Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Questions and Answers

       I will never forget the night I first talked to George.  It was early in the semester, on a Sunday night around 1 A.M., so I guess it would have technically been Monday morning, then.  I was doing my laundry and decided that while I was waiting for it to be done, I might as well take advantage of the waiting and study for an upcoming geology quiz.  But instead of sitting in the laundry room, I relocated to the room across the basement with all of the vending machines, on account of two abnormally loud chatty girls.  It’s funny how small changes like this can be so vital in how your life plays out.  So there I am sitting on the floor, listening to Andrew Belle when George walks carrying Jimmy Johns.  I only slightly knew George and that was only because he lived three doors down from me on my hall.  He got to the vending machine and punched the buttons to get his drink.  When he turned around, he spotted me immediately and greeted me warmly.  See the thing about George is that he’s genuinely and authentically friendly.  I don’t know many people like that, so when I greeted me as he did, I was almost taken aback.  Nonetheless, I returned the favor immediately, greatly anticipating his sincere hello.  It was the normal dialogue, you know, the “how are you?” “good man, how are you?” and so on and so forth, however with George, that kind of talk is always different than with other people, it’s bona fide, it’s meaningful.  Even as the semester spanned out, even these small “catch-up” talks with George meant more to me than the majority of other conversations I would have with people.  But that night, instead of saying the usual, hello goodbye, he sat down next to me on the floor in the basement of Humphreys.  What followed was a talk that really did set the course for the rest of my semester, possibly leading me to where I am now with taking the spring semester off to tour with Invisible Children.
            In the hour or so that followed, George and I began to pick away at the monotonous questions that most people ask while talking for the first real.  Before either of us knew it we were talking about why we were at the UofA and I was telling him about my bout with my ankle years ago that allowed Jesus to finally get a grip on my life.  We talked about how there must be a reason for everything and why we didn’t really believe in coincidences.  And somehow we started to talk about the questions we had with life, with the world, with why things are the way they are and so on and so forth.  I remember him clearly saying, “you know, Chris, I guess there are just many questions to be answered and many answers to be questioned.”  We talked about how every morning when we get up, we are faced with a day full of questions that are begging to be answered and on the same page, so many answers that are waiting to be questioned. 
            That talk not only set in motion motivation for the rest of the semester, it also gave me a friend in George and because of getting to know George, I also got to know and come to deeply love the rest of the guys on my hall.
            A couple of nights before I packed up and left Fayetteville for the year, my friend Connor asked me, “so, was it worth it? Was this semester worth it?”  And as I look back over my four months, I relive moments of great triumph, like the night I met George, and great sorrow, like the night we heard that Westboro would picket Garrett Uekman’s funeral.  I vividly recall the first week of school when I awkwardly walked around campus in a freshman gaze, staring wide-eyed at every new adventure around every turn.  This semester was full of long hours in the library, mindlessly studying Geology and others in that same chair, full of dancing as Steinbeck’s words of Salina’s Valley and ‘timshel’ rang a new symphony for humanity in my soul.   It was also a couple months of learning to love people.  Until this year I could easily escape the eyes of everyone by simply retreating to my house in the middle of the woods and shutting my door to the world… but not this year. I had no choice but to embrace everyone at any time of the day and finally let my little perfect Christian bubble be popped.  I got to witness people throwing their lives away and others gaining them.  I was blessed enough to meet and learn from laborers who were giving up everything to share Christ with students around them.  I experienced healing and community in the Church in a way that I never thought would be possible.  My heart’s desire for the Nations to know Christ grew as my heart for individuals grew as well.  So much so that when I would sit and study or read, I would look over and see someone studying who looked unhappy and before I knew it, I was getting emotional over this person I didn’t know.  Maybe I just sound like a baby?  But I’m okay with that, because I honestly think that this semester was the time in my life when I learned to feel and to feel deeply, at that.  I gained and I lost, I laughed and I cried.  I walked and I ran, and I danced.  And then I danced some more.  But more than anything, I learned to question and to seek answers.  Every single day of this last four months has held something different for me; whether that was attempting with all of my might to share the Gospel with everyone I talked to in some way, shape, or form or having to discipline myself to not wait to study until the night before a big test.  But as I saw what it meant to answer questions, I saw in the same paintbrush stroke, my restlessness. I had to move.  I needed to move. 
            For far too long, I have stayed in the same place, going through the motions.  I have been in Arkansas for too long.  Although I have been growing and learning, by the grace of God, I came face to face with the truth that it is time for me to move and roam and to answer some questions that I couldn’t ever hope to answer by staying in Fayetteville.  So God opened up the opportunity to be a roadie with Invisible Children and to travel the country and to tell thousands and thousands of students about injustice in the world. 
            The night before my friend George left school, we sat in the 6th floor study room and went back over our previous semester.  We reminisced about the first time we talked in the basement of Humphreys many months before and went over our experiences since.  It’s funny to see how much someone can grow up in four months.   We talked for a while and finally came to the topic of me leaving for my adventure with IC.  He sat musing and with a smile remarked, “This semester your desk was the University of Arkansas, but next semester your desk is the youth of America. What are you going to do with it?”  The words hit me right in the chest, because I hadn’t even thought about it like that.  “Can’t wait to hear about the questions you answer and the answers you question,” he went on to say and left my head spinning with excitement for the journey I had ahead of me.  The night went on and the conversation turned spiritual, leaving me talking about being in front of Jesus one day, being in front of my Soul’s Desire.  And that’s when he said, “I guess that’s when the world’s biggest question will be answered.”  And he’s right.  When I’m in front of Jesus, everything will make sense and everything will be answered.  All of my questions about injustice and hell and everything in between will be set right, and I will finally be satisfied.  But until then, I will pursue the mountains, seeking to know Christ and to make Him known.  To answer and to question.   To love and to hurt.  To grow and learn.
            So was this semester worth it?  Yes. Undoubtedly yes.

