Reflections on culture, faith and the good news of Jesus as the kingdom of God comes to Oxford and Ole Miss. "For Christ's love compels us..." II Corinthians 5:14

Destructive Forces are at Work

Friday, August 14, 2009 Share: |

"Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets."
Psalm 55:11

Yesterday, Miles and I were headed inside a doctor's office to wait on Tracey.  As we walked up to the front door, I could hear a lady shouting and cussing over 100 yards away.  There was someone in a truck near her that she was directing her words to...my guess is, it was a man.  It was hard not to soak up every word of it--it seemed so out of place in our quiet little town of Oxford. 

And yet the psalmist confirmed for me this morning what I experienced yesterday.  Destructive forces are always at work...even in our little city. 

I also participated in a grand jury for a year and my eyes were opened to all the abuse, drugs, theft, etc. that goes on in Lafayette County.  Admittedly, I was ignorant.  Our town does seem fairly safe.  Of course, I just recently saw the tribute put up next to campus on Jackson Avenue for the police officer, Robert Langley, who was killed by a student on campus. 

Destructive forces are always at work and we only see a glimpse of them when the forces bubble over--when people stop caring who sees or hears, when all self-control is lost. 

Be assured, that just as good forces are at work in our little town, destructive forces are as well.  There is always a hidden battle that surfaces every now and then that reminds us of what is going on in secret much more often. 
We would be wise to remember daily what goes on in secret and pray! 

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Blogger Matthew Kooshad wrote

this reminds me of God of this city by chris tomlin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d61LamkXfwk). when these situations happen, they are so hard to hear and see. i wish that God will work in the rebels for Christ to bring peace in these storms just as He did through Jesus when He was here on this earth. peace and love,

6:06 PM

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What the World Needs Now--Hope

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 Share: |

We are finishing up our series on the resurrection tonight in our college Bible Class.  I think about all the illnesses, cancers and failing bodies around us.  Surely God is using this suffering to point us to real hope.  Hope that is seen is no hope at all, Paul says.  The things we tend to hope for (good health, more money, a mate) are all too small a vision compared to the cosmic vision of hope God is trying to give us.  In Christ, at the last trumpet, we will be imperishable, immortal.  Strangely, this is what much of the world wants, but they don't want to follow Christ to get it.   

We finish up tonight with the end of 1 Corinthians 15.  I'm going to ask those who come to share with us their most meaningless job and their most meaningful work.  Paul says to always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor is not in vain. 
On top of that he says stand firm and be immovable in this desire to always give yourselves fully to the Lord's work.  Why?  Because the Lord's work is not in vain...and vain could also be translated "empty."  The Lord's work is never empty or meaningless.  The resurrection assures us that all our work in the Lord is meaningful.  And N.T. Wright suggests that somehow the work we do now will carry over into eternity.

Now that's work I want to be part of--work that will not be in vain when the Lord returns! 


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The Last Air Bender!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 Share: |

So if you know me even a little bit, you know I am a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan movies. Immediately, your opinion of me is much higher or lower now. Most folks tend to really love or really hate M. Night's movies. I tend to think he's got a really big/deep message in most of his movies and that message really motivates me to tell my stories in preaching and teaching better.

Logan told me about his newest movie and unfortunately, it's not coming out until next summer but it's called The Last Air Bender. Don't know much about it but the trailer looks really cool so you should google it and check it out. Looks like a very different kind of movie for Shyamalan.

Any M. Night lovers or haters out there?

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Blogger Matthew Kooshad wrote

what are a few movie titles that you liked by m. night? i haven't heard of him, hehe. i am curious to check out some of the ones you liked. thanks :)

10:33 AM
Blogger Casey wrote

Ask and you shall receive!

The Sixth Sense
Unbreakable
Signs
The Village
Lady in the Water
The Happening

Let me know what you think!

3:44 PM
Blogger Matthew Kooshad wrote

i remember seeing the sixth sense. i think i felt it was a scary movie at the time; i don't watch scary movies anymore.
i remember hearing about signs (the one where there was a shape in the farmer's field. i think i only saw parts of that one.
i saw lady in the water previews at another movie i went to; it looked scary.
i just looked at the previews of unbreakable; it looks very interesting. i want to try to watch it sometime soon :)
i've heard of the other two, but i don't know about them.
thanks a lot for sharing this list! please feel welcome to share some insights or thoughts that one or any of these movies has given you. thanks again :)
peace and love,

6:37 PM
Blogger Laura wrote

There is a message just from looking at the trailer of "The Last Air Bender". The chosen one to bring order to the world. Maybe I'll go and see the movie? Maybe we all should?

9:29 AM

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Back from Philadelphia or Union, MS?

Monday, August 10, 2009 Share: |

So we had an awesome trip this weekend.  We actually stayed with Betsy's family in Philly, MS but we worshiped with the Union Church of Christ a few miles outside of town.  We were greeted with a huge meal when we arrived Saturday night.  Grilled chicken, green beans, tater tot casserole, brownies!  Mmmmm!   Betsy made breakfast for us Sunday morning (awesome!) and then we had a potluck lunch with the church after morning worship.  What amazing hospitality to a small group of Christians in Oxford, MS! 

