Deus Interrupta…


Deus Interrupta – God interrupted

Did you know that there are over 140 instances in the bible that specifically state, "but God?"  I've noticed those words more intentionally as of late.  God interrupts us…it shouldn't come as a surprise.  I mean, God is God…and either we have God in our lives where the focal point is us and we are essentially USING God (conveniently playing our own god) and asking God to be around to bless OUR plans or we are submissive, intentional and humble about our plans coinciding with God's plans and will for our lives.  It comes down to this, "who is the real Lord of our lives?"  OR, will the real Lord please stand up!  

Sit down now, will you?

I've come to realize lately how God interrupts us…for every plan, for every tragedy or stuggle, for every seemingly "good idea" there is also the God of our lives who is gracious and merciful enough to say "woa, no or SLOW DOWN" to any or all of our initiatives.  

Take what happened in our lives this past week – for over a year, I've been praying and seeking God about our family's finances.  Vicky and I have had extensive prayer times, conversations and planning sessions about how best to proceed.  We thought we had a strategy…we embarked on fulfilling that strategy, and started to act on implementing the strategy when all of the sudden, God spoke.  NO, I wish God had done the "sorry Charlie" or "speak from heaven" type of thing…but that didn't happen.  What did happen was an outpouring of emotion and a strong sense that we should STOP what we had planned and reevalute.  Frankly, there was a part of me that said, "hey, what's this…full steam ahead."  But I was wrong…we needed to revisit our "listening quotient."  We had to act on the fact that we pray that God would slow us down…and He did.  Yeah, "but God"…yeah, we had our plans, "but God."  We had made our decision, "but God."  

You see, there's always more to who God is and how God is acting than we give Him credit for…we casually throw up a prayer or maybe even stop for a second to appease God with a moment or two of our time over a particular issue.  We plead with God to keep up with us as we run at full speed with whatever we desire to do.  And even in the midst of lip service, we are surprised that God has the audacity to throw a "but" into our plans?  

I was just reading last night in Proverbs, yeah, you know the book…the one with all the practical wisdom.  Proverbs 16:1:

"We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer."

There's a part of me that hates that because I SO want it to work in the reverse…I want to have the right answers to God's plans.  "But God" doesn't work that way.  God's not around to make sure OUR plans are the ones that are always right…God IS around so that HIS plans are always right.  In that reality God invites us to partner with Him in making our lives and our world what He desires it to be.  And if that takes a few "but God" moments in our lives so that we can finally "get it", than so be it.  

The world was on the edge of destruction BUT GOD saw Noah…

Sarah and Abraham were too old and faithless to believe that God could provide a miraculous birth BUT GOD knew different…

It looked like the people of God were "toast" in comparison to the armies and will of Pharoah, BUT GOD had other plans…

People questioned Jesus on whether he had the right to forgive…BUT GOD had some forgiving to do….

We were stuck helplessly in our brokenness…BUT GOD loved us before we could ever even acknowledge who He was and is, and HE lived, died and rose and EMPOWERS us to live a new, Kingdom life…

So, what do you think?  How might there be some "deus interrupta" moments in your life…and, most importantly, what are those moments telling you about your Kingdom life?  You see, the issue really does come down to "who's the boss"…if it is you, then stop pretending that God is God and simply acknowledge the truth that  you are a spiritual consumer asking God for His blessings on your already self-fulfilled and self-directed life.  Oh, and by the way, don't blame God that He isn't coming through for you…remember, you are the one setting the direction and asking God to jump on YOUR ship.  But if God is leading and you are responding then that's a dynamic partnership.  Will we get everything we want?  No…and we shouldn't.  The world isn't about us and our fulfillment…it is about God and His will and HIS-story of which we are a significant and much loved part.  Oh, you and me…we can make our plans…that's OK…but don't be suprised when God says, "but."  He has a habit of doing that…so that we acknowlege where credit is due and who truly is the supplier of every good and perfect gift.  

Chew on that for a while…more to come!

Trying to keep up…

Ahamsterguy~s800x800I ran into this pic and had to laugh but then, upon second look, started to relate to this poor shmo.  Playing the hamster in life…that's the way that most of us feel.  I know, that's how I feel.   I remember reading a great book years ago that still "haunts" me – Tim Hansel's book, When I relax I feel guilty.  It is out of print now…but the title is what got me.  It goes hand in hand with a powerful pamphlet I read when I was a kid about the "tyranny of the urgent."  Wow, I've tried to conquer that overwhelming sense of being on and in a rat race.  And as the old cliche goes, "the only thing you get out of a rat race is that you turn into a rat."  Yep, that's what happens.  No, there are times that it doesn't change much of how others perceive me but the "internal rat" changes how I feel and how I respond to situations that pose themselves in my path on a day to day basis.  When I'm feeling that "rat-ness" inside, I am less patient, more judgmental, more apt to blow by a person instead of engage a person…more driven by my clock than from my heart.  I don't like feeling like a rat…I don't like the "hamster like" existence.  And I know you don't either – so what's it all about?  Well, frankly, it is about self-agrandizement.  In other words, it is about us feeling important, getting attention, and no giving the world the chance to see our humanity because we are posing as gods.  Friends, no one can do everything…and no one can do everything perfectly.  That's really what drives the hamster wheel…it is WE who want the attention, the pats on the back, the comments that lift up notice of our "grand sacrifice" of time through our busy-ness…that's why the first step OFF the hamster wheel and feeling compulsive drives to "keep up" has to be brokenness and confession and brutal honesty.  I know that today when I am trying to keep up and feeling frustrated about it that it is time for me simply to say to God and those around me, "I'm getting off the throne…I don't covet your attention or admiration but I desire God's approval more."  You can have the "peace that passes understanding" when you get off the throne of your own desire for "worship" and allow God to be God.  Instead of always trying to not just predict but manipulate outcomes its best just to "give up and give in" to the fact that we can do our best and leave the results to the Lord.  So, what say you when you look at your own "rat race" life?  Is it time for a de-thronement?  I know it is for me…

