Archives For Jesus
Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.
Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope “Spiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive” The Wizard of Oz: Revelation’s View of Community
- “No church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.” (Eugene Peterson)
- Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
- Showing of who Oz really is. “The great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
- It’s a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
- In Pergamum it was very, very different.
- Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It “has to be true.” Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
- Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
- A tiny…insignificant few.
- Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
- Have you been the minority?
- Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
- Persecuted Christians get it
- “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” G. K. Chesteron
- Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
- Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
- Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission…a larger story.
Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston “Deep, Redefined”
- Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don’t do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
- Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
- Life is a squiggle
- I need a travel partner
- Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
- When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry
Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola “The Missing Ingredient”
Observations about ministry to young people:
- Catch30 Crisis – Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don’t know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
- There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
- You can’t pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
- I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.
Other Notes from class…
- If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
- Moses and Christ
- Creation and Christ
- Isaac and Christ
- Jacob and Christ
- Conclusion – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 – Do business with the Lord
Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves “The Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2”
2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5
- We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
- “All Scripture” does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
- Inspired…he does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
- 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God’s world in order to see the world differently and “to do something about it.”
- These stories carry the freight in any given culture.
- God can’t help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
- Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
- One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
- Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
- We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.
Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc “Reaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians”
Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord. Struggles do not divide us.
Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.
What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.
What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church
What they need is looking for a safe place.
How to be a safe place?
Deal with our own fears.
- Change our thinking
- Change our language
- Be consistent
- Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ
Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola “God so loved the world vs. Love not the world.”
The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…
- Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
- A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.
Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.
The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.
The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.
2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.
“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)
Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant
This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then sautèed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.
I saw a video that said when Jesus quoted the beginning of Psalm 22 that he was using a rabbinic technique called “ramez” where the entire Psalm applies when Jesus mentions the first verse. I would like to believe that and it still may be true but the problem is that we do not have a shred of evidence to support this. It sounds more like something you would hear in a Rob Bell video (not slamming him but just sayin’) than you would in a commentary. Having said that, Psalm 22 is the most popular lament psalm in the entire psalter. Why? Jesus quoted this (already mentioned) in his prayer to God while dying on the cross (see Matthew 27:45-50). Yet this was first uttered by David hundreds of years before Christ died. It was a personal lament that placed him in perspective but also asked God the brutal question of “Why?”.
Why did he ask the brutal question? Certainly because of his enemies:
- They mock him – v. 7
- They are bulls surrounding him – v. 12
- He experiences physical pain because of them – vv. 14-16
- They divide his garments – v. 18
I am tempted to talk about Christ as Christ later exemplifies this in many aspects. Yet, David, in our context, is enduring much at the hands of many. He struggles with this not because the concept of impending pressure of enemies is uncommon but for David the struggle lies in the very nature of God himself. God, you are holy (v. 3), you answered our fathers when they cried (v. 5) and you protected and will protect your people but right now you have left me (v. 1), you are not answering me (v. 2) and because of this I find no rest.
Let’s stop for a minute and think about this. Have you ever felt like that before? I talk with teenagers all the time who experience in part what David experiences in whole. I hear comments like, “Robbie, it’s so hard to trust in God because it feels like he is not there and not listening.” If pressed they would probably admit that they feel like God has left them. Ever felt that way before? Ever experience that type of brokenness before?
What’s David’s solution?
Intense trust in God’s ETERNAL character (vv. 8-10), a request for his presence and deliverance (vv. 11, 19-21) and in all of this personal anguish he promises (fancy word is “vows”) to praise God (vv. 22-31).
You tracking with that?
David vows to praise God in the midst of impending destruction and intense physical, emotional and spiritual anguish. We think the world is going to end because a democrat got elected president but last time I check people don’t want our heads on a platter. Our issues are not even a blip on David’s radar. He would consider many of our issues as wastes of time. But even David said, “I will tell of your name…” (v. 22).
What would it look like for many of us who have cancer, terminal illnesses or many of us who have lost loved ones to proclaim in the midst of intense anguish, “I will tell of your name”?
“Yeah God, you have left us and I don’t fully understand it all but I trust in your divine purposes as one who created me (see vv. 9-10) and because of your infinite ways I will tell of your name.”
That is what you call BIG FAITH!
- How does this psalm help in your ups and downs with God?
- Why praise God in the midst of intense suffering?
- In what ways does this entire psalm help inform you about Christ’s suffering and death?
Lesson #4 – What are the implications of advent?
