The Christianity of the future (which is now) needs to be, and will be, relentlessly focused on that which matters. The Core of the faith: God is Trinity, Jesus is the Full Incarnation of God’s Being, Resurrection, The Holy Spirit in all Believers, the Church is the Body of Christ, and our mission to Usher in The Kingdom of God. That’s it.
I am urging that we dramatically focus on these orthodox aspects of the faith. That we meditate on these truths until they transform us into the image of Christ. If the Church could unite and focus on modeling the Kingdom of God, lifting oppression, and bringing transformation and healing to the community, I think we would see some truly beautiful fruit in a complicated age. God is a God of Beauty, Love, and Resurrection. For us, this truth doesn’t change and we remain grounded, regardless of external, cultural circumstances.
It is important to understand that Christianity is a progressive religion. Our finite, limited, human understanding of God is constantly changing and evolving, and the Bible even documents our conscious growth. The human knowledge of God shifts from Genesis, to Exodus, through the Psalms, through the Prophets, through the Gospels, through Paul’s epistles, to Revelation, and still today. There was a time we thought God needed the sacrifice of animals and now we know she is a God of Grace. There was a time we thought God was a biological man of patriarchy and now we know that God desires equality for all human beings. It is bizarre and arrogant to claim to have complete knowledge of God’s nature. God can only be known through mystical experience.
I live my life obsessed with “Kingdom Come”. Kingdom Come means, to me, Transformation to the status quo. It’s the Christian Way of Life that boldly rejects of the oppressive forces of the world and says “yes, and amen” to the alternate ways of Higher thinking and living – the Reign of God, “on earth as it is in Heaven”. Unfortunately, Evangelical Christianity has put a heightened emphasis on the afterlife, which often resembles a pagan idea of heaven, as opposed to the Jewish concept of Resurrection and New Jerusalem. This has caused many Christians to remain indifferent to the genuine needs of people here today, while they simultaneously go to church every Sunday, stacking up heavenly rewards and enjoying the material blessings of American privilege in the name of Prosperity Jesus. As humanism continues to reign as the supreme secular religion, Christianity will need to completely abandon the false notion that God is only concerned for the soul and a spiritual afterlife. The Kingdom of God is here now, and as illustrated by Jesus, God is very concerned with the physical problems we face in present day reality.
Humanism is typically a rejection of religion and a secular attempt to advance human flourishing. I would argue that Humanism and Religion can indeed dwell amongst each other. I would even argue that the reason humanists have felt the need to reject religion, is because the Christianity they have known, has often served as a harmful, conservative ideology that restricts human progression. The good news is that the attempt to slow human achievement is not an orthodox Christian value. In fact, if we take Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom of God seriously, we may see that Humanism and Christianity have much more in common than conventionally understood.
We are approaching an age of techno-humanism. As the life sciences and technology continue to advance, we will be living in a very different world than we do today. There will be superhuman biomechanics and mind enhancements. The data religion will likely overshadow us and as believers, we will need to contemplate what it means to be a follower of Christ in the days of artificial intelligence and a godlike robotic-humanity.
The future may disturb you, but it doesn't frighten me. God’s love for individual Human Life and human flourishing far outweighs our strange religious tendency to keep us limited. I'm not sure how big your God is, but no matter how advanced we become, the Eternal Mind that caused this all into being still reigns supreme. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
An intimate, mystical relationship with God, practiced through meditation, prayer, and an ever-present awareness of God’s love and proximity is needed to sift through this busy and complex life. Knowledge of the Christian tradition is important, but it should lead you to the heart of the faith. Oneness and a deep relationship with God. As we come to know that God can truly only be known through experience, we become much more gracious and loving to our neighbors. When our theology is only a memorization of specific denominational doctrines, our faith will likely not grow to its full potential.
