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geezeronthequad: God Moves Through His World in Fire – So Finish Your Corn Flakes. I Kings 18: 36-46

What is a pascal? The short answer is that it’s a scientific measure. A better question might be “Why is this important to me?” Can’t help you with that; it’s expressed as an elaborate equation. Equations always make me queasy and I start shaking all over. A retro reaction from my student days over horrific math experiences I’m sure. But before “pascal” was a measurement, it was somebody’s name. And if they name some scientific thing after us, we must have been somebody important. Blaise Pascal was – both spiritually and scientifically.

Someone settling his affairs after his death found a piece of paper sewed into the lining of his coat. Apparently he’d quietly carried it everywhere, transferring it carefully from a worn out coat to a new one. It’s called “Pascal’s Memorial“. While we don’t exactly know what happened, we do know that God showed up. FIRE. The same thing happens here with Elijah. I’ve written about spiritual experiences before (See Nov. 2013 – Feb. 2014 in the archives) so I won’t repeat any of that here.

Jesus said that we shouldn’t pray to be heard by people (Matthew 6:5) but this prayer was different. “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel…” This prayer the people needed to hear because they’d forgotten who they were. They could give the “right” answers but, losing sight of God in their sinful deadness, they’d lost track of themselves. C.S. Lewis said, “May it be the real I that speaks. May it be the real Thou that I speak to.” The real Thou was about to show up.

Fire – one of the most unsettling pictures of God. There’s no dialogue with fire – no discussion, no negotiation. Even in it’s barely restrained forms in our fireplaces and fire pits or melting down marshmallows for S’mores, fire bristles with a dancing wildness that reminds/warns us that it’s nothing to be callous or careless around. I went to sleep on many cold Iowa nights to a comforting but far from tame roar inside the Franklin stove in the next room. Although nobody in Elijah’s day was around, this wasn’t Israel’s first brush with God Who is fire. Moses himself met God, not just as fire, but as fire that did not do what fire does – a fire that burns without consuming. All Israel met with God at Mt Sinai. No limos were available so He came down in fire in what must have been a blessedly terrifying (These do go together.) time for the people (Exodus 19:16-19). Every night, for the entire duration of their wilderness time, a pillar of fire reaching up into the night sky burned outside the camp. (Ex.13:21-22) The New Testament says clearly that God still has His fiery moments as the Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3) and Hebrews 12:29 reminds the church, then and now, that “our God is a consuming fire.”

Fire. What can it do? It can destroy and does. It clears away old forest growth so new growth can emerge and thrive. It purges waste and purifies with its searing heat like little else can. It warms our bones in winter and delights with the perfume of wood smoke. We read good books by its flickering light. (Thank you, Lauren Winner, 10750395_10152412214202234_227721991906474807_ofor stirring my thoughts here.) And again, it melts marshmallows for S’mores (Is God good or what?). Fire also captures our gaze and our spirit goes places – some we’ve thought we’d lost and some we’ve never imagined. We just can’t help but stare at it, can we? Sometimes for hours. I think God likes His image of fire, beautiful and hypnotizing, wild and woolly in both His love and His holiness.

But these stories like Elijah’s seem like the dark side of the moon to most of us. We haven’t seen fire like this. A lot of our days of living our faith sit flat and filled with the mundane stuff of everyday. A lot of the Christian life is like that. That’s why we need Elisha and his servant as we find them in II Kings 6:8-23. Backstory. The King of Aram’s army was harassing Israel through direct action and black ops. But every time they staged an ambush, it failed because Elisha knew their plans and tipped off the Israelite king. The King of Aram sent an army, probably his best, to capture Elisha in the city of Dothan. Elisha’s servant gets up early and goes outside to find the city surrounded by enemy troops. He freaks. People who freak are never content to do it alone; they want others to freak along with them. But Elisha doesn’t because he knows that our hair and our faith cannot be on fire at the same time.

Surrounded by an enemy intent on his scalp, Elisha does the only sensible thing under the circumstances. He finishes his corn flakes or whatever prophets have for breakfast. He simply says in verse 17, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Or loosely paraphrased, “You show him, God, my flakes are getting soggy here.” Elisha knew something important gleaned from Elijah on Mt Carmel and on the occasion of Elijah’s death (II Kings 2:11-14.) The fire of God isn’t just reserved for when the Arameans show up. The fire of God burns all around us all the time whether we see or feel it or not.

So, campus staff, keep on working your tails off to be ready for the new year. Figure out a cool give away or some other jazzy attention getter for club day. And students, pack up your gear – especially incoming freshmen saddling up for the first time. Prepare to wander around campus for a day or so wondering why the campus under our feet doesn’t look much like the campus map. Buy those thick, expensive books. Help the freshmen move in so Dad has enough strength left to lift his wallet for that last dinner out before they drive off. But remember one thing. Someone burns all around us. He burns in love toward us. He burns in holiness to show us how beautiful and desirable His work in us is regardless of cost. He burns in judgement against all forces of evil that accuse, intimidate and roar against us. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” See them. Feel them. Or not.