Hopefully, if done right, this lesson will be delivered around (or on) Christmas day and will be good for discussion. Please feel free to go over what has been taught and learned in the previous four weeks and discuss any revelations that have occurred amongst the students during this focused time.
ILLUSTRATION: What we are going to emphasize today is the biggest component of Advent: Waiting. What I want you to do is to introduce the class that we are going to talk about the implications of advent. Then what I want you to do next is wait. Don’t say anything, don’t do anything but just sit there. You can do it for one minute or three minutes. Inevitably teenagers are going to give you weird looks because they can’t stand 15 seconds of silence let alone a full-blown minute.
WAS IT HARD FOR YOU TO WAIT? WHY OR WHY NOT?
WHAT IS IT ABOUT US THAT DRIVES US INSANE WHEN IT COMES TO WAITING?
[You can use your own personal story that emphasizes our impatience] I can’t stand to wait! If a web page on my iPhone does not come up in less than four seconds I become angry. If I don’t get my Wendy’s Baconator in less than three minutes then I get irate. I mean how long does it take to throw half a pig on half a cow and throw some cheese in there? Come on people!!! We all struggle with waiting because of the digitized, fast-food mindset of Western Culture where we have to experience things right now.
This lesson is to allow us to focus on being ready for Jesus to come with patience but also with anticipation. This lesson is short, but simple. Here is the bare outline.
Waiting means we must be ready!
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt. 24:44).
“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak” (Luke 12:38).
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thess. 5:4-11).
IN WHAT WAYS DO WE NEED TO BE READY FOR THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD?
When Jesus came John the Baptist prepared the way for the people compelling them to repent for the “kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mark 1:1-8). In like manner we are compelled to be ready no matter what the cost may be and that means we are to “bring-in” the kingdom of God by being disciples and making disciples. You hear of people talking about “Christmas cheer” and what they mean is giving gifts and such but the Christmas cheer is that we need to be ready for the coming of the Lord.
IN WHAT WAYS ARE PEOPLE NOT GOING TO BE READY FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD?
In the first century they thought that Jesus was going to come soon (you could make an argument that Paul even thought that). Paul was very upset at people who stood around “idle”. Paul said, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6). In other words we have no clue when Christ will come (see 1 Thess. 5:4 above) so we should not give up our labors of spreading good news to the world.
Waiting means we must be drunk with anticipation!
“The LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night— as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still; as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking, but awakens faint and thirsty still. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion. Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer” (Isa. 29:6-9).
The verse in Isaiah is given to talk about a time when the Messiah will reign from Zion and the people will be drawn towards his reign. The kicker for the Christian is that Jesus now reigns (i.e. his “kingdom”) and Jesus will always reign. We need to be intoxicated with anticipation at what we can participate in and what God has called us to do. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14).
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD “ANTICIPATION”? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
I remember the birth of my first son (Kaleb) and the weeks felt like years until he finally came into this world. There was excitement, fear, desire, longing, responsibility and humility all wrapped-up in a box known as anticipation. It means we become ready for something and eagerly long for it.
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU/ARE YOU ANTICIPATE(ING) THE LORD’S RETURN?
To anticipate for something you must have some sort of desire to fuel that anticipation. Anticipating the Lord’s return gets me excited because of a single group of verses:
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:1-5).
This is the final moment when the Lord returns and the new heavens and new earth form and all things become completely new. It is when the curse of Adam is ultimately lifted and mankind is allowed to enter Eden again. It is where we participate in complete union with God and with his risen saints and we join in the eschaton at the table (see Isaiah 25:6-9) and feast forever. No tears, no sorrows, no pain, no suffering…peace, perfect peace.
Enjoy this video and I hope you enjoyed this series. We all can join the early Christians in a popular saying called Maranatha. It simple means, “Come, Lord” (see Rev. 22:20). So, “Come, Lord Jesus…Come!”
LESSON #3 – What are some things we can do to help us make the most out of advent?
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SURPRISED BEFORE? LIKE A SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY OR A SURPRISE GIFT. WHAT WAS IT LIKE?
[This is my personal story but you should share your own] I remember the biggest surprise I ever received was when my wife through a surprise birthday party for me a few years ago. She went through the trouble of getting some people from church to gather and they all surprised me with gifts, food and laughter. I felt completely excited and at the same time humbled that people even cared for me like that.
