It was the sixties and we were students. Woodstock happened my sophomore year. The Vietnam War gobbled up all the flunked out college students who lost their student deferments as if they were popcorn. Drugs, sex and rebellion (often violent) made up the air much of a generation would breathe. Nobody looked for Jesus Christ to show up in the middle of all that. But that’s exactly when He shows up. The Jesus Movement bubbled up on campuses like spring mushrooms. Something weird came over a lot of us with no prompting or Bible beating from anyone; we stopped swearing. Profanity was rebellion; a lot of our music swore. Many college students celebrate the heady air of being away from home by swearing a lot. We couldn’t say a sentence without two or three F-bombs.
And then it stopped, just dropped away while we learned to love Jesus, did the Jesus stuff and plugged through school. We didn’t realize it until it had been gone for a while. Jesus said, “…his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” (Luke 6:45) Simply, what comes out of our mouth is what we are full of. We didnt decide to stop saying nasty words; we caught the Holy Spirit in the act of actually making us clean. The Bible calls this holiness. If forgiveness is all we think about when we think of Jesus’ work on the cross, we’re missing a lot. As the Holy Spirit indwells us, He brings an infusion of something called holiness. Holiness gets bad press. It doesn’t mean acting weird even pursuing it will set us apart from the crowd. It doesn’t mean giving up everything even though when we go after something hardcore, other things get laid aside – even things we might once have loved. (See Hebrews 12:1) Holiness describes the unique quality of the sinlessness of God. It’s not about God’s sinless performance or a possible inability on His part to sin (like sinlessness is part of His job description). It’s who He is at the core of His heart. But doesn’t the Bible say that “God is Love”? (I John 4:8) Yes, but it also says, “…holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.” (Isaiah 6:3) Think of a brilliance greater than a thousand suns, a beauty eclipsing the Royal Botanical Gardens of Canada (see picture), an expansive greatness that could drop the Grand Canyon into a thimble and a power thundering over a hundred Niagaras. Without being crass or blasphemous, imagine a huge York peppermint patty stuffed into our spirit. Now think of all that loose and roaming free inside us. Taste it once and all the appetites for anything else that might promise deep and/or ultimate satisfactions wither away.
Holiness also encompasses the removal of the filth of shame. God does not inflict shame: He is the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3). Guilt and shame aren’t the same thing. Shame coats everything we are with a vulgar film tainting everything we long for or hold dear. Nothing in time and space removes it – not counselling and medication, not self-help tinkering or the self-deception of alternative spiritualities. Not only does it stick, it eats. It paralyzes and defines us, even under the shallow cover of appearing to have it all together. Shame accuses; it’s the tool of choice in the evil one’s bag. will bWe’re worthless and we always will be. No one will love us because we’re not worth it. Nothing we dream of will ever happen because we’re losers. When Jesus enters our lives, He blasts this crud off the walls of our soul and relines our inner being with the beauty of His holiness. It’s terribly important to know the ring of the voice of God here. In Psalm 51:8, David says, “…let the bones that you have broken rejoice.”
Ever had a broken bone? No doubt about where the trouble is, right? The pain is specific and we do whatever it takes to get things right. Remember the last time we had the flu? Ached all over but nowhere in particular, right? When the Holy Spirit speaks into our lives, He comes with great precision speaking pointedly into our lives and moving us to concrete action of whatever it takes to put things right with God and others. Nobody suffers a compound leg fracture to say, “It’s not a good time to rush to the ER. It can wait till the weekend.” Shame makes us ache in spirit: we hurt everywhere over nothing in particular. The evil one peppers us with accusations, misplace guilt feelings over pain inflicted on us by others, false guilt over things not our fault at all and over sin God has already forgiven. We’re left deflated and paralyzed to wallow in our own ooze. And we do.
