strong” Challenge. Coincidence? Maybe. See, in my spiritual walk, it’s not a race, but I do have a goal to shoot for. Heaven. I fall down. A lot. If you know me, you know my mistakes, because I don’t hide them. They are out there for all to see. But both the ones you see and the ones you don’t… I get hung up on them. They bring discouragement. I feel inadequate. Sorrowful. Remorseful. And Shame.

Lately it seems that I’ve only been focusing on the negative aspects of life. The discouragement of things not working out as I would have liked. Failed friendships. My own inadequacies. Daily struggles. Battles with health, and then, death. Admittedly, there was a time where I wanted to throw in the towel. But I had to ask myself, “what does this accomplish”?

2 Timothy 4, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…”. Finished the race. When I complete these two upcoming physical races, cross the finish line, people won’t ask what my time was (and if you do, you can bet that I’m going to lie about it), nor will they ask how many times I fell. Because. That’s. Not. The. Point. I finished. I endured. I persevered. Through all the struggles, the muscle cramps, the soreness, bumps and bruises.

Look at the goal. The reward. And finish the race.

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The Great Compromise

       

       During the late 1700’s, the American states were having difficulty establishing critical elements of the U.S. Constitution. Many states were in disagreement regarding their representation in the legislature. Smaller states like Deleware and New Jersey were concerned that they would not get adequate representation and their opinions would be drowned out by the larger states like Virginia. However, in 1787, two Connecticut delegates named Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth brought forth a plan that was a blend of both New Jersey and Virginia’s proposal. Hence, a compromise. This plan ultimately effected the proportion of senators a state would be represented by.

As you might have already discovered, the key word to this thought is simply, “compromise“. Too many times in my life I have heard the words, “never compromise” and frankly, I believe it is those words that have led our world to the sorry shape that it’s in. I mean, here was an body of elected government officials in a stalemate regarding The Constitution, one of the most important documents of American history, all because they were unable to appreciate the other’s beliefs and unwilling to compromise on their convictions. If it wasn’t for these two men then where would we be as a country? Would we remain united?

What about the Compromise of 1850,  which defused the tensions and delayed the Civil War for approximately ten years? I propose that some of the most historical and courageous moments in history have been built on one thing, compromise. There are too many of us, myself included, that fail to reach a compromise. This majority, like me, are consumed with their own wants, desires, beliefs, and are unwilling to take into account of the views of others. We simply need more compromise.

The Occupy and Tea Party movements get in an uproar when their elected officials refuse to compromise and yell all the more when they do (which is quite seldom). Seriously, I do plenty of things that I particularly don’t enjoy doing. However, I do it because it’s right (most often when the timing fits into my schedule).

I feel that my parents taught me the importance of compromise, especially when it comes to personal relationships. While my family isn’t perfect and we have more than our fair share of disagreements, there is an overwhelming belief that love exists. I’ve seen my parents compromise their wants and desires for each other, their children, neighbors, church and community members, and even complete strangers. And as a young kid, that made an impression on me. They instilled in me the blessings of servant-hood.

I have many memories of my time in Indianapolis when I attended a small christian college. A time that was primarily spent with friends partaking in ridiculous activities, many of which ended up in disaster. However, I often am reminded of the times when I was alone with strangers. One summer I worked as a bellman at the Hyatt Regency and everyday I would go out on my lunch break and split a Subway foot-long with the first homeless guy I could find. Some times I would sit and eat with him, but primarily they just ran off with the rest of the sandwich. Maybe they thought I was some serial killer who preyed on the homeless, I dunno. I remember when my parents were in Chillicothe, Missouri I talked them into driving a strange, stranded deaf man to his home about thirty minutes away, in the blinding snow.

Am I here to toot my own horn? No. I’m simply reminding myself that it was these moments when I was the happiest. I compromised my own wants (and sometimes the wants of others) to satisfy the needs of those around me. Often when I am molded in life’s funk I realize that I have been too consumed with my own wants. Hill Harper recently published a book entitled. “The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in it’s Place”. In this book he states (with published evidence to back it up), that those individuals who volunteer at an increased rate spend less and are happier than their non-volunteering counterparts. Upon reading this, I agree.

