I'm looking forward to being with AZ friends March 22! The Story of LQVE is an idea we had to help bring awareness, and raise some funds for the super important work that's happening through LQVE. My friends, Wallace and Rachel Fa'agutu, of One Thing and International House of Prayer fame will be with me. These guys are amazing worship leaders. Anyhow, I hope you join us. All proceeds from t/shirts, tickets, and artwork will go to benefit LQVE. Thanks to my buddy, Matt, and McDowell Mtn Community Church for letting us host the night there. Get your tickets at Eventbrite.com.
It's crazy how physically, emotionally, and financially difficult LQVE Haiti trips are and when the week is over... no one ever regrets the challenge! I hope, in 2018, you are intentionally building in some things that will challenge you. Deposits for the July 16 trip are due Feb 1. Learn more at LQVE.org.
We pledge allegiance to the cross
Of Heaven United
And to the marginalized
For which it stands
One God, Supporting all nations
And sacrificial justice for all
You are good
Your intentions, relentless
Wave after wave
Lord, break over us
We, of small-minded polity, and punitive theology
Raise up humanity
In the roar of your love
Since you asked, I'm going to be releasing some of my favorite books, songs, and movies of the year over the next few days at my Facebook author page. I don't pretend to be an art critic. I don't plan on becoming one either, but I do love art, and artists, and the creative process, and I have spent my life dabbling in some art form or another. The world needs artists. I wish I could do more to encourage them. I wish I were a better one for I have a feeling the world may need prophets and poets more than preachers. The prophet critiques culture. The poet introduces beauty. Many of us modern day preachers seem to do little of either. We have almost become caricatures of ourselves. We are so marked by Babylon that we lack the credibility to do any real critique of Babylon, and as for beauty, well, in many cases it's non-existant on our list of priorities. We have ecclesiological machines to run (i.e., churches). Meetings, attendance, planning sessions, and oh, basically just figuring out ways to grow larger and larger occupies all our attention and all our desires. How could anyone possibly expect beauty from us? (That high pitched breathing sound you hear is me sighing.)
However.. lest you think I've grown too cynical, I happen to know first hand how difficult the job of pastoring, shepherding, and leading can be. And, I also have great hope for the future. I know a few old folks who really care. And I know some young men (and yes, women!) who are going to be outstanding pastors. Can I just say to young people that this is a GREAT time to be thinking about theology and ecclesiology. I think you are growing up on the cusp of something special happening in our culture. I am very excited about the kinds of faith communities that are going to exist in the future. They will look very different from our current communities (because if they don't, there won't be any.)
So, starting tomorrow, it'll be books, movies, and then music. I hope you're reading watching and listening... God is in all of them.
Excerpt from "Where Was God on the Worst Day of My Life"
It was refreshing to see as she grew older how little time she wasted managing her image or pretending to be something she wasn't. She was learning to be who she was.
This is not insignificant. Becoming one's self is a task made massive by self-imposed and predetermined obstacles. Consider only the latter. Our mother, our body, our birthplace, our personality, our DNA is so far out of our control it can be easily assumed life is either a great joke or great gift. If it is a joke then none of this matters. If it is a gift, then there must be a giver. If there is a giver, there is someone who intentionally made us as who we are. If someone made us who we are then who we are is who we should be. It is enough.
We are not conditioned to think this way. We are inclined to think we must become better, or purer, or different. Even religion (especially religion) can mislead us. My own particular tribe within Christianity, for instance, will routinely voice a prayer such as, "God help us to be like you." God doesn't need us to be like Him. It doesn't work anyhow. It doesn't matter how many times the prayer is repeated we will not be like him.
Unless... we recognize the immense irony: God's Son became like us.
If you want to be like God... be yourself.
Someone asked me recently if God suffers...
I'll never forget turning to be with our girl, our first child, for the first time. She was resting in the warming station. She had these immense coal-black eyes that would in a couple of hours turn cobalt, and in a couple of days would turn again into her signature color: undomesticated, pacific blue. I walked toward her, and she blinked, seemingly in slow motion, and when she did, it felt like my heart broke. I don't know how to explain it. I was in love. It was an overwhelming beauty that seemed to well up from some primal space within me. What can I say? I was exposed. I was vulnerable. Maybe my heart broke because I knew things could go horribly wrong, and if they did, if I lost this scrawny little, alien-eyed thing, my heart would be crushed.
And maybe the reason I sigh when I lean against the windswept limber pine, right below the tree line, gazing across the Rocky Mountain canyon, to snow-capped peaks is that the beauty is overwhelming. How can I describe it? I feel, in those moments, exposed. I feel vulnerable. Maybe I sigh because I know things could go horribly wrong, and if they were to do so, if I lost the beauty of the mountains, my heart would be crushed.
And maybe God, resting on the morning of the seventh day, watching the sunrises of a trillion galaxies, swept his gaze down upon the majestic land and waters of the earth, and then upon humanity and life. Maybe his heart broke at the overwhelming beauty. Maybe he reconsidered, for just a moment, why He was risking so much on love. How could we put this? Could we say, God may have felt exposed? Vulnerable? Maybe His heart broke because He knew things could go horribly wrong, and if they did, if He lost His creation, His children, His heart would be crushed.
Does God suffer? Yes, I think He does.
I knew a girl
In a flash of a moment
Was the best of humanity
The wound of her absence
Like a trail
Winds deep into the forest of my heart
God find me
Outside the world sighs
Buys and sells
Bishops and kings
I float through their
But, I’ve already been there
The best of humanity
photo cred: marknagel.com
No Big Deal theory: if you don’t respond to God’s call, it’s not a big deal to God. He knew you weren’t going to respond. He already had everything figured out beforehand. If your response to God is no, then God just finds the next guy to fill in the gap, and then He's off to the next problem. God’s will can’t be altered, or changed, or defeated.
Love theory: it’s potentially a very big deal when someone doesn’t respond to God. Our intentions and actions matter. When you don’t respond to love, then people are impacted negatively. When people are impacted negatively, God’s intention is altered, changed and yes, defeated. When people suffer, God suffers.
I’m a love theory guy. Love isn’t love if it’s controlling. God doesn’t control. He loves. With love randomness happens. It rains on the just and the unjust, but in the middle of all that rain, love is working. It’s creative, intelligent, and resourceful. When something bad goes down, love is with you.
Your response to God matters. Don't delay. Move toward love as soon as you can. It will change the rest of your life.
The more we imagine a future full of self-sacrificing love, and non-violent relationships the more we'll pull that future into the present. It is a type of time travel! The future belongs to us. What our hearts are set on, what our minds think upon, what our prayers say reveals where our faith lies. Faith makes the things we hope for inevitable. The opposite, of course, is true as well. The more we imagine a future full of violence and domination the more we'll pull that future into the present. Choose your thoughts. Be intentional about what you dream. Pray with expectation. God invents history in interaction with those who will not give up.