Friday, December 9, 2011

with liberty bound together,

            I remember so clearly that moment when I was standing in the IDP camp in Gulu, Uganda when I had the thought, the thought that would define the course of my life.  I remember the exact place I was standing, what I was wearing, what I was holding when I thought it. 
“I have to do something. I can’t just let it all happen anymore.”
My heart hasn’t forgotten that hot and humid day in June and when I returned back to the States, Jesus immediately let me start pursuing justice and hence, fulfilling the promise I made to myself.  It’s humorous to look back now and wallow over the memories of when my friend Luke first told me about Invisible Children.  He was so excited and kept saying how we needed to help, needed to show the film, and so on and so forth.  Well, I finally bought into his dream after returning from Uganda for the first time and started working with others, putting on benefit concerts to raise money for this non-profit that was working tirelessly to end the longest running war in Africa.  As the years went on and I returned back to Africa again, my heart became more and more bonded to the cause and this last summer I was invited to attend the Fourth Estate; a justice conference held by Invisible Children in San Diego.  Over those four days I sat and listened to the world’s most passionate activists and caught the infectious dream of a world alive with peace.  Jesus did something to my heart sitting in the auditorium of USD and even now as I try to adequately describe it all with words, I find myself at a loss.  It was deep and profound, so much so that when I was on the plane flight home, I wrote in my journal that I felt more alive than I ever had in my whole life. 
When I started to follow Jesus with my whole life, He gave me a heart to tell everyone about Him.  A desire to see people come to know Him, but He also gave me a desperate plea for justice.  My vision and my heart’s eternal and final cry is for the Great Commission to be fulfilled and hopefully, by the grace of God, I will be able to help serve that dream come true by going to reach the unreached soon.  But for this moment, He has placed me in Fayetteville, Arkansas to glorify Him.  And my earnest prayer is that this last semester, I was able to do just that.  I’ve met some incredible people and been able to invest in phenomenal relationships.  He has blessed me with the most amazing group of guys to call my family, d-wing in Humphreys hall and some other friends who have there to laugh with me, cry with me, pray with me, and live with me.  I have fallen in love with this campus and the wonderful human beings who walk next to me. A group of monumental world changers who aren’t afraid to dance on Dickson in banana suits and who are willing to risk everything just so children in Uganda, who they have never met, may have a chance to live.  I have learned so much about what it means to love and to live astonished. 
A couple of months ago the idea of being a roadie with Invisible Children crept into my mind and wouldn’t leave.  A roadie is someone who goes on tour, in a van, around the United States showing an Invisible Children film at different high schools and colleges to not only raise awareness but let people get involved.  My life has been so deeply affected by these roadies and I knew that if I were one then I would have the chance to radically challenge the youth of America to see that the world is bigger than them, that the world is bigger than America.  Being a roadie is a unique position where you can do justice day in and day out.  So I applied.
This last month I have been in prayer and others have been praying for me on whether or not I should go be a roadie with Invisible Children or stay here in Fayetteville.  I can honestly say that from the beginning of the process I have had a strange and divine peace about the entire thing.  Throughout all of the interviews and even the phone call telling me whether I was going to be a roadie or not, I had no anxiety.   I knew that if Jesus wanted me to stay here in Fayetteville next semester and continue to labor with the specific people I have come to love, then I would indeed stay here.  I also knew that if He wanted me to travel and be a roadie, then I would go. 
Next week when all of the students from the University of Arkansas leave for Christmas break, I will be moving out of my dorm for the year.  I will be preparing to leave Arkansas and arrive in San Diego January 9th to begin this new chapter in my life of being a roadie with Invisible Children. 
My heart is torn.  Since I found out and have started to tell people, it has been an almost painful thing walking throughout campus and thinking I won’t be here in the Spring.  It has been astronomically hard to walk up and down my dorm hallway and know that I won’t be here to deepen my friendship with those guys even further.  I don’t really understand the timing of it all but to give a little background, I am planning to study Arabic here at the University and once I start, I cannot take a break.  So if I were to stay here and start Arabic then I wouldn’t be able to be a roadie with Invisible Children until I graduate and I am very prayerful that by that time, the Lord will have given me the green light to go to the unreached.  So the fact that this was my one chance and the fact that I got accepted is Jesus saying as clear as day to me that it’s time to go.  It time to jump. 
It’s time to leave and travel and learn to love and learn to follow and to grow even further in my understanding of what it means to dance in joy and sorrow.  I will be able to share my plea for justice with thousands of students and try with all of my might to let them catch the dream of our liberty being bound with the liberty of children in Uganda, of the man in the slums of Mumbai, and the widow in Beijing. 
My heart is full and ready to go, to follow Jesus where He has me going and to experience Him in a way that I never have before.  To pursue justice and tell everyone about the Grace that has found me and given me breath.  I am at last, risking the ocean.

 with liberty bound together,

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I am thankful until the end.

Love is a funny thing.  So is a broken heart.  And I really do believe that the two mixed together makes one of the most beautiful creations ever known to man.  Because I think when we learn what love is and how to love and then we have our hearts broken, we get a small taste of what Jesus feels when He looks upon us.  The way He felt so deeply towards us that He stepped down from the throne of the Universe to become the curse that would kill our curse.  The way He writhes in agony over His children walking away from Him to a Lover much less wild.  Love and a broken heart may together be the most divine encounter in the entire world.  When love and a broken heart mix, changing the world follows.  Really, just look at what Jesus did and what Paul and Peter did and what Martin Luther did and Dietrich Bonheoffer and MLK and Mother Teresa and Bill Bright.
And as I look at love and a broken heart I think that maybe I’ll always be stuck in this place of being between how the world is and how it should be.  A couple years ago I realized that I was camped out there, that my heart found a temporary home in that great chasm shortly after I gave my life to Jesus.  I found out that life is not only short but it also both beautiful and horrifying in the same breath.  I saw the dream of Eden and longed for it.  But my friends, we are a far way from Eden.
I don’t really know why I thought I would move on from that place once I walked further into the mountains with Jesus making my feet harder with every step.  I’m not sure why I made myself believe that this time of being on my knees would be my last time.  Did Paul ever think that?  Surely not.  So why would I?  Whatever the reason was, it’s gone now.  And until I see Jesus face to face, I’m going to be here in this place where I can see clearly how the world is and how it should be.
This last weekend a football player was found dead in his dorm room.  His roommate saw him playing videogames early Sunday morning and came back in an hour later to find him unresponsive and when they took him to the hospital, he died.  Dead.  Just like that.   An enlarged heart. That quick. 
Sunday night I was at a church service where a leader of FCA got up and she rallied us and told us that this is where the body of Christ came into play.  That we would love Garrett’s family with prayers and support and that this family would come together to grow and to endure.  And then we prayed and we prayed that Jesus would be glorified in the midst of tragedy.  Then I came back to my dorm later that night only to find that Westboro Baptist Church was planning on protesting his funeral.  Automatically I was welcomed back into the chasm and overwhelmed with a rush of emotion.  Broken for Garrett’s death and broken for the depravity of man.
            I wish that all of these questions I have about justice could be answered quickly and easily.  I wish that we didn’t have to sit around and wonder why Jesus lets His name be trampled upon so much.  But then just as I begin to judge the people of Westboro I come to a reality that leads me to my knees yet again.  If He didn’t, then I would have been done for a long time ago.  Aren’t I just as sinful and deceived?  Didn’t I put Jesus to death as well?  Aren’t I Judas too?
            I don’t understand why the world is how it is and sometimes I let sorrow attack me into believing I need to know why.  But it all comes down to the question of if I truly and wholly believe that God is sovereign.  And I do.  Though I may sometimes mutter that fact through gritted teeth and with clenched fists, it still doesn’t change that the Living God cares for us.  He is sovereign.  I believe that with everything I am.
            My heart is heavy on this Thanksgiving day.  But although it is heavy I have tasted a small portion of what it is like to love with a broken heart and for that, I give thanks.  Jesus is alive and hope breathes.  I am thankful until the end.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Who are you again?

