Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Ten Best Moments of 2011

If you've watched or read the news in the last couple of days - you're bound to have seen some top ten lists. So, I decided to make a list of my own. This was a rough year, in some respects - but not without some great moments. Looking back - I'm just grateful. Here's to 2011 being over! And, here's also to start of a brand new year!! May this New Year - for all of us - be the best year yet! Woohoo!!! :-)


10. Young Life starting at a new school - This year we started a new Young Life club at a new school. First year Young Life clubs are difficult, to say the least. But - at least it’s started, it’s out there. We have a lot of work to do - but the hope that this will become a tradition at the new school for years and years to come. Some of the best specific moments so far? - Making video commercials, entertainment night, Caroling before Christmas, our very first club at a barn. Can’t wait for what’s to come.


9. New design and bedroom set - My place used to be a wreck. Not only was it a mess, it was hardly at all decorated. When my brother got married, he gave me his bedroom set. Now - where I live is more like a bed and breakfast place. I love it! It just adds a peaceful feeling that was seriously lacking before. Where there was chaos - now there is order. It’s amazing what that can do to a person’s mood when getting home. The miracle of the thing is that I’ve kept on it. This was definitely a good moment of 2011 - and even great for just plain life in general. Who would have thought that making a room nice would be so awesome?


8. Mac Book Pro - I’ve been a PC guy for a long time - since the days of Windows ’95. My most recent purchase of a PC was in 2006. But - then came the game changer. The iPhone. I got the second gen iPhone (after the razor) and my world completely changed. Comparing the iPhone to the Razor is like comparing a bicycle with training wheels to a Hummer. I’ve had the 3g, 3gs, 4, and now the 4s. In that short time, I’ve watched Mac go from a joke to the only game it town, really. This year, it was time to get a new computer (I couldn’t edit simple videos on my PC because it was way too slow). While still expensive - I went for the 13’ macbook pro - right at the time the Lion was introduced. I’ve loved it - and I’ll never go back to PC (well, in the near future at least - I thought I’d never get a mac ten years ago). I love the gestures, I love the ease of use, I love the compatibility with my iPhone. I love iPhoto - and a million other little things. This was definitely a great moment in 2011.


7. Lock In - I usually dread Lock-Ins - and to a certain degree - I still do. But, the great moment for this Lock-In was the perseverance of our Wyldlife team. I hadn’t done a Lock-In for over ten years. My team forced me to do it, and they were right. It was a great success. A Lock-In is basically an all night party for Jr. High kids. We designed the program a lot like the camps that we do for Young Life. Our Wyldlife club was a challenge last year. We started with 3 Jr. High kids, and 12 or so High School leaders. We stayed at the number through January, February, and March. Three kids. It never grew. Different kids too, not the same kids. No retention - nothing. It’s very odd have a Wyldlife club with three kids. But - we plugged on. We changed a few things. We kept believing - and - we started to grow. Our Lock-In was the culmination of a pretty difficult year - and we had 60 Jr. High kids attend it. Our weekly club attendance went to nearly 30 a week at the end of the year. That’s a huge growth - and an encouragement to keep going - to persevere. Not only that - our program team had a lot of fun prior to the Lock-In. We made videos (with that came the realization that I needed a new computer) and spent a lot of time putting everything together. It was a lot of fun. And very tiring. But it was a great set up for this year. Oh what a difference a year makes! Looking forward to what’s gonna happen this next year on the Jr. High campus.


6. Mountain Lodge - This was a great moment for multiple reasons. One - comb killer returned. That’s an old game I used to play in the 90’s that cracks me up. Everyone lies on the ground - heads together - in a circle. One person throws a comb (usually a brush actually) up in the air - and you’re not allowed to flinch as it falls back to the ground, usually on someone’s face. If the person flinches - they get slapped in the leg. Ha! great entertainment! Lots of good memories too - even of a broken arm of one of my friends (long story - but great memories). I also skied for the first time in 8 years - without getting injured. Board games - Catch Phrase - the tunnel - all of it was great!


5. Three Wyldlife Leader retreats - (Jan)Any time you mix the Mystery Spot, the Beach, learning about God, a gorgeous forest, Mr. Toots, and friends - it would be hard to not make it to a top ten list. I have some mixed feelings about this trip, but outside of that - one of the best trips of the year. Seeing High School students wrestle with the scriptures - and actually critically think, well - for me - there’s not much better. And to do it away from home in a beautiful location - even better. (Nov) Tahoe retreat - mountains, Catch Phrase, snow, and scriptures - another great time to be together. An offering of hope for the coming year - I can’t wait. (Dec) - I got to be a fly on the wall for our neighboring Wyldlife team’s leader retreat. It was amazing to witness some of my former football players with their bibles in their hands - really diving into the Great Story. I think about these three retreats and wonder if I could ever spend my time doing something more important. Well, maybe - but I guess we’ll see on the other side of eternity.


4. Started writing - I’ve always wanted to write - I just never have. I’ve found it’s a lot more difficult than my imagination would like it to be - as is anything worthwhile, I guess. I started writing on this blog - I think back in February (maybe Jan., I’d have to check) and it’s been fun. It’s kinda a diary - really. Hopefully it’s been helpful to the few who’ve read it. I have no idea. It’s been helpful to me though. I also started writing on a project that seems like an impossible mountain to climb. I started way back in March - and am only on the fourth or so chapter (with none of them being complete - though close on some) I’m basically diving into the deepest mysteries of the Christian Faith - and trying to explain them to High School friends. I think this might be impossible - but I’m giving it a try anyway. Subjects like atonement, trinity, sin, “in Christ”. Yeah - impossible. But - I read some of it the other day - and it’s turning out better than I could have hoped. I need to test it with my High School friends though - my eyes are different than theirs. Anyway - it’s been a joy to write - as frustrating as it is most of the time. I hope to continue writing to my dying day. We’ll see.


