Body of Dust

Searching and learning; a disciple of God. A journal focused on my spiritual growth and my relationship with God. I update as often as I feel reasonable, and feel comfortable sharing these experiences.

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Location: Fort Myers, Florida, United States

I'm 20yrs old living in Southwest Florida and attending Florida Gulf Coast Univ for my second year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Christian Influences and Focuses on the Internet

Over time on the internet, I have come across two websites that I feel are absolutely brilliant and what people need more of today. One is a Christian gaming community, and the other is a program and community that brings a fight to the presence of lust and pornography in the modern world.

TEAMSOC.net
First, I introduce to you TeamSoC.net. This is a internet group that I have been involved with for over six months now, and become a contributing member of their community. I play games online, one of them being Halo. Eventually, I came across one of their three gaming servers, and really appreciated their focus on God, fellowship, and enjoying a friendly, a clean, and overall great time. I've met such a great number of friendly gamers through this community, and over time became a member of their 'clan', the Soldiers of Christ (their tag is '}SoC{'), known as }SoC{Clay (previously VtmnR). Their website includes a number of things: a forum for all kinds of discussion, both spiritual and non, an online Bible study that takes place on Thursday nights through a program called TeamSpeak (which is available through downloadable .wma's, too), a resource for those interested in the Christian faith, and by far one of the best communities of Christian gamers I have seen online! This is what I feel the youth of today are in need of, a place where they can meet online, play a game with fellow Christians in a clean and focused environment, and get involved with their relationship in Christ! I feel very fortunate and blessed to have found them, and I sense amazing works and things happening through them.

XXXCHURCH.com
There has been controversial and conflicting discussions concerning this site, XXXChurh.com; it refers to itself as the '#1 Christian Porn Site', so you know your finding something really unique at the startup. XXXChurch.com is a very interesting website that deals with the sin of lust, adultery, and pornography in a very radical, unique, and (I believe) effective manner. Two young Californian pastors (Mike Foster and Craig Gross) felt a calling towards dealing with pornography and masturbation, something they both feel has been overlooked or shunned by churches of the faith due to it's ugliness and also because everyone has faced it before, and leaders are not willing to discuss it open and publicly. They have taken this mission to fight pornography up by themselves, with the help of others, and with plenty of negative feedback coming from both secular AND Christian society.
Their site does have a very 'hip' or 'young' appeal to it, and they chose the three x's in their name as a method to direct those searching for pornography on the internet to their site, instead. Their mission is stated as:

'Our mission is to make people aware of all the issues about porn and for Christians to be accountable and to get their crap cleaned up. We also want to help and give hope to those who feel there is no way out and are drowning in porn.'

And they do accomplish this in a number of ways. They have made visits to porn conventions to send the message to pornographers and the business that Jesus loves them, too. They have made free software that acts as an accountability program that keeps you in line, in relation to your selected friend to watch your activity online.
I know this struggle against sins of the flesh, and I praise this site for it's work against this overlooked problem of society. This is the first of it's kind that I've seen myself, but they have linked with other movements that are online, that you may visit through their site.

Those are two site that I feel the people of today, especially the youth but not overlooking any other age, need to be aware of today. There is a way to get help and build a relationship in Christ, and these are two that can really help.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Been a Month, in Need of Update

Lately, I'd say the past two weeks can be summarized as a rollercoaster, in ups and downs, and some unnecessary twists and turns.

I am currently involved in a Contemporary World Religions course at FGCU, the school I attend. I find this course and it's lessons so intriguing and I'm interested in the material. One of the sections probably threw me off my balance, and led me into a spiritual test, and it involves the Asian beliefs of Taoism.

