Monday, May 31, 2010

Sorry, but I have to do it

So I watched the end of lost last night (I know, I was a week late, blame Africa) and I need to process it. In other words, if you haven't watched the end yet and you still think you will, stop reading now.

In short, I loved it. I was emotionally connected to characters I hadn't really cared about up until that moment, all of the confusion and frayed plot twists were seared off, and I was left remembering why I stuck with it for all those years. It wasn't the island, sure it was a mystery and seemed to be what the series was all about, it wasn't the multiple realities, strange worm holes, a smoke beast, the ancient conflict between good and evil, the fountain of youth, or the garden of Eden. Though in some part, most of those things came into play. The fact that a bunch of the mysteries weren't fully explained left me stuff to wonder about and forced me to recognize the point of it all. It was about the people. It was about the broken, the stupid, the selfish, the sacrificial, the good, and the bad. It was about the love that went between them, and in a few cases, it was about the redemption that they experienced.

It incorporated aspects and symbolism from a bunch of different religions, mostly Christianity (I think), and it answered the question that had existed from the first season, "what is real?" with the answer, "Everything." I loved it because it left me feeling the hope, redemption, and love that had come to all of the characters. Jack's sacrifice that seemed to cost him everything, ended up costing him nothing more than what everyone else ended up paying. He made the right choice, he left it all behind, and he let go of the things that he loved, but in the end he had so much more than he ever thought he could have. Ben, Lock, Hurley, Kate, and everyone found a peace that was magnified, not by what they had done, but by who they were with. it was the relationships that always mattered and it was the relationships that brought them back together. In the most basic sense, it was a story about love, not the romantic love or the selfish love that often governs our thoughts on the topic, but the knowing love that comes from an intimacy that is only realized after time. The love that we all desire in the deepest part of our beings.

Lost wasn't about God, but it made me think of Him. It helped me remember the vastness of life and the yearnings that are often under the surface. I'm impressed that a stupid T.V. show about an island was able to do that.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rocket Man

I'm starting to think about the concept that a theology born in the library can't survive an encounter with the Holy Spirit, at least not intact. Paul had the greatest theological foundation that books and lecturers could provide, yet after being exposed to Jesus and being filled with the Holy Spirit his theology did an about face and strapped on a rocket pack. If you think about it, the Bible, as well as a large number or our most useful books on theology were written by people who were responding and reacting to the Spirit of God (at least in theory). All of Paul's letters, Revelation, all of the prophetic books, and the stuff attached to Moses were, in principle, literal renditions of Spirit rendered theology. Can we honestly depend on the library for something that historically happened outside it? Not that it isn't useful, but has a medical book ever healed anyone?

Not all that original or anything, just something I am starting to think about.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


(Found in the drafts from the way back)

We all want God to talk to us because we think that that is going to fix things. We have problems and challenges facing us, and we think that if God would only speak, everything would be sorted. I'm starting to think this is not how it usually works. We often work, and want the world to work, systematically and linearly. We face challenges and questions, and we want to get them sorted out before moving on to the next thing. Makes sense, right? I think God operates off of a different memo.

A few weeks ago I was praying and bringing some "petitions" before God, and he answered me with a verse and a question. The verse was 1 Kings 8:56-61

“The LORD is worthy of praise because he has made Israel his people secure just as he promised! Not one of all the faithful promises he made through his servant Moses is left unfulfilled! May the LORD our God be with us, as he was with our ancestors. May he not abandon us or leave us. May he make us submissive, so we can follow all his instructions and obey the commandments, rules, and regulations he commanded our ancestors. May the LORD our God be constantly aware of these requests of mine I have presented to him, so that he might vindicate his servant and his people Israel as the need arises. Then all the nations of the earth will recognize that the LORD is the only genuine God. May you demonstrate wholehearted devotion to the LORD our God by following his rules and obeying his commandments, as you are presently doing.”

And the question was "Am I enough for you?"

I came to God with my questions, needs, and problems, and God said, "This is who I am, am I enough for you?"

I didn't let myself answer this question right away, I didn't want to give the right theological "head" answer, I wanted to give the "heart" truth answer.

At the end of the day, most of our prayers end up being about us, and I think this is fine, but don't be surprised when God's answer is about Himself. We bring before God all of our "stuff", dump it at his feet, and He says, "Okay, I see that. Now, am I enough for you?"

There was another part to this, because I need to answer another question as well. Do you (singular) believe that if you were the only person alive that God would have still done all the stuff that He did to save us? Would He have walked with you talked with you, showed Himself to you, sent His only beloved son Jesus to heal you and tell you about the Kingdom of his Father, and then die his tortured death on the cross for your benefit alone?

This was another question that I needed to answer with my heart, because God's full question/statement was, "Am I enough for you, because you are enough for me."

I took some time answering these questions, because they are kinda a big deal. I think this is where God's linear/systematic begins:

"If all you get in life is Me, will that be enough for you? If all I get is you, that will be enough for Me."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Does strange become normal just because everyone does it?

Weddings are strange to me. Don't get me wrong, I like them... well, most of them, but that doesn't make them normal. I've been to a bunch of weddings over the last few years and they are all pretty much the same, I mean every wedding is special and unique like a snow flake bla bla bla. Seriously though, in America, in the hills of Thailand, and in Uganda the same formula seems to be followed. A bunch of family and friends get together, the couple makes promises that they are without the capacity to understand, there is a party, and everyone goes home. Fun right? Hopefully. But what about the next day? The couple just had their lives fundamentally transformed and now they are expected to proceed to "life as normal", did anyone remember to tell them that there is no "life as normal"?

Like I told the camera guy on Saturday, "It's dangerous to ask a single guy to talk about marriage, he doesn't have a clue what is going on." That said, am I wrong? Is it that much different from telling a kid who has never been in over his head all the principles of swimming, taking him to a pool where there is a great party celebrating his decision, throwing him in the deep end, then walking over to have a conversation with a neighbor while the party breaks apart and everyone goes home?

I don't even think it's wrong exactly, just strange. It makes me wonder if there is a bunch of other stuff that we consider normal just because everyone does it, but in reality is flat out wonky? Every time I sit down and think about my faith, I come to the conclusion that it really is wonky. Not wonky bad, just wonky like marriage. It's strange, but it works, and I think it's actually good. I've left my family and friends, traveled to the other side of the world, and I talk about something that can't be directly seen, a lot of people don't know about, but is more important than breathing.

I spent most of yesterday in a large shack-like church up on a hill in a small poor community with a few people I knew and a bunch that I didn't. I was first up, went in cold, talked about Jesus for 45 min and was overcome with emotion. Other people spoke, we all worshiped, there was a lot of prayer, there was some prophetic stuff, a lot of tears and a few shrieks. It was obvious to all of us that God was doing something, and that it was a big deal, but if you showed a video of it to a group of people most of them would think it was just wacky. I think I'd have to agree with them, and I think that's okay. Apparently humanity has decided that being involved in something that is wonky and strange is just fine, as long as you know what the value is.