Archive | March 2007

Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (5)

We went to an elementary school to lead chapel today. It was refreshing to be able to clown around and have nobody care. Doing it today makes me so thankful for my job teaching elementary football. I always learn from little kids. They perhaps are the clearest representation of the human heart. Little kids talk and laugh and run around, and they really don’t know how to cover up their faults. It seems that 50 percent of their sentences revolve around ‘I…’ But then again, isn’t that how I think? I just don’t show it off as much. “We” is a much nobler pronoun. 

We acted out the Fiery Furnace story, and I played the pre-incarnate Christ. Blond hair, blue eyes. Yep, the similarities are striking. Cameron absolutely brought the house down as narrator. We wrote the skit out the night before, and I don’t think we’ll be nominated for any Academy Awards. But, the kids didn’t care. Rod and Brian spoke on trusting God through all kinds of circumstances. They both did a great job. I get to preach tomorrow in a high school chapel. I should probably stop writing this and start working on my sermon. I have no idea what to preach about.

After chapel I was sent off to the sixth grade to tutor math. Four girls were struggling with Least Common Multiple and Greatest Common Factor. I haven’t thought about these things in almost ten years! Calculus seems like nothing after LCM and GCF. I messed up royally and taught it to them backwards at first. Oh well, they seemed to recover nicely. At the end of the lesson, they really understood the concepts. But they did a lot of practice problems to get there. All they needed was for someone to sit down and make them do problem after problem–even when they wanted to quit. Learning comes by adversity. It was fun to be able to help out.

After consuming some really good Mexican food, Keenan, Heather, and Jennifer and I went on up to the snow. Everybody else elected to take nap. We passed the right exit twice, and then found out the place we were supposed to go wasn’t open. The guy at the ticket window’s first words to us were “Your dressed wrong! You should all be out enjoying the snow.” He shattered what little hope we had in not looking like a bunch of tourists. But Southern California students don’t give up on snow that easily. The podunk town of Huntsville saw our determination, and we supported their economy by purchasing 4 hard plastic sleds.

We pulled off the road and found a little hill to cruise down. We met 4 Hispanic guys who really didn’t speak much English. After a few trial runs, we all formed a train of 7 people and rode down the ¼ mile hill and off a jump before screeching to a halt in front of a large metal beam. (Which supported a NO TUBING sign. We weren’t tubing. We were sledding.)

We wrecked, we laughed, and we tried really hard not to need an ambulance. Jennifer tried her best to betray that dream. She got turned around on the hill, hit the jump and slid backwards. She didn’t bail out, and hit the beam with her back doing about 20 mph. Thankfully, nothing more than a pretty good bruise resulted. God protects us even in our complete stupidity.

The Subway restaurant in Huntsville was calling our names after over two hours of sledding and a long snowball fight. I lost my keys during that fight, but we thankfully found them buried after a brief search. Over dinner, we listened to Keenan tell us about his good old days at Pensacola Christian College. TMC’s page-long rulebook doesn’t seem so bad… What a day. I’ll be up late tonight writing a sermon, but it is so worth it. I really miss the snow found in Washington State. Mom, Dad, wherever home base winds up being–I want snow.

It is tempting to think of working with Christian Schools here as a waste of time when there are LDS who need the gospel everywhere. But it is what we have been called and asked to do. And so we will encourage those who we can and strengthen them so they who have long-standing relationships with LDS may better witness to them.

Here’s a bunch of photos from our snow trip. I know its quite a few, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut any of them out.

There’s nothing like a big tall mountain to make you feel insignificant.

We were crushed by the harsh words concerning our lack of snow clothes

I’m sure we provided the Huntsville Chevron clerk with a story to tell over dinner…

We didn’t start out that way!

Our Mexican friends made up the first half of the train.

Heather’s hair is absolutely amazing.

Keenan barely avoided catastrophe.

Jennifer didn’t. We held a funeral on the spot.

We were excited just to see SNOW!

Meeker knows where it’s at.

Quite chivalrous, if I do say so myself.

Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (4)

It never ceases to amaze me how liberating it is to be done with midterms. Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke are all growing fainter in the rear view mirror, and it looks like smooth sailing through finals. So…let me launch back into Utah.

It has been very profitable to return to my journals after the post-missions trip spiritual high has faded. As I reflect back upon the trip, I see the grace and sovereignty of God ringing forth with clarity. This trip forced me to go beyond all my doctrine, all my methodology, all my judgmental presuppositions and actually live out what I truly believed.

1) I believe only God has the power to transform human souls, and that He actually possesses the power to transform. 

Evangelism reminds me of all my limitations and inability to perfectly articulate the infinite God in a finite way. But it also reminds me that God is working through the words I say. Though I did not see anyone accept Christ, I saw some individuals begin to think about Him in a new way.

2) God’s love far outstrips the love I give Him credit for.

God has specifically called me out from sin. He chose me, came to earth for me, died for me, assumed the punishment for my sin, and broke the power of sin for me. What I have to offer Him in return only flows from His presence within me. Nothing within me caused me to be elected by Him. “Thank You” doesn’t seem quite sufficient.

3) How I want to serve matters little.

Here I’ll begin my journal entry for Tuesday, March 13th.

Today was not much fun. After the incredible high of witnessing in Temple Square, today was a definite low of remodeling a bathroom. I’m not sure if “remodel” is the right word to describe what we did to it. “Destroy” seems more appropriate. This bathroom is a relic of days gone by. It has no ventilation, and the fixtures look like they’re the originals.

Keenan, Cameron, and I started by ripping up the old, sodden linoleum with shovels, mallets, butter knives, and crowbars. We quickly learned that enthusiasm does not make up for proper tools and training. Our repair job quickly deteriorated into living proof of Murphy’s Law: Everything which possibly could have gone wrong did. We had to rip out the toilet, the paint was the consistency of cottage cheese, we cut the linoleum wrong, and we had all the wrong tools. It took us ten hours to rip out the old linoleum, dismantle the toilet, paint one coat, lay new linoleum, and reassemble the toilet. It was absolutely disgusting. But very manly. There is something about replacing a toilet which builds masculine community.

So its the end of the day, and I’m not sure as to how much longer our team will be able to stand each other. Not that we aren’t getting along, things couldn’t be better. But the guys don’t have a functioning shower.  The shower upstairs does its best Niagara Falls imitation through the downstairs ceiling whenever it is used. Yeah, we don’t look too good right now. What a bizarre day! Meeker split his pants, I have serious tile-bonding adhesive running through my hair, and we don’t have a functioning shower anymore. Ah well. Such is life on the road—an adventure.

I’m learning to serve. I’m not going to lie, it is hard to rise above a very childish “I drove 750 miles to replace a toilet?” attitude. But that is what service is, doing what is necessary regardless how glamorous the act of service is. What I am doing is so much less important than the fact that I am doing what is necessary. Going on a missions trip is going and being a servant. It often isn’t very comfortable being a true servant. But replacing a toilet is what I am called to do right now, and by the grace of God, that toilet won’t leak!

Rod, Rebecca, Bri, Russ (UPFC Director), and Cameron hovering like vultures around my car.

Brian, Bible student extrordonaire.

We packaged 3,000 Jesus Christ:Joseph Smith DVDs for distribution. On March 25th, 600,000 of these DVDs were given away across the western United States. The DVD is very well done, made out of a spirit of kindness and not enmity. 

Me cleaning up a massive paint spill (don’t ask…) 

Keenan and Cameron and the bathroom of death.

The scenery was breathtaking.

Love Alone

I’m not quite meeting my “one a day” posting hopes about Utah. While I have much of the posts already written out in a travel journal, it takes time to translate them into intelligible English. I’m in the middle of studying for a massive midterm and other school projects, so I’ll return with renewed vigor to my Utah series in a couple of days.

I’m listening to this song right now by Caedmon’s Call. It seems appropriate with all the cares and the burdens of life weighing down on me. God, regardless of circumstances I know you are there, and I am forgiven.

