November 30, 2005

Ecclesiology

I love the church. I understand that it has its problems, but I love the thought of the church. Especially as it is found in Acts 2:42-47. I love the thought of people gathering in authentic faith-communities to worship God, fellowship, and serve others. These are people doing life together. They are seeing God's miracles done in their midst. What an awesome place to be!

Unfortunately, much of what we call church was never conceived in Acts 2. It doesn't mean it is wrong, as much of it is culturally developed, but it does offer some challenges. Often we have focused more on programs than people. We have given ourselves excuses for not helping the poor and hurting. Excuses such as, "We give money to the local homeless shelter." We have built empires that require great financial backing to sustain them. (The church should ask for money, and people should willingly give it. Not to sustain, but to serve. Sacrificial giving of our finances is an act of worship.)

The Church should be a place of hope and healing; a community of loving Jesus followers dedicated to transforming the world. It should be a place where worship is done authentically, whatever the desired style. It should be a place where the foreigner, the widow, and the fatherless (the poor, the lost, the hopeless) are able to find help. It should be a place where people can safely explore and discuss the Christian faith.

There is a place for critic when talking about the church, but not for criticism. Criticism implies a critic with no offer to change things or offer of a direction for change. Criticism also comes from a heart that does not love.

We must love the Church, but I don't think we have to love all its forms. I personally think there have been times in its past where it might have been sinful to love the form of "church" that was prevelant. I think there is a lot to learn in the Great Commandment for our understanding of Church.

November 29, 2005

Ecclesiology or Ecclesiolatry?

Here is an article I am mulling over. I am thinking about these questions as they are very important to my role as a pastor and church planter:

"What has happened to ecclesiology in our churches today? As church leaders, what do we truly believe about the Church, and what are we teaching our churches about the Church?

Do we as ministry leaders love the church, with all its warts and dysfunctions?"

November 28, 2005

Where Is The Justice?

I was just reading this article at NYTimes.com. It describes the marriage customs of the sub-Saharan African culture. They treat their daughters like cows, and marry them off to pay their debts or to better their lifestyle.

Here is something you won't hear about at a mission rally. We hear cries of concern for people in other countries that are going to hell, but what about people in other countries that are currently IN hell!

I can't help but think that God's heart breaks for these children. And His heart breaks even more over our indifference.

November 25, 2005

Confession

Here is an article by Andrew Santella, The Sin Box: Why Have Catholics Stopped Lining Up At The Confessional?

I like Santella's last paragraph. I think that is where the meat of his article is located. Confessing on an Internet chat room has little remorse or ownership attached to it. It can be done anonymously, and requires no real soul searching. When the confessor is finished, there is no one to say, "That was wrong."

Confession is hard work. It requires us to examine ourselves, and then accept that we are sinners who fail. It is not meant for us to wallow in our guilt and sin, but to accept that we have done something wrong. God's grace reminds us that in spite of our failings, God loves us and offers forgiveness.

November 23, 2005

The Muse

Here are the two articles that prompted the post below. Article 1. Article 2.

Dear Searcher,

Let me begin with a confession. I don't know why God let's evil things happen in our world. I wish He would put an end to them too. I hate war, genocide, racism, sexism, homophobia, and all those things that separate us from our fellow human beings. It makes me just as angry as it does you to see children starving, women and children abused, and people unable to meet their basic needs to live.

I am sorry that people have used the Christian faith as a reason to abuse, kill, and supress other people. It angers me that people could so misunderstand Jesus' message of forgiveness and love that they could turn His words into reasons for hate and violence. I believe it is wrong to use power gained through the church to hurt anyone.

I also know there are some ministers and churches that have done some really stupid and hurtful things. I know there are Christians who think the highest form of faith is unquestioning subjection to a set of principles. It really is the Christian faith's version of "Don't ask, don't tell." Unfortunately many have entered the Christian faith and checked their brains at the door.

Churches and pastors have done some hurtful things to people. They have pressured people to do and think things they were not ready to do or think. They have hurt people with their rules. They have forced people to feel like they are less than normal or an outsider.

