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Monday, October 19, 2009


Productivity. That's the god I worship when I'm not willing to worship the only true God. I make sacrifices of time, relationships, priorities, just to try to get some approval from my god of productivity. It promises so much satisfaction, so much recognition, fulfillment, respect. But it requires more than I can give. That's because it's a false god set up by the one who rebels against the true God. I'm just like the Israelites who made their own gods, claimed those gods could give them what they wanted, and obeyed the demands of those s0-called "gods" - even going so far as to sacrifice their children. Well, I've seen children sacrificed to the god of Productivity. But, that's not really my god. I know my God is the Lord. He's again taken me back after I've taken a promiscuous spin with Productivity. I need to spend time with my real God so I remember how good He is and how much more worthy He is of my worship than my other god.

So I've been thinking and praying about a few things. How do I keep myself from being a slave to that god of Productivity, while still being responsible to God's call on me? What does God really want my life to be about, because I know really clearly what Productivity wants me to be about, and I can connect with that pretty quickly. My thoughts go to a few sections of my God's Word I've been in lately. First is in Micah 6:8 "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." So what does being productive have to do with acting justly and loving mercy and walking humble with my God? Occasionally, a little. But the god Productivity doesn't allow time for considering that.

So how can I combat Productivity? This morning, my friend Dustin taught from Jeremiah 17. It starts in verse 5 with God putting a curse on those who trust in "mere human beings". Productivity demands that I trust in my own abilities (and maybe the abilities of those under me). Productivity threatens that if I don't worship and give it my full devotion, I won't be provided for. So in verses 7 and 8, God says

"My blessing is on those people who trust in me, who put their confidence in me. They will be like a tree planted near a stream whose roots spread out toward the water. It has nothing to fear when the heat comes. Its leaves are always green. It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought. It does not stop bearing fruit."

So, God's saying all I have to do is trust in Him and I'll be amazingly provided for. That sounds like a much better promise than Productivity has ever given me. So then we go down to verse 19 to the end. God tells Jeremiah to go to the city gate and tell the people they better stop working on the Sabbath. If they don't stop doing work one day a week, He'll destroy them. But if they start observing the Sabbath (resting one day a week), they'll be blessed, rich, and respected. What kind of an upside down requirement is that, says my mind that's been brainwashed by Productivity? But God is very clearly laying out the way things work in His Kingdom (which He's inviting us all into, by the way). If I trust in God, I need to stop worshiping Productivity, stop believing that it's me that provides for myself. Show that I trust God by stopping all activity (both what I do to provide for myself, and even the good things I'm doing to serve God) and rest. And incidentally, I believe God's designed this Sabbath so that when we observe it, we are weekly reminded of what it's all about and how good our God is compared to any other god that tries to compete with Him.

One more thought related to this. In Leviticus 25, when God is first setting up His nation of Israel, He says they should work for 6 years (agriculture was their main work) and then take a whole year off. He said on the 6th year, the land would produce a triple crop - enough for that year, the seventh year when they didn't work, and the 8th year before their crops came in again. That takes even more faith, and is even more upside-down than the Sabbath day. So I wonder how I can live out that kind of understanding of just how trust-worthy my God is in my life. Any thoughts?

If you've read this (which I guess you have if you're reading this sentence) please take some time to consider whether the god of Productivity is getting any worship from you, and then take some time (a lot of it, so you're taking it away from Productivity) to consider God's worthiness promises compared to Productivity's, and what it means for you to trust in and worship God alone.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You don't need a map.

From "Life on Purpose" - an article in my "Perspectives" book... Yes, I'm still talking about the Perspectives course. It was over a month or 2 ago, but I'm still working on finishing my reading and assignments.... Anyway, I thought this was really good and I truth a lot of people I know (including myself) need to take to heart:

When it comes to God's will, many of us want the GPS version of God, hopefully with a turn-by-turn British-American voice prompting us at every intersection. Sometimes God gives people very specific instructions, mapping out what they are to do in detail, but this is rare. The world, however, is a map factory. It continually bombards us with plans for success, agendas both personal and political and road signs that read "happiness just ahead." Most maps lead toward pwersonal gratification and status or just loop back to the status-quo.

A map is very appealing to a person looking for direction. But the map is an easy way out. It appeals to the lazy (ouch!). God gives people direction more than directions. He will not rob you of the faith-building experience of obeying Him based on what He says, not on what you see. We cannot expect to get all the detailed instructions before we are willing to begin traveling the path. The Bible doesn't lay out a "map." It gives us a "compass." God calls you to join Him in journeying in a steady direction toward a grand global destiny. He is calling us to follow a compass and to evaluate any maps that come our way by His over-arching purpose.

There's more to the article, but I'm not going to type it out. But it really speaks to what's going on in my life now. I think God's testing my ability to follow Him right now and the compass I see is pointing to the glory of Jesus being understood by people. I'm trying to understand how to head that way and I think I'm going to be taking a route that God hasn't specifically laid out on a map for me, but I trust that He's with me and is fully willing to help me navigate towards His purposes.

Will you join me? Not on my specific route necessarily, but in being willing to head towards God's purposes - gospel and glory of God being known - trusting God enough to not need a map?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Social Action War Rebellion Prayer

Take a look at some excerpts from the book I'm reading for the "Perspectives" class on prayer below. Prayer is something I've felt compelled by God over the last few years to make an important part of my life, but I often really struggle with understanding why I should pray and what I'm doing in it. God's been shedding light on the darkness in my understanding - some through this book.
"Too often, our petitionary prayers are feeble and irregular because they are addressed in the wrong way. We beat ourselves up for our weak wills, our insipid desires, our ineffective techniques and our wandering minds... I suggest that the problem lies in a misunderstanding of the nature of petitionary prayer. Our practice of prayer will never have the persistence of that widow until our outlook has her clarity.

