Jesus captured people. He’s being doing it since the first Christmas. When people pay serious attention and/or stop bending Him into weird shapes through ignorance or self-justifying fantasies, Jesus Christ gets under the skin and into our bloodstream. He seeps with loving relentlessness into the heart like fog creeping under a door. He gets into the mind and we not only can’t pry Him out, we find ourselves losing any desire to try. Sadhu Sundar Singh, a powerfully used evangelist in India in the early 20th century, sat with a circle of Hindu holy men. They asked, “What did you find in Christianity that you did not have in Hinduism?” He simply replied, “Jesus.” Anyone I know who pulled away from their faith only to come back later, all responded to one draw – Jesus. They missed Him.
Over the next few posts, we’ll look at a number of ways Jesus entices the hearts of those He pursues. Here’s the first; He came and He sees. The Bible speaks powerful truth about our world and the universe it floats around in. The cosmos is vast but not empty. Our world is a creation, not an accident. Our smallness amazes; we’re a pencil dot, a dust speck compared to other bodies just in our part of things. But this beautiful little blue ball bleeds and cries. And as love cannot stand to hear the crying or see the tears of the one loved, God came. He had to. And not just to the world but to the unseen pain of unseen people.
In Genesis 16, we read the shabby story of life in Abraham’s household. His wife, Sarah, couldn’t have children – a huge social disgrace coupled with the pain of anyone struggling with fertility issues. Her solution? She would give her handmaid to her husband and claim the resulting child as her own and the family heir. “Consent” didn’t enter the picture. The handmaid’s name was Hagar. Just the Holy Spirit’s naming her in the text gives her more dignity than Sarah or Abraham did. Hagar conceived but smoldered against Sarah with the only weapon she had – her anger. She found ways to sting Sarah until Sarah could stand no more. She complained to a spineless Abraham who booked out leaving Hagar at the mercy of Sarah who simply had none.
Hagar ran for her life, a pregnant woman alone on the run in the wilderness. At least that’s what she thought. Resting by a spring, Hagar was anything but alone. The angel of the Lord ambushed her with, not just survival, but promise, hope and everything but a marching band. Before “street view” on Google Maps or GPS, God knew right where she was. He knows right where you are. Campuses, for all the big buildings, can be desolate lonely places. This is one of the big logs on the fire of the hookup/party scene. Same with student suicides. The Holy Spirit used Hagar to unknowingly (The Spirit does a lot like that.) reveal something we forget. “You are the God Who sees me.” Look through all the other religions, philosophies or spiritualities. You won’t find anything like this. Gods who don’t exist can’t pay attention to anyone. Even if they did, they just aren’t so inclined from what we read.
A friend of my son wanted to get a tattoo of the Hebrew rendering of Hagar’s naming of God. Since she knew I’d studied Hebrew (Insert the sound effect of my professors laughing until they choke and spew snot bubbles out of their noses.), she asked me to write it out. She wanted it so she could share her faith. I wrote it down and today she has Hebrew on her arm that probably says, “Your grandmother is a big blue banana.”
The God of the Bible tracks pregnant abused women through wildernesses. He gets His hands dirty – and wounded. He counts our breaths and saves our tears in a bottle. He knows our campus better than the campus maps or virtual tour on the university website. And He tracks every step and heartache on it. He has come. He sees us. He comes to capture and transform the crushed and empty to fill them with His light.
Be sure and take a look at the geezeronthequad Christmas Store. A lot of people who read geezeronthequad.com have more Jesus wiffle dust on them than me. That’s why you will find some pretty cool things there to feed your heart or at least have a good beat to dance to or that you can hang on the wall to cover what’s already there (For some of us…PLEASE pray about the wall thing. Just saying.) And Byron Borger at Hearts and Minds Books will give you a holiday 20% off if you say you read this blog
If you think this might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then please share, Twitter, subscribe and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, then think about joining Geezer 1. Take a look. It’s the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, writers, artists, musicians, composers, pastors, businesspeople, broadcasters, booksellers, theologians, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs and a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that universities are special places. You coming on board will make us better.
Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthewquad.com
When I speak on campus, the exit procedure is always the same. On the way to my car, I always find a bench where I sit for a while (even and especially in winter). I pray for the group I just spoke to, the students and their pursuit of the Lord and His calling, the staffers and their families, all the Christian ministries on campus and the advancing of the Kingdom of God in that place. And finally giving gratitude to God for the honor of speaking His truth in that place with the hope that they will quickly forget me while remembering Christ. While I do this, invariably, isolated students walk past. Some glance at me; they often take me for faculty. A few speak. If this old guy is faculty, they might have him for a class sometime so it couldn’t hurt to be friendly now. Some glance sizing me up. It’s night in a creepy world; my white beard gives them confidence they could probably beat me up if I tried something. They’re right. Some cruise past with head down as if I’m not even there.
College students are often tribes of bubble people, lonely even in their groups. In a Facebook and smart phone world, we interact without connecting, let alone bonding. Young adults delay marriage for many reasons including fear brought on by our increasing inability to build meaningful friendships.We’ll hang onto bad relationships to avoid having no one. The binge drinking and hookup scenes as well as the ongoing tragedies of student suicides stand as loud symptoms of many things including a vicious loneliness that eats away at everything good and beautiful. Letting someone inside our bubble means taking a big risk. We describe people who pass the test and earn our trust by saying, “They were there for me.”
Humans are hardwired for relationship; following Jesus doesn’t work without them. I recently got a new phone when my flipper died. The people at the phone store gawked at it like the monkeys finding the monolith in 2001 Space Odyssey. I now have a new one, not a smart phone. There’s a lot in that thing I don’t recognize or use. It’s the same with our Christian faith. God packs so much into knowing and loving Jesus Christ beyond what we even know let alone think of on a daily basis. One of these includes Him giving us the desire and power to slip into other people’s bubbles.
Last post went to the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. Let’s go to the Cumberland Highlands in Tennessee. Early on one hike, we hit a spot on the trail where a bear had freshly dug up a bees’ nest after the honey. The bear was gone; the bees were not gone and in a surly mood. We quickly edged around them. About a mile further on, we smelled smoke from the trail ahead and soon saw a couple of guys walking toward us. Working for the national park, they’d just dug up, sprayed and burned out a large yellow jacket nest just ahead of us. They said, “We haven’t seen so many wasp and yellow jacket nests or rattlesnakes in years.” These guys and others on trails all over the park had our backs; they were there for us.
The Christians around us live as part of something called “a great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1. They laugh and cry with us, eat cold pizza at two in the morning with us, don’t run away screaming when we share our off-the-wall ideas, kick our tail when needed, lift us in prayer and honor us with their company and time (both of which they could have spent on somebody else). They’re more than plugs to fill our loneliness; they’re gifts from God. But the cloud is much bigger than that.
That Bible of ours – writings by a score of people, known and unknown, woven together by the Holy Spirit, preserved at great risk and danger, with beauty and meticulous care. Without a central defining body of truth, Christianity wouldn’t exist. The writers, copyists, translators, printers, smugglers – they were there for us. In the early fourth century, Athanasius took on all comers who tried to bend the truth of the nature of the Trinity into a shape of their own liking. This bishop in Alexandria in Egypt was ousted from his church five times because of politics but his people loved him. The next time we’re caught up in a great praise or prayer time, remember Athanasius’ courage to keep clear the nature of the Holy Spirit. Fuzzy or wrong thinking about the Spirit quenches Him. Seventeen centuries ago, he was there for us.
