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…
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
My salute to the professors who survived me…and respect to all the ones who never had to.
Originally posted on geezeronthequad:
In college, I was a slacker. I skipped class, didn’t study as hard as I should have and tried to make up for it the night before the test. I finished with a 2.60 GPA. It would have been lower but student teaching saved my tail. When they called my name at graduation, I grabbed that diploma like the number two guy on a mile relay team grabs the baton and we were out the side door. We were down I-80 to celebrate at the International House of Pancakes before anyone realized what a terrible mistake had been made. I got my act together in grad school and, in retrospect, grew serious respect for the profs who endured me.
Being a prof isn’t easy; first you have to survive grad school. If anyone reading this is thinking about grad school, read this first. Getting a PhD is almost like monasticism without…
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Fall on campus, the new term, brings out strange animals. The one place where we can see them all comes right off the bat at whatever they call the mass gathering of every campus organization at our place. It’s a high visibility blowout where everybody shops their group. No matter what it’s called, it translates out to “This Club Wants Your Body”. Four different things usually are at work here. One, it’s a great place to hang out and enjoy the campus atmosphere. Two, because of number one, a lot of people go there to check out the new guys/girls on campus. Three, we can pick up a lot of free stuff – notepads, pens, food and drink, cup cozies. If we score a mug, give ourselves five stars. It doesn’t really matter just so it’s free, right? And four, new students are trying to decode this new college experience while some upperclassmen may be looking to change some things up. And the new groups we attach ourselves to will help define and redefine us as persons. And just who are these people? Some are professional (Corduroy Taxidermists). Some are political (Republican Druids). Some are athletic (A Capella Ping Pong). Some are artsy (Descendants of the Monkey Gods Performing Arts Troup). Some are academic (Nerds for Cream Cheese Calculus). Some special interest (Atomic Chess Fiends). And some unexplainable (Fig Newton Line Dancing, Zen Yahtzee and, my favorite, The Zombie Quilt Guild. (I want one of their t-shirts!) Some of these are real and some I made up but we can’t tell, can we?
But I don’t want us to miss the wide variety of Christian groups on our campus. They might be more subdued than the groups listed above, maybe not, but they will be easier to figure out. In some stripe or flavor, they know Jesus Christ. And not just the Jesus living inside their head but the Guy Who claimed to be God, lived on earth and died to absorb all the penalty, punishment and scarring of our screw ups (what the Bible calls sin). He’s amazing and He would like to amaze us with what He can do in our life. And they will surround us with a network, a community, of people who are right where we are and who will love us while the whole gang of us stretches and gropes toward wholeness. And you might get a hot dog. Even as we read this, “This Club Wants Your Body” Day probably has come and gone but we still have a stack of flyers from groups that caught our eye and one of these Christian groups might be there. Even if they’re not, the Christian groups on our campus won’t go away. We’ll see their chalk on the sidewalk, more flyers on campus and dorm bulletin boards, giveaways in mailboxes, weird skits in the union or on the commons and booths at homecoming. Or maybe they’re just the people who smile and always speak as we stumble downstairs in a coma trying to navigate our way to that 8 AM class. Just who are they and why do they do that? One way to find out; they aren’t shy about where they can be found.
I say this especially to new and transfer students who already know Jesus Christ. Most campus ministry leaders know what it’s like to have a church contact them saying that one their own hits campus in the fall. Would they contact that student and invite them to their group? No campus leader I’ve known in thirty years of speaking on campuses would turn that down. A friend of mine got one of those calls, went to the dorm and knocked on the door. The student answered with one hand wrapped around a beer and the other around his new girl friend. The student leader spoke briefly, left a flyer and never saw the student in the group although more contacts were made. Later, the home pastor fired off a hot letter to the campus guy saying he’d talked to this student at Thanksgiving and the student said no one had contacted him. Strangely…some students don’t pack their faith off to college; they leave it in the drawer at home along with that Christian graduation book many don’t read. NOBODY WHO READS THIS BLOG WOULD DO THAT SO I SPEAK HYPOTHETICALLY.
