there is only one you

Romans 11:29 says

The gifts and callings of God can never be withdrawn.

dwell on that today. 

know that what He has given won’t be taken away. people take things back all the time, but not God. so if He has affirmed something in you, if He has gifted you, then move forward in that gift. people recognize and affirm our gifting, they can also deny and try to shut it down for whatever reason. but the gifts of people can be taken back or returned. the calling of man can be removed or disposed of. but not God. if He calls you, He also gifts you. and that is your portion. you have a uniqueness that the world needs. only your DNA can fulfill that calling. 

so recognize who you are today. realize that you have specific God-given skills and talents. believe that He has a purpose for you. go and live. don’t let others define who God says you are. 

So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. James 1:16-18 NLT




i’ve been reading Jesus Manifesto…

probably longer than i should be.  i should have finished by now.  i’m a fast reader.  i’m voracious.

there is something different about this book.  it makes me slow down.  it makes me re-read.  i’m trying to digest the things it says.  go back and read the scripture that Len Sweet and Frank Viola use to paint this beautiful picture of a supreme Christ.  if i wanted to review this book, i couldn’t, because it can’t be summed up for me.  i have to take it in small chunks, process it, read again and repeat.

i’ve been dwelling on the chapter titled  “A Ditch on Either Side”.  the title of the chapter comes from a quote by Karl Barth that says, “truth walks on the razor edge of heresy.”

i guess what is really messing with me are two passages from this chapter. one is a quote by Clifford Scott, where he says.

The more you know the more you know how little you know.  Your frustration is finite and your ignorance is infinite.  The more you resolve you frustration at your ignorance, and the more you repair the damage done in your life that led to your disappointment in your ignorance, the more you may be able to love your ignorance and woo it.  All new will come from what you are ignorant of now.

Sweet and Viola follow that up with this few paragraphs that i’m still reading.

The Christ who is truly (but only partially) present in our doctrine and experience is the true substance of the Christian faith.  As for us, we will always “know in part” until we meet Him “face to face”.  Concerning the reality of Christ Himself, all the fullness of God dwells within Him.
It is for this reason that every theological system breaks down somewhere.  Every systematic theology, no matter how coherent or logical, eventually meets some passage of Scripture or passage of life that refuses to fit into it.  Such passages have to bent, twisted and forced into the system.
Why is this? It’s because Christ is too immense, too imponderable, and too alive to be tied into any immovable system of thought constructed by finite humans.
Thus He will always break out.  As Jeff Goldblum’s character said in the hit movie Jurassic Park–“Life will find a way” (That was his response to the idea that scientists had created an ironclad, airtight system to keep dinosaurs from reproducing.) Jesus Christ is too alive to be caged in any human system.  As Paul exclaimed in holy exasperation, “How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”
Life will find a way
Jesus is not just one way, a better way, a pleasant way on a good day.  He is THE way.

i love that.  i love that thought that Christ cannot be caged.  not even by the finest theological minds that have ever existed.  He shatters what we might possibly know about Him. 

Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Corithians 13:12 NLT

many of you know

we have 4 children.  our youngest is a foster child we can’t name or put pictures of on the internet, so we just call him babyzooloo.

babyzooloo has a very sharp imagination.  he likes to play games and invent things and dream big dreams.  his brother Kooper is very literal, but not babyzooloo.

point in case Koop wants to be a baseball player when he grows up.  on Saturday, babyzooloo told me he wanted to be Jesus when he grew up, but he was going to need some of those “branches” for his head.  then the next day he tells me he guesses he’ll just be a racecar driver, but he wants to wash the cars when he’s done racing them.

yesterday his dayschool teacher relayed to me a conversation he was having at lunch.

babyzooloo: I’m going to be a racecar driver when I grow up, I was going to be Jesus, but I don’t want to get a whipping on my back so I’ll just put Jesus in my heart.

friend:  How are you gonna get Him in there?

babyzooloo: I’ll just push Him in.

that’s all cute and all, but i find an amazing lesson there.  my 3 year old somewhat understands Jesus.  he knows he wants to be “like” Jesus.  he knows that he suffered.  and he knows that Jesus lives inside of us.  i’m not sure, but while his friend is asking a literal question, he is giving an abstract, albeit spiritual answer.  from the mouths of babes.

