Underestimating a Thirst for Power

Luther wanted to reform the Catholic Church. And he thought this would happen if he just got the Bible in to enough hands. If people just heard the truth through teaching and preaching.

I identify with his optimism. But also see it as foolishly underestimating how tightly people in power will maintain a grip on their positions. Failing to see the truth if it smacks them in the face because of what’s at stake for them.

God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Bible

I’ve heard it said, and I fully agree, that the vast majority of evangelical Christians live their lives as though they believe the Holy Trinity consists of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Bible.

That is, there is a near denial of the Holy Spirit. Or the Holy Spirit can be a thing that exists, but it can’t be a person of the Godhead who lives, breathes, acts, and speaks today with any kind of real power.

This belief and reaction is partly our loss of mysticism since the enlightenment, we simply don’t buy the supernatural anymore (even if He dwells right inside of us). And another part is the widely held belief that “God doesn’t work that way.” Sad. But a lot of people truly believe this.

What if the Lord does use His word to reveal Himself to us (He does), but also put an actual living breathing helper inside of us? What if He wants to talk and we deny Him the right. Instead saying in our hearts (or God-forbid outloud), “Well, God doesn’t work this way, so… This must not be from the Lord.”?

Alternatively. What if we believe that God Himself dwells within us, in power, like He did in the Temple? And what if we believe that we are cleaner than the High Priest ever was through the sprinkling of animal blood because we’ve been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus? And what if we believe that we can enter the Holy of Holies and interact, first hand, with the Creator of the Universe? Whenever. Whenever. Right stink in’ now.

Because we can. And we’re foolishly denying God to think otherwise. What is He trying to say? And are we open to hearing Him?

Shit Religions Say

Buddhism - I can cleanse myself of my shit through washing away the impurities in my mind and body.

Taoism - If I meditate long enough, I can figure out how to empty my mind, and free myself of my shit.

Islam - If I pray five times a day, fast, do a pilgrimage, give to the poor, and give testimony, my shit will be good enough for heaven.

Hinduism - I can get my shit together if I try hard enough to accomplish the four proper goals of human life.

Mormonism - What Jesus did was cool, but I also need to get my shit together. Others might believe if I hide my shit.

Summary: Every religion in the world (except Christianity) - I’ve got shit, but if I work hard enough, I can get my shit together.

Christianity - Oh God look at my shit, I need a savior.

Men, What if Your Sole Calling is to Serve your Wife?

As Christian men, we spend a good percentage of our time wondering what the Lord wants us to do. Where we should go. How we should serve. And usually we plan on casting vision to our family and bringing them along.

But what about those stages in life where we’re called to live a support role? What if our sole calling for these 5–10 years (or our whole lives) is to make a little money so our wive’s can do what they’re called to do? What if we’re called, not to make a big impact on the Kingdom, but to support our wives so they can?

I’m curious if we would be insecure as a result.

I also wonder how many of us will stand before the Lord one day and be told, “I gave you to her because it was your calling to support her for the outrageous work I wanted to do through her for the Kingdom. Instead you made her fit a victorian model of a wife, she never left the home, and you went to do what made your name great.”

What if God’s plan isn’t for your wife to support you wherever you’re called, but the other way around? Could your theology handle it?

Problems with Your Preaching

1) It could have been taught in a mormon church without changin a word. 2) You equated Church with your Sunday morning 2 hour program. 3) You forgot the Gospel dammit.

When I'm Not Abounding in Thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. - Colossians 2:6–7

When I realize I’m not exactly abounding in thanksgiving, which is the situation an awful lot of the time, I wonder if I’m missing the first part.

What does it mean to walk in Him. I suppose it means abiding.

Rooted and built up in Him. Established in the faith.

God is the ticket to living water. To streams of overflowing. And He knew, He knows, life is hard. He knows we’ll have landlords who ask us to leave our dream home two weeks in to our stay. He knows we’ll deal with crazy people who literally cannot connect two related thoughts unless they’re screaming. He knows children will be born with disabilities or their mom’s will die of cancer when they’re young, or… or…. or….

I don’t need to continue because the list in your life is long enough to not need help imagining. But if you’re like me, you find yourself not abounding in thanksgiving. Feeling an awful lot like the well is dried up rather than overflowing with living water.

We need to abide.

The good news is that we do abide in Him (and Him in us) whether we’re aware of it or not. We just need to lean in, to draw from the well even when it seems dry.

Walking in Him doesn’t happen in our own strength. Our being rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith, that happens because He is good to us. Sufficient for us. Because He died for us we get to abide. And there is thanksgiving despite the struggles of life.

