Monday, July 19, 2010

you're my boy, Paul.

I've been reading Romans over the past few days.  So far, it has mostly been Paul's discourse on the nature of humans (sin) and the nature of righteousness (through faith in Jesus' death & resurrection)  It's always good to rehearse these theological truths, but during chapter seven I started feeling pretty crappy about myself.  It resonates so deeply with me when I read words like those in verse 18 that say,  "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out."  At this point in the letter, our hope in Jesus had already been explained multiple times, but here our sinful nature seem so powerful!

"What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?"  (7:24)

Exactly what I'm saying!  Whew--thanks, Paul.  I'm glad I wasn't the only one feeling crappy here.  But what do we do?  He continues,

"Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!"  (7:25)


The kind of "yes" when something is so relieving--so true!--that you feel like you could just fall down upon it with all of your weight, and find rest.  Reaching the shore after boating in a storm.  No more waves, no more insecurity, no more fear--just rock solid stability.  Immovability.  Breathing freely, deeply.

When I take a good, hard look at my sin, it's scary--but that's when the textbook knowledge about the Gospel becomes real.  I keep talking about wanting to "turn the corner," from dwelling in my sinfulness, toward grasping the Gospel deeply.  Paul is helping me get there.  Thanks be to God for using Paul to write these words, because they're finally making the long, hard voyage from my head to my heart.  I've known them, but now I'm knowing them.

"But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood..."
Romans 3:21-25


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Desperately wanting to be myself

It's so great to see old friends.  It's even better to know that I can be myself.

I get so caught up sometimes in trying to be the person that I assume people want me to be, that I miss out on a big fact of life:  people want you to be yourself.  That's what I want in other people, so why is it so hard for me to do it in my own life?

I remember back to my second semester of college, when this was a big struggle for me.  It was the end of my freshman year, and I was getting ready for a big transition (as if freshman year isn't transition enough).  I had been invited to work at a summer camp, and I was filled with a mix of nerves and huge excitement.  Four years removed, I can say that this was one of the best decisions I ever made, but at the time it was a big deal to make this commitment.

I'm from the mountains--this camp was on the coast.
I'm a people-person--I only knew one person working at this camp (I had only heard two people even mention it in my life).
I know nothing about boats--this was a sailing camp.

In the midst of all this, do you know what my biggest prayer was? I desperately wanted to be able to be myself.  I wasn't sure exactly what this looked like, but I felt like it was something along the lines of goofy, outgoing and confident.

I didn't find the answer that summer, and I still don't have it.  I can tell you that I've spent the past few months taking an honest look at myself, and I've come to a pretty stark conclusion.  I'm pretty bad, all-through, when left to my own nature.  It hasn't exactly been a healthy state of self-image during this time, but I feel like I'm finally turning the corner toward understanding and "getting" God's grace more and more each day.  It has been a real answer to prayer to experience it in different ways.  Basically, you and I naturally suck, but God loved us so much that He couldn't stand by without changing that fact.

This means that I'm accepting help, charity, welfare--but it's beautiful.  It's making me come alive, and it's so refreshing.  Amazing grace.  I'm starting to view that phrase as less and less of a cliche.  I pray for the day when you and I can humbly accept and rejoice in this truth together.

There's so much more that I want to write!  I've already written and erased twice as much that's written here, so this is probably a good place to stop.  As always, thanks for reading.  See you soon, friends--and hopefully as a humble, real version of myself :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

stopping. smelling the roses.

Fund development can be approached in both healthy and unhealthy ways.  It's almost 6pm on Saturday here in Raleigh, and I just finished a bunch of emails to follow-up with people I've been contacting.  I was about to slam this laptop shut, jump back in my car, and then hustle up to a cookout with fellow staff from the area, but I need to take a quick second.

Or maybe a few seconds, but just long enough to remind myself of the mission.  Do you ever get like that--so engrossed in the work that you have to remind yourself what the bigger picture is?

So, perspective:  the phase of my job that I'm in right now requires that I spend time communicating with people my passion, and asking if they want to be a part of it with me.  Dude, that's awesome.

So, Patrick, before you hurriedly rattle off emails, phone calls, and coffee dates remind yourself what you're really doing.  Sharing your passion and letting God provide the resources to obey His calling, and then work for His kingdom on the College of Charleston.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


For those of you that were following along with the entries from ONS, sorry for bailing on my discipline to blog each day.  I don't feel bad about going this long without posting, but I do regret not taking the time to write from each day of the conference, even if it was just a little bit.  The truth is that so much happened--late nights, early mornings, and long sessions in between--that I shuddered at the idea of sitting down to think at the end of the day.

I don't really like that about myself.  I know that at the end of the day it's normal to feel tired, but often I just feel extra lazy.  Especially when I shirk something that I know to be so rewarding in the long run, such as journaling or blogging about life.  I'd like to try and discipline myself to blog a little more often, now, even just a few thoughts.

That said, I'll briefly tell you that I finished the third installment of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia today.  Before Caitlin left for the beach a few weeks ago, I encouraged her to start reading the series as well, and just yesterday I found out that she's caught up to the third book already.  I was thus inspired to read some this morning, and was able to finish The Horse and His Boy just after morning coffee with her at Global Village.  And now I remember why I read the series so quickly the first time around.

For me, this is the book that really hooked me.  When I first read the series during my freshman year at State, I was so surprised by the turn taken by the adventures in this book.  I totally ate it up. As the opening line reads, "THIS IS A STORY OF AN ADVENTURE," it doesn't disappoint.  The story is set in a neighboring land to Narnia, but the geography, culture and religion couldn't be more different.  There's even some romantic tension that develops between the star-crossed main characters, which is always good to get me invested in a story :)

Looking forward, I might skip Prince Caspian in my series re-run.  I know that I soldiered through the second book on a count of purism, but I just re-read this fourth book before the recent adaptation was released on the silver screen.  It's not that I didn't enjoy the book, in fact I always remember it fondly as Andy's favorite.  It's just that I REALLY love The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, number five.  In case you haven't read it, it's a tale of the high seas--epic adventure with classic characters.  I don't remember exactly why I loved it so much, but I know that was before I even worked at Camp Don Lee and have hence developed a love for sailing.  I don't get to enjoy it all that often now that my three summers at camp have passed--it's not my kind of but I rarely pass up the chance when I get it. (This even worked its way out in Madison during ONS!  Courtney, Abby, Doug and I got to rent a small boat and really soak up the sun on a relaxing Sabbath day.  Well, mostly relaxing, haha.  I can tell you another time.)

Okay, I've convinced myself now to skip right to this book.  The only problem is that I just arrived in my mom's hometown of Lincolnton, NC, and I didn't have the presence of mind to grab it off Josh's shelf before I left Raleigh.  I'll be here for a few days doing fund development, and I could definitely get some good reading done.  I think an early morning trip to North State Books is in order.  It's the best used bookstore here in town, and it's right on the court square.  I'll be able to grab the book, snag a good cup of coffee a few doors down,  and then enjoy the beautiful NC summer weather!