I’m the three-year-old in the grocery store; God’s the parent

I love my kids.

 I really do. 

However, it doesn’t mean that they don’t drive me crazy sometimes. 

One of the craziest times is bedtime. In our house, it consists of brushing teeth, use the bathroom, sleep attire, puffers, nasal sprays, tuck-ins, reading, songs, and prayer.

All the while, you’re trying not to wake the ones who have fallen asleep. That’s the real trick. I believe that parents who can consistently and successfully get a child to sleep within 10mins should get an honorary Doctorate. 

Can I get an Amen on that!

It always seems it’s right before bed that they mention the homework that they have to do or the book that needs to be read and returned.

Do they not know that it’s bedtime! 

Do they not understand that if they do not go to bed that very minute it will be meltdown city! That the next day will consist of tears, screams, fists, and turmoil.

To no avail, seldom do they listen. Kids rarely understand the consequences. Continually we try. Why? Because we love them. We know that to neglect them would be a worse fate than to do our best. 

Or how about those moments when you’re in the store and your child… I mean your friend’s child (we know yours is perfect) starts flipping out in the aisle because they want the fluffety puffety marshmallows and you said no. Suddenly, it’s as if you have stripped them of everything dear in life and they must scream, shout, kick, grab with all their might, so the universe knows and yields to their beck and call!

Yet, we love them.

I believe this is why the Scriptures speak of God as Father. Jesus actually teaches us that the relationship we have with God is so much more intimate than the term father. Jesus and the Apostle Paul use the word “Abba” (Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, Gal 4:6), which means Daddy. It speaks of an intimate relationship. Not God afar, but a God who draws us close.

When I’m candid with myself, I’m the three-year-old in the grocery store demanding Marshmallows; God’s the parent. Too often, we travel through life only looking for fulfillment. We pray and expect God, like any good vending machine, will give us what we want. We’re like the little girl in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory singing

“I want a feast
I want a bean feast
Cream buns and doughnuts
And fruitcake with no nuts
So good you could go nuts
No, now”

I Want It Now

Sometimes we get what we want out of our free will. There are other times, because of the love of God, where our wish is at a distance from us.

Just because you ask, doesn’t mean you should get it. 

I am the child in the relationship who wants and needs–cries and screams. I fight when something good, but something I don’t want, is demanded of me.

Though I know, I still fight it. I fight my heavenly father because I think I know best. I know best as my four-year-old knows best–not at all.

My Prayer:

Lord, I need help. I don’t know what I’m doing, though I pretend I do. Help me to heed your words and follow your instructions. Most importantly help my heart to be soft, so I continually see you for as the loving Dad you are. You are my peace and my hope.

Amen

Resources used in this post

When it hurts to dream

Regrets envelop our minds – trapped in a paper cage that is never mailed away. All the I wish I hads, should of beens, if onlys can consume, leaving us crippled.

Have you been there?

I have many dreams, an official bucket list you might say. Some I have accomplished while others await their chance.

Just because you can cross something off the “list” or you reach the goal–it doesn’t happen the way you think it should have. Maybe even though you have accomplished, the result feels empty. We are left wanting. 

Sometimes the dream crumbles beneath us. The dream is realized–things are-a-happening. Then without warning, brick after brick is deconstructed beneath you leaving your hard fought for dream (career, family, riches, experiences) either crumbling to the ground below or teetering back and forth like an upside-down pendulum awaiting imminent impact on the cold hard earth. 

If you have found yourself here, it can be hard to dream again. 

After all, it is much easier to accept a common existence. Why dream for anything more than your present status-quo if this is how it feels?

The dreams hurt.

I’ve been there. If you’re the type of person who is willing to take a chance on a dream, you have probably been there. If not, you will be there. Even the chance takers like Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein have been there.

When we find ourselves in such places, we need to ask ourselves, is my purpose to fulfill the dream or is the dream my purpose?

If our purpose is to fulfill the dream, then a failure of that dream is utter doom. Also, if this is the case, why not only have small attainable dreams where there is little risk of failure, to which I would say, that’s not much of an existence.

