Plans for the Future

Hello and good day to all of you. It has been quite a while since I not only posted anything on here but wrote much at all with this blog in mind. Lately I’ve been taking some time off from blogging. It was an accident at first but it quickly became purposeful. I’ve really just been reading, studying and seeking the Lord. I’ve been learning a lot of awesome stuff from a few books on God’s eternal purpose and the Word. God has just been continuing to reveal Christ in me and in my wife and it’s been awesome.

During this little break from blogging I’ve decided to finally make plans to take this blog off of wordpress.com and move it to my own domain to have my own look and more control of the site. I’m currently designing a new theme for the site using the Genesis Framework, which I use for many of the corporate websites I develop for my day job at A2Z Computer Services. I’m pretty excited about it and I can’t wait to get all of your feedback on the new look when it’s ready to go.

The goal and purpose of the blog will remain the same. That is, I will simply continue sharing what I’ve been learning in the Word and will aim for Christ to be the center in all things. I hope to do more book reviews and start having guest bloggers on the site as well.

The only thing I’m really undecided on is the name of the blog. I love the name “Christ the Center” and it definitely fits the purpose of the blog perfectly but I’m considering changing the name. I don’t know. I suppose we’ll see what happens. I’m too indecisive sometimes.

As of right now I don’t have an exact timeline for when the new site will be up and when I’ll begin blogging again. I’m hoping that it will be sometime this Fall. I’ll keep you updated. Lastly, thank you to everyone who keeps up with my blog, gets in on the conversation and passes the posts around online. I hope that you see a glimpse of Christ on this site and nothing less.

Update 9/20/11

I have decided to continue blogging during this transition.

My slight obsession with books and a few of my favorites

I love books…but I haven’t always. In fact it wasn’t until after I graduated high school that I really got into reading and learning. Looking back I probably could have been quite the nerd back then. However, like most people, I can only really apply myself to learning about something that I actually care about.

These days I can compare my book buying habits to my CD buying habits back in the day. I use to buy between 4 and 8 CDs a week when I was in high school. Why wouldn’t I? I had a crappy job and no real responsibilities, it was clearly the logical thing to do…

Don’t get me wrong, I still love and appreciate music, probably even more than I did when I was 16. Since then My taste in style and artists has grown and matured. Notice I said grown, not changed. I still love The Ramones, Black Flag, Rancid, Minor Threat, Figure Four, New Found Glory, Terror, Alkaline Trio and all of the other bands I grew up on. Thankfully through the years I’ve learned to explore music and art outside of just the punk and hardcore scene.

When it comes to music these days my wife and I prefer to just purchase the record (even though we still don’t have a record player yet), get the album online or purchase the CD at a show. We still occasionally buy a CD from the store, but not so much these days.

Anyway, back to the books. My wife and I have a pretty good collection of books built so far in our short time marriage. Even though we don’t buy books every week it seems like we add a few books to our Amazon cart and wish list all the time. I also have a bad habit of reading four books at a time, which ends up taking longer than if I just read one of them at a time. I just love being able to learn, grow and see different opinions and interpretations of scripture other than mine or what I already know and believe. By the way, the majority of books that I read are centered around topics such as the Christian life, church history, church practice and Jesus himself. I’d just like to give you guys a small list of my all-time favorite books (so far at least). These books have played a huge part in my life as a Christian and have revealed Christ and scripture to me in ways that have been challenging and really life changing.

These books are in no certain order of importance or favoritism, they’re just altogether favorites.

1. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee

2. The Centrality of Jesus Christ (The Collected Works of T. Austin Sparks: Volume 1)

3. From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola

4. Christ the Sum of All Spiritual Things by Watchman Nee

5. Against the Tide by Angus Kinnear (biography of Watchman Nee)

6. Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna and Reimagining Church by Frank Viola (two different books but I believe they go hand in hand to create one complete work)

7. The Community Life of God by Milt Rodriguez

8. Created for Community by Stanley Grenz

9. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

10. The Normal Christian Church Life by Watchman Nee

11. The Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola

This list could go on but I want to keep it fairly short for now. I’m also sure that as the months and years go on this list will continue to grow and change. But for now these have been the most influential and helpful books that God has put in my path. I’m very thankful for all of these writers and what have given to Christendom through Christ.

What are some of your favorite books? (fiction or non-fiction, all time favorites)

Leaving the Institutional Church

It’s now been about a year and 4 months since my wife and I left the institutional church. I thought it would be good and perhaps even beneficial to many to share in a little greater detail how and why we left the institutional form of church, what life has been like since we left and where we see God taking us. Please note that I do not want to discount the traditional church, I simply want to share my journey and what God has taught me during this journey.

