Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Sedated Life

I awoke around 4:30 this morning, and it seems God speaks most clearly out of a deep sleep.

I had all these thoughts about life. We buy these beautiful, shiny cars only to have them rust and break down. We save up and buy these homes only to have their foundations crack. We adopt these dogs and cats to cut through the tension of our families, distracting us from truly connecting. We spend millions of dollars to look really good and beautiful, to boost our sex appeal only to grow old and wrinkly. We sit in front of our TVs and computers, hours upon end, to pass the time. Or we define ourselves by what we do, thinking our career gives us worth. We fill our lives with the things that distract, not realizing that we are really sedating ourselves. We have a dozen different IVs inserted to keep us hazy and numb, as to avoid the lurking question we all dread. Don't get me wrong, those sedatives make us free great, even euphoric at times, but they are toxic to our souls because they draw us away from asking the question,

"How do I stand with my Maker?"

I had a friend from my childhood Church, one from the youth group, a Pastor's kid, who took his life on Monday. I have a former co-worker who has continually expressed self-harming and suicidal thoughts and actions for the past few months. They have reminded me of how desperate and hopeless this world can become. I think if you get to a place where you consider taking your own life, the things this world offer no longer cut it. They may have really tried to attain those things that make us satisfied, but God did not deal them that hand. Either way, all our fates are the same. We are all going to die; it’s just a matter of time and whether we rush it.

That does not change the uncertainty that lurks in all our hearts and minds. When all is said in done, and those treasures we worshipped cannot go with us past the grave, what hope do we have? None has lived as they should. None walk this earth without gravely insulting God by adopting a lifestyle of perversion and sin. There is a real punishment for our failure to measure up to God’s standard. So what now? Continue to sedate and numb ourselves or get real and face our God now? Our post-life options are illusion… we will have to take account for how we’ve lived before God. The Gospel of the Kingdom and its reality to transform our depraved lives into new ones is the answer.

The Sedated Life cannot remain intact when collided by the Kingdom of God. The Gospel of the Kingdom exposes those toxic sedatives as the poisons they are. The sedated life is not life but death. Christ come to Earth and crucified then arisen, conquering death and offering life to those who believe in Him and follow Him… That is life. That is my hope. Faith in Christ lived out by the Spirit’s help. It’s time to wake up and join the Kingdom.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Address to new blog

Here is the location to my new blog, the one that deals with the faith in reader-friendly terms (unlike my digestive rants as found on this site).

Enjoy and please post questions, comments, rebuttals, etc.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm Changing Things

I've gotten some feedback on my blog. I think it best to change the concept and stated purpose of this blog. Now I frame it not as a means to "get on the same page" but to digest and make sense of what goes on in my head. Honestly, the input I get is hard to make sense of, and as it processes in my head, it often comes out in crazy ways. Everything I write is through the lens of my mind. I do not have fully the mind of Christ yet, but I feel I'm getting close. Also, where I am spiritually is not where others are. My writings are inappropriate for those that are not where I am. That is why this sight will change its purpose to reflect it is for my sanity, sorting out the thoughts and theology I come across in my studies.

I am starting another blog to address the Gospel that is more appropriate for others. I hope this improves the effectiveness of sharing my faith without confusing or scaring the hell out of people.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You See Sawdust, I See the Forest

I read again today the words of Jesus regarding judging others (how we shouldn't). In Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus said that there is a log-sized problem plaguing me, the listener of his teaching, and I am to deal with it before pointing out the speck in a brother's eye. Most just take this as a lesson to not be a hypocrite by never dealing with your own crap but just criticize others. I think that's fair, but what then. What if one actually removes the log? We never are satisfied whether the procedure was done or not, but quick to throw out the hypocrite line if rebuke or correction occurs. Was it Jesus' intent by saying this that we are to be passive in our faith and let things slide amongst one another because we always have more planks to remove? Is the journey really supposed to be that isolated?

And what exactly is the log? I had the thought today that perhaps the log Jesus was referring to was our inclination to inaccurately interpret Scripture, producing and accepting unsound doctrine. We assume quickly that it is a fault or sin that must be remedied. Does not our failure to understand the Word act the same way to blind us?

