Blessed are the Right? Really?

00 There are loads of assumptions in our Christian culture about who the righteous are; who the right ones are.  There is an innate evangelical obsession to establish a status of who’s right and who’s wrong before the eyes of an all-watching God.  The Clamoring Question I believe this emotional paranoia was just as much a heated concern in the 1st Century world of Jesus as it is today.  By the time Jesus arrives on the seen there were 613 Rabbinic laws on how to be “right before God.”  This is an obvious question we are all bothered and tormented by; “Am I right? Are they right? Am I wrong, Are they wrong?” These clamoring questions are running rampant in so much of our cultures discourse and dialogue today.  We don’t seem to have another framework for interacting with the circumstances in our world.  This is what we sift everything through “what is the right or wrong way to do something.”  Or “what is the right or wrong way to think.”  It seems quite natural to primarily be concerned with this matter.  Who wants to be wrong…I sure don’t. Who’s On God’s Side We assume a tight connection between those who are […]

Is The Surreal God Making Us Insecure About Being Missional?

00 We all have a picture of God floating around in our head. I call it the Surreal God. Our imaginations entertain a God that is “other”. This God stirs up emotion, reaction and passion in us. When most think of God they filter out anything that is not super-human, super-sized and larger than life.  Just forming the word God with our lips conjures up a Zeus-like looking character who’s sitting high above the earth using his gavel to make sharp decisions about the world. For most, infused into the word God is the idea of “Bigness.”  Here is an observed dynamic, my dear friends that are not convinced there is a God especially in the conscience of New Atheism believe in the “Bigness” idea of God as well. They have similar expectations on a god if one did exist. In Christopher Hitchens book God Is Not Great he said “If God did exist he would eradicate evil, injustice, needless suffering, he would swoop in and fix this world now” His reasoning goes; since God doesn’t act like a god there must not be a God. In the mind’s eye of those who do believe and don’t believe in God I consistently find similar […]

Andy Stanley and the Appropriateness of Ambiguity

00 Is ambiguity ever Ok?  Is it fundamentally wrong to be ambiguous about what’s right or wrong?  These questions seem to be lurking under the surface in the dust up over Andy Stanley’s message titled “When Gracie met Truthie.”  Dennis Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College said of Stanley’s sermon, “It was ambiguous at best. It was a total capitulation to the spirit of the age at worst.”  Al Mohler said, “he needs to clarify his biblical stance or he’s in danger of grieving the spirit” Modern Discourse There seems to be an assumed value that ambiguity in and of itself is wrong.  I wonder where this ethic comes from?  Is it instinctual to them or is it a cultural norm?  I believe the style of discourse Stanley’s critics ascribe to take their cues more from the current political style of discourse than they do the style Jesus models.  Currently in our political culture communication has some non-negotiable’s:  1.Define what camp you fall into,  2.Demonize anybody who does not fit squarely into your camp,  3.  Apply debate techniques not active listening and 4. Defend/clarify your position at all costs.  I believe this style of discourse is more secularism […]

Misconceptions About Being Close to God: Part 1

00 There is a clamoring in our hearts to sense the presence of God. We want to be awake to God’s company, His voice, His leading. Rooted in us is a longing to “be close to God.”  But what is supposed to stir up this awareness?  There seems to be an array of answers to this question.  Here are the typical answers delivered in the most widely digested Christian books and sermons: Spiritual Disciplines: “Hiding God’s word in your heart” (scripture memorization), “On-fire prayer life” (longer, desperate, expectant, dependent), “Get into the Word” (regularly studying, feasting on deeper theology).             Connect to the Spirit – “Let the Holy Spirit guide you” (deciphering between your own internal voice and God’s voice), “See God’s activity” (learn to notice personal messages and circumstances where God is speaking to you) Identity in Christ – “Rehearse your identity in God” (I’m loved, I’m God’s treasure, I’m his beloved, I’m not condemned) “Know your True Self” (walk through your emotional wounds, experience therapeutic prayer and counsel) Serve God – “Find you gift” (Use your gift to serve the church), “Find your passion” (youth, men’s issues, woman’s issues, social justice, worship etc) Surrender Everything – “Be Sold Out […]

Why A Seder Dinner?