From about the time I was six I grew up at a local church. I was in Sunday School, Childrens’ Church, Vacation Bible School, Youth Group and even took an interest in “Big Church” (this is what the adult service was known as to the kids). I grew up and was what I believe to be a typical church kid. I eventually lost interest and faith in God but stayed involved, putting on a nice face for everyone at church. About halfway through high school, the Lord used who is now one of my closest friends to show me who Christ really is. From that point on I stayed very involved in the church I grew up at. God did great things and really showed His grace to me and revealed Christ to me while I was there. I was in the youth’s worship band, I was a youth leader and at one point I even considered it may be God’s will for me to become a youth pastor. I’m not going to lie, God did great things with me and many others there at the time, but eventually something in me changed and the sweet excitement of being involved at this church quickly became bitter and I began questioning things I had never questioned before, not even when I was blatantly living in opposition toward Christ.

The age old statement that “there must be more to this” became prevalent in my mind. I began looking at and analyzing everything I experienced from the outside in and questioning it all, and of course as any good church going Christian, I kept it all to myself. I was nervous to even tell my closest friends that something wasn’t right, that I believed everything we were doing was all wrong, besides, it’s not like I had a solution. Finally, during a conversation with two close friends, it came up. Turns out that they had felt the same way I felt. They had even been struggling for about the same length of time that I had been, yet we all kept it to ourselves, I suppose for fear of judging one another. We then decided together to seek God about what were feeling through prayer and lots of reading of the New Testament, particularly the book of Acts. We quickly came across something Paul said in 1 Thessalonians:

…but test everything; hold fast what is good. – Paul 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Naturally, we began testing everything that we had known and grown up to believe. At times we would literally sit around, think of various church practices and then find out what it said about them in the New Testament, if anything. During this time we heard about a book called Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. Upon hearing some excerpts from Pagan Christianity I quickly went to Barnes and Noble to purchase the book because I believed I was in a place where it could very helpful. I must admit, at first it a hard read. The answers to questions I was looking for were difficult at times, much more difficult to digest than I had anticipated. After putting it down for a bit I picked it up again and started over from the beginning, it was finished in a week (I was working at a hotel at the time and had a lot of free time to read). The book answered many questions and excited me about exploring authentic Church life, one that is born of Christ and that isn’t man made.

After reading Pagan Christianity I quickly found a large amount of resources to better learn about this “organic church” thing that i kept hearing and reading about. Along with constant reading of the New Testament, I read many books concerning church life by Frank Viola, Watchman Nee, George Barna and many others.

I continued attending and being involved in ministry at this church for a while during all of this. Knowing for sure that I would eventually be leaving, I stayed for probably about another six months. I felt like God wasn’t ready for me to leave just yet, and I still believe I was there at that time for a purpose, even though I may never know exactly what that purpose was.

During all of this, about five and a half months before actually leaving all forms of the Institutional Church, I got engaged to my amazing wife. God couldn’t have brought her to me at a better time, we have shared this exciting journey together and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The wedding date was set for June. A couple weeks before the wedding, I met with the youth pastor, who was a good friend and was also the pastor that would be performing our wedding ceremony and told him that we would be leaving leadership in the youth group and leaving the church altogether. It was surprisingly a good meeting, it was nice to know that he trusted Jesus and saw Him in me enough to trust this decision and trust that it was God and not me. He still performed the ceremony and I still consider him a close brother.

So we left the church that I grew up at and haven’t been to a church service since then. I’m going to continue this in my next post by explaining what we have been doing since we left, struggles we’ve faced, our progression of mindsets, our changes of heart and where we foresee God taking us in the coming legs of this lifelong journey we have embarked on.

Why I Haven’t Blogged Since Monday

This will be just a quick update for everyone who has been checking back for the follow up post to Our Death and Life in Christ as a Historical Fact: Part 1 that was posted Monday. I apologize for the delay of the post coming up. My grandpa died this week so we had the showing Wednesday and the funeral was yesterday. Liz and I spent time with family and took a little time to relax as well as I was off of work. However, the funeral was good and God was glorified in what often seems to many people to be an awful and depressing event. I even learned things about my grandpa that I never knew, which was very cool and comforting.The man who led the funeral service is a close family friend and someone who truly loves and wants to glorify Christ. He spoke about how believers should handle death differently than the rest of the world because we have the hope of glory in Christ. He quoted Paul in saying that “to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ”, I fully believe this to be true.

Death is hard for some people to handle, but it’s not an end to a long or short life. Death is the doorway to eternity, it’s a completely new beginning that will never end.

In closing, I hope to have the follow up post to Monday’s blog up soon. It may be up this afternoon, but if not I may even try to do a Saturday post. Thanks again for all your interest in this blog, I can’t wait to talk with everyone some more.