“So Kris, what point are you trying to make?” Simple. Compromise. I need to compromise. I need to compromise in my relationships with my family, friends and those that I love, with my coworkers, strangers, and most importantly, with those less privileged. I may not want to do something, but if someone else wants to do it, then I want to bring a little bit of happiness to their lives. Like Will Ferrell says, “smiling is my favorite”. And the thing about genuine smiles is that they are contagious. Ever heard a laugh that is described an “infectious”? That’s what the majority of smiles and laughter are to me, infectious (except for Janice Litman Goralnick). I challenge each of us, myself especially, to choose one thing/one person to give to. A compromise of your desires in order to bring happiness to each other. If it doesn’t make you happy in return then contact me and I will repay you in full for your payment. That’s a guarantee. (By the way, that’s a hyperlink, click it for a surprise!)

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Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. As a employee in the healthcare community, I see descriptions like this often. The phrase “knock, knock, knockin on Heaven’s door” could be an understatement, and I’m not referencing my profession in the least. I’m speaking of our unhealthy diets in general. Now let me preface. I love steak, mashed potatoes smothered in butter and gravy, biscuits, corncake, triple-scoop sundaes, Wendy’s, etc. etc. I could go on for hours. I run 3-5 miles about four times a week. I run not to be physically fit, but so I can eat more. I exercise to eat. Great logic, eh?

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead is a documentary by Joe Cross, an Australian entrepreneur who started “juicing” over a period of 30 days. At the end of the 30-day trial, he had lost over 100lbs, dropped all of his medications, saw dramatic reductions in his B/P, cholesterol, lipids, etc. and also saw an increase in his energy, alertness, and overall production. I highly recommend the flick, extremely enjoyable. However, it failed to convince me to incorporate this into my own lifestyle. The thing I found most interesting was this; upon interviewing subjects of all ages, they would say they knew their actions were unhealthy, but yet they did not possess the “will-power” or the desire to change their actions. They knew what they needed to do, but were unmoved in their apathy.

This is the account of many of us, myself leading the pack. We see a community hurting, the homeless hungry, families evicted, possessions sold in order to put food on the table, but are unmoved to action. Recently, Lauren Spierer, a student at Indiana University went missing. Less than ten minutes away from my place of residency. Search parties went on for weeks, but did I bother? No. I prayed that she would be found, but yet I didn’t put any action into it. You see, prayer is useless when combined with the lack of movement. Prayer correlates to the amount of faith one has, the action to put “your money/actions where your mouth is”.

I preach fiscal responsibility, but love material possessions. I hold to healthy eating, but crave greasy-burger joints (praise be to B-town’s fave…Hinkle’s Hamburgers). I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, but find it difficult to commit to everyday study. I genuinely love people, but there’s a point when I become disinterested in their repetitive problems. You see, I have a problem with commitment. I said it. It. Scares. Me. Commitment means a lifestyle, a life-choice, one that will affect the rest of my life, and perhaps have eternal consequences.

The Patriot is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite movies. It combines history, action, guns, and canons blowing off extremities. What more can a guy, overflowing with testosterone, ask for? Remember the scene where Col. Tavington (aka Jason Isaacs) takes the injured American soldiers captive away from Benjamin Martin (aka Mel Gibson). His sons urged their father to action. But he remained passive, until they then took his own son (played by the late Heath Ledger). We then see him transformed into a killing-machine, taking out anyone and everyone that stood in his way. Sometimes we have to have things taken from us in order to be provoked to action. Which now leads me to the purpose of these writings…

A while back my parents left on their “Faith Journey“, which has taken them to the likes of Talin and now Latvia. They have met many interesting people so far during their time, and have made several contacts, holding weekly “English clubs” and bible studies. Just last week during a street service, they met with several people who were facing dire needs, and asked them to pray with them. Some of these people had not even heard of a man named Jesus Christ, let alone called on His name. This seems crazy to me, because I live in Bloomington, IN. A town where you only have to turn about fifteen degrees before you see another “christian church”.

My parents felt as if God was leading them in this direction. So they went. Six years ago they received their initial call into the ministry. Since that point, they have sold their home, their possessions,  and resigned from a government job that promised to meet their needs (both at the present time and into retirement). They had spent the last six months working multiple jobs, saving money, and raising funds when the opportunity presented itself. However, they need your help.

