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Monday, January 31, 2011

What's Love Got to Do With It? : Love 101

For all the things that college actually teaches you and equips you to learn, it simply cannot tell you about love. Now, you may learn about love at college by accident, but college in of itself is not prepared for such a momentous and sagacious task.

Wouldn't it have been nice though?

What would such a class look like? Who would teach it? Who would be qualified to teach it?

Is there anyone who is qualified? No, not one.

However, the Scriptures have a little bit to say about love; other than the kingdom of God, it is the most dominate theme in Scripture. The Apostle John writes in I John 4:16 that, God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. Clearly, if we wish to learn about love, we simply look to God, but who can show us God?

The Apostle Paul, in Colossians 1:19, commends to us that, in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. Who is the “him” Paul is referring to? Previously in Colossians 1:13 we see that, he (meaning God) has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. So, then the fullness of God is found in the “beloved Son,” who is the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is almost Valentine’s Day again, the time of year where everyone gets all romantic and conjures up the warm fuzzies for that special someone. Most of what we celebrate and what this holiday represents is decidedly not love. Romance is only the initial and a relatively minor part of love (though romance in of itself is certainly not bad). Love is so much more than the weak feelings and ridiculous lack of self control we associate with it. Love is found only in relationship and communion with Jesus Christ.

What is Love?

Love finds its source in God.

Jesus states in John 15:9, that as the Father has loved me (Jesus), so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If love finds its definition in God, then naturally it must come from God. Human “love” is simply companionship, familial ties, or some other network of mutual existence; human love is based on one’s disposition toward me. However, God’s love is capable of showing compassion and service toward those who hate me or could care less about me. We simply cannot love like that; it is a love that comes only from God and Jesus personified this kind of love while on earth.

We need to abide in Christ’s love, meaning we need to be constantly filled with the love of Christ through the Gospel. We need to remember that our sins are forgiven and that God’s grace has the power to take our wretched lives and make them something great and beautiful. Christ is glorious in both his death and his resurrection; this is the power of the Gospel.

To be continued.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Cross and the Flag: Republicans are PCs and Democrats are Trying to be Macs

There is something to be said for the political landscape in America; the old world of the 1950s - early 1990s has completely faded into the background and the 21st century has ushered in a completely new society with all sorts of new issues at stake.

One party understands that and is trying to adjust with the times, while the other party wants to pretend that the 1990s never ended; that the world is still the same.

Mind you, I am not a Liberal Democrat, but I am also not a Conservative Republican; I am an independent voter and thinker and so this is not a biased “haha, my party is better!”

What I got from listening to President Barack Obama’s speech last night (besides the insanely optimistic progressive rhetoric) was the President, though he has been somewhat of an enigma since taking office, wants to be conciliatory and has some actual good ideas. It at least appears to me to he is trying to get some sort of intellectual discussion going on the Hill.

It is also very clear that the Republicans want to act like the Constitution is the Bible and does not need to be constantly updated and evaluated to meet the needs of our citizenry. Instead of being willing to try some new ideas and to give us some sort of direction, the GOP has decided to emphasize the “o” which stands now, not for “ole,” but for “old.” They do not want innovation; they want the same old Conservative agenda that favors corporations and people who make over 250,000 a year; every time you point that out they scream “socialism” or “class warfare” at the top of their lungs. Why? Because it is their money that is at stake; their greed is what fuels a mindless consumer economy, extreme capitalism does not reward the hard worker; it rewards the capitalist, the one who manages to destroy the competitor to get to the top. Capitalism can be just as dehumanizing as Communism.

That is why we need both the Government and the Free Market keeping each other in check; we need a balance. We cannot go back to the Jeffersonian days when the government only delivered the mail, raised the military, and collected taxes (which is ultimately the vision of the Tea Party minus the taxes). We need to realize that the Free Market can be just as corrupt as the Government and that we as the Church need to keep both of them accountable to the ways of God revealed in the Scriptures. We cannot let a Conservative or Liberal mindset overthrow our faithfulness to the truth of the Scriptures and we must be willing to defy either ideology in order to be faithful representatives of the kingdom of God.

I will hand it to the Democrats, they are trying to innovative and engaging; the Republicans need to stop scaring people and stop talking to us like we are five.

I am not a fan of politics, because ultimately, politics cannot save us or make heaven come to earth. However, I think it is time for a series on political issues and why we need to apply a truly biblical perspective to every area of politics. You may not agree with me on a lot of the issues to be discussed, but I hope that it gets you thinking about how your Christian faith plays out in your political beliefs.

Grace and Peace

Why is it that Christians tend to swing Left or Right politically? Why might this not be helpful?

