A Prayer of Humility

“Lord – you’re here. You came, you died, you rose, you breathed your life in us. We want to be crazy about you. We’re not always good at that. Please help us, Lord. We’re not always there. But you’re always there. Draw us, keep us, explode us, change us. Help us to love you for the right reasons. You did some awesome things and we love you for that. But we also want to love you for you. That’s real. We want to be real. We want to be Faithful and True – just like you, Lord. We want to be faithful no matter what. We mess that up, but you knew we would. It’s why you lived. It’s why you died. It’s why you rose. Thank you. We love you, Jesus. I love you, Jesus. We can’t wait to see you face to face, every ounce of glory, to know you as we are known. We can’t wait.

In your name, your worthy name, we pray. Amen.”

Quote: Offense

Woe to the person who smoothly, flirtatiously, commandingly, convincingly preaches some soft, sweet something which is supposed to be Christianity! Woe to the person who makes miracles reasonable. Woe to the person who betrays and breaks the mystery of faith, distorts it into public wisdom, because he takes away the possibility of offense! … Oh the time wasted in this enormous work of making Christianity so reasonable, and in trying to make it so relevant!

— Soren Kierkegaard

Question: What’s With Female Head Coverings?

testmyconvictions asked:
After reading your post on women in the church I have to ask, do you still find the idea of headcoverings to be relevant and applicable to the church today? I know some people that believe women should wear them and some that believe it was a cultural thing and only for the church back then.

Referring to this post about female pastors, submission, and 1 Timothy 2:11. Originally posted here on my Tumblr.

The subtlety of the language here at the top of 1 Corinthians 11 — Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. — suggests that Paul was speaking on a cultural matter. Since the conflict in the Corinthian church was between men and women, he HAD to speak on genders too. 

Continue reading “Question: What’s With Female Head Coverings?”

Quote: Brokenness

We’re broken people looking to broken things to fix our brokenness. Most of us buy more to feel better, when we’re just buying our way right into hell. We’d rather cover up who we really are with the price of hell than just admit, ‘Hey, I’m broken.’ Let’s get real. God already knows. It’s honesty that begins the path to healing.

The Psychological Propensity To Accept Jesus: Tricking People Into Salvation

‎”Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”
— G.K. Chesterton

Honestly, there are times I feel like I’m fooling people into Jesus.

I ask them, “Isn’t there something missing in your life?” Something is always missing.

I ask some more: “Do you know what you’re living for? Do you know what you’re dying for? Do you know where you’re going? Do you have purpose, direction, a story?”

Then I make a Very Convincing Case about Jesus. “He’ll give you all the acceptance, validation, and approval you need. You can quit performing; he did it already. He has your True Purpose.” Those are all true things.

Yet — I still have this strange guilt, like I’m selling snake oil. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m merchandising marketable goods, putting Jesus in a display window and dangling him with a false psychological allurement.

I know I love Jesus — so why the guilt?

Continue reading “The Psychological Propensity To Accept Jesus: Tricking People Into Salvation”

Quote: Fortifies

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.

— Timothy Keller

Question: How Are You An “Atheist Christian?” You Serve But Doubt He Exists?

Charissa asked:
How do you serve a God that you doubt exists? This is not to sound judgmental or accusing. I just don’t see how it is possible to genuinely give a life of service to God but at the same time doubt His existence … Why is it … you don’t strive to let go of these professed doubts of God’s very existence to serve God more faithfully, without being hindered by doubts?

You mention … you live out your faith but sometimes face overwhelming doubts. Very understandable, but isn’t this simply another sin that all followers sometimes go through? … Why exactly do you call yourself a Christian Atheist pastor? …

Edited for length. Full question is here.

This is, without a doubt (hah), a great question. Please allow some grace here as I try to be as subtle and nuanced as possible.

First please humor me on a silly example. There are some dudes who are naturally muscular, can go to the gym and start off with 300 lbs. on the benchpress, and look just ridiculous on a beach. They’re gifted.

Other guys like me are on the constant verge of being skinny enough to hoola-hoop a Cheerio or at the precipice of blimp-like weight gain. Trying to get in shape is a constant striving against the current, like going uphill on a slippery incline.

A second example, now from C.S. Lewis: he talks about how people judge a “mean old Christian lady” when no one actually knows how far this woman has come along, compared to just a “nice guy” who happens to be nice due to his fortunate upbringing.

A man who has only known cruelty his whole life who does a nice thing “may, in God’s eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.” C.S. Lewis continues: “All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall … see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.”

I am, by all definition, a spiritual weakling. I’m an “Atheist-Christian” like a recovering alcoholic who fights the bottle. I don’t say that as a free pass. I don’t say that to let myself off the hook. If anything, I’m dangling on the hook right in my flesh.

Having grown up an atheist with so many dark influences and a doubting heart ingrained almost since birth, I still struggle with doubt as one of my greatest sins. I don’t try to paint this as some “beautiful struggle” or some kind of marketable tactic. It’s a downright frustrating, sweat-pouring, tear-drenched, blood-stained battle.

I do not believe that doubt should be our default position or a way of life, because I do believe that God is rooting for us and wants to give us a life of peace, joy, and mercy amidst any hardship — and most of all He wants to give us Himself for His glory.

But I don’t think faith is an On-and-Off light switch. No preacher should be breathing down his church’s neck saying, “You’re either committed or you’re not! You’re in or you’re out! You’re following or falling!” Every human being struggles, sinks, and fails. That’s the point of the Gospel: that Jesus does what we cannot do in and of ourselves. And sometimes the faith to believe him is an accumulating tapestry of knowledge, intimacy, experience, and suffering.

While I might not be as far along as you or the super-Christians who attend that super-church, by the grace of God I’m a little further than yesterday, being renewed day by day.

Shall we have more examples?

Continue reading “Question: How Are You An “Atheist Christian?” You Serve But Doubt He Exists?”

Quote: Body

‘You are always dragging me down,’ said I to my Body. ‘Dragging _you_ down!’ replied my Body. ‘Well I like that! Who taught me to like tobacco and alcohol? You, of course, with your idiotic adolescent idea of being ‘grown up’. My palate loathed both at first: but you would have your way. Who put an end to all those angry and revengeful thoughts last night? Me, of course, by insisting on going to sleep. Who does his best to keep you from talking too much and eating too much by giving you dry throats and headaches and indigestion? Eh?’ ‘And what about sex?’ said I. ‘Yes, what about it?’ retorted the Body. ‘If you and your wretched imagination would leave me alone I’d give you no trouble. That’s Soul all over; you give me orders and then blame me for carrying them out.

— C.S. Lewis

Quote: Correction

I always want to be open to correction. People don’t grow without that humility. Anyone who hasn’t said, ‘I’m wrong’ in a long time probably ain’t living right. I never want to be outside anyone’s jurisdiction. At the same time I want to stand on principle. We can’t compromise on justice when it’s convenient. We can’t get soft with all this wishy-washy relativist maybe-stuff. Speak with authority, with passion, for what’s right. Be real about what’s wrong.