We’ve seen the guy with the brand new car parking across two or three parking spaces so no one can get close enough to scratch or dent his new baby. Keeping the beauty and sheen of this cleanness of God’s holiness stands as one of the best motivations to follow and love Jesus well instead of spewing our self-centeredness all over what Jesus Christ has done. When that happens we feel that corrosive stain we sadly know so well begin again to spread and must come back to Jesus Christ for a hosing down of mercy and grace. On the outside, I want to take what Jesus Christ did in me and get it covered with dirt, dents and dings from taking it full-bore into the world He died for. As He held nothing back for me, I want to run right up to my last breath with the pedal to the floor and the wheels ready to fall off. But the inside I want to keep His holy cleanness as pristine as possible as only then can all this beauty that Jesus can work in a life breathe into the fibers of my bone and spirit.
Got a question about the Christian life? I do. Feel free to send it along to email@example.com. No names required. I reserve the right to ask clarifying questions so I can dignify your question with a better answer.
If you think this might encourage a student or someone who loves students, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. You might be interested in Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, artisans, composers, business people, booksellers, broadcasters, pastors, theologians, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs and a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks the university is a special place. Take a look and see.
Please return your seat to the upright position and give the infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.
We need to belong. It pulsates deep beneath the daily stuff and drives us a lot more than we know. I sat in a college speech class listening to a girl hotly slice and dice the Greek system on campus. I felt a nudge from the next row. Dom was usually asleep so this sign of life surprised me. “She didn’t get chosen by any of the sororities.” The next semester, she made a pledge class and all the cruel insensitive injustices laid on in that speech evaporated. Belonging. We can wind up in strange places, embarrassing ourselves and violating our deepest values in search of belonging.
Remember playground games? Everybody finds out what they’re worth right out there in front of everybody. The leaders start choosing up sides. The second ones picked immediately become the scout advising the leader who to go for until almost everyone is gone. I don’t know who gets the worst rap. The last person doesn’t get chosen at all; they just slump over to join a group that doesn’t want them. There’s just no one else left. But the next-to-last person get taken only because they don’t want the last guy. Being chosen ascribes value; makes us grow an inch. I’m not adopted but have known quite a few people who were. Yes, I get the quest to eventually find out who this person was that gave us up for adoption. But there’s more. Even though somebody appeared to give us away, somebody else wanted us badly enough to go to a lot of trouble to pull it off. Mountains of paperwork and legal hoops. Money (adoption fees, legal expense and, in some cases, bribes). Background checks. Overseas travel. Huge shift of life routine and direction. All done gladly because somebody wants us.
Knowing Jesus Christ births powerful things in our deep places. “…you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Romans 8:15) “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (I John 3:1). The “we” in I John gets special emphasis here. Who gets to be chosen to be children of God? People like us! Messed up, wounded, stuck on ourselves, responsible for serious pain in others lives and our own, not really caring about what God thinks – you know, US. We are far more likely to be a hot mess than a hot commodity. John wrote this in amazement and we should read it the same way. What makes us such a prize? What makes us the first pick? This may take a minute or two. If the list looks pretty short and negotiable, we’re standing on the edge of mercy and grace.
In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve have taken the big bite and are now hiding in the buff in the bushes. This is no cutesy kid’s fable to fill in the gap until science figures out what really happened. Even though He already knows exactly where they are and why, God comes looking for them. Knowing their blatant sin, God could have turned the Garden of Eden onto a landfill and walked away. How about that gang known as the prophets? Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and all those others all rolled together at the end of the Old Testament – what a fun crew! God didn’t send this jolly bunch to condemn Israel. If He wanted to do that, all He had to do was to leave them alone.
Then He came down to us Himself. And not in the form of some pompous jerk wanting everyone to line up to kiss His pinky ring. God was in Jesus Who told stories (in Luke 15) about how one lost sheep is worth leaving ninety-nine to find, how one lost coin is worth ransacking a house for, how one rebellious and self-centered child is worth waiting for with love and a hug as long as it takes. Jesus also extended great and generous invitations. “…if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38) And He freely paid the adoption fees and costs which were pretty steep; it took everything He had. He gave till it hurt and more. “…you were ransomed, …not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…” (I Peter 1:18-19)
God adopts children from His enemies, people like us who blow Him off, mess Him over without a care and tell Him to butt out of our lives and to go jump off a bridge. While these words may never cross our lips, they echo and bounce around inside our hearts like a super ball in a tile bathroom. Knowing that, He still chases us down. And, when our plunges back into darkness confuse us that God speaks only when we’re talking, He chases us down again. And God is exceedingly generous with His children. My grandchildren love to go shopping with my son-in-law. you just never know what may end up in the cart or what unplanned stops the car might make. They’re never disappointed. Without spoiling them, God loves to give to His children in ways like we’ve never seen giving before. “He who did not spare His own son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things.” (Romans 8:32) When I was thirteen, I wanted a bass violin. I know that’s not every thirteen year old’s dream but jazz had captured me. Musicians will understand. My Dad said he didn’t have the money to buy one but he would let me go earn the money. So I went out, got my first job and took away much more than a bass violin. The gifts God gives His kids have so much more than what we ask for packed into them.
Do we want to be wanted? Do we want to belong? Do we want to be loved? Do we want these badly enough to stop running away and hiding from Someone who wants us so badly that He’s paid whatever it cost and won’t quit coming after us no matter how obnoxious we can make ourselves? Do we want to stop running from Jesus Christ and His cross?
Do you have questions about the Christian faith? After forty-six years, I still do. I’m open to any question you have, anytime. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t have to include your name. I reserve the right to ask a clarifying question or two if needed so I can dignify your question with a good answer.
If you think this might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, tweet and all that social media stuff. Take a look at Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, musicians, composers, writers, artists, pastors, theologians, business people, booksellers, broadcasters, artisans, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place.
See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.
Sam, a friend, had life nailed. Getting a late start on college, he blasted through everything finishing with a high GPA and a smooth move into a career he loved. One day a single complaint brought police detectives to his home where they found questionable pictures in his computer. His name splashed across the front page of the newspaper, his mug shot as well. He did time and tried to make the best of it. On a visit, Sam showed me the homemade Monopoly set he and other inmates made. He wore a cross made from a mop strand. One night, the other men in the cell with him found out why Sam was there and beat him up. Upon getting out, his dream job would be gone forever, his education largely trashed. He could never own a computer or any device with online capability. Nor could he live within certain distances from schools or other buildings where children might be. He would be subject to inspections without notice. Any attempt to find a job would inevitably arrive at the application question, “Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?” Background checks would confirm that. Sam will walk through, breathe the air of and live in this terrain the rest of his life. Ten seconds in a computer will lay bare a life no one might suspect on the outside.
Stuff follows us like ghosts and shadows. We hear about people losing jobs in colleges because years before, they lied about degrees they’d said they’d earned. We might say and think we’re moving on but stuff lingers and resurfaces – often at bad times and in bad ways. These things don’t include the junk other people dump into us from their mess (read “sin”) that turn our souls into landfills. I mean things we work hard to shut up, sit on and squelch that we’ve done to ourselves, other people and, more importantly, to God. Things we cringe and wince at when they pop up unbidden even after years. Conscience used to be our guide but now our compass has a bent needle. Culture and society find the whole idea of anything being sin to be a nasty inconvenience except for the sin of not getting our way.
Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, Paul wrote, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) Justified – it’s a legal word meaning not only to be declared to be not guilty, but that the record of our offenses has been wiped clean. When Jesus Christ steps into our lives and makes the call as to who and what we will be, we walk through the story He writes without ghosts or shadows stalking us. That’s huge. It’s very difficult to expunge criminal records. Decades can pass but they lurk in a computer somewhere.
But the peace in Romans 5:1 isn’t a license to skate or blow off the damage to others as if nothing’s happened, nothing to revisit. My phone rang and a stranger in a local motel wanted to talk. He’d spent a lot of years ignoring and hurting his family. Now Jesus Christ ran the things of his life and he’d come back to apologize and reconcile. What about the things we’ve racked up in the memories of people we’ve hurt? What about the pain we’ve inflicted on the heart of God? If God kept score and held grudges, who could stand? Peace with God because Jesus died in our place on the cross frees us to make peace with others both for their sakes and our own.