If we already know and follow Jesus Christ, we will soon find out that we can’t make it alone on the college campus. As exciting as the college experience can be, it’s also tough in many ways. We need some help. In the Bible, Paul compares the church to the human body; each person is a unique and necessary part. Some prominent while others are unseen. No part can make it on its own. Body parts unattached to whole bodies go bad pretty quickly. We might be a toenail, a nose hair or one of the bones in the inner ear. Important, yes, but not by ourselves. We need to get into a campus Christian group and find a kidney! They have spleens, eyebrows, pinkie fingers…and a place for you because they need what we bring. And Jesus make it all breathe and live. Okay, they might not call themselves the Blue Cheese Rangers for Jesus but our soul will grow muscles and our lives will begin to smell like Jesus a little more. And, thankfully, not like blue cheese. Good hunting; the Lord already has our place saved and will move heaven and earth for us to find it.
If you think this might encourage a student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, you might want to think about joining Geezer 1, the Facebook online clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, musicians, writers, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, theologians, business professionals, pastors, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. Take a look. Just ask to join or send an email request to email@example.com. If the Facebook dog eats your homework, we will ask you to resubmit.
Please return your seat to the upright position and turn your infrared night vision goggles in to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.
College can be disorienting; that’s why they have orientation. There’s a lot of change. Unlike high school, very few of our classes are in the same building. Some may be a mile or so apart. The campus now provides the space where we are far more likely to be seriously maimed by getting hit by someone on a bike than any kind of vehicle. (Michigan State, I’m thinking about you.) The food isn’t like Mom’s so while it’s always a student thing to complain about the food, it’s hugely better than it used to be. I remember when our food service announced a complete upgrade of food service capped off by beginning to hand out forks. The campus went ballistic. They had Hawaiian Night where everybody got a coconut. They drilled holes in them and gave everyone a straw to drink the milk. Cool, but then what? Students on full scholarship went mad trying to figure out how to smash a coconut to retrieve the meat. (You wrap it in a towel first before smashing it on the sidewalk, dorm wall or the hood of the Dean’s car.) Maintenance spent a whole day shoveling and scraping up fragments from everywhere. We will use bathrooms probably not as clean as home even though the janitorial staff works hard (Thank them when you see them. How many of us would do this job?) . Never go there without flip-flops, especially on Sunday mornings. The whole getting started at college can be a bit overwhelming – like being face licked by a hippopotamus.
There’s just a lot that new student orientation doesn’t prepare us for. We took personality inventories and tests to help us find out both who we are and who we’ll be. And we will be someone different four years or so from now. And that brings me to this. Anytime I speak to students early in the term, as I will at MSU next week, I always say to freshmen right at the start, “You have no idea how much God loves you. He could not have you spend four concentrated years in a more fertile and rich place that this campus. He loves college students so much that He will use this place to light fires in you that will burn the rest of your life. It’s important that we ask for discernment to know when this happens so we feed these fires and do not snuff them out. What kinds of things will we see rise from the soil of our heart? Let me suggest at least five.
We will learn to see all the world and all its ventures as God’s proper concern. A guy name Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” We were never meant to hoard what Jesus Christ does in us. His love knocks the walls out of our heart to see the world. We will see it in many ways. Check out the guest speakers in our Christian group, conferences, retreats, etc. Over four years we will see a vast array of people from different racial/ethnic persuasions, churches of every stripe and shape (some we never knew existed), countries and cultures outside our own, professions and callings from every walk of life imaginable, young and old, widely known and little known. While it’s difficult to head up a Brooklyn Mafia family or a Colombian drug cartel for Jesus, we can be lawyers, teachers, ride the back of garbage trucks or wage research war against pandemics for the Kingdom of God. I’ve seen people do all these. A parade of people and possibilities of how big Jesus’ Kingdom really will unfold every week over four years.
We will learn to enjoy chewing on truth. It’s mentally better than a good filet mignon (Tofu steak for my Vegan readers). People snarf down fish oil and do puzzles to keep the brain cells dancing. Want to do something really good for your mind? The Bible is God’s Word; take frequent bites and chew slowly. Don’t think we’ve heard it before just because we’ve heard it before. It’s alive. Memorize it. Think about it. Distance ourselves from anything, no matter how innocent or respectable, that dulls our appetite for it. Knead and press it into every corner and concern of life.