For some reason, very unknown to me, I have the ability to remember things.  Most things.  I can remember people who I haven’t seen since first grade in an instant and where I read a certain quote in a book, right down to the line and the page.  I don’t know why.  I usually don’t ask questions about that.  I seem to ask questions just about everything else in life except for why I can remember things, people in particular. 
            But with that memory, it also brings up some awkward moments.  I guess the word awkward maybe too strong, but nonetheless, I use it here.  There are moments where I’ll recognize someone and say hello and they obviously don’t remember me.  So then I have to try and explain to them how we know each other.  “Oh you know, we were in pre-school together!  We always played near the fence and pretended the War-head wrappers on the ground were real witches!” or “Don’t you remember fourth grade in Mr. Whitlow’s class?  We read Series of Unfortunate Events together!”  Often times they truly don’t remember me but sometimes I can see it in the way they flash they eyes towards my face, I know they know me.  I can see it and for the life of me I just don’t know why they claim ignorance. 
            The fact that people pretend to not know other people fascinates me.  For years I have had trouble understand why someone would do that.  Pride?  Embarrassment?  The fear of being too creepy?  I just don’t understand. 
            But recently I ran into a person who I hadn’t seen in a very long time and they greeted me in the way I tend to greet others.  They were excited and asked me if I remembered them and to my own surprise I said no.  But the thing is, I did remember them.  But I still said no?  Why would I have done that?  Why would I have done exactly what I hated others doing?
            Maybe I did that for the same reason I turn my eyes away when someone who has been crying makes eye contact with me.  Or maybe I did that for the same reason that I always lie and tell others I threw up the first time I ever had sushi. 
            The more I look into myself and my motives for why I do certain things, I come to a tall and wide brick wall plastered with red.  There are giant stop signs on the wall and if I’m not mistaken, the red streaks are blood, not paint.  But whose blood?  My blood?  Their blood?  His blood?  I can never really be sure. 
            Maybe I pretended not to know that person because some days I pretend to not even know the very person who formed me inside my mother’s womb.
Maybe it’s just because I pretend to know myself. 

“For I do no understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  Romans 7:15

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I recently finished reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck and I'm pretty sure this is the first book that I have ever read that in turn, actually read me.  I went through so many emotions reading it because it lays out humanity so clearly in the 600 pages of love, hate, anger, laughter, tears, and rage.  I almost feel like I have a lost a close friend now that I'm not in the middle of the novel waiting with increased anticipation on the next big twist in the story.  And as I've been chewing on the book the last couple of days, a short and simple poem started to form and I decided there would be no better way to share my heart about the book than by sharing this poem.  It's the very best way I know how to express the anguish and triumph my soul experienced and I hope that it resonates with an ability beyond words how immaculate the miracle of choice truly is.

Life is a deep, beautiful, and complex box
Only partially full with the world
Leaving so many questions to be answered
And so many answers to be questioned

Each of us are adding ourselves
To the box and let it be known
Without choice, we are all tragedies

Greatness is near, taunting our every breath
Maybe we can live with glory
Instead of just being poison-filled corpses

Our forefathers and beyond
Went their own way
But we can decide to go West
When they are all being herded East

Humanity writhes in the agony of decision
Is written in blood on every noose
That is tied around every man’s neck from birth
“thou mayest” the blood cries
And oh, hallelujah, that they can choose to take it off
But only they can choose

Perhaps poetry is not just for the weak
But instead for all of mankind
For the fantastic and the magnificent
The beautiful and the mysterious
For the lonely but the satisfied
The broken but the full
For the rejected but the authentic
The sick but the hopeful

What if the sky is closer than we first believed?

Laughing and crying
Running and crawling
Living and dying
We are climbing our ladders to the stars

And I am led to believe
That time is never better spent
Than when learning to dance.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"I want a purple egg."