Monday, January 24, 2011

You Wish This Week Were Over

  Eph 5:15  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
  Eph 5:16  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
  Eph 5:17  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

There are some Mondays that I wake up in the morning and feel like Simba off The Lion King; I wake up in a gorge and there is a mass of angry, frightened, hurried wildebeest headed my direction.

Normally I will respond one of two ways:

I will change into a groundhog and run back in my hole because I did not see my shadow.

I will run for my live hoping that that I will find some small canyon or outlet to avoid being trampled.

But, I think the Scriptures offer a third alternative:

I could run at the stampede.

You saw correctly. When we get out of bed on Monday morning and we feel life’s many decisions, obstacles, and people bearing down on us; maybe we should not hide or run away, but move forward.
Because, whether we want to admit it or not, God may have purposely allowed a really sucky week to arrive on our calendar; for some it may be a sucky month, year, or decade. If we are just victims of life’s relentless currents and undertows then we are justified wishing these times away; no one can impugn our honor if we hide and run away.

But, if God has orchestrated life to where the results of our sin drenched world are to be transformed for his glory, then we cannot hide or run away. We have to stop being foolish (rebellious, unteachable, hard-hearted) and we need to understand what the will of the Lord is. That is the only way to be wise and to redeem the evil 
days (weeks, months, years) that this life throws our way.

What is the will of the Lord?

The will of the Lord is for us to be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:29)

The will of the Lord is for us to use this transformation to make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19)

The will of the Lord is not some puzzle we need unlock; it is not some mysterious destiny that you somehow bump into. The will of the Lord is for you to become like Jesus Christ and to make Jesus Christ known to everyone else.

So, when you and I wake on Monday morning and we see life charging at us at full speed, killer instinct engaged; we need to be wise and pursue becoming like Jesus by facing the circumstances, obstacles, and people seeking to crush us. By doing so, our response shows his glory in us and we are used to make his name great among the nations.

Redeem the time; it’s the only time you have before eternity.

Grace and Peace

How does understanding what God wants to do with a bad week affect your response to the circumstances?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Don't Ask Me Out- Anna Watson

This is an original poem by my good friend Anna Watson; it will make you laugh.

What? What is that you say?
You want to take me out one day?
Well, there’s just one thing I’d like to say:
I am not a girl you want to date.

There’s nothing you need to do.
I assure you, there’s not one thing you have to prove.
Believe me, for what I tell you is completely true!
I’m only looking out for you!

Now you may want to stand and shout,
“Is this some sort of copout?!”
Forgive me; I can’t have you waiting around.
I must tell you what this is all about.

You may begin to act a little queer.
I may even cause a brand new fear,
Or worsen one you’ve had for years!
Oh, please close your smitten eyes and lend a perfect ear!

You may then refuse to shop at certain stores,
Because of the fear I mentioned before.
People may wonder more and more……
…..And I may become a total bore!

No sir, I am not the girl you want to date.
I must confess a thing I hate.
My ex-boyfriend, I heard today--
Turns out…I turned him gay!

By Anna Kathleen Watson


Impulsive Church Habits: Part I- "Oh, Brother!"

There are things that we do as Christians that we don’t give much thought; little things that probably lead to bigger things (and bigger blunders). My goal with this series is to point out some common habits we do as the Church that are impulsive, traditional, and not things we give much thought. Feel free to comment and discuss.

What mental pictures do you get when you hear the word, “brother” used when greeting someone at church? For me, I picture the monks from Monty Python and the Holy Grail chanting some requiem in Latin and hitting themselves with the object they are carrying *THWACK.* So, every time somebody refers to brother Howell or brother Larry, I always imagine that individual in a rope-bound sack nodding and saying, “Bless you my child.” (Unless of course they have taken a vow of silence) I cannot be the only one who is reminded of medieval Catholicism, can I?

Normally we will use the term “brother” (or the superlative, “pastor”) when referring to 1) someone we are not intimately acquainted with or 2) someone we are trying to show deference or respect. Let me say first off, that there is nothing wrong with showing respect to the elders of the church (aged, proven Christians) and Paul even admonished that you should give an elder “double or twice the honor,” because of his (or her) faithfulness to following Christ. However, unconsciously we have  developed this is a habit that mat have implications for undermining a cardinal doctrine of evangelical existence.

