Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Last night, we wrapped up our semester-long discussion on the fruits of the Spirit here at the Mission.  Each of us shared the particular fruit(s) we feel that God is really calling us to cultivate and work on in our lives.  Throughout the entire conversation, the word integrity kept coming to my mind.  And last night, I was thinking of integrity with its more typical definition: characterized by soundness of an honest character.  We should honestly pursue and manifest the fruits in our lives in a dedicated manner.

And then God (as He often does) hit me with integrity again this morning but in a different way.  I'm reading the book of Titus right now, and Titus 2:7-8 says, "In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."  Let me give a little context: this verse is set in a passage talking about how to instruct young men.  I think, however, these are great verses to apply to everyone at all times.

Anyway, being who I am, I looked up integrity in the dictionary, and I found another great definition.  Integrity is also the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.  So cool!  In Titus, then, God - through Paul - is commanding us to be wholly devoted in order to teach in an honorable way.  Wholly devoted to what?  To Jesus Christ.  If our entire beings, our whole selves undiminished by outside distractions and dirt, are directed toward God and dedicated to Him, there will be nothing bad to say about us - our opposition will have no foothold to slander us.  We will be characterized by integrity.

Also in that definition, I'm drawn to the word undiminished.  Why?  Because it reminds me of something from Tolkien's work.  We can laugh together because I'm a nerd.  HAHA.  But for real.  Let me give you a quick summary of part of The Silmarillion.  This book, which is a history of the beginning times of Middle-earth, revolves around the making, losing, and quest to recover the Silmarils, these crystal jewels that captured the light of the two trees of Valinor (the trees were the lights of the world before the Sun and the Moon were created).  Tolkien describes them as shining with the "radiance of white flame."  These things are bright, man, so bright one eventually becomes a star!  Anyway, Melkor, the really bad devilish character of The Silmarillion, steals the Silmarils from the Elves and takes them to his dungeon fortress where he sets them in his crown.  Now everything about Melkor is dark and smoky - not a lot of light penetrates his kingdom.  But when several of the characters venture into Melkor's halls to steal back the Silmarils, there the jewels are, shining through the darkness, undiminished.  Even in the devil's dungeons, the Silmarils are unsullied - their light cannot be quenched.

I want to strive to have that kind of integrity of character:  wholly dedicating my entire self to the pursuit of Christ, undiminished by satan's attempts, shining for all to see because Jesus, my Savior, is the light of the world.  Forget diamonds, Rihanna, I wanna shine bright like a Silmaril!

Peace and blessings, y'all :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

#LoveDoes: Three

This chapter is awesome.  Bob talks about meeting Ryan, a young guy who is ready to propose to his girlfriend and keeps asking Bob (a stranger to Ryan but owner of the house Ryan would like to use to propose to his girl) for help in his engagement plans.  Anyway, since Bob is a boss, he ends up helping Ryan, and Ryan proposes in a scene complete with Coast Guard water cannons. WHAT? I'm going to be happy if I just don't get proposed to over the phone!

Bob makes an important point through Ryan's story, though.  He talks about living our lives in an "engaged" manner, going after love like Ryan did - a love that is audacious, whimsical, strategic, and contagious.  Bob says this engaged way of living is about "going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light" (p. 24). And when we live our lives in this state of excited, extraordinary love that we find through Jesus, love will multiply; it's contagious, so we'll infect others with this desire to live and love radically.

I really like that word "audacious."  I was pretty sure I knew what it meant, but I looked it up in the dictionary anyway, and I found an alternative definition that is so awesome.  Audacious can mean "extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive." Now I'm challenged by this definition - how can I love audaciously? How can I modify my love with that adverb? How can I think outside the box and love people in ways that they've never been loved before?  Let me know if you have ideas.  I'll keep you updated with anything I come up with.  But seriously. Let's pursue this!

Bob closes in talking about how Ryan's love emulated the love Jesus talks about, "a love that never grows tired or is completely finished finding ways to fully express itself" (p. 24).  I think it also emulates the love that Jesus demonstrated here on Earth. Jesus was audacious.  He loved without restriction to prior ideas, choosing to eat dinner with prostitutes and tax collectors instead of the "respectable" members of society.  He was the first person to love others so incredibly radically.  But guess what?  He doesn't have to be the last! As Christians, we are to strive to be Christ-like so let's seek out ways to love audaciously, ways to love with whimsy, ways to love strategically, and ways to love contagiously. Let's love like Ryan did, and, more importantly, let's love like Jesus.

Peace and blessings, y'all!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Today, I finished reading through the book of Hosea.  Last night at the Mission, we talked about faithfulness, and then I had a great conversation with Jamie and Russ about this very thing.  The word that keeps running through my mind is relentless.  Let me tell you about it.

Basically, summary of the story of Hosea, God commands this man, Hosea, to marry a prostitute, Gomer.  He does, she bears him children, she goes back into prostitution, and God commands Hosea to reconcile with Gomer.  God uses this as an example of His love for the Israelites, an "adulteress people" that He continually loves despite their lack of faithfulness.  So many times throughout Hosea, I was struck by God's language of wrath that is then subdued by His great words of love.  Hosea 11:9 is incredible: "I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.  For I am God, and not man - the Holy One among you.  I will not come in wrath."  WOW.  God's love does not operate on a whim - He is not a man, and His love is greater than anything we can imagine! He is faithful even though we are so often faithless.

That thought connects to a verse Russ read last night.  2 Timothy 2:13 says, "If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself."  That He is Jesus.  God is love.  And here we find out God is also faithfulness.  It is a characteristic of God, one of the key components to who He is.  He is faithful.  Now, since I'm an English major, I love words and definitions.  The dictionary definition of faithful is "steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant."

And finally we get to the title of my post.  Relentless.  Why did I choose relentless over faithfulness?  Because when I was talking to Russ and Jamie, Jamie made a comment about how faithfulness has this perpetual aspect to it.  It's not a one and done deal - "Oh, I was faithful today.  Good job, self!"  No.  Faithfulness is ongoing, there is no break, there is no timeout.  And people remember lapses in faithfulness, lapses in loyalty more than anything else.  Another definition.  Relent means "to soften in feeling, temper, or determination."  Relentless means the opposite of relent.  God is relentless:  He does not soften in feeling towards us, His jealous nature for us cannot be quenched, His determination does not sway.  God is relentlessly faithful.  He is determinedly constant.

I keep thinking about this in light of Easter and Jesus on the cross.  I am so glad Jesus chose to remain relentlessly faithful on that cross.  He remained steady in affection for us, He did not soften in His love for a people that would continuously lapse in faithfulness to Him.  Incredible.

How can we be relentlessly faithful?  We are man, not God (refer back to Hosea 11:9), so inevitably we're going to lapse sometimes. But how can we work to make faithfulness one of the deepest characteristics and desires of our hearts?  How can we remain steady in our allegiance to God?

Peace and blessings, y'all! It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood :)