When I was 17, my girlfriend was a better saver than I was. I worked at Subway and spent my money on gas and food and her. She had some babysitting jobs and spent her money on… on, uh… basically, she didn’t spend anything. Since she had money and I didn’t, I borrowed some money from her to pay for a set of rings – yes, THOSE kind of rings! (I know… that sounds so romantic doesn’t it?!)

There was no great proposal story – no skywriting or scoreboard watching – not even a down-on-one-knee-in-a-painfully-publicly-awkward moment… just 2 kids that loved each other and knew that they were better together than they ever would be apart.
We got married as soon as we graduated high school (and spent the next couple months in ‘thank you’ note purgatory) and went to spend the summer alone where we’d be going to college. Thank you God and NCC for on campus married student housing! Lots of jobs were available and we scraped by the first couple months ’til the grants and scholarships came in when the semester started.
That was 15 years ago today. I’ve doubted and re-doubted almost every decision I’ve ever made. But the decision to marry LuAnn is one I’ve never second guessed. I thank God for bringing us together and giving us the courage to embark on a life lived together. It has not always been what we may have envisioned. But it is definitely better together.
15 years.
It’s been a great start.
Can’t wait to see what’s next…

Did God Use up all His ‘Stuff’?

I’ve been thinking about a question I read on twitter from Perry Noble last night: “WHAT IF this past 2,000 years of the church was merely the foundation to set up what God REALLY wants to do?” At first glance, this question got my imagination going. It reminds me that God is still at work. I RT’d the statement and some concerns have been raised… thought this would be a good time to unpack the question a little bit.

I don’t think this question is meant to diminish the importance of what God has already done, but to make us realize the potential of the things to come. Sometimes we live as if God has used up all his “best stuff” already. Like he used up all his mojo on raising the dead and healing lepers and Pentecost…
But what if He didn’t? What if He’s still powerful enough to do things that we can’t explain? What if He’s still invading reality to do what He wants to do – whether it’s “possible” or not? What might we be missing by living as if the “good part” is over and now we’re just waiting for the finale? (The finale IS pretty awesome by the way!)
I wonder if this was, at least in part, the mentality of many Jews when Jesus invaded their reality? “Well, God did some awesome things back at Creation and causing that giant flood and parting the Sea to get our people out of Egypt and the Jordon to get them into Canaan… He was pretty awesome back in the day, but we haven’t heard from Him for a few hundred years, so He must be resting now.” I wonder if that mentality was part of what caused them to miss Jesus.
Moses even had this kind of thinking on at least one occasion. In Numbers 11, the people were grumbling about the manna. They’d had enough of the desert and were taking it out on Moses. God assured him that meat was coming – more meat than they could stand. Moses looked around at all the people and wondered aloud to God how on earth he was supposed to feed all these people meat.
“Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”
The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?” Moses, don’t you think I’m powerful enough to do what I said I will do?
So back to the question, then: “WHAT IF this past 2,000 years of the church was merely the foundation to set up what God REALLY wants to do?” Isn’t the church of 2009 more than just a holding tank until God decides to be awesome again? Are we living our lives in a way that allows us to see God at work? Do we expect Him to be active in our world today?
When I started this blog several years ago, I chose the name ‘theoquest’ to call to mind the continual journey toward God that I want my life to be. I added the tagline “because God is still writing history”. I don’t think God’s done yet – I don’t think we’re in some perpetual Day 7 where God is just resting. I don’t think the church is a fixed entity, fully functional and completely mature.
Jesus said that He was building a church over which even the gates of hell wouldn’t stand. As I look at the world today, mabye it’s just the negativity of the news, but it’s easier to see a whole lot more hell than heaven. Maybe what God really wants is to see His church bringing His Kingdom into the world instead of waiting for Him to end it.

Some Local Linkage…

A few new blogs of local friends… (that means they live nearby, not that they’re low in calories – just for clarification)

Karissa in Japan! Karissa is also a student at SCC and is doing an internship this summer in Japan.
isaiah’s blog Isaiah is the director of admissions at SCC
And an old blog renewed???
Joe’s Jabbers Joe is the children’s minister here at WestWay (and also a perpetual student at SCC!)

