Sunday, August 24, 2008

I want to live in Narnia when I grow up!

Seriously, I'm not kidding. But even if I were, I think heaven will be similar to Narnia in many ways. We saw Prince Caspian again at the dollar theater recently, and I loved it. I liked it even better the second time, probably because I was focusing more on the spirit of the film rather than the technical accuracy to the book. 

One scene really caught my attention though. The Old Narnians are gathered in the forest to meet Caspian for the first time. Some want to kill him on the spot, while other are aware of the history and prophecies to be fulfilled. He explains that if they will help him recover his throne, then he will give Narnia back to the Narnians. At this, the centuar captain steps forward and draws his sword. 
"Then my sons and I offer you our swords." 
All the other creatures follow his lead and swords are raised. Reepicheep then steps forward, speaking for his small band of Talking Mice. 
"And we offer you our lives unreservedly."

The centaurs were willing to live and fight for Narnia, and as warriors, they were willing to die in the line of duty. But Reepicheep offered something greater. He offered complete loyalty, surrendering his life and rights before they were demanded of him. He understood how the Kingdom worked. 

There are times when we will offer God our time on Sunday mornings or our service or our strength, but we don't offer Him our hearts, the fullness of our being. We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength - with everything we have. 

Francis Schaeffer writes in The God Who Is There: 
When I hear this first commandment to love the God who is there with everything that I am, it carries with it a total concept of life and truth...But this commandment carries something more; it tells me something very fundamental and exciting about myself...Those who understand what is involved will not dismiss this as "something I have heard since I was little." to think through the implications is totally exciting. The God who is there is of such a nature that He can be loved, and I am of such a nature that I can love...I know what man is, and I know who I am.
And so I will offer my life unreservedly. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Holy Ambition

John Piper has coined the term a "holy ambition" to describe the passion one has to accomplish that which God created him or her to do. (Some would use the term "calling," but that's very broad, misunderstood, and rarely well-defined.) Holy ambition is a concept the Rebelution guys talk about fairly often as well. Alex and Brett Harris suggest that part of the problem of young adults wasting their lives is because society places a huge importance on spending time to "find yourself." Rather than finding myself, my focus should be on God and His global plan and what He wants to do in and through me. 

Instead of asking "Who am I?" we should look beyond ourselves to something greater. Asking "What grieves me, what excites me, what makes me mad?" reveals the areas where our passions line up with God's heart and what we can do to right injustice and give hope. 

As I was listening to these guys talk on an old interview on the Boundless Show, a phrase dropped into my heart. "Use media to mobilize missions."

I would describe my passions as tech/media, history, writing, and missions. Those are kind of distinct areas, and I'm not really sure how they interact. Yet. But I'm excited about the potential of using all of these to be involved in mobilizing missions. 

There are four basic roles in missions today - the go-ers, senders, welcomers (people who minister cross-culturally with immigrants/refugees who come to their home town), and the mobilizers. While I've been involved in all of these, my heart really lies with mobilizing the Church to recognize what God is doing around the world and urge them to get involved. 

I'm not exactly sure what this will look like, as with so many other things, but more pieces are starting to fall into place. And this is exciting, because God is faithful.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What Makes The Olympics So Special?

So basically for two weeks every two years, the whole world (more or less) watches TV every night to see how a bunch of young people - teenagers! - are going to compete and break world records and make history. We expect these kids to do it. We expect young girls, aged 12 or 16 depending on your country of origin, to do amazing flips and stunts and balance and astound the world. We expect 19-year-old swimmers to improve and come back four years later at the ripe age of 23 and "smash" previous accomplishments in a historical epic achievement. 

Everybody's excited. When the US and Michael Phelps won the 4x200 relay by 8/100 of a second, FOUR of my friends reported they screamed they were so excited. Note: these aren't people that scream on a regular basis. 