         Last night I was riding with some friends to go bowling and it was raining. The rain was just hard enough, but just light enough to leave a really shiny glint on the road, in turn making it incredibly hard to see.  I usually try to steer away from any morbid thoughts but every now and again, I let my mind go there.  So I thought the simple thought, “If I were to be in a car wreck and die right now, would I have changed anything?”  My thoughts went deeper to the idea of my funeral.  Who would be there? Would it matter?  Would people be sad?  Would people be joyful?  Would people be singing or dancing or sitting on pews wallowing inside of themselves with tears of sorrow and pain? Would people remember me for my words or my actions?  Or possibly just the fact that I was young when I died and for some reason that means that a form of injustice took place and people are now obligated to mourn for my death?  And then I went to the realm of thinking about how would it be for me.  Here I am a kid learning and growing each day and to the world I’m at my prime, right?  Seeing what it means to live and forming my steps.  But I thought about if I were to die at that moment, what it would be like to be in Heaven the next.  I don’t really think about that too much.  But what if it’s just an immediate switch?  No time lapses between my soul leaving my body here and being in front of Desire.  What would that be like?  To be embraced by Eternity and what would the tears feel like as they rolled down my cheeks onto the warm arms of my Savior as He held me close to His true and beating heart.  And then the truth of Eternity kicked my chest in as we continued to drive down the interstate in the rain.  Eternity.  My soul.  Your soul.  We’ll be somewhere, doing something.  And I started to hurt because I thought about the seven billion souls that made up the human race and where we would all spend Eternity. 
            The other day I was in the library reading, which I seem to be doing this a ton these days.  I was reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  I have been reading this book for about three weeks now and I’m starting to get nervous because the pages in my left hand are beginning to be thicker than the amount of pages in my right.  This book has read me more than I have read it, if that’s not too cliché to say here.  The book paints such an accurate picture of humanity; of evil and good, heartache and love and sorrow and joy and pain and laughter and brutal honesty and brutal betrayal.  I have gone through a wide range of emotions during this book, cried and laughed at the same time and made an absolute fool of myself in public because I couldn’t help but gasp out loud as that cursed shotgun went off.  Maybe you could say that I’ve learned how to dance while reading this book.  But there was one in particular day when I was packing up shop and saw a man sitting reclined in a chair reading with a look of pure ecstasy on his face.  I observed him for a moment and knew that he was learning to dance, with whatever book he was reading as his partner.  I don’t know what it was about that man, but a deep longing for the human soul arose in my chest.  I am madly in love with people.  Their souls and their beauty and their eternal worth.  I firmly believe each of us spend Eternity someplace and I long with a desire that burns me to physically hurt for every one to spend Eternity in Glory.  I feel pain when I see others experience pain and is it too far too say, taste death when others do?  Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.  There’s a good chance I am, I do that a fair amount. 
            But what I know for a fact is that people matter.  As Steinbeck says through the words of his beautiful character, Lee, “I feel that a man is a very important thing- maybe more important than a star.  This is not a theology.  I have no bent towards gods.  But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul.  It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe.  It is always attacked and never destroyed- because “Thou Mayest.”  Thou mayest comes from a words called, timshel and this word has revolutionized my life.   It is Hebrew and used in Geneses 4.  It tells the story of mankind and how we have a choice whether or not to follow in the sin of our fathers.  A choice whether to be great, to live, to dance.  A choice whether to follow and know Jesus, life, hate, fullness, emptiness, love. 
We choose.  And I think everyone spends Eternity someplace and my heart yearns for us all to spend it together.
There is a scene in East of Eden, maybe the most profound piece of literature I have ever read where Dessie comes back to her childhood home.  She has gone through tragedy and has lost the vigor to live.  The scene tells of her waking up in her house and going through all of the memories of her life and the things that made her who she was.  She has come home to stay with her brother, Tom, who has also lost vigor.  But when she gets downstairs and see him, she realizes that he has chosen to look past pain and start again.  And she sees with unblinded eyes that she can choose to live and not be the same, not to let sorrow control her thoughts and dictate her steps.  Tom asks her what kind of egg she’d like and she replied, “I want a purple egg.”  Symbolizing her choice to live differently.  Symbolizing her choice to choose her destiny.
I sometimes wonder, and when I say sometimes I mean everyday, what it would be like if we all chose to love people.  To acknowledge each other’s incredible worth and act upon that worth.  And now my heart cries, what would it look like if we all wanted purple eggs?
I know I’m not alone in this.  Out of the other seven billion people that surround this planet, at least a couple of them must desire a purple egg every now and again.
By the way, I hope that there is dancing at my funeral.  Lots and lots of dancing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Did Dickinson not once say,
“There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away. 
Nor any coursers like a page of prancing poetry”?
How can we just pick something up and cast it down
As if it was nothing if someone has given their life
To write it upon a sacred stone. 

Are ours words worth life? 
Are they worth death?
Can life be told from human language?
Or is its essence of a language much deeper,
Much more ornate than we could ever speak?
Can our words ever fit around the meaning
That we have been born to pursue?

When I pick up Whitman and read of adventure and human wealth,
I form an image of a symphony
That has been placed in each separate man,
Composing a new melody with each breath.

When I pick up Shelly and read of monstrous desire,
            I see every man ever born and myself,
             Yearning after our Creator.

When I pick up Lewis and read of supernatural beauty,
            I fall to my knees and taste the sea salt
            That ceaselessly flows from my eyes.

When I pick up Poe and read of terrors beyond imagination,
            I quake and shiver and look over
My shoulder to see my attacker coming for me.

 Once and for all Eternity our words will be written
            Upon these tablets that we hold.
Have we said all what we have desired to portray?
Or have we waited for someone else to say such things?

Although Thoreau and Cummings might have
            Once written on love and humanity,
            How can we not do the same?
We owe nothing to the world but our words,
            For whether we embrace or not,
            Our stories are being written.
Each second a new letter is being inscribed.
Each minute a new word is being formed.
Each hour a new sentence is being revealed.
Each day a new paragraph is either being wasted
            Or being lived.

These words that we write will never be erased
            Unless we cease to echo our fathers.
We cannot let the axioms of Shakespeare
            Be forgotten among us today.
In the same way as we bring the Dead Poets back to life,
            Our sons and daughters will resurrect us.

To live and to breathe is to write.
To dance is to move our hands upon blank pages,
            That will soon be filled with existence.

We owe nothing to the world but our words,
            For whether we embrace it or not,
            Our stories are being written.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Be Astonished

From the past four months of studying and reading through the Sermon on the Mount, I have come to two conclusions.  The first being that we must reclaim Christianity for the name of Christ, because we, as the American Church, don’t teach half of what Jesus said in those sacred three chapters.  We have to change for it is absolutely imperative for us to reach the Nations.  We must love our enemies and pray for them, we must turn the other cheek, and we must not only see what the narrow road is, but we also must take it.  The second thing I have learned is that we are to live astonished lives.   Not astonishing lives, but astonished lives.  This is important and interesting because for some reason Matthew chooses to end the greatest sermon ever taught by making a remark about the crowds.  He says, “When Jesus had finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished.  For He taught as one with authority and not like their scribes.”  It’s intriguing because it’s as if Matthew wrote the sermon and said, “so, what are you going to do with this?” I am to not only take what Jesus said and live it, but I am also to be astonished by it.  I understand that it was easy for the crowds in Jerusalem to be astonished then because much of what Jesus had said was “foreign and new” to them but I believe that it’s safe to say that much of what Jesus said standing on that mountain is just as foreign to us now as it was to the Jews of that day.

But what would it look like to live an astonished life?  That is an odd thing to say because when I initially hear that I imagine a five-year-old kid walking into elementary school for the first day of Kindergarten.  I can this kid’s mouth dropping open as he sees the older students walking down the hall and his eyes widening when he looks at the gigantic playground behind the school.  Am I supposed to walk around all of the time with my mouth gaping open and my eyes wide?  That’s unrealistic.  Or is it?  What does it mean for me, a spoiled American white college student, to live astonished?  The more I think about it and the more that the idea twirls about in my mind, the more I see that living astonished would mean for me to, figuratively, return back to my first day of Kindergarten.  Just because I’ve seen the sunset hundreds of times, doesn’t mean that I should not be awed at every time I see the sky explode with the strokes of God’s fingers.  Every sunset I see, I need to treat it like it’s the first and last that I will ever see.  To live astonished is to be moved at the smallest beauty, to accept the smallest compliment, and to love until we’re empty.  What if I let the world be new each day, instead of taking everything for granted? What if I woke each day knowing that this world is full of questions waiting to be answered instead of answers waiting to be repeated?  I don’t know yet, but I know that there are people who live each day astonished and they have purpose and I think it would be world shattering if the Church would live astonished as well.  But I am not so naïve to expect the Church to begin living astonished if I myself am not astonished at the very existence of breath. 

