Friday, February 27, 2009


Many of us enjoy watching some TV and many have grown up watching classics and one that I remember all to well was called M*A*S*H (A 1970's hit). Now, here's a question for you-do you know what 'M.A.S.H' stands for? It's ACRONYM breakdown is: Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals. The show itself was based on a campaign of the Korean military in the early 1950's and served as an allegory for the Vietnam War.
Now, the things that all wars have in common are casualties. Some casualties are in the war zone where some lose their lives and others are scarred for life. But there are other losses suffered that both sides can relate to: families who feel abandoned, alone, and left hung out to dry always wondering and praying for answers during their uncertain times-will a loved one come home as expected or come home unexpectedly?
Truth is, we all are left wondering these same thoughts under the same circumstances...the only difference is 'perspective'. Don't be confused, because I'm still talking about a war, but it's not the kind you would normally think of in such ways. I'm talking about spiritual warfare-a struggle for identity, community, and belonging. A yearning we all have regardless of whether we're Christians or not. As mere human beings not judged on religious backgrounds or spiritual needs-we are very much social creatures and creatures of habit. The bottom line is-we all have needs.
Getting back to M*A*S*H-whenever the doctors heard 'incoming wounded' they would rush out to the landing zone-doctors and nurses included, to give each wounded person an initial assessment to give the appropriate level of medical attention: some went immediately to surgery in hopes of staving off a life-threatening wound; others, who were considered less severe were moved to a surgical staging area to wait their turn; the rest were declared dead or beyond help. This process was known as 'triage', from a French word that means to 'sort.'
Interestingly enough, we already perform such steps in our own lives. Each day we make decisions about what's important and what's not. As Christians we make decisions based on values we've already set-things that are hard or too much of a commitment are usually declared as 'beyond help' because it's too tough, things that we consider somewhat important are put on the back burner with the thought process of 'I'll get to that later' or when I have time, knowing full well we have little or no intention of fulfilling our 'self promise'-there just isn't enough time and it's just not important enough. Now, the things that are 'life-threatening': like relationships (boyfriends, girlfriends, and friends), sports, the latest and greatest cell phone, car, stereo, gaming system, or TV are important because it helps us climb the latter of popularity. It gives us the image of 'I have it all' and there's nothing I'm worried about-when in reality, we're lost-we ironically have no identity-we're too busy trying to become someone else and pleasing everyone that we have lost sight of meaning: who am I, why am I here? And when things fall apart and we find ourselves broken, we come back to the same selfish thoughts, but from a different perspective...who am I, why am I here-why am I trying so hard, why aren't things working out for me?
Now, in our search-our own personal and selfish search we have answered those very questions-we are no one yet we are so many different people around so many different friends. We think we are diversified, but really we are broken because we haven't really solidified ourselves or given ourselves any sort of security.
Our selfish journey takes us down roads that lead to brokenness because we've decided to go it alone. We've trusted the wrong types of people with our hearts, our thoughts, and our dreams. We have all lost sight of what's truly important-self in relationship to honoring God.
Sure, it's easier to throw in the towel, give up, and let the negative thoughts wrap around us and choke out the very dreams we hold so let it choke out the very thoughts of happiness we seek...let it choke out any hope for love or anything different than we've already gotten-what's the point! Right?
Instead of getting depressed and letting the devil take a foothold in your thoughts choose to pick yourself up off the floor-dust yourself off and make a choice, the right choice. Choose to live and I mean really live. Instead of trusting those who have lost your trust again, swallow your pride and reach out to those who have always been there-God, family, and true friends. Not friends that left you when it got tough and you needed them, but friends that were there even when you were wrong and perhaps friends that you even marginalized and shunned in your selfish search for greater things.
So how does this healing begin you ask? By realizing you're broken and that you've done it on your own and that you're sick of the emptiness you feel from the road everyone has taken. A great author and man of God, Henri Nouwen, said: 'the first and most important task of the healer is making the right diagnosis-a good diagnosis is the beginning.' So if you've given yourself an honest reflection and diagnosis the healing can begin. You can let go of your ball and chain. You can start to reach out to those who have your best interests at heart. While it won't be an easy process, it's the right process for you-you've already done 'easy'.
There's no time table for healing, but remember this is the season of Lent-a time of new beginnings. Lent is derived from the Middle English 'Lente' which means 'springtime'. So if there's anything you've learned from your journey, it's that there's always another day, but it doesn't have to be like it was the day before.
The choice is yours...carpediem! 'Go seize the day!'

