Friday, February 25, 2005

The World Is Broken

Yesterday morning, I browsed over to and was… I really don’t have words to describe it. I read a story about a father of five children who used a knife on all of them, killing two and seriously wounding the other three, then slitting his own throat. I read a story about a man shooting his ex-wife with an AK-47 because he didn’t want to pay back child support.

I read about a 7 month old, a 7 month old being sexually assaulted.

The world is broken. This is not how God intended it. The extreme capacity that people have to cruel, malicious, and violent toward each other is staggering. And it seems to be for personal pleasure, personal gain, personal desires.

On days like yesterday, I cannot believe how a holy God could look down on this miserable mess that we’ve made with anything approximating love. On a people that are so screwed up that we’ll shoot our ex-wives so that we don’t have to pay them child support, or we’ll kill someone who is from a different tribe, or we’ll drown our children and blame someone else for it.

I despair. I doubt. I can’t see hope.

But here’s where I am. I believe God’s business is reconciliation and restoration. I believe that Jesus walked this earth to help us return to God. To break out pieces of the Kingdom of God. That’s why the angels rejoice so hard when someone is saved. Not just because of the soul, but because it’s another little piece of the Kingdom that has entered this world. Slowly, bit by bit, the Kingdom is becoming real; people are seeing the reality that things are broken and we cannot fix them by ourselves. It takes the power of God and the power of God’s people to achieve this.

Jesus didn’t save us to sit on our… pews and talk or listen about God. Jesus lived, died, and rose so that we could be reconciled to God and help the world be reconciled to God. Get out there and do it. And encourage me to get out there and do it.

Love God. Love People. Serve God. Serve People.

Friday, February 18, 2005


Last week on Brandon Thomas’ blog, a discussion erupted about homosexuality. Brandon decried the appearance of a conservative Christian woman on a reality show blasting a lesbian couple. He mourned for the appearance of followers of Christ who would be so hateful to another person.

Well, rightfully so, the idea then came up about where the rubber meets the road. And ultimately the question is this: Can an actively gay person be considered a Christian?

Honestly, it’s been much easier for me to think about being homosexual and being Christian as mutually exclusive. In fact, most homosexuals I know (admittedly, a small number) want nothing to do with religion or church, for a variety of reasons, and it’s only been recently that I’ve been exposed to the idea that a homosexual would even want to be a Christian.

All my life, I’ve believed that homosexuality is a sin. That engaging in such an act would lead to damnation. Now, I’m very grateful that GayChristian and others on Brandon’s blog have gone to the Scriptures and pointed out their interpretations of the Scriptures that deal with homosexuality, and I can say that I’m not sure I buy all of that.

What I can say is that it’s opened me up to a new way of thinking. A new perspective. Do I believe homosexuality is a sin? Yes, I do, but no more damning of a sin than lying or being greedy or gossiping. But I can see things from that side of things.

Something I’m learning. The world’s not black and white. And what I’m learning even more is that in between the black and white is not gray, but a kaleidoscope of colors. God is not in the blacks and whites only, but He operates in those colorful places. How? I don’t know, but I trust that He is.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Spiritual Superiority Complex

I’d like to identify psychological issue today. It’s not a new one. In fact, it’s as old as humanity. I won’t deal with humanity, but I will deal with me and my circle of experience.

I left the Church of Christ when I was 14 after my mom was disfellowshipped for getting a divorce without sexual infidelity by my dad. As the result of a lot of things, I ended up at Belmont Church, best described as a charismatic church that used to be a CofC. They have instruments and they believe that the gifts of the Spirit are still active today.

To me, this was a natural step in my faith. It just made sense. It also made sense when I went to Lipscomb University. I had once been shackled by CofC theology and God was sending me to Lipscomb to enlighten these poor Pharisaical hypocrites. Of course, I was humbled to learn that being a Christian and a member of the Church of Christ were not mutually exclusive, and I even went so far to rejoin a Church of Christ, in fact the one from which my mom had been disfellowshipped.

But what happened at Otter Creek has been an interesting phenomenon. OC has always been on the left edge of Churches of Christ, particularly the ones here in Nashville. And as that reputation gained, we started adding more and more people, mainly people from other Churches of Christ. These people had left their churches in search of a place with more freedom in worship or was more grace-centered or had elders that acted like shepherds and not a board of directors, and they found OC. Basically spiritual refugees.

Now, the natural thing for someone to do is to compare where they are now to where they were. What happens in a religious sense is that a spiritual superiority can creep in. “Can you believe that I ever used to believe that instrumental music is wrong?” “Wow, I feel sorry for those women back at ____________ who can’t even make announcements.” I firmly believe that it is totally unintentional, but it is equally true. I’m completely guilty of it myself. It really seems to be the result of a culture, both church and the wider culture, that puts focus on being right and not being Jesus. It’s almost competitive theology.

And now that people are starting to feel even more enlightened by reading Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Sally Morgenstern, and on and on, this same disease is creeping in. Under the guise of sympathy, we feel sorry for those who aren’t as enlightened as ourselves. We wish they could enjoy the same freedom that we have now. That sense of mission throughout the week and not just punching the church clock on Sundays. But that is equally superior as anything else. We think we’re being humble, but we’re really looking down on people.

May God forgive us the superiority that we develop both intentionally and not. And may He give us the strength to be humble and graceful with all of those we interact with.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Bad Week, Good Day

This has been a long week. And Wednesday was one of THOSE days. On my way to my spiritual formation group, I got pulled over by a cop. My tags expired on January 31 and Wednesday was February 2. On my way back from the spiritual formation group, I think I hit every single stoplight it was possible to hit, making me late back from lunch.

In addition to that I’m working on a project at work that’s driving me nuts right now. A lot of conference calls and not a lot of productive response. It’s stressing me out and making me irritable. Or rather I should say, I’m responding in an irritating way.

Having said that, the church service on Wednesday night was just what I needed to refocus. It was a time of calming and really thinking about others.

I run sound for most things that happen at Otter Creek and Wednesday’s are no exception. Well, this time was a fairly simple one: just a keyboard, vocal mic, and monitor. However, during the whole service, there was a girl sitting in the balcony, where the sound board is (and musicians, too). She was wiping her eyes and wiping her nose through the whole thing.

At the end of his sermonette, Scott Owings asked us to take the bread of the Lord’s Supper and keep one for ourselves and give one to someone else, telling them that they are beloved by God. Well, I don’t know if it was from the Lord or what’s going on, but I felt really convicted to take a piece of bread to this crying girl. So, I took one to her and told her that, with tears in her eyes and mine filling with them, too.

After the service was over (at which I could barely sing Watermark’s “Amazing Grace”), I looked over there and she was gone, which I expected. I wasn’t intending to talk to her, but just to give a smile or something. So, just offer up a prayer of peace for her. I don’t know if it was a boyfriend deal, something wrong with a family member, or if she just had a bad day like I did. But it reminds me that life as a member of the body of Christ is not about me. It’s for me to take care of others. To offer comfort.

To die to myself so that Christ might live through me.
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