Category Archives: Faith Check

CAN’T SLEEP. Just saw Radiohead and inhaled a lot of weed from anonymous sources.

Hi. It’s me again. Here’s an update.

I don’t understand what God is doing exactly, but I am pretty sure He’s up to a lot of good in my life. I’m being faced with a number of very different things this quarter that scare the hell out of me, but in my fear I am noticing my need for God, which is quite a romantic happening. I feel like the only thing keeping me sane is band practice on Friday nights. Frankly, I could care less about my classes this quarter. I’ve got so many other things on my mind that the academic portion of school is really in the background. Everything else has been moved to the forefront like the bible, the band, and the sun. It’s kind of silly, but I suppose it’s always been this way. I’ve never been one to fully invest in school. There are usually a couple of classes I find really fascinating, but for the most part I become quickly bored and think to myself that I could probably learn just as much on my own.

God has blessed me so much in the past couple of months. You would laugh. It’s really quite ridiculous. It’s humbling though because I know it’s not from me. I clearly see God at work, and I’ve been yearning for that sense for a long time now. I don’t know how this school year will finish off, but I’m going to try really hard to make it end triumphantly to give God back just a fraction of what He gave me.

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The Gold Rush Analogy

So often I talk with my mom and she says something truly profound. The way she speaks wisdom is with a sense of ease as if she’s staring at the world from a high tower and knows the inner workings of life. I’m so grateful for her, and she knows how much I love her.

Today we were talking about seeking God and how it describes this in Proverbs 2:4.  She asked me if she had told me the gold rush analogy. She hadn’t, so she told me and I wanted to share it with you.

“Gold miners risk everything to strike it rich mining for gold in the wilds of Alaska and other parts of the world. These people are literally looking for treasure. Though they may not find any gold in the summer, you know they’re going to try again in the spring. They have to go through a lot of dirt to find a small speck of gold. They live for that tiny piece of gold. See, that’s how we’re supposed to seek God. Every now and again we find a piece of Him in our day and it makes our entire lives worthwhile. But, life is tough and sometimes we have to go through a good amount of dirt to see the God of gold who has everything under control.”

Revelation: seek God as if He’s buried treasure.

Ash Wednesday—The First Day of Lent

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. If you’re curious what it’s all about, then read what my dear friend Bob Zurinsky wrote. This is a sermon he gave a few years ago at Seattle Pacific University, and yes, I did type this entire thing out.

“Growing up as an evangelical protestant, I knew virtually nothing about Ash Wednesday or the season of Lent. If I knew anything, it was simply that this was a Catholic thing. And it involved archaic rituals and “spiritual disciplines.” Even in my early years as an SPU student a decade ago, the extent of my knowledge on this topic was limited to the idea that during Lent we”give something up” — we fast from something, usually music or chocolate or caffeine or whatever. But frankly, I had no idea why.

As I look back now, I realize that in the last ten years I’ve come a long way. Well, not literally. Ten years ago I lived in Ashton Hall, and now I basically live in the SUB. Geographically speaking, not a long way. But I know that I’ve come a long way up here. In between then and now, I’ve spent whole years of my life focused on the spiritual disciplines. Very Lent-like. And I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the bigger picture — bigger than spiritual disciplines, bigger than doctrines, even bigger than Christianity itself. I’ve been thinking about existence, and what it means to be a creature of this universe.

This past Sunday I became 29 years old. I celebrated well with a Stephen Newby concert at the Triple Door. Everyone should be so fortunate. For many people, things like birthdays become moments for contemplating life, where we’ve come from and where we want to go. For me, this is certainly a moment for contemplating life.

And you know what? For the whole Christian community—Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, whatever—Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent are moments for such contemplation. Contemplating life. Contemplating death. Thinking about what it means to be a creature made of flesh and blood, a creature of this universe.

I have some news that might be shocking to some of us: Lent is not actually about fasting or “giving something up” for 40 days. That often happens during Lent, but it’s not the point of this season. There is something much bigger going on here, something that can revolutionize our lives and our faith and our community. Please hear me out…

In my life and journey as a messed up person trying to be a follower of God, I’ve come to realize that Lent and Easter form the heart of our faith. Lent is this period of 40 days before Easter when Christians humble themselves, watching and waiting for God’s salvation. Easter is when we celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. And these two things go together.

