faith

“Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit…..If then, we would be assured that God is pleased with and kindly disposed toward us, we must fix our eyes…on Christ…We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ.  We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else.”

John Calvin

I need faith. We all need faith. Anyone that takes a step back to look at life can see the injustice of the world, the improbability of success, the blessings of God that we do not deserve. I take a step back every new year and spend some time alone evaluating the last year and praying/planning for the next. This year when I spent the holiday with friends at a wonderful mountain cabin in the smokies I had several things on my mind. Among them my wonderful family, the upcoming soccer season, and the uncertainty of life.

snowmen from hiking in the smokies

My family is quite wonderful. A few highlights from the Christmas Holiday included one of my stocking stuffers. On my posted Christmas list on the blog (see the post entitled “how the world turns”) I listed needing a crocheting needle since I’d lost 2 needles in one of my eight moves in the last couple years. My mom sneakily got me a needle (in the perfect color – GREEN) and snuck it in my stocking with everything else. Thats love right there. So small and seemingly insignificant, but sweet love.

A second family highlight is how awesome my brothers are. Not to make a short story long, but I enjoy our adult relationships: where we can fight fair and work through real issues in life, have forgiveness for the mistakes we make, learn, converse and discuss things happening in the world. It was hard, sweet, and refreshing all at the same time.  (I could go on and on about my Dad too, but I’ll save that for another post)

On the upcoming season and the uncertainty of life…

Faith is the gift from God to know that God sent love to us. I can be a doubter. I can doubt this season will go well. I can doubt I’ll find a team, or a job, or a life that I love. Or I can trust that God has good intended for me, not because I love him so well or am so great of a person, but because He loved me while I was a sinner. Its crazy love at that. But I have faith that soccer or no soccer, coaching or not coaching, working or not enjoying my work, living or suffering that Jesus loves me. Not in a far off “I won’t punish you too much” kind of way, but in a “if you’d get past yourself for a minute and saw how much I(God) love you you’d never be the same” kind of love.

This New Year time for me was refreshing to get away, relax, rest, play with friends, sleep, pray, read, make lots of fires… Taking a step back to get a focus on life, to reaffirm the path I’m on to pursue soccer as long as makes sense and then move on to giving the game back to others what has meant so much to me. I am hoping that it will be a long while till that happens, but as we all know…

Life is uncertain. Live it on purpose.

funny church blog

I recently discovered the Stuff Christians Like Blog. I love it.

It has an excellent view on Christianity by trying to poke a little fun at the way Christians do really silly stuff. So if you take things really seriously this may not be for you. However, if you need a fun laugh check it out! It doesn’t discourage Christianity, but really builds up an atmosphere of bringing Jesus and His grace into all areas of our life.

http://stuffchristianslike.net/

Not Saying But Enough

#293. Not saying “but” enough.

Jun 13th by Jon

There is really only one word you need to remember in this post and it is the word, “but.” I promise, that is all I am asking for.

To get there though, to make that word make sense, we have to go to an island in a lake in Kenya and meet some orphans. Want to go?

A few months ago, I had the good fortune to write about my uncle’s orphanage. He helped found it in Kenya on an island in Lake Victoria. One of the things I love about it is that Kenyans were part of starting it, it wasn’t one of those, “America fixes everything in other countries” kind of projects. There are more than 300 kids, many of which were orphaned by the HIV epidemic. Some of the kids are HIV positive. It is without a doubt the most visceral representation I know of what it means to share God’s love.

And it was close to be being burned down.

With the violent unrest that destroyed a country that many would say AIDS has already destroyed, the orphanage was in danger a few months ago. There were threats. Guards were posted. The food supply delivered to the island was dwindling.

And in the midst of that, the director of the orphanage, a man named Naphtaly, wrote a beautiful reminder of the kind of God we serve:

Thanks to you and to all our fellow-servants who are in USA for lifting us and our bleeding country to the Lord. After receiving perhaps the most direct and serious threats from the mainlands, to the effect that we the only operating school in our region, I decided to call off my trip to Nairobi by the MAF plane which was coming to pick me. I called all staff and told them about the threats of those who were demanding that we close down or be burnt. I then gave each one room to say what in their view we needed to do and only two people were in favor of closure, with everyone else feeling strongly that we cannot release the children to all the dangers awaiting them outside of the orphanage. We will stay with the children.

Deep inside I am reminded once more that this place is the true home many of these precious jewels of the Lord have. I asked myself, ‘Should I send them out there in the wild, or should I continue God’s work even when it is risky?’ I chose the latter and all I ask for is not sympathy but prayer that God would put his arms around these tender lives. This evening our plea to be allowed to continue serving the orphans for the sake of Christ was aired on the radio. Mention was made of us by name that we should be spared the ordeals going on throughout our country by now.

Tonight the men will be working as guards of children, women and property as a response to the night attacks. We have no weapons but wholly rely on the Lord and the guarding angels of light. May the Lord bless and keep you.

