Thanks, Uncle Mike: The Sequel

I heard out of your own mouth tonight that you are stepping down from Kairos soon. I’d heard it from other people recently, but even so, I couldn’t quite believe it even when you were the one saying the words.

I thought I’d say a few words to you, since I most likely won’t get to say them to you in person.

Thank you for being faithfully devoted to the Kairos ministry and to all of us who have attended over the years. We see how biblically wise you are. We also see how honest and vulnerable you are at times, making us feel like it’s okay to struggle and have doubts, even if you’re a senior pastor of a megachurch with several campuses.

I for one am a better person because of you and Kairos. I like myself a lot better than when I first started attending Kairos way back in 2006. I understand more of my Abba Father’s love for me and am learning how to define myself by that love and the voice that calls me His Beloved.

I learned how to take a few minutes in the middle of my hectic day and be still and have a moment or two of prayer. I learned that confession is not beating yourself up, but admitting that I acted out of fear instead of faith, of owning my sin and calling it for what it really is. I learned that I-40 West will take me to Memphis every time (even if I’m only going to Jackson). I learned that Oreos are your kryptonite and that a mostly clean glass of milk is still dirty.

I and many others saw how much you loved your parents, your wife, and your sons. That more than anything has probably helped strengthen many of our marriages and families.

I can’t imagine Kairos without you. I keep saying how much I like change and I’m always ready for it, but when it actually happens, I find I’m not so fond of it. Sometimes, I wish I some things could stay the same.

But I think I’m ready for what God has next for Kairos. I’m excited for you and what God has in store for you next. Plus, I’ll always think of you whenever I pick up a Henri Nouwen book.

Anyway, thanks for allowing God to use you in helping me become more like Jesus. I and the rest of those you’ve touched through Kairos will never be able to repay how much you’ve blessed us all.

 

If It Hadn’t Been for Those Meddling Hypocrites!

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For some odd reason today, I thought about the movie Annie Hall and a great line. Woody Allen’s character says something to the effect of: “I wouldn’t want to be a part of a club that would have me for a member.”

Then I thought of all those people who stay away from church because of all the hypocrites. So here are my thoughts on that.

First of all, if you never went any place where there were hypocrites, you’d be at home alone in the dark with your pet ferret. You’d never go anywhere for fear of running into one of those hypocrites. You might even have a hard time looking in the mirror, because . . .

That’s right. You’re a hypocrite. So am I. We’ve all pretended to be something or somebody we’re not from time to time. We’ve played the calm dispassionate part when we’re falling apart and screaming on the inside.

Society teaches us to be hypocrites, to never let our true selves out but to only show what is culturally acceptable and normal. You can be yourself as long as that fits a certain cookie-cutter mold.

If there’s anyplace where you can be you, it should be the Church. If there’s a place where you can let your guard down and admit your hurts and flaws, it should be in the midst of the body of Christ.

Churches aren’t perfect because Christians aren’t perfect. As the old joke goes, if you find the perfect church don’t go there because you’ll ruin it with your imperfections.

Church is about doing life together and figuring it all out together. And if you’re not getting anything out of it, maybe that means you’re not putting in your fair share. Isn’t faith about more than just receiving? Isn’t there the part of giving and losing yourself?

I’m glad I’ve found a church where I feel like I belong, where I matter, where I can be a part of what God is doing in the world. I hope you find a place where you can feel like family, too.

Authenticity

authenticity

I did one of those personality analysis tests and was not too surprised at the results. Basically, it turns out that I’m an idealist who wants to make a difference in the world around him. I pretty much knew that.

The test also said that I am drawn toward authenticity.

I think there are few who wouldn’t want some kind of authenticity in their lives, to be in a place where they can truly be themselves. Not only that, but a place where the people around them are just as genuine.

Ideally, the Church is just the place where that should happen.

Sadly, that’s the last place you find true authenticity these days.

These days, especially in the American Church, most believers feel they have to wear the “super spiritual, got it all together” mask and act as if their lives are perfect. Very few feel comfortable being open and honest about their struggles, addictions, and fears for fear of being judged and condemned.

That’s sad. That’s also not at all the Church Jesus had in mind when He prayed that they be united and one just as He and the Father are one. That’s not the Church portrayed in Acts as sharing possessions and helping out the less fortunate.

That’s not the kind that will draw the hurting and helpless, the kind Jesus told us to reach out to.

Pretending to be perfect is a damaging facade in two ways. First, it’s an impossible illusion to maintain because no one is perfect. Second, it creates the false image that to become a believer, you can’t have any issues or problems or sin-issues.

I think what people are looking for when they look to believers are people who make mistakes and fess up to those mistakes, who fail miserably and pick themselves up and move on, who have flaws and choose to see the good in themselves and others.

I’m praying that I can live with that kind of authenticity. I’m praying you will seek to be just as honest and real and transparent in your own lives as well.

Remember, God above all knows your deepest secrets, your utmost failures and flaws, and loves you just as you are. Not as you wish you could be or how you see yourself on your very best days but just exactly as you are when you’re feeling lowest.

That’s the kind of love I’m craving and the only kind of love that can change me into someone who can love others the same way.

 

More for Those With Broken Hearts

I have something I’ve learned about having my heart broken a few times that I want to pass along to you. First of all, I want to say that okay to grieve when your love or interest in someone goes unrequited. It’s okay to hurt. I think it requires as much of a grieving process as losing a loved one, because you’re seeing the death of a dream that was very dear to your heart.

