trying to follow

Monday, September 26

and what am i supposed to be learning?

as you can probably tell from the title, today's blog is rather negative. my feelings toward my campus ministry have been pretty low for the past 3 years or so. that's how long i've been involved. the primary reason i got involved to begin with the ministry was because i knew the campus minister and felt obligated to participate in the ministry and have felt so ever since. i am constantly discouraged. tonight, however, is the low water mark. i drove to chapel hill for Bible study, and there were only two of us, myself and my co-leader. this was the second week in a row. i have expected it. i wasted an hour of my life. i talked to God on the way over there, half expecting a repeat of last week (an easy solution to my problem for any nay-sayers: my lack of faith). the main subject of the conversation, what i really drove at, was "what am i to learn from this?"

am i doing something wrong? are You trying to show me? i feel like i've been doing it wrong for my whole Christian life. i'm tired of failing. perhaps i'm to become involved in another Bible study (not in our campus ministry, of course) and so glorify God? if i'm ever a part of a large, "successful" congregation/ministry, i'll sure not take it for granted. i feel like the Gospel's not working through me. this casts doubt, not on my faith in God, but on my faith in myself. i feel like i'm a tool that God's not really using. do i move myself elsewhere? do i have everything wrong? i'm convinced that i don't because God has changed me nonetheless. of this i am sure.

i don't blame people for not wanting to be a part of our ministry. i'm not excited about it either.

despite all this negativity, this incessant pessimism, i am grateful what has been provided to me through this ministry. i denigrate it. i complain. and i'm not convinced that i've gotten that much out of it. nevertheless, i am grateful that i am where i am. i have grown in Christ while in college. of course, there were sources of growth other than my campus ministry, but it has no doubt contributed. i would that i could see it contribute to others' growth.

Wednesday, September 21

a good day

today i talked to God about the campus ministry with which i'm involved. i expressed my feelings rather openly. i pled with Him. i think it worked. i suppose it could simply be a matter of attitude, but i think it's more than that.

i'm still not satisfied on a daily basis with my impact in the world around me. no one approaches me and asks me to share the Good News; how then do i show the world? God, You know. open my eyes. live through me.

Thursday, September 15

it's moods like this that stifle my productivity

i'm in the contemplative mood. introspection can be a good thing, a valuable learning tool. however, it can also be black hole in your clock.

it's cool being able to learn things about God in my relationships with others. doubt and faith. distrust and trust. sin and forgiveness. it actually takes the edge off pain at times. knowing that God loves me enough to look past my shortcomings, and not only forgive me but have faith in me to be like His Son (!). i doubt myself, but You. You don't. You saved this wretch and long to see him conformed to the likeness of Your Son. may i grow closer to that everyday. i stumble. pick me up... i just lost my train of thought. it was stolen by my stupid computer. the cursor forgot that it is supposed to blink...

while i'm still off the track, i must wonder aloud (aloud?) why you can't underline stuff in emails and blogs and whatnot. how are you supposed to convey the title of a movie?

God. transform me. and then use me to transform others. i'm sick of this i'm-trying-to-get-to-heaven-and-take-as-many-people-as-possible-with-me mentality. heaven would suck if someone wasn't a member of the kingdom while he was on earth. it starts now. it's about more than numbers. it's about how we view the world. it's about becoming less. it's about others being more important than me. it's about submission and love and, and, following Your Son. lead me.

Wednesday, September 14

random comments

"random" is probably not the most appropriate word. alas, my vocabulary is limited.

i'm reading lesslie newbigin's the gospel in a pluralist society (not while i'm typing; that would be really difficult, nigh impossible). it's really good. it's kind of... well, it leaves me feeling like "you guys [people who are around, whom i encounter daily] just don't get it, that is if you don't believe the good news of Jesus Christ, and maybe even if you do." he attacks the premises of religious conservatism and liberalism (particularly that of contemporary Christians). i find relief in this. it's not an argument of left versus right. both sides miss the point. he says, "there are on the one hand those who seek to identify God's revelation as a series of objectively true propositions, propositions which are simply to be accepted by those who wish to be Christians. and on the other hand there are those who see the essence of Christianity in an inward spiritual experience, personal to each believer, and who see the Christian doctrines as formulated during church history as symbolic representations of these essentilally inward and private experiences." i haven't completely grasped where the two should meet, but i see and lament flaws in each mindset, which newbigin claims, and i think justifiably so, are "tearing the Church apart."

