Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For the Children

I didn't steal cable last night. I could've. I was right there, with the filter in my hands, ready to hook the incoming line directly to the distribution line, but I remembered something someone said to me,

"Is that all your integrity is worth?"

Is it only worth the price of a monthly cable bill?
Or a ream of paper at work?
Or a bit of embarrassment that could be covered up with a white lie?
Or extra change at the check-out counter?
Or one small moment of gratification?

Integrity is integrity. We spend too much time wondering where we should set the price. The value of something stolen doesn't determine how bad the offense is. The likelihood of getting caught doesn't determine if something should be done.

Maybe your integrity isn't worth that much to you. You might not think twice about trading it for a better parking spot or a pen that finds it's way into your pocket. But, as I read this morning, it isn,t just about you.

Proverbs 21:7 The righteous who walks in his integrity-- blessed are his children after him!

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Monday, September 27, 2010


"We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything."
- 2 Corinthians 6:8b-10

Society, culture, the world: whatever you want to call the collective of non-Christianity, it has a certain understanding of how things work. It sees things a certain way, establishes values a certain way, promotes success a certain way and judges you a certain way.

Jesus' call to follow him was a call away from all of these things.
It was a call to embrace the creator of the world.
It was a call to reject the values, successes and views of the world.
It was a call to life.
It was a call to death.
It was a call to exist in paradox.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Friday, September 24, 2010

on Culture

"If everyone lives roughly the same lies about the same things, then there is no one to call them lies; they jointly establish their own sanity and call themselves normal."
- Ernest Becker

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Send / Receive

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."

So many times we follow a preconceived notion of what God sends. We have the Bible, His word, and don't look any further than that. We believe that if we study enough and learn enough, we don't need anything (one) else. Lock us in a tower with the scriptures and we'll see you in heaven someday.

We're open to receiving the scriptures. "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it." We might even be open to advice from someone else, but only if it is properly packaged around the right scripture verses and presented in a clear, logical way.

God didn't think this was enough.
See, people did this for thousands of years and they got really good at it. They knew every word of the scriptures and the hundreds of laws derived from them. They were called Pharisees. They knew the information, but not the application. They missed the point.

So, God sent something new. He didn't send more information, He sent incarnation. Jesus didn't bring the word, the logos, he WAS the word. It was time for imitation, not just information. He came and lived a life worth duplicating.

He said to his twelve guys, "Come, follow me." Not come and learn from me. Not come and listen to me. Not come and watch me. Follow me. Where I go, you go.
How I live, you live.
How I love, you love.
How I die, you die.

Many people couldn't receive this. They were down for more information, but not imitation. When the information got hard or confusing, those who weren't imitating were vacillating and then migrating.

But those who were imitating, those few guys, those disciples saw crazy things, incredible things, mind-bending things that changed them. They saw the Kingdom of God and what a life lived in the Kingdom was like.

And then they were sent. And some people received them. And those who received them received the one who sent them. And then they were sent and received.

And despite our predilection for information, God is sending someone to you for imitational purposes.
Will you receive them?

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Monday, September 20, 2010

Motivating Factors

His friend Lazarus is dying. To get to him, Jesus has to go back to where the people had just tried to kill him. His disciples say say he can't go back there, because of the danger he will face.

Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him
- John 11:9-10

At face value, it looks like Jesus is saying they should make a day trip. "As long as we're home before nightfall, we have nothing to worry about."

Until you get to that last line: "the light is not in him."
Jesus isn't talking about morning and evening and the rotation of the earth. He's talking about motivation.

What drives us? Why do we do the things we do? Are we driven by light or dark? Do we follow the call to love our neighbors or do we hide because that might not be the safest thing to do?

Light or dark?
Love or fear?
Good or evil?

What drives you?

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Paul's Words

"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ."

So very needed today.

Location:Salem Pike,Cincinnati,United States

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In the midst

But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

We each have wildly different reactions when faced with adversity. We question why God would let something like this happen to us. We lash out with reckless abandon. We weep, cry and despair. We launch a counter-offensive. We try to find and fix what we think is the cause of the situation. We run and hide. We blame others. We recruit others. We pull others down with us. We give in. We cave. We fall.

Rarely, rarely, do we worship.

David led his 600 men into battle for Achish, the Philistine Lord he had been serving. (Yeah, you read that right. Look it up.). The other Philistines said there was no way they were fighting alongside Hebrews. Dejected and rejected, David led his men home only to find that their homes had been burned, their goods had been stolen and their wives and children had been carried off into slavery.

What would you do?
Cry? Run? Scream? Fight? Quit?
But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

David and his men got everything back they had lost. The cattle, the gold, the wives and children - everything. They had the help of an Egyptian slave who had been left to die. They were the beneficiaries of a tremendous 'coincidence.' They were in the right place at the right time.

