Dear Pops

Dear Pops,

It seems only appropriate that I thank you through the medium that you check so faithfully. Reading this blog and encouraging and advising me is just one of many ways that you love me.

And I don’t just say many ways because it sounds nice. I say many ways because there are so many ways, from encouragements texts to vacations to conversations over coffee, that you communicate love to, Miles, Anna, and I.

At nineteen, I have only a partial grasp of what that love means. But in this case, that partial grasp means a lot. It means that when I read my Bible, when I sing a hymn, when I say a prayer and I find myself reading, singing, or praying the words God and Father next to each other, I can grasp that. I can grasp that God is like a father because my father loves his kids.

You don’t just say it, although you do say it. Just about every time I see you, I hear those three words. But you also show it. Verbs describe you better than adjectives do. Serving, giving, sacrificing, smiling, caring, asking, and ultimately loving, those describe you. You and I talk all the time about how love is a verb. And while we probably got that maxim from a book, we both learned it because Love came down. We learned it from our God who sent His Son, Love Himself, to die for us, to conquer sin and death, and to rise again victoriously.

That brings me to the last thing that you do for me, something that is so necessary for your love to be complete. Your love is a humble love. You don’t take credit. The Bible uses the metaphor of light to describe love. You taught me that you’re just a mirror, that you can only love because God first loved you. You taught me that you don’t create or define or invent love; you just reflect it.

And that’s so important. It’s so important that you didn’t set yourself up as the source of light but as a reflection. Because if I lived my life for you, if I worshipped you instead of God, if I scored touchdowns or got good grades or wrote great posts for you, I’d be disappointed because you’re a redeemed sinner that God has rescued just like me. But you taught me that you’re a mirror and that God is the source of the light, of the love.

So it’s Father’s day, a day for saying thanks.

Thanks for being a great dad and for loving me.

More than that, I join you in worshipping our God, because He made us mirrors and gave you and me light to reflect.

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We love because He first loved us – 1 John 4:19

Twelve Things I Learned at Baylor

I’m not one for lists, but this one I have to share. I scribbled these down in my hammock on one of the first days of the summer. They are oversimplifications and I could write pages on each of them, but sometimes less is more.

1. There is no foundation for relationships other than Jesus: only from the context of His love and grace are we able to show love and grace to each other.

2. Everything I have in Christ and everything I am in Christ is complete and absolute gift: if what I have and what I am has been given to me, I should humbly, graciously, and generously.

3. Every conversation is an opportunity to enter somebody else’s world and love them: this opportunity is only capitalized on through time and intentionality.

4. My pride has been, is, and  will always be the biggest obstacle to me loving God and others: it disappears only when I take it to Jesus. I follow a humble savior who had every reason to be prideful and yet never was.

5. We miss out when we don’t engage the poor and marginalized: God is at work in the projects, under bridges, etc. The people in these places have so much to teach us.

6. My chains are gone: the truth of the Gospel is that Jesus hasn’t just covered my sin but has freed me from it. This does not mean I will not sin; it means that I should never view my sin as inevitable or acceptable.

7. The Church is diverse: Christian community is made or broken by the amount of grace that we are able to show each other through doctrinal or stylistic differences while pointing each other back to our Savior.

8. Structure and alarm clocks and deadlines are blessings, not burdens: meaningful work is something that a lot of people don’t have. It’s worth waking up for.

9. Love for others is not one-size-fits-all: it looks different for different people. It is both more simple than we want to admit and more complex than we realize.

10. Normalcy is not a virtue: life in Christ is anything but ordinary. Christ calls us to live differently.

11. My occupation is worship: More than I am a doer or a dreamer or a lover, I am a worshipper. The highlights of a year full of crazy adventures were times of worship.

12. The Cross changes everything: I cling to my Savior above all else.

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P.S. I’d love if you’d share in the comments section something that God taught you this last year.