As we evolve in global connectedness, we must do away with the tribal aspects of our religious fundamentalism. For American Christianity to survive the future (again, now) we must come to embrace the Universal Supremacy of Christ. Traditionally we have treated Jesus like he is our God, and no one else can know him. We have gone further to say you must know the correct Jesus, certainly not the Catholic Jesus, nor the Presbyterian Jesus, nor the Pentecostal Jesus, nor the Methodist Jesus, nor the Baptist Jesus, nor the Episcopalian Jesus – you see the exclusivity gets quite ridiculous. I’m not saying we shouldn’t study to find the most accurate historical depiction of Jesus that can be known, I am only saying we must be far more gracious to other religions and philosophies of the world. We definitely need to stop demonizing those of other belief systems. Jesus, as the God of the Cosmos will not remain constricted to the categorical boxes that we force him into. Rather,
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:15-20)
When I meditate on this passage, I am in awe of the omnipresent bigness of Christ. The Cosmic Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, and he will not be constrained to our boxes. Especially if those boxes are locked to the public.
WHY I AM FROM THE FUTUR.
I am from the future because God is the Future. He is advancing humanity forward, as He always has, and I will not allow religiosity to make me fearful of what’s ahead. Instead I will embrace what the future has in store, knowing that God will continue to his loving process of "reconciling all things to himself."
People who truly know me, know that I am no stranger to exploring new, unconventional ideas. I have always had a curiosity that drives me to research, learn, and contemplate theories that challenge our traditional ideas of “reality”. To be clear, I explore ideas that have scientific grounding, not just fairytale ideas that have no basis in reality. Typically, I keep quiet about whatever theories or concepts that I am currently contemplating, but recently, I have been opening up and sharing more of my ideas about the vast matters of life that truly fascinate me. Sometimes I’m thinking about the philosophical distinctions of Plato vs. Aristotle, or futuristic predictions of transhumanism and a-mortal humanity, or sometimes I’m thinking about how quantum mechanics can scientifically explain “supernatural” and charismatic phenomena.
More recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the theory of a Multiverse. A multiverse is the idea that there are multiple universes in existence, including our own. It is an important distinction that the technical term, “Universe” includes all that exists. Often times, when describing our universe, we are merely discussing our observable universe. If multiverse theories are correct that means they are still a subset of the all-encompassing Universe.
Now obviously I am no physicist, but I am a fan. I’m going to do my best to summarize some of the main theories that have stood out to me and I will then share some of my personal thoughts on the implications. Most of my research has been on the work done by Max Tegmark and Brian Greene. Tegmark has four possible models for how a multiverse operates which I will share. Brian Greene has as much as 9 models, so that’s for another time!
Multiverse theories are mathematically plausible due to the fact that space-time is (assumed to be) flat and stretches out infinitely. Level I of Tegmark’s models explains that if space-time is infinite, and there is only a finite number of ways for particles to arrange, then eventually everything will repeat itself. This is why it is possible for there to be infinite versions of you, doing the exact same thing, except maybe with a different color shirt on, or completely different career choices.
Level II is the “post-inflation bubble” multiverse theory. This is due to the Universe expanding at such a fast rate, or “eternal inflation”, that it creates “bubbles” of multiverses where pockets of the universe stopped inflating and allowed the process of development to begin. Therefore, our observable universe would be one bubble among many other bubbles with their own set of physical laws. Think of it like bubbles in hot soup or in the vast ocean.
Level III is possibly my favorite. This is the “Many Worlds of Quantum Physics” theory. At a quantum level, whenever an event appears to have a random outcome, “all outcomes in fact occur”. So essentially, anything that can happen, does. Within this model, there are infinite manifestations of every possible scenario, allowing for everything to take place within a spatially and dimensionally infinite universe. Again we are speaking about the quantum level, but we assume that it levels up to everything we see because we are all just manifestations of quantum phenomena. For example, if you threw a six-sided die in the air, there would be a corresponding universe for each observable outcome. Or again, if you reached a crossroads where you could go right or left, the present universe would give rise to two other universes: one where you went right, and one where you went left. Brian Greene also explains that, “in each universe, there's a copy of you witnessing one or the other outcome, thinking — incorrectly — that your reality is the only reality,".