Five Words: Priesthood of Believers

Let me say that is ok, to use “brother” or “pastor” when speaking in a more formal manner at church. For instance, I do not know my pastor, Tim Anderson, that well; if I called him “Tim” then that would be assuming familiarity that I don’t have (though I don’t think he would give it much notice, he is not hung up on things like that). Now, if I and Pastor Tim were to hang out more often and we were to visit each other’s house and have long, mentor-like discussions it is likely (and at that point appropriate) for me to call him, “Tim.” I refer to him as “pastor” now because that is what our primary relationship is (if it were a secular boss it would be Mr. Tim or Mr. Anderson [welcome back, we’ve missed you, like what I’ve done with the place?] depending on how casual he was). If you are not relationally familiar it is ok and appropriate to use formal terms.

However, I am concerned about using “brother” or “pastor” to denote some special rank within the church. The hierarchy of the Church is level with Christ on the top; yes, we have people who are given authority because of their function within the Body, but it has nothing to do with their organizational position. For instance, I have become good friends with the College/Youth Pastor/Minister of Students Justin Bedingfield (also affectionately known as “jbed” and “slim jim”  [not really, made that up]). I do not call him “Brother Bedingfield” or even “Brother Justin.” I have hung out, talked to, and ministered with Justin long enough that I don’t have to be formal with him (it would just be awkward and weird). If Justin were to ever become the head pastor of Clements Baptist Church (haha, not prophesying Justin, I promise) then I would still call him Justin. We need to be careful that we don’t undermine our own doctrinal beliefs by giving paid (or unpaid) church leaders an exalted status. There are plenty of ways to show respect without giving the illusion of superiority (just like one can be respectful even if you don’t say, “yes, sir,” and “no, m’am,” contrary to the popular belief that people born outside the South are rude and purposely disrespectful, but I digress).

Honor your elders, pastors, and faithful church leaders but don’t exalt them to “uber-Christian” status. We need to start asking ourselves why we call our leaders what we call them and then we need challenge our lack intimacy with those people and perhaps get to know them better. Formal titles are appropriate but if it stays formal for too long, we need ask ourselves whether we care to know the other person at all…which brings me to the next topic in the series.

Grace and Peace

P.S.: Bonus points if you caught the Monty Python word miscount and the quote by Agent Smith in the Matrix: Revolutions. Too bad the points don’t matter.

Am I off base? Have you ever considered the implication of this impulsive habit? How could it be a part of what is contributing to the inferiority complex experienced by most “non-leadership” Christians?


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Am the Pharisee

I am the Pharisee, righteous in my own eyes
Smug in my wretched holiness.

I am the Pharisee, so much better off
Than family or friends.

I am the Pharisee, who instead of stopping to help
Is too busy to care.

I am the Pharisee, I cannot bring myself to see
That I am the man bloodied by the robbers.

I am the Pharisee, I keep all the rules and don’t miss a beat
But I am heartless and cruel to those in need.

I am the Pharisee, I could never be wrong; The Messiah
Could not be right here before my eyes.

I am the Pharisee, I have so little to be forgiven for
And so little compassion in my heart.

I am the Pharisee, I would rather a man endure
A lifetime of pain than be healed on the Sabbath.

I am the Pharisee, descended from Abraham and
A child of Satan.

I am the Pharisee, I cannot love for that would require
That I think about someone other than myself.

I am the Pharisee, the Father may come running
For my heathen brother but not for me.

I am the Pharisee, I am willing to lose my soul
Rather than having to lose my reputation

I am the Pharisee, the liar, the cheat, the one
Who does not obey and teaches others to do the same

I am the Pharisee, God help my soul
For if he does not I will burn in hell.

Minding the Poor: Conclusion

Focus on relationships

One of things I learned while working with the homeless in New Orleans was that the poor are human beings. They have hopes, dreams, desires, and stories just like everyone else. So much ministry to the homeless is what I call “drop-and-run,” where people come and drop off food like they were feeding farm animals. The homeless get plenty of food and plenty of clothes (with some exceptions and God will show you when someone needs food and clothes), what they don’t get is the company of “regular” people. They don’t get to be treated like they are worth something and that someone actually gives a crap about them. If you want to position yourself to minister to the poor, you have to break it down to individuals and learn their names.

Offer fellowship opportunities that don’t cost money

The poor do not have money; that is why they have been designated “poor.” This means that we may have to have fellowship opportunities that do not involve a heavy cost. The cost should be borne by the people who have money. There are plenty of things you can do for free: invite the poor to your home, meet in a public park, have a hangout time where people fast instead of having to pay for food, have retreats on the church grounds or someplace accessible. We can adjust ourselves to minister to poor if we are willing to cut the budget back or even out completely.

Pray a lot

When dealing with taking care of the poor, nothing is more necessary than prayer. God alone can transform lives. I believe that transformation occurs when the needs of people are met by the supernatural offering of people who have gained a Christ-centered perspective. People are transformed by the Christ in other people and that involves us being in tune with who Christ is and what he is up to in our ministry. If we are not willing to pray and seek his face, we need not bother trying to minister to the poor. The only way through the disappointment and uncertainty is being on our face before God.

