Rick Warren's foreword for Should We Fire God?
Being the pastor of a congregation that is almost exclusively under 30 in a university town, this
However, as I have been talking to people, a couple of common themes emerge. One is that the focus is more on what is being given up than the reason or what people hope to gain through the process.
Now some of this is understandable. The questions about “what are you giving up?” roll out more easily and can be discussed in different groups more easily than the more probing questions sometimes.
On the other side of the discussion I seem to be running across more “web chatter” about why giving up for Lent is unnecessary, and to take the wording of some, even a bit dangerous to having a close and intimate relationship with Jesus. The idea is that Jesus never asked us to give up coffee for him, he asked us to follow him with our whole lives. As such, giving up coffee can produce a sense of false piety.
Probably unsurprising to many who know me, I see value in both concerns.
To handle the second, well first…
There has always been the practice of intentionally going without in scripture. Releasing what we could have access to, either to allow the kingdom of God to function as it should (the practice of landowners not harvesting wheat from the edges of their fields, and leaving some between the rows, so the poor could get this grain comes to mind) or for the purpose of drawing us closer to God personally (the practice of fasting as a means of remaining humbled before God and reminding ourselves of our daily need of him). The tithe… there are many more.
So, following God’s direction to take away something we could have and value, is a good and long-standing practice. Sure, it can produce false-piety, anything we do for God can. But that has much less to do with the process and more to do with the fact that we are the ones engaging in the process.
Now for the first issue, of putting more focus on what we are giving up than on what we are hoping to experience from God…
Again, this is an easy trap to fall into, happens all the time. Our challenge is to remember that just removing caffeine from our diet, or desserts, or just shutting down Facebook, or not watching TV at night is intended to remind us of our need for God and to give us more time to spend with Him or the people he is directing us to. So the giving up is the start, but it is only the start.
And for many of us, there are things in our lives we battle with daily, and these things seem to large, or have been too large for us to see victory over. Starting with giving up something that, while difficult, is doable, can be a great start. If someone who has rarely or never exercised wakes up one day and decides to become run the Ironman, that process will likely need to start with a little jogging, a little swimming and a little biking. Small starts, can lead to amazing things.
In this election season, where both sides are constantly looking for blame to assign and blame to avoid (and yes, the other side is always worse at it,) I love to hear a politician say, “I was wrong.” And we don’t hear it enough.
Well I need to say it now. If you have been following
Where I thought I had landed was on the idea that our plumber did good work, but was IMHO overly expensive. I shared that with him and with the facebook world; or at least my tiny part of it. I never shared any of it at any point angrily or in a jaded way, but it did frustrate me quite a bit. Then, as Tracy shared her opinion, which was different from mine (not the first time for that) I have started to realize that I was probably wrong.
Nope, I was wrong.
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12.10
Now this section has Paul talking about the legitimate difficulties he had faced, and nothing that I am going through (plumbing or otherwise) rises to that level of difficulty, so I don’t quote this verse for that reason. I quote it because I believe God has shown me that for this next season of my life, to be stronger I need to focus on being weaker.
One of the ways I do this is my just being honest about when I am wrong. I have done this for years, imperfectly to be sure, but it has been a central concern of mine. And I also have believed and have tried to live the truth “the way you wrong someone should correspond to the way you should make it right.” So, I shared what I have come to see was a wrong thought via Facebook, so I will correct it via Facebook as well.
I now don’t think the plumber overcharged me, I believe he handled the issue we presented to him fairly and very competently. My sense that he was overcharging me was based on an understanding of the problem that I now see was likely false. So I was wrong.
Please know, this isn’t self-punishment, and I don’t feel guilty about what I did. I was just wrong and needed to fix that.
Hopefully, the saga is now over.
Except for fixing the ceiling…. Stay tuned. Drywall work should bring out some things I’ll be needing to apologize for
Love Va. Tech, love Blacksburg, love Montgomery County. The whole bit.
But I have really struggled with the Victoria’s Secret Pink Party that was held last night on the Drillfield. Possibly for some reasons you think, and maybe for others that you don’t.
Remember, I went here. I get it. A huge concert/party/Va. Tech community event like this? I like some of the stuff from Gym Class Heroes, and the chance to hit up a free concert and likely have a blast? I really do get it.
I certainly don’t object to students being able to decide whether or not they can attend the show.
What concerns me is how this impacts an already typically unhealthy sexual ethic. Please stick with me a bit here and try to ignore how poorly the last sentence was constructed. The healthiest development of our sexuality I believe is stated in the scriptures. Not arguing for prudishness (although some will undoubtedly disagree) here, just more reflection and restraint than I think we typically see. Allowing God to show us how to express our sexuality in the manner that he engineered it.