I think another vital aspect of living astonished is losing yourself everyday into the rich and real pages and words of Salvation.  Allowing yourself to fall back onto Majesty and to be embraced by the arms of Love.  To jump and land in the sea of Grace. 

What if we lived like today was the day that we will see Jesus face to face?  What if we lived today by the words that Jesus said on the Mount?  What if we lived astonished? 

Only one way to find out.
Be astonished. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Vision

There comes a point in everyone's life where they read something so beautiful, something that connects so closely their heart, that all they can do is weep.  A time when they read something that strikes the one chord in their soul that makes music ring out, music that the world has never heard.

That moment for me came when I was on the plane home from the Fourth Estate in San Diego with Invisible Children.  I read, "The Vision" by Pete Greig for the first time.  My friends, it is the heartbeat of Jesus.  This poem outlines the Revolution for Christ that has started to whisper, and will soon blow up in this generation.  This poem is the cry of a generation who are sick of injustice and who no longer believe that ignorance is bliss.

Read and enjoy this poem and let the words fall hard and settle deeply in your hearts.  Let them tear your insides out and wrestle with each sentence, as if it was written specifically for you and you alone to read.  Let these words change you.

Welcome to the Revolution.

The Vision - by Pete Greig

So this guy comes up to me and says:
“what’s the vision? What’s the big idea?”
I open my mouth and words come out like this:
The vision?

The vision is JESUS – obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.

The vision is an army of young people.
You see bones? I see an army.
And they are FREE from materialism.

They laugh at 9-5 little prisons.
They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.
They wouldn’t even notice.
They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the west was won.

They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations.
They need no passport.
People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.
They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying.

What is the vision ?

The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes.
It makes children laugh and adults angry.
It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars.
It scorns the good and strains for the best.
It is dangerously pure.

Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation.
It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games.
This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause.
A million times a day its soldiers choose to loose,
that they might one day win
the great ‘Well done’ of faithful sons and daughters.

Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night. They don’t need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again: “COME ON!”

And this is the sound of the underground
The whisper of history in the making
Foundations shaking
Revolutionaries dreaming once again
Mystery is scheming in whispers
Conspiracy is breathing…
This is the sound of the underground

And the army is discipl(in)ed.
Young people who beat their bodies into submission.
Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms.
The tattoo on their back boasts “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”.

Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes.
Winners. Martyrs.
Who can stop them ?
Can hormones hold them back?
Can failure succeed?
Can fear scare them or death kill them ?

And the generation prays

like a dying man
with groans beyond talking,
with warrior cries, sulphuric tears and
with great barrow loads of laughter!
Waiting. Watching: 24 – 7 – 365.

Whatever it takes they will give: Breaking the rules. Shaking mediocrity from its cosy little hide. Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs, laughing at labels, fasting essentials. The advertisers cannot mould them. Hollywood cannot hold them. Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties before the cockerel cries.

They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive


On the outside? They hardly care.
They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but never to hide.
Would they surrender their image or their popularity?
They would lay down their very lives - swap seats with the man on death row - guilty as hell. A throne for an electric chair.

With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days,
they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them.

Their DNA chooses JESUS. (He breathes out, they breathe in.)
Their subconscious sings. They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.
Their words make demons scream in shopping centres.

Don’t you hear them coming?

Herald the weirdo’s! Summon the losers and the freaks.
Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes.
They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are dwarfed by these children of another dimension.
Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient dream of Eden.

And this vision will be.
It will come to pass;
it will come easily;
it will come soon.

How do I know?

Because this is the longing of creation itself,
the groaning of the Spirit,
the very dream of God.

My tomorrow is his today.
My distant hope is his 3D.
And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking great ‘Amen!’ from countless angels, from hero’s of the faith, from Christ himself. And he is the original dreamer, the ultimate winner.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Serious Humor

Some days you can’t write about serious things.  I think that there may be a grand chance that I think far more than any human being should, and more than not, my thinking usually results in serious things, serious thoughts, and ultimately, serious blogs.  And I find it extraordinary when writers are talented enough to have a mix between gut wrenching seriousness and gut busting laughter.  In Matthew Paul Turner’s book, “Hear No Evil”, at the beginning of one page I was crying and by the end I was laughing hysterically. (I remember this very well because I was sitting in art class and the girl sitting across from me has judged me ever since.  She must think I’m bipolar or something.)  I haven’t reached that medium yet and I’m not quite sure how I am supposed to either.  I mean, sometimes I try to add some humor by throwing in a witty sentence only to realize later that I am the only who saw the wit in the whole situation.  I often even doubt that I’m funny in the first place and I could be wrong here, but I’m almost positive that it’s impossible to make people laugh if you can’t make yourself laugh.  I really don’t make myself laugh much.  My friends do, so maybe I should try to emulate them?  My friend Michael makes me laugh until I cry and my friend Andrew sometimes makes me double over.  Maybe I should be more like them?  Or maybe I shouldn’t be.  If I’m suppose to be a good writer, I feel like Jesus will give me humor and wit like He so graciously blesses me with His fruit each day.  I believe that if this whole writing thing is suppose to go anywhere, than maybe one day, I’ll be funny.

Today my heart is full.  For the past month and a half I have started my journey to adulthood and I have already learned some incredible things.  Believe me when I say that I have seen the serious side of life the past year or so but I do believe that one of the greatest things I have learned lately is how to laugh my head off with no shame.  There’s something about being on a battlefield like college, where everything is so black and white, that makes you see with irrefutable clearness that Jesus and His disciples must have laughed like madmen.  I don’t really know how to explain it but with everything that has been twirling about me, all of my heartbreak for the lost and for the world, I have for some reason found that dancing may very well be my best medicine for sorrow. It doesn’t make any sense and I am completely okay with that.  I may not be funny yet, but at least I am learning to laugh.

