“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary.” –Revelation 2:2-3
I have, for a few weeks now, felt these verses speak to me. These are the very words of the glorified Christ speaking to John the Revelator upon the island of Patmos. These are words that carry weight and words that pierce. I wish I above all things that these words of Christ stopped at the end of verse three and went no further. For if these were the only words given than it would be such a mighty encouragement. They would be words of strength the likes of which no mortal man could ever udder. But this letter to the Church in Ephesus goes on to speak to my soul words that cause it lament upon hearing them and near collapse under the weight of knowing them to be true. After s...
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
“Full of grace and truth.” These were the words that John used to describe Jesus to all who would read his gospel account of Christ. John, the one who was called beloved, wanted all to know that the words of Christ rang true and that He was full of such a grace that those who hated a religious system were drawn close to Him. But for us what do these words mean. Are we meant to read them and simply marvel at all that Christ was while he was incarnate? Or, just perhaps, do these words stand as something more?
Before leaving on my venture westward a dear friend of mine, a mine that I hope to one day be more like, sat with me and echoed these words. He told me sternly but lovingly that if I cannot find a balance of both grace and truth that I would not be worthy to be called a minister of the gospel. He told me that people often saw grace...
"No one else holds or has held the place in the heart of the world which Jesus holds."
“But as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him’”
-1 Corinthians 2:9
This is the verse that we run to when we speak of Heaven. When we grow weary we recall this verse and remind ourselves that one-day, far off and far away, these things will be ours. It has been plastered on cheese bookstore paintings of heaven and printed on coffee cups doing the same. But as I sat down and read these verses today I have to think that we have gotten this wrong. And in doing so I imagine that we have robbed the Scripture of its power to comfort and empower us.
There is much in the Canon of Scripture that speaks of Heaven. And all of those verses should speak peace to us but I can no longer imagine that this verse is one of those. If all we had was this single verse my declaration would seem silly and extreme, but I fear t...
"Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation."
When I was first truly exited about Christ as an adult I was 18-19 years of age. At this season of my life I was a big fan of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer entitled cheap grace, although I have come to call it what the Bible does…a doctrine of demons. I enjoyed being able to tell myself that I could do whatever I wanted to do and there would be no repercussions for it. The girl I was dated during this time I dated mostly so we could have sex more and enjoyed selling some weed here and there, just enough so that I could smoke for free. But with all this there was something deep within me that called me to gather once a week with people who had the same belief that I claimed to hold dear to me. I know that the people that were leading this church loved Jesus, but I liked going because I could wake up at my girlfriends house, smoke a joint on the way, and enjo...
"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God"
In the church we have for long idolized our ‘heroes’ of the faith and told ourselves and those around us that this was the goal. In Sunday school we heard stories of the boy David who with only a sling and stone killed a giant. We marvel at the strength of men like Samson who killed a small town with only bones in hand. We hear fiery sermons telling us that we should, like Peter, leave our nets at the shore and at once become fishers of men. We tell these stories and make for ourselves men who, if Stan Lee were a Christian, would appear alongside the heroes of our youth mask in place and cape tightly fit.
We have done all this for many good reasons, but in doing this we have made heroes of men who saw that they were not. We have taken those who we aspire to be and have forgotten that Christ, not themselves, were the hero of their story. For Willie Nelson, his heroes have always been cowboys. But for me, my heroes h...
Over the past few months as I have gotten ready to venture farther west and farther up I have been asked time and again, “Why this?” Such a simple question cannot be answered in kind. For the answer is not a simple statement over which I have read or a place in which I wish to live. The answer to this question is a story. It is my story. And these next few years in Oregon are the next chapter. But as with any story it cannot be started in the middle with answers to question you know not. So this is my answer to the question, this is the story of how such a thing came to pass.
When I was 19 years old I moved to Cork City, Ireland to intern at Donnybrook Pentecostal Church, now Cork Church. While there I lived in a rundown old blue house that dated older that the country which issued my passport to live there. It was a time in which God broke and mended my soul like no other. One evening, as was the case with many evening there, a few of us sat around the dinner table after the meal was...
"But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith."
At the moment I am taking a breath after spending the better part of the last week and a half leading a mission trip for a youth group from New York City and for the most part I have been encouraged by the desire that I saw in them to dive deeper into the things of God that most people fear to look into. To be honest, the only person who didn’t want to lay it all on the line and dig into the hard parts of God’s Word was one of their leaders with a Bible College Degree, but that’s a different story for a different day. We spoke of the Sovereignty of God; the return of Christ, the role of the Church, asked who are the Beloved of Christ, and much more.
In all this I was deeply moved, but there was one thing that was said that I couldn’t shake. It’s something that I have said myself and something I’m sure that you have uttered if you have spent anyti...