My friends, Lent and Easter explain the Gospel itself. If you understand Lent and Easter that means you understand the Good New of Jesus Christ.

Today, Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of Lent, and we’ll be in this season all the way up to Good Friday, when we remember the death of Jesus. There is a special ritual that we engage in every Ash Wednesday. When you understand this ritual you begin to understand the meaning of this season.

As we leave the sanctuary at the end of the service today, the university ministries staff will be waiting in the foyer holding little dishes full of ashes. If you choose to receive these ashes, you can walk up to a staff member and we will smear some of this ash on your forehead, or on the back of your hand if you prefer. With our fingers we will take this ash and draw a small cross on your head or your hand. And as we draw this cross, we will say to you: “Remember—from dust you were made, and to dust you will return.”

And I tell you the truth, if you come over to my station to receive these ashes, there is a very good chance that a chill will run down my spine as I say these words to you, my dear brothers and sisters.

What the hell is this creepy ritual all about?

Listen my friends, this is what the 40 days of Lent are for: reminding us that we are mortal. That we are physical. That we are temporary. That we are falling apart. That we are first and foremost dust, and to dust we shall return.

There are problems inhere in human existence that cannot be resolved—not by our progress in personal sanctification or by finding our purpose in life or by claiming the victory or whatever. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I’m still going to die. Wash me whiter than snow, but in a few days or months or years this body will be lowered into the ground. These synapses will grow strangely quiet. No medicine can fix it. And whatever I was once about will slowly and surely begin to recede into forgetfulness.

This is what we train ourselves to acknowledge in the season of Lent. And this is why people have historically practiced spiritual disciplines during Lent. Fasting. Confession. Silence. Giving. We do all of these things because they humble us. They remind us who we really are. They remind us that we are mortal and fallen and temporary. And this is one reason why I love the season of Lent and the Christian faith itself—because it allows me to tell the truth about who I am and what this world is like. Above all, Lent is about telling the truth, no longer averting our eyes from reality.

And we do try to avery our eyes. We wear masks to hide our own finitude. Maybe this is especially the case in a university setting like ours. Some of us wear the mask of absurd superiority, or power, or confidence, or elite intelligence. And we all certainly avoid reality through self-indulgence or mindless entertainment or the ravenous pursuit of money or affirmation from others. Or did you really think that no one noticed the games we play? The prophet Hosea calls this what it is: prostituting ourselves with lovers that can never satisfy us.

But not now. Not on Ash Wednesday. Not Lent. Today I publicly admit who I am. I’m made of the same stuff as this podium here, and to dust I will soon return. I am absolutely dependent.

Is this all too morbid? Depressing?

Let me tell you why it’s part of the good news.

At the end of these 40 dyas we will remember something that happened 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. The man named Jesus, the Christ from God, did not avert his eyes from the human condition. In the most dramatic ways possible he embodied the human condition. He watched his own life and strength slip through his fingers. He watched his loved ones mourning and fearful. He embraced this reality with the whole of his being, followed it all the way to its inevitable conclusion. He took up this world up into himself to the point of dying with it and for it. Look at the cross—Jesus Christ has become us.

And in a singular act of defiance toward all of the transience and suffering and humility of this world, God raised up this body and initiated a new kind of creation then and there. Death itself was broken. The irresolvable problem of our mortal existence was settled forever. And this new life did not come from any of possibilites inherent in the world as we know it—this new life came as a gift from God.

This is why Lent and Easter form the heart of the Gospel that we proclaim: in Lent, we face the reality that we cannot save ourselves. We are trapped in a game that can only end badly. And once we accept that fact in our hearts, we are ready for the shocking and unexpected good news: it doesn’t matter. There is hope beyond this reality, because God raised up the one who represents all. All we have left to do is wait for that day when we will see this resurrection with our eyes.

We are part of a universe that is moment by moment passing away. But the system itself has a savior.

