The true mark of a Christian

I have struggled a lot recently with the discrepency I see in the lives of so many American Christians (myself included) and the life of Christians in the New Testament. One cannot read the gospels with an open eye and heart and not see the stark contrast between our criteria for a "christian" today and Jesus'. I am not saying that Jesus had a "criteria" per say, what I mean is Jesus said (to anyone who was willing), "Follow me," not, "pray this prayer and you're good." A true encounter with Jesus meant full life-altering change. Today, I see lots of "Christians" but very little radical, life-altering change. There is so little difference between the world and the church it scares me. Maybe we smile a little more, but even that is forced.

There is this string of amazing quotes in the second chapter of Brennan Manning's book The Importance of Being Foolish. I have been chewing on them for days and they speak of this very same issue. He says it better than I ever could, so I am just going to type them all in and leave it at that.

"The Communist who accepts Karl Marx but not his doctrine is scarcely different from the Christian who accepts Jesus Christ but refuses to shape his life according to Christ's teaching." pg 43

"Authentic, evangelical faith cannot be separated from a readiness to act on the Word of God according to present opportunities."

"Soren Kierkegaard describes two type of Christians: those who imitate Jesus Christ and a second much cheaper brand-those who are content to admire him." Pg 45

A 23 year old woman dong grad work at the University of Paris writes:
"To me a Christian is either a man who lives in Christ or a phony. You Christians do not appreciate that it is on this- the almost external testminoy that you give of God- that we judge you. You ought to radiate Christ. Your faith ought to flow out to us like a river of life. You ought to infect us with a love for him. It is then that God who was impossible becomes possible for the atheist and for those of us whose faith is wavering. We cannot help being struck, upset, and confused by a Christian who is truly Christlike. And we do not forgive him when he fails to be."

"The great mark of a Christian is what no other characteristic can replace, namely the example of a life which can only be explained in terms of God." Pg 48

"Contact with Christians should be an experience that proves to people that the gospel is a power that transforms the whole of life." Pg 49


1 Jeep Cherokee and 1 Orange Retro Couch

My first year in seminary I lived in this little campus apartment. My roommate had managed to aquire a love seat from one of my friends before I moved there. When I moved in this was the only piece of furniture to sit on in the den. Seeing as her and I didn't know each other when we started school, sitting in the den was sort of awkward. This, as well as just needing more than a love seat anyway, motivated me to search for another piece of sitting furniture. A friend of a friend said he had a couch he wasn't using in his garage and that we could borrow it as long as he got it back before he graduated. I didn't know much about what this couch looked like and I really didn't care, I mean how bad could it be right? Well he pulled up one night and unloaded one of the ugliest couches I have ever seen. It was a burnt orange, retro, sectional couch with rips on almost every seam in the cushions. I could tell by the look on Melanie's face that she didn't find it attractive either. Over the course of 3 years we grew to love this couch. Despite its less than attractive appearance it was, by far, the most comfortable couch I have ever owned. I took many afternoon naps on that couch. One night after David (the couch owner) graduated he came by with his uhaul to pick up the couch and I threw a fit. He told me I could keep it until I graduated, but I must promise to get it back to him. I said of course (this is when I thought I would be moving to Atlanta, which is where he lives).
I have since then graduated and moved to Houston and though I told him recently that the couch is not in great condition (due to having 2 puppies my last 6 months in Fort Worth) he still insists on having it back. So, I planned a trip to visit my family at the end of the summer and instead of flying like any sane person would on a trip over 1000 miles, I decided to drive. I knew I would not get a chance like this for awhile to return the couch to its proper owner, but I was also unwilling to pay money for a uhaul trailer and hauling it across the U.S. just for that dumb couch. So, I decided I would try to fit the entire couch in my car and to my disbelief....IT FIT! After 30 minutes in the blazing Houston heat I got it all in. It was like Tetris, but not near as fun. I didn't have much room for luggage and I couldn't see out of the back of my car, but I got that couch to Georgia! Next time I am upset about the gas mileage my car gets, I will remind myself of how few cars I could fit an entire couch in!


The Importance of Being Foolish

I started a Brennan Manning book the other day called "The Importance of Being Foolish." I haven't gotten very far because the things that Manning tends to say can have you lost in thought and contemplation for weeks. In the opening chapter he begins a conversation truth versus deception, how Satan gets us to chase with our whole hearts things that are false, the least of reality. He contrasts this with Jesus' life and commands of His followers. He makes this statement:

We should be embarrassed by the Word because it says much that we don't want to hear. But why are most of us not embarrassed? Why doesn't the Word exalt, frighten, and shock us? It's not because we are unfamiliar with it-we hear it week in and week out. Why doesn't it force us to reassess our lives? It comes back to our delusions. Michel Quoist says:
We are satisfied by our decent little life. We are pleased with our good habits; we take them for virtues. We are pleased with our little efforts; we take them for progress. We are proud of our activities; they make us think we are giving ourselves. We are impressed by our influence; we imagine that it will transform lives. We are proud of what we give, though it hides what we withhold. We may even be mistaking a set of coinciding egoisms for real friendship."

There are truths within the Scriptures that Jesus reveals to us that should make us shudder; that if we truly believed the Bible to be Truth we would have no option, but to radically alter our lives and yet, most of us don't. In fact, we are surprised when we meet someone who is living a life similar to the teachings of Jesus and we call it "radical." Should it be so radical?...to the world, yes!...to the church? No!

More quotes from this book will follow this one, I feel sure. For now, this is all that I can chew on.


