Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Remaining Ignorant

I think it would be easier if I would have just remained ignorant. Life is easier that way.

Its harder to sleep at night knowing that there are 27 million slaves in the world.

Its harder to wake up on Sunday morning and find out that the Kentucky Wildcats pulled ahead and beat the Bulldogs after I went to bed.

Its harder to love after knowing a wound so deep.

It would be easier to remain ignorant. But that would be foolish, wouldn’t it.

And a lot of times, I feel that reading Scripture complicates life, rather than simplifies. Take the book of Job for instance. Life would be simpler had I not read the book of Job.

To surmise, Satan makes a wager with God. Satan claims that Job only worships God for what God has done for Job. God suggests otherwise. God allows Satan to strip Job of all blessings to see where Job’s worship rests.

Job suffered.

Job suffered more than I could ever imagine.

Job suffered because his faith in God mattered to God. For no other reason than it mattered to God.

He didn’t deserve to lose his children.

He had no great sin that ruined his financial enterprise.

Simply put, Job’s misery mattered to God.

It would be easier for me to allow you to remain ignorant. But that would be foolish, wouldn’t it. I want you to know that your suffering, your faith, matters to God.

My suffering matters to God.

In the end, Job is restored. God healed Job. But that wasn’t the point of the wager. God and Satan wanted to see if Job would worship God even if Job was never restored. Would you worship God if your suffering never ended? Would I?

That question hurts, doesn’t it? It hurts like a scalpel. Cutting deep. But this deep cut is for healing purposes.

What would it take to make today’s ‘No’ become tomorrow’s ‘Yes’?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Change Provided: An Afterthought

This is an afterthought of Meredith Grady's production of Change Provided. Meredith wrote, produced, and starred in her own play. My favorite part? Dr. Ellington took off his Theology Professor hat, slipped into his camo fatigues and played the part of a Vietnam vet with little grasp of reality.

Meredith's play, as I took it, underscored the importance of relationships. We all carry baggage. Although important to deal with our personal baggage, we don't have to have it all together to develop relationships.

We are broken. Insert whatever jargon or Christian-ese you want. Christian or non-Christian. Saved or un-saved. Regenerated or pre-regenerated. Broken. We are all broken.

Just in case you think otherwise, becoming a follower of Christ does not fix all of your problems. Yes, your sins are forgiven, and yes you can now have a relationship with a holy God. But no, your problems will follow you.

And thats what Meredith communicated in her play. Do not allow your brokenness to prevent you from developing relationships. Rather communicate your brokenness and allow for God and others to heal you.

Her play? I laughed, I fought back tears, my soul smiled.

And Meredith, I loved the witty title.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Naturally Supernatural or Supernaturally Natural?

Yes I believe in the supernatural.

Angels. People raised from the dead. Thousands fed with a small lunch. Prophetic dreams.

They’re incredible. Aren’t they? And what more should we expect from an All-Powerful God?

But what stuns me is that this supernatural God chooses to work in the natural.

You. Me. The church.

With all of the evil, injustice and corruption in the world, people ask, “Where is God? He could fix everything in one swift moment.”

Does this supernatural God just sit on his hands? Not quite. Rather, we as Christians make up the body of Christ. We are his hands and feet.

“Where is God?” they ask. To which the reply should be, “Where is the Church?” Where is the collection of believers of the supernatural God who can use their natural resources to relieve so much suffering in the world?

So what needs to change? I think our attitudes do. We ask God to answer our prayers, thinking he holds the answer. Maybe God wants us to understand that our hands are the answers to our own prayers.

Are we naturally supernatural or supernaturally natural?

Here are some ways you can be his hands and feet.

Compassion International

Wellsprings Living

TOMS Shoes

Lastly, TOMS shoes have some GREAT new shoes this month! Check them out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Woe to you who are the Strongest

Cait and I were wondering how well we knew each other.

If we were on a gameshow, we’d have to know the right answers. We can’t allow ourselves to get on national TV just to embarrassingly miss answers.

“What is your biggest pet peeve?”

“Stupid people,” she replied. “Stupid people that hurt other people.” I’m glad she clarified.

“Mine? Apathy.”

There is nothing that makes me angrier faster than apathy. Nothing.

The story of Judges is a story of failed leadership. Particularly Samson. The nation of Israel, the people of God, are oppressed by the Philistines. And the Spirit of God rests on one man to liberate the nation: Samson.

Samson is given supernatural strength to accomplish this. There is no man in history more physically capable of defeating the Philistines. So what’s Samson’s problem? He doesn’t care.

Everything Samson did in his life glorified Samson. The mighty acts recorded in Judges are only motivated by revenge, adultery and apathy.

We wrongfully glorify Samson’s last act if we attribute him redemption.

“O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” (Judges 16:28)

For his eyes?! Not for the years of oppression. Not for his repentance from apathy. Not for God’s glory. But for his eyes. For vengeance.

So what for us in the here and now? If you are reading this, then you have a computer and internet. You have power, just as Samson did. His was brute strength; yours is wealth, information, and connectivity.

There are 27 million people in slavery today. More now than ever in history.

Do you have Samson’s apathetic attitude? Or do you care?

I find no need to start another movement for these 27 million slaves. I am not smart enough nor influential enough to start one. Rather I want to help International Justice Mission who already confronts aggressive human violence, violence that strips widows and orphans of their property and livelihoods, violence that steals dignity and health from children trafficked into forced prostitution, violence that denies freedom and security to families trapped in slavery.

This is just one of many organizations that you can support.

Do you care? Or are you apathetic?
Learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
(Isaiah 1:17)

And always remember Martin Luther King Jr.'s words,
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What I learned from playing Apples to Apples

So there we were.

Sitting on the floor playing Apples to Apples. It was a group of us twentysomethings hanging out for the first time. The circle was mixed with old coworkers and new friends.

I flipped over my card and it read ‘Mid-Life Crisis’. I muttered under my breath, “More like a ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’.” I’ll never forget what I saw in that moment. Everyone’s eyes slowly widened, they looked at me and muttered one word “Yes...!” Especially Kevin. Kevin has it all together. Kevin is incredibly relational, independent and respectable. And I could tell from Kevin’s face that he knew this term all too well.

I couldn’t believe how those three words threaded us all together. A quick John Mayer quote and I could tell that everyone there felt the same way I did.

It’s the who’s what’s when’s where’s and why’s that petrify us, isn’t it? It’s the feeling of wasted time, the fear that we’re doing it wrong while everyone watching. Or worse, nobody cares.

I’m sure most of you reading can relate. Is it refreshing to know that most people at your stage of life feel the same way? Even those of us who ‘look’ like we have it together, don’t have it together. At best, they’re winging it. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe its time for us to let go of ‘needing to know’ and worrying about if we have it together or not.

To quote John Lennon,
“Life is just what happens to you while your busy making other plans.”
Be present. Always learn.

I say all of this for two reasons. First, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And second, I need to hear this more than anyone else.

Lastly, I leave you with what Jesus said on the topic.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25, 33-34)