I think it’s okay to be brutally open and honest with God about the pain. He can take it. Besides, he already knows those feelings that you pretend aren’t there when you tell yourself that you’re fine.

That said, I think one good thing out of having your heart broken is that it is never again the same shape as it was, pre-break. It’s larger. And if you choose the path of healing versus the path of grudges and bitterness, good things can come out of the pain, such as these:

You have more room to love others and you have an increased sensitivity to those in pain around you who need your love.

You give more grace toward those who act out of their own hurt toward you because you remember when you did the same out of the great pain you were once in.

You have more compassion and tenderness in general because you know what it’s like to need it and find it so you want others to experience the same joy you did.

Finally, you become a little more like Jesus because you’ve shared in his sufferings. Jesus above all knows the pain of a broken heart, both physically and metaphorically. He’s the one who wept over Jerusalem because they wouldn’t come to him and find life and freedom. His heart was just as broken that day as when the spear pierced his side into his heart.

So remember that there is nothing broken that God can’t take and make beautiful. No, not just beautiful like it was before. It won’t ever be the same. It will be much, much better.

 

 

 

Live Naked

I need to preface this blog by emphatically stating that by “live naked,” I so do not mean join a nudist colony or walk around all day in your birthday suit. If you do, we will disavow all knowledge and pretend you don’t exist. This blog will self-destruct in 15 seconds. . . .

For real, I do think that we need to live naked. By that, I mean live transparently and honestly. You will always be a second-rate version of someone else, but a first-rate version of you, because God made you to be you, only you, and no one else.

That means you don’t have to force yourself to believe that everything is fine when it’s not. You can honestly admit that you’re having a bad day, that your brokenness is showing, and that you feel completely inadequate to handle what the day is throwing at you.

To like naked is to live a life that is 100% 24/7 completely and utterly dependent on God for every single moment and every single thing. You know you need God in the next moment to avoid a full-on falling apart mental and emotional meltdown. You need all of God’s strength to hold you together and you need all of his love to keep you sane.

To live naked is to live trusting without understanding, following without knowing the way, and believing without having all (or even most) of the answers.

That’s how I am choosing to live each day. That’s how I pray you choose to live. Because believers aren’t perfect, but forgiven. If anything, those who have given up everything to follow Jesus know that Jesus is all they have and that Jesus is all they need.

It’s a battle to trust when your emotions and thoughts are screaming at you that God won’t come through. It’s a lifelong struggle, but it’s so much more than worthwhile.

May we live naked starting today and every day.

Life Together: A Review of Sorts

I just finished reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a short book on Christian community and fellowship. Basically, to sum the book up in one sentence:oh, oh, we need each other (borrowed from Sanctus Real).

I found this observation to be very interesting. We can’t truly be in community and fellowship unless we’re comfortable being alone. If we’re always needy and clingy when it comes to others, we hinder true communion. But if we come out of a healthy self-awareness, we add to the fellowship rather than drain it.

Also, we can’t truly be alone without being in community. Even when in solitutude, we carry our brothers and sisters with us in our hearts and their prayers carry us. The whole Lone Ranger/Marlboro Man/go-it-alone type Christian is a myth that is exposed in the first storm we face.

I thought this quote from Bonhoeffer perfectly describes the freedom from truly being in open and honest community with others:

“The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”

What true beauty looks like (from a guy’s perspective)

grace kelly

This may get me into trouble. I’m venturing out beyond my comfort zone into uncharted territory for me as a man. I am probably way out of my league on this, but here’s what I believe about true feminine beauty. So read it with a dash of salt and a touch of grace (or more like a whole heaping handful of grace).

True beauty is more about character than cosmetics. Instead of putting on the latest fashion, it’s about putting on “compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it” (Colossians 3:12).” Some questions I would ask any woman who wants to be known for her beauty are: 1) How do you treat those who are different than you? 2) Do you go out of your way to associate with those who are not in your social circles, and possibly beneath you in terms of societal rankings? 3) Have you given of yourself to someone you know will never be able to repay you?

In my opinion, true beauty means a woman need not always try to prove or justify herself. It means that she knows who she is, or better yet Whose she is. That she is a daughter of the King, a princess and knows how to act like one. It means that if I ever want to pursue and court her, I must treat her like the princess and child of God she is. True beauty means that if I took her and turned her over, I would see God’s signature as proof of her priceless worth (and yes, that one came from Mike Glenn, not me. Gotta give props where props are due!)

Charm is deceitful and beauty of the outer kind is vain and fleeting. But fearing the Lord is what makes a woman lovely. I have always thought that Grace Kelly was one of the most beautiful women ever, and I think it’s because you see gentleness and kindness in her eyes.

I’ve changed a lot in my views about what makes a woman beautiful. Now I think what makes her beautiful is her transparency, where Christ shines brightest through her. That’s what I want in a wife. That and a sense of humor, cause she’s pretty much gonna need it with me. And maybe Rachel Ray’s cooking skills. Ok, that last part was a joke. Maybe.

I’ve probably got a whole lot to learn about this topic, but I hope I’ve made a good start. Which is always being willing to admit how little you know about what you thought you had all figured out. That’s where I am.