Friday, August 22, 2014

School Supplies, BYOG, and Deserts.

Ahhhhh the return to routine and normality is an all too welcome respite from the craziness of summer.

Don't get me wrong, this summer was phenomenal, full of memories and ministry that could not have been done in a calm environment.

There's something about showing high school girls what ministry and service is while on a mountain side building a mile long trail through bush and boulders in the heat of the summer in the Prescott forest.

There was complaining and tension, but we came home to Las Vegas a closer and stronger community than we were when we first went up. It's incredible what two intentional weeks of ministry will do to a community.

And now school is starting.

Whether you just breathed a sigh of relief or a sigh of exasperated agony, we're all looking over the proverbial cliff called summer in to the void of schedule and routines, different faces, new places, different standards, and a little less money in the bank.

Unless you're a teacher. Props to you.

Looking over this cliff, we can see that, one way or another, we have to jump.

Are you prepared?

Got your books? Your pocket protector? Your TI-82? Your laptop? Your 64 count Crayola Mega Box? Your Gospel? Your pencil sharpener? Your Emergen-C?

Wait what was that you said?

Pencil sharpener?

No, before that.

Oh! Your Gospel. Ya, you can't forget that.

Unless you are a homeschooled student in a Christian home, the Gospel is not something you typically view everyday in the classroom. I went to Sunnyside High School in Tucson, Arizona. Sunnyside is a typical Tucson public high school, full of history and athletic success. My father and uncles all graduated from there as well as myself and my siblings. Sunnyside is a piece of our family whether we like it or not.

Unfortunately, I was the last of my household to pass through that school, so the reputation of the Barreras family had already been well established by the time I arrived on campus.

Almost makes me cry for my cousins who are attending there now.


Sunnyside was the typical public high school. Like any public educational establishment, it had its problems as well as its successes, but this is not a commentary on the public education system. I have neither the knowledge nor the passion to make informed opinions on the inner workings of our public education system. I was not a stellar student nor was I exceptionally involved in my high school outside of band, so I don't have much room to comment.

Ya I was a band kid. Deal with it.

That being said, Sunnyside High School was never a place of great spiritual edification or discipleship. Basically, the only time, the name of God was used was when looking at my math grades.

My math grades sounded very much like a bad speech impediment: D-d-d-d-d-d-dang, Nate...

Sunnyside was a place that needed the Gospel. It needed people in its walls who acted, looked, sounded, smelled like the Kingdom.

It's easy to proclaim the Gospel at church and at home typically, even among friends, the Gospel is a welcome subject of discussion. It's almost as if there is Gospel on tap.

"Want some Gospel?"
"Sure. Put it on my tab, Joe."

But we know that in spiritually arid environments, the Gospel is not a usual order. Many of us who strive to live in holiness and need the Gospel everyday find that being in a place where the Gospel is not present is draining and can be taxing. That's why missionaries are so stinkin' hardcore!

As followers of Christ, we need the Gospel. Everyday, we need the redeeming grace and love of our God every single day. We deepen our intimacy with God by consistently pursuing holiness; we pray, we're in the Word, we practice Godly character, we speak the truth of the Gospel, we proclaim the Gospel.

That's what separates the Followers of Christ from the pew squatters.

2 Corinthians 5:20 calls us "ambassadors for Christ", saying that God makes His appeal through us. As people living transformed lives, we are to be an illustration of the effects of the Gospel, displaying God's righteousness, His love, His mercy, His forgiveness. God appeals to others through His ambassadors.

Living in the desert, water is not something you stumble upon while hiking through the brush, but common sense and our mothers taught us that if we are going to a place with no water, you bring some. You hydrate before you go, and you bring water with you.

Using that same logic, if you are going to a place that is spiritually arid or scarce, you bring the Gospel with you. You saturate yourself in it, and bring it with you.

As Followers of Christ, we are the image of the invisible God, displaying and dispensing God's glory through the Gospel that transformed us.

As you head in to school this year, whether it's fourth grade, or the fourth year of your PhD, be the image of the Gospel. Draw others towards God.

Nate T B