Month: January 2013

Psalm 2

1 down, 149 to go!

Go read Psalm 2 here first.

I find verse 4 of this Psalm fairly overwhelming. It describes God as laughing at those who try to overthrow his plans and what he has put into motion. Can you imagine that kind of laughter? It is not a joyful laugh. It is a laugh that can’t believe the kings keep plotting against what He has set up to happen.

God is not bothered by our attempts to overthrow his purposes and plans. He is not worried that we will ruin what he has set up. He is, after all, the almighty God. This Psalm is written by David after escaping from his son Absalom who tried to kill him and become king. David chooses to respond by worshiping God for his strength and might. David worships God for His ability to be in control.

Here is one takeaway for me today: When we get worked up about anything the leaders of our country are doing or not doing, remember that God is in control. If there comes a time when our country is openly against Christians and the way of Jesus, God will laugh at their small plans.

He will still be the King and he will still be in control.

Psalm 1

I feel like I need a long term goal as I blog. The Psalms are long. Done.

I feel like it goes without saying, but you should go read Psalm 1 now. Psalm 1 centers around the idea that the person who delights in the law of God and meditates on it day and night will be blessed. Let’s break down the words delight and meditate.

Delight
Delight means to take great pleasure or to give joy or satisfaction. In Psalm 1, delight sets up those who are against God with those who are for God. It does not say, “Blessed are those who read a small  (or big) chunk of the Bible everyday” or “Blessed are those who know lots of theology” or “Blessed are those who do Bible studies.”

It says that the Bible should give us joy and satisfaction. And in that satisfaction, we are free to quit chasing things other than God. If we find hope and healing, life and love, contentment and joy in God’s word, then the way that sinners take will be less attractive.

Meditate
If we are going to meditate on Scripture, a couple things must happen:

  1. We must read the Bible.
  2. We must spend enough time with it to remember it.
  3. It must be a regular thing to stop to reflect, ponder, and chew on what we have read.

The fascinating thing about the idea of deeply reflecting on God’s Word “day and night”, is that it leaves a lot less space for us to be consumed by less important things. If we spend our day today thinking about what it means to be blessed by God and to be like a tree that is thriving as it grows in him, we have less time to worry. We have less time to argue politics or sports. We have less time for things that will not help us see God.

We talk all the time about wanting more of God or sing that He is all we need. Here is how that happens: delight in God’s Word and meditate on it.

What part of God’s word are you meditating on today?

Things I’m Learning

  • If I don’t have something to say, shut up!
  • People are stubborn. We would often rather stay hurt than forgive and let God heal.
  • Getting all bent out of shape over anything is pretty much always the wrong answer.
  • The cross is so much more beautiful and full of hope than I have been teaching students. 
  • Sleep is never overrated. I miss it.
  • My son is so very like me. I find it kind of overwhelming to think about trying to guide him toward Jesus.
  • Don’t buckle a 3 year old into her car seat, start the car and then shut the door while returning the shopping cart. 40 minutes trying to keep her happy and help talk her through getting out of her seat belt to open the door while standing in the freezing cold was not super fun. Thanks Hutch PD for coming and opening my door.
  • If God can show patience towards me, I can surely show patience towards others.
  • Climbing is really fun. I had forgotten this. Now I remember. 

There are so many other things, but that is a good look at what I’m learning. What are you learning?

The Identity Crisis in American Christianity

In the last few months I am seeing a disturbing trend emerge in the Church in the USA: We are starting to resemble and talk like a very polarized two-party system. Like Republicans and Democrats.

And I want to declare, that I will not participate in it.

I will not bait other Christians into arguments in which I am not open to learning.

I will not imagine that the way I read and understand the Bible is 100% right.

I will not forget who the enemy is.

There was recently a large scale flip out on Twitter by two influential leaders of the two different parties of American Christianity. (The two parties as I see them? Holiness vs Charity. That is really simplified, but it is the basis.) One leader tweeted something really inflammatory and the other leader came unglued. I mean f-bomb dropping, calling the guy a racist unglued. It wasn’t pretty. But the lines were drawn and people started picking whose side they were on. But here’s the thing:

When it’s all over, all Jesus cares about is if you were on his side.

He’s not going to ask about the great  twitter debate of January 2013. Or even about how you approached the gun control issue. He is going to care whether you turned to the cross, gave your weakness and sin to God there, and followed Jesus.

