Thank You For Being Alive

[Thank You] Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

– Proverbs 27:6 ESV –

I like to consider myself a realist. I wouldn’t say I’m pessimistic, but I try to analyze situations and look at what the likely outcome is. I would say sometimes I could do a better job of having faith in God’s sovereignty in a situation (some might call that optimism) and believe more in the work that God has done and will do in people.

Proverbs 25:6 is the kind of verse that encourages people like me to always be sure to rebuke when there’s an opportunity…but maybe that’s not quite what Solomon had in mind.

This isn’t going to be an in-depth word study or exegesis on this topic, but instead, simply a quick look at something I feel God is saying to me today.

I am critical more often than I think I actually should be. As much as wise words of rebuke are worth more than kisses from an enemy, how much better is the encouragement of a friend, especially when you are already down?

Because of my critical nature, I have a hard time encouraging people unless I see them do something that is actually “impressive.” I only give credit where it’s “due.”

What about grace?

I’ve been blessed by God and encouraged by God, not because of anything that I’ve done, but because of what He has done.

Perhaps I should extend that same grace, not only when people fail and need forgiveness, but perhaps it’s a form of grace to give encouragement even when it’s not “warranted.”

Perhaps this world would be a bit of a better place and Christ’s light might shine through me a bit more if I simply approached people happy that they are alive. Everything positive beyond that is just a bonus.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful that I’m alive. I’m thankful for the possibilities and the opportunities that I have each day to glorify God and to show Him to others.

I’m thankful you’re alive and I hope you are thankful for that as well.

Thank you for being alive.

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Lazy people watching ads, television, and video-chatting with people while in chairs that are hovering along a specific course in the “company” of thousands of others doing the exact same thing.

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That is an image that Pixar’s “Wall-e” paints for us of the future. 

Sadly, most that saw this didn’t even catch the danger that we face of becoming that society and continued to ignore the many things that we do daily that lead us towards this.

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A Long-Overdue Apology

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[Before diving right into it, I would like to give some background…if you don’t want to read it, I’ll make it clear where the apology starts.]

11 days ago, I saw the movie “Blue Like Jazz,” based off of Donald Miller’s best selling book and adapted into a movie by Don’s efforts and Steve Taylor’s experience.

This movie reminded me of the book that marked a point in my life when I really started to love Jesus.

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Blue Like Jazz: The Movie [A Review]

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“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” – Donald Miller

I had forgotten about the above quote. That is one of the most powerful quotes of the book and the movie and something that we often forget. When people see us loving Jesus, they get a much better idea of what it means to love Jesus and it makes much more sense than just hearing that they should.

This movie blew me away. 

I expected a great movie. Somehow, they surpassed that.

Really, I don’t want to write all that much because I would much rather have you go see the movie.

I will say this much: this movie is going to reach a lot more people than movies such as “Courageous” or “Fireproof” ever did or ever will. Because those are so exclusive and cheesy that they miss the reality. “Blue Like Jazz” captures reality and shows how God makes sense in spite of difficult reality.

Please see this movie so that people that really need to see it can. Tell everyone you know about it.

What are you doing this weekend?

I think I misheard you, because it should have been “I’m going to see Blue Like Jazz” if it wasn’t 🙂

Trust me on this one. I plan on seeing it at least one more time this weekend.

UGANDA UPDATES!

Check out chomkotravels.wordpress.com to hear about my trip!

I am Returning to Uganda.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24 (NIV)

Friends,

In May of 2011, I went to Uganda. This experience left me unsettled. Then I came back and started seminary. The only thing that I wanted to do upon returning to the States, was get back to Uganda as soon as possible. But, for this time in my life, I felt like it was important to wait until it was God’s time for me to go back, even if it meant waiting until after Seminary (2-3 years). However, as usual, I couldn’t see what God had in store. I have been given the opportunity to go back to Uganda with Trinity in from February 29th to March 11th 2012. 

ABIDE (kehnsjam.com/abide) is a Christian leadership training program in Uganda designed to enable youth who have graduated from secondary school to transition into sustainable adulthood on the foundation of Jesus Christ by forming them in Christian faith, character and leadership. They essentially equip the students to be godly leaders in their communities, country (government or otherwise), churches, schools, and so on.

I will be working with ABIDE for the 10 days that I am in Uganda. I will get to experience the ministry through teaching, particpating in community outreach, and being involved in all other aspects of daily life on the compound. I will live life with them and be able to get an idea for if this is something that I could do for a longer period of time. The crazy part about this was that I had said that if I ever went back, I wanted to work with a specific ministry there called ABIDE.

One thing that’s difficult though, is the cost. It will cost around $2,650 for me to go to Uganda. As a seminary student who works part-time to pay for school, I am unable to fund myself to go. It is here that I trust in God to provide and ask that as you are able, that you would help me to go on this trip as a means of God’s provision (your giving is tax exempt). Prayer is incredibly necessary as well, that God would work powerfully and keep us all safe and healthy. If you are able and willing to do both, that is awesome! 

I need to have my funds fully raised by March 23rd and I must have $2000 by February 13th in order to go on the trip.

Please, if you decide to support either in prayer, money, or both; email me  your mailing address so that I will have both your email and mailing address to contact you during and after the trip!

You can visit https://www.formstack.com/forms/tiu_forms-missions_giving_uganda to give through credit card and receive the tax deduction or you can send a check to: 

OCFM
Trinity International University
2065 Half Day Road Deerfield, IL
60015-9963

The check should be written to “TIU” or “Trinity International University” so that it is able to be tax-deductible (If you do this, please include a note saying that it is for me, but do not write my name anywhere on the check).

