Rick Warren's foreword for Should We Fire God?
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.
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
We are very excited to have started up a new series on the Campus Side called Covenant and Kingdom… Take a look…
In mid-July my family and I went to Ukraine. I had been there before, but that was 18 years ago. At the time, I had just graduated from Va. Tech and was fully expecting that my career path of getting my PhD in Child Clinical Psychology was the right one. While I was walking down a street in front of some of the non-descript apartments in Kiev, God starting showing me a different path.
So Kiev has always been close to my heart.
But this time, I was nervous about the trip. How would we as a family respond? Noah is 15, Seth is 13 and Emma is 12. There are truly great kids, but I was worried that they might not respond well. The lack of hot water, A/C, internet and normalcy. Honestly I was pretty worried that we would take this very expensive trip and nothing would happen in their souls.
As I have been reflecting on our two weeks in Vorzel, working with some wonderful Ukrainian orphans, I am once again reminded how weak pockets of my faith in God can be.
While we were there, we had the chance to do some very hard physical work. One of our jobs was to dig out a bike path for the kids. This isn’t just so they can have something fun to do, although that would be enough. In Ukraine, a healthy kid has a better shot at being adopted. And if they aren’t adopted by age 16, they are released from the system. If they don’t have anywhere to go, the mortality rate for these kids runs at about 80%. Alcohol, drugs, street violence, starvation and trafficking take a horrific toll on them.
So a bike track can actually turn around their life.
We took shovels and dug out a square that was about 30 yards on each leg and was four feet wide. Then we took gravel (more on that later) and filled in part of our track, built forms and then poured who knows how many tons of cememt.
There were clusters of days that I never stopped sweating. There were times when I didn’t think that we would get everything done. It has honestly been a long time since I worked that physically hard.
What I learned, or perhaps more accurately, a small part of what I learned, was that our kids are even more amazing than I gave them credit for, and that God is much more prepared to work in their souls than I gave him credit for.
They worked so hard, they played with the orphans when they were allowed to, they fully participated. They saw how much harder life in Ukraine is than what we face. God started doing something just like he said he would.
And I realized that he did all that in the face of my nervousness. He is so much more willing to honor his word than I am to sometimes believe it.
I won’t forget that soon.
Yesterday someone said something to me that bugged me. It doesn’t matter who it was or what they said. I know this person cares about me and respects me. I am sure of it in fact. But they did. Said something that got me frustrated with them.
It was such a small comment.
But I felt offended a bit, insulted. I did however apply Prov 12.16 to the situation. It says a fool shows their annoyance at once but the prudent overlook an insult. That is something I try to do when I am frustrated. It helps me to not get into unnecessary arguments when they can be avoided, and many times I have discovered that the person who said the annoying thing didn’t mean anything by it. They meant no offense.
It was the right thing to do.
But later that day I ended up saying something much more thoughtless to someone else. I never meant my words to be hurtful but they were. An off-hand remark that I didn’t even notice at the time, but as soon as I was told about it I hurt for them. The person I said it to very graciously brought it up to me privately later. They offered grace before I even had time to ask for it.
My realization of how easily I can hurt someone with my words makes me desire to offer grace all the more. What I receive I want to give.
I can understand the frustration that many feel when they think about our current political system. I feel that pursuit of power and lack of willingness to serve is not connected with any political party. It is a part of who we are as people. So, I get the idea that “Just vote them out,” only replaces one problem with another. We are almost always in campaign mode and the problems of our country and world require more focus than they receive.
I can also understand the frustration of those who look at the ways the OWS movement is getting in the way of the commerce of the regular working class people they are claiming to represent. The excesses, the question of whether it will ever really amount to anything. Who are the 99%, do they really represent me, and what is it that they would suggest that is better?
CALGARY — Tiny ghosts and goblins hoping for sugary snacks may find something odd in their loot bags this Halloween: a bible.
A Calgary pastor is promoting Jesus Ween, a faith-based alternative to the traditional holiday fare of candy and spooky garb.
Instead of chocolate bars and gummy bears, he’s asking people to shun demonic costumes and instead dole out pocket-sized bibles or other “Christian gifts.”
The idea has caught on in communities across North America, according to Jesus Ween creator Paul Ade. He’s hoping it will bring a new perspective to an otherwise pagan festival, he said.
“I do not associate myself with ghosts, demons, Satan and witches. These are things I want to get rid of,” he said.
“If it’s OK for a child to know about demons, it should also be OK for a child to know about Jesus.”
Jesus Ween has attracted international attention, with media reports circulating as far away as Britain.
The Calgary man’s efforts to reinvent Halloween even prompted parody south of the border, with recent gags from U.S. pop culture satirist Stephen Colbert and late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel. (more…)