We can also make peace with ourselves. Since through the cross of Christ, the penalty for our sin is paid and the record of our sin wiped clean, we don’t hide from ourselves or anyone else. Someone attempted to blackmail the great preacher C.H. Spurgeon, threatening to end his ministry. He said, “Take everything you know and write it across the skies. Jesus knows it all and has paid in full.” A professor wrote up his Christian story to be included with others in a book. The editor came to him and said, “Professor Jones (not his real name), are you sure you want to write it this way?” The editor thought the prof might regret later that he’d revealed so much of himself. The prof took back his copy and revised it being even more explicit than the first draft had been. His record was clean and so he was free to tell his story to draw others to Christ.
One person (Hearts and Minds Books – 20% off if you say you saw it here.) wrote, “Guarding tombs is a joyless job, as anyone who has sought to keep the past from the future can attest…Is shame standing watch over any dead things in your life?…[Stop] guarding that tomb. Let an earthquake or an angel roll away the stone so that you can see that nothing is there anymore. Jesus conquered it. Jesus removed it. All that remains is light and hope.”
Maybe you have a question about God or the Christian faith. I do. If you’d like to throw yours out there, send it to email@example.com. You don’t even have to give your name. I do reserve the right to ask clarifying questions so I can dignify your question with a respectable answer.
If you think something here might encourage a student or someone who loves students, then subscribe, share, Twitter and all those social media things. If you already subscribe, maybe you need to check out Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, pastors, artists, writers, musicians, composers, business people, broadcasters, booksellers, theologians, artisans, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. Take a look. It’s a sharp bunch and you will only 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 geezeronthequad.com
‘Tis the season..,
Graves don’t attract most people. And most people aren’t attracted to people who are attracted to graves. Maybe that’s why my Facebook friend total is a little low. Graves (and the things that happen around them.) do fascinate me; I used to dig and fill them in. Gravediggers see things differently. I remember loving the job.
People go to a lot of trouble to impress others even after they’re dead. I always shook my head at the small private family mausoleums with outrageous extras (some play music, a little creepy at night). These were supposed to make people stop for at a few seconds, impressed that somebody important lay there. Cars whizzing by never seemed to notice. On a day our casket winch was broken, we buried a man in a casket of solid bronze. He almost took all of us down into the hole with him. Impressed? Let’s just…
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In all this rummaging around in our mind and gut to nail down our identity, how do we get around the stuff we talked about last time – the stuff pounding the fudge out of us inside and out? What do we reach for when nothing seems to take or be strong enough? Enter our spiritual side. Here’s an absolutely worthless, yet interesting, piece of information. Stand beside a piano and sing one note loudly into the strings. Then listen. One string, the one tuned to the note we sang, will pick up the vibrations of our voice and play the same note back. See? Almost worthless – until we turn from pianos to souls. Secularism is a tough sell. All our pain filled questions, our wounds, our deep yearnings still go out there and we listen for something/someone to play back. The spiritual is very much with us in a zillion ways. Sometimes the huge range of choices is nothing more than the equivalent of what we like on our hot dog – some go with relish, some not. I roll with chili, slaw and brown mustard. A pineapple could be spiritual or a helium balloon floating across the room. Poems we wrote, nature or tracing our genealogy. Or Jesus. He’s always on the radar. But which one? He has more flavors than Baskin Robbins and Coldstone put together. We tend to make Him up the way we like. Colored sprinkles? Not so much. Crushed peanut butter cups? Pile it on. Holiness? Uh…no, thanks. Love (pink fuzzies, no negatives) – a double scoop please.
But….what if Jesus isn’t just a good example for us to follow? Do we know anyone, anyone who can do what He did? What if He’s not a first century hippie dishing cool stories or a Rastafarian minus the weed? We tend to throw away anything about Jesus we don’t like, agree with or that makes us uncomfortable in any way. We make a mental Jesus who’s nice but harmless, boring, pleasant and most important…He never disturbs the thick ooze of the sediment of our self centeredness.
