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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Victory vs Failure



A Man stands upon the battle field. His armour is broken and worn. His legs feel as though they are about to collapse under him, and the sword in his hand may as well be a giant boulder with a handle. He looks in front of him and sees a vast army without mercy, filled with hatred and united to the end of sending him to the next life. He looks behind him so see a ragged group of men who are looking to him to decide whether they run or turn and fight.


He raises his sword and runs towards the opposing army. Though anyone would tell you it is foolishness, his followers pursue with a determination that was teetering on the verge of extinction a moment ago; they know this is the right choice.


There is something about this scene, one I have seen in several movies, that resonates with me. The man who, with no victory in sight chooses to fight on rather than to give up.

Is this man fighting for victory? How can he be? Victory is impossible. He is fighting for something else. We all want that. That deep purpose we can fight for, even when victory is impossible.


But what have we gone to? We men have embraced guaranteed victory, we fight for victory alone. We enter into battles we are almost sure to win, and then we wonder why we are bored.


What about those men who are crushed by feelings of failure? Is it possible that you too are fighting for victory? We need to fight for something, someone else, and there is only one worth pouring all our heart and effort into.


I fight for Jesus Christ. Maybe this sounds cheesy. Maybe too abstract. But it is hard, and I face failure constantly, and sometimes it is too much because I lost track of why I am fighting. In other words, I fight for victory rather than for Him; for love for Him.


Is He valuable enough to fight your whole life, fail everyday, and only see victory on your deathbed? Yes He is that valuable. He is eternal. He has all the power, justice, might, strength and beauty that I long for and then more than I could ever imagine.


For me though, I don’t have enough faith, and He has to give me victory sometimes, otherwise I would crumble. I wish I had more faith, and more love. Faith that I wouldn’t need the reminders of His victory, His strength, and His presence so often to carry on. I hope there are many of you out there that have that kind of faith.


What about you? Maybe you have been running from those battles that you might lose. Maybe the only battles you fight are in warcraft, or at the gym, or vicariously through your favourite sports team or movie. “I always win, just like Bruce Willis”. Ever wonder why Braveheart had more staying power than Die Hard? Because Braveheart speaks to real life: failure, but fighting on. Die Hard is pure victory. Everybody wins. It is fake and you know it, and not just because he tuck-and-rolled his way to safety after falling of a fighter jet.


So my question, and I would say, God’s question is:


Will you fight on today?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where in the world is Adventure?


This weekend my pastor and I traveled to a small town of about 300 people called "Burton".

I have never heard of this place before. Being there was actually a little bit depressing for me in a way. There were virtually no families in the town, only retired people, and I just felt extra-specially insignificant in that little town. Like even if I was the most popular person in town, the world wouldn't care. Strange.

I was talking alot to the couple who had provided accomodation for us. What did I get from their stories? Adventure. Not only was there just intense relationship and love between them and some of the people that had dropped into their midst, they had started this whole "care pack to Afganistan" thing, since their son was in the army. It started with their church making up some care packs, and in a few months they were getting newspaper interviews, and a call from National defense saying, "Can you stop this please, we are getting so much stuff it is a security risk"!!! Her response? "I don't have any control over this!"
I saw the newspaper clippings! They had been on national news as well!

As I pondered these things, one phrase popped into my head.

"Adventure is about obediance, not location."

If you are seeking adventure, significance, purpose, vision, it doesn't matter where you are. What matters is that you are obediant to God. That doesn't have to be mistical at all. Just be obediant to what God has in His word! This could be as simple as asking someone to come over for dinner, let them into your world, you home. It can be as simple as telling someone how they have impacted your life. Sound like a small thing? It can be incredibly risky, and some people are too scared to do it!

I challenge all readers with this. Next time you meet someone, and they seem to you like they are being obediant to God to the best of their ability, ask them: "Are you bored?"

Monday, February 04, 2008

Social Over Information

There are some “new ideas” in teaching these days. I put parentheses because I’m a firm believer in “there is nothing new under the sun”. Anyway. One of these is that teachers should be teaching how to sift information, rather than just to absorb information. I find this to be very biblical as well as missing from the church in general. One of the strategies a person can used in sifting information is to discern where a person is coming from. If I just launched into my topic, without telling you where I was coming from, then you would have to assume my experiences and my reasons for being passionate about a certain topic, and you would not be able to balance it out. So here is my topic: social justice.

There has been a pendulum swing with social justice of late. People are seeing that the church has in many ways become irrelevant, and separated itself from the society it is trying to save. Well intentioned people are building a passion to see the church as a whole take Jesus’ words through James more seriously:

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

We are shifting away from the amount of reverence and respect we have for those who have high positions in the church, and now are more impressed by those who have started some amazing street ministries or record labels that show the love of Jesus Christ in practical ways.