The beauty of life is that we can laugh and dance just as much as we can mourn and weep.  Maybe even sometimes at the same moment. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

People Watching 101

Coffee shops are interesting places.  Tonight I am just sitting here at the on campus Starbucks doing what I am best at: people watching.  So far tonight I have watched a number of different social phenomenon and a vast array of interactions.  There is anything from huge groups of people walking together in workout attire to the one girl sitting alone at a table pouring over a notebook emptying herself into the mysterious pages.  I can’t help but sit in a weird sense of awe when I decide to sit and watch.  It’s like I’m a little kid again. 
Whenever I do this I always get really sentimental because I begin to ask questions about each individual.  Where did they all come from?  What is their aim today?  Why do they look so sad?  Why are they so happy?  The questions haunt me because I’ll never get an answer and the truth of the matter is that this world is full of people just like the ones I’m watching from my seat. 
There was a group of about 10 motorcycles that drove up Dickson earlier, each one with a leather-riddled rider who looked about 60 years old.  They were followed by a group of five runners who all had bright neon colored clothing on and one lady was bald, sporting a white bandana.  Why?  First, why are they all wearing neon but even more so, why is she bald?  Is she sick?  And if she is sick, then why is she running?  Were the other four runners with her also sick?  Were they her family?  Friends?  I’ve been watching a girl wearing rope sandals walk aimlessly around.  She has already come into Starbucks once and disappeared into the hallway leading to Quiznos only to show up and walk out of the front doors.  And then a short two minutes later, she appeared again from the hallways and once again, you guessed it, walked out the front of Starbucks.  Was she lost?  Was she looking for someone?  Something?  Trying to kill time? There is a middle-aged man with an old baby blue North Carolina Tarheels jersey on drinking an orange Fanta.  There is beautiful Indian girl getting coffee and a guy walking passed in a full suit, visibly uncomfortable from the massive amount of sweat that is finding it’s way out of his pores.
Whenever I do this, my heart screams at me.  Because I know that whenever I choose to sit and watch these people, then my sorrow will begin to soak into the empty places of my heart.  See the thing is that people break my heart more than anything else in this whole world.  Not because I don’t like them, but actually, just the opposite.  I love them.  I love them with a reckless abandon that may or may not be my downfall one day.  I am desperate to take each of them by the hand and tell them how much they mean to humanity.  I get this way everywhere I go, almost everyday.  It is really bad when I’m in Africa, but tonight it’s killing me.  I wonder if each of these people knows that their important and that they have a story, an amazing story and that each decision they make directly affects me as well as the person riding the motorcycle on Dickson.  I hurt because I yearn for each one of them to know that they are loved deeply and intimately by a God who is very real. 
Sorrow is a funny thing.  Jesus once said that the ones who learn to mourn will be blessed and be comforted.  So obviously it’s not such a bad thing that my heart tears within me when I see someone who is totally smashed stumbling around campus late at night.  So it’s not such a bad thing when I can’t concentrate while talking to my friends at lunch because there is a kid sitting alone staring at his food with stone cold eyes.  I learned to mourn a couple of years ago one night when I was watching Extreme Home Makeover.  I won’t go into the whole story but I’m pretty sure I blogged on that night a while ago, so if you’re interested in knowing the story, you can look back on the post “how I learned to mourn”.  But I since that night, things haven’t been the same.  My interactions with people aren’t the same and certain things hit me much harder than they ever did before.  I can’t read the death totals from the war or the revolutions in the Middle East in the newspaper anymore and I can’t watch the same war movies that I used to love.  I can’t pretend that the death penalty doesn’t bother me and I can’t look away from injustice any longer.  Ignorance stopped being bliss the night that I learned to mourn. 
I was just recently introduced to the idea that sorrow and joy go hand in hand.  At first, I was extremely skeptical and brushed it off, but as the idea kept being pushed, it started to make sense.  In the Prophet, Kahlil Gibran actually says “Sorrow is your joy unmasked” and “the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”.  Those words were foreign to me once, but now I hold them close to my chest.  Because although my sorrow comes from people hurting and people not being known, my joy also comes from people loving and being found.  Jesus has, for some reason, given me the untold sorrow of the lost and the uncontainable joy of the found.  Gibran says, “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.  When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
In Romans 9, Paul delivers one of the most haunting sets of verses in the whole Bible.  I can imagine how he said these words through gritted teeth with clenched fists and tears streaming down his face, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”  Paul loved people so much (they were through and through his sorrow) that he would have given up his place in Heaven, eternity with his soul’s once desire that they may know Christ.  Later in his letters he refers to church in Philippi, “my joy and crown.”  So Paul’s sorrow and Paul’s joy were both the people he was ministering to.  I can’t even begin to say I know the same sorrow that Paul did, and I really cant make the claim of willing to be damned for other people to know.  But I pray that as I continue to learn to walk with Jesus that He’ll allow me to one day be at that place, but today I can only let the Spirit continue to melt me and mold me and let me love people like He does. 
I wonder how different the world would look if the sorrow and joy of the Church was people. I think that is coming soon though. I feel very deeply that soon and very soon the foundations of this world will be burned and a fresh revolution will arise from the underground; a revolution painted and marked with the genuine love of Christ, a revolution free of the American dream and intent on reaching the Nations.  Mark my words, friends because Jesus is changing all of us. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011


This issue must, at some time or another, be not only noticed by everyone but addressed as well.  It’s funny because I go to a University where the majority of the 23,192 of us can be separated into two main categories: granolas and Greeks.  Obviously there are many subgroups in the two main groups, such as; climbers, hippies, athletes (usually lean towards the Greek side of things) and so on and so forth.  But what is interesting here that both groups, no matter who some might be all make fun of hipsters.  And I have to ask the question: why?  And then it goes father, why do hipsters exist?  What is a hipster?  What makes someone move from the rank of “insert group here” to hipster?

(disclaimer: I am not saying I am or am not a hipster, I am simply writing this from a Universal view.  Bear with me.)

Hipsters strive to be unique.  They go out of their way to make sure that they don’t look like other people, dress like them, or listen to the same music.  Hipsters are famous for their horn-rimmed glasses and rolled up jeans while sporting moccasins or rope sandals.   Why?  I believe that hipsters are a beautiful and intricate snapshot into the human desire to stand out.  We all want to recognized, we all want to be different, and we all want to matter.  

I recently finished reading Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, which is famous for the “space monkeys” of Project Mayhem running around repeating, “I am not special.  I am not a unique snowflake.  I am not my job.  I am not my car.”  I read those words with a sick feeling in my stomach knowing that, although this was just a book, people honestly go their whole lives believing that.  It’s as though people have those words subconsciously tattooed on their hearts, and it kills me.  If we weren’t supposed to all be different, special, and unique than God would have made all 7 billion of us exactly the same.  If we weren’t supposed to shine then why would God have so carefully crafted every single one of us differently?  He knit each of us together with completely different chromosomes and atoms and genes.  None of us are the same.  So how could we not be unique? 

