The problem with many illnesses is that you can have them and not even know it.
Take high blood pressure. You can often have it and not even know. The only way to know it is to measure it. If it’s high, you can treat it. Otherwise, you might not even know.
I have sleep apnea. I hook myself up to a CPAP machine every night. If I don’t, I feel miserable the next day.
However, I didn’t know I had it for the longest time. I knew I snored. I didn’t really realize how tired and sleepy I was. My wife was worried about me, so I had a sleep test and, voila’, I was treated for sleep apnea. Then I realized just how ill I was.
I think that’s the way it before we come to know Christ. We are sick. Sin sick. We just have absolutely no idea about it.
We need to be born again, but we wonder how we can enter our mother’s womb again.
We need to become new creatures, and all we know is the mud we wallow in constantly.
We need to enter the kingdom, but we choose to covet, fornicate, commit adultery and homosexual acts and all manner of other sins.
We need to be well when instead we choose to be sick.
Not well, sickness, is all we know.
Do we want to be well?
I learned an important lesson during these first three and one-half months this year, especially when it comes to blogging.
My friend, Jim Woods, calls me the Cal Ripken Jr. of the blogging world. I don’t buy that, but I’ve let him tell me that several times. He and I joke about how I show up every day to bring a post to you.
I’m going to let you, and Jim, in on a little secret. It’s how I learned this valuable lesson.
I really haven’t written much lately.
Yes, I keep posting, but most of the posts this year were written in December and January. At one point, I was exactly three months ahead of the game.
Now, as I write this one, I have almost an entire week empty. I don’t have a huge stockpile of posts ready to go.
Here’s the problem that I ran into. Here’s the lesson I learned.
When I get too far ahead of the game, I get lazy. I don’t feel the pressure to publish. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to have some margin, but I don’t need to get too far ahead of myself.
I also learned that I kind of painted myself into a corner. I wasn’t able to be as flexible when I really wanted to write something that was relevant to the time period. I could have written it and postponed something else, but, again, begin ahead of the game caused me to be a little lazy with it.
So, I’ve about caught up to myself. I’m only about a week ahead. That’s about as far out as I want to get.
This episode reminds me of what James is talking about when he says the guys should say, “If the Lord wills, we’ll do this or that.” (My paraphrase)
I’m going to write and publish. If the Lord wills.
I read a lot of blogs and follow a lot of folks on Twitter. It’s an interesting world that I find myself immersed in much of the time.
One of the things I find as I flit in and out of certain blogs is that there is a lot of angst that surrounds the church. It seems that there are a lot of folks that have been troubled during their church lives.
I suppose I understand it a bit. I don’t have a lot of happy memories from my youth in the church. It wasn’t because the church really did anything to me.
I didn’t have a lot of friends in the youth group and always felt like an outsider. That had as much to do with me and how I saw myself as with them.
Sure, there was an unfortunate incident where a youth minister and I had words. I didn’t go back to the youth group, but I had already made my way out of the group.
I was marginally in church during my college years. I went because I was supposed to, but never considered giving it up. Once I was married, we settled into a church and made friends. Once our daughter was born, we moved to another church and was there for the best part of seventeen years.
I wasn’t happy there in that church for the last eight years. I blamed the preaching and the music and as many other reason as I could find. We finally left, but once I settled down I realized what the real problem was.
I was trying to make the church into what I wanted it to be rather than what Christ created it to be.
I think this is the problem with so many of those who decide to grind their ax on the church in their blogs and tweets. And by so many of those, I include myself at one time.
Angst is great for teenage and young adult novels. Comic books full of teenagers full of kids bitten by radioactive spiders? Awesome.
The church? Not so much.
You see, the church doesn’t always act like the Church. I think we all know that by now. But that’s not the end of it.
The Church almost always inhabits the church. You know what? That’s a beautiful things.
The church, nor the Church, isn’t anyone’s punching bag. No, it’s so much more.
It’s the Body of Christ here on earth whereby we see proof of the Living God.
It’s the Bride of Christ, dressed in His righteousness, waiting on the wedding that is to come.
Angst? It has no place amongst His Body or Bride.
Let’s banish it. Now. Right now. It doesn’t belong. Let’s not let it linger.
How would you help rid the Church of the angst that some wish to bring it?
Worry has been a part of my life for far too long in my life. I grew up with worry being one of the main parts of my life. I was an anxious kid, full of anxious worries anticipating an anxious future.
Somewhere along the way, I decided to stop worrying. Maybe it was because I was afraid of what it would eventually do to me. Perhaps I was tired of the control it had on my life. It could have been due to what scripture had to say about anxiety.
The problem is that it isn’t simple or easy. If it was, no one who follows Christ would ever worry or be anxious about anything.
I’ve had conversations with people over the years about worry and anxiety. I may have even angered a few.
I recall one conversation I had a few years ago. Someone chastised me a bit for not worrying enough about my family. This person believed that worry was the truest form of love that a person could express. I jokingly wondered if they thought that Jesus got it all wrong when He said to “be anxious for nothing.”
A friend of mine from church recently felt compelled to tell us a story about a particular Saturday. He had his entire day planned out, but nothing came to fruition the way he wanted.
