A Letter from a CL

I printed this letter off and gave it to my thirty residents a couple of months ago. I wrote it for them but I’m sharing it because I think it applies just as much to you and me today as it does to any college freshman. We need to take our insecurities, lay them at the foot of the cross, and dwell on His sufficient grace every single day. Love-of-Christ

To my residents,

You’re just over two weeks into what will probably be the most important year of your life. I don’t mean to exaggerate. This is the year that you are going to answer the questions that matter. You won’t figure out all of the specifics such as what you want to do with your life or whom you’ll marry, but you’ll answer the big questions, the ones that you really can’t avoid like Who are you? Why are you here? Do you belong?

And then there’s one question that seems to come before all those ones. You’ll be trying to answer it in every classroom, at every rush event, and on every date. To get into the group or get the A or get the girl, do you have what it takes?

During my freshman year, I couldn’t go to the gym or the dining hall or even Church without feeling the need to look good or come off as funny or be liked. I was trying to prove to others that I mattered and I belonged and I had what it takes. And a lot of times it worked. The guys laughed at my jokes, the girl texted back, and the rush chair told me I was in. A big part of me lived for the approval of others, for people saying “hey you’re smart” or “hey you’re cute” or even “Hey you really love Jesus.” I looked to people around me to determine my value and my worth. But here was the problem. No matter what they said or how much I succeeded in winning their approval, trying to find my identity in girls or groups or grades left me empty. Finally I quit. I quit asking people around me if I had what it takes. The only person who could answer that question was my Creator.

So I asked the question to God. Do I have what it takes? Here’s what He said:

Vince, you’re messy and sinful and broken and you spend your days trying to hide that from everybody you know. But here’s what I want you to know. My Son took care of it. He came to Earth, lived the perfect life you never could, hung on a cross for your sins, and rose again. You don’t have what it takes, not even close. But He did. And I want you. I want your heart. I want you to find your identity in me. I’ll cover your sins and clean up your messes. Just come follow me.

And here’s the deal. I didn’t have a vision. I didn’t hear this from some big booming voice in the sky. God told me this through an incredible Church that preaches Jesus every week. He told me through friends who loved me enough to point me to Jesus when I would try to find my identity in them. And He told me through the Bible, His love letter to you and me.

So here’s what I’ll leave you with. First off, know that I’m here for you. I’m living here because I love you guys and want to see you become who God made you to be. If you ever want to talk, you know where my door is. Second, I think that what Jesus has done for us changes EVERYTHING about the question of “Do I have what it takes?” Learn from my mistake, Don’t look to others to determine your worth. Look to our God. His grace is sufficient.

Your CL,

Vince

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Nashville Nights

This past weekend, I went to Tennessee with my buddies Bill, Carter, and Spencer.IMG_3075

We went to a conference put on by Donald Miller, one of our favorite authors. The conference was called Storyline. It was all about our story inside of God’s cosmic story; what makes a story compelling, meaningful, and big.

At a stoplight later that night, I motioned for the pretty girl next to us to roll down her window. It was time to give this “big story” thing a shot. “Are you from Nashville?” I asked. “No,” she replied. “Do you go to school here?” I asked. “Yeah,” she replied. “We’re trying to make friends,” I said. “Oh cool! Well, I’m going to pick up my friend at a concert.”  “Alright, we’ll follow you!” The light turns green and Spencer shifts lanes to follow her.

We almost lost her car twice, but we finally pulled up behind her at Cannery Row, Nashville’s famous music street. We bonded over her Texas license plate and a few mutual friends back home, and then met her friend. Bill tried a couple of his really lame Tennessee pick-up lines, and then we followed them back to Belmont’s campus for a tour of campus. We found out that they were both songwriting majors, aspiring musicians, and incredibly cool people. Before we went back to our place, Carter made them promise to play for us the next night.


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The next night, we strolled past the front desk and made a beeline for the elevators. Our thrift store outfits garnered some attention from bellhops in tuxedoes but no one stopped us. The elevator doors opened up to the fourth floor. We found a rooftop lounge that looks out over the hills of Nashville and sunk into comfy, oversized deck chairs. The Hotel Omni, which opened this Fall, was the perfect setting for the perfect backdrop for our big story night.

Our new friends brought a guitar, some of their other friends, and a shaker for some percussion. They passed around the guitar for hours up on the roof. Somebody would sing a song and others would join in and harmonize. The city went to sleep, but our friends kept making music. We ended the night by singing praises to our God together. Worship with new friends overlooking a beautiful city capped off an incredible weekend.IMG_3085

One of Don’s questions from this weekend keeps running through my mind on this cold, rainy October day.

How would our story look different if we were less concerned with being careful?

The definition of careful is making sure of avoiding potential danger, mishap, or harm; cautious.

Christ’s love for us isn’t careful. Neither was the cross.

Put careful aside and take risks staked on love today. 

Oh, and make a friend at a stoplight today. They might secretly be really awesome. Here’s a link to the music of one of our new friends. http://www.noisetrade.com/kel