Tuesday, April 23, 2013

For reasons that I am not entirely sure of I have decided to pick up my old blog. The last entry was written about the time that I moved up to Memphis. So much as happened since then- two years of inner city teaching, marriage, a honeymoon to Portugal, and ever increasing satisfaction in my Lord. I suppose I am picking this up again as a way to express thoughts. It certainly helps me decompress after teaching my initial classes.

Thoughts about the "other."

After having numerous conversations about God with people from my generation, I have little fear that we are drifting towards atheism. Instead, my greater fear is the common rejection of objective, absolute truth. Almost everyone says that they believe in God, or at least that they don't know- but it has become woefully unpopular to say that there is only one way to him. To say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life- that no one comes to the Father except through Him...is indeed to say that other world religions will not get you to God. Jesus is so attractive until we see what he actually said. "We were made in the image of God, and have since been trying to make him into ours."

I have recently been thinking about ways to share the gospel in this context. Without getting too jargon-heavy, I like to place a coffee cup on a table. Let's say that the cup is red. Let's presume that after looking at the cup, one person says that the cup is red and the other says that it is blue. One opinion is correct and the other is wrong. The first opinion simply reflects the objective color of the coffee cup. Regardless of emphasis or desire, the second opinion is objectively wrong. This illustrates one way to get people to think outside of the "god as you like him" mindset. Grace and Peace

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Confessions from Tennessee

The last post mentioned that I would be sailing into new waters. Well, my sailing has finally slowed and I find myself in a landlocked state. That's right: Tennessee.

When you leave your college town and "go off into the world," it feels like someone has pressed the "reset" button on your life. So much of your identity seems to be at a distance. Family, friends, church, school, classes, and professors all seem like a past life. I raise the questions that I suppose everyone asks: what do I keep...and what can I keep?

One thing that's been a bigger challenge than I ever imagined is how to "set up shop" with faith. Jesus hasn't changed, and His kingdom seems to be moving in Memphis the way it's still moving in Ruston. The context has changed so much on my end though...and I think I'm beginning to understand why transitions to new faith communities can be such a hard thing. I guess this is the classic case of the "youth group to college ministry" struggle. Some make the leap, and some just give it up.

If finding and moving to the rhythms of the Kingdom were like painting a picture, then I have no shortage of paint and brushes.

I just need to recognize the canvas and let His breath continue to guide the strokes...

Please pray that I can draw near to Christ.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Setting off...

For six years Ruston has been my home.

I'm getting ready to sail into the proverbial uncharted seas right now...

It's a time in life that life sits in a knife's edge...stay the course and there will be abundant growth, leave the course and there be a mire of dismay.

Back to the seafaring allusion- I know the skipper, and He knows the path He knows the course this vessel must take...

Christ must increase, I must decrease...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When I talk/cuando hablo

In James 3 the apostle talks about the main issue associated with teaching. He talks about how those who teach will be judged more strictly, I suppose because, like James insinuates, they have the power to sway for good and for evil. He spends a lot of time talking about the evil:

"For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing."

I know this really well, the blessing and cursing. If you took a notepad and for a day's time had access to my mind, you would see my morning prayers followed by a rush of fears, doubts, and anxieties about my interactions with people. I brood against them, I justify my position and feel the numbing reality that there is no life in it. On my better days I fight against the thoughts. I reason with my "inner tongue" and the Spirit moves in the motion. In that there is life. I guess I'm thinking a lot about this in light of Teach for America and moving away in general. Finally, at long last, for better hopefully more than worst, I'm going to be out on my own. I'm going to be fully responsible for my new actions to see that they fall into rhythm with the Spirit...thankfully time in Ruston has prepared me well. Or, rather, God faithfully working on me in this environment. After I leave though, a few phone numbers and a lively but long-distance relationship will be my only real connection to this place. All the while I will have to speak. I long to. The funny thing is that James doesn't really give the option to not speak...he seems to just be warning of the consequences when we inevitably do. There is no sitting out, only redemption-forward. And grace will be constant...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Clarity cometh...

So things about the future have become a little more clear. At the end of quarter break Krystle and I were traveling back to Ruston from Mandeville when I checked my email on the cell. I had almost forgotten that it was another release date for Teach for America...who waitlisted me back in November. I had little stock placed in getting in, and even though I had recently learned of a hiring freeze on teaching in St. Tammany parish(Mandeville), I was pretty sure I would be moving down there anyway. Well, about ten miles outside of Tallulah on I-20 I checked and the email read:

"Dear William,

I am writing to follow up with an update on your waitlist status and final admissions decision and want to thank you for your patience and continued interest in Teach For America.