Start a movement

We need folks who are willing to step up in the local church and begin to help prepare our suburban churches for the influx of the poor. It will not happen overnight and it will take some trial and error before we really begin to be in sync with what God is doing. The best way to get the snowball into an avalanche is to dare to step up and be counted. If you believe God is calling you to raise awareness for the suburban poor in your local church then by all means, let your voice be heard in the power of Jesus Christ.

I hope this has been helpful and informative.

Grace and Peace

Hopefully having read this entire series, do you agree or disagree? Is there anything you would like to add?


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Minding the Poor: Part IV

I am not “arm-chairing” this one; I have experience ministering to the poor. God used this opportunity to teach a lot of things about reaching the poor and I am going to share some of this with you.

How do we position ourselves to include the poor and homeless?

Don’t wait or depend on the church organization

Now, I assert that we must do this through the local church (this was one of my biggest mistakes with TNOP), but we cannot wait for the church organization to get on board. Yes, you should share anything that God is leading you to do with the leadership of your church, to gain wisdom and to gain prayer support, but the fact is that most churches are financially strapped or their process for making change is (for better or worse) too long. Positioning ourselves to minister to and include the poor will start at the small group level. We should not count on the direct help from the church organization but we also cannot do this alone; we need each other as we seek to minister and bring in the poor. The best way to do this is on a small group level, because not only is it manageable, there are spiritual benefits to it.

Don’t worry about the money

This sounds really counterintuitive, but let me assure you that if God wants this done, he will provide the money (and we will provide ways for you to raise the money). It is not smart to limit a God-given vision to dollars and cents (this is something we tell people considering missions all of time and the same principle works here). Pray as a small group and seek God’s face about what he would have you to do and then simply go for it and watch God provide. If the money does not come, you can always pray again and adjust accordingly; sometimes God wants us to move down a road without coming all the way to the end of it.

Expect bad things to happen

Is this a tad pessimistic? No, I don’t think so. Anytime we try to engage in something that God gives us to do, we will face many obstacles and opposition; bad things will happen. This however, cannot stop us from pursuing the work that God has for us; there are too many people to be rescued for us to retreat when the arrows start flying. We need to stick with it, trusting God to do what he has promised to do…even if it means that it goes ill for us.

Start off small

Even if God gives you a huge vision, and he will, start off with small steps. You cannot reach all the poor on your street, much less your neighborhood and city (or town) in one night. I think the best way to start is to do what Jesus said, have a celebration and invite the needy over to celebrate. If you treat them like any other friend or guest you would have over, many of them will see that you are genuine and will likely keep talking to you. Keep doing this regularly and often, making your house a place where they can come and enjoy themselves and feel loved. Over time, you can begin to share the truth of the Gospel into their lives. Don’t jump the gun though, start off small.

To Be Continued


Monday, January 17, 2011

Minding the Poor: Part III

Let’s just take Clements Baptist Church (not picking on Clements…that is just the church I fellowship with, it could easily be “your-church-here”). How positioned is Clements Baptist Church to ministering to an influx of the poor and homeless into our semi-rural but expanding community?

Rather than talk about what we could do, let us focus on the reality of things for a moment. I know for a fact that many individuals have prejudices against the poor and have accepted stereotypes that are often given to poor people. Their more Nietzchean than Christian response to those who are in desperate need undermines the efforts of those who want to be more Christ-like in our response to those needs. This tends to be an unconscious Southern, politically Conservative attitude when dealing with people who may seem to be "lazy" or "seeking handouts" for a variety of reasons, but it sounds more like survival of the fittest than love your neighbor as yourself. I don't think the majority feel this way (or at least they don't let prejudice dictate response), and this won’t necessarily prevent those who are willing from ministering in a Christ-like manner but it certainly does not help.

Let’s also think about the issue of safety and security; how many people are going to want to continue to go to Clements if it were suddenly overrun by a stream of poor or homeless souls who may or not be tripped out on drugs, may or may not be schizophrenic, or may or not be people with questionable pasts? How much will we push past ourselves to reach these people? To what lengths would we be willing to go in order to be Christ to these people?

How many would seek to love them and how many would just run from their stench?

The stench of,



Cigarettes (or marijuana).




The level of comfort would surely drop and we would be faced with an interesting and yet needful predicament: we would have to be Jesus to these folks who just landed in our midst.

