Looking forward

Life has entered another busy season for me lately. Busier than usual, I should say. However, this is no excuse for a lull in blogging, so I must apologize for my ten-day hiatus.

You didn’t even notice I was gone? Thanks a lot. ūüôā

Seriously, though. The new blog title and theme should be coming in the next couple of weeks, so stay posted. I have a lot brewing down deep these days, so hopefully soon I’ll find time to write some of it out. I’ll be continuing with reflections from my organic church life experience as well as providing you some fresh book and blogger reviews.

Statistically, the three most popular posts on this blog¬†have been¬†the T. Austin Sparks bio,¬†my two-year old¬†query on¬†What it means to prophesy, and¬†the 20 best Christian books I’ve ever read.

Tonight I would like to venture out and ask what posts from this blog, if any,¬†have been interesting or helpful to you¬†in your¬†journey? As I make the move to re-structure things around here a bit I would love to¬†get an idea of what it is that¬†makes people care¬†to come back. Plus it’s always¬†nice to hear¬†some feedback from readers,¬†whether positive or critical. ¬†

So then, fire away. What is it you enjoy here at Called to Rebuild? What would you like to see more, or less of, in the future?


Captivated by His beauty

Paul once made mention to some saints about “making melody” in¬†their hearts to the Lord. Yesterday¬†while I¬†was home alone and¬†folding laundry for my wife (ten points for me!), I began to sing one of the songs we used to sing when the church was gathering in my town. My spirit was lifted to the¬†Lord in a tremendous way just¬†by singing to Him, so tonight I thought I would share with you¬†the lyrics of one of my favorite songs. ¬†I’m not sure of the author, but the tune we always used to sing it to was that of “‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.” Only this one is called “Captivated by His Beauty.” Don’t just read it, sing it; you’ll enjoy it far more that way. ūüôā

1)Have you heard Him, seen Him, known Him?

Is not yours a captured heart?

Chief among ten thousand own Him

Joyful choose the better part

(CHORUS)

Captivated by His beauty

Worthy tribute haste to bring

Let His peerless worth constrain thee

Crown Him now unrivaled King

 

2)What has stripped the seeming beauty

From the idols of the earth?

Not a sense of right or duty

But the sight of peerless worth

 

3)So the crushing of those idols

Was accomplished from the start

By the beaming of His beauty

The unveiling of His heart

 

4)‚ÄėTis that look that melted Peter

‚ÄėTis that face that Stephen saw

‚ÄėTis that heart that wept with Mary

Can alone from idols draw

 

5)Draw and win and fill completely

Till the cup o’erflow the brim

What have we to do with idols

Who have companied with Him?


Check out The Centrality & Supremacy of Jesus Christ

It’s been about two and a half years since I first stepped into the blogging arena. Upon entry,¬†one of the first¬†blogs I stumbled upon was by a guy named David Flowers. The title of David’s blog is The Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ, and rather than try to explain to you myself David’s purpose in writing, why¬†don’t you listen to what the man himself has to say about his literary intent. ¬†

As much as one can consider a¬†friend a person¬†whom they’ve only spoken to a few times via the Internet, I do David. He¬†is well-balanced as a teacher and exhibits a¬†compassionate¬†heart in the way he deals with people. His¬†articles are not your average run-of-the-mill blog posts, either. Every article of David’s I’ve ever read has been meaty and¬†very clearly written. The brother does his homework, of that much you can be sure.

Recently David wrote a post about the new Kirk Cameron movie, Monumental. I would urge all of my readers to check it out. If you are unfamiliar with what Greg Boyd and others have termed “the myth of a Christian nation,” this post will serve as a startling introduction. Food for thought, at the very (and I mean very) least.

While you’re there be sure to subscribe to David’s future posts. And if you have some¬†time take a moment to scroll back through some of his past offerings.¬†What you’ll find will¬†challenge you, inspire you, and no doubt strengthen you. At least it has me.


Wondering whether I’ll ever really follow Jesus

On the menu tonight we have some honest musings from a seeking heart.

Lately I’m being brought back to face the question of whether I will truly follow the Lord Jesus with my whole life. My discipleship is so fragmented, at least it seems to me, that¬†you might¬†not even call me a disciple if you were to know me.