And that is good enough for me. And for that salvation I will gladly wait.”

Welcome Time

Well, here we are. We’ve all made it to the year twenty twelve. Congratulations and blessings to you all as I’m sure you’ve come a long way and have far yet to go in your precious journeys here on earth. The beginning of this year finds me in a spiritual fog. For the past couple months I’ve really been reassessing my faith. With my nose in books covering world religions and why one should and shouldn’t be a Christian, I’ve really got my hands quite full. I want to know why people believe or don’t believe that Jesus was who he said to be. I want to know exactly why they are Christians or not. I need to have an answer to this question. I feel the strongest conviction of this. Truthfully, I’ve been brought back to what seems like square one, not quite sure what it is I believe. I’m hoping to discover truth as I get on my hands and knees and confess my emptiness to whatever listens. What can I give to non believers if I don’t know what it is I stand for? What if the opportunity arises for me to explain my faith to curious ears? I would fail if I couldn’t vouch for my God, and let me confess to you and to myself that this has happened on more than one occasion. I should be ashamed of myself, and I am, and out of this comes my spiritual winter where I reside now. It’s cold and it’s lonely, but the more I learn for myself the warmer I become and the closer I come to seeing the light. Out of darkness will come truth and like a ghost I will rise over old streets with new eyes. Happy new year, Nolan. Remember this one.

Basics

It’s important to understand the basics of good teaching in order to be an effective minister.  As arrogant Americans who have mastered the art of shutting ourselves off both from God and the people around us, we must come back to the basic principles that govern the teaching ministry and abide by them—the future of our lives and generations to come depend on it.

Our world is global by default.  We have the technology to be connected to all corners of the earth.  With this in mind, we need to make sure we are culturally aware by default.  People are turned off by American cultural Christianity, but not by the gospel.  See, as a Christian I have a ministry in the world, so I need to be aware of the cultural setting of my learners.

Luther is most responsible for making us think catechetical, but what’s tragic is that we’re slowly shutting off to this for a number of pathetic reasons that have a lot to do with how lazy we are as a nation.  Catechesis has to do with getting a good handle on scripture and Christian tradition before one officially goes in to the teaching ministry of the church.  This seems like an obvious necessity to anyone who cares to go in to the ministry, but so often you hear of youth pastors and leaders of the church who fall flat on their face in terms of knowing scripture well and having a good grip on how to teach that.  We need to be asking ourselves hard questions about our faith and our handle on scripture before we can be effective ministers.  What do I believe about scripture in light of my tradition?  What does my tradition say about scripture?

Now stepping into the role of the teachers, they need to make sure their lives are an exhortation to live a life with God.  Simply said, your life is to be an example of how to live a Godly life.  We are supposed to be lights in dark places.  Are you standing out so that everyone around you knows without a doubt that you are a Christian?  People should see you live your life and envy you!  This isn’t selfish.  Your faith, or should I say your life, should be drawing people in not pushing them away.  Are people jealous of your relationship with God to the point that they seek if for themselves?  This is the objective.

The teacher must have discernment towards people.  This means understanding people’s human situation and discerning where to go from that. We as teachers need to teach in the context of community.  God made a lot of us and commanded us to love each other.  We are a community by default.  Inevitably we will meet people who believe different things about God than we do.  Discernment is all about getting to know these people and engaging them appropriately.  Do teachers have the desire to know their students?  The more you know your students the better you can discern how to teach them.

Above all, be Christian!  Love God with all you heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Pursue your questions you have about God.  And, don’t you dare become blind to the beauty you see in this world.  You see God everyday. Don’t forget that.  Go show this beauty to others.

PyschwithTheo

All Christians have a ministry.  (I had to re-read this sentence about ten times before I understood it enough to move on.)  I’ve learned that teaching is all about living one’s life.  It’s easy to forget that we are teaching instruments when we walk out our front door.  Every single person we come in contact with will be watching us.  I don’t say this as a warning, but more to call attention to the opportunity we have as Christians to minister to the world.  Considering this, how do we as Christians most effectively minister to others?  A very important part of that answer is this: psychology. (Period.)