If you think this might encourage a student or someone who loves students, then share, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If someone shot this to you then why not subscribe so I can keep you company through the coming college year? We’ll share Jesus and some laughs together and you won’t find any old pizza crusts from me on the floor of your room. If you already subscribe, why not join Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for It’s mix of students, student ministry leaders, artists, writers, musicians, composers, professors, administrators, pastors, business people, theologians, booksellers, broadcasters, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. It’s a sharp group and you will only make us better.

I also entertain questions about anything written here or about faith issues in general. You can email me at No names are required but I reserve the right to ask clarifying questions of my own to pay proper respect to your question with a decent answer.

Please return your seat to its upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at

geezeronthequad: Prelude to a Slam Down – I Kings 18: 20-35

Louie Palu shoots photos in the darkest corners of the world – war zones, disasters, urban poverty, etc. An interviewer asked him how constant exposure to death, suffering and hardship affected him. Louie replied that he was not religious but he came to realize he had a soul and that it was nearly destroyed. Souls of people, universities and nations die slowly – almost evaporating while we numbly go about our stuff, absorbed with ourselves. Wake ups from this creeping death come neither cheaply nor subtly.

Israel stood right there without knowing it. Rump deep in pagan sexually immoral Baal worship, they mouthed God but worshipped the cravings of their bellies and glands (just like today). God uses times like this to unveil someone He’s been building in the shade but now it’s time to step into the noonday sun. Elijah was now “the man”. He called the shots even over the king. He ordered everyone to Mt. Carmel and the king as well as 450 prophets of Baal got in line and showed up. Whatever the Lord calls and gifts us to be and do, a time will come when we must step up, step out and own it. Maybe we’ve been asked to lead a small group, be part of the worship team, spearhead a new outreach or just to go public and be out there with our faith. Yes, Elijah made the call on the years of famine (I Kings 17:1-6). But then he bugged out in seclusion for those years. He then had two big step up moments (miraculous provision of food and a healing, I Kings 17: 7-24) with the widow of Zarephath. But these were hidden. As the Holy Spirit gives gifts, a time comes when this Jesus thing can’t stay private; we must jump on and start pedaling. And Elijah sported a few rough edges; he said he was the last of the Lord’s prophets. That wasn’t true and he knew it. (I Kings 18:13). But on that day in the noonday sun, Elijah was the only prophet of the Lord standing on the summit of Mt. Hermon.

Elijah asked the Big Question. “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” God’s existence is not THE big question. WHO HE IS stands as the big enchilada. Believing in god is no big deal as long as I can make him up after my own tastes like this. Michael Green, the British evangelist, nails it in saying, “Once we say God exists, it doesn’t matter a hill of beans what we think about Him. We’d better find out what He thinks about us.” Baal, a god of fertility and the harvest, stood powerless to reverse the famine. God had beaten Baal’s dog in his own living room. The entire nation of Israel stood there with a thumb up each nostril; they said nothing – one of the telltale signs of cowardly guilt.

Elijah sets the table proposing a showdown of two prepared sacrifices; the god who answers with fire wins. The Baal gang goes first. There were a lot of them. At a big deal like this, I’m sure they wore their robes and Baal priestly stuff. One must represent and all. You have to style, walk the look. A shame those expensive clothes must have gotten smeared with dirt, wood chips, blood, fat and other icky gook. Servants usually did this and they’d have brought some if they’d only known. But they got it done.

Elijah set up his sacrifice nearby – all by himself. No help. the important people of the world have people, an entourage, to do the menial stuff. That’s how you know who’s important; they have people. And their people wear expensive sunglasses and strike poses. Elijah hauled his own wood, did his own slaughtering and butchering. A lot of those that some seem to think are the big guns today dress more like the Baal gang – and they have people. If we will press on to spiritual depth and excellence in following the Lord, we will do most of our own hauling. Celebrity and/or “fat cat” treatment will always dull and smooth the edges of anyone desiring to run hard after God.

And the Baal boys flat-out went after it. I mean yelling and screaming, flailing the air, slicing themselves up. You’d think they were fighting for a good spot in line for the latest Apple phone. Christians talk about God being sovereign, in control, on the throne, etc. That just means that God is always fine to let evil go first; He will make the last play. Consider the opening of the Book of Job. Go ahead and touch Job, his possessions and his family. How about Daniel with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? Anyone who doesn’t bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol gets the fiery furnace. Paul and Silas preach in Philippi and then get beaten and jailed. Jesus grabbed by thugs, beaten and whipped, framed in a corrupt pretense of a trial and then crucified and buried. And then God slams down his ace.

