I wholeheartedly endorse the message of this video from CatholicVote.com
Trying to figure out what my plans for next summer are going to be. The three options that I have chosen (not necessarily God) are: 1) go back to San Diego to staff 2) Go on project to East Asia 3) Go on project to Mexico City. I do believe that I have more options than that, but those are the ones that are really calling to me. In all reality, I do not believe that San Diego is where I will be this summer. I feel like I should go on an international project before I go back to staff, which means I would go back to San Diego in 2010. So that leaves me with the two international projects I would like to do.
East Asia would be pretty sweet, and after seeing Kung Fu Panda last night, I really want to go on project there, though I doubt I will see a Panda turned Drago Warrior, but you never know. At the same time, ever since our orphanage volunteering in Tijuana (which, by the way, the Purple Palace is having some troubles right now because the owners of the building they are renting want to kick them out and use it for something else) I have been thinking about what a dark place Mexico is spiritually. Mexico City would be an awesome place to spend some time next summer. The good thing about all of these options are that they are only 6 weeks each (including staff if I were to do that), and so I would have time to come home and work after that.
I ask you to join me in praying that God would show me what he wants me to do next summer by the end of October. Thanks!
Toby: I think it’s safe to say that “God” likes watching children getting sexually abused by his servants. It is God’s will right?
Me: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality,” 1 Thessalonians 4:3. Be careful not to excuse responsibility for one’s actions by blaming it on God
Dwight: God also said” Hey, rip a baby in half to see which is its real mother” and “abortion is wrong”.
No, wait he didn’t say any of those things, men claiming to be the mouth of God did.
Unavoidable truth: God’s either kind of a dick, he’s not as powerful as we’d like to think, or he doesn’t exist. Take your pick.
Me: The Bible chronicles a lot of events that aren’t necessarily condoned by God, but are used by God as examples of the consequences of immorality. I see where you are going with that one, but it is taken out of context. That instance was used to silence the lying woman, and bring the real mother forward. For all intents and purposes, Solomon did not intend to murder the baby. However, even if he had, that does not mean that it was God’s will.
Andy: Who cares, really?
Me: Chris, really?All I did was make a comment about Jimi’s statement. I then felt that Jared’s response was irrelevant and a out-of-context use of an event. A lot of people care. The statements that all of us made each imply big and important things about God and God, no matter how you look at it, is an important concept. His existence and his character are very important questions and concepts and depending on the answers, can have a large impact on, well, everything.
Andy: Yep, they sure can. From a Philosophical standpoint, I don’t like the God portrayed in either the Old or New Testament’s. Certainly not a God I want to give my life to.
Me: Just out of curiosity, what is it about the way God is portrayed in the Bible that turns you off to him?
Andy: He’s not fucking nice at all dude. He’s a really mean God.
(Pardon the poor language in the last quote)
I have yet to respond to the last statement, so of course this posting is being made without really knowing what Andy’s expansion of his statement will bring about. But I feel like this little conversation had over facebook (who knew technology could be so inspiring) addresses many of the toughest spiritual questions and arguments that people ever have in regards to God.
His will, pain and suffering, sexual morality, God’s sovereignty, His character. It is all put on the line here. This week in Bible study we addressed the Holy Spirit and how people with the Spirit are able to discern spiritual things, unlike the people of the world. It is so obvious to me now that this is the case. Those without Christ cannot discern and comprehend the Bible. Rather than see our position and God’s righteous and just wrath, and his loving and graceful mercy, they see him as “kind of a dick” and “really mean.”
I feel like it is all a charade. Step 1: Live our lives as sinful sinners. Step 2: Experience consequences for the sins we commit Step 3: Remove responsibility for one’s actions from one’s self. Step 4: Put that responsibility on God. Step 5: Now we can logically assess that God is either a dick, not powerful, or non-existent because he is not nice, but really mean because he makes us pay for what he is responsible for.
What happens though when we actually bear the burden of our responsibility that we tried removing in Step 3? Well, first off, we can see that when we bear the responsibility we must accept the fact that we screwed up and that we deserve punishement. All of a sudden, God is not the one to be blamed, but we are. And that’s when we see that we answer to God, not the other way around. And that is when we see his wrathful hand reaching towards us. Can we honestly look God in the eye and say that we don’t deserve it? I can’t. And I know that you can’t either. And when we realize that and we can do nothing but beg for mercy, that there is nothing we can do to release us from the consequences of the actions we are responsible for, we can suddenly see Christ in a new light. All of a sudden there is hope and mercy and love and forgiveness.
