The Gospel according to Hadley Jo

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(Caution this picture is terrible birth control)

I’m a pretty simple guy.  People that spend time with me know that I like certain things and I make it pretty clear what those things are because I talk about them a lot.  My wife, my daughter, the Warriors, the Baylor Bears, reading books, and I have an affinity for the depths and all nooks and crannies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I work in an office full of talented men who love Jesus, the Bible, and their families well and one of them continues to tell me the same thing over and over again, “You’re a one trick Gospel Pony Garrett.”  I like that, and I’ll accept that compliment in the name of Jesus, thank you.  I hope this is my only “trick” for the rest of my life.

The Gospel truly is good news for me.  It is the greatest news that I can receive and what I love about it is that it doesn’t make any sense on how life is “suppose” to work.  But this is what makes the Gospel both sweet and bitter at times, it’s hard to swallow.  But when I do see it, experience it and believe it deeper, it always unlocks or births forth two things:

Worship & Gratitude.

So, with that said this morning I got up with my daughter and walked into her room and at 6:30am as she was singing “Let it Go”, those 30-45 minutes of one on one time I had with her was a lesson and reminder of the Gospel for me.  Daughters are one of the greatest gifts to daddy’s because they expose you and make you feel things you aren’t ready to feel.  So with that said, the gospel according to Hadley Jo:

As daddy walked into my room after what felt like an eternity I was excited because that meant one thing, now I’m in charge.  This is my domain.  So after daddy changes my diaper it’s time to pick out my outfit.  Yes, that’s right…I’m two years old and I pick out my outfits because daddy has no sense of fashion and my wealth of fashion knowledge obviously trumps his.  

Now that I’m feeling good with my “birdie princess dress” and “swoosh legging”(nike) I’m feeling good and it’s time for CEREAL!  And if I want it, I get it.  So we walked down stairs, because I’m practically 17 and I don’t need help walking down the stairs, and I take a seat for breakfast.  I get my cereal and.. DANG IT! I spilt milk on my dress!!!!! 

Oh no… Daddy is bringing over my arch enemy: the bib.  Luckily I have the power of negotiation so I won’t have to wear it.  “Hadley,  can I put your bib on?” He asked.  First mistake… “NO” I proclaimed with a deep conviction. “Hadley, please talk nicely, we are going to put your bib on.” Oh…tough guy huh, well I don’t know if you know this daddy, but I am the captain of my ship here so, “NOOOOO.” Oops… my emotions got the best of me and I swiped the bib out of daddy’s hands(I must be an athlete).  And that did not end well.  It’s now survival mode as daddy is starting to talk more sternly.  Why does his voice hold so much weight?  So I panic. I scream. I flail.  Because now I am caught.  I’ve blown it and it’s time to retreat!  Daddy instructs me that I am going to “go to my room”, and now I’ve lost it.  

“You do not talk to daddy like that!” He says as we walk upstairs, and I realize it, this happened yesterday!  Why did I do this again? I knew what would happen if I didn’t listen.  I’ve ruined everything…  

My daddy is mad at me.  My daddy hates me.  He is taking me to my room and going to abandon me.  He closes the door, and I’ve realized what I have done.  I have failed him.  I deserve nothing from him.  I am alone in my room, and I am ashamed.

I’m alone.

As I cry, and stand looking at my wall, immediately I hear the door open.  What other punishment is coming next?  But it’s daddy and he is sitting down and in a soft voice he says, “Hadley.” 

Why is he talking to me?  Why is he still here?  I haven’t even apologized, but he is still coming for me….

Daddy sits down next to me and says softly but strongly, “Sweetie, you can’t scream at daddy like that.  That hurts daddy.”

“I’m sorry Daddy.” I say as I look down to the ground, ashamed to look condemnation in the eye.  

He lifts my chin up, looks at me and immediately says, “I love you.  It is okay.  Daddy loves you.”  

That’s RIGHT….How could I forget this part.  What did I fear? My daddy always loves me! I fall into his arms and hug him, and I am for the first time this morning, truly content.

After we sit in the chair and I snuggle him we walk down stairs to enjoy breakfast.  See…I can trust my daddy.  He will always love me.  He will always come in and get me.  I need to remember this tomorrow.

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As a daddy, this is what I want for Hadley.  It truly isn’t that I want her to put on her bib the first time I ask(while that would be awesome).  It’s that right now Hadley repents relatively easily.  She falls into her daddy’s arms after she knows she has fallen short of my expectations.  She doesn’t retreat to try and make me something, or give me her favorite toy to replace what she has done.  She doesn’t try and buy back my love.  My hope for Hadley is that all of her life she leads out in this for me as her dad.  When she does this she is reminding me to fall into the throne of grace not only willingly, but often!  These moments of rebellion against her father are the moments that are building trust, foundation and belief in her that she is fully loved, known, and cared for by her daddy.  As Hadley grows up, I hope she can continue to quickly retreat back to her Father’s arms when she falls short of His glory.  Amongst sin, He will get glory.  Hear that again…

Even amongst sin, God will get His glory.

That’s the Gospel.  I wonder how often this is the interaction between me and God.  I wish I would remember that I don’t have to look at the ground and be ashamed because Hebrews 4:16 is clear that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence.  Because in Christ, you are righteous.  Why am I so scared of the process that will always end the same for the rest of my life:

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin.” – Romans 6:5-7

Do we know for certain that you are united in Christ resurrection?  Do we know that our old self was crucified.

Man…I need I remember this tomorrow.  

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There are only theologians

There are ONLY theologians.

Did it get you to click?  I wanted to say something like, “Only Theologians Go to Heaven”, but I know that is too crass and someone would freak out and e-mail me how offensive that was.  And I would just be doing it to get you to click the page.  So I held off…

But seriously, the statement “There are only theologians” is a fact.  Now, before you write it off walk with me for a second.  The literal definition of theology comes from two greek words: theos(God) and logia(logic).  So it means the logic of God.  Webster dictionary defines it as the study of the nature of God and religious beliefs.  Now, still most of you are thinking that this word is only reserved for Christians or “religious” people.  And I would agree that it is reserved for people who place faith in something other than themselves.  All Christians should LOVE the logic of God! But it this does not exclude people who choose not to place faith in something.  It all comes down to the definition of God.  What is God?  Who is God?  I think everyone places belief in a God. Whether a Christian or not, watch…

When you google the definition of God, it comes up first with the Christian definition.  But if you look deeper and actually start researching the philosophical definition you see the deeper explanation of how humanity actually sees “God”.  Now if you’re rolling your eyes about the philosophy, hold up because that word literally means “love for wisdom”…so if you don’t desire the love for wisdom than, I think you might be a liar.  We all want to be wise, act wise, live wisely.  The problem is what our definition of wisdom is.  Thats another post for another day.

