Bored with God

I am amazed with what the new iPhone 6 can do. NFC payments. 240fps video at 720p. Bigger, thinner, faster. Technology amazes me. I use it during the weekdays to pound out my creative work. It still amazes me that I can collaborate with people halfway across the globe, send code to remote servers, and somehow magically it all works (well, most of the time...).

The problem is, I am easily impressed by new technology. I am not as easily impressed by God anymore. I don't fear and tremble at Him like I used to. I don't stand in awe that He made me. That He made us and placed us on this amazing planet. There are 5 living beings in my house right now (2 in their beds, 1 asleep on the couch with another life in her tummy, and me). 2 of us (my wife and I) have been given new life by God. There are 7 expressions of God's life right before my eyes every day, and yet I am distracted by the things of this world, by the fact that I can have thousands and thousands of books on a tablet that I carry around with me. In many ways I am surrounded by what many people around the world dream of having but it is not enough. It is never enough. Now I'm beginning to sound like a Dustin Kensrue song. But it's true. It is so painfully true.

Instead of marveling at the Giver of life, I sit looking at a screen and am amazed over and over until disillusionment sets in. I pretend that the amazement that I find in created things can actually do something to make me whole and satisfy the deep cravings of my soul.

Kensrue penned these striking words:

It's not enough, it's not enough
To make me whole
It's not enough, it never was
Awake my soul

We need our soul awakened by the Holy Spirit to see God for who He really is, and seeing Him, to marvel. To find ourselves lost in His greatness and beauty. He is the only thing that will ever satisfy us. Period.

I'm praying, Church, that we can increasingly be a people that are shaped by this beautiful reality. And may it permeate every square inch of our lives.

In Jesus' beautiful name. Amen.

Pray for Your Leaders

driscoll-preaching

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

What the Church needs is more people praying for their leaders. It is all too easy to offer commentary, perspective, criticism, or words. It is another to get on our knees and pray. Would you join me today in praying for our church as our leaders gather to seek vision for Mars Hill moving forward? Would you join me in praying for THE Church globally, that God's people would be unified around the Gospel and seeing lost people saved? Would you join me in praying for all of our pastors and leaders, that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to do the work of the ministry they are called to by God?

Jesus, I pray for Pastor Mark, Mars Hill Church, and all of our pastors, deacons, members, and leaders. I pray for the health of our church, that people would connect to Jesus in Community Groups this week, and that people would bring their friends this weekend to hear about Jesus and to fall more in love with Him. I pray for humility, repentance, and grace where it is needed and I ask that You would move in the hearts of the leaders of our church to do what You have called and empowered them to do.

Lord, I pray for Your Church in all places, that You would work mightily among your people. I pray that more people would meet Jesus and that more hearts would be opened, and lives changed as You move through Your Holy Spirit. Keep Your bride healthy, God. Keep Your people's hearts tender toward Your truth, Your Word, and toward You. God, we desperately need You to be the center of our lives.

Jesus, I finally ask that You would work in all of the pastors and leaders across every local church around the world. Keep them humble, dependent on You, and willing to do whatever they are asked to do to faithfully serve You and to see people meet Jesus. Protect their hearts, their marriages, their families, and their congregations. I pray against Satan and his demons and their works and influence, that You would bring his devices to nothing and that You would advance Your Kingdom and Your Church in the face of all the evil that seems to be prevailing. Build Your Church, Lord and keep us faithful to You. Keep us ready to do Your will and to follow Your Lead.

In Jesus' beautiful name I pray. Amen.

More Spiritual Than Jesus

Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 26:38-39

A friend reminded me yesterday of this great truth: "Don't be more spiritual than Jesus."

We need to be careful to not try to be more spiritual than Jesus. He didn't just willfully walk up and with open and happy arms embrace the suffering that He saw on the horizon. He wrestled with God in agony over what He was about to do. He fell to the ground crying out, sorrowful “to death.” This is far different than being giddy about His calling to go the Cross and die. Jesus was real with the Father in His time of great need. He connected with the Father intimately and left His burden with Him.

Why do we feel like we need to be the "hero" of our own life and have everything together all the time? Many times, we are afraid to be messy and to let others see us messy because we want to portray and project this perfect, has-it-all-together Christian persona. Meanwhile Jesus is in the garden sweating blood and crying out in agony asking the Father to take the cup of suffering away from Him. We do a disservice to Jesus and to authentic Christian community when we present a neat, tidy, tuck-in-your-t-shirt Jesus to people that are in dire distress (like Christ) and need to have space to bring their mess to God.

