Monthly Archives: February 2011
Chris Lazo has added The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage as Reading now
If you’re like me, then telling yourself to be more humble doesn’t make you more humble.
What does make me more humble is humiliation.
Parody and satire have worked wonders in my life without completely devastating me, because they gently poke at prideful things about myself that I unknowingly embrace. Since the things I connect with are most likely to become an idol in my life if left unchecked, I’ve found it helpful, at times delightful, to seek out satire that pokes fun at the things that I am too connected with… like Christian ministry and Christian sub-cultures.
A famous example of Christian satire is Stuff Christians Like.
Here are some other examples on Twitter that make me laugh, while at the same time give me pause about my own heart…
These particular fake Twitter accounts are all a part of a fake church staff that pokes fun at the dumb things church staff’s do when they forget about the gospel. Enjoy these and try not to take it so seriously ;-)
What gives you humble introspection?
You know, as though all ambition was self-centered and God-dishonoring in it’s motivation. Ambition reminded me of the Televangelists who preach about dreaming your island house into existence, and after seeing them slice-and-dice Scriptures out of context for the silliest things (it happens that manufacturing a Bugatti Veyron out of thin air through my “faith” is unlikely) I began throwing away ALL forms of hoping and dreaming. Even the good ones.
I have changed my mind about ambition in the past year as I’ve been traversing through some Biblical accounts of big “dreamers.” There are the obvious ones like Joseph, who dreamt that he would go from slavery to the office of a national executive, or John who was given visions of the future.
Many of these popular biblical accounts are objective dreams in which God reveals something to His people. I still believe this happens. But the dreaming I’m talking about is subjective, in which God simply gives us the capacity to desire, feel, or crave bigger things for His glory and the good of others. The Apostle Paul comes to mind.
Paul was a dreamer…
My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, “Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand” Romans 15:20-22 (NLT, italics mine)
Three things I’ve noticed in Paul:
- Paul was first meditating on the Word of God as the starting point for his huge aspirations. He says, “I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures” (v21). He also teaches us to transform the way we think by renewing our minds in the Scriptures (Rom. 12:2).
- Paul starts to let his renewed imagination run wild after being immersed in the objective, revealed word of God! His dream was to pioneer a gospel-centered apostolic movement, by going everywhere in the world that did not yet hear about Christ (v20)
- He never made it to every spot in the world (for example, Spain). But he got farther than if he just sat in his living room all day. The point is, we should be willing to risk failure in order to chase after bigger things. Let’s be honest: we will fail along the way. But if Jesus has already performed perfectly on our behalf before the Father, we can live free from the fear of failure, and liberated to attempt great things.
My wife, Brianna, uses a clever limerick to describe this: “Reach for the moon, and if you don’t get there, you can at least grab some stars on the way down.”
The prophet Joel tells us something similar,
It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. (Joel 2:28, NASB)
Renew your mind by God’s Word in the Spirit and dream big!
To have a knowledge of a true fact does not necessarily mean that we are personally affected by what we know.
An example of this is gravity.
Many people know what gravity is and may even be able to explain the mechanics of how it works, but a skydiver will have something far more than intellectual knowledge. In addition to true knowledge, a skydiver has conviction. I would describe conviction as the assurance of truth. For the skydiver, they have a deeper understanding of gravity, because they’ve faced it in a real situation.
When the Bible speaks of the “fear of God,” it is not always speaking of being afraid. Rather, it is speaking more of a sense of divine awe and reverence of which we have been convicted.
For a person to have the fear of the Lord, a couple things generally happen…
- The person has a deep conviction of their own sin.
- The person has a deep conviction of God’s holiness.
When a person sees their sinfulness against the backdrop of God’s holiness, it produces in us the tension we call Holy Fear.