That “ace” will wait until next time. Meanwhile, if we think this will encourage a student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If we already subscribe, then may we need to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for It’s a mix of students, student ministry leader,professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, business people, theologians, pastors, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. Take a look and see what you think.

I’m always open to any question you may have. Something poking at us or disturbing us spiritually? Any question. Any topic. Anytime. No names required but I do reserve the right to ask clarifying questions to dignify your question with the best answer. Send yours to

Pleas 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: A Prophet Cat on a Hot Gentile Roof – I Kings 17: 8-16

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with a neighboring couple. They were childless so I became their kid and they became Aunt Athleen and Uncle Vern. Like almost everybody around Pittsburgh back then, he worked in a nearby steel mill. One night at the plant, a ladle of molten steel he worked near burped out a “spit cloud”, hot steam trapped in the molten steel forced out at high velocity (read explosion) and temperature. The heat both stunned Vern and blinded his work goggles. Disoriented, he staggered blindly toward the hot steel. Everyone yelled and screamed but the roar of things drowned out their warnings. A friend did what had to be done; he snatched up an empty fifty gallon steel drum and knocked Uncle Vern flat with it.

God does what has to be done to love people. Elijah popped out of the Jewish woodwork, not to condemn Israel but so that they would turn back to the living God. Think about it. God didn’t need Elijah to judge Israel; all He needed to do was let them go on the way they’d chosen and do nothing. Saul of Tarsus – breathing out threats and slaughter until he met Jesus on the Damascus Road. Let’s just say that Saul’s spiritual goggles were a little steamed and he was confused. Jesus had a steel drum ready; sitting helpless and blind for three days (and he didn’t know it would be three days) isn’t my idea of a good time.

Whatever God may be doing in and through us this summer, He has a plan. He will work to mold and morph us into the shape of One Who didn’t come to be served but to give His life as a ransom for many. He works to make us a ransom for someone. (See Mark 10:45) But as for now, we need to eat. Elijah had been riding out a famine (steel drum) by a brook with room service by ravens. Then his lease expired; the brook dried up. Then like many students in off campus housing, he needed a place. God had it covered but not where Elijah would have expected or chosen. A widow up in a place named Zarephath (Gentile country, non-Jewish) would be the next stop. But there was a problem. The widow hadn’t gotten the memo from God and Elijah found that not only did she not know about his reservation, she was in quite a pickle herself. Even though Elijah didn’t know what God was up to when he arrived in Zarephath and the widow wasn’t expecting company, God still was pulling the threads of His plan. God’s effectiveness in our lives cannot be measured by our seeing His hand or our approval of surface circumstances.

The famine brought her and her son to the edge of death. Just enough oil and flour for one last meal. Then they would die. Elijah then both said and did something strange. He said, “Don’t be afraid.” If we ran a quick search through the Bible to find every place where someone on Team God said, “Don’t be afraid.”, we’d find that most of the time, a lot of good reasons to be afraid screamed in someone’s face. And then Elijah said, “While you’re fixing your last meal, throw another cake on the griddle for me.” Elijah doesn’t sound very Christian here by some people’s yardstick. Shouldn’t we connect her with a food pantry or food bank or something?

This woman was something. Excluded from the nation of Israel, she showed more respect for the God of Israel through her words than Israel’s king (see v. 12) had done with his life. And then although it made no sense on the human plane to cut into their last meal to provide hospitality to a stranger, she did it. People unsurrendered to Jesus Christ can be pretty cool – even more pleasurable or admirable than some Christians we know. And there’s more. God tips His hand here with a little secret. His heart was never restricted to just being Israel’s God: His heart was always in pursuit of the whole world. His covenant with Israel cobbled out in the Scriptures and His mighty works was to be a showcase revealing God to the world. And so He moved Elijah in with a Gentile woman and her son.

And they ate…and kept on eating. The oil and flour never ran out (at least for a while, more later). This summer may not be what we’d planned or what we’d like. But the back story of this summer is that God will move us in with the Gentiles. It is both His way and His heart. The salt and light Jesus has both made us and that He lives through us must be out where it’s needed. So if we’re somewhere in a summer missions project, let’s suck it up and play through that fatigue, the other cranky selfish Christians in the group and the shock of the need assaulting our senses. We are interns in one of the Holy Spirit’s most advanced labs. The time is short and the lessons will shape the rest of our lives. If we’re in a summer job, God has placed us in a unique group of Gentiles every day. People always talk about their lives at work, spill their guts actually. They will tell us about the darkness that’s killing them sometimes without knowing it: the pain of the unwashed masses we will be around the rest of our lives. Another choice lab of the Holy Spirit. Take spiritual notes and pray lots. Maybe there’s no job – at least yet and we really needed one. One, keep looking. Two, go somewhere and give this life Jesus Christ is in the process of building in us away. Somewhere where we get dirt on our faith, calluses on our spirit and give our self-centeredness a kick in the rump. Somewhere where we’re not in it to be thanked, get a reference (although we might) or to feel good about ourselves. Look for Gentiles whose oil and flour are about gone and jump in – without complaining.