But the philosophy of God  or the concept of God according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is focused on that which is of “ultimate concern and maximal greatness.”  What ever is of total concern of the life of the person can be considered God for them.  They might not call it God, they might call is “goals” or even “hobbies”.  But whatever is of maximum concern and greatness(joy) in the life of a person could be considered in concept “God.”

Hmm… let’s be honest here, we all have opinions about what is most important in life.  Doesn’t take someone who reads a Bible to have an opinion about what is important while you are breathing.  So we all have a baseline logic of God.  The problem and where there is tension lies is the division on what is deserving of being “God”.

Well, jury’s out on who God is, but my point is we are all theologians of something.  What’s sad is that when we look at the idea of God being what is of “ultimate concern and maximal greatness” my fear is that Christians, we actual replace the rightful owner of our theology, Jesus Christ.  My worry is that we replace the chief end of our life, affections towards, knowledge of, and glory to Jesus Christ, with lesser “concerns”.  Whether we like it or not, we are all theologians, the scary part is a lot of times our theology has nothing to do with the rightful and only GOD.  We are all studying(focusing) or putting affections on something, but is it God, is it Jesus?

Do you enjoy God more than you enjoy the idea of getting better for God?

Don’t read that wrong, doing for God is pretty clear all throughout Scripture(Colossians 3:5-7, Colossians 3:18-21, Ephesians 4, 5, 6).  Placement is crucial here though.  One before the other is making doing for God the “ultimate concern” in your life.  And that is not Christianity, that makes work your God.  This replaces the rightful owner of your affections, concerns, maximum greatness, with a command.  That is exchanging the glory of the immortal God with images resembling moral man(Romans 1:22).

We are all a theologian of something, here’s a clearer way to think about it.  Is your day centered around something other than Jesus Christ. Then there is your answer of where your theology lies.  If we look around us we will see God’s all over the place: Your God is your work.  Your God is your girlfriend.  Your God is your desire to have a boyfriend.  Your God is your children.  Carrying shame and guilt? Your God is your sin.  The Bible is clear about this and it uses the word idolatry, but that words doesn’t hold the weight like it did then.  As you study the entire narrative of Scripture Idolatry, or False Theology, is central to the biblical message.  Mankind is always clinging to false theology.  They put their affections and decide that what is of greatest concern and maximum importance is not the God who rescued them from Egypt, but their own things.  (Exodus 32,34).

For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. – Exodus 34:14

In Genesis the problem was not jealousy, or envy of God that led them to sin.  It was replacing God as the ultimate concern and maximum importance.  They replaced God with themselves.

Why do we think that theology isn’t important?  Our problem is that we think that just a sliver of understanding of God’s infinite being is enough to sustain us.  The problem with that is that only understanding one facet of God will lead us to twisting him into something he isn’t. For example: God is love.  This is true, but God of Love separated from God of Justice is not the God of Christianity.  We think that if we just know that He is loving than we can make it.  If we just know and believe that he is merciful than we will thrive.  Or even more over, we are scared to dive into ALL that he is because we are worried our opinions of Him will change!  Why?

Since when did knowing ALL WE CAN about God become a take and pick type of thing?  Habakkuk 2:14 claims this over God’s people, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”  God’s glory, his very being, is large enough to cover the seas.  Why won’t you dive in?  Are you scared it will make you love him less?  Are you worried it will change your opinion of him?  Then your God is too fickle.  That’s not the God of the Bible.  You need a stronger God.  You need the one True God who is “I am”.

All of his character displays his Glory.  All of it.  Therefore we should desire to know all of it!  Because as we fall deeper into the vastness of God’s character, we become violently secure in Him.  All of a sudden we are emboldened to run, not fearful to fall.  Because we know our God.

Do you know ALL that God has revealed to us about him in the Scriptures?  Scared to answer that?  Here let me answer it for all of us:

Give. Me. More.

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Dads and future Dads, it’s time

 I’ve sat at my computer multiple times to try and write this, but every time I can’t finish this.  Honestly, there is so much that I want to say and so much that is currently being said so I struggle with where to even begin.  But something has shifted in my heart and it is without a shadow of a doubt because of this little bundle of snot, gumption, and chatter box: 

    
  Everyone, meet Hadley Jo.  She is my daughter.  She is the second greatest female on the entire planet and she thinks she’s the only one on the planet 90% of the time.  Hadley has an incredible ability to walk into a room and every single person not only notices, but adores her.  It’s mostly her crazy knot of a curly head and incredible blue eyes, but it gets you every time.  If you know her, you love her.  If you’ve seen pictures of her, you want to love her.  And Hadley’s presence alone has been a defining moment in my life.  There is no better job than daddy.  

So, this summer as I have been watching Hadley change I’ve also been watching the world she is going to be raised in change all around her.  With all of the change coming with presidential nominations, Supreme Court rulings, and the now surge of popularity in the topic of abortion and Planned Parenthood, all I can do is sit and look at all of this through the lens of “daddy” now. 

The last issue, the topic on abortion has dug a place deep in me.  I can’t shake it.  And it started months ago when the worst news of my life came.  

After having Hadley, Emmy and I decided to just blow the lid off and start having more babies, because we like to not sleep I guess.  God was so gracious and this past March, on a trip to Tahoe with friends Emmy shockingly told me we were pregnant again.  And boom! We are at it again.  We had so much joy and excitement!  And then it all vanished.  Weeks later Emmy woke up and had some physical issues with her body and we had lost the baby.  She miscarried.  The joy and excitement to watch another baby grow up under our care was stripped from our hands.  That life was precious and as that baby’s daddy the fact that I could not protect him or her ruined me.  After Gods extreme kindness through the healing process we came out the other side with a new sense of zeal and love for Hadley!  We weren’t promised children, but in our selfishness we assumed we were.  But we had Hadley, and man Hadley was special to us.

Hadley is special, but Hadley isn’t special. 

Hadley has a unique ability to birth joy in people that I can’t.  A unique gift to make women long to hold, kiss, and nurture her.  And an uncanny power to cripple men and make them talk gibberish, speak softly, cuddle often and care gently.  If everyone was honest, something in our affections are stirred when babies are near.  This isn’t just a Hadley ability, this is all babies.  Boy or girl, new born or toddler, something about the newness of life breeds a unique sense of Glory.  

