Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Self Care Deficit

Working off of the idea that the church is a hospital, I'd like to posit that many of us have a similar diagnosis. It's called Self-Care Deficit.

Self-Care Deficit, in the clinical setting, is referring to the idea that a patient is lacking the means to take care of themselves in any number of ways. This could mean that they lack the ability to feed, clothe, dress, or move around on their own. Usually these people are put in a facility where they can be taken care of in a more long-term setting.

Metaphorically, I say that, since sin is the sickness, our spiritual Self-Care Deficit is the idea that we cannot will not feed ourselves with the nutrition of the Word and prayer. In the medical world, we would call this non-compliance. In other words, it's not that you can't take care of yourself, it is that you refuse to. And in doing this, you fly against the face of what a relationship with Christ is supposed to look like.

"I don't refuse to spend time with God, I just don't have time!"

Look, I understand what it means to be busy. Life gets ahead of you. Things pile up. Responsibilities start to overload. I get it. But, in that moment when you decide, "Well, I know I should spend time regularly with God, but I could use that time to study/sleep/make more money/etc." what you're basically telling God is that all of those things are more important to you than Him.

And truthfully, how many of us are so busy as to not give God an hour of our time a day? I know that's a nice little chunk, but let's start considering what other smaller priorities we can take out of our schedules in order to make time for the God of the Universe. It's gonna give you what you need to face all of those things that call for your time in the first place!

So here's my nurses order (to start):

1 hr. solo time with Christ O.D. (once daily) via the soul

RMP: I Can Do Anything

Funny? Check.

Clever? Check.

Indicative of modern mentality? Check.

I love this quirky little video. Gets me laughing every time. I think there's a fundamental issue at question here, though: the main tagline of this video is, "I believe in my smellf." All right, all right, that's funny.

But let's honestly consider this: there is no amount of self-help that can be done to make you into the satisfied man you think it will. Not enough self-esteem tapes. Not enough ladies. Not even enough muscles.

My point? It's not self-esteem that's gonna get you where you wanna be. It's knowing and being known by God.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Lottery

I grew up in a system where, if someone heard the word "Powerball," they would immediately think the devil himself has just entered the building. I don't know about all that, though. I was always raised to follow the principal that gambling is dumb. Not necessarily sinful, (although it can very easily become so) but just plain, flat-out dumb. Like those pants you wore today.

Oop. Sorry. Forgive me. That was uncalled for.

In any case, that's just the view I've always maintained. The idea is that if you've already won the lottery, why   keep wasting your money?

"Qua? I've never won the lottery..."

Well, I'll have compassion on you - I'm normally also very literal. I mean we've won the lottery of knowing Christ (if you're a believer).

I read a curiously popular little book called, "Don't Waste Your Life," by John Piper. I say "curiously," because the book essentially makes the claim that most of us are wasting our lives, and that kind of stuff tends to offend modern sensbilities. Anyhow, I liked it.

Piper definitively claims that the key to praising Christ is "prizing Christ." Basically, it's the idea that pursing joy and pursuing Christ are the exact same thing. Look for one, and you will find the other. They are an inseparable package. So if Christ is the prize, why haven't we been treating our relationship with Him like we won the lottery?

We walk around telling people that the joy of knowing Christ is better than anything else, and yet how many of us can say that this is actually something we experience? Why don't our lives prove Philippians 3:8 - "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

I can only speak about what I myself have experience, so know that this is something that I also struggle with. But I also think that this story begins and ends with seeking to know Christ through prayer and the Scriptures. I don't think there's any loophole to knowing Christ other than to (holds breath) actually spend time with Him. Go figure.

Monday, September 17, 2012

RMP: Afterlife

I had the privilege of seeing this amazing band this last weekend at Rock The Universe, (a weekend-long event filled with Christian bands at Universal Studios, Orlando) and for a person who enjoys concerts, I have the pleasure of saying that Switchfoot is the best concert I've ever been to.

They played this song during their set, and suffice it to say, it was powerful. The song is all about not waiting until death to truly experience life. And if life is found in Christ, I don't want to wait until I die to experience Him.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Royal Statue

I've never had a serious hospital stay after infancy, but the fact is that the hospital is a weird place. It's an isolated island of sickness floating amid the ocean of the healthy. It's this strange little world that becomes completely self-contained and independent when you enter inside. If you're a patient, you're probably already disoriented because of the sickness that landed you there, so you're at a loss to really mentally process everything that's going on. You're like a child going to school for the first time. A school where everyone has E. Coli. Plus, your very life is being handled by people you've never met.

Naturally, this makes you very vulnerable.

As a nursing student, I've been learning a lot about the patient-nurse relationship, and how vulnerability plays a big part in the formation of this association. Let me explain it this way: if you're in pain, you start to look for help. When help arrives, you become extremely grateful and possibly very close to the person who helps you. You can start to look up to your nurse, doctor, or any healthcare professional.

My pastor once said something like this, "The church is a hospital."

Well, my first tempation was to think, "Well, if the church is a hospital, then the pastor is the doctor, right?"

 *Insert buzzer sound here.*

No! If the church is a hospital, then God is the doctor! I think looking up to the pastor as some sort of super-being comes from the fact that we, as flawed, pathetic sinners, think that there is someone who's made it. And you know what I mean by "made it," right? I mean, this is someone who sneezes and holy vapors come out. Someone who has been able to rise above the dung-heap and be triumphant. Well, if there's anything I've seen, it's that this man does not exist. The simple truth is this:

We are all sick.