3. God stuff - This is all over the board and very broad - but I’ll go to two specifics. One - theology. My eyes have opened up this year in what I think are some good ways. I’ve realized how schizophrenic my faith used to be - and how difficult it was to defend contradictory ideas about God. It’s been fun this year disecting my ideas - and understanding what steps I took to lead me in certain directions that often led me to being more lost than found. God’s goodness was a definite theme this year, even though I don’t get it a lot of the time. But - that became an anchor point for me - a lens that I look through in all areas of theology. The second was God’s incredible timing. I have some amazing moments that are His and mine - that are near miraculous. I think of CS Lewis saying “When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening.” There were a lot of timely moments this past year where my soul needed help - and God showed up. I’m so grateful for God’s hand in things - even when it’s almost imperceptible. He doesn’t just love us with words - He never abandons us - and is always faithful - even in our everyday lives.


2. Brother getting married - This was a highlight for me this year. It was so fun to see my brother so happy. And to be part of another family - one that’s culturally so different from our own. I also got to see my first Asian Elvis - and it was AWESOME! The whole day was great - spending time with family was wonderful. This wedding was one of those precious moments that will be treasured forever, even when some move on to the next life. And the cool thing was that I realized it at the time - this was one of “those moments” where you look back and don't forget a moment of it. I remember my brother after his divorce - how difficult it was for him. It was nice to see a ray of hope - that things in life can be restored. It was a good reminder for me that the harsh rain from a dark storm allows life to thrive when the sun shines again. Now I'm hoping for kids...(for him - not me!)


And the Number ONE best moment of 2011:


1. Malibu - Canada. This, by far, looking back, was the best time of the past year. From the moment we left on 2 busses, to the moment we returned - there wasn’t a bad moment on the trip. The drive to Oregon and the ice cream shop - staying the night in a gym - then off to Vancouver Canada - and the coffee shop - spoons extravaganza. Arriving at Malibu - water-skiers with flags in hand. Having lost 55 pounds since the last time I had gone - it was sooooo much more fun. From the obstacle course to the ropes course - to all the activities - I could participate instead of just observing! And our cabin times were the best - all of us guys processing our lives together - and learning about the high value God puts into our lives that we are so often unaware of - so good! And on the way home - one of our leaders doing stand-up comedy - one of the funniest things ever! I laughed hard. I shed tears. I smiled a lot. I was amazed at God’s beauty. I was stunned by His presence. Surrounded by friends. This trip might be one of those ten best in a decade.


It's fun looking back. But - now onto the future! May God bless you richly this coming year! Cheers to a new start!


Have a great day!


Jer

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quiet Time

I always have a little morning coffee run - pretty much every morning - before I start my day. It's meant to be a quiet time - and often it is - but I have to admit, sometimes I just read news stories on my iPhone, look at ifunny pics, or catch up on Facebook. It's still a quiet time, but it's not so "spiritual" as I make myself want to believe. Yes, I admit - everything is spiritual - but, let me say it this way - it's usually not as spiritually focused as I imagine it to be, if that makes sense.

Today - though - I thought about Jesus' baptism. I've been thinking trinitarian thoughts a lot, partly because I'm writing about it, and the baptism is one of the few glimpses of seeing all parts of the trinity at work at the same time.

But - that wasn't where my mind went today.

In the beginning of the bible - in Genesis - the Spirit hovers over the water. This is during that creation poem. Water was a big deal in the Bible. It represented the line between life and death. God above the water represented life.

Jesus - later on in his life - would walk on the water. He was above the water - much like the Spirit that hovered over the water. The symbolism is pretty obvious if you know what water represents. This is one of the many ways that the scriptures reveal that Jesus represents life - Christ is life.

But - in the baptism story - Jesus is submerged into the water. It's the one exception in the gospels where Jesus is submerged - life into death. I guess I never really thought about it before - from a symbolism standpoint - but this foreshadows His life's movement towards death. On top of that - after the submersion (baptism), the Spirit - like a dove (representing peace) - descends upon Him. And then the Father says, "This is my son, whom I love, in Him I am well pleased."

This little episode in Jesus' life, in a way, is a foreshadow of the entire gospel. Jesus dies on a cross - gives us peace with the Father - and the Father reveals His love to us kids.

It's amazing how often the whole gospel is revealed in the little moments of Jesus' life. The baptism is pre-miracle, pre-ministry, pre-cross - it's before everything. And yet - there it is. Jesus submerged into water (death), Spirit descending onto Jesus (atonement - peace), Father revealing His love.

It's amazing how consistent God's love truly is.

Anyway - some cool thoughts on the way home from AmPm - with my coffee in hand.

Have a great day!

Jer

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Spring Cleaning before Christmas...

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17

There's something about cleaning my home that makes me just feel better about life. I wonder why it takes so long for me to actually do it though? If I cleaned a little bit at a time, the work load wouldn't be half as long - nor half as disgusting. I'm 90% done with the bathroom right now. 10% of nastiness to go - good times...

Bathrooms are awesome - until you have to clean them. And - wow - my gag reflex - not good. But - I find that I wait until it's seriously ridiculous. Yet - I'm always surprised when I look behind something I haven't set my eyes to in a long time and discover the definition of nastiness. Yep - I'm such a guy.

I tell myself - clean a little bit everyday. And - I'm all in at first. Then, I just forget about it. The next thing I know - months have passed - and back to nasty. The most trafficked areas get cleaned, but the less trafficked, not so much. And then it's Spring cleaning to do all over again.

I wonder why we do that with God too? As in - confessing our sins. God knows everything, and technically He doesn't need us to confess every little sin we do. He might not need it, but I think we do. Confession is more for us. God already forgave all our sins at the cross - ALL of them. Even future sins. So - that problem is over and done with. However - the scriptures do say that we should confess our sins - multiple times - even though God already took care of them two thousand years ago. I wonder why? Maybe because confession is like a spring cleaning of the soul.

I think it might be a lot like cleaning my bathroom. God has forgiven us. He purchased our soul with His life, death, and resurrection - but we get dirty - and more dirty - until maybe we're even nasty. While - positionally - we are completely a saint in Christ (God's grace covers ALL of us) - we get dirty with our lives - and we often need a cleaning. For many of us - we wait too long - and we need a deep cleaning.