And with babies breeds insecurity, fear, and failure.  When Glory is revealed, our nature and history reveals that instead of seeking glory we seek ourselves.  There in lies the problem with abortion, but it’s not just an abortion issue: this is a Gospel issue.  Romans 1 says it best, “they exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal men.”  When glory is present, sin is highlighted. 

Remember, I’m looking at this through the lens of “dad”, so here is my question to all the daddy’s out there: where is your voice on this? Where are the men that have been called, commissioned and given the responsibility by God as protectors to stand for life.  Hadley in just a few years is going to be able to look at her daddy’s job, actions, hobbies, and where he spends his time to form an opinion about what kind of Daddy he is.  Is there anything I want my daughter to understand more than I love her? No.  But my love for Hadley started before I saw her baby blues and crazy hair.  My love for Hadley was deep in me before she ever gave me “daddy kisses”.  Hadley’s life started long before I saw her.  All of me knew that the second Emmy said “I’m pregnant”.  I want Hadley to see me love unborn children deeply, sacrificiallly and with a protecting love.  Because when she sees my actions she will believe that my love for her started long before I knew her too.

Men.  Dads.  College men.  Why are we standing back while our sisters, wives, and female friends lead out by standing for life?  We should be just as passionate about protecting the lives of babies, because they reveal glory.  What better example for our kids than for them to see their daddy’s sacrificiallly love babies we have never seen.  How much more will they see our love for them, our own children, when they see us love the unborn children? 

Not a dad yet? This does not mean you go quiet.  This is your fight.  Spend a couple minutes  thinking about babies that you know.  Nephews, family friends.  That baby breeds joy in your life.  That’s simply because that child was masterfully created in the glorious image of God himself.  They deserve to grow up seeing the men in their life fighting and standing for life.  

My hope and prayer is this, that it will not take more deparvity for the men in this country to lead even in the areas that we feel “uncomfortable”.  I am crazy thankful for the women that have faithfully for years been advocates and used their voice, platform and efforts to stand for life.  Thank you for carrying the banner for our babies that reveal and birth joy in a way nothing else in creation can.  Men, it’s our turn to follow suit – it’s time to stand, talk, read, study, and pray for life. 

So what do you do men?  There is so much and so many options but let’s start small: Some dear friends have launched a movement that is a great place to start: Stand For Life Movement. In the age of social media, takes two minutes and claim that you’re standing for life.  There’s a great graphic that you can post to your Instagram etc.  My hope is that we see men all over coming out and standing on the authority God has given them to stand for life.  

Next, if this stops here with a post, we are failing and showing our kids that going to the internet to state an opinion is enough.  Do not believe the lies that we cannot make a change: 

  • Educate yourself, read the stories that birth joy on Stand for life website. Let’s use life as our defense against death.  This is our weapon, the weapon of the Gospel.  Know the statistics, science and biology behind life. 
  • Share stories of redemption, birth, and adoption via all channels and platforms you have 
  • Stand on the authority of the Word of God, not your own authority.
  • Pray.  Pray specifically for the thousands of pregnancy centers offering aid!
  • Pray for salvation in this country.  
  • Go to your local church and ask questions about what your church is doing to support and aid the fight of standing for life.  If they aren’t doing anything, don’t leave but start something.  Every church should be doing something and you’re a part of that.
  • Pray for adoption agencies, support people wanting to adopt both relationally and FINANCIALLY.  
  • Last – married couples, instead of asking “should we adopt?” Ask, “is there any reason we shouldn’t adopt?”

As the people in this country see others standing for redemption and life, their hearts will crave it.  We must believe the Gospel promises are enough for all things!   We need more daddy’s and future daddy’s standing for those that can’t.  It’s what dads do, we stand for justice as God did to the point of death. Let our seeking for justice be coated and overwhelmed by a love for mercy. 

 Stand for life.  Stand knowing that God is sitting because His work is done!  Praise God for life and redemption.  

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Gospel Rich Life – No more buzz words

It’s funny how this works; I started writing again and now it’s like my head is racing with more!  It was interesting, I got more feedback, opinions and responses from my last blog post from friends, family, and acquaintances than ever before.  Text messages, e-mails and phone calls specifically to vocalize something about it.  And all 90% of the comments etc. were focused on the same sentence in my post:

Our theology directly reflects our identity and what we believe about the content of the Gospel shapes how we feel towards God and how we think God perceives us.

I want to give some context to where this is coming from for me.  Part of my job is the developing college students to be strong leaders in their faith with Jesus.  This is no easy task, especially because I am far from the most equipped or able person to do this job, but nonetheless we are striving to accomplish that task.  This year I have been rediscovering the gospel for myself and my ministry.  More than ever before I’m looking through this lens that filters everything through this idea of a true “Gospel rich life”.  Christian cultures talks a ton about “gospel centrality” and “Jesus is the center”, but what the heck does that look like practically.  Is this just like chemistry, a lot of theory and no idea what parts of our life we can attach this stuff to?(sorry if you like chemistry…not me)  You could also say that a lot of people view theology the same way.  It isn’t important for the average run of the mill person.  I wonder where that started?  I think the point of the Reformation and Martin Luther’s proclamation of the sola’s (sola scripture, sola fides, sola gratis etc.) where a call to rediscover the DEPTHS of God; aka theology!  This isn’t a task for the pastors, and professors of the faith, this is a task for all of us.  Theology literally mean the study of God, so why is the study of God something that not every believer should take seriously?  A dear friend and myself have been developing and really digging into this concept of how the Gospel is the heart beat that pumps to the veins of all aspects of our life.  Is it even possible?

If I was honest, the last 5-6  years I think I lived in the theory of Gospel mathematics.  I could solve any Gospel algorithm on paper, but I wasn’t truly tested in the field.  But the last year the Holy Spirit has been stirring in me a deep passion to see the fruit behind soaking the Gospel in every rag of life.

So I’m going to do something for these next few posts, give you a lens into how this is shaping my life in a way that is exploding worship and confidence in the Christ.  My hope is to break down in palatable terminology what Gospel richness looks like in our lives and how it builds on itself.  In order for us to do that we need to start with the end in mind and define Gospel Richness.

