Doing Good is Something Everything Can Agree On

I am heading to Kairos this week. As part of Kairos, we go into a prison (in our case, it’s Craggy Correctional Facility), we feed them and share Jesus with them.

Funny, as I began posting about it, people from all walks of life approached me and offered to contribute, even those who may or not identify with the Christian faith. That’s the rub. Christianity is not dead. It’s roots began in the feeding of the poor, the embrace of the outsider, the visiting of the prisoner, the caring for the sick. People were so moved by this that they ran to Christianity in droves.

As the numbers began to grow, we gave them chairs to sit in and roofs to block out the elements and walls to provide structure to our meetings. In short, we became comfortable and contained.

But the Holy Spirit is a wildfire. Everyone, I don’t care who you are, knows when it’s on the move. It will burn down walls. It will light new paths for the wayward stray.

As I wrote letters to our 35 inmates, I began to weep because I knew how much God loves us and how far short I fell from loving in that same way. Change is needed. In my heart. In this world. Let’s make it happen, people! Today.

Through Christ, Who Empowers Us to Do All Things

Before Christ died, He bequeathed all power to His disciples, especially to Peter (though he had betrayed Him).

Before Peter died, He bequeathed all power to us, naming us a holy priesthood and heirs to the throne of God.

No matter your past or your present, you are offered the opportunity to live exalted in Him.

I invite you now to seize your inheritance and claim the glory set aside for you since the beginning of time so that you would live a life fully endowed with the full and undiluted strength of the Spirit, which Jesus purchased for us with His Holy Blood.

In the World, Not of It?

You’ve heard the phrase “not of this world?”

It’s a clever concept. The idea is simple, that we wouldn’t just float about, being swept up in the whims of culture and friendly persuasion, but would stand immoveable upon the bedrock of Christ.

I entirely agree that Christ should always serve as our compass, but I also would argue that that compass has changed shape over time, depending on our surrounding environs. Deuteronomy was written in the style of a Semitic covenant renewal. John borrows heavily from the gnostic tradition. Zoroastrianism helped open the gates to our understanding of Jesus and Satan as the champions of light and darkness, respectively. The revelations and manifestations of the most Holy God change and mutate depending on the setting in which the authors find themselves in, yet all of these experiences are ultimately submissive to Christ, who is the author and editor of our individual and collective faith journeys.

Lemme put it this way: if God were to come up to Adam and Eve and tell them about Tweeting, they would be utterly clueless, but instead He revealed Himself to them in a way they understood and that understanding continues to change over time as we as a corporate human race continues to change.

God is the God of past, present, and future. He is not confined to one cultural understanding of Him. He offers Himself to all people at all times through all ages and shall continue to do so until the return of His blessed Son, Jesus. He desires to be known and for none to be lost, going to any and every extent to fulfill those means, even coming in body, suffering and dying, and rising again so that He would experience everything we would experience and also rising above it into His blessed Kingdom.

Let us look with open hearts and minds and ears to how God wants to reveal to Himself to us today.

You Are Known By What You Do

Nowhere else in the Bible as works-based as the book of James is. For him, it is by our works that our redemption is validated. And James is not alone in this. If you look at the Old Testament, we see a very external relationship with the spiritual experience. Atonement is shown by the sacrifice of livestock. Grieving is shown by the tearing of fabric. Deals are brokered by the passing of sandals (true story). James just picks up where the Old Testament left off, for the Bible is a very Hebrew-centric manuscript and reflects their cultural experience.

Where people get confused is they come to the conclusion that it is fact our works that saved us, that it is by a series of merit badges or brownie points that we are saved. This creates a sense of guilt for those who feel they have not done enough and a sense of pride in those who feel they have checked all the appropriate boxes. In the Gospels, Christ is quick to dispel both feelings. He goes to the outcast, even the criminal moments from death, and says, I am enough. To the self-righteous, He urges to drop the charade and come follow Him. We are not the authors of our salvation, even our own faith. All of it is a gift.

If it is a gift, then what is works? Works are the fruits of our salvation. Out of our love for ┬áChrist and for others, we do good works. Out of the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we venture out of our comfort zone to perform miracles. You can “like” and “love” as many posts as you want, but still there comes a time when we are called to show our love in a real sense, to give of ourselves either in time or treasure or ability, as a physical manifestation of our spoken claims.

Always be listening for these opportunities, for they are often small and pass quickly, but partaking in them makes a world of difference. So today, keep your eyes, heart, body, and soul open. You may just have the opportunity to change a life and let them know they truly matter and that your affections are real.

Bless and be a blessing. Amen.

Marriage Gets Even Better

Katie and I are closer than we have ever been

There is a mythos circulating about

that marriage

Gets stale over time

That spending time is as enjoyable as eating

Weeks-old bread

But the truth is marriage, like everything,

is what you make it

 

I’ve heard it said that people change

and they do, but

I’d argue that it’s less about becoming a different

person

and more about becoming the person you’ve always been

and respecting that person and

helping that person be the best, unique individual they can be

Seasons come and seasons go, but love endures

I am so thankful for my wonderful wife,

who has bore the many seasons with me!

Love ya, Katie!

Strength is a Process

There’s a rumor going around. It’s the “get (fill the blank) quick” ghost. It sounds great. Eat this thing for a week, chant this mantra, do this exercise, and *bang* you’re healed.

Yes, maybe over time it will make a difference. And yes, sometimes there are stories of instant success. But for the most part it takes a while.

Think about growing up. It takes time to walk and talk and chew your food and pretty much everything else. You may skip a step, but it still takes time.

This goes the same for strength building of any kind. People say it’s a no-brainer. Do this thing, change this factor, and everything will just work out. I say, it takes time.

You want to get to point B, even Z. You have to start with A. You start with nothing. You’re broken and you’re scared. Then it’s on to damage control, picking up pieces and seeing if the ground will hold me. Then, once things begin to get okay, you start to get comfortable. When you start getting comfortable, then you can start taking risks, because there is the notion that there is some semblance of net to catch you if you fall. It’s not a chronological process. You’ll go back and forth all the time. Maybe you’ll skip lots of steps and then something happens and you’ll sail back even behind where you started. It happens. Trust the process. Keep going.

Allow others the same grace. Oftentimes, we forget how far we’ve come and how long it took us to get here. To us, it’s overnight. But remember that it wasn’t. Be gracious and encouraging. Let others know your story. A realistic view of life helps more than you know.

Together, we can build a stronger, more beautiful world, except you gotta be in it for the long haul to make it happen.

 

A Seat for Judas

So we all know Judas as the man who betrayed Jesus, but did you know he served as the treasurer for Jesus’ earthly ministry and sat in the seat of honor at the Last Supper? This was not an accident. Jesus loves His prodigals. He is constantly holding them near. Peter who denied Jesus three times was given the keys to the church of Jerusalem. Paul who outright persecuted the early church was chosen as the main witness to the Gentiles. Just when we think we are furthest from God, God is closest to us, calling us to come home.