What shouldn’t happen in a faith community…


I said in a message yesterday in our faith community that many people (especially young people) are apt to "walk away" from an experience in spiritual community for two reason – they don't feel that they are treasured and they constantly feel that they are being PREACHED at and not listen to!  In fact, most of the time, people who leave community and shut the door on a "church" experience is primarily because they can't reconsile a LOVING and GRACE-FILLED God with a judgmental and ungracious and unloving people who align themselves with God.  The conclusion is that either God is wrong or the people are wrong…and frankly, people are not apt to trash God (there are MANY MANY MANY people who say that they love and follow Jesus who are not part of a local church) but they do leave expressions of gathered community because they have been "trashed" by HIS people.  May we listen and heed the words of 1 John…that WE LOVE because He first loved us…that if the LOVE OF GOD doesn't abide in and through our lives, then our relationship with Jesus is a sham.  How is God's love and NOT His judgment (which is HIS perrogative given HIS nature and character as God) flowing in and through your life?

OK – it may be dopey but it is a great learning tool!

I’m a HUGE veggietales fan.  Phil V and his team have been producing family videos and learning tools that encourage solid and biblically based values for years.  Phil’s story is compelling and his dedication to his art is unwavering.  I respect him immensely and am thankful that the Spirit has enabled him to keep going in the midst of a very difficult media world.  As far as the veggies go, there are still silly songs that first appeared in videos that continue to rattle around in my head most everyday (Cebuuuuuuuuuu, Barbara Manatee).  Anyway, now the “What’s in the Bible” series is approaching its eighth release with the center section of most bibles, the Psalms, Proverbs and other writings.  I’ve purchased everyone…given them to our grandkids…recommended them to people…used clips in children’s ministry AND, most recently, used a few things from the series to “educate” and reinforce some of the learnings that adults within our faith community are experiencing as they make their way through the One Year Bible.  All I can say is “bravo” AND if you have a need for some “quick reinforcement” of what is actually IN the bible and you don’t mind bad puns, ridiculous costumes, animation and popsickle stick humor, take a look and join children in LEARNING what’s in the bible!

Why I have to do this occasionally and you should too…

AN36RfdeSZmtwdxe1zgcMPFE6o1_400Ok – this post is specifically for those who are intimately involved in a Jesus following journey in their lives – sometimes, I have to be specific in terms of audience for posts…so, here goes:

Sometimes I have to do this – read a book that is "outside" of what many of us would call the "main" stream of faith.  I do it for the following reasons – first, I want to be up to snuff about what people are saying about the bible, a faith journey and issues related to all things "church."  Secondly, it is important to keep abreast of current scholarship in "my" field.  Scholars are cherished persons in the world…they do many things that many of us don't have the time, interest or expertise to do.  Thirdly, I need my thinking challenged.  True…I do and you do.  It is important to keep our minds active…challenging our assumptions and presumptions keeps our faith fresh, our intellect strong and the "mind of Christ" being constantly reformed within us.  I know for me, I don't have to be afraid of encountering issues that might push me a bit.  In fact, as Peter Rollins so well did in his last book, Insurrection, doubt has a redemptive quality to it.  It presses us for resolution…see doubt, maybe, as that which pushes you into new realizations, new understandings, and new truths.  

I just finished Bart Ehrman's new book, Did Jesus Exist.  Good book…if you want to put it this way, "classic" scholarly work done by a person who, by his own admission, has walked away from faith.  Bart is a smart man…his scholarship is excellent and he does a great job in laying out what many would call a "Schweitzer" perspective on the life of Jesus (that being, he was an itinerant Jewish apocalypticist who died under Pontius Pilate – no God, no Son of God, no Savior, etc.).  But what Bart does is argue for the historicity of Jesus in opposition to the "mythicists" (his word, not mine) who deny that Jesus as we know Him in the bible actually existed.  I enjoyed the book…I don't buy his theology but I thought his approach in analyzing biblical texts and historical issues relating to the "quest for the historical Jesus" was thorough and well-written.  In fact, if you want a good "fly by" of what some scholars think about Jesus and biblical issues, he lays them out….unapologetically and plainly.  

So, I just had to do it…I got a bit annoyed with Bart's "preaching" near the end…his cynicism (of which I'm not immune) started to bug me…but the book was worth reading because it stretched me and made me mentally engage in what I think and believe.  As I said, I'm not afraid of this stuff…you shouldn't be either.  Here's 2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  We don't have to be afraid of information and honest debate and inquiry.  Jesus is still Lord!  

Now, I'm moving on to something just as challenging but definitely more confessional – NT Wright's book on the Kingdom of God…mmmm, tasty!  Oh yeah, if you want ANOTHER book that will challenge your thinking, try this one Genesis for Normal People (of course if you are "normal", you own a Kindle).