If you do choose to send a check, you can let me know and I can mail you a response envelope so that you do not have to pay for postage.

This is what I have to look forward to: Pictures of Uganda

Thank you so much!

May the Lord bless you and keep you,
Carl Chomko

Lay Me Low

When’s the last time that someone said something that hurt you or accused you of something? How did you react?

Were you mad? Did you want to do something?

Why?

My initial reaction, I’m going to be real with you, tends to be a mixture of hurt and anger.  Especially if it’s not true, I feel the need to correct this misunderstanding or accusation.

Why though?

Why am I so concerned with how someone perceives ME as opposed to who I should be representing?

Pride.

I love Philippians as  Paul gives such a beautiful portrayal of Christ’s humility as well as his own.

Philippians 2:1-11 reads,

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who , though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

How can I get mad when someone slanders my name, when Christ humiliated himself not only to becoming the creation in order to save us, but also submitting himself to being murdered as a blasphemer?  The simple answer?  Pride.  The not-so-simple solution?  Humility.

In further thought on this subject I thought about when the last time I got really angry or hurt about injustice in the world, or people suffering real things that are living much more righteous lives than the one that I have led.  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (1:21)

That’s such a confusing verse.  How is living Christ?  That sentence sounds grammatically flawed.

To claim that living is Christ, is not making some lofty statement about one’s self, in fact, it’s the opposite.  This verse, to me, embodies the idea of dying to ourselves and our sin and being made alive in Christ.

When you truly have this kind of mindset, and are not worried about yourself, but instead concerned with the cause of Christ and fellowship with believers, you are able to truly live for Christ.

I quote Paul in saying, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brother, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (3:12-15)

I have not, by any means, reached this point.  I am merely writing you to share my conviction in hopes that the Holy Spirit will speak through my experience with scripture to your experience.

Join me in avoiding defending ourselves when it’s only our names that are at stake and saving our energy for others and for the sake of Christ.

Pray for me, a sinner.

Bittersweet Friday

“Good Friday is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary.” – Wikipedia (yes, I’m using that as a source)

Within that definition, I find a tension with how our commemoration seems to actually be displayed as premature celebration in today’s church culture.

Most worship songs end with the hope that is brought, and would not exist, without Christ having risen on Easter. This was difficult for me in choosing songs for our church’s Good Friday service, but what I observed both in the service by the congregation as well as through others’ comments expressed online, we don’t understand the purpose of Good Friday.

Easter is the day in which we celebrate our risen Lord and rejoice in the fact that we have the only real, true hope in Him. However, Good Friday is to commemorate the suffering that Christ went through and, as a friend so eloquently put it, Life itself being put to death.

Good Friday is the day on which we are called to remember (not that this can only happen one time a year) the agony that our God submitted Himself to in order to, eventually, bring us Salvation. If Christ had not risen on the third day, we would have no hope or eternal security, so that is where the celebration comes in on Easter. Until we reach that and as we sit commemoratively in the in-between of Christ’s death and resurrection, we should be in a place of mourning His death. This should including humility that God would stoop so low as to die for His own creation, anger at ourselves for the many acts of treason that we commit within every day, and reflection on what that treason is that tears us from our King.

It is impossible to celebrate as fully when we focus on the good that we already know is there. The disciples were left in a place of confusion, reflection and pain. Let us rest in that place until Sunday to share in Christ’s suffering and truly take time to try to begin to understand what He went through for us.

Let us rejoice on Easter. Until Sunday comes, mourn the death of Love.

Celebration can wait.

Read the Gospel accounts again…but don’t read to the resurrection yet.

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they slapped him in the face.” John 19:1

The Things We Love

The past couple days I spent some time drawing and coloring a picture for Stacy (my girlfriend) and then today (after I had finished it) I played around a little with photoshop and superimposed the drawings of us over some pictures I took at the Botanic Gardens. The three parts of this (drawing/coloring, photoshop, and photography) made me think about something that John M (one of my classmates) taught about today in Teaching the Bible.

It’s really easy for us to forget the things that truly mean a lot to us and the things that make us happy.

John talked about God specifically…but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing a hobby that you really enjoy as long as it doesn’t consume you.

My issue, however, has been I just get so caught up in all that I have to do that the only thing I really fill my free time alone with is music or reading the Bible. Neither of which are bad, but sometimes that isn’t really what is going to make me happy or feel accomplished or whatever feeling it is that I may be longing to feel.

I love art. I love drawing, I love coloring with pencils (or crayons – though I hate painting, at least small scale), I love taking pictures, I love being artistic, I love manipulating photographs with Adobe software…but I rarely do any of these things when I have free time.

Sure drawing takes a lot of time and coloring can as well, but if I’m doing it for someone other than myself, I am bringing someone else joy through my talents and that is a great thing to be able to do.

I also love taking pictures, but my camera is currently broken…lucky I have friends that don’t mind sharing, like Andrew Nyberg 🙂

Anyways, I guess what I’m getting at is, I think that people (including myself) need to just slow down once in a while and take some time to do something for themselves that they love (this does include time with God because that is such a good time that we often take for granted)

Enjoy yourself and all the opportunities and gifts that God has given you.

The drawing and the photoshopped version:

Stacy & Me with fireworks no signature

Stacy & Me (superimposed in BG pic)

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