Instead, I lean to the latter. I believe we were born to dream. We see pictures of this in the Scriptures. Joseph dreamed of more, Abraham dreamed of lineage, James and John dreamed of glory, and I’m sure Paul dreamed of reaching more.

What this means is that it’s okay to take a chance on a dream and fail. You were made to dream. Success (whatever that is) is the bonus. Jon Acuff writes,

“Forget finding a purpose. It’s a never-ending story that will leave you empty. Live with purpose.”

I believe this is what dreaming does. It helps us live our lives with purpose. We are not seeking to find it in some empty accomplishment they may or may not happen depending on an insurmountable amount of variables that you have no control over. Your purpose is to dream and try.

Do your best. Try hard.

If you fail, that’s okay. At least you tried. 

When others heave judgements from the sidelines, you can sluff them off knowing you are at least in the game.

If you are genuinely taking a chance with your dreams, there will be setbacks. There will be the aforementioned I wish I hads, should of beens, and if onlys. It is a guarantee. It is in these moments you have a choice, you can let the failure define your and end your dreams, or you can do something with it. You can choose to define the failure–use the pain–learn the lesson to either try again or as you move on to the next chapter of your life.

When dreaming hurts, remind yourself, this is what you are made for.

Check out the resources used in this post.

Tears for my people

Wednesday morning I read the news that Jarrid Wilson, Pastor and advocate, took his own life. He is one in a recent string of Pastor’s being overwhelmed and ending it all.

As I read I wept.

I wept for his church and friends. I wept for his parents, wife, and kids.

But mostly I wept for all the other Pastors out there that feel like Jarrid.

Jeremiah 9 reads

“I wish my head were a well of water
and my eyes fountain of tears
So I could weep day and night
for casualties among my dear, dear people.”

Pastors are my people. As Pastor Greg Laurie, Senior Pastor of Jarrid’s church soberly points out,

“At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day,”

I weep for them because I know what it is like. In fact, I have never spoken about it publically or privately, with the exception of my wife. For nearly two years, with increasing regularity, waves of seemingly insurmountable hopelessness overwhelm me. It takes everything within not to stay there. There are moments I fear I will.

More and more I’m finding my peers, whether only in waves or as a life long struggle, feel much the same.

We suffer in silence.

After all, it’s a nice sentiment that we should be able to be open. What if we were though? Would others still allow us to carry their burdens with them, as pastors do, or would they decide not to contribute to the weight and bear it on their own?

Would it compromise the receptivity to our message that Jesus has come to bring us the fullness of life, hope, and love that surpasses all the anguish?

How does someone like me, an author of a book all about finding our identity in Christ, admit this type of feeling without the vital message I believe God has given me losing credibility?

However, we must.

We must talk about it. Despite the consequences (which I believe should only be good) we must talk about it.

We can pontificate the reasons why this feeling is so prevalent, and while important, in the long term we must yield to something greater. Pastors and all people of faith need to band together and hold each other up.

Just because we know hopes name, it does mean it’s always on our lips. There are times when the worries of life push it away.

Health, family, the past, our vices, work. I’ve been there, and I know how easy it is to let it push hope aside.

This is exactly why we must stick together. We must hold each other up. It is imperative that we speak our pain and help each other carry it. We must know we are not alone and that we are not wrong.

This world does leave us wanting, hollow, and barren. It is only Christ who gives life, hope, and liberty, but that doesn’t mean we will not be overcome. After all, many of the Bibles most prominent characters felt this way.

Moses, David, and Jonah are three of the many who asked God to take their life. Not to mention Samson who did take his life. Yet every single is listed in Hebrews 11 in what we call the Hall of faith. They are men of which it is said, “…whose weakness was turned to strength…” (Heb 11:34).

As we stand together helping each other stand with God, we can have faith that our weakness will be turned to strength. How? When? That’s the mystery, but that doesn’t negate the truth. What it means is that we must stand with each other because if the Scriptures tell us anything, it is that those who struggle are not abandoned by God, but are primed for God to use.