Traditionally we have this view of the gospels that says Jesus was going along in life,¬†doing his thing, then when he called the twelve to himself they immediately forsook all and followed him. Well, yes and no. I’m thinking mainly of Peter in this instance, but there is evidence from the story that¬†not only Peter but all the disciples were “prone to wander” from time to time. At least once in Peter’s case¬†it seems he re-considered his committment to follow the Rabbi and went back to his nets; yet the Lord pursued him. Upon seeing his net break after letting it¬†down for one more catch at Jesus’ insistence, Peter was beside himself with both a desire to follow this incredible man and the¬†haunting feeling¬†that he most certainly did not have what it would take.

Then of course there¬†was the night of Jesus’ betrayal¬†when Peter followed “from a distance” and denied even knowing the Lord when put on a trial of his own by a servant girl. Brokenhearted and disillusioned, Peter saw no recourse after his master’s death but to go back to fishing. As the story goes, the¬†resurrected Lord found him again on the shores of Galilee, once more with the call to follow him.

So that makes not once, not twice, but three times when Peter balked at the notion of following Jesus “all the way.”¬†The calling and recalling of Jesus is a prominent theme in Peter’s life.

Did I say Peter’s life? I meant my own, actually. It’s like I hear this inaudible voice pounding in my head, echoing through the chambers of my heart-challenging me, plauging me, haunting me, constantly.

Follow me.”

“I tried Lord. I couldn’t do it.”

Follow me.”

“I’m afraid. I don’t have what it takes.”

Follow me.”

“It’ll cost too much. I know it will.”

Follow. Me.”

I hate it, honestly.¬†There are times¬†I can’t stand it. But deep down I can’t deny it’s the one thing I want more than anything else in life: To know God through Christ…¬†to follow in¬†the way of Jesus.

Will I, though, really? To tell you the truth, I’ve been a¬†Christian for twelve years now and that question still remains largely unanswered.

If you would like to help me in this venture then may I be so bold as to ask that you do not pray for me. Don’t encourage me, either. Don’t pat me on the head and tell me it’s ok because God loves me. The best thing you can do for me is to follow Jesus yourself. Show me that it is possible. Show me there’s a better way.


What my job teaches me about the wheat and the tares

Today I was yanking weeds on the job (I’m a landscaper) and it made me think of Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13). Two things strike me about this parable:

First, I’ve heard this scripture taken out of context so many times it isn’t funny. Usually I hear it in reference to the church, with somebody¬†trying to justify¬†the “mixed multitude” of saints and sinners in a given congregation as fulfilling what Jesus spoke in this passage. However, the Lord himself¬†was clear that the “field” in his stories was representing the world, not his kingdom.

Second, the tendency of those who serve the Lord is to want to rip the tares out of the ground upon first sight. Many a Christian leader out there just can’t wait to get his hands on a wolf, or so it would seem. But¬†our¬†Shepherd¬†is not up for this. His command is to leave them alone; let both grow together until the end of the age when the righteous Judge¬†will do the dividing.

Today while cleaning out that customer’s bed I accidently pulled up a lily along with the weed I was trying to rid her landscape of. This is¬†a very real possibility¬†when pastors, teachers, and otherwise well-intentioned¬†leaders try to¬†do the Lord’s work of dividing the tares from the wheat. We’re just not very good at it. I’ve yet to meet¬†the¬†minister who constantly harps upon false teaching, watching out for wolves, ect., who doesn’t invariably pull up a few good plants along with the tares he may succeed in rooting out. ¬†¬†

What’s the answer, then? I say let the Lord deal with those who need dealing. Perhaps there are a few hypothetical situations in the church which would call for discipline, but I dare say those situations are fewer and farther between than most of us will¬†typically allow.

When it comes to rooting out the tares, save it for the Chief Landscaper. ūüôā


The thing we evangelicals can’t stand about Jesus

It’s impressive to see the way Jesus presented Himself differently to different people. To Nicodemus he said, “you must be born from above.” To the rich young ruler, “go and sell all you own and follow me.” To the woman at the well Christ was living water. To the Jew He was the fulfillment of the Law. Certain religious rulers he rebuked, demanding repentance before they dare approach the Lord, while to the woman caught in adultery he offered not a single harsh word, only complete and utter acceptance.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? To borrow Paul’s expression, “Christ is all.” He is all the¬†things that men need. Yet He is not a “thing” at all, but a living Person. To those seeking an entrance, Christ is the door. To those in need of guidance, He is the shepherd. For those without life, He is the resurrection!