Okay you theologians out there don’t crucify me for using this point (I’m using it simply because it paints a majestic picture of Love).  In Ephesians 2, Paul calls us the workmanship of God.  The Greek word for workmanship is “Poema” which we derive our word, poem from.  I know that I can’t take that point with white-knuckles, but the glorious and unshakable principle holds true: we are God’s poetry and He is writing us into existence.  I write poetry every now and again and with each poem I write, I can remember where I wrote it, why I wrote, and I have the majority of them memorized.  Not because I am a super genius, but simply because it is my creation. The poem formed not only from the movement of my hand but also out of the inmost places of my heart and mind.  I can go so far to remember when I scribbled the first rough verses of some of my poems on a napkin in some random coffee shop.  And if we are God’s poetry, then He knows each of us in an intimate and deep way that is incomprehensible to us.  We are known; wholly and profoundly known by the Master Poet.

If any of that holds a single strand of truth, then we have something monumental to live for.  We are special and unique and every one is sewed with a different color fabric by the fingers of the Living God. 

Hipsters might just be on the verge of something beautiful. 

It breaks my heart that most people on this earth go through each day with no intent.  When I walk into the cafeteria and see the ladies who swipe card after card with a blank expression on their faces, only to watch it illuminate when one student takes the five seconds to acknowledge their existence.  What if we let people know that they were worth something in this world?  What if we believed we were worth something in this world?  What if each one of us caught onto the irresistible dream that each of us has a distinct and creative role in God’s perfect plan for humanity?  What if we fell into the embrace of Glory and knew that we belonged there?

If only we knew, if only we believed that we were meant for amazing things.

If only you knew, if only you believed that you were meant for amazing things.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

living. not dying.

There has to come a point where we all must sit down and actually examine what the world has been saying about us.  Are we a chosen generation?  The generation that has finally had enough of injustice and is ready to put a stop to the wars, the poverty, the genocide, the evil?  The generation that is going to finally reach the Nations for Christ?  Are we the people who are going to stand firm and say “no more”?  It all comes down to the question:
Can we be a generation of shattered people who are alive and breathing simply for the bleeding hope of Glory?
 I think we can be.
And I am here to live and die for that Glory.  But I am here much more to live, for plenty of people are willing to die for a cause, any cause, but very few are willing to live.  Because to live for a cause is to give up everything you own, to sacrifice all that you hold for the greater good.  It means to look forward and forget your past, to loosen your grip on fate and to acknowledge that the world is much bigger than you are.  To live for a cause is to begin again; fresh, naked, and with nothing.
Just as my good friend Jedidiah once said, “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
I might still be too young and idealistic, or I might just be crazy, but I see no reason why we can’t turn the world upside.  There is nothing that holds ground on why the Church today is and should be so far away from what the Bible laid it out to be.  There is no reason every person on this earth should not be fed, clothed, cared for, and told about Christ.  And honestly the only reason I see for any of those things not happening can be summed up in our million dollar houses, the mad cash we dish out for computers, private education, the latest greatest junk, and because we are obsessed with everything about ourselves, anything but the welfare of others.
But I think that a new day is coming, truly it’s already here. A new day where we are not going to be okay with that reason any more. 
We are reclaiming Christianity for the name of Christ and reshaping how humanity sees each other.  Each person on this planet has a story, all 7 billion of us.  And each story is unique, each story is beautiful, each story is vitally important to the human race.  I really do believe that with my whole heart and people may look at me and laugh and point and remark on how off I may be.  And really, I could be wrong but I like to think that’s how Jesus loves people.  And if Jesus loves all 7 billion of us misfits, why shouldn’t we love each other?  And as soon as anyone gives me a good “reason” why not, then I’ll admit that I’m wrong.  But from the Scripture I have read and from the orphans in Africa that I have held, my conviction holds true.  Jesus loves every single one of us and therefore so will I.  And so should we all.
So with that conviction and all, the question has to asked, “how do we do this?”  Well, the best answer I have is to love people with everything we have, we hold, and we do.  To build authentic relationships with people around us regardless of any boundary of race or social limitations.  To give our time to people who need it.  To share what we own with people who need it.  To share Christ with every single person we meet with our words but more importantly with every act we perform.  To hold the broken, to cry with the hurting, to laugh with friends, to sing and dance with strangers, but to come and realize that we are all brothers and sisters.  To quit dying for our own American dreams and to start living for Glory. 
One day I will be face to face with Jesus and He look at me and ask me how I used what He gave me for His glory.  And as I stare deeply into the face of Glory, my Soul’s Desire, I pray that by the grace of God I will be able to show Him how I chose to not just die for Him, but to live.  I know that He will embrace me regardless, because I am washed by the blood of Jesus, but oh how dearly I long to hear Him say, “well done my good and faithful servant.”  There is nothing else I desire more.  There are no other words that I would live to hear. 

The word Hallelujah means “praise the Lord” and the most beautiful thing about this word is that it’s never been translated.  Its originally Hebrew and it’s been Hallelujah since David uttered it while writing the Psalms until now as I’m sitting here on this bench typing it.  Hallelujah can be heard echoing out of gathering in the slums of Kampala to the house churches in China and back to the mega-churches in America.  It is known throughout the whole word as one word.  It’s simple, profound, cross-cultural, and world changing.   
In October I had Hallelujah tattooed on my forearm.  I did this for many reasons, but one of those reasons was because it’s a universal word.  It’s the anthem of believers everywhere. When I in Africa this last summer, kids would come up to me and point to my arm asking me what it said and when I said, “Hallelujah” they would nod and respond, “Amen!”.  I had it written on me forever in order to remember that the old man dying on the war-tattered streets of Kabul, Afghanistan is just as much my brother as the kid sitting next to me in my sociology class.  One day every tribe, every tongue, and every Nation will sing Hallelujah together before the throne of God.  Why can’t we, as a human race, start that now?  I believe we can.  I believe we must because it’s simple: Jesus says to. 
So.  Who’s with me?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Summer on the Mount