God is not mean. He is not a dick. He is powerful. And He certainly does exist. We are whiny little children who wish we were more important than we are, who are lucky we exist and do all kinds of mean things to each other.
I say this because we are the ones who are rotten and Christ is the one who graciously cleanses us and makes us beautiful again, though not as beautiful and as wonderful as he.
Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small
Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong
So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them
Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade
Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage
The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart
But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be
Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay
So for awhile now I have been unsatisfied with my major. I guess this is something that I have actually feeling for over a year now. And I realized yesterday that being a junior, this is really my last chance to change it. If I wait any longer, I will be tacking too many more years here at NDSU. So I ask myself, what shall I change my major to? And I realize that of the 100+ programs that NDSU has to offer, I am increasingly less satisfied with my options. What the heck am I supposed to do?! I know that God is calling me to be here at NDSU, but why? The university does not have a program for my intended life course at this point: missions. So I am left high and dry when it comes to what I am going to do about my education.
I wrote a few times this summer about my parents and their faiths and my desire to share my faith with them, etc, etc. Well, I had put a lot of these things out of my mind for the last six weeks or so since I have been back from summer project. My parents are coming up tomorrow afternoon to bring up my fridge and to get my bed and stuff since I will not be needing it in the residence hall. I was pretty excited this week, however, I am starting to get an uneasy feeling. I’m not really worried about a fight or anything tomorrow, we seemed to have gotten the fight out of the way the week before I moved up here, but I can’t help but think about my relationship with them and how it still is nowhere close to where it should be. I was reading the first half of Genesis 29 today and I saw how excited Laban was to see Jacob, his nephew, and how there was a good chance that neither had met the other before. And I thought about the strong bond of family that God has given to us as a gift and how a lot of things have really deteriorated that bond in my own family. I look at my extended family and see broken bonds everywhere, and in my own family the bonds have grown quite weak and though they have been somewhat strengthened in the last year and a half, there is a constant strain and who knows when it might break again?
I personally feel that a large part of the weakness between my parents and me stems from their personal walks with God. I know how hard it is for them and I know that at least for my mom, and maybe even moreso for my dad, there is a lot of animosity towards God. It is my belief that until they get their relationships with God on the right track, when they accept God’s gift, his hand, his process of reconciliation (not that God has done anything wrong, but that they themselves have strayed, and not that I am judging them, but that this is the state of all humanity) their family relationships are never going to be where they ought to be.
So tomorrow I will see my parents and I can’t help but to think about the past 21 years and the things that they have done that have shaped me as the man I am and have built the rocky and unstable relationship that I have with them. There is still some pain and some anger towards them and the things that have been done in the past. It really sucks right now to think about it all and I really don’t want to be thinking about these things, because it is just easier to bury them down and pretend that there is not a problem. I tried doing that on project, when God set it before me, but I didn’t deal with it, so now God is shoving it in my face again. I have a choice now: I can either begin to work through things with my parents, or I can shove it down once again and wait for more explosive confrontations to occur and deal with it at a later date when it will be even more painful.
I know which one is the right choice, but will I actually choose it?
I don’t know if I ever told this story, so I’ll tell it, just bear with me if you have heard it. One evening we were doing a beach outreach and I was sharing with Sarah Hupp. We decided, or more she decided that we would go up to these two guys sitting on the beach with their surf boards and that I would initiate a conversation. I will admit that I never became that comfortable this summer approaching surfers, especially when there were two of them together. Not sure exactly why, but that’s the way it was. But I approached and started a conversation. The guys were Brian and Steve and they were two marines who were stationed somewhere in San Diego. We got through the survey and then asked them about their faith backgrounds and they got really excited. They told us that when they went through boot camp it was really tough on them. They basically had their identities taken away from them. I think it was Steve who said that all he could do was cling to God and those were his own words. Cling. I loved it. I was so excited, as was Sarah. During boot camp, they grew so much closer to God and their faith in him was strengthened so much.
After that little discussion, we plainly laid out what we were doing in San Diego with Campus Crusade and all that jazz and they were really excited to meet “normal” people as they put it who shared their beliefs. We invited them to come to FNL that week and they said that they had the weekends off but they weren’t sure if they would be able to leave base in time to make it to the Santa Clara Rec Center. Sadly, they never were able to make it to FNL and we were both really bad at getting contact information from people this summer and so we were never really able to talk to them again and check in with them. But their stories were so encouraging. Just the fact that their tough time grew them closer to the Lord, rather than away from him was so inspiring. So often I let tough times separate me from God, especially last school year with all the stress I had.