We will learn to carry some of the pain God carries in His heart for the brokenness of this world. Going old-school, we used to call this “having a burden”. In truth, it’s not a burden at all but a great honor. We can’t imagine what it’s like for God not only to see all the suffering and evil in the world but to swallow every crumb, feel the throb of every pain racked nerve and sense the extended ripple of consequence and injustice of every human being to His core; it would kill us. Through the Holy Spirit, He slides one long thorn into our heart. Our heart will begin to be seized by one or more things that break the heart of God. They may be general or quite specific. God just doesn’t have many people to share His heartaches with so to sense this happening means that the Lord pays us an intimate compliment and honor.
We will grow a faith that enjoys experience and emotion without needing to be propped up by either one. I like frosting. Don’t you? Bur what would we look like if all we ate was frosting? Some of us trace the highlights of our walk with God to times when we thought we could touch the face of God and our emotions ran high. I’ve had some of that. But God-given emotion can never be allowed to drive either in the Christian life or life in general. Thinking God to be present only when feelings hit boil lock us into being the mental equivalent of an emotionally arrested fourteen year old for the rest of our lives – a spiritual shipwreck. Love has high moments to be treasured, so enjoy them. The Bible says God will wipe away all tears in heaven; there must be a way of expressing deep joy I don’t know about. But love also runs deeper and more intimately than that.
We will grow an intimacy with Jesus Christ that is simply the greatest treasure a human being can know. Jesus Christ, risen in all His power, love, truth, holiness and beauty actually indwelling our being through the Holy Spirit. Intimacies that Moses, Elijah or David never knew. All the time whether we feel it or not. Jesus…the Pearl of Great Price, the One greater than any and all of His rewards, the magnificent and beautiful Satisfier of body, mind and soul.
Have a great four years; Somebody has plans for you…
If you think this might encourage a student or someone who loves them, then please share, subscribe, Twitter or any or that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, then you might want to consider joining Geezer 1, the Facebook playhouse of geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, booksellers, broadcasters, writers, artists, musicians, composers, pastors, theologians, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a great place. They’re a sharp bunch and you will only make us better. Check it out and request to join either on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the Facebook dog eats your homework (and he sometimes does), we will ask you to resubmit.
Please return your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.
U-Haul drop offs clog parking lots. The stock in the parent company that owns Ramen noodles is spiking and should remain so for the next six or seven months. Buy now and sell in the spring along with your used books. Incoming freshmen stare at that first pile of books like the apes gawking at the monolith in “2001: a Space Odyssey.” Freshmen dorms in another time zone and latitude fill up with 400-500 strangers. Don’t worry though. C-47’s will transport to drop zones near the center of campus. Maybe buses if our school is in financial crunch. What can it all mean?
Colleges start another year and students have been dump zones for tons of advice on how to do well, make the most of the experience, etc. Much of this will be ignored only to be discovered in retro that some of it was pretty good. I would have studied more; learned to think better. Spending a minute or two with Matthew Lee Anderson or Tim Darymple will be good medicine somewhere down the road. Even if we don’t take their advice, we can pass it along and impress others with how insightful we are since these guys are sharp.
I can’t resist sharing a little of my own. Let me introduce Henry Venn, a pastor in England who, in 1777, sent his son, John, off as a new student at Cambridge University. His advice? “Rise early. Shun idleness. Read the Bible with prayer. Take care that your bed be thoroughly dry and lay for the first night in your waistcoat, breeches and stockings. Don’t let spiritual immaturity make you arrogant or excessive. Be chaste, sober and humble. Keep a diary. Study standing up. And every other morning attend your mouth and clean it well with snuff, which I find of great service to my teeth.” Doesn’t that just say it all? How could I add anything to that?
Just a couple of things to tuck away. It’s almost a lock that we will be doing a paper or two. When that happens, we should make every attempt to integrate our classwork with our faith both as a witness to our profs and to do some push-ups with our brains that will deepen us. When crunch time to submit that topic for approval draws near, you might want to take a look here, here, here, and here.
You’ll need some crash, let down, mental rest, unwind, take a break kind of things where you can pull away from the books and lose yourself. Here are a couple of ideas if we’d like to keep our brain purring on low idle while we do it. “Be Thinking” and “Theology Network” both come from InterVarsity in the UK. Not stuffy at all and a sharp take that differs from North America as the UK is more strongly steeped in postmodernism, secularism and pluralism. But we’re moving right along in the same direction. For those of us of a somewhat satirical bent who could use some community who agree that parts of our faith are more than a little weird, I introduce the gang at shipoffools.com. Think Monty Python geeks who love Jesus. THAT should draw in a few of us. For those of us who remember The Wittenberg Door (“The Door” for hardcores), meet their cousins.