Sometimes I take for granted that I'm forgiven - and I don't confess. And sometimes it's not that I don't think I need to - I don't confess more from avoidance. Kinda like cleaning my bathroom. And I think that might look like God peeking behind the less trafficked areas of my life - and saying "Wow - there's cleaning to be done" Sometimes He shakes things up in order that I might fall to my knees and say "clean me now." And, for some reason, I'm always surprised when it gets to that point.

So - for me anyway - I'm going to try to make that a daily part of my prayers. "Here's my nastiness God - clean me up." Because - I know I can't do it by myself.

The great thing is that after I've showered my soul with God's grace once again, I really do feel better about life. May the same be true for you too.

Have a great day!

Jer


Monday, November 28, 2011

Persuasive Living

I'm really thankful for a debate class that I took in college. The professor didn't care what we believed or what our interests were - she just loved teaching us how to debate. This has helped me a lot in life - not just to debate - but to think through what information is being presented to me.

In a typical class, there would be an assignment which might look a little like this: I would be given an issue with two opposing sides, and I'd have to be prepared to argue either for or against the issue. I wouldn't know what side of the debate I was on until I got to the podium. I'd walk to my podium and the professor would say - "Ok - you're for argument A," then point to the other student and say, "And you're against argument A."... And then we'd debate.

I had to be able to debate well on either side of the argument - or look like a fool. This was a real challenge to a lot of students. How does one argue against something they believe in?

It helped me a lot - it changed the way I see and approach a lot information that comes my way.

I also remember having to identify what kind of arguments people used. There were a lot of different ways to persuade. Emotional appeal, exaggeration, slippery slope, identification, endorsement, logical argument, etc.

I hear a lot of this in the political arena - as well as the religious arena. Everybody's arguing. Everybody wants to be right - to be correct.

But - when I look at Jesus - He does the opposite. There's not a lot of arguments in His storytelling. There's just stories. And - as He walked around - He seemed to dissuade people from following Him, rather than convincing them to. His invitation is actually ridiculous - if you just look at it with sober judgment: "Deny yourself, take up the cross, and come follow me." Who would do that, unless there's something behind what He's asking?

And then there's the cross. I've wondered about this in past posts - but - follow the stream of thought for a second. IF Jesus was indeed God - the creator of everything - then He was the most correct person to ever have lived. And, if He could do anything He wanted because He had ALL power, then why didn't He just prove how right (correct) He was - and how wrong everyone else was as His hands were getting nailed? He could use fire - or light - or do something crazy that you might see in a video game. But, He doesn't. He just takes it - and ends up dying.

I mean - think of it. God in flesh - hanging on a cross? He could have easily gotten out of it. He calmed storms, healed diseases, raised dead people. He has complete control. And, yet, He hangs there on a cross and says things like - "Forgive them, for they know not what they do" right before He dies.

Here's my point. Christianity - following Christ - whatever you wanna call it - is NOT an argument. But - somehow people have turned following Christ into one. I think Christianity is less appealing when it's turned into an argument. When I hear people arguing for Christianity - I want to argue the opposite. I hear some of the most ridiculous statements coming from pulpits - and many well-meaning Christ followers. If I can shoot tons of holes in their arguments - and I'm a believer - what must the unbelieving world think?

Yet - at the same time - nothing that I have witnessed is more inspiring than a life lived with the love of Christ. I've seen people that are truly amazing - all because of a life-changing moment with Jesus. The fruits of the Spirit are the best evidence of God's amazing love within His people.

And - the scriptures. They are truly brilliant. And they don't reek of argument. They point to a man that was murdered and then make a claim that that man was God in flesh. But the scriptures don't argue for Him, they just seem to present Him. I mean - there are statements that you can turn into arguments, don't get me wrong. Saying a man is God - that's an argument - for sure. But - the scriptures don't try to persuade the audience one way or another. Jesus is just presented, and we're left to decide.

If God's going to be persuasive - Jesus gives really bad arguments to follow Him. Crosses, death, people will hate you, give everything you own, - all while not worrying. And so much more. Yet - people follow Him. And millions have given up their lives for Him. It's pretty crazy - from a purely marketing standpoint.

It's hard for me to live a life that's not an argument. I feel like I've been trained that way. I'd rather be known for the love I gave to people than the things that I know. Yet - that's not how I live my life, for the most part. When I look at that standard, I completely fail.

And those - oh - few times that I do see clearly - it's not long before I find that I've lost my way again. Grrrr...

There's no wonder I need a Savior. I'd be hopeless without one.

Jer


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blogs

It's kind of fun to look back at some of the blogs I've written.

It's a bit like looking at a past me. It's what I was thinking about - or processing - at a different time in life. It's fun to revisit.

But I say "kind of fun" because some of the blogs are just not that good. Ya never want to read something you wrote and cringe. I don't want to erase them (even though it would be easy to do so) because that's just where I was at that time in life. They're a little written record etched in time. However - bad is bad.

But not everything I wrote was horrendous (ha!). Many blogs are way better than I would have thought. I'm actually surprised that I wrote a few of them. Going through them - it's like searching for the diamond in the rough. Every once in a while - it's not a cringe that crosses my face - it's a "Wow." That makes me glad at this endeavor.

Some blogs, I can tell, were written at a particular time in life - so they almost have that diary feel to them. Many are way too long. It's hard to be concise. Oswald Chambers is more and more my hero - in the writing realm - cuz he could write a page long message with depth that nearly unreachable. If I could copy his length, and get half his depth - that'd be a good blog. So - I'll keep trying.

Someday in the future - this too will be a diary blog. I wonder how I'll see it a year from now - or ten. My future self will read these words someday. That's pretty weird to imagine.

Well, to my future self: I hope you're not cringing - hope this one's more of a "wow" than a "what was I thinking?" I doubt it'll be a wow or a cringe actually. It'll be more like a - "hmmm...that's kinda cool." I can hope anyway...

I'm gonna try my best to keep writing - even though I realize that some blogs will be cringe worthy. I'm not gonna be able to help that completely. But I hope more and more will become "Wow" worthy. Guess we'll have to wait and see...

have a great day!

Jer

Friday, November 11, 2011

Politics...

"Throwing the baby out with the bath water..."