Friday, February 20, 2009


Recently, I was able to attend an awesome concert which featured Vota (formerly known as: Casting Pearls) and the David Crowder Band. Vota has changed their name and has also changed their style-they've come a long ways from the punk band I remember from years back (when they opened for Toby Mac). One of their songs-'Honestly', struck a major cord with me. While there's no pun intended there, please go check out their song in the link provided above-click 'honestly' to watch the video.
I know I've talked about brokenness more than once, but again, I felt moved to share this with you. While we're now aware of Matthew 11:28-30 which says: 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.' Too often we forget what we're supposed to do when we are broken. In today's Church there's that unspoken rule of 'don't tell me how you're really doing, just lie'. Think about it next time you meet up with someone in the store-when they ask you 'how are you doing?' What's your knee-jerk response? Something along the lines of: good, good and yourself? or I'm fine and you? And of course, you usually get the same short confirming response that they're alright even though we're all broken.
This is an opportunity for a challenge-next time someone asks...say how it really is. See what their reaction is-do they want to get going and continuing shopping or do they want to take time to listen? Do they offer concern and ask to swap phone numbers or do they really want to sweep it under the rug?
If you listened to the song-do me a favor and look up the lyrics to it too. Read it and meditate on it and tell me what strikes you. I won't lie, there are times that I'm at fault for the very thing I just mentioned-for the sake of time and the sake of saving face, I have given the usual 'call and response' answer-but it's just not true. However, it's all about making a commitment to do better-to better oneself.
So honestly, is it any wonder why the church is so divided? Why there's a 'I'm right and your wrong' mentality? It's because we're all broken and unwilling to yield to the God of love and share our concerns in a truly Christian way that exemplifies Jesus' teachings of loving one another. You've read it in the letters Paul wrote to the people of Corinth-churches back then are no different from churches today. And what Jesus taught wasn't 'radical' or 'unpractical' was so simple that no one was willing to understand and see it from a perspective that wasn't clouded by the fear of loss or the fear of losing control of what shouldn't be controlled in the first place. Christianity is a movement of faith and it's foundation is on the hope that God's promises will come true.
While I won't get into any specifics concerning what God's church continues to argue about, just know that it isn't worth the time because it is merely a distraction that takes away the focus from the true issue-what is God's people doing for God's ministry and the fulfillment of His goals for His church? Is it our agenda or His agenda...what's the guiding principle? Is it based on scripture or is it based on a fear of loss?
So how can one know if their church is healthy? Well, first know that a healthy church isn't without struggle. However, what separates an unhealthy church and a healthy church is their ability to come together as a community of believers that is of the mind of 'if it's God's will, it will happen'-there's faith and prayer in their meeting (before and after) and nothing about it is radical, instead it is actually very practical. I would consider it 'Christianity 101'.
Brokenness unchecked can lead to bitterness and resentment-a thought process that ends up with too many 'knee-jerk' reactions and responses that aren't exactly God motivated. I am not downplaying our economic times or the struggles that many face-include family members who have recently lost jobs and those who face the uncertainty now...rather, I am saying that if we are faithful He will provide.
Jesus himself admitted He was torn, but in the end He said, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I think Jesus' ability to admit His brokenness and remain humble and open to God's will is what helped Him persevere in spite of His fear of death. Sometimes we know what kind of sacrifice is being asked of us and we have a tendency to turn back because it requires too much of us-more than we're willing to give, but if we remain faithful in Him then how can we fail?
In closing I'd like to offer up a reading from Romans 8:26-32.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


