Archives For faith

Three little words.

Three little words, spoken by Jesus at the very end of his life. I’ve been thinking about them all Easter weekend.

I imagine hardly anyone who was there that day even heard Jesus even speak these three little words. They may have been spoken just above a whisper. And only John records these words.

And even those people who did hear Jesus say it did not understand what he meant.

And ever since then, we have heard these three little words, but I’m not sure we have really believed them.

Because we know ourselves. How could those three little words be true…for us? 

So we keep working at it, trying to do things that humans have never been able to do. We try to make our redemption out of “the cross…and.” 

The cross…and baptism.

The cross…and Calvinism.

The cross…and church.

The cross…and me.

Yes, we make idols out of everything that is really good. We make idols out of everything when we place it next to the cross and say “This is why I’m saved,” or “This is what makes me a Christian.”

What if we really, really believed those three little words that Jesus spoke, three of his last words on the cross? We’d stop trying to do “the cross…and.” And we would start doing the things we were meant to do.

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By the way, this isn’t just a stock photo of a cross. My wife’s relative’s built it, overlooking a tiny town in Kansas and it’s pretty sweet. When it glows at night, it looks like a cross-shaped star in the sky.

Of course, today is Good Friday.good-friday-india

Of course, the day we commemorate was not originally called good. There was very little good which anyone could fathom coming out of such a day.

Good Friday was a day on which not only a man died, but dreams died with him. Jesus’ disciples had “hoped that he would be the messiah who would redeem Israel.”

Good Friday was full of anguish, pain, tears and disappointment. And it took several days for people to understand the good which God was working that day. All they knew on Friday was what they could see and hear and feel.

I am afraid that we humans have not changed much. Not that anyone was supposed to get what Jesus’ crucifixion was about that day. But we humans often let the good slide right under our noses, unnoticed. We do not see how things worked in our favor until after the fact. We do not feel the joy or love that we often feel we we look nostalgically at a time. Instead, we just grind through a stage of our lives, groaning about our lot in life. And it isn’t until years later that we look back and say that those times were the best, or the most fruitful, or the most fun.

There are people who have terrible things happen to them – they get cancer or a tragedy strikes them, or they lose their loved ones. And those of us on the outside can never understand how they can find redemption or hope or, yes, even good in their circumstances. But somehow, they do. I do know that my wife and I have been trying to have a child for four years now, a trial that most people just want to get over with. But I cannot tell you how fruitful, how enriching how good this trial has been for our marriage and our spirits.

Good often disguises itself as pain, or disappointment or loss. And we just try to fast-forward through all those parts so we can get to what we think will be the “good” parts – the easy parts, the planned-out parts, however we define “good.”

Maybe on Good Friday, we can learn to see “good” in all its disguises.

Have a happy Easter, friends.

My wife and I got up to look at the eclipse Monday night.blood-moon2-470435

Neither of us had seen a lunar eclipse before. They are scheduled so darn inconveniently. If they had them during the daytime, that would be much better for me.

The only other eclipse I remember was a solar eclipse when I was in fifth grade. All the kids and teachers stood out on the playground, holding notecards with pinholes as the cloudless sky turned an eerie twilight.

Of course, you know that there are already people, apparently thousands of them, who are making a big deal about the prophetic significance of the lunar eclipses.

Of course, any scientist will tell you that the lunar eclipses are a perfectly natural, (read: not “supernatural”) phenomenon.

But when we let ourselves easily believe in so-called prophecy, we are not just exercising our faith in something that may be very unlikely. We may actually be missing what God is actually trying to communicate to us.

Here’s what I mean.

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As many of you know, my wife and I have been journeying through infertility.images

It has been many months, many doctors, many dollars.  We weigh each procedure carefully, as it is more invasive, more costly, more personal than the last.

And sometimes we wonder…if we are playing God.

Plenty of people might say we are playing God because we are manipulating life.  Some people are very uncomfortable when you start talking about embryos because usually the only time that word comes up, it’s accompanied by “stem cell research.”  Issues of life are big topics.  And the closer you get to merging the sanctity of life with the cold march of science, the more ethics are brought into question.  ”In vitro” just has that ring of “Brave New World,” doesn’t it?

Yes, for a myriad of reasons, there are still a few areas of medical science that are still taboo, a little frightening.  We don’t know if we’ve somehow crossed a line.

But here’s the thing.  As my wife and I continue to trudge onward through infertility, we have learned a lot about what it means to manipulate science, create life and, yes, “play God.”

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I’ll be honest, I hated watching the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye.  I couldn’t take much of it.bill-nye-ken-ham-debate

It’s not because I don’t believe God created the universe.  He did.

It’s not because Bill Nye is not a childhood hero of mine who helped develop in me a love of science.  He is.

From the moment I learned the debate would be happening, I knew I would not be able to stand it.  I have not been able to stand looking at the torrent of tweets being written in anticipation of it.  Yes, it was probably the strongest show of willpower I have exerted in quite a while to do anything except avert my eyes.

Maybe I failed as a Christian by not cheering my “team.”  Maybe I failed as someone who is supposed to be “informed” about current events.  But I’ll be honest, I think we are all poorer for this debate happening, not richer.  We have not gained deeper knowledge, sounder wisdom, or greater insight.

This is why I wish the debate had never happened.

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You know I love sweet little baby Jesus.babyjesus

Sweet little eight pound, six ounce, newborn baby Jesus.

And that little baby in the manger is the reason for Christmas, right?

Well, here’s the thing.  I love Christmas.  I love baby Jesus.  But I’ve rediscovered something recently, through conversations with friends and singing old songs and revisiting well-worn stories.  Sure, Christmas isn’t just about shopping and toys and eggnog.  But Christmas also isn’t just about a baby in a manger, arms outstretched like he’s in a classical painting.  It isn’t just about a mom looking reverently at her baby, looking positively divine, mere moments after giving birth.

What if even our Nativity scenes and songs about that baby even missed the point of Christmas?  What if we’ve managed to turn sweet little baby Jesus into an eight pound idol?

I think I’ve relearned something that just might save my Christmas this year…

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