Anyone who knows these people understands that they are “workaholics”, and I believe I have received this blessed trait from them. They have put their “money” where their mouth is, and put it into action. Throughout my life they have placed many of their own needs above their own: working in churches, youth camps, organizing fundraising events, and spending time in counseling and guidance. Now they need your help in three main areas: Prayers, Encouragement, and Finances.

Listen, I love my parents. But I do not want them coming back any earlier than when they were supposed to. I have enough parents here in the states to keep me in line. I do not need another set of parents to tell me what I need to do. I NEED YOU to contribute to them financially to keep them overseas. If you won’t do it for them, then do it for me. I’m calling you to action. Will you make a few clicks, and contribute to their cause? I’ve provided  a few links with the information of their mission. Will you become a monthly supporting member? $5 a month. That’s it. 100 new members making a contribution of $5 a month will keep them in Latvia, helping to reach those who you will never have an opportunity to meet.

I know my parents, and I’m gonna get in trouble concerning this post. Growing up, I always made sure that IF I was gonna get in trouble, I was gonna sure make that sucker count. So help me make this count. BLITZ up their website, forward it on to friends, repost this, continue to pray for them, and let them know you are as well. If you already committed to supporting them, then thank you. If not, well, what are you waiting for!?!? See here for details, The Faith Journey.

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You Gutless, Yellow Turd

 
 
The lessons I’ve forgotten
In spite of all I’ve learned
Now, I find myself in question
Point the finger at me again
Guilty by association
Point the finger at me again
 

     Ah, yes. “Guilty by association”. We’ve all used this excuse before. “Dad, it wasn’t my fault I swear! I was just with him and they did it. I told them no, so I shouldn’t get in trouble for what they did!”. If I had a dollar for every time I used that excuse, well let’s just say I wouldn’t need any of you. I could buy much better friends.

     Throughout my adolescence, there were two people in particular where my parents were a little apprehensive about spending time with. They were watch you adults call, a “problem-child”. However, being the trustworthy parents that they were (and for that I am thankful), they always gave these two guys a chance. Today, these two men hold respectable jobs, both serving our country, and they hold my highest respect.

     I have many fond memories with these guys, both in our spiritual discussions, as well as our mischievous escapades. From vandalism of private property to stealing construction barrels and barricading people in their own subdivisions, those were moments that helped to shape me into the person I am today (Side note, feel free to give me the addresses of your worst enemy, and I will ensure that their yard will never be the same).

     However, one guy in particular always seemed to know the right words to say to get me into trouble, without fail. It’s like Marty McFly and calling him “chicken, or a gutless yellow turd”, it just always sucked me in. And upon those times when we would get caught, I would try to use the excuse “guilty by association”. While not completely throwing him under the bus, because he would do the exact same thing. We had a mutual agreement, and it worked for many years to come…

     I never fully understood the belief that Christians should abstain from spending time with someone who differed from their own beliefs. It seems quite illogical if you ask me. Just because you don’t bank with 5/3 doesn’t mean that I won’t take your money when you pay me. It just simply doesn’t matter. The one thing that infuriated and confounded the Jews was that Jesus associated himself on a daily basis with the ones who were not up to their own standards. I used this analogy a lot over the years. I learned at a young age that the Bible text is a great tool to twist your own will, especially when it came to arguing with adults.

     I would say, “How can I be a witness if they can never see me in action?”. Sometimes this worked, and other times it failed. Miserably. And by failure, I mean succumbing to the temptation. You see, I would quickly forget the temptations of Christ, both in the desert and upon the cross. Upon each fleshly temptation, he quietly rebuked the tempter and His flesh, and then asked for strength. If the temptation persisted, then He fled. Simple. Samson could have learned from this example. Instead, he flirted with the idea, and kind of teased it around. Similar to the “welllllll….. I shouldn’t, but let’s try it just a little…” Yeah that’s always worked out for me. Not.

     Many times we try to stand up for what we believe is right, but we are faced with the provocation, “Kris, you gutless, yellow turd”. It is at that moment where we must either hold our ground, or give up the fight and enjoy the party. Many times, like Marty McFly I find myself yielding. “Nobody, calls me chicken Biff”. It resulted in many setbacks for the Marty of the past as well as the Marty of the future. However, it wasn’t until traveling back into 1885 that he finally realized that people’s perception of himself was irrelevant. Once he understood this, he was able to walk in the life that was comfortable for him, and his own convictions.