Brothers and sisters who are fighting for the kingdom of love–the kingdom of God–who are also fighting for their lives, you are not alone.

When we weep, let us weep together.

3 things to get the most out of Sunday

If you are a regular church-goer then Sunday, more than likely, is the day when you gather with others who are on the same spiritual journey as you.

There are many reasons why we do this. To learn, be challenged, and fellowship with others, are to name a few. There are, however, times when this does not happen. It is quite easy to walk away from a Sunday service and feel, was that it? 

Whether you have felt like that or you always walk away satisfied, there are three things you can do before Sunday ever happens so that you can get the most out of Sunday (or whichever day you meet).

I break them down to heart, body, and mind.

1) Heart

This may seem obvious, but to get the most out of Sunday, you need to prepare your heart. But what does it mean to prepare your heart? 

To prepare your heart begins with prayer. Prayer is about repentance, thanksgiving, petition, lament. 

Consider prayers like this the tenderiser and your heart the meat. Now the Sunday becomes the grill. While not the perfect analogy, I hope you can get the picture. 

Sunday is a time when God speaks to His body corporately, which you are a part of. As Greg Boyd writes,

“…our heart conditions our ability to see and understand spiritual truths…”

You need to do your part to set aside the weekly distraction in order to hear what God is saying, which leads us to the second one.

2) Body

I’m not talking about spiritual jumping jacks or shoulder exercises so you can hold your hands up longer. Body has nothing to do with your physical body.

As mentioned previously, your part of the body of Christ. As a member of that body, you need to help the body get ready for what God is saying to His Church. You have just as much of a responsibility to help prepare the body for game day (to use a sports slogan), as anyone else.

Call someone up form your church have coffee, maybe lunch, or a someone for dinner and discuss spiritual matters. If your church has small groups, engage in them. Proverbs states that we are to be,

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17. 

A great way to get the most out of Sunday is to engage others with what God is doing in your life, their life, and the church as a wholes life.

3) Mind

Depending on your tradition, this is either over or underemphasized. In most cases, it’s the latter. Surprisingly, it is almost demonized. Yet, Jesus told us to love him with all our mind (Mark 12:30, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27).

Here’s the thing, it’s easy to be lazy. When you are lazy with your mind on spiritual matters, you do your self a disservice. Most churches nowadays do series. That means you can know the topic of the series and the Scripture before it ever comes. Pick up a commentary and do a little study. Even if you’re not a reader, it’s easy to either read a verse or listen to it. Once you do that, think about it, talk about it, pray about it. You can even find other sermons or podcasts on that Scripture.

Even if you don’t know what is coming next, you know what has happened. Engage the previous Sunday. Talk, pray, and think. Do as much as you can to engage the text and hear what God is speaking to you through it.

If you do these three, I guarantee that you will get the most out of your Sunday experience.

Checkout the resources used in this blog

#TBT Fire Falling

Here’s a song I wrote a few years ago called Fire Falling



Fire Falling by Joshua Trombley & Jesse Morin

Verse 1

Em                    D                       C                 Am

I can feel your fire falling, Your fire falling on me

Em                    D                         C                 Am

I can hear your spirit calling your spirit calling to me X2

Chorus

C                      Em                      G                                    D

Fire fall down, Spirit Breathe out, Consume me with your flame

C                       Em                      G                                    D

Move in Power, move this hour, Consume me with your flame

             C

Burn in me

Verse 2

Em               D                           C                      Am

I can feel chains are fallin’, the chains are fallin’ off me

Em                    D                                  C                               Am

I can hear your kingdom coming, Your Kingdom coming, my heart cries out

Verse 3

Em                    /D                     /C#                 /C

I can feel your fire falling, Your fire falling on me

Em                    /D                         /C#                  /C

I can hear your spirit calling your spirit calling to me

Bridge

C                       Em                       C                     Em

Fire fall down, Spirit Breathe out, Fire fall down, Spirit breathe out

Reclaiming our wild-eyed courage.

