Tag Archives: christianity

27 Seconds

How disheartened I was to find out that I had misquoted one of my favorite movies and solidified it on a recording.

I had this thought about a scene in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It’s a wonderful scene where Molly is trying to show Mr. Magorium that he has much to live for. They’re in a clock shop, setting up all of the clocks in order to hear them all chime at one time.

You see, at this point in the film there’s a comment made about 37 seconds of time… I had always thought it was 27 seconds, so when I looked up the quote as I was writing a song, I googled 27 seconds, but apparently others have misquoted this as well… so I fed off of their misquote and immortalized it in my song… oh well, right?

Mr. Magorium: 37 seconds.
Molly Mahoney: Great. Well done. Now we wait.
Mr. Edward Magorium: No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.”

And it’s true. That moment always shook me. I’m an incessant worrier. I’m a worrying junkie. I have to get a fix. But one of the most oft ignored commands of Christ is to *not worry.* And yet, it’s the hardest one for me.

I believe that if I’m honest with myself, I love having the stress there as my excuse to have vices, as an excuse to escape and be selfish. Maybe that’s harsh, but I find it valid. There are valid reasons for stress, I’m not criticizing that, I’m merely saying that a lot of times we totally miss the beauty in front of us due to our worry and fretting.

We’re meant to be like Christ, to find him in every face, every moment… instead, we often seek comfort and pleasure, trying to escape our worry. We worry about finding ways to escape our worry.

So, I want to give you this song as a Christmas present. This is probably just about my favorite song I’ve ever gotten to bring to life… may you see the presents in front of you. May you see Christ in every moment, and find who to kneel down and wash. In my life, it’s often been my friends, kids; the people right there in front of me.

I used to pine for big ministries, but now, I see that my ministry is this minute. The small things that can give the world around us hope and life.

Merry Christmas.

More thoughts on the election

These are some excellent and pointed posts about our life as Christians in a very political world… and warning, these will challenge you out of your comfort.

From Donald Miller “The President isn’t going to have much of an influence over your life in the next four years. But this person will: http://bit.ly/RU8Xo6 “

 

My friend Luke has a very wise post this morning.
buff.ly/T2vO2r

 

…against such things there is no law

This morning I woke to the results of the election. Obama was reelected. And across the internet you’ll see countless Christians embracing cynicism. I skimmed over post after post from professing Christians stating that we should “stock up on guns” and arm ourselves and so forth.

Wow.

Why?

So, what if D’souza is right and Obama will lead us to an economic crisis?

What if America as we know it is ending?

What if???

I say, “So what?”

Yep, that may sound unpatriotic, but I really couldn’t care. I have to challenge myself to believe in my King. Jesus, the risen savior, King of the world.

I have to force myself to put all of these things in perspective. I have to ask myself “Which kingdom am I fighting for?”

Sure, I am an American. I pay my taxes willingly. I will do my civic duty in whatever capacity I am able to help guide our country toward freedom and prosperity. Prosperity being a state of being where there is enough to go around.

But there’s certain things that I won’t defend, or rather, just cannot in good conscience defend in light of the teachings of my Lord.

Violence. When Christ disarmed Peter, who was defending the very Son of God (not really a whole lot more important things to defend right?) Christ was disarming all of us. We do not win this way. Peter didn’t get it, and I don’t know that I get it very often. Christ not only disarmed Peter, but completely undid the damage Peter had done to prove his point.

Only hours before this blessed incident Christ showed the disciples exactly how to follow in his steps.

He stripped down and washed feet.

He stood before the authorities and submitted to them in the most subversive way of all; Jesus knew real authority, and he knew that the priests and officials had absolutely none lest it had been given them from heaven.

He did not have to fight.

So called civil liberties had been vastly infringed upon over the centuries with the Jews. But Jesus did not speak a word to this. No, rather, he said to pray for those who persecute you, to walk the extra mile with the robber… he stripped us of our claim to defend our lives, but instead, taught us to pour it out as a drink offering on the altar that others may taste our saltiness, and thirst for the living water that we drink from.

Can you do this with a gun in your hand?

No.

Is violence one of the fruits of the Spirit? No, rather, it’s evidence of sowing and catering to the flesh. There is a vast cycle of Christians rationalizing violence and self defense. I have to end it by starting with me. Whether in conversation** or in the light of totalitarian government, that sort of power will not spread the Kingdom of God.

