When The Church Repels You

IMG_2393There’s something unique about sitting down to talk with your young adults pastor and you’re absolutely convinced you should be leaving said young adults group…and then by the end of the breakfast with him you’re questioning every single idea you had in your head.  No, it’s not as fun as it sounds but it’s absolutely necessary.

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What about the Change?

IMG_0842I’m about to bloody my theological knuckles, so buckle up.  Strap in.  Brace yourself.  And hold onto something.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I figured I should put that warning there since there’s a chance I’ll be metaphorically and rhetorically crackin’ skulls with today’s post.  And I can’t take credit for the inspiration of these words.  I blame the twitter user ENT Monkey.  Dude even has a website.  It all started in the early morning hours today with this tweet.

I got a kick out of it because it felt like a nudge in my side.  You when someone pokes you and taps you on the shoulder to draw your attention to something?  That was this tweet for me.  I responded.

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NaBloWriMo 2013 Day 28

IMG_0523It’s Monday.  Commence with the gnashing of teeth and tearing of ritual sackcloth!

I’m back podcasting about church, Jesus and the future of it all.  I’m a bit bonkers and wander with my ideas but it’s fifteen minutes worth of marinating on the future of The Church.  Give it listen and tell me how wrong I am.

NaBloWriMo 2013 Day 26

487600_10100102522805993_1931938180_nSometimes getting away from it all is the best medicine.  Upon leaving my former employer I began to discover as I job searched that I had more time than I knew what to do with.  I realized that I had allowed myself to get swallowed up in the job.  It happens to the best of us.  We turn into workaholics and while sometimes that is a good quality it is a very bad thing to run at full throttle all the time.  So I find myself out of gas and on a very large desert island.

I found that I now had time to write.  I found that coffee shops were something to visit.  And I found my way back to daily conversations with God.  That last one might need some explanation.

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NaBloWriMo 2013 – Day 7

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I have a fellow Christian friend who also writes about her Faith and reading her posts always makes me smile and fills me with hope. She’s a new Christian and has taken to writing about her journey. Why does her writing make me smile and fill me with hope? Because whenever I think I’ve screwed up, lost my way or failed my God I read her posts and realize we’re in the same boat and not alone. Her youthful tenacity in biting off pieces of her faith and taking it apart from there inspires me to continue to understand who I am in God. It pushes me to shut up and listen to what He desires for me and from me.

One of her latest columns talks about “Leaving the Room of Grace” as it relates to the book “The Cure”. I haven’t read it yet but every time I hear from our young adult small groups about where they are in the tome I realize that I need to pick it up for myself. What caught my attention was the last line of the post. It said, “There is absolutely nothing apathetic about accepting God’s grace.” When I first read it earlier today I was struck sideways by the words.

I went through the day marinating on the sentence and marveling at how fantastic it is. Its truth is also exceptional. When you accept God’s grace you are accepting that you are pretty helpless, useless and hopeless without Him. You agree that His sacrifice for your life via the cross is exactly what you need. Accepting His grace is the most forward focused thing you can do simply because you are throwing off the chains of apathy and breaking loose into the land of tenacity in Faith.

It reminds me of what it means for my daily living in Grace – that apathy isn’t part of the equation.

The other quote from her post was this, “When I choose to not beat myself up for failing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t care.” I struggle with beating myself up over most things and have to continually remind myself of my worth in Christ. That I am loved, adored, treasured and wanted. In what can only be called a serendipitous moment this goes right along with lyrics to a song that’s been bopping through my head over the last few days. “Hello My Name Is” by Matthew West is a fantastic little ditty that zeroes in on this subject like a cruise missile. The opening lyrics are this –

Hello, my name is regret
I’m pretty sure we have met
Every single day of your life
I’m the whisper inside
That won’t let you forget

Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief

Oh, these are the voices. Oh, these are the lies
And I have believed them for the very last time

And then it jumps into the chorus and verse two – which is how I am going to close this blog post. Certainly much to think on today!

Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King

I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life

NaBloWriMo 2013 – Day 6

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Welcome to day six. Also known as another catch up post in which I try my very best to keep up with National Blog Writing Month and fail fairly well. This year I’m focused on getting to the finish line with 31 posts and if that means playing catch up every single week, I’m going to find a way to accept it.

Sunday’s on my previous NaBloWriMo were sometimes reserved for theological thinking – something I do enjoy writing about and talking about fairly consistently. As fair warning – I’m not theologically trained. Basically – buckle up.

Devotional time and quiet time is something I’ve always struggled with and found hard to maintain. I know that everybody wrestles with it especially in a day and age where the world moves at a breakneck speed with so many things keeping us beyond busy. I’ve had my share of devotional books and plans but have yet to complete one. Recently my church did a month long series on worship and the Psalms.

I’ve never read through the Psalms at length and given the 150 chapters that dominate the landscape of the book it’s not hard to understand why I’d avoid it. After the series I realized that each Psalm was filled with God’s word for a world in need or a person in crisis. That describes the world around me for sure (*cough* Miley Cyrus Generation *cough*) and I’ve had my days where it seems like the trials and tribulations will never end. In other words – Psalms was a perfect fit for what I was looking for to study in my devotionals.

So I’ve been taking the time every day (or so) to sit down and read through a chapter of Psalms. I circle, I underline and highlight. I think, I pray and I look to my life and the world around to find meaning for it all. I talk to God about the world the psalmist was in and what compelled them to write the particular words down. I wonder how it would have sounded (*cough* not like wrecking ball *cough*) and how it would have felt hearing it in a moment of praise and worship…or even in a silent moment in a room alone with God.