To be honest, I’ve never paired psychology with discipleship before.  I’ve definitely been interested in psychology.  I want to be a counselor, so you kind of assume that I am interested in the mechanics of human brain function.  But, what’s very interesting and awesome is that psychology is not merely secular.  Consider this: everyone is made differently.  That’s probably not ground breaking information for you, but this simple fact means that each of us have our own needs and will respond differently as students to the same teacher.  Thus, the teaching and learning dynamic has to consider the psychological connection.

The big question that needs to be asked before we minister to anyone is “How do we engage the learner?”  This means that we need to be thinking more educationally when we have conversations.  Are we having respect for the person and their human situation? Developmental psychology is a great thing to study because it helps us be aware of people’s needs.  According to Maslov, we enter in to differently developmental stages as we age where our “hierarchy of needs” changes.  Each person has his or her own life situation.  This is why it’s important that we value where they are, who they are, and what they’re doing.  Take young people, for example.  It’s important to know if the kids you’re dealing with have experienced love and affection at home.  What are their parents like?  Our love for Jesus comes largely from the way we experience our parents.  We need to make sure children are loved.  This is why one of the keys to effectively ministering to kids is to love them.

It’s important that we think philosophically.  Why do we do what we do in the teaching ministry?  Where have we fallen short and where are we doing well?  What is it we’re trying to accomplish?  How do we come to believe?  Why do we believe what we believe?  How do we take people from the questions of belief to the imperative of “how do we believe?”  Philosophy, theology, and psychology come together with methodology.  We have the task to tell people about Jesus and teach the Bible, so it’s our duty to know how to do that well and know what the hell we’re talking about.  Philosophy can be so theoretical.  We can talk philosophically without being practical.  In the same way, we can talk about the faith to others and please ourselves thinking that we did a great job, but, in reality, fail completely at engaging the people we’re ministering to.

Who Cares About Titles?

I’m majoring in theology at Seattle Pacific University.  To me, this means that I find Jesus fascinating and I want to learn more about the nature of God and what it means to essentially be a Christ follower.  I think it’s about owning your faith and learning to give it away.  What I’ve found though is that it’s not as easy at it sounds.

It seems easy to write scholarly essays on Jesus and the genesis of Christianity, and to a certain degree it is, but it’s equally easy to be a theologian at the expense of relationship.  For example, it would be wrong for me to study every book of the Bible, know scripture front and back, and fail to live in the vibrancy of the Spirit in my normal day-to-day life.  In this case, I’m missing the point of scripture, which is, without doubt, to love the people around you and act on that love (enter scriptural evidence).  What I mean when I say, “Act” is essentially to be apart of the teaching ministry of Christ because what is Christianity without educational ministry?

It’s become very clear to me that as a Christian I am also a teacher.  It is my duty as a child of God to speak about my faith, and perhaps even more essential, to live out my faith—that’s the teaching ministry.  If we as Christians became so ingrown that we never spoke about our faith with non-Christians, then we would be doing little to nothing to bring about the kingdom of God on earth.  See, this is what I see to be one of the major shortcomings of the teaching ministry of the Church. We’ve forgotten to live out our faith.  I think we’re embarrassed about it.  I feel like I’m fresh from an oracle and it says, “You can no longer shirk sharing your life, full-on and in love through Jesus Christ.” For some reason Christians are looked down upon as if we are choosing to live a hollow life.  I’ve heard countless people say,  “I’m not a Christian because I need fun in my life.”  Sure, we live on this side of the fall and imperfect human beings lead the teaching ministry, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we as Christians have failed big time at showing to non-Christians that living out our faith is awesome and life giving.  It’s not always easy, but it’s certainly not the catalyst for a monotonous lifestyle.  We can’t forget that the reality of faith is in lifestyle just as it was in the Old Testament with the first century church.