2 baby doves

The other night I came home and I was walking up the front steps when I noticed something moving on the ground of a flower bed. I thought it was a toad, but when I looked closer I realized it was a baby bird, a dove. It must have fallen from a nest high up in the tree during the storm. I ran inside and told Melanie. It looked scared and cold and it was trying to move, but it couldn't fly so it was just scooting a little along the ground. Melanie happened to have this same experience in high school and she still had a flyer from a wildlife refuge they called. While she went to find the number I decided to circle the tree and make sure there was not another one and sure enough in the middle of a plant was another scared little baby bird.
The refuge told us to put the birds in a box with a blanket and in the morning put them in a basket and hang it from the tree to see if the mama will come back and take care of them. But there was a lady who volunteered for them that lived close by, so instead of risking the life of the birds overnight in a house with 3 dogs and 1 frisky cat, we drove them over to the volunteers house. Just before we handed them over one of them pooped in the box. What an experience! You never know what your day might hold. I felt very accomplished, like a model citizen, who just completed a good deed.


Summer Fun

I have been living in Houston this summer and working for Houston's First Baptist Church. It has been a truly amazing summer and I am so glad that I decided to come here. There are so many highlights and fun things that happened.

First, my job. I loved my job. I was the Intern Coordinator for the high school ministry at the church. I was responsible for leading a team of 4 college student interns. I loved the people I worked with: the church staff, the college interns, the students. It was an amazing job, and I really loved every minute of it.

Second, my puppy, Cali and her brother Henry. We had so much fun with them. We found a dog park close by and took them several times. They LOVED it!!!! They loved interacting with all of the dogs there. It so much fun to watch them run around and interact! Cali will just go barreling into a group of dogs to say hello...hillarious. We also took them to the beach one day and that was so fun! Below are some pictures of that. When we first got there Henry went out into the water swimming and we thought he was going to swim out to sea. They swam, sprinted all over the beach, found a dead fish and had a blast!

Third, there are so many fun things to do here.
I went to Phantom of the Opera in downtown Houston. It was amazing!
We went to the beach nearly every weekend.
I mountain biked in Memorial Park, which was so fun. That was the first time i've been since moving to Texas. The trails were great!
There are so many good places to eat here:
Mosquito Cafe
Crave Cupcakes
Dessert Gallery
Thai Cottage
Baby Barnaby's
Mexican food anywhere!
And so many more.

Houston is a good city. There is no end to fun things to do here and it has been a fantastic summer!


I'd of had to squat!

Today I was in a parking lot in a large shopping center in southwest Houston. I was walking from my car towards the Old Navy and I saw 3 kids outside of a Suburban. The car seemed to be unoccupied by an adult. One little girl was standing in the door of the back passenger side, a boy was in the front seat and a small boy was standing with his back facing the open passenger side front door. They all looked at me and were laughing and saying things I couldn't understand. I really couldn't see what was so funny because it was as bright as the face of the sun outside. I kept straining to see as they kept laughing and I finally saw what they thought was so funny. The little boy standing by the open door was peeing in the parking lot right beside his car. I started laughing, not believing what I was seeing and as I walked boy I heard him say loudly in a little african american boy accent, "If I was a girl, i'd of had to squat!"

Now how often do you see something like that on a shopping trip? Hillarious!


My 3 hour haircut

I am tempted to come on here and proclaim my deepest apologies for being a horrible blogger (not that anyone reads this or if they did I am sure they have stopped by now), and promise that I will resume blogging with a unstoppable fever, but I will not do that. I will take it one day at a time and see where we go. A lot has happened recently, so I should have a lot to say, so we will see.

But first, a story I must tell. I have been living in Houston with my roommate from seminary and her family, which has been a great and fun adventure. Recently her mother found this Aveda training school in the Woodlands (over an hour away from the house), where you can get your haircut by their students for $15. Aveda salons do a great job, but charge you a minimum of $50 so this is a good deal. All wanting haricuts, we decided to go last Friday. I should have known better anyway because we had to get up early and I had an all night lock-out that evening, where I would get no sleep.

We get to the salon and all get seated seperately by our students at 10:45 a.m. I just want a basic haircut, about 3 inches off with a few layers. She washes my hair and takes me back to the chair. Now I know she is a student, so I am expecting nothing short of an hour and a half. An hour and a half has passed (12:15 p.m.) and she is still painfully and slowly snipping away the initial 3 inches from my hair. She has not begun layers or anything!!!! At this point I see Melanie's mother finished and walking toward the front, the stylist beside us got a client after I sat down and washed, cut and dried her hair and she is now off on her lunch break. All the while I can feel myself getting more and more irritated and impatient. She gets to the bangs and after about 5 minutes of hesitation with no cutting, calls her teacher to come cut it. It is now 1:00 p.m. and I see my roommate walk out now having had her hair washed, cut and dried and her eyebrows waxed, while I am very far from the finish line.

As my hair covered my eyes and kept closing them and telling myself, "just smell your hair, it smells so good and peaceful, doesn't it." I had no idea that while I was sitting in misery, my roommate was terrified that something bad had happened because it was taking SOOOO long. She went to the desk and asked if they had messed up my hair and were redoing it because it was taking so long. They informed her that my student was brand new to the floor...Thanks a lot Aveda. 3 hours in total is what it took for this girl to wash, cut and dry my hair. And when she was done her teacher came over and saw that she had really put no layers in my hair and with amazing speed and percision she cut layers for me in about 1 minute.

When I finally got out of the chair and to the front my roommate new I was upset, but i told her I couldn't talk just yet...I needed to cool off. The cashier then asked me if I wanted to leave a tip and several things passed through my head to say, but in the end Jesus won out and I did tip. But I resolved that $15 dollars was not worth it and I would never do that again. When I tell this story people say, "Well did she do a good job?" I have to calculate my response because I really think that if someone gave me scissors and 3 hours of their time I could do a superb job. Yes the hair looks good, I say, it better after all of that.