Distracted from Worship

I really enjoyed leading worship Sunday. It really is a joy and an honor to be able to meet with people who genuinely want to worship God. But I am saddened a little at how easily Satan can distract us from giving ourselves wholly to God. Petty thoughts or even physical discomforts come and steal our attention from the One who matters.
It’s a mystery that no climate change theorist can explain, that on Sunday morning nearly every worship room in every church building is both too hot and too cold. Music is simultaneously too mellow and ‘making-my-ears-bleed loud’. Church leaders are at once too human and so spiritual that they’re out of touch with reality.
Satan is crafty. And I’m reminded this week that he’ll do anything he can to steal our attention from God. That happened Sunday. Someone was distracted from the holiness and grace of God.

I still hope to be in touch with the anonymous commenter I mentioned earlier, but until that time, I wanted to offer a few comments here. The commenter was distracted by what she felt was some behavior that morally disqualified another believer from serving in the praise band. “Why are some leading in worship who also have alcohol in their grocery carts. How sad for this. Should we hear more teaching on this?”

Yes, I think maybe we should.
Certainly, the irresponsible consumption of alcohol has lead to many problems and a great deal of heartache for a lot of people. We need to be aware of the dangers associated with alcohol. Millions of people also consume alcohol responsibly, without it being a problem. To say that buying alcohol disqualifies a person from helping to lead worship is a leap that I’m not sure we can make. (This seems like a good time to remind everyone that what I write here in this blog is a representation of my own thoughts and studies – not any official proclamation or policy.)
I have yet to find a scriptural basis for absolute prohibition that really holds water. Without a Biblical mandate, who are we to say “You may not drink.”? Can we really prohibit what God does not explicitly prohibit?
What do you think?

Anonymous Comment comments

Each week, our elders ask for prayer requests through a little white card that can be left here on Sunday morning. Sometimes those cards are used for comments, suggestions, etc.

Yesterday, someone left an anonymous comment on one of the cards, bringing up an item with which there was an issue. If this was you and you happen to read this, please contact me as soon as you can. I’d really like to talk…

Grace & Holiness

Marshall’s preaching this week about our response to homosexuality and I am leading music this Sunday. I am usually pretty careful to choose songs that meaningfully connect with the message (at least in my mind there’s a connection) so this was a little bit of a challenge. (There aren’t a whole lot of songs that treat homosexuality in the context of worship!) But I’ve been thinking lately about how hosed we’d all be without God’s grace. He’s holy and he can’t stand sin – any of it! We may have a kind of gag reflex to some sins that seem particularly heinous to us, but it all causes God to wretch. It’s easy for us to be judgmental about sins that we might not struggle with, but the truth is that without God’s grace, we’re in the same position as those we condemn.

Faking a Living?

Is God at work in your life?

Do you really depend on God?
Are you living the life God knows you can live?
These are questions we may not wrestle with enough. We’ve settled into lesser lives, in which we are sufficient and we don’t really need God. Think about the last six hours… What have you done that required you to depend on God? What are you working on that is doomed to fail without Him? Have you settled for a mundane 5 day work week that you must slog through until the next weekend comes around?
I know in a climate of uncertainty, the most plentiful advice may be to take any job that comes along and hold on tight. There may be times when that is true, but if the overall trajectory of your life is merely a 5 on, 2 off pattern of faking a living, I wonder if you’re really living at all… If you can make it day after day after day without the Creator – you’ve missed the life He created you to live.
But this isn’t really about jobs. There are times when I can approach my job in ministry in the same way that masses of humanity approach theirs – punch the time clock, meet my quota of widgets, and collect the check. Though I don’t actually have a time clock, the widgets are NEVER done, and I’m told the check leaves something to be desired (though it’s been 10 years and I haven’t missed a meal yet). The job isn’t the issue.
It’s about living life that is really life. God created us for life with Him, Jesus died so we could live life with Him, the Holy Spirit is here so we can live with Him – so wouldn’t it make sense if we actually lived WITH HIM? In the little world where I pretend I’m in control, God’s not needed. The problem is that world is not real, it’s boring, and when I stuff myself away in my little safe room I am doing nothing good for anybody else. Life isn’t supposed to be boring. It’s not supposed to be well managed and balanced. The day to day business of living isn’t supposed to suck the very life from your soul. Life should be a mission straight into the heart of God – a rescue mission where former captives become rescuers.
Father forgive our dim vision and reveal to us a task with such enormity that it drives us to our knees begging for your help.