So while some of our Christian friends may occasionally dig out some wasps or stomp on some snakes on our behalf, Jesus pours the cream of His truth, love, holiness, power and beauty, as distilled through the lives of Christians through centuries and around us on campus, into us. He has one thing in mind – to make us like Himself. He left heaven to be there for us. He went to the cross for our sin to be there for us. Now that He lives in us, we’re here to be there for others – just like He was. Jesus had this way of seamlessly penetrating people’s bubbles. He slid past their defenses through the debris field of their mess ups and into the graveyard of their dead hopes. To be there for someone is a great honor. It’s not our job to stockpile and hoard people like this to ourselves stuffing them inside our bubble. It’s finding our Jesus sweet spot in someone else’s bubble. When that happens, make popcorn. It’s probably been a long time since anyone else has been there. We might be the first.
Have we visited the geezeronthequad Christmas shop? It’s full of great things done by you the readers of this blog including our Facebook clubhouse at Geezer 1. How about a new Hebrew word study dictionary for Grandma? Byron Borger has it. How about something to cover the cheesy poster on your roommate’s wall (or your own cheesy poster for that matter)? Bonnie Liefer and Mark Altrogge wait for your order. Music? How about some praise and worship with guts, spirit and heart? Or electronic? Browse through and pick up something for yourself as well.
If you think this might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all the social media stuff. If you already subscribe, you might want to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for this blog. They’re a sharp bunch and you would only make us better. Take a look and send us a Facebook request to join.
Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com
In a lot of places, it’s time for midterm exams. Maybe we could use a little escape? Here’s a good one. The plaque in the picture is mounted in a boulder at the top of Mt. Springer in northern Georgia. The brainchild of Benton MacKaye, a Harvard (well, of course) forestry agent, the Appalachian Trail stretches from Mt. Katahdin in Maine to Mt. Springer in Georgia. I’ll save us the walk (We’ll need our energy for studying.); it’s about 2200 miles long. Benton started out alone but the idea quickly gripped people, galvanizing their lives in new directions and demanding everything they had. And people laid it on the line. This wasn’t for piddlers.
So what does this have to do with the fact that we can’t decipher the notes we borrowed because we weren’t in class and the test roars in our face like a lion on garlic? And this class isn’t in my major. What good will it do me later? Excuse me, Dave, it’s time to change the IV bag of caffeine in my arm. Not so fast. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…: (John 14:6) If we’re reading this, we’re either a Jesus follower or are thinking about it. Either way, He brought us to this campus (even that community college when we wanted to go to the university with five-star dorms) because He wants to show us His love, truth, beauty, holiness and power. And small pieces of things that show how He wants these things to sparkle in the clay of our live in years ahead. He wants to grip us with tastes and tears that will make us hungry to follow the Jesus Way.
Now let’s talk about that class we had to take and don’t like. Whatever it’s about (The History of Glue, etc.), that class brims over with people ignorant of the love of Jesus Christ. Maybe one of them lectures up front. Whatever the subject is fits into the scheme of the Kingdom of God; it stands as part of His Creation which He loves and died to rescue and repair. He loves what sits in those notes. When it says in Genesis 1:31 that God looked over all that He had made and saw that it was very good, He was including (at least in embryonic seed form) even the things lying on those pages and embedded in those notes we drag ourselves to study. If we love Him, we should give what He loves a go. He use these things to stretch us for the miles ahead on the Jesus Way.
Blood Mountain sits near the southern end of the Appalachian Trail. It’s the last place hikers can get a bed, hot showers and a hot breakfast before they finish. Hikers going north can pick up any gear imaginable that they forgot. Tourists buy food and souvenirs. It holds an unusual book store where all those who finish the trail leave off the books they read along the way to get sold off to support the maintenance of the Trail. Blood Mountain is also a monument sacred to those who love the outdoors too much to stay out of it. Wires suspended from the ceiling hold hundreds of pairs of hiking shoes, names and dates written on the bottom. Rows of kits (large hiking backpacks) line the walls. A prosthetic left leg with a very worn out shoe fastened to the wall boasts of a very special accomplishment. People finishing the AT ship their gear back to Blood Mountain for display to say two things; I did it and so can you.
