Tag Archives: Church

Don’t Create Grey Matter

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I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  I’m not the “brightest crayon in the coloring box,” if you will. Philosophy 101 pushed the limits of my intellect. Concepts like “chairness,” edged dangerously close to brain melting depth.

I prefer to explore the simpler things; ideas that maintain a very vivid black or white identity.

Grey matter never really did much but confuse and frustrate me. Not because I believe that there is no such space as a “grey area.” Rather I never understood why so much time was spent somewhere that simply had no definitive end.

Instead of focusing on  the question we can not answer, why not focus on the answers we are already have?

For the believer in Christ, we have the answer to so much of what is now debated in society, challenged by culture and being redefined by government. And while we, as Americans, are encouraged to be welcoming, tolerant, and open-minded to those who may hold different values and beliefs, it is the Evangelical Christian Church that is not welcomed, not tolerated, and declared closed-minded and thus, it’s becoming increasingly ostracized for its’ lack of grace and Christ-like love.

This is not meant to be a political post, however politics make for the best example of the point I am trying to make, which is this:

If we, evangelical Christians, bend to any form of pressure outside of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the “truth” and “answers” that have held so closely to and tried so hard to uphold will become blurred, diluted, and eventually nothing more than “grey matter” that is subject to subjective and personal interpretation and no longer considered perfect, holy, or inherent.

Perhaps maintaining the view that Biblical scripture is God breathed, inspired, perfect and infallible is not a popular opinion. So be it.

Jesus Christ was controversial. His claims were preposterous and provocative. He was thought outlandish, arrogant, intolerant and completely irrational.

Does not it sensibly follow then, that those who claim to be His followers have similar reputations?

The era for being singled out and labeled “one of them” has never been more fertile.

God help me, I choose to be among the few.

He calls to you too.

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Disappointed Faith

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I’ll be honest with you. Being a Christ follower hasn’t always panned out in ways I would have expected. There have been seasons in my walk with God that I have been disappointed, frustrated, confused, and even apathetic.

Why?

Because I am human. And because my finite intellect only allows me to rationalize and understand a fragment of who God is and what He is capable of.  I don’t intend to keep Him in a box, but I do. I simply lack the ability to understand Him outside of measuring Him against myself.  

And there in lies the problem.  I have stripped Him of all mystery, omnipotence, sovereignty and glory because I have attempted to contain Him and shape Him by my limited imagination into what I know best: my own limitations.

There were two avenues that led me to this realization on Sunday.  The first avenue was during the worship portion of church service. I don’t remember now, three days later, what song it was that we were singing, but there was  a line in it that had to do with the forgiveness we have received. So I began to repent and ask forgiveness for various things until I heard the Lord say,

I have already forgiven you of those things. Stop repeating your requests and thinking I didn’t hear you the first time. I can’t move on with you until your forgive yourself.  What’s it going to take to let go? What’s the hold up?

Huh… that was not the response I was expecting.

The hold up is me… again.  It’s all my pride attempting to dictate when I have finally paid my penance.  What a shameful waste of time.  And what an obvious root of frustration. My pastor once defined frustration as “unmet expectation.” 

Finally, dots began to connect themselves. Any frustration I had with the seeming stillness of God was simply me keeping Him at bay and then blaming Him for not answering when I called. Same song, second verse, and what a tragic tune.

The second light bulb lit up when my pastor began preaching his sermon entitled “Disappointed in Jesus.”  In Luke 7: 19, John the Baptist sits in prison, awaiting a sure death, and in the midst of what seemed to be likely uncertainty, sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He really was who He claimed to be. Was He “it” or should they look for another?

John the Baptist questioned in the final moments. John the Baptist, the forerunner and literal cousin of Jesus, wavered beneath the weight of his circumstances and asked the question so few of will ever admit to: “Jesus… are you really who you say you are?  If I did all that you asked, how did I end up here?”

And how did Jesus respond to His beloved?

“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them” (Luke 7:22). 

Typical Jesus. No direct answer.  Instead, He quotes Isaiah and challenges John, and us, to recall what we have seen Him do because in His actions alone, is proof enough.

It’s no secret that I wrestle with fear, insecurity, and doubt. A lot. But why I continue to is beyond me. The only evidence I have in my life of God is His hand at work orchestrating my every day, providing for my every need, and revealing Himself clearly when I choose to look. And still, I find myself disappointed or frustrated that it didn’t pan out just how I imagined because I have days, like the rest, that are hard.

But I haven’t sat on death row before, like John. I honestly can’t imagine the disappointment or perhaps even disillusionment he may have felt as he sat there trying to rework the equation of his life’s work.  How was this the sum total of his efforts? 