This is the season of politics. I'm not a big fan of writing about politics - it's such a divisive topic (not that religious writing isn't). But - I'm pretty passionate about God topics - not so much with political speak.

However, I have to mention a pet peeve that I hear over and over again - from both sides of the aisle - that I don't want to ignore. The fear-mongering from both parties is a bit ridiculous. And the crux of the pet peeve comes down to stereotyping - or maybe generalizations would be a better word.

Right leaning people believe "government" is the problem. Left leaning people - "Wall Street and Corporations" are the problem.

What both sides miss is that there are actual people behind the "evil" scheming. Government - and huge profit businesses are run by people.

Government doesn't make decisions. People do. Government does not create problems - people do.

Corporations don't make decisions. People do. Corporations aren't greedy. People are.

I have friends that work in the government. They're awesome people - and try their best to make this place a better place. I know business owners that do the same with what they have worked for - amazing people both.

However - for whatever reason - when my mind just hears "government" or "corporations" - I tend to think of dark rooms and scheming. The reality is that this is just not the case. The propaganda machine is very effective and really does influence how we think. But illusion is far from reality. Actual people are the backbone of both corporations and government. And people make good and bad decisions. Here's a couple good ones I've witnessed from both business and government...

McDonalds. I don't know anyone in that corporation. I don't endorse their products (except for their friggin' fries - yummmm). But - I do recognize that they do wonderful things - and they're flexible to change. They have Ronald McDonald charities - look it up - it's awesome! And - after "Super Size Me" - the movie - they changed a lot of how they do business. People made those decisions. The public has the power to change how people run corporations and do business. Real people that make real decisions. Could they make some better decisions? Probably. Is everything perfect in their model? Probably not. But that's not the point...

I have a friend who works in the CCC (California Conservation Corps). He's awesome - and is helping a "lost" generation by giving them a job - and skills - to further their lives and careers. He's not taking advantage of the "system" - and is far from being a leach. In fact - his career is an honorable one - more honorable than most. A real person made this "government program" to help real people. And real people benefit from it. Is there government waste in the program? Probably. Is it a perfect government run program? Probably not. But - that's not the point either...

I guess the point is this: actual people break stereotypes and generalizations.

We can talk about motives - and good vs. bad - all that. And those are good discussions. But - that's not the point I'm trying to make. Stereotyping and generalizations come out of ignorance, not intelligent thinking.

Let's see if this hits it:

A person can HATE the Catholic Church because a group of their priests molested young boys.

Blaming the institution for the acts of a few - there's a HUGE problem with that line of logic. The Catholic Church had NOTHING to do with molesting boys. People (priests) did. And other priests (bishops) covered it up. People were the problem.

It'd be like saying "All teachers are bad" because one teacher molested some kid in some town.

Ummm...no.

YET - I hear it over and over again - with "Government" and "Corporations" and "Wall Street" (not about molesting - that'd be weird. I hear people making generalizations that create ridiculous fear laden arguments that lead people to make mind boggling conclusions). And no one's ever called out on it. It's sooooo annoying.

I made that mistake about God once. I thought all "Christians" were idiots due to a handful that were - and that God was irrelevant because of that. But - I was wrong. Dead wrong.

So - I guess I just wanna give a word of caution for those entering into this political season. Watch out for generalizations. And watch out that you don't make them. Just be careful in believing everything you hear.

There's that famous phrase:

"Ignorance is bliss."

Well, it might be bliss for some - but it's annoying for the rest of us...

Have a great day!

Jer


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pause...

It's been a while.

I think about those scriptures in Ecclesiastes where is says there's a time for this - and a time for that. A time for X and a time for Y. etc.

Well, I guess there's a time for sharing, and there's a time for soaking it all in. That's where I've been - really. Soakin' it all in. Learning. Learning some good things - and reflecting upon difficult things. But holding onto the fact that God is good in the midst of it all.

So - I hope to write a little more than I have been. It's been a nice break from writing (well, I'm still writing on another project - but nice break from this blog.) I can always find things to say. ha! Good ol' verbal diarrhea. Hopefully there'll be a nugget of something good every once in a while.

Hope you have a great day! and - BOO! - almost Halloween. Love it!

Jer

Monday, August 15, 2011

Remembering Love

"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." (1 Cor. 13:2)

Lately, I've been thinking about how easy it is to talk about love - know about love - think about love - learn about love - plan to love - meditate on love - and everything thing else - besides actually love.

There are certain scriptures that have been hitting me lately. Here is a big one:

"He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53:3)

Esteemed Him not. We don't put God in His rightful place. This might be the best description of sin in the entire Bible. We often don't even think of God at all throughout our day. And our mindless search for him leads us to very dark places - replacing His purpose and the life He offers with anything else to fill that hole. We might occasionally glance in His direction, but - for the most part (if we haven't established the discipline seeking) we don't even think about God. We don't esteem Him. "We esteem Him not."

And the truth is - we don't really esteem each other too. We're too concerned about ourselves to actually think about others - unless there's a personal benefit.

So - what would it look like to esteem God? And esteem others? Well - here's a clue:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The first part of esteeming is acknowledging - noticing. Do we take time to notice God? This small step might be one of the biggest steps one can take. Learning how to notice God in every place we find ourselves, in every part of our day, might be one of the best disciplines we could ever learn.

Another scripture that hits this point:

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thes 5:16-18)

Prayer is that constant conversation - both listening and speaking - to God. First and foremost, though - it's acknowledging God's presence. It's the first step in esteeming God. There are many other scriptures in this same line of thinking. The Bible's packed with messages for people to open their eyes to the very real presence of God.

Noticing, acknowledging, and esteeming God - easy to comprehend - but difficult to do. And it gets harder...

What does the Bible say about esteeming people? Well, look at these often quoted scriptures - and look for the idea of "esteeming" within them:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27)

Another:

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

When we esteem others - we esteem God. When we esteem God, we esteem others. Funny how that works. When we notice and acknowledge others - we can open our eyes and notice God too. And what we actually do for others - in a practical sense - is what we do for God. And that movement towards action is love. In some ways - it's that simple. But love carries a cross - simple to understand, difficult to follow. Thankfully, we don't follow on our own merit - but on God's work! So, as we stumble along - His work is good enough - His grace is sufficient. But - that's a whole other topic...

