Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Feel Like This Sometimes

God, give me the strength I need to keep on walking.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Taking Risks

Safe. A Haven of Rest.

But is it?

What have we created? How have we twisted one of the most beautiful gifts we have received into something mutated and fragile? We push those we need the most away because they offend us, they challenge us, and they make us worry about security. Suddenly the entire world is put into flux, and we are tossed and thrown about, unsure of when it will stop.

But I wonder if this isn't exactly how Jesus wanted it to be. Think about it with me for a moment. Jesus comes from heaven, and spends 30 years observing us. Getting the lay of the land, if you will. I'm sure there were some very remarkable moments in there. At the age of 12 he was teaching in the temple courts, astounding even the learned teachers of the day. When he comes into his own, and begins his ministry, he turns everyone on their head.

To follow Jesus is to drop everything. Your job, your security, your life, your family; nothing is sacred except Him. But we've been here. This is ground that we've tread before. Jesus was not a nice man, but he was great, he was determined, and he was demanding.

Can you imagine? You tell Jesus that you will follow him wherever he goes, and the response is, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Ok, Jesus. Whatever you say.

This is the same man who goes out on a boat, falls asleep and only wakes when his disciples wake him because a storm is going to rip the boat into pieces. Lightning flashes in the backgrounds, another wave rolls over the sides of the boat, as your friends are bailing out water as fast as they can, and it still gets higher. Perhaps he even yawns a little, looks at you, and proceeds to demean you because you have little faith. LITTLE FAITH!? We're all about to drown, and he's sleeping!

Following Jesus is risky business. So why have we made it safe?

Jesus will take care of you. Jesus will wash away all your fears. Jesus will shelter you from the storms of life. Is this really true? Did Jesus himself say any of these things, or are they anecdotes we have made up to comfort ourselves?

Jesus will take care of us, but not always in the way we want. He will do what is best for us, not what is easiest. I'll be honest with you, that sucks. It puts you right in the middle of things, and He'll ask you for everything you have. Gold is purified through fire, and so are we.

Jesus will wash away all our fears. I have been doing some thinking lately, and my young mind has begun to realize that most of my decisions are made out of fear. Fear of losing something, of gaining something, of being something, of being seen as something, etc. Jesus gives us the freedom to choose another option than fear, but he doesn't rip it from our hands. That's up to us.

Jesus will shelter us from the storms of life. Do you know of one great Christian who could testify to being sheltered? Jesus keeps us afloat. Jesus makes sure we don't drown, but Jesus also puts us right out in the middle of the lake. He does this so that we are very clear about who is guiding the boat, and who is in control.

Following Jesus is hard. So why do we spend so much time trying to make it simple?

Taking risks is a core characteristic of following Christ. He will ask you for everything, absolutely everything, and you will realize that you take many things sacred that you never knew about.

The next time you walk into a church service, ask yourself the question, what risks am I taking walking through these doors? What risks could we take to follow after Christ? Am I really sold out for Him?

Just asking those questions is taking a risk... He might answer.

Sometimes It Just Hurts

Sometimes the best things for us are the things that hurt us. When you get shot with a bullet, you must pull it out, and cauterize the wound before you bleed to death. Both of which can be extremely painful. Pushing pincers into a hole in your skin to grab a metal object and rip it from your body cannot be an experience anyone would wish upon themselves. Taking another hot metal object and touching it to their gaping wound to essentially burn themselves is also unpleasant.

Yet both are necessary for survival.

So we move forward in our lives, taking bullets, and healing from them. But none of this makes it easier. Each wound is fresh, and it hurts. Some bullets go deeper than others, and I'm in the process of pulling one right out of my heart. I don't enjoy it, it's not fun. But it is necessary to move forward, upward and onward.

The Fray - How to Save a Life

Step one you say we need to talk
He walks you say sit down it's just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
Some sort of window to your right
As he goes left and you stay right
Between the lines of fear and blame
You begin to wonder why you came

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

Let him know that you know best
Cause after all you do know best
Try to slip past his defence
Without granting innocence
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you've told him all along
And pray to God he hears you
And pray to God he hears you

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

As he begins to raise his voice
You lower yours and grant him one last choice
Drive until you lose the road
Or break with the ones you've followed
He will do one of two things
He will admit to everything
Or he'll say he's just not the same
And you'll begin to wonder why you came

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life
How to save a life
How to save a life

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life
How to save a life

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I've always wondered why churches seem to be a cess pool for undesirable people. Why pedophiles, rapists and perverts seem to find a home within a church, and often go unchecked until a scandal breaks out... and then is quickly brushed under the carpet. I wonder these things because it doesn't strike me as the kind of Church that Paul, Peter, or Jesus would have wanted. It doesn't align with the way the Israelites were commanded to deal with sin, and no where in the Bible have I read, "Thou shalt forgive others unconditionally."

Let me clarify this a little more, before you begin to think that I have gone off the deep end of my theology. I am not abdicating a system where forgiveness cannot be found. I am not condoning a system where judgement is handed out readily, but only one of fairness and a prudent look at the true character of a person, rather than the naive hope of betterment.

