Thursday, November 15, 2012

In which our author returns

It has been a long time since I've blogged. Almost a year. This is not surprising to me, nor should it be to you either. If you remember when I first began this endeavour, I warned you that it is very difficult for me to keep up with something like this consistently. However, I find myself in a place once again where I feel like sharing a piece of who I am and processing through some things. Really, you all should feel quite privileged-I am very private person and so the fact that I am open like this is unusual. 

Anyway, to the task at hand. A lot has happened in my life since my last post-I graduated with my Master's, left a job of four years that I loved. Experienced life with no home, no job, no car, and no means of provision. I found two jobs (that I love) and a place to live (which is just what I need), not to mention I have found the love of my life. God has blessed me beyond measure lately and, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea why. I have simply continued to live life as I always do-serving those I can, praying for those in need, and offering a listening ear or crying shoulder.

Most of you know the passion that I have for discipleship. It is something that permeates every facet of my being-it is consistently on my mind and I seek to assist others in whatever capacity that I can. However, the flip side of that is the debilitating feeling that goes along with an unrequited mentorship. I literally cannot fathom why an individual would reject such an opportunity-I guess I am just so hungry for it, that I can't understand why others aren't as ravenous as myself.

That, however, is not the subject of this post. I want to talk about something that came up in church the other week-the issue of our call, as Christians, to be salt in the world. The basic premise with this charge is that we are supposed to spread the message of Jesus Christ and change the 'flavour' of the people with which we interact. The most interesting aspect of this lesson (to me, but it's my blog-so deal with it) was the issue of the amount of salt.

Oftentimes, when we hear messages about being salt, the emphasis is on the mere fact that we are called to step out and 'salt the earth'. Yet, there is one important element to keep in mind: too much salt is not only a hindrance to taste, it can be downright repugnant. How many times do we see Christians who yell and scream from the pulpit, condemning everyone to hell and saying how terrible people are? Why do we do that/why do we promote that kind of thinking? We are Christians-do you know what that literally means? It is literally "little Christs"; there is something to carrying that title-we can no longer live for ourselves or our selfish desires. Instead, we must seek to live for and emulate Jesus Christ. So, I ask you: where does Jesus condemn the hurting and the hurt in Scripture? Please let me know when you find it.

Instead, Jesus speaks out against the Pharisees-the staunchly faithful religious leaders of Jesus' day.

Now before you jump down my throat, I acknowledge that there is a time in which you must decide what path your life will take and whether you are willing to become a disciple of Christ-but that's just it! We are called to be disciples, not people who say a prayer and guarantee 'fire insurance' aka a ticket out of hell. My problem with the kinds of evangelism that focus on saying a prayer and finding salvation is the fact that they are inherently deceptive-there is so much more to our lives as 'little Christs' than to just say and prayer and attend church weekly. God wants all of our person-God seeks that we would live like Jesus, that we would love people and share God's love with them.

It is not our task to change people or their hearts (and let me tell how thankful I am for that!)-when we assume that job, we quench God's Spirit and devalue the Spirit's role.

I know this post is kind of scattered and confusing and I apologize, but I couldn't really arrange it in a better way and it is difficult to effectively articulate my thoughts in such a fashion. I did want to get it out though and so if you want to discuss this with me, please do! I don't claim to be the authority on anything and so I am not so obtuse as to think I have everything figured out and that I have thought of every possibility. Basically, the purpose of this post was just an opportunity for me to get some things off of my chest and share some thoughts with you.

Kairos-moments that challenge us to be more,

David A. Bell

Monday, January 2, 2012

For Old Times' Sake

Another year is beginning and with it comes resolutions. We all make resolutions, whether spoken aloud or kept secret. This year is no different for me; I have made resolutions myself-some I've shared candidly, some shared more reservedly, and some shared only with God. What follows is a list of the resolutions I am making public as a means of accountability and encouragement:

1) Live a more healthy life-style.
2) Say yes more, but also say no more.
3) Pray more intentionally everyday
4) Have a job that I love
5) Get rid of extra stuff

"Should old acquaintance be forgot? And never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne?"

Kairos-the moments gone and the moments to come,

David A. Bell

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The power of a letter

So most of my posts are long and retrospective...or at least some semblance of that. This one, however, is just something simple.