But being a missional church is not about waiting for them to come to us or simply inviting them to a service; being a missional church is about sitting with them where they are and acknowledging that though they are rotten sinners like we are, they are made in the beautiful image of God and that the love of God is available to them now, regardless of whether or not they convert.

Could the poor and the homeless be a part of the life of Clements Baptist Church? Well, how many fellowship activities do we do that costs the one thing they don’t have, money? It is easy for a few people to spot some folks here and there, but what happens if a mass of humanity cannot pay for even our “cheap” or inexpensive programs, fellowships, conferences, etc? I just went an excellent retreat with our MPact college ministry (eventually I will become an adult, I promise) and it was a really awesome time. But that retreat costs $50 dollars a person. I understand why it costs that much and to do what we did, we have to pay it. However, what if we are inundated with a college ministry (or any ministry) of people who are barely making ends meet? Do we just not try to include them in the more awesome moments of fellowship because they cannot pay? Again, it is not criticism of what is, it is a warning about what is coming; it is not a matter of if the poor will arrive, it is a matter of when. So knowing this, do the poor get left out of the life of the church because they are poor? Would Jesus Christ approve of this?

If he opened the door to kingdom life and deep fellowship to the poor, why would we unintentionally shut it in their faces?

If we operate the way we do, we have to have people who can afford to pay up; it is simple economics. My point is merely that maybe we need to think a little bit more about how we operate in relation to opening our fellowship to the masses of destitute humanity.

I have heard people wonder in awe of how churches in other countries manage to do so much and the answer is simple: they position themselves under the direction of God to most effectively minister to those around them. There may not be a lot of homeless people in Athens, right now. But there are plenty of poor people who will not darken the door of our churches for a myriad of reasons…why are we not trying to reach them on their terms? We need to ask ourselves if we have designed our respective church to unintentionally (hopefully this would your church’s case; it would be that way at Clements) exclude the poor. If so, then we need to begin to position ourselves better.

Again, this is not a bash of Clements Baptist Church…put your church under the same lens of scrutiny. What it is though, is a wake-up call to all suburban churches to realize that we are not positioned to reach out to the masses of poor that will soon be coming to our doors. We need to start opening the doors of the kingdom to the poor.

How do we do this?

To Be Continued


Cultural Beatitudes

In preparation for our retreat to South Carolina, we were challenged to come up with some "cultural beatitudes" that our American, consumer culture ascribes is a list I came up with.

Blessed are the powerful for they shall determine what is right for everyone else.

Blessed are the religious for they shall always have God on their side.

Blessed are those who lust for they will lie, steal, and kill to get what they want.

Blessed are the comfortable for they can sip hot lattes unconcerned that many go without clean water.

Blessed are the politically correct for they shall never have to think for themselves.

Blessed are the ignorant for it will surely vanish, if they act like it is not there.

Blessed are the celebrities for through carelessness they shall wreck their own lives while millions watch.

Blessed are the vengeful for they are the true arbiters of justice.

Blessed are the weird for they are just as normal as everyone else.

Blessed are the trendy for they will die happy with their Macbooks and hip clothes.

Blessed are the cosmetically vain for they set a standard of perfection no one else can reach.

Blessed are the successful for they will work themselves to an early grave or a messy divorce.

Blessed are the lazy for the government or their mother will take care of them for the rest of their lives.

Blessed are the greedy for they will get theirs and take yours without a backwards glance.

Blessed are the sarcastic for they have made cynicism an art form.

Blessed are the self-absorbed for they have the company of many others.

Blessed are the self-righteous for they can be right even when they are wrong.

Blessed are the proud for they shall teach everyone how to be humble.

Blessed are the fearful for they shall be slaves under the illusion of freedom.

Blessed are the entitled for everyone has to coddle them or risk a guilt trip.

Blessed are the gluttonous for by their appetites they shall rid the world of unnecessary residents.

Blessed are the fools for someone will always be stupid enough to bail them out.

Blessed are the know-it-alls for they know just enough to make everyone depressed.

Blessed are the skeptical for by believing in nothing they are not accountable for anything.

Blessed are the critics for they can become experts without any experience.

Blessed are the rebellious for they will tear down one institution just to erect another.

Blessed are the ticked off for everyone around them shall soon be ticked off also.

Blessed are those who yell for they shall be heard even through noise cancelling headsets and content filters.

Blessed are those who moan, gripe, and complain in self-pity/ loathing for it will surely make life fair and pleasant.

Blessed are the manipulative for they flatter people into building their empires.

Blessed are the atheists for by sheer force of will and determination they have murdered God.

