Monday, December 26, 2011

music mondays: a christmas fave

i absolutely love christmas music.  this is a new thing.  but, i love it!  week three of music mondays brings us my fave christmas song, "o come, o come emmanuel."  there are lots of amazing versions out there but i especially like this version by the fray.

i hope you had a merry christmas.  

much love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Love That Wins

dan here.  a lotta people from new denver church read my blog about the NDC community.  the other night, at dinner, a bunch of the girls were giving me a hard time because the blog sounded too much like a dude.  true.  so, i invited my good friend and fellow NDC'er, lisamarie landreth, to write about the new denver church community.  she's a great friend, one of the key leaders at NDC, and her blog is awesome.  check it out.  enjoy.  

When I think of my time at New Denver Church, I think of a collection of moments when I realize that Jesus Christ is exactly who He says He isIt's not because I finally grasped an abstract theological concept or heard an audible voice from the Lord. It's because everyday I have the privilege of sharing life with a group of people that love each other radically. They love how God intended us to love: selflessly, honestly, and faithfully.

God also intended us to live in community. He knew that in this life, there would be hurt, brokenness, and loss. He knew we're all broken people living in a broken world. He knew that we'd need an unfailing Love. Day in and day out, we'd need a Love that wins. 

New Denver is a community of people with a Love that wins. Dan said it best, "we’d do anything for each other." That means that if someone in our community is moving, or needs a ride to the airport, or prayer…then getting that person moved, to the airport, or just through the day is our collective priority. Through triumphant wins and bitter losses, we have a love that wins. We rally around each other, we cheer, we pray, and we believe in one another. No matter what's going on in our lives, we're grounded together in the family we've formed and the faith we profess. 

At New Denver, one of our pastors always closes Sunday service with, "If you're going through something, don't do it alone." But in life, aren't we always going through something? If it's a good something, you need a team to celebrate with! If it's a tough something, you need a team to stand next to you and help you press on.

At New Denver, we don’t do life alone. We don't give each other the option of going at it alone. We do life together.  All of it: bad days, bold moves, heavy burdens, empty bank accounts, broken bones, broken hearts, awkward moments….whatever, we’re in it together. We pray, we fast, we serve, we eat, we share life, and we just love each other.

These people are some of the busiest people I know. We’re all chasing some big heavy dreams. But no one is ever, ever too busy to drop everything. It’s humbling. For weeks, I was having these daily headache/panic attacks that made me feel completely overwhelmed. I’d be in my house doing something mundane like laundry, and a panic attack headache would strike. At 11 p.m., during one of these creeptastic little episodes, I called Hilary. She answered and said, “tomorrow, let’s fast and pray.” We did, and since that day I haven’t had a panic attack or a headache.

Earlier this year, in a freak occurrence, I was sued for eviction in San Diego while living in Denver. At my hearing in San Diego, I testified with paystubs and proof that I’d been living in Denver for two and a half years. I lost that day in court. But all day texts of encouragement from our community were pouring into my phone saying, "we're waiting in Denver with hugs, rest in His embrace, and win or lose you are loved."

I was standing outside the courthouse in epic failure laughing and crying, because I realized that Jesus fought a frivolous lawsuit, too. He also lost…but ultimately, Love still won.

We all fall down in this life. But failure is momentary. A love that never fails…that’s eternal. It’s a Love that wins.

You know that cliche saying, what would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? Our version is, what would you do if you knew that despite failure, you'd have a community of people who'd love you all the same? 

A community of love is a love worth failing for. Acceptance at New Denver is not based on performance, it's based on a standard of grace. That is the love that wins. That's a love that could change this world.

You come as you are,

and you stay as long as you can, 

because we're all family here.
New Denver Church.

Monday, December 19, 2011

music mondays: "drive all night"

week two of music mondays brings a doozie from needtobreathe.  if you don't know about them, you should.

"drive all night" is an amazing song.  enjoy.  


Saturday, December 17, 2011

nine websites i love and why

just for fun, i thought i'd share my favorite websites. they're in no particular order.  i'll even throw in a sentence explaining why.
photo credit: blaise alleyne (creative commons)
  1. google reader
    • the best way to follow blogs.  
  2. 9news
    • what can i say, i love the news.  don't judge me...ha.
  3. espn
    • i love sports.  and fantasy football.  
  4. new denver church
    • i'll be honest, i love this church.
  5. facebook
    • i even like the new timeline display.
  6. klout
    • it's a cool way to see how much (or how little) "social influence" you have.
  7. pinterest
    • i've received some heat for this one, but it's awesome.  and dudes, you'd love it if you tried it.
  8. clymb
    • awesomely cheap outdoor gear.  if you hit the link and join before christmas, i'll receive $10 credit...and you will too (no risk, i'm not kidding).  
  9. the world race
    • wanna serve god?  wanna to change your life (i mean, i can't make any promises but i've seen a lotta life change happen here)?  go here and go around the world for 11 months, serving in 11 countries.  
  10. youversion
    • this is a online bible that's awesome.  check the reading and accountability options.  worth it.  

what'd i forget?  what's a site you love?    


