Sunday, November 30, 2008

Psalm 73

I have let "the prosperity of the wicked" undermine my sense that God wants me to enjoy life. I have felt the emotion of envy mentioned in Psalm 73:3 because others have prospered and I have not.

For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

I find myself humbled by Psalm 73:13-15. In the past I have spoken when I should have been silent. I have shared when I should have listened. I have said many things in the past, from a place of hurt, that would have been better left not said. I have spent many hours searching my own pain internally meanwhile my Savior is sitting alone in my heart wanting me to be with him.

13 All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

It is so important to not let our emotions like envy, exhaustion, regret, and disgust overcome us. Instead the Psalmist is saying we need to renew our hope in the glory of the Lord.

We also have the added benefit of Christ who relieves our suffering and brings a greater sense of fulfillment to it. So let us remember to careful choose our words and be wise in how we speak them to others. Our hope is in Jesus fulfilling his promise not prosperity in this lifetime.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year. I love it so much because it is really been the most impressive time for me to see the community of my students come to life. So many wonderful years have been spent watching college kids come home after their first months at school, while others come back to visit as young adults with jobs. It is also great because I know my high school students get such encouragement in their faith by watching the richness of the relationships between the older college students and their adult mentors and spiritual leaders.

I am most thankful for the picture that God gives me every year as this transpires. It truly is a moment where the church truly is the church in my life. I long for the day when we will all have rich relationships with one another that will not have the divide of sin hurting us. I am so thankful for the power of the Cross to rid us from this awful plague that sits in our midst. I am tankful for these momentary pictures of eternity.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Civil Religion

I believe the beliefs that Maria Shriver shares in this video is a great summary of a lot of people's faith. I also think this is an excellent picture of what might be called Civil Religion. It is a crossover between the values upheld in America mixed with a sense of God. There is no real limitation on what God can become except probably what is acceptable in American society.

In a very real sense we need to explore what is going to be our main proof text for truth. I think for a lot of Americans it is the Constitution of the United States and tradition. For Christian American's it is the Constitution of the United States and tradition and the Bible. I think this is why the evangelical Christian message is so difficult to get out there these days. I think this is how the cross gets lost.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Office Favorite Moments


I have been greatly enriched by what I have learned about the radical nature of giving that was opened for the disciples of the early church. The freedom that we have in Christ to give as we are led leaves so much room for growth and intensity in our relationship with Jesus. We are never dictated any percentage. We are never given directives beyond having a giving heart in general. If anything the early church view of giving was attached to the principle give until it hurts, but don't give so it kills.

We are all mandated to take care of our family. We need to make sure the needs of our immediate family are met and that we can keep established households. It is God's intention that we live as family, provide for our family and teach our young ones to be responsible so they will do the same in the future. Yet there also is a feeling that we need to keep an accounting of how well we are doing and in the midst of prosperity we must remember others.

It is as if the blessing of giving from our resources is the promise that it won't overtake us. We won't strain so hard on what we have that we kill ourselves continuing to reproduce it. As the saying goes "Too much of a good thing kills." So I think it is important to remember it is not how much should we give, but how much should we spend on ourselves.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Two Friends Part 1

I have a friend who struggles with belief in God because of the Christians in his life. My friend has two relationships that have torn his understanding of God in two.

The first is his father. He was a pastor for many years and taught my friend everything that he knew about God as a child. It was a faith filled with fear because God was watching and he did not like what he saw. The father would motivate my friend through the belief that God had a clear set of desires for his life that were not being fulfilled.

One day my friend got an opportunity to move out of the house and move to the city. He had a crippled faith and not much hope in knowing God or being loved by him. He felt defeated and would rather not spend his life trying to make amends with something or someone he could not really even see.

Within a few years of living in the city my friend entered into the second relationship. Her name was Rachel. Rachel had grown up in a home with many boundaries as well, but little to do about God. Rachel’s parents were schoolteachers and they never really went to church. However, when Rachel was in high school she began to go to a youth group that taught her about Jesus. She learned how incredibly giving and loving Jesus really was. How he offered all of who he was freely to all who would accept him. No boundaries, no lists, no rules, just free love waiting to be grabbed. She loved every part of her experience in church and felt great about her relationship with God.

My friend loved Rachel because she lived life with a sense of freedom that others did not seem to have. Rachel loved being with my friend because he saw how precious and beautiful she was. They enjoyed their time of dating and began to pursue a longer-term commitment with one another. They began giving into themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They knew they were going beyond the limits that God would want for them, but Rachel knew how to express the forgiveness of Jesus so well it left them with shame that could be defeated by mercy. The mercy of the cross has never seemed so real to my friend because he had never seen an ounce of that mercy drawn from the well of his life. Now it seemed like a flood.

