The American question is always “What can we do?” We’re a put-your-hands-on-it-to-make-it-better kind of people. Christianity is different; it says God doesn’t show up to help until we’re helpless and can do nothing to help ourselves. But there does come a time to show our faith by our works. What kind of works should these be? Violent protests that disrupt public order (freeways and Amtrak) and destroy private property should be scratched off the list first. Nothings discredits legitimate protest more quickly than violence and destruction. That was one of the huge lessons of the civil rights movement and general protests of the sixties. Millions of all colors who want racial justice and reconciliation will not support violence of any kind to people or property. Students like the ones at Cal Berkeley who may have been co-opted by outsiders should give more thought to looking before they leap.
Two posts ago, I talked about making it count, being builders. The building of racial reconciliation must start at home, on the doorsteps of our own hearts and with a little history. Anyone can yell slogans and wave signs. How do we do righteousness in the streets? Here’s the reading I promised last time. Start with “Being White”. It’s a good start to help whites get the feel of race which many of us don’t have. Then three on the war against slavery. “Amazing Grace” focusing on William Wilberforce. “Bury the Chains” casts a wider net involving more than Wilberforce. The author, a 60’s Berkeley liberal and a major drive wheel of 60’s counterculture, told me in a radio interview that every protest of the sixties (civil rights, anti Vietnam, etc.) owed everything to the Christians in these two books. Third, “Bound for Canaan” shows that evangelical Christians did the heavy lifting against American slavery. A final book, “God’s Long Summer” gets us into the grit of what fighting for civil rights in Mississippi in the 60’s really was like. It was messy and complicated. Still is. All these are page turners so we won’t be bored.
Now we bring into play two words popular right now but not always in regard to racial justice. In being a builder instead of a trasher in things radical, we must become “local” and be “sustainable“. Here’s where to start. A number of campus ministries already are racially mixed. When that happens, the minorities in the group pay us a huge compliment. They stay because they sense love; never miss that or take it for granted. When it happens, the Spirit of God is cooking something special in our midst. If there is either a Black Christian group, Black students association or Black Studies Department, throw some pizzas out on the table, have them sit down with our gang and tell us about racism on our own campus – especially that might be invisible to most whites. Just listen. Next visit an ethnic church in town (black, asian or hispanic) and I don’t mean for one sunday – I’m talking four to six Sundays. Let the pastor know we’re coming and over that time period, approach several seniors asking if we might visit them in their homes to hear their stories. Be sure to take a small food gift or flowers – and Kleenex.
Now we go local. NOW protest…but do it smartly. Throw a punch; make it felt. Protesting racial justice directly can trivialize the racial issue as a whole. How? Because after many whites have done their public thing they just go home thinking they’ve done their thing for racial justice. (Here’s an interesting take on white, Western, and sometimes Christian blindness). Students can be a very insulated, self-centered group; they crawl back into their bubble.There are already serious things on campus that need some loud voices – like this. Get the black Christian groups together with others and say something about the culture of sexual violence on campuses. Standing up together in public as concerned people makes a subliminal, yet very powerful statement because we are demonstrating racial equality emanating for human concern woven into the daily life of our campus.
Finally, do something special with spring break. I know many college Christian ministries are not multi-racial. I know that this is often an outreach strategy church growth gurus used to call the “homogenous” group idea – people being most open to the Gospel in groups like themselves. Sometime it’s not strategized; it just is. Plan spring break with other ethnic Christian groups on campus to go out together and work with the poor – either urban or rural, it doesn’t matter. Salvation in Jesus into the Kingdom of God never was intended to be solitary or something to be stuffed into our own navels. Getting what Jesus did for us dirty alongside others in the lives of people broken in every way not only dissolves a host of subliminal sinful attitudes, it bonds at the deepest levels.
And while we’re not looking, the Spirit of God will do something marvellous. He will work into the fabric of our spiritual DNA an organic feel for justice issues that permeates every area of our lives. It will ripple in our spiritual musculature with a smooth and easy feel the way anything does inlaid by the Holy Spirit when we give Him lots of time, space and opportunity. And we will be builders who might need to get out on the streets once in a while but who know under God’s hand how to live to leave a mark that counts. Sustainable? This will carry us through the rest of our lives.
Christmas roars down upon us. We’ve been so busy getting “A’s” on finals that, except for twenty-eight festive beef sticks we smuggled home in our dirty laundry (Relax. They’re wrapped in plastic.), no Christmas shopping got done. That’s why geezeronthequad.com throws open the doors of its Christmas store. Some cool and unusual things for those on your list or for yourself if you just want to throw them a beef stick and get something edifying for yourself.
If you think that this might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, why not consider being part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for people who are on our wave length but whom the authorities haven’t found yet. It’s a mix of students, students ministry leaders, professors, administrators, writers, artists, musicians, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, theologians, pastors, business people, 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. You’ll run across all kinds of cool things that don’t show up in the blog.
