As long as I live there will be something worth fighting for, worth writing for, and worth dying for.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

This post was going a completely different way. Then an analogy popped in my head and the entire 500 words was scrapped, all for the sake of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Yesterday, as I studied, I was thinking about faith, about the battle between our spirit and our flesh. I realized a few things. One, there will always be a battle. Even if we think our flesh is dead and gone, it will come back to overpower a weak spirit. Two, our flesh does not change, the desires it had before it was killed off will be the same desires it is resurrected with (I am talking about our fleshly nature here, not the glorified bodies). Three, who you serve is who you feed.

Four, you can "feed" your spirit and your flesh at the same time.

Before you can at me with "no man can serve two masters" let me explain. It is like chocolate-covered strawberries. On one hand, they are good for you, but they are still not considered healthy, right? Why? Because chocolate is not the best thing in the word for you. If it were, it would be in a food group other than "fats."

But what are spiritual chocolate-covered strawberries. They appear spiritual but are fleshly motivated. For instance, I read my Bible every morning for ten minutes because that is 'spiritual' but my motivation in doing it is to impress... myself, I guess. Maybe that's why people opt for chocolate-covered strawberries instead of candy bars. At least reading five chapters is better than reading a romance novel, right?

So, while my spirit man may be gleaning a bit of sustenance from my meal of candied fruit, the one who is really getting the benefit is my flesh. It should be no surprise to me, then, that in the end my flesh is stronger. It wins out.

Yesterday was a day that solidified the reality of chocolate-covered strawberries. Here I felt like I was doing a good job devotionally-wise. I was pretty faithful about reading my Bible every morning and read for a decent amount of time and I would pray through my students and other needs at the front of my mind. I thought I was doing pretty good. Someone else, a complete stranger, told me otherwise.

I received a phone call, and interview yesterday morning as I removed a load of laundry from the dryer. I walked over to a comforter and sat down and was asked to share my devotional life. So I bragged about how I can pray in the car while I am driving to work, and how I have this Hebrew-Greek study Bible that makes me the equivalent of a theology grad student (not really). I felt pretty impressed by myself. Surely I had to be making an impression on this person. Not really.

He said very plainly that my devotional life needs a lot of work. It was like getting a cavity from my chocolate-covered strawberries. Maybe more of a root canal. It hurt. My flesh immediately went into revolt as he challenged me to up the ante in my spiritual life and really make time for God. Two hours each morning was the challenge.

When that was first presented I was reeling. Two hours!? Two hours is for people like Charles Spurgeon or Amy Carmichael. Two hours is not for people like me. As I listened to him explain his challenge, I calmed a little. He asked, "How do you feel about that?" There was a long pause, and all I could say was, "Woah."

That is like an all-organic diet, or a juice fast. It's for those 'other people' not for me. Jessica doesn't do organic. I like my chocolate-covered strawberries, thank you very much. But then it occurred to me. I had it all wrong. The 'spiritual greats' did not have great spiritual lives because they were great. No. The spiritual greats were great because they had great spiritual lives. They were spiritually healthy because they had ditched the chocolate-covered strawberries. You don't get healthy and then decide to eat right. You eat right and then become healthy.

So, two hours it is, but not right away. It's like training for a marathon. It takes time to develop... and those chocolate covered strawberries have to go.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Never Despise Starting Over

To say I am at a breaking point would be an understatement. Right now, I would consider myself just plain broken. I have spent the past 24 hours grappling with where I am after 24 years of life. I cried myself to sleep last night as I thought, "This is not where I wanted to be." My life feels so impactless at the moment. I know it has its impact, but I had hoped it would be more. Much more.

So, I am broken, because somewhere along the line I missed a step, I think. That step would be the sacred.