Are there other "cultural beatitudes" that you think should be on this list?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Executive Order 16661- 7:53 am

Lindsey was there when we arrived at the station; she looked as incredible as ever. Lindsey Sinclair was my brother’s girlfriend, but to be honest he didn’t deserve her; I knew all about what he thought about her, or rather what he thought about her with. Just a few minutes earlier Enoch had informed me that Lindsey had told him that she loved him; his response?

Nothing, he didn’t say a word; he hung up on her.

That is my brother; the real class act.

 “You could have at least acknowledged that she said something, I mean she did tell you she loved you.” I was trying not to sound too upset or bothered by his reaction.

“Look, I froze and I panicked…it was not what I was expecting, ok. Back off.”

Why don’t you back off from Lindsey if you can’t commit?

I have to be honest; I  had a secret crush on Lindsey ever since we first got to the church. It was with great reluctance that Mr. Sinclair let us hang around his daughter and only after a severe prodding from his wife. We had become good friends despite the fighting that often took place between our parents. We never went to each other’s houses, so we had to find a neutral spot to hangout.

My tale with girls is the opposite of Enoch’s, who will date any girl that is physically attractive and bats on eyelash at him. His tastes are real simple and real shallow. My parents had tried to teach him the necessity of choosing and appreciating something more in a woman except her physique, but largely they had failed. Enoch dated some really wretched girls before I told him that Lindsey liked him. Of course, when he found out he went after her like she was like any of the other girls; she was not like the other girls.

He had tried to “hook me up” several times with various females from school, all who cared only about my looks. Yeah, we were both pretty good looking guys, but while Enoch ate it up like some Greek demigod, I preferred to focus on the other, more important aspects of my character. These girls he kept trying to fix me up with only wanted the prestige of going out with me and some wanted me to push my boundaries, which I refused to do. There were girls that I liked, but they were always interested in jerks like my dear brother; something about the kind of attention they got. I took my faith and convictions seriously and a lot of people (even at church) did not. I was out to protect my purity. The biggest hindrance though had been that I had fallen in love with Lindsey Sinclair.

I was in love with my brother’s girlfriend and neither of them had any idea.

Why, Lindsey? Oh, let me count the reasons! She is beautiful, brilliant, humble, and she loves God more than I do. We used to sit and talk about what we wanted in a future spouse and even read various dating books. We never went into any details, nor were we inappropriate but we did share some of our struggles with loneliness and waiting for the right person.

“So, what do you think the odds are that I will find a girl with all of that?” I laughed after reading to Lindsey my impossible list that no spouse could ever meet.

“I think, Eli, that you have as much a chance of finding her as I have of finding a knight on a white horse.” We both laughed; her laugh was intoxicating.

“No, I am serious, Eli, and then he will recite Shakespeare and describe his quest for the Holy Grail or something, that incidentally led him to me!” the laughter continued to where we are on the ground.

Ask her, you dolt. Ask her out!

“Do you ever think that I will find that kind of guy, Eli?”

“Well, I don’t know. Do you have any in mind? I said too much with that statement. Lindsey looked at me quizzically, but then smiled and nodded.

“Actually, Eli, I do have someone in mind. In fact, you know him quite well.”

Are you freaking kidding me? Is she about to ask ME out?

Every nerve in my body was on ends and I was almost dying with the anticipation. After ignoring and fighting the desire, I was going to ask Lindsey out this time; I was going to take the leap.

I smiled, “Oh, really? And who might that be?”

“Eli, you know that for a long time…” yes, keep going, “…I have had this really huge crush…” 
wow, this is actually happening, “…on your brother Enoch…” WHAT!? “…and I was hoping you could help me…” oh, you have got to be kidding me. “…get his attention.”

My heart sank and everything inside that had been so vibrant with life seemed to lose all of its chatoyance and die. A shroud veiled my mind; I was hurt, jealous, and angry. I did not know what to say or do; yes I did, I am not my brother. I would be noble and I would do the right thing.

“Do you think your brother is like the guy I am looking for?” was her sincere question.

No. no I really don’t.

“Enoch, is a good guy; I mean he is better than a lot of the guys you meet at school. He is kind of hard to get to notice…”

“But would you help me? You could say a good word for me! Please, Eli, it would mean the world to me. Your brother seems like such a great guy, especially now that he has stopped dating  from the school trash bin. I see so much improvement in his life; he is seeking God now…that is what I want, Eli.”

Lindsey, how could you do this to me

“Yeah, of course I will say something to him for you; what are friends for, right?”

I did say something to Enoch and all the change that was starting to happen because he stopped chasing skirts ended and poor Lindsey was already sucked in. But I wanted her to be happy; I wanted to speak well of my brother; I wanted to help a friend. I am not my brother; I am Elijah Emmanuel Sinclair and I am a knight-errant of the Modern Age.