If you were anything like me as a child, you had loads of courage. I remember at four-years-old climbing a large wooden structure that stood about two stories tall on a raft and jumping into the water. There were crashes on bikes and daring feats from trees and large rocks. Even though they often eventually ended in crashes and tears, I never once thought I should stop trying adventurous things.

I don’t know when it changed, but there was a point when something did. For some reason, reason took over. 

When I was ten, my friends and I would ride our bikes down a hill that we affectionately called, “Devil’s Hill,” which had a fallen tree covered with dirt that created a ramp. We would ride full tilt down the hill and fly–and I mean fly–landing roughly on the windy, rocky, root sewn path. One of the times I went down, I peddled as hard as I could. As I sailed through the air, it felt that my bravery was rewarded. Unbeknownst to me, when I landed my handlebars twist just enough to be dangerous, but not notify my ten-year-old brain to any problem. As I turned my handlebars, thinking I was straightening them, I turned the bars, aiming and hitting a rock just big enough to stop my front wheel. 

What proceeded next looked an awful lot like the Tazmanian Devil’s dust swirl mixed with tears, a little blood, and ten-year-old pre-pubescent screams.

The next day I went and did it again.

Somewhere along the way timidity, trepidation, and fear set into us.

We never plan for it. Responsibility, maybe you might call it maturity eventually takes over. However, I believe a lot of us have lost our courage.

I like what Jordan Peterson writes about our fleeting courage,

“Something is out there in the woods. You know that with certainty. But often it’s only a squirrel. If you refuse to look, however, then it’s a dragon, and you’re no knight: You’re a mouse confronting a lion; a rabbit paralyzed by the gaze of a wolf.” 

We grow up, and we allow fear to dictate our path. When rarely if ever risk the oceans of discovery. We stop chasing dreams, we avoid painful decisions, and we look for the path of least resistance. 

But aren’t experiences worth the tumble? The stories and lessons serve as valuable memories that help you for the next adventure.

We don’t risk enough. 

What if James, John, and Matthew said no to following Jesus?

What if Peter hadn’t stood up in front of the crowd and proclaimed the Good News of Christ (Acts 2)?

What if the Apostle Paul hadn’t risked life and limb to spread Christ’s Kingdom through the Roman Empire?

They all took a risk. Anyone we have known as significant has. 

We need to tap back into the wild-eyed childhood bravado. With adult wisdom and a childlike fearlessness, how would our lives and the world be changed for the better?

Yes, it’s scary to step up and out, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. As Tolkien writes,

“Adventure can be scary and unpredictable, but the more you continue in it, the more you lose that sense of fear and doubt (and the less you care about being late for dinner). You begin to gather up your internal resources with confidence.” 

We need to readopt a sense of adventure. As we courageously step out in the small things, it allows us to step into the unknown a little further each time the easier it becomes.

It’s time to think like a child again.

Check out the resources used in this post

A Pastor’s Lament

I don’t know how to say how I feel.

Have you been there? It seems like I am there every day. Each day I find myself in a fog of emotions, not knowing whether I’m happy, sad, despondent, numb. Waves of joy, sadness, pride, anger seem to crash simultaneousness on all sides of my mind.

BANG!

At these times, I can’t help long to feel something–something other than the whirlpool of emotions. To feel something other than the physical pain from my injuries or the emotional pain from the internal wounds. To feel something other than the constant pressure of having to accomplish more and be successful. The force of merely surviving.

Have you been there?

More and more frequently, I find myself in this brokenness.

God can seem silent.

 I pray and nothing.

Have I lost God’s favour?

Have I done something wrong?

I long for the angel that visited Elijah to come and minister to me. But Elijah didn’t have four kids to keep him awake, nor did he have to worry about a paycheque to feed them.

It leaves me to wonder, what’s next?

For that, I do not know. What is next for me, for my family, for my church?

I don’t know.

I know to whom I belong.

I know what God has called me to.

Yet the waves keep crashing without and end in sight. Each wave pushing me deeper and deeper into a dark sea–clenching for something, finding nothing.

On Christ, the solid rock I stand. Does the fact that I feel like I’m sinking mean I find my feet somewhere else? Or is there more to the story. 

