I got to meet my two-day old nephew yesterday. There’s something powerful and special about holding a brand new life in your arms. Kinda makes you value life more and the short time we have here.
We didn’t stay long at the hospital. From there, we met a group of friends at the movie theater to watch October Baby. This is a pro-life movie with a strong storyline.
To be honest, the movie was longer than it needed to be, too much of the dialogue was cheesy and over the top, and I really wanted to give Bo Duke a haircut. But aside from these things, it was a good movie with an incredibly important message.
My wife and I recently finished watching Season One of Downton Abbey on Netflix.
It doesn’t seem like a show I’d enjoy (it’s like a Jane Austen novel apparently), but it sucks you right in with its depictions of the lives of lords and their ladies and the servant class in the early 1900s.
Every time I watch a show or read a book, I identify with certain characters. With Downton Abbey, I identified most with the father, Robert Crawley, and his servant, Mr. Bates.
We typically identify with the main characters and the heroes. It’s perfectly normal.
In the Story of Life, I see myself as the main character.
It has been more than three weeks since I last posted. And in the last couple months, my posts have become fewer and farther between.
I’ve hit a wall of sorts.
I’m not sure what the problem is. It might be writer’s block, it might be a lack of time and space to write… or it might be Twitter.
It’s not that I don’t have ideas. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I have too many ideas rumbling around. Complex ideas that I’m not sure how to articulate. Ideas that may be more appropriate for books than blogs. To be honest, I feel overwhelmed; I don’t know where/how to start. But I want to write.
So I’m just going to start up again, fumbling along the way. I’m just going to write.
I might start a series that never gets finished. I might seem more random than usual. I might not make much sense (or less sense than normal).
There might not be any regularity to my posting. I might not always post in the morning. I know I won’t post every day, and I might occasionally post two things in one day. I’m going to stop worrying so much about the blogging “rules” and building my tribe.
Nero did not throw Christians to the lions because they confessed that ‘Jesus is Lord of my heart.’ It was rather because they confessed that ‘Jesus is Lord of all,’ meaning that Jesus was Lord even over the realm Caesar claimed as his domain of absolute authority.
Today is the start of Lent, the forty-day period leading up to our celebration of Easter. It’s tradition to give something up for Lent, whether it’s chocolate, TV, Facebook, or the musical sounds of Justin Bieber. It is a wonderful, ancient practice that has been getting more attention the last few years. Its benefit is in preparing our hearts and reflecting on what our Lord Jesus went through for us. To suffer and find some solidarity with Christ’s sufferings.
Why do we need to do this?
Glad you asked. We live in a culture that is so bubble-wrapped and cushy that giving something up has become a felt need for many of us. Suffering is a rarity. It is, because when it comes our way we are always shocked. We live “blessed” here in America.
We have fully adopted this mindset in the church. We equate God’s blessing with the American dream. While we scoff at the ridiculousness of the “health and wealth/name it and claim it” gospel, we cling to a version of it. In Christ, God is ready to give us “The Life You’ve Always Wanted.” Not to pick on the book with this title, but this is such a popular message and an underlying layer of Christian sub-culture.
While I do believe God wants to bless His people (so that they in turn are a blessing), this was not the central focus of Jesus’ message about the kingdom or what life would look like for kingdom people.
This past weekend our church hosted a marriage conference called Love and Respect. So many light bulbs went off for me, it was like a fireworks display in my head. If you get the chance to read the book or go through the material, jump on it. Several people had told me how good it was, and I believed them to a degree but was also skeptical. I’m dumb; it was better than they said it would be.
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, and since I need to blog about something, let me share an overview of the conference and a couple of the big takeaways for me.
Women need love the same as they need air to breathe.
Men need respect the same as they need air to breathe.
In Scripture, husbands are commanded to love their wives. Wives are commanded to respect their husbands. Interesting, right?
The marriage relationship was uniquely designed by God so that these two different needs would best be met within this relationship. A husband can meet the wife’s need for love in a way no one else can. Likewise, a wife can meet the husband’s need for respect in a way no one else can (with the possible exception of Chuck Norris. If he respects you, you’re pretty much set for life!).
I have resonated with the content of this book and McKnight’s call to recreate a gospel culture. And so I am providing a Cliff Notes version of the book… some Quotes of Note. May it give you an idea of the book, and possibly propel you to read the book yourself.
FOREWORD BY N.T. WRIGHT
The Christian faith is kaleidoscopic, and most of us are color-blind. (11)
… “the gospel” is the story of Jesus of Nazareth told as the climax of the long story of Israel, which in turn is the story of how the one true God is rescuing the world. (12)
… we all urgently need to allow this deeply biblical vision of “the gospel” to challenge the less-than-completely-biblical visions we have cherished for too long, around which we have built a good deal of church life and practice. (13)
FOREWORD BY DALLAS WILLARD
At the root of the many problems that trouble the “church visible” today, there is one simple source: the message that is preached. (15)
At the most conservative of estimates, we lose at least 50 percent of those who make decisions. (20)
What faith in Jesus looks like has a lot to do with our understanding of the gospel. If we limit the gospel to the plan of personal salvation, then faith means trusting Jesus as Savior.
However, if we see the gospel as God becoming King on earth as He is in heaven, then faith means trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord (a.k.a. King). Now Christianity becomes all about obedience and allegiance, rather than mental affirmation of information. Discipleship is a natural outflow of this kind of faith, rather than an unnatural persuasion that feels more like a square peg being jammed into a round hole.
Now the purpose of life for Christ-followers becomes making God King on earth as much as we can until Jesus comes back and finishes the job.
Making God King on earth begins with me making God King of my life. And that is going to take some work.
It begins by looking again at Jesus’ gospel. I must understand what Jesus’ message meant to his original hearers if I am going to have any chance of properly contextualizing it for my life today.