MIA

I am amazed how much my new job is taking out of me.  Nearly all new jobs have a learning curve and an intense start-up period.  But I really expected it to calm down long before now.  I’ve been in my new position for four months now, and I still struggle to find time even to think or feed myself at the end of the day.  Forget about deep contemplation, writing out my thoughts, or some semblance of creativity in the kitchen.

I kept waiting for the calm to come, so I could resume my life.  But I still see no calm on the horizon.  So I’m going to have to fight my way back into my life.  My hope is that this will include writing.  That I can achieve a post each week, if nothing else.

I apologize for being MIA for the past several months.  And I appreciate your patience.  And I’m trying to resurface.

As the Dust Settles

Some days, I don’t know how to keep moving.  As the world crumbles, as boulders crash on my left and my right, moving seems fatal.  And once the dust has settled, every path is blocked.  Things seem pointless and life seems like a battle that can’t be won.

But often, God sends a beam of light through the chaos.  And if I’m paying attention in these moments, I see a little glimmer of hope in the midst of rubble and dust.

The beam doesn’t move the boulders.  It doesn’t clear the rubble.  It doesn’t make anything easy.  But it is a glimpse of light in the darkness.  A reminder that God is at work.  It may not feel like it; it may not look like it.  But He is moving.

So we press on.  We try to climb out of this sea of boulders, not sure which path may lead us out.  And we try to be available for whatever God may place in our paths.  To recognize that the areas in which He is moving are seldom the places we expect.

It’s not always clear how, but we try to remember, and we try to press on.

on why millennials are leaving the church

Quote

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

—Rachel Held Evans in a post on CNN

Messy

Today is the third birthday of our little house church.  It’s been quite a journey.  I once heard someone say that house churches are “messy”.  You can’t just put on your best face for an hour or two a week and then go about your separate lives.  In a house church, you really share your lives with one another: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And that gets messy.

In our culture where everyone is expected to be in control at all times, to present a happy, perfectly-pressed life to the world, messy can be uncomfortable.

But Jesus was all about the “messy”.  He dealt with illness, pain, heartbreak, and uncleanliness.  The sinners, the outcast, the broken.  He didn’t expect people to present perfect lives to the world.  He expected them to walk alongside one another, to carry one another’s burdens, to recognized brokenness and strive to meet needs.  And none of that is possible if we keep the “messy” swept under a carpet and only present a picture of perfection to the world.

So I think the “messy” is good.  It’s right.  It’s honest.

It isn’t always easy, but it’s where we’re meant to be.

So here’s to three years (and counting) of messy.  May God continue to give us the strength to share the messy in our own lives and to accept the messy in others’.

 

Just When We Really Needed a Win

I really needed a win.  Just one win.  It’s been so disheartening to hear so many churches, entire denominations, closing their doors to the Boy Scouts, because the Boy Scouts decided to open their doors to boys.  All boys.

All participants in the Boy Scouts are expected not to be sexually active.  Which means closing doors to the Boy Scouts as a result of their recent decision to allow gay children to participate is a rejection of the child himself, not of some act.  Jesus went to the marginalized.  He didn’t avoid them.  And He certainly didn’t force them out and then close the door in their faces.  So what are these churches doing?  Whose model are they following, if not Jesus’s?

And on a different note, even Whole Foods has determined that it no longer has a responsibility to carry only healthy, non-cancer-causing foods.  Before long, our food will be killing us.

As I said, I really needed a win.  And today, there were three!

First, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.  So, for now, we’re back to defining marriage as “faithfulness”, “love”, and “life-long commitment”.

Second, the Supreme Court said they would not rule on Prop. 8, which means it reverts to the California ruling that invalidated it.  California is now back to the “traditional” definition of marriage, as well.

And finally, last night women in the Texas Legislature prevented the strong-armed passage of a bill that would have essentially eradicated legal abortions in Texas.

I am stanchly opposed to abortions.  But making them illegal is not the solution.  That only opens women to far more harm and the opportunity for extremely unsafe conditions in underground abortion clinics.

If people are truly pro-Life, they will support programs and bills that protect the lives of these children, not just their incubation period.  Healthy food, food that is not overly processed or full of pesticides or genetically engineered, needs to be affordable.  And easily identifiable.  Health insurance and childcare need to be readily available and affordable.  Education needs to be properly funded.  And minimum wage needs to be high enough that someone working full-time can support themselves and their children.

One cannot claim to be pro-life and at the same time oppose so many things that provide a child with a decent quality of life.  Government cannot just render abortion illegal and then pat themselves on the back for a job well done.  The job isn’t done until they actually protect the lives of these children, instead of just their births.

Three victories today.  Two unexpectedly protecting the definition of marriage – that marriage is based on love and commitment, not gender.

My hope is that the third victory may send the message that the conversation is not over.  That the issue is not gone when abortion is illegal.  That we have a long way to go in protecting the lives of our children.  That the conversation can’t start and end with birth.

The Brilliant Deception: Living in Freedom

Recently I noticed two lies those in the American church frequently believe.  These clever lies from the deceiver have created a fear of being untrue to our God, but the result is that many are actually going against His heart.  I discussed the first lie here.

The second lie is one I’m seeing predominantly among young believers.  Current and recent college students and others in that age bracket, believers and non-believers alike, are very focused on doing good.  The previous lie is not working on them, as they truly believe they can change the world and are fighting to make it happen.  They are frequently abandoning the things their predecessors viewed as important – a stable job, possibly with the same company for decades, a 401(k), a white picket fence and 2.5 children – and are pursuing passions that are bigger than the individual or family.  Passions that aren’t focused on their comfort and financial security.

The believers in this population are excited to do the things to which God calls them and are ready to sacrifice their time, their well-paying career possibilities, their vacations, their future, to make the world a better place for others.  To build a better life for people they’ve possibly never met, maybe half a world away.

The idea that doing good is a bad thing is completely foreign to this population.  So satan needed a different approach.

This group of believers has fully embraced the freedom that comes with following Jesus.  And satan is capitalizing on it.  This group, who is so wholeheartedly walking in Jesus’s shoes, down dusty roads, serving the poor and marginalized, fears becoming a Pharisee.  So the lie satan whispers is:  “You’re being legalistic.”

I should read my Bible daily.  “You’re being legalistic.”  I should submit to the rulers placed over me, and therefore drive the speed limit.  “You’re being legalistic.”  I should return to God a portion that He has given me by tithing.  “You’re being legalistic.”

This isn’t to say that no one in this generation does any of these things.  Many do.  But when the impetus is “I should” rather than a compelling personal desire, then it is dismissed as legalism.

We have a new generation of Christians who are “sold out to Jesus”, “living radical, impactful lives” who are so scared of walking out of the freedom of Jesus into Pharisaicism, that they reject self-discipline and submission.  Anything towards which they are not compelled with passion, any “should”, is dismissed.  They choose to live in disobedience rather than giving up their freedom, avoiding anything that could be labeled “legalism”.

Satan has stunted the growth and weakened the foundation of the young church in America.  His brilliant lie that doing something for any reason other than excitement and passion is “legalism” has caused us to live in disobedience and forsake the very things God wants to use to grow and strengthen us.