Level IV is the Ultimate Ensemble. This is the idea that universes governed by other equations are equally real. Level IV allows for all models of multiverses to exist. The assumption here is that the Theory of Everything – the way to unify relativity with the standard model of physics, can’t be explained by human terms. So the Universe is everything that exists, doesn’t exist, can be imagined, and can’t be imagined. The Universe is ultimately and completely indescribable in human terms, including mathematically.
I do want to be clear and state that these multiverse theories have no experimental support whatsoever. Multiverse models come from mathematical attempts to resolve the differences between the standard model of physics and general relativity. However, contemplating the vast, complex, and indescribable Universe ought to create a sense of awe and wonder within us.
As we expand our view past the horizon of the Multiverse, there is still an observing Mind that allows all of this to be. I am then able to pray and somehow feel connected to the God who is responsible for it all. I can appreciate the Jesus of history who was the very Cosmic Christ incarnate. In all of the infinite possibilities and unfathomable realities, I still breathe and see the beauty of God’s fingerprint on all of Life. A deeper contemplation on cosmological theories and astrophysics should humble any theist and our arrogant beliefs that we have any ultimate understanding of God. I am comfortable to say that I know that I don’t know what I don’t know – and still, in this Mystery of Life, I can feel the Presence of God’s Spirit within and around me, progressing me along with the rhythm of our infinitely expanding Universe.
Here’s some good resources for you to explore Multiverse theories!
All of Creation is beautiful and full of wonder because in it is LIFE. In the same way that the stars, the mountains, the waters, the trees, and the animals glorify God with their being – we too must radiate His glory. Christ fills the Cosmos. In God is Life. He is the very source of Life. Just by looking to the expansion of the Universe, we see that God cannot help but to produce more Life. God is benevolent, pure, creative and good. We are to worship God with our Life, just as all of Creation does.
This is why I am passionate about partnering with God as He produces in us more Life. He is leading us on a journey to becoming more, but it takes a level of surrender. We must surrender our ego to the benevolent work of God and allow Him to take us deeper, and therefore, higher.
We become One with this process with the way that we think, eat, drink, sleep, and breathe. When we feed our bodies toxic foods, or fill our minds with violence and evil, we limit the power of becoming that which is happening within us. This is “sin” – when we cease the flow of the Triune God’s love within us. This is why Jesus says “remain in me” and “apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15) The writer of Colossians also says “All things were created through Christ and for Christ and all things hold together in Him.” Our bodies are truly temples of God’s abiding Presence. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
For me, my spirituality has always fueled my drive to pursue overall health. To make Jesus a God who only cares about the soul, is a gross underestimation of him. As the apostle John writes, “I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2) We have permission, and encouragement to pursue excellence and health spiritually, physically, financially, relationally, and mentally. Let’s trust that we are in relationship with a God who promised to give us “abundant life”. (John 10:10)
Within Christian culture, there appears to be a hatred of the flesh and the material world. This is purely Platonic thinking. I admit that we are growing past that phase, but the thinking is still deep within our American Christian roots. We, at times, have a dualistic interpretation of the world: the good spiritual world vs. the bad material world. Instead, I believe scripture points to the fact that it is all interconnected and glorious. God is in all of His Creation. God loves our planet, our bodies, our sexuality, our humor, our art, our inventions, our science. Anything that enhances and produces more Life – I believe God takes great pleasure in it. Again – He is the source of all Life.
There are things that we cannot control in life, but there are also a lot of things that we can control. We must not underestimate the power of our free will. I believe in a Sovereign God who has placed within us His divine ability to think and to create. It would be wise for us to use this free will to make decisions for our benefit – as opposed to waiting on God to fix everything. We should not expect him to just fix our planet, fix our poverty, and fix our bodies. We are to “co-labor” (1 Corinth. 3:9) with Christ and He will “bless the work of our hands” (Deut. 28:12). I believe God is waiting for His Children to rise up and start behaving as the kings and queens we are.