In the same way the season of Advent is about a Child who came and reordered the world as we see it and the fact that he is going to come again and re-reorder the world into the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Have students break up into groups of 3-4 and read the following passages: Isaiah 49:1-50:3; 50:4-51:8; 52:13-53:12; 61:1-3. Talk about how these passages all are Messianic Prophecies discussing how Jesus (the Servant) was called into this world to serve the brokenness of our humanity. Have the students talk about how these verses portray Jesus and anything else that spoke to them during the reading.
After they have finished reading…ask them to pray for what needs to be done in their lives to be ready for the coming of our Lord. Then ask them to pray for what they need to do to help others be ready for the coming of the Lord.
Give them a few minutes…
I want you as a group to come up with ways, like Jesus, you need to serve people in your communities. It could be people inside of your local church but it could also be people outside of the church.
Give them a few minutes then SAY…
To make the most out of this season we need to do three things (I shared some of these in the sermon I preached at Main Street this past Sunday so these may be new to you but old to some others)…
Here are some ideas of areas where you may serve. Donate your time to a charity or to a family in need. Put up Christmas lights for a family. Put up decorations for the elderly. Bake cookies for someone who lost a loved one in your local church. Provide warm meals for the homeless. Sing carols at a local shelter. Read Christmas books to children in the hospital. [add more ideas…]
The average American will spend $646 dollars this Christmas season. Check this statistic out: In 2010 the total amount Americans gave to charities was $290.89 billion. According to the National Retail Federation on Black Friday this year Americans spent a record $52 Billion. The same organization estimates that in 2011 Americans would have spent an estimated $465.6 Billion on Christmas spending alone!!! Paul said it best, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:7-9). Do you really need those presents?
Herod the King did not want to Jesus to come into this world. The reason was because he felt his kingship was threatened. The prevailing view was that the Messiah would come and would establish himself on the throne and all other kings, rulers and princes would be subjugated to serve the Messiah. This is why Herod sent wisemen, or Magi, to go find where Jesus was born (Matt. 2:1-7). Herod said that he wanted to worship the child (2:8) but the real motive was that he wanted to harm the child so he could remain as king (2:12). What I am concerned about is the reaction the Magi had to the Messiah when they saw him: “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” (2:11). Do you want to know what this season is about? It is about an opportunity to participate in the kingdom of God where Christ sits as both Lord and King. Presents are ok, ham is ok, lights, trees and all of that is ok but it is only a shadow of what is really important. Jesus serves as our king and our Lord and this season calls us to simply surrender to the one who came and will come again. “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36).
How good is “good news” if we do not share it? The real story of Christmas needs to be shared to someone and perhaps you can offer them a chance for them to participate in the story. A chance for them to be “washed” of their sins but also a chance for them to live a holy and sanctified life with the saints helping others join the kingdom. “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Ps. 34:8). “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me” (Ps. 66:16).
As you well know I am big into media and visual images with powerful songs. A most powerful song is “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”
If you’re wondering about what Advent is please read a series of posts I did a year ago called “Christmas” starting here. I dealt with the theological necessity of teaching about the birth of Jesus as the true understanding of what Christmas is supposed to be about. Yet, I did not give a “practical” way of how to teach your students about the importance of Advent or even what to teach them. So I want to give you some practical outlines on what Advent is all about and then what to teach your students. I think you could do a four-part series and so that is what I will break it down to. The series title will be ADVENTUS: THE REAL STORY OF CHRISTMAS. Here is the outline:
- Lesson #1 – What is the history of advent?
- Lesson #2 – Why should we even bother celebrating it?
- Lesson #3 – What are some things we can do to help us make the most out of advent?
- Lesson #4 – What are the implications of advent?
I will give a raw outline for each and then let you teach them in your own contexts. Hope you enjoy.
We are continuing a series of how people perceive the church and using Proverbs 6:16-19 (7 Deadly Sins) as a framework for our discussion.
16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
The first phrase we will consider is “haughty eyes.” What does that even mean? The Hebrew word is rum (pronounced like “room”) and is used extensively in the Old Testament (used over 190 times!) and has a wide variety of meaning. The word basically is used to denote literal height (something is high) and can be used metaphorically to exalt or negatively to be proud (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p. 2132). In our context it is used with the noun “eyes” so it is referring to something negative as in looking down on someone with a sense of arrogance and pride. What the proverb writer is saying is that the Lord hates those who think they are better than people by looking down on them.
