truth in disguise: my president is black.

This is the image of a t-shirt that was crafted after a song written by "Young Jeezy." President Obama came to visit Texas A&M, and was welcomed by former President George Bush Sr. to hold a lecture on service. Honestly, I think there is no better place President Obama could have come to talk about this, considering A&M is one of the biggest proponents of community service and opportunities for volunteerism. I was disappointed, however, when I saw people wearing these shirts.

God has ordained President Obama to be the leader of our country. I respect and fear God, so I will respect President Obama as my leader as long as he has authority over this country. I have no problems with his race, and would never consider that a setback or advantage to his position. He is a person leading our country. I do have a problem being associated with "racist conservatives" who don't appreciate or applaud his race. I am not racist, nor do I believe that conservatism on a whole promotes racism. After all, for the past 200 years, we have not been wearing t-shirts that say "My President is White."

If you don't want President Obama's race to be a factor, don't make it one. I'm not.


truth in disguise: my favorite song.

I love finding truth in unlikely places. It reminds me of how big God truly is, and how He was here before me and will be here after me. There's a missions poster in my office that reads "Take Jesus to China." I disagree. Jesus is already in China, we should take the knowledge of Him and deeper understanding to China. Jesus is everywhere and in everything, even in places and situations that He seems hidden or even absent.

Unfortunately, this world is full of evil as well. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) But the presence of evil and deception does not necessarily mean the absence of Truth. Jesus permeates all aspects of life - the religious and the secular. We see this with Joseph in Genesis 50:20 when his brothers sold him into slavery: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result..."

All this being said, I'm going to start recording the curious and sometimes strange places from which I glean Truth. It will be my "truth in disguise" collection or series or whatever you would like to call it. The purpose of my findings are not to display theologically sound arguments, because most of the artifacts I find will probably be heretical. The purpose is to see God's Truth everywhere, and to see Jesus working in all things, because He does.

I thought it fitting to begin with my favorite song: Bartender by Dave Matthews Band. I love Dave Matthews. I don't just like him and his music, I love them. (Here's why if you're wondering, posted as a comment to my friend Sarah's wonderful blog.) I love his music for many reasons, and this song is just one of them. I've included the lyrics below and the title is a link to the actual song if you're interested in listening; I highly recommend it.

I love this song because it is raw. It's a gritty picture of a man desperate for love in his life, desiring fondness from his brother, respect from his sister, guidance and discipline from his mother, and answers from his father. It's even more beautiful because the music sings this longing in the deep bass and soulful chords. He talks about how he longs for the wine that set Jesus free. I see this "wine" as a metaphor for life that "set Jesus free after three days in the ground." C.H. Spurgeon describes wine in Scripture as "the symbol of the richest earthly joy." This song speaks of a longing for freedom and rich joy in the best way Dave knows how to talk about it - wine, a rich, earthly joy. And yet it is clear that in the song, he realizes what many do not, that if we seek the wrong things to find freedom, we will surely die. He talks about longing the same wine that "strung Judas from the tree." He begins the song asking the bartender to fill his glass, and progresses by telling the bartender to look and see the "wine that's drinking me." That thing which originally was sought to bring life has turned into something that is controlling and confining him, ultimately to the point of death.

What a beautiful picture of a lost soul, blindly struggling and reaching for something he cannot see and does not know and yet is placing all of his hope in for a chance at freedom and life. I love this picture, because even believers can relate to the longing we have in our souls to be right with Jesus. Paul says in Romans 7:15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." The difference for us, however, is that we know the solution. We know that the "wine" that brings freedom is Jesus Christ. "Your love is better than wine." (Song of Solomon 1:2) His love is better than _______ (insert anything).

I hope that if you've never heard this song, you'll give it a shot. If you have heard it, I hope that when you listen to it now, you'll see Jesus in it. That's what He wants us to do, after all, see Him in everything.

If I go
Before I'm old
Oh, brother of mine
Please don't forget me if I go

Bartender, please
Fill my glass for me
With the wine you gave Jesus that set him free
After three days in the ground

Oh, and if I die
Before my time
Oh, sweet sister of mine
Please don't regret me if I die

Bartender, please
Fill my glass for me
With the wine you gave Jesus that set him free
After three days in the ground

Bartender, please
Fill my glass for me
With the wine you gave Jesus that set him free
After three days in the ground

I'm on bended knees, I pray
Bartender, please

When I was young, I didn't think about it
Now I can't get it out of my mind

I'm on bended knees
Father, please

Oh, and if all this gold
Should steal my soul away
Oh, sweet mother of mine
Please redirect me if this gold

Bartender, you see
The wine that's drinking me
came from the vine that strung Judas from the Devil's tree
His roots deep, deep in the ground

Bartender, you see
The wine that's drinking me
came from the vine that strung Judas from the Devil's tree
his roots deep, deep in the ground,in the ground

I'm on bended knees
Oh, Bartender, please

I'm on bended knees
Father, please

When I was young, I never dreamed about it
Now I just want to run and die

I'm on bended knees
Oh, Bartender, please
Bartender, please



"Life is a long lesson in humility." (James M. Barrie: Scottish dramatist and novelist)

This is so true, or it should be. There's nothing quite like realizing that you're wrong about something, or you've wronged someone. It's hard to hear when you're wrong. I love it when God shows us how small we are, though. I love it about as much as I love being sore after a long run, or having to scrub the toilets, or maybe changing a diaper. (Please note the sarcasm in my tone.)

I don't really love these things, but I love the results: toned legs, clean potties, happy babies. The result of being humbled is seeing the Lord exalted. Wow. Great result. Probably worth feeling small.