God I need help to lean on you. To be established and built up. To have the joy I had when I first found you. I need thanksgiving when I don’t feel thankful at all. And I need you for it. I can’t conjure it up because it isn’t inside of me. It comes from you. Help me to draw on it.

And He Healed One? (John 5:2-9)

“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids-blind, lame, and paralyzed.” - John 5:2–3

And Jesus walked in and healed … one??? Can you imagine being one of the other invalids in this pool and seeing Jesus come in and heal one person?

There was a reason people flocked to Jesus. When we are sick we want to be better. My neighbor’s wife died of cancer five years ago when they had a 4 year old and a 1 year old. How do you recover from that?! He hasn’t.

Moreover, others are healed. How can you see others recover and make sense out of it?

The brokenness of this world is too often tied up in pretty little knots by those who were healed, who were saved. And don’t get me wrong, the favor of the Lord on my life is something I can’t make sense out of. And I pray for and hope for safety for my family. But this is a world with evil in it.

I don’t mean to breed fear, I mean I wrestle with the Lord constantly over why He shows me this kind of favor. I don’t want Him to stop, but I can’t make sense out of it.

When Theology "Justifies" Foolishness

When the Europeans were first arriving in the North America they were rejoicing over the slaughter of the natives. They’d share the gospel and, without near immediate repentance, they would slaughter and somehow feel guiltless as they moved on.

Today, missionaries are trying to learn how leave as little collateral damage as possible. But we still don’t have it figured out. Partly because our theology justifies our actions to ourselves now as it did then. Just for different things.

In what things do I use my theology to justify my actions—and will I one day believe I was way off base?

Comfort's Relationship with the Supernatural

Our level of comfort seems to affect our ability to see the supernatural. The more comfortable we are, the less we ask for the supernatural, or expect it, because we don’t feel we need it.

Certainly the finances to put food on our own table day in and day out has us seldom praying for food. And as such, the Lord doesn’t need to provide it supernaturally. But when you’re hungry, and your kids are hungry, you pray and pray, and your expectation that the Lord will provide is heightened because He has to, and He does.

The more spiritually oppressive the place is, the more you beg for mercy from the Lord just walking down the street. In the beautiful resort mountain town, you might be thankful (and you should be), but you probably aren’t begging the Lord to help you make it the next three hundred yards. When you’re sick, and the street is covered in filth, and the people are miserably lost and hopeless around you, then even making it to the next block requires incredible dependence on the Spirit, and the Lord provides.

God is not done acting in supernatural ways, be that in healing or other more controversial things. He is at work right now, all over the world. Even in your life (if you’re a believer you can be sure of this), but you might be less likely to expect it, or even to notice it, if you live in an incredibly comfortable place.

Living comfortably is not a bad thing, but be careful writing off the supernatural as a thing of the past just because you’re in a place of never needing it.

Good Christians Don't Play Video Games

A few years ago, when we were home on a furlough, a couple had us over to talk about our missionary life. After talking for a bit the father mentioned to me that his son liked to play video games, he said this with some disappointment in his voice. I didn’t notice at first and I expressed excitement. I also like video games. I talked with his son about the games I played when I was a kid and we laughed about a few he still knows.

But apparently I did that wrong. The father wanted me to condemn it. Maybe I should have been “hyper spiritual.” But I’m not. And I don’t think pharisaical behavior is something we should ever have patience for. Maybe it’s something people expect from missionaries.

Jesus saves us, not our stereotypical “good Christian” behavior. If behavior saved, Mormons would be a lot less hopeless.

Whatever the case, the meeting was over.

Sorry I disappointed you.

God Give Us Maturity, Patience For Your People

If you're in ministry, you know the feeling. You're sitting around a table and taking prayer requests—you have exactly 90 minutes to pray for just about every need in your church or ministry—and the person you're hoping wouldn't start talking, starts to talk. This is the guy who starts to tell about one thing and then tangents off to another, slowing only to glance at his notebook and make sure he hits every point he spent the morning writing down. Every time his speech lets up and you think you'll be able to interrupt, he just says "um, um, um," as loudly and quickly as possible to keep anyone from forcing him to yield the stand. Pretty soon you've spent 80 minutes hearing prayer requests and now you only have 10 left for prayer.

A huge percentage of ministry is simply listening and holding your tongue while people argue over things which seem painfully insignificant. But their opportunity to feel involved is of eternal significance.