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

a community i love, alcoholics anonymous

recently i've been sharing about some meaningful communities to me (new denver church and sexual integrity group).  one of the best communities i've ever been involved in was alcoholics anonymous.

a big part of my past is alcoholism.  a lot of friends (and family) didn't realize the depth of my addiction.  i was a "successful" on the outside...a cop, on the SWAT team, working undercover narcotics.  on the outside, i was perfect.  on the inside i was being ripped apart.

the AA building i got sober in ( 
it's not like i woke up one day and decided to become an alcoholic.  no, i drank to provide relief from the pains of loneliness, lack of confidence, and suffering (and some other stuff).  it's a vicious cycle.   you see, to provide relief...i drank...and when i'd drink, those things would go away...but when i sobered up, those pains grew bigger and stronger...and shame and self-hatred began to set i'd turn back to drinking.  things would only get worse and the grips of addiction set in as i began to drink every day.

my story is much more in depth then this but i want to share about another community i love.  a community that changed my life: alcoholics anonymous.  after becoming a christian and asking god to take my addiction away from me, i decided i needed to go to alcoholics anonymous (even when i ask god for help, i still have to work like crazy to stay sober).

my very first AA meeting was at 5:30PM on a monday.  as soon as i stepped out of my car, i was greeted by an man and woman, both with a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.  they asked if it was my first time and walked me to the meeting location.  what i felt there, for the first time in my life, was complete acceptance.

i knew that the people in the rooms of AA loved me.
they, like me, were completely broken, and in need of help and a higher power.
they knew what i was going through.
they knew what i was feeling.
they didn't judge me.
they encouraged me.
and as i left each one of them said something like, "take one day at a time, don't drink between meetings, and keep coming back."

so i did.  i went to 100+ meetings in my first 90 days of sobriety (research shows if you go to "90 in 90" your chances of staying sober sky rocket).  and i began working through the 12-steps.

what the 12-steps come down to is this: radical honesty and radical dependance.  it's what we all need in our life.  it's what the church needs.

and almost three years later, i'm still sober.  by god's grace, i have broken the grips of addiction in my life. but i know i'm one drink away from slipping right back into the addiction.

if you're gripped by the power of hope and prayer is that you turn to your high power, turn to a loved one, and find a local meeting for addicts (food, drugs, tobacco, sex, work, pain, chocolate--there are some 250+ variations of AA in the world).

a community i love is alcoholics anonymous.

what about you?  what's a community that you love??


Monday, December 12, 2011

music mondays: "let it shine"

i'm starting a new tradition here.  music mondays.  check in every monday to see (or, hear) one of the song's that i have on repeat.

the first song to make an appearance is "let it shine" by all sons & daughters.

i hope you enjoy it as much as i do.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

a community i love, sexual integrity group

do you ever find yourself lonely?  like you just need someone to get you?  and really accept you?  me too.  

shortly after becoming a christian i went on the world race.  from the start of training camp they started talking about "community" and how we would be living in it for eleven months.  i didn't understand this community term too well.  but, yeah, we lived in "community" and did everything together.  in fact, we couldn't go anywhere alone.  for eleven months.  when i was out there, i hated community.  but i also loved it.

i recently realized i missed community.  i missed a group of people who knew all my stuff.  who held me accountable.  who pushed me to be a better person.  then it hit me, i was flat out lonely.  i had a lotta friends but didn't really have people who knew me.  like, who really knew me.   
photo credit: bede mckenna (creative commons)

i needed community in my life.... so, i started praying for it.  and i actively sought it out.  i realized community wasn't just gonna happen, i'd have to take steps to make it happen.  in august, at the beginning of the semester, i stepped out on a limb and joined a men's sexual integrity group at denver seminary.  it's been amazing and i give huge props to denver seminary for promoting this kind of group.  there's 12 of us in the group and each week we have a check in on our week and each week someone shares their story.

at this point in the semester, everyone has shared their story.  and when i say share their story, i mean we've shared all of our story.  we've shared parts of our stories that no one's ever heard about.  and we've shared parts that we swore we'd never share with anyone.  and we just love each other.

let me just tell you, there's something absolutely amazing about sharing your story to those depths.  it's amazing that, after i told my story, i felt fully accepted, loved, and known.  and to feel those things is a beautiful example of god's grace on earth.

