Thinking.

Recently I have been catching myself thinking along this line: “no one really understands God. No one really wants an authentic, real life, muddled, flawed community. It’s all a lost cause… I’m weary of dealing with people who refuse to think critically about their beliefs, examining them inside and out. I’m so drained because of all the theological parrots, just repeating what they’ve been told without studying it, examining it, or praying it. I’m ready to be done with these people.”

And honestly? It’s depressing. So many people I meet on a day-to-day basis refuse to examine what they believe. They will scarcely even listen to someone whose ideas differ even in the slightest way from their own convictions—and even if they do listen it’s only to partake in a debate to try and prove their own thinking is the right way of thinking.

Ugh! It disgusts me! I was raised in a home where my parents challenged me to THINK about what I believe, and NOT just accept what mom and dad said. When I had a question about the Bible, my dad often said, “well Hannah, what do you think?” Usually my retort was, “I don’t know dad, that’s why I’m asking you…” But now, later in life I am SO GRATEFUL that my dad did not just spoon feed me Bible stories or his theological beliefs, because now I can think for myself, I am not dependent on someone else’s study to teach me what the Bible says.

Seriously, the two largest barriers to our American faith are (A) our traditions and (B) the fact that most do not read Greek (which is what the majority of the New Testament was written in). Unfortunately there are a number of words in the English translation of the Bible that just don’t express clearly enough what they actually meant in the Greek—what they meant to the original writer.

My heart is sad that the vast majority of Christians are content to simply go to church on Sunday morning, and maybe a small group during the week, and simply listen to what someone else studied, never once checking out whether what they are being taught is true or not. Also, it’s disheartening because even when someone tries to verify what they were taught, they are content to simply see that the verses did in fact line up with whatever principle or lesson they were being taught.

What if a small group leader, deacons, pastors, congregants all actually studied the Word? What if they stopped relying on a curriculum to teach from and began studying the Bible word-by-word, verse-by-verse? What if they were truly desiring to walk with the Lord that they challenged their own beliefs, and tested them out by reading what the Scripture is actually saying in it’s original language…what if?

Now a lot of y’all are sitting here thinking, “this chick is out to lunch! How in the name of Merlin’s beard am I supposed to make time to learn another language…a difficult language at that! That’s why my pastor was supposed to go to seminary, to learn Greek.” I understand your thinking, and please know that I am not sitting here right now saying that you should go and learn Greek (however, it would be an extremely useful tool for you when you study the Bible. Trust me, I know.) But, what I am saying is get online and use blueletterbible.org (or some other program that will show you Greek and it’s definitions). Verse by verse this website has a link for the actual Greek word being used, along with definitions of what that word literally means in Greek.

Please understand, I am not sitting here typing this out in order to bash on your pastor, small group leader, deacon, or congregation members. What I am challenging is the mindset most people in a traditional setting have adopted. My desire is that churches and ministries would be full of individuals who think deeply and seriously about what they are being taught and/or studying in the Bible. My desire is that we break the habit of repetition and become individuals who pursue the truth of the gospel on our own, and not be afraid to challenge the traditional line of thinking every once in a while…or a lot of a while.

Grace…Freedom… Systems are broken. But that’s okay they are simply human. They’re growing, changing, learning, seeking, and maturing, just like I am. I cannot reside to living in the broken system without anger or depression, but I can choose to find peace outside of it. I will choose to embrace the community around me, and strive to live by the words I claim. I will make mistakes, I will be broken, I will suffer. But I will remain a seeker.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Clarifying statements? Snarky remarks?

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Life Intersecting Savior

Well, I promised I would share my notes and occasional thoughts about Passion 2012, so here you go! Here’s the first set of notes from Passion 2012, enjoy! 

Following are my notes from Louie Giglio’s message given on January 2, 2012. It was entitled, “The Life Intersecting Savior.”

Passion is more than a conference; it’s a movement. If the Dome doesn’t affect the dorm room, then what’s the point? Passion is about spreading the name of Jesus to the nations!

Main text from Luke 7:11-18

Soon afterward he [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

In this passage the widow has lost her husband already, and now has lost her only son. In this society, she now has no male supporter, and no one to support her financially. Basically, this woman has lost everything, and is now at the mercy of people’s generosity.

Every person on this planet is walking straight to his or her funeral. Whether it’s because of a relationship you’re trying to justify, a misconception of God, a wound you haven’t let Him heal because you’re too bitter about it, or just sin. Anything that gets between our walk with the Lord leads us to spiritual death. Until Christ interrupts our funeral procession, we are headed straight to a hole in the ground.

The enemy’s only goal is to kill, steal, and destroy. Basically he wants to burry you as deep into the ground because of your sin as possible. Christ came to this earth to do one thing, glorify His Father’s name.