So, what do we do? I have a few thoughts.
1. Quit making our position into God’s position. It may allow you to enter into some conversations with a lot more humility. For example: A deeply held belief of mine is that Jesus teaches us the way of non-violence and peace. Many Christians, including most of my friends from the 1st 30 years of my life, don’t agree with me. So I enter those conversations remembering that my mind has changed during my life, so at some point, in some way, I have been or am wrong. That’s humbling.
2. Quit trying to win Christians to your part of the body of Christ. If you and your church are a hand, quit trying to convince the knees to become hands. The church will be worse off if you succeed. We need knees AND hands. They do different things!
3. Find someone that doesn’t know Jesus and introduce them to each other. Make this something you do regularly. Other things will seem less important to argue if you are busy celebrating new life in Jesus.
4. Find places and ways to have open, honest, loving conversations about your differences.
5. Realize who the fight is actually against. It’s not other Christians. It’s not the government. It’s not the homophobes or the gay agenda pushers. It’s not the NRA or Anti-gun lobbyists. It’s not Al-Qaeda. It’s not our national debt. Remember what the Bible says in Ephesians 6:12:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(P)”> but against the rulers, against the authorities,<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Q)”>against the powers<sup class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(R)”> of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Take the fight against Satan and the powers. Quit fighting with other people who are trying to follow Jesus.

Monday Wonderings (Or Wanderings)

  • I wonder why Ray Lewis makes me sooooooo angry. He’s a good football player, he plays hard, he’s a great leader. But he drives me crazy. I think he feels like an act. I’m not saying he’s not being authentic, I don’t know him. That’s just how it feels.
  • I wonder if I’m going to make it through this week in one piece. A junior high youth conference that I’m in charge of is this weekend. Lots and lots of work to do… 
  • I wonder if I would feel so ready for a Sabbatical if it wasn’t in two months. 
  • I wonder if we will ever have a food budget that feels like it is keeping up with our kids. Our pantry and fridge feel continually empty.
  • I wonder if I can model the things I taught students last night towards my own kids: Be honest, show grace, talk kindly. Very simple. Very hard.
  • I wonder if Havily will return to sleeping through the night soon. The 3 am, blissfully unaware of the world, sleeping like a log version of me misses it. A lot.
  • I wonder what God would say to my church as we prepare to vote on our budget next week. Are there places where we are giving to ourselves or building our own kingdom? May God use our budget for his kingdom and to make his name great!
  • I wonder how long it will take for me to say the new church name consistently. I wonder how long it will take people who have had the old name for 40+ years. Journey Mennonite Church, Journey Mennonite Church, Journey Mennonite Church.
  • I wonder what it will be like at the McPherson campus launch this week. I’m excited to see it go and love that community in the name of Jesus.

What do you wonder?

The Movement of God

Through the last two months of life and ministry, I think my favorite words in the Bible have been in John 1:14-

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

In the Old Testament God moves in so many ways: He floods, He parts water, He wins battles, He gives laws, He anoints kings, He brings rain and drought and the list could go on and on. He shows His might and strength, miracles happen, people see the evidence of God, but they do not see God.

And then each of the four Gospels kicks off with world-altering news: GOD HAS BECOME A MAN!!!

He became one of us. He left all glory and splendor in heaven and moved into the earth. And this movement changed the rest of history.

God came to us. That truth gives me hope as I work with students and their families. God cares, and not from a far off throne that we cannot reach. He cares so much that he came down from his throne to be flesh and blood, skin and bone.

Remember it today. Walk in the hope of a God who comes to us.

“Give me Christ or else I die.”

Dark vs Light

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
                                                                    -John 1:5

Where is the darkness around you? Maybe it is in your family, your neighborhood, the part of town your scared of, your workplace, or inside of you. The darkness is like a force, it feels threatening. It is threatening. But here’s the thing about darkness, it doesn’t do well in light. It can’t stand up to it at all.

In this new year, let’s be a people who carry the light, which is Christ, into the dark places of our own lives, our friends and families, and our communities. Let’s be like the old Sunday School song:

This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.

Where the light of Jesus shines in and through the darkness there is healing, hope, and renewal. So don’t live a small story this year. If you are in Christ, you have the light. Take the cover off of it and use it!

Where are the dark places that God is calling you to share his light?

“Give me Christ or else I die!”