There are no words to try and describe this summer.  Maybe that is the reason that I have sat down numerous times and attempted to write a catchy and cliché blog about how great it was only to find that by the end of the post, I am just rambling on and on with empty phrases about nothing.
 I have been to Africa and back (thank the Lord I was able to spit a couple paragraphs of some worth out about that experience) and to auditoriums where every person sat on the edge of their chairs with tears rolling down their cheeks dreaming of changing the world.  I have seen unshakable joy in the faces of men obsessed with Hope and despair in the sunken eyes of children dying of AIDS.  I have sat as the disciples did at Jesus’ feet as He spoke to them the greatest sermon ever taught.  I have wept and I have laughed and sung and danced.  I have been forced to my knees in utter surrender and sprayed hate and confusion in the face of God.  I have been shattered.  I have been healed.  I have been angry.  I have been glad.  I have lived.
And again I say; there are no words to try and describe this summer.  In May I embarked on the journey by starting to memorize the Sermon on the Mount and I was not in any way prepared for the great adventure that awaited me.  I started off very slow by trying to hold a couple verses a day but was soon blown away when I learned the Beatitudes and realized the magnitude of how different we are than what Jesus described for His followers to be.  “Be poor in spirit,” Jesus said and then I realized how last time I checked, we all thought God would be lucky to have us in Church.  He needs us.  He needs the United States to make His name known.  “well,” I thought, “0 for 1 so far.”  Then I moved on to the next verse.  “Blessed are those who mourn.”  Crap.  We suck at that.  Actually we do the opposite and love the drama on news about the latest gang fight or news of people dying in an attack somewhere in the Middle East.  Slowly but surely I started to see the divide.  I moved on to the next and to the next and with every verse, every attribute, I was more broken for us.  I was more broken for me, how far away I was.  About a month into the quest, I left for Africa and by the time I was memorizing Jesus’ words in the slums of Kampala I finally saw what I had needed to learn all along:
If I am to follow Jesus, I must live in the margins.
I can no longer accept what everyone around me is telling me.  It is impossible to follow Jesus and pledge allegiance anywhere else.  I was reading things and thinking of things that I had never thought of before.  Simple things such as when Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  I had always thought the words stopped there.  But this summer, I kept reading and found a command that came after, words that change everything.  Why do we pray for our enemies?  Well according to Jesus it’s to, “pray that they may become sons of your Father who is in Heaven.”  Wait. What?  It’s not to so that they may die?  We’re not supposed to go blow people up?  I’m supposed to pray that my enemies become Christ-followers?  When the world is telling to pray for the death of Joseph Kony, or Osama bin Laden, I am suppose to be praying that they become my brothers?  When did I miss this in Sunday school?
When I landed in the United States after Africa, I was, as you can imagine, so confused that I really couldn’t see straight.   Right after that I left for Colorado and was blessed enough to sit under the teaching of Francis Chan and David Platt and was able to watch God’s heart for the Nations be manifest in an unbelievable and beautiful way among His people.  I watched Vision, Christ’s Vision, of the Great Commission actually being fulfilled.  I saw Jesus take my friend’s hearts in His hand and break them, only to replace them with His.  I heard whispers and murmurs of a Revival so much greater than I could have ever imagined.  I felt fire. 
The whole time, the Spirit kept writing Jesus’ upon my heart.  “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites.” “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.” “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.” “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”  Do I need to keep going?  Everyday I got up; I was punched in the face harder than the day before.  
I went right from Colorado to California and what awaited me was the most life-changing weekend I could have ever prayed for.  I walked onto the campus of the University of San Diego and was greeted by 650 maniacs who are in love with the impossible. 
This is where it gets hard to explain.  Many people have asked me what the Fourth Estate was and why I was involved with Invisible Children even when it’s not a “Christian” organization.  I don’t really have a good answer.  The best way I can explain it is on the last day of the conference, my heroes and my friends, Jason Russell and Jedidiah Jenkins made everyone stand up.  They told us to stand up and look around at the other people in the room, without saying anything.  And as I stood up and made eye contact with the other 650 people in that room, the Spirit said very clearly to me, “this is exactly where you are suppose to be.”  I cannot adequately describe the emotions that ran through me in those three minutes. 
That weekend I was overcome by Jesus placing the most brilliant minds in the world in front of me.  I heard ideas and plans on saving lives that I couldn’t even have thought of in my most wildest dreams.   We are all here together.  We are all humans.  We all have a story and my story would not be the same if it weren’t for my brother and my sister who are living theirs in Uganda.  We have to help one another.
Okay, I’m stopping there for a second. These words really aren’t cutting it for me.  To pull back and try again it’s simply this: I learned to live this summer. 
For the first time in my whole life I am willing to be labeled the lunatic for Christ.  I am willing to be spat on and talked about and made fun of.   This summer I saw that is impossible to live the life Jesus has described in the Sermon of the Mount and still love the things of this world.  It’s impossible to live the way He said and not be a lunatic.  Even now as I am sitting here in Starbucks in Fayetteville, AR I know that this is my “home” for the next four years but I also know that I won’t be home until I see Jesus face to face, so why do I continually pretend to be content?  Why do I continually pretend to be okay with how everything is going around me? 
I guess it is summed up pretty well by the story of my plane flight home from San Diego just a few short weeks ago.  I sat next to a nice elderly Canadian couple.  I began talking to them but didn’t get very far as they made it extremely clear that they didn’t want to be talking to me.  So I left them alone and turned to open the Word and spend time with Jesus. In only moments I was in hysterics as I listened and let the words of Psalm 10 and the Sermon on the Mount drive deep into my heart.  I can only imagine what this couple was thinking as they sat next to this 18 year old kid that was barefoot, wearing skinny jeans, had long wild hair and was crying like a little girl.  As the plane flight wrapped up and we began to land, I initiated conversation again and got the opportunity to tell them about the Fourth Estate and my heart for the Nations and Jesus.  The lady asked me, “are you a missionary?” I fumbled around for the words but eventually ended up saying something along the lines of, “I guess so? I just simply wanna love people, you know?  No matter if they’re here in America or in Africa.” She looked me deep in the eyes and said, “The world needs more people like you.” 
I am willing to be labeled a lunatic because Christ has saved my life and He has given me the grace to live for something so much bigger than myself.  If I am to live for Jesus, I must walk in the margins because even Christ Himself said, “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

As a writer I cringe looking back over this post, because there is nothing but green staring back at me.  Green meaning, little squiggly lines showing me how many grammatical errors I made writing this post.  Most of the time, I would change every sentence.  But for today, I am okay with my green little friends because I know that some things cannot be explained by the English language and rules sometimes must be broken.  The English language cannot give justice to last three months of my life and the raw Love that Jesus showed me, embraced me with, replaced my heart with, and showed me how to love with.