The Bible advocates this method clearly. Jesus himself laid it out in Matthew 18:15-20. And what happens if he refuses to listen? Treat him as though he doesn't belong.

How many churches have you been to recently that follow this simple guideline? Talk to the person one-on-one, talk to the person with others, and if they still will not have a repentant attitude, confront them as a church. And if they still refuse? Discipline.

Perhaps I'm being blunt here, but the church has generally become weak, in it's attempt to become nice. Jesus was not a nice man. He got right to the heart of issues, confronting people with their sin. He had ample time for those who were willing to listen and learn, but he was downright rude to those who's hearts were hard.

Tell me, who do we invite in our doors today? Who do we put in positions of leadership?

Is there accountability in church today?

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Acts 2:37-42

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
You have to wonder. The church in Acts was particularly relevant to their church. Our society is run by products and people that strive to be relevant to the culture, and yet when it comes to Jesus, we like to shrug it off and say that we are called to be apart. Yet I struggle with the question how. How are we called to be different? Should we separate ourselves entirely and form colonies for believers? Surely we can all see the folly in that. Are we to always wear suits and ties, and put our best image forward? Are we to avoid all the places where we might be seen with sinners, as to separate ourselves?

Somehow, it seems to me that these actions are those of the Pharisees, not of Jesus himself. Jesus went and dove into the world of prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. He waded among the common people, attending weddings and walking through towns. He taught thousands of people at a time, all eager to learn more about Jesus.

But why? He was different.

Jesus didn't separate himself from the people, he melded with them. His teachings were radically different (the separation) from the teachers of the day, and yet they were relevant because Jesus got to the heart of matters, and didn't avoid the hard questions. If something was on your heart, Jesus would deal with it. If there was sin hiding in your heart, He would root it out.

Is our church today relevant? With our big buildings and fancy powerpoints, we seem to have all the tools we need to reach out to people. But a chasm is deepening between us and culture with every year. We try to be relevant, and culture pulls away. We try to be hip, and people call us fake. He try to use the latest technology to bring people in, and it fails to convey the real message.

The basics. Jesus was all about the basics. How do you live? Are you following God? Where is your heart at? He was strangely bold, and yet sensitive at the same time. Aslan is not a tame lion.

We as a church need to learn what it means to LIVE our message. Starting first with rooting out the sin in our own hearts, collectively, and consecrate ourselves to be holy. Stop the bickering and fighting and focus on the only thing that matters: God.

Then, and only then, can we look outward to the world around us, and focus on what is on their hearts. We are the salt. We are the light.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

On the Topic of Church

Perhaps it is me. Actually, come to think of it, it most likely IS me. I enjoy pushing people's buttons, and seeing what comes out. Sometimes it is something you never expected to see, and sometimes it is something you hopes you never would see. Christians above all are fun to push outside of their comfort zones, because we design church all around others comfort zones.

You walk in the door, and there is usually someone there to greet you. They have a warm smile, and a ready handshake. But if you don't want to 'confront' the greeters, you don't have to. You can just as easily slip by them. There is a foyer area, with coffee urns ready to give you a free boost to make it through the pastor's sermon this week. When you enter the sanctuary, there are ushers there to give you a bulletin, and point you in the right direction.

You sit down, usually on a comfy pew (because those old, hard ones weren't comfortable), and are free to open your bulletin to inform anyone around you that you aren't too interested in talking. It will tell you what you can expect from the morning service, the latest goings on in the local hospital, and any events you may want to attend (or avoid) for that week.

Shortly thereafter, the music will start, cuing the herding of people into the sanctuary. They will quickly sit down, trying to be as polite in fighting for their normal spots as possible. If you happen to be sitting in 'their' spot, they will politely shuffle towards you, give you a polite smile, and then start polite small talk with you.

Then comes singing. You can expect songs like, "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High", "Great is Thy Faithfulness", "The Old Rugged Cross", "Shout to the Lord", "Shine, Jesus Shine" and other such songs. Don't worry if you don't know any of them, just close your eyes and think about your week. People will be impressed, I promise. You can point your eyes to the front also, where the words will be queued on a giant screen, with beautiful backgrounds. Be prepared, as some people may raise their heads, and if you're in a particularly lively service, people may sway back and forth in some semblance to the beat.

Ultimately, there will be a point in time when some man (most likely) will get up in front of the entire crowd. Everyone will come to a gentle hush, with the strange buzz of practised anticipation. And here's the main attraction, the show. You know what he'll do? Talk. And talk. And talk. Sometimes it'll even be interesting. Some will take notes, some will nod their heads in agreement (we think), and some will sleep. Since you're there, I'm sure you'll try to pay attention. You'll have wide open ears. But after six or seven minutes of listening to a monotone drone, your mind will start to wander. Thoughts of sunshine, dinner, swimming and the ocean will cross your mind. And then it'll snap back as you remind yourself that it's relevant, and important to your well-being.

And then you'll leave. Did it make a difference? Do you remember what it was he talked about? Will you tell anyone about it tomorrow?

Is this the church that Jesus envisioned? Is this really His body? Are we the vehicle to take His message to the nations? Somehow, in it's current iteration, I doubt it.

So what then? I don't know. But I hope you'll journey with me as I seek out that answer.