It's blatantly obvious that God wants us to love people. The first step in loving others is to esteem others.

Turning the focal point onto the people in our lives, it's very clear that the relationships that we lose over time are the ones that we esteem not. We might get busy, we might move out of the area, we might have major conflict, and we might have completely different goals. Whatever the case, we begin to not esteem our friend - we esteem them not. Ultimately, as time goes by, we lose contact with them and we lose the closeness we used to have.

I've seen this countless times in my relationships. I might have the closest friendship ever - but - over time and distance, the person that I'm friends with slowly exits my thoughts and my mind. They're always my friend, but the real relationship slowly disappears. Sometimes, I'll scratch my head, and think, "Whatever happened to so and so..."

This happens to many families as well. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter become the only time that a family might come together in the entire year. Some esteem their families not.

I know one of my personal problems is that I avoid conflict like the plague. In that avoidance, I'll avoid the actual person - friend - or family member. This creates a bit of a separation - even in my mind - about the other individual. That separation creates a break in the relationship - and I end up esteeming them not. It's not their fault - it's mine.

So - what do I do about this issue? How do I personally esteem my friends? My family?

Well - I'm learning that I first need to acknowledge them - notice them. Just like with God. I think that might be the first step. Often - I don't acknowledge my friends/family - unless they're in my face. That'll have to change if I ever want to have long-suffering type relationships.

A word the Bible uses often - especially in the Old Testament - is a simple word that drives this point home - remember.

I need to remember my friends, my family. It's so easy to disappear into my own agenda - into my own mind. There is definitely a long process of refining that I need to go through - but - writing these thoughts down is part of the process for me.

So - these are the words I'm working on in this long walk home:

remembering

acknowledging

noticing

May I learn to esteem God, and others - and through that, may I learn how to love better.

Have a great day!

Jer

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Truth

I heard a speaker say this: "The good news isn't that you're awesome. It's the opposite actually. We're despicable. And when we give our life to Him, he saves us from that."

This is popular Church theology. Basically - you're a pile of crap until you give God your life. Many preachers make this point, over and over again. It's nauseating.

I believe the good news is so much better than that. I wish the speaker had said something like this:

"The good news isn't' that you're awesome. The good news is that God is awesome! So awesome - He actually invites you into His very own family! To be His kids!!! And He made that possible because of what He did through His life, death, and resurrection. "

For many - the difference between these statements might not seem at all noticeable. But there's a giant difference. Many people preach the good news as "this is what you get." The good news becomes about what one might receive. The good news is about ME.

The good news in the bible is a person: Jesus Christ. It's sort of become cliche, but but the good news isn't about me - it's about Him. Going in a little nerdy route - when the good news is about me - truth becomes subjective. Now - we might perceive God subjectively - but who He is and what He is like is OBJECTIVE.

Ok - what does that mean? Subjective truth depends on the eye of the beholder. Beauty is subjective. I might think something is beautiful, you might think it's ugly! We perceive the same object differently. Our tastes are different - even though the object is the same.

Objective truth ISN'T dependent on the beholder. 2 + 2 = 4. That equation is true, whether I agree with it or not. It's also true, whether I know it exists or not. Objective truth is truth outside of the observer.

God's love for humanity and His characteristics are OBJECTIVE - not Subjective. The problem with much of Church Theology is that they turn the "good news" into a subjective good news. It becomes all about me. Me me me me me me me me me.

Like I said - nerdville. That's a little deep. But the point is - the good news is NOT dependent on how I perceive it. The good news is who God is - and what he had done to reveal Himself to us! God's good news is so good - it's Him. And He's available to all - everyone!!!

So - how is the first statement (above) subjective? Well, if you read it again, you'll notice that the emphasis on good news is on transformation of an individual. It becomes about what I become and am saved from. In the second statement - the emphasis of good news is about God's characteristics - who He is - and what I've been saved for. Go check. That's a very big difference, and it makes all the difference in the world when talking about God.

Does that mean that transformation is bad? or wrong? NOOOOO! In fact - God changes people all the time - amazing transformations!!! And many of those transformations are good news! However - His good news is even better than individual transformations. It's His person - who He is! He is NOT dependent on what you think of Him. He is good - whether you believe it or not - and whether you think it exists or not. He is not dependent on you. If you really think about it - that's incredibly good news!

So go seek out the good news. He's not far from you at all - He's actually with you now. He knows everything about you - and in spite of that - is madly in love with you!!! Because that's who He is - Love. He is good - He is awesome!

Have a great day!

Jer


Friday, July 29, 2011

All You Need Is Love

"God is love." (1 John 4:16)


From what I know, the most simple breakdown of the scriptures is this: We were created be loved and to give love. And that love was revealed throughout history - coming to a focal point on Jesus.


The problem is that we all have different ideas of love - especially with our language. I can say - I love ice cream, I love playing football, I love my dog, and I love my parents. Love, in those cases, means different things. So, when applied to life - people can hear “love” and come up with very different conclusions about how to live.


Much of the love we describe in our language has to do with “the eye of the beholder” type stuff. It’s often about what I prefer over something else. Love, in our culture, is about us - it’s about me.


The definition of love in the bible is different.


The simplest way I can put it is this: Jesus is the walking definition of Love. He displays the love of God. He is true love.


When you look what He’s like, and what He does - that is the best picture of true love that you will ever get.


So - go get to know Him. Seek Him. It’s as easy as opening up the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and hearing the testimonies of those that knew Him. Doesn’t mean it won’t be confusing - love is very deep. But - love is the best of all things - and it’s easily found in Jesus.


One more really cool thing: as you get to know Him - you'll be transformed into a person who displays love to a world that is desperately seeking it. You just might become someone's very good news - and when that happens - you'll have the opportunity to point to the even greater news behind your individual transformation - the person of Jesus Christ.


Have a great day!


Jer


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Malibu, Canada!

Well - off to an adventure with over 100 high school students - to Canada! Woohoo! Two day road trip - then craziness! May we all learn more about God's goodness! Pray for us - if ya get a chance. Thanks! Have a great rest of July!!

