Rob Bell

i love devotional time with my kids….

tonight, Karson read our bible story out of The Jesus Storybook Bible

this story struck me tonight.  i love the way that it’s told here.

Running Away-The story of the Lost Son from Luke 15

Jesus told this story about a boy who ran away:  Once upon a time, there was a boy and his dad.  Now, one day, the boy gets to thinking, Maybe if I didn’t have my dad around telling me what is good for me all the time, I’d be happier.  He’s spoiling my fun, he thinks.  Does my dad really want me to be happy? Does my dad really love me?  The son never thought of that before.  But suddenly he doesn’t know anymore.

So the son goes to the father and says, “Dad, I’m better off without you.  I can look after myself.  Just give me my share of your money.”  His father is sad but he won’t force his boy to stay.  So he gives his son what he wants.

The son takes the money and goes on a long, long journey to a far off country.  And everything is wonderful and perfect–for a while.  He can go wherever he wants, do whatever he wants, be whoever he wants.  He is the boss, he is free!

Sometimes he gets a strange, hungry, homesick feeling inside his heart, but then he just eats more, or drinks more, or buys more clothes, or goes to more parties until it goes away.

But soon his money runs out–and so do his friends.  He ends up getting the only job he can find: feeding pigs.  One day he is so hungry and so desperate he even tries some of the pig food–“What am I doing?” he says suddenly, as if he has woken from a nightmare.  He spits–YUCK!–all of it–ICK!–out of his mouth. “My father is rich, and here I am–in a pig sty, eating pig food!”  He wipes his mouth and dusts himself off. “I’m going home!”

As he starts for home though, he begins to worry. Dad won’t love me anymore.  I’ve been too bad.  He won’t want me for his son anymore.  So he practices his I’m-Sorry-Speech.  All this time, what he doesn’t know is that, day after day, his dad has been standing on his porch, straining his eyes, looking into the distance, waiting for his son to come home.  He just can’t stop loving him.  He longs for the sound of his boys voice.  He can’t be happy until he gets him back.

The son is still a long way off, but his dad sees him coming.  What will the dad do? Fold his arms and frown? Shout, “That’ll teach you!” And, “Just you wait young man!”


That’s not how this story goes.  The dad leaps off the porch, races down the hill, through the gap in the hedge, up the road.  Before his son can even begin his I’m-Sorry-Speech, his dad runs to him, throws his arms around him, and can’t stop kissing him.

“Let’s have a party!” his dad shouts. “My boy’s home.  He ran away.  I lost him–but now I have him back!”

Jesus told them, “God is like the dad who couldn’t stop loving his boy.  And people are like the son who said, ‘Does my dad really want me to be happy?’ ”  Jesus told the people this story to show them what God is like.  And to show people what they are like.  So they could know, however far they ran, however well they hid, however lost they were–it wouldn’t matter.  Because God’s children could never run too far, or be too lost, for God to find them.

and that is the amazing story that we read tonight. praying that God knits that story to my heart.

i think that same father’s heart permeates this video.  it’s the very first Nooma video I ever saw, and I told all of my kids tonight exactly what Rob tells his son in this video.  and i would tell it to you.  i want it to be true in my life.


benediction from whirlwind…

“So may you be released from always having to understand why everything happens the way that it does.  May this freedom open you up to all sorts of new perspectives.  And may you have the wisdom to know when to say, ‘I spoke once, but now I will say no more’ “

Rob Bell-Whirlwind

another Rob Bell benediction…

“So may you forgive as you’ve been forgiven, may you give to others what’s been given to you, may you set somebody free and find out that it was you, and may you do it today because you might not have the chance tomorrow”

from the Nooma video “Luggage”

you can’t have one without the other….

Rob Bell’s latest video series intrigues me.  i’ve only seen snippets, and this one segment stuck out to me.

he’s talking to preachers, but i think that it can apply to anyone who teaches or leads worship as well.

When you preach a fresh word, sometimes it’s so far ahead of where people are that you open yourself up to:

misinterpretation and confusion and anger and ignorance and fear and jealousy and opinions and evaluation and critique and agendas and baggage and convictions and projections and

the possiblity of

truth and light and hope and repentance and desire and compassion and longing and revolution and confession and inspiration and comfort and solidarity and salvation and resurrection

and when you do this, you don’t get to pick one or the other. if you want the one, then you’ve got to be willing to take the other…

i love benedictions…


some of my favorite moments of worship come from some benedictions.  it’s like challenge and a blessing rolled into one.  i posted one of my favorites a week or so ago. the benedictions that they do at Ecclesia church in Houston are beautiful, broken and amazing.  our pastor does great benedictions every Sunday.  i love to hear great, well thought out ones.

the benedictions that speak the most to me are the ones that Rob Bell does on the Nooma series of videos.  he really has studied some cool rabbinical and early church writings so that his benedictions come in that vibe.  they are beautiful and traditional in their structure, yet very modern in the language and content.  he always sets up the benediction (what he leaves you with) with a question earlier in the teaching.  for this particular one i want to share with you from the video “Today”, the question is, “When you think of your life, what was the best time?”

he ends the video with these words…

May you accept the past for what it is.  May you celebrate what needs to be celebrated and grieve what needs to be grieved and then, may you receive from God a new spirit, one for here, now, today.