I do want you to know some things, though. I think many of the problems you see in the church simply indicates that not everyone who claims to be Christian or part of the Church really is part of it. We have fakers and poser and sinners that pretend to be part of the true faith all the time. Instead of looking at the bad examples please look at the good ones. I know they are sometimes hard to find.

You see Jesus said some pretty great things, and called those who follow Him to a pretty demanding lifestyle. He called us to love our neighbors (even the ones who hurt and abuse us), to forgive, to be generous, to serve the poor and hunger, to defend the weak and innocent. There are shining examples of this in action in the Church, but there are also glaring deficiencies.

Some have cheapened what it means to follow Jesus by cutting corners or doing things their own way. Instead of genuinely trying to hear the voice of God they bow to their own whims or what seems easy. They have focused on the wrong things or decided to argue for something that really isn't that important in the grand scheme of things.

I think if you give Jesus' message a fair listen and look at the better examples of His followers, you might be impressed. Though you must understand, those who strive to be the best Jesus-follower-they-can-be still recognize they don't have it all figured out. God takes His followers on a path that leads to being like Jesus, but none are there yet.

That points to another failure. We are NOT perfect, and we should never act like it. We have all sinned. If we forget that point God reminds us; some just choose to ignore the obvious.

In regards to Church, I know it is imperfect. They focus on things they shouldn't and function in ways that seem antithetical to the Gospel they preach. The Good News doesn't always sound like good news from the lips of some church attenders. But the Church does have a purpose: friendships, discussion, and mobilization. Worship, which in some places is rather boring, is not about feeling good or happy, but in giving praise to God.

No tangible evidence or philosophical argument is sufficient to prove that God exists. What I do have is a continued experience with God. My belief is more than my parents beliefs strapped to my back. I left the church, and felt as though God pursued me.

It may sound elitist to say that Jesus is the only way, but we all know there is a difference between being eltitist and truth. I am not trying to force you to think something you don't want to think, and I certainly am trying to pressure you into a commitment. That is not the way Jesus works. He simply invites us to follow, and then asks us to make a decision based upon what we see in Him. Pressured and rushed commitments do not make for good followers. (Again, I know there are churches and pastors who have taught and acted otherwise. I am sorry.)

I do find it interesting that so many are disatisfied with the various streams of the Christian faith because they are so different from each other and espouse different theological emphasis, and yet want to pick and choose the elements of their faith buffet style. But then again all I have to fall back on as the essential belief of the Christian faith are the historical creeds of the Church.

I also can't explain how it works that God loves us unconditionally and yet holds us accountable for our actions. I guess I have to think of my relationship with my daughter. I never stop loving her, but there are some important lessons she must learn in order to be a healthy member of society. If I don't hold her responsible for her actions then it becomes everyone else's fault (and eventually their problem) that she is the way she is. The Church does have the tendency to live by rules rather than love, but there still must be some standards, right?

I can't respond to every question or apologize for every wrong in a way that is adequate. In fact, writing in this format is not the best way to discuss the Christian faith. But if you are searching, keep looking until you find truth. Keep searching until you find a God worthy of your devotion and worship. Don't stop short with lesser gods or a religion that says, "Everything is okay. What ever you believe to be true is for you." I have found that that search leads to Jesus Christ. But for you, that must be your decision.

November 22, 2005

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

In preparation for the movie The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, I am trying to read through the book. I just finished The Magician's Nephew. My work got advance tickets for the movie to see it the night before it opens to the public.

In thinking about this movie, I wonder what the role of the Church should be in regards to the promotional hype. Mel Gibson's The Passiono of the Christ became a promotional priority for the Church. "The best evangelistic tool in 2,000 years!" read one misguided promotional piece. I bet the creator of that piece would have sold tickets to the crucifixion if they thought they could spin its evangelistic appeal. Hopefully time machines will never be invented.

But it does raise the question, "What is our role in the Church?" Should we not promote movies that illustrate godly principles? Why not movies such as Hotel Rwanda? That movie definitely has a message for today's church. Why are we not promoting Beyond the Gates of Splendor?

I think we are fickle. We pick and choose what "fits" us, and avoid things that may actually challenge us. One minute we are picketing and boycotting Disney, the next we are promoting their movies for them. All they have to do is choose a movie that appeals to pop theology, and "the church" will do the rest.