I highlighted the word I want to focus on for a second although I think there’s a great danger when you read an extreme story like that. The problem is that sometimes stories like that seem far away. They feel further away than just the other side of the planet, they feel like they’re happening in a whole other solar system. And when we read them, we think to ourselves, “That’s horrible, I can’t imagine going through that.”

Only, here’s the thing, you can.

Maybe there aren’t men with guns outside your door in the shadows of an African moon.

Maybe you’re not on an island with a food supply that will run out if planes can’t get passed armed rebels.

Maybe you don’t have to explain to eight-year olds how God can still love them even though they’re growing up with HIV in their veins.

But in more ways than you can imagine or maybe admit, we will all face our own dark nights. And in his email Naphtaly hid a pretty powerful reminder of a reality we must all deal with.

Here is what he said:
“We have no weapons but wholly rely on the Lord”

He wrote these because they were true of his situation. He did not have any weapons. His hands held no bullets, but they were not empty, for he relied wholly on the Lord.

But that can’t be like you, can it?

I’m not so sure. Maybe we’re just not looking at that sentence the right way. Instead of looking at the words, we need to look at the idea, because it’s one that applies to all of us. Maybe instead of weapons the sentence could read like:

“My wife has left me but I wholly rely on the Lord”
“I lost my job but I wholly rely on the Lord”
“My mom doesn’t believe in God but I wholly rely on the Lord”
“I’ve lost half my life to alcohol but I wholly rely on the Lord”
“I’m not doing what I was made to do but I wholly rely on the Lord”
I could write a thousand examples there and hopefully you’ll share your own with me in a comment, but the simple truth is that each of us will face the darkness of the night. Armed rebels in Africa or apartment rent that’s late in Atlanta, each of us will stare out into the unknown and long for a weapon that just isn’t there.

My prayer is that instead of being fake Christian super happy, you’ll admit that things can be tough. You’ll be honest about the first half and the second half of the sentence you could say describing your challenge. My prayer is that instead of seeing your hand as empty, you’ll see your heart as full and in the darkest of times will do what a Kenyan headmaster did, rely wholly on the Lord.

My prayer is that you’ll say “but” more.

P.S. Since I originally shared this story in January, the orphanage, which is also a school, made it through the rebellion without damage. If you want more info, their site is http://www.ggcckenya.com/. And thanks to the folks that have said they will share this story on their own blogs. That is very cool.

http://stuffchristianslike.net/2008/06/293-not-saying-but-enough/.

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Name that poet…? DING DING DING! you are correct.

William Shakespeare authored the wonderful story of Romeo and Juliet. Did anyone else read that? Say freshman year of high school… and have to memorize parts of it. I must admit I only crammed enough to know it for like a day.

For the purpose of my post I am going to use the idea of a “name” loosely, kinda more like a description. I texted some of my friends and family (the people that really know me best) and asked them if they could describe me in one word what it would be. Some of the responses I got were…

  • confident
  • silly… which my friend amended to fun? athletic?  intelligent? determined?
  • Ridiculous… with a request to amend…
  • athletic
  • loyal
  • ardent
  • punk… changed to resilient
  • legit
  • passionate
  • a lollipop (had a cool explanation)
  • devoted
  • inspiring
  • determined

These are all awesome and extremely encouraging. Thanks family and friends!!!! That really encouraged me more than I expected. But what I really wanted to say was that what we are called is important. It truly defines us. I have a few names. Most of my friends, teammates, and some of my coaches call me Whit.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my name. Its an great name, my parents were really good at naming all of us, but I really enjoy being called Whit. It really gives me something special. My coaches made it my freshman year and it really stuck. I even have a few teachers that call me Whit. Introducing myself gets confusing sometimes, well I just make it awkward, not really on purpose.

I have also had other nicknames: whitscribble – highschool friends, go go gadget – basketball team,  Al – highschool sports, and another I can’t mention because it wasn’t a very nice one. My brothers have special names for me, and me for them, they are awesome. My Daddy has special names for me too. And my mom always calls me her favorite girl.

But when I get down, when I am discouraged sometimes those aren’t enough. My people are not nearby or don’t have the ability to encourage me. What do I do then? When school is hard, my friends are having conflict, my parents are busy, soccer is slipping… When everything important to me in my life leaves what to I have left? What is my name then?

My name is Beloved. It means that I am “to be loved.”  It tells me to be loved, that I am loved. I cannot stop that, I cannot contain that. When I mess up and fail, I am still loved. Its the best pet name ever… Beloved. That is my name whether I feel like I can claim it or not. The search for significance, meaning, love, purpose is done. Who calls me this you may ask? The only one who can fulfill that promise to love me completely. The only one who gave more for me than I could ever give back. The only one who loves unconditionally. I am completely secure. Even when I am alone, and the world has turned its back on me, I have him. His name is Jesus.

What I know is that He loves me and that is enough.

His love is better than life
Psalm 63:3

So that’s what I am about. What makes you tick? Is there someone or something that keeps you going? My parents and family are always there for me. Being able to be around them more is such a fun thing. My friends are incredible; they keep me going. And shoot they are sooooo much fun. I can’t wait till my next break and getting to play with them! Anyway, enjoy this day my friends!