A Fire?

Jeremiah was at least a little peaved with God when he said in essence… ‘You tricked me! You told me to say what You want me to say, I obeyed, and now I’m laughed at by everyone. Everyone is against me because I’m telling them what you tell me to tell them. Can’t you tell me to tell them something nice for a change?’ I know that’s a very loose paraphrase of the situation, but read a few verses from Jeremiah 20 (try verse 7 or so). Before he curses the day he was born (verse 14), he praises God for rescuing the needy (verse 13), calls for God to take vengeance on his persecutors (verse 12), and makes this interesting statement in verse 9 “But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

No matter how tough it got for Jeremiah, he absolutely could not/would not waver from commitment of himself to God’s message. He cried and complained to God, but never took the easy out of disobedience. He had a dangerous assignment – to live a life that warned of God’s impending judgment. I wonder if he ever just prayed for safety like we do? Safe travel, safe games, safe sleep…

I think it was in An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus tells a story about his son asking him to pray that God would keep him safe. Instead, he prayed that God would make him dangerous. I wonder if that’s what Jeremiah prayed? ‘If you’re going to send me out into the wolves, give me sharper teeth. If you’re going to hang me out like a piece of meat, make me poison to the enemies who want to chew me up.’

As a pastor to students, I am a part of God shaping the future of our world. Should my primary focus be to show the students how to be safe? Is it even possible to be safe and be committed? Instead, I pray that God would make them dangerous. That the students I know would be made courageous by the working of God in their lives. I pray that the enemy would fear them as they go and make disciples.

Steve at BreatheFire has a cool video of his daughter and some thoughts/discussion about this as well. Check out the How to Raise Fearless Warriors post and make sure to read the comments.
I may post more on this later because a comment that Dakota made in church Sunday (you’ll have to wait) really got me thinking about this. (Plus, I finally got to watch Batman Begins and it raises this whole what do we do with fear thing… which has a lot to do with seeking safety vs. being dangerous.)


I got this in an e-mail from Gary Zustiak of CIY. Not sure of the original author, but maybe you’ll agree with his perspective…

For My Conservative Friends:
Here’s wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


For My Liberal Friends:
“Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.”

Hey Kid, Want Some…Lead?

Check out this headline…

FDA moves to decrease lead in candy

Isn’t that great of them to do?

Kind of makes you think twice about all those Christmas goodies, huh…

Updatus Rodentus

Despite 3 traps in my office – the church mouse remains at large. Not sure if he’s still around or took off.

On the home front, however, we caught the one we knew we had. Then found another one dead on the stairs. Thought I heard some scratching last night, but that might have just been the woodpecker that decided to make a home in our wall…
It’s not funny anymore Woody!!!


Tony, at Don’t Call Me Veronica, got me thinking this morning. He asked about one word to focus attention on Christmas.

One of my favorite Christmas words is ‘Emptied’. I know it doesn’t look as good on a card or up in lights as ‘Joy’ or ‘Peace’, but it’s still one of my favorites. Here’s why: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

Those are Paul’s words in Philippians 2:5-7. A description of the selfless attitude that brought us the child we celebrate at Christmas. But more than a description of Jesus’ attitude, it is a prescription for our own.

What if we fully possessed that attitude in our lives? What if we were willing to lay aside all privileges we may have claim to in order to serve someone else? What if we completely emptied our lives of our selves and our ambitions and humbly obeyed in the work of God?

When Jesus emptied Himself to become a baby boy, He paved the road toward a tomb that He would also empty. I wonder what lies ahead for us as we empty our lives in order to follow Him…

Last Minute Shoppers…

If you’re still wondering what you should get me for Christmas… this is NOT on my list.

but hey, you do get free shipping, so maybe it’s not that bad of a deal!

No, despite the fact that you can name a set of ‘couples stars’ or even ‘family stars’, this idea is just a couple nuts short of a stuffed stocking.

But I guess it’s not much worse than one of these…

Holy Observer for these greats->


Where’s one of these when you need them??

I have a mouse in my house! And another in my office! The office mouse has been elusive – finally being spotted just today.

The house mouse on the other hand has been brazenly traipsing about in our house. He ran right across my mother-in-law’s feet (bare – which I’m told she thoroughly enjoyed!). He licked peanut butter off a trap without setting it off, got himself unstuck from 2 different glue traps, got the cheese off a trap which did snap but somehow missed… very irritating!