I think this demonstrates our programmed response to evangelism. For most people, evangelism is a program, a technique, a style. But evangelism is really a lifestyle. How can we expect people to want anything to do with the church if all they ever see and hear from us is hate and judgment? Sometimes it would be better to keep our mouths shut than to "take a stand" against something. In my own denomination they separate compassionate ministry from evangelism. Is there really a separation? I don't think so. Compassionate outreach to others and the Good News of God's Kingdom should go hand in hand. I think it would certainly be more effective.

How would people view the church differently if they saw the Church giving as much as they are asking?

November 20, 2005

Books That Have Helped Me On My Journey

These are just a few of the books that have influenced my life through the years and are currently impacting me. I point these particular books out because they have had the most impact, aside from the Bible, on my thought, life, and practice of the Christian faith.

Please check out my Amazon Store here. You might find something you like.

There have also been some great professors and pastors who have influenced my life and thought that have not written books, but are just as influential. I have included a partial list of them at the bottom of this list. I include them as a way to honor them and their influence.


Theological Books

Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren
Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren
The Great Omission by Dallas Willard
Simply Christian by N.T. Wright
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Gospel of the Kingdom by George Eldon Ladd
The Works of John Wesley

Spiritual/Devotional
The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
The Gennesee Diary by Henri Nouwen
Fresh Wind Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala
A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Servants by Shawchuck and Job
How to Pray by R.A. Torrey

Leadership
Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels
The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Beyond Band of Brothers by Major Dick Winters

Writing and Communication
Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley
On Writing by Stephen King
Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott

Biography and History
Beyond Band of Brothers by Major Dick Winters
The Children by David Halberstaam
A Sense of the World: How a blind man became history's greatest traveler by Jason Roberts
American Bishop by Darius Salter
Ben Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

Professors and Pastors
Dr. David Cubie
Dr. Terrell Sanders
Dr. Darius Salter
Dr. Roger Hahn
Dr. Joseph Coleson
Dr. Harold Raser
Dr. E. Dee Freeborn
Dr. Morris Weigelt
Rev. Harold Horton

My Philosophy of Blogging

Blogging is a medium of expression used by millions, and more and more people in the church are using this to expand their ministry. I was hesitant to begin blogging. People use blogging for many reasons...here are mine

I am external processor. I think while I am writing, speaking, and discussing an issue. I will say things one moment, and in the process of writing, speaking, and discussing, change my mind and say something else. That will happen on this blog. Hopefully it is a result of growth and greater clarity.

I am a learner. I want to know things, think things, and understand things. This means I will grow in the process. I will evaluate and re-evaluate my own stance on things constantly. As I write and discuss, I learn and change. I will say or write one thing, but will grow and change my mind. You will see a record of that on this blog. Being a learner means growth.

I try to look for the best in people. I want to believe that the ideas, ideology, methods, etc I am critiquing (even though I may not like the method) are being done by some wonderful, godly people who are wrestling with how to expand the Kingdom of God. This may take some time for me to get around to, but I will get there. This means that I often play Devil's Advocate by looking at the good in something that may seem diametrically opposed to something I believe. Also, after discussing the idea, I put a face on the idea or method. We all learned from the movie Silence of the Lambs that serial killers don't call their victims by their real names because it would make the victim human. If we are not careful, the victims of our critiques and discussions become not human. When we put a name on the concepts and methods being discussed, they become human and they have feelings. They are also our neighbors which are meant to be loved.

I am not unhappy. I have never been more content in my life. While I struggled through the failure of a church plant, God used that time to bring some healing to my life and to stretch me in ways I never imagined. I also learned that congregation-envy is not helpful to me. I had to give that up. I don't critique things to put people down, I critic them to learn from them. I want to know what the best practices, the best theology, the best methods are...while these may be ultimately elusive as things change, I want to be constantly evaluating everything.

Critique is not the same as being a critic. Critics do things to complain, put down, or denigrate someone that is different. I love the differences of people in the Kingdom of God. We are allowed to speak openly and honestly about those differences, critiquing them, but we must always come back to working like brothers and sisters.

