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.

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.

Mirror, Mirror, What Do You See?

What do you see when you look in the mirror

The age, flaws, the scars

The areas of improvement

I see all that too

But I can’t help but dance despite all that

because what a beautiful creation God has made

me, made us

Taking ownership of that is the least any of us can do

It honors God and makes us feel good

So why not give it go!

Nicodemus: a Tale of the Reluctant Believer

John 3:1-21, 7:40-52, 19:38-42

Nicodemus is a fascinating dude. We see him first in John 3, sneaking in to see Jesus at night. He’s a respected religious leader of high social standing. He wants to know more about this itinerant preacher, but Jesus is a controversial figure, so Nicodemus comes at night. They talk. Nicodemus asks questions and Jesus answers. When Nicodemus can’t make sense of Jesus’ response, the LORD calls him to the ropes. ‘If you, the righteous elite don’t get it, how could anybody else?’ asserts Jesus. Nicodemus undoubtedly leaves befuddled, but Jesus doesn’t push him, nor does He call him out, exposing their meeting to the general public.

Instead, Nicodemus goes home and stews on it. A debate occurs some time later amongst the Jews. People are saying there is no way Jesus could be the Messiah. Nicodemus isn’t sold. He wants to hear more. We can only imagine that Nicodemus is asking around, maybe staying at the back of the crowd while Jesus is making his rounds about Israel. We don’t know if they ever talked again. We don’t see any other reference to Nicodemus until after Jesus is dead.

When Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross, Nicodemus is there, helping anoint him with oil. He gets it. Some would say, ‘too late,’ but it is never too late with God. Three days later, Jesus resurrected and Nicodemus undoubtedly is ready.

You see, for some, coming to acknowledge Jesus is LORD is a quick thing. You’re at a big event or stumble into church or listening to the radio, the preacher makes an altar call, and bam! you’re a believer. For others, it’s a long process. Sometimes, it takes the entirety of their earthly lives; but there is no time for God, only opportunity. The door is open. The invitation is waiting. Will you say, ‘yes,’ to Him?

Friendzone?

Guys, let’s be honest: the friendzone is a lie, an imaginary penalty box of self-loathing, and handy gimmick to get us to buy relationship advice.

It’s natural to develop romantic feeling towards those you are close to. Be honest about that. Honor those feelings. When those feelings pop up and sustain themselves, find a appropriate time and place to relate them. If the feelings are met and reciprocated, then great! Have fun. If the feelings are not reciprocated, you have a choice. If they just want to be friends and you’re okay with that, be friends! If you really struggle with it, maybe take a break, step away. You may want to invest in friendship later on, once the hormones die down.

Now, you may have those feelings but choose to invest in the friendship anyway. If you do this begrudgingly, this is not friendship. It will eat at you inside. This is masochism, not love, and relationships are built on love. It’s in this space that the “friendzone” thrives, because it’s easier to commiserate than to own your stuff and take appropriate action.

So, respect your feelings and those of your friend. Be honest and check in. And in all things, excel in love, in whatever form that love may take.

Testify!

She stood up in front of the congregation and said,

“I shouldn’t even be here today

I’ve had seizures that limit my ability to walk

but here I am standing in front of you.

It’s all thanks to God.”

Then she sang “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

Next it was a lady in a wheelchair,

who testified to the necessity of Jesus,

“turn to him before it’s too late.”

Pretty soon it was everyone,

black and white, male and female, young and old

All preaching their own sermonette

Because the Spirit was flowing

and the gateway to the pulpit was open

My friends, do not quench the Spirit

Allow Him to flow freely through you,

to share both your gifts and your story,

so all might be empowered to do the same.

The altar call is sounded,

who will stand?

Offensive

I do not understand the love affair amongst some Christians of making the cross offensive. “This will (probably) offend you,” they say. “This may upset the PC people,” they add.

What kind of witness is this? Yes, Paul calls the cross “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18) to some, and many times it is. There are many who don’t get it, don’t like it, or more likely have had bad experiences with it.

But our goal should never to be to offend, but simply to present the Gospel as it is. The naked Gospel is powerful enough without attaching a bulldozer to is.

Let us witness and truth and in love. May it be Christ and the Holy Spirit that speaks through us, rather than our own selfish ambition.