Saturday, February 4, 2012

I rarely testify...

i know this guy who pushes people, for no apparent reason other than to watch them react in a way that he can later make fun of, most people don't like this guy (secretly he doesn't want them to) but i like him. He asks hard questions, last night he asked me why i got saved.
i didn't answer him, because it's not my job. However i am obligated to others to say these things and these things are not nice.
I was never strung out on heroin or crack, never into gangs, and had a fairly virginal existence apart from a few stupid indiscretions. So what did i need saving from. Why did he save me?

I'm going to start at this from the angle that makes the most sense to me.
I didn't get saved to (or Christ didn't die for me to):

  • __ live like everybody else
  • __ be better than anyone else
  • __ one day remember what god used to do in me
  • __ complain
  • __ have ministry fall through my fingers because i couldn't build up something lasting in myself
  • __ condemn others
  • __ secretly wish i had no accountability
  • __ one day remember what god used to do with me
  • __ bring dissension and division
  • __ one day remember what god used to do for me
  • __ have my marriage fall apart
  • __ lust
  • __ cry myself to sleep wondering what happened
  • __ want after this world
  • __ serve a man

i guess i could go on but that list could get pretty drawn out and offensive. Some would say, "well duh, but get to the point.", and i would say to them, "you don't tell me..."

i remember when i first got saved it seemed unreal that God wanted to have anything to do with me, i didn't have anything to offer or bring to table and I'm not saying that to sound humble, i truly had nothing--no charisma, dim intellect, shameful heart, really, nothing. And then somebody shared with me the rumor that God was infatuated with me, that he wanted to turn what i never had into what he always wanted. I didn't really believe it at first but i thought how could it hurt (yeah i know dim intellect, it hurts). I didn't start counting the cost till a little later, and that's another story altogether.

So here i am with nothing and he promises something, so i wait and i start to see little grumblings of something on the horizon, and i start living like it. You know, "don't talk about it, be about it". And i read and i can't stop reading, i fill myself up and i didn't even know i was that empty but i keep on shoving it down-chapter by chapter, verse by verse, word by word, and then i start regurgitating it (go smith cotton bible study) and then i start getting compliments and the other christians are all into me now so i have a base to build on, and in the midst of that i get a little cocky with my "hardcore" self, and start abusing my relationship with Christ, I start using it to get something. --do you see what happened there; i went from a place where i knew i had nothing to give so he started giving, to thinking i had something and taking away from Christ. It's crazy that God works like this but bear with me.

He is passionate, He's wild, Untamable, Immutable, God Most High.

He loved me when i had nothing and gave me something and continues to give long after, but even if I give him everything, my dreams, my hopes, my wife, my kids, my career, all i have, i would still be giving him nothing, and yet he gives. That's love, that's communion, that's acceptance. And i love Him for it. As long as i'm in that mindset where that he loves me, not my ability or my mark on this world, but truly me, i know he's close. I've lost sight of it several times; life gets in the way you know? But even then he's there.

Now on to the show. . . i read what paul said, and i have nightmares without sleeping. Paul states that he accomplished everything in his society to receive status and success, and then he turned and did everything pleasing to christians to achieve status in ministry (he single handedly saved a quarter of the known world), and then he says he counts it all as nothing (NOTHING?), to the comparison of knowing Him who called him from the darkness. And that's what i wanted, it's why i still do it, I've had plenty of let downs, a myriad of people stop pursuing this passion to give up and tell me, "good luck, you won't find it in that direction", I've seen people get saved, delivered, healed, and set free, only to drag the name of Christ back down to a cave deeper than the one He called them out of to begin with, and you know what, He's still waiting for them all with open arms, with bigger ministry opportunities, with a new vision and a new heart, if they would just reach out and take it. I have "reason" enough to afford me a fairly comfortable life away from His calling and I'm only just now seeing that he's still calling me higher than i thought i could go. but i don't want reason, i want to know him like paul knew him, not so i can save a quarter of the known world or so people will tremble when they hear my name, but so i can love him. He made me to serve him and he saved me to love me. I couldn't receive his love apart from Christ, it was his good pleasure to crush Christ to get to me, God traded heaven's brightest for earth's dimwit. And that's what i love, that it's so unexpected, so unwarranted and yet so perfectly simple, His loving-kindness is a gift, his priority has always been you and me. I'm feeling sick now writing about it, my worth is wrapped up in Christ's work but what a shame if my "work" is wrapped up in Christ's worth. Because my work is nothing.

Who knows what makes us special, not me, not los, not james, not moses, not paul, not billy graham, only he knows, and he's not telling. I will serve, i will press on, I will find his will for me, i'm just now getting the steam for this. . .

a short word to the haters, :pbbbbt

Simpler Phrases...

So there is this little thing that bothers me. I usually don’t mind convention or quaint cliché (btw Microsoft inserts the umlaut automatically, awesome) but the implications of ideas are usually more far reaching than people realize. It starts with a famous phrase that goes to the effect of:
“There’s a God shaped hole in our hearts that only God can fill.”
While I get the sentiment the idea is expressing it gives a false view of the reality of our situation. Some Christians are under the impression that people can’t do anything fulfilling or meaningful apart from Christ. This is simply untrue. Egyptians built the pyramids without Christ, (although they used a lot of other Jews strangely enough), scientists construct theories without Christ; today a mother will give birth to her daughter “without Christ”. People will find a multitude of things to fill up their hearts with and assuage the biting truth of mortality and many if not most will be comforted outside of the reality of Christian truth. The more pressing issue is our devotion to comfort and our devotion to truth. The truth is that though we may find solace and affirmation in the things we put in our hearts (i.e. work, family, charity, friendships, learning, religion, etc.) our purpose and value as individuals is not tied to those things (unless you are a Marxist). A more accurate picture that actually represents the Gospel more honestly is:
“There is a ‘you’ shaped hole in the heart of God that only you can fill”
Our innate value and purpose is tied to this. His love for us is attractional and without condition. He makes room in holiness, in perfection; in Himself (some could say that he has ‘carved us out’). He draws us in and those who see Him as this God of love and redemption are completely reliant on this perspective. The first sentiment is wishful thinking geared at trying to convince people that they need God, the second is a life-changing truth revealing that God wants us. The Christian or the Jew is not special, the individual is special, you, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, however you have come to ‘be’, YOU have a specific place in the heart of God, don’t let anyone tell you different.

-these and other truths brought to you by the Bible, now in Technicolor!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Deconstruction: arts and crafts

-We craft for ourselves a God we want to serve then we strive to appease and impress this false image.
-We incorporate religious exercise into our schedules to prove devotion
-We judge others on an imbalanced and sliding scale while judging ourselves in absolutes
-We fight with our faith family and offend our real family all the while rarely ever going out of our way to connect with others who are in “real” need.
“We trade intimacy for busyness and relationship for ritual.”
In all this we set ourselves up to feel and be disappointed. This god we’ve attempted to construct is never like the God that is; he cannot be satisfied, he always expects more and will guilt you into a lonely, secluded, intellectually pompous and barren grave.

It starts with us being too prideful to admit that “we” honestly have no idea who He is or what He wants. So we start to “do” things in hopes to make up for our lack of knowledge – then we guilt others by our seeming scholarship and devotion.

Performance is and always will be a poor substitute for living in the will of the Father. Our expectations should give way to our desire. Our expectation is reward and punishment but our desire is Love; overpowering, unabashed, everlasting Love. And that’s exactly what we find when we stop striving and allow Him to reveal Himself without our instinctive preconceptions and limited ideas.

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