Maybe you aren’t disgusted enough just yet

road-mountains-street-countrysideSojourner. Exile. Pilgrim. Alien. Foreigner. Immigrant.

These are words that most uniquely describe God followers throughout Scripture and history. You might say such designations find their ultimate expression in Jesus’ words from John 17.16 “They [my disciples] are not of this world, as I am not of this world.”

But most Christians–in America, at least–are indistinguishable from the world.

Why?

Jesus is so clear. The prophets are clear. The apostles Paul and Peter and John are clear. James, the brother of Jesus is clear–friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God.

So why the willingness to get in bed with the world, to lay there, strewn about in an adulterous sprawl?

Maybe we aren’t disgusted enough. That’s Eugene Peterson’s answer in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. More accurately,

A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way.”

There’s Eugene. Whispering wonder into world-weary souls that have been consumed by consuming everything and having nothing to show for it.

Until you’re really disgusted with the pattern of wanting, getting, and regretting, nothing will change. Until the tastes of momentary indulgence and fleeting happiness are no longer appetizing, nothing will change. Let alone choosing the way of Christ. The Way that says the more of yourself you give away, the more you find.

How much more will you have to get, consume, envy, or lease before you are disgusted enough to change? And when that disgust reaches a tipping point, to what or whom will you turn as an alternative?

This turn, biblically speaking, is called repentance.

 

Weary Mama, Jesus has been there

jesus-feeds-5000

Moms, the struggle is real. I’m not a mom, but I am married to one. We have four kids, the oldest of which is five, three of which are girls, which means there’s more drama in my house than on all of daytime television.

And when I find myself taking care of all of them solo, I wonder how my wife does it the other six days of the week. But what’s that have to do with Jesus, you ask?

Jesus performed two separate feedings of thousands of people with minimal resources.

In Mark 6, there are 5000 men and who knows how many women and children. The disciples have just returned from their maiden missionary voyage to report all they’ve done in Jesus’ name. But Jesus says, “Shhhhh….you need to rest.”

Out on the boat they go for some rest and relaxation. After all, you can only pour so much of your cup out before the thing is empty. Time to refill.

BUUUUUUUUUUT here come all those needy people. It’s like no matter where Jesus and the boys go, the crowds find them.

Jesus has compassion. “They’re like a sheep without a shepherd,” lost, wandering aimlessly without a clue of how life is supposed to look. After instructing them even more, Jesus feeds them. Actually, he makes the disciples feed them after miraculously multiplying the fishes and loaves.

So I’m reading this in preparation for Sunday’s sermon, and I think, hold on one daggum minute. I’ve seen this happen. In fact, I see it almost everyday.

Lindsey has 2 or 3 kids with her depending on the weekday. Inevitably I get a call or text about 2pm. That’s supposed to be nap time for the kids, which would mean mommy time, which would mean rest or something productive for her own sake.

But that 2pm text usually reads something like, “Addie sabotaged nap time today” or “Caroline is still awake and asking where you are” or “Why do my kids hate me?”

I try to reassure her it’s only a season…that’s going to last another 5 YEARS!

And before you do the whole, “Cherish it because it goes by so fast and you’ll miss it” thing, I hear you. But I’d be better off slapping a lion in the face and trying to outrun it than telling that to my bride.

There will be times, dear mommies–maybe every single day of the week–when you’re at the end of your proverbial rope.

  • Physically exhausted.
  • Mentally shot…like you just found the milk in the pantry that you thought you put in the fridge mentally shot.
  • Emotionally worn.
  • Spiritually sapped.

Because you pour yourself out and out and o..u…..t.

And still, here come those needy people. They’re hungry, tired, scared. They have a belly ache or need a drink of water for the fourth time in 14 minutes. They have no idea what life is supposed to look like. That is, no idea except what you show them.

You’re poured out for them. You resemble the disciples, called by Jesus to shepherd and feed and love those who can’t seem to fend for themselves.

So you have compassion. You shepherd those little hearts (sometimes with the spanking spoon), but always with love. Even when it doesn’t feel like love, it’s love. You’d roll yourself across burning coals for those little punks.

Jesus was literally broken and poured out that we might be blessed and filled. You are figuratively broken and poured out that they might be blessed and filled. But what a calling that is. What a season.

 

Why Yellow Lights are Good for Your Soul

 

We all do it.

We calculate speed, distance, level of risk, and then make the decision…

With grit of teeth and a flex of the ankle we hit the accelerator and speed on through that yellow light.

Whew, made it. Look at those poor souls stuck at the red light. Of course they will catch you while you’re stuck at the next one, but it doesn’t matter because you made it through this one.

Yellow lights are quite helpful in the scheme of things, though. Could you imagine the lights changing from green to red with no transition? It would be chaos. A yellow light is one’s friend, preventing unnecessary pain, damage, and expense. They create a certain rhythm for driving, an in between if you will. Go. Slow. Stop. Go. Slow. Stop.

Now signaling the turn from illustration to application: I often feel as if I am either GO! or STOP! Fully accelerating or slamming on the brakes.

But God has been so kind as to build in some yellow lights, opportunities to slow down before stopping completely and having to accelerate once again. Sometimes I can even time it to where I don’t have to stop all the way but can keep a little momentum moving forward if I spy the yellow light far enough in the distance–you know what I’m talking about, especially if you drive a stick.

Summertime offers a litany of slow downs.

Vacation, for instance, is a red light for some. But I see it as a yellow light, a chance to take my foot off the pedal and pay attention to what God may be doing around me or what He might be asking of me. Sometimes what I notice brings me to full stop, and all I’m left with is Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God. Yes, Lord.

The scenery of summer also has a yellow light quality to it. Lying by the ocean, boating on the river, floating on the lake, fishing in all the above. Water is a often a visual representation of chaos in the Bible. But summer offers a chance to tame the beast and enjoy its pleasures. It’s a chance to slow down and just be.

My yellow light of choice, however, is this: BeStillMountains are a slow down for my soul.

I live around mountains, but I don’t have a view of the mountains like this one (picture from my parent’s back porch this morning). I’m reminded of my smallness and God’s grandeur. I remember the length of my days as compared to the eternality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Quite simply, I slow down.

The next time the light turns yellow and you start measuring and gauging whether you can make it, I encourage you to take your foot off the gas and appreciate the slow downs life affords.