In order to define Gospel richness we have to first clarify what it is not:

1. Gospel richness is not worshipping or striving to exalt the good news of Jesus, but simply worshipping and striving to exalt JESUS.  That’s important.  I fall guilty of at times getting so focused on the “right” gospel and not the right JESUS.  Gospel richness in its essence is explosion of Jesus.  Not Jesus’ work; Jesus.  Let me give you an example, we don’t worship the fact that Jesus healed a man.  We worship Jesus and him healing a man further deepens our worship of Jesus!  We don’t praise the salvation of my soul and remission of my sins, we praise Jesus because he did those things.  Small deviance with MAJOR implications.  So when I say Gospel Rich Life what I mean is a life RICH in Jesus because of his promises, accomplishments, and perfections on our behalf.

2. Gospel richness is not theory and theology ONLY.  Gospel richness is built on the foundation of theology that is the veins that actually gives LIFE to the body parts of the believer!  Gospel richness doesn’t just affect our belief, but rather it re-orients our belief in order to affect our life.

3. Gospel richness is not anything new.  Gospel richness is not something that was created or discovered in the last 10 years.  Gospel richness has been around since the beginning.  This concept is the entire focus of the Bible.  Luther didn’t discover it, he just spearheaded a re-focusing to it.  John Calvin didn’t build it; he simply just talked about it.  Paul didn’t create this, he just wrote about it!  The entire narrative of Scripture Genesis-Revelation is a Gospel rich narrative.

4. Gospel richness is hard and we will fail at it.  This is probably the most important part of the post.  As I’m writing this I fail at saturating myself in the finished work of Christ DAILY.  But that’s what is so counter-intuitively awesome about this concept; I am still eternal secure, and fully righteous and have to do NOTHING to accomplish any more favor, blessing or righteousness to be more gospel rich!  I am already completely rich in the Gospel because of Christ finished work(I would reference one verse but the entire book of Ephesians is about our riches in Christ!).  There is no failure in God’s eyes of us.  He only sees Jesus! Hear that again, He only sees Jesus!  Gospel rich life embodies this idea of “only to the cross I cling” in all matters.  So prepare yourself because to live a Gospel Rich life will make you very small.  So come ready to die.

So now that we know what Gospel richness isn’t, I think giving us a road map of what it looks like and how it builds on itself will help us navigate how to actually let Jesus explode in all areas of our life.  For me I have discovered in order for us to rest in the richness of Jesus because of his promises, accomplishments, and perfections on our behalf we have to break it down.  Over the next posts I will expand on each of these building blocks that have given me a deeper stronghold in Jesus finished work:

  • Gospel Content – Our pursuit, or desire to grip ourselves in Christ starts with the content of how it’s possible.
  • Gospel Identity – Our understanding and belief in the HOW’S of the Gospel directly shape and solidify the WHO we are in the Gospel.
  • Gospel Lifestyle – Our newly shaped identity in the Gospel births forth desire to live in the light because for the first time in our lives we can!
  • Gospel Mission – Our lifestyle of constantly being reminded, reshaped, and refocused on the accomplishments of Christ in our life the more we see the Holy Spirit using it and leveraging those experiences for the mission of the ministry of reconciliation

We see all aspects of this in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21:

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, lwho through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin rwho knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

  • “If anyone is in Christ, he is a a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come” Gospel Identity
  • “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God as reconciling the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them.” Gospel Content
  • “And entrusting us with the message of reconciliation.” Gospel Mission
  • “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore  you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Gospel Lifestyle
  • “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Gospel Content

This isn’t something new.  This structure of how the Gospel should and WILL invade all aspects of our life is the design for the sanctification of the believer.  It is said that , “The Gospel isn’t the ABC’s of Christianity – it is the A to Z of Christianity.”  Journey with me as we build on these four aspects of a Gospel Rich life.  But let me clear as I finish; I have these parameters in place not so I can be “better” in my faith with Jesus.  But exactly the opposite!  I use these aspects in my life and ministry so that every day of my life is not about the “I can do” but about “He has done!”

Debt Paid In Full.  Can that sentence alone fuel everything?

Progress is Overrated

It’s been awhile, like a long time to be exact.  I could use the excuse that I have a 1.5 year old daughter who rules our household and I never have time to do anything for myself.  But that would be a lie.  I wish I could say its because of my travel schedule and there isn’t enough time to sit and really digest what has been going on, but that just isn’t the truth either.

The truth of the matter is that last year I felt more distant in my relationship with God than I have in a long time.  It snuck up on me too and I didn’t even realize it.  With all the changes in my family things got moving so quickly and my intimacy with the Lord was shelved.  Here is the scary part, I didn’t feel like I even needed God because I was fine.  Things weren’t bad.  So if I was really honest, I just didn’t even notice it.

Then I did.  It hit me like a rock when I looked up from the smoke and realized it.  So naturally I decided that something had to change.  I was going to focus, get disciplined, and start taking things seriously with the Lord.  I needed to progress in my relationship with Jesus.  I was distant and if I could just get BACK to where I was with him; I would feel more assured that I’m intimate with Jesus.  I needed to close the gap on my distance between me and God

Back to where I was?  More assued?  Close the gap on the distance from God?

Where did this mindset come from?  Where did this theology come from?  I needed to be washed clean.  I needed a Gospel rich bath to clean off the dirt of “MEology” that was burying me.

I needed to rediscover the Gospel for my weary, drowning, identity distorted soul.  I was desperate for living water, but kept quenching my thirst with more salt.

I was running hard after trying to accomplish a lie.  And I kept failing at it.  Finally I had enough and the Spirit does what He promises; convicts and guides me into righteousness.

If you go back and read my first paragraph I said, “I felt more distant in my relationship with God.” This is why theology is so important!  Our theology directly reflects our identity and what we believe about the content of the Gospel shapes how we feel towards God and how we think God perceives us.  Is it possible for me a believer who has heart has been regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, to positionally be distant from God? I think this is where Paul yells, “By no means!”  Romans 8:39 says otherwise: “nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”.  Nothing.  NOTHING.  NOTHING!

But wait, can’t our sin effect our intimacy with Jesus? Yes. But my sin, my apathy never once has ever affected my distance of nearness to how God perceives me.  I am still His son.  I am still His.  So why do I feel like God is distant from me? Is it because I’m not doing X,Y,Z? “By NO MEANS!”  I feel like God is distant because I have chosen to not believe.  My distance was not a problem between me and God, my problem was between me and my belief.  My feeling of distance was not an action issue, it was a GOSPEL ISSUE.  I had forgotten the simple truth of Christ’s already full purchase of my righteousness and standard with God.  That instantly birthed worship, gratitude, and humility!