i tell myself that once i get it all figured out that i'll really start changing others' lives. i think that's an excuse. i think it's a lie. i mean, sure, i may be more helpful to a seeker/wanderer if i know more of the answers, but i'm sure that God wants me to be used now. that's a part of growing as a Christian, a part of this journey that's just as important as learning. in any event, i long to develop a greater understanding of our responsibility as the Church. i want to have the answers. more answers, i suppose. i'll never have them all.

Monday, September 12

success and failure

i'm frustrated. mainly with myself. i can't be content. i'm not satisfied with the level of success of the ministries of which i am a part. i want to know what i'm or we're doing wrong, if anything. i'm convinced that i'm missing something. it may just be something i am personally lacking, or something that i/we am/are blind to.

i long for genuine fellowship. to be uplifted and to encourage in my interactions with others. i feel that, as much as i hate it, we're "just going through the motions." (i put that in quotes because it's cliché.) what are we not doing? do i have the wrong attitude? what are we doing?

i suppose i want assurance. i want God to reach down, look me in the face, and tell me, "I love you. seek Me, and you'll find Me. you're doing a [appropriate word] job," and then proceed to tell me what things i've right and what i've wrong. i suppose He's already done the first part.

i long to be satisfied by God. i've become convinced recently that i'm not. i require it from others. i guess i might just be in need of encouragement, but i think i know it's more than that, mainly because i'm not picky about what kind of assurance i want to receive. i know that i need to be satisfied by Christ. Christ, satisfy me. i suppose i should be beseeching Your Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, satisfy me. bring me peace, assurance, hope. teach me to love the Lord my God, and to love others. may i know success on Your terms and not those of the this world.

lessons from soup

when eating soup, it is advisable to have a spoon of length roughly equal to or greater than the diameter of the bowl.

campbell's recommends one can of soup and one can of water. i recommend slightly less water.

when purchasing a condensed soup, actually at any point prior to eating one, don't expect the soup to be thick, especially if you follow directions. however, you may expect, at least in the case of chicken soup with rice, carrots to be in the soup, and in much greater amounts than chicken.

Sunday, September 11

i wish i knew

i wish i knew if i handled a particular situation correctly today. if i did what God would have done.

it pains me that i must disclose certain information to fully relate this. i feel that in doing so, assuming that i acted correctly, i feel as if i'm getting my reward here, so to speak. however, i feel that wrestling with the issue, and perhaps providing clarity or something else useful to a reader, may be of more significance than a particular reward in heaven. that is, i don't think Jesus is going to hand me two twenties when i get to heaven. i don't know.

so near the end of our service this morning a man came to the church. he was carrying his bible and asking for money. according to him, his mother, who resided in connecticut, had just died, and he and his wife and kids need to get there to bury her. anyway, he was asked to leave by some of the men of the church. i spoke with him and decided to buy him a tank of gas. however, he told me that another church had just filled up his tank and that he would need to fill up again before he made it the entire way to connecticut. that's enough of his story. i rode with him to food lion, purchased gum and got $40 back. i gave it to him.

he got on my nerves. first of all, when i returned from the grocery store, he was trying to get money from a lady in the parking lot. secondly, he praised me. thirdly, he tried convincing me that he is a saint.

i'm left wondering what i did right and what i did wrong. i don't believe him. he wasn't drunk or anything, but he talked entirely too much. in any event, his story is not the kind that can be conveniently verified. i feel sorry for him. not because his mom died, but because of his understanding, or lack thereof, of our Father.

pray for him. his name is angelo.