The greatest movements of the Church and the most beautiful and wonderful moments in the history of our faith are built on not fighting back, but resisting with love and a bowed head… the willingness to wash the feet of our accusers and oppressors.

I don’t know what the coming years hold. They may take away every right we have to govern our lives. I will pray for them, and I will submit.

I have to remind myself, when the fear takes over, that if I am filled with the Spirit, then I will exhibit those amazing fruits laid out in Galatians 5. I have to remember what the apostles said, “Against such things there is no law”

There are no laws against us acting like our Lord.

They can take away any and every freedom that we have, but there is no law against his love… there is no law against stripping ourselves down and becoming the slaves of all that God may save them all.

May we have the grace to fight the way Jesus fought.

Married for the money – something worth reading

Hello all- a friend of mine sent this email forward to me, and I felt it was worthy of reposting here for all to see.

Now, I don’t know who Dr. David Ryser is or what he’s about, but I do know that this was worth reading… I added some emphasis.

_____________

THE QUESTION that CHANGED MY LIFE

-by David Ryser.

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of
ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching
for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become
voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most
often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of
Christianity, and it goes like this:

Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and
became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved
to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.
Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old–barely out of
diapers–and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the
last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.”
After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her
hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little
vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly.
Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked
such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I
could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only
response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body
becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”

The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We
were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded
into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in
those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare
express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.

Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her
question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t
that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer is
“Yes.” The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who
do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean
really know Him.

… I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know
God–much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we
came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do
for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to
heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don’t care if He
lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff.
We have made the Kingdom of
God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are
commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ–that’s
pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love
someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a
guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?

I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the
question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?”
I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she
does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as
you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying
me?”

For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my
motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What
would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing
for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises
and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His
children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are
His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage
that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any
conditions? It took several months to work through these questions.
Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude
and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry
that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is
something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else
to be a true lover of God.

So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute?
There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that
matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it
from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute for
unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I mean there is no
palatable substitute available to us (take another look at Matthew 7:21-23
sometime). We must choose.

-Dr. David Ryser

Red Letter Christian? I think it’s worth it

Okay class, today we’re going to do some critical thinking.

I read something yesterday that really frustrated me. I knew that it was a problem- but now I’m seeing just how deep it goes. Again I’ll say it, I’m no theologian, but I really love Christ. I believe that he truly is the very Word of God- sent to show us the way. That being said, let me show you a quote from a pastor that I found yesterday, complaining about Rob Bell’s theology.

“Rob Bell makes me mad because he preaches an anti-gospel. He craftily does this by portraying the essence of Christianity as following Jesus and treating people the way Jesus did. While this is important, living the “Jesus life” is not the essence of Christianity and neither is obeying the commands of Jesus (as important as that is). The essence of Christianity centers upon the work of Christ on behalf of sinners (i.e. substitutionary atonement). This is the matter of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3) that was the prioritized message of Jesus’ apostles (e.g. 1 Corinthians 2:2). Missing this is no small oversight by Bell. It is missing that which is of first importance! Over and over again he talks about living the way of Jesus and being like Jesus, but without the essence of the gospel, which is Jesus’ work! This is scandalous.”

Sometimes I get so frustrated at the evil rut of deception that we’ve fallen into. Somehow, we’ve made these concise little boxes to put the fullness of God in, and we keep adding duct tape and bizarre logic and reasoning. But this is God we’re talking about. The creator of ALL THINGS!!! How arrogant are we to put him in a box.

Rob Bell said in Velvet Elvis, that “…our words are not absolute, only God is absolute…” This is the sort of statement that makes the evangelicals twitch. They cry ‘relativism’… but I cry, “Have humility! Humble yourself before God and let the almighty teach you!”

Now- I’m gonna ask a couple questions that to me, make this whole idea that substitionary atonement is the center of Christianity fall apart.

So, the essence of Christianity isn’t doing exactly what Christ told us to? It’s not living the ‘life of Christ?’

Does that make anyone else scratch their heads?

And, did Christ ever teach this atonement? Because, if I’m not mistaken, he walked around preaching the Gospel… He never seemed to mention this. And come to think- the apostles don’t seem too bent on it in Acts either.