Jesus was still willing to embrace His calling but He didn't walk glibly into it. He arrived with great distress, agony, and messiness at His willfully submission to the Father.

So we should follow in our Leader's footsteps. God wants us as we are, in all our mess, in all our sin, with all of our flaws and failings. Let's stop trying to have it all together and let's go to Jesus in our mess. Let's invite our friends in with us.

One thing I never realized until this very moment is that Jesus was inviting His friends in to His darkest moment as He wrestled with the Father. Peter, James, and John fell asleep, but it doesn't change the fact that Jesus models for us that we are to invite others into our mess and have them sit with us. We were created for this kind of community.

We really need to repent of "having it all together" because we don't. And we need to repent of trying to go through our darkest moments alone, as if it were some noble or spiritual calling to bear our crosses in silence and solitude. We are called to bring our sin, struggles, and lives into the light, and to the embrace of a loving Father and the Christian community He has placed us in.

May we all see more of Jesus as we "get real" with God and as we invite others to the party.

In Jesus' beautiful name, amen!

A Holy Doubt

Eventually my fifth-grade dream, along with many others, evaporated completely, and today I am a preacher. I have a family. I live in LA. I am a Christian. I teach the Bible at a church we started in 2006. Nothing could be more different from what I pictured for myself earlier on in life. And the truth is, I couldn’t be more satisfied and more at peace. And that is because God taught me to doubt.

Yes, doubt.

Most people would not associate doubt with Christian faith, but there is a kind of holy doubt, a sacred skepticism that asks hard questions about life. While many people spend time questioning the Bible, it may come as a surprise that the Bible actually questions us:

  • What do you expect out of life?
  • What if your expectations are wrong?
  • Where did your expectations come from?

Tim Chaddick. Better.

Tim Chaddick's experience forced him to doubt himself and his expectations. This exploration led Him to discover Jesus and the fulfilling life that He has to offer. As Christians we shy away from doubt of any kind, when in actuality we should be given to this "holy doubt" as away to see how our false expectations and false hopes don't line up with the life that God has intended for us.

Chaddick continues with this challenging question:

Are you willing to have your script reworked?

This simple question sets the trajectory for our entire lives and leaves us with a pressing challenge: are we going to accept and embrace the script that God has written for us? Are we willing to follow Jesus, whatever the cost?

Theology in Community

a-stack-of-books

One of the things that the western world is sadly lacking is a rich sense of community. This is apparent in our neighborhoods, schools, restaurants, and sadly even our churches.

Most westerners tend to view their lives as isolated and individualistic. We look to form our identity, not as a community, but as individuals. We see ourselves this way a lot. Sadly, this mentality has crept into our Christianity. Many people think of the Christian faith only as a means for our personal salvation. While it is most definitely true that God does save individual sinners from the grip of Satan and Hell; it is also true that He saves us into a community of Believers. So much so, that the sign of our truly knowing Christ is the test of whether we love one another:

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:35

The test of the “trueness” of our Christianity is seen in if and how we love another. Many of us know and celebrate this and strive to show this reality in our lives by loving each other.

But I began to think even deeper about the community of love in the Church and the way it related to the study and practice of theology.

Most of my Christian walk and life has been lived alone theologically. What I mean by this is that I have been a consumer of Bible teachings for many years now and most of devotional life has been spent downloading from others and digesting personally, then sharing with others. This pattern repeats over and over and over again.

Fast forward to 2009 where my wife and I get married. Everything in my life radically changes. All of the sudden, there is this other person right there discovering changes with me and challenging my thoughts and beliefs real-time. This brought new challenges to the way I thought and studied and worked out my beliefs, but it was a glorious change and has benefited me immensely.

Lately, I have been pondering this further as we changed around our small group Bible study to be co-led and co-studied with a friend of mine. I have seen this modeled in churches like Reality or A Jesus Church where pastors study in a group together to do shared teachings with their congregations. Working through ideas with another couple and even co-leading the study with this other man has made me see the benefit and the blessing of group study.

I realize that in every Christian sphere there will always arise a natural leader. There is always going to be that prophetic voice that is raised up by the Lord to lead. But working out theology in community is in my opinion more honest than one man climbing his ivory tower alone to find truth.

That’s where Peter bring it home. Our interpretation and view of the Scriptures is not private. It is done in faithful Christian community that seeks to place the Gospel at the center of life. It is not a private matter. We should more and more seek to bring the Gospel into our community, our leadership circle, our small groups, and see what the Lord might do and how He might work us in collectively, even better than He might work in us alone and isolated.