If something’s been chewing on us spiritually or life-wise, feel free to shoot me a question at No names required but I reserve the right to ask clarifying questions to dignify your question with a better answer. Any question. About anything. Anytime.

If you think that this might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter, “like” and all that social media stuff. If we already subscribe to, then maybe we need to be part of Geezer 1, the online clubhouse for the blog. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, musicians, writers, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, pastors, business people, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, theologians, a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. It’s a sharp group and there’s always room for another chair. You will only make us better. Take a look.

Meanwhile, 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 on

geezeronthequad: The God of Nowheres I Kings 17:1 (READ THIS. IT’S THE REAL ONE)

SORRY ABOUT THE EARLIER ONES. THEY WERE POSTED BY MISTAKE!!! Okay we’re in it now. Home from school. Working the job (maybe). Seeing high school friends again. It can be a weird disconnect from them as we realize that the old days are gone. They talk about their school and it’s hard to get lathered about it because we have our school. The church we grew up in may be okay but something’s changed and it could be us. It’s just not the same as the campus Christian group we left behind: they dispersed everywhere. The campus is now home (Have we ever been on break and referred to returning to campus as “going home”?). And we’re here feeling it’s, well, nowhere.

God likes nowheres. When we find ourselves there, we’re in a good place. Elijah (a knuckle busting mega prophet) came from Tishbe (somewhere east of the Jordan River) which made him a Tishbite (I Kings 17:1). Sounds like something we find in a drop of pond water under a microscope. He bursts on the scene out of nowhere announcing a famine on the land. We know nothing about him but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to know. Spiritual depth and power doesn’t spontaneously hatch from eggs. God’s way is often to work on someone in private, in solitude, away from intruding eyes and distractions. He does it in deserts (John the Baptist, Moses), prisons (Joseph, Paul), hospitals (Soltzhenitsyn) and small towns. Ever heard of Postville, Iowa? John Mott grew up there and grew up to be a giant in ministry to college students and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1946 (That’s right. Someone actually scored a Nobel for Christian work with students).

Getting back to our current “nowheres”. God often uses them to take the training wheels off, to knock the props away we need at times but must lose if we’re to walk (and become strong enough to hold up others). Being away from those great Christian friends (except on Facebook, of course) and that great church forces our roots deeper. We draw strongly on God Himself in His Word. This burns off two corrosions of our culture – the emotions and feeling drivenness of postmodernism and it’s handmaid, a steroid stoked narcissism where the only sin comes when it’s not all about me. God also sandpapers us in our nowheres. Chances are pretty good someone in our “nowhere” summer world aggravates the snot out of us. Could be a family member. Moving out in the fall gave us separation but that’s all erased now. Could be a co-worker on that summer job or our new boss. Could be a Christian in our life for the next couple months. Here we were needing fellowship and we’re stuck with this Bible memorizing self-righteous uber-whiner! Thank God for them. They lay bare all our rough spots, all those places of heart and character still resenting God’s touch, still largely untouched by the Holy Spirit and ignored. They show us we are the problem; they’re a current flag to something that’s been going on.

I Samuel 17 tells the David and Goliath story. Here the back story is where the gold lies. His brothers thought him a punk. His Dad didn’t think much of him at all. They shovelled him off tending sheep while his brothers did “man stuff” like fighting Philistines. The Philistines put their guy, Goliath, out there defying Israel to send out one man to settle the whole enchilada, pro wrestling style without the spandex. He did this for forty days; Goliath kicked Israel’s dog right in their own living room. But out in “nowhere”, David faced down both a bear and a lion. He had two great opportunities to get eaten alive but it didn’t happen. What eating us alive out in “nowhere” this summer? How we live into the teeth of that will make all the difference someday – for God, good or ill. God shapes for a time to come when His Kingdom, the world’s hurt and deadness and our deep joy entwine.

So we will outrun our lions and bears together this summer, you and I. If we’re feeling a bit chewed, let me know at No names required and prayer always ready.

If you think this might encourage a student or someone who loves them, please share, like, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If we already subscribe, then consider Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, theologians, artists, writers, musicians, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, business people, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, pastors, a few campus rats and a Goth or so 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. Take a look.

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: One Thing You Will Need For Your Desert Island.