What, then, is the nature of petitionary prayer? In essence, it is rebellion - rebellion against the status quo, the state of the world in its sin and fallenness. It is the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is completely abnormal. It is the rejection of every agenda, every scheme, every opinion that clashes with the norms that God originally established. Our petitionary prayers are an expression of the unbridgeable chasm that separates Good from Evil, a declaration that Evil is not a variation on Good but its very opposite.

...resignation to what is abnormal contains a hidden, unrecognized assumption that God's power to change the world, to overcome Evil with Good, will not be actualized. "At all times," Jesus declared,"we should pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1)
- Adapted from "Prayer: Rebelling against the Status Quo," Christianity Today, Vol. 17, No. 6, November 2, 1979.

"In the book of revelation, the apostle John describes a vision God gave him of humankind's history.... The Lamb of God opens seven seals -- each affecting the history of the planet. by the end of chapter seven, all of heaven is singing and worshiping God, wondering what will happen next in human history. However, at the beginning of chapter eight, all fall silent. Seven angels with seven trumpets stand before God ready to announce the unfolding fate of the world, but they must wait until the eighth angel offers god incense which includes all the prayers of the saints -- prayers for justice and victory. Nothing can happen until the fragrance of these prayers rises before God.

Prayer is the most powerful form of social action because God responds directly to praying people...

I am not saying that prayer is all that is necessary to change the world. Many evangelical Christians have used prayer for too long as a substitute for action -- dumping back on God the responsibility for doing what He has already commanded us to do throughout the Bible. Yet neither is social action a substitute for prayer. there is still a profound air of mystery surrounding prayer and how God uses our praying to transform the world. "

- From "In God's Kingdom... Prayer is Social Action," World Vision, February-March, 1997
Does this speak to you? It does to me. I want to pray the way God desires and understand my role in rebelling against what's rebelling against God and humbly, boldly ask God to act and be willing to obey Him fully when He asks me to act.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Upside-down Allegience

At the perspectives class tonight (I wrote a little about what that is in my last post), the speaker talked about the Kingdom of God and how much this world is opposed to it and how odd it looks to this world (He mentioned some things from the Shane Claiborne book "Jesus for President" that I blogged about last spring while I was in Nepal).

Compared to the world of money, fame, power, violence, influence, pursuit of happiness and security, the Kingdom of God appears to be weak, worthless, insignificant, depressing, and insane. Take another look at the Sermon on the Mount in Mathew 5-7 if you're in doubt. But I think a lot of us are in doubt, because we aren't, and we don't see many people truly living their lives only in allegience to the Kingdom of God. But as we turn to the Kingdom of God, we find Jesus to be the most beautiful, powerful, awe-inspiring, glorious, yet humble, generous, self-sacrificing, LOVING King. We are given way more than we give up when we give ourselves to this kingdom. But if I'm not willing to give up the kingdom of the world and what it's worth for me, to the same extent I won't participate in the glory of the Kingdom of God, and I won't be the joyful ambassador of that Kingdom to the foreign kingdom of the world that I live in. It's exciting and scary stuff.

Can I be okay with giving up the money I've worked for because I don't believe it's what can protect me, better my reputation, give me security, or provide for my family, and I want to bless another (maybe even someone who wouldn't handle it as well as I would).

Can I be okay with seeing my country invaded and not fighting back because I know my King is my Protector and He wants my "enemies" to see His character through me.

Can I be okay with giving up my life for another when an "enemy" is coming to steal, kill, or destroy. Rather than using violence to fight, can I sacrifice myself in love, entrusting my life, and theirs to my King, while believing my King may be in the process of bringing my "enemy" into His Kingdom?

Can I be okay with being considered insignificant because I've chosen to truly give up my life to serve the lowest in the world - even those who will have no appreciation for me - because I know my Father and King loves them, and He's put His love in me.

Can I be more than okay with this life, but rejoice in serving my king through suffering?

My King is inviting me and you to live in His Kingdom and my King is offering to transform us into those who love what His Kingdom is about.

Jesus, You are beautiful. Jesus, you are my only King. Jesus, You are my most humble Servant. I am Yours and I am frail and untrustworthy. Jesus, you are our slaughtered Lamb King and only You can fill me with Your desires. I LOVE you, Jesus!

Where are you at in relation to this Kingdom, friends

Monday, January 19, 2009


Well the new internship semester started last week. We've got 5 new interns and none of the old interns left, so it feels pretty big. But I think it's going to be really good. God's already been doing some sweet stuff in the lives of the new people to show them He's trustworthy.

And speaking of God's trustworthyness (Firefox spellcheck doesn't think that's a word, by the way...), that's what Jodi and I are both really wanting to learn about this year. Jodi's parents asked us to think of a verse that we'd like them to pray for us, and both of us independently immediately thought of Isaiah 26:3
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You , Because he trusts in You. (NKJV)

You keep completely safe the people who maintain their faith, for they trust in you.(NET)

I believe that in my head. There is perfect peace when I'm totally living out trust and faith in God. But, I haven't experienced that fully and while I believe it's possible and what God wants, I want to know from experience that I am kept in perfect peace and perfectly safe even when things seem totally out of control and unsafe - even deadly. So I'm not sure how God wants to bring that about, but we're expecting to learn some more about that this year.

This semester, we're also involved in the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement classes. They're being held at a local church. If you haven't heard about it, click the link. So far, it's been really cool. It's pretty intense with lots of reading, but I'm hoping to be able to put a lot into it and let God shape me and direct Jodi and I if He wants to give more specific direction for our future through this class.

So... that's kinda what we're up to these days. God has been giving us encouragement lately, too. He is so loving and is too gentle and kind with us.