The problem is that we were never meant to hold either of these people in too high of esteem. We are supposed to be looking to Jesus as our example, and not people. So in this very well intentioned revival, do we risk a new type of Roman Catholic church? Do we risk a legalism that says, “if your not out serving hot chocolate on a Friday Night, then there’s the door?” Am I saying this movement is bad? Most definitely not.

Here is what I am saying: We cannot inspire any action without preaching Jesus Christ as our motivation. Too many well intentioned and talented preachers rely too much on guilt tactics and, “look at what these amazing people are doing!” Again, sometimes this can be okay. But to base a whole movement on these is simply blasphemous. We need to remember that God is not pleased with our deeds, He is pleased with our faith (Isa 64:6, Heb 11:6). So to make a long story short, we need to be reminding ourselves of the greatness of God and His sacrifice, and out of that will come the faith and the works. If it comes out of anything else, then there is a problem.

Also, this issue of social justice is very difficult for people who, despite what they may want, are called to minister to those in the church. To those who are already saved. I believe I am one of those people. I have repeatedly been discouraged and frustrated at my attempts to have a ministry outside of the church, but I have seen time and time again my strongest spiritual gives flow in preaching, teaching, leading worship, and discipling. Any those that read that need to know that, because that is my bias. I have been criticized, albeit indirectly, relentlessly by those I admire because my calling is not to downtown. Or overseas. It is good for me though, because I can pursue what God has for me without having man’s esteem or my own pride to worry about so much. But I worry for those who are like me. Do they too feel the weight of being told, “get out there and do something!” I have questioned even my salvation numerous times because of a passionate person who has been called outside the body of believers to minister. How many people like me are relentlessly banging there head against a wall because this is what they are taught, but God wants them to minister to His children?

Let’s filter the information we get, and make Christ the center of all we do. That’s what I’m trying to say here.

There are some “new ideas” in teaching these days. I put parentheses because I’m a firm believer in “there is nothing new under the sun”. Anyway. One of these is that teachers should be teaching how to sift information, rather than just to absorb information. I find this to be very biblical as well as missing from the church in general. One of the strategies a person can used in sifting information is to discern where a person is coming from. If I just launched into my topic, without telling you where I was coming from, then you would have to assume my experiences and my reasons for being passionate about a certain topic, and you would not be able to balance it out. So here is my topic: social justice.

There has been a pendulum swing with social justice of late. People are seeing that the church has in many ways become irrelevant, and separated itself from the society it is trying to save. Well intentioned people are building a passion to see the church as a whole take Jesus’ words through James more seriously:

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

We are shifting away from the amount of reverence and respect we have for those who have high positions in the church, and now are more impressed by those who have started some amazing street ministries or record labels that show the love of Jesus Christ in practical ways.

The problem is that we were never meant to hold either of these people in too high of esteem. We are supposed to be looking to Jesus as our example, and not people. So in this very well intentioned revival, do we risk a new type of Roman Catholic church? Do we risk a legalism that says, “if your not out serving hot chocolate on a Friday Night, then there’s the door?” Am I saying this movement is bad? Most definitely not.

Here is what I am saying: We cannot inspire any action without preaching Jesus Christ as our motivation. Too many well intentioned and talented preachers rely too much on guilt tactics and, “look at what these amazing people are doing!” Again, sometimes this can be okay. But to base a whole movement on these is simply blasphemous. We need to remember that God is not pleased with our deeds, He is pleased with our faith (Isa 64:6, Heb 11:6). So to make a long story short, we need to be reminding ourselves of the greatness of God and His sacrifice, and out of that will come the faith and the works. If it comes out of anything else, then there is a problem.

Also, this issue of social justice is very difficult for people who, despite what they may want, are called to minister to those in the church. To those who are already saved. I believe I am one of those people. I have repeatedly been discouraged and frustrated at my attempts to have a ministry outside of the church, but I have seen time and time again my strongest spiritual gives flow in preaching, teaching, leading worship, and discipling. Any those that read that need to know that, because that is my bias. I have been criticized, albeit indirectly, relentlessly by those I admire because my calling is not to downtown. Or overseas. It is good for me though, because I can pursue what God has for me without having man’s esteem or my own pride to worry about so much. But I worry for those who are like me. Do they too feel the weight of being told, “get out there and do something!” I have questioned even my salvation numerous times because of a passionate person who has been called outside the body of believers to minister. How many people like me are relentlessly banging there head against a wall because this is what they are taught, but God wants them to minister to His children?

Let’s filter the information we get, and make Christ the center of all we do. That’s what I’m trying to say here.