Years ago (man I feel old when I say that), I read a book by Eric Ludy. The book, entitled, "Meet Mr. Smith" talked about the sacred. In it, Eric introduces the reader to Sacred, a personification of the attribute that should be present in our lives. In telling the story, Eric shares how he actually set the book itself aside, in the face of looming deadlines, in order to care for that which is sacred- his wife.

For me, sacredness and patience work hand in hand. That which is sacred must be waited for. I can get so impulsive. My train of thought is instant. If God calls me to be a missionary, I should go now. It does not make sense for me to wait for two years. If God calls me to write something, I should write it now, and in turn He should publish it now. Right? It's not like it isn't needed right now. Right?

But this morning, as I sat in little pieces on the floor, a friend sent me a Scripture reference: Ecclesiastes 3:11. If you will tolerate a paraphrase: God makes all things beautiful in His time; don't try to figure out what He's doing.

That was the version according to Jessica. That is how I read it this morning.

As we come up on Christmas, I think back to a Sunday school lesson I taught months ago. I talked about how the world had waited for Christ. That's why the hymn sings, "Come thou long-expected Jesus." For centuries the world waited for Redemption. Did they need the Redemption then? Of course they did. Did God know what was best? Absolutely.

So, I have spent some time reflecting on God's timing. Some people say to never despise small beginnings, to serve where you stand, to bloom where you are planted. That's all fine well and good except for the fact that when Jessica is given a brick, I build the whole wall. I am not one to enjoy the journey. I am one to find the quickest route possible to the destination. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line at five over the speed limit. That's how I work. So, God gives me bricks, lays a foundation and then I grab the blue prints and build the rest of the wall. Sure, I had small beginnings, and I didn't despise them but doesn't God want more from me... and now?

I build it up, and then triumphantly turn and face my Father. With love in His eyes, He says, "Tear it down." I'm crushed. What?! "Tear it down. That isn't want I wanted for you. Tear it down."

And down it comes again. That's where I stand right now. Or maybe I am sitting. Sitting amongst a pile of broken dreams trying to figure out the exact point when God's work became mine. I can't find that point, so it's back to the drawing board. Given the choice of cutting myself on broken glass and letting God help me start over, I think I pick the latter.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just for Fun

As Aslan, you are brave, noble and have an astute awareness of morality. You may be quick to anger at times, but you have a heart of gold, and are respected greatly among your peers.

Narnia Personality Quiz

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I woke up in deep thought this morning, quite a way to start my 25th year of life. I sat down in front of the Mirror and cried out to God, "What is my problem?" He replied gently, "you."

I'm taking a break... catch you all on the other end of it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Open Doors

"When something becomes frustrating or confusing, it is no longer God doing it; it's us."

That is a paraphrase from Joyce Meyer's book, "Seven Things That Steal Our Joy." It's a quote God reminded me of today as I wrote to a ministry partner of mine.

So often, I run ahead of God- far ahead. It's not that I am not supposed to go to a certain place. It's just that I'm going without Him.

Years ago, my family visited Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, TN. We entered the cave to lead us to the falls and, in a few moments, realized we had lost my youngest brother. We strained to see through the crowd and spotted him nearly 50 yards ahead, on his way to the Falls. He got in trouble. Why? Is it because he was going the wrong way? No. He was simply getting ahead of us.

I do that to God so often. He opens a door, and I walk through it. Then, I get so excited about being through the door that I burst into a full out sprint and miss everything entirely in my mad dash to open door #2.

God is so gentle and patient with me. He reminded me of that today in a strange way. He actually reminded me through a YouTube promotional video for an independent Christian music group composed of 24 year olds. In the end of the video one of them said, "We are just walking through the doors He opens."

Service to Him does not have to be a blazing spitfire. There is much service to be had in boldness and courage. Everyone reading this is very confused, but I promise in the next few weeks, all that I have said will make sense. Being Reckless is not about swinging a sword and shaking an angry fist in the face of society and saying, "Deal with it."

Being Reckless is simply this: Deciding to follow Jesus and never turning back.