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The following is something I wrote on November 14, 2006 as I waited for my flight out of SEA/TAC airport back home to Fort Worth.

Airports are such lonely places.  I wonder if the folks who design them realize that they feel that way.  I mean, nobody is supposed to feel at home in an airport, but at least they could make it a little more comfortable.  It’s all stainless steel, antiseptic white, and fluorescent lights that are set in ceilings that seem to go up into oblivion.  Then there’s the cafes and magazine shops that scream “hey, come on in and get yourself a cup of joe or a Field and Stream…” all the while they’re ripping your wallet apart at the seams.  And sometimes the curt politeness of the airline staff seems like a charade that’s meant to corral your anger, frustration, or fatigue and keep you sedated with movies and classical music just long enough for the drink cart to come around in hopes that you’ll grasp your can of ginger ale and pretzels (too many people freak out about allergies to peanuts) and magically all of your worries will fade away.

Yeah, there’s something so impersonal and businesslike about airports, and it’s all centers around the longing to get somewhere, but having to wait around until your flight leaves.  In a lot of ways, I think this reflects what life on earth for a Christian is like.  Just a few more minutes of waiting at the gate and then we get to board the plane that’ll take us home.

And in the same way, I think there’s this longing, this gnawing feeling in the back of a Christian’s mind that something isn’t quite right, and that things aren’t what they should be.  It’s kinda like when you get halfway to work or the grocery store and you realize you’ve forgotten your wallet.  Only your wallet in this case is the innocence that was lost in the Garden of Eden, and this trip back involves lots of painful memories, frustration, and the humility that comes with repentance.

So we sit at our desks or in our beds and we think, we scheme, we plan out how things need to go for the right stuff to fall in line so happiness will finally break through the clouds of fallen frustration, but that’s never the way it goes.  Crap happens, things break, plans change, and it rains.  Especially in Seattle, which is where I’m at right now.

Anyway, the Bible says that we’re supposed to live like Christ is coming back tomorrow, or in the middle of the night.  I like that… it gives me a sense of urgency and purpose with where I’m going… makes me study harder for my seminary classes and be more intentional with my conversations.  But in the mean-time, I’ve got papers to write, phone calls to make, and that cup of joe that cost me half my spleen has hastened a trip to the bathroom that I hadn’t planned on.

But God also says that Jesus will return someday, riding on a white horse with an army of angels hot on His heels. He’ll save the day and the whole earth will be judged, some going to heaven, some going to hell. I don’t speak of this lightly, but I do think of it as something that is intangible… incredibly hard for me to understand. And I’ve realized after reading and thinking about the book of Revelation for a long time that my time is much more effectively spent studying the same things i’ve read a thousand times but still haven’t been able to live out. Or praying for my friends and letting them tell me what’s going on in their lives, because in doing so I learn so much more about God (through their eyes) than I ever thought possible.

So I find myself sitting in this airport, hanging out, waiting for my flight home just like everyone else and I catch myself wondering where everyone else is headed.  Some are going to Denver, some to Chicago, some to Alaska… but everyone at terminal A8 is going to Dallas, connecting over to Atlanta.  I sit, reading and studying my time away trying not to let this dull ache of loneliness seep too deep into my bones.  I wait, like creation, with eager expectation for the last boarding call, then the plane door closing, then for my plane to finally break through the clouds into the clear night air as I’m on my way home at long last.  Only then will I get to rest my eyes a little while, and then spend the rest of the evening at home with friends, laughing and sharing stories of my trip as well as theirs.

I can’t wait till we get to heaven and we can share our stories with each other by the warm furnace of God’s throne.  Then and only then will we be truly Home.

These woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep
— Robert Frost —
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

“In an airplane are kings and common men
at the window side by side, their view is now the same.
Some relax and rest their eyes; some sit on the edge
as we all break through the clouds into the light of day…”
— Bethany Dillon —

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Update – Recent Happenings

Hello blog-readers!
Just a quick update to let you know what’s happening at Death to Life…

First, Death to Life has successfully moved to WordPress!  I’m still learning the formatting and setting up the new features, but so far it’s way more user-friendly and cooler (in my opinion).  If you have any feedback or see any glitches as you read and explore the new site, please either comment on this post or send me an email and I’ll get it figured out.

Second, I’ve been working pretty diligently to set up a schedule for posting.  As such, I’ll put up new posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (hopefully).  The Monday posts will be things that I wrote during my seminary days (or thereabouts) but am just now putting on here.  The Wednesday posts will be new stuff that I’m currently writing (questions, other random topics).  The Friday posts will be a new kind of series called “Friday Throwbacks” which will be highlighting previous posts to keep them fresh and remind me of where I’ve come from.

Third, (get excited!) I’ve made some strides to host my blog on – I purchased the url and am in the process of getting familiar with the way this whole thing works.  It’s a little intimidating for a liberal arts major to be working with so many acronyms, numbers, and strange words but it’s beginning to come together.  My goal is to have it live early next year if not by the end of this year.  I’ll keep you updated as things happen.

Lastly, thank you for reading.  It’s a joy to speak with you in real life and to answer your questions and interact on all of the different avenues we have in our infinitely connected world.  Please keep the feedback coming, and I’ll do my best to keep up with writing and posting as often as I’m able.

