Saturday, August 31, 2013

Chapter 1: D.T.R.

I think its fitting that I am starting this book just as football season is beginning. Living in a college town during this time is always an interesting experience. Back in TN, about 95% of the town felt like this: 

Every Saturday, downtown was basically shut-down as thousands of fans made the pilgrim to their temple in anticipation of seeing the Volunteers win a game. However, the last few years I lived there, we weren't doing to well. The more games we lost, the less people went, or if they did went they would leave the game half-way though because we were losing. Most  people blamed the coach, but now that he is gone and another is in his place, you can feel the excitement and pride once more. 

The fans have returned! 

But that is what fans do. They are "an enthusiastic admirer." They stand in the bleachers and cheer on the players, but they don't actually play.  They don't actually go out onto the field and get tackled or worry about passing the ball to the correct person or anything. And when the players disappoint, they leave. 

How many times do we do this with Jesus? 
How many times will we stand there and cheer him on as long as things are going the way we think they should but as soon as they change we leave and forget him? 

I know I do this all the time and its something that I hope I can change. But I have to keep asking myself, do I want to change. And to be honest the answer is: I don't know. I want to say yes but a part of me is screaming NO!

In the first chapter of the book, the author, Kyle Idleman, asks us to imagine Jesus sitting down across from us at a coffee shop and asking us to have a DTR conversation. How would you respond? 

I know for me, I wouldn' know how to respond. I would be thinking something like this: 

but it will prolly end up saying something like this: 

Either way, its not good. Jesus would clearly be able to define what he wants in a relationship with me, but I would have no clue how to respond. Is our relationship exclusive? Is it casual or committed? I know what the answers should be but I also know how my heart would answer and unfortunately they do not match up. What about you?

Keeping all of this in mind, I want to ask you something dear reader. Now I know I may not actually know you personally but I want to ask you it anyways.  I also want you think very carefully about your answer before you reply and don't just reply immediately. But rather take your time and think: 

Are you a follower of Jesus? 

Like I said, before you answer I want you to truly think about how you are going to respond? What does it mean to be a follower? What does it mean to be a fan?  What standards do we use to distinguish between the two?

Here we go again

Hello again.

I think its been about two years since my last real post. A lot has changed during these past two years, (changed schools, moved to Texas etc.) but a lot has also stayed the same. I still struggle with my faith. I am still trying to figure out how to let God have more control of my life. I am still broken.

Recently I have begun wondering if I even really believe in Jesus. I have no doubt that God exists, I see him all around me and especially in my science, but Jesus.....he is still a mystery to me I fear. I mean I know all the stories and I know the songs but do I really know Jesus and believe in him?As I am writing this I am reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Now you may be asking yourself, "what does this movie have anything to do with Jesus? I thought it was some dark weird movie about Halloween." And to some extent you would be right, but the movie is actually a lot more than that.  After a visit to Christmas town, Jack Skellington  (the main character of the movie) tries to understand the meaning of Christmas. He believes that there is a logical explanation there, so he studies all the books for Christmas and follows the scientific method. But just when he is about to give up all hope of understanding, its like a veil is lifted and he thinks he finally understands. Now we see later on that he doesn't actually understand the true meaning of Christmas, but that is not my point.

 My point is this,  no matter how hard Jack tried he just couldn't understand the magic of Christmas. It was foreign to him. Its like no matter how times I read the bible stories, sing the songs, or go to church, do I actually understand Jesus? If you actually look at the lyrics of the song, you will see many different parallels between Jack's struggle with Christmas and my struggle with my faith. Here are some the lines that I like the best for this analogy...

"There's so many things I cannot grasp
 When I think I've got it and then at last.
Through my bony fingers it does slip,
like a snowflake in a fiery grip." 

There are times, especially when I am at Church, that I am think am starting to understand. That I am starting to truly believe. But just a quickly, something comes along and the moment is gone. My pride makes it so that I do not confide in those around me and no progress is actually made.

"I've read these Christmas books so many times
I know the stories and I know the rhymes.
I know the Christmas carols all by heart.
My skull's so full it's tearing me apart.
As often as I've read them, something's wrong.
So hard to put my bony finger on." 

Like I said, growing up a Christian has made it so that I know all the stories, I know all the songs. I know how I am supposed to act and what I should say. But something's wrong,  do I truly believe any of it?

Or perhaps it's really not as deep as I've been led to think
.Am I trying much too hard? Of course. I've been too close to see.

Just the other day I was telling a girl at my small group who is struggling to believe that she needs to stop trying so hard. She is trying to force something and control something that is really God's to control. Advice I should probably take to heart.

The answer's right in front of me.
Right in front of me.It's simple really, very clear,
like music drifting in the air.Invisible, but everywhere.
Just because I cannot see it doesn't mean I can't believe it.

I feel like Jesus is right in front me, just waiting for me to see him but I'm scared. He doesn't fit in with my scientific view. God: yes...Jesus: I dunno.I want to believe. I want to be a true follower of him.

Today I was at the local Christian book store when I came across this book "not a fan." by Kyle Idleman.  Even just reading the prologue, it made me question myself, am I really a follower or just a fan? Unfortunately I am pretty sure I am fan and not a follower, however I am hoping that by working through this work it will help me to become more of a follower and less of a fan. I am once more going to try to blog my thoughts here after chapter and hopefully by doing so it will help to keep my accountable.

So here we go ahead, on my journey toward Jesus and becoming more than just a fan and actually becoming a follower.