Instead of getting lost in all of our external distractions, what if we focused our time and energy taking care of what we can control? What if we put our spiritual, mental, and physical Health as our number one priority? I would propose that we would eventually find external blessings, like finances and relationships, to take root out of our inward, personal well being. Look how beautiful the colors of this world is. The rainbow of fruits and vegetables, the green trees and blue skies, all of Creation truly vibrates with Life and Diversity. We become what we Consume and we become what we Behold.
I want to encourage everyone to pursue the healthiest version of yourself that you can achieve. In the pursuit of a healthier life, rid yourself of all shame and grow out of a place of Grace and Rest. When we mess up, which we all do, don’t lose all hope and relapse into unhealthy living. Trust that we are covered with the Grace of God and pick up where you left off.
Let us not partner with the destruction of Life, let us partner with the advancement of Life. Let us eat well and exercise well and sleep well and laugh well and cry well. Let’s be a Healthy Body of People who respect all various forms of Life and see God in it all. <3
There is a peculiar aspect to the human experience that we all share. We wall wrestle with some form of inner conflict. This reality that is found within our own souls is a frustrating one, to say the least. However, for a while now, I have contemplated this issue of inner conflict, making attempts to understand it. And once understanding it, hoping to embrace it. To me, inner conflict is similar to hypocrisy, but I believe it goes a little deeper. It is the emotional response that we feel because of our hypocrisy. Inner conflict is when we feel, or think a certain way, yet behave differently. But it is also when we seemingly feel and think two (or more) different ways at the same time. This causes a strange feeling of uncertainty which can cause anxiety and fear in us.
For me, I usually experience inner conflict in regards to my ambitions in life. For example, I want to plant a church because I am deeply in love with God and people, and I want to see God transform lives through my life. But to be honest, at times, my own selfish desires can creep into that noble dream. And at certain moments I wonder if I simply like the idea of having the attention and being seen as a hero?
What makes inner conflict so interesting to me is that it is a conflict that lives in our own home. It is found within our very selves, against our own wishes. To me, the self is my most trustworthy companion. I can feel safe with my self and I can trust that my self desires what is best for Nate. So it is scary when we sense inner conflict and we feel we can’t even trust ourselves anymore. What a strange dynamic that it is even possible to be at war against our very own desires, thoughts, and motivations. Yet, for some reason, there is something beautiful to me about this reality of the soul. It almost illuminates the complex nature that we are as human beings.
No man ever steps in the same river twice. You see we are constantly changing. As we make more experiences throughout life, our understanding of the world, and our selves, change. I believe that we feel the tension of our desires and opinions shifting and molding as we grow, and that can be uncomfortable. I typically would respond to inner conflict with frustration or contempt. However, since learning to identify the things that make me feel conflicted and embracing them as a part of my process, I feel I have a healthier grip on my emotional awareness. Instead of ignoring, I have learned to lean in to the inner conflicts I feel, because they are real. Not only is the conflict real in us, but they point to the journey that we are on as disciples of Jesus.
The beauty of the Christian journey is that, the moment we decide to follow Christ, we have embraced the divine journey of becoming. We are now permanently aware of what we will become. And thus, more aware of what we currently are and what we don’t want to be.
And that is what kills me. And that is what kills us. But it kills us in order to make us alive to Christ. And that is where Grace comes alive.
Recently, I had a revelation of what the cross symbolizes. Amongst many things, the cross can symbolize this very problem of inner conflict that I am describing. In the cross, we see the perfect balance of the pain and of the joy. It communicates the paradoxical nature of heaven now and heaven not yet. Of death and of resurrection.
And as Jesus commands us to take up our cross daily, I believe it is a symbol that can be used to understand the feelings that we feel. To me, the cross balances me out.
The cross allows me to be deeply aware of the pain and suffering in the world or myself, while also remaining hopeful, joyful, and inspired by the good and the beauty that God is doing in the world.
Balance is necessary so not to be so drunk with joy that our heads are in the clouds and we become disconnected from the hell that people are experiencing in the world today. But also not so depressed that we are disconnected from the Love that God is and from the beauty that He is actively restoring in the world today.