And then there was, “if I could just get back to where I was”.  Who is this guy? Why was I believing these lies.  It’s crazy how quickly I went from believing a small lie to running hard after something that provided no peace.  Once again though, to get back to where I was was implying that I was spiritually better than I was today.  Some of you might think that it’s okay and actually right to think that we can grow spiritually, and I agree.  But we must be careful with that, because all of our flesh want to claim that and wear it like a badge of honor.  We don’t even notice it and it can start with good intention to desire intimacy with God and months later we look back and its more about the GROWING than it is God.

Don’t take my word for it, look at Paul.  I could argue that the older Paul got the more he thought he wasn’t growing.  The older he got the more he recognized his NEED for Jesus as well as his want.  Early in Paul’s ministry he wrote to the Corinthians and said, “I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle.”  Toward the middle of his ministry he wrote in Ephesians 3:8, “I am the least of all the saints.”  Paul as he got older is getting worse? Weird…. Then at the end of his ministry, while in prison for a second time Paul tells his young student Timothy, “I am the foremost of sinners.”  Paul went from the worst apostle (12) to the worst of Christians (a couple thousand at that time), to the worst of all sinners(I think that means everyone!)

So was Paul getting worse?  I think Paul was less concerned of his progress and more concerned in Christ exaltation.  When that becomes all we consume and rejoice in, we become absurdly weak, AND THAT’S OKAY!  There’s so much freedom to know that I am still just as much in need of Christ’s atonement today.  Because I know that I’m still covered!

More assured?  Close the GAP?  I think you see where I’m going here.  Scripture beats this concept

 

 

Progress is overrated

Not everything was a blur

My daughter is 10 months old.  What?!? Let me say that again, my daughter is 10 months OLD!  She’s about to go through a mid life crisis she’s growing so fast.  I cannot believe it.

This summer was a blur, but at the same time there were a couple very strong memories that I could recite almost word for word play by play.  Interestingly enough most have to do with Hadley Jo this summer.  Emmy and I had an absolute insane schedule this summer and traveled over 7,000 miles visiting the sites for the summer camp that we are helping launch at Kanakuk.  So a lot of things run together.  But there are a couple things that do not run together even in the slightest:

1. Being a Daddy is the best job in the world. One night in June Hadley woke up in the middle of the night.  Why?  Ask Jesus, but its maddening when it happens(true colors).  She decided that she wanted to sit up and just cry.  I’m sorry did I say cry?  I meant SCREAM.  So being the super dad I am I looked at Emmy and told her, “I got this baby!”  Man…so sacrificial I am.

I went into her room ready to battle.  I was ready for the screams to not phase me and I would be strong so we could STICK TO THE PLAN of sleep training our daughter(yes, you actually have to sleep train humans, didn’t know that before little missy).  Now I have done this before and I was strong.  I walked in to turn her over, let her know everything is okay and then left the room.  No problem Dad 1-Hadley zero.  But this time was different…

Right when I walked in, it was like knives shooting into my stomach when she was screaming.  And then as I looked at her, she reached for me wanting one thing, Daddy.  I grabbed that child quicker than I ever will and immediately put her to my chest.  Her chest rose and fell and she didn’t fall right back to sleep.  It was like she needed a couple minutes to sit and enjoy the late night time with daddy and then she sniffled her way back to sleep.  And I held her for a good 30 minutes, but it felt like 2 minutes.  We sat down and just rocked in the chair.  I looked at her little face and am enthralled by the fact that, she’s mine.  Guys – this is why Daddy’s have the best job in the world.  I get the gift and responsibility to love my daughter so unconditionally that it hurts.  Literally hurts.  But it’s the sweetest thing in the world.  I won’t ever forget that night.  And there have been MANY nights like that – but there will never be a night like that.

2. Quick conversation with large implications. I got to talk with a mom during one of our weeks out on KampOut about the purpose and position of the local church.  This conversation was maybe 5 minutes long, but I got to share what I believe the Bible clearly says about why families need the local church and why they should get excited about digging deep roots with a local church.  It’s incredible that my job is that I get to champion that belief through providing a great service that blesses the church.

3. My wife is a rockstar.  One thing that made me most nervous about my new job was that during the summer’s my wife was going to be working for me.  She has seen me work before, but never has she actually been on the team that I’m leading.  And I’m not peach to work with: I’m a verbal processor, I’m always thinking about the NEXT thing and sometimes not totally in the now, I’m pretty scatter brained.  I sometimes shoot and then aim later…so I was worried that she would HATE working with me.  But man, I had no idea how much of a beast my wife is.  She is like a little administrative monster who inhales everything administrative and spits it out perfect.  It has been one of the greatest joys this summer watching my wife excel.  My greatest prayer for this new stage of life is that Emmy would feel adequate as a mom and successful as a women’s director.  And God has been so faithful!  Because my wife is a BOMB mother and a phenomenal women’s director.  The girls’ staff doesn’t even know how lucky they are to have a woman like her to look up to.  So pretty much, she rocks.

4. Laughing, a lot.  Our family, Emmy Hadley and I, have laughed a ton this summer. And if you haven’t heard Hadley Jo’s deep belly laugh then you haven’t tasted a glimpse of Heaven yet.  I am thankful that one of the things I remember most from this summer is that in the midst of chaos my family tries to choose joy.  Laughing for us is like medicine.  Because I’m an idiot and easy to laugh at.

 

Let’s run it back? Not quite yet.  I’m excited for a slower pace…for now.

 

L, is for the way you look @ me…

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m at the point in my life where wedding as and engagements are popping up all over the place.  It’s like everyone decided to get married or engaged this year.  This summer alone Emmy Jo and I laugh at all the weddings we either know of, are invited to, or in.  What a fun time!

Along with all the weddings comes all the different styles, choices of music, and differences of each one.  That’s a blast for both of us because we get to kind of re-live our wedding moment.  I feel like every time vows are given I’m reminded of what I stood up and committed to in front of family and friends to Emmy Jo two and a half years ago(where the heck did the time GO!).

But no matter what, amidst all the differences and what not; most weddings have Scripture being read.  It doesn’t matter how committed to Jesus the husband and wife are, there is usually at least a passage read from the Bible.  All in the name of tradition right?  And hands down the most well-known and most commonly used passage in Scripture used at weddings is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends”

This verse holds so much beauty in it. Anyone can read that verse and say, “YES! I want someone to love me like this.”  You don’t have to love the Lord, or be a Christian to desire this kind of love given towards you.  We can all agree on that.  If not, your a liar.