….i love that thought.  rejoice and mourn, but then receive what is in store for you today.

what are you entitled to…

so yesterday i talked statistics, today i’m going to see where that puts us. again from Jesus Wants to Save the Christians….


Empires accumulate.  And that accumulation has consequences.  Blessing and abundance can turn into burdens and curses.

The number of Americans taking antidepressants has tripled in the past decade.

If all of this was supposed to make us happy, why are so many of us so sad?

But not everybody is sad.  There is another response to accumulation, and it’s called entitlement.

Moses spoke of the need to constantly tell the exodus story, the one about rescue from slavery, “otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.”

Moses can see the days of abundance and blessing coming.  Someday they will not only have enough, they will have more than enough.  And he knows that this blessing is going to bring with it tremendous temptation to forget the God who provided it. How does a person forget God?  The answer we’ve seen again and again in the Scriptures is that you forget God when you forget the people God cares about.  Over and over God speaks of the widow, the orphan and the refugee.  This is how you remember God: you bless those who need it the most in the same way that God blessed you when you needed it the most.

Moses describes God as “the one who brought you out of Egypt”.  Everything is connected to their experience of redemption and the extending redemption to others.  In an empire of indifference, as it becomes harder and harder to understand the perspective of others, it becomes easier and easier to confuse blessing with entitlement.

Entitlement leads to immunity to the suffering of others, because “I got what I deserve” and so, apparently, did they.

Moses warned about this as well in Deuteronomy 8, when he said “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

In an empire of entitlement, when the fundamental awareness is lost that this is all a gift, luxuries can begin to seem like necessities.  Excess can become normal.  And it can be very easy to lose perspective on just how much we have…

…In the same way that entitlement can cause us to lose perspective, it can also cause us to resist the checks on consumption.  If a particular resource becomes scarce at home or in other parts of the world, it can be very difficult to cut back, because powerful forces of entitlement convince us certain things are deserved.

Empires naturally accumulate, accumulation has consequences, and those consequences are expensive.

wow!  that just hits me between the eyes.  how many times have i said.  “just buy it Chuck, you want it, and you deserve it.”  how much money have i squandered and wasted just because i felt i was entitled to something.  have “luxuries become necessities” for me and my family?

Please Lord, change my heart!

so i’ll be honest…

i’m a fan of Rob Bell.  i’ll quantify that with, “i don’t agree with everything he says”, but that’s how Rob would like it.  i think we could have some great conversations.  the thing i like best about Rob is his books and videos challenge my idea of my own faith.  he gets me asking questions.


that being said, he kicked me square in the butt yesterday with a passage from his book Jesus Wants to Save the Christians which he cowrote with Don Golden.

they are talking about Empires in the bible and then make these statements.

America controls 20% of the world’s wealth.  There are around six billion people in the world, and there are roughly 300 million people in the US.  That makes America less than 5 percent of the worlds population.  And this 5% owns a fifth of the world’s wealth.

One billion people in the world do not have access to clean water, while the average American uses 400-600 liters of water a day.

Every seven seconds, somewhere in the world a child under the age of 5 dies of hunger, while Americans throw away 14 percent of the food we purchase.

Nearly one billion people in the world live on less than one American dollar a day.

Another 2.5 billion people in the world live on less than two American dollars a day.

More than half of the world lives on less than two dollars a day, while the average American teenager spends nearly $150 a week.

Forty percent of people in the world lack basic sanitation, while 49 million diapers are used and thrown away in America every day.

1.6 billion people in the world have no electricty.

Nearly one billion people in the world cannot read or sign their name.

Nearly 100 million children are denied basic education.

By far, most of the people in the world do not own a car. One-third of American families own three cars.

One in seven children worldwide (158 million) has to go to work every day just to survive.

Four out of five American adults are high-school graduates.

Americans spend more annually on TRASH BAGS than nearly half of the world does on ALL goods.

Now, when many people get a glimpse of how the world really is, whether it’s through study or travel or reading statistics like the ones just cited, it can quickly lead to guilt.  We have so much, while others have so little.

Guilt is not helpful….honesty is helpful.  Awareness is helpful.  Knowledge is helpful

Guilt isn’t.

Human history has never witnessed the abundance that we consider normal.  America is the wealthiest nation in the history of humanity.  We have more resources than any group of people anywhere at any time has ever had.  EVER!

God bless America?

God has.

And we should be very, very grateful.

tomorrow i’ll hit you with what they say about entitlement…..are you ready?