two things made me give him the money. (1)luke 6:34-35. (2)i'm not comfortable with someone going to church and being turned away. whether he should have been given money, i don't know. but i wish there was something more than "you need to leave."

one other thing that really got on my nerves. he tried pulling the race card. i set him straight. i firmly yet lovingly assured him that a white man seeking money claiming the same circumstances would have received the same treatment from my brothers of the congregation. God made one race of humans. why can't people understand that?

just thinking

so, a blog is therapeutic. i read my first two posts, and i can already appreciate what God's shown me over the past couple of days. thanks.

friends are great. i had such a good time with my friends at church tonight. i've been thinking a lot lately, wondering what they get out of a lesson. i feel like i'm expressing truths to them that until relatively recently were unknown to me. what did i learn about when i was their age? am i not teaching them stuff because i assume they already know it? i suppose since i'm going to have about a two year window in their lives (one of which is already gone; one of the years, not a window or a life), then my main priority is to get them firmly rooted in the word, in the promise. looking back, i think i've stressed to them that Christianity isn't lame, which is the impression that has been created in the minds of so many of this generation. i'm trying to disentangle the true Gospel from the many fetters which man has added to it.

sometimes i wonder how my relationship with God would be different had i not accepted the ministry. sometimes i wonder if i am going to immediately get involved in a ministry when i move away. i wonder now.

Friday, September 9

progress report

i suppose you could argue as to whether or not this is a progress report. i'm 21 years into this life, 9 years into the Christian life, about a year into the real growing/searching/contemplating stage. so i suppose in these respects, this could be a progress report. however, there is no clear beginning for this evaluation. maybe, then, it's just that. however, if i were to now change the title, this paragraph would be obsolete. and i can't have that. i'm thinking it's like a pre-test. let's find out what i know.

i'm excited about the possibility of finding some answers and then reading this one again.

i'm trying to get past all the "if only"s. i listened to phil's sermon last night: "seeing is not always believing." wow. good confusion points, phil. i tell myself i'd be more capable of making sense of things if only my circumstances were different. i question my business in the youth ministry. don't get me wrong; i'm not, pardon the expression, selling a product i don't believe in. i am convinced. as paul wrote, "i know whom i have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what i have entrusted to him for that day." my struggle is what this Christianity business means for my life. and, concerning the youth ministry, i feel like i'm inadequate to answer questions posed by my kids sometimes. their situations seem so much more difficult than my own. furthermore, i feel like i haven't sufficiently conquered some of the problems they're dealing with. what good am i?

anyway. i'm seeing things more clearly. but i'm not really growing, i don't think. that is i'm not "being spiritual." i'm reading the Bible. and praying, a little bit. i get distracted. [i like to think that God's reading this. in that sense, i am praying to You. i don't know why i treat You this way. You deserve so much more. i'm asking; i'm seeking; i'm knocking. let me live as You would have me. life is a waste if i'm not living it in the abundance of which Your Son spoke.]

i almost wish no one stumbles upon this. or at least, they don't let me know. i would like it to be a prayer journal. God reads my blog. yeah. maybe You have other plans. that's cool. i trust You.

so lately i've been longing for assurance from others. i've got a God who loves me, a fiancée who loves me, parents and two brothers who love me. but that is not enough. i long for praise. that's it. my vanity cripples me. my desire for others' approval is cumbersome. i suppose You can take that. i guess i have to give it to You, don't i? help me be satisfied.

i'm also overwhelmed by the accomplishments and abilities of others and disappointed by my lack of both. however, i do feel happy for theirs. there is no jealousy going on. i would say no envy either. just a little bit of self-disappointment. ortberg handles this topic really well in the beginning of the life you've always wanted. i've read it. but head and heart are two different departments.

well, i better leave more to be said.

Thursday, September 8

the beginning

i have no intention of posting regularly. i just registered so i could post a comment on a friend's blog from may.

with that in mind, and assuming that i have not publicized my blog, you're probably one of only a few visitors, possibly the only one. congratulations.

i'd love to have a really cool blog and lots of readers. but i probably won't for that reason.