And for that I lost the girl.

“There she is too; don’t say a word about it…if she mentions it I…I will come up with something.” Enoch seemed almost terrified to get out of the car.

“You are going to have deal with this sooner or later, bro.” I got out of the car first; Enoch immediately followed.

“You guys are late.” Lindsey walked up to us without any smiles; she was angry, I could tell, because of the stress you she was holding in her eyelids.

“Eh, oh sorry babe, I had to wait for Elijah to finish getting dressed.” Oh, so it is my fault; thanks brother.

“It’s ok. I have been watching the church for a few minutes, nothing seems to be happening. But look at the Starbucks over there,” she pointed to the Starbucks across the street, “there is a huge truck parked in the back and I watched a guy get in the back of the truck where the cargo would go; it might be nothing but it is weird.” We both nodded in agreement, “What has been fun to watch is the animated conversation between the guy in that car and the woman that showed up not too long ago. They are yelling about something, but I can’t really hear any intelligible words. The guy she was with went into Starbucks and hasn’t come out yet.”
Lindsey had the amazing ability to track details and it is one of the things I loved about her mind. I tried not to look too impressed with her mental powers and instead feigned interest in what she was pointing at. Enoch just stood there, awkward and nervous, waiting for the explosion that was sure to take place.

She is not that kind of girl; she is not going to blow up at you in public.

“Is there any more news from your dad?” Lindsey asked to neither one of us specifically.

“Well, no…” Enoch tried to start and I could tell he was trying to avoid causing more anger. Very well I will save you again, brother.

“Dad really does not want us to leave the house, but I insisted that we should at least find out what is going on. Besides, dad is not\ doubt talking to the church staff as he told us he was planning to do about 7:30ish.”

You insisted you guys come out here? That is not like you, Eli, to blow off your dad. I guess you do have a little bit of Enoch in you.” Ugh, why don’t you just slap me with a rotting fish.

“Yeah, haha, Eli will surprise you sometimes!” Enoch was nervous and it was making him sound weird and awkward.

Lindsey’s brow arched, “What is the matter, Enoch, you look tense? Why would you be tense, Enoch?” 

Lindsey was letting him know he was in trouble without making a scene and I could tell my brother did not want answer the question. So, I saved him again.

“Hey, instead of waiting in this smelly parking lot, let’s go get some coffee. You guys in?” I started walking that direction to indicate that it really was not an option.

“Yeah, sure,” was the response both of them gave.

What is wrong with you Eli? Why don’t you let him get shredded to bits? He certainly deserves it!

Because I am Elijah McAllister, that’s why.

I walked to get away from them, because what I wanted to do was call my brother’s bluff, make him look like the letch that he is and then confess my undying love to Lindsey Sinclair. That sounded pretty good in my head and the fantasy that I indulged was tempting to bring into reality…but it would not end like I wanted it to. Lindsey would never talk to either of us again and my brother would beat me senseless.

Neither of those things was good.

As we got to the door the guy that came with the screaming female walked out of the store; he was a stout, intimidating guy; yet, something in his body language said it was all posing and that he was actually a pushover. He smiled at us as he hurried out to the car where the female was obviously getting close to murdering the guy in the other car.

There is not telling what all of THAT is about; just keep walking.

We ordered our coffee and sat down. I was pretending to be preoccupied with the scene unraveling in the parking lot, Enoch was doing everything but making eye contact with Lindsey, and Lindsey looked as if she wanted to hurl her Non-fat Caramel Latte in his face. I am not sure I would attempt to stop her, Enoch. We all sat in a tangible, awkward silence; we all knew there was not just an elephant but a whole herd of them in the room, but no one had the guts to say anything.

Outside, the man we passed had managed to drag the woman back to their car and was now having a conversation with the guy in the other car. He was trying to be nice, but I could tell by his stiffness that the guy in the car was getting on his nerves.

“Why did you hang up on me, Enoch?” the question came out of nowhere and I suddenly joined the table I was sitting at.

Enoch was stricken white, “Lins, I…”

“No, Enoch. I told you that I loved you and you hung up on me! Why would you do that?”

I was starting to worry that our tense table talk would soon end like the brawl that we had just witnessed in the parking lot; not that I would mind Lindsey beating the crap out of Enoch and then ending their relationship for good. He would so deserve that for treating her like a car he drives around town. No, he would’ve taken much better care of a car.

“Lins, the truth is that…the truth is that I was kind of shocked and overwhelmed; it was just not the right timing…”

“Not the right timing? Are you saying that I can only love you at certain times? Why were you shocked, don’t you have similar feelings for me?” Lindsey went from angry to hurt in like two seconds.