One thing I love is being able to encourage other people. It is so awesome to know that you can make a difference and help someone else. However, there are times when I feel so drained from having given so much and not having received anything in return. Don't get me wrong-I am not saying I do these things to receive accolades or to get something in return, would be nice every so often to get some encouragement myself. I have written letters to the guys in my small group-a seemingly simple task and yet every time I finish one I feel so drained. Ha. Clearly I was not made to be a writer. Again, don't get me wrong-I love those guys and I love sharing what is going on in my life, but when I finish, I can't help but think, "Does this mean anything? Am I writing these things just for myself-do the guys even read them?" I hate to think that the letters serve no means of support for the guys.

The other day I received a text from one of the guys to whom I write; he said how thankful he was for the letters and how much he appreciated the encouragement, especially the scripture verses included with the letters. It invigorated me and encouraged me in my ministry for these guys-remembering that God works through even the simplest of things.

Kairos-defining moments, no matter how simple they may seem,

David A. Bell

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kiss today goodbye

So another year at Gardner-Webb has come and gone. This one was particularly difficult for me; not only did I have to say goodbye to a number of good friends I had made in the three years I spent in the Div school, but I had to watch as some of my closest friends left for the 'real world'.

This transition was made more difficult as it was revealed that there was tension among myself and those good friends. I won't go into detail about that issue, but I will just say that perhaps the hardest part of this event was not being able to enjoy the company of those guys one last time as a group.

Anyway, here I sit, on Gardner-Webb's nearly empty campus, half-expecting everyone to come back next year and to simply pick up where we left off at the end of this semester. However, I know that isn't going to happen and that this next year will be anything but normal and routine. And that hurts a lot. So much more than I express in writing or otherwise. There are people who I just now found how awesome they are and how much time was lost in not getting to know them before and not enjoying their craziness-UNICORN!. There are others who intimidated me from our first encounter and struck me with how brilliant their thoughts, especially in the only class we had together-African American Literature (I was always impressed with their insight, especially as freshmen). One who immediately wrote me off and declared that I would not last more than a semester, only to become one of my best friends and a true means of support. There was a group that was formed based on an idea of support and prayer, both of which were found in that group-things I needed at that time and was unable to adequately provide for others.

This semester was particularly trying for one of my friends and so our friendship was strengthened as this person sought support and camaraderie from me. This friendship has been extremely important for me as well; I had always sought to have a better friendship with this person, but it had never seemed to be in the cards. It was so awesome to have a guy friend who I could talk to about life (granted I had another strong friendship, but there is just something about having another guy as a means of accountability and encouragement). My sincere hope is that this friendship continues beyond the typical college friendships and that we will continue to assist one another as much as we can-which I believe will be the case...or at least hope.

As I reflect on this, I can't help but think about those friendships that have lasted beyond graduation-they are few, but so powerful. Chris Farthing and Andy Tillery are some of the most awesome people I've ever know and I am so thankful for their friendship. Even though we don't see each other on a regular basis, those times when we do are so much greater because of the absence. It is a similar story with Emily Walker nee Dykstra; even though we didn't spend four years together at university, the two years we did were enough to secure a life-long friendship. I was recently privileged to see her again after five years-we picked up right where we left off and neither of us missed a beat. It was so amazing to be able to reconnect our friendship, even after so long.

I guess I am using this particular post as a means of processing through saying goodbye to a lot of dear friends, but also finding hope in the fact that it needn't be goodbye-more like see ya later. Also, this serves as a means of thanking all of the people who are my friends and have impacted my life. Ultimately, life continues, regardless of our desire for time to stand still; so while it is important to cherish those moments, it is also important that we not seek to live in the past. God has given us each day and so we should take joy in those moments.

Each of my friendships is special and unique, important to me. But I have been trying to keep my focus on God and not allow my happiness to alter based on the position in which I currently find myself. God is always constant and so in these moments, I know I can rely fully on Him and find peace there.

As I finish this, I am reminded of Isaiah 43:2, which says, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." Even though friends come and go and new relationships are formed, God will never leave us and we find our strength and stability in Him.

