so i've been thinking about voices . . . no not the ones in my head (altho maybe i should listen to those)no, i've been watching all of these nooma videos that rob bell produces (nooma.com). if you aren't familiar with him, he's a pastor out in michigan who produces various videos that deal with issues in our society. while they are all done extremely well and are entertaining, they are more importantly exceptionally thought provoking. i would certainly hope that his voice, his message, these nooma videos are producing change. i'd like to think, and i guess so would rob bell, that his videos are becoming a voice that people are listening to. and of course change happens because they have.there are many other people who have big voices causing much change. Bono has done wonders for Africa--there's a lot to do, but its far better now than before. then of course you have Al Gore-- has done a lot of global warming (that's what they tell me, i mean he did win a nobel peace prize).within the Christian community . . well lots of people have had big voices too. billy graham, robert schuller, amy mcpherson, beth more, joel osting, td jakes, ff bruce, etc. i think paris hilton's, britney spears', jay z's, and many other celebrity's life have voices that many listen to as well. ii don't think it carries anything life that is postive life transformational, but people certainly do listen to them. their voices that is. and if they listen long enough . . . i suppose it changes their life too. think about musicians . . . they have big voices too. . . .think about the lyrics they sing and how that can create change . . . . amazingly though, there are billions of people that are living right now, that no one but their family will even know that they had a voice. their voice doesn't reach past the walls of their home.i guess some people's voices are bigger than others. why is that?does it have to do with their message? or is just their platform that they are speaking from? you can have people like mother theresa who doesn't even really talk . .. yet her voice booms (did and still does i think) throughout the world. and so i find myself beginning to ask myself what is my voice going to be like? or what has it been like? and i'm watching these videos and inside of me something starts to throb. the best i can describe it is . . . well . . . i want my voice to be heard.and i begin to wonder will it? and even if it does, get heard that is, will it matter? will lives be changed because of my voice? i mean there are lots of people who have big voices that can be heard by a lot of people, but i question if it really matters if people are listening to what they have to say. i don't think i want that kind of voice.i read through Scripture and i see these people who had BOOMING voices. the elijah's, david's, moses', daniel's, jon's, peter's, esther's, ruth's, tamar's, rehabs, mary's, . . . and i think they carry the same message that every single Christian today carries.this message of hope and grace. this message that says despite what life looks like at this very moment it can be incredible and its found in this person of Christ. a message that destroys despair, removes fear, and causes immeasurable joy no matter what the life circumstance is. they carry all carry the same message of compassion and grace, mercy and love. . . the same Holy Spirit to empower those words to cause them to come alive. . . . i mean holy crap who wouldn't want to hear that message?wouldn't a voice carrying that message automatically have an imapct? how could it not?i suppose any voice that carries that voice will have an impact in the very least of those around them. the immediate families and friends. . . but what about more than that? why is it that i have this desire to have MORE impact? and well . . . is that okay?but i see lots of t.v. preachers and other pastors in very small villages and towns across the country and world that preach that very same message but their voices are not affecting nations at a time. and i couldn't possibly say that isn't success. so again i ask, why are some people's voices so big and others . . . . not so much?and i'm not invalidating the change and impact that the pastor has had on that small town . . . how could i? but still i wonder what separates the big voices from the little voices? what separates the big voice that impacts and can actually radically shape and shift a culture with its message and the voice that just impacts those around them and never leave their home let a lone the city or the state?and don't tell me it has to be with words . . . because Mother Theresa didn't do much talking, but her life certainly told a story that the world won't soon forget.is it even okay that i want a big voice? maybe the big voice thing just happens because we are satisfied to have the little voice. or maybe we're satisfied to not even have a voice, that we are willing to let our transformed life by the message of Jesus be our voice . . . and everything else flows out of that.i think sometimes i want the big voice just so i can be heard. i don't think that's a very good thing.but something inside of me believes that there's something much larger at play than me just wanting to be heard . . . at least i hope that there is.