Summers off campus can be tough…I’ve got your back until the fall comes


What do we need to survive tough times? Some answers come from those “desert island” surveys. A Swiss army knife with enough attachments to build a beach condo and sharp enough to slice through thick trees or perform unexpected surgeries. Enough games on my smart phone to keep me too preoccupied to remember I’m on a desert island. The best answer might be Ramen noodles. Why? First of all basic nourishment. Most desert islands don’t have trees loaded with mangoes and herds of wild boar who will lay down in front of us and die ready for the barbecue. If most desert islands were that great, wouldn’t somebody already be there and have built a five-star beachfront hotel? If we’re the first, it’s a grim ride. And we could hurt ourselves with homemade weapons. A second reason, escape. A raft made from Ramen noodles will never let you down; it…

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Two Prayers for Graduates…

I had the opportunity to do the invocation and benediction at my daughter’s state university graduation a while back. Old prayers don’t fade away: they might speak to my readers or someone they know.


Graduation, the goal, the dream…in some cases, the miracle. When I speak on campuses, I can’t help but notice  that some people have been there for a long time. “When do you plan to make your escape (graduate)? They just grin. To brutalize Ecclesiastes a little, “There is a time to grin…” And graduation is one of those times. In an earlier post in tribute to the professors who survived me, I recalled my own from Clarion University.  But I also remember another graduation, my daughter’s from Western Michigan University in 2001. I delivered both the invocation and the benediction – a prayer for going in and one for going out. So as you “Pomp and Circumstance” your way down the aisle doing the spinning head trick from the “Exorcist” looking for your family and friends, here’s a prayer for you as you take your seat.

Lord. I’m honored to…

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geezeronthequad: Pomping Without Becoming Pompous…

Hear the music? It’s time to celebrate and cap the experiences and circumstances of college with a little pomping. It’s time for taking pictures until we can’t see straight and ordering the biggest steak, best cheesecake, most loaded gourmet pizza in town or that one acre salad bar. Shoot, order them all. But do some other things. First, take some time to think (You can do this during the graduation speech if it’s not that great.). Think about the person living inside our skin when we dragged our stuff up four floors of our freshman dorm. Wow, what a long time ago and yet yesterday. A different person grew inside our skin one new friendship, one new thought, many exams and paper deadlines, many late night bull sessions and heart to hearts and a string of new roommates at a time. Could we have ever guessed at the things that cook and swirl around inside us now when we last danced to this tune at the end of high school? About as certainly as Snickers will come out with a horseradish bar.

Think about some of the people who helped along the way. Especially take time to talk with them and thank them. Years from now, we’ll wish we’d done this. By doing this, we will do good both to them and ourselves. Start with our academic advisor. Being an English major, mine was Bruce Macbeth. How cool is that? Don’t leave out favorite profs and leaders of various activities we got involved in. A couple of faculty secrets – they care more about students than we might think. And they thought a lot of their students were asleep. Our coming will both shock them and reinforce some deep things that made them want to teach.

Think about where we might be going. Some are off to grad school. Sometimes we don’t know what else to do and campuses are cool places to hang out. For some, it’s the next Kingdom step. Either way, be careful. I’ve told grad students that grad school can be like monasticism only without God. While our friends move on into jobs and/or starting families, we withdraw from the flow of normal activity and concern with other like-minded people to focus on one common field for years. Almost every time I speak, there’s a potluck dinner. Food is important, grad students (especially underpaid TA’s) being notorious snatchers of bagels and/or donuts left over from various meetings and faculty functions. But most Christian grad groups gather around food to reestablish human contact. Not only are there islands along the way, God is there.

Think about going…out there! Maybe a new job, starting a family, going into a ministry or living at home (sorry, but it happens – even in the Lord.) but we plunge in among the unwashed masses (not being strangers to our own unwashed moments). It’s scary taking the next big step. The last one probably came leaving high school four years or so ago. We were pretty sure we were ready even though many of us were more nervous than we let on. How about now? Remember two things. This is only the latest big step. There will be more; God engineers them. Anybody seriously meaning business with God quickly find themselves drawn into His plans and spiritually sucking air to keep up.  Noah – build what so who can ride in it when what comes? (Gen 6:11-21) Abraham (Gen 12:1-5) going out clueless, not even having an answer for his wife. Moses confronting the leader of one of the mightiest world powers to demand freedom for his people from slavery (Exodus 3). Isaiah publicly going naked (Isaiah 20:2,3) for three years (No worries. This is not an ongoing ministry. Be concerned if anyone we know is actively praying about this.)

