The Old vs The Young: The Battle of the Ages

Haha, silly old man,” were the mental words I muttered as I watched the elderly gentleman performing awfully-sluggish lunges in front of me.  “Silly old man, what are you doing in the gym? You can barely move as it is. What has your life come? Simple drudgery. Your wrinkled old skin and fragile bones… What you need to do is go backwards in age about 50 years and then copy me. Silly man.

Over a five-second time span, those were the literal thoughts that formed in my mind as I glanced at the 70-year-old man working out. It’s scary how hurtfully prideful and sinful my initial thoughts were. Suddenly, my attention shifted to his facial expression. He had a sharply keen stare in his eyes – as if he were remiss to the workout machines and people surrounding him. It was as if he truly believed that he was the only person present in the gym. Even the gym itself seemed to not have been anywhere on his radar. My common sense finally appeared and it then dawned on me that he surely must have been there for a reason. Maybe he’s had a recent health scare and is at the gym by doctor’s orders. Maybe he wants to get in shape to show his wife that he “still has it” at his age. Maybe he has no one and nothing in his life and just wants to feel something again. Then I realized that that day of old age, regardless of circumstance, is coming for me with just a blink of an eye. With just…the blink of an eye.

It was only a few days ago that I was in Kindergarten learning how to write my home address and Mrs. Hill told me how well I was doing. I remember the layout of the classroom, where I sat, and the excitement I felt. What is it about youthfulness that blinds our eyes from seeing just how fragile and short life is? Psalm 39:5 and 101:15 are going to compare our lives to a single breath and our days to grass in the field. The latter verse further says that the wind blows the grass away and the ground remembers its place no more. What it’s saying is that as people age, the generation underneath them will begin to disregard and neglect them more and more. As much as I love my parents, my future children will not have that same tangible love for them and will not care to be around them as much. In a few generations after me, they will not even remember my name. Such a truthful picture that the Bible paints. That doesn’t really make us feel warm inside, but hopefully that does clear up some blinders.

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But silly me. Silly us. Here’s the thing about old age…here’s how the Bible is going to  portray old age…it consistently glorifies it. The entire Bible says that wisdom comes with years. Proverbs 22:15 will say that folly is in the heart of a child. Why do we fear aging so much? Why do we ignore the wisdom and companionship of the older generations? Oh how Satan has twisted our society so that we have a natural divide amongst generations.

For almost a year now I have been in a small group with a predominantly older crew. In this group, I have realized that I am a lot more dumb than I am wise. I know theology – I can chat church history or apologetics, switch to politics or engineering and sprinkle it with sports … but every time I am around them, their wisdom blows me away and greatly humbles my prideful ignorance. It reminds me of how much I have yet to live through and learn. As a wise pastor once said, “Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing teaches like LIFE.” We can read all the books we want, we can watch all the Youtube videos and BBC documentaries, we can get all the face-lifts and take all the youth pills we need, we can do everything right externally – but in the end, what matters is the internal. Wisdom. Character. Courage. The Heart. Spiritual depth. And only years of living life teach all of that.

To paraphrase King Solomon’s candor in Ecclesiastes 7, he says “Who cares how many likes you get on Instagram if at the end of the day you’re pretending as if you’re not drowning on the inside. The Wise hang out with people that will encourage, rebuke, guide them closer to Christ. While the Fools surround themselves with people that are stuck in the same ditch that they are currently in.” Even though I wrote a blog on Christian dating a few weeks ago… it was only a few months prior that I was very close to asking an unbeliever out on a date. Biblically, I know the tremendous stumbles it could cause. I have even warned my own friends away from this a few times. However, things were different when the shoes were on my foot. I mean, this girl had a cute smile and could dance! Stick a fork in me, I’m easily done. Well, when I confronted the men in my small group about my plans, each of them lovingly told me how stupid that idea was.  And here’s the thing, I had a legit plan and even scripturally spoke on how it could work. But they shut it down immediately and I came back to my senses. See, I needed that because I already had myself deceived. We may never verbally say it, but we definitely act like we’re invincible and that we know everything. But King Solomon would say that it would be wise to have older, godly friends sometimes … because they can see things that we are blind in seeing.

Older men and older women, we need you. Please come into our lives. Otherwise we are bound to make the same cyclic-mistakes as the generations before us.  Lord knows we need to do life together. Imagine the spiritual growth that would take place from the integration. Think of the amount of vitality that it could bring to the older generation. I pray that this happens. May Christ be glorified through it all. May his Spirit guide us in our youth and sustain us through our old age.

