Archive for July, 2012

Jul 27 2012

(Not) Understanding Evil

Published by under Life

When we’re young, we ask a million questions – often starting with something specific (“What is that rock called?”), working out to things more general (“How are rocks formed?”) to the ultimate (“Where did the universe come from?”) All this happens in about 5 minutes. At some point parents realize their kid isn’t capable of understanding the ultimate things – no matter how well it’s explained.

Adult Questions
How did the movie theater door get propped open? Why were assault rifles sold to a madman? Where was God in Aurora? Our questions move from the specific to the general to the ultimate.

Where is God when our own life falls apart? Like a toddler, we ask questions about the world as we know it but too infrequently about the world outside. Earlier this week on Twitter, someone wrote this:

[We think we’re unique]…as if [this issue of ‘why’] was only a relevant question in white, American suburbs. Where is God in Afghanistan? Where is God in Gaza? Where is God in Syria? Where is God, indeed?

We don’t get where he is sometimes. He seems to be gone or not to care. A billion people in deep suffering because of poverty? Some of them starve to death. Blame satan. Blame rich people. Blame apathy. Blame sin. Blame the rain. But at the end of the day, if God is all-powerful, he could stop it, but he doesn’t. That’s sad. Period. For all the good suffering can do, it too often ends in unredeemed, crushing, final disappointment (at least as far as a human can tell).

Little kids want to know where babies come from. They’re not ready to hear. Maybe we’re not either. Maybe we’re really toddlers in God’s eyes and we can’t understand these things just yet.

Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
_Job 38:35

We barely know how to tie our shoes.

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Jul 25 2012

When You Doubt

Published by under Life

In some seasons of life we affirm and fully believe many things about God. In other seasons, even the most ardent believer can be disillusioned by much doubt. During these times, church can become hard, if not impossible. Listening to song after song of such surety doesn’t feel right, making you feel like even more of an outsider. The sermon, instead of building you up, creates more questions with every point the speaker makes. It feels uncomfortable and many choose to leave church.

If you dare to speak about your doubts, they’re too often met with negative vibes from listeners – by direct opposition or discomfort or silence. It’s rare that someone walks alongside us through the difficulty. So our internal troubles are compounded with external troubles. It’s ok.

We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.
_Acts 14:22

This isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. Easy stuff is usually cheap anyway.

The MORAL journey is supposed to be a straight path where we don’t deviate to the right or left, but live good, righteous lives. That’s the ideal. But no one ever said having and keeping FAITH would be simple and straight. Heroes don’t get to be heroes by doing common things. It’s by doing and enduring the uncommon. Nobody but God may know what you’re trying to overcome. Then again, he may be the only one in your life challenging you. What we see as negative in the moment, he may bring as a gift. But it takes the moment passing before we enter the kingdom.

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Jul 22 2012

MLK, Moses, Your Life, and Your Death

Published by under Life

On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. attended a rally and delivered a message at Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. It would be the last words he spoke to an audience. He was assassinated the next day.

The speech he gave, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” closes with a prophetic, impassioned, very personal outpouring. Somehow, it seemed he knew death was near.

We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
_Martin Luther King, Jr – I’ve Been to the Mountaintop – April 3, 1968

These words, incredible on their own, are even weightier than they seem. MLK was making a direct allusion to Deuteronomy 34.

In the final chapters of Deuteronomy, the Israelites are nearing the Promised Land. Moses has led them out of Egypt and through 40 years of living in the desert. All of a sudden, God breaks in with news.

The Lord told Moses, ‘Go up…to Mount Nebo…and view [the Promised Land]…the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people…you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.’
_Deuteronomy 32:48-52

This is what MLK meant when he said that he’d been to the mountaintop and seen the Promised Land. And why he said he wasn’t concerned with longevity. And why he said he may not get to the Promised Land with everyone else. He instinctively knew he was the Moses of the Civil Rights movement.

The Finish Line
The poetic beauty of all this is only equaled by what seems like unjust sadness. What a disappointment for Moses and MLK  not to enter the destination they labored for! They only saw it from a distance. It’s sad to us, in part, because we have a feeling of where their finish line should have been – and it’s inside the Promised Land. Anything short of that line seems wrong and makes us sad. And it IS sad, but only a little. They made it 99% of the way! MLK didn’t care about dying. Moses didn’t protest in Deuteronomy. They both knew they’d lived their lives and played their roles with great excellence. They knew that, above everything else, they were NOT leaders. Yes, they were leaders of their generation, but that isn’t how they understood themselves.

MLK put it this way in his speech: “I just want to do God’s will.” And in Deuteronomy 34:5, it says, “Moses, servant of the Lord died there in Moab.” They understood themselves to be, firstly, servants of God. Wherever that took them and however far they were supposed to go was, ultimately, up to God.

Who are you serving in the days of your life? Get it right and the fear of death will shrink before you. Get it right and the angst about wasting your life will go away. Serve God – God alone.


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Jul 21 2012


Published by under Life

It’s easy to become a hypebeast.

[M]ost of our daily news is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action.
_Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves to Death

Our lives have bandwidth – just like our internet connections. There’s only so much space and so much time we can devote to things. Is debating each and every daily issue how you want to invest your life? For some, perhaps you, the answer is yes. For most of us, it should be no.

As if our emotions were attached to a rope, the media jerks us all over the place in every 24-hour news cycle, trying to inflame passion and, where possible, controversy. After tragedies these days, not even a single hour is allowed for pure mourning. We’re immediately confronted with accusations, deconstructions, and questions of re-writing the entire United States Constitution. As Postman says, by and large, none of the energy you and I spend on these things will translate into anything we can actually act on.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.
_Proverbs 19:17

Tragic events deserve to be mourned and briefly discussed. But don’t let the media stir you into a frenzy. Don’t stir others into a frenzy. We’ve been programmed this way for too long. Show restraint. Know where the line of “enough” is. Because there are a million tragedies that happen all over this world every day you CAN do something about. Talk about those. Find ways to take action. Those are problems you can help solve.

There’s no scorecard for winning arguments but there IS one for our good deeds.

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