And didn’t Christ send out 70 disciples to preach the Gospel BEFORE he was crucified? So what were these guys telling people?

It just doesn’t hold water.

In his book, ‘Who Really Goes to Hell’ David Rudel explains that for a long time we’ve judged Christ in light of Paul. This is a mistake. We’ve got to learn to judge Paul- as well as everything else, in light of Christ.

And what do you get when you do this?

Well, turns out that there really is a very narrow road to walk. And Christ walked it first, to show us the way… He walked it to the death, and even kept going after that.

Christ brought us a life to live, not a bunch of stuff to stick in our heads. Everything he taught was practical and real. And I tell you the truth, BELIEVING IN HIM MEANS THAT YOU STRIVE TO DO EVERY SINGLE THING HE SAID, trusting that his words are true. And it’s funny, some say that this mentality robs the cross of it’s power. I beg to differ. This is a narrow road, and it’s a cheap faith to make the teachings of the very author of the faith, as he walked around in flesh, a secondary item to being a follower. That’s just nonsense.

Seriously… step back and take a look at that quote above. It’s typical of arguments lately. “...living the “Jesus life” is not the essence of Christianity and neither is obeying the commands of Jesus (as important as that is).” Am I the only one that finds that statement to make my brain want to pop in my weak little skull. That’s like saying “Riding your bike every day is not the essence of being a good cyclist.” Or “Eating healthy is not the essence of a good diet.” or “Listening to your friends isn’t necessary for being a good friend.” or even more applicable- “Obeying your father is not the essence of being a good son.” It’s nuts. Isn’t it? C’mon… really? That’s just nuts.

Christ brought a life, to save us from our wicked age and generation. He came to display this life and set us free. He came that we would have life abundantly. Everything he did was about a life.

I made a guy really mad the other day when I told him that we need to look at Christ first and believe him and only interpret everything else in light of him. This didn’t work for this guy. He wanted to use Paul to interpret Jesus. But I think Paul would be pretty upset at this.

Its sad how far we’ve come from truly allowing Christ to do his work. He came to show us, as a people, the Father and his nature. He didn’t want us having a warped and messed up view of him. So he walked and talked with us- to show us the truth. And then in turn, he wanted us to live out what he showed us, as a people, so that we can keep showing the world what the Father really looks like.

So is it wrong to utilize what he gave us in the manner it was intended?

No- it’s not!

Christians, it’s okay to question it all and for the whole supposed system of atonement to fall apart. I believe in the atonement… And currently, I’m relearning what it is. It may take me a lifetime to get it, but that’s okay. Understanding always follows obedience. It can look crazy at first- but on the other side, there’s illumination. I want to be okay with that. The scriptures are full of examples of people who just did not get what God was asking them to do, but they did it, and on the other side, saw his glory. This has been the case over and over and over in my life as well… how bout yours?

It’s okay to look at the compassion of Christ and realize that God is not this angry monster that Jesus had to protect and save us from. Christ said that if we’ve seen him, we’ve seen the Father- I can’t say that enough times- Christ is a picture of what God himself looks like- every action, word, kindness and teaching… So something doesn’t line up.

I believe in Christ. His way is best, and his way is the only way. Obeying him will always result in life. And I’m really grateful that I can’t put him in a box.

___________

Homework-

So we’ve all got some unlearning to do, and it’s a wonderful adventure.

Here’s a challenge that David Rudel proposed: read Mark, straight through. Mark was Peter’s disciple, and wrote the book to give people a written account of what Peter was teaching. Mark is a long version of his sermons.

Those few pages are all those people had and all that Mark deemed that they needed to know of Christ. It’s an awesome and liberating thing.

I hope that I’ve created more problems than I’ve solved today- these are good problems to have.

I pray that you open your eyes to the wonder and mystery of God. I pray that you’re in awe of him today. I pray that you meet him and believe him and do as he says.

That Jerk Doesn’t Deserve It -or- A Plea to the Christian

Today a friend directed me to the story of Bill Zeller, a young computer programmer who died from injuries he sustained in trying to kill himself. So in the end, he was successful.

He left behind a 4000 word essay, which I’ll admit, I couldn’t get all the way through. It simply hurt too much.