I think the tendency is to leave our faith at the door when we should be taking it out into the world with us and into our work places so that the spirit of God can flow out of us and into others.  Going back to my field of study at SPU, I’ve found it’s easier to sit in isolation and study the canon that is scripture, than to study the Bible within the context of community.  However, I’ve been learning about the significance of community in mediating God to others in that God’s body is useless if we’re not engaging the community and all it’s parts.  One of the primary reasons people leave church is because they wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity that they experience from the people around them when, really, Christianity should be inclusivity at its best.

Lastly, God has never stopped disclosing Himself.  One of the main reasons we know this is with natural theology (nature).  It’s all around us.  Just look out your window or take a walk amongst the trees.  Love is all around us waiting to be seen.  We walk into the forest and we ask ourselves theological questions such as, “Do I see the importance of the individual systematic teaching of doctrine? Do I see the importance of knowing scripture as a whole narrative that goes together?”  Ultimately, the Bible has to be put back in to the equation, but my prayer is that I won’t study theology at the expense of relationship.

FEdMin

I’m realizing that I actually know very little about what it means to be a Christian.  But, this is an encouragement to me because if I knew everything I wouldn’t have the desire to pursue God anymore.  One of the most prominent things that I’ve been learning lately in my theology classes is how it’s one thing to say things about Christ, but it’s how you live your life that really matters.  You could know the Bible well, have knowledge of basic theology, and be philosophically knowledgeable, but what are you doing?  That’s what counts because as a Christian we have a mission.  This is convicting to me because honestly I’ve been a lot of talk and not so much action.  That’s wrong of me, and I should be ashamed of myself.  We must resurrect this notion that we are free to act out God’s will.  When it comes to Kingdom principles, are we doing God’s bidding in our community?  We’re not doing anything if every morning we’re praying, “God use me. Use me. Use me.” and we don’t do a damn thing for God.  The first century church is a good example of how Christians should live out their faith.  Their lives were a testimony to their faith.  They were witnessing to the community with a dynamic explosive faith.  Where did we go wrong? We shoot our own in the back.  Pastors leave the Church and we persecute them when we’ve got skeletons of our own in our closet.  We need to be able to talk about our own faith with people who don’t believe without judging them and becoming our own God.  Saying what we believe to a lost generation is part of the ministry of the Church.

The world isn’t impressed with Christians right now.  The Roman government used to fear Christians.  They had to kill them.  Something’s gone wrong, hasn’t it?  Christianity has become a word and not a radical way of life where one seeks Christ with ever fiber of their being.  We need to be working in a way that our daily witness just draws people into the Kingdom of God.  Maybe it’s that we feel inadequate. There’s no way we could bring people to Christ.  It’s too big a task.  There’s no way we could live out our faith.  That’s too scary when the world around us is walking in the opposite direction of the Lord. There are things we’ve forgotten, hard truth that we have pushed to the side, and things we’ve become that are far from being labeled “Christian”, which, used to be a derogatory term meaning “little Christs” that was given to people that were living their life in a way that could be compared to Jesus.  We’ve forgotten that God fights our battles for us.  We’re consumers and we don’t live out what we consume (sermons, the Bible, etc.).  We’ve become ingrown.  We can be with other Christians but not non-Christians.  We’ve forgotten that Jesus identified with all kinds of people and welcomed them.  And, we can’t forget that it’s not us that are doing the teaching; it’s the Holy Spirit.  But, He does need us to be well equipped to do that, which is why lukewarm Christianity isn’t good for anything.  Anyway, the action of living out one’s faith has really hit home for me.   It’s forcing me to ask myself if my life validates the story of the Bible because the way in which you live your life is your living testimony. That’s a hard truth.

Christian Discipleship 10 (series finale)

When I was little I understood my vocation in life was to be a disciple for the one I couldn’t see, but could feel. To me, my life seemed to be a playground that I got the privilege to play in. I was in love with life because I saw it as a gift. I knew God early on. I’m actually not quite sure how I knew Him. My mom prayed with me before I slept each night, but He was there before I started praying. He was there when I couldn’t sleep at night. He was there with me in my room when I got chickenpox on my first birthday. I could feel the warmth of His love when walking was still a fun activity. But, as I grew older, I became numb to His presence. I lost sight of the Holy Spirit, and was convinced that God had gone silent. But, anyways, this is the introductory paragraph. So, to sum it all up, I came back to the God I felt in the old days and now I’m relearning how to respond to the universal vocation that comes from God, which is to be His disciple on earth.

