The very reason for this blog

As I have tried to limit my Facebook exposure over the last day or so, I’ve read the good, the bad, and the ugly regarding the Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriage in all 50 states.

To those who did a lot of hand wringing waiting for this decision and are now decrying the “fall of America” or something akin to it, I can only say, “You haven’t been paying much attention lately, have you?”

To those who have followed this blog for very long, and really the whole reason for setting it up and writing so much on spiritual formation, it is honestly no surprise. Not today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow.

The impetus for this blog didn’t come out of a Supreme Court ruling. It came out of 9/11. It actually began to form in prayer before 9/11. Then, when the attack happened, I realized what the Lord was saying to me. (I’m a slow learner.)

The need for the Church in America is to understand we’ve lived for centuries as “Americans who happen to be Christians.” We now need to turn to the firm belief that we are “Christians who happen to be Americans.” (That was over 13 years ago, not just yesterday.)

After 9/11, I preached through the Sermon on the Mount for months, then invited people into an intentional spiritual formation group that lasted a year. Everyone who started on day one had to commit to an entire year. Almost everyone did!

The best way I can describe the journey since that point is this: Our biggest models for living out the power of the Kingdom needs to come from the Old Testament witness of Joseph, Daniel, and Esther. We learn to live with deep conviction as to who we are in Christ and then BLESS the culture in which we find ourselves. That is how I have attempted to model my life for these past few years. I’ve done okay at times, not so okay at others.

So, today, I am not alarmed. I am not wringing my hands. I am not doing a funeral dirge for America. (I confess I did something of a dirge for the American CHURCH after 9/11, then again after Katrina, but that’s another story.)

Today, I am as in love with Jesus as I was the day before. Okay… I’m not. I’m MORE in love with Jesus today than I was the day before.

Today, I am in love with people. All people. Whether they love me or not, quite frankly. That is my command from my Savior, and I take it seriously.

Today, I am desiring to bless my culture and bring the goodness of the Kingdom of God into the life of my culture in any way possible.

That didn’t change by any ruling of the Supreme Court yesterday… or ever. It doesn’t change with old laws or new laws. None of that touches the allegiance I have for the Kingdom of God.

Today, I will not curse my culture or my nation. I love where I live. People love me with my deep flaws. I love people with their deep flaws. And the Kingdom of God comes.

Whatever comes moving forward may surprise me, though I’m not sure it is possible any more. But even if it surprise me… it hasn’t taken God unawares. I can rest in that.

The very reason for this blog has now come to fulfillment. It is about living in a place that may not care about my opinion any more. But that didn’t happen just yesterday. That happened quite awhile back. And I still thrive. I still bless. I still love and bless and give. That was yesterday. That will be today. And, with God’s grace, that will be tomorrow.

It doesn’t mean “agreement.” But it does mean LOVE.

Love God.
Love people.

Let’s go.

The so-called wall of separation between church and state

Dallas Willard crushes the “wall of separation” argument when it comes to the First Amendment.

The First Amendment is about something Congress (and, as interpreted by the the Supreme Court and state governments) cannot do. It is not about what Christian should not do. We now live under the influence of a gigantic myth about a “wall of separation” between “church and state,” a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution. It is a metaphor that describes one theory of the First Amendment… The phrase may have some value in its suggestion of an institutional separation of church and state, but (my emphasis follows) it is positively demonic when it is interpreted to require separation between religious morality and the state

Think of a world without the incredible work of William Wilberforce, who ended slavery in Great Britain without a war, or the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Think of the United States, even in our mixed up views of racism now, without the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. What if these people had been forced to separate their Christian morality from their demands on the state?

…the crucial importance of Christlike leadership is found in the blessed lives of those citizens who provide knowledge, insight, and guidance, by God’s grace and for his purposes and ends in our world.

Quotes are taken from The Divine Conspiracy Continued, p. 194

What is Freedom?

I am working my way through The Diving Conspiracy Continued by Dallas Willard and Gary Black, Jr. It is a continuation of Willard’s work, but moving into the realm of society.

He has a chapter called “Economics and Politics” and describes the difficulty of even defining the word “freedom.”

1. I am “free” only if no one is telling me what to do or preventing me from doing what I want. 

2. I am “free” only if I am actually able to achieve what I want to achieve.

3. I am “free” only if I am able to achieve what is good,  and that which is most conducive to the fullness of my life or the realization of my potential toward the highest and best result.

Personally, I think Americans are infatuated with #1.

The ultimate apologetic — just try SOMETHING!

“The ultimate apologetic — that is to say, the ultimate lifter of doubt — is the believer acting in faith in an interactive life with God. That’s it. People need to see individuals living in daily interaction with the kingdom of the heavens: praying and saying. If we want to really attack doubt, what we have to attack is our own hesitancy to step up.”  — Dallas Willard, The Allure of Gentleness 

Dallas Willard on God’s GOOD purposes in human history

“What God is going to bring out of human history in his people is going to be the greatest reflection of God’s own glory, wisdom, and love. That is what human history is about. It is to make a society of the redeemed that will be the crown jewel of creation. And when we look at the terrible things that happen in human history, when we look at the extent of human evil in it, we want to remember what would be lost if human history had not happened. What would be lost is precisely this crown jewel of creation, which consists of Christlike people living together with the kind of love that the members of the Trinity have for one another and enjoying that full, shared, self-subsistent being that characterizes God himself as God dwells in those people.”
— The Allure of Gentleness, pp. 95-96

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Dallas Willard on hell

“A part of our problem with understanding hell comes from the way we think about ehaven. We think about heaven as some kind of comfortable resort, but the greatest thing about heaven is going to be the presence of God. He has allowed us to avoid him here on earth in some measure if we want to, but if you go to heaven, God’s the biggest thing on the horizon. You’re no longer going to be able to avoid him. And that would be the supreme torture if you haven’t gotten over thinking of yourself as God. That’s why I sometimes say that the fires of heaven burn hotter than the fires of hell.” (The Allure of Gentleness, p. 67)

Why NOT take Jesus with you?

For the day, for your job, for the conversations you have, for the problem you need to solve at home… why not take Jesus with you?

Paul says this about Jesus:

in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:3)

The One who made everything “probably” actually knows everything. He really does know how to make things work.

Dallas Willard puts it this way:

Regardless of what you’re working on, Jesus has the knowledge required to solve your problems.

Why NOT take Jesus with you today?