     This came in pretty handy in the closing minutes of the flick, when Needles, another antagonist, asked Marty to race down the street. The light was red, tire rubber was burning, and testosterone was pumping. The light flickered green and off Needles went while Marty does a 180 in  his Toyota SR5. Marty looks back and sees that a car had pulled out into the road, and realizes that it would have meant instant death if he would’ve raced him.

     The last few weeks my personal temptations have taken many forms, and today, I’m tired of being called a “gutless, yellow turd”. I’m here to live my life the way I want to, which happens to be the same life that God has intended for me to live. I don’t have a problem with your lifestyle, so please, don’t have a problem with mine.

     Now, I realize that I’ve based this upon movie (albeit one of the best series ever made). But I think that we can all gleam a little something from this. It doesn’t matter when it comes to the opinions of others. I highly doubt that any of you lose sleep when it comes to my opinion of you, and trust me, I’ve got them. All you need to do is ask. Temptation takes many forms, but we must avoid getting ourselves in situations where we are either personally guilty or through our associations. It’s time that I take to the offensive and protect myself from further guilty verdicts, and I would advise the friends of Casey Anthony to do the same.

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The Big Ugly and the Battle of Self-Indulgence

Fame and fortune has been attracted to me since I was a wee lad, or maybe it is the other way around. I learned at a very young age that doing the unimaginable, (or doing something completely stupid) would get myself noticed. It started off small: dares and then those pesky “double-dog dares”, and progressing to wearing suggestive writing on my T-shirts, and now I’ve found a new outlet; the shock value of the infamous Facebook statuses. I have given my parents and my older brother Kyle (who is known as a worrier) many gray hairs with the things I put up in the social network world. I won’t try to deceive you. EVERYTHING I do is to get noticed. I want you to talk about me.

There’s a certain rush that one feels when they are the center of attention. Some people do drugs, some skydive, while I’m “Donkey” off the Disney movie SHREK, yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!” I’ve went to great lengths to be the center of attention: from making an absolute fool of myself to busting out windows and exchanging hair cream for sour mayonnaise. Some of you self-proclaimed psychologists would diagnose me as “inferior, and weak, needing other’s approval to feel a sense of belonging”. I disagree. I just want you to laugh and enjoy life.

Several months ago I heard a rumor of a magical cheeseburger joint that boasted a 22oz. cow patty. The people would describe this burger to me with excitement; proclaiming that IF in fact one ate the entire thing… they would receive instant fame. (Which translates into a 3×5 picture on the wall). I knew I was ready for the challenge. It sounded all so easy. I mean, I love to eat and if eating got people to notice me, then bring it on! I anxiously awaited the day when I would try to tackle the one they called, “Big Ugly”.

I absolutely despise eating alone, nothing screams PATHETIC more than eating in a booth all by yourself. How do I know, you ask? Because I do it routinely. But I knew that I did not want to accomplish this task without the recognition and applause of my fellow admirers. Opportunities came and went, until finally the day came. I was at work and my cousin texted me, “Bubs Burgers. Tonight. The whole family will be there. You should try the Big Ugly”. I could feel as if God had just directed a light down from the heavens. This was my chance!

I received my cheeseburger, topped with lettuce, ketchup, and tomato. I went to town, devouring that thing in approx 25 minutes (with a little bathroom break). It was a breeze… up until those last five bites. Needless to say I felt as if I was going to be sick! I did not eat again until Saturday evening.

As I laid on my couch and groaned, praying to either vomit, burp, or #2, I asked myself, “What have I done?” I had just forced myself to eat a one pound burger in return for a 3×5 photo. I’m an absolute idiot! I felt like absolute “shaef!” for three days for a small window of publicity….

I get a kick out of my friends who constantly talk of FB on how the need a vacation. Really dude? Really girl? You work a part-time job and you just hang out and watch movies all the time. Your life is a vacation! I think the problem with the American job situtation isn’t that there’s a lack of openings, but that there are a lack of workaholics. God worked for 6 full days straight before He got a day off. We typically get 2-3 a week and we still complain. Fine. I’ll say it. I think most of my friends are bums.

