If you hand the world a Christian…

I had a sudden burst of inspiration – an urge to do something….  To change something.  To be profound or fabulous or whatever.  Just something.

Perhaps it was the however-many-hours of Sherlock I had just been watching (feel free to read this entire post in a British accent).  Perhaps it was the fact that it was 1 in the morning, and I really am a night owl when I’m allowed to be.  Perhaps it was the cool night air and sound of cicadas outside.  Or perhaps we shall never know.

Whatever the case, I was moved.  Seeing as it was 1 in the morning and I hadn’t decided what to do yet, I ventured into the kitchen to find a snack.  I’m also very bad at eating during the day…  I get distracted doing things and forget.  Or I try to forage, then get bored, and decide that I don’t really want food that badly after all.  But as soon as night comes I am always hungry.  So kitchen.

Attempting to find food to satisfy my once-again-mostly-vegan diet — oh yes.  I’d better explain that.

I was very sick.  Am still sick.  Got mostly well when I was on an incredibly strict vegan diet for a year.  Got tired of that.  Added back in selective meats and whatnot.  But, as I mentioned, am still sick.  Am back off of most animal products.  In fact, the only non-vegan things I can regularly stomach are boiled eggs and butter.

— okay, now you know.  Harder to find food.

Anyway, so I was thinking about being vegan, and all the “yummy” substitutes that the world has come up with for people like me to make us feel less freakish.  Delicacies such as Veganase, or How Are My Tastebuds Fooled Into Thinking This Is Butter (hint – doesn’t work).  There’s everything from vegetable protein disguised as chicken to soy powder that’s supposed to taste like eggs or cheese or something.

Thing is, even when I was very much vegan and hadn’t had the “real” things in quite some time, I often still had a hard time stomaching the fakes.  Hand anyone a piece of goodness-knows-what-plant-matter that “tastes just like chicken” and no one will be fooled.

How does this tie into my title?  Ah, yes, you have been paying attention.  Or if you weren’t, you are now.  (I will, however, still give you credit, so no worries).

As I scrounged through the kitchen, contemplating how easily people can spot this pseudofood, a very real-life application hit me.

And I realized that people are often as good at spotting a fake Christian as they are a fake burger.

If you hand me a slab of tofu and call it turkey, no matter how it is cooked or seasoned or disguised, I will call your bluff.  And call it gross.  If on the other hand you hand me something and call it what it is, I’m much more likely to like it.

Funny how life so closely parallels food.  At least here.

Hand the world a self-serving, entitled, money obsessed, lying, cheating scoundrel who happens to sit in a church pew once a week and call it a “Christian”, I do believe the world will call your bluff.

I wouldn’t call that a Christian.  I would call that a fraud.  Or, as I believe Jesus said it, a whitewashed tomb.

There are more than a few good reasons that society isn’t such a fan of Christianity.  Said “Christians” leave a bad taste in everyone’s proverbial mouth.

Be careful what you hand the world.  They’re quite good at discovering fakes.

 

100 Days of Summer

No.  It’s not like the movie 500 Days of Summer.  I don’t even know what that’s about….  So just no.

This is, from the day I get out of school to the day I come back in the fall, there are 100 days of summer break.  Exactly.  No more, no less.

And there’s just something kind of special about the number 100.  There are a hundred pennies in a dollar.  A hundred years in a century.  It’s a nice, round, even, beautiful, large, full-of-potential kind of number.

So what does one do with 100 days of summer?

That’s exactly what I plan on finding out.  Right now I should be studying for finals…  But THEN –

I could discover new places,

Read new books,

Meet new people,

Rediscover favorites,

Find healing,

Deepen friendships,

Fall in love with life,

Introduce the world to something awesome –

The possibilities are ENDLESS.

And there are a hundred days to explore each and every one.

I may write a blog post every day for 100 days detailing my adventures.  I may get bored of that and secretly revel in my sorrows and triumphs.  But it will be fantastic.  Every one of those hundred days.