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? 

How long will you hide your face from me? 

King David wrote,

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts 
and day after day have sorrow in my heart? 
How long will my enemy triumph over me? 

Psalms 13:1–2

Even Jesus cried out while on the cross,

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

Matthew 27:46

Jesus knew–David knew–I know that though all feels lost, it isn’t. Tomorrow the sun will rise. There will be a new day.

 But I trust in your unfailing love; 
my heart rejoices in your salvation. 
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, 
for he has been good to me. 

Psalms 13:5–6

So what do you do in moments like this?

Praise anyway. When we do, we remind ourselves and the enemy of whose we are. 

I heard and my heart pounded, 
my lips quivered at the sound; 
decay crept into my bones, 
and my legs trembled. 
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity 
to come on the nation invading us. 
17 Though the fig tree does not bud 
and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails 
and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen 
and no cattle in the stalls, 
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, 
I will be joyful in God my Savior. 
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, 
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:16–19

Did the Supermarket wreck the Church?

Post world war two the world began to change, according to a recent Freakonomics episode, when it came to how you purchase food.

Post-war marked the supermarket age. Northern hemisphere countries, inspired by the “innovations” in the U.S.A., began to have one-stop shops. Mass-produced products started to be in demand.

For this mass-produced revolution to happen, it meant that our food needed to change. For food to be efficiently produced, harvester machines had to collect tomatoes. That meant the tomato had to be genetically modified. They needed to be harder–more resilient. Chicken also began to be modified. Bigger breasted and lighter feathers. This meant more meat that looks better in a package.

These advancements were necessary to have lots of food for a little cost. More bang per buck. The problem is, food isn’t as nutritious as it once was, some have argued it’s even dangerous. However, it is a necessary evil if we want maximum food for a minimum price.

If you are a Gen X’er or Xennial like myself, it was our grandparents who built the modern world, hence their generational name “builder.” While they did an excellent job giving us infrastructure in a post-war world, the development of mass-produced houses, cars, and as we have spoken of, food has dramatically affected our lives.

I believe something happened similar to this with the church within the same period. This is not to say that our grandparents intentionally stripped the church of nutrition, not in the slightest. What I believe is that well-meaning Christians began to do work that had a tremendous impact, but the cumulative side effects (just as in the agricultural world) have been detrimental.

To become more productive (mass-producing Christians) and make the product cheaper (buy-in costs less), we have modified what it means to follow Jesus. Discipleship became a program. It is not that the big box megachurch is bad. It is that as anything thing becomes larger the small things that make it what it is, become increasingly more difficult to accomplish. After all, the kind of discipleship that Jesus and other followers modelled for us is not mass-producing, nor is it cheap. One might even call it inefficient.

With the industrialization of everything, the builders changed the world, not excluding the church. The neighbourhood church, like the mom and pop stores, faded away as society moved toward more efficient forms of church–the big box one-stop-shop church. After all, we can preach to more people, more revenue is pooled together, and it is cheaper.

What I mean by cheaper is that you can have all the amenities, maybe even more, with less buy-in. You can have the best speaking, music, and Sunday experience while giving less money and time. It becomes a lot easier to pull off “church” because more people giving less is more than fewer people giving more (time, money, and resources).

While this model has been successful at gathering crowds and more so introducing the character of Jesus, more often than not, it has offered light feathered, large breasted chickens, so to speak. It’s not intentional, but merely the design.

Is the solution to go back to the neighbourhood church? Maybe, but there’s a problem.

The problem lies in this, just as in our store analogy where the local shop begins to lose business and thus begins to copy the big box stores to sell the same product, they never can at the same price. The local store offers compromised food at a higher cost. The local church begins to make following Jesus into a Sunday experience while still demanding the in-depth relational collateral and workload of local church ministry. The price simply starts to surpass the return.

Neither of these speaks of the vocation in which Jesus has called us and the Holy Spirit has empowered us. The church, both large and small, has got into the business of running efficient service rather than the painstaking work of disciple-making.