I guess what I'm trying to spill out of my brain is the idea that we can't elevate anyone to a position they were never meant to hold. And we tend to do that with just about everyone, albeit differently with some people. Worship leaders, celebrities, political figures, sports stars, and the list goes on. We idolize these people above "the norm," when all along Christ is the one who even allowed them to the position they have attained.

Don't you see how disgusting this is? Romans 1 would say that we've "exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!"

My suggestion is that we idolize Christ and stop putting action figures on a pedestal made for A Royal Statue.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Plundered Goods

I think there's a pretty strong mentality of individuality and independence in America. It's the Land of the Free, right? The country where you can get all that and a bag of chips. We pull ourselves up by bootstraps (which I've never seen), and drink our whiskey straight. On the rocks. In other words, we are a self-made country.

I guess I can see where it comes from, considering our origins and the uniqueness of the way we earned our independence. So, when I say that each one of us are goods that trade hands, there is a propensity for great offense to be taken.


Well, bear with me, 'cuz this takes a bit of explanation. And the first part is reading Matthew 12:22-32. It's a bit of a read, but I've pasted it here for your convenience. How nice of me. Thanks me!
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
 Hey! Focus! Your eyes were glazing, and you've got a bit of drool... right there. No, not there. Right there. Yup, now you got it. Good. Moving on.

 So, typical day in the life of Jesus. Let's SparkNotes this situation for a second.

-Jesus gets brought a possessed man, whom He heals miraculously.

-The Pharisees get tee'd off, and mumble about their disbelief.

-Jesus tells the Pharisees off in a way that only He could do.

-He sheds a little light on spiritual warfare.

And that is where I'd like to hit the brakes and focus on this one part:
Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?
For some reason, in the past, I had typically read this passage with the understanding that the plundered goods were our hearts, which we would have to defend against spiritually demonic forces. Well, let's just say I was on to something, but I didn't quite hit the target.

We, my friends, are the plundered goods.

Jesus is saying that the strong man and his house are Satan and his kingdom. That's why He says He has to bind the strong man in order to steal the goods. To steal us.

Let's think about this for a second. The Christ walked into Satan's house, forced him into a chair, tied him down, and made him watch as Jesus stole the very thing that gave Satan any feeling of power: our souls. Now if that's not a slap in the face, I don't know what is.

The reason I make this point is twofold:

1. I think it's amazing how God does what He wants and cannot be tamed by any manner of evil.

2. In a reflection of the last post I wrote, we are once again weak. Because, in this story, we are not the daring hero that breaks into the house and does as He pleases. We are the damsel in distress, biting our fingernails in terror of death and the unknown - crippled by our fear. We need a Savior.

I don't know if this is something that God is trying to show me, but I keep seeing it. We have no strength. That's something that belongs to Him alone. But, when we are brought into the family, Christ's strength becomes our heirloom - something we can claim as ours. It becomes something that we can operate out of and form the church that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against." It's part of the complete package called "The Holy Spirit."

That's why I think it's important to realize our place as plundered goods. We have been stolen from the darkness.

Let's start living like we know what we came from.

RMP: JD Greear

There's not that much to say about this video other than the fact that it is unrelentingly honest. I just love the way this guy shares the Word with conviction and strength. And it's not long.

It won't keep you from your facebook trolling for more than 3 minutes.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Offense

I just wanted to play some ball with my friend. I didn't know it was considered "trespassing." But, nevertheless, I had a sinking feeling that climbing over the high school's fence to get into the ball court on a Saturday morning with my best friend wasn't the best idea I'd had. But I guess the middle school mind has some kind of built in override for those kinds of thoughts. Or it just might've been drowned out by the thoughts of other things - like cookies... mmm... cookies.

In any case, I guess you could call that my first criminal offense. Yup. I was a bad dude, writhing with all the rebellious, anarchist thoughts a tweenage boy could muster. Well, at least if rebellious thoughts consist of playing ball. In any case, it wasn't an ideal situation.

"But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed."
I like that. Perhaps it's because it appeals to a youthful "anti-" mindset, but there's something about the idea of the cross being offensive that makes Christ even better. At least, that is, on this side of the fence. Because if you live on the other side, then this makes Christ seem all the more ridiculous.

Well, what offense are we talking about? If you read the context, (the verses before and after the afore-quoted verse) the Apostle Paul is addressing the Galatians for their return to the way of circumcision as a supplement to salvation. Paul vehemently opposes this idea, even going so far as wishing that the instigators of this idea would emasculate themselves. Castration, anyone?


The idea was that Paul didn't want these new believers to rely on anything other than faith for their salvation. He was telling them that he was completely opposed to the idea of circumcision by showing that people hated him for rejecting it. If this is the case, then the offense of the cross is that we aren't allowed to rely on anything other than faith alone, which is given to us by Christ. Simply, it is that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. In other words: we are ultimately weak.

The offense of the cross is that we need the cross.

So, let's take joy in this offense. Let's not dress it up with the piling on of self-esteem audio tapes and confidence seminars. If the pulling of bootstraps is involved anywhere in this story, it is the straps that were pulled from the back of our Savior. Let's stop burying the gospel under mounds of ear-tickling and good vibrations.

After all, the Good News isn't the Good News without the bad news.