Isaiah experienced this in his vision, when he was pronouncing judgment on everyone; he then saw the Lord, and he fell on his face, and cried out, “”My destruction is sealed, for I am a sinful man and a member of a sinful race. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD Almighty!” (Isaiah 6:5, NLT)
The Christian still experiences this every time we ponder our sin and God’s holiness. However, the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ provide for us a way to come before the presence of God without being destroyed. When we experience the very real, awesome presence of the living God, yet are not consumed, it develops in us a sense of gratitude to say the least. The fear of God mixes with the mercy of God, and we become undone!
This is what fuels a deep and reverent worship: that even though God’s holiness is enough to destroy us in our sin, he has provided a way to save us from our sin and bring us close to Him, by the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s why the author of Hebrews expressed…
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
At first glance, Exodus seems like an epic account of the many accomplishments of Moses. While he is certainly prominent in the book, it’s God that is the redeeming Hero, and the central character of the story. What’s even more gripping is that God graciously surrounds Himself with a variety of normal people to accomplish His mission. Most of us know Moses and Aaron, but few of us may have heard of Bezalel. Let me introduce him to you…
Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other craftsmen whom the LORD has gifted with wisdom, skill, and intelligence will construct and furnish the Tabernacle, just as the LORD has commanded. So Moses told Bezalel and Oholiab to begin the work, along with all those who were specially gifted by the LORD.
This group of “unknowns” go on to take up the last four closing chapters of Exodus as the servants who would get the tabernacle ready for the presence of the living God!!
I want to especially emphasize the Lord’s special giftings upon each of them. They all needed the Spirit of God just to obey in ministry, and so do we. From serving coffee at Starbucks, to being a wife or husband, to running a company, and everything in between, no task of ours is small or unimportant, because the living God called us to something He considers strategic enough that it required His Spirit to empower us to do it rightly! Not only that, but God planned it for us before we were born (Eph. 2:10)!
Let us take ownership of our high calling in God as we serve one another and the church which was purchased with Christ’s own blood!
I love reading, so this list was hard to come up with. So let me qualify it by saying that these are the books that had the widest, and most fruitful impact on my life last year. Starting with…
- Cross-Centered Life, by C.J. Mahaney.
Few books have convicted me enough to put me on my knees in repentant prayer. This is one of them. Mahaney redirects the Christian back to the power and beauty of the Gospel with a clarity and brevity many authors are want to have. Having grown up in a Christian home, I developed the assumption that the Gospel was only for unbelievers. Mahaney lays out practically how the Gospel is powerful to continue transforming Christians on a daily basis. This understanding has not only changed my life, but changed my entire outlook on the Bible as well.
- God is the Gospel, by John Piper
If the above book enlightened me to the need to keep drawing from the Gospel, this book by the beloved John Piper reveals God to be the very prize to what you are drawing near. I fell more in love with Jesus, having realized that all else in Christianity (even good things) is subservient to the ultimate source of our joy, which is in the presence of God Himself.
- Cross-Cultural Servanthood, by Duane Elmer
This book has impacted me through a number of different facets which struck me since it’s technically a “missions” book. Yet the principles of servanthood that Elmer unpacks are broad enough to cover everything from marriage to neighborhood interactions, and because the book is both Christ-exalting and Biblically-drenched, it packs a punch that left me quiet and convicted more than once. In my own life, it took the transformative power of the Gospel and showed me how to apply it to community, not simply my own individual life.
And yes, it has definitely changed the way I look at missions.
Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, By Ian Murray
Jonathan Edwards is probably the single author outside of the Bible that has most transformed my way of thinking. Much of the language of joy and “treasuring Christ” has come from reading Edwards. But this heavy biography didn’t feed my geek-fest of Edwards. From his awful marriage, to the church that kicked him out of the pastorate, I saw a different side of Edwards than was portrayed in his own writings. It showed me the brokenness of a real man who is himself in need of the Gospel. And after reading his story, I stopped idolizing the Puritan, and began to fall back on the same Gospel of grace that even he required.
Tells you what you need to do in order to achieve, but does not provide for you a way to get to it…
“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man” [Romans 8:3, NIV]