My first time; Feed my Starving Children

The other night I joined a good portion of my church peeps from Flowing Grace with bagging and boxing food for Feed My Starving Children, up to this point I have never helped out with the organization, and now…I can’t wait to help out again ๐Ÿ™‚

There’s something to doing something tangible that helps others, the entwining of good times and God times (with a slight competitive bent I might add) that I enjoy partaking in. It is my desire to live out “on earth as it is in heaven” with those I interact with, and with Feed My Starving Children I might not have a direct impact upon the ones I helped feed, but after hearing about how they go about sending food worldwide to those who are impoverished I am excited for this level of kingdom work.

When it comes down to it I am an introspective extrovert, I process (longer than usual) the world around me and so my processing time makes me perceived as being “the quiet guy”. I enjoy leading others where needed be, but I also enjoy actively listening to others, there is the side of me that is active and loud and times where I am quiet and contemplative.

With the work that is done at Feed My Starving Children it doesn’t matter when you are young or old, introverted or extroverted, there’s a task for all and I recognize that for those who are introverted it is ideal! A lot of it is repetitive assembly job work which honestly I don’t mind, they crank the tunes, you do your task and keep going…it is a lot of fun!

There are opportunities to do good in tangible ways that matter for a long time and as a follower of Christ I desire to partake in some of these activities (because obviously I cannot partake in all of them). When you have people who are with you on your life journey who are like-minded as well as like-hearted things have the appearance of being easier and in a lot of ways a mutual load shared does in fact make everyone’s load lighter. Working side by side some of my church peeps in such a matter was this; kingdom work shared amongst people who have a common goal and that is feeding those who do not have a steady source of food, and in this matter we fed Jesus as we fed others.

~Nathanael~

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Hold on loosely; what water damage has taught me about material possessions

“Hold on loosely” by 38 Special entered my mind when I was informed earlier today that due to the rain from the night before some additional water damage took place in my basement. It caused some water to drench some of my old clothes and a lot of auto-related “earthly treasures” to get ruined.

So I helped with moving out those damaged goods, quite quickly too as today’s garbage day and I certainly didn’t want that sitting around for a week.

There are times where the best response to things is to have that kind of an attitude, recognizing that everything is prone to rust, mold, mildew, breaking, cracking, et al. and if we think we have some control over it we’re only kidding ourselves and so when it comes to material possessions (which I need to practice more in my life) is to recognize that the best things in life aren’t the material possessions I’ve acquired and they aren’t things either, they’re the people I’ve gotten to know and love.

I like how Jesus put it as recorded by Matthew in chapter 6 verses 19 to 21; “โ€œDo not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.ย But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.ย For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I too want to store up treasure in heaven, I too want to say unselfishly that the treasure I guard most closely are those I come into contact with, those who I choose to engage over judge and those I love with a heart like God’s and with his eyes seeing the Imago Dei-ness in everyone.

Thanks be to God for water damaged material goods, I’m a little more free as I hold onto my possessions a bit more loosely.

~Nathanael~

I need new guy friends

I need some new guy friends, I told my good friend Mark as his wedding was wrapping up 2 weeks ago.

For the record, I’ve never have had a lot of friends, nor have I had the desire to have a lot of friends just a handful and a few more. My limiting to acquire more friends is that I like to go deep. Going deep, that is, not staying at the shallow end of the pool conversationally, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally et al.

Yes there is a time and a place when it comes to getting to know someone that you should not go deep, you can but I err on the side of caution and not wearing my heart on my sleeve, and even though I do live in the tension with some of my bestest buds, I never put all of me out the first time I met them, or anyone for that matter.

The thing is when it comes down to it, since 2005 I’ve decided to live life less compartmentalized and more intentional, instead of walking around with a grin of a facade on, I like to be real/authentic with others. I lived 21 years thinking that if I didn’t put on a game face, didn’t let on to what was really going on in my life and my surroundings no one would like me and even worse still, I thought no one would love me either.

Yet as I put my heart out there in faith and hope despite being burned a few times too many, it has served me well to live in such a way.

Yet this is why I say I need new guy friends…

With my friend Mark getting married I no longer have any single friends, and while there will be time to hang out with my guy friends who are married, the dynamic has changed — as it should! If my guy friends who hang out with me a great deal were to carry that over into their married life, I wouldn’t be down with that nor would their wives either.

So my pursuit of new guy friends isn’t one of replacing the guys I know and love so very much, but one of bonding with those who aren’t married and consequently are “more free” like me in single-hood or even dating-hood.

So here’s to finding more guy friends, and living intentionally and less compartmentalized! ๐Ÿ™‚

~Nathanael~

A word of warning to the church about love

Dear church/brothers and sisters in Christ,

There has been speculation about why younger people such as myself have been leaving the church. While I don’t know all the reasons, I am willing to venture that some of it stems from love or actually the lack of love.

The thing is, when people come to the church and they don’t experience the love of Christ that we should extend to them, whether they’re the first time attender, the Chreaster, the been-in-this-church-before-I-was-born, they will look for it elsewhere.

They might find that works or “fits” for a spell, but it won’t ever be the same caliber of love has extended to not only those who attend church on a regular basis but to all of humanity.

There’s a hymn that is called “they will know we are Christians by our love” and I believe wholeheartedly this is what we should be known for, yet I think we’re known for a lot of other things at this point and not necessarily our love and therein lies the problem, we might be known for loving only certain types of people or our love isn’t evident and the lack of love is what we’re known for collectively.

