When I was a child, I was insecure about being too skinny. My parents and siblings traumatized me by calling me “Hallelujah Bare Bones” after a character in a book (sorry, family, for publicly calling you out on that one :)).
When I was an adolescent, I became insecure about being too introverted. And as a young adult, my insecurities shifted to my ever-vanishing head of hair.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on my given mood, as a fully grown man today, no one ever calls me “Hallelujah Bare Bones,” I don’t mind being an introvert, and I no longer have hair to worry about. My insecurities have all gone away.
Except for that other list of fears and worries that keeps popping up.
As a child, I never worried about money or our global economy. I didn’t know the difference between a “bull” or a “bear” market, and I wasn’t overly afraid of international dictators and their loathing for America. I didn’t feel anxiety about raising children in an unstable world, and I never really imagined that pain, loss, heartache, and grief might be central themes in the story of my life.
I didn’t know how mean or shaky the world could be.
Fortunately, I learned something in my sheltered, idyllic childhood that has sustained me as an adult. I learned it from Elvis Presley.
On one of his religious CDs (actually, I think it was an 8-track tape), Elvis Presley sang these words: “I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future…”
Isn’t that a beautiful thought? And it’s true. The consistent and pervasive message of the Bible is that God can sustain your life no matter what comes your way. Indeed, Jeremiah 29:11 quotes God as saying, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”
This Easter season, let’s lean more closely into the only one who is truly and forever unshakable.
To read Chapter Thirty click here.
That was the extent of the pomp and circumstance with which Jesus commenced His Passion Week. It was hardly the entrance of a conquering hero. Indeed, the Roman warlords of that day would have scorned such a humble entrance.
He was only days away from defeating sin, death, hell, and the grave, and yet Jesus entered Jerusalem in simplicity and “approachability.”
It was vintage Jesus.
From the moment of His birth when common shepherds helped Joseph and Mary count His fingers and toes, to dinners with both preachers and prostitutes, to this innocuous entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus made Himself “reachable” by the average Joe.
In fact after this ignoble entrance into the city He removed His robe and washed the sweaty feet of His followers. It was hardly the action of a Caesar or a Greek god, and yet it embodied the actions of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Ours is a backwards kingdom. We push the down button to go up, we serve to be great, we give our lives away to find them, and our King approaches Palm Sunday amid the laughter and delight of little children.
For those who might be interested, I’m going to post consecutive chapters of my novel, Conscience, here once weekly. Hope you enjoy!
To read Chapter Twenty-Nine click here.
So…the World Vision fiasco. Certainly you’ve heard of it by now. A few days ago, World Vision executives made a public decision to amend their hiring practices to include married gay couples, but then reversed their decision after a vehement outcry arose against it.
Understandably, this decision and un-decision has drawn fire from constituents from all over the religious and political map. My intention in this posting is not to pick a side or defend a cause. Rather, I would like to address a heart-breaking dynamic that immediately sprouted in the aftermath of the decisions.
On the heels of the World Vision reversal, some angry Christians lit up the online discussion boards with vitriolic tirades against gay people. Yes, it was World Vision’s decision that instigated the reactions, but many of these replies went beyond a critique of World Vision to the castigating of the entire gay community (granted, these types of replies went both ways, but as a Christian, my concern in this post is with my fellow Christians).
I do not believe that those hostile replies are indicative of the hearts and souls of most Christians. I do not believe that the church looks like its mean, homophobic stereotype. I believe that Christians are caring, loving, and concerned, and that they are attempting to wrestle through complicated issues of faith and sexuality with a compassionate, biblical worldview.
When a Christian’s hostile posture turns a person off from listening to God’s message through Christ, we need to humbly evaluate that posture. Even strong, prophetic messages that call people to repentance and right living before God can be laced with compassion and love. Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet.” Isaiah interspersed his judgment prophecies with messages about the Messianic hope.
Yes, we can, and must, uphold whatever standards we believe to be the most biblical on a given subject. However, we should strive to do so in a winsome way that extends the Gospel’s reach rather than alienating the very people who need it most (and my name tops that list).
At the center of the Gospel is an invitation from God to all broken and hurting people. He is calling us home.