This is a problem with myself as well as the majority of the people I know. We find that our back is up against the wall in our battle with self-indulgence, and the problem is that we win. Everytime. “More, more, more. I want it all.” The Bible talks about how the “pleasures of sin last only for a season”. A season, really? A season is typically 16 weeks in length, and I don’t know any “pleasure” that lasts for the that long. This may be the only time in my life where I differ with the Bible.

We “gluttonize” ourselves with our own desires, only to be left feeling bloated and gassy. I know anytime I turn my back on my principles, I don’t feel better on the morning after. The nagging conscience, dejection, and constant worrying that someone will call my bluff is enough to give me a headache. The remedy isn’t some ibuprofen or Tylenol. Jesus said it best, simply, “deny yourself and follow me”.

This past week, my friends @Royal Tailor, released their debut album “Black and White” (insert selling point here). My favorite song by far is “Death of Me”, which talks about the transformation that one finds in a life centered around Christ. Getting rid of the old man, and the birth of someone new, who’s life is centered around serving our fellow humanity. THIS is in fact the remedy for my battle with self-indulgence. Serving my fellow man.

So from my extensive medical knowledge, if you want to quit feeling: bloated, gassy, sick to your stomach, fearful of the unknown, undecided of God’s direction, and overwhelmed. Then I invite you to search out a life with Jesus Christ where you put your own desires aside, and seek to help the ones who really need it.

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A Magical Unveiling

Alone. My english professor always told me never to use generalizations, but she’s wrong. We ALL experience this emotion at many points throughout our lifetime. Growing up as a young boy, I was absolutely petrified of being alone. I loved people, interaction, and the high one got from communicating with others.

This picture brings back some of the best memories from an incredible movie. Kevin McCallister (portrayed by Macaulay Culkin) finds that his wish has come true and his family has disappeared. Over the next few days he does what every 8 year-old boy does, play games, watch rated-R films, eat lots of ice cream, and apprehends these bad men named “The Wet Bandits”. I remember my own days where I decided I wanted to be alone; I was in preschool. I stuffed my essentials in a Winnie The Poo blanket and told mom I was leaving. She was sitting on her bed drying her hair and her reply was “Okay. It’s been a pleasure.” I left that day… and returned about five minutes later.

In August of 2008 I moved into my grandmother’s basement so I could finish my collegiate career and not have to be overcome with debt. It may have been a little embarrassing at times, but I am so appreciative to her for helping me be financially responsible. Over the last few years I have faced my demons with the loneliness battle, and won. I love being alone. I can do what I want, when I want, and how I want. And that’s when I had realized that I actually lost.

The book of Genesis talks about how God communed with Adam and Even in the garden, but after the fall of man the visitations abruptly stopped. Loneliness accompanied the fall of man as a result of their sin. I always found myself asking “What does God want me to do? What does He want me to be? Where am I supposed to go?” The answer is simple, Stupid (That’s how God talks to me, He calls me names). His “great purpose” for my life is simply this, “don’t be alone”.

I find that I’m the happiest when I’m interacting with people. And since Heaven is this eternal joy and happiness, I relate that communicating with people is similar to what Heaven will be like. So if loving people is similar to heaven, then isolation is a lot like hell. All. Alone. We decide what kind of Heaven/Hell we want to live here on earth. Which makes me realize, if I can decide what my presence will be, then that means I can influence other’s perceptions. If I show kindness to someone, I can turn around their individual hell and transform it into a pleasant experience. That’s what Jesus did for Legion, and that’s what I’m supposed to do here for those that are unable to help themselves.

Kevin, (Macaulay Culkin), became alone real quick. The possessed furnace didn’t help matters any. He needed communication with someone, and in each of the films he found it from the most unlikely people, Old Man Marley and Bird Lady. These two characters helped him through some of his toughest times (which looking back now, he probably wishes that they could’ve saved him from the clutches of MJ) and he succeeded.

God’s desires for us is not be be a hermit, all holed up in our churches, waiting for the people who need Christ to come visit us. His desire is for us to be missional. I felt like such a failure in this category that I signed up to volunteer at the Shalom Center, which is a refuge for the homeless here in Bloomington. This is what gives me my purpose. To make my little world a better place.

 

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