Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Beautiful Outlaw


Do you find it hard to believe Jesus loves you?
Do you feel like you are always disappointing him?
Is he mad at you? Ignoring you?
Does Jesus seem like a hard man who wants you to work harder?
Does he seem distant  -  loving, sure, but disengaged?

I was recently confronted with these questions while reading the book by John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw.

I say confronted, but truth is...they weren't really that personally challenging, except for that last one. Yeah, I knew that Jesus loves me...enough to die for...but with age comes a level of familiarity with that thought that borders on complacency.

And then you read a book like Beautiful Outlaw and get reacquainted with the personality of Jesus. All the layers of super-serious religiosity get stripped away and you see a real person with real feelings and even a sense of humor:



Does Jesus have a sense of humor? Well, he created laughter.
     And think of the crowd he dined with. These rabble-rousers quickly earned Jesus a reputation as a drunkard and a glutton, and it wasn't because they served water and crackers. This was a wild group, and surely such a crowd got rolling in laughter from time to time, if only from the joy they were experiencing being with Jesus. Now, surely the creator of these colorful characters didn't sit there frowning, looking pious, Mr. Killjoy, Mr. I'm-Above-All-This. Imagine his own happiness at having these very lost sheep back at his side.
     But the religious tight-shorts didn't like it one bit. They constantly griped about it.
* * * * * * *

Truth is...the more I can relate to Jesus on a human level, the more gloriously divine he is revealed to be; the closer I feel to him; the more I can celebrate how he loves me and saves me and supplies me with joy.

* * * * * * *

To see a little-over-three-minutes-long trailer of the book Beautiful Outlaw, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Truth from an Elephant


A trip to Walt Disney World can be a lot of fun...and exhausting.

Max Lucado, however, learned something about human nature and has passed the lesson on to us in his book, In the Grip of Grace.


One of the most popular attractions at Disney World is the Jungle Cruise. People will spend forty-five minutes waiting in the Florida heat for the chance to board the boat and wind through snake-infested forests. They come for the thrills. You never know when a native will jump out of the trees or a crocodile will peek out of the water. The waterfalls drench you, the rainbow inspires you, and the baby elephants playing in the water amuse you.

It's quite a trip  -  the first few times. But after four or five runs down the river, it begins to lose its zest. I should know. During the three years I lived in Miami, Florida, I made nearly twenty trips to Orlando. I was single and owned a van and was a sucker for anybody who wanted to spend a day at the Magic Kingdom. By the eighth or ninth trip I could tell you the names of the guides and the jokes they told.

A couple of times I actually dozed off on the journey. The trail had lost its secrets. Ever wonder why people sleep in on Sunday mornings (whether in the bed or in the sanctuary)? Now you know. They've seen it all. Why get excited? They know it all. There is nothing sacred. The holy becomes the humdrum. Rather than dashing into life like kids to the park, we doze through our days like commuters on a train.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Lucado makes a sad-but-true observation from his experience at The Happiest Place On Earth: "Ironically, the more we know, the less we worship. We are more impressed with our discovery of the light switch than with the one who invented electricity."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Calling Out Your Name


We are quickly approaching the twenty-year mark...twenty years since the untimely death of singer-songwriter-ragamuffin Rich Mullins. And yes, I've done more than my fair share of posting thoughts from him and about him. (Feel free to explore those by clicking here.) Today, how about just letting him lead us into worship? How about a musical meditation on Psalm 19:1-6 entitled Calling Out Your Name?


Well the moon moved past Nebraska 
And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota Hills 
And angels danced on Jacob's stairs 
Yeah, they danced on Jacob's stairs 
There is this silence in the Badlands 
And over Kansas the whole universe was stilled 
By the whisper of a prayer 
The whisper of a prayer 

And the single hawk bursts into flight 
And in the east the whole horizon is in flames 
I feel thunder in the sky 
I see the sky about to rain 
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name 

I can feel the earth tremble 
Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves 
And the fury in the pheasant's wings 
And there's fury in a pheasant's wings 
It tells me the Lord is in His temple 
And there is still a faith that can make the mountains move 
And a love that can make the heavens ring 
And I've seen love make heaven ring 

Where the sacred rivers meet 
Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the plains 
I feel thunder in the sky 
I see the sky about to rain 
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name 

From the place where morning gathers 
You can look sometimes forever 'til you see 
What time may never know 
What time may never know 
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world 
And shakes us forward and shakes us free 
To run wild with the hope 
To run wild with the hope 

The hope that this thirst will not last long 
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain 
And I feel thunder in the sky 
I see the sky about to rain 
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name 

And I know this thirst will not last long 
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain 
I feel thunder in the sky 
I see the sky about to rain 
And with the prairies I am calling out Your name
Words/Music by Rich Mullins ©1991 BMG Songs, Inc.



*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
    In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth. (Psalm 19:1-6 NIV)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My Purpose-Driven Journal, Final Episode


Quotes from Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Life, with my personal notes:

On becoming like Christ...

"From the very beginning, God's plan has been to make you like his son, Jesus. What does the full image and likeness of God look like? It looks like Jesus Christ! On earth, God's ultimate goal for your life is not comfort, but Christlike character."  -  Loving, accepting, forgiving, straight-forward, unflinching, dedicated to the cause, selfless  -  betrayed, despised, humiliated, railroaded, killed  -  restored, respected, revered, acclaimed, adored, exalted



"Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing. Discipleship - the process of becoming like Christ - always begins with a decision."  -  Spiritual growth doesn't "just happen"? Hmm...I see your point, but there is growth that happens (after the initial decision to follow Christ) just from living life. It's not as a result of study or discussion with a wiser disciple, but God brings it about through the circumstances of life. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit working on me and in me that constitutes spiritual growth.

"Thinking of others is the heart of Christ-likeness, and the goal of spiritual growth. This kind of thinking is unnatural, counter-cultural, and rare. The only way we will learn to think this way is by filling our minds with the Word of God."  -  Transformed - by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2)

"Everything that happens in the life of a child of God is Father-filtered, and he intends to use it for good."  -  Which is not the same thing as saying that everything that happens is God's will. Being able to use something is not the same as creating that something. I can make a wrong turn and still end up at my destination. But it was still a wrong turn.

"God develops the fruit of the Spirit in your life by allowing you to experience circumstances where you're tempted to express the exact opposite quality! Character development always involves a choice, and temptation provides that opportunity. Every time you defeat a temptation, you become more like Jesus!"  -  Love instead of hate. Joy instead of bitterness. Peace instead of worry/anxiety. Patience instead of selfish me-firstism. Kindness instead of sarcasm. Goodness instead of a mean spirit. Gentleness instead of gruff coarseness. Self-control instead of obeying impulses.


*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)