After taking Christian Discipleship there are a number of things I have come to understand that I didn’t know before. First, I learned that eternal life is now. We are resurrected here and now to a new life, an eternal life. Heaven is when all things happen accordingly to the will of God and when we experience unmediating fellowship with God. The key point to all of this is that we get to experience little bits of Heaven now. I immediately thought back to junior year when my affair with nature was most prominent. I remember me, “solemn, no-friends Nolan”, resonating with the notions of Ralph Waldo Emerson. His idea that divinity pervades humanity and nature made sense to me. Looking at it now from a Christian standpoint, it makes some sense. The forest gave me a sense of freedom. I felt a wave a peace sink into my soul when the wind blew past my face. All the big trees smiled down on me, and if I was lucky, a leaf from their arms would land in my pocket and I’d take it home with me. I do remember hating the ventures back in to society because it was noisy and excessive, unlike the lovely silence of nature. But, I believe I was getting snippets of eternal life when I was alone in nature. God’s voice seemed so prominent to me. And, I didn’t understand it at the time, but the whole notion of discipleship, about eternal life, and about Jesus is that life starts now. I had been living a life of reflection, and a life of imagination, but I shouldn’t have been that much of a dreamer because half of the dream had come true when I asked God into my life and said yes to a new life with Him. Life has less to do with the quantity of time and more to do with the quality of time, thus eternal life starts now.

Second, community is a good thing; it’s how God accesses us. I had no idea before taking this class. All the Old Testament is God working with all of Israel. God is mediated to us through other people. That’s why we need community. That’s how God accesses us. We’re supposed to be in community. We’re also made to mediate God to others through community. The body of Christ does not function properly unless it has all of its prerequisite parts. It’s a deep biblical and theological truth. Looking at Jesus, the importance and virtue of community is apparent. He sought out the outcasts and ate with the kings. The problem is that I was waiting to be a better Christian before I started my discipleship to others. I didn’t understand that nobody is qualified to bear God’s spirit, and that if we’re waiting to be good enough, then we’re going to be waiting a long time. God uses us now. We’re not going to rescue the world. We have to trust that God will work things out. So, if being a disciple is being converted into God’s image, and it is, then I need to build more relationships and work to be an agent of love to everyone.

Before, I thought I could honestly feel whole by living in solitude within community, but I couldn’t. That’s somewhat of a contradicting notion. I tried to free myself of passion because that’s what the Buddhists and Hindus tell you. But, nothing, not even the rain filled me.  I couldn’t do a whole lot of anything with eyes wide open for forty-eight hours at a time.  It’s a lot like holding one’s breath, a lot like dying. The safest way to live is to not love anybody, but God has made Himself vulnerable by loving us, and that’s reason enough for me to love. He’s constantly running after us. He’s this proactive lover, and that quality is a key ingredient to being a disciple. I had lost sight of this in high school. I realize now that it’s not like we’re looking all around and not finding God, it’s that we’re really not looking around. Our eyes aren’t open and our ears are sealed off. God has not gone silent; God’s people are hard of hearing. The Holy Spirit is with us now. This is why when we’re feeling spiritually dry we need to pray for eyes to see God, not that the Holy Spirit would begin to work because God’s been at work since before we can remember. The reality of God and the fact that I get to participate in the creative advance of His kingdom is what has sparked my vocation of discipleship into action.

I wasn’t always a follower of Jesus, but ultimately, I came back to the fact that Jesus Christ was a real man in history.  I read about him in my European history textbook my junior year.  One has to personally decide whether to believe that he was a complete lunatic and lied about everything, or that He was exactly who He said to be, the son of God, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, with the whole world in His hands, and more importantly at the time, with my life in His hands.  I loved the idea of a God who loves everyone unconditionally, and Jesus’ idea of forgiveness and salvation. I didn’t know these things before. I’m done staying out at night to try and feel more alive. I used to run all day never stopping to catch my breath.  But, even now, in my physical weakness and blurred vision, I have something eternal to live for here and now.