I feel like I've been through the process. I've removed my log of false teaching from my eye; I've been given clear vision to see the specks in others' eyes. Is it arrogant or self-righteous of me to rebuke/reprove others if the task Jesus required was accomplished? Is it fair to say that task is impossible to finish this side of Heaven if we are given the Holy Spirit to lead/empower us toward godliness (2 Peter 1:3)? Are we, as a Christian whole, copping out on our duty to correct and rebuke and teach these days (2 Timothy 3:16-17)?

My roommate thinks I am taking things too far by saying Christians should expect persecution to occur if they're doing it right (2 Timothy 3:12, Matthew 5:10-12; 10:22). It's more complex than that: he thinks it's dangerous to not consider Scripture regarding persecution in context, and understanding that what was said on the matter was for then and therefore not automatically transferrable to our time. Where persecution is a possibility, in his mind, it is not a guarantee since religious tolerance is greater these days (I am running the risk of botching his position by stating things in my own words and not his... I feel his general thought process was decently presented to suit my purposes).

I whole-heartedly disagree for reasons I will get to. I hadn't the time to share my reasons with him this morning, but what fuels my position is the underlining concern over false doctrine I see prevalent in the Christian milieu that I cannot speak on my roommate's behalf whether he holds the same level of concern I do. Mainly, I see the gospel as diluted if not distorted, and the implications are that what is presented to the world is tolerable and non-offensive; the problem being that it is not the true gospel, that which is pleasing and desired by God to be proclaimed to the world. So, to contextualize Scripture on persecution as unlikely for our time and culture, I think is grave if what we assume is an okay practice of Christianity is likely a false gospel that poses no threat to the world.

I believe the same implications that the first Christians faced regarding persecutions when proclaiming the gospel is true of our time and culture, if we simply preach the true gospel as they did.

So what has changed? How is the contemporary understanding of the gospel diluted if not downright distorted?

Ask 100 Christians what the gospel is and 97 of them will tell you that you are a sinner, that Hell is what you deserve, but God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sins if you would just accept Him as God and Savior, resulting in salvation and relationship with Him.

That's not the gospel. To steal from Piper, GOD IS THE GOSPEL! We must start with God. To understand who God is, that is vital. God is the source of all greatness. He is self-sustaining and in need of nothing from us (Psalm 50:12-15). He doesn't need our acceptance of Him to be God. The very fact that He made himself available to us is the Gospel, because by granting us access, the KINGDOM of God is now upon us, for He has established a new world order, where the lost and depraved (us) can now live differently, as God pours Himself out in service and love for us. Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but the condition of our pardon is that we believe Jesus is the visible image of the Invisible God (Colossians 1:15), that by identifying with Him and his new order, we are freed of our old nature to proclaim His glory. Proclaiming His Glory is God's ultimate concern and purpose for creation, as it is the means by which His authority to reign will be proved (Lucifer challenged that authority, wanting it for himself). But more so because there is nothing greater to be known or to strive for than God, since is essence and nature is perfect goodness, perfect love, perfect worthiness. To know God is salvation. It is who He is. That is the Gospel... God! If you focus solely on the benefits one can reap, you pervert the greatest truth ever known into a philosophy of man (2 Timothy 4:3-4, Col 2:8), and God will not honor that. He wants to be known and proclaimed and credited as all glorious and worthy of all praise (Rev 5:9-14), for He is and there is no greater activity in existence than to do such, simply because He is that great.

Jesus said to repent for the Kingdom is at hand and to receive this gospel (Mark 1:15). He also said that the world will hate those that proclaim the Kingdom, but they will be blessed (Matt 4:10-12; 10:22). Paul proclaimed Christ glorified and was persecuted for it and told his protege to expect it (2 Timothy 3:12). The evil world does not want a God that demands recognition and submission. That is why they will hate and persecute us, if only we will stand for the true gospel.