Kairos-life-defining moments and friends,

David A. Bell

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One of the Sides of the Story

Often for those of us who are not as prolific in terms of blogging, it is in the moments of great emotion that inspires a blog post; e.g., an exciting event in our life, a time of loss, a feeling of overwhelming sadness or confusion. If I'm honest, the reason I am writing this right now is because I find myself in the final category-I am extremely sad.

One reason I am particularly sad is because of the fact that with the end of this semester, I will say goodbye to a group of people who I have come to know and love perhaps far greater than anyone else in my life (besides family). The class of 2011 comprises the freshmen class who came in when I was a senior-they are the last remaining connection that I have to Gardner-Webb undergraduate. Once they leave, I have no one to share stories and laugh with about the "old days". But more than that I genuinely don't want to even begin to think about life without these people-how can I wake up in the morning and go about life, knowing that I do not have their friendship to keep me going?

Another reason I am sad is the fact that I feel like there are people who have written me off and I have ruined the friendship we once had and that the person will never seek to be close friends again. Moreover, I fear that I have been (easily) replaced and that the person no longer looks to me to be their friend. I am so devastated by this and I feel so depressed that the person has no desire to reestablish the relationship, but has just written me off as a lost cause. I think I need to apologize to the person, an issue which was discussed in Sunday School (quite appropriately, I guess) and one point was to do in person-i was thought about texting the person about it, but stopped in my tracks and remembered what we discussed. So life is kind of crazy like that, yeah?

In addition, I am just tired and overwhelmed with the end of the semester. I am so tired I think I might explode on the next person who bothers me. This is not a good place to find yourself; however, I have no one to talk to about it because the friends I do have either don't care or don't know that something is literally eating away at me. Plus, I think some people know me and they know that I won't really talk about what's going on in my life and the few people who I can talk to about it, I have been unable to talk with them and I'm not sure as I will get an opportunity to converse with them. So yeah I am pretty frustrated right now (hence the blogging) and I am really tired of people and how I feel like I have to put on a happy face and pretend that everything is ok just because people don't want to see people sad.

In a conversation with a good friend earlier today (technically yesterday at this hour), she asked how I could be happy-go-lucky one minute and so forlorn the next. I explained how I felt I had to play that role; she told me that transparency and vulnerability were valid at points as well-a point with which I agreed. However, as I told her the cafeteria is not really the place for that (nor was Facebook....) and the issue dropped, with a clarity that there was no hatred just thankfulness for good friendship. Well later, I was with a bunch of my friends and so I tried the whole transparent, vulnerable thing-it went over like a lead balloon. The people there just ignored the pain I was in, or perhaps I am getting better at disguising my emotions. So it drove me deeper into my sorrow and I realized that these people could not handle what I was going through because they were also going through stuff themselves. It was a matter of group therapy for them and I just couldn't fall in line with that and so I found no healing. However, I am thankful that they seemed to find at least some comfort from the interactions tonight and that there may have been some growth in their own personal issues.

What do I seek to accomplish with this blog? Well, 1) find some resolution by getting it out-check. 2) process what is going on in my life-check. 3) get sympathy from people (haha)- 4. move on and be proactive in my relationship with the person in the third paragraph- 5. give it all over to God and let Him work in/through it-1/2 check. I am so thankful for all that I have, honestly, I just really need someone to listen to me without judgement and be a friend. C'est la vie-at least there will always be God.

Kairos-the moments that define and frustrate us,

David A. Bell

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A little more insight into the author's obssession

I am known around here at Gardner-Webb. What I am known for (or as) varies from group to group: GRD Bell; David Bell; DaBell; Debi; Dave; that guy who sits in the caf for hours on end. Most of the people who know me now have little to no concept of who I was during my time in the undergrad, something for which I am thankful.

Now, it's not that I was some sort of crazy party-animal or rebel while studying to get my BA; in fact, I was basically just as boring then as I am now. However, I was not nearly as strong in my faith as I am now. I found a lot of my foundation shaken with the knowledge I was given in my religion courses-the obvious incongruities between text and our modern understanding; possible additions made by multiple authors to prove or maintain beliefs; etc. In addition, I didn't have a strong group of Christians to whom I could turn with all the questions I had. They simply festered in my mind and doubt became a constant friend.