00 I can understand the curiosity and odd feelings Christians might have about the Seder.   I’ve been asked a few times over the years “Why do you have a Seder Dinner?”  In conversation from local pastors I’ve gotten statements like“We’re not Jewish so I don’t get it.”  and “I thought we were free from rituals and tradition.”  Both of these sentiments expose a poor narrative of Scripture and the need to remember our story over and over and over.What is the Seder?The Seder is a ritual performed by a community involving a retelling of the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt.  This story is in the Book of Exodus.  Seder itself is based on the Biblical verse commanding the “People of God” to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt: “You shall tell your child on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:8)  Traditionally, families and friends gather in the evening to read the text of the Haggadah.  The Haggadah contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings, rituals and special Passover songs.  Seder customs include drinking […]

Following Jesus Is Different Than Following the Bible.

00Beckoning people to follow the incarnate God in Jesus is drastically different than commanding people to be Bible-believing Christians. Jesus is the Word, God’s physical message, embodied for us to hear and see.  He articulates and demonstrates the very heart of God. Jesus is God’s show and tell. You might think the difference between Jesus is the Word and being a Bible-believing Christian is an issue of semantics… it’s not, it changes the way you see God, express God and live out God in the world. Whenever we talk about the Bible, Jesus-followers must remind ourselves that ultimately we are not people of a book, we are people of the Person. The book points us to the person of Jesus. If the values, opinions and postures we gathered up from the word in print don’t point us to look and speak like Jesus, we got the Word wrong at some point in the process. As followers of the Word made flesh, we must resist succumbing to an approach to God’s Word that was as popular in Jesus’ day as it is today. An approach that would unwittingly rewrite the classic passage in 1 John to say, “In the beginning was the […]

Why I Lean Anabaptist

00I’m not a denominational guy. I’ve always had issues with the whole concept of denominations. Still there’s always been something about the Anabaptist movement that’s tickled my ears. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I even heard about the Anabaptists. When I was in college I studied the Reformation but my Prof seemed to gloss over the Anabaptist movement that birthed during the same time in church history. I always found it curious why he barely mentioned them, so back then I began to investigate on my own. I dove into a book called “The Reformers and their Stepchildren” by Leonard Verdui and another titled “Anabaptists and the Sword” by James M. Stayer. I came to understand why my Reformed professor didn’t talk much about the Anabaptist’s. Reformers in the 16th Century violently persecuted them. The Protestant Reformers under Zwingli were the first to persecute the Anabaptists using torture and executions. True to their convictions from what Jesus modeled, the Anabaptist responded with nonviolence. I’m not a fan of all the paths the Anabaptist movement has wandered down. Nor do I embrace in entirety their ecclesiology. Still I’m convinced a good chunk of the principles of […]

The Surreal God

00We all have a picture of God in our head. I call it the Surreal God. We have in our imagination a God that is “other” that stirs up a bit of emotion, reaction and passion in us. Most people when they speak or think of God filter out anything that is not super-human, super-sized, powerful and larger than life. Just forming the word God with our lips conjures up a Zeus-like looking character who is sitting on a golden throne high above the earth using his gavel to make sharp decisions about mankind. Infused into the word God is the idea of “Bigness.” Those who believe in God believe he is powerful and glorious. Here is the odd thing; those that don’t believe in God especially in the conscience of New Atheism believe God is supposed to look Big as well. They have similar expectations on God if he did exist. In Christopher Hitchens book God Is Not Great he said “If God did exist he would eradicate evil, injustice, needless suffering, he would swoop in and fix this world.” His reasoning goes; since God doesn’t act like a god there must not be a God. In the mind’s […]

The Real End of the Age

00What does it mean in Matthew 13 when Jesus says to his disciples “I will be with you until the end of the age.” Jesus promises to be with them until the end of the age. The end of the age in Matthew is not the end of the whole world. Most American evangelicals quickly interpret this phrase and might I dare say read into this phrase; images of a Left Behind type destruction and the rapture of Christians out of this world during some type of apocalypse fantasy where God wages war on the earth, the devil and its ungodly inhabitants. Instead let’s look at this phrase “end of the age” in context to what the present disciples and Jews were experiencing and would inevitably face in their actual life time, not our life time. The end of the age was the end of an era, temple worship (John 4:20-) and ethnic status. The end of the age is the last judgment on God’s chosen people Israel. When was this you might ask? During the last days of his earthly life Jesus had assembled his disciples together on the Mt. of Olives overlooking the Temple. The disciples were uncertain […]