Because if each and every day was lived with that kind of intentionality, wouldn’t life be a lot more fun?

A Barefoot Tale: Update on The Challenge

As people around campus are starting to learn, warm weather for me means NO SHOES!!  It’s been over a month since I’ve started the experiment, and things have gone better than expected.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) The ground is NOT waiting to attack your feet!  Now, to be totally honest, I was somewhat worried about stepping on something sharp when I started.  The first time I crossed the road near my dorm while barefoot I was waiting to be sliced to pieces.  And yet, I wasn’t.  A month later and I’ve only gotten one thorn-induced splinter (and that only because I was walking through a patch of thorny bushes…enthusiasm does not equal invincibility!).

2) I can FEEL the difference when I wear shoes!  I have always struggled with joint pain (specifically ankles, knees, and hips) along with shooting pain in the arches of my feet if I stand too much at one time.  But I was never more aware of this than the miserable Monday I wore shoes after a sunny weekend of bare feet toward the beginning of this project.  Without shoes, even carrying my 25-30lb backpack around all over campus doesn’t hurt me at all!  But a day in shoes kills.

3) People are more receptive to the idea than you’d think.  Sure, I still get my fair share of weird looks.  I’m occasionally scolded, and there are just those stinkers who are silly and unsupportive.  But for the most part – people either don’t notice or don’t care or both.  Several girls in my dorm even ask me how it’s going every time I see them.  They’ve taken to calling this THE BAREFOOT CHALLENGE.  

4) Even though people usually don’t mind ME being barefoot, they are very rarely willing to join me.  I’ve had so many tell  me that they were jealous of my “freedom”, but when I offered for them to try it out, they’d back off and make excuses.  I swear, it’s as easy as just TAKING YOUR SHOES OFF and WALKING AROUND.  Not hard.  I promise.  But, when you do find people willing to join:

5)  Support is awesome, and kind of contagious.  I have several friends who regularly barefoot (one who’s just as, if not more, faithful than me).  Now you see TWO or THREE crazy barefoot kids walking together across campus, and all of a sudden it’s not just the one weird loner.  It’s a thing or whatever.

6)  Barefoot sandals are easy to make, super gorgeous, and let you get away with a lot more than you normally would.

7)  Asphalt is a lot hotter than it looks or feels, especially when you’re walking across a lot of it.  You can actually burn and blister your feet, as a friend and I found out.  When in doubt – shoes can be a really good thing.

8)  Fungus and disease aren’t going to eat you alive.  Public bathrooms are one of the places I still absolutely always wear shoes.  But I’ve gone barefoot almost everywhere else on campus.  No gross foot problems so far.

9)  Society has fed us weird ideas about feet.  But once people start trying out a different mindset, light bulbs start to go off.  Try it out.  Read The Barefoot Book by Dr. Daniel Howell.  You’ll see what I mean.

And that’s it for now!  As it continues to get warmer, I plan on keeping up the shoelessness as much as I can.  And for anyone willing to try out THE BAREFOOT CHALLENGE – just kick your shoes off and go places.  Talk to people.  Have fun.  And best of luck to you.

Thirty Days of Praying Over Porn

Porn.

Yes, I said it.  The “P” word.

The “hush hush” and “don’t talk about it” of our generation.  Worse, even, than depression in the Church’s social eye.

What can I say about this giant Monster that has entangled our world?  Even if I wrote thousands upon thousands of words I could not cover it all.  Love.  Truth.  Transparency.  The Gospel and Christ being the only thing that frees.

All of this is good, and all of it needs addressed (check out everettwickham.com if you want some thoughts on the above).  But what I want to talk about is something I haven’t seen anywhere.  Like, at all.

In all of the blogs and sermons and blurbs that we are circulating, why aren’t we discussing the spiritual aspect of this?  Any Bible believing Christian can tell you that there is a very real war going on right now.  Doesn’t this pertain to pornography as well?  If we address the spiritual warfare surrounding every other issue, why not this?  Ephesians 6:12.  We aren’t fighting flesh and blood but dark powers and principalities!  Why aren’t we acting like it?