Lookin' up,

Jer

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Identity Crisis

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:5-7)

We all have multiple identities.

There are family identities. Fathers and mothers. Children. Sisters and brothers. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. There are the adopted and the abandoned - the abused and the orphaned. Some families are very rich, some are dirt poor. Some families are very religious, others outright reject anything spiritual. Some families live on the “other” side of the tracks, others are famous just for being on TV. Some families are huge, some are very small. We all get part of our identity from our family - like it or not.


There are profession identities. Some people are lawyers, doctors, and politicians. Others are laborers, migrant workers, and sweat shop workers. Some are criminals, others are law enforcement. There are highly regarded jobs like firefighters and teachers. There are less than desirable jobs like convenient store clerk and working for the golden arches. There’s management, employed, underemployed, and the unemployed. There’s the owner of a successful company and the person who struggles with chronic homelessness. In the American culture - our identity is so closely tied to our profession that one of the first things a person asks when meeting someone new is “What do you do?”


There are gender and sexual identities. There’s the obvious: man and woman. There’s also the identity of a child. There’s heterosexual and homosexual - and everything in between. There’s confused, and mixed. There’s over-sexual and asexual. There are sexual disorders and just the plain normal average Joe/Jane. What’s normal for some might be pretty crazy for others. Morality often gets tied in with people’s sexual identity. Like it or not, we are partly known by our gender and sexual identities.


There are achievement based identities. Some are really good - like professional baseball player or medal of honor recipient. Some are really bad - like rapist or a person on death row. There are student of the month, employee of the month, teacher of the year achievements. There’s winningest coach or team, there’s second place, and there’s just plain embarrassment. There’s winners and there are losers. There are people who are defined by barely missing the field goal, or just missing the putt. There’s the “almost” people. Many of us get our identities from our achievements.


We all have a ton of identities. There are sport fans - team fans. Consumer fans (Apple vs. PC). Comic fans. Fashion fans. Movie fans. Reading clubs. The elderly. The youth. The diseased. The diet health groups. Exercise groups. The obese. Clothing identity. School identity. Religious identity. Cultural identity. Political identity. Ethnic identity. Patriotic identity. And on and on...


We treat each other different depending on our identity. In some cases, there’s great camaraderie within a particular group. We offer support, throw parties, and wear even wear clothes to show off our affiliation towards a particular identity. But there are also some serious problems with putting so much emphasis on any particular identity.


Our identity often defines the borders that we may or may not cross. Our identities can create major division - and even outright war. Our identity can make it very difficult to love people that are different. It can be a frustrating problem.


Is there any way to erase our divisions - even when they seem insurmountable?


Well, there is an identity that we all share - every one of us. It’s an identity that supersedes all others - and we often miss it. It goes above and beyond any identity we might be affiliated with - to the extreme. It’s even above just being “human.” The author of the book of John writes about it often. He constantly identified himself as simply “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” All of humanity - every person on the planet (“For God so loved the world...) - has an identity that was given to them by God Himself. The identity we inherit is of a Father who loves His children (us!) He revealed that love to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. His love - His assigned identity - crosses all borders, all arguments, all groups - all identities. It covers all.


There are those that might not know their true identity at all. There are those that know their identity but ignore it. There are some that outright deny it. There are even those that fight against it. But no matter where a person stands with God - one thing that is undeniable is that God loves all - even His strongest enemies.


What if we lived in that truth? We all have multiple identities - but what if - first and foremost - our identity of being God’s kids - came first? Way out in first. And that's how we saw each other? Our father (God) loves every one of us! Is it possible that we could love and value those that are extremely different if we truly understood, and lived within, our real identity? Isn’t that what God constantly calls us to do anyway - to love everyone?


And, if that identity came first, how would we see ourselves? How would we see each other? How would we treat ourselves and others in light of our true identity?


I wonder...


Have a great day!


Jer


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Unfulfilled

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

I’m sitting outside this morning with the beauty of nature surrounding me. Where I live, I can see the Sacramento Valley, the Buttes, the foothills, and the Coastal Range. I can see trees, birds, cows, and other random animals all around. My neighbor's five dogs compete for my attention as I type and sip from my hot AM/PM coffee. I hear the buzzing of bees and insects, the cawing of birds, and the sound of sprinklers. I can also hear the wind as it blows up the hills and gives off a minor howl. There is literally not one cloud in the sky and the sun shines brightly. It’s morning, so it’s only in the mid 70’s - not as hot as it will be later. And it’s just plain beautiful.


This is something I’ve noticed - I can be a witness to Nature’s beauty, or I can ignore it. It’s easy to just shut myself in a hole and watch the morning news on TV. It’s easy to put myself in a box and pretend that the beauty of nature isn’t there. I find that I do that more often than I’d like to admit. Sometimes, it’s just that I forget. I forget how pretty it really is outside. It’s not always intentional that I miss God’s everyday paintings. Nature’s wonder is always there - I just ignore it, forget it, or take it for granted.


Kinda sounds like God sometimes. He’s always there - but we ignore Him, forget Him, or just take Him for granted. Then, life gets unsatisfying - for whatever reason. So we go in search of Him. I think most people don’t even know that they search for Him. They look for fulfillment in anything but Him - but what they’re really doing is searching for Him. Well - that’s my story anyway. I tend to look for Him in things that aren’t Him - and am always surprised when I’m left unfulfilled.


I’ve talked a lot about how God values us - and shows it through His life, death, and resurrection. I’ve been thinking about how much humanity does the opposite. When given God - humanity doesn’t value Him, we crucify Him. I’ve been thinking of how our lack of value for Him might be the very root of sin.


Anyway - just a quick couple thoughts. May we understand what “seek” really means as we seek to know our Savior.