I was so glad Trace and Miles got to come as well.  Miles had lots of fun with Betsy's two brothers and Trace really got to enjoy the trip as well.  I went to bed at midnight, Trace came to bed at 2am, Micah, Logan and Betsy somehow talked until 4:45am!!!  College students!

We did get in some Wii golf, bowling and boxing Saturday night.  I was truly the superior golfer! :)

The most amazing part of the weekend was hearing some of the stories in the Union church.  A brother in Christ named Allen told me about how many loved ones he had lost over the past 4-5 months, all culminating with the loss of his dad 2 weeks ago.  We were talking about the return of Christ and he said it so well with tears welling up--something like "he can hurry up."
Bill was recently converted and now tags along with the preacher to visit and ask others if they'd like to study the Bible.
A man named Brit came up to me after worship and told me about how his wife had had a brain tumor early in their marriage and that he identified with my comments about Tracey and her ruptured appendix.
God was truly working in this weekend.  I hope we can go back next summer.  I hope we can visit other good churches like this as well.  We need them and I hope they need us as well.  


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Blogger Matthew Kooshad wrote

about the Union church, this makes me think of "where did you see Jesus today?" from torch in honduras. i think it's pretty natural to see Jesus in people who are kind (like the ones mentioned in introduction of this blog entry). i just wonder if Jesus is showing through people opening their hearts to share experienced hurt; maybe Jesus is looking to see if we can respond with the love that He and God have given us.
peace and love,

11:24 PM

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Philadelphia...Mississippi that is!

Saturday, August 08, 2009 Share: |

The mission of God is sending us to Philadelphia, Mississippi this weekend. Sorry Katie...not Philly, PA! :) Our family, Logan, Micah, and Marlon are headed to Betsy's house tonight. We'll be with Betsy and her home church Sunday morning.

Betsy is one of those students you love to have on your side in anything (basketball and pharmacy group projects come to mind), but especially in campus ministry. One of my favorite memories of her is Welcome Week two years ago. I somehow convinced her and Abbey to walk the halls of the girls' dorm handing out pizza and inviting them to be part of Rebels for Christ. And Betsy was a freshman herself! Those girls must have thought Abbey and Betsy were strange...but good strange! The light of Christ is always "good strange" in our culture.

It will be neat to be with her family and the church that helped shape her into the disciple of Jesus she is today. I'm glad we have her for a couple more years, Lord willing. Thank you, Lord, for Betsy!

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Blogger Matthew Kooshad wrote

i hope that you all have a great time :) i'm looking forward to meeting new rebels for Christ this fall!

2:04 PM

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The Perfect Storm--Part 3

Friday, August 07, 2009 Share: |

(FYI...Thursdays are my time off to be at home with family so I may not write much on those days.)

Normally, "Part 3" of this perfect storm is all I have to focus on during a given year.  And normally, "Part 3" takes up plenty of time on its own which is why I am somewhat alarmed--like when you see the storm clouds on the horizon, you just don't know yet how bad the storm might get. 

I am referring, of course, to Rebels for Christ, our campus ministry and the mission to reach Ole Miss students.  Thanks to my two apprentices, we are anticipating a larger than normal group of freshmen in the fall.  We are excited to see these new faces--they are so important to us and it is such a huge transition in a teenagers life.  We're expecting 50-75 new faces and we pray that we can help connect them to Christ.  

There will be a lot of teaching from the Gospel of John and 1 John this fall--may sound boring but it won't be...most of time!  We're going to Greenville, MS  for a service retreat October 3-5.
We plan to have special groups for freshmen and upperclassmen in homes or in the dorms for study and encouragement. 

Of course, we have to work football into our ministry somehow since we are an SEC school.  This should be a big football year because Ole Miss is supposed to be good and we have a lot of great home football games.  We will try and do a big service project on a Saturday before a night game. 

It all comes back to loving God and neighbor--and that's a full time life! 

So that's the storm--National Campus Ministry Seminar, trying to have more children via IVF, and my mission to the Ole Miss campus. 
I can feel the storm approaching.  Funny thing about storms--I always have anxiety and excitement as a storm approaches.  Something about the power and phenomenon of a storm lends itself to both.  So it will be with my life--anxiety and excitement as I depend on God, protect my marriage and family and love every college student that crosses my path.

Bring it on, storm!


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Blogger Matthew Kooshad wrote

this makes me think of our "everlasting God" and isaiah 40:30,31
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

2:16 PM

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The Perfect Storm--Part 2

Wednesday, August 05, 2009 Share: |

You can read my wife's blog to know the full story (tracetalks.blogspot.com), but part 2 of this perfect storm is more personal in nature.  We are about to enter the world of in vitro fertilization (IVF).  My wife's ruptured appendix back in 2006 continues to haunt us.  We cannot (without divine intervention) have children the "normal" way.  We have prayed for divine intervention and so far the answer has been no.  Hopefully in the next few months, the IVF process will be done and successful.  September and October will be the primary months of testing, medicine and procedures. 

Even with the hope of still having children because of this technology, there is grief that it has come to this.  We have prayed, elders have prayed, some have fasted and for some reason, God has not answered our prayers according to our will!  Of course, we cling by faith to God, knowing that his will is bigger and greater and mysterious at times.  We lament and hope.  Sometimes there is more lament, sometimes more hope.  Sometimes they are too close to separate. 

Oh God, please be Lord of this uncertain journey.   

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