I might even go a step further and say that each of us reads verses like this and think “I can give that love to someone.”  If we were honest.  This is the chick flick romantic verse that everyone reads and claims that they will one day have that with their husband or wife, or boy friend/girlfriend.  And I think culture has stripped this verse of its power, of its weight and the struggle of it.  This verse provides a problem for people…

First and foremost, this verse I think isn’t just about the feeling of love.  That love doesn’t necessarily make you feel so “in love” with someone that you naturally become: patient, kind, humble, rejoicing in Truth, enduring, or persevering.  This just isn’t even close to true.  And Scripture doesn’t point to that.  The verse doesn’t read “when you are in love you are patient, you are kind you will not envy,” NO; it reads that TRUE “love IS” these things.  So there is a dilemma here:

Biblically speaking, according to Paul, Love equates to these qualities and characteristics.  These words that the Bible equates to Love are words that aren’t naturally easy.  So right away… Love is hard.  Let’s run with this a little bit.  I would say that in the root of what biblical love is, there is another DEEPER word.  An action.  A lifestyle.  A CHOICE.

To die. John 15:13.

John Piper says it like this, “To love like this is to die. If I am to be like this, something in me must die. My strong craving for a trouble-free life must die. My need for an uninterrupted schedule must die. My demandingness that frustrations and interference get out of my way must die.”

Love is patient and is not irritable.  Nor is it easily provoked.  This type of love is painful.  It hurts because it strips me and you of our individualistic mindset and forces us to be entrenched in a Kingdom mindset.  What I mean by that is this: Let’s take patience. It’s way easier to be patient when the outcome is for my gain.  I love food, and I’m WAY okay with slow cooking something because when I taste it, it will be better!  However, impatience gets us is when our patience directly correlates with nothing of our good, and complete involvement in the good of another.  Think about how you turn into a monster when sitting in traffic.  You turn into Vin Diesel from Fast & Furious cutting everyone off because you don’t care about their good.  You dehumanize the other people; they are objects in the way of YOUR outcome.  Man, I’m guilty of that.

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing.  Sin has no place in the life of a someone who wants to Love.  Rejoicing in wrongdoing means LIVING in wrongdoing.  That must die.  This will be painful because its stripping you of things that might bring you a small satisfaction…

It bears all things, endures all things, perseveres, never ends.  None of those words make loving sound easy.  Actual it makes is sound hard.  Painful even.  To endure means there is opposition.  To bear means there is something you are holding on to keep yourself from.  And last: It. Never. Ends.  A constant, daily, hourly, minutely, secondly choice to die to these things and Love.

These need to die.  To truly love, we must learn how to, train ourselves in, work tirelessly in the concept of dying to flesh and pressing into Love – which means pressing into the Lover.  Paul got it…

“I do not fight like a man beating the air. No! I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached(or loved) to others I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

All of these things will cause pain, turmoil, and tension in your life if you are TRULY loving as the Bible teaches.  Not every time, don’t read that and nit pick my words.  Their is sweet reward for biblical love.  We just must understand what the reward is.  It’s Jesus.  It’s Heaven.  And it’s Joy.  But all three of those things come with suffering more often than not.

After all – let’s really look at this verse from the eyes of the REAL author – God himself.  When God is writing about love, he is writing about himself.  He is love(1 John 4:8).  Therefore, he is just digging into his very nature and being when he walks through outliers of what Biblical love is.  So for us to know what Biblical love is, we must know who God is.  To get our closest picture of what God is we look at the manifestation of God himself, the image of God himself(Colossians 1:15): Jesus.

Jesus embodied Love by dying.

You see it comes full circle.  Starting from God.  Exemplifying his very being through the Son.  Dying as an incredible act of reconciling Love.  Then the Holy Spirit qualifies and calls a believer to initiate this love into the world as a testimony on God’s behalf(1 Corinthians 5:16-21).

So this verse is heavier than I think people use it at times…or even most the time.  To Love like the Bible says is to understand that it will cause us to die.  Dying to the things and the desires of our self.  Dying to the weak kind of emotive love that will fade. It will I promise.  And standing up to press into the one who actually gives us all ability to Love, the Holy Spirit, and Love like Jesus did.  So PLEASE, use this verse in your weddings!  But sit under the weight of what the Truth says.  Rejoice in the Truth.

And here in lies the problem…I am the worst at this.  Praise God for grace that not only saves lost sinners, but sustains wayward sons.

We are wired for being consumers

My best friend Zach and I were literally inseparable freshman year.  I mean it was almost comical . My roommate and I had this video game chair in our bedroom(laugh it up, laugh it up) and Zach spent a lot of nights literally sleeping in that chair because he didn’t want to walk back to his room at night.  Granted that was nights that he didn’t just shack up with me in my twin bed – yeah, we were THAT close.  I think there was one point in time where we probably had 15 straight meals together or something.  Everyone knew Zach and I were best friends, I mean our birthdays are 1 day a part from each other, COME ON it is destiny.  So naturally, best friends move in together right?  We did just that.

Our sophomore year we shared a room and to put it lightly, it created tension.  It’s funny how quickly you get to know someone when you sleep right next to them.  I have this tendency to just “borrow” stuff whenever I feel like it, without asking.  Zach is the opposite.  He asks four times before he borrows something, and when he returns it, it looks better than before.  I, on the other hand, give it back to you when you ask for it three months later….Luckily Zach was patient.

All that to be said, Zach and I had a rough go around that year.  We learned really fast that even the closest of relationships suffer from time to time.  I had expectations, and so did he.  And I constantly missed them, and he did at times as well.

A lot of the tension that was caused usually boiled down to two things for Zach and I.  And now that I think of it this is pretty similar for all relationships, our sin that we inherited from Adam has ruined us!

1. Our bent is to be  SELFISH consumers…

This one is obvious.  For some reason I got it into my head that Zach because he was my best friend had to give me certain things, provide me with certain encouragements, and GIVE ME STUFF.  I don’t know where it came from, the entitlement was absurd.  All of my nature does it with other relationships as well.  Why is the first thing I think about  “what can they do FOR me?”  And you best be certain this has trickled into my relationship with Jesus….

Insert genie bottle and give me, give me give me XYZ Jesus.  Thanks I’ll go not sin now.