I felt this needed to be added to my blog. Blogs hide people behind a shadow of anonymity to hurt others, and that is NOT the intention of this blog. I welcome open, honest discussion. I value the opinion of people who disagree with me because I can learn from them, as I hope they can learn from me.

November 18, 2005

The Scarlet Letter

Tasha Henderson was tired of her daughter's poor grades. She is making her stand on the street corner and hold a sign proclaiming her inadequate grades. See the article here. This if funny!

I am just glad God doesn't respond to my sin in this way, though I have had to make restitutions for things I have done.

Watch Your Language!

I have found that I use the phrases: "That's awesome!" and "I love..." far to loosely and often. Of course this is not my problem alone. We often search for language and words to describe events and sights that seem to be beyond the bounds of the English language. Unfortunately, overuse and misuse leads to weak words.

This is especially true in our worship. I was recently at a conference, not Brian Mclaren, where a theologian I highly respected made a scathing remark concerning contemporary worship. Now, I understand that people have differing opinions concerning style and use of music in the church service, but you must still be respectful. This theologian jokingly said, "Contemporary worship is little more than 'God is my boyfriend' music." Everyone in the seminary setting laughed; because this was so obviously funny to them.

Maybe the problem is not that contemporary worship uses songs that sound like they are singing to a boyfriend or girlfriend, but that song writers use words and thoughts for their boyfriends or girlfriends that should be reserved for God. (Sorry for the length of that sentence.) When these theologians laughed I wondered if they had ever read Song of Songs. Talk about explicit language!

Maybe we have been guilty of using language for earthly relationships that should be reserved for the Divine Lover of My Soul. "You are the love of my life." "I love you more than words." Why are we more willing to use these phrases for a spouse or lover than for God? And, why is it not appropriate (according to some) to use these in regards to God? I think that is why pop and rock power-ballads often sound more like worship music than love songs to me. They are putting words and emotions into describing something that is not God.

We are searching for words to describe the deep emotions we feel, but shouldn't something be used to describe God alone? Or at least allow the same language to be used without feeling it inferior. Just don't try to get out of telling your spouse, "I love you."

November 16, 2005

Subjective

Being a part of the Christian faith necessitates a discussion of the nature of truth. Is truth objective (meaning somethings are true no matter the situation) or is it subjective (meaning it changed depending upon the situation)? Or, maybe it is both.

I believe there is such thing as objective truth, but I also believe it is subjectively known. Each person sees truth their own lense. Each lense is shaped by DNA, parental nurture, education, life experience, lessons learned, and a host of other influences. Everything that has happened to me in my life has shaped how I view and interpret things.

The quote from C.S. Lewis helps us at this point. We each have a special view of the truth, and as we put our mosaic of views together we get a clearer picture of the objective truth. But, as the Bible says, We see as though "through a mirror darkly." (Historically it pays to realize that mirrors in Paul's time were not the smooth, quality reflections we have today. Mirrors were more crude and distorted.)

As we explore truth in community, an overall picture forms, and we are better able to understand the objective truth.

The problem with language such as absolute is that it leaves no room for discussion. I think there are truths that are absolute, but I am unsure if absolute is the best word we have to describe them. When we use the word "absolute" we imply that this is the final understanding of that particular truth. I think each person understands absolute truth subjectively.

I don't know. I may change my mind tomorrow upon more mature reflection.

November 14, 2005

Toward an Understanding of Theology

I love theology. I like thinking about it, discussing it, argueing it, and learning more of it. I also realize that not everyone has my passion for it. They struggle with the large words (which I don't think you have to use); even though they can discuss the topic.

I found this rather long quote from C.S. Lewis. As I have been thinking about the Brian Mclaren conference and his discussion on the subjectivity of our understanding of truth. I think this quote helps shed some light on that discussion.

"Everyone has warned me not to tell you what I am going to tell you ... They all say "the ordinary reader does not want Theology; give him plain practical religion." I have rejected their advice. I do not think the ordinary reader is such a fool. Theology means "the science of God," and I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about him which are available. You are not children: why should you be treated like children?

In a way I quite understand why some people are put off by Theology. I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.E, an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, "I've no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I'm a religious man too. I know there's a God. I've felt him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that's just why I don't believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about him. To anyone who's met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!"

Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real, to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from real waves to a bit of colored paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only colored paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single isolated glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

Now Theology is like the map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But the map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God­ experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you or I are likely to get on our own way are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. You see, what happened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it. In fact, that is just why a vague religion-all about feeling God in nature, and so on-is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work; like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map."

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Kingdom of Heaven

Last night I watched Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom. Beside the fact the writers wrote current political and moral discussion into a historical event, the questions it raised were good. How do people of different faiths get along? What is the essence of the Kingdom of God? How far should integrity go?

That last question has been on my mind. In the movie, Orlando Bloom's character has the opportunity to assume leadership of the Jerusalem army and become its king. All he has to do is allow the current leaders to execute the man currently in line to take over. Bloom's character refuses because it would make him no better than the man that would be executed.

Because of Balian's decision, thousands die, and Jerusalem is captured. Bloom could have taken leadership and avoided a war. Even the most virtuous of characters in the film encouraged him to "seek the greater good." But Balian stood his ground, and sought to protect the poor and defenseless. (This is another good point the movie makes about the role of the Church to care for the hurting and needy.)

I wonder how many Christians and ministers would and have sacrificed their integrity on the altar of "the greater good." On one hand, Balian was able to lead the people with greater integrity. But on the other hand, thousands of lives could have been saved. I think the movie does an excellent job of pointing out that even when the decisions come with immense cost, it is better to live with integrity. I don't know that I would have made the same decision. I don't know.

November 10, 2005

I Don't Understand

I found this article in the back of Time Magazine while waiting to have my eyes examined. (Maybe there is some ironic symbolism there.) In reading, I just don't understand why people assume there is no connection between science and Intelligent Design or that Intelligent Design somehow causes people NOT to explore the world around them.

The first few paragraphs of this article seemed encouraging, but then the author, Eric Cornell, goes down the same old rabbit trail, though more understanding of some value to be found in Intelligent Design.

I am not saying that schools should not teach evolution; they should. I believe we need to know these things in order to converse in an intelligible manner with others outside of the typical Christian clan. I am not a literal seven-day-creation supporter either.

I like what Eric Cornell said about exploring science to see inside the mind of God. But how that insight takes a turn to see them as mutually exclusive. I think the reaction is more to some extremist reactions in the past. Viewing science as an exploration of God's mind would seem to invigorate many scientists to explore more and find more; not refrain from exploring, testing, experimenting, and expanding.

I think we need to understand that God created the world, but we don't have the specifics of how He did it; Genesis is not science textbook. As we view the mind of God through the eyes of science our love and appreciation for God is expanded.

The problem for the scientist is that sometimes they fail to ask the right questions. They will "Can we do such and such?" but they often don't ask "Should we do such and such?" That question needs to be asked much more often. If you don't believe me, just sit back and remember the atomic bomb.

November 8, 2005

Compliance or Obedience

I have been thinking alot about the difference between compliance and obedience. Most of this thinking spurred by being the parent of a five-year-old, and wanting obedience more than I want compliance. I think God wants the same thing from us--obedience not compliance.

Here is the difference, at least by the way I define the two, compliance is doing something, though you may not want to do it. You can comply even while your heart is anywhere but in a place of respect or trust for the person you are complying with. Compliance can also be forced upon someone.

Compliance also demeans the person who is complying. They submit in an unhealthy way--because they are forced. They are now a victim.

Obedience is done because I want to do what is being asked. Obedience cannot be forced. I must choose to obey. I can comply, but obedience is my responsibility alone.

In thinking about my five-year-old, I want her to obey. I can make her comply, but then her trust and confidence in me is broken. She must obey. Sometimes I get angry or frustrated and make her comply, but I have not received her obedience.

Many times I have complied with God. I have grudgingly done what I feel is required, and I have hated every minute of it. Obedience is different, I obey because I want to do what is required. Here is the problem, even when I don't want to what God asks, I still need to obey. It is an attitude of my heart and submission to His authority.

I hope to be obedient and not just compliant.

November 7, 2005

Our Revered Leaders May Have Weird Skeletons

I found this article while sorting out my e-mail. It reminds us that our revered leaders are still just human beings and not deity. We would do well to theologize and minister with this in mind.