LOVE ALONE
LONG LINE OF LEAVERS
CAEDMON’S CALL

No one would love me
if they knew all the things I hide
My words fall to the floor
As tears drip through the telephone line

And the hands I’ve seen raised to the sky
Not waving but drowning all this time
I’ll try to build an ark that they need
To float to you upon the crystal sea

Give me your hand to hold
‘Cause I can’t stand to love alone
And love alone is not enough to hold us up
We’ve got to touch your robe
So swing your robe down low
Swing your robe down low

The prince of despair’s been beaten
But the loser still fights
Death’s on a long leash
Stealing my friends to the night

And everyone cries for the innocent
You say to love the guilty too
And I’m surrounded by suffering and sickness
So I’m working tearing back the roof

And the pain of the world is a burden
And it’s my cross to bear
And I stumble under all the weight
I know you’re Simon standing there
And I know you’re standing there

Give me your hand to hold
‘Cause I can’t stand to love alone
And love alone is not enough to hold us up
We’ve got to touch your robe
So swing your robe down low
Swing your robe down low

Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (3)

Salt Lake City Missions Journal: Monday, March 12 2007

Today was spent in Temple Square and the surrounding grounds. After less than 6 hours of sleep for the third consecutive night (up till almost 2) we piled into the cars and drove 48 minutes to Salt Lake City proper. Brian, Kasey, and Roderick read the book of Hebrews out loud on the way down; it seemed appropriate. Christ is the ultimate priest, who sat down at the right hand of God because He fulfilled the requirements of the Law through the sacrificial death of Himself. It was encouraging to start a day of evangelism by reminding ourselves of the greatnessof the God we serve.

Ron gave us some walkie-talkies to stay in communication together during the drive. I drive like a native of Los Angeles. Probably scared the pants off some Utah drivers. We got to Temple Square and were given basic instructions on what to do, where to go. Rod and I teamed up  went to the Museum of Church History first. We walked around, looking at artifacts from the houses of the first converts. One thing which intrigued me the most was Joseph Smith’s pistol. When he was murdered by a mob, he fired three shots and hit two people who traditionally died shortly thereafter (their death is unconfirmed by records.) We later saw a movie and talked to people who denied that Joseph Smith used the gun at all, but died without defending himself. Rod and I decided to just cruise through the rest of the museum because there wans’t anyone to talk to. I did get to move a small piano to make room for a dance. I’m not sure if that counts as “aiding and abetting” in the eyes of the TMC dance policy. I’ll know if the dean calls me!

It was easy to imagine myself as a government agent on some special mission. I was in Temple Square for one subversive reason, and if the LDS security knew who I was and why I was there, I’d be escorted out in an instant. One of the sisters approached Rod and asked where TMC was (his sweatshirt). That led to a conversation about Christ, the Bible, etc. I wandered around and prayed with all my heart that the woman might be broken by the Spirit. She wasn’t, but the Gospel was proclaimed.

We left, then went to go see a film about Joseph Smith. As we were waiting, we wandered into their geneology center. For the record, I have no LDS ancestors. But I got into a wonderful conversation with Sister Davis, a young, attractive missionary who was very kind, softspoken, and intelligent. I don’t know how the conversation started; she was showing me around ancestors.com. It basically started centered upon human works and love for others. I talked about how we do good works out of our love for God, and all good works stem from that, not from any desire within us. She said, “Hm. I’ve never thought of it like that.” She was very open and very responsive to questions, and asked several of her own. She asked me about those who never hear of the gospel and how could a just God send people to hell. I basically walked with her through Ephesians 1: the love of God, the election of believers, the death of Christ, the joy of the blessings He has given us. I could see in her eyes she was thinking. I did most of the talking, and kindly preached the Gospel. She said that others had talked to her before, and it sounded like she didn’t have a great experience with it. It kills me sometimes to think of the damage I could potentially do by sharing the Gospel in an unloving way. I can only beg that the Lord would give me patience and a firm control over emotion and passion. I was very kind and very patient during the whole conversation. No fire and brimstone.

