In elementary school, my best friend had a birthday party. Pretty common. Just your standard kids birthday party. Nothing extravagant, in fact I think there were only three of us that went. First you’ve got to understand my level of success with my childhood friendships, and you can obtain a clearer understanding of this in an earlier blog titled ‘Dirt.’ Basically, I was always struggling to fit in and would do anything for the acceptance of those around me.

One of the best illustrations of this devotion took place at this birthday party. At one point we all received Push Pops. If you’re not familiar with the classic candy of the day, it was a small hard plastic tube slightly larger than your index finger. Inside this tube was a large flavored candy stick. You simply remove the cap, insert your index finger into the base of this tube and lightly press upward, revealing the magnificent mysterious candy that had once lay hidden inside its tomb. Needless to say, this candy was quite the delectable delight.

My two friends, being the mischievous young boys that they were, wanted to see how far I would go to impress them. Not that I was being picked on, but I was certainly an easy target for them. So we took a stroll outside with our Push Pops and stood on a big mound of dirt. My friend’s house was still partly under construction so there was plenty of freshly dropped dirt all over the place, among many scrap pieces of wood, tool belts, and the anticipated dropped nail every step taken. As we stood there talking, I wanted to be accepted by them so much. My intent was to do whatever it took to gain this acceptance. I would do anything for them. All they needed to do was tell me to jam my Push Pop into the recently dumped dirt pile and digest the candy mixture, and before they could finish explaining the task, I was already stirring my Push Pop around in circles to get the most dirt-coating possible.

As I raised the Push Pop toward my mouth, I looked at each of them as if it were all in slow motion. Huge grins stretching across their faces, looking toward one another to make sure the other one wasn’t missing any of this. As they turned their faces back toward me, their laughter ignited and was my green light to stick the dirt-coated candy into my mouth. Let me tell you, it was not pretty. This thing was disgusting. Everything about it tasted horrible. The once Strawberry-flavored candy that was so beautiful in every aspect had been turned into something so dissatisfying that I could hardly contain myself. But I did it. As I looked at them enjoying every minute of it, I couldn’t believe they were just watching me do this for them. Of all the things I had ever done for my friends because they told me to do it, this one neared the top of the charts as being the worse. But I didn’t back down, I wouldn’t stop just because I didn’t like it. I held it in, and took it like a man because it’s what they wanted. I was doing this for them, in the end getting nothing out of it but an intimate encounter with the toilet bowl in the middle of the night, coughing up all that I stomached through for their satisfaction.

In the first book of bible, we are told that the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7). In the bible, the word for ‘breath’ is the same word as the word for ‘spirit,’ and some pronounce God’s name as ‘Yahweh’ although the ancient rabbis believe that the name of God is so mysterious, sacred and holy that there is not even a word to name Him with. In fact, they believe that the letters of Yahweh, YHVH, function as vowels in the Hebrew language. They believe they were kind of breathing sounds and that ultimately the name is simply unpronounceable because the letters together are essentially the sound of breathing: Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh.(Rob Bell, 2006).
Is the name of God the sound of breathing? If so, then could it be that God has breathed some divine spirit into each of us when we are born. Every breathe we take is more than just the second nature of breathing, there is something that resides in us that cannot be taken away. There is this divine breath that is in every single human being. Ephesians 4:6 tells us that there is ‘One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’
If there is something of God living inside each and every one of us, whether you are a Christian or not, is it safe to say that in someway, Christ resides within each of us?

What did Christ do by dying on the cross? He took our sins… he took the sins of the world on His shoulders so that we wouldn’t have to. Before Jesus came around, whenever people sinned against God, they had to make a sacrifice, as a way of repentance, seeking forgiveness. But then Jesus landed on the earth, and saw the sins we were committing, and knowing what the consequence for sin is [death], He followed His Father’s plan to pay the ultimate price and die on the cross. He knew what He needed to do, He knew what we were doing and what we would do, but looked past all our stupidity and selfish desires and said ‘You know what? I’m going to pay the penalty for your decisions and there is nothing that will stand in the way of that love for You.’

If we take this knowledge then, considering that Christ dwells within each of us beginning with a divine breathe being breathed into each and every one of us by Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh, and that Christ knows of the choices we will make and made the decision to take the consequential death onto Himself. Could we then, picture in our minds that as we sin, when we make the decision to sin, He is right there with us, in us, a part of us. And He isn’t going to stop us, He won’t stop us, He gives us this choice and all He says is, ‘no matter how sick or disgusting this thing is that you are doing to yourself, I am going to hold my tongue and take the pain for you. You are essentially making me do this same sin that you are doing right now therefore I am in fact facing the horrible results of what you are you doing to yourself… what you’re doing to me.

When we sin, are we really telling Christ to take that Push Pop, swirl it into the dirt and eat it? And does He do it? He knows He’d just be doing this disgusting act for our sake, for our amusement, but He’ll do it because He loves us so much that He’ll do anything for us… and this what we choose to do with His love? In the end, we get some real kicks out of the sin we put ourselves through, what we put Him through, and we walk away scotch free. Meanwhile, He’s hurling himself over the toilet seat the rest of the night, dealing with the aftermath of our decisions.

