Today is Friday, December 16th, 2011. This is the last day of the fall semester. For me this has been perhaps the best semester I’ve ever had. It was also my last at TCC. But what specifically was different about this semester than all the ones prior?
In August I wrote a post titled “All in.” A decision that had been burning in the back of my head for the majority of the summer. A summer filled with struggle and in a lot of ways self hatred. Now I don’t mean hatred as intensely as it sounds but the phrase paints a fairly accurate picture. I was no longer content living for myself. It didn’t bring me joy in fact it brought quite the opposite. And while I considered myself a strong believer. I wasn’t a very strong Christian. Yep. There is a big difference. I knew God was real. In fact I may have had more knowledge of that than most ever will. But what good is wisdom if you don’t use it? My Biblical knowledge was there. But were my actions?
I read a great quote about ignorance.
“The opposite of ignorance in the spiritual (biblical) realm is not knowledge, but obedience.”
I was being ignorant.
So I challenged myself.
This phrase of “All in.” Another way of saying “I was going to be obedient.” I meant it. And by God did God open that door.
And he opened it wide.
Let’s talk about how this semester started. As I wrote in “All in.” my summer ended with a conversation. Perhaps the best conversation I’ve ever had. It’s one thing to have a friend who you can talk about your struggles with. It’s another to be completely in tune with what another individual is going through.
And here is where I start naming names.
My friend Karlee is perhaps one of the biggest blessings in my life. From that conversation this summer to the conversation we shared last night. God has done some incredible things. What began as a means of “staying in touch.” has led to deep, deep spiritual growth.
As I describe this simple flow of friendship I’d like to provide a challenge. Find a friend, someone you really trust, and DO THIS. Fewer things have caused more growth in my life than this.
Each week we write each other with “A spiritual update” for lack of a better term. We talk about our struggles, and where we felt our strengths were. And there’s nothing cocky about seeing where God used you. In fact it’s healthy. Now realize it was God working, for pride is not what you are searching for. And don’t think for a second God is not using you. He is, you just aren’t looking.
Really pointing out the blessings and struggles on a weekly basis doesn’t just keep you in tune with your friend it keeps you in tune with God. When you have to challenge yourself to SEEK…you will FIND.
Now this contact has happened every single week since the first conversation. Now if you do this, when you go back and see where things were and things are, I really, and I mean really doubt that you could ever say that God isn’t working in your life.
Writing things down makes them so much more apparent when you look back.
But with all of that I’ll jump to blessing number two.
Over the summer I kept running into this dude who I had no idea what his name was. But we gave the “hey” nod. He was in one of my previous classes the semester prior and as far as I know no real conversation ever happened. First week of class, (Speech class a last second add) the dude walks in. I had with me “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis. Dude spotted it. Find out he’s a Christian dude. Find out his name’s not dude but Hunter. We start talking about faith. College classroom. Talking about faith. Next the teacher splits us up into groups, puts Hunter and I in a group and then adds a female. Female overhears us talking about our faith. Female asks “Are you guys Christians?” Dudes say “yeah!” Female says “Oh I am so glad I was put in your group!” Female’s name turned out to not be Female but Lelah. Lelah in every way is a beautiful person. Her faith and her willingness to share it in a public form is I’m sure inspiring to anyone who comes in contact with her.
First task of speech class was to write an Introductory speech. Talking about ourselves. Hunter and I were first up to bat. Now I decided early on I would do something drastic. A slight challenge.
Let’s bring up God in the classroom. So I did. I decided to talk about my faith. I felt like it was a good definer of who I am. But then something funny followed. Nearly every speech that followed….the individual…..talked about their faith…..
Suddenly our Speech Class was a body of believers. (Church) And while this was never the primary discussion of things. It was there. People who struggled with their churches, people who have heard the wrong messages, people who have been burned by “God’s people.”
The conversations were there. And the class really respected each other. And the questions were never off limits or afraid to ask. We would sit for several minutes before class and just talk about things. That class was a tight group. I hope to keep the friendships for a good while. It’s funny what happens when you bring up God in strange settings. People respond.