In recent years there has been a push back in the food industry. People have been demanding free-range meat and non-GMO products. What is interesting is that people can taste the difference. If you’re really paying attention, you can even see the difference. To get this kind of food, it does cost more. Yet, those who have chased the products of how food should be, say they have discovered that it is worth the extra cost.

People are beginning to seek the same thing when it comes to a relationship with God and the church. As some Christians have sought and found the free-range non-GMO church, they have noticed that though it makes a greater demand on their life, it is genuinely better. There is a greater buy-in, the processes of making other disciples take a lot longer, yet the end product is much better (for lack of better language).

There is a contingent of churches and church leaders who are striving to usher a new healthier church back into the mainstream. They are trying to manifest what it looks like when Jesus said: “Go tell of the good news of God…baptize,… and teach them to obey…”

The fix isn’t the big box nor the local church. The repair is to reencounter the King of Kings, Jesus. It is His Spirit, the Holy Spirit the will reinvigorate all our churches. We need to hear his demand on our hearts again. As far as de-industrializing our churches, I honestly don’t know the solution. How do you produce quantity and quality?

Maybe you know. I hope you do.

We need to seek the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. Our big and small GMO churches have left people wanting more and allowed our culture to become morally bankrupt. We need a free-range church. We need to seek what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Does the Bible actually say anything about earth care?

Bob Dylan once sang, “The times are a changin’.” According to most scientists the planets a changin’ too. Yet, as much as the environmental alarmists are championing extreme climate change, there is another side, called the climate change deniers. If you’re just the average person, it can be hard to navigate what is true or not. It seems we would rather fight than finding common ground. However, whether you are on one side or the other, or stuck in the middle with me, what the Scriptures teach us about caring for the earth is the same. In fact, whether you believe in climate change or not should have no bearing on Biblical care for the environment.

The two verses from the two creation accounts in the book of Genesis speak of what we call, the Cultural Mandate.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.

Genesis 1:28

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15

These verses are the commission of Adam and Eve to subdue, rule, work, and care for the earth. We will address these words in a second. These Scriptures, at the very beginning, the very first things God tells his people, are too often forgotten. God is inviting us into his creative work. The Apostle Paul writes to the Church in Colossae,

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him”

Colossians 1:16

The world has not only been created by Jesus but for Jesus, and he invites us into the process. The call goes out to subdue, rule, work, and take care. The “subdue” in Genesis 1 means bring into bondage and press. It’s the same Hebrew word for “oppress” and “beat or make a path.” The word rule doesn’t paint warm and fuzzy pictures either, it means “dominate.” Yet in Genesis 2, the work means to serve and take care means to “keep watch, preserve, to be a watchman.” It appears that these two accounts differ in how they depict how we are to respond to the earth.

I would argue that the only reason we see subdue and rule as negative is because of the view of our broken world as it is now. In this portion of Scripture, it is a very different story. This is before the fall of mankind, which happens in the next chapter. Jim Ball writes,

“yet this granting of dominion in Genesis 1 occurred before the Fall in Genesis 3 before we became warped images, distorted reflections.”

When people try to use these as reasons to squeeze every ounce of life out of the earth, they are grossly taking it out of context. The idea of bringing into bondage has to do with tending. A plants natural reaction is to spread, dominate (in a negative way), and kill anything that gets in its way. God’s call to us is to cultivate protect, set up boundaries–this is what subdue means. To rule is much the same. Don’t think of “rule” as injustice, think of it as benevolent and perfect. Everyone wants a perfect ruler. At that time, we were. Perversion had yet to take place in our hearts. If we look at these words through the lens of Jesus, they become powerful. Jesus’ form of ruling is to serve. Jesus’ form of subduing is defeating evil.

To sum up what the Scripture says is, “Give a Hoot.”

God’s charge to us is to care for the earth–tend your home.

