Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A New Law by Derek Webb

One of Serenity and my favorite musical artists is Derek Webb. His lyrics cut to the heart of the Gospel. I was listening to this song while cruising down I-5 in Big Buster and it spoke directly to my desire to be told what to do rather than listen to the Spirit. I want a list of things that will make me more righteous or holy, which all distracts from a relationship with Christ. Here are the lyrics:

Don’t teach me about politics and government
Just tell me who to vote for
Don’t teach me about truth and beauty
Just label my music

Don’t teach me how to live like a free man
Just give me a new law

I don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
So just bring it down from the mountain to me

I want a new law
I want a new law
Gimme that new law

Don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
I prefer a shot of grape juice

Don’t teach me about loving my enemies

Don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
Just give me a new law

What’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
For one you can that cannot get you anything
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Silence of Jesus is Exquisite

On Sunday we went to Harbor Presbyterian Church in Ocean Beach and the pastor spoke on the denial of Christ by Peter. Interesting passage:
Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.” But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said. A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.

Matthew 26:69-75

The next time Peter sees Jesus is after His resurrection, while fishing on the Sea of Tiberias. Jesus helps the disciples catch some fish (John 21:6), and then asks them to eat breakfast with Him. Nothing reminding him of his denial, or as Brennan Manning says in his book The Importance of Being Foolish,

There is no mention, apparently even no memory, of their betrayal. Never a reproach or even an indirect reference to their cowardice in the time of testing. No sarcastic greeting like, 'well, my fair-weather friends. . . .' No vindictiveness, spite, or humiliating reproach.

Isn't this amazing? Manning states that "the silence of Jesus is exquisite." Again, when Jesus encounters Mary Magdalene, He tells her to "go and tell my brothers. . . ." (Matthew 28:10). He calls these betrayers and cowards brothers. Jesus was the perfect example of how He calls us to love in I Corinthians 13. Especially verse 5: love is "not irritable, and keeps no record of wrongs." Jesus is not disappointed in us, neither is God for that matter. He is silent on the matter because His love has covered it all and His memory is erased.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Saint Patrick

The town were I used to work in Oregon, Woodburn, has a very interesting mix of people: 80% Hispanic, 15% Russian and 5% other. For the first time in my life I was the "other". I enjoyed the diversity. As wrestling coach I had a disproportionate number of the Russian population as you could have guessed (although I had some really good Hispanic wrestlers, most of the population thought we wore colorful masks with zippers and jumped off turnstiles). Many of the Russian population at the school is Russian Orthodox who would miss 20 or so days of school a year to celebrate different events in church history or to honor different saints specific to thier religion. I would ask students and wresters before they left school for a Russian Holiday, "Do you know what you are celebrating?" Nearly every time the answer was, "well, no, not really." I would give them a homework assignment of learning what they were missing school for other than drinking with their friends in the church parking lot while their parents spent the day inside doing "religious" type things.

So, before we go judging my dear Russian friends, how many of us know anything about Saint Patrick other than parades, Irish, green beer and random people pinching us (I had an old lady pinch me at CVS pharmacy yesterday and then say, "Honey, you go on home and tell your wife that an old lady at CVS pinched you.")

Some cool facts about good ole' Saint Patty:
  • Historians guess that he lived between 320 and 460 AD
  • He was British born and considered a Roman (by this time in history the Roman Empire had conquered the British Isles)
  • He was captured by Irish raiders and forced into slavery on Ireland for 6 years before he escaped and returned to his family
  • Although he was British (and had been captured and forced into slavery) he had a vision that he was supposed to go to the Irish people to spread the Good News
  • He refused to take financial gifts from nobility and actually sold his own inheritance to enhance his ability to find commonality with the very people he was trying to reach
  • He drank a lot of green beer (not really sure about this one, but that's what Americans think, right?)

Monday, March 16, 2009


I have been thinking recently: "Knowledge doesn't necessarily equate to understanding."

A pastor friend we met recently said to us, "nowhere in the Bible does it command us to 'study'."

I love to research, to study. I have a history degree, one of my favorite places to go is the library, reading about the American west, or the Civil War, World War II, or the middle ages. I just soak it up, I love to study. I think it drives Serenity nuts sometimes. When we travel, I do a lot of research, I don't want to drive 2 miles away from the coolest thing around and not see it, I want to know. I don't want to be ignorant.

But sometimes there is no amount of studying that will bring about understanding. Some things about God are just a mystery, we will never know until we see Him face to face, and even then we probably won't be able to understand the Great Mystery.
For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. - Romans 1:19
Paul states clearly that what we know about God isn't necessarily something we learned, it was placed in our hearts by God. When we earnestly seek His knowledge and an understanding of God, He will place it in our hearts what we need to understand.

What interests me is that the early churches, all of the epistles of Paul and others, none of those churches had a Bible, or even early manuscripts of most of what we call the "Bible". I guess they had the letters that where written to them, but outside of a handful of those and what we call today the Old Testament, most of the early believers didn't "study" like we Christians feel compelled to do today. Not that it is a bad thing. However, we get so caught up in doing our "quiet time" or study time, or Sunday "school" which obviously implies "study", that it stops being about an intimate relationship with Christ and becomes a bullet charted knowledge of a book. It isn't living and breathing and exciting.
While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church. I Corinthians 8:1
Action, which is based in love, is what builds up the church, it is what will truly last, not a super-academia based understanding and knowledge of the spiritual facts of the Bible. That is not pure TRUTH. Ask God to reveal TRUTH, KNOWLEDGE, and UNDERSTANDING to you:
asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. Ephesians 1:17
So stop studying the bullet points and start applying the action of love to the people around you.
make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8