Heard at Café: 9/23/14

Think of a time when you've gotten what you deserved? Did you like it or not? What if you were given the choice to only get what you deserve or to get nothing that you deserved? What would you choose? What kind of world do you think we live in, the first or the latter? How do you view the world: that people get the things they deserve or no? What about yourself? This week at Cafe we looked again at the book from the bible--John--chapter 9. It talks about this guy who was born blind. The people who were following Jesus around ask Jesus why this guy is blind. They ask, is it something he did or something his parents did? These people viewed the world through a 'you-get-only-what-you-deserve' world, a world of karma. Jesus says, well, none of the above. He says that's not important; he's says the important thing is God gets to show up and work with that. What's important is that we don't get what we deserve, that God wants to give us so much more. He and we call it grace. So often we want the 'why' of the situations around us, and its like God is saying to us that's not what's important. It's not why your mom has cancer, or why you struggle with anxiety, or why you don't like yourself, but rather that God can use those situations to display the most powerful force in the world: grace. God is saying there's this thing that is good, and you get it regardless: grace. He tells the people following him around to let go of this karma idea, and grab hold of grace--because it is good. Let go of low self-esteem, insecurity, guilt, shame, maybe these things we feel like we deserve; instead, grab freedom. There's hope for better, to not be defined by those things, because of this other thing: grace.

“…It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma…You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics – in physical laws – every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “As you reap, so will you sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff...I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep [crap]. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my [crap] and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.” -Bono

Heard at Café: 9/16/14

Trust. That's a heavy word. When we start out in this thing we lovingly refer to as life, we trust so easily, don't we? (Most) little kids will trust anyone. They believe everyone wants the best for them. Why don't we? Are we so jaded that we feel that's not a negative way to be; do we feel like no one should be trusted? That being closed off is the smartest way to live. What happens along the way to make us feel like the people around us aren't worth trusting? We've been broken; we've been burned by people. Who do we really trust, if anyone? What about God? Do you trust him? Do you think he's worth trusting? Do you think he even exists? At Cafe, 'tag line' we go back to talks about connecting life and faith. But when we talk about having faith in God, or faith in anyone, what does that look like? Does that relate to trust or belief? This week we talked about a story from a book in the Bible called John. It's about a man who was born blind, and he trusted Jesus to heal him. He didn't know Jesus before, but here's what Jesus did. He spit in the dirt, made some mud, and put it on the blind man's eyes. Then he told him to go wash it off. And the guy was healed. He didn't believe anything about Jesus until later in the story, but he choose to trust this guy who promised him sight. He took the baby step, if you will, to go and wash. Maybe that what God wants from us, for us to be involved with him. To go take the baby steps. To choose to trust. Even when we don't believe. Maybe that's what faith is: choosing to trust. Maybe he doesn't want solid belief, but he wants us to trust him above everything else. What do you trust in more than God? Anything? Everything? Money? Intellect? Logic? Do we trust that God might be bigger than our disbelief, questions, doubts? Could faith be so much bigger than all of that? And if you can choose to trust amidst disbelief and confusion and doubt, maybe that means you can choose faith amidst those things, too.

"Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation." -D. Elton Trueblood

Heard at Café: 9/9/14

Yesterday at Cafe, we talked about this idea of home. Hold on, wait a second, don't move on just yet. Home can have a lot of different meanings for a lot of different people, and a lot of the time it doesn't look how we want it to. It's okay; we can all relate to that. If you will, take a second to think about what you consider home to be. What is home for you? Where is home? Who is home? What do you want to be different about your home ten years down the road than the one you grew up in? We're not talking about the color of the bathroom tiles or marble countertops or even bay windows. We're talking about a home. Maya Angelou describes it like this: "... a safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." We're talking about relationships, people, family. What causes you to feel like you don't have a home? We live in a world of broken families and broken relationships. What is missing from the relationships you have that make them not feel like a safe place? What makes you not feel secure? What makes you feel 'homeless'? To you, is Jesus or God someone who makes you feel at home? Does that make any sense to you or is that a totally foreign concept? We talked yesterday about how Jesus is inviting us to be part of his family, that he offers a place where we can go and always belong. Jesus offers us what so many of us lack--a mended family that feels safe. But how do we do that? How do we be a part of that? Maybe it's just having an inclusive attitude. We've all felt the sting of exclusion. Let's let that motivate us to not be that for other people. What are other ways we can be a part of this God sized family? This week, and even this semester, let's think on that.

“Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.” -Shauna Niequist

Heard at Café: 9/2/14

Yesterday at Cafe, we talked about 'the means'. What do I mean by that exactly? I mean how you accomplish a task. Do you talk to long road, or do you take the quickest route? We talked about whether we think it's about the journey or about the end goal. At one point the question was posed, if Georgia Tech told you they would hand you your degree now, no strings attached, no more class, no homework... would you take it? In a world of instant everything, it might seem hard to pass up. Do you think there's any advantage to that? Disadvantage? We also talked a bit about Jesus and what he thought about all of this. This one time, Jesus was out in the desert being tempted--being tempted to take the shortcut, the quick way out of his purpose here on earth. But he didn't take it. He took the long road, that led to the cross. We think maybe he took the long road for a reason, because for him it was about something more that finishing the drill. We think maybe he took the long road because he was thinking about you and me, and everybody else. So that's something to ponder this week. What're your opinions on that? Do you agree, disagree, or does that not make any sense? What do you think it looks like to take the long road as a student of Georgia Tech? Is there any beauty in the journey. Just something to think about.

"I've learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while climbing it." -Andy Rooney