Return Greetings

I received an email from my friend Paul today. Paul is a nearly-done-with-school probational minister in the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church, one of my role models in this journey, and an all-around nice guy.

We look to role models as we go along in our lives. We need them; we need a standard to live our lives against.

That is, perhaps, the greatest argument for sending down one perfect man to live in this world. Too bad far too few of us saw Him before the Resurrection, but I’d still say He’s had quite an effect, wouldn’t you?

Why

Luke 12:8: I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.

I have been called to acknowledge the faith I live. I cannot escape that, and after some time–oh, I don’t know, just over four years–I don’t want to escape it any longer. I want to live it, because living it is easier than escaping it. Of that I am sure. Living it will be hard–so it was for the saints, so it is for the modern-day spreaders of the word. But living with it is easier than avoiding it. I’ve done that too long.

The layout now done, the graphics unashamedly begged, the templates lovingly built, the software installed …

… the time to write is now.

Warnings and Encouragements

…or at least that’s what my copy of The Student Bible calls the passage I just read.

I have this habit of opening the Good Book to just any random page when I need something. Tonight, I need something. What, I don’t really quite know, so I opened up the Good Book like I’ve done so many times before.

I opened to Luke 12, specifically verses 1-12. [Linked for your comfort; I’ll be quoting as I see fit.]

Here’s what hit me first:

3: What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

I’m an amateur politician. I like to play games, dink with subtleties, dodge with verbal repartee. I do less of that here, because I feel like I do a good job of letting you peer into my soul. Heck, as soon as I get my bloody computer to like a bloody video card, you’ll see my ugly mug on a Web cam. [Kudos to Aaron for the courage to do that, or maybe it’s the shame … but he’s probably laughing either way.]

But one place I tend to keep people away from, for whatever reason, is my faith issues. Sure, you find entries littered throughout IJSM where I talk about my faith, what it means to me, what my calling is, etc. But I don’t want IJSM to be just about that–because there’s more to me than just that, even though, at this point, it’s the driving point, my raison d’etre, my sole point for living and being happy and such. IJSM is more for me to be as wacky as I normally am, as my friends and family know me to be. And so it shall remain.

But some of you have noticed my … reticence to discuss such things. You know who you are, folks. But two people in particular have pushed me to the point where I currently am, and it’s funny–both are in search of a faith to call their own. One pushed me by saying that she’d even contribute a site design for it. That tickled me to no end; I’m decent with the code, but yeesh, my pages end up looking like crap. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, and I’ve always known that. -g-

So, ImperfectMirror.org has been registered, and it will be up soon. Why?

8: I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.

I have been called to acknowledge the faith I live. I cannot escape that, and after some time–oh, I don’t know, just over four years–I don’t want to escape it any longer. I want to live it, because living it is easier than escaping it. Of that I am sure. Living it will be hard–so it was for the saints, so it is for the modern-day spreaders of the word. But living with it is easier than avoiding it. I’ve done that too long.

It’s time for the glib talk to go away, and the straight talk to come. That’s what IM will be for me, even though it’s necessarily imperfect, because its creator is. Hopefully, I won’t screw up too often. But it’ll all be there, written down–the progression of how you get from where I am to where I will eventually be. I don’t know the start date for sure and certain–I have to get the design worked on with my friend–and I certainly don’t know the end date, but the journey will, hopefully, be worth the view.

Oh, and what will I say? Well, when I was talking with Aaron the other night, I remembered a time when I spoke in front of a crowd at MissionFest, probably in 1996 or so. I don’t quite remember, but thinking on it, it had to be that year. Anyway, I spoke for, oh, I don’t know, fifteen minutes. The crowd was elated when I was done, and I think it was for more than the fact that I finally decided to shut my trap.

I pulled up a pew next to Big Ed, one of my youth pastors, who smiled and hugged me around the shoulders. “Good job, son,” he said. “Big Ed? What did I just say?” He just smiled.

To this day, I don’t know what I said.

11-12:When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.

Yep. Sums it up nicely.