To the friends who decided I should eat that dirt-coated Push Pop… I forgive you.


A poster on my wall reads:
--Ross Powers. A true champion in every sense, Ross has won more halfpipe titles than any other rider in history and is the defending gold medalist from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. In the 04/05 season Ross won the Mount Bachelor US Grand Prix and walked away with the overall Grand Prix title. Over the years Ross has shown an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion in clutch situations. With tricks such as frontside and cob 1080’s and an entire summer to train, Ross is poised to make another run for the Gold as he goes for his third Olympic appearance. Both on snow and in the laboratory he continues to fine-tune his pro model, constantly tweaking it to match his ever-evolving style.—

You know when a celebrity gets on stage after an anxiety-driven pause when the person presenting the award waited a minute before reading their name under the 'best actor' category? Mind you, they themselves weren’t too anxious. They knew they had this award in the bag; it was all the millions of skeptical viewers who were unsure of what the results would be. But this particular celebrity had already received 3 'best actor' awards, 2 'best supporting actor' awards, and had even received a few 'best director' awards! This guy’s got it. And now he's got another one to add to his collection. Is this guy successful or what? Well, is he?

Mike 'Pinball' Clemons spoke at a conference a couple months back. His message was a striking one; one in which you would've expected to hear from someone on the other end of his celebrity-status spectrum... someone like me.

Clemons began his talk by highlighting all of his accomplishments.
I was the highest achiever that...
I could outrun most players who...
I was the most valuable player in...
He continued on for a couple minutes boasting to the audience of all he had done and was capable of doing; really building himself up.
Clemons followed this with a brief open mic session and walked around to audience members in the first few rows of seats asking them what they thought of him and what these great accomplishments that he had mentioned just seconds before meant to them.
I believe their response was just what he was looking for.
Umm, more than what I could do…
Ah, Not the best, but not the worse…
Well, pretty good I guess.

“Pretty good?! Did you not hear me tell you all the things I have done? And the list doesn’t end there my friend.
But you know what? You’re right. It means very little. What is the big deal? In the end, what does it really matter? What it means is that for twelve years I held a piece of leather and became really good at running away from really big guys that wanted to slam me into the ground… Big Deal!”

Who is this man? Who is Mike Clemons… really? When he puts all of his worldly accomplishments aside, he answers with, ‘I am the lucky husband of a fine wife named Diane and the father of two wonderful daughters.’

As you think back on the things you have done in your lifetime… whether that be just a few twenty years, or if you’ve been around the block quite a few times… what have you accomplished? What are you proud of? What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want to remember most about your life? Is it that award or trophy? Is it that sweet frontside and cob 1080 that you’ve mastered? Is it your athletic career? Is it your sick ride equipped with the best sound system in the neighborhood? Is it your home theatre system, iMac, and 80Gb iPod? Is it your conquering of the most challenging X-Box game? Is it all the vacation trips you’ve been on? Is it the wild parties every weekend? Is it in all your skills and talents? Is it in how you use those skills and talents to help others or serve a certain someOne? Is it your family? Is it your friends that stick by you through the thick and the thin? Is it your small group? Is it your church community? Is it your job? Is it the conversations you have with strangers? Is it being a listening ear to those who need someone to talk to? Is it feeding the hungry? Is it clothing the naked? Is it giving shelter to those without a home? Is it giving money to those with little to spend?

Because in the end. When it’s all said and done. When we die and our life here on earth is finished, what can you take with you? As much music as you store on your 80Gb iPod to capture every single song and every favourite band of yours, you can’t clutch it in your hand on your deathbed in hopes that it will go with you. No. The things that this world has to offer us holds no value for us when we’re dead. When we take our last breath, all of that is forgotten, left behind. It served no purpose but simply providing momentary fun. Our possessions here on earth last only a short time compared to eternity.

So is there anything you can possess that will carry on after death? Is there something we can find here that, when we die, will continue to have an effect on us? Is there something worth obtaining because it is eternal… everlasting… for all eternity? Many of you may know of this thing. Many of you may be wondering this exact question. There’s got to be something more to this life than being born, gaining all this stuff and then dying alone without any of it. And I challenge you to seek it out. Talk with people. Find out what it is, because it is out there. You know, the interesting thing is… the bigger our stuff is, the higher the price tag. Have you ever realized this? You want something to store all your music… but a 4Gb is around your price range… if you want something that will last longer and do more for you, you’ve got to dig a bit deeper in your wallet. It will cost you more.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I believe that there is something that will carry on through into eternity. Although, it’s an odd thing… because it will cost you more than any price you find on an iPod… this thing will cost you your life. Your entire life will be changed when you accept this gift. Yes, it’s a gift. That’s the odd part… this thing is free. It’s a free gift that absolutely anybody can accept.
So it’s free, but it’s going to

So, take what I’ve said here and allow it to challenge you and influence your life to the extreme. Think about it, dissect it, question it, figure it out, and apply it.

.What holds value in your life.