Some of these big steps come built right into life stages and transitions. Some ambush us. A friend came out of college and went on staff with a campus ministry. After a few years, it got lean and they struggled. All they wanted to do was bring young men closer to Jesus Christ. He just became a major as an army chaplain after a few tours in combat overseas. He’s still a force in the lives of young men. We might have majored in a science or education but then we started working at the campus radio station or staff at the campus paper. And “the bug” bit us. And God was prodding the “bug”. Each time we take one of these big steps for God’s Kingdom, we’ll feel like everything in our faith up till then rolls back to Square One. It’s like a spiritual version of a Verizon commercial, only instead of “Can you hear me now?”, it’s like God saying, “Can you trust me now?” And we can – but only those who take the step find that out. Stephen Mackereth just penned his final column for “Unapologetics” in the Harvard Crimson, capping it with, “…it is always time to move on. God is always ahead of us.”

But after we flip the tassel, then what? I suggest a few things no matter what that next step looks like. First, don’t forget where we came from. One campus ministry I hit regularly invites recent grads back to talk about what it’s like out there. Most of those sessions get packed out. Maybe we won’t live close to the campus that hatched us. But we will likely be around schools were Christians already plow the campus for Jesus Christ. Get in touch with the leadership and ask if they mind if we just show up regularly. Most will be eager. Many will want us to speak but even if they don’t, students will begin to want to talk with us. Want to stay radical after graduation? If a nearby campus has no Christian groups, pray about starting one. Any number of fine campus ministries (some listed in the links at right) will be glad to jump in and help.

Second, I borrow from Stephen MackerethSerious Dreams cover when he says, “…I wonder where we learn wisdom.” I prayed during a benediction at a state university that God would deepen and ripen the education celebrated at that grad ceremony into wisdom – because education and wisdom do not always show up in the same person. His answer is a good place to start; get to know some “saints”. These live inside the skins of Christians older than us who have weathered the storms of the years (decades?) that yawn out in front of us. I say with complete prejudice that this is why we should look for a multi-generational church. At our place, I would introduce you to a widow named Ruth (not her name). I have never known anyone who takes such a long time to go from the first word of a sentence to the period at the end of it. A veteran of a hard life that still bristles with no easy answers, she quietly loves the snot out of anything near her that moves and breathes. People slide quietly away from church sometimes without anyone seeing. Ruth sees – and phones and writes. I listen when she asks if I know about so-and-so – because she does. She would make cupcakes for Mussolini. She could spit wash Hannibal Lechter on the cheek and he would thank her. With a drawl and a smile, she regularly knocks the evil one’s rump up into his throat. We need a few friends like this; they’re pit bulls in prayer and bake a mean batch of cookies.

Third, buy the book in the picture. I know people gave us books when we finished high school but how many of them got read? I mean really? This one stands as good medicine for our next step off campus. This stuff isn’t clichés, it’s good meat for the soul, wisdom for the road and a corking good read. Get it here for 20% if you mention you saw it at geezeronthequad. The author and compiler might even include an autograph.

If something in here raises a question or if we have a spiritual question of any kind, feel free to send it along. I have a few rules. Any question, about anything, anytime. It must be a real question about something we care about and not just “Stump the Band”. No names required. I reserve the right to ask clarifying questions in order to give a more respectful reply to your question. After all this we’re good to go at

If we think that anything here might encourage a college student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If we already subscribe, then maybe we need to join something on Facebook called Geezer 1. It’s the Facebook clubhouse for It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, business people, booksellers, broadcasters, theologians, pastors, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and a Goth 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. Take a look here and see what you think and click 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 time at





















geezeronthequad: Hangin’ With the Yalees – Slava Vakarchuk

Okay. A lot of us have guitars; some of us play them. Some of us used to play them. Some of us want to play them but either don’t or piddle at it. Some of us either play in bands or used to play in one. Everybody does this. Most of our grandmas played in bands but never told us. We thought they did grandma stuff when they weren’t around us. But they piled into broken down vans with other three-chord guitar bangers and criss-crossed the country playing for road money in places like the Maid Rite Restaurant in Greenville, Ohio, where they serve loose meat sandwiches from a building covered with chewing gum. But, in addition to that, some of us jump into revolutionary movements in former Soviet Union countries. And some of us serve in the Ukrainian parliament. And some of us serve as a goodwill ambassador for the UN’s Development Programme. Some of us went on the Ukrainian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”, won, and gave all the winnings to charity. Some of us earn a PhD in theoretical physics and give lectures at Yale entitled “Physics, Revolution and Rock and Roll: Reflections on Today’s Ukraine.” Only one of us is Slava Vakarchuk.

First, give the guy some props for not coasting on the success of his band, Okean Elzy, and rocking out of his navel for fame and fortune. He’s not your celebrity spouting off with an occasional, and often embarrassing, shout out to some cause. He puts it on the line regardless of consequences instead of the trendy tweets and superficial name dropping and virtue by casual connection emanating from American celebrity culture. However, when asked about how his music reflects his politics, he said, “You know, I don’t try to spin out political messages with my music. Some of our fans have extremely different views on politics than I do, and they still like listening to our music…when I make good music, I’m making myself happy.” Should his politics show up in his music? Or can Slava keep his focus on his music for the music’s sake to make the best music he can, to be true to his art and creativity?