Scripture is really clear about about our consumer based lifestyle – it’s crippling.  Proverbs 21:25-26 is black and white in its sharp warning, “the sluggard’s craving will be the death of him because his hands refuse to work.  All day long he craves for MORE, but the righteous will give without sparring.”  Here is why this verse is VERY crucial – it’s not just in the black and white explanation that craving more things, wanting more stuff is going to result in endless dissatisfaction. But what makes this Scripture even more compelling is because of the CONTEXT here; the story behind the words.  The author of Proverbs was Solomon, and this dude knew how to party.  Solomon made it his mission in life to test the world.  He had everything at his fingertips, he literally tried to satisfy himself with the world.  He was a rich king and bought everything you could think of, he was a Justin Timberlake type of guy and had more girls than we can imagine(literally he had 700  wives and hundreds of concubines), but he still wasn’t happy.  He wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:14 “I have seen(and had) all things that are  done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”  So if ANYONE is qualified to say that the entitlement and thought of I GET I GET I GET will end in anything but sorrow, it’s this dude.

We are wired and bent towards a selfish consummation of everything outside of a covenant relationship with Christ.

2. Our bent towards selfish gain tends to outweigh our understanding of reality…

So, I love Zach.  I know Zach is for my good.  I even knew when we shared a room that Zach was a patient guy.  Zach vocalized constantly that he didn’t appreciate my flippant abusing of his things.  I even desired to be better at times.  But for some reason in the end when I wanted it, I took it.

Don’t really get why he stuck with me…

See there’s the point though.  I already knew the truth and the reality that Zach didn’t function the way I did.  I even thought consciously that I needed to change.  But my appetite for MY good seemed to continue to outweigh my want for Zach or his stuff.  This example is very small – but so telling as to the nature of our hearts.

There is a spot in Scripture with Peter and Jesus where we see this.  In John chapter 18 Peter, who is a follower of Jesus already, denies Jesus three separate times.  Oh yeah, and Jesus threw him a bone telling him he would….I mean the cards were stacked up in Peter’s favor and he still couldn’t resist his appetite to consummation of selfish gain.  He didn’t want to be ostracized by society.  He wanted to save face.  Jesus knew he would do this.  He called Peter’s bluff.

This is why I LOVE Peter.  He’s my dude.  All passion and zeal, “raw raw raw for Jesus,” but man when it comes to what it’s going to cost him;  he’s a different guy.  Bi-polar towards his savior at times.  Oh man! that’s me!  I read Peter’s story and see a mirror.

Don’t really get why Jesus sticks with me…

What doesn’t help is society today feeds this consumer behavior.  You are your own best provider – if you want XY or Z YOU will have to be the one to get it.  You are a consumer whether you like it or not.  No matter how hard you fight it, you are, we are selfish consumers after the next thing that will give us  “it”.

So where does the Gospel come in?  Here’s what’s crazy – God from the beginning was about this concept of being a consumer.  We are created in the image of God, that’s why we are consumers.  God is a consumer by nature, so are we.  However, we somehow found a way to dement this beautiful perfect quality into cosmic treason against our Creator.  Let me explain:

Let’s take the word consummation(love that word!).  The completion or finalization of something.  God has promised us in Scripture that there will be a day when it is complete(Revelation 21). It being harmony between God and the world.  RECONCILIATION between God and his people.  But how?  Through our perfect example of consuming.

Jesus is the greater consumer.  This sounds weird, I get that – but follow me.  We all are consumers, like God.  Jesus consumes for others on HIS behalf and we consume for ourselves on God’s behalf.  You see… we missed it.  We flipped it on God.  Think about it….

We all decided on our own will, because we just think our way is better than God’s design, to consume things, relationships and everything for ourselves!  In other words,  we are prideful.  We sin. We are the exact opposite of Jesus.  If Jesus is perfect, that opposite is IMPERFECT.  We are guilty with unclean hands.  But(Praise the Lord for that word), Jesus consumed all our imperfections for us on his behalf on the cross.  All of the unrighteous, imperfect, selfish consuming of what we want and rebellion was consumed by Jesus and placed in his cup.  That cup was heavy and full of God’s wrath that we should’ve had to drink(Luke 22:41-46).  But Jesus consumed that for me.

The quicker, more theological way, to say this consuming is Imputation of Righteousness, or the Great Exchange.  Jesus consumed all the wrath of God, penalty of sin for me, and handed me his perfect record, Godly image, and righteous power.

And now – the Holy Spirit has consumed us and marked us with himself.  Ephesians 1:13, “having believed in the good news of the Gospel, we have been sealed with the Spirit forever.”  You see!  God is the perfect consumer.  He took all the junk and replaced it with treasure.  That’s why in Ephesians 1:14 God refers to our salvation as an inheritance!

I was a seflish consumer.  Wayward, and no chance to reconcile to my creator.  But that old identity was consumed and swallowed up on the cross.  So now I am consumed by the Spirit, through the power of the cross, and from this day forward I consume myself with that FACT.

It’s my only hope. It’s all of our only hope.

Forward thinking is rooted in past experience

I am not the best at reflecting.  It is so important to be able to look back and just sit on past moments.  Not me though, I’ll do it to recall a memory and move on!  I am a full speed AHEAD type of guy.  Sometimes to a fault.  The only time I am really good at reflecting is when I am actually evaluating something.  I have got a gift for taking something so unnecessary to evaluate, and I’ll spend 15 minutes processing about it and give it a a mental grade.

I’m absurd.

I try and avoid reflecting  when it comes to simply looking back and seeing what has come of things.  If I was really honest I am fearful of reflection because I do the same two things every time:

1. Why am I still HERE?

When I look at what’s gone in the past and actually start reflecting I start to just see all the inconsistencies, lack of discipline, and negligence on my part where I just get mad at myself.  It’s defeating really.  I sit there and think, Eight months ago I was struggling with the EXACT SAME THING – it’s like I’m a little baby(hmmmm’ that’s what we are compared to them in Scripture).

2. Is that ALL?

Once again same thing – I am a dreamer and set lofty goals and usually have huge expectations that are never reached.  For example, I remember when I was in second grade I told multiple people in my class that I will be on ESPN, not as a professional athlete, but as a broadcaster.

Well I got close…. Yikes!

But reflection causes us to see true colors, and true performance of how we “did” so to speak.  Or even how we measured up to what ourselves, or others were assuming would happen.  More often than not I do the same thing – man is that ALL that I really did?  Once again, enter defeat.

Jesus talks a lot about “remembering” when he is alive on Earth.  He is passionate about reflection and being able to see the bigger picture, the silver lining if you will.  Most of Jesus’ “remember” remarks are connected not with our past at all – actually we aren’t asked to remember our past or even look back to them….

“Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

Our reflection should be on GLORIOUS things, we should reflect on glory, not on tribulation.  Now reflection and rememberance in Scripture is more of a “marvel” or “be moved by”, not just a physical recollection.  We should recall tribulation, sin and trial – but we should REMEMBER Jesus.  We should marvel at the beautiful fact that “it is finished”.