Good night. I must return to the workforce tomorrow, and my earliest of the five alarms [two on one clock, two on another, and the TV turning on] is a scant 270 minutes from now. Harsh, yes, but I’ve gotten enough sleep this week to merit the early start.

Contact

This is both the easiest and hardest entry that I’ve written for IJSM. But as noted a week or so ago, I had direct contact with God four years ago on this date. Even more interestingly, I had a similar experience of being acutely aware of God’s presence last night. Because of both of those irrevocably life-changing experiences, this entry sees life in the ethereal pages of IJSM.

First, let’s go back four years. It was a Thursday night at Mission Fest, inside the sanctuary of Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church in Jackson, Miss. My friend Paul [yes, a lot has happened with Paul, whom I see a sum total of 10 days a year if I’m lucky, but I expect this to change now] and I were sitting in the back, watching over the sound board for the guitarist that was playing in the worship service we were having. Understand that sitting at sound boards is something that I do often at church, so it wasn’t unusual for me. I was really not paying the guitarist much attention; I was letting my mind drift.

To go back a couple years, I remember a lazy summer Sunday morning when I was working a sound board at my old church in Forest, Miss. Like most churches these days, we had a wireless microphone. Unfortunately, our frequency was too close to a trucker’s CB freq, and we heard some rather choice words before I woke up and muted out the preacher for a few seconds–long enough to put headphones in on that channel, monitor it, and realize the trucker was gone. So interruptions on the sound system were normal to me.

Flip back to that fateful Thursday night. I’m sitting there when I hear a crackle, then, “You know what you must do.”

That was it–in, out, probably three seconds long. “You know what you must do.”

Being the good sound tech I am, I freaked. I started looking around the board to see what was wrong. I positioned my finger above the mute switch for the guitarist’s wireless microphone…but wait, it was corded, wasn’t it? I looked all over the board–nothing wireless. Odd, these days.

I looked over at Paul. He hadn’t moved. It was a typical Mission Fest Thursday night–you’re full of God and completely devoid of any other energy, and you’re running on faith, gumption, adrenaline, and the obscene amounts of caffeine required to make it through a week of Mission Fest. Usually, you’re tired but jumpy as all get-out. I figured, “Surely, if that was something over the sound system, Paul would have heard it.” I don’t remember whether I asked Paul then or later, but he didn’t hear what I had heard.

I relaxed in my chair. Over the next half-hour, I examined everything it could have been while going through the motions of worship. In that time, I eliminated every possibility but one: God speaking directly to me.

“Why me? And I don’t know what ‘I must do’! Come on, God, you gotta gimme a little more than that!” was my general reaction.

After we filed out of the sanctuary to go have our traditionaly Mission Fest dance hour [I hate to dance], I grabbed Paul by the elbow and said, “Paul, I gotta talk to you.” Paul shrugged, and we walked to one of the fellowship rooms off of Galloway’s main fellowship hall. I told Paul what had just happened. He affirmed what I was thinking–I think God, having inspired him to accept a calling long ago, was able to work through him to convince me that yes, indeed, I had been called. He and I talked for a while, and unfortunately, the entire conversation is one I don’t much remember.

I don’t much remember that night after that, really, because I positively glowed in the reflection of God. That sounds all hokey, but when my friend Jessie grabbed me to dance, she asked me, “What’s with you, Geof? You can’t stop smiling.” I told her, and she hugged me as ferociously as any six-foot, 110-pound soaking wet girl can hug a guy my size. [Jerrod Partridge, you are one lucky man to have married that girl.]

So that’s the story of four years ago. Thinking on it, I’m going to stop it here, and continue this story tomorrow. I need more time to reflect on last night’s events, as well as those of the last four years. But I will revisit this topic tomorrow.

Evangelism v. Religion “For Show”

The Supreme Court ruled that a club in New York State could hold meetings on school grounds after hours. The club, as you might imagine from the headline, is of a religious nature–specifically, it is a non-demoniational Christian prayer group. I’m conflicted slightly about this, but I think SCOTUS ruled correctly.
Continue reading Evangelism v. Religion “For Show”