My friend began to see Jesus in a new light. He began to experience the cross of Jesus and forgiveness and mercy that flowed. He began to let go of the wounds and fears of God. He shed away the lists and the lies of his father. He began to understand the freedom in God more than he had ever experience before.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell

Marriage is more than your love for each other. . . . In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, and office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. --Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Love

I have many friends who are in love with politics. I have to say that I didn’t know how many friends I had who were in love with politics before the last election. I have been awed by the reactions of many and I am awed by how I, myself, got caught up in the whole show.

I am very skimpy in my loves in this world. When I fall in love with something or someone it gets all of my attention and most of my thought process, so I typically try to guard my heart from falling in love with too many things. Let’s take Apple products for example. I do not just enjoy my Apple computer; I love my Apple Company and products. I love my iPhone G3 (actually loved my first generation more until it broke). I love my video iPod (the fifth iPod I have owned) that is hooked up to my truck’s sound system (a graduation present from mom and dad). I love video production and photography because Apple makes great applications that allow you to play with them and have fun with them. Apple makes it, I buy it, use it and fall in love.

I also have a deep love of Jesus. I love his word. I love his people. I love those who want to be his people. I love the family of God. I love growing in my own faith. I love reading the Bible. I love reading people’s response to their reading of the Bible. I love conferences that teach about the Lord. I love walking on the beaches talking to the Lord. I love listening to music about the Lord. It is an all-encompassing affection of my heart.

I believe that fundamentally we all want to fall in love with someone or something that can lead, grow, and mature us. I believe we all want to be inspired to grow deeper in the knowledge of what it means to be human. To grow deeper in what it means to experience reality. To share in the community of life.

In the experience of cancer that Adriane and I shared together both us felt so alive in the midst of the great struggle for regaining health. There was such an awakening of what it meant to live and how precious life really was and is! It can serve like a drug though, and once the high of that drug begins to fade you can get left with a deflated feeling inside yourself. Looking for the next high, the next reality to take you to a plain of understanding of existence.

Thus we take up the cause to find something or someone who will really lead us to a different place than where we are. If there is one thing I am certain of is that stagnancy is not the best condition for man. A man or woman at rest for long periods of time leads to psychosis. We are biological organic beings that need to thrive and move forward. I cannot end in the stories I have of people who have stopped moving forward and lost great amounts of who they were because of it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

National Adoption Month

On Election 2008

I am so excited that today is the voting day. There has been so much build up and hype that I just am excited to see it come to its conclusion. I believe there is an importance to voting that probably only gets recognized if someone tells you that you cannot vote. The thing with Proposition 8 in California is how we lost our right to vote because the decision was made by a group of judges and not the people of California. I do not think it speaks to as what is right or wrong to vote on this issue, just that it should be left in the hands of the voters. 

When asking myself how would God want me to vote I believe this quote I read from The Prodigal God by Tim Keller is helpful. 

So whose side is Jesus on? In the Lord of the Rings, when the hobbits ask the ancient Treebeard whose side he is on, he answers: "I am not altogether on anybody's side, because nobody is altogether on my side ... (But) there are some things, of course, whose side I'm altogether not on." Jesus's own answer to this question, through the parable is, is similar. 
I am proud to be a part of a church that does not get caught up in politics. We do not live in theocracy, but we are called to vote with the Lord in our heart and mind. Each of us must search inside and connect with what God would consider the best for the people that live on the planet. Not with objective of just living, but with the objective they can find true hope, peace, and reliance on Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The answer to this in the form of politics is not always clear. 

I also like a lot of what John Piper had to say on this election as well. I know it is late, but if you have not voted I think he has lots of wisdom. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Counseling with Grace

I heard a term tonight that I have never really reflected upon. "Grace Counseling". What a great term. This is counseling that has at its root the cross as the answer to all questions. What I appreciated about the term however was when I heard that their was someone who was good at it. This has gotten me to think about what would good "Grace Counseling" look? I am not entirely sure but I could imagine these things would be important for reflecting about it: 

1. "Grace Counseling" requires that you bring Jesus into the equation at some point in the counseling. No matter what the goals of the counseling session Jesus has to be included. It does not really matter how big or small.

2. "Grace Counseling" requires you to acknowledge sin as the root of all the problems that we face. It takes any type of blame shifting, justification, or genetic reasoning off the table. It means that you must deal with yourself and the fact that sin has invaded your life.

3. "Grace Counseling" requires that forgiveness is going to reign in the end. Their is going to be forgiveness of others who may have offended. Their is going to be forgiveness of yourself in the process of healing the internal struggles. Their is also going to be forgiveness from God that is unequivocal. It is a deep healing that offers cleansing and renewal. 

4. "Grace Counseling" requires action in the future that comes from true repentance. You can see tangible results in grace counseling because there is going to be a turning from who you were in the past to who you are going to be in the future. The transformation of grace needs to have its impact or their truly is no counseling, healing, or grace taking its course.

These are some reflections of the implications of the concept of "grace counseling". I am sure there are more. 

Don't Waste Your Life

I recently found that Desiring God made John Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life" an iphone readable book. Find it here.