I believe what we often forget is that every day of our life, every minute even, should be a lesson in humility. Frankly, we are wrong quite a bit, because we make our lives about ourselves. We think about ourselves; we go about our business; we talk about our problems and joys. It's just not about us.

Micah 6:8 says, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

Walk humbly with your God. Don't just take one "humble step," and don't get to the point where God makes you take a "humble fall," walk humbly, continuously. That's why the quote at the beginning strikes such a chord with me. My life should be a long lesson in humility. If I'm not being reminded by others, I should remind myself daily and by the minute that I am not more important than the Lord, His plans, and His people.


in retrospect, and a little something extra.

I absolutely love the fall. I love it because of what the season represents - a falling away of the old things of the year and a making room for the new. I love it because the weather cools down, and for just a moment (in Texas), the sun is still shining while the breezes blow cool air. Nothing beats the feeling of warmth inside tinged with a cool bite on your skin. I love it because when it rains, like it is now, I can bundle up on the couch listening to the sounds of the raindrops tapping on the window and skipping through the puddles.

I love change. It can be difficult at times, but I love it, and I love the results it brings. Regina Spektor says in one of her songs that "leaves become most beautiful when they're about to die." I love that process.

I think fall provokes a looking back. Reflection. I think just like New Years is important to look forward hopefully and expectantly, fall is vital preparation for this. You can't move ahead without learning where you're coming from.

This spring I wrote my own New Year's Revolution. I had a list of goals to accomplish, so let's see how I did:

1. wake up early
Check. I've been waking up really early recently, but I would say my average wake-up time for this year would be between 6:30 and 7:30. Recently, this time has moved to 5, but I'm finding that Benjamin Franklin was right: "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

2. work out at least 3 times a week
Check. I started doing this consistently in January and kept it up pretty well until now. When I started training for my triathlon in July this became almost daily, and I've continued this training schedule except for a 2 week hiatus which I'll discuss soon.

3. do something active once a day

4. memorize more scripture
....check. I hesitate because this has started in the past few weeks. It's hard for me to discipline myself here, but I'm trying to be faithful because the rewards are great. Psalm 1 says blessed is the man who meditates day and night on the law.

5. run a 1/2 marathon
I still have yet to do this. I did, however, do a triathlon, and am currently training for a marathon. If I complete that, this won't be so important anymore.

6. think on Jesus more
This has happened as a result of other things on this list. More about that in later paragraphs.

7. cook at home more
Check! This has been wonderful, fun, nutritious, etc. I eat simply (no extravagant recipes), but I enjoy spending time with the roommates, trying to get Tiffany to eat veggies with me, and just being at home.

8. write more
I'm still working through this one, but hey! It's still October! I have two more months to the end of the year.

9. read more
Check. Also a recent addition to my schedule, but a change nonetheless.

10. be quiet more
Definitely check. I love the quiet solitude of eating alone and reading, or wandering through a bookstore for two hours by myself. I like running by myself, where all I can hear are my feet hitting the ground.

I don't think we hold ourselves accountable enough. I think we should use the fall to pull out our resolutions/revolutions and see how we're doing. The last part of my resolution was the most important one to me: I wanted to learn discipline and grace, two things that seem opposing. I have been so blessed because the Lord has shown me how it really works.

Discipline leads to an understanding of grace and freedom.

How? Well I stumbled across my answer when I started training myself physically. For four years of college I have been "busy" or so I thought. This summer I had two jobs, took 7 hours, and trained every day. And I wasn't swamped, I still had a social life, and slept 7-8 hours a night. Unbelievable? Maybe. But it's reality for me, everyday.

I have discovered that being disciplined leaves little to no room for ungodliness. I have a hunch that Paul was an athlete on some level. He spoke about physical training so much. One of my favorite passages is in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

"I beat my body." His harsh words almost astonish me, but I understand now. I think we separate the physical and the spiritual aspects of life, and I believe Paul knew that they are not different. Our body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. I think there are differences between spiritual disciplines and physical disciplines, but I have found that one leads to the other in my life. For me, leading a highly disciplined life is key, and I don't feel confined, rather, I feel very free.

The two weeks after my triathlon I stopped training, I ate horrible foods, and I stayed up late because I thought, "Well I'm free now, so I can do what I want." I was miserable. I didn't feel good, I wasn't motivated, my spiritual life suffered because I was lazy with my time, and this list could go on. I realized that I was free when I had a bed-time, when I woke up early, ate healthy food, exercised, and organized my schedule in a reasonable way. My days were full, but I didn't feel busy and I wasn't stressed out. It was amazing to realize that my "strict training" was giving me freedom and joy. This freedom leads me to realize the Lord's presence, make good use of my time, as well as set goals for me to reach.

Who would have thought that freedom comes from discipline? And not the kind of discipline put on me by someone else, and most certainly not the kind of legalism or discipline I place on people around me. That does not bring freedom. It is only the discipline practiced by myself, under the umbrella of Jesus and his word, that brings freedom.

How sweet it is to experience the kind of freedom that grows you and spurs you on.



I'm learning so many things right now that I feel overwhelmed as I come to write! I don't know where to begin, and my thoughts are hardly organized. So these are the skeletons of what I see happening and what God is teaching me.

...the greatest freedom comes from grace and firm, hard discipline...

...the freedom that we have (mentioned above) enables us not to dance close to sin, but it does enable and encourage us to dance close to sinners...

...the Holy Spirit is alive and well in me, or He should be at least, and that provides power in my life; so am I living in such a way that requires the power of the Holy Spirit...

...do I move the heart of God, because scripture says that I can...

...if I talk about what I love, why am I silent when it comes to sharing Jesus with strangers...

These are all things moving around my brain. I expect to go through them one by one in detail. I'd love to hear input on these topics, or if you have one that you'd like to hear my thoughts on first, let me know.