This morning, I read the Omaha World-Herald and the New York Times, but I skipped most of the stories about politics. I suspect that I felt today like what I will feel on my twenty-first birthday: I'll finally be able to do something, but I'll have no desire whatsoever to binge. The political world seems much more dull than it ever did, and I am reminded of that song: "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."
Pray for me that I don't enslave myself again to American politics: "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)
Second, I want to answer a few of the comments posted where I announced that I was going on the conference:
- Yes, I want to become a pastor of some sort; I feel extremely led to preach (and have been blessed to have been given opportunities to do it a couple times at my college ministry).
- What I think about Willow Creek is something that I may take up in a future post. My impression was largely favorable, but I feel I need more time to reflect on the church as a whole before I write something one way or another.
Those things taken care of, I mainly want to write about something that has seemingly been coming up in various aspects of my life, and was one of the main ideas of the conference: the idea of striving for excellence in what we are called to do.
I personally have been a little hesitant to want to be a great preacher because there seems to be something egocentric about that. I now have a slightly different approach to this idea: a desire for people to think that I am a great preacher is egocentric; a desire to be the preacher God wants me to be (which entails my striving for the upper boundaries of the abilities He has given me) is not egocentric, but fulfilling my calling. In the Bible, Paul exhorts Timothy to be devoted to growing in his preaching because the salvation of people is at stake therein, for preaching is proclaiming the Word of God.
Also, I have been starting to read Rick Howard's and Jamie Lash's This was your Life, which deals with the Judgment Seat of Christ (see also Hebrews 6 on this subject), where believers will be asked to give an account of what they have built on the foundation of their salvation through Christ. The book challenges Christians to bust their butts for Christ here on earth--not for salvation (that is completely accomplished through faith in Jesus Christ by grace), but to accomplish the work for which God saved us to enable us to do.
So, what have I learned? First of all, I really see the great need in my life to be disciplined. I have struggled this entire semester with procrastination. Although I have finished all the work I needed to, I have been crippled from accomplishing more than the bare minimum to do well in my classes, which barely covers the sort of ministry God has called me to right now. Thus, I am shortchanging myself, those with whom I interact, and God (although I'm not quite sure if it is possible to shortchange the self-sustaining God of the universe, but I'm sure that you know what I mean). So, without becoming a workaholic, I am trying to manage my time a little bit better (which has gone pretty well this week--we'll see about next week).
Second, I have had to repent of a certain fatalistic outlook where I have not worked as hard as I could, thinking that God will still accomplish what He wants to accomplish no matter what I do, which coincidentally (or is it?) is a point about which D.A. Carson wrote in today's reading in For the Love of God, Vol. 2 in regard to Daniel 9:
When Daniel becomes aware from Scripture just when the close of the exile would take place, far from resting and waiting for the promises to come true, he prays for such fulfillment. The peculiar dynamic between God's sovereignty and human responsibility in the Bible never retreats to fatalism. The promises of God are incentives to intercession.
That's probably enough for now, but I'll keep you posted on what God is teaching me about all of this.
That's pretty much all there is to it, except to say that I don't think that I will ever again reveal for whom I vote. In the midst of my political fast, it was somewhat difficult to make an informed decision, but I prayed that God would guide me and that he would bless the election. That doesn't mean that we will have a Super Christian in every office; in fact, when Paul is writing about obeying authority, he's writing under the Emperor Nero, who was not exactly one of the most Christian rulers to walk the earth. Thus, no matter who wins the various offices up for elections, I will submit to those people, knowing that God has a reason for everything he orchestrates.
This is so much better than completely fretting about what's going to happen like I did in 2000! Now, back to Hamlet, so that I can really learn to have faith in the government!
Still, these pieces of journalism suffered because of a lack of news. There simply isn't much to report in a town of only 1000 people (other than gossip of course). I am far more likely to give Chappell a pass than I am for a national publication, such as Wired News, in whom I was disappointed for this story, which actually wasted the hard drive space on some server on the internet with a story about how some iPod users don't want to wear the distinctive white earbud headphones because of their self-asserted "individuality" (never mind the fact that there are lots of them doing this). Granted, this may be a cultural phenomenon, but I simply do not see any relevance to anything here.
This may, of course, be because I do not own an iPod and am not part of the Cult of the Mac. Any thoughts, Andrew (who trendily owns both an iPod and an iBook, and has even sold his blog's soul to iTunes)? What about you, Christy (who owns the iPod and iBook, and is thinking about selling her blog's soul to iTunes).
Christy reminded me that Chris also has both an iPod and an iBook. Sorry Chris! You can feel free to comment too (but it would be great it you got an account)!
This determination goes back to my days of Middle School. I remember that after Nebraska got shut out by Arizona State in 1996--this coming after going undefeated 1994 and 1995 and only having lost once in 1993's season--I decided that I needed one more day of mourning that next Monday, and I didn't wear my Husker shirt to school. About third period that day, one of my teachers walked into my class, looked around the room, and bought the two kids who were wearing Husker shirts a can of juice. He did it to teach us that we should stick behind our team no matter what happens.
Although at the time I was mainly kicking myself for missing out on a free juice, I came to realize that I must stick behind my Huskers even if they go 3-8 on the season (which is a possibility this year). If Cubs fans can root for their losing team year after year, I can do it for my Huskers who have had three national championships within the last decade.
So, I'm proudly wearing my Husker shirt today. My Husker posters will stay right where they are on my walls in my room. I will still be on constant look-out for any Husker football players I might recognize on campus. I will go to all the games I can, and I will lose my voice at every game, if necessary. One day we will be a great team again; one day we will win the national championship; one day we will again be able to mop the floor with the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech. Until that day comes, nothing will change in my support of our team. I just might get good at crying.