Wednesday, June 30, 2010

thought for today

"As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."

C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crazy Love

"It's crazy if you think about it. The God of the universe - the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor - loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you've verbalized it yet or not...we all know something is wrong. Because when you're wildly in love with someone, it changes everything." [Francis Chan]

Francis Chan wrote Crazy Love for people like me, people who have lost sight of how very small we are in light of God's great and unapproachable holiness. The only reason we read our Bibles is because we feel like we should, not because we want to. We pray without thinking about the Being that we are praying to. It is all routine. In short, in our "Christian cultures" we take God for granted. As a result, we think that we can go to church, change nothing about our everyday lives, and still get to heaven. Getting to Heaven, after all, is the only reason we go to church. It often has nothing to do with cultivating a relationship with the God of the universe, and more with avoiding punishment. Is this really the way it is supposed to be? This is the question Francis Chan attempts to tackle.

As believers, we should be appalled by how many professing Christians live their lives this way. We avoid suffering at all cost. Chan makes note of how often we pray, "Lord, we pray for safety as we travel. We ask that no one gets hurt on this trip. Please keep everyone safe until we return, and bring us back safely. In Jesus' name we pray, amen." Sound familiar? How often have we heard that one? Chan goes on to say, "We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually. We've elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God's best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world." As American Christians, especially, we are experts at staying in our comfort zones and assuring ourselves that we are not "called" to do the hard things like mission work, sacrificial giving, or community service.

A changed life should be synonymous with a radical life. If the world understands the way we are living, something is wrong with our lives. The way we live should shock the world. The way we love should call attention not to ourselves, but to the great God whom we serve. As John Piper says, "It is one thing to have an answer ready. It is another to live a lifestyle that causes people to ask you for it." This is the rut we, as the church of America find ourselves in. We have all the answers to all of the questions, but we are so preoccupied with being "relevant" to the culture, that we forget that we, in fact, not called to be relevant, but different. Gandhi said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." That should sadden and scare us.

We are completely preoccupied with ourselves. Our safety. Our friends. Our habits. Our comfort. Were we there when God created the world? No. Where we there when He sent His son into the world? No. In Heaven, when angels surround the throne saying "Holy, Holy, Holy" will they be bowing down to us? No. Chan says it well: "Frankly, you need to get over yourself." This isn't about us. This is about God. Our lives are not about our needs, our wants, our desires; they are about God. Anything short of a life lived purposefully to glorify God is a wasted life. Chan goes on, "Throughout time, somewhere between forty-five billion and one hundred twenty-five billion people have lived on this earth. That's 125,000,000,000. In about fifty years (give or take a couple of decades), no one will remember you. Everyone you know will be dead. Certainly, no one will care what job you had, what car you drove, what school you attended, or what clothes you wore...The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His."

The God who created 350,000,000,000 galaxies and gave the caterpillar 228 different muscles in its head is the same God who loved us, sinful and depraved humans who never did anything except try to steal the glory that is rightfully His own. It is merciful that God would allow us to escape our deserved punishment of hell. It is unbelievable that He would give us a relationship with Himself and see us as blameless because of Christ's sacrifice. This is, indeed, a crazy kind of love.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ideas Have Consequences

These past two weeks, I've been at a so-called "summer camp" (more accurately described as summer school) in Colorado. I went with high hopes, knowing that I would meet some neat people and actually excited about spending a couple hours in class everyday. Little did I know we would be spending 70 hours in class over the course of about 10 days. Ridiculous. A good ridiculous. We covered everything from bio-ethics to Bible study tips, with every imaginable cultural category in between. Our brains felt like they were exploding by day 3.

We rafted the Arkansas river after being there for about a week. Dr. Noebel had told us on the first night during orientation that this was the only place in the world where teenagers cry to go to sleep. None of us believed him. By the end of the first week we did. Needless to say, by the time river rafting rolled around, I was less than thrilled about waking up at 5:30 in the morning, just to spend four hours traveling in a bus. Turns out, the water pressure at the Arkansas River was higher than it has been since 1995. And we, being crazy teenagers, decided to do it anyways. It was absolutely incredible. (And we were very thankful that nobody died.) The guides encouraged us afterwards by telling us that we had participated in a historic event.

When we weren't in class, we were usually discussing class (or getting ice cream downtown. More often than not, a happy mixture of the two.) Every night we had the option of attending what was called "open forum". A group of us students (usually about 50 0f us) gathered on the huge wrap-around front porch for question and answer time with a specific professor. I learned almost as much in that hour and a half as I learned during the six hours of lectures earlier that day. It was a fantastic way of turning the information that had been swimming around in our heads to practical application.

I now feel lazy if I sleep in past six o'clock in the morning. I have been re-motivated to study my Bible, now that I've realized there is no possible way to survive in this world without it. I find myself wanting to say "peace" every time a car passes by. (Thank you, Dr. Noebel.) I now have friends from all over the country that care about the same things that I do. Not only do I have the desire, I now feel equipped to be a world changer.

Ideas have consequences.
My parents idea of sending me to Colorado for two weeks had life-changing consequences.

Thank you, Summit Ministries.