You can tell God all your horrible feelings of revenge and retaliation. Be honest about that. Christians sometimes feel they have to “nice-up” their prayers, but if you read Psalms or any of the prophets, you’ll see they are just as crazy as you and me. Let God handle the ugly force of your anger. Each day just wrestle with it, between you and Him, each night put it back on the shelf, and the volume of your hurt will decrease. It’s slow, but honesty is the start to healing. Don’t hide it — God is there to hear your venting.
— from this post
“Legalism is a state of the heart and not your hands. It’s about self-righteousness versus Christ-righteousness. One has it going on with the Lord; the other is basically in love with his own reflection.
Striving is okay. Putting effort into opening your Bible does not automatically equate to dismissing Jesus at the door. If you’re the kind of person who needs a scheduled prayer time in the morning, that doesn’t mean you’re defying the grace of God. He is not offended that you’re using some of your willpower. He’s also cool with you reading your Bible while you eat, on the way to work, or even in your — gasp! — least awake part of the day.
God is not put off by any of that. Because ultimately the power to chase after God comes from God Himself.”
— from this post
A lot of the miracles that Jesus performed happened as “he was passing through” from one place to another.
Along the way, Jesus suddenly made “by-the-way” pit stops, and someone’s life would change forever.
To the disciples and the average bystander, these encounters looked random and haphazard. Some looked dangerous.
Jesus passed through Samaria, a town where there was fierce mutual animosity with the Jews because of a feud that was centuries old. He could’ve easily circumvented the area — but he had an appointment with this Samaritan woman at the well.
Jesus didn’t care about racism or class warfare or family feuds: his own bloodline was coursing with Rahab, a pagan prostitute, Ruth, a Moabite foreigner, Judah, a philanderer, and David, an adulterer and murderer.
Yet he crossed these worldly boundaries — even the infinite distance between Heaven and earth — and met us broken people in all our grit and dirt. He was never just passing through. He was always reaching across the great divide into the human heart.
Continue reading “Throwaway Phrases: “He Was Passing Through””
Jesus did not die for a ‘special class of sinner.’ He died for everyone. He went to the beggars and bums, the rich aristocrats, the blind and lepers, government officials, Pharisees and the demon-possessed, the children and old women, the Greeks and the Jews, the Samaritan at the well and the Roman general, and you and me. He even looked at a dead person in a grave and thought, ‘I can do something with that.’ Jesus simply loves; no conditions, no second-guessing, no exceptions.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been fully free to do exactly what I wanted to do.
What I mean is: I’m always worried about the piercing eye of perception from others around me. I modify my voice to fit the crowd, change my opinions just enough, maintain the appropriate social standards, keep an invisible distance between who I really am and how I want others to perceive me.
A few days ago I texted a friend: “I thought I saw you, looks like your twin.”
She said, “Go up to her and tell her! Show her my picture!”
And I replied, “I can’t just do those things.”
But — why not?
Continue reading “Freedom to Love, Fail, and Act A Fool”
The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds him liking more and more people as he goes on — including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.
— C.S. Lewis
Whenever someone tells me, ‘Yeah I went to that church and the preacher was just so awful, yelling at us and and everything; that praise leader was so arrogant; that usher was so rude’ — I always cringe just a bit. Because I was the guy who yelled, too, and God patiently softened my heart over the years. Maybe that pastor really is a jerk, I don’t know, or maybe he was just having a bad day. But really you should give him the same grace that you were looking for. You don’t have to go back there, but please don’t judge a fraction of God’s work over a slice of someone’s lifetime.
One thing about serving food to the poor and homeless is the unavoidable excitement in giving.
Today I served potato salad, and I swelled up each time someone said “yes” and I threw down a helping on their plate. I imagine this is how our Heavenly Father feels when a helpless, poor, broken dude like me or you looks to His grace and says, “Yes.”
This is who we are and who He is.
“The miracle of the Gospel is that only God’s opinion of you matters now. That includes your own opinion of yourself. God says you are accepted, clean and just as righteous as Jesus, and God will not allow His opinion of you to be overruled. You are what He says you are.”
— Lee Younger
The church should be a place where we can say anything and know we won’t be kicked out, where we can confess our sins knowing others will help us, where we can disagree and still be friends. It ought to be the one place in the world where we don’t have to wear masks. And, should that happen, the world—where phoniness is the standard—will flock to our doors. Why? Because freedom, genuine freedom, is an attractive commodity.
— Steve Brown
There’s a cool phrase in the Bible that shows up in the Old Testament at least a dozen times. It’s one of those things we can gloss over, but it’s woven in so persistently that the thread is undeniable.
My favorite instance is in the Book of Joshua, where he says:
“As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord.”
Continue reading “Throwaway Phrases: “But As For Me And My House””
My post about Christian introverts was published at ChurchLeaders.com …!
Check out the original post on my Tumblr here or my blog here.
Thanks for the encouragement and love you guys!
“My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don’t really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly, I don’t care.”
— Donald Miller
“Our job is to love people. When it hurts. When it’s awkward. When it’s uncool and embarrassing. Our job is to stand together, to carry the burdens of one another and to meet each other in our questions.”
— Jamie Tworkowksi
What can I say or do to encourage my local pastor? I know that you are a pastor yourself and I’d like to ask you, a pastor, what pastors need to hear.
Thank you so much for this question. If I knew you, I’d buy you any coffee you want and give you a long forty second hug. I did write a super-long post on this before, but since ministry has gotten even tougher here in the last few weeks, I’ll go at this question again.
Continue reading “Question: How To Encourage Your Pastor (They Really, Really Need It)”
“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”
— St. Augustine
Don’t think that you’ve been gone too long to come to Him. God is not some spiritual parole officer waiting for you to fail. If you’ve strayed from prayer, He is not keeping some score. If you don’t feel Him at all, tell Him that: “I don’t feel you right now, God.” Pray with any amount of faith that you have; believe that prayer works; ask for faith if you have none. If you’re mad, tell Him. If you’re ashamed, guilty, confused, afraid, doubtful: tell Him. He can handle that. He is understanding, patient, gracious; He loves you. You’ll soon find you’ll want to talk to Him, because He’s actually pretty awesome to talk to.
— from this post, about prayer
“The Holy Scriptures tell us what we could never learn any other way: they tell us what we are, who we are, how we got here, why we are here, and what we are required to do while we remain here.”
— AW Tozer
You’re going to have a mountaintop experience where you see God and you finally know Him for who He is. But what I think church tends to do is make you feel like you’re supposed to be on fire all the time and you should always feel that. It’s not true. When you suddenly get into that valley, that really dark discouraging place, God is saying, ‘In the valley, remember the mountains. Remember when you were there with me. Remember that time you experienced Me and I was so real to you.’
If just that little bit of your mountaintop experience can come into your valley period, that’s what’s going to help you to hold on. That’s what will get you through your very shakeable faith. No one ever told me this in church: but when I read the Bible, I know it’s not supposed to be an everyday rocked-out Christian life. There are days that will be rough, but just those few times in your life: remember how God spoke to you.
— from this message
We’re just a bunch of broken people, we all struggle, we all experience this gap, so there are two options on how we can treat it. One: I can do what the world does, and I can beat you up with rules, religion, and performance. I can shame you into change, but that’s going to be like laying down bricks — it’s a lot of shape but no soul. It’s just bricks, not real growth. The second option is we can allow the grace of God to love us to a better place; we can grace each other to a better place than we were. Those are the only two options. You might say, ‘Won’t they abuse that?’ — but the only other option is to shame them, and that won’t work. It’s only the love of God that will be enough to tenderize your heart.
— from this message