Thursday, June 26, 2008

Look Busy

"And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen."  (Matthew 22:10-14, ESV)

"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:6, ESV)

"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15,16, ESV)


I cannot remember the first place it caught my eye.  It may have been on some biker's helmet; one of those small stickers with the catchy, typically un-Biblical sayings.  This guy must have been dealing with some issues with God, because two stickers, almost side by side, mentioned Jesus.  The first one, "Jesus loves you, but everyone else thinks you're a jerk" (Only a more colorful word for jerk), besides the uncreative, vulgar language, wasn't all that offensive.  The second one, though, highlighted the grasp of God this man possessed, yet he mocked Him.  It read, "Jesus is coming, look busy."

If you did not (a) reject God, and (b) have some understanding of scripture, this would not be funny.  Or, maybe I'm just not giving the guy enough credit.  Perhaps it was a sharp criticism of the busyness of the Church, yet it's rejection of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  Social action and service is a staple of a believer's life in Christ, but when the cost of service is the sacrifice of doctrine, it's time to reevaluate who you're serving.

If you know me, you know I'm no fan of 'herd mentality.'  I was working on my facebook profile and it has a place for political views.  Facebook really wants you to pick a political party so it can not just group you with like minded people, but target more advertising toward you.  But I couldn't find "conservative, anti-isolationist and moralistic libertarian, with a social conscious, an interest in conservation, and a love for the constitution" as a political party so I just typed in "Undecided."  I can often be cynical, questioning everything.  Even 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, "but test everything; hold fast what is good."  As a benefit of my instant reaction to doubt everything I am told, I can now hold firmly to and build my life on the fact that God is good, all the time.

And I've to test myself, too. "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves." (2 Corinthians 13:5a)  Too often I dismiss the incredible gravity of God's grace when I've my feet beneath me.  And when I don't, its weight humbles me, breaks me, and draws me to Him.  It's in the tension between grace and obedience that I ask myself this question:

Bad or good, am I dressed for the feast, or just a wedding crasher?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Careful What You Pray For . . .

I'm letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams
Losing control
Of my destiny
Feels like I'm falling and that's what it's like to believe
So I'm letting go

-Francesca Battistelli - I'm Letting Go
From the album My Paper Heart

No matter what it takes I will offer,
Everything I am I give to you
Even unto death I will follow,
No matter what the price I will give to you now

-Jeremy Camp - No Matter What It Takes
From the album Beyond Measure

When I made up my mind
And my heart along with that
To live not for myself
But yet for God
Somebody said
Do you know what you are getting yourself into?

-Relient K - Getting Into You
From the album Two Lefts Don't Make A Right...

The three songs above are getting pretty good rotation on air1 lately. All three convict me. If I'm not good at waiting, letting go is another degree of challenge altogether. The sermon series at our church, though exploring 1 Corinthians, Isaiah, ect, over a couple years seems to hover around the concept of idols. More specifically the need to identify and destroy any idol in our life as they separate us from God.

I'm learning to let go of my plans and dreams. I am learning to desire Him, and His plans and dreams for me.

When Emily and I were engaged we asked someone we respected how we could be sure our desire to be married was God's desire for us. First he asked if we sought God first, if we did, then the desires of our hearts were His desires. Yeah. Kinda like Descartes' "I think therefore I am."

Knowing where God has led me and where I am right now, I did not truly desire God first at the time. To be honest, I'm a lot like the old Methodist preacher Robert Robinson (assuming Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is autobiographical):

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

"Prone to leave the God I love." It seems like a contradiction, but how rich the truth of a Christian's life this side of glory. Every time I sing the words, I am pained that I fail the very One I love. But it is He that can seal our hearts, not us. It is He who binds us in His goodness so that we can never wander too far.

This goodness, this grace, amazing grace, draws us to Him. Like the 'woman of the city' in Luke 7, I understand what it means to be forgiven much, very much. And now that I focus my will that I may be nearer to Him (despite my wandering flesh), I dare pray the songs above, even "no matter what the price I will give to you now." How freeing it is to also pray, "Father God, that You may be glorified, do what You need to do in my life: take my hopes, my dreams, my desires, take anything that prevents me from truly following You. Open the eyes of my heart. Amen"