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God Saves All of us Crazy & Odd People

  • I have some Asian friends that are a part of this very large Asian group of believers. They gather together in various homes every day of the week. They pray drastically different than how I have learned to pray. They do hospitality well and treat me as one of their own. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I have these friends that are connoisseurs when it comes to alcoholic beverages. They know every brewery in Raleigh and like drinking wine as if they are practicing for heaven. They truly have deep desires to grow in their faith. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I have other friends that were taught that drinking alcohol is sinful and that God does not want us to use musical instruments during church worship. But God still saved them despite such teaching. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I know many people that were raised in the Bible Belt and were honestly saved at the age of 6. Some come from financially well-off families. They praise Ronald Reagan, and they think Democrats are ignorant. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I know people that were not raised in the church and still struggle with dirty mouths at times. However, they have a youthfully passionate faith. They think Republicans have satanic tendencies. And they love Jesus very very much.
  • I have a few friends that are natural born skeptics. If someone tells them that a movie is good…they will doubt that opinion until they see the movie for themselves. They wrestled with doubt in Christ until they received enough rational proof. The love apologetics and Jesus very very much.
  • I grew up in Riverdale/College Park, GA – In a society where rapper T.I. was idolized as The King, gang members were rock stars, and Waka Flocka was viewed the second coming of Christ… even through that, God saved. And there are people there who love Jesus very very much.
  • There are some friends of mine that are borderline hippies. They rock climb in their chacos and contra dance every week. Some do not have a facebook! However, they intimately walk with the Lord in ways that I am jealous of. And they love Jesus very much.
  • I have a dear friend that spent some time in Haiti for missionary work. She describes that, while there, some of the Haitian natives would constantly come up to her to ask “if she had Jesus in her heart.” Depending on her response, they were ready to tell her all about Jesus. Haha, they were going to teach a Christian missionary about the Gospel. Evangelistic boldness is so woven into their Haitian culture that they automatically bring God up to anyone without fear. They love Jesus very very much.
  • There are between 70 and 90 million believers in China. A majority of whom worship in underground caves and in residential house churches. The communist Chinese government continues to imprison and kill leaders, but the revival continues to flourish. The government has begun to cut off the water supply and electricity in the homes of those house churches… but they still keep multiplying. They love Jesus very very much.

If we’re honest, many of us fall into the trap of believing that Christianity draws in a certain type of person. Whether it is a certain Myers-Briggs personality type, a subtle caricature, a certain race, hierarchy of class, economic status, or geographic locality. This foggy perception of Christians suddenly transforms our Biblically “open” faith into a religion that seems very “exclusive. An exclusiveness that is seen from both outside and inside the church. How is it possible that we have neglected to open our eyes into a stable awareness that God reaches ALL domains of society? Additionally, all throughout scripture there are commands and imagerys of unity within the body. “One body with many members” – 1 Corinthians 12:12. Ephesians 4, Psalm 133:1.

There is something about a body of people standing “together” firm in the faith, as Philippians 1:27, 28 describes. When people that have the same interests and motives surround us, we feel this sense of warmth and confidence that nothing can stop us. That is why there is such a thing as home-field advantage in sports…the fans and team feel emboldened around each other. Imagine the players on your favorite football team arriving to their game wearing different colored jerseys. There’s no unity in that and it will not intimidate the other team. We need one another.

I would love for those Haitian believers to teach me a thing or two about boldness and evangelism. When I’m having doubts about my faith, I need to hear from natural born skeptics how they wrestle Satan with apologetics and the power of God’s word. We need one another because God has sanctified us all in such particular ways that are intended to build the body. Not only for our local church, but also the universal (or global) church body at large. What Satan wants…what Satan loves is for us to not have any awareness of each other. For example, he doesn’t want us aware of the boldness of our Haitian brothers and sisters because, in turn, that would embolden us. Satan wouldn’t want that, now would he…

A close Clemson friend of mine recently told me of this God-given vision he received while sleeping one night: As he was dreaming, he suddenly saw this vision of an uncountable large gathering of people that were far beyond thousands of thousands. They were of all the different nationalities and from different walks of life. All of a sudden, their skins peeled and they were no longer recognizable by any form of identity. They weirdly became transformed into everyday construction tools from our local Home Depot (ex. hammers, measuring tapes, bevel squares, screwdrivers etc). They depicted how God was using each one of those immense number of believers for in collectively building his kingdom. Suddenly, all the tools went to work, building God’s kingdom in front of my friend!! He further described that it did not take long for all the clattering and noises to become overwhelmingly loud. All the action started causing his heart rate to abruptly increase and he literally started shaking and woke up from his dream.

