Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jesus is repulsive

Please allow me to lay down the groundwork.

Repulsive: The opposite of attractive. I am not talking about beauty vs. ugly or aromatic vs. stinky. I am speaking of the relationship objects have that cause other objects to either draw closer, or go in the opposite direction.

So Jesus is talking to some folks about the kingdon of God and lays down a story about a farmer who seems to have thrown seeds all over the place, willy nilly. Some seeds sprouted, some didn't. Some lasted a long time, and some were choked out by the weeds or roasted by the sun.

Imagine being in the audience... no Q&A? no covered dish luncheon to meet the preacher and follow up? Nope. Like his modern day counterparts, Jesus leaves the stage into the company of his entourage. Of course his party of 12 gather round him and say, "Seriously? What was that all about?" (ok, my paraphrase- but check out Mark 4:1-12 for yourselves)

Jesus said that he speaks in parables so that people will see but not perceive, hear but not understand, otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.

*record scratch* *screech*

Wait, what?!?

Does Jesus really intend for his message to be so confusing that it actually prevents people from being saved? Is he repulsing them?

I thought Jesus was supposed to be seeker-friendly... you know, with an awesome band, graphic-tee, hip quaff, and great programs that make people feel good about themselves.

David Platt wrote about this in his book "Radical" (published by Multnomah) in the first chapter (read it for yourself- it is about Luke 9)

Ok, so Jesus is repulsive... No, that's not it.

Jesus isn't repulsive, his teaching is repulsive.

So if his teaching is repulsive, who followed him? I found 3 groups of people who followed him; let's take a look:

  1. Sick People. Wanting to be healed, throngs of people travelled from all over in order to receive miraculous healing. Did they follow Jesus or did they just want to be healed? Did they stick around afterwards?
  2. Rulers. Religious leaders, interpreters of the law. Churchy big-wigs. They followed Jesus to keep watch. They were proctecting themselves and their routines from any potential shake-up. They stood ready to discount anything Jesus did and said.
  3. Apostles. or disciples...students. These followers gave up everything to follow Jesus- family, friends, jobs... They had complete faith/trust in him. (don't split hairs here, hang with me)

Of the many, where did they go after Jesus sent them away? How were their lives changed?

Did the encounter become a story about a man who showed up, performed a magic trick, then left?

Or did the encounter change everything for you?

Jesus keeps giving me reasons not to follow him and I belive there is too much at stake. There is no other choice for me. I am willing to give up everything in order to buy an empty field.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

What if I missed it? by John Vogel

I view life as something like a play that is loosely scripted by God. Of course the major plot will not be altered, but the ancillarry stories provide the actors the opportunity for improv.

God is an amazing playwrite and director.
I am proud to be an actor.

So what of the improv?

I interprets God's direction to be that of love within a community. I have witnessed fellow actors act upon the director's gentle suggestions and the beauty revealed through the flawless performance. I have also witnessed poor performers who missed lines, misinterpreted intent, and caused the audience to lose interest.

With all the love, gifts, attention, grace, mercy, that I have received over the years, I thank my fellow actors. You have made my story a joy to be in and to witness, both.

For those times, numerous I am sure, when I missed my lines, had concern for only myself, and even ignored the storyline out of jealosy, envy, anger, and the like; I am truly sorry.

Every day I rise to greet the miracle and purpose God gave me and I hope to never take a moment for granted.

After all, what if you are supposed to receive a gift that could impact your story in an amazing way and I failed to deliver?

There is too much on the line- God is counting on us.

Let love rule.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Pineapple Day

Even though the idea grew in my brain decades ago, it wasn't until 5 years ago, whilst (yes, I said whilst) reflecting on the Christmas season that had passed, the piles of wrapping paper and cardboard dumped at the end of driveways, and the underwhelming feeling of charity in the air, that I sent an email to everyone I knew.

I sat and wondered just what it was all for. Were we celebrating the deliverance of the long awaited Messiah? Or were we simply succumbing to the economic behemoth of a capitalistic holiday?

I have a difficult time articulating my feelings, so after much deliberation I decided to send a short email that summed up the "Christmas Spirit" for me. The act of sending the e-mail served it's purpose as a cathartic outlet for me, but quickly served as an awakening to many who received it. I heard stories of joy, warmth, love, kindness, etc. I hope that I hear many stories in the years to come.

I smile when realizing that the pineapple has become the unofficial mascot for our family.

With love, here is the original e-mail....

What does a Pineapple mean to you?

I remember the story my Mother would tell us about the not-so-good times when my brothers and I were young, and money was not as abundant as it is now. She would tell us that, sometimes, a bit extra would be available, so she would 'splurge' by buying a pineapple. A succulent treat that many of us might take for granted.

Will you consider a simple challenge from me?

Will you buy a pineapple this month and give it away? If you can't afford one, let me know. God has blessed my family enough to buy one for you.