The answer could be both. This thing of following Christ and HIs Kingdom means Jesus rules over every area of life (unless we’re head of a Brooklyn Mafia family or head of a Colombian drug cartel). But that doesn’t mean these areas of life have to slosh into each other all the time. A Christian’s life should not only exhibit the heart of Jesus but should show excellence in whatever He has called us to be in every arena of our lives. Would Jesus make a wobbly table or Paul a tent that couldn’t keep the wind out? Good work, good art and good living can, and should, stand on its own as Christian signposts in our culture. It is indeed our daily faithfulness with the stuff where God plants us that brings the force and depth of soul we step into a public arena for justice in some way. Picasso’s hard-earned craft (not popular even today) produced both the painting and the platform to protest the massacre at Guernica. Sometimes they do overlap powerfully with issues of the day. But sometimes our living must stand on its own before it grows the depth and force that makes impact in the public square. You can find a good handle on this here.

Unlike grandma, slave Vakarchuk isn’t just a guitar banger. This guy brings a PhD in theoretical physics to Yale in a lecture. Keith Richards of the Stones isn’t lecturing at Yale (yet). A lot of musicians sport serious intellectual chops –  Greg Graffin, Mira Aroyo and Brian Eno to name a few. Created in the Image of God, they bristle with uniqueness. I wish I could say the same for the Christian masses who often look like they’ve been churned out of a Xerox machine. We often see more variety, intense focus and unfetteredness of soul outside the church than in it. Jesus in us should produce all kinds of unique stuff. God loves “out-of-the-boxness”. Moses was a murderer in hiding. Elisha left the plow and the backsides of eight or so oxen behind. John ate bugs in the wilderness for years (I thought seminary a better option. Most of the time, it was.) The Lord hand-picked the guy who would be the numero uno church planter opening whole continents to the Gospel, the leading Christian intellectual and the writer of a large chunk of the New Testament. His choice? Saul of Tarsus – the hottest persecutor of the church (And Saul/Paul wasn’t the last one.). When God became flesh and invaded our world, His earthly parents were nobodies and outcasts. The grown Jesus lived as a carpenter, builder, tradesman, blue-collar guy hidden in plain sight under everyone’s nose. God loves “out-of-the-boxness”. And the more we allow Him to make us over to be like Him, the fewer boxes there will be that can either describe or hold us.

In case we didn’t open the link above for Byron Borger’s new book, it’s right here. There are a number of good books on getting both started and through college. But how do we take what Jesus Christ has done in us out there? This series of commencement addresses (Don’t shut down on me. Unlike many commencement addresses, these are really good.) not only nails it but will leave many marks worth revisiting in rereads.

Whenever I speak to students, I always open the door for them to email me with questions pertaining to all things Jesus. As of this post, I open the door to blog readers. The rule is any question, any topic, anytime. It does have to be a real concern of yours. No gags, gross outs or posing. The only bozos allowed will be me. No names required. I reserve the right to ask clarifying questions so I can dignify your concern with a better response. My email is

If we think that anything here might encourage a student or someone who loves college students then share, subscribe, twitter and all those social media things. If we already subscribe to, then we might want to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for all things pertaining to We’re a mix of students, students ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, theologians, business people, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, pastors, campus rats, rag pickers and a goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. It’s a sharp group; you will only make us better. Check it out and hit the join button if we’re interested.

Please return your seat to the upright position and hand your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as we exit to the rear. See you next post at

geezeronthequad: Hangin’ With the Yalees – Paul Fry

“Time is important to me…” So says George C. Scott’s “Ebenezer Scrooge” at the end of a fine film staging of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. William Shakespeare echoes the same from “Richard II” with his line, “I wasted time and now doth time waste me”. Paul Fry takes this seriously and not just because he’s taught British Romantic poetry at Yale for over forty years or served as the master of Ezra Stiles College. His life and manner carry of an intense but measured focus. those forty plus years have been thoughtfully, intentionally spent. Many moons ago, Paul Fry stood at one of those crossroads moments that all college students bang into. What am I going to do with the rest of my life? While he probably wouldn’t couch this in the language of calling, he’s definitely thought about it.