Let us remain fixated on the heavenly reality that awaits us and that we have access to now. Let us never leave those who are oppressed, poor, and in need of a relationship with the God of Love. We have the privilege to carry our cross, host God’s Presence, and to bring healing to a broken world.
The generational divide has become very clear. Lately, I have observed much more animosity expressed toward the Millennial generation. Here’s my thoughts.
I have always been curious about what my generation would become known for. In fact, during my freshman year at Concordia University, I wrote an article for the school’s newspaper about our generation. I even referred to ourselves as Generation-Y because the term “Millennial” hadn’t yet reached a status of universal understanding.
Recently, a friend of mine, who’s in his late 40’s, was complaining about my generation. He was cracking jokes and making statements that undermined our capabilities. After letting him go on for a moment, I quickly retorted, “Yes, but you raised us.”
This is my initial response to the complaints made by older generations. People complain about the Millennials being the generation that received Participation Trophies, and that we are the Me-Generation. But before you criticize, I must ask, who handed out those trophies? You were the ones telling us the world revolved around us. We were just following your lead.
And as we have followed your lead, we are now aware of where you led us. You have led us into a system of mass incarceration, racism, sexism, high-fructose corn syrup, and financial debt. So we have raised our voices against the systems that you created. And that makes you mad. While it keeps us hopeful.
What exactly are you criticizing? Our innate desire for justice and equality? Our passion to clean up the earthly messes that previous generations have caused? Are we lazy because we’ve been crippled by student debt and unable to find jobs? Which is only because we were taught that we must have education in order to have economic standing in order to be a respected citizen?
Now trust me, I can take a joke. Jokes are funny. Yay jokes.
But behind every joke and every sarcastic remark lies a truthful narrative that influences everyone’s perception of the world. So be careful, and listen to the jokes you are making and what that communicates.
I really have no problem when people do not share the same values that I share as a Millennial. For example, I have been eating a vegan diet for the past seven months, and that reality often causes an uproar of pettiness in others. It’s funny, most of my life I’ve been preparing for the persecution of being a Christian, but lately I’ve been persecuted by Christians for being vegan. I don’t mean to be dramatic in my allusion of vegan-jokes to that of Christian persecution, but there is a point to be made, nonetheless.
Again, though annoying, I can allow ignorance on matters to slide without it causing too much frustration within me. However, I do have an issue when people respond in an aggressive tone against the progressive ideologies that Millennials are often fighting for. To me, there are many beautiful characteristics of the Millennial Generation like inclusivity, authenticity, and progression which resemble a Christ-like nature.
But how god-awful those Millennials are who reintroduced artistry and craftsmanship into what had become industrialized commodities like coffee and beer. How stupid those Millennials are who actual turned the theory of human interconnectedness into a reality through the genius of social media.
And of course there are negative aspects to our generation. Like our lack of an ability to persevere. Or although we voted Blue, many of us still didn’t go out to vote in the first place. But we are aware of our issues.
We are aware that we “literally can’t even”, and we are aware that “student loans got me like”. Just look at our memes, listen to our music, we know our deficiencies. But as we head towards 2017, I wanted to offer a proud defense of my generation and proclaim that I love Millennials.
As I write this, CNN’s website is reporting a special about the problem of plastic waste and its effect to our oceans and its wildlife. You know who’s going to solve that problem? The Millennials.
That is why I love our generation. We are the generation that was told “You can change the world” and we are actually doing it. We’ll tell your grandchildren “You’re welcome”.
They're calling it Mourning in America.
I’m hurting. Shocking. We’re all hurting. Shocking. Donald Trump is President. Not Shocking.
The entire day of November 8, I was suffering what felt to be anxiety attacks. I had a terrible innate sense of what was going to happen. Then it finally became clear. Everyone was shocked. I was not.
I’m a black man. Shocking. I have tattoos. Shocking. I was born in Oakland, California and thus, I rock a Raiders Cap. Shocking.