Maturity as a leader is somehow figuring out where the line is between just having patience and then putting your foot down to move on. Sometimes you need to let people just talk because this is their favorite time of the week—the prayer committee. And then there are the times where Steve shares about his struggles loving his wife and, instead of praying, Bob lectures him for 10 minutes about the importance of loving his wife. Steve knows. That's why he asked for prayer. Sometimes Bob needs to be interrupted and reminded just to pray.

And immaturity as a leader? Well, that's when you slap someone so everyone is quiet five minutes in to the meeting. Then you stand and pray for 85 minutes.

God give us maturity.

The Dehumanizing Job Hunt

Giving up a career in the mission field was hard. I had a lot of authority. And I gave it up.

Now I'm looking at a industry change, and then it's even harder. Some people can see past the ten years experience as a missionary on my resume, and many cannot. Especially in Colorado.

About six weeks ago I flew out to Denver and interviewed with four different companies. All four interviews went fantastic. But once I got an official "no" from one of them, I went from thinking "I'm the most awesome person in the whole world and everyone is going to want to hire me," to "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go file for unemployment."

And really, it's not the rejection that's hardest about this process. It's the incessant roller-coaster of emotions. My back locks up from stress, relaxes with a glimmer of hope, and then goes right back to lockup.

It's shocking to me that it isn't everyone else's highest priority to give me a job.

It's mine. Why won't the world of high-paying-with-great-family-benefits corporations get on board?

And then there's the whole depending on God thing. Because I often just start to panic and assume He's given up on the search. I know He hasn't. But I still kind of think He has.

Wonder and Information Uniquity

When I wonder about something—anything—I look it up. That’s the strange thing about the information we carry by way of devices in our pockets without wires. It doesn’t matter if I’m wondering what bird I’m looking at, how far it is from Denver to Cuba, or what movies Steve Martin has starred in. I don’t need to wait, I can know—this instant.

It occurred to me recently there are a lot of facts we used to all go look up, or ask someone who would know. How do you stain a cabinet made of a certain kind of wood veneer? YouTube tells me. Not my uncle Phil, or even my neighbor Steve who makes furniture for a living.

The problem is, results then rise higher and higher in the ranks and pretty soon everyone, everywhere in the world, stains cabinets all the same way. Or believes there are precisely 56.68 calories in an apple.

Information is now so available that I wonder if, or when, we’ll stop questioning it.

Never stop questioning it.

It's Not a Problem If It's Everyone's Problem

There are a lot of things in life for which the appropriate response isn’t to try and fix the problem, but just to recognize that everyone else has the same problem.

To realize we’re not alone in our experience or feelings is a significant part of living a satisfied life. 

On Formality

Suits and ties and expensive shoes. There are places where these are still prevelant, but they are less and less common. I had four job interviews recently and, while I wore a jacket and a tie on the off chance someone would care, I had a very large and slightly ungainly beard, and no one said a thing. Now, maybe I should wait until I actually get a job offer to assume it was fine—but it was fine. America always was an informal place (perhaps not on the same scale as Australia, yet still very informal), but formality is dying amongst the younger generations here.

Formality made sense in a world where you only saw your neighbor or church friends every few months. Where everything you (or any celebrity) said could be tightly controlled. You could put on a show. Wear nice clothes. Act proper.

But today there are tweets about poop every day. Formality is lost on us. We live in community, or something like it online, every day. And we can’t get over how funny it is.

Among non-Christians I would argue this is a culture shift in losing value for formality. Buzzfeed can write a terrible article about the attractiveness of male movie stars and then turn around and interview the president. Famous people, who could be held up on pedestals, are tweeting pictures of their messy bedrooms, or their making inappropriate comments on Facebook. We see the dark underbelly of everything because of social media and an “always connected” lifestyle.

Our generation of Christians has lost a value for formality because it wasn’t valuable in the first place. God sees our poop, and our attempts to hide our farts in crowds. He is not embarrassed by our bodily functions, he designed them. He knows we have a third nipple, or that our necks have an awkward bend in them, the tie hides nothing from God. So taking ourselves too seriously—in dress OR action—is like attempting to see ourselves as people who don’t have to scrub our own behinds in the shower to keep them from smelling. And even the richest CEO still has to do that. No matter how nice of a suit he wears on weekdays.

Don’t get me wrong—please continue to scrub your behind. But you don’t need to dress in a $1,500 suit to do a great job at work. You no longer need to appear perfect, because we all know you’re not. Your best foot forward, is increasingly, your authentic foot forward.

Formality is lost. And it isn’t coming back.

And I, for one, welcome the new world order.