One final word, friends. We ask you – urge is more like it – that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life. Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body,not abusing it… 1 Thess 4
Please keep in mind that Jesus spent most of his time removing the extra rules that had been added by his religious compatriots. He seemed to want to free the pursuit of God from many of the restrictions that were squeezing the life out of that very pursuit. But in the Sermon on the Mount, probably in my opinion the most clarified teaching that he gave and the one that most helps me to understand the heart of God towards us, he actually tightens up the understanding of what sexual purity meant. He said it was not just about what you did, but about what was in your heart in the first place.
Now if Jesus was the prude that I thought he was up through my last year a Tech, that wouldn’t surprise me a bit. But he wasn’t. He was accused by the religious elite of being a drunk. Of hanging out too much with prostitutes, the untouchables of his day.
So, I guess my concern is that his concern just isn’t getting much play in our culture today. I don’t say this because I want to be seen as right or in the majority. More and more I wonder if followers of Jesus do better when we are the minority. I say this because I talk to hundreds of people each year and many have been hurt greatly by the sexually free culture we experience. That in our freedom we actually lose access to a part of who we were created to be.
As I am reading a bit of Socrates recently I will use his preferred method… Likely poorly
That is why I have struggled so much with this one…
Not. Even. Close.
Congrats to the University on becoming one of the true flagships in the country for campus dining.
So I was excited when I saw that Adam Frank, an astrophysicist from the University of Rochester invoked it in a
At least at first. His take was that we need to try to not fall into the same “us versus them” pattern that can so often derail the discussion. That by thinking “orthogonally” we can put a right angle in the discussion and come up with something that is entirely new.
Then I ran across what I run across all to often in discussions with those who would consider themselves commited scientists and atheists. The issue that is seemingly not even noticed is the baseline belief that those with religious belief are more opposed to this discussion than those without religious belief. That the religious, with my experience being obviously as a follower of Jesus, have behaved more poorly in the discussion than our counterparts.
Yes, I liked how Frank mentioned Einstein’s concern about fanatical atheists who were as intolerant as their religious counterparts. And yes I liked how he talked about our need to approach a discussion that can often be conducted on one axis (only my side has value) more orthogonally. Not just shoot for a middle position, but take a right angle on the axis and create something different. Adam, I was with you.
Remember, this isn’t about what the conclusion is, Frank and I would clearly disagree on that, but rather how we can engage in this discussion seeking to be listeners and not just winners.
But, then it happened. And it was going so well.
Of course the point must always be made that in domains of politics and policy strident atheists are infinitely more tolerent and less damaging than the gang hanging out at other end of the spectrum.
It isn’t even that I am bothered by his opinion on the matter. It is the “Of course” that starts that opinion off. That “of course” approach is what is so frustrating for me.
Much more often than not, when I enter into a discussion with a scientifically oriented atheist, the presumption is that I am likely a knuckle-dragging holdover from an earlier evolutionary stage. My experience is that in the significant majority of conversations, rarely is time taken to investigate whether their hypotheses about me are true.
I recognize the look of disbelief mixed with frustration, disdain and occasionally even pity.
I am not saying that there aren’t many from among those that follow Jesus that haven’t been equally offensive. I remember a Christian I knew that had a bumper sticker that read “April 1st – National Atheists’ Day” and I remember those that cheered his “bravery” in proudly driving around with it on his bumper.
So I am not saying the faith community has handled itself well all the time. And I am not asking people to feel sorry for me as I know very well that many followers of Jesus around the world suffer much more than disparaging looks.
My issue is that it must at least be acknowledged that, for at least a portion of the atheist/scientific community; this thought is so automatic that it could even find its way into a posting urging its readers to not do that very thing.
Sometimes it would seem we have a very long way to go.
I have to say this may be the best one. To Mike (for flawlessly mixing a song that I bet you find an affront to music), Robbie (for the awesome videography and syncing), Adriana (for being willing to express such raw emotion on camera), Kristal (for the great choreography and taking an info card hit to the face), and of course Karin (for rocking the nasal tone and for likely pulling a smile muscle). – So well done! Funny, creative, and technically so well done.
To those who haven’t seen it yet. Enjoy. And Happy Labor Day!
“MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
These last two nights of talking about NLCF’s Campus Engage Groups with new and old people has been so much fun!
I am blessed to even be able to be a part of this church and in leadership with SO many gifted and loving people. The fact that I am privileged to help pastor within this community is a blessing that I don’t deserve in myself, but that I gratefully receive.
Just drink this musical amazingness in!
What I appreciate is their commitment to teaching the scriptures and training people in them. This is a scripture focused coalition. That is a very good thing. I also appreciate their commitment to explaining the truth about what the death and resurrection of Jesus meant when it happened, and what it means for us today. I mean, Jesus is at the center of God the Father and God the Spirit’s plan for our world. That focus is a good thing. Had that not occurred, there would be no hope for us.
So, while I might follow those same scriptures out and draw different conclusions in some instances than they would; and might articulate some of my views differently than they would, I appreciate their presence at the table. If you are interested in more specifics about where I would differ, just ask…
And I love this
Many thanks to