But only because in the midst of the struggle, when things were at their lowest, David worshipped, abided and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

God of Destruction

1 Samuel 5 recounts the events of God's capture by his enemies. (Well, the Ark of the Covenant, an early example of "God With Us", was captured. God was still doing his thing free and clear outside of our concepts of space and time.) These guys knew how to handle gods. It wasn't their first time around the block. They set up the ark in their trophy room and I'm sure they got their best story together.

Yeah, we hunted this fellow for two days before we got a good look at him. When we finally took the shot it landed a little high, so we had to track him another day and a half before... well, you can see for yourself. We've got him mounted right over here next to Dagon...

But, something happened in this particular case. That trophy just wouldn't behave. The next morning, they looked in the room and found the statue of Dagon lying face down next to the Ark. They set him back up, wondered about adding some braces to the floor and went about their business. The next morning, Dagon was face down again, only this time that face was no longer connected to the body and neither were the hands. Dagon had become a headless, handless, worthless trophy. And things only got worse.

Men in the town got sick. They shipped the ark to another town and the same thing happened there. They moved it along to town number three and it happened again. Finally they got smart and just said, "get this accursed thing out of here," and they sent it back to the Israelites. Unfortunately, many times today we do the same thing.

We consider God just one more thing in our lives and we try to place him alongside so many other important things.
Church is great, as long as it doesn't interfere with football.
I love my Lifegroup, but not when I've already had a busy week.
The bible is great, but not as important as getting that extra hour of sleep.
Love my neighbor, but Jesus never met MY neighbors.
I know prayer is important, but not so important that I should plan out time to do it when I won't fall asleep mid-sentence.

Should we be at all surprised when things in our life fall apart. God deserves and demands to be the centerpiece of everything we do. He's a consuming fire that destroys anything and everything that comes between us. He's jealous of our time, energy and affection.

Is some area of your life falling apart? Could it be because you're holding that area above God?

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where's your God Now?

10 You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, No one sees me; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, I am, and there is no one besides me. 11 But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, for which you will not be able to atone; and ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing.
- Isaiah 47

Sin has an amazing way of making us feel, well, amazing. It can let us escape from troubles, it can give us a leg up on others, it can make us feel superior and help us get ahead.

Sin also has a way of making us feel special. "I know that some people have issues with this, but not me. I've got it under control. I can make it work and no one will get hurt. And besides, I'm strong enough to handle it if something changes or goes wrong."

Something does change and something will go wrong. It always does. And what happens next is as obvious from the outside as it is invisible from within. The superiority and false sense of control turn on us. What we once saw as a sign of strength becomes the prime source of our weakness. What we most need in those times are the other people we have distanced ourselves from.

The journey back is excruciating. It hammers the ego and tears at pride. It stings and burns and feels like you are losing everything you have gained - because that's what is happening.
And that is what we need.
And it goes against all our 'primal' instincts.
And the result is more than we could have hoped for.
And that is how God planned it.

Sin isolates and none of us can escape it on our own.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Trees and Power

Judges 9:
8 The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, Reign over us. 9 But the olive tree said to them, Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?
10 And the trees said to the fig tree, You come and reign over us. 11 But the fig tree said to them, Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?
12 And the trees said to the vine, You come and reign over us. 13 But the vine said to them, Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?
14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, You come and reign over us. 15 And the bramble said to the trees, If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.

Who are you serving?
What do you give power in your life?
Are you settling?
Don't get burned.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States


If you read through the gospels, you may notice something about Jesus. He didn't just wander from town to town rattling off catchy sayings and doing good deeds. He wasn't just a clever guy who people listened to. Peace and tranquility didn't really surround him. Like some variation of King Midas' curse, everything Jesus touched got messy.

In the middle of one of his messages a naked woman shows up, followed by a mob of men with stones. A demon-possessed maniac shows up from a cemetery, hundreds of pigs die. People push through the crowd to grab his clothes. He makes a whip and destroys a marketplace. He touches people who are unclean. He's constantly harassed by the authorities. Even his death didn't go as expected.

So, why do we insist on order? Why do we want extended plans and things done in a certain order? Why do we cringe when things go out of order or something unexpected happens?

If Jesus is involved, things are going to get messy.
Given the alternative, I'll take the mess.

Location:Harrodsburg Rd,Keene,United States


Jeremiah 18:14 Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion? Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams? 15 But my people have forgotten me; they make offerings to false gods; they made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient roads, and to walk into side roads, not the highway, 16 making their land a horror, a thing to be hissed at forever. Everyone who passes by it is horrified and shakes his head.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States