A couple of recreational reads. “Surprised by Oxford” by Carolyn Weber talks about a student whom Jesus irresistibly draws to Himself in grad school at Oxford. With all the hand wringing about how the university is death to faith (It can be.), I love it when someone stands up and shouts that Jesus Christ loves the campus. Jesus Christ hasn’t forsaken the university; Christians have surrendered the field. The deeper the darkness, the brighter His light shines.
Read number two – a fiction called “The Veritas Conspiracy” by Shaunti Feldhahn. It’s about a Christian freshman at Harvard and how she gets caught up in much bigger things than she expected while struggling to just get started in college. Shaunti is a Harvard grad who gets the campus vibe just right. The Christian group rings true with what’s out there and the rest of the characters run true to type and seem real. Spiritual warfare is written about more intelligently than in many other Christian books – more subtle and nuanced with a bigger Kingdom picture in mind. Much fiction on spiritual warfare is cartoonish – not here. There are professors in league with the evil one (Some of us might have thought this in rash moments.) and there are students demonized as well (I can guarantee that more than a few profs have wondered about this.) A reader will come away with more than a good read.
Her book “The Lights of Tenth Street” could be a parable of the evils of sex slavery and abuse, such a passion with many students today. Many Christians know sexual abuse and its fallout. “Tenth Street” is good medicine. Read it and you will know exactly who to share it with. Both of Shaunti’s books can be scored on the cheap at Amazon. And now for some final words from a couple of old dogs. First, A.E. Whitman.
“If you knew that there was One greater than yourself, Who knows you better than you can know yourself, and loves you better than you can love yourself, Who can make you all you ought to be, steadier than your squalid nature, able to save you from squandering your glorious life, Who searches you beyond the standards of earth…One Who gathered into Himself all great and good things and causes, blending into His beauty all the enduring color of life, Who could turn your dreams into visions, and make real the things you hoped were true, and if that One had ever done one unmistakable thing to prove, even at the price of blood – His own blood – that you could come to Him, and having failed, come again. Would you not fall at His feet with the treasure of your years, your powers, service and love? And is there not one such (Jesus), and does He not call you?”
And Philips Brooks (my caps and note) -
“The great hunger everywhere is for life. All things are reaching up towards it. All living things are craving an increase of it. Into this world come Christ and announces Himself as that world’s Saviour and satisfier, in virtue first of his bestowal of vitality…’I come to you here that you may live, that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.’ So speaks Christ to the student…Of such life, and of brave, earnest students entering into its fullness, may this new year…be full.”
If you think this might encourage a student or those who love them, please share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, then think about joining Geezer 1, the online clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, theologians, artists, writers, musicians, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, pastors, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs and a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. They’re a sharp bunch and you will only make us better. Check it out and request to join or email us at email@example.com. If the Facebook dog eats your homework (and he sometimes does), we’ll ask you to resubmit.
Pease 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
Most college students don’t seem to do mornings. Maybe it has to do with being up till past midnight studying, playing video/computer games, Facebooking and Internet surfing, charting our fantasy football team, untangling a roommate’s relationship issues, crying, screaming and banging our head on the wall over our own relationship issues, going out for late night pizza even though we’re not hungry, etc. In the morning we throw on a sweatshirt, jeans or workout pants (The pants do not go on over the head. Always remember this.) and then we snatch a bagel from the breakfast line and gnaw on it as we cross the quad with a coffee IV in the arm headed for that always fun 8 o’clock class.
That makes starting the day with God problematic. I may barely have pulse and respiration and that brain wave thing is really in question. And Psalm 103:1 says,”…and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” Not only does this Scripture throw open the doors of our inner closets, it speaks to effort and intensity when we come to God. When we come to God, let’s come full-bore bringing everything we have. Grace (which I will revisit in a minute) has become a pretense for laziness, contentment with mediocrity and/or subliminal entitlement to indulge in low-grade rebellion toward God. It’s compost for excuses. God’s grace should be a launch pad toward excellence. Read Paul in I Corinthians 15:10. “…his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them…” This seems to play well to the Christian “navy seal” or “olympic gymnasts” among us who start the day with a devotional read from the early church fathers, four to eight chapters of bible reading, memory work on five verses and fifteen minutes of worship incorporating a blend of classic hymns, contemporary praise and a medieval chant to mix it up.