Jesus Himself calls us to walk this Jesus Way. More than with Benton MacKaye, no one can imagine where this leads. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Cor 2:9) In Rev.4:10, the elders cast their crowns before the throne of God. Their crowns represent who they are, all they’ve done or accomplished. Jesus Christ calls us to this Jesus Way and it’s a long walk. This part winds through our campus, through every class, football game and late night gab session. Someday we’ll finish. But right now we’re working on our crown. I don’t know that He will hang them across the ceiling of heaven (I doubt it.). But our story will say, “Upheld by the Spirit of Jesus and driven by my love for Him, I did it and so can you.” So get to work on that crown and open that book.
If we think this might encourage either a student or someone who loves them, then please share, Twitter, subscribe and all that social media stuff. If we already subscribe to geezeronthequad.com, then maybe we need to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for all things Geezer. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, pastors, theologians, broadcasters, booksellers, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs and a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. You coming on board will make us better. Take a look and ask to join. If we don’t respond right away, resubmit since the Facebook dog may have eaten your homework.
Please return your seat to the upright position and return your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.
Forget Halloween…it is SOOOO yesterday. Christmas gear and stuff takes over store shelves like a creeping bread mold. So here we are with the first geezeronthequad Christmas Store. Students shoppers for Mom and Dad have already played out that large tin of popcorn, the sausage and cheese package from the kiosk at the mall or the another T-shirt from the campus bookstore where we can further deplete the money that our parents may have put in our campus account instead of cracking into our own hard cash. Buying them a Christmas gift with their own money…it has a certain mildly admirable shrewdness but you can’t do this for four years.
I keep telling people that Geezer 1, the online playhouse for geezeronthequad.com holds a lot of sharp cookies and here they are. Browse around and don’t hesitate to pick out something nice for yourself. If you really want some fun yet tough holiday choices, go to that Christmas book megastore (The store isn’t mega but the inventory and spirit are.), Hearts and Minds Books, where Byron Borger will give you an across the board 20% discount if you say you thought of it here
BOOKS AND WRITTEN STUFF
Jeremy Pape – Worship Revealed: A Thinking Worshipper’s Primer
Chuck Gutenson – Church renewal, justice and the common good.
Brenda Salter McNeil – Social justice and Christian witness.
Trevin Wax – Christian teaching, church renewal and apologetics.
Phil Callaway – Humor.
Steve Lutz – College ministry leadership.
Kathryn Stegall - Biblical equality for women.
Guy Chmieleski – College students and campus ministry leaders.
Tim Dalrymple – Sports.
Karen Zacharias – fiction, essays, social commentary.
Lisa Sharon Harper – Christian witness and social justice.
Scot McKnight – Biblical theology.
Owen Strachan – Biblical theology and cultural comment.
Sonny Lemmons – Mr. Mom Dad and spiritual journeying.
Kelly Monroe Kullberg – Campus ministry, apologetics and worldview.
Randall Balmer – Christian History of US, cultural commentary.
York Moore – Evangelism and social justice.
Harold Fickett – Bio, Christian cultural thought and living.
William Edgar – Apologetics.
Con Campbell – New Testament theology.
Amy Julia Becker – Parenting, children with difficulties, faith and culture
Amy Simpson – doubt, struggle and mental health
Thomas Joseph (composer) – Contemporary classical music for solo, small ensemble and orchestra.
Con Campbell – jazz.
Steve Swartz – acoustic/electrical atmospheric.
Bill Carter - jazz.
Daniel Justice Snoke – praise and worship.
Greg and Rebecca Sparks – contemporary Christian, contemporary issues, praise and worship
Songs of David – jazz. Home base where a lot of Christians in the jazz world show their stuff.
Mark Altrogge – artist, landscapes with surreal color.