So, Brian and Steve, a great story from this summer.
One week we were doing a cookie outreach down at Belmont Park along with sharing on the beach. It was the week after staff left, I think, and we didn’t go to campus that week. I remember that Todd and I were walking along the beach half talking to each other about our Cru movement at NDSU and half looking for people to talk to. We were getting a little frustrated both with the lack of interest in people wanting to talk to us and our own lack of enthusiasm for sharing. So I prayed something to this effect: “God, just show us who you want us to talk to, make it blantantly obvious God. Amen.” Within minutes, we soon realized that we had come to a part of the beach that was not nearly as packed and crowded as the part we had just come from. In fact there was absolutely nobody. That’s when I noticed him. He was sitting all alone on the beach, with nobody withing about 200 or 300 feet around him in any direction. I thought, “haha God, that is waaaay too obvious.” So Todd and I went up to him and we talked to him. His story was a fascinating one. He was 21 or 22 and was from Tennessee. He had seen the Atlantic Ocean many times, but never the Pacific and so he decided that he would come out San Diego so that he could watch the waves crash from West to East rather from the East to the West. I was dumbfounded. He had traveled thousands of miles to see the waves crash in the opposite direction?!?! Well we went through our Quest survey with him and discovered that he was actually broke (maybe its because he traveled so far for the waves) and that he was definitely missing something in his life. When we started talking about God, he was more than willing to talk about it. He said that he would believe in God, but that he needed God to reach out to him. I thought in my mind, “Look around you. There is no one anywhere near you, and the two of us come out of nowhere to tell you about God. Don’t you think that God could have orchestrated this?” but I didn’t say it. He said that he just needed to see God, that he needed God to show himself to him before he could believe. In a sense I was crushed. There was nothing I could do. I had shared the gospel and I could go on sharing all I knew about God with Brian, but it wouldn’t make a difference. He wanted to see God himself work in his life. At the same time that I was crushed, I was pretty excited, because if this kid was going to come to know Christ, he would do it because he truly and really beleived it because the Lord of the Universe really touched him and he knew it was him.
Every now and then I take out my notebook and go through the list of the people that I talked to this summer and I pray for them. I don’t know what is going in their lives right now. I hope that each of them is being called to God, that they are seeking him, that some if not all have come to know Christ. I pray for Brian today and I ask you to pray for him too. I don’t know if he made it out of San Diego, or if he is still there, with little money. But I know that his heart thirsts for God. Pray that God will move in a big way, that he will scoop this man up, clean him off, and send him on the biggest adventure of his life, much bigger than travelling thousands of miles to see the waves crash the opposite direction.
Its been a little hectic lately what with my moving and my recent comments about Catholicism, that I have almost forgotten my first love and have not had a quiet time in a few days. Well, this morning I decided that I should start that again, especially if I am to find truth. So I picked up at Genesis 25, which is where I left off. This chapter begins with the deaths of Abraham and Ishmael and the blessings that their descendents, and in the case of Abraham, his non-Isaac descendents, received. In the second half of the chapter, Jacob and Esau are born, and Esau sells his birthright to Jacob. In all of this I see that God does not work by our cultural norms. In that time, and maybe even heavily in our time, the heir of your blessing was the firstborn son, but God has continually given the blessings and promises to sons other than the firstborn and Jacob and Esau are no exception. We cannot expect God to work within our cultural means. He can, but he is not confined by them. We need to let God do his work in his way and stop pretending that our culture has got everything right. Our way is not always the best, our way is certainly not God’s only way. That’s pretty much what I have to say, although, when I journaled earlier today on the topic, I didn’t do it on our culture, more about the idea that God has blessed everyone, not just the immediate heirs of the promise.
So Megan gave me this link. It goes to an article about the conversion of a Presbyterian minister to Roman Catholicism. When I decided to read it, I honestly didn’t expect much, but….
…it was far more interesting than I thought it would be and all of a sudden it made me really excited. I don’t know why. What is God doing? I can’t say for sure, but I am going to approach my question writing in a different light. Rather than asking shallow questions and then try to attack the answers, I just want to ask deep questions and not respond, just let it soak in and let God lead me to truth.