My pastor quoted Gene Edwards, author of “The Prisoner in the 3rd Cell.”  In his book, Edwards concludes,

Die, my brother John, in the presence of a God that did not live up to your expectations.

The question I walked away with was simply this: Do I believe God enough to trust that should the rest of my life bring nothing but suffering, He would walk beside me, ordaining each pain for His glory and my good?

I pray that tomorrow I answer with a resounding yes. I hope the same for you, friend.

Something About Sunday’s

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There’s something about Sunday’s that never fails to make me a little homesick.  I think it’s a combination of things: my dad’s omelets, which I can not recreate to save my life; my small town church, where everyone knows my name (insert Cheer’s theme song here); and spending the afternoon sprawled out in the living room, reading, napping, and watching the last few holes of a PGA golf tournament.  It’s hard to do that anywhere apart from home.

As I got ready for church this morning, I asked the Lord to show up, say something, and make sure that I didn’t leave the same as when I walked in the sanctuary.  And to be totally transparent, I prayed that He would put a band-aid on my heart; to stop the flow of loneliness that has been leaking out as of late.

As I sat there, waiting for service to start, I literally heard a whisper “Psalms 27 and 34… read it.” I’ve never been one to not do what I was told, so I whipped my bible open.

Psalm 27

Then Psalm 34. Verse 18 is what really hit home– 18The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

I don’t know that I am “brokenhearted” God. That seems a wee bit extreme, don’t you think?  Then, it was as if He let me see into my own soul to uncover the answer.

You don’t want to admit that you are or have been brokenhearted because you think that’s the point of no-return. To admit to being crushed, means you are beyond repair, recovery is impossible, and all you can offer now is “damaged goods.”  But look again where I reside? I am “close to the brokenhearted” and I “save the crushed in spirit.”  You are right where you need to be for me to do what only I can.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the actual service, but here’s what I journaled:

You promise to make whole what has been broken. You heal the sick and you mend the wounded. You rescue the captive and you guide the wandering lost. You guard the weak and you carry the weary. You clothe in grace those that shame has left naked. You sing love songs over those who have been passed over. You redeem the disregarded and you restore beauty to the bruised. You justify innocence for the convicted and guilty. You save the wretch and you marry the whore. You breathed life into dirt and called it yours. 

Spiritual Insight from the Gym Parking Lot

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My Saturday morning rituals have become one of the sweetest and most treasured parts of my week.  I get up whenever, sit in bed with coffee, and stare out my window.  Then, at the appropriate time, I put on spandex and go to a yoga class. 

It sounds simple and overrated perhaps. But I must say, the very simplicity that would seem to you perhaps boring, is the very simplicity that I crave. Quiet, uninterrupted stillness.  A peaceful day when the remaining 6 seem to be anything but. 

People often ask me what I do on the weekend, specifically Saturday.  “Nothing,” I say with a slight smirk. “I make no plans. ..  I take the day to be by myself should nothing come up, or be readily available for any sudden bout of spoteneighty.” They’re always a little surprised too because if you really knew me, met me in the flesh, you would know that I truly love people, fellowship, community, conversation, and everything else that those entail.

But Saturdays are the days that I take to sit and listen and pray and think and not think. 

Soooo… long introduction aside, as I arrived at the gym I started slowly lurking through the parking lot trying to find the closest spot possible. Ironic, isn’t it? Going to the gym for exercise but afraid to walk too far?  That’s not the spiritual insight I discovered. 

As I turned up an aisle of cars, I came to a quick realization that I would not be able to get up the entire row because no one parked in actual, outlined parking spaces.  The snow that I had fallen the night before had hidden the necessary markers that helped to guide drivers on where to put their cars.

So without structure, with no outline to follow, people made up the most random,  illogical, and limiting parking spaces that I had ever seen.  No rhyme, no reason, and no opportunity to fit in or get through.  It was really more dangerous than anything else, as I tried to squeeze by tale-ends that were not aligned with their front-ends. 

Then it hit me– this sounds like some churches I know.  This looks like some Christians I know.  Before I go any further, please understand that I am not declaring this on either (a) all churches or (b) all people.  Rather, what I am saying is simply this: we, Christians, are all in agreement enough to get to the same place- the church.  We all agree on what we do when we get there- worship.  But where lines become skewed or misconstrued is in what it looks like to accomplish this. 

Do we read the King James or the NIV?

Do we sing hymns or something by Chris Tomlin?

Do we preach topically or exegetically? 

Do we preach pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture?

My question– Are you preaching the Gospel? Are you telling the truth? Are you presenting Jesus?

If so, then truth brings light to everything else.

An hour later, I walked out of yoga wondering why the men in class were better than me.

I'm actually glad I can't do this.

Fleeting thoughts by Meredith Dunn.