For a while, I abandoned things like 'The Verge', upset at the hypocrisy that I saw throughout. I stopped going to church, no one in those churches cared about me anyway and the churches that did care about me disbanded. The Christian community on campus failed me-no one offered support or guidance because I was not high-profile. People knew I was a Christian and so figured I didn't need to hear the gospel (granted I didn't), but I desperately sought someone to help me traverse through the struggles of a daily Christian walk. I needed a mentor.

As a freshman, I sought a mentor in a good friend who was a senior-he was extremely intelligent, well-grounded in his faith, and didn't mind an idiot freshman hanging around with him. He certainly helped in the transition process from high school to college life and challenged me in my faith, but also encouraged me. However, since he was a senior, he graduated after that year and our friendship changed and I lost that support.

My sophomore and junior years I sought to find another person who could guide me and be a means of support. However, all of the people I turned to were my age or younger and had more inconsistencies than I myself had. Don't get me wrong I love these people and wouldn't trade their friendship, but they couldn't mentor me like I needed.

I did find quite a lot of guidance from professors, but there again that was in a classroom setting and not really the mentoring that I was seeking.

Senior year brought an awakening in my life. I saw freshmen who were unashamed of their faith and lived it out proudly and in your face. They challenged me in my faith more than any other person in my life-how could I continue in my apathy when faced with such a great cloud of witnesses? I needed to get my act together.

However, I certainly couldn't seek guidance from these people who were younger than myself-so rather than study under them, I studied alongside of them. There were many who were far more firm in their faith than I was, but I knew my stuff-12 years of Christian education had drilled the Bible into my head. Their passion and devotion had reinvigorated my walk; they showed me who God really is and helped remove the cynical picture that I had developed over the past two years.

I am not ignorant of the fact that I have a presence and that people value what I have to say; I have always been able to garner credence. I am also keenly aware of the fact that I must be a good steward of this gift that God has given to me; I cannot squander opportunities that I have to minister to those in need.

Ultimately, I seek to be for someone that which I so desperately sought: a mentor and friend.

Kairos-guiding moments in life,

David A. Bell

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In which our author is frustrated and angry and uses some choice words

Note: This is an old post I found in my drafts; there is a lot of hurt in this post and I can't adequately speak to that pain now. However, the way I see it, there is a reason I wrote it all that time ago and I ought to go ahead and post it. So without further ado, here is a lost piece of my blogging life:

Have you ever had a friend who suffers from 'kettle-syndrome'? Let me explain 'kettle-syndrome': I assume you are familiar with the phrase, "the pot calling the kettle black", while someone with the kettle-syndrome is someone who takes great pleasure or maybe even goes out of their way to call someone else out on an issue that is clearly evident in their own life and they seem to have no desire to fix the problem in their own life.

Or how about the person who joins the 'conversation' a little late and assumes that they are the only ones who are on the ball? You have been saying similar kinds of things for months, but suddenly it registers with them and the idea is so novel, they can't believe no one thought of it before...

But obviously, you don't know what you're doing, nor do you have the right motives. This person knows all and can see how inferior you really are. Man, you just suck at life, don't you? You might as well just give up, your friend clearly has better motives and abilities and can handle the situation better anyway; you would just be getting in the way.

It would really stink if this were your life, yeah? Well, I am so glad that it isn't mine, but it has been before. And let me just say that there is little hope for these kinds of friends-honestly, they are so self-obsessed that they rarely acknowledge your presence anyway, only when it is beneficial for their ends/goals. So if you discreetly remove yourself from the situation, they eventually forget who you are and move onto their next source of esteem-looking for someone who they can walk all over and use.

There's a lot of hurt in this post and so for that reason it may not be 100% accurate and part of it could be skewed by emotional hurt. But I am trying to deal with that pain through this post-so deal with it. If this post speaks to you-there is probably a reason. If it doesn't-good for you (this is not said sarcastically, I genuinely mean it).


p.s. I bet a bunch of you were expecting me to cuss because of the title; you probably got really excited too "ooh, David's gonna cuss, I gotta see that!" Shame on you.

"After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, 'Listen to Me, all of you and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man." Mark 7:14-15

"With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;" James 3:9