Rod and I have very different tactics. He is so blunt it makes me cringe sometimes. But I beat around the bush too long and often consequently sell short the truth for the sake of amiability. We really make good team together. Sister Davis didn’t quite like the doctrine of predestination, but I could tell she was thinking. We also talked about Total Depravity, as they believe that infants are sinless. Talked through Romans 5, how only God can cause us to want to do good works. She asked me what I thought of LDS and if I hate them. I said no. I love LDS. I’m concerned for them, because we don’t worship the same Jesus. I took her through Galatians 1:6-9, said the Book of Mormon teaches a different Gospel…no trinity, a Heavenly Father who is not the unique God found in the Bible. She challenged me to read the Book of Mormon with open heart and mind, and I the same with the NT. She assured me she did, but her eyes gave the truth away. She was thinking, found me different. Praise God. I really felt the LORD directing my words. It was a tremendous conversation, and I pray for Sister Davis.

I was amazed at the compassion and kindness I felt toward her. No anger or frustration, just kindness. It was random to have a conversation in the genealogy center, but then again life is not random. There is a sovereign God seated on the throne, and that sovereignty directed me to talk to Sister Davis. She was due off her shift, so our conversation ended. She was replaced by a Sister from Spain. This new sister was hard as nails, and I didn’t get a chance to talk due to her much, but Brian and Kasey were able to witness to her later. As I was talking to Sister Davis, Rod was talking to another sister. Just as I left, security came up and told him to leave, not to proselytize. If a sister pushes the security button, you know they are tired of answering questions. Not sure who pushed the button. Rod thinks it was Sister Davis or the Spanish sister on me. Possibly. Getting kicked out by Mormon security isn’t the worst thing ever.I would never strive for it, but if love dictates me to say something hard, I will do it for the sake of the Gospel.

The Joseph Smith movie was beautifully done, but misleading. Joseph Smith was exalted, and Christ was diminished. I almost broke into tears of grief when Joseph Smith started healing people. The movie stole glory from the Lord, God of Heaven and Earth, and gave it to created beings. There were many LDS were sobbing all around us. It was awkward, and sad to see people so enraptured with a lie. Thank you God for my salvation. For unblinding my eyes.

After lunch we took a tour of their conference center. The center seats 21,000 people and has no supporting pillars in the sanctuary. It was truly amazing to see. Our tour guide was a retired WW2 vet who could have passed for 20 years younger. We questioned him slightly about the LDS belief that we will one day become gods through keeping the ordinances. He didn’t want to talk about it too much, so we respected that. It obviously made him uncomfortable, but not because we were caustic. He bounced back well! He was such a pleasant man who is so wrong and going to hell barring a miracle. Dean, I pray your soul might be saved from the wrath of God. It is hard to see so many nice people who are so wrong and have been deceived. It is hard to make them uncomfortable and cause them pain and risk budding friendships over doctrine, but I am willing to do so for the sake of their souls.

The Temple, what a magnificent and beautiful building.

The angel Moroni adorns the top pillar of the temple.

Joseph Smith. I believe this is inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Four people in a two seater truck leads only to disaster. (Keenan)

 

After a long day… (Heather, Jennifer, Mia, Leslie)

Eric, a man for all seasons.

Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (2)

Utah Partnerships For Christ (www.upfc.org) owned the house we stayed in. The Blue House was a relic of past construction philosophies, a labyrinth of rooms and floors. Every evening and morning, the entire team would gather in “The Commons”–the one room of the house not designated as sleeping quarters.  We always began and ended every day with prayer and testimonies of how the Lord had directed conversations. It was a blessing to share our successes and failures, our fears and triumphs.

The Commons was more than just a serious meetingplace. It was refreshing to wake up, meander up the stairs with breakfast in hand beginning a difficult day, and chat with friends sharing the same goal and purpose before. You really get to know people in the wee hours of the morning doing homework together, or watching one team member fail in his psychoanalysis of the entire group. Humor and sobriety, laughter and tears were all witnessed in The Commons. This perhaps is missed by more members of the team then anything else, a place to relax and let your guard down, where nobody cares if you bypassed a shower to secure another half hour of sleep. But also a place of great encouragement and joy between brothers and sisters in Christ.

Here is my journal from Sunday, March 11th, when we went to church, visited the Mormon wards (churches), and hosted a pizza party.