This is great news because my wife and I are in a massive stage of reflecting on what is about to be the past because we are about to uprooting everything and changing a lot of consistent things in our life here in about 2-3 months.

Let’s go ahead and just lay out this starting line up on team Change:

1. Having our 1st baby 2. Taking a new job 3. Moving to a new city where we know almost no one 4. Buying a house 5. About 8 hours away from family.

It’s the Dream Team!

With all that coming, Now it’s my turn to REFLECT – MARVEL – BE MOVED BY – Our time in Waco… I have had a ton of time to not only have sleepless nights about all thats COMING our way, but also all that we are leaving behind.  And I had a sweet moment to just remember, and marvel at Jesus and the past three years working in Waco.  These things have created deep worship in Emmy Jo and I and we have been given a glorious gift from the Lord with these things:

  • Our marriage – the fact that the Lord divinely gave use each other is just incredible.  I mean, come on, Emmy Jo is smokin! But also, just being able to laugh and have a blast together these past two years and do it in Waco, where our alma mater is – it truly has refined us into looking more like Jesus and also we are slowly taking on the character qualities of each other which has been so sweet to see.
  • Our ministry – K-Life, there isn’t words that can be said without tears following.  I love this ministry.  We have labored over the kids in this ministry.  And God has answered in mighty ways that I could never see happening.  I have seen kids that did not believe in ANY God, now love and follow the one TRUE God and leading their girlfriends that direction as well.  I have seen a group of awkward 7th grade girls turn into 18 year old  women who have hearts to bring the Gospel to their families who don’t love the Jesus, friends who need Jesus, and enemies who think they don’t want Jesus.  I have seen reconciliation in homes that only the power of the Holy Spirit could do.  And last, I have been able to come alongside college students and see them mold to Jesus likeness – these people will be husbands and wives one day, they will be mothers and fathers one day – and I have gotten the gift of joining the Holy Spirit in preparing them to lead their households waving the banner of the Gospel of Jesus!
  • Our community – Emmy Jo and I have had some sweet and unique opportunities to both separately and together disciple and mentor people who are now some of our dearest friends.  We have seen a lot of people come and go in Waco, and now that it is our turn we are marveling at all the individuals at our local church and Baylor community that have fervently prayed for us and with us for our lives.  What a rich, rich time for us.God has been so good to us.  He has stretched us.  And he is continually completing a perfect work in us.  We are so humbled and thankful that we get these last two months in Waco – we are expecting and praying for more richness from our community, ministry, and marriage during this time.

    Though our hearts are heavy; they are full.

Open mindedness is a tricky thing

I got a good buddy who lives in California.  This guy has a heart of gold.  He continually surprises me and challenges me with the way he faithfully loves people and pursues joy above all else.  What most impresses me with this guy is not how “good” he is at those things though, but how much he thinks about the things that he does.

Meticulous in everything, life is in the details and answering the question why for him.

I love that about this dude.  It inspires me and reminds me to do the same.  So, we are talking on the phone catching up and we start talking about his conversations with people who don’t believe in God and their issues with Christianity.  It usually boils down to one thing – Christians are “closed minded”.

People say it’s their issue with marriage equality, or hypocrisy, or judgmental tendencies and I would say that all those things are rooted in this idea that Christians are “close minded”.

Touche world, touche.

So my buddy and I started working through this and it got me thinking, are TRUE evangelical Christians who have been captivated by the incredible finished work of Christ close minded?  It’s for sure a good question – I guess I’ll make it more personal…

Are you close minded? Am I close minded?

Confession: I am close minded at times.  I think we all are, that’s not a stamp for Christians, or for atheists.  That’s just a reality of people.  We all have opinions and we think they are right.  The question is what funnel are we looking at it through, and how do we evaluate our opinions and beliefs?

So person A thinks I, Garrett the christian, am close minded because I look at this book(The Bible) and without fail say this is True and nothing else is.  That’s a thought, and a legitimate one at that – but here’s my response:

Honestly, I don’t think someone whose an honest bible believing Christian is close minded.  I think it takes an extremely open minded person to read and consume the things that are stated in this book and come to the conclusion that its the right design for the world.

I think it takes someone extremely open minded to read Romans 8 & 9, and everything in their first glances think “this is wrong, this can’t be what God means!” and then come to the place of submitting to the Word of God because it’s not your decision, but God’s as to what Truth is.  I’m extremely open minded to that.  In my head I might think its wrong – but my heart KNOWS God is not wrong, so I will submit to that Truth.

One step further – There are some crazy things that happen in this Bible.  I mean like ridiculous things.  A virgin had a kid.  People raising from the dead.  Some old guy building a massive boat and lived over 500 years.  Massive bodies of water splitting down the middle… I mean it takes someone pretty open minded to read all that and then go… Yup, I believe it.

I think it has less to do with how open our mind actually is and how well we actually articulate ourselves.  And more importantly, people care less about what you say and more about what you do.  So Christians, we must realize knowing Truth is only part of the game, but portraying Truth is the GOAL!  The gospel words without Gospel action is no gospel of Jesus.  And the Gospel action without the words of the Gospel is Christ-less, therefore HOPELESS and leads to nothing!

Last, Christian – are you open minded in your own faith?  Are you willing to read the Bible and accept what God is trying to tell you about who he is?  Or are you only willing to take parts of the Bible and implant what you want it to say about God and use those verses as your ammo?  I worry that men and women in my generation (including myself) that we look outside of the Bible to find who God is.  I worry that we read passages like Ephesians 1:4-6 and John 15:16 and say things like “I refuse to believe in a God like that!”  What if God’s moral compass of what is Good is more advance beyond your understanding?  I think that’s a legit possibility…

I think our open mindedness as believers has gotten mudded.  Let me be clear, when I say open minded, I mean open minded to the Bible and what the Scriptures tell us.  The problem is, we as Christians have taken the word open minded and replaced it with acceptance.  We say we are open minded to culture, but really we now accept things in culture that the Bible blatantly says – NO.

We are not God.  God is God.  He hasn’t messed up yet – I trust him.  We must let Him do His job and not predicate our assumptions on to what He says and declares about Himself.  I think we feel entitled to our assumptions because of our “freedom”.  But Paul is pretty clear when he is talking to his brothers and sisters in Christ about their assumptions of God:

“But who are you O man to talk back to God?  Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘why did you make it like this?’  Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some pottery for a common use?” Romans 9:20-21

Let’s just take the Bible for what it is Christians…

Truth.