If I'm wrong, make sure you remove your log before pointing it out. If you think your false gospel and doctrine small bananas (sawdust), remember that the eye is small and it doesn't take much to hinder one's vision of the truth.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Could this all be really about God and not us?

My pastor Kevin gave a confession and challenge to us in light of the partaking of the elements of remembrance (Communion)… God asked him whether he really believed it was all about him.  Was that not God begging the question whether we live this Christian life in light of what God can do for us? Should we not be more concerned about God himself?  He is, after all, a pretty big deal (I don't think anything could get bigger!)  

God gave me this idea to describe our problem.  Imagine a village, with no significant technological advancements.  The son of the chief leader ventures out into the wilderness to become a man and prepare for leadership.  While out, he stumbles upon the wreckage of a plane.  He is both afraid and intrigued by this lifeless metal bird.  Among the things found on the plane is a textbook of anatomy and medicine.  He pours over the images, and diagrams, fascinated and deciding to devote his life to the study of medicine, for his tribe. 

After returning, he begins to study the similarities of the human mechanism with that of the animals they hunt.   His knowledge and understanding grow, but he is far from being an expert.  One day, a valuable laborer for the tribe had an accident falling out of a tree when gathering food.  He broke his leg, and the son of the Chief, now respected for his skills of "healing", resets his leg and administers a splint for his recovery.  The leg was not set perfectly, however, and the laborer forever had a limp as a result, constantly in pain and unable to carry heavy loads. 

One day, the village is greeted by a strange traveler, in search of his missing father, an altruistic doctor who flew to this remote land to offer his services of medicine to people of the land.  The doctor’s son followed in his footsteps, becoming a doctor.  He even was somewhat knowledgeable of the language of the land, as he treated other tribes for the last couple years.  After some time, they were able to communicate and the chief’s son now could converse with the doctor on the material he had from his father’s books.  The doctor was able to speak volumes more wisdom into the technique and complexities of medicine and surgery that the chief's son couldn’t have known apart from knowing, in a sense, the author behind the knowledge. 

Is this not like us, having little ability to discover the depths of our God and his purposes for the Christian Church and life without having God himself pour his vast wisdom over us?  We have the Holy Scriptures, but apart from his empowering, we are greatly susceptible to read over the Bible with what we know as the discerning lens.  Our self-centeredness distorts our understanding of the material and our practice of this faith walk.  We think it is about us, and frame everything of this great revelation (called the Bible) in terms of how we should benefit, how it should impact us (confession: I am tired of hearing God desires for us to be saved and that He wants relationship mostly because in the eyes of the "un-reached" and some Christians too, those offers are not enticing in our culture... we can't imagine what we'd need saving from and relationships suck, even with God because we suck, so a relationship with God is no different than any other relationship) and we neglect to ever truly live out this life as the Author intended it, because we are separated from the Author.  It is only when the Author shows up and communicates with us that we see that God has so much more for us, and has communicated already through the text of what that is, but the untrained student, blinded by his or her perspective, misses that message because (s)he has not yet been discipled by the author.  

I sense that writing what I did can come across as arrogant, as if I hold the true answer and other Christians have just had it wrong the whole time.  I am in no place to claim superior wisdom.  In fact, all I know of God is because He reveals it to me, allowing me to understand His ways though I'm so entrenched in my own ways, as if I did anything to learn the things I know now.  I think it is in John that describes how the world can know those hard after God:  they obey Jesus' words.  I suck at that.  And the fruit of the Spirit is lacking in me often... So I really feel unqualified to boast, even if it is in what Christ has done for me.  I need the Body, the Church, to help me out with seeming credible.  Perhaps I feel like I know so much, because I do, but in order for God to keep my pride in check, He keeps me messed up.  Perhaps when the whole Church worships in authentic praise together to a glorious God, all He really wants of us (that and taking that knowledge to those that haven't heard yet) will be fulfilled, and things won't seem so awfully hopeless.

I know I sure feel no more alive than when I'm prostrate or paralyzed by the awe He evokes in me when I submit to His wholeness.  What is He waiting for to get everyone involved?  When will He make us all of one accord?