Working around LDS causes a great number of conflicting emotions. It is frustrating to talk in doctrinal circles for hours, yet at the same time joyful to share the gospel with people who do not understand. It makes me angry to see how Satan has blinded their eyes, yet causes me to rejoice all the more in my own salvation.

 

Upon waking up at 10:00 AM, our team went to the best church in the area. Unfortunately, it came across as a really feel-good church which preaches the gospel, but a gospel which leaves out the hard parts of the gospel. I want to be careful, because they are brothers and sisters in Christ who love Jesus with all their hearts, but it was disheartening. Everything the pastor said was right, but it could have been so much more. Drama and movie clips have their place, but it seemed to cheapen the punch of his sermon rather than grow people in understanding. I know this hit close to home, as I feel called to be a pastor and have a passion for the Word of God in preaching.

 

After church, the team split up and went to two different singles wards. I got separated from my group, and went to a different section than the rest of the team. I think I received some bogus information regarding the (lack of a) next service, and wound up sitting outside for the next hour and a half while everybody else was in the ward. Bummer. I was able to pray and take a walk, but I would have much rather been in there listening to the services. After the wards got out, we all attended a fellowship dinner, themed for St. Patrick’s Day. Cameron, Keenan, and I were able to talk with a phleobotomist who volunteered in the Ogden temple. He knew his LDS doctrine well. It was very beneficial to talk with him, as he answered a number of questions we had regarding LDS beliefs. It was grieving to see how scripture after scripture was taken out of context or twisted to support so many of the doctrines clung to by the LDS church. It never ceases to amaze me how they take scripture out of context in order to support their doctrine and do not even realize they are doing so. It truly is a case of Satan blinding the hearts of men through inaccurate interpretation of the Word of God. How tragic that something so holy as the Bible is twisted into a tool of Satan to keep so many from the Truth.

 

After the wards, we hosted an open house at The Blue House, and seven LDS came (a relatively high number). An ex-LDS couple shared their testamony of why and how they came to know the truth. It was encouraging for us all to hear how people canbe saved from death, even from such an oppressive system as the LDS church. After the couple finished, we broke UNO Spin and played for a while. It was hilarious to see the dynamic of the game, which quickly fizzled and died. Everybody knew why the event was happening and indeed wanted to talk of the differences between Christianity and the LDS church, but everyone was a little gun-shy. At some length, one LDS made a comment about polygamy, which touched off a two hour conversation about works salvation. An odd way to start, but it broke the ice. We grilled them and they grilled us and we both loved it!

 

I was honestly amazed at the clarity with which I was able to defend every doctrine of Scripture which came under fire. I can think of no reason for this other than the Holy Spirit guiding the conversation and bringing to mind relevant Scriptures. I do not know the minutiae of the LDS faith, and so many topics which we talked about were entirely new to me. But the theme of everything was the grace of God. And how that grace, through Jesus Christ alone, saves the souls of men.  Some of them are thinking about what we said, which is encouraging. I know not how long the truth may fester before budding into life, but it is the Spirit who prompts and convicts, not the smooth speech of men.

 

After the discussions had winded down, several of us trooped on over to Weber State University adn fed the ducks cold leftover pizza. If a bunch of ducks turn up dead in three days, we’ll know what did it. Tomorrow a bunch of people are going to watch 24 with them and talk again. Rod and I are going to play basketball at Family Home Evening in the wards. The toilet overflowed in The Cave, and that was nasty. Life in an old frat house is never boring.

 

 

Half Classy, Half Redneck. 

 

 

The entire female section of our team posing for the camera before church.

 

 

Don’t ask me what Knox is doing with his hands. Maybe speaking in tongues, sign-language style. 

 

 

Cameron had more fun with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-mobile more than the little kid did! 

 

 

Playing UNO Spin in The Commons with Kat and Bronson 

 

 

Ben’s hands are twice as large as mine.