Maybe D-con will do the trick.

Shh… don’t tell Reepicheep… or PETA

Don’t Be Stupid

“Reality TV is a great place to learn how stupid humanity really is…” I heard this comment on a podcast of last week’s sermon by Eric Bryant, one of the lead-team at Mosaic in Los Angeles. I kind of lost the next few minutes of his message because my mind started to wander. Here is where it wandered…

Sometimes, the church exhibits that same propensity…

…a nationally known religious leader suggesting assassination as good foreign policy
…”church leaders” blaming New Orleans residents for Katrina
…emergent vs anti-emergent voices throwing around misused verses of Scripture in order to fight with each other on their respective blogs (don’t bother listening to each other, just muster up as much venom as you can and spit in their general direction)
…the crazy ways we try to dress up the fact that our sin disgusts/angers/saddens God and the only way to get rid of it is His Son taking the punishment that we deserve
…the seventeen million various Jesus-gadgets that we can wear, eat, stick, carry, or play with to tell people we love Jesus without actually telling them that we love Jesus
…the explosion of bloggers like me putting thoughts into print, which others will read but hear whatever they want to (or whatever gives them the most fodder for their war) anyway

Yes, humanity, for all its advances, can be pretty stupid. The amazing thing, though, is that this stupidly-acting church is Jesus’ idea. We’re His humanity… His body. As screwed up as we might be, He calls us His own. And He calls us to get better. We’re not there yet… as evidenced by so many imperfections. But as Paul before us, we keep pressing on toward the heavenly prize He has called us to.


This last week, I’ve encountered some very bitter people. I don’t want to misrepresent their position, but it seems that they are angry at the church for what they see as apostasy. There are things being done ‘in the name of Christ’ that they do not feel should be done at all and which are leading the church astray. (Talking generally about the American church, not a particular congregation.) They see some of the leading voices in the church (Rick Warren, Rob Bell, Bill Hybels, as well as anything ’emergent’, or Purpose Driven) as nothing less than false prophets who are taking the masses straight into the pit of hell with them.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. If you see someone leading someone else to hell… do something about it! But I have a hard time understanding how that label fits with those men (or their churches/movements/conversations…

In Velvet Elvis, Bell has a great section at the end of this challenging and thought-provoking book that speaks to this situation.

“I am like you. I have seen plenty done in the name of God that I’m sure God doesn’t want anything to do with. I have lots of reasons for bailing on the whole thing.

I am also like you because I have a choice. To become bitter, cynical, jaded, and hard. Anybody can do that. A lot have. Hatred is a powerful, unifying force. And there is a lot to be repulsed by.

Or, like you, I can choose to reclaim my innocence. We can choose to reclaim our
innocence together. We can insist that hope is real and that a group of people who love God and others really can change the world. We can reclaim our idealism and our belief and our confidence in the big ideas that stir us deep in our bones. We can commit all the more to being the kinds of people who are learning how to do what Jesus teaches us.”

I’m not sure I line up with everything emergent. But at least I can ask questions there without being branded a heretic. One thing that really stands out to me about the emerging church is that people are encouraged to use their minds and creativity in service to the One who made them with minds and creativity. Is there potential to misuse that freedom? Yes (just ask Adam and Eve). But there is also the capacity to become a church that even all of hell cannot stop.

I think I’ve just been banned…

Over the past couple days, I’ve been interacting with some people at a blog that seems to be all about bashing anything purpose-driven, emergent, or other-than-reformed. I like to engage in these kinds of conversations sometimes because is forces me to think critically about what I believe and why and how that affects the way I live.

There’s a list of rules for posting that I have tried to follow, thought I had done so… but the last several comments I’ve posted have not been shown. It’s their website, and they can do what they want with it, but I can’t help feeling like my comments aren’t posted because I don’t agree and they don’t want to hear about it.

I’m not totally sold on everything Purpose Driven. And I don’t think everything labeled Emergent is a direct gift from God to His languishing church. (PD and emergent are two different things, by the way.) But I don’t think it’s right to label these lines of thinking as evil plots of Satan and write them off as heresy.

Let’s listen. Try to understand the heart of the people on ‘the other side’ (whatever side you may be on).

Here’s a decent description of the emergent church from Tony Myles.
Here’s a decent (and hopeful if cautious) critique of emergent from D.A. Carson.
Take a look at them and see what you think.
And on a completely unrelated note::: check out these Christmas lights!