lies and half truths

i wonder if beliefs in the half-truths are worse than the belief in the lies–particularly when we deal with God type stuff.i mean think about the issue of God is evil and His only intent is to hurt us. i would say few actually believe this and those that do have a multitude of other issues with faith and religion than just belief in that lie.but i wonder if its that half truths or the gray areas in life that prove to be the hardest to overcome. we don't believe the lie that God is powerless, yet how many people view God as the creator of the universe, but who isn't apart of our lives? who sits on a throne somewhere in heaven simply watching us flounder trying to figure out life?we don't believe the lie that God can't speak and give guidance, yet we live in this tension that says He won't speak to me, so i'm on my own to figure this out.when reality is that He does speak and He is speaking to us. and is guiding our lives.interesting thought--Jesus calls Himself THE Truth. thus as i begin to really reject lies and believe the truth the reality is i am beginning to take Jesus for who He says He is. the Holy Spirit, we understand the Holy Spirit's role to direct us and our attention to Jesus who in turn points us to the Father.so maybe the question is both do i believe Jesus and in Jesus.i think sometimes i believe in Him but not in Him. make sense? sure i believe that He exists, I believe He is who He says He is, but other times i come along--the entire time believing in His complete Divinty and humanity and His resurrection, yet don't believe that He's going to actually be all that He says He is.how wacked out is that? I can believe that He emptied Himself of all Divinity, took on clothes of a man, but all the while was both God and man, died, and then rose again --because He loved me . . . and yet there are times i don't trust that He has the ability to orchestrate my life in the best manner?how is that i can KNOW the truth yet live like i don't? how can know THE TRUTH and yet live like THE TRUTH can't handle my situation. so i resort to believing the lies or at least not fully trusting (or insert believing) the truth or THE TRUTH.is not trusting in the truth the same as believing the lies?even yet, its a scarier thought to know the truth or TRUTH and yet not be willing to fully trust it with all that we are (giving up control and what not) and so we settle for the lies.because maybe that's all that believing the lies really is, especially for us Christians who know the truth and THE TRUTH. maybe its settling for something easier, because sometimes the truth can be hardi'm not sure i want to settle anymore.we believe the truth that God is a good Father and wants the best for us, but get caught up in the half truth that says He may or may not be in the middle of hard situations that will eventually produce in us major fruit. He just might use some suffering to do some pruning.imagine the frustration of that half truth, going through a season of "suffering" not seeing or believing that God has the ability, power, or plan to use that season to truly give us something greater than we can ever ask for, a heart like His!i just wonder in my own life what half truths i've bought into that has derailed my understanding, relationship, and view of God.so i wonder if i believe in the lies and half truths because its just plain easier. maybe its easier to continue on believing and living life according to these half truths and lies than to change my thinking or life. maybe its just easier to not really truly check EVERY thought (that whole take captive every thought thing) and every fact through God's Word to really search to see what is truth and what is false.so as i'm reflecting on the this story the writer describes Eve's mindset after the encounter with the serpent, "and eve saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise."i find it interesting that God never said that the tree wouldn't look good, He certainly didn't say it wouldn't be good for food, what he did say was to not eat it.i wonder in this story was eve duped because the serpent was so clever or because it was just easier for eve to go along with the story that the serpent was giving her than to really process what was happening. it was just simply easier to disobey than to really delve into what was takign place. after all, the tree was good to the eye and good for food.i wonder how many times adam and eve walked by that tree and thought about eating it. thought about wondering WHY God would tell them not to eat.so here comes this talking snake and eve goes along, hook line and sinker for the serpents half truth and finally his outright lie. is it easier for me to at times just go along with something allow a certain thought or "truth" to go by unchecked because it goes against something i either don't want to do or don't understand. and rather than really dig into it, do i accept it because it has enough truth in it to pacify the Holy Spirit warnings going on inside of me?does it take TOO much inward looking both into my thoughts, motivations, and this supposed statement. i wonder if adam questioned the fact that they were eating this apple?did adam ask eve where the apple came from? or did he just accept it because it was right there in front of him? and if he did know, did adam question eating it or just go right along with it because eve (someone else) was also.how many "truths" do i begin to believe because a preacher or mentor said so. how many things have i accepted and quoted to someone else simply because someone said it and i didn't take the time to really unpack it with Scripture and the Holy Spirit's guidance?how many "half truths" have i believed due to someone else's commentary on my life experience. as i have coffee or lemonade with friends and share life and they make a statement about a situation that i'm going through that reflects God's character — do i just take that to be who God is and what He's about cause its easier than processing it out myself?sometimes i think that rejecting lies and discovering truth is harder work than what i want to put into it.