 

Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (1)

I have been in Salt Lake City for the last week as part of a missions team sent out by TMC. Fourteen others and I spent our Spring Break witnessing to students at Weber State University, Latter Day Saint (LDS or Mormons) Missionaries at Temple Square, and replacing a bathroom in The Blue House. Over the next week, intend to post selections from my travel journals for every day of the week. It is hard to put a missions trip into words, but I shall do my best, and trust something may be gained from it. Thank you very much for those who were consistently praying for my team and I. We were greatly blessed by the incredible support we received from back home. Trust God will work in the hearts of those we met.

It is easy to witness to an LDS, but difficult to make them understand the difference between their “Christ” and the realJesus Christ of the Bible. The trip as a whole was exhilarating, exhausting, frustrating, and joy-producing. It was painful to see how close they are to the truth as they speak, but to see how far away Satan keeps them by means of twisting the truth. Partial truth is so much more difficult to counter than a bold-faced lie, for it keeps men believing they are indeed saved when they indeed are not. Every day I was drawn again to

Here is my journal from Saturday, March 10th, when we drove the entire distance from Newhall, California to Ogden, Utah.

I am lying in bed right now. A strange bed. With strange sheets, strange pillows, and strange allergens. Today started at 4:04 AM. It was supposed to start at 4:55 (precious fifty minutes of sleep), but I typoed on my alarm clock. Bummer. The team met together in Dixon at 6:00 to leave. Not surprisingly, we didn’t make it out until quarter till seven. You know how those things go. The drive lasted roughly eleven hours, not counting our getting lost in Provo and Salt Lake City. Five stops, three tanks of gas, and seven hundred thirty two miles across three states. We only saw two policemen the whole time. We drove in pairs rather than all four in a row. Probably a good idea given our “California Driver” tendencies. Bri and I and Keenan were the drivers for our group. I drove the whole way since there were only three people who knew how to drive a stick in our car squadron. I alternated from not being able to feel the lower half of my body to being acutely aware of the fact that I had spent “x” hours pushing down on the gas pedal. The scenery here is stunning. I love mountains and snow, and this place has both in abundance. Hopefully, we will head up to the mountains sometime this week.

 

The drive went exceptionally well. The only adventures came when I hit eighty eight on the freeway and a gust of wind came up at the same time. Woo! We got lost in Salt Lake City, but it all came through okay. Praise God for His protection and provision. I gained two new friends today, Jennifer and Mia. Spending twelve hours in a car together will do that! Jennifer is a music major and fellow Pastor’s Kid. We talked for several hours about practical holiness, the sovereignty of God in the midst of trying circumstances, and our lack of knowledge about Mormonism. I pray we both will be able to effectively witness despite our shortcomings. Mia is a Presbyterian (gasp), and we had a rousing conversation about the end times. It is wonderful to see how doctrinal differences melt away in the face of the importance of sharing the gospel in a united effort to those who are going to hell apart from a miracle.

 

I am utterly exhausted right now. It is 12:30 PM due to the time zone change and spring ahead. It is interesting to contrast the billboards in Nevada and Utah. Nevada was disgusting, especially Las Vegas. I won’t put into words everything we saw but I began to wonder if anyone wears clothes in that town! In Utah, it was funny to see all the bridal billboards. We must have passed thirty “utahbrides.com” advertisements. It isn’t too surprising considering the pressure to get married in Mormonism. I’ve also never seen so much Mountain Dew in my life. Going to sleep now  God,  thank you for today and thank you for the great group of people I’m with. God bless them all with good, needed rest.

 

Team Salt Lake City 2007

 

Mia, Heather, Bri, Ellen, Leslie, Jennifer, Roderick, Nate, Keenan, Cameron, Brian, Eric, Kasey, Rebecca, and Molly (from left to right) right before heading out.

 

Rebecca and Ellen crashed out in the back seat.

 

Meeting at 6 AM has its consequences. (Rebecca and Ellen)

 

One of four gas stops. This is somewhere in Utah.

 

One of five stops for gas. We drove 700+ miles that day. 

 

Red Cliffs of Utah

 

I don’t remember the name, but we drove through a series of gorges in Utah. The red rock formations were spectacular. 