At the moment Jesus died, the veil of the temple ripped in two from top to bottom. Have we noticed? Yes, we know but have we noticed? From that moment on anybody can enter the presence of God. We don’t have to be the high priest, ritually cleansed and carrying the blood of the Passover lamb to be sprinkled on the mercy-seat. We don’t have to be spiritual gymnasts or have it together. Just show up and walk through the veil. Don’t get me wrong. I admire the people who do all the things or the equivalent thereof in the last paragraph. In the many shifts my spiritual life has made, I’ve done some of that. But when we start to falter, we start beating ourselves up because we’re falling behind in our bible reading or can only memorize two verses a week. It becomes performance and God can’t be pleased when we don’t touch the bar.
Worship is meeting with God, walking through the veil no matter what shape we’re in. It’s not about goose bumps or having it together. It’s about showing up and walking into the Holiest of Holies where He is. On a lot of days, “…all that is within me…” isn’t very much. We come with a handful of crumbs instead of trophies and merit badges. In the microseconds I feel together and with it, I envision myself as St. Bruno the Cool, the spiritually jitterbugging cousin of Mother Theresa or some other super saint decked out in spandex and feathers like a pro wrestler. Most days I’m a slug. “…all that is within me…” doesn’t just speak of effort and intensity, it speaks of intentionality. I don’t have much in the tank today. My faithfulness would be hard to find with a microscope. too small to pick up with tweezers. But the veil is held open and He is in there; I certainly haven’t earned it. I have too many screw ups to impress Him. I’ve hurt Him too much. But I’m coming. This is grace, the gasoline that runs the Christian faith.
A good start-up point comes in an old prayer from the Orthodox church. It’s called the Jesus Prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” There’s no magic in it; it simply kicks off the day framing both Who Jesus is and who we are. Saying it a few times has nothing to do with the chanting of a mantra which, instead of bringing focus, reduces our minds and spirits to soup. Repeating it locks us into the Cross, the Saviour Who died on it and my need for this Crucified God (a good description by Jurgen Moltmann). It not only brings to center stage my need of mercy for sin brought to that moment but sensitizes me to the sin which will manifest itself in the day to come.
An old John Wayne western called “The Cowboys” has the big guy on a cattle drive with a bunch of young boys. Some bad guys try to steal the herd; they grab the scruffy cook and prepare to string him up. The cook meekly asks if he can make his peace with God before they hang him and they agree. The old man bows his head and prays, “Lord, forgive me for all the men I’ve killed. And forgive me for all the men I’m going to kill today.” Forgive me, Lord, for all the people I will kill today with my tongue in gossip or with my words on social media. Forgive me for the souls I will wither today by holding others in quiet contempt because of their appearance, the frat or sorority they belong to that isn’t mine, their intellectual, athletic or musical gifts that eclipse mine. Forgive me for slashing the image of God in another out of jealousy for the friends they seem to have that I do not. They are not the authors of my loneliness. Forgive me for the souls hurting to be loved whom I will starve by withholding my time and listening ear. Forgive me for being so intent on myself, locked up inside my own little bubble that I won’t notice or care about the collateral damage of these souls piling up around my feet like windblown trash on the street while I walk through this day. Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.
The veil is not only torn but held open for us; He is inside. “…all that is within me…” If we live in a place right now where the Spirit runs free and hot making us hungry and bold, then come. If we’re swallowed by sin, failure and guilt, then come. If the flatness we bring to the day makes a stack of pancakes look like Mt. Everest, then come. Once we start showing up… just because, He will draw us in and we’ll be coming more often no matter what time of day it is.
If you think this might encourage students or those who love them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, you might want to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook online clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, broadcasters, booksellers, pastors, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks the university is a great place. They’re a sharp group and you will only make us better. Take a look at Geezer 1 and request to join. Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If the Facebook dog eats your homework (and he sometimes does), we will ask you to resubmit.
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.