Thursday, August 13, 2015

We were not called to be distributors of Christ's Grace. We were called to be receptors and imitators.

This topic is extremely important to me. More than most actually. I think it's because grace is something that everyone desires to receive, but many have a difficult time giving without bias. The solution is rather simple, honestly; Grace isn't ours to give. It's our to imitate and receive.

There's a story that Jeffrey Zaslow, shares in his book "Tell Me All About It," of his father who coached a team of eight-year-olds in the game of baseball. He had a few excellent players, and some who just couldn't get the hang of the game.

His dad's team hadn't won once all season.

In the last inning of the last game, there was hope. They were down by one run. A boy who had never been able to hit the ball--or catch it--was up to bat with two outs. Surprising to him and everyone else, he hit a single!

The next batter was the team slugger and the team's hopes were high that they just might win a game. The slugger connected, and as the boy who hit the single ran to second, he saw the ball coming quickly toward him. Not so certain of baseball's rules, he caught it. Final out! His team lost! Quickly, the coach told his team to cheer. The boy beamed. It never occurred to him that he lost the game. All he knew was he had hit the ball and caught it--both for the first time. Later, that boy's parents thanked the coach. Their child had never even gotten in a game before that season.

Despite what the scoreboard said, those boys won that night.

So many times, we treat grace as if it is our to give or withhold. It's not. We are called to give relentless amounts of grace to (wait for it) EVERYONE. Yes, especially those who we deem unworthy. We can't treat grace as some secret gift we've been given, while others seem to miss the mark by means to receive it.

I'm sorry (cough cough) Bullshit!

Jesus came so that through him all religious elitism would be vanquished; all sin forgiven; all judgment found null and void; all Hell defeated; all forgiveness administered; all that is required fulfilled.

Don't believe me? I'm not making this up!

18-19 Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.

20-21 All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end. (Romans 5:18-21)

I love grace. Without it, i would have no hope. It's not mine to withhold, though. It's mine to imitate and receive. So, I'm just going to do that!

And I do have that Hope; that's what anchors my soul. You can't convince me otherwise!

(PS: if you're still hung up on the fact that I said *bullshit* this again)

(PSS: If after reading this blog post you're still hung up on grace not giving us a license to this again)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Building Community

People are everywhere. Just look around! People like you; People not like you. We all have much in common, and as much that differentiates us. But what would it look like if we exploited our commonalities and utilized our differences?

So often, it’s the opposite that resonates; We are apt to exploit what separates us and solely utilize our common traits. We congregate to those who look like us, think like us, act like us, believe like us. But when we surround ourselves only with those who compliment and not also with those who challenge us, we neglect an essential for living. We neglect Community.

Community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. On the surface, this definition contradicts the elements of Community I described above. And you are right for thinking that! For so long, we have let Community be defined for us. Our churches define it; Our friends define it; Our fear of being wrong defines it. We have let our differences drive us further from the common thread that should hold us together. The one thing that will remedy this is changing our way of thought.

Look again at the definition: Community is a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Here is how changing our mindset changes Community: Imagine if our common attitude was grace. 
What if we entered into relationship with each other harboring nothing but forgiveness? Could we save a few friendships that have dismantled? Would there be less regret taking residence in our hearts? I can’t disagree with the notion that grace covers a multitude of wrong doing. But if I practiced it, how different would I be?

Now suppose our common interest be Love. What if when assumptions were made, we only assumed the best of others? What would happen if those we see as in need, are instead seen as our brother, sister, father, or mother? What would happen?

Finally, when will we realize our Goal has always been common? Christ. When will we stop defining people denominationally and begin focusing on the resurrected life that binds us together eternally? When will stop focusing on sin, grasp the truth that judgement doesn’t result in absolution, and understand that condemnation only equates fear and dominion. Afterall…it’s in Christ that we are identified.

The longer I seek Community, the more I learn to appreciate questions over answers. If we quit the claim of always having the answer and let the questions that lead us to Christ be sought out together, we will finally discover the Community we have been called to live in with one another.

This is how Community is built.

Ladies and Gentlemen...'The Dones'

So there is this name for millennials who don’t claim membership to a conventional church. They’re called ‘the dones’. Seems fitting if you ask me. Mainly because those labeling people 'the dones’ are, in part, the reason they left in the first place.

This ever-growing group of young intellects aren’t abandoning their faith though. They’re simply tired of religious bureaucracies. They crave tangible faith; something that makes a difference. Not more programming. Not more ministries. Real. Messy. Faith.

Chances are, you know some of 'the dones’. It’s possible you’ve even criticized their lack of commitment to a local “Church” (out of concern for their well-being..of course). Here are 4 things to consider the next time you engage life with (or avoid at Wal-Mart) one of 'the dones".

Dones are not anti-traditionalists. Fact is, a lot of 'dones’ appeal to a traditional orthodoxy. The Nicene or Apostles creed are common prayers they wholeheartedly commit. They highly regard and regularly partake of the Eucharist. They are even becoming some of the most creative and relevant Liturgists of the 21st century. Their departure had nothing to do with order of service.

Dones are not bitter. Believe it or not, since they left, 'the dones’ have thought little about the conventional church they once attended . That’s why they left in the first place. They were…done. Instead, they are seeking out community among other like-minded lifers; with people who are less concerned on why they weren’t at 'church’ two weeks in a row.

Dones aren’t atheists or antagonists. Most 'dones’ simply prefer to not be identified denominationally. They don’t see benefit from sitting through a 6 week class to gain the right to be called insert denomination. They aren’t interested in accolades, or their faith being vetted or approved. They are avid researchers and analyzers. Many of them know theology as well as college professors. The 'dones’ find merit in questions; they see the value with conversations that come with questions; they’re not afraid of questions.

Dones like you. No, really. They do. Honestly speaking, 'dones’ aren’t against those who choose conventional church. They aren’t against congregating relationally. They aren’t anti-social, and certainly don’t think they’re better or more correct in their ideology. They’re ok with being misunderstood and misinterpreted, and they still want to have community with people who think differently then they do.

Whew. Glad that’s over.
We all think a bit different. We all believe a bit different. We all thrive in different environments. Let’s choose to be the difference that connects each other together instead of the decay that tears us apart. After all, you might as well like the people you’ll spend eternity with.

wink face

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social (media) butterfly // writer // dreamer // advocate for the underdog