What if Matthew, Mark, Luke and John got it right? What if Jesus isn’t like that but is that? If so then what’s He about when left to tell His own story? Some things stick out. Jesus said the worst thing He ever said to one of His own, Peter. Peter just had rocked everyone else out of the room by saying that Jesus was the Messiah. Within a minute or so, Jesus said to him, “Get behind me, Satan…” (Matthew 16:23) What was that bomb about? Another time, the guys saw Jesus really shaken, something that didn’t happen often. “Now is my soul troubled. and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” (John 12:27) What purpose was that? To give another one of those whiz-bang stories? Finally, Jesus and the twelve were going to Jerusalem. Usually they clumped together down the road in one big posse. But this time was different. Jesus walked on ahead giving off heat that intimidated the rest; they were afraid to walk with Him and nobody dared ask “why?” (Mark 10:32) What ties all this together? Was He nervous about giving the Sermon on the Mount (Gag! I wish I hadn’t listened to those guys who said preach without notes!)? Jesus lived in the grip the cross; it wasn’t a tragic end. It was the Reason and the Cure – for everything wrong with us, the world, the cosmos.
The Easter thing gives us the rest of the story. All of Christianity hangs on the idea that, after being crucified, Jesus rose from the dead. Without that, the whole Christian thing comes down (I Cor 15: 13-19) – no resurrection, no Christianity. No bacon, no BLT. It’s big deal. Maybe we have a hard time wrapping our brain around this. Maybe it seems a little creepy. Maybe we think we can only believe what we see. Jesus Christ doesn’t fit into a test tube for lab testing or pop up as the end answer of a chemical or mathematical formula or equation. “How can I know?” Big question, good one too. A little help comes here and here.
There’s a bigger and better question. “How badly do I want to know?” God said, “You will find Me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) The lab where this gets fire tested isn’t buried in some basement in a forgotten corner of campus. It’s the core of our being where we do deep business and get confused sometimes as to what knocks around in there. It’s hard to cobble together some sense of identity there in the dark, especially when some things in that darkness bite and chew on us. Identity? Who am I? Jesus asks if we would like to be what and who only He can make us. It’s a question from a living person. “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) While this talks about His ultimate effect on everything, Jesus refuses to wait until then to start. “Now” is always a good time for Him. He turns train wrecks into Mona Lisas, rakes diamonds out of manure piles. How badly would we like Him to do that for us? His cross says how far He will go to make it happen. His resurrection says a real Person has come off the pages of the Gospels and hovers over our heart as I type and you read. Some good words from an old dog like me.
“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?”
Want to find out?
If you think this will encourage a student or someone who loves them, then share, post, Twitter, subscribe and all those social media things. If you already subscribe, then you might like to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, broadcasters, booksellers, pastors, business people, theologians, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. Check it out and ask to join.
Got questions? I sure do. Feel free to fire any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. No names required but I reserve the right to clarify so I can dignify each question with a good response.
Okay. We’re a good person, right? We shop local, eat organic, bend over backwards like Circus Soleil on steroids to keep from offending everyone and choose roommates who grew up free range. So where does this disconnected sense of groping around for God knows what come from? In the face of the experts and studies that show that guilt is worthless and/or nonexistent, why does it keep popping up like a helium balloon stuck in my windpipe? Why do I disappoint myself by failing to live up to what I say I believe? Why do I carry shame like the smell of smoke on my clothes from an off-campus party? Why do I screw up in some of the most important things in my life? Why do I feel like a loser? Why am I the only one? Why does even the thought of God make me uncomfortable, really jag me?
The answer comes in a tiny nutshell – sin. A lot of people just throw the word out if it doesn’t taste right. A lot us choose spirituality without sin the same way we choose frozen yogurt without anchovies – a nasty side flavor easily set aside. Remember in the first post I said we will be looking at things that could be true even if nobody believes them. This is that. Think cancer… a lot of people either have no idea or don’t want to know they have it, even ignoring major symptoms. What difference does that make to the cancer? It does what it does.
Look at all the evil, disasters, misfortune, tragedy and suffering not only in the world today but throughout history. Is this the way it’s supposed to be? Doesn’t something seem deeply profoundly wrong? In Genesis 3, all creation hits a huge speed bump right after Creation seems complete, God proclaims everything very good and everyone does the happy dance. Centering on, but not limited to, Adam and Eve, humankind turns its back on God not just in belief but with our will exercising control over every important thing in our lives. And this sends destructive convulsions ripping through all creation from the far reaches of the cosmos to the fabric of DNA. We all are infected.