He had the opportunity to discuss with some people. He boiled it down fairly simply. Worry is not of faith. That which is not of faith is sin. Worry is sin.
John Piper wrote a book a few years ago based on some sermons called Battling Unbelief. He tackles several subjects that cause us problems that befall us and states that our falling to them is unbelief.
Let’s think about that for a second. Anxiety and worry are really just signs that we don’t believe God’s promises.
Jesus said that the birds, the flowers are dressed beautifully,and that He cares more about us than them. What is to be our response?
In the immortal words of Alfred E. Neuman, “What, me worry?”
I’m not going to insult you by saying that you won’t worry. It will happen to you and to me. Our reaction is what makes the difference.
We can embrace the worry and let it control and guide us through life.
Or we can take the better path. Seek God’s kingdom. Trust Him. Believe Him.
Are you a worrier? Or do you fight worry?
A while back I was reading a passage in 2 Corinthians at church. I think my pastor referenced it during his sermon.
This wasn’t the point of the passage, but what stood out to me was that the word Therefore was used about seven times in the chapter.
Therefore is not an unusual word. Paul uses it in other places. It was just the amount of times that it was used that seemed unusual. Paul would write a small paragraph. Then he would begin the next one with therefore. Then again. Then again. Then again.
Paul would build a case. It would lead to a result. Then to another result. And so on.
I wondered what the therefores are in our lives.
You lost a parent at a young age. Therefore.
Your spouse left you. Therefore.
You were laid off from your job. Therefore.
You became a parent. Therefore.
Insert whatever scenario you want. Therefore follows, whether it’s implicit or explicit.
It really comes down to what we decide to do with the situation.
I had a situation happen to me when I was younger. My therefore was that I let it affect me negatively. I thought my therefore was that I could use this event as an excuse for all sorts of bad thoughts and behavior. Finally, I cane to my senses and decided enough was enough. I wasn’t going to be a slave to this one thing any longer. Therefore.
When I was almost twenty-six, I realized that I had never truly put my faith in Jesus Christ. I did one day at lunch. Therefore.
I had a bad attitude in my job and it was holding me back about ten years ago. Someone helped me see this. I slowly changed it. Therefore.
I was in a bad church situation for years. I prayed that God would get me out of it. Finally, He did, albeit in a much more painful way than I expected. Therefore.
Therefore is a powerful word. It is full of infinite possibilities and fraught with danger. It is a fork in the road. It is not as simple as Yogi Berra’s response of taking the fork. Which direction we take is incredibly important. It will shape out lives for years to come.
They say that when people headed west in wagon trains there were signs that said to choose their ruts carefully. They would be in them for years to come. The same can be said of our therefores.
Which will you choose?
Have you found that you have chosen good and bad therefores in your life?
I grew up Southern Baptist, whatever that means. I mean, I know what it means. What I call my growing up church was Southern Baptist even though I never really knew what that was all about as a kid. I don’t think kids really understand that sort of thing. It always seemed much more important to the adults than to us kids. We just wanted to see our friends, play a little and drink the green Kool-Aid during VBS.
I was still Southern Baptist throughout most of my adult years. I didn’t boycott Disney when they weren’t family friendly enough, even though we didn’t go to Disney World while that thing was going on. We never really boycotted anything. That never seemed like it would really do any good anyway. “We’re going to punish you unless you do what we say” has never seemed like a sound strategy for a church organization to me.
We spent 17 years of our married life in one Southern Baptist church. It took a while, but we finally escaped. We were able to get away from a tradition that strangled and stifled, never wanting any real change, just that which would satisfy a few. We were able to get away from those who didn’t want to move forward, those who wanted to remain comfortable, who didn’t want their spirits shaken or stirred.
We bounced around for over a year. We tried mega-church. First church. Rock ‘n roll church. Stiff church. We landed for a bit, but soon moved on. To where?
We shake things up there. No Sunday is the same. You can’t sleepwalk through a service.
Church could be on Sunday morning. Or in a small group. Serving those needing help. Singing our praises. Praying silently. In the noise or in the quiet.
It could be in the hospital or at the Subway.
We are the church. It’s no building. It’s wherever we are.
Former Baptists. And Catholics. Methodists and Presbyterians. You name the background, there’s a good chance we’ve got it.
We don’t all agree with each other on theology. We have some Arminians and I’m shaped more like Calvinists.
Most of all, we’re Mere Christians. We agree on Christ. We can set so much of that other junk aside. We fall at His feet. He loves His children.
My church is Merely Christian.
There are things that stir the passions within my heart
Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys circa 1946
Any Beatles song
Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix on guitar
Dylan’s poetic verse
Willie, Waylon and the boys
A Stephen King novel
Anything related to Rich Mullins
Sunday Bloody Sunday
A new series of Doctor Who
University of Tennessee Football
A new book, any book
Ephesians and Romans
In the beginning
The Word and the word
A chariot of fire and Chariots of Fire
An hour of good preaching
A minute of a good song
A second of a great one
The Lion of Judah
The Lamb that takes away the sin of the world
The Son of Man
The Son of God
The Name above every other name
I AM WHO I AM
When my soul soars