I mentioned it around some friends, and one said, “I guess he closed the program…” and laughed. He wasn’t meaning anything by it, but none the less I told him it wasn’t funny. It bugged me. And I knew that I could have just have easily made such a comment.

Our disregard for life… it’s sick. We are an ungrateful and numb society.

We prey on each other in the worst and most subversive ways.

We are the brunt of each others jokes… and we really don’t care.

There’s always a reason to shrug it off. “Lighten up!” “It’s all in fun” “Don’t take life so seriously.”

But can we shove our excuses aside? Can something be sacred. If we pick just one thing, may I propose ‘life?’

It occurred to me earlier this week that I’ve grown up with the mentality that you don’t give to those who don’t deserve it. You don’t give handouts to people who haven’t earned it. You don’t hand money to a guy who’s only gonna buy beer with it. You don’t treat jerks like nice guys.

I don’t know where this came from. Maybe it’s just part of the sick way we humans think. It certainly all comes down to protecting what’s mine and neglecting what’s yours. But wherever it came from, it’s wrong. Dead wrong!

So here’s where I go getting religious. To those who hate this stuff, I’m sorry, but I can’t change who I am. Christ reached in to my life and saved my life. I’m not talking about saving me from hell. I’m talking about actually saving my life… my physical life.

I was inches from suicide. I wanted to die. I hated everything that was me. I felt like a plague on my wife and kids. I felt like a vampire sucking the life out of others to keep myself alive.

But God the Father in His glory and mercy reached into my life and saved me. He brought me into a real and living Church that actually strives to live out and be the hands and feet of Christ… and I felt Him hug me, love me, and lift my head so that I could walk again.

Why?

Well, He gave it to me, and blessed me with a grateful heart so that I could give it to you. To everyone that I see.

No other reason than that.

I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t do anything to merit this attention to the creator. He just gave it to me.

This guy, Bill Zeller. He described himself quite a few times as angry and mean. He describes himself as the kind of guy many of us would walk away from and avoid. Now, I don’t know if that’s accurate, it may not be. He actually sounds like a sweet guy who was dealt a very very bad hand.

It doesn’t sound like he ever got to meet Jesus. Not the ‘confess-your-sins-and-say-this-prayer-jesus’ that doesn’t actually change anything in your life, but the Jesus that walks, talks and holds you in your pain. He touches your face and you know that He loves you. He looks into your eyes, and you look back, and know without a doubt that you could leave anything behind so that you can follow Him wherever He goes.

The living, breathing savior that isn’t just in a book but truly brings light and life into your life, and SETS YOU COMPLETELY FREE!

This is the Jesus that I met and chose to join. And this is obviously the Jesus that never got a chance to meet Bill Zeller.

or maybe He did…

Maybe you’re a part of that Jesus, but you forgot the gift of life that was given to you. Maybe you, you who call yourselves the Body of Christ (and I’m pointing the finger at myself just as much here) maybe you saw a guy like Bill in a fit of rage in the checkout line. For a split second, you contemplated stepping in to offer a hand, but then the thought occurred, “That jerk doesn’t deserve my time!” and you walked away with your conscience clear.

Maybe you saw him on the side of the road, talking to himself, and for a second thought of giving a ride… maybe buying him a burger or something. But then, you remember that he needs to learn to take care of himself. You wouldn’t want to enable him to keep being a bum right.

But you didn’t notice the darkness. You didn’t see the thoughts surrounding him. You didn’t hear the voices screaming in his or her head, or see the memories of rape, pain, tragedy and suffering in front of their eyes.

You, me, we… miss the real person and their pain.

We will continue to miss it if we don’t start disposing of our predisposition to protecting ourselves and reach in to a dangerous mind and plant the seed of love. Just like Christ did for us.

If we claim to be His followers, then there really is no other road. It’s not an option. He said that the world would be blessed through us, and He even went so far as to say that we would do greater things than He did if we believe in Him and follow His commands!

Can you believe it? I know that I have a hard time with it… but it is truly who we as the Church are made to be. We’ve been given a gift of life and love from the Father, and that compels us to give it freely to everyone that we see and touch.

God, please give us grateful hearts

Please change our minds to not just see faceless creatures, but your beloved children everywhere that we look

Please God… help us be like you

Help us to truly understand that there is no greater love than to lay down our lives and get uncomfortable with a new friend

God, please give us the grace to be like You