So I’ve started writing for NLCF’s website. Traditionally it’s the staff who write, but they want to get a few others writing regularly, to kind of get a broader perspective on what God’s doing in the congregation (either by writing about what God’s up to in our own lives, or by sharing stories of other people.) So I volunteered. I’m scheduled for three dates this semester, each about three weeks apart. Here’s the first one.
A couple of well-known verses have been on my mind since my post, “Setting things straight“:
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Faith without deeds is dead; faith and deeds without love are nothing.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about God, it’s that he likes to throw monkey wrenches in our plans, and substitute his own. To disrupt us if we start to get too comfortable—not because there’s anything wrong with comfort, but because if we’re too comfortable for too long we start to get stagnant.
A week ago I shared my intention of delving into technology on this blog a little more. I specifically said that I was going to start with a review of an app called Moves, and that I was going to write said review this weekend. I actually started it this afternoon, and wrote for a little while until I had to go to 130 Jackson for sound check and band practice before the service. Once we’d gone through the sound check, and I’d got the mix about where I wanted it, I pulled out my phone and picked up where I’d left off (the beauty of cloud sync) while the band practiced.
On Wednesday night, right before going to bed, I posted a link to an article titled "There. I said it. I don’t want my kids to be Evangelicals." In my (very) brief commentary I quoted the following from it:
I want my kids to think set apart means that they will love so radically and freely that whatever moral choices their making, through all their years of figuring it out, won’t be what people are even able to focus on.
A couple hours later, I was still trying to fall asleep when my phone beeped and lit up. I could tell from the first few words of the email, staring at me from my lock screen, that I had made a huge mistake. It was my dad, pointing out how badly it could be misunderstood, and that it would probably offend a lot of people we know who follow my blog.
Right before going to bed I posted a link to an article I had just read after a friend posted it on Facebook. I am quick to find truth in things I read, which sometimes means I gloss over the rest and highlight the truth. The problem is that when I share these things, it can appear that I agree with everything that was said. In the case of this article, it was just brought to my attention that a lot of people could be offended by it, and the truth in it could be lost in a lot of misunderstanding. This was not at all my intent.
It is really late, and I’m supposed to be asleep, but I wanted to act right away to take care of the situation. So my short term solution is to take down the post and write this brief apology. I also will make it a priority in the next couple days to write a more lengthy clarification of what I meant to say by linking to the article, and clear up the major issues people will probably have taken with it.
I’m really sorry to anyone I have offended.
When I started this blog I said I wasn’t going to limit it to any specific topic, but that anything I think is worth sharing is fair game. So far, I’ve mostly written about matters of faith. Actually, that’s all I’ve written about, save the first paragraph of one post in which I got into a bit of a technology tangent. You probably didn’t notice, but I added a Technology category that I used on that post alongside my standard Christianity one. As I was writing that post, I had the thought that I just might get into that area a little more in the future. Now I’ve decided that I will.
When I last posted I was nearing the end of The Two Towers. I’ve finished The Return of the King now, and I’m working on the appendices. And yes, I’m going to write about The Lord of the Rings again. (Don’t be surprised if this ends up becoming a series.)
Something I’ve noticed this time through the books and the movies, more than before, is the theme of despair. I saw looks of despair and horror on characters’ faces time and time again, as things go from bad to worse. I saw characters lose all hope in the face of overwhelming odds—Denethor is the prime example of this. Even Sam, arguably the most courageous and hopeful character of them all, begins to doubt that, even if he and Frodo make it to Mount Doom, there will be a return journey.
I’m listening to the soundtrack of The Two Towers right now. I was just reading some more of the book. Suddenly, in the past few weeks, I’m crazy about Tolkien again. I blame The Hobbit. Since I saw a trailer for the first installment a year ago, I couldn’t wait. To return to Middle-earth, and explore it further; to be reunited with familiar characters, and introduced to new ones. So when it finally hit theaters, right before Christmas break, I was at the midnight opening—I couldn’t wait a minute longer. (Now I can’t wait for the next one.) It had been several years since I last read The Lord of the Rings, and even longer since I’d read The Hobbit, and watching the new movie whet my appetite. So at the beginning of the break I started The Hobbit, and I’m almost done with The Two Towers now. I also watched The Lord of the Rings (the Extended Editions, of course) and the accompanying documentaries in the newly-added iTunes Extras. And I listened to all four soundtracks a bunch.
I need to write a short essay for a scholarship application. They gave a few typical prompts, and the option to write about a topic of my choice, or to reuse an essay I wrote for class or for a college application. Being a junior in an engineering major, I haven’t exactly written many essays in the last few years. Several for psychology my freshman year, and one about the environment in geology. After staring at my cursor blinking for a good while, I decided to go back and dig through my old college applications for some inspiration. Not to straight-up recycle one. A lot has changed in the three years since I was writing those. But I thought I might find one that would be a good starting point. I came across a document named “Personal statement”—I apparently hadn’t bothered to specify what I was writing it for. But between the essay itself and the prompt, which I also had (but which didn’t say specifically what it was for, either) it seems that I was writing this after having been accepted to Tech, for something related to financial aid. Anyways, it really struck me. But I’ll let you read it, and then add some comments at the end (where I pick back up in italics.)
This is grace. Beautiful, scandalous grace. The grace we should be living out.