The Fasting and the Feast

“When the fast, the death, the sacrifice of the gospel is omitted from the Christian life, then it isn’t Christian at all. Not only that its boring. If I just want to feel good or get self-help, I’ll buy a $12 book from Borders and join a gym. The church the Bible described is exciting and adventurous and wrought with sacrifice. It costs believers everything and they still came. It was good news to the poor and stumped its enemies. The church was patterned after a Savior who had no place to lay his head and voluntarily died a brutal death, even knowing we would reduce the gospel to a self-serving personal improvement program where people were encouraged to make a truce with their Maker and stop sinning and join the church, when in fact the gospel does not call for a truce but a complete surrender.
Jesus said the kingdom was like a treasure hidden in a field, and once someone truly finds it, he will happily sell everything he owns to possess that field. a perfect description of the fasting and the feast. It will cost everything, but it is a treasure and an unfathomable joy. This is the balance of the kingdom; to live we must die, to be lifted we bow, to gain we must lose. There is no alternative definition, no path of least resistance, no treasure in the field without the sacrifice of everything else” (Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Access).

So I finished reading the book 7. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s tired of the same old same old and is looking for something fresh and different. It’s for those who are weary of the prevalence of consumeristic Christianity that has overtaken much of America’s churches, along with a definite trend toward style over substance.

Most of what passes for the gospel these days is either some form of sin management, self-help program, or a variation of the “I’m okay, you’re okay, everyone’s okay.” The Apostle Paul said very clearly more than once that even if he or an angel should proclaim any other kind of gospel other than the gospel of Jesus as presented and expounded upon in the writings of Paul, let him (or her) be condemned.

I was convicted in several areas about my own excesses and my bouts of self-centeredness in opposition to serving others. We in this country have the means to alleviate a lot of the world’s suffering, but we choose rather to spend on lavish buildings   with the latest technologies and comforts. In other words, we’d rather spend it on ourselves.

So I’m telling you to run to your local bookstore (or your local laptop and your local amazon website) to get this book. You will not regret it.

 

Even You

35779f32786fd9078cd20a87ad325575

If you’re not a hipster, this is for you.

If you’re not a high I, type A, socially outgoing person who is always the life of the party who everyone wants to be around all the time, this is for you.

If you’re socially awkward at times and what’s in your head isn’t always what comes out of your mouth (including a long list of word you desperately wish you could take back), this is for you.

If you are an outsider, an outcast, a freak, a pariah, a loner, a loser, or just feeling unwanted and unknown and undesirable, this is for you.

When Jesus comes to your town looking for followers, He sees you hiding up in that tree like wee little Zaccheus. He sees you inching toward the back of the crowd, certain that Jesus will choose the popular and attractive people to be on His team.

He’s headed your way. You wonder if He’s about to tell you that you don’t belong here. That only the more successful more put-together, more upwardly-mobile people need apply.

But that’s not what He’s approaching you for.

He points to you. He calls you by name. Not one of the names given to you by all those who trample over you on their way to the top. Not one of the names by those who have deeply wounded your soul over the years. Not even on of the names you call yourself late at night when your defenses are down and your mind is unfiltered.

Jesus calls you by a name that you’ve never known before but know you could be. He calls out something better in you than you thought you could be. Jesus call you and tells you to follow.

“Even me?” you ask.

“Especially you,” Jesus replies. “Always you.”

Being Good Stewards

“But as certainly as God created man in His image, He first created the earth. With the same care He designed  sixty thousand miles of blood vessels in the human body, He also crafted hydrangeas and freshwater rapids and hummingbirds. He balanced healthy ecosystems with precision and established climates and beauty. He integrated colors and smells  and sounds that would astonish humanity. The details He included while designing the earth are so extraordinary, it is no wonder He spend five of the six days of creation on it.

So why don’t we care for the earth anywhere near to the degree we do our bodies? Why don’t we fuss and examine and steward creation with the same tenacity? Why aren’t we refusing complicity in the ravaging of our planet? Why aren’t we determined to stop pillaging the earth’s resources like savages? Why do we mock environmentalists and undermine their passion for conservation? Do we think ourselves so superior to the rest of creation that we are willing to deplete the earth to supply our luxuries? If so, we may very well be the last generation who gets that prerogative” (Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess).

It really bothers me that people will go out of their way NOT to recycle. It may seem like such a small detail, but I think it’s a symptom of a lackadaisical disregard for the planet we live on.

We are called to be stewards. So why then do we act so often like consumers and users instead? If we honor God by honoring His creation, do we dishonor Him when we abuse and disregard what He has made?

What are we telling our children about the value of creation when we don’t take care of it and waste its resources?

I’m asking these questions because I am trying to figure this all out for myself. I don’t want to be another of those who are wasteful because they believe that our earth’s resources are unlimited.

At the end of the day, I’m thankful for grace that is greater than any of my wastefulness and greed and selfishness. I’m thankful for grace greater than any of my sin.

 

 

Making Every Day a Sabbath

“There are days when we seek things
for ourselves and measure failure
by what we do not gain.

On Shabbat, we seek not to acquire
but to share.

There are days when we exploit nature
as if it were a horn of plenty
that can never be exhausted.

On Shabbat, we stand in wonder
before the mystery of creation.

There are days when we act as if we
cared nothing for the rights of others.

On Shabbat, we remember that justice is
our duty and a better world our goal.

So we embrace Shabbat:
day of rest, day of wonder, day of peace” (Mishkan T’Filah, Shabbat service– borrowed from 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker)

You can argue all day long about whether Sabbath belongs on a Saturday or a Sunday. I personally believe the day isn’t as important as what you do with it.

Sabbath is a day of rest and restoration. Not necessarily a day of doing nothing. Perhaps it’s a day when you step back from the rat race and let yourself breathe in and out and just be.

Sabbath is a day to remember that it’s not up to you to get it all done. In fact, the most vitally important work has already been done. God in Jesus did it through Calvary.

The universe does not revolve around you and all your drama. You aren’t the point of the story God is writing but you still get to play a part in it. You do matter very much to the same God who never lets a sparrow fall to the ground.

The world will go on just fine if you step out for a moment. Contrary to popular opinion, the universe will not cease to exist if you take a break from your hectic 24/7 schedule. Go and take that nap.

Sabbath is about trusting the Maker of the Universe to keep it going. To keep you going. To keep you safe. To keep you sane. To get you through and get you home.