Have a great day!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Abandoning Father


“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone." (Mark 10:18/Luke 18:19)

This past Easter, I realized that it never says in the scriptures that Jesus was flogged 39 times. He may have been, but it doesn’t say it. The scriptures point out that Paul was flogged 39 times – more than once. But not Jesus. Historical inference lead many to believe it was 39 times - but it’s not actually said in the scriptures. Look it up. And here I thought this was a given fact of the crucifixion. I was completely led to believe this “fact” (most recently by a popular movie), and it’s not even confirmable. It might not even be true. (The number of times being significant because 40 lashes was death) How often do I swallow what people say about the gospel without really testing it? I wonder…

Sometimes I hear something that someone says and immediately believe it’s true without ever testing it. I remember someone telling me that Jesus was in the direct line of David - as far as lineage goes. And this was the fulfillment of prophesy. But when I really looked at the scriptures (one in Matthew, one in Luke) - they actually say this:


Mat 1:1 “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham...”

Mat 1:16 “...and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is the Messiah”


Luke is similar - but starts with Jesus:


Luke 3:23 “Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli,...”


So, what’s the big deal? Well, both scriptures point out that Joseph’s lineage went through David. But, there’s a problem with that - the scriptures make it very clear that Joseph was not Jesus’ actual dad. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit - through Mary. This would “break” any real claim to the lineage that Jesus had through David. If Joseph was the actual father, then it would break the claim that Jesus was begotten of the Father - the whole virgin birth prophesy. A definite conundrum.


I’ve brought this up to many people of faith (of whom I am one) as well as quite a few Pastors, and I’ve gotten some of the most ridiculous answers to these questions. Most often, they insist that the lineage goes through Mary, and not Joseph - even when it’s pointed out. The scriptures clearly say otherwise. Then, they change the subject. Or - they might say something like, “Well, that’s just how God works - you can’t really know everything,” or “God can do whatever He wants.” While there’s some truth to those statements - these are really pathetic attempts to answer legitimate questions about Jesus.


For years, this problem really bugged me, until I realized that Jesus was adopted into the line of David - with full privilege of a first born son. That actually seemed more like His character, because later on we would be adopted as God’s kids as well - through what Jesus accomplished on the cross. It totally made sense to me. However, it really bugged me that people would avoid some “difficult” questions and come up with some really lame answers to genuine inquiry.


We often take what we hear, and don’t question it. Or, we have really difficult questions about what we’re told, but don’t investigate the answers because we think it might threaten our faith. There’s always this cloud of worry that we might ask the wrong questions - and end up going to hell. So many of us don’t ask and we don’t investigate - even when the questions are deep down inside. But what if, in some instances - we’re just dead wrong? What if our fear of being “wrong” gives us a really awful picture of God?


This will definitely get me in trouble with some - but oh well...


I’ve heard many preachers say, “Sin is separation from God, and Hell is eternal separation from God.” This is a very popular theology in today’s church. And these statements are not just made by Pastors, they’re found in many Church creeds (statements of faith). Early on in my walk in faith, I took these statements and ran with them. I believed them because someone told me to believe them. But there was a problem - I never truly investigated whether those statements were actually true! I just heard someone say those statements, and believed you could support them in scripture. And I defended them strongly whenever they were questioned. But, deep down, something seemed a little out of whack.


I’ve come to find that my initial uneasiness with this theology may have had some merit. The “sin is separation from God” statements have serious logical flaws and don’t hold up very well with the scriptures. So - let’s investigate.


Nearly everyone who is a person of faith believes really amazing things about the characteristics of God. Theologians use big words like omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, meaning: all powerful, all knowing, and always present.


There’s a definite problem with one of these characteristics when matched up with the separation statements: always present means always present. This contradicts the claim the God could be separated from anything - especially eternally. God’s characteristic of omnipresence - the very nature of who He is - makes it impossible for Him to be separated from anything or anyone in all creation because He's always present. So - it’s one or the other. Either there’s separation when we sin and God is NOT omnipresent - or - there is no separation and He is omnipresent.


Let’s take a peak at the scriptures. It says in Colossians that God holds all things together (Col. 1:17). So that begs the question: Does all mean all? Or does all mean: everything, except when a person is “sinning”. If God holds all things together - including atoms - then He’s connected to all things - literally touching everything at all times - even in the process of a person “sinning.” Where’s the separation in that?


And Psalm 119:7-12


“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

The scriptures make it pretty clear that God is everywhere - even when we’re “hiding” in our darkness. Where’s the separation in that?

In one of Jesus’ stories - He touches a leper. In those days - no “clean” person could touch one that was deemed “unclean,” or they themselves would become unclean. Yet - Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. And Jesus is the exact representation of God. It was God Himself touching the leper. Where is God’s separation in that? In fact, where is God’s separation with anyone He interacts with when He walked on the world? He touches sinners, He hangs out with sinners, He chooses sinners to be His disciples, He eats with sinners, and becomes known as a friend of sinners. Where’s the separation in that? The very act of God coming to Earth - and became one of us - where’s the separation there? God is not afraid of our wretchedness - thank the Lord!

One of my favorite scriptures:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God? Hmmmm... And God is love - as it says in 1 John. Where is the separation there? Does all mean all? Does “all creation” mean - ALL creation? Or, does the scripture mean: all creation, except where there’s sin and hell?


I really believe that what is meant by “separation from God” is really - separation from the fellowship of God. There is a HUGE distinction between these two statements. When someone talks about “separation from God”, what they imply is that God turns His back on us when we sin. He turns His back on Humanity. He becomes the Abandoning Father. This is as bad of a picture of God as you can get! God NEVER abandons us! “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)


What some might be intending to say is that our sin separates any fellowship - or friendship - with God. Sin - in it’s base form - is rebellion towards God. But that action of abandoning is NOT from God - it’s from us. God doesn’t abandon us - ever. We spend our whole life abandoning God. Just look at your own life. And look at how the scriptures put it:


““There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;” (Romans 3:10b-12
)

All have turned away - humanity turning its back on God. Not God turning His back on us.

Much of this “separation” theology stems from Old Testament thinking - having to do with the Holy of Holies - within the temple - where God’s presence was said to reside. The argument goes that God can’t be in the presence of sin because sin would taint His perfection. So - He was in a place that only He resided - the Holy of Holies - that was only entered into one time a year by a priest who had performed all the correct rituals so he could perform the atonement sacrifice for the people of Israel. It was a big deal. It also led to the roots of the thinking “God is separate” from us. That’s one reason that Jesus was so scandalous when He showed up (especially when announcing His arrival to lowly shepherds). From some people’s perspective - God becoming a man defamed God. Jesus broke the wrong perception that “God is separate” by becoming one of us.