I’m a graduate of a private University in Irvine, California. Not Shocking. I’m a 22-year-old pastoral figure to many. Not Shocking. I’m an entrepreneur who reads the intellectual works of Plato and Aristotle for recreation. Not shocking.
And now Donald Trump is president and tensions are at an all-time high, while the inner core of America is going to erupt. Naturally, I am nervous and anxious for the future of the nation. We live in a fragile world made up of afraid people. And now all those that are afraid are under the reign – I mean tyranny – I mean presidency of Trump along with his House and Senate.
Minutes into his speech I already hear one of his supporter’s yell “Kill Obama”. MINUTES IN.
Just in case shouting “Trump that Bitch” or shouting “Kill Obama” isn’t offensive enough, I will remind you that when a black man hears a Trump supporter shout “Kill Obama” openly, and Trump does nothing about it, but pauses, and continues with his fitting speech, then I feel a feeling of caution that I thought only my ancestors would feel. I am bracing myself to experience in 2016, what I thought only my ancestors would experience.
Here’s the worst part. The Church voted Trump into office.
My beautiful Church that I have fought hard for. The Church that I have served. The Church whose books I’ve read and sermons I’ve listened to. The Church that I have so many times offered my black gifts for free and for the love of serving God. The Church that I have walked my black-ass Jordans into and preached my hilarious sermons about loving everybody.
For clarity, the Church that I serve is amazing and beautiful and perfect, REUNION Santa Ana. They have done no wrong and they have been incredibly supportive of me and for them, I am blessed.
But in the same way that I am able to identify Philando Castile and Trayvon Martin as ME. I also am able to see American Christian leaders as ME. This creates an unbearable level of inner conflict, confusion, and further cognitive dissonance.
This is the moment in History where the Church is supposed to be the foundation built on a rock. The Church is supposed to be the united body of Christ that loves, all lives, and fights for the oppressed. Not ignore them. Not shout “Kill Them”.
I love God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But I am not for this blinded American organization – I mean institution – I mean church. AGAIN, we see the Church on the wrong side of history.
David Duke supports Trump. That is all I see. That is all that every minority group in this beautifully black, hispanic, muslim, LGBTQ, nation sees.
As a leader, especially a black leader to many, many white people whom I love dearly. Remember, my mother is white. I can’t be silent anymore. I am anxious for the future, but I am hopeful. I am hopeful knowing that all of the evils of this Nation are now rising to the surface.
It is at this moment that I am comforted and reminded that Jesus is not American.
I will continue to spend my life following the way of Jesus. I will mourn with those who mourn (despite any of my political, religious opinions). I will weep with those who weep. I will love all and call out the “brood of vipers” if they take issue with my bold approach to life. That’s the Jesus I’ve studied about. That’s the Lion of Judah. That’s the Son from Nazareth.
This summer has been an intense season of personal deconstruction for me. First summer out of college and quickly leaping into the “real world”, I have taken serious time to reflect on my beliefs. I didn’t necessarily intend to enter this season in my life, it just sort of happened. I think there are external issues that caused me to feel the need to regain faith in my own personal stability, like the current state of our nation for example. While trusting this process, I have allowed my mind to freely search out the truths of my present worldview, specifically my Christian ideas. Nowhere through this season have I lost faith in Christ, but I have questioned my faith in what I have perceived to be American Christianity. You can only imagine the inner conflict I have felt. In my heart, I have carried both the dream to transform lives and cities for the better, while also not wanting to have any contributing part in what has become American Christian culture.
This is an odd place to be for an aspiring Church Planter.
This critical nature isn’t necessarily new for me, but for this particular season in time, I allowed it to go deeper than I ever have before. Part of this is because I feel the responsibility to consistently question what I “know” if I am going to be in positions of “spiritual authority”.
