Goat-Herder's Salvation

I was reading in John the other day and came across this verse:
"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, howeer, they have no excuse." John 15:22

I took out my pen and wrote it down in my journal, then sat and thought about it and wrote this:
What does this mean God? Does that mean that if they don't know about you, they don't sin? But God, you say that all have sinned, that all of us have been taken from your prescense. What if you haven't spoken to the starving children in Africa, what is you haven't made yourself know to the people living in the slums of India? What then? What do we do with that? If you are a God of love, could you damn someone who never had a chance? You say that to be saved, we must love you with all of our hearts, with all our minds, and with all of our understanding, but what if an African boy has never heard of you and dies, would'nt he have loved you with all of his understanding? How can you love someone you don't know? Would you make yourself known to them? Would you make yourself know to them? Surely you would not abandon to death someone who has never know your love. Give me peace about that God, that you love them.
That question stayed in my mind all night lone. It made me think maybe doing missions was a waste, that maybe people didn't need to know about Him. It was really a place of doubt for me, just that thought, the thought that God would kill someone who never had a chance.
"What if I had been born in Africa?" I wondered, "Would I go to hell just for that innocent ignorance?"
I didn't know what to think, but finally came to the place of just saying, "God, you are love, so whatever you do about this will be from that love."
And with that I went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning and that question STILL lingered in the back of my mind.
"What is the deal?" I asked myself.
It held it's place in my mind all though the monring and afternoon. It was like the distant dripping of water, slowly rolling off the faucet and splashing into the sink, gradually driving me mad.
When I got home from a jog later that day, I started reading in Revelation, picking up from the night before in about chapter 8. Why am I reading Revelation? Good question.
Well, as many of you know for the last month or two I've been writing a book called "Caelum" aka "the mythology of heaven" which is basically a story-poem about heaven. There are angels and demons and other things in it so I wanted to do some research in Revelation, the strangest book in the bible. I'll tell more about it in the weeks and months to come. So, as I was reading in revelation, I stumbled upon Revelation 9:20:
But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that can neither see nor hear nor walk!
God gave them a chance, even at the end of the world. How much more then would he give the chance to those who don't even think there is a god? Maybe there will be a salvation for the little goat herder at the end, maybe not, but at the and of the day, where does that leave us? If it is at a place of "Phew, thank God we don't have to worry about being missionaries", then this post has not met its intended mark. What I'm trying to convey here is that, for me, putting this question to rest, or at lease in a stalemate has freed me to love the people around me. It has freed me from the guilt of not being a missionary to starving kids in Africa or of being a 'Billy Graham' type evangelist. I can now see that there is a world full of people who are hurt, who need healing, who need love. On every street corner this is someone who carries a wound. Maybe the girl behind the Starbucks counter was raped, maybe the man on the bus got beat by his father. And these are the ones that we fail to see because of that burning question, the question of the goat-herder's salvation.

The Meaning of Sacrifice

"Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" 
~John 15:13~
Watching Gran Torino the other night really made we think about that verse. He selflessly gave away his life for the protection of his neighbors, his friends. He knew what he had to do and did not shy away from it. True he had a checkered past that he wanted to have no part of anymore, subconciously driving him to this decision, but his sacrifice is beautiful none the less. Keeping that in mind, how much more selfless would it have been if he hadn't killed any of those 17 people, if he hadn't killed that one boy, if he had more life ahead of him yet. It would've been a monumental sacrifice, one that would never be forgoten. Why then do we forget an even greater sacrifice that was done for us, to save not our bodies, but our very lives, our souls. God did that for us, not just us, but even the ones who killed Him. It wasn't just a 'die for all and pay for one', no, he died with the sin of EVERY man on the earth, he felt EVERY single one as he suffocated on the cross, as crows pecked at his rotting flesh. What is it about that sacrifice that we miss? Why do we not see the beauty that lies behind it, the pure love that drove it? Why do our eyes glaze over this 'seemingly insignificant' sacrifice? Why are our hearts unmoved by that picture, by that utterly selfless sacrifice, by that pain that he suffered for us?
Imagine your best friend doing that for you, someone who you dearly love and who loves just as much, someone who has so much good in them. 