Please return you 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.
One of the dangers to this conversation on race we all say needs to happen lies in underestimating how long that conversation is going to take. Somebody suggested an equivalent of South Africa’s Truth Commission. I can see a number of universities hosting seminars and forums – all well and good. The talking (and most inportant) the listening must start and it doesn’t matter where. As a child of the sixties and a Christian understanding a little about spiritual warfare, I would suggest this. If we’re going to throw a punch, make a public stand or take a step for the Kingdom of God, don’t beat the air. Make it count.
The Christian students on our campus make up one of the most strategic groups to address racial issues for four reasons. One, students have been some of the most involved people on this subject. Students were all over the civil rights struggles in the South in the Sixties. Two of the three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi were students. The second reason rests in the power of the university to not only touch but rule the world. Ideas and trends of all kinds either birthed or nourished on campus will leaven every level of society in every corner of the world. I don’t just mean Harvard and Yale. I mean Tiffin, Gannon and Clarion. A third reason is hidden in plain sight; our campus has a racial problem and I don’t care where our campus is, how big or small, how progressive the administration thinks they might be. I don’t care if everybody on our campus is all the same color, like purple or paisley. Racism comes in all colors -white, black, hispanic, asian, orange, magenta and chartreuse. The hidden attitudes and spoken thoughts live and breathe.
A fourth reason cuts to the core of the problem. Racism reeks of sin. Until we deal with the heart, any and all surface solutions, no matter how good they may be in the short run, will disintegrate under the gravitational pull of human sinfulness – both systemic and individual. Christianity has repeatedly demonstrated the power to dissolve boundaries of hate separating people. Paul said in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Also in Colossians 3:11, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all in all.”
The early Christians slugged this out over the Gentile question. Jews and Gentiles hated each other going back at least four hundred years. The Jews had an ethnic slur for them – the dogs. (Jesus used it in Matthew 15:26) The only way Gentiles could embrace Christianity was to cross over, get circumcised first and become Jewish. We don’t have a problem; they have to become like us. Then they’ll be normal and proper. They yelled at each other a little (Acts 15:2) and convened a big meeting (Acts 15) to hash it out where some good listening must have happened. God laid a vision and a miraculous conversion on the pile to speed things along (Acts 10, Acts 15:7-12). They learned to be sensitive to each other, suffered lapses and to forgive one another. I pastor a multi-racial (predominantly white) church. We didn’t set out to be that; it just sort of happened. We have a rule. You walk in the door. We love you. We’re sort of a MASH unit and we could never have orchestrated or predicted some of the people who take us up on the deal. We don’t do this well but the people we’re trying to love (be they white, black, purple or paisley) are very patient and forgiving with us while we stumble around at it.
As Apartheid crumbled in South Africa, Nelson Mandela knew that residual hatred and anger could still destroy the country. Too much suffering and evil had gone down to be erased by elections and demonstrations. He came to Bishop Desmond Tutu saying that the Christians had to take the lead in showing blacks and whites in South Africa how to forgive. Why? Because the Christians were the ones who knew how to do this. There’s quite a compliment wrapped up in there somewhere. Why should we be so good at this? Because we have been forgiven of sin, judgment and hell. Because this has been a pure gift, industrial strength mercy, completely unearnable and undeserved. Because Jesus Christ literally indwells our being through the Holy Spirit providing power to change, power to forgive, power to love the unlovely, power that nothing else in the world can match. I did a radio interview with an Ivy League prof who claimed that Evangelical Christians were the drive wheels of any and all social change in this country during the late eighteenth and nineteenth century – a debate he would take anywhere, anytime.
How do we start and make it local? That will come in my next post. I know exams now threaten to reduce our brains to figgy pudding. But I will suggest some things to start both inside us and on our campus. Some involve homework (reading). But relax; it doesn’t have to be now. Finish exams, leave campus on break and go eat out of someone’s refrigerator.
Related to nothing here, take a look at the interesting video done by Kentucky Christian University on the 10 Commandments of Proper College Cafeteria Etiquette. “Wanda” is my mother-in-law and, after you’ve watched, please know that we respect and love her deeply.
Are we running out of Christmas gift ideas? Maybe we’d like a few to pass around to others who might be shopping for us to head off the obligatory liver pudding fudge squares or the Christmas stocking of guacamole. Take a look at the geezeronthequad Christmas store. A lot of us who see this blog do some pretty cool things with the Lord’s help, things that would stoke the fire under someone’s walk with Jesus Christ.
If you think this will encourage either a college student or someone who loves them, please share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social medias stuff. If you already subscribe, maybe you need to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com that has juicy things that don’t make the blog. Geezer 1 is a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, broadcasters, booksellers, business people, pastors, theologians, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks the university is a special place. Take a look and shoot us a request to join.
Please return your seats 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.