But He is unboxable at the same time. His self-presentation does not come in one pre-packaged form, and that is just¬†what¬†we evangelical Christians can’t stand about the Lord. We like it all cut-and-dry, methodical, systematic. We prefer¬†a neatly defined¬†approach to God and a bullet-pointed salvation: Follow these steps and you’re in. Then check¬†these boxes¬†everyday to make sure you stay in, or (for those with more Calvinistic tastes)¬†to¬†constantly re-verify that you were¬†actually in to begin¬†with.¬†ūüėȬ†We may not care to admit it, but that is how¬†we often view things. ¬†¬†

What I love about the Lord Jesus is that He does not fit into the molds of men, even the Christian molds which we’ve been told Christ Himself invented. He is untameable by any of our standards.¬†One moment¬†He’s telling me that the person who is not with us is against us, but then just as I’m about to rise up and denounce my brother’s heresy, he comes back at me with “but he that is not against us is for us.”

Obviously these kinds of statements demand some further clarification, but I hope you get the heart of what I’m saying. For all my knowledge of the Bible I know Christ Himself so little-I’m just seeing that more and more lately. I know the temptation to try to be a great leader, to feign certainty over things I’m not really certain of and draw tight lines over who is in and who is out of my particular version of the “true church.” But I see how great the call is to deny myself in these ways. There are just too many young Christian men out there-myself included-who take themselves and their role in God’s kingdom far too seriously. Humility, brokenness, being sent by God and not just called… these are the qualities that should demand more of our time and attention.¬†

I’m rambling a bit off course here, but maybe I just needed to let loose some of¬†my inner stirrings¬†today. We certainly do¬†need leaders in life-men and women of real vision and gifting¬†who can¬†advance the purpose of the Lord in the earth-but we need leaders with far more than just vision, gifting, and Bible knowledge. We need character, wisdom, true holiness,¬†and¬†a healthy portion¬†of real life experience, among other things.¬†Qualities, like it or not,¬†that take a lot of¬†time to develop.

For, as T. Austin Sparks once said, “it is not what we do, but what we have that is the secret of service.”

Oh well. I’ve said my piece for the day. Thanks for listening. ūüôā


True religion

Religion gets a lot of bad press these days. Not that I would disagree, either-it’s just that sometimes we need to define the term before we lambast it. Religion as most people refer to it is self-effort; man trying to make his way to God or be like God. Lots of rules and regulations; church hierarchies, systems, ect. In this¬†vein¬†I would agree: religion does not serve us very well.

But James, in his letter to dispersed Jewish believers, speaks of something he calls “true religion.” True religion, it turns out, has nothing to do with belief systems and ritualistic devotion to a certain form or code of law; rather, true religion is all about “visiting orphans and widows¬†in their affliction, and keeping yourself unstained¬†from the world.”

A fairly simple, yet workable, definition. I do believe James was on to something.

Anyway, that was just my preface. This¬†verse of scripture has come back to my heart time and again in the past three or four months, and tonight was one of those nights. My wife and I took our kids to visit my¬†“mammaw.” In the course of our visit I was able to help her move some things around and lift some heavy objects which I’m glad she won’t be trying to move herself. It was a simple act, really, not worth mentioning otherwise, but all of¬†the sudden in the midst of performing¬†it I¬†realized how alive I¬†was to God. ¬†I’m not kidding you, there was a sense of the Lord¬†so immediate and so real it was just like breathing Him in to know He was near.

It was only a passing thought, but it made me curious as to how much time we Christians spend trying to “feel” God’s presence via worship services, devotional activities, and a whole slew of other¬†methods by which we try to “get” it. In that moment I saw the¬†vanity and frivolity of¬†so many¬†such exercises, all¬†so self-centered and bound¬†up with our human “doing” and “trying” to be¬†rather than simply being sons and daughters of God. It’s becoming increasingly evident to me that to “find”¬†the Lord¬†you simply spend time¬†going to and being where¬†He is. The places that¬†come immediately¬†to mind¬†are the church (probably not what you’re thinking, though), the Spirit (in your spirit), the poor (see Matthew 25), and in my case tonight, the orphan and the widow. Just by serving my mammaw in that simple way I¬†became conscious-undeniably conscious-of an absolutely splendid oneness with God.

What about you? Have you ever had an experience like this? In what practical ways is God alive and real to you?