Archives For God

brennan manning

And God answers “That’s what you don’t know. You don’t know how much I love you. The moment you think you understand is the moment you do not understand. I am God not man. You tell others about Me — that I am a loving God. Your words are glib. My words are written in the blood of My only Son. The next time you preach about My love with such obnoxious familiarity, I may come and blow your whole prayer meeting apart. When you come at Me with studied professionalism, I will expose you as a rank amateur. When you try to convince others that you understand what you are talking about, I will tell you to shut up and fall flat on your face. You claim you know I love you.”

“Are you aware that I had to raise Jesus from the dead on Easter morning because My love is everlasting? Are you serenely confident that I will raise you too, My adopted child?” 

 “When Scripture, prayer, worship, ministry become routine, they are dead. When I conclude that I can now cope with the awful love of God, I have headed for the shallows to avoid the deeps. I could more easily contain Niagara Falls in a tea cup than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.”

 

“Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning

He has shown you what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.                                                  [Micah 6:8]

 

I’m thankful God shows us the answer for what he wants from his children. Nothing would be more frustrating than not knowing what your Father desired – and so today I am simply thankful He has shown us.

God’s 3 requirements?

1. Act Justly

2. Love Mercy

3. Walk humbly with God

That’s it.

It doesn’t sound that hard, but man oh man is it!

How does this reminder hit you today?

 

 

Photo Credit: Peter Geckeler

I’m not sure if it’s that I only watch my tv shows on Hulu and they only rotate 7 advertisements per year (seriously, Hulu!), or what it is, but after watching the Verizon commercial with the crying Mom try to leave her daughter for the 400th time, it is getting rough for me. In fact, I walked out of the room last night watching it with my wife because I couldn’t take the same ad one more time.

And maybe I’m crazy, but this experience did get me thinking.

In our churches, how often do we “over-saturate”?

Do we over-sell every event or activity the church puts on?

Do the words “life-change” flow out of every announcement we give?

Do we over-hype programs rather than invest in individual stories?

Are we saying the same thing over and over?

Are we driving our church members *crazy* because we continue to over-hype and under-deliver on our promises?

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to be that annoying advertisement for a church function. But I do want to build buzz for what God is doing. Because I believe more than ever that He is active in our world.

See my tension?

What do you think?

 

 

You can’t live for God until you learn how to live because of God. You can’t make good choices for God until you’ve read the Gospel that says the choices you make DON’T make you who you are. What Christ has done for you makes you who you are. Yes, there are consequences to our choices, the choices we make have ramifications about where we end up, but here’s the Gospel: Where we end up, is not who we are. Who we are isn’t what we do, who we are is what has been done for us.

 

I wanted to complain today.

I wanted to tell my wife all the things that didn’t go as planned.

I wanted someone to notice I was working too many hours.

I wanted to talk to my family who I haven’t seen in months.

I wanted to put up a snarky, sarcastic facebook post.

I wanted to tweet my frustration. I even started to type a message in anger.

I wanted to complain because I read 10 other messages from other people complaining about something stupid. I selfishly thought, “If they knew what MY day looked like, maybe they wouldn’t be complaining to me about something so annoying.”

BUT.

I just taught a lesson two days ago on Philippians 2. Yeah, that’s the passage with the annoying verse that says, “do everything without complaining or arguing.” So annoying.

And yes, this is me complaining about a verse in the Bible that talks about not complaining. I see the irony. And I’m still complaining about it.

But here’s the problem with complaining: it doesn’t solve anything. If I’m not talking to someone who can DO something about it, all I’m doing is (at best) dragging someone else down with a burden they shouldn’t have to bear. Or (much worse) I begin to gossip and maybe tarnish someone else’s view of the person who’s wronged me.

But we want to get people in our corner. Plus, most people naturally complain about life. I’ve noticed lately that most people start conversations by complaining about whatever it is they can think of to complain about. The weather, their homework, their job, their spouse, their sports team not winning. It makes conversation. And it is interesting.

The problem is, we as Christians are no different when it comes to complaining. Part of following Christ is looking different than the world.  Or as Philippians 2 puts it, to “shine like the stars.”  To be a light in the darkness.

Part of the beautiful thing of preparing lessons for young people each week is that I spend a good amount of concentrated time reading and praying (inserted side note: my quiet time is late evenings at home – find what works for you!). The Bible always has this unique way of redirecting my life. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever read.

And how interesting that one of my main points that I taught (to a bunch of 13-year olds bouncing off the wall) is convicting me on a Saturday morning (I should probably complain here about being a loser, but I’m resisting the urge :)).

I wanted to complain, but I’m not going to. I’m going to press on, live free of taking others down, and choose God’s way.

 

The better way.

 

Yeah?

 

I read a tweet from a musician about a month ago that has stuck with me:

“Everyone needs to have a safe place, where you can expose the things you spend your life hiding. If you don’t have a safe place, find one.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about our need as humans for accountability and transparency. I believe that every person craves community.  But the hard part about connections with others is that it takes sacrifice.  There is a time commitment – and it takes some sort of change – some sort of initiative on our part.

I’ve found that there is always an excuse for not having time for meaningful relationships.  My pastor, in reference to serving God, put it in perspective by saying (paraphrase):

  • When we are in college, we are so busy…because we are focusing on our studies & resume.
  • When we graduate, we are so busy…because we are starting our career. Plus, we don’t have much money.
  • When we start our career, many of us get married, and want to focus on our spouse. After all…we are called to be good husbands.
  • Then, we have kids. Now, our call is to be a good parent…so serving becomes even more difficult.
  • Then, our kids grow up, and they have grandkids…and we want to spend time with them.
  • Then, our grandkids grow up…and the feeling is that we are too old to really make a difference in the Kingdom.

I remember feeling convicted as he spoke those words. I never want to fall into the rut of being too busy that I can’t serve God and others.

And the same can be said of being accountable to some trustworthy friends.

So what does it look like?

For me, these meet ups do not need to happen every week, but they DO have to be intentional.  And the gathering does not need to be entirely serious or struggle talk – it should be mixed with fun, laughs, prayer – combined with these sacred, spiritual moments.

James writes Continue Reading…

martin-luther-king-jr-day
Last year, I compiled 15 quotes worth reading from Martin Luther King Jr.  That list is quoted below, or you can go to the original post to check that out.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

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I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

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Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.

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Only in the darkness can you see the stars.

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Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

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If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.

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To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.

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Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

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All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

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At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.

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Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?

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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

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Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

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He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

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I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.

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I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

For something a little less “orthodox” for most of Christian thinking (I use the word “orthodox” meaning “accepted” here), you can check out my other post from today: MLK’s 6 reasons why non-violence is a good idea. His compelling list might just make you re-think some of your own thoughts on the issue.

“Were all in this TOGETHER.” -MLK.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day. I pray that God would give all of us dreams worth dying for.