We are constantly bombarded with things to do, places to be and words to learn. We are told to move, shake and roll with everyone because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Yet in the quiet moments spent in the Psalms I’m finding none of that really matters. What matters is love, hope and following Jesus every step, every jump and even every fall.

I’ll be taking more time this week to talk to God, marinate on His word and understand what He desires for me – not what the world wants.

NaBloWriMo 2013 – Day 3

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photo taken early 2000′s by Aaron DeLay at University of Colorado Hospital stairwell.

Often with NaBloWriMo the challenge isn’t sitting down every day and writing – it’s coming up with stuff to write to fill the space of a blog post.  That’s why NaBloWriMo is such a challenge – and why it’s fun and terrible at the same time.  You wonder how the folks whose life blood is blogging and writing manage to keep on truckin’.

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An Absalom Moment

imageI’m not a Bible Scholar by any stretch of the imagination. Nor have I been theologically trained in much of anything aside from teaching in children’s and youth ministry. So when I get into my devotions I’m usually quite blind to the history of characters or the deeper strings involved within – which makes me slightly nervous to be writing down my thoughts here. I’m always nervous I’m going to take a logical leap over a shark or two and fall face first into the sand.

Which is why I love today’s devotional. It’s a fairly simple tale that helps me remember that I shouldn’t want to be all those things in order to feel better about myself – or how I read His Word. His name was Absalom and he was the son of King David. The verse referenced is 2 Samuel 15:3-6.

The idea here is that Absalom promotes himself and builds up his image with the people of the kingdom into something that wasn’t his to have. The key quote here regarding Absalom is that he, “…stole the hearts of everyone in Israel.” Absalom’s selfishness was the cause of his sin – his want to be the next big thing. It’s a cautious reminder – and there are a plentiful bushel of warnings in God’s Word – about promoting ourselves above Him and the plan He has for our life. I’ve come to understand pieces of God and me over the years – by no means am I anywhere close to figuring it out – but I’ve learned that I’m not the most important kid on the block. I am second to Him. We were created to point to Christ and spread the glory, praise and honor across the globe.

I sometimes get a big head – and when it happens I just want to throw myself into a deep hole and never come out. I’m ashamed that I thought I somehow knew better, was better or was that thing I tried to portray. It’s a constant battle and consistently under construction.

The key section of tonight’s devotional that sticks with me is under the “PRAY” section. It says this – “Spend time inviting God to remind you that he loves you just the way you are, that you cannot earn his approval. Welcome God to show you your true identity as His child, an identity that is defined not by what you do but by who you are and to whom you belong.”

Boom goes the dynamite.

Kingdom Come

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Tonight’s podcast is my lesson I’m teaching tomorrow on “Kingdom Come”. Listen in as a wax religiosity!

Not Taking Credit

You ever have one of those moments when life and devotional collide in a terrifying manner that defies logical explanation and you find yourself looking heavenward going, “I see what you did there.  Nicely played God of All Creation, nicely played.” Yep.  Had one of those moments tonight.  And it was brilliant.

The biblical basis for my devotional tonight was out of Judges in chapter 7 where Gideon is tasked with destroying an enemy of the Israelites.  But God doesn’t do anything halfway or simple.  He’s got a plan with this impending showdown and it’s going to be a prime example thousands of years later on a late Monday night in Littleton, CO.  God has many senses and one of them is Humor.  And Irony.  Tonight those two collided.

Gideon starts out with a gazillion men (ok, that’s a big stretch but go with me) and he’s ready to pummel the enemy into the ground.  And yet God can see where this will end up.  He says that if he allows the gazillion men to take on the Midian army, the nation of Israel would boast against him and take credit for a battle that was not won without God’s influence and power.  So God whittles the gazillions down several times until just three hundred men stand ready.  The rest of the story is equally brilliant as the buildup suggests when the Midian army turns on each other in the midst of their camp and starts killing each other.  The power of God is shown in a incredibly brutal fashion.  The violence in this passage (and honestly much of the Old Testament) requires that Christians reconcile God’s track record in the Old Testament versus the New Testament.  It also asks that as people of Faith we have to realize the track record is incredibly consistent across both sides of The Bible.  This is entire blog post on it’s own so I’m going to move on.

And so tonight I had my moment of glory.  My mentor and friend was given the chance to write a column for a Children’s Ministry magazine titled, “K! Magazine”.  The article is part of a larger overall topic of “Technology in Children’s Ministry”.  Together with my mentor and friend we put our ideas together.  I threw my nerdy geeky knowledge of social media, internets and all the fun things about those things.  She took all that with her masterful skills of writing, her incredible knowledge of ministry, kids and everything else and put it together into an article.  Tonight she gave me a few copies and I was over the moon with pride.  I was published in a magazine!  A life long dream of having my name in a glossy had been accomplished!

And then I had my devotional.  And I was like, “Aw….maaaan!”

I couldn’t take the credit for this article.  That’s a God thing.  And yes, it sounds corny but it’s God’s (meant in the truest sense) honest truth here.  Without His gifting in wisdom in understanding all these wonderful social media technologies I’d be sunk.  Without His gifting of hunger of knowledge into my cranium I’d have given up long go.  And without His amazing servant heart that beats inside my friend (and fellow author!) I would have never been given the chance to share space with her in a magazine with a shiny cover.

And so I have to step off my podium and point it all back to God and His Son Jesus.  They get all the honor, glory and praise for the accomplishment.  I’m nothing without Him.  And that’s how I came to understand Gideon in a deeper and more manifest way.  Thanks God.  Consider my Ego cross checked into the wall and elbow dropped on the ground where it should have stayed in the first place.

God’s got some funny senses.