the Lenten season…

yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday.  i grew up in a denomination that did not celebrate Lent.  i don’t know if we were so afraid of Catholicism that we just ran the other way or what.  we also didn’t talk too much about the Holy Spirit(i guess the charismatic gifts are scary)

i remember my Episcopalian and Catholic friends having smudges on their foreheads.  i asked what it was about, but nobody could really explain it.  i just knew they gave up things that they probably shouldn’t have been doing anyway for a month or so before Easter (the only holiday where it is perfectly acceptable to dress the whole family in pastels) oh, and because of Lent, we had fish patties on Friday at school.

yesterday, i took part in my very first Ash Wednesday service.  our pastor placed the symbol of the cross on my forehead with ashes made from last years Palm Sunday palms.  it was a very solemn service.  i had been praying about what to “give up” for Lent and the day before had decided to abstain from Facebook and Twitter for 40 days (even though Lenten rules let you break your fast on Sundays, i will not be doing so).  this was difficult for me as i keep in touch with many of my distant friends through both of those mediums, but i wanted to give up something that would be difficult.

a lot of people don’t understand that, they say things like, “I’m going to DO things during Lent, not give things up….Jesus was about doing”.  they seem to forget that very same Jesus went into the desert for 40 days to fast, and that He was probably in the practice of fasting and self-sacrifice.  i think the beauty of giving something up is replacing it with something else.  i for one am going to read all of the Gospels during this 40 days.  i’m going to spend my time WITH Jesus.  reading His words and applying them in my life.  and i’m going to put my phone down since i removed all of the FB and twitter apps from it and spend that time with my family.  i’m hoping this time will give me some perspective on better use of my social media time.

here is the reason for Lent from our service yesterday:

Preparation Meditation:

Long ago Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with crowds shouting praise and children waving palms.  Yet the crowds quickly turned against Jesus.  Likewise, our Palm Sunday “hosannas” welcoming Jesus as our Savior are often followed by our rejection of Christ as Lord of our lives.  We betray Christ to the derision of the world.  Our actions condemn Christ’s chosen way of saving the world through love instead of force.  So, today and in this season of Lent, we repent.  With the ashes from our past failure, we turn once more to be marked by Jesus’ cross in the hope that Jesus Christ will forever be both Savior and Lord of our lives.  Welcome to this time of self-examination and prayer.  God loves you and wants you to turn in faith to receive powerful life in the Holy Spirit.

All are invited into a deeper commitment to Christ through this Lenten season. We invite you to consider how you might observe this time with intentional discipleship. You might want to participate in a fast from particular luxuries, material consumerism or various forms of entertainment, and take each opportunity to refrain as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice.  You might want to add a spiritual discipline such as morning or evening Bible reading or daily prayer for our, church, community or world.  Lenten disciplines also focus us outwardly in actions of service and compassion. What might you do this season for others?  Please prayerfully consider your call for this season and offer your commitment to God in prayer.

Growing up in church….

we were taught that Jesus was the answer to all of our problems.  We were taught that there was a circle-shaped hole in our heart and that we had tried to fill it with the square pegs of sex, drugs and rock & roll; but only the square peg of Jesus could fill our hole.  I became a Christian based, in part, on this promise, but the hole never really went away.  To be sure, I like Jesus, and I still follow Him, but the idea that Jesus will make everything better is a lie.  It’s basically biblical theology translated into the language of informercials.  The truth is, the apostles never really promise Jesus is going to make everything better here on earth.  Can you imagine an infomercial with Paul, testifying to the  amazing product of Jesus, saying that he once had power and authority, and since he tried Jesus he’s been moved from prison to prison, beaten, and routinely bitten by snakes?  I don’t think many people would be buying that product.  Peter couldn’t do any better.  He was crucified upside down by some reports.  Stephen was stoned outside the city gates.  John, supposedly, was boiled in oil.  It’s hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria.  I think Jesus can make things better, but I don’t think He is going to make things perfect.  Not here, and not now.  What I love about the gospel of Jesus, though, is that it offers hope….

Donald Miller “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”