Pomo Ponderings

Last week I attended a conference with Brian Mclaren. It is interesting to see all the debate swirling concerning him. Discussions about modern and post-modern, absolute truth, the subjective nature of reality. If nothing else, Brian accomplished what he wanted to accomplish--people are talking.

One of the major foci of his time was the necessity of the church's involvement in social justice issues. For far too long the church has ignored social justice issues in favor of more "spiritual" concerns.

There is a problem with focusing on either the spiritual or social life exclusively. Jesus' time on earth was spent dealing with both social and spiritual concerns. How could a savior, concerned enough to die for humanity, not be concerned enough to heal the hurting and sick? He couldn't. The same compassion that led Jesus to the cross led Him to care for hurting people.

We as a church, committed to discipling with Jesus, must also be concerned with the well-being of people both spiritually and socially. Check out Matthew 18 just as an example.

There is much more to write...

November 2, 2005

The Postmodern Conversation

Tomorrow, I will be comfortably seated in a conference where Brian Mclaren will be the featured speaker. I spent a little time reminding myself of the postmodern debate. I read the Emergent Response to their critics, and I read Dr. David Mills' response to Dr. D.A. Carson.

I have many thoughts floating around concerning the postmodern/Emergent movement. I like most of what I see in the more careful and articulate promoters.

The Mating Habits of Dung Beetles

When I was in college, I was an academic peer mentor. (This is a fancy title for tutoring those who don't make the grade.) During one of our training session, the book we were reading told how to create interest in our written papers, and how to set our work apart from the work of others. One of the suggestions it gave was to choose the hard or least chosen subject. It listed several topics a biology professor might give. The first two were rather easy and would be very likely chosen by the vast majority of the students. (They were so easy and ordinary that I can't recall what they were.) The third option was "The Mating Habits of Dung Beetles."

The third option was supposed to be best because it was least likely to be chosen, and the professor would appreciate the break from reading the papers of your classmates all on the same subjects.

I never really understood this till last night. I was a judge in an essay contest; The Patriot's Pen through the local VFW. The topic was, "Who are today's patriots?" This is a good topic for an essay from the VFW, and judging essays to help children get scholarships is a good thing. However, 45 essays on how fireman, policemen, soldiers, and the president are all patriots (which they are) was a little boring. There were a few people who said the workingman, their parents, and one included Toby Keith.

There was some originality, but not much. I think most of it was purely accidental. I discovered, though, that I could not be a junior high English teacher because I could not stand the bad writing. What I was hoping for was just one student to write something different; to have a point of view different from the rest. There were some who came close, but their writing ability hindered them.

We chose the top three, and called it quits. Maybe they should have just nominated the dung beetle for patriot.

November 1, 2005

Whatever the Cost...pt. two

I found this article on CNN.com. It is rather challenging considering my thoughts on "whatever the cost."

Whatever the Cost...

This morning, as I was writing in my journal, I found it hard to write the phrase "whatever the cost" in regards to following Christ. It was hard because I know Christian history, and I know the many lives that have ended in martyrdom and insignificance for their commitment to Christ. I also think about the cost to my family. What could my decision to follow Christ do to my family?

When I was a young Christian it was very popular for people to ask, "Are you willing to die for Jesus?" in an attempt to determine if you were "radically" committed to Christ. Those who had to think about it or were unsure were obviously not committed enough.

But Jesus didn't walk up to Peter, the first time, and say, "Are you willing to be crucified upside down for me?" No, Jesus asked Peter to simply follow, and Peter followed. Peter had no clue what he was getting himself into, and neither did any of the other disciples. In fact, Peter, along with the rest of the disciples, thought they were part of a Messianic Revolution that would overthrow the Roman government. They didn't realize their Messiah was going to suffer and die. Even after Jesus' death and resurrection the disciples were still asking, "Are we going to rule the kingdom now?" They didn't get it.

So far in my life I have paid every cost that God has asked of me. I don't know about the future costs, but I am building a habit of trusting God and following Him moment by moment. God has not yet given me the strength or the grace to handle the "whatever costs may come." He has only given me the strength and the grace to handle costs that are presently here. Until that time comes, I don't know what costs I am willing to pay, but I am following, and wherever He leads that is where I am following.