But let’s go back to the Holy of Holies. Can a Holy God be tainted by sin? Is God separate because He could be infected with our disease? If God could be tainted by sin - then that elevates the power of sin. Sin is not strong enough to taint God’s perfection. Look at it from a light perspective. Light can’t be tainted by darkness. Light makes darkness flee. From another angle - it’s like the leper story. God can’t be tainted by disease - He’s way too powerful. Disease flees from God. The unclean is made clean. And, in that story - it’s from a touch. (opposite of separation). Another angle - every time Jesus encounters demons in the scriptures, they freak out and think they’re going to be destroyed. Darkness shudders at the light - and ultimately will be destroyed by it. But God is never close to being tainted by darkness. It’s just not possible.

When Jesus walked the earth, He became the clearest picture of God to humanity than anything prior in history. When Jesus died, the temple curtain was torn, signifying that Jesus had fulfilled the law and God was no longer “contained” in a physical place. Do a study on the Holy of Holies and the temple curtain - and then you’ll really see the significance of the temple curtain being torn after Jesus’ death. It’s actually pretty interesting. God was no longer “separate” - but was now “free” from our prior perceptions of Him.

Actually, just the term “Holy” makes our understanding of God a little muddy. Holy means - set apart. But, set apart does NOT mean separate. These fine lines make it really tricky when talking about God. A person can have the best intentions in sharing their view of God, but end up giving a less than good picture of who God really is - without even realizing it.

There are a few New Testament backings for this “separation” theology, but they’re pretty weak in their arguments. Two are parables - the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16), and the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Mat 25) are often pointed out. But both parables really talk about the separation of people groups - not separation from God. Lazarus and the rich man are separated from each other - but there’s really no mention of God, from a separation standpoint. We do see torment that the rich man is suffering - but we don’t see God turning His back on him. In fact, it was the rich man who turned his back on God. Same story in the Sheep and Goats parable. Separation of people groups - but not of God. The goats were the ones that didn’t give a rip about God.

There are one or two more arguments for separation theology within the letters that Paul writes - but, again - Paul is talking about separating people groups, not God separating Himself from us.

The biggest defense for this theology gets really screwy when taking a look at the Trinity. On the cross, Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The argument goes that Jesus felt the full brunt of humanity’s sin at that moment, and God the Father turned His back on His Son.

There’s a few problems that can be pointed out with this line of thinking. First - is Jesus God or not? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirt - three in one. Trinity thinking. If Jesus IS God, then simple logic concludes that God couldn’t ever separate Himself from Himself. It was God Himself that died on the cross. Is Jesus God? Take it a step farther - it says in Galatians that Jesus became the curse:

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Gal 3:13)

Is Jesus God? Or does He take a break on the cross - when He died? Was God our atonement - or was it some random dude that God used, and then God walked away from at his very moment of need? That doesn’t sound like the God that I know.

So, then - why would "God" say, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus was a Rabbi and He was quoting the first line of a Psalm. When a Rabbi quoted a Psalm’s first line, that included the entire Psalm. Jesus was quoting Psalm 22. Read it - it’s amazing! It describes the crucifixion - but it was written long before it ever happened. Look at the end of the Psalm - it’s not a Psalm of desperation or separation, it’s a Psalm of triumph. It ends with “He has done it!” Very close to another phrase that Jesus utters on the cross: “It is finished.” And look at these verses from that same Psalm:

For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help. (Psalm 22:24)

That doesn't sound like God turning His back on Jesus. To me - at least - that looks like the opposite...

People fight for separation theology like they’re fighting for life over death. It’s really interesting. The scriptures never really clearly define sin as separation from God - especially in the New Testament. It's even harder to back the "hell is separation from God" definition within scriptures. Seriously - go and try - don't take my word for it.


So - what’s the big deal? Why does this point matter?


This theology gives a very hurtful description of God. It’s not a very loving picture of our Savior. And it’s just not that accurate. I want to make it clear though - I’m not saying sin does not exist or that it’s not bad. Or that hell doesn’t exist - or is not awful. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Sin is destructive and leads to death.


What I am saying is that “sin is separation from God” and “Hell is eternal separation from God” is a VERY bad definition of sin and hell. Use something different when describing sin - like - rebellion, esteeming not, ignoring, missing the mark - etc. All these definitions point to our depravity - our movement away from God. Separation implies that God moves away from us - when that’s just not the case.


The other danger is that we begin to live our theology. If we believe that God turns His back on people when they sin - how long before we might start turning their back on sinners? To be honest - I see churches that do that all the time. Just a thought to keep in mind...


This is already pretty exhaustive, and I could go on - but I won’t. If you’ve got this far - I’m amazed - and thanks for your time. I do want to explain one reason why I wrote it.

I went to a camp and this theology was preached. In my cabin of guys, there were at least four young men that had been abandoned by their real dads. Some others had suffered abuse - some physical, and some sexual - from their fathers. The night that sin was preached, the speaker gave a clear picture of God the Father turned His back on our “badness.” He said, “sin is separation with God, and Hell is eternal separation with God.” The picture he gave of God (who is supposed to be good) was almost identical to some of these kid’s experiences with their own fathers. God was an Abandoning God - and couldn’t be near to our sin. Ugh.

Yes - the cross was coming, but his description just really gave “the Father” a bad name. Last I heard - Jesus and the Father were one. When talking about sin - can't we just stick to "rebellion" or "ignoring God" or not putting God in His rightful place? Sin is awful - destructive - not good. But God - especially when looking at Jesus - doesn't separate Himself from us because of it. In fact, He's really the only one that can touch our sin and heal us - we can't do it on our own.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

When I look at Jesus - He just blows the Abandoning Father perception to smithereens. We need to be very careful on how we share the “good” news. And we need to not be scared to ask hard questions of the faith - whether they seem threatening or not.

May God guide you as you seek Him!

Jer