A New Testament example of this is the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee looked down on the tax collector because he thought he was better than him. “God I thank you that I am not like one of them.” That is haughty eyes. Dan Kimball in his book The Like Jesus but Not the Church shares Maya’s story:
Before my friend became a Christian, you could talk to him. It was normal. He became a Christian after he met a girl, and then through her got converted. But after his conversion, you couldn’t talk to him anymore. Every conversation was about condemning something about my lifestyle. All he did was keep telling me things I was doing wrong. I shouldn’t be smoking. I shouldn’t be drinking. He didn’t like the way I dressed or the music I listened to. I was mad at the church for turning him into this kind of very negative person. (p. 98).
Kimball didn’t say it (at least explicitly) but what she is experiencing is someone who has haughty eyes. When we see someone who has tattoos, smells like cigarettes and beer and drops an F-bomb in conversation what is our typical response? “This person is hopelessly lost!” Our response should be one of compassion, mercy and tender care. Instead of placing our judgment on them and their actions we should serve them which is a little like what Jesus would do (see John 13 and Phil. 2:5-11).
Instead of “haughty eyes” I advocate we put on “humble eyes.” Haughty says “I am better than you” while humble says “I am a sinner like you.” Haughty says, “You have to do this to come to church” while humble says, “we will take you as you come so we can learn about Christianity together.” Haughty is a position of status while humility is an act of service.
I wonder if the perception people have on the church looks like we have haughty eyes.
- In what areas in our ministries do we need humility?
- Do you think it is fair what Maya said in Kimball’s book? Why or why not?
- How have you had haughty eyes on people in the last few months?
- What would it look like for a church to really become agents of humility?
- What Scriptures speak to pride and humility?
“Messy Spirituality is the scandalous assertion that following Christ is anything but tidy and neat, balanced and orderly. Far from it. Spirituality is complex, complicated, and perplexing-the disorderly, sloppy, chaotic look of authentic faith in the real world. Spirituality is anything but a straight line; it is a mixed-up, topsy-turvy, helter-skelter godliness that turns our lives into an upside-down toboggan ride full of unexpected turns, surprise bumps, and bone-shattering crashes. In other words, messy spirituality is the delirious consequence of a life ruined by a Jesus who will love us right into his arms.”
Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, p. 27.
Have you ever came across someone who made you extremely upset at the time and you wanted to smash their face in with a sledge-hammer but decided not? We all have come across those types of people…odds are you have been that type of person. What kept you from unleashing your inner Bruce Lee was giving them the benefit of the doubt. In so many circumstances I find that giving someone the benefit of the doubt is the Christian thing to do. This works especially with the sin of gossip. “Have you heard that so and so was caught drinking at a local bar?” You have two options but only one is helpful: A) Believe the information and spread it or, B) Give the person the benefit of the doubt and consider other options. They may have been drinking in the bar but until you can confirm it and until you go up to the person to see what drove them to drinking you are better off giving them the benefit of the doubt. I have compiled a list of what giving a person the benefit of the doubt will do.
- The benefit of the doubt will keep you from anger.
- The benefit of the doubt will keep you from holding a grudge.
- The benefit of the doubt may create a ministry opportunity.
- The benefit of the doubt will level the playing field (we all are broken right?).
- The benefit of the doubt will keep you from sin.
- The benefit of the doubt will help you understand people more.
- The benefit of the doubt allows you to see as Jesus sees.
- The benefit of the doubt keeps you from sweeping assumptions.
- The benefit of the doubt allows you to gather all of the facts.
- The benefit of the doubt gives people second chances.
- The benefit of the doubt keeps you from having to apologize.
- The benefit of the doubt gives Christianity a good name.
- The benefit of the doubt supports the golden rule instead of destroying it.
Did I miss something? What would you add?
A break from the series…I decided to write a poem.
Sitting in the lobby I am moved by your existence.
How could you love me, a sinner, broken in your presence?
I am not the man I should be for I am filled with mediocrity.
I am weak, timid, inconsistent and filled with so much hypocrisy.
Scripture tells me that a man came to die, giving me his grace.
But all I can do right now is turn and hide, covering my ugly face.
The solution is so easy, but to me it comes with a hefty price.
A debt I cannot pay, for I am not willing to sacrifice.
But you, O God, are all that I could possibly need.
So right now, to your divine decrees, I hesitantly now heed.
For I lift up to you a monumental task,
that you take away my sin, and take off my foolish mask.