I’ll be honest, I hated watching the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye.  I couldn’t take much of it.bill-nye-ken-ham-debate

It’s not because I don’t believe God created the universe.  He did.

It’s not because Bill Nye is not a childhood hero of mine who helped develop in me a love of science.  He is.

From the moment I learned the debate would be happening, I knew I would not be able to stand it.  I have not been able to stand looking at the torrent of tweets being written in anticipation of it.  Yes, it was probably the strongest show of willpower I have exerted in quite a while to do anything except avert my eyes.

Maybe I failed as a Christian by not cheering my “team.”  Maybe I failed as someone who is supposed to be “informed” about current events.  But I’ll be honest, I think we are all poorer for this debate happening, not richer.  We have not gained deeper knowledge, sounder wisdom, or greater insight.

This is why I wish the debate had never happened.

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I used to think I had to be a bunch of things.

I used to believe I had to emulate a bunch of people.

Like, I had to be like my parents.  Then I had to be like my best friends.  Then I had to be like some famous person.  In college, I wanted to paint like a student whom I admired.  In seminary, I wanted to be able to speak like a pastor I envied.  Then I wanted to teach like my favorite teacher and write like my favorite writer.

And still today, I think we are subtly told that we have to reach certain benchmarks, do certain things, emulate certain people.

And if we do that, we will be…

…successful?

…acceptable?

…admired?

…envied?

The thing about success is that it doesn’t come just from envying the gifts other people have.  It goes beyond emulating our heroes.  We have to accept that we will not teach like that teacher, preach like that preaching, write like that writer, paint like that painter.  (And my God, that’s been a tough lesson for me to learn).

We have to let ourselves become good at being…ourselves.  Whatever it is that makes us…ourselves.  Because trying to be a knock-off version of other people is a lousy way to live.

beagoodone

It is only when we become good at being ourselves that we ever become the objects of inspiration for others.

It’s already been a week since I returned to the States.

I’m still a little jet-lagged and trying to catch up on work and sleep.  And I have a cold.  And I’ve eagerly shared with anyone who asks about Uganda and Rwanda.

Yes, “re-entry” feels like being dropped in a bucket of cold water, and not just because it’s horrendously cold outside.

But wow, there have been some good things going around the blog-world this week.  These were some of my favorites:

Ten Things From Ugandaugandan-selfies

I couldn’t be more glad to see another group of bloggers in Uganda this week.  Emily Freeman is blogging from Uganda and tells us ten things she’s learned.

One Night Stands

Tracee Persiko lays out the fallacy of a “one night stand” approach to relationships.

Everything for a Reason?

Dang it, Zack Hunt, you’ve done it again.  You know how every time something bad happens, we try to comfort one another by saying it happens “for a reason?”  Well, there’s a lot more to reality than that, and Zack does a great job dissecting this old cliche.

Don’t Bother

My friend, Ally Vesterfelt, tells us why it’s no good trying to overcome our weaknesses.  Something I needed to read, big time.

Here’s to the Children

And why does the Kingdom of God belong to the children?  Micah Murray tells us, and it’s really good.

It’s good to be back home, though a piece of my heart is still in Uganda.  Those are few things that fueled me this week.  What about you?

It makes the world go around…offering

It makes empires rise and fall…

It is becoming a perennial topic of discussion within the American church…

It’s money.  Specifically, tithing.

Tithing is kind of a funny thing.  Formerly a non-negotiable for every church-going Christian, it’s gotten a bad rap lately.  Every so often, I’ll read another blog post or Facebook update about the old-fashioned practice of tithing isn’t Biblical, isn’t necessary, isn’t even good.  And the studies show that, whether we say it publicly or not, we just don’t tithe anymore.  Very very few of us still set aside the traditional ten percent of our income for Jesus.

I’m not going to tell you that you must tithe or go to hell.  But I do think the discussion has somehow veered into the weeds and we’ve, once again, missed the point all along.  What if we’ve just been tithing wrong all this time?

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I have not seen that much of the world.

I would not consider myself a world traveler by any stretch of the imagination.

But something occurred to me last week somewhere between Uganda and Rwanda.

I imagine that one of the perks of being an omnipresent God is that He gets to enjoy everything all the time.  God is enjoying every sunset and sunrise (and isn’t the sun always rising and setting?)  He enjoys every mountain, tree, and snowflake.  God sees every crying baby, every couple in love, every tear that falls from every face.  He sees the pain.  He sees the beauty.

And I suppose it is this ability to see everything that must fill God’s heart with such immense love for the world.  How could He not see all of these things all swirled together and feel ambivalent about it?

As I took tiny glimpses of places and people I had never seen, I started to feel more love, more compassion for these people than I had when they were just abstract shapes in my mind.  I always knew there were hungry children in Africa.  I knew there were slums.  But seeing with my own eyes seemed to increase my ability to feel compassion for people.

That’s pretty important for us Americans, who build tall fences and are obsessed with privacy from our neighbors.  We bury our faces in our phones to avoid eye contact with our neighbors.  And maybe it is taking a toll on how we feel about the world, our neighbors.

With God, love is inevitable.  With us, it is not.  We certainly can ignore the world.  We can fear the world.  We can condemn the world.  But then, we are the ones who are poorer for it.

loveworld

I hope if you have the opportunity to see some part of the world, you will allow your heart to love the world a bit more.

And I resolve to love the people I see every day as much as those faraway neighbors.

If you have been following our efforts in Uganda, you know about our infant rescue centers.  If you have not already, please consider contributing to phase two of this extremely important ministry to Uganda’s abandoned children.

They say that patience is a virtue.DSC_3310

I think it’s one of those virtues that isn’t always at the top of our lists.

We like things fast.  We want things now. 

When we order food, we want it promptly so we can gobble it up and move on with our day.

This is my final post from Africa.  I’ll board my plane tonight and head back to America.  America, where we can see new homes and strip malls pop up like weeds.  America, where get annoyed when a friend is late to a meeting or a job takes longer than planned or a text message takes more than a few seconds to reach its destination.

The glacial pace of this earth does not suit our whims and timetables.

And when it comes to problems, we want the solutions now.  We wonder what is taking so long.  We complain because there is still poverty, there is still corruption, there is still evil in the world, and we want the job to be done today.

But what I have seen in Uganda and Rwanda is that if we want to be a part of the solution, we have to be willing to not even see the fruits of our labor.  Because it takes a very long time for the fruit to grow.

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