The result? The core (read soul) of who we are becomes a black hole inhaling everything true, good and beautiful about us into its maw. One put it this way. “…the people of this world moved about in an armor of egotism, drunk with self-gazing…in dread of all appeals that might interrupt their long communion with their own desires.” Nobody can tell us anything. We only understand the voice of God when our mouth is open. In the immortal words of that great spiritual mystic St. John of Calipari, “There’s poop in our ice cream.” Our own. And we’re going to hurt other people in the course of our lives because of this – probably a lot of them. In college, I did the marching band thing. We practiced on a field having no permanent yard lines. Somebody rigged these long rubbery strips every five yards. We high stepped and quite often someone would drag a foot and kick up one of those yard line strips. Not only the foot dragger but two or three people on either scene would take the plunge. It looked like a scene from the movies. What the Bible describes as our sin not only wounds us but always takes down others. Some of them will limp for a while, maybe a long time. Sometimes some don’t get up at all.
So where does this leave us? In all these “identity” posts, I’ll be suggesting a book or two in each post if anyone would like to dig around in each topic. For this, a guy once decided he wanted to write and got some good advice. Somebody told him to write on something he knew about, really enjoyed and was good at. So he wrote about sin. This guy rocks the sin thing; he’s good, has a long lifetime of experience really. You can find him here and here. FULL DISCLOSURE. The author makes no money from these books and no college students were harmed in any way during the writing process.
If anything here provokes a question, if we have our own questions or if we’d just like to know the existential reasons as to why the purple hair dye didn’t seem to frost our hair but dried on our skin, send it along to email@example.com. Any question, anytime, about anything. You don’t have to include your name. I do reserve the right to ask clarifying questions to better dignify your question with a respectable answer.
If you think anything here might encourage a college student or someone who loves and/or works with them, then share, tweet, subscribe and all that social media thing. I also invite you to join Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, pastors, artists, writers, musicians, composers, broadcasters, booksellers, business people, theologians, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and a Goth who all think that Jesus thinks the university is a special place. Everyone in Geezer 1 sees the latest post from geezeronthequad.com as well as good things from the rest of the gang. They’re a sharp bunch and you will only make us better. Take a look. If anything there helps keep the fire God lit in you hot, your spirit strong and your mind from going to mush, we will all be glad.
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.
How do some people look so good – physically anyway? Starting at 4 AM, some (read celebrities) have enough people working on them to fill a NASCAR pit crew. If we did that, out 8 AM classes wouldn’t resemble a convention of caffeine starved zombies mumbling and scratching incoherently through an hour-long lecture only to emerge with notes in a dead language nobody can read. Some of us marry people who know how to dress us. Not that we need help dressing but it’s downright scary how we end up looking when we’re done. But who dresses the inside? George Herbert, a sharp guy from a few centuries back, said, “Take some time to be alone and see what your soul doth wear.”
Do I have a soul and is it wearing anything at all? Some days, if it’s there, it doesn’t feel like it. Am I just a skin bag carrying around bones and organs motored by electric impulses from the tissue computer inside my head? Reaching the end of things, the bag droops to the floor like a helium balloon finally out of gas. If I was anything, who or what was that? Secularists (not only believing but some insisting there is no God) claim that’s all there is so what does it matter? Can I live with that? Does that get it for us?
I’ll bet not.
In the Bible, God comes out of the chute like a racehorse at the Kentucky Derby. He invokes a torrent of cosmic creativity. Even the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2) hovers over things as if to ponder, “Where do we make the first cut, paint the first stroke, and write the first line?” Collaborative work usually falls out in layers (days or epochs) so after the sun, moon, heavens, earth, seas, land, sea slugs (among others), iguanas (among others), God says, “Let us make man in our own image…” (Gen. 1:26) God, as revealed in the Bible, ain’t no skin sack…so what’s this? First, it’s not literally a physical image. He doesn’t look like me; I don’t look like Him. Nobody would believe a God who looks like me…or you. Chew on these.