Imagine the clatter we can make together as one team for our God and Savior. Imagine the encouragement and the inescapable reflection of God’s glory that would take place. Imagine us setting personal preference as secondary to the Gospel. #OneBody #OneSpirit #OneChurch #ILoveHashtags

To my Christian Family of Clemson University: Past, Present, & Future

ImageWhen we all know Christ in his fullness, there will be infinite praises of what he did at Clemson University. Until that time, we praise him know for the many glimpses of grace and love that he has shown us over the years. I will never get to fairly express my loving angst for the faithful believers at Clemson. Those that were there in the past, those that are there now, and those that Jesus has coming in the future. Some of the daily joys of my heart come from just the thought of you all. Not the school itself… there are schools all around the world…but more so the warm awareness of the Christ-exalting lives that are being lived there.

Oh how he loves us. Through all the cloudy sinfulness that occurs at every college – through all the materialism/superficiality, through all the alcohol and sexual deviances, through all the idolized focus on college football, through all the student loan debt, through all the Instagram photos and Facebook stalking… the presence of Christ on that campus still radiates in such a way that new people are constantly being saved. That is not a normality on American campuses. God has chosen you and given you a greater portion of grace. Many students elsewhere do not have the same opportunities to meet Christ as you have. You can go to the Starbucks right now and see a plethora of students with their Bibles out or conversing about God. There are 18 different campus ministries at Clemson. Each of which has believers that radically love Jesus and has evidence of fruitful relationships with our Savior. May those 18 campus ministries be unified in such a way that, as Philippians 2 puts it, “they stand firm in the faith, SIDE-BY-SIDE, in ONE spirit so that others will know just how seriously real our God is”. My goodness that verse riles me up. The fact that there are thousands of believers growing together praying together meeting together as I am typing this post, riles me up.

  • I think of the many people in FCA with their energy and youthful exuberance displayed every Thursday night. Their God-given presence is a force and has been for years. I love the way you love God and how God used you in my life. I repeatedly reflect on you guys. To BCM, Greek IV, Young Life, Chi Alpha, CRU, Campus Outreach and the 11 other campus ministries, your presence does not sit well with the powers of darkness. The spiritual realm of darkness loves to try to tear all of you down. But God is with you. I love love love when I hear stories of your ministries. Stories of growth and missions. I long for the day in heaven when we will all be together at the Wedding Feast of The Lamb. We will rejoice on that day of all that God did.  May you continue to “draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” and “devote yourselves to prayer” (Hebrew 10:21; Colossians 4:2).
  • Doug Hunt, you’re such a leader on that campus…let alone your ministry. I learned so much from your wisdom and peaceful spirit.
  • David Pearson and John Longshore – it is absolutely true that you two are like ‘The Sons of Thunder’ ascribed to James and John of the New Testament. Your fruit has eternal significance. One day you will see it in its fullness. On that day you will thank God even more for his sovereign grace in using you in his epic plans.
  • Austin Alvarez, Lassi, & Andy Robinson – your house church. My gosh your house church. Need I even go on? It was freakin’ amazing!! You guys would read the Bible and then, for some crazy reason, you followed it faithfully. I’m still shocked. Over the years, your group paid dividends to the spiritual well-being of Clemson. You would pray and things would happen. You have stories that can fill a novel. God’s hand is over that group.
  • To the women that love Jesus – you are God’s precious daughters. Your faith is as important as the air we breath. The body needs you. No matter how foolish we men are at times, remember that Jesus is the perfect man and that you are His first. I pray for godly men in your life.
  • Laura Haynie – God uses your joyful heart powerfully. Satan tried to break our ministry down with a foray. My last year in Clemson was tremendously tough spiritually because of it; but having you as a co-leader by my side was a wonderful blessing. The Spirit shines through you. I am excited for how God uses you next.
  • Miguel Chavis, Gray Gardner, Jonathan Whittle – Your love for scripture and truth is beyond measure. Our generation scoffs at it, along with them having an increasingly low attention span. However, The Lord loves your will for meat and to see people come to know the true nature and character of God. I pray that you three, and the others in your friend-group, do not loose these opportunities to grow together. A time is coming when you will not be able to convene together so easily. Life happens.
  • Sammy Watkins – I pray for you a ton brotha. Like you are my real brother. Not at all for football. But for your eternal growth in the Lord. Something a matters infinitely  more.
  • To my church in Clemson, you were my first love since Freshman year when you brought me in. I miss you all tenderly. As you very well know since I cried my last time I was there, ha. I pray that you all continue to grow in wisdom and in the faith. Continue to do life together as God has asked of you and of which you are doing.
  • Jimmy and Laura Gann – you two astonish me. You get married in June of 2012. Within a few months you’re packing up and moving to India because Jesus told you to do so. You are the righteous ones that live by faith.