I actually told a friend of mine recently that I’m anti-religion. Which honestly, saying that out loud for the first time caught me off guard. I realized how strong of a statement that is. Quite frankly, I’m not sure I actually am anti-religion. Rather I am anti-false religion. Just like most things, there are good aspects and negative aspects that constitute to a thing, the same with religion. Good religion is meant to be a system and set of pure rituals that bring you closer to God. What bad religion does is it allows the system and rituals to replace God. Suddenly religion becomes a system used to control people and feed the religious elite’s ego. This is illustrated in the numerous examples the Pharisees give us in the gospels. I often can easily identify with the Pharisees and Jesus has to set me straight and remind me that all of my studying, efforts, and desires are meant to lead me to a closer intimacy and knowledge of Him. Knowledge and rituals that do not ultimately bring you closer to Christ is just false religion.
“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” (John 5:39)
There’s enough natural pressures in life. And there are good spiritual pressures that come with the life in Christ. But I want to rid the unnecessary pressures caused by bad religion. Natural and good pressure can turn a coal into a diamond, but too much pressure will just crush everything.
To summarize this season of deconstruction, I was basically re-analyzing every aspect of my beliefs. It was a process of separating my beliefs about God and the world that are rooted in Scripture and experience, and separating it from what I have been taught to believe by Christian culture that may not be as rooted in scripture as we are led to believe. Every religion does this, every denomination does this, even “non-denominational” churches which has basically become a denomination in and of itself in all of its beautiful irony.
I’m not going to pretend that I have come to definitive conclusions about every aspect of my faith, but I trust that I am on the right track. Because I allowed myself to be honest with my thoughts and feelings and took them to Jesus, I feel more assured in who I am as a Christian. If you have doubts, its okay to have doubts. If you think your beliefs are out of line with conventional Christianity, its okay to explore those thoughts. My only input would be to earnestly seek out the Truth, no matter how uncomfortable the reality may be.
Although these seasons are difficult, I do believe it is of utmost importance to accept the process and allow the uncomfortable ride to bring ourselves closer to Truth. The phrase of “ignorance is bliss” has always lead me to respond with “Yes, but knowledge is power”. Ignorance may allow a life of bliss, but it is misguided. On the other hand, living a life with mindset founded on Truth brings a fulfilling life and comfort. This is the parable of the wise and foolish builders. (Matthew 7:24-27)
It’s been a while since we chatted
It’s the next day sorry I get nervous
Nervous that you wont speak
Or maybe I'm nervous that you will speak
But I wont know that its you
Or I wont believe that its you
Or I will believe that its me
Only me, so I hang up.
Ok hey its been a while
Its been a while
How are you
I mean how are us?
I mean really, really how are I?
But within the framework of how are us
Will you speak?
I been starting this off the wrong way
What I mean to say is
Thanks for everything
Thanks for pulling me out of darkness
Thanks for giving me identity
Thanks for revealing to me destiny
Thanks for getting me to college
Thanks for getting me through college
Thanks for getting me a job
And another job
And my dream job
And my other dream job
Thanks for not giving me that girl
Thanks for not giving me that girl
Thanks for not giving me all those girls
Maybe her though…
Thanks for the breath
Thanks for now
Thanks for today
Thanks for now
Its been a while since we chatted
An essential part of the human experience is desire. We all desire. As humans, we desire love, security, comfort, joy, all good things. Desire is so powerful and such an integrated part of our being, that when we don’t get what we desire, it often leads to anger and depression. Because unfulfilled desire leads to many problems, desire often becomes the enemy. For example, Buddhism teaches that desire is the source of our suffering, so in order to eliminate suffering, we must eliminate desire. The reality, however, is that the effort to eliminate desire is in and of itself a desire. Therefore, I am left to believe that desire is not a bad thing, rather it is a beautifully violent force that must be tamed. Desire is savage. Desire can cause the broke kid in the slums of India to become a successful business tycoon. In the same way when a desire is unmet, it may lead to horrendous actions. I would argue that numbing yourselves to your desires doesn’t free you, rather it kills your humanity. Desire is what fuels us as a species and desire is what leaves tomorrow looking better than it looked yesterday.
