My Farewell

First and foremost I wish to thank everyone following Death Nor Life and pray that it has helped give some encouragement and Christ centered perspective. This blog has been supremely helpful for me in thinking through a lot of things myself. Whether its drudging through a current event or contemplating how relationships have affected my life, its been a wonderful tool. But seeing as Jakob is in a great transition stage in his life, I figured I should follow suit, although less dramatically. This will be my last post as a co-author on DNL. I am however, continuing my writing. So if you would like to follow along on my writing excursions, stop by my new page, http://asinnersmanifesto.wordpress.com/. Again, thanks so much for the faithful reading! God Bless!

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To a friend

This post is simply a letter to the wife of a man that was supremely instrumental to my growth as a person. He went home when I was in high school, so it was quite a few years ago. It’s funny how people can be just people until they’re gone and you’re forced to think on their impact.

I remember being in school at the time and not having a ride there or back.  Its funny, because as a kid, Rick was just another adult that made me follow rules, though he did it marvelously. I remember actually thinking he could sleep standing up and with his eyes open. I think most of us were quite intimidated by him. Which is weird, because as an adult now and working in youth ministry, I can see now how much of a heart he had to have to put up with us, as most of us boys were blatant with our sins of choice. He may have yelled at us a few times and wanted to bury us somewhere on the island we camped at so often. But it was purely out of love. I look back on my life and see how the influences in my life have always been very nuanced. It seems like my faith and trust in God has always been sustained by a single action of God or of a person through Him. Rick kept me just close enough to the edge of the Cross that I couldn’t let go for fear of the edge. It amazes me that God can use a person for a time and for such great things only to move us to someone new as we mature. It makes me excited to see Jesus in the flesh, to know that once I meet Him there will never be anyone better. No one that will love me more. I respect Rick in a way I might not respect any other man. I miss him and wish he could read this, but I suppose I’ll have to wait until heaven to tell him. Thanks for loving him and helping him to be a great man. His is a debt I can never repay.

There are hundreds of things I could say about Rick Thorndike. But he was a man of few words, so that will suffice.  I hope that this post will simply point anyone to the importance of our families, in all their shapes. And how loving Christ is that He would give us these people to treasure. But beyond that, that Christ suffered, died, and rose again so we could treasure Him.  And I am speechless at that grace. Thank you Lord for loving me in all your ways.

Adventuring and Missions

Driving in my car I usually flip back and forth between the radio and whatever jams I’m rockin’ in my CD player. Which is usually some high octane… blue grass…just kidding. But between one of these flips I caught part of an ad on the current station.

Loosely paraphrased,

Win a missions trip for an African adventure.

Really? Is that a really appropriate way to announce missions? Advertising it like some sort of game show prize?

“Congratulations (deep, exciting radio voice) You’ve just won our grand prize, Your going to Africa to save starving families!”

I don’t know, maybe its just me. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate the station funding missions. I’ve been on short term missions and I understand the need and importance. But I guess I feel there should be a little more solemnity regarding human suffering.  But thats not really my point either.

My point is that we generally don’t have a real opinion on mission.  Yeah its great, we’d say, but how many of us really understand the concept? Are we missionaries to Africa? Most of us are not. Are we missionaries to Americas largest cities? Most of us are not. Are we even missionaries within our own cities? I again, would say most of us are not, myself included.

Its frustrating when I see something that is not per the Gospel. Its also frustrating when I remember that I am not in line with it myself.

We tend to attribute declaring the Gospel of Jesus with people who don’t know it, teaching something brand new. But Paul said in Romans 1:15

I am eager to preach the Gospel to you also who are in Rome

Paul is speaking to Christians! Imagine how much easier it would be to be missionaries if we started with the Church, with our friends, with our families!

My last question is simply this. What would the Church look like if we started to live missionally and showing Jesus Christ as central in everything we do? That, I think, would be the true adventure.

Uncategorized

WORLD

My brain doesn’t deal well with stress, and  May 30th was one of those days where my synapses just screamed EPIC FAIL all day. My day was full of fairly easily completable objectives though. Picking up a lawn mower, mowing the lawn, time with the family, figuring out how to confront a friend, working on my book, Atmosphere Oak Hill… to name just a few

On the drive back to Auburn from Wales the conversation between Josh and I had, for a few moments died.  In that moment remember looking up at the sky, you know how you do while sitting in the passenger seat of a car, no control over anything really, just conversation and whichever window you happen to be gazing out…

The clouds blurred spectacularly with the setting sun. creating stunning hues of oranges and yellows and pinks, though not too far removed remained the blue we often take for granted. It was utterly beautiful.

In that passing instance,  My cares and worries, at least for a while, simply vanished.  There was no nervous flicking together of my fingers thinking on confrontation. There was no dread of having to return the lawn mower I borrowed.  No worry about any of my own insecurities.  Just an inexplicable comfort brought on by the canvas God had painted for me and anyone else looking at the same sky.

There are so many things that God’s creation makes me think of, so many things I could say to explain why He is beautiful. But none of the reasons would be quite as adequate as Christ.  In contrast to Jesus anything and everything falls far short of beautiful.

The funny thing though is right after that epic moment I went right back to focusing my attention on all my conflicts. My foibles and frailties again took precedence.  How often do we do that? How often do we gaze longingly at the beautiful things God gives us and the beauty of Christ and His work, then we instead say “No thank you I’d rather be depressed and weighed down by my struggles and insecurities”

But thats just another point where Christ becomes more beautiful. In every area of our lives we shove Christ under the bed, to deal quietly with our monsters. But when the creatures come to bare, we would rather fight alone. Though through all of our pushing Christ is still there, the Spirit is still working, and God is still sovereign. Enough for our salvation and enough for a sunset. Simple words for an eternal truth, and one which we need to be reminded of constantly.