Grace and Peace,
– NJ

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Death to Life turns 1

Well, it has been a year since I first started this endeavor and I have to say it’s been an interesting one to say the least.  I have thoroughly enjoyed writing my posts (check out the first one here), even though I honestly don’t know who reads what I have to say.  Several people have outed themselves at various times with comments either on my posts or on Facebook/Twitter, or in person, and the feedback has been encouraging.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to write and I appreciate all of you who take a look at what God is and has been doing in my life.

This being the one-year birthdiversary of the inaugural post, I’d like to take a look at how this whole thing has shaped up, and then I’ll lay out a few goals/ideas for the next year or so.

First, we’ll start off with a couple of stats: I have posted a total of 28 times in twelve months – the highest number of tags being random musings (15), theology (14), daily living (8), and questions that friends have asked me that I thought were interesting enough to put on here (8) – there is obviously some overlap.  I have no idea how many visitors I get or how often they visit because I’ve had no way of obtaining that information, nor do I know what I would do with it.  Second, I’ve enjoyed posting Lastly, I gave the blog a facelift a few days ago and I like the new look.  There are still a few things that I’m trying to get used to and need to work out, but overall I think it’s a pretty solid improvement over what I had.  It’s been a good year and I’m pleased with where I’m at – but I’m not satisfied… I think there’s a lot more to do this next year, which brings me to my next point.

Where I’d like to go with this over the next year, should God’s sense of humor persist and his patience with me prevail:
1)     I would like to develop something of a regular posting schedule – whether that is once a month or once a week I won’t know until my seminary schedule is no longer existent (I’m definitely excited about graduating in a couple of weeks!).
2)     I would also like to greatly expand the topics and types of posts to include: book, music, and movie reviews/discussions; this-day-in-history and related factoids; more series of postings; maybe a few more picture postings from my travels; possibly some interviews and/or conversations; and then a few other things that are to be determined.
3)     I would like to make use of the Amazon widget on the right side of the page to help sell books and maybe make some cash – but that depends on your willingness to read my blog, take my recommendation seriously enough to make a purchase, and then make your purchase via my blog.  That seems like a pretty tall order.
4)     Somehow I’d like to tease out some more conversation and discussion on here, but we’ll see how that goes – that’s not exactly a clearly defined goal, but whatever.
5)     I would also like to figure out how many of you there are and who the heck you are… I’m still working on that, and whether that goal is met with success or dismal failure, you probably won’t ever know.
6)     Lastly, I get a fair amount of people who ask me questions about random theological and biblical topics, and I would love to incorporate that into my blog somehow – maybe start a page for question submissions or something like that.  I’ll have to do some work to figure that whole thing out.

A few things that I do not want to change:  I want my blog to continue being a place of open discussion and interaction.  I also want to stay fiercely dedicated to being authentic, real, raw, and mostly unedited (I rarely, if ever, proofread or edit anything I write).  I would love to continue growing as a writer and as a Christian, though I must say I am at the Lord’s mercy for both of those.  I have done nothing to acquire either of those precious gifts, and I pray that I use them to God’s glory.

Thank you for indulging me once again – I appreciate your willingness to read what I write, and I look forward to hearing from you in one way or another on down the road.

Grace and peace through Jesus,

– nj

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Obligatory First Post: The Inaugural

And so it begins…

First off, this blog will (hopefully) be my humble attempt at sharing thoughts and keeping a record of the goings-on in my life for my close friends, random acquaintances, and anyone else who would care to give me the time of day. Among other things, it will most likely contain thoughts on Scripture, books, music, humor, and anything else that strikes a chord in my mind.

As a word of self-introduction, my name is Nathan Johnson and I’m currently a 25 year-old seminary student who grew up in a decent-sized town in west Texas. The most incredible life-changing thing that’s ever happened to me occurred while I was still in elementary school… God worked in my life and, despite myself, gave me the faith – by His grace – to surrender my life to His will. I was baptized several years later as a senior in high school, which is when my true passion for Scripture and a life devoted to following Christ began. After graduating from high school I made my way down to College Station to attend Texas A&M University where I spent some of the most memorable and formative years of my life. I majored in Psychology and tacked on a History minor before graduating in May ’06 and making the move to Fort Worth to follow my calling into ministry. I am now at the tail-end of my seminary experience, and am excited to see what doors God will open and where He will lead me. I pray that at some point I will get the awesome responsibility and blessing of being a husband and father (in that order), and at some point use my gifts to both serve and edify the Church as a pastor, teacher, disciple-maker, and leader.

I do know that God will never leave me or forsake me, and that whatever happens to or around me – be it good or bad – will be for my good and His glory. It is in that hope and promise that I have put my faith. God has seen fit to give me a unique set of gifts to worship and glorify Him, and I pray that through them I bring Him honor and not shame.

Beyond that, I thoroughly enjoy reading, writing, long conversations over cups of coffee, traveling, steaks, hunting and fishing at my family’s ranch, cold weather, snowy mountains, deep Scriptures, and good theology (I’ve also been known to dabble in photography and guitar playing, but I’m an amateur at best in both fields).

I would appreciate any input that you would care to voice on anything that I post… feel free to say whatever is on your mind and we’ll get a discussion going.

The last thing that I would leave you with on this first post is a quote from one of my personal heroes, Martin Luther: “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”

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