I have had on my heart for almost a month now to take this realization and start doing something about it.  So for the month of April I will be praying over porn every day.  Over the men and women trapped in the lie that it offers anything of value.  Over the girls and boys, men and women, who have been taken advantage of to feed this industry.  Over the pimps and providers who are getting filthy rich, and are just as ensnared as everyone else.  Over the tech crews and the website providers and EVERYTHING.

For the thirty days of April (and very likely many days to follow) I will be praying and praying and praying over all of this.

And if you are willing, I would love for you to join me.

I would love for AS MANY members of the worldwide church to join in on this as possible!  If it is just me taking up this fight, then fine.  I will follow it through to the end.  But what if we had thousands, even millions, joining together in this effort?

We could very well change the world.

SO, until April comes, I would love for you to share this blog and let people know what we are doing.  Like and share the Facebook page (where I will be sending out reminders and encouragements).

And pray.  Pray for me, pray for the others joining in, pray for yourself.  Put on the armor of God and hold it close.  When we start addressing the spiritual wars going on all around us we will fall under heavy fire.  But is there any more sweet place to be than that?  When you are being attacked it’s a sure thing that you are where you’re supposed to be.

I will leave off with this – 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, “But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

https://www.facebook.com/thirtydaystochangetheworld

A Barefoot Tale: The Beginning

Many of you have heard about my Barefoot Professor.  And if you haven’t, you are about to.

This man is my upper-level anatomy professor, and he literally walks around barefoot all the time.  I think the only two times I’ve seen him wearing shoes in class this semester, there was snow on the ground.  So, pretty self-explanatory, right?  He’s barefoot.  He’s a professor.  (glad you’re with me thus far)

Well, on top of being a hard core kind of guy, he also wrote a book about it.  And not just a crazy whack job book – a really well studied and scientifically accurate book.  All about why you should go barefoot through life.

And you know me.  If something random and seemingly nerdy strikes my fancy, I’m hooked.  Of  course he told us about this book at the beginning of the semester, and I’d thought about it a lot, but hadn’t been able to get ahold of one.

Until one particular day in class, a week or two ago.  Asking all of us what he posed as a “difficult question”, I thought he genuinely wanted an answer (and I knew it), so I told him.  He was so surprised and pleased that someone in his class actually studied outside of lecture and knew things we hadn’t covered yet, that he reached into his bag and pulled out his book.  He said, “You like going barefoot, right?  Here.  Read this.”

I did.  I started it.  And it’s amazing.  Absolutely spot on, mind blowing, and fantastical.  I love it.  It’s challenging and inspiring.

And it poses the question – why don’t we kick off our shoes?  Not just when we’re sitting alone at home, but also at school and work and walking down the road?  Many people think it’s illegal and dangerous, but they’re almost entirely wrong.

So, while I do want to tell you all the amazing reasons to go barefoot, I will save that for a later post (probably a series of them).  For the moment all I’m going to do is pose a question.

What would happen if I did spend more time without wearing shoes?  What would happen?  Would I get weird looks?  Be kicked out of places?  Would my feet hurt or feel better?

If you know me at all, you know I’m a science girl, and a social experiment girl.  I love to see what people will do when faced with something unusual.

Like a crazy chick walking around with no shoes on.

What will people do?  I guess we’ll find out now, won’t we.

And I hope you’ll join me on this adventure.  Read about it.  Share it with your friends.  And maybe, just maybe, kick your own shoes off and go for a walk.  You never know what might happen.

(Note:  For anyone interested in reading the aforementioned literature, it is The Barefoot Book by Dr. Daniel Howell)

The Best Love

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Where there is love there is life.”

Have you ever been in love?  Like, real love.  Not a crush.  The kind of love that makes people starry-eyed and kooky.  The best-possible-future-you-can-see-yourself-living, forget-what-you’re-doing-and-just-sit-and-daydream, lay-down-your-life-if-you-had-to kind of love.  Love made up of selfless sacrifice and soaked in the incomprehensibly huge love of God.  Real love.