The past three years I have seen what I would reluctantly call a “formula” within scripture. God actually speaks about our desires quite a bit. The Church at times teaches us to stop wanting what we want, but to want what God wants. This is a very noble truth. However, a problem occurs when we teach it as law and neglect the relationship factor of the truth. Without an understanding of the relationship necessary for this truth, then we will grow to hate what we think God wants and we will feel shameful for what we do want. Thus, we end up in this indifferent state of our desires, never fully committing to any desire within us.
So what must be done? Scripture constantly points us to one simple solution: delight in God. Here are a few of my favorite “God will give you what you want” verses…
Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
John 15:16 “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit…and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
John 16:23-24 “Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name…Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
These verses might surprise you. They surprise me. Quite honestly, as I write this, these verses make me feel deeply uncomfortable. I, and I think so many of us, have been programmed to believe God doesn’t really care about our desires or well being. Our idea of God is often that he only wants us to get to Heaven when we die and hopefully bring others with us. Now these promises carry a whole lot of responsibility. It takes a great deal of wisdom to navigate the desires of our heart. That is why it is so important to have an intimate relationship with God. If we aren’t spending time praying, meditating, abiding with God, then our desires will continue to be shaped by our selfishness. But when we are truly delighting in God, then our desires morph into the desires of our Creator. Then and only then, can He trust our intentions with the blessings that this life has to offer. It is all about Him and this life of surrender is what fulfills the deepest desires of the human heart.
So here’s what I see as the biblical formula:
Now to be clear, I really don’t believe in speaking about getting what you want from God in terms of formulas. The only reason I am speaking of this in this manner is because I believe it highly promotes the necessity of pursuing a relationship with Christ. This to me is the most virtuous lifestyle possible and I pray we all would encounter the love of God and allow it to transform us so much that we transform the world with the desires of our hearts.
It’s odd, and a bit sadistic, just how obsessed humanity is with the end of the world. From the ancient Mayans to modern day Christians, many cultures all share this belief that the planet and civilization will come to an end, one day.
Walk through any downtown city, chances are high you’ll see a cardboard sign with red marker stating that the “END IS NEAR”. Visit any American church, chances are high that you will hear a hyper-zealous pastor teaching how to interpret the end times. Chances are high that that same pastor is deeply certain this generation is the last. Just like every generation’s pastor said before him.
Now I don’t wish to bash the Church for anticipating the return of the LORD. Nor am I skeptical regarding the Bible’s promise of a “new earth”. My only desire is that we would collectively shift our focus to our actual job. I too would like to see Jesus return and set things straight. However, I am also aware of the assignment that Christians carry in this world today.
Look how Jesus redirected the focus of the disciples when they were focused on the end times;
“It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8)
This verse was the resurrected Christ’s response to the disciples’ inquiry of when the “Kingdom [would be] restored to Israel”. Jesus simply redirects their focus to living powerfully and bringing the kingdom now.
Quite frankly, the apocalyptic prophesies in scripture are far too complex and ambiguous for us to fully understand. We host seminars and write books describing who the antichrist will be. Because of our unbalanced obsession with the end times, we have an unhealthy relationship with the world today.
Unfortunately, as a culture, we American Christians are not the best at nutritional health, nor do we seem to care for environmental protection, or even social/ethical activism. This isn’t to make anyone feel guilt or shame, I only want to highlight this reality. Honestly, this is a topic for a whole nother blog post in the near future. The point I would like to make however is this: I wonder if the modern church has lacked so much in human, planetary, and technological progression because we hold this subconscious idea that the world must get worse before Jesus comes back.
If a deep theological conviction we all share, and this is all monotheistic faiths, is that a God-imposed end of the world is coming, then how could we expect to invest our time and energy in the betterment and progression of the world? I have heard friends in the midst of discussions allude to “well the world’s ending any ways so it doesn’t even matter” and they laugh problems off. This is proof to me, that many of us have allowed this apocalyptic belief to highjack our God given abilities to create and advance the human race.
I will repeat the verse for clarification, let's remember where Jesus directed our focus:
“It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”
So again, let’s ask the Father to send his Holy Spirit so that we will receive the power to change the world and not contribute to its destruction.