These next posts were supposed to be about the ways that Jesus Christ draws people to Himself but events in Ferguson deserve a response. Since this blog primarily addresses those on campus, I’d like to keep it on campus. And I want to begin our discussion with some words from our president. He said, “I think that it’s going to be very important and I think the media’s going to have a responsibility as well to make sure that we focus on Michael Brown’s parents and the clergy and the community leaders and the civil rights leaders and the activists and law enforcement officials who have been working very hard to try to find better solutions, long-term solutions to this issue.”
Some personal words first. I fell in love with jazz as a kid and became an avid reader of Downbeat Magazine. At that time, LeRoi Jones wrote a column and I read about people he called “ofays”. I didn’t know who these people were but they didn’t sound very nice. He was writing about me; “ofay” was an older term of contempt for whites. I grew up in a blue collar, mostly white, town in western Pennsylvania. Both the high school and the college I went to were mostly white. Coming to deeper faith during the counterculture years of the sixties gave me different eyes for a lot of things. In my first pastorate, I met the Rev. Dr. Eugene Williams of Faith Temple Baptist Church in Waterloo, Iowa, and his wife Ann. He adopted my wife and I, a steel town kid and a girl raised in the Jim Crow South. He called us his “white children.” We loved and learned a lot. I now pastor a racially mixed church (predominantly white) outside Detroit.
I do not believe, generally, that whites have much racial consciousness. On forms where we indicate our racial grouping, some of us can’t find ourselves when it says “caucasian” instead of “white”. We pick up racial sensitivity and identity from being a minority. White minority sensitivities fall along ethnic lines going back to the nineteenth century when Poles, Germans and Irish flocked to America. Racially, not only have whites been a majority throughout this nation’s history but many of our early forefathers twisted their new religious freedom into a sense of entitlement that left scars with Native Americans remaining today.
Much racism is subliminal. As I watch the Ferguson protests all over the country, I see a shallowness that pervades some protests – especially where we “ofays” are involved. Much, but not all, white protest can be shallow. We hold up signs, shout slogans and go home feeling righteous about what we’ve done. And because we’ve done it…it’s done. I remember a joint service at Christmas where some churches met with the black community at the city’s public nativity. They shined flashlights into the air and made noise about being with the “brothers and sisters” celebrating Jesus as the Light of the World. Then everybody but “the brothers and sisters” went home to wine and cheese. When King marched in Selma, people went home praying that their home wasn’t in flames or that a shotgun blast wouldn’t come through their living room window that night. I’ve seen the Strange Fruit Quilt twice. One time the quilt accompanied a display of lynching photos and let’s just say it created a memory. A crowd came through and a woman came up beside me. As I glanced at her, she smiled as if to say, “Because we’re both here, we certainly wouldn’t have been part of what went on.” Call this a dumb white thing. Virtue in retro is worthless. It goes like this. If we’d been in Nazi Germany, we certainly would have hidden Jews. We certainly would have not supported slavery. We would not have plundered Native Americans. We would have been in the forefront of the action along with the good guys of history. We just know it. We’re above this. The fact is that we don’t know what we would have done.
I want to suggest that, while national conversations on race are needed, we need to start building something new in racial dialogue and that those who know Jesus Christ need to start it and start it where they live, where racial prejudice seeps down into the cracks of everyday lives. And for students, that’s the campus. Outsiders see the university as citadels of generous and reasonable liberalism. Indeed, that’s how many schools desire to be seen – clear-headed and above all this. However, as John Calipari (A Clarion Univ. of PA grad (Hoo-rah!) and pretty good college hoops coach) once made reference – there’s some poop in the ice cream. First of all, there’s racial prejudice of all stripes on campus. And second, millenials (aka college students) show a rise in sensing reverse discrimination higher than the rest of the population. They’re not being discriminated against. We are.
Christians stand at a crucial point in all this because we possess the resources to really make change that gets into the bloodstream of our society. Everything on campus makes its way into the surrounding culture. You, as students, have a lot of years ahead and the things we discuss here will be foundational bricks for the rest of your life. And while we may have our times to shout, we will become builders of something new by the Spirit of God that will make a difference for those times when the shouts fade away. More next time.
Before you click out of this version of geezeronthequad.com, be sure to visit our Christmas store. Maybe you’re looking for something new and original as a gift for somebody. Doesn’t it just honk us off when Grandma keeps asking for a new Hebrew lexicon year after year like it’s a fruitcake or something? I keep saying that the gang at Geezer 1 is sharp and the things they do for Jesus could be the olives in the eye sockets of someone’s stuffed boar’s head. (Just trying to be festive here!)
If you think that this might encourage either a college student or someone who loves them then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, think about joining Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for all things geezeronthequad. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, theologians, booksellers, broadcasters, pastors, business people, 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. 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 leave. See you at the next post at geezeronthequad.com
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 email@example.com. 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.