It means we’re hardwired to know and be known by God. We can’t get away from the spiritual. Sometimes it takes on weird shape and directions. We squeeze the things of our days to extract drops of it on our tongue. We get disappointed, burned, cheated, betrayed, disillusioned but sparks still flash under our ashes. Vince Gilligan, creator and executive producer of the hit show “Breaking Bad” and an agnostic said, “Atheism is just as hard to get your mind around as fundamentalist Christianity.” He still wants to believe that “there is more than just us out there. If there is no cosmic justice then what is the meaning of it all?” It’s good that Mulder and Scully are back because a lot of us still sense “The truth is still out there.”
It means we can give and receive love. The heart craves love more than our lungs scream for air. In love we find the perfect pitch to which our heart-strings must tune. Our culture resonates with its pursuit; our music and movies drip with it. How to find it, keep it, keep from losing it and how miserable I am now that I did. Or I’ll never have it so that makes me a tub of hot nothingness. Our best shots at love relationships implode often wounded by our own hand although we may not realize this until later. Maybe betting all our love chips on a person comes as a right move falling short. Michael Green once said, “Once we say we believe in God, it doesn’t matter what we think about Him. We’d better find out what He thinks about us.” What if, beyond time, there’s a Face, a Mind, a Heart that can hang the cosmos on His wall like a DaVinci – and every time He thinks about us, He smiles?
It means we can manage our surroundings, learn and simply enjoy thinking. If human beings come as the crown of creation, then the human mind is the jewel topping the crown – the cherry on the sundae. This explains human magnificence apart from any belief in God or not. It explains Einstein, Lincoln, Frank Lloyd Wright, Aristotle and other monuments of human achievement but is not limited to them. Check out the men in our town library holding the New York Times with fingers protruding from worn gloves. People think; they just don’t always treasure it as they should. Something good swirls in us when we do. It can happen in a tractor seat chugging across a black soiled, newly thawed cornfield in an early Iowa spring. Grandma did it standing over a sink staring out a back window or while her fingers danced over what would be a quilt.
It means we can create whether we can draw a straight line or not. God is a creator and so are those created in His image. It explains Pablo Picasso, Duke Ellington and Johann Sebastian Bach. It also means that a security guard at a university art museum, invisible to everyone, can write a one man play about Vincent van Gogh and can perform it for his friends. It means that parents of an autistic son can defy all the nay sayers, can spend countless hours finding new ways to insure that their son learns, grows up to take a job while in college, goes on geological field trips all over North America and will earn a degree in what he wants to do. Problems make opportunities for being creative. We can find new ways to get papers done, squeeze work in around our classes, etc. The touch of a creative God knocks around inside us.
It means we can know satisfactions and happiness, although incomplete and often fleeting, in the midst of a broken world without indulging in naive narcissism toward that brokenness. After finishing all initial creative work, God proclaimed it “very good” and rested (Gen 1:31, 2:2). Unless our Bible is extremely thin, the story doesn’t end there. God’s knowing this didn’t stop him from experiencing genuine satisfaction with his work. We do not look at much in our lives proclaiming it “very good” – but it’s there. We’re too busy tearing ourselves down or pressing ourselves to do more, work harder. Even in a world with so much gone wrong, not everything is. But much is. And even our deepest satisfactions fade and rust. What then? Could even these be signposts standing in the debris field of a broken world that there is something else? C.S. Lewis once said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” It’s something to think about. If anyone would like to dig a little deeper on this, here is a good place to start. Hearts and Minds Books will give you 20% off if you say you saw it here. (Buying local is a Kingdom thing.)
So why am I not seeing and sensing all this? This isn’t all we are on the inside. There’s more and it’s not fun to look at; we already know this. That’s why we work so hard to keep it quiet, to not see it. Someone asked a friend if he’d ever removed that internal engine cover of his van. “Never’, he said, “nothing good ever comes from looking in there.” Worse can come from not looking. Next time we’ll look at why, if on the inside we’re made in God’s image (assuming I might believe in Him), it doesn’t show through more. Something else is afoot and we’ll track it down.
Got a question? I have answers. But if my answers don’t match your questions, I’ll make something up! Seriously, if we have questions about the following/knowing God thing, feel free to write at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any question. Any time. About anything. You don’t even have to include your name. I do reserve the right to reply with qualifying questions of my own so I can dignify your question with a decent and respectful answer.
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