Favor Stuff

My father does a weekly devotion and this past week the topic was the favor of God. here is a brief excerpt of his devotion:

"Jewish tradition did not seem to allow for women to assume leadership in the
nation and its religion. If anything, they were pushed to the background and
dismissed to a role of insignificance. So when Mary was addressed as "high-
ly favored" that was perhaps just as astonishing to Mary as it was true. Wo-
men were not thought of in such terms for the normal Jewish person.

"To us who are in Christ, we are very highly favored with the Father. If we think of
redemption in terms of the Scripture, we were purchased out of the slave mar-
ket of sin. The Father, through the sacrifice of Jesus, made payment for you
and me in that state. The favor He placed on us is equal to the value He placed
on His Son, in that He gave valued assets in order to bring us through the pro-
cess of redemption. So the asset given was equal to the cost of redemption and
the value of the item redeemed! It seems awkward for us to think of ourselves in
such terms, but that is the fact of redemption's cost to the Father.

This favor gives us entrance into the Father's Family. This favor gives us opportunity to communicate with the Father without human mediation. This favor allows for the generous flow of heaven's resources into our lives. This favor allows us to enjoy the Father's blessings without the a requirement to earn them. This favor provides for us an eternal abode with the Father for eternity. This favor opens all of the Kingdom's resources to us in order to carry out the Father's desire for a lost world. This favor allows us to be called the "children of God" on the basis of His love for us and our willingness to say yes to His open invitation.

what would life begin to look like if we began live under the principle that the favor of God is not man's favor? what if we as Christians begin to understand that God's favor doesn't just mean favor on our jobs, or ministries, families, music,etc? but what we realized that the favor of God is FIRST and FOREMOST access to Him. certainly He blesses us with finances, jobs, creative ideas, man's favor, and all of the earthly stuff we need and have--those things are apart of us having the abundant life that Christ promised we would have here on earth, but i don't think that those things are the pinacle of the favor of God. what i would suggest is that the favor God is about us having access to Him at any time, in any place, without having anything (say besides our sin) blocking our way to Him. and even in a place of sin the love of God can bridge that gap for what does Scripture say, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

but i think that the Favor of God doesn't have so much to do with us gaining favor here on earth as it does us growing closer to Him. we can have failing business, ministries, families, etc and still have the favor of God. this is why i am blessed going in and going out, this is why i'm blessed in the field and city, this is why i'm blessed from one season to another -- because He's with me no matter what. because whether i'm in great prosperity or poverty, i've got access to Him. whether i'm the on the throne in the king's palace or in the cave of adellum with a group of rebels (see 1 samuel) He's with me. and this is the favor of God.

thus, God so valued this access, He so desired this ability to commune with us, He so wanted us to have this favor that He sent His Son. His desire for us equaled His desire for His Son.

the thought that really struck me was the concept that the favor that we walk with as son's and daughters of God is only equal to His love for Christ.

He favors us as much as He loves His Son. and this is what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about God providing this kind access to mankind, Christmas is not just about the gift of His Son - but in that, its a gift of not only salvation, but that of access.

i don't think that God simply had mankind gaining salvation in mind when He sent Jesus- because those living in the time of the Old Testament had that -- but God had intimacy in mind. He had this crazy thought that He could come to us so that we at any time could come to Him. this access -- this favor -- i think is what God was really after.

salvation came because of Jesus i know - "for God so loved the world that He sent His Son . . so that who would believe in Him would have eternal life." yes Christmas is about salvation -- but that only came through the giving of Jesus.

the Father so wanted us to have this salvation - so wanted access to us and us to have access to Him that He gave His Son.

God's desire for us equals His love for His Son. Jesus tells His disciples this, that the Father loves them just as much as He loves Jesus. and that they in turn will love the Father just as much as the Father loves Jesus.

what an incredible thought. the Father's desire for us to have this favor, this access, this love equals that of the love He has for His own Son.

what favor. what blessing. what an amazing God.