If you have, you have experienced something that transcends the paltry shadows of this world.  And you have been blessed beyond measure.

Allow me to shift focus for a moment.  I have had a weekend of re-defining my life, my goals, my expectations, my desires.  It made me realize the areas I was spending time and energy that should have been focused on growing my relationship with God and doing well in school.  After coming to these realizations, I simply lifted it up before the Lord, asking that He would make this weekend one that would shape my future – that He would give me a vision for life.  Re-defining His way.

I’ve got to start being more careful about what I ask for.

India keeps coming up and won’t go away.

It seems to be God’s main way of communicating with me.  He knows that I have a hard time paying attention to things unless they’re put in front of me over and over and over again.  And the thing so persistently in front of me right now is India.

At the beginning of the semester, the leader of my prayer group mentioned something about possibly taking a trip to India next summer.  She said “Hey, you could come along and be my travel buddy.”  I laughed and said that that’d be cool, then we moved on.

But that conversation WON’T LEAVE ME ALONE.

It’s crazy, right?  I need to spend next summer working to pay my way through school.  There’s no way I could come up with the money for that kind of a trip!  I want to spend those months with my family.

And yet…  The thought of this sets a fire in my soul that I haven’t felt in a long time.  We’d be working with a mission organization that ministers to the community with food, clothes, job training, shelter and medical care.  They also just started a mission school to rescue girls out of sex trafficking and minister to their bodies, minds and souls.

It’s crazy.  Spending an entire summer in a country where women (especially young white women) are not valued, at the height of monsoon season, exposed to a whole new host of illnesses…  Culture shock on a massive scale.

I’d need a passport.  I’d need shots.  I’d need to figure out how to live in a new country.  I’d have to find a way to pay for that all!

But I am so deeply in love with this country, with these people.  How can you love a place you’ve never been to?  How can you love someone you’ve never met?  Yet it’s something I can’t deny.  I have been in love with India for so many years now.  And it’s reawakening.

It’s absolutely crazy!  

Seriously though, shouldn’t we be doing something crazy?  Christians as a whole aren’t stepping out and doing things that anyone else wouldn’t do.  What kind of testimony is that to the God we serve?  We say that He’s big enough to do the impossible – all things are possible with Him!  Do we really believe it?  Are we living it?  Maybe it’s time for the Church to step out and do something crazy.

Will I be going to India next summer?  I don’t really know.  I do know that there’s no way I can make it happen in my own power.  But I’m open to the fact that God is big enough to make this happen.  And I can’t wait to see what He does.

What I do know is that I feel more passionately alive than I have in a very, very long time.  To be a totally sappy girl, I will quote Nickolas Sparks.  “The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.”

I do believe I’m in love.

 

Welcome to…

So, here’s the thing.  When you pray for God to move, to strike up revival, to use you, He might actually DO it.  I know the church has been praying for revival for a long time, but nobody actually expected (or, in my opinion, wanted) it.  Change is just too uncomfortable.  We like our lives.  American Christians enjoy complacency – surrounding ourselves with menial everyday things.  “God, meet us where we are but please don’t make us suffer.”

Kind of connected to this, and kind of on a buzz-high of a rant, here’s something crazy that’s going on in my life right now.

All black, fuzzy, out of focus.  The world of my dream hard to touch and easily forgettable.  Mind barely comprehending, confused and cloudy, separated from body and motion.  

And into my dream popped something so solid and real I knew it must truly be happening.

I was holding my phone.  It had to be mine, not a subconscious fabrication of desire.  The cheap walmart phone with nail polish on the “x” button and “i” beginning to peel.

There was a text message on the screen.  I couldn’t see who it was from, but I could clearly read it.  Acts 2:18.  “That’s cool,” I thought.  “Someone sent me a Bible verse.”