Everybody has nationalistic pride. Everyone - couch potato, varsity athlete, working mom, wrinkled grandpa, sports fanatic, little girl, and of course, Olympian - is a part of TEAM USA. My friend commented today, "I love the Olympics cause you can go up to anyone and talk about it, and they'll know what you're talking about - you could have a passionate conversation with a total stranger." 

Excitement. Passion. Unity. Global Awareness. High Expectations For Young People. 

What a great description! If only we could find something these adjectives describe besides a world sporting event occurring every two years by rotation. 

Why doesn't this describe everyday life? Why doesn't this describe society at large? Why doesn't this describe THE CHURCH?

Olympians have an ultimate goal that is worth all suffering. Olympians have trainers that push them to be the best in the world. Therefore, Olympians have dedication far beyond what most people can begin to comprehend. 

In the above paragraph, I should be able to replace the word "Christian" with the word "Olympian." 

Christians have an ultimate goal that is worth all suffering: Jesus. Christians have the Spirit within them transforming and sanctifying and encouraging them into the image of Christ. Therefore, Christians have dedication and commitment to Christ to the death, far beyond what most people can begin to comprehend. 

I'm not giving a cheesy "everybody should be excited about TEAM GOD" or that kind of thing. But I do think the church  - as an institute and as individual believers - needs to reevaluate what our passion and excitement and expectations are. 

Olympians are a special breed of people, no doubt. But Christians are called to be holy, set apart, a royal priesthood, above and beyond everything else in this world. Maybe we should take a clue from these super-athletes, who run hard to win a prize that perishes. We need to run much harder for the glory that will never fade or diminish. 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. I Corinthians 9:24-27

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I know I am loved by the King

"I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing..."

I saw this quote, which is part of a song by Chris Tomlin, and it just jerked something inside of me. 

The King loves me. 
  • Me! with all my pitiful mistakes, my repeat failures, my willful disobedience, my flaws and shortcomings. 
  • Me! with all my lofty dreams and misplaced priorities and great imagination- all the things He must prick and rupture. 
  • Me! the sinner He died to save long before I even knew or cared that He existed. 
  • Me! now the sinner saved by grace, who keeps testing the limits of that grace -albeit often unconsciously- as I  stray and sin, yet again.

The King loves me. 

How, why, I do not know. But if I know even the littlest part of this truth (because Truth is Truth, even if we don't understand all of it yet), that The King loves me, how can I not sing? How can I not LIVE - truly live, as in the zoe life, abundant life, the life that is Christ? How can I desire sin, much less actually do anything that would in any way separate me from this King?

I know sanctification is process, it takes a lifetime, my old man is struggling with the new life in Christ, yada yada yada. I get that. We can't just jump from point A to point B and be done with it. 

BUT IT SEEMS TO ME that there should come a point of no return. A time when I realize all that I have in Christ and the absolute trash of the world. There should come a place where I understand, at least a little, of who Jesus The King is, and what He offers me - and this should propel me past all the entangling sin and the dead weight and the crap that beckons me to stay in and of this world. 

There should come a point when all I desire is to know Jesus, and Him crucified and risen and alive- when that is all I want, and no sin or pain or hell will keep me from pursuing this. 

Some would call this the moment of salvation, but perhaps it's more like Wesley's second work of grace or something. I don't know. But we see Paul struggling with his sin (Romans 7) long after justification and well into the process of sanctification. I think there comes a point in our Christian walk when we must choose to pursue God after we've experienced 'salvation.' I'm not making statements on predestination and that debate, or writing systematic theology to be studied by posterity (in other words, don't overanalyze what is spilling out of my gut into cyberspace). 

I'm just at a place of no return where I must choose radical discipleship or fall back and be content with the recycled religion I can spew out of my dark heart so easily

What would my life look like if I actually lived as if "I know I am loved by the King." I think my heart would be doing more than singing - I think it would be changing the world. 

I've been told that the only appropriate answer to radical grace is radical discipleship. I've been given radical grace. Let's see what radical discipleship looks like.