 

Beautiful scenery of Utah (and Molly)

 

These are small hills, nothing like the mountains found farther north in Ogden. (Molly) 

 

 

The guys lived in “The Cave,” the basement of the cave. This is Cameron, Keenan, and I after driving for 12 hours. 

 

The guys' sleeping quarters.

 

Here’s our sleeping quarters. (Keenan and Me) 

 

Excel Still More

It seems I am getting into the habit of writing disclaimers at the beginning of posts, but I feel it is necessary in order for my words to be clear and not misunderstood. I write this post to my own shame, as I am in no way guiltless in this subject before God and therefore feel entirely incapable of writing this without being hypocritical. It is not my purpose to be vitriolic or judgmental in any of these words.  But I feel the issue is important enough and serious enough that it needs to be written about. Great things are being done by the Lord here in Placerita Canyon and at TMC, but we ought to excel still more.

Brothers, sisters, please consider this question carefully and honestly: Does the world see anything different in us as Christians who claim to love Jesus Christ and care of nothing but the glory of God? We talk much of being a light in the community, of serving the community, of loving the community God has placed us in so they may come and bow before the cross of Christ and proclaim Him Lord and Master. But they see in us something to be desired, or do they see the hypocrisy of those who preach great things but really are no different? I fear the answer is not what we earnestly yearn it to be.

I was talking with a friend of mine about the cafeteria. After I said something mildly disparaging about the food, she had the courage to relay to me something a new chef said to her, “I’m not sure how much longer I can take it working here. The people are so ungrateful, so rude. They steal food and take it back to their dorms, complain constantly, swipe their card and get two dinners–one for them, one for a friend. They claim to be different as Christians, but they aren’t. It was easier pleasing the customers at the five star hotel I worked at.” This man is not a Christian, and this is his flat-out, honest impression of us. Brothers, sisters, our actions can aid Satan in keeping men’s souls blind to the truth and damned to hell. This man sees us in our unguarded moments, our casual conversations when we are not keeping up the facade we display during Community Day or Outreach Week.

This chef sees us for who we really are underneath our theology. Unbelievers have the greatest grasp of how well we apply the theology and honestly act out what we claim to believe because the unbeliever cares nothing of the theology we spout, only how it is manifested in our lives. Are we lights in the darkness? Those in darkness can see light. It blinds them. But the chef says by his words, “I see no light. They’re darker than I am.” We claim to be submissive to the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love. I’ve heard said, “This new chef is terrible.” The fruit of the Spirit is joy. I’ve heard, “I was having a good day until I got to lunch.” The fruit of the Spirit is patience. I’ve heard, “Why can’t they ever serve anything good.” The fruit of the Spirit is kindness. I’ve said, “That food looks radioactive.” The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. I’ve seen people take a bunch of bananas, or entire loaves of bread, or a whole meal for a friend. There is a comment board for food suggestions, let us use it in gentleness and love rather than complain to the point where we’re about to drive away a chef because he can’t stand to be around us–not because of our joy in the Lord but because of our elementary-school attitudes.

It may be said I am blowing this out of proportion, but people’s souls are at stake. How we act is a direct reflection of how much we love the Lord (1 John 2:3-6). He who loves the Lord will follow His commandments. There is no aspect of life which lies beyond the scope of these four verses. For the majority of Christians, there are no huge, glaring sins haunting us. Most Christians are not going clubbing, getting drunk, addicted to drugs, sleeping with their girlfriend/boyfriend, or engaged in extramarital affairs. But the mortification of sin does not end at these things. We think because we are not the “porn-addicted video game aficionados” indicative of typical society that we are holy before the Lord.

And so we, TMC students, are content in our complaining. We are content in our consistent breaking of our oath before the Lord via our signature on the contract to honor and uphold the dress code . We are content defy the authority God has placed above us as we drive 50 miles an hour down Placerita Canyon Road because we won’t get caught. These are small issues to us, but not to God. Ponder upon Luke 23:33-49 and see the cost of sin. For most of us, Christ didn’t die to cover the sins of adultery, drunkenness, or drug addictions. He died in payment for our ungrateful complaining, our contempt for our oaths, our disregard of authority.