Yearly Archives: 2015

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Wonderstruck and Bothering

I’ve been pondering this one phrase that has so completely captured my imagination:

God bothered.

This Incarnation Celebration Season, aka Christmas, we rave about the commercialism and the church services, the cookies and the presents, even our fiercely-held traditions of being with family or reading the Story itself, but shame on us if we neglect the powerful condescension that fuels this entire thing.

There is a God, and he has bothered to make himself known to us. There is a God, and he has called himself our Father in Heaven. There is a God, and he came.

As J.I Packer writes so plainly and beautifully in his book, Knowing God, despite the magnanimity of Him, we have made God so common, so base–we have lost the sense of awe and reverence for him. God has bothered! The fact that the God of the entire universe wants to know us demands a response of absolute love

Wounds and Boxes

There are several storage tubs currently sitting under my bed. They hold things of mine: gloves, an extra hat, shoes, summer clothes neatly folded and laundered.

We tend to associate storage with organization, or unneeded items, or solved predicaments. Our closets hold possessions that are not necessary for regular use, or perhaps they keep hidden things that shouldn’t be seen by visitors in our lives.

Each one of us has a heart closet. In his great redemptive work of love, Jesus cleans out our souls with his blood and enters inside. He takes up residence (Eph 3:17-19), and as we grow up spiritually, he travels further, requesting access into more and more chambers of our closets.

Sometimes, though, there are scars. We make mistakes that leave deep wounds. We run to disobedience, lusting after idols and sin. We bury a hatchet instead of dealing with it. We overlook our offenses against others. In

They held feasts in their homes on their birthdays

Tragedy comes in different packages.

It’s a suicide bomber at a Parisian concert hall. It’s a phone call that dad has brain damage from a slip on the linoleum. It’s a cursory glance at the Bible instead of a long drink. It’s an alcoholic beverage or a frosted sugar cookie or one more click on the computer even though you vowed to stop and “just do today” in God’s grace. It’s realizing that you got something really, really wrong.

For Job, tragedy was a gaggle of breathless messengers who delivered the worst news of his life. I wouldn’t ever be able to hear running feet the same way again if I had been him.

His life had been idyllic, blessed by the hand of God for being obedient. And yet, in his sovereignty, God destroyed his life: his children, his material wealth, his personal wellness.

Friends came, sat in silence for an eternal seven

She had a four-bedroom house once

“I left him four months ago.”

I don’t know how much of it is real, but the Lord has led me to talk and pray with M several times while doing street evangelism. Her life is incredibly broken, marked by abusive relationships and disease and too many children left to fend for themselves while their mother tries to beg a few dollars.

Women like M make me want to curl up and weep. I cannot fix her problems, and so I want to run away. I have none of her problems, and so I feel a sense of shame. But still I sit with my legs politely folded as she updates me: how she might be getting housing soon, how she’s so excited (she then proceeds to pull out photos of her children). And I give her a dollar and encourage her and then our group pulls her into our circle for

Incarnation Incarnate

 

Do you neglect your body? Because Christ sure didn’t. He redeemed what he took on, and I suppose that includes the human body.

Marissa and I were talking in her room the other night, attempting to do homework and read but not getting very far. She’s a bit of a health nut. I appreciate her insight.

“Christians should really be the physically healthiest people out there. I mean, we’ve been made spiritually whole by Jesus, so that should extend to how we treat ourselves physically.”

She got me thinking. Do I take care of my body? Because Jesus died for me, and he was incarnated into a human body. You’d think that would mean something to us, right?

And yet how often do I see in my own life and in the lives of others this attitude that our bodies are just trash receptacles, temporary “tents” that we can use however we want and to do

Altar Altercations

It was straight from the Enemy.

Right as communion was about to be served, a commotion began in the front of the sanctuary. A man was yelling something, the worship pastor and the ushers formed a net around him and tried to calm him down until a security officer could escort him out. The organist began to play a tune to smooth everything over. I was dumbfounded as the man continued to put up a fight, shouting, “This church sucks!” as he was led quickly down the main aisle.

Right before the most important celebration believers partake in, when our minds were fully focused on the sacrifice of Christ and the goodness of God. The most holy moment during the entire service. Coincidence? I think not.

How often does a dirty wrench get tossed into our lives right in the middle of sweetness and spiritual growth? Sometimes it’s from the Enemy or our

“Wake Up, You Need to Make Money”

M and her family are missionaries in Africa. Their life has been characterized by moves and shifts, encountering the most broken people, and utter reliance on the Lord.

She didn’t finish her degree at Bible college and is in the process, after almost 20 years, of completing her last two semesters. Because, hey, there was no money, and then they got good jobs and had kids, and then they moved overseas where ministry happened. Now she walks into brothels and shares the Gospel and rescues babies from their pimps and brings them home.

We were eating dinner at Dr. G’s apartment, and I was fascinated by her story. Her husband’s business is what completely supports her ministry to these women, and because of his connections, he’s been able to get them out of trouble on many an occasion.

She said, “What God redeems, he uses.” Her husband’s terrible childhood and exposure to the

Sometimes Quiet is Violent

I remember sitting with Luke on the steps to the alleyway last semester. He was dying inside for lack of peace. Over the next few weeks, we talked and prayed and cried out to God together. I fervently read the Psalms with him. We’d eat french fries and wonder when God would respond.

We didn’t doubt, we just wondered.

I’ve been confronted with the idea that God suffers inconsolably with us, and that discontent breeds love, so we all must be discontent, including God. That he’s impatiently pacing back and forth, waiting for the day when perfection can be restored in heaven. Eden made us lose our innocence, and now we have to face the tragedies and sufferings that accompany knowledge of good and evil. He’s going to wipe our tears away, but I denote a problem with this image of a suffering God who is out of control, doesn’t understand, and doesn’t

Travesty

Sometimes I read something and have to blink back tears.

Tonight I was scanning the news and saw an article about mass illegal immigration from Serbia and beyond through the Hungarian border to reach Western Europe. This has probably been happening for a long time, and I don’t ever pretend to be on top of things. But, tonight, the article was highlighted because of Hungary’s recent decision to seal the border with massive barbed wire and walls.

Accompanying this article was a brutal description of deaths: refugees found floating to shore from capsized boats in the Mediterranean, photos of little girls with hair tangled up in barbed wire, a freezer truck dumped at the border oozing decomposed bodies of Syrians who were trapped inside. They found a baby in there, by the way.

What is this dark world? Why? Sin? Evil? Travesty after travesty?

I can’t call it tragic because it’s expected. Sin has infected

Trending

The cross is an instrument of torture. It’s the symbol of who we are in Christ, God’s love, his sacrifice, his awesome grace and cleansing blood.  We wear it around our necks, paste it to our walls, build wooden versions of it on our church steeples. We see it so much….have we forgotten what it means?

Bible studies, sermons, small groups, fellowship, even communion and baptism….we have become desensitized to their significance and purpose. Our society has gripped the church and turned it into a selfish, experience-driven buffet that seeks to stuff us with bloated, boring, banal.

We are tired. We refuse to admit it. We are hungry. We don’t know why.

Oh, how the American church has lost its focus! Who can ascend the holy hill of the Lord anymore, as the Psalmist cried out?

Do we pray for Paul’s words to be true in our lives, that we might count everything as loss compared