I didn’t write this post to rally anything but to simply point out that some of the time the church is lacking love for those within as well as those outside the building, and if we’re to take to heart the words of Jesus of going into all the world… all means ALL!

~Nathanael~

A matter of perspective; looking for the Imago Dei-ness in others

There are times when I share a meal with prostitutes, johns, drug users, drug sellers, alcoholics, misfits, down-and-outers, socially ostracized, war vets and others.

Yet as I eat with them, as I listen to their stories, as I do my part to be the ears of Christ I recognize their innate Imago Dei-ness, that despite what they do and what they’ve done bear the image of God.

It also gives me perspective, that you can’t judge a book by its cover and that homelessness takes on all shapes and forms, there areย similar stories but each one is unique in its own way. I never was one to say “well if they (referring to people who are homeless) get a job everything would work out for them” and yet some people spout similar rhetoric, apart from referring to a group of people as “them” (thus perpetuating my the paradigm I dislike the most – Us vs Them).

I won’t divulge any stories I’ve picked up in my time with being with these Imago Dei’s but I will say that when you have chosen engagement over judgment, when you have taken the time to simply BE…God opens doors and people open up their hearts.

***

One of my favorite Imago Dei’s is a woman who despite being a heavy drinker always greets me with a smile, a hug, and a kiss on the cheek. Now if I chose to distance myself from Donna* this would never happen, but because I embraced her Imago Dei-ness and remembering 1 John 4:19 when it says “We love him because he first loved us” and extending that love outwards I receive with relish the holiness that is Donna’s kiss and hug for me and I in turn return the favor which I guess is a holy embrace between Imago Dei’s. ๐Ÿ™‚

There are other moments in my life where Heaven meets Earth in the form of people who love on me and I on them, it was easy for me and it can be for you as well if you shift your perspective off of who you are and your means and others and shifting your gaze to what matters to God, people matter to God.

~Nathanael~

*not her real name

Whatever happened to Adeodatus?

I haven’t read a lot on St. Augustine or even Confessions for that matter, and maybe at times I quote “God give me chastity, but not yet” too often…

But one thing I’ve read about him is that he fathered a child, a son, by the name Adeodatus.

Now as far as I can tell, Adeodatus and Augustine never had a relationship, there was some prompting of Augustine by his mom to marry his lover and therefore be a father to his son…
But he doesn’t, and while he mentions him in prayer as well as his writing, the story kind of ends there and all that can be said after that is that his son is smart but passes away at the age of 16.

Yet in my own life, I have Adeodatuses (Adeodati?)… Not that I have children that bear half of my chromosomes and I choose not to be involved in their lives, but there are people were in my life, for one reason or another, are no longer in my life. I know some of the people are out because of distance –ย  physical as well as emotional – and while there are some that I keep at bay for good reasons some I do not for bad reasons.

There are moments in my life where I am plagued with the “what-if’s” and I mentally contemplate [too much] of what was and what could’ve been, and then when I get to that point I let go, I break down, I grab the few remaining strands and surface as quickly as I can. Consequently I suffer the fallout, “the bends” from moments where I delve to deep…and I go deep…and I wish I didn’t.

I’m not writing to say “but from this point I won’t do __________ but will do _____________” because I am human, I recognize my frailty that is my humanity, but I will say that I will try (apart from the abandonment of Augustine’s son) to keep the people who are no longer in my life in prayer and keep it at that.

~Nathanael~

Wrestling with God, Theodicy, and Free Will

Lately I’ve been wrestling with God, Theodicy, and Free Will…but after much prayer and thought, I’ve come to a resolution that appeases me.

Theodicy is a struggle of putting two and two together; the components are if God is all loving/all knowing/all powerful, how come evil still happens in the world, would not such a God do away with such things? And if he doesn’t intercede, is he still all loving/all knowing/all powerful?
I struggled (and maybe I will struggle again) because I see pain quite often and sometimes even too much, the behavior of one human being against another or many just saddens me and drives me to lament over the atrocities that happen around this world of ours. While struggling, while doubting, while just feeling nothing…God showed up.

God didn’t break it down for me, but his presence and love that wrapped around me struck me as an “I know, I know” kind of feeling.

The thing is that I think God is all loving, all powerful, and all knowing, but the reason why he doesn’t step in when horrible things happen is because of free will. Free will gives us all sorts of freedoms, and essentially we’re able to do a lot of good…but we’re also capable of doing a lot of bad.

It is within this free will that we’re able to decide to follow God or not, whether we’re going to help others out who are in need or not, choice is ours and if we don’t make a choice in a matter that is also our choice (queue Freewill by Rush).

So instead of a intervening God (which would interfere with our freewill) God is present and with us while we go through life’s experiences, and I have faith that when we hurt and suffer he’s with us in our brokenness as well.
The thing is, we as human beings can intervene, we can make a difference in a world that is suffering, we can take care of those who are down and out, and anyone who is going through a personal hell on earth, we can and I truly believe that we must as well.

I believe in being a participant in kingdom of God work, doing what I can in the now and in the future to usher in perfect shalom. I have faith in God and what he’s doing and also the good things people are doing in his name. We are invited to be a part of the kingdom work, the making “on earth as it is in heaven” a reality, and not just a reality for a small group of individuals, but for all!

Recognizing that God will be in our midst in good times and bad times is comforting to me, it has helped me realize that God is God and shit will be shit, he’ll be in the midst of shitty times, he doesn’t go wandering off leaving us to pick up all the broken pieces but it is up to us to pick up all the pieces and give it to him, entrusting him with whatever the outcome may be.

~Nathanael~