Author Archive for

12
Oct

Quick Update

Wow. It’s been a crazy year since I last posted on here, and to be honest I almost completely forgot about this place. I graduated from Lee in May, got accepted to UVA’s law school just a few days ago, went to Haiti, started a nonprofit for bringing glasses to the 3rd world (operation2020.com if you’re curious), and leave out for India and Beirut within the next month. I’ll probably keep some kind of travel log here though, so feel free to follow along.

08
Nov

When We Throw Our Coats

I sat down the other night with the full intention of studying history. I had an article due in class the next day, I had a nice new pen and empty notebook, I had a quiet room in the union all to myself. And then I had a thought.

Not a history thought, though, not in the least. See, I’ve been changing the way I do life during the last few weeks. Without going into details, I’ve had a few situations test parts of my theology that I’ve always been most vocal about. Events that have forced me to decide if I simply believed that certain principles and promises of God played nice on paper–or if they were rules I wanted to stake my life on, requirements I would keep because I actually believed in the consequences involved.

The thought, then, was this: To have great faith means to give what hurts greatly.

And too often we miss that. We isolate our faith as simply belief–we wipe our memories clean of verses that denounce faith without action. To have faith has become a mind game for Christians, a threshold of “I do believe” that we seem to think must be reached.

But we’re wrong.

The faith we are called to does not support itself on thoughts, and it is teetering dangerously on the empty words we love to prop beneath it. When the rich young ruler approaches Jesus about what he must do for eternal life, he is given an answer that shows the step we all seem to have missed: the relativity of God.

“You lack one thing. Go and sell all that you have…” God is not ignorant, ladies and gentlemen, and He certainly is not blind. Jesus responds to the widow’s two mites because of their relative value, and He calls this ruler to match that gift within the framework of his own world. “Give ALL, and follow me.” Make no mistake, faith is an investment–an investment of all we have, and one that requires us to rely fully on God keeping His end of the bargain.
When Elijah dumps 12 barrels of water onto an altar, after 42 months of drought, the stakes could not have been higher. “Here is what we lack God”- that is the cry coming from the one true representative of the Hebrew people at that time, “It’s Your turn.”

One of my favorite stories of Jesus comes from the book of Mark. Hearing that the Master, the Healer, was coming his way, a blind man began to fervently shout, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!!” The crowd’s warnings had no effect on the man–here, finally, was the One person who opened blind eyes and gave life back to those who sat in darkness. “Jesus!! Son of David! Have mercy on me!!” Suddenly, the message is relayed that Christ is calling him.

50 And throwing off his cloak, he ran to Jesus.
52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.”

Please, do not miss this. The one possession that this man had- the cloak that, if all else was lost, could be given in pledge by Israel’s poorest citizens, is what this blind man throws off first. Here is faith. If he is wrong, if Jesus can not heal him, then all is lost- without sight his cloak can never be recovered. The faith Christ refers to is not the words Bartimaeus speaks–it is the “all” that he gives.

When Abraham ties his son Isaac to the altar, when he raises the knife with the full intention of offering the only hope of fulfilling God’s own promise to him–that is when his faith was counted to him as righteousness. What hurts the very most, what we feel is all we have left in this world–that is what God requires us to trust Him with, to give up with faith in His love.

And that is what He has done Himself.

If faith is the giving up of what we value most, if it is the investing of what we hold closest--then the Father’s heart has trumped us all. The faith shown by the gift of His only Son–the Master of the vineyard sending his Son to the workers, the parallel of Abraham bringing Isaac to Moriah–that is the love and hope and faith that God has shown to and in us. What a thought- that God hopes in us, that God believes in us, that God invests in us!

For God so loved the world, for God so had faith in His creation– that He gave what hurt the most.
……

Slowly but surely, I’m finding a way to live like I believe, to give like I believe, to have faith like I believe.

Because I actually do.

04
Nov

Untitled 2

10/31/09
I like to write when I’m tired. I like the freedom exhaustion brings- that point where the social parapet I patrol nearly every moment of the day disappears and my mind stops caring what monstrous form of honesty it leaks out. And then I write. And that’s where I am at the moment- exhausted, on edge, overspent. But I opened up the last file I had written (from a previous honesty foray, no doubt) and I got one line. I like to write with a completely black screen with green text, so the effect of a single tiny line being all that was present on my display was interesting enough–but what got me was what the line said:

What if God doesn’t know?

You know, I think Christian selfishness is as bad as the real thing. Our fasts end in feasts, our missions trips end in plane rides back to comfort, and throughout it all- and listen closely, throughout IT ALL- our sacrifices end in rewards. There is no church offering that is not buffered by the assurance of a “hundred fold,” there is no missions leader who does not sell his or her group on setting their eyes on “heavenly things,” there is no Christian who does not want their mansion in end. We leave earthly treasures behind! we cry, for what will come is greater.