My Clemson Tiger family, we are blessed. Please stay connected. Be vulnerable. Eat together. Pray. Let’s experience life fully by giving our heart to our Lord and Savior. Now lets win some football games while we’re at it baby!!!!

Image(Awesome photos taken by Dawson Powers : http://www.flickr.com/photos/dawsonp/sets/72157635343519719/)

When all we hear is SILENCE

You know those times when you’re praying with all your heart that God would fix a certain something in your life? Not that one time, that one night that you asked for it. I am talking about months, sometimes years, of the same pleading prayer in asking for God to heal, give, or take something away. But he doesn’t respond. As a matter of fact, things get worse. It is as if he does not hear you at the moment and chooses to let what is happening continue to occur despite the reality that it is haunting your very soul. Night after night after week after year you ask in hope that maybe just maybe he’ll finally save the day like you learned in Sunday School class. However, each night you get nothing. You’re left lying down in bed wondering. Funny, in times like these I’m reminded of when Jesus claims that all we need is ‘the faith of a mustard seed….’ But as I pray I can pretty much guarantee that my faith in that moment is at least the size of an medium-sized orange; and I’m yelling for God to please come into the picture and help!  I mean, why would he constantly not?

It’s very frustrating when you know theology and scripture well because you then, inadvertently, answer you own “why God, why” questions. My conscious likes to arrogantly tell my heart, “That’s easy, just wait on the Lord and remember his sovereignty…read Romans 8 and 9 dude.” Now as beautiful and true as those verses are, NOTHING in me wants to listen to them in those moments, they are too painful and too hard hear. This is why the Apostle Paul is such an enigma to me. For a Just as Paul had spoken, not one life was lost in the shipwreck.single man to suffer as he did in a plethora of ways and keep moving forward…the Spirit must have been strong in him. Good gosh the man was beaten, flogged over and over again, hunted down by cities and countries, periodically went through starvation, sometimes did not have clothes to wear, was stressed out by churches going crazy, shipwrecked 3 times (4 if you count being lost at sea), almost died on numerous occasions, had a physical ailment allotted by God, and never even really had a place to call “home”. On top of that, a snake randomly bit him. Really??? Talk about a rough season. I wonder how many nights he spent sobbing. I wonder how much joy he was divinely able to attain by the grace given to him by God. You know there had to be a ton of both. Oh to see Paul’s face right now as he’s living it up in Heaven.

I wish we were all more open as a people. More of a family. The Internet was brought in to make everything and everyone more accessible and closer. Instead, much of what it has done is make us more superficial, taken the depth out of our relationships, and turn us closer into recluses. This makes us more prone to always act as if we’re “ok” in front of others…when on the inside we are secretly crumbling and drowning underwater. All the while, we’re smiling and not saying a thing, “as long as someone retweets me I’m happy.” Satan is soooo sneaky there and he is not stopping anytime soon. It hurts when you see the fruit of his schemes. Especially when those exact fruits are somehow eaten by the people you care about. If believers in Christ were more honestly open and unified as a people the power and boldness from that alone would overwhelmingly change the world. The Bible and secular history attests to this over and over again, but we miss it. We miss it. We.continually.miss.it.

For example, in Acts 19 the Gospel enters the city of Ephesus and immediately changes the entire socioeconomic climate throughout the city. Riots began to break out because those that were still doing evil were no longer getting paid their dirty money. We can look at history as well. If you have time, please look up “The Welch Revival”.  Hundreds of thousands of people in the country of Wales were saved and the entire culture at large was a family. No crime no worries… just peace, worship, joy, and love in the Lord. When are we going to start believing in the strength of the Gospel and our unity as believers and stop giving in to societal norms? We need to start. The quicker we do so the more joy there is to have. I must keep praying because I know he’s listening. Prayers for things in my life, those around me, and for the world. God constantly has me thinking about these things for some reason and I do not know why. But I’ll ask until he answers, as I know he will in his time. Because even when it seems like he has not listened to any of my particular prayers….I know he has and cares more than I do. He even knows what I am going to say before I pray. My faith has to be in that eternal being there. I long for the day that the earth will be filled with the knowledge and the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

 [Other verses used-Habakkuk 2:14, Acts 17:24-28, Luke 17:6, 2 Corinthians 11:23-31, Philippians 1:27,28]