Answers

It’s been said that the most significant stage in a child’s development is when they start asking lots of questions.  To some people this may seem very drudging and annoying. Personally though, I love it. I don’t have kids, so I only can only go off of what I see in the upbringing of my friends’ children. Adults don’t seem to have this drive for curiosity that kids do. But the world wants to give us answers… So I have a question…


What do we do with the answers we are given?

There are many world philosophies and dogmas that love to assert themselves as true, but they can’t answer the questions they themselves really want answered.  Some of these worldviews romance the intellect claiming their opponents can’t know absolute truth, thus asserting their own. Simply by living they decry moral objectivity, but offer subjective application. They hold relativity as accepting and unbiased yet by doing so, state that Hitler and Charles Manson’s social and political views are as equally valid as those of Mother Theresa or Ghandi.  In the end they don’t coherently agree with their own stated views on life.

So if the people of the world can’t consistently live within or interpret their own worldview, what does that mean for Christianity? (As our worldview requires faith in that which we cannot see and are otherwise untestable)

Are you ready for it? The generic Sunday school answer?
Jesus.

Christ is what we look to, even from an apologetic standpoint.  The Bible isn’t ‘how to’ its ‘how come’  and the ‘why’ is Jesus. People still argue many things about the Bible (which is funny because its impossible to debate about any other religious text because there is almost nothing testable about them) but in the end they can’t explain away Jesus’ resurrection, as there were multiple witnesses, (1Cor. 15.1-8) and secular historians (such as Josephus and Tacitus, among others) don’t even begin to discredit it.  The Jews, who murdered Jesus, also never tried to discredit or even produce a body (a fake one might have even helped to do this, but they didn’t even do that). And the cowardly disciples returned from hiding and apparently grew some…well you know.

I could go on for hours on all the extra-Biblical evidence for Jesus’ death and resurrection. But my point is to simply show that the Scriptures give an answer.  An answer that has been scrutinized by journalistic historians such as Luke.  One that isn’t conditional, fickle, and best of all (especially for us lazy people) an answer that is completely and utterly unattainable of our own volition.

Just because something seems impossible doesn’t necessarily mean that it is, it just means we have not experienced or seen it. So since Jesus was raised from the dead, his words hold significant weight.

What then will you do with His answer in John 14.6?

Happy 200th post!

First of all, let me explode like a pinata full of confetti as I confess that this post is our 200th here at Death Nor Life.  So for you stalwart followers, a heartfelt thank you and to those just coming alongside, we also thank you and hope you enjoy the ride.

Hopefully Jakob and myself have told most of you about The Calling on May 8th. If not, I will relish you with a brief synopsis.

The Calling is a youth conference being held on Saturday May 8th at our Church (East Auburn Baptist Church)In Auburn Maine. It has been put together and organized by some of the leadership of Atmosphere, the ministry for which Jakob and myself labor.

But The Calling is more than just a youth conference. To paraphrase my good friend and mentor, Josh Cousineau…

Our hope is that The Calling would be a catalyst for change. That it would be for the growth, of not only youth and youth leaders, but for parents and teachers or just anyone who has a heart for changing this generation and into the next.

“To make God most glorified while we are most satisfied in Him”.  That quip from John Piper, despite becoming somewhat of a staple statement in many christianese conversations, is very significant.  But how can we become satisfied in Christ if we know nothing about Him? How can we declare the hope we have of salvation if we don’t learn, if we’re not acting like the Church Christ calls us to be.

Heck, it’s easy to fight like a church, ignore people like a church, and condemn like a church. (I’m not excluding myself from these) It is altogether different to truly worship a God who, in the greatest sacrifice, saved us from the darkness of our own hearts.

So please join us in learning more about Christ and His Love and Kingship. The declaration of the Gospel is too important for us to put off.  People need Jesus, WE need Jesus.

The Glorification of Sin

I know, I know, so much for consistency already right? My apologies, but the semester is coming to an end and I am pretty much freaking out, as most students do every year at about this time.   Anyway, to the post!

If any of you know me, you would know I’m not really one for politics, arguing yes, politics, not so much. But like most Americans at election time I pretend to know all the issues and all the answers.  The truth is though, morality tends to get the better of me…

And yes, I mean morality.

Funny thing about morality is that as Christians we seem very fond of doing the right thing, fighting social injustice and what not. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my fair share of  good deeds. I’ve tried to be free with what money I have and I’m a veteran short-term missionary.  I even single-handedly saved the galaxy by destroying the death star… oh wait…scratch that.

I’m not saying that good works are bad. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 5.16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The real issue though, lies on the other side of this spectrum.  Sin.

Christ has freed us from the bondage of sin.  As believers we recognize this, appreciate this. But we seem to forget that those not following Jesus don’t have a concept of this, or what sin truly is for that matter.

We must stop thinking of sin just as political and ethical division. Sin offends God, it only irritates us, and only when we think it affects us.  The issue takes yet another turn, in regards to our outspoken nature.

We preach against Gay marriage, against the legalization of Marijuana, against all that God despises. Don’t misunderstand what it is I’m saying. I am most definitely NOT advocating an easy believe-ism. I simply want to  point out that people will not be drawn to our condemnation of them. Paul states it perfectly in 1 Cor. 5.12-13. How much more will Christ be glorified if we purge the malpractice within the Church? If we bring to light the shadows in which we hide? How brightly will our light shine if we are a people who declare that there is

no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus

Romans 8.1

So as the Church, what does this look like? It looks like we need to preach the gospel to each other, impact each other with the gospel, call out each other with the gospel. Then when those people who don’t know Christ see how we treat each other with a love only He can supply. Then they will see how beautiful Christ really is