in my experience, people fear community, they're afraid of being vulnerable, and they're full of shame and guilt (or maybe that's just me).  BUT, in community is where hyou truly experience freedom and god's grace.  i became a christian when i was 25 and didn't care about god before that i know what it's like to experience god and this freedom, i'm passionate about sharing my story and living in community so that we can encourage others and help hold each other accountable.

a community i love is my men's sexual integrity group at denver seminary.

what about you?  what's a community that you love?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

a community i love, new denver church

new denver church.   we meet in an old baptist church at 5pm on sundays with maroon carpet and maroon curtains.

it's not perfect but it's a community that i truly love.  it's a community where we love each other.  you don't have to fake it.  you don't have to be someone you're not.  you just need to show up and you'll be loved.

photo credit: larry johnson (creative commons)
the first weekend i showed up i was bombarded by people.  i sat next to jen escamilla (the only other young adult at the time ;) and she asked questions about me and my life.  the next week, she remembered my name and asked about the things going on in my life.  she cared.    

i used to think that this was a "flaw" at new denver...i was worried that people would wanna come to church and be anonymous.  that they wanted to be a number, not a name.  shortly thereafter, i realized that i was wrong.

i realize that a core desire in every single person is the desire to be known, to be accepted, to be loved.  that, in my experience, is what happens at new denver church.  people are known, they're accepted, and they're loved.  just as they are.

one week, before service, a guy asked how my week was.  i answered, "decent."  after the service, he came up to me and said, "let's talk about that decent, what's going on?"  i was floored.  he cared enough to seek me out after service to let me know he was concerned and cared about me.  and he followed up the next week.  

i love the people of new denver church.  and to be honest, we'd do anything for each other.  last weekend, as the biggest snowstorm of the year hit denver, ten dudes showed up to help a guy move.  this week, a guy in my discipleship group was struggling so we fasted and prayed for him.  last night, after young adults, some guys helped out by carrying and rearranging the furniture without being asked.  these seem like simple things but they're huge.

a community i love is new denver church.  what about you?  what's a community that you love?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the conspiracy

over the last couple of weeks i've really been thinking about how much we spend on christmas.  it's kinda sad.  especially knowing all of the need out there.  all of the people struggling.  i'll be honest, i probably don't need anything else...and there are a lotta people out there that need.  

at new denver church (and a lotta other churches in the country), we've decided to support advent conspiracy.  if you have a couple of minutes, check this video.  i hope it'll inspire you to spend wisely this christmas season.  i hope you'll join the conspiracy.  the advent conspiracy.


[AC] Promo 2011 from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

how to pray, part three

confession: sometimes i forget to pray.  lame, i know.  but i'm trying.  i really like what matt had to say yesterday about praying small prayers throughout the day.  i've truly seen that type of prayer help my relationship with god.  

that said, sometimes i desire more structure when i sit down to pray.  like some guidelines that can help me when i pray.  what i'm about to explain i first read in rick warren's book on bible study and then i heard a local pastor talk about it.  it's adapted out of jesus' teaching on how to pray from the bible.  it's commonly referred to as the "lord's prayer" and/or "our father."  you probably know it, you know..."our father in heaven, hallowed be your name..." (matthew 6:9-13)

let's get started.

let me ask you this: how does a person get closer to god?  he or she PRAYS.  that's all ya gotta remember!

each morning, i try to follow these guidelines in my prayer life:

Your Will
my brother, friend, and i made this cross, breckenridge, co
Show Me

praise (verse 9) start off your prayer by praising god, thanking him for his goodness, his mercy, his amazing grace in your life.  just thank him!

repent (verse 12)
say something like, "god, i'm sorry for the ways i've sinned against you...(insert sins here).  please forgive me."  make sure it's from the heart and then embrace that you are truly forgiven.

ask (verse 11)
ask god for things in your life
ask god for things in the lives of others

yield to his will (verse 10)
let's face it, sometimes god doesn't answer our prayers.
this is us admitting, "god, i really, really, really want what i just prayed for but i really, really, really trust you and want to follow your will above all else."

show me (verse 13)
god, show me how to avoid the evil/bad in life.  show me how to do good in my life.

i know this is really basic.  i coulda expounded on it a bunch but i've intentionally left it simple so that you can adapt these "guidelines" to best fit your relationship with god (if you'd like more information on this, i'd be happy to chat with ya).

i'll close with this: if you follow this structure and/or the things matt talked about yesterday, god will start to/continue to transform your life.  he may not immediately give you what you ask for but i firmly believe that it's the act of praying that will change your life, not the getting (philippians 4:6-7).