Now, I don't feel that I am in any position to teach the beliefs and positions of Taoism, but I'll explain what I think is important to me:

A) There are no absolutes in Taoism, no ultimate good or bad, it's all blended in. This idea is summarized with the common symbol of the yin-yang. I felt I understood it more with a story: A man owns a ranch, and one day his last horse had ran away into the forest. His neighbor, feeling sorry for the man, paid a visit and mourned for his loss. But the rancher only said, "We don't know what is bad." The next day the horse returned, with seven more horses from the forest, making his ranch stronger than ever! His neighbor again paid a visit and congratulated him, but the rancher said, "We don't know what is good." The next day, the ranchers son was playing with the horses, and rode one of the new ones from the forest. But he was kicked off, and he fell to the ground, breaking both of his legs. The ranchers neighbor came to mourn again, but the rancher again said, "We don't know what is bad." The next day, the army was going to war, and came to the rancher's home to take his son, but they couldn't because of his injuries. So, the son was able to stay home, with his family. -- Kind of a long story, but I felt it was the best summarization I could find. BTW: they have no concept of 'sin'.

B) The Taoist do not 'label' such great, mystical things, like God or Heaven. They feel that to give these things names, that they lose them. I can't really explain this, but this is what I was told.

In hearing these lessons, I was brought to question things about Christianity, mostly concerning the absolutism idea. Also, why there are so many different religions on the Earth, when Christianity claims that there is one true God, one true faith. While discussing with friends, I was led to a theory. In short: there are two absolute forces, one of good and one of evil. They go by many names, and are seen in many ways, but they are all the same two forces none-the-less. In creating these different religions and ideas, they had formed different ways that allows the world (and it's amazingly different people) to find them, somehow. After realizing this, I felt a very mystical paranoia, typing it, sitting in my chair. And I dropped it from then on, closing Pandora's box.

In the following days, I had talked about this theory with friends, and one had begun testing it, in the best way it could be done, in friendship and care. In doing so, I realized I was looking for answers in all of the wrong places, that I shouldn't be looking outside of the faith so much, in search for these answers. I should focus more on what I am so involved with, spiritually. So, I've begun a hardy prayer and study session, focusing on these questions of mine. I'm 'wrestling' with God.

Thanks Mark.

Friday, October 14, 2005

New (Well, Old) Sounds for the Lord

I picked up a number of albums recently, and they have had such a positive impact in my relationship with music and praise and worship of God.

- Stryper (Reborn, 2005), an OLD (b 1983) hair-metal band, that has such great vocals and rhythm that is addicting, and the lyrics focus on a very concrete and simple songwriting for God. Something that all can understand and relate to, but it doesn't feel very 'cookie-cutter' to me. THAT is what I look for, and that is what I regard as some of the best music for God. Some of my favorite tracks are: Reborn, Rain, In God We Trust, and Open your Eyes.

- Five Iron Frenzy (FIF, Proof that the Youth are Revolting, 1999 LIVE), a ska band that has seen it's course. I keep telling others that the most appropriate way to hear a ska band's music is live, "where the band and it's character is exposed and not lost in studio". This is a perfect example, for this bunch has so much energy in their music, which I hold very high in praise and worship music. Their activity is all love and fun as they talk to the audience and each other, pulling jokes, and saying prayers. Unfortunately, they have since moved onto other projects, and broke up in 2003. Some of my favorite tracks are: All that is Good, Every New Day, and One Girl Army.

Career, and God

A number of career opportunities have made themselves apparent recently:

- Part of me would like to move near Tampa/St. Pete and attend USF, where I would major in Religious Studies, and keep my focus on God. My sister graduated with a Bachelor's in that from Univ of Florida, which is how I discovered it. With that, I would focus around a church oriented job, or somewhere where I could still spend much time in my faith, and continue an idea of that.

- When I told my older friend John of this interest, he suggested to me the possibility of attending a Seminary, in Orlando specifically. If I were to do so, I would look into a career as youth minister or worship leader, and music. I've got such a passion in playing and singing for the Lord, and I have had some interest in teaching. So, that's how I came to that.

- Also, if I stay at FGCU, I would look toward either a graduation in History, or a graduation in Hotel & Resort Management, which is an excellent program here.

