All posts in “Long Island, NY”

The Bench

Have you ever glanced at a seemingly insignificant object and wondered about its story? Last summer in New York there was a moment when a simple bench produced a game-changing conversation. The idea was to replace this old beat up bench that sits in front of a local church. The intention was great. After-all, it looked pretty beat up and could barley seat 3 people on it without falling through. Replacing the entire bench seemed to be the best option considering the bench appeared to be not worth the repair effort. It would likely cost the same as buying a new one.

What if I told you that bench had a story? A story that was simple, but rich in history to this church and the community it belonged to.

The bench was donated to the church in memory of one of the founding pastors, custom made over 80 years ago. Think about the hard work that was put in to create that bench in the first place. Think about all the history the bench holds. How about the many years of stories and conversations that were had on this very bench? And how about all the different generations that must have taken a seat on it over the years? I only know so much about it from the community and church members that have shared it with me over the years, but think of all the untold history it holds.

In Japan, they use an ancient practice called Kintsugi which is the practice of restoring broken things. The meaning of the word is “golden joinery” or “to patch with gold,” and it is an age-old custom of repairing cracked pottery with real gold. This includes not just fixing breaks, but greatly increasing the value of the piece by sealing the cracks and tiny crevices with lines of fine gold. Instead of hiding the flaws, Kintsugi artists highlight them, creating a whole new design and bringing unique beauty to the original piece. This process actually adds more value to the restoration process because though it was once broken, it now has a new story.

The usual intent of restoration is to make something “as good as new.” Yet the art of Kintsugi reinforces a profound belief that the repair can make things not only as good as they were before, but “better than new.” Just because we’ve been broken doesn’t mean that we should classify ourself as useless. It doesn’t mean that we are un-usable, ready to be replaced, or even worth ending our story.

Brokenness has the power, unlike anything else, to bring forth new beauty, strength, and inspiration to others. Because it’s often in those moments that we’ve gone through deep suffering, that we noticed we were made for more. We often try to hide away, preferring instead to present to the world a safe version of who we are, a more “perfect” version. It’s too difficult to risk the real vulnerability of exposing what once was. Or what still is.

To finish the story, the bench that had many years of history was preserved. Instead of just replacing it and throwing it away, it was reinforced with new bolts and screws. We did not have any gold but a clear coat of stain was used to protect the wood to keep it lasting for years. A new chapter was added to its story.

God breaks through all our messes. You are never beyond healing. You are never too broken for restoration. You are never too shattered and damaged for repair. Don’t be ashamed of your past, of the deep crevices or the broken places of your life. They have an amazing story to tell.

Sandy – 5 Years Later

It is hard to believe that it has already been 5 years since Hurricane Sandy hit the community of Long Island. This storm shook the area and everyone that lives in it. To this day we are still feeling its repercussions. Five years is a long time and there has certainly been a lot of progress made. There are some who have moved back into their home since the storm and there are others Continue Reading…

#thankful

What am I thankful for?

It’s common to hear this question during this time of the year. Recently I took time to consider it for myself as I have many things to be thankful for. As I was thinking about this I opened up to to a couple of interesting passages, which made me have a greater appriciation for the things I can say I am thankful for.

The first one was about Jeremiah, a prophet from Judah. God told Jeremiah to tell his very own family and friends that they needed to repent, turn from sinful choices they were making, and start obeying God. Not surprisingly, no one liked what he had to say and it went as far as him being lauged at and made fun of by those he loved. I can imagine this was an awful time for Jeremiah. However, we can see through the scripture that he remained hopeful. To others it may have seemed impossible, but Jeremiah was able to maintain hope because of God’s faithfulness. Throughout Lamentations we continue to see the evidence of God’s faithful, loving, and merciful character. It was through this that Jeremiah was able to remain thankful, even through hard times.  It takes a lot to be thankful and hopeful when our life situations may not seem ideal.

Paul’s story is another example of  someone who had to go through multiple hardships in his life. He was beaten up, shipwrecked and even put in prison. Yet, as we see throughout scripture, he still remained thankful throughout. Sometimes it seems too hard, almost impossible, to have hope and even be thankful in times like that.

In this season when focused on our thankfulness let’s try our best to be thankful regardless of our current circumstances. Let’s rely on who God is- his amazing character- when we consider our thanks. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 

– Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV  Continue Reading…

Attendance

Recently I had an encounter where a simple hello turned in to a multiple hour long conversation. The topic was on church youth attendance in the Long Island area specifically. From the other person’s perspective, there seemed to be a huge age gap in church attendance with the millennial generation. His simple question was whether hope exists in bringing this age group back to church to become a part of a family of believers. This conversation drove me to dig into the subject a bit more surrounding this age group in my community.  Continue Reading…

Don’t Stop at Hello

It’s hard to believe nine weeks have already come and gone. A lot has happened in nine weeks, including countless interactions with people from all walks of life. Continue Reading…

Are You Chasing or Retreating?

Whether it’s from personal study or from Sunday School growing up, we typically become familiar with many characters in the Bible. But there is someone you may or may not heard of.  Continue Reading…

The Proto’s

The people you meet in life is not accidental but intentional. In my case, my friendship with the Proto’s initially seemed to fall into the category of “work”, by creating a partnership and helping a family that might be in need in terms of physical home repair. God can use any simple interaction or reason in meeting someone, and go far beyond our minds and understanding. Continue Reading…

Trapped

“Help. Help. Help! Someone open the door!” I was trapped in my car, upside down.

I am driving on my way to work. I am incredibly late. Honestly, I know it won’t be a huge problem, but I continue to rush. I begin on my usual route, driving down the same road I typically drive down. The light turns red. But I must’ve missed it; I was now in the intersection. I suddenly see a car to my left, about to hit me. Panic strikes. The last time I panicked, I was at Hurricane Harbor at the top of a rollercoaster. Or maybe that time I had to give a presentation in class.

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Are You Listening?

We all always have something to say, whether it be an opinion or even a fact, we have things we would love to share and express. Despite being taught the importance of listening from a young age (just think about how many teachers have asked you to “put your listening ears on”), the truth is, most of us aren’t as good at listening as we should be.  Continue Reading…

Time: A Valuable Commodity

Happy New Year! New Years is often a time for making new resolutions or re-committing to old resolutions; making promises to yourself so as to give up a bad habit or to develop new good habits. You might go so far as to create a resolution that would truly change your lifestyle.  Continue Reading…

Let Your Light Shine

We often hear during the holiday season to keep Christ in Christmas, but has that become something we say since we hear it all of the time? What if we actually did something to impact our culture and how we portray Christmas? Yes, we can still say, “keep Christ in Christmas”, but how about making it a bit more personal and saying, “keep Christ in us this Christmas”? Continue Reading…

The Giving in Thanksgiving

“I always thank my God for you because of His grace given to you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-5  

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Lens Change: Prayer

Have you ever been shaken up by the words someone has spoken to you? Shaken up in a way where your perspective changes, or you see someone or something in a new light? Maybe what shook you up most, were who the words were coming from…someone you least expected. Continue Reading…