Paul didn’t have to struggle with one aspect  of vocation that many Christian students run into – parental expectations. he first thought about art and apparently had good artistic talent. Many artistic or creative students have parents who think that art isn’t much of a viable career path. Paul’s Dad was an artist who would’ve supported his pursuit of art. Especially true for students who awaken to Jesus Christ during their university years, some parents have predetermined career expectations based on family traditions or the baseline hope for their children of financial stability/security. “We didn’t spend that money and incur all that debt for you to go to Guatemala for two years to figure things out..” By spring break of my senior year, I knew I wanted to do something for Jesus Christ but was clueless beyond that. I answered the phone one day to hear a strange voice offer me a job on the spot as a reading clinician for a school district in western PA. A prof wanted to do me a favor and put my name in. The job was mine; all I had to say was “yes” and they’d sent me all the paperwork (like a job application). I thanked him and turned him down saying I had other plans. An hour later my father got home and I told him about the job I’d been offered. He said, “That’s great! This thing of you and Jesus Christ really pays off!” I told him I turned it down and a discussion ensued quite a bit higher than room temperature.

While Paul Fry embraced grad work in literature partially to avoid the draft into the Vietnam War, he reached past doing something he was good at (and probably enjoyed) to embrace something deeper that pulled at Him. He speaks the language of calling. “I went to graduate school because I felt I had a deeper vocation for the study of literature than for painting…Today, I could only advise students to follow their deepest vocation.” Much of Christian living today has difficulty scaling the mile high walls of the American navel. Barbara Brown Taylor once commented that finding and doing God’s will for many often wound up being what they would’ve wanted anyway if they had no faith at all. We can do better than this and must. This Christian life Jesus introduces into has a rudder; it’s going somewhere. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10) “…for it is God Who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” (Phil 2:13) Time makes up the stuff and substance of our lives. To waste it means to waste a life. This thing of God’s calling, that deeper pull of something Paul Fry knew even outside a Christian frame of reference, stands as worthy of our full attention during the college years. Here are some of the best of the best of the best at getting started. Check out Os Guinness, Steven Garber, Derek Melleby and John Ortberg. Call Byron Borger at Hearts and Minds Books, mention you saw it here and he’ll give you 20% off.

Being a literary guy both at heart and in degree, Dr. Fry also speaks a timely word into the growing secularism of the stripe that restricts all-knowing to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. “…literature expresses more eloquently and subtly emotions and feelings that we all try to express one way or another.” Musicians, philosophers, theologians and others would jump onto the pile with him to not restrict our ways of genuine knowing. As Blaise Pascal said,”The heart has reasons that the mind cannot know…”

Before we say goodbye to Paul Fry, take a last look at his picture. Doesn’t he look like someone comfortable in his own skin? Wouldn’t we like to just have an hour sitting with this guy letting our thoughts run wherever? Contentedness is always attractive. And it’s so elusive. If we just could be like…if we just could have a little more… if we could just accomplish…if we could just buy… Paul (the apostle, not the professor)paul fry said,”…I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.” (Phil 4:11) I am sure Dr. Fry would be quick to say that not everything in his life has gone his way. Who could? But getting the right things right, teaching the right thing to the right people in the right place at the right time smooths out many wrinkles over the years and puts them in the right place on our faces. Calling does that.

A few cool things for all of us. Stephen Mackereth is a young Christian at Harvard and he is beginning a new column in the Harvard Crimson (Harvard’s real student newspaper) called Unapologetic addressing issues in light of Christian truth. What an opportunity and spiritual responsibility. Take a look, pray for him and make comments where you can. Also check out the British Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. Good stuff. Sometimes escaping our North American context gives us some needed perspective. Faraday staffer Ruth Bancewicz has just penned God in the Lab, a fascinating look at science and faith from the inside. Meet Lizzie Burns, an Oxford doctorate in biochemistry, who takes her research into jewelry design, not as a fad or hobby but as serious creative work.

If you think anything here would encourage a student or someone who loves them, than share, subscribe, tweet and all that other social media stuff. If you already subscribe, then the next logical rung on your bucket list would be to join Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for Take a look. We’re a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composer, booksellers, broadcasters, business people, pastors, theologians, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats, rag pickers and a goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. Shoot us a request. This is a sharp group and you will make us better.

Please return your seat to the upright position and hand your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you leave. See you next post at

St. Fred…Patron Saint of New Roommates (Repost)

Thinking new roommates? Here are some guidelines…


If Facebook tells me anything this time of year, it says that it’s time to unload old furniture and roommates from the netherworld. Facebook sports blurbs like, “Does anybody need a fridge/microwave for next fall? Ours is slightly used. The tomatoes we exploded inside it are from last fall and should be dry by now.” Or “We need a third roommate to share rent as we live under the front porch of the Xi House. Cozy if you don’t mind a little noise.” Wouldn’t it be great to have some sure-fire way to know if that person you think would the perfect fit for next year doesn’t have some hideous secret life or might be wanted for insect genocide in Uzbekistan? Maybe we need a quick shout out to  St. Fred…the patron saint of new roommates? He voices the eternal optimism that the next one won’t be a loser…

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