I am pleased to extend you an offer to join the Teach For America 2010 corps!"

I gulped...because the email did not contain the regional and subject assignment. About 8 miles later we came into Tallulah and stopped at the McDonald's to bum the wifi. We prayed, crossed our fingers, and I logged in. My assignment was secondary Spanish in Memphis. This contradictory rush of emotions hit me all at once. I was thrilled, only the hand of God could have opened this door...such a wonderful job, calling, and invitation to follow Spirit-led convictions...and yet if I pressed the "yes, I'll accept" button, it would mean long distance for at least a year. I had two weeks to let TFA know yes, or no. A wrestled and prayed for four or five days...do I choose the gift, a lush and challenging opportunity or an arid landscape near the object of my affections(cliche, I know). As I sat and listened, cringed and released, read and meditated, a peace came and whispered "yes does not mean no." After running that by a few people I trust, I knew that I had jump...and press the yes button.

So, amidst the usual graduate school chaos...God chose to offer a very, very large blessing amidst his constant flow of smaller ones. Like any relationship, I know the small things are what matters. The small blessings made and make Teach for America palatable. The same Spirit that has guided me in peace for these two years of graduate school will use me in powerful ways, to move figurative and literal mountains, to speak truth...all because of belief and in light of being an heir to the kingdom.

Let's talk about the prodigal son sometime soon...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Time for some newness!

2010 has come and settled in since the last time I updated this. Since that November a lot has taken place. Since then I was waitlisted by Teach for America...which happened again in January(I'm still on it). Life in general has been pretty static with thesis work and all. My job is more or less drudgery, and except for two possible locations and the type of work I want to do, the future remains a mystery in my mind. I have decided...with slight consideration as to what TFA says...that I want to teach high school Spanish for a while. There is something enormously appealing about teaching a subject that I can almost be certain the students will have zero enthusiasm for. And why not? Every gain will be sweet, every spark of interest a victory. I want to share my passion for Latin America and Spain, and through that I can share my life/Christ. I can't wait to raise questions they've never thought of- about immigration, identity, culture, allegiances...all the while offering a skill(second language) that could benefit them for the rest of their lives.
On another level, a certain lady and I started dating again. I don't want to go into it at length, but I'll just say that the relationship has constantly sharpened my desire to be faithful to the kingdom. Not just faithful, but to be submissive to God- letting go of my plans and asking to be a part of a kingdom that's already here and coming.

Just a hint- but my future geography could place me in one of these: (the green star on the first and then the red dot on the second...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Back to confession

A couple of days ago I went to Books A Million in Monroe to catch up with an old friend. It was so reassuring, knowing that I'm not the only one struggling to find contentment when I cannot know the future. After he left I looked around for a while before leaving myself. On my way out I heard someone say "Hey!" Not sure if it was directed at me, I kept walking. The call rang out again...it was obvious the voice was calling to me. I turned around and a middle aged guy approached. The story that came next I've heard a hundred times or more: he was out of luck, his family was struggling in Winnsborro, and he asked me in the name of God if I could give him two or three dollars for gas to reach them. Uncomfortable with the situation, I just handed a couple of bucks over. I'm quite certain those dollars were not spent on auto fuel. With gas prices around the mid $2.-- range...one gallon would hardly make it out of Monroe proper.

Here's the truth: I paid him to leave me alone. Here's another truth: I did not walk in step with the Spirit.

I know that I've become more hardened than I should in the past year. If I could re-do that situation, I would walk with him to the gas pump and offer to give him what he requested. The point of doing this is not so much avoiding being lied to, but rather engaging the man. By walking with him I would give him the attention he deserves as a created being and loved by God. I could know him in that moment. If he would let me buy the gas, wonderful. If not, then truth could be shone and forgiveness might be offered. I had and have no way of knowing the man's situation. That said, as beloved ragamuffins finding our redemption we are called to love the poor. If the poor would try and swindle us, we would find no more real a moment to love them than the moment of truth.

An amazing Shakespeare quote: "the quality of mercy is not strained"

I've failed a thousand times to bring the Kingdom to earth. In fact, if you saw me for who I really am you might think I am trying to stop its arrival.

Mercies are new every morning...and even now if we toss our crowns.