Except that’s cheap.

What if God began to miss things? The 20 dollar bill you slipped into the street beggar’s cup, the two weeks you spent in another country, the house you helped paint–what if it all simply slips the Almighty’s mind, doesn’t quite make it into your life’s ledger?

We would quit. We’d roll down the sleeves, break down the tents, and we would leave. Or maybe it would change us. Too long we’ve sold ourselves on the notion that selflessness is ingrained into modern Christianity–when all that we’ve done is shift the reward a little further back, delayed the gratification just a little longer… and tainted the actions we’ve touted so proudly. We’ve placed the wrong idea upon the priority shrines in our lives. We give because someone at the pulpit guarantees we’ll get back, we witness because our hymnbook promises stars in our crown. But actions backed by an ulterior motive, whether that motive be humanity or Deity, are cheapened. We are not here to love others in order that Christ might love us. We are here to love others with the love Christ gave us. We are here to work out God’s plan on earth simply for that plan’s sake- not for what we can get out of it.

But why shouldn’t I want the most desirable outcome? Why shouldn’t I look to see what I can trade my deeds in for at Heaven’s front gates? Because your belief in a cause cannot go as far as your belief in a payout. For each situation we encounter we frantically look for verses that give the cost/return equation, and that kind of church can not and will not ever be able to cut it as an army of Christ.

So buy in wholeheartedly. Truly believe that Christ owes you nothing and you owe Him all, that what you do is more than an investment–that it matters in the here and now most of all. And once we leave our holy greed behind us, once we start to truly live and lose and love and die all for the sake of Christ and Him alone– that’s when we change the Church. We change our outlooks, we change our outreach.

We change our world.

27
Feb

off

I had an odd experience the other night. I walked out of the Help Desk, into an aisle of library books, and I picked one at random. Well, not entirely random. I wanted an old one, I wanted a bland looking one, and I wanted it lower than eye level. What I really wanted was one nobody but some poor initial shelver had ever touched in the book’s existence in Cleveland, TN.

And I found one. I don’t remember the name, but suffice it to say it was a collection of (very bad) poetry written sometime in the 17th century. Really just terrible stuff. Stuff you punish folks like Dr. Suess and Mother Goose by making them read it. But, it was just the kind of book I was looking for. I flipped open to a page about halfway through, and I read the first line of the first poem on that page. And that’s when the oddness struck. Somewhere, some 310 plus years ago, somebody wrote those words down. Chances are it was in Europe, and chances are they weren’t making any money from what it was they were writing. But they wrote it. And now, 310 plus years later, across the Atlantic, in a small town in Tennessee, in a basement aisle of a college library, I was reading those words. It was like I connected with the author, almost as if he were writing the words with my eyes as I read each one. It didn’t matter that I thought his stuff was awful, or that I was just flipping- these were words that, once he wrote them down, survived as he lived the rest of his life. He woke up, slept, woke up, slept, worked, loved, lived. And finally, he died. And other people lived and died. And some read what he wrote, and some read what others wrote, and both died. And now me. These words, with no real bearing, were read by me. I joined an odd tracing of people who have read that line from that book, and it gave me a funny feeling to be inducted into that kind of group. And it’s not that I believe it matters very much to the author at this point- I think his importance in the matter has declined greatly. It’s the words that connect our group now. The world is a big place, I’m beginning to realize, and the world is a lot more complex than I’ve given it credit for. But maybe 17th century poetry man is helping to change that.

22
Feb

Something New

I’ve decided to quietly start updating again. I’m not going to post about it anywhere, no big entry post- just me putting down things that seem to catch me at the moment. I view everything I write as a sort of letter to myself- a joke I think I might find funny, a quote I’d like to try applying, or even a reproach to a particular hypocrisy I start to see become visible in my lifestyle. I do it online because it is a medium that helps to keep my writing standards higher than usual, and it occasionally affords me the avenue of speaking widely for those who cannot speak for themselves. Know that I point no fingers without being ready to point twice as many at myself, and take every emotional outburst I make with a grain of salt.

So please, enjoy the letters. Laugh, cry, become offended- but above all, think. Think for yourself, and when you are done doing that, think for others. Explore perspectives. Wear shoes that are not your own, shoes that do not fit exactly as your last pair did. And, in doing so, perhaps you’ll begin to walk a little differently. You’ll step where you didn’t step on your last trip through an area. You’ll change your thought patterns, your priorities, and you’ll affect those who walk beside you.

You’ll change the world.




 

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