In my last blog I talked about 'The Rabbi's Yoke'. I thought I would take it a step further because I know we're all dealing with things in our lives that we don't speak of. Things that when no one is looking-we often forget that God does and that whatever isn't known to everyone else, it's known to us and to God.
I thought I would share an uplifting portion of scripture with you and it's from Matthew 11:25-30, right before Jesus was baptized by John and His ministry really exploded (not ending, but continuing like a ripple affect in history).
I use that word because we sometimes find ourselves ready to 'explode' into a fit of anger and frustration because of what we've ironically done and not done in regards to how we ought to live.
We cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary heartache and pain-we beat ourselves up when we fail and sometimes it's because of our overconfidence we fail. But the important thing to remember is that the disciples did too-heck, even 'the one' (who He will build His church upon-a foundation) spoke out against Jesus' predictions and made a bold claim of himself and failed because he wasn't listening to what He was told.
In closing, I'd like to challenge you to remember God's instructions and to come humbly to the God of all creation-come and knell at His feet and give away your burdens...and I mean truly give them away.
Now, that I've blabbed and shared the verses with you, I'd like to share one more thing. It's a song called 'Come All You Weary' by Thrice. Enjoy the song and be sure to leave me some comments on what you thought about the song and the verse. It was no accident.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Can you quote scripture? Me too! But so can the devil-he's the great deceiver. Confused? Don't be, I'm just about to say something you might not like.
Have you ever quoted scripture to make a point? Was it your point or God's? In whose honor were you defending-God's or your defensiveness or eagerness to defend a set of convictions you have?
Don't get me wrong, it's not bad to use scripture, but it does matter in regards to how you use it. Too often we find ourselves and others using scripture to back their own philosophies and arguments in hopes to prove themselves at the expense of totally missing the point of what God really intended.
Rob, in his book, said that when he hears people quote scripture like that he wants 'to throw up'. He's sick of people misusing and misrepresenting scripture to prove that they're right and someone else is wrong-God never intended it to be totally exclusionary or a tool for isolating others.
He gave an excellent example really-back when slavery was legal and even when it was on the downhill slide of acceptance or the norm...those who owned slaves used scripture to back their justifications or needs. Again, as mentioned in previous blogs, they were caught defending a wall of doctrines and only wanted to prove they were right.
He also went on to talk about the verse many denominations and males have misused from 1st Corinthians chapter 7-they often stop after verse three where it talks about how a woman must submit to their husband, but purposely leave out verse four which talks about how the husband should do likewise. Interesting huh? You can quote scripture for your own twisted use and leave out the true context for what it was used for.
Now, the Bible is meant to be interpreted because it's 'open-ended'. Here's a classic example and I've used it before: Jesus Heals On The Sabbath. The issue was that Jesus' definition of work was different from the definition and convictions of the religious leaders that were there to witness. He calls them out and asked a simple question-what do you think God would want us to do today...nothing (evil) or something (good)? Of course, I paraphrased there, but more or less that was the issue.
I mean who defines work and who defines rest? What if work to one person is considered rest to another or visa-versa? And what does it mean to make a day 'holy'? Interesting questions huh?
Jesus was called 'rabbi' which means teacher. And a rabbi was supposed to interpret the scripture-their role was to pray and study the Word and make decisions concerning what God was saying through the text and how to put it into action/application for everyday life.
Now, different rabbis had different sets of rules which basically outlined what was permitted and what wasn't. Now these rules were considered a rabbis 'yoke'. When you followed a rabbi, you followed him because you believed in his rules and his interpretations of God's Word.
The Rabbi and his student(s) would spend time discussing what it meant to live out a certain text and if a student made a suggestion and the rabbi thought they missed the point they would say 'you have abolished the Torah,' which basically meant in their opinion the student was way off in regards to what God really meant. If they felt the student got it right, they would say 'you have fulfilled Torah'.
So who calls you out in regards to your use of scripture? Do you study, pray, and mediate on God's Word in hopes that He might reveal to you the true nature of what it is meant to live out His commands?
When Jesus came He warned them not to misunderstand Him. So in closing I have one question for you...who's yoke are you representing day to day-yours or God's?

Monday, February 2, 2009


Too often in today's world we follow an unspoken rule: 'don't ask if you don't want to know'. The interesting part is that if we don't ask, we'll never know and thusly we end up carrying a burden. We have a habit of forgetting that questions bring about knowledge and a certain amount of freedom. We have this nasty tendency of focusing on the uncertainty of what we're about to hear. And in turn we become fearful. Stop me if you've heard this before 'the truth hurts'.
Ironically, the truth sometimes does.
Continuing on Rob Bell's book 'Velvet Elvis' we find a section called 'questions'. In this portion he points out that 'questions are so central to faith' because 'a question by it's very nature acknowledges that the person asking the question does not have all of the answers. And because the person does not have all the answers, they are looking outside of themselves for guidance'.
Lets look at the example Rob gives in his book: He gives us the example of Sodom and Gomorrah. You see, God told Abraham what he was about to do to the city, but Abraham questions God. In fact, Abraham is so bold that he keeps questioning God as if he were 'nothing but dust and ashes'. The interesting thing here is that God doesn't get angry with all of his questions and 'what if' scenarios. In fact, it seems that Abraham and God are having an intense dialog and perhaps that is what God seeks today. Perhaps He wants more from his people-'people who don't just sit there and mindlessly accept whatever comes their way.'
If you really think about it, there are many stories in the Bible in which we find those He has chosen to do His will-that end up questioning His logic. I mean Moses questions God and even tries to convince Him that He has picked the wrong person. David too questions God and whether or not God has left him (Psalm 13). And Mary, upon hearing the news of her Holy pregnancy-virgin birth, says: 'How can this be? I'm a virgin.'
So we all have questions and I think there is plenty of proof in the Bible that attests to that fact. It is true that questions are central to our understanding of God. And we're not supposed to give up that 'child-like' part of us. An interesting concept I learned while in college was brought up in class. One of my classmates was wondering why God would allow us to get sick. The professors response: perhaps He wants your attention-while you want to get well and get back to the way things were, He wants you to wake up and make a change. Basically, what I got from that was that God wants more communication from us, more dialog, more questions so that we-with God's help can learn and grow in our understanding.
'Freedom!' The last words of William Wallace according to Mel Gibson's adaptation/movie Braveheart. It's something we all seek really. In our questions we seek to free ourselves from the burdens we carry-the unknown and the not knowing drive some of us bonkers! But as Rob mentions, it's the 'naked, honest, vulnerable, raw questions, arising out of the awe that comes from engaging the living God' that really free us. Going to God frees us from trying to do it on our own-as we call it in ministry...the 'lone ranger' approach.
So next time you think you NEED to go it alone, remember this: truth always leads to more truth! Never give up asking questions...because you won't find any freedom in it.