You sit alone in a jail cell. You hear the noise of screaming and you smell the rank smell fear as a thick blanket of gas in the air. Your head is buried in your hands as  tears flow through your fingers and splash onto the cold concrete floor of your cell below. You have just killed a man. You are weeping, not solely out of regret, but out of fear. That fear has utterly taken hold of you and you are scared to death of what is to come. They have just told you that you are going to receive the death penalty, and are then going to suffer eternal damnation in hell; 'you had made your choice' they said. Suddenly, you hear the sound of footsteps, and then that of keys jingling in the lock at your door. The door swings open and you look up to see the loving eyes of your father staring back at you.
"Dad , I killed a man and now I'm going to die and spend eternity in Hell!" you scream as you blood seeps down your arms from your fingernails cutting into your forehead. You throw yourself at his feet and weep into his shirt, smearing your blood all over him.
"Son, you're not going to die, your are going to live and start a new life. I am taking your place."
"You can't! I've made my choices in life!" you yell, trying to awake from this nightmare, but it is no dream.
"It has already been decided," he says as two guards take off your shackles and lock them onto your father, "Son, your life is worth saving."
"Dad, why are you doing this!?" you as, grasping at his shirt as the guards pull him away.
"Because I love you son," he says with tears in his voice and then is pulled out of the cell. Your watch as he is walked down the hallway to face your death, your demons. You sit there in the hallway, lying on the floor weeping. You look down at your blood-stained hands and realize that your blood is on him, that he is saving your life. Your know that nothing you could never repay him for this, even if your could live a thousand lives, it would not be enough. This is the meaning of sacrifice.

This story is our story as we fail to see it. We HAVE been given life, we HAVE been offered redemption. Now get up and walk out of that cell, you are free, but never ever forget the sacrifice that has been made by your loving father, Jesus.

A Bottled Up Love

Coming back from Sigma has been really heard for me, coming back into the real world. I find myself trying to get back to Ute Trail, trying to get back to that unity with Christians and with God up there on the mountain top. I cried and cried as we left, thinking that I would never be here again, thinking that this is where I was free to live. But as I have walked with God and shared my heart with him about this doubt, he has reminded me that our mission is here, that this is what we have trained for.
Think about Jesus' disciples for a second. They shared total unity with Jesus and with fellow Christians, something I only had a taste of in Colorado. But when Jesus left them, when he sent them back into the world, they did not struggle and reach for a way back with Jesus, they went out and showed the rest of the world God's love. Think about Superman in "Superman Returns", he lays dying on the Krypton island, paralyzed and held down by this earth. He finally breaks out and is able to reach out to the sun, to restore his life and purpose. And yet though he is where he draws his strength, where he is fully alive, he remembers what his strength is for. He does not stay where he is closest to his power, instead he returns to earth where he can be overcome by weakness and be held down and caged, but he does it to free others. That is why we are here, that is why we are on this earth. Every purpose in our life is to free those around us, to show them God's perfect and passionate love for them. Satan wants me to walk away from camp and keep this love to myself, to bottle it up and never share it with anyone. It is when I remember my mission and go out into the world changed and on fire for God that I become a dangerous threat to the enemy. Remember what we are called to be as Christians, remember and never forget why we are here on this battlefield:
We are on a mission, and that mission will take us places where we will be shot at and sought out. We are behind enemy lines, taking the world by storm.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, a]">

2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1-3


Never forget that.

Your brother in Him,
Christopher Coan

No Coward's Soul Is Mine

"No Coward's Soul Is Mine", by Emily Bronte

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life, that in me has rest,
As I, undying Life, have power in Thee!.

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.

Though earth and moon were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Since Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

This is such a moving poem to me, the way she speaks about God as if to a lover, with passion in her words. To see the final work of poetry, the final words of a life come from a human being is a very moving thing. The words they chose to say as they lay dying, the final words to sum up a lifetime of learning and living. As Emily Bronte lay on her bed, dying quickly from tuberculosis, her last words, her one thing she chose to say before parting from this earth was that of undying faith and total peace. When the doctors informed her that she was sick, she chose not to be hospitalized, or even medicated. Why? Why would she give up what seems to us like her whole life ahead of her when she could fight back death for some time longer? Was it because she was unhappy with the life that she had been given? Was it because of her state of mind? Was she at peace enough to leave this world without regrets or remorse? Or was it that her heart longed to be in unity with God, to walk with Him once more like she had in the garden ages past. Read the poem again, slowly and sincerely. Read as though they were the dying words of your sons or daughters.
This is a brief window into her heart, her heart overflowing with genuine love and faith for God. At that place on her death bed, lying before God and man, preparing to cross over the threshold into the unknown, she entertained no doubt in her mind. Her father would catch her, he would not let her fall. I don't know about any of you, but that pure faith and belief that she held in her heart is the kind of faith I want to have. A faith that inspires people, a faith that grows people, a faith that is faith where knowledge cannot go. A faith like that will change the world.