Hunter and I continue to burn up theological banter. And that’s the great thing about theological banter. If you are going to say something opposing of another viewpoint. You need to say why you believe it and be able to support it. Needless to say my nose has been in the Bible like crazy. I’ve had a journal since the first week of school. Before last week I’ve filled maybe 30 or so front and back pages since I bought it. That would be over the course of about five months. In the last week of studying and researching I’ve filled over 25 front and back pages.
Theology is fun. But remember, it’s not about knowledge but obedience. (We’ll get back to this.)
Did you just cringe? Be honest I know that at least one person reading this did.
The truth of the matter is this. I have been reading A LOT. My face is in books. Since the summer here is my litte list ( I left out some that I started but didn’t finish).
The Great Divorce
Jesus Wants To Save Christians
and Drops Like Stars.
(Reading me some C.S. Lewis now!)
All of these books with the exception of The Great Divorce and Erasing Hell. Were written by Rob Bell. (Erasing Hell was a retaliation of sorts to Rob’s book Love Wins.)
I’ve read all his books. Now some may worry that it’s obsession. I say fine! I’m obsessed with a mans connecting me closer to God. He has engaged my mind and I have learned so much from him. In fact my drive to this whole realm of theology began with the book Love Wins. Without that book I may not even be writing right now. His style is not for everyone but it works for me. He’s in many ways a second pastor. (Not to diminish the great Brian Brown, I talk just as highly of you good sir!) It’s this Bible teaching that connects to me and makes me want to share the Gospel all the more. His style challenges you. “Well what do you think?” Maybe that doesn’t work for you. Works for me. Which leads me to
Blessing #4. Fellowship.
Perhaps the best part of every week (next to my “spiritual updates”) have been what started as a just spur of the moment idea.
After one of the first Explore’s (Training for College students to do Young Life) a bunch of kids were just chilling at my house The Rock. Since we were all just sitting around I figured might as well do something productive! So we all crowded in the living room and popped in a video from Rob Bell’s “Nooma” series. The Nooma videos are these 10-15 minute condensed sermon videos. Each video comes with a series of questions. After the first video we all sat around…………..for two hours. Talking about God. Mind you this went till 2am. Talking about God…till 2am. We talked about our crazy theories, our doubts, our struggles, all of this we did as a mixed group of about 10+ people. If you had a crazy theory, you weren’t attacked, you were given the opportunity to explain it and back it up. That rarely happens right?
Afterwards we sat in awe of what just happened. It was maybe one of the deepest group gatherings I’d ever been a part of. And it was amazing. God really, and I mean really showed up.
We all agreed that for the rest of the semester we would do this every week. And we did. Our knowledge and connection to God grew rapidly. The questions we raised were spot on and our search for answers provided us with knew knowledge that we may have always left unknown otherwise. It was challenging. But so, so exciting. We learned so much. And we wanted to share it.
Now by means of Facebook I’ve made it pretty dang known that I believe in God and that I’m trying to follow him in some ways, shapes, and forms.
Which naturally put me in a position where people might wanna talk to me about God.
(Which might I add. If you want to talk about things, I’m not an expert but I will help in whatever way God allows me to.)
There has been no greater joy maybe ever in my life. Than being able to share the Gospel with someone and have them respond to it. That is a feeling all need to experience. Sharing the good news and God using it to call someone home.
Make yourself available for that.
You are a walking Gospel.
You carry the good news.
The Great Commission as it is called is this: “Go everywhere and share the good news with everyone.”
How have you been doing that?
How often do you talk about it?
How often is God present in your conversations?
How often do you allow God to use you?
People know that I am a Christian. It took realizing that everywhere I go, people look at me and associate my character with Christians. They look at how I live my life and determine what Christians are like. They look at me and associate who I am with what Christ is like. And that is what being a Christian should be. But it’s so easy to mess that up isn’t it?
We can’t mess that up.
You are a walking Gospel.
How many of your friends know you are a Christian?
Can they tell by how you live?
What is your life telling them Christ is like?
It’s funny how when you invite God into your every situations and conversations how much joy it brings you. Funny how that works. This year has been so, so fantastic because of an invitation to not just leave Jesus where it feels comfortable. But to bring him everywhere.
Have you talked about the Gospel?
Told people about Christ’s resurrection?
Or have you left him in the grave?
You are a walking Gospel.
“Jesus said to his followers, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.” Mark 16:15
It’s not about knowledge but obedience.^^^^^