The Gospel at it’s heart is the resurrection of the dead. Christ steps into our lives, just like He did with the young man at the funeral. He tells us to “rise up” or as Paul puts it in Ephesians 5:14, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Christ did everything for our salvation because we were dead and buried in our sins.

This story, however, does not end with the boy and widow being overjoyed because of his resurrection. No, it ends with the news of Jesus being spread to all of the nation. Hundreds of people heard of Jesus because He took time to interrupt a funeral burial, just like He does with us. All of the witnesses of this miracle were exclaiming, “God is back! God is back!” For a nation who hasn’t heard much about a Messiah since Isaiah, this was a huge deal!

Let your life be an exclamation of the truth that God is here and He loves you! He [God] is here. He is going to shine on you. He is going to walk with you. Let Him call you away from your funeral session. Rise up and spread His name to the nations. He’s willing [and already has] to step into your life and the chaos and raise you up out of it.

More notes to follow tomorrow!

What defines you?

I know for a lot of people, their identity, the thing in life that defines them, is the thing they do. Maybe it’s being an artist, maybe it’s being smart and getting good grades, maybe it’s basketball like it was for me during high school. Whatever that thing is it shouldn’t be the definition of who you are.

As Christians our ultimate and true identity should be founded in Christ. We are, quite honestly, nothing without Him. I mean, He is the reason why we are alive today, and the reason why we get to live for eternity with Him…So, yea. He’s a pretty big deal. So shouldn’t our lives reflect that? Shouldn’t He be at the foremost of our minds all the time? Shouldn’t we bless Him when we succeed in this life because after all, He was the one who enabled us to do whatever we did…right?

But how many of us forget this? How many of us allow things in this world to define who we are as individuals? Now, I’m not necessarily saying that being involved with something, and being good at it, is a bad thing. However, there is a fine line between letting that be a part of our identity, or letting it be the thing that defines who we are. Don’t miss the distinction! As Christians, we are more than welcome [and probably encouraged by Scripture if you really think about it] to be in the world, making Disciples of others, and becoming all things to all people in order to win them…but the whole time that we’re in the world we are warned not to be defined by it. Not to give in to the temptations it presents constantly. Scripture actually talks about how the world hates us because we are Christians… We can be an all star basketball player, but if that defines who you are as a human, rather than our relationship with God, then we’ve messed up.

God blesses us with the talents we have. When we are exercising these talents, and these abilities, using them for His glory, and for the advancement of His Kingdom, then we are allowing our lives to be defined by Him, and not our talents. But once that image switches, we’re unbalanced, and our lives become about us. And when that happens, so does failure, and disappointment.

 

So, what defines you? Where do your priorities lay? Is Christ first, or does He come after­­­­ _________? Think about it…

I’m a Loser…Are You?

How often, as a Christian, do you hear people talking about “getting” and “gaining?” God gave me this, or He gave me that, or I’ve been blessed with ­­­­­­­­_______ [fill in the blank].

So much of our Christian life is focused on what we’ve received. Maybe it’s focused on the freedom we’ve been given, the grace we’ve been extended, the peace, a future secure in Christ, a love that will never fail, etcetera. Of course, these are all great things we’ve received, and worth being excited about. But a huge part of the Christian life is about giving up things. This is the part, in my opinion, most are slow to talk about.

Yet this is the part I think Jesus talked about more. Losing our life, not getting stuff from Him. Being a Christian isn’t simply a check list of things God’s done for us. Being a Christian is about being a loser. If you proclaim to be a follower of Christ, be prepared to call yourself a loser as well…

My friend, the cross means losing. It’s not just, or simply, about a new life found in Christ…No, it’s about losing your life in order to find it.

Everyone has things to lose in order to follow Christ.

The talkative, assertive individual must lose and be quite and listen.

The quiet, shy person must lose and speak up…even when it’s hard.

We lose security because Christ calls us into unfamiliar territory…

We lose our past [complete with sin]. Sometimes this also means our family, our friends, our dreams…

The wife must lose what the world deems to be her “right” when she submits to her husband.

The husband loses himself [his own desires] when he yields to the Lord and leads his family.

The motivated, ambitious person loses when God says, “Not now…wait.”

The thoughtful, careful person loses when God says, “Go! Act now.”

We’re all losers. Every single one of us but Christ was the biggest loser of all. He sacrificed His life for all of us, so that we can be losers too.

Don’t get me wrong…the Cross definitely means victory for us and the defeat of our enemy, but it also means loss, no mater how small it seems, or how insignificant in our own eyes.

God desires us to be losers. So, when He asks the losers to please raise their hand, what will your response be?

I’m a loser. Are you?

What have you had to “lose” in order to gain Christ? What has He asked you to give up, purge out of your life, turn your back on, or correct in order to make you more of a loser?