Set Free VBS- Day One



I volunteered again for Vacation Bible School at Set Free Church in downtown Nashville. It’s just as much of a leap of faith (or like the above picture, an ascension into the unknown). Inner-city ministry is decidedly out of my comfort zone, but as I’ve learned, you almost never learn anything or grow or experience fullness of joy and peace inside your comfort zone. You must always step out and take risks for those miracles to happen.

That said, I had an amazing night of seeing God at work. To the average cynic, it might seem like a futile task reaching out to inner-city children who to every appearance have no attention span whatsoever and almost no impulse control. But I don’t believe that, or else I wouldn’t have been out there, doing my small part to share the love of Christ with these kids.

IMG_0769I think that deep down all children have the same needs: someone who sees them and cares about them and loves them. They are just like adults in that they won’t care how much you know about the Bible, Jesus, theology, and doctrine until you show them how much you care about them as people and not as statistics.

I’m only one very imperfect person who’s out there trying to love on some kids. I’m not Billy Graham or Mother Teresa. But it’s not about my abilities anyhow. It’s about me making myself available to a very perfect God who can take my little bitty offering (think loaves and fishes) and multiply it to satisfy the soul-needs of a multitude. It’s not great faith in God that accomplishes wonders, but faith in a great God. Even if that faith is as small as a mustard seed.

IMG_0733So it’s about planting small seeds of faith in these kids. It’s about taking their posturing and sometimes snarky attitudes and loving them anyway and pointing them to Jesus, who loves little children more than anyone. 

Who knows? Maybe there’s a future Billy Graham or another Mother Teresa amongst these kids? Even if it’s one life that gets changed, that’s enough. As an old Jewish saying goes, if you change one person, you have changed the world. At the very least you have changed that person’s world. And for me that will be more than enough.




Vessels: Meditation on Kairos Tonight

I love the illustration Mike Glenn used tonight in Kairos. He spoke of washing down an Oreo with a glass of milk, only to discover at the bottom of the glass some residue left from the dishwasher.

You woudn’t say the top half of the milk was clean and keep drinking. You wouldn’t say the glass was mostly clean. You’d say the glass was dirty.

How can I call my life clean if I have unconfessed sins and hidden bad habits and areas of mine that I’ve not put under the Lordship of Jesus? How can I expect God to use me if I am mostly clean? God doesn’t use lives that are mostly clean.

I need to be completely clean.

But that’s the beauty of it.

I can be clean if I just simply ask. First I confess. I agree with God that I did or said the wrong thing and left undone the right thing. That I chose my way instead of God’s way. Then I repent, turning 180 degrees from my way to God’s way.

Furthermore, if you want to be a vessel used by God, you can’t wait until the storms of life to get ready. You have to be ready.

Mary was already God’s servant when He called her to be the vessel to bring Jesus into the world. Joseph was already a righteous man when God called him to take Mary as His wife and raise Jesus as his own son.

They didn’t wait until God called them to get ready. They were ready.

The beautiful part of all this is it’s never too late to get ready. It’s never to late to ask God to mold and make you into the person God can use to impact the world around you.

Whether you’re 20 or 40 or 60 or 80, God can still take your life and use it to bless many more than you could possibly imagine.

I want to be like the loaves and fishes Jesus used to feed the 5,000. I want to be broken and blessed, so that the pieces of my life can bless far more people than a safe, unbroken life ever could. I want to be confessed and clean and ready when the time comes that God takes my life and uses it as He sees fit.

I hope you do, too.

Some thoughts about worship

Jesus didn’t die for our good works or good intentions. He didn’t die to make good people better. Or for that matter to make bad people good. He died to make dead people come alive. He died for our dark places, our wicked deeds. He came to take our blame and our shame and give us His perfection. Jesus died to make us worshippers.

John Piper says in effect, Worship, not missions, is the purpose of His people. The reason that missions exists is because for so many peoples, worship does not. People can’t worship a God they don’t know. People can’t worship a god made in their image that is too small to save or love or rescue anybody. Redeemed people worship a real God. Really when you look at it, missions and evangelism are both forms of worship– declaring the great worth and works of God to all peoples.

Worship is Romans 12:1-2, offering our bodies as living sacrifices. In the Old Testament, part of worship was offering sacrifices like bulls and goats. Since Jesus did away with the old sacrificial system, what we bring as our offering of worship is ourselves. Worship is giving to God our bodies, our souls, our true selves. Worship is giving back to God what was already His and acknowledging that He owns it all, including us.

Worship is James 1:27. When we give to the widow and the orphan, we give to Jesus. Whatever we do for the least of these, we do for Jesus. Jesus didn’t choose the popular or strong or wise; He chose the throwaways of the world, the lepers, the outcasts and the abandoned to be His worshippers. Worship also means keeping yourself unstained by the world, to be set apart and different. Worship is either a 24/7 lifestyle or it’s nothing at all.

Worship is taking your two loaves and five fishes and watching Jesus turn it into a meal for thousands. When we give what little we call our own to Jesus, He takes it and not only blesses the multitudes, but gives back to us more than we can contain.

Worship means to kiss, to adore and to sacrifice. It is saying that God is supremely worthy of all of me. It means I will give my life away on a daily basis for the Kingdom of God. It means that every breath is a praise and every thought a prayer.

Honestly, after all this, I still don’t really know what worship is. I’m not very good at it. Or I should say I am not very good at worshipping the right thing, i.e. Jesus of Nazareth who died on the cross and rose triumphantly from the grave and has all authority in heaven and on earth, including authority over my life.

In the New Testament, when people worshipped, they fell on their faces. In the book of Revelation, the apostle John fell on his face before Jesus as a dead man. That’s what I pray for: to die to everything else, to fall on Jesus, and live to Him, with Him and for Him only.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.