And that is what it all boiled down to: feelings. It did not matter if he ever showed a scrap of actual love for her because she was trapped in their emotional enmeshment caused by their careless physical enmeshment. I had tried to warn her that this would happen; I tried to save her but she would not listen.

“He wants you to do what?” I could not believe that she was telling me this.

“He wants me to whisper dirty things to him and touch his…parts through his clothes.” Lindsey looked embarrassed and ashamed; I wanted to castrate my brother.

“Lindsey…why are you even considering this?” I was incredulous to how this beautiful, God-honoring woman was about to compromise herself in this manner, for my brother.

She was going to do this for my brother, the son of my father the pastor of our church.

“Because, I love him, Eli. I love him and I want to make him happy. I mean, it is not like we are having sex.” 

Her answer was sincere and my heart broke for her.

“But how long is it going to be before he wants that too, Lindsey? If he loved you, like you love him, he would protect you and not make you do this.” I was getting angrier as the conversation continued.

“But he does love me, Eli! I can see it in his eyes, the way he holds me, the promises he makes about the future.” Her smile broke my heart more than her earlier sadness.

Lies, Lindsey, all lies.

“Have you ever thought that he is just telling you what you want to hear? That he is using you just like he used the other girls?”

“Eli, you told me that he had changed; I believe that. Could he be compromising me? Sure, but I think he will see that I am uncomfortable with it and will protect me. He just needs some more time to continue to mature; I can help him to change.”

He needs a swift kick in the genitals.

“Lindsey, I cannot make your choices for you. But please, consider what this will do to your purity and your relationship with Christ; please consider all that you will be giving up.”

She nodded and looked struck, but then gathered herself up.

“Well, I have to go Eli. Please pray for me and it was good talking to you.”

The conversation ended and not too soon after I went to find Enoch; I was going to make sure he decided to change.

“Eli, hey bro, I was just…”

“Enoch, you need sit down and listen to me, now.” He stared at me with an expression of defiance and curiosity; I was rarely intimidating so he sat down.

“Whoa, hey what is this about?”

“You. It is about you, Enoch. Just like your relationship with Lindsey is about you.” I was so angry I think smoke was coming out my nostrils.

“What are you talking about?” and then revelation dawned on his face, “She told you, didn’t she?”

“Yeah, you bet she told me, and she should; who else is going to protect her purity and her godliness! It certainly is not you; all you have done is use Lindsey as a daily make out appointment. Well, I am tired of your blatant disregard for her spirituality.” Enoch looked genuinely scared.

“Oh yeah, and why do you care so much? What business is it of yours? What are you going to do? Tell Dad? Are you going to snitch on me?”

That is when I did something I rarely do; I rushed of forward, extended my forearm, and pinned Enoch by the neck onto the bed.

“No, brother; if you don’t listen, I am going to make sure that you regret every day you have laid eyes on Lindsey. She is my best friend and you will treat her like you actually care about her. Is that understood?” 
Enoch was struggling to get up but for some reason I had supernatural strength.

I continued, “This sick, perverted thing you want her to do; you will drop it. And if I hear you want her to do anything beyond what you already do, then I will make you wish you were born a woman. Are we clear?”

Enoch glared at me but when I matched the intensity; he nodded through my arm and I released him. He coughed a little as I began walking out of the room.

“It was your idea that I should date her! You remember that, Eli.” Is what he yelled back as I walked down the hall.

I will never forget that for as long as I live, brother.

I stared at Enoch and he knew exactly what I was communicating; he looked at Lindsey and back at me and I could tell he was rat who had sprung his own trap.

“Lindsey, I love you too. I just…I just did not know how to say it considering all that is going on.”

Surely, she would see through this smokescreen; surely she would tell he was lying and end the relationship right then and there. Surely, she is not buying this load of crap.

Then she smiled. She really is buying a whole ton of this crap!

“Really, Eno? Do you really love me?” Lindsey had all of sudden forgotten her anger or what had occurred; it is like the mentioning of those words cured everything.

“Yeah, haha of course I do, babe. I have known it for some time now…I just did not know how you felt; so you can understand why I was scared?” Enoch showed that cheating grin of his.

I could not believe it; my brother could probably lie himself out of a treason charge even if it was recorded on national television. Lindsey was  half laughing and half crying at the news that her feelings were reciprocated and all I could think was perhaps they deserved each other.

“I knew you did, Enoch! Especially when you started listening to me about our physical intimacy; I just knew God was breaking through to you and teaching you how to love me! Wow, I am so happy…” and then she leaned over and kissed him.

I wanted to die.