"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1: 14

Once upon a time (about a month ago), I sat down in Chemistry class and found a book next to my chair, The Life of Jesus.  Maybe someone else was meant to pick up that strategically placed book, but maybe it was placed there just for me.  It's been rocking my world.  Basically The Life of Jesus is all four Gospels combined into a chronological book. 

I prayed for fresh eyes to read the story, and BOY! did God answer.  I've never experienced Jesus like I'm experiencing Him now.  I have a kajillion things I want to say about that, but for now I will stick with this one tangent...

Jesus' death means everything.  Without His sacrifice AND His resurrection, I am hopelessly bound for Hell.  That simple.
But what the Spirit's recently helped me consider is that the real miracle of Jesus is His life.

Have you ever really considered it? 

Jesus was fully God, fully man.  He was the fullness of the Creator of the universe, the Keeper of time, constrained and bound into human flesh.  He chose to leave Heaven and plant His feet on this earth where He knew He'd face nothing but opposition. THAT is sacrifice. THAT is fierce love.

It's kinda like how Harry Potter is constrained and not allowed to use his magic among the Muggles!  By entering Mary's womb, Jesus knew He could not be everywhere at once anymore.  He knew He would be exhausted at times and sick and hungry and abused.  Jesus was willing to live in this crap for more than thirty physical years because He loves people in spite of the crap. 

I am a selfish and prideful person with a tiny heart. I am. But I'm so confident in my own salvation and so passionate about the Kingdom that I think I would take a bullet for someone if it'd mean they would come to know Christ. That's coming from my tiny, selfish heart.  How much MORE willing was Jesus to do the same for us?!  Again, MIRACLE.

BUT where the rubber meets the road is living. I would die for the sake of Christ, but more often than not I'm not willing to live for it on a day to day basis. To pull up my roots I've planted in the earth and carry my cross and live in surrender to the will of God. THAT's the miracle of Jesus. He did that. He lived three decades in total surrender to the will of the Father. Think of what He put up with. Christ certainly died for us, but praise God! He was willing to LIVE for us, too.

More to come...


I'm really nervous about this post...

I love Alabama football.
It is an absolute passion. A hunger. A way of life. A culture. A tradition.
I LOVE IT. I love the tailgating experience, the lights and sounds, the cheers and chants, the stats and play-calling, and even the drunken fans. It's Sweet Home Alabama, the Million Dollar fight song, chills at the sound of Bear's voice, pregame video memorized, 4 fingers in the air, Rammer Jammer love.
My daddy raised me on Alabama football, and it's just a part of me.

Yesterday was my first gameday as a STUDENT! Whattt? This new perspective was stranger than expected! I could talk about ALL of that, but honestly it's not the purpose of this blog. I learned something huge yesterday.

It's nuts. I pride myself on being part of a group of outrageously passionate fans. On gameday, Bryant Denny hosts over 100,000 fans, and the city of Tuscaloosa balloons with tens of thousands more. Each ticketholder spent anywhere from $40-$200 or more, depending on the game, JUST to have a spot on a bleacher. Factor in the money for gas and food. Not to mention the people who bring steak and chips, beer and coke, tents and chairs, and plasma screen TV's for the tailgate. On this one day, the amount of money being handed around in Tuscaloosa must be astronomical. Think of what each person spends, then add it together. I bet a hundred million dollars wouldn't touch it. And that's just one weekend!
You get the point. That's a lotta dollas.
Think of the emotion poured out. The energy. The hoarse voices. The fear of showing face at church the next morning because of the smack you talked.

Listen, this is why I'm nervous about this blog. I'm about to spit out some Spirit words in faith.

Yesterday, I experienced the same excitement in tradition and passion as I have my whole life. But I had a godly revelation and it's bothered me since. Isn't this idolatry? Before you go thinking I'm a closet Auburn fan or looney liberal, hear this. I don't believe there is anything inherently evil about football, tailgating, cheering, or loving gameday. But I do believe that for many of us, we are misplacing our worship. Not that we bow down to the Bear's statue (most of us) or curse God for a loss (IF that were to ever happen).

