Three Fools, a Giant & the Road

The leftover green hunk of Korean War metal has no business in the desert. And I have no business driving it.

The two and a half ton army surplus truck is two and a half times my age. Some fool thought it was a good idea to strap a giant plastic tank on the back of the bulky green giant and use it to haul water. Some other fool figured it would be perfect for dragging water over a stubborn track called Bloody Basin Road. And a third fool handed me the keys.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Mythical Cabin in the Woods

When we step back we can see a fact that Jesus established long ago: we are all in the City.

When it comes to the reputation of church in our culture, we’re all in this together. As believers, we can see shades of theological and liturgical differences between denominations and synods. The everyday joe can’t and doesn’t care. Much to my frustration, church is church to him. I hate that.

It’s a truism that the more alike two entities are the more they fight to differentiate themselves and establish superiority. The greater the similarities the more important the distinctives become and the more fierce the struggle to establish distance.

Sibling rivalry is the textbook example.

As people who think a lot about church and spend a lot of time in and around it, it’s hard for us to place ourselves outside the walls and look at ourselves through the eyes of the disinterested general public. But when we do step back we can see a fact that Jesus established long ago: we are all in the City.

In our myopic view, we see our individual ministries (or individual lives) like an outpost for truth in a wild wilderness of culture. A lone shining light. A cabin in the woods.

I wish I could march off into the woods and build a cabin of my own so the world would know that I’m not associated with the crazies that shame and degrade Christ with their shenanigans. But I can’t.

Stepping back to a wide enough perspective, however, reveals a much more uncomfortable and crowded reality. We’re not individual cabins in the woods. We are – together – a city on a hill. Just like Jesus said in Matt 5:16: “Y’all are the light of the world a city on a hill cannot be hidden.” (That’s the Texas version. And that’s a second-person plural pronoun for you grammar nerds.

Bottom line: We are in this together. Our tiny points of light form a twinkling cityscape on a hill. We are the City.

I wish it weren’t true. I wish I could match off into the woods and build a cabin of my own so the world would know that I’m not associated with the crazies that shame and degrade Christ with their shenanigans. But I can’t. As far as a run I still can’t get off this hill. As much as I hate it, I can’t marginalize the dangerous or distasteful varieties of church enough to push them outside the City.

The cabin in the woods is a myth.

Craving Change: A good sign of the Spirit’s work

There is perhaps no more sure sign of God’s work in a soul than when it utters sincerely, “Leave me not unchanged.”

When you get into ministry no one tells you an essential truth: people do not want to change. You walk into your first church / para-church job looking like Bon0 – rocking a pair of rose colored glasses. You imagine that a perfectly crafted sermon, a perfectly-executed event, perfectly-orchestrated emotional musical interlude, or perfectly-timed cup of water in Jesus’ name will somehow unlock a soul and set it free.

You imagine incorrectly.

What stands between your efforts and a individual’s breakthrough transformation is nothing more or less than the stubborn resistance of that individual.Bottom line: People do not want to change.

What people do want os help managing the consequences of their chosen path. If you let them, these nice, kind, deluded people will set the tone for your work. They’ll want to put you in a box by limiting you to affirming them and helping clean up their messes. The insecure servant will do it rather than risk losing the recalcitrant.

But mopping up messes does not manufacture change.

Change or even the genuine desire to change is nothing short of a miraculous work of the Spirit. Only God can put a crowbar to the hinges and lift the prison door free. Only God can inspire a heart to crave the sweet air of freedom.

Only God can put a crowbar to the hinges of a stubborn soul and lift the prison door free.

Without the Sprit, people can say that they want to change. But they really just want to alter or cover the visible tells that betray their true, invisible self. Advertising is filled with products and procedures designed to improve your image (with varying prospects of success).

No matter how clever or expensive, these methods do not bring real change because the person still believes the fundamental lie of the unredeemed soul: “I am good.” Change can only begin when a look to an external measure illuminates the heart to confirm that: “In me dwells no good thing.”

Without the Spirit’s influence, a person does not want to change. They approach life with an attitude that says, “Love me as I am.”

In contrast, there is perhaps no more sure sign of God’s work in a soul than when it utters sincerely, “Leave me not unchanged.”