Doubt Your Doubts

You’ve got to see this video. A powerful shot of faith, straight to the heart. That is all.

Why We Might Not Want to Live Without Suffering

The other day, I learned the physiological mechanics of a mosquito bite.

Yee-haw.

Some of you might have seen the same animated video that I did as it makes the rounds on Facebook. I learned that it’s really all about the mosquito’s saliva (ick) – it acts as both an anesthetic and anticoagulant, allowing the female to get the blood she needs (what a wonderful provider God is!….I think…).

Then the video concluded with an interesting point: the actual swelling and itching of a mosquito bite isn’t directly caused by the saliva. It’s caused by the body’s immune  response to the bite. The saliva is an allergen, which triggers antibodies to attack the foreign intrusion, and that causes the swelling and itching we’re all familiar with as we writhe around upon the grassy ground, scratching like gangbusters.

I was reminded of other bodily responses. A lot of symptoms we experience to various problems aren’t actually caused by the problem: they’re the result of our body fighting the virus or the infection or whatever.

We would not want to live without physical pain.

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Maybe This Year?

14264163_10154519656294695_4557267216967126051_n (1).jpgThe time has come.

My Seattle Seahawks are again marching forward to war.

Every year, we go through this. We microanalyze the meaningless preseason games, discuss the September cutdowns to death, scrutinize every bit of offseason literature coming out of the city media, all in pursuit of one haunting question…do the Seahawks have a chance this year?

And every year, we Christians think about “that thing”. That breakthrough or victory or miracle or answer to prayer that we’re hoping for.

Maybe this will be the year that chronic illness finally goes into remission. The year you get out of debt. The year you get engaged. The year that gripping sin on your spouse finally gives way. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to see; you’re just hoping things will “get better” somehow.

Steven Furtick has a sermon called “Don’t Stop on Six”. It’s one of my favorites. The reference is to how the Israelites were commanded to march around Jericho seven times before releasing a shout, and how they would have missed the miracle had they stopped on the sixth lap. I love an inspirational sermon every once in a while, and “Don’t Stop on Six” is one of my favorites.

And yet…it makes me uneasy.

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Life at High Spiritual Altitudes

high(Forgive me if this sounds like Amateur Hour Confessions – that’s pretty much exactly what we are.)

My friend and I completed a 35-mile backpacking trip near our home a couple weeks ago, and the one thing I couldn’t get out of my head was how present God was during the whole thing.

It’s not just about seeing his majesty in creation, either (though there was oodles of that – and no, we didn’t get any pictures, evil teases that we are).

When we’re down in the valley, life is a blur. The cushion of first-world existence surrounds us. Our social structures and bank accounts shield us from pain. Though we acknowledge these as gifts from God, his fortuitous presence in these blessings doesn’t exactly jump out at us. It’s harder to see the flashing neon “I DID THIS! – God” sign on those things. Crediting him must be done more intentionally, out of a knowledge of Scripture (James 1:17). Although, to be sure, James seems to think it a sin if we don’t.

But when you’re on the trail, you live hour by hour. And his hand is much more obvious.

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Pizza Lessons #5: Down the Barrel of the Gun

pizza4Every once in a while, on a pizza run, I’ll catch a glimpse of a future that worries me.

It’ll be some older male customer who’s living alone, in a tiny, isolated trailer way out on the edge of our delivery range, without a vehicle to his name. Some of these guys have a way of sharing a bit much about their lives, so I know they aren’t getting any visits from people. Just alone, filling their later years with television. Some of them by choice, some of them because of past choices.

I’ll just be real vulnerable for a second: that’s a future I’m afraid of.

I often worry about ending my life alone and broke, driving people away through advanced curmudgeonry. It sounds like overthinking, but my personality does tend that direction, and I worry about it a bit. I’m putting quite a bit of effort these days into avoiding that future.

Now, your typical response might be, don’t worry, Brandon. That won’t happen.

But maybe there’s an even better response.

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Pizza Lessons #2: You Never Know

pizza1One of the fun parts of my second job (pizza delivery) is that you never know where the good tips will come from.

Our dispatch system works on a rotating basis. The next driver up “clocks out” on the oldest run available once it’s ready, plus a second run (a “double”) if it’s in the same area and if it won’t be too long a wait for the second order’s items to be ready themselves.

Most of the time, we have no way of knowing how much a customer plans to tip when we clock out on that run. Even with the online credit card orders in which the customer has pre-loaded a tip when they first order, the dispatch system doesn’t show it, and digging deeper into our system to view the tip would be impractical given all the other stuff we’re scrambling to do. One could do it, but so far, the honor system has worked for us. Even when we recognize an address and know they tip poorly, we take the run for the sake of avoiding workplace drama.

In this way, pizza delivery is almost a form of morally acceptable gambling! It’s a lot of fun. You don’t know whether each “pull of the lever” will stiff you or bequeath a ten-dollar jackpot of a tip, but since you’re putting in work and earning a wage regardless, it’s hardly sinful. (I know – that’s because it’s technically not gambling at all. But you get the same slight rush.)

Nevertheless, occasionally we get a driver who tries to game the system.

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It’s Okay to Admit that Losing Friends Hurts

friendsLosing friends hurts.

Sometimes I think that if all the energy we pour into avoiding that fact were spent elsewhere, we’d have cured world hunger by now.

The memes clutter our feeds.

“We never lose real friends, only fake ones.”

“Those who can’t handle your worst, don’t deserve your best.”

“Be yourself and the right people will gravitate towards you.”

“If they didn’t stay, they were never meant to.”

And today I found myself wondering…Who are we trying to convince?

Over the years, I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost them because someone moved. I’ve lost them because they got “too busy to call”. I’ve lost them because they married. I’ve lost them because they got married and wanted to stay friends but were female, and it was no longer appropriate. I’ve lost them because they forsook God and all the awkwardness that causes in the coffeeshop (I should have fought harder for those). I’ve lost friends simply because one of us changed, or revealed their darker side, and the other decided they didn’t like what they saw.

I’m no special case. Life winnows things away, and friends are no exception. It’s left me with a small but committed group of close friends I know I can count on, no matter how many the miles and misunderstandings. We’re in it for the long haul. I want to hurl myself into a lake with joy when I think of those people.

And sure, some people are best left in the past.

But…

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