I pray to God to help guide me in this big decision in my life. I want to work for Him, no matter where he takes me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Following Set Examples

I felt a sense of fear in writing these things about my life, what God has done for me, and what I have done for God, and where I am strong and weak. But I shouldn't be afraid, that is something someone taught me last night: don't be afraid to tell people who you are, and the message you've been given, in all the things you do.

So, I follow in those words;
God be with me.

Further Background, Part 2

Maybe 'Soapbox' will be our new name for the band... I like it.

Anyways, those are what I see as my strengths. And now I will tell you my weaknesses:

I am a poor Bible reader, I have difficulty studying it every day as I'm sure many do. But my favorite book is Revelations; I don't try to predict the end-times, but I like reading about how it happens, and God's victory over all forces.

I am a young man, so sins of the flesh are not new to me. I constantly fight and pray these things away; I continually give them to God, asking him to take them from me. It's a constant test.

I do have a sense of pride and anger, like most people, and I have doubted God before at a few times in my life. I do greed things that are not mine, and I have a strong passion for cars, some may call it unhealthy.

I am constantly told that I am human, and these things are healthy and natural. Granted, I'm sure they are for this world, but there exists something further beyond that and that is God's world, and He has called me to a higher level and standard. So, I strive to perfect myself in everything I do.

HEB 4:14-16

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Further Background

I've been attending a Methodist church for the past 7-8 years of my life, since I was at the end of my junior-high school age. My mom had brought the family there; she felt like there was something missing in our lives (we had gone to church before, but many years ago, I was 3). Immediately I had gotten myself involved in the youth group, and made good friends in short time.

Some of the events that encouraged me to become more involved with my Christian calling were the youth group mission trips, specifically one to the Carolinas where we cleared trails while staying at a Christian camp. This sparked my maturing and my servanthood, and led me to focus efforts on something that I wouldn't benefit from; to give something up and recieve nothing in return. It wasn't a hard lesson to learn, personally. To this day, I do enjoy serving, when my schedule allows.

Another key factor to my relationship with God involves worship, specifically in music. I learned music, starting in junio-high and moving up into high school playing in the school bands, learning trumpet. Late in high school, probably late junior year, I began playing backup bass for my church's adult praise band EKG (Everlasting Knowledge and Grace). Further on, I began a youth praise band which ran for a good 3 years, as Noisy Prophets. Now, I have begun a new band from old members of the youth band, with me singing lead and playing bass. The name is under work, but we are called Synergy.

I think through all that time in the bands, God was trying to tell me something. Only recent, did I realize what it was: You are meant to be in worship. In the new band (Synergy), we just had our first performance at the contemporary Sunday morning service. Never have I felt so close to God while singing in praise and worship. Even in the days leading up to that morning, it spelled disaster for the band's first performance. However, through prayer and faith, He just lifted me up and made me his soapbox for the morning. It was beautiful, and I praise Him for that.

I will continue this background later.

Intro and Mission

Hi.

My name is Bryan Lewis, a second-year student enrolled at Southern Florida's Florida Gulf Coast Univeristy (FGCU). Currently, I'm a history major, but that may change with time as I discover myself more. I've been a resident of local Fort Myers, on the Southwest coast of Florida, for the past 19 years of my soon 20-year life (birthdate: Oct. 4).

I am creating this blog with a few goals in mind:

> Create a living journal that I can share with others.

> Focus the updates and entries on my spiritual growth as a Christian, and day-to-day stuff that'll keep you interested elsewhere.

> Make it look professional.

> To update as often as I can comfortably.

I have found that if it were not for college and the people I have met here and the groups I have become involved with, I would never have become so focused on my spirituality and my relationship with God that I am now. So, I am inclined to keep these thoughts in a secure place, where others could even read and relate, or not, and discuss with me on similar expreiences, thoughts, or whatever they have to share.

So, I welcome you to 'Body of Dust'.

God said to Adam:
GEN 3:19

"By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return."