Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Proverbial Bean Surprise

I recently had a few days off of work, and I had planned on using them to surprise my girlfriend by showing up at her doorstep unannounced. Believe me when I say that I did pretty much everything that was in my power to keep this thing a secret. I really, really, really wanted to surprise her. And if you know much about me, I often go to great lengths to pull stuff like this off.

So I told only told the people who needed to know. I live in West Palm Beach, a whopping 848 miles from Nashville, and I didn't even tell my friends at home that I was leaving. I only talked to her parents about it, to make sure that it was gonna be all right for me to stay at their place while I visited. And since she knew my schedule, I came up with events that I "had to" be at home for during my few days off of work. She was genuinely not expecting it, which is great because she's pretty intuitive about that kind of stuff.

To make a short story shorter (and to not throw anyone under the bus), the proverbial beans were spilled the night before I showed up. Don't get me wrong, my girlfriend loved that I came and was super stoked about it, but I have yet to see her truly-surprised-face.

So a lot of you may remember Harold Camping from a few years ago. He was a man who claimed to know when Jesus was coming back. According to Harry, it was going to be on May 21, 2011. A lot of us have (hopefully) realized that he was wrong, and there was a lot of bad PR that came out of the error of that prophecy. Many Christians, in light of Camping's doomsday message, tried to remind the world that, 
"concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." (Matthew 24)
A lot of the talk during that period had to do with apocalyptic destruction and end-times tribulation. It was about the great pain that was going to be unleashed on the world in God's fiery judgment. And look, I believe all that stuff. I've been reading through Revelations - that stuff about destruction and doom is all true, and a lot of points could be made in regards to the urgency we should have as Christians in telling the Good News to the world. But that's not why I'm writing this.

I'm writing this to talk about the character of God, and one of the greatest attributes about Him is this: God is enamored with mystery. The fact that He gets to surprise us with the return of His Son at a moment when nobody thought it would happen probably makes God very, very happy. And it should do the same to us.

Just imagine, you're drinking your coffee, getting ready for the work day when BAM, you're standing before the Jesus you've struggled your whole life to get near to. Or you might be sleeping, when all of a sudden, you are immediately surrounded with the perfect rest of the presence of God. Or you might be in the middle of a battle against giving in to a great temptation, when Jesus shows up and you suddenly completely understand how he fulfills everything you were made for.

Friends, we have a great surprise coming for us. And this time, no one will be able to spill the proverbial beans.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why Those Letters Don't Mean That Much

And so, play the trumpets! Yours truly has entered the workforce. Yes, I am now on "the grind." I've turned in my tasseled hat for a blue collar. Just call me a regular working man. The weirdest part of this whole thing is that I've spent much of my life working so that I could one day make money, and now that there's a regular paycheck coming in, I'm all like, "OOH, MONEY!?"

The even funnier part is that, just as I've made my dramatic exit from college, my brother has recently re-entered. He's going back to get his Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner. 


Titles have always fascinated me. Now, I get to put the initials RN at the end of my name (a liberty I took full advantage of when buying plane tickets recently. Well, how else will they know if I don't tell them!?). Soon enough, my brother will get to put ARNP at the end of his. (Adult Registered Nurse Practitioner) One day, I hope to be able to as well. Today, I sat in a work meeting and made sure to dress my best because I knew the CNO (Chief Nursing Officer) would be there (I wore a blazer and slacks!). 

So what's the deal? Why all the hubbub when it comes to letters of the alphabet and titles? Well, in my case, I really respect the work that it takes for people to earn those titles. In some cases, it takes a lifetime to get a couple of initials at the end of your name, and I'm all about people working hard to get to that place. 
"Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’" (Amos 7)
I've been going through the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament lately and in my journey, I've bumped into Amos. Amos was a shepherd and a farmer who told the people of Israel to turn from their wicked ways of oppressing the poor and practicing injustice and to turn to the God who could restore them to righteousness.

Maybe you glazed over that first part because it didn't sound that important: Amos was a shepherd. A farmer. No alphabet soup after his name. No fancy title. But the words he spoke were immortalized for, well, eternity. What mattered here was not his background, his past successes, or his climbing up the ladder of Ancient Middle-East power. He had no status on which to stand so that he could tell everyone to listen to him, but he did it anyway, because God gave him a whole different kind of platform.

Look, titles are great. There's usually a lot of earned respect for a man with a title, and rightfully so. But friend, the Kingdom of God has very little to do with your title and a lot more to do with your testimony. God doesn't want people with status, He wants people with a story. Which is everyone. So what does this mean? Two things:

Friend, wherever God is giving you the medium in which to tell the world how your story has collided with Almighty God's, do it. Even if it's out of your pay grade. And if you ever avoid the opportunity to learn from someone who doesn't have any letters after their name, shame on you. You might be missing a little shepherd's big words.

Don't forget, it was a Nobody from a nowhere town that caused the world to follow.