I think this is everyone from Geezer 1 who floats in the crushed asteroid belt surrounding geezeronthequad.com. But maybe to keep yourselves sane on campus, you crochet pot holders with the faces of early church fathers on them. Or you have scored the hymns of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley for that tuba band you play with on weekends and your first CD is out. Maybe you’re breaking out a new cookbook for campus ministry (How to fillet a wildebeest with accompanying veggies for forty students coming to your house in fifteen minutes for a last-minute fellowship. You’ve done this almost a hundred times.) Then get yourself in here with whatever you have or do that could top the twenty T-shirts Grandma already has from our U. If we do art of any and all kinds, music, cook or write and I’ve left you out, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Disclaimer: This isn’t Craigslist: I won’t meet you at a dingy taco stand to see if I want to list your old socks (However, most of our old socks might be better than some of the socks I’ve seen on campus.)
As I suggested, we might also want to check out something nice for ourselves as a target of post holiday cash. Spread this around on social media or share it with your tribe. Tis the season. Back soon with a regular post from geezeronthequad.com.
A little blast from the past as we’re in the mountains of northern Georgia. Back with the fresh stuff in mid October.
Originally posted on geezeronthequad:
I discovered something; I stumbled across it the other day while paging through some theological literature. It was Loren D. Estleman’s “Sherlock Holmes and Dracula.” (Okay, so theology crops up in some strange places.) Early on, before the game is afoot, Dracula pays a visit to Holmes and Watson in their apartment on Baker Street. The following dialogue ensues.
“The night is cold and I am not so young as I once was,” Dracula said. “May I come in?”
“Please do. Perhaps you would care to join my colleague and myself in some whisky. Watson, a glass.”
“Thank you. I do not drink alcoholic beverages,” he said stepping in.
You know what this must mean? Count Dracula was a Baptist. And you know what else? When Anne Lamott discovers a new adverb that blasts her out of the doldrums of writer’s block, she dances around making noises like James Brown. I wonder if…
View original 861 more words
A little vinegar of soul of mine following the great report from IVCF.
Originally posted on geezeronthequad:
Martin Niemoller is a pretty cool guy. He’s dead but we aren’t really cool until our coolness outlives us – and his does. He captained a German submarine in World War I and earned the Iron Cross, first degree, Germany’s highest military honor. After the war, he became a Lutheran pastor and initially supported the young upstart, Adolf Hitler, in his rise to power. As Hitler did not take long to begin to show his true colors, Niemoller became more and more outspoken in his criticisms and, along with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others, helped to found the Confessing Church. He spent 1938-45 in Dachau and other concentration camps. He also wrote about why he did what he did and maybe the most penetrating thing he wrote goes like this.
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the…
View original 1,342 more words
So many of you who get geezeronthequad have written, played, composed, painted, photographed and otherwise to your God-given creativity to make some great things. So many, in fact, that this year we will have the first “geezeronthequad” Christmas Gift Store. I am making the list now and checking it more than twice because I don’t want to leave you out. The gang surrounding “geezeronthequad.com” and Geezer 1 on Facebook is an immensely gifted group and we want others to know how they can be blessed by what you do for Jesus Christ.
The Christmas Gift Shop will even include some who have dropped out of all things “geezer” – some running away screaming in the night (I hope the therapy helps.) and some to save their academic careers (which I understand). So if we have a project, some nifty bit of creativity to finish, lets’ get to it. Maybe we’re arranging John Zorn’s Christmas Album for our church handbell choir. Maybe our praise band is covering Frank Zappa’s bootleg underground southern gospel album. Maybe we just haven’t pulled together “Favorite Cookie Recipes of the Ante-Nicean Church Fathers”. Let’s get things moving .
We have been noted here for a touch of ironic or sarcastic humor. BUT WE ARE REALLY DOING THIS. If we know someone off the radar whose creative, prophetic, edifying gift could enrich someone’s life this Christmas, send them along. But, remember that this isn’t ETSY. I will edit all outside requests. We’re looking for edgy, organic and Christian and they do go together. Otherwise, please go to Family Bookstores or CBD.
You can respond to the blog below or email me at email@example.com.