This is what's unexcusable:
  • With the cost of just one $40 ticket, we could provide an impoverished child with food, clothing, education,and spiritual development for an entire month (http://www.compassion.com/). That is one of thousands of options. The point is, on gameday we throw around $100 bills like confetti, but then we turn away from children in need because "the checkbook's tight this month." That is not okay.
  • While tailgating, we're happy to give away our burgers and beer to complete strangers in red and white because "we're all part of the Crimson Tide family." But when we see a man by the side of the road who needs money for food, we lock the doors and refuse to help. He'll probably just use it to buy alcohol. Hmm. He is our brother. That is not okay.
  • We sport our T-shirts, decorate our cars, even paint our bodies to be as loud and proud about our team as possible. We wanna be Roll Tide freeeaks! We are never afraid to wear our Bama gear, even in the midst of a room full of orange. We are never afraid to voice our professional opinions on playcalls. We are never afraid to bet our money and pick the upset. We'll argue football til we're blue in the face. But we'd never stand in a room and defend the name of Christ. We don't even know what we'd say anyways. We're too afraid of what others would think. We don't want to be that Jesus freak. We would never want to offend anyone. Oh, but we'll talk some football. That is not okay.
I don't want to suck the fun out of Alabama football. I love it too much! I just think that if we're claiming to be disciples of Christ, we need to rethink where our time and money goes. Because that is the root of our devotion.

Just think about it.




"My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." Psalm 84:2

I'm home for the first weekend since I left for school.  And let me just say, it's WEIRD. It feels like I'm in a time warp, like I've been asleep for the past three weeks and have just waken up, even though life has moved on.

I love Bama. I love being on my own. I love the atmosphere. I love the ways God's working down there. But it feels so good to be home for a little bit.

It takes leaving to realize and appreciate some things.  I realize how comfortably I lived the last few years of my life. I was blessed with a solid group of friends always by my side, a church where I was completely comfortable, a school where I could be a slacker and still be on top of things, and a home with love, laughs, and laundry service.  And comfort is good. It's a sweet gift God wants us to enjoy in His time. But there's only so much growing we can do if we stay comfortable.  God also calls us to a radical life, not a comfortable one. He calls us out of what feels "safe" because He wants us to know we can trust Him. He wants us to step out on the water, trusting that He'll grab our hand if we start to sink. And when we need comfort, we know we can rest in His arms. I didn't understand that a few months ago.

That was kinda a tangent. Ha.

Here's the thing.
Driving up the interstate, I literally felt home getting closer. I felt my heart relaxing and my lungs breathing. In Tuscaloosa, everyone always puts on a face.  There is a certain pressure to always be friendly, always be punctual, always tidy up after yourself, always eat healthy.  In my hometown, I feel like I am known. I can be quirky, sarcastic, giggly, wild, upset, real, even rude.  And people who know me get that because they know my heart.

I have missed hugs! Church Sunday was a beautiful overload of hugs and affection from my cloud of witnesses. It's nice to step back and realize how MANY people have influenced my life by chaperoning a trip, giving me a ride, opening their home, speaking encouraging words, or just giving me a hug. It's such a gift to come home to these angels!

All of this makes me realize anew that I yearn for my heavenly home.

When I turned onto my street, I saw this precious image:
my sweet dad

I yearn for my heavenly homecoming.
To arrive at the gate and be fully embraced. To be in the place where I will know fully and will be fully known. Where all is love and nothing is straining. Where I will be eternally surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, a league of people from the history of all time who have shaped me. To live to praise! To see my Father on heaven's driveway and receive His precious kiss on the forehead.
Lord, come quickly!

But you know? We press on here. We step out of comfort, holding to His unchanging hand. We go into Babylon with news of Zion! We go where He calls, even if it doesn't make sense. And if the journey's hard, we cling to the fact that we're already on our way home. Closer every day, we can breathe more and more because we're almost home.

Praise God.