I checked out other religions, but none of them resonated enough with me because they didn’t give me hope.  I believe in Jesus because I believe in truth.  I believe in the hope that there is more than this.  I believe in justice and peace, and the power of love.  I believe because I see. I’ve seen enemies embrace, victims forgive, and oppressors repent.  I’ve seen a beautiful sunrise, shining stars in the sky, and humans brought into it all.  I believe because I experience the power of the Holy Spirit.  I feel the Truth of the Bible make the hairs on my neck stand.  I feel the peace of Christ overwhelm me in times of need and in times of want.  I believe in Jesus because I am broken and He desires a relationship with me, so much so that He died for me, only to rise again to a triumphal victory over my sin, offering a new and good way to live that rewards me with glimpses of eternal life.

So, what is discipleship and what does it mean for my life? I think discipleship is learning to live life for someone greater than oneself, and admitting that God is smarter than you are and more capable than you could ever be.  It’s living intentionally so that you can live an abundant life. It’s loving God and loving others. It’s being the hands and feet of God. And, it’s a journey. I can run using every last ounce of my energy, but I cannot run from God. He is hiding inside of my heart waiting to wake me up to eternal life. Discipleship is being converted into God’s image. You really have no idea where He’ll take you, and that’s part of the beauty of going to bed with the smile of God. The rest of the beauty lies in the moment you wake up in bloom and bring color to the world.

Christian Discipleship 9

Memory is important. It’s one of the weaknesses of our culture. We don’t have many rituals in our lives that remind us of eternal truths. Remember how God was faithful to Israel and to you? Baptisms are a good reminder, but we don’t have much else. The stuff that happened in the Old Testament is our history too. It’d be cool if we recognized that. It’s the same God that we have now.

First off, I tend to forget why I do things or believe in certain things. Obedience to God confuses me sometimes, but I’ve learned from the readings that obedience comes from hope. We obey because we believe it’s leading us to the best possible thing. God’s not this cosmic tyrant where if we disobey we’ll be punished. So much joy comes from the joy God has in us. Something happens when we open ourselves up to the joy. It’s very expressive of hope. Death, fear, and pain don’t have the final say. There’s hope in Jesus Christ, which is precisely why we obey God. Hope and a release of control comes from having faith. I need this reminder.

Second, God works with community. This is perhaps the greatest truth I’ve come to internalize as a result of this class. All the Old Testament is God working with all of Israel. God is mediated to us through other people. That’s why we need community. That’s how God accesses us. We’re supposed to be in community. We’re also made to mediate God to others through community. The body of Christ does not function properly unless it has all of its prerequisite parts. It’s a deep biblical theological truth. One can’t just be hanging out with a bunch of elbows. God needs the body to not only access me, but the world, and I’ve always taken a liking to the change of the world. However, this notion of community is not natural for me. It would be much easier for me to live a “Christian” life in solitude. But I think we should beware of the person that constantly wants to be alone, and beware of the person that constantly wants to be in community. The Kingdom of God is a happening, not a place and we can help make that glory happen. We can be apart of that. We’re given the privilege of being mediators of God’s glory. It’s like praying for other people. We do it because we’re called to community. God works with community. We do it because it works. There’s this dialectic between God being infinitely far away and infinitely close, and I think I’m coming closer to making peace with that fact. I need a god that transcends my flaws, that goes beyond what I know because I know so little. But, I also need a god that I can follow, and God is the King of Kings. He’s just what we need. I forget that the Creator of the universe loves me. The closer I get to fully understanding this, the more my life is bound to change. We discover our true selves in love. I need to wake up and choose that love rather than my fear. Fear immediately erects a wall that pushes us away from relationships, but our lives are transformed when we learn to live in relationship with one another. This is so profound to me because I’ve hidden myself from people for so long. Love is a long-term commitment. It takes patience. Our relationships become shallow and so short-lived because we’re impatient and afraid, but we can all relax because God calls us to love, and He loves us always. God is relational; therefore I am called to be relational.