Friday, February 28, 2014

A Letter to a Young Brother,

We rarely see eye to eye. In fact, we never do. Nonetheless, we've struggled together for years, attempting to learn from one another and respect who God continues to make us into. And it's for this reason that I write, in hopes that you'll hear me in the only way I know I can communicate clearly. I'm ignorant sometimes and I'm sorry for any hurt I've caused because of that. Among the many things that have turned you against the Church, I pray that if I have done anything it's showing you the love of a God that wants nothing more then to be with you. I know that He aches at the idea of you giving up on Him. I know, because I do. And if I do, after all the bashing of heads and miscommunications that have happened between us, there's not a doubt in mind that he does. I wrestled with God one Saturday night, while you were tucked away from all the bells and whistles, frustrated both with Him and you for not doing anything else. Then I realized in doing that I found myself in the same rut that you are in. I expected God to do something specific and that didn't happen, but that doesn't mean He didn't answer. Sometimes the answer is no, because only a good God knows when that is the right response. Sometimes the answer is silence, because He wants us to listen that much harder. Since then, I find myself whispering the Lord's Prayer when I think of you, because they are the only words that seem to make sense through all of this. "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done..." If it were up to me, God would reveal Himself to you in some huge, magnificent way that could only be explained by Him. "...Your will be done..." It's harder to say when you don't know what it all entails.

With very little time left together, I know my influence grows weaker and weaker in your life. Please know that I pray for you and that you have not been given up on. I hope that one day God will make himself known to you, but I also challenge you to listen for Him in ways you're not expecting. Not all disagreement is bad; not all conflict equates to being personally attacked. God will never be done with you, just as He continually works on me. When all else keeps us apart, I know that this truth keeps us united as brothers. I encourage you to read about Mother Teresa's own struggles of faith. I thought you'd like her story because of how important marginalized people are to you. I wish I had that same sympathy. It's easy for me to push people off when I don't know what to do with them, but you've taught me more about Christ's love then even you understand. Henri Nouwen is another person's story you may connect to better than my own. If nothing else, I pray that you don't give up; please, keep searching, because there is a love that makes all things new and rights all wrongs, even the wrongs that have happened to you.

Forever hopeful,

Thursday, February 20, 2014


After completing my 8th Jubilee conference, this year I left feeling differently about the whole thing. Not because it was going in a different direction or I was disappointed, because that wasn't the case at all; this was the first year that Jenn and I took Gavin. He had a blast, actually taking his first consecutive steps in Byron Borger's bookstore, though it messed up his sleeping schedule quite a bit. Due to that, Jenn and I would have to switch out with him, neither of us getting to experience the whole conference.

Nevertheless, the conference itself was still amazing (per usual), with speakers such as Andy Crouch, Bethany Hoang, Margot Starbuck, and Dan Allender (to name a few), the story of the Biblical narrative was told in ways that connected with students and allowed the truth of the gospel to break across boundaries. The music this year was the best it's ever been, featuring the talents of Josh Moyer, Joy Ike, Kenyon Adams, and more, it combined cultures and styles in a way that is rarely seen in churches. With the largest selections of breakout sessions I've ever seen, assuming the students took advantage of all that was offered, I can't imagine that God didn't touch everyone there.

As I look back at all the words I heard, though some repetitive for me personally (and trust me when I say it's a story that I, we all, need to keep being reminded of), here are a few of the things that truly stood out to me:
  • Everything matters. I know this was the theme of the conference, so it could be considered a cheap answer, but this theme stood out in every single story shared and word spoken. Everything we do has significance in the coming kingdom. Or, to use the line from Gladiator, "What we do echoes in eternity." I hope that all of my actions will be used by God for the betterment of His kingdom, but beyond "hoping" I am encouraged to "do" and be" the change I want to see.
  • In a breakout session with Justin McRoberts (If you haven't read his new book, CMYK, do it. In fact, go back and read my review to see how exciting this whole project it. And then read the book.), he shared these words: "Maturity is not an arrival point; it is a commitment to the process." While these words were specifically being applied to songwriting, I know he would say that it can and should be true of so much more. In the days following the conference, I find myself viewing faith in this way and it challenges me to continue on the journey, particularly on the difficult days, or the times when it's hard to hear God's voice...
  • Friendships take work, but are worth it. I always get to see familiar faces at this conference, faces I don't see as often as I'd like. But there were a few surprises this year, having friends actually show up with the soul purpose of seeing my little family. As I age, finding myself further from those I care about, these small, seemingly insignificant acts are the moments I live for. I need more of this in my life. Thanks to those of you who make that effort; I pray that I can do the same in your life.
  • Many times God allows us to choose the path we take. It's not always a black-and-white, left-or-right path. With many good choices, God wants to partner with us in applying His words to our decision making as well as our lives. I find this more and more true as life goes on.
  • Lastly, as a campus minister, I am encouraged even more "to challenge students to begin to explore [their faith]... such that it begins to shape who they are and how they live." (Guy Chmieleski, Shaping Their Future)
So, Jubilee 2014 was a success in many eyes, including my own. I hope that the many people in attendance take to heart these lessons and apply them to their day-to-day. May the peace of the everlasting God grab a hold of you and never let go as you seek after a life in Him.

Here is a highlight video from Jubilee 2014

What did you take from Jubilee this year? What, specifically, did God say to you during your time there?