When I awoke from this experience several weeks ago, everything from that other world fell away.  Everything except the text message.  It was so real I could almost still feel the phone in my hand.

“Hey that’s pretty neat.  Jesus sent me a text message.”

The thought was half joking, but I was still curious to see exactly what verse I was sent.  I jumped out of bed (a RARE occurrence I assure you!), flipped on my desk lamp, and pulled out my Bible.  Opening to that passage I found that I’d highlighted that whole section of scripture.

What’s happened is that Peter stood up and addressed a crowd at pentecost, quoting the prophet Joel who had been speaking about the end times (read Joel 2:28-32 for the original).

My verse specifically was this (Acts 2:18):

“Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”

Wow, that’s pretty interesting.  But it really didn’t catch my attention.  “Yeah, prophecy’s not really my thing.  Sooooo….MOVING ON!”

I’ve been steadily reading through Paul’s letters, a few chapters every morning.  The day before I’d left off with 1 Corinthians 13 so, after my excursion into the book of Acts, I flipped to chapter 14 for my pre-class devotion of the day.

Check it out (1 Corinthians 14:1):

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”  

Hey now.

Especially the gift of prophecy?!  Both men and women?!

Okay, God, you’ve got my attention.

Of all spiritual gifts that I’ve ever read about or heard taught on, prophecy wasn’t ever one I was drawn to.  Healing, maybe.  But not so much this one.  In fact, my most common reaction to the “prophets of our time” is EXTREME SKEPTICISM.

Yet, as someone who doesn’t believe whatsoever in coincidence, I could not ignore this.  Unfortunately, chemistry lecture would not wait for the revelations of heaven, and I had to dash off to class.

But I couldn’t shake those verses, or the chills I had after reading them.  What in the world did it all mean?  And why was it directed at me?

Here I am.  Barely surviving school.  Sure I’m getting good grades.  But all I do is study.  Once again struggling with chronic illness and depression, struggling to find a solid group of friends, feeling generally emotionally raw.

And now I’m supposed to be a prophet or prophetess or whatever???

They thought I was weird before….

So here’s what I know.  After talking to my mom and studying scripture more thoroughly I have a more solidly biblical understanding of what a prophet is.  Not only can they foretell the future as a result of divine revelation, prophets are solidly grounded in truth.  They see what is wrong in the world and speak out against it with the authority of God.  Prophets have discernment from the Spirit in life’s situations.

Words of Wisdom.

That’s what my mom called it when I told her that I knew.  I knew about the situation my dad had gotten himself into a full year before it came out.  It was the ultimate thing that separated my parents three and a half years ago, and I knew about it.

How did I know?  Every time it would come to my mind I would shake it away.  No 14 or 15 year old child wants to believe such terrible things about her father.  But they were there.  And it all turned out to be true.

Time and again it has happened, these Words of Wisdom.  Something would come to my mind, sometimes something nice, often times something horrible.  Thoughts about people and situations.  STOP BEING SUCH A JUDGY PERSON, I would tell myself.  Then I would turn out to be right.  Frighteningly, terribly, inescapably right.

I haven’t had such a “Word” in a while.  But the fact that it’s happened before won’t leave my mind.  Especially in light of these most recent events.

Just over the past few days it keeps coming up.  Last night I went to a community group bible study for the first time (props to the crazy friend who dragged me out).  The leader is a seminary professor at my school and told us something crazy.  He and a ton of other professors on this campus have been praying fervently for revival to break out among and as a result of these students.  *cue chills*  Then this morning I heard a teaching that highlighted the spiritual gifts of Romans 12:6-8.  Guess which one caught my attention?  (Hint: more chills)

What does all of this mean?  How am I going to apply this in life to change the world for the cause of Christ?  Honestly, I don’t have the foggiest idea.  But it WON’T GO AWAY.  So here it all is.  We’ll see what God does.

Yet I will say this – it is clear that these are the end times.  And it is quite obvious that God has been moving in powerful ways.  So please permit me to say:

Welcome to revival.

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