Think of it as your house, do you just throw garbage around, no. People who do are usually children who have yet to learn or adults with some sort of psychosis. It means we need to carefully, and thoughtfully use the resources the earth supplies. Ron Snider writes,

“Our survival depends on agriculture. We need food to live. Yet, agricultural lands are threatened by desertification, land degradation, and drought, 12 million hectares (the size of Mississippi) of agricultural land are lost each year. Globally, half of all agricultural land is moderately or severely degraded. The poorest are mote vulnerable, with 74 percent suffering from land degradation.”

This doesn’t sound like we are giving a hoot. This is the wrong end of dominate. This is selfish domination. This isn’t tending, this is taking all we can.

The science may be clear to you, or it may be murky, but whether the climate is changing or not has nothing to do with responsible resource use, caring for plants and animals, and making sure we are not polluting the earth.

We have been called to be stewards. That means we defend endangered species, we protect our oceans and forests, we campaign to have harmful chemicals removed from our foods and water supplies, and it means we do what we can to care for our portion of the earth.

We have vast resources to care for. In the wealthier countries our earth is cleaner, and our waters are cleaner. This gives us a false sense of accomplishment. Developed nations are responsible for nearly all CO2 emissions. This is a big part of what we can do to change. We can rely on solar and wind for our power. As much as fossil fuels have saved trees (we have more trees on the earth than we did 100 years ago) it is far from the solution. This is where God invites us in to steward and make decisions for ourselves. We get the joy of not only being but finding the solution. If we don’t the consequences could be catastrophic. Ball writes,

“Global Warming will increase hunger and malnutrition by damaging rain-fed agriculture. The amount of agricultural land experiencing extreme drought will grow from 1-3 percent today to 30 percent by 2090. Tens, perhaps hundreds of millions will experience increased risk of hunger and malnutrition.”

The hard question to ask ourselves is, if God made everything good, as it says in Genesis 1, and we have been given the mandate to care for the earth, have we maintained the goodness? That should be our goal.

While we in developed countries carry the weight of global warming, developing and underdeveloped countries are dealing with extreme pollution. While they have the packaging for products like we do, they do not have the infrastructure to deal with their trash. There is also a lack of consequences for bad practices. Snider points out,

“Developing nations often use less-sophisticated technology and consequently consume fossil fuels less efficiently. Desperately poor people also try to farm marginal land and destroy tropical forests.”

There is an epidemic of deforestation in African countries. As they try to develop and increase their tourism, they are clearing vital forests to build resorts to attract wealthy northern hemisphere patrons and build factories. They do this as our countries sit by idly as they rape their land and make many of the same mistakes we have. After all, if we keep them in poverty we can get clothes, fruit, and vacations cheap.

What we see is that as the livelihood of a person increases their pollution footprint decreases. The scriptures clearly teach us to care for the poor. This means that as we care for the poor, we also help with planet care. Snider again points out what incredible power Christians could have,

“Imagine what one quarter of the world’s Christians could do if they became truly generous. A few of us could move to desperately poor areas to help combat poverty. The rest of us could defy surrounding materialism. We could refuse to let our affluent world squeeze us into its consumeristic mold. Instead, we could become generous nonconformists who love Jesus more than wealth. In obedience to our Lord, we could empower the poor through generous giving, community development, and better societal systems. And in the process, we would learn again his paradoxical truth that true happiness flows from generosity.”


Help the poor, help the earth.

Whether you are earthy or not, our mandate from God is evident, tend the earth. We need to care for creation, after all, we are a part of the planet. The word Adam in Hebrew is taken for the word dirt. The difference between us and all other creation is that we were made in the image of Elohim, the God of creative works–who invites us into the responsibility for caring for his planet. We are the watchmen. Paul states to the Romans,

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

Romans 8:22

The earth is groaning as it waits for us to carry the mantle we have been gifted with.

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Is it O.K. to struggle with your faith?

There has been a lot of doubt and skepticism from “high profile” Christians. Many have felt that there hasn’t been a place for this line of thinking in the Christian movement. While there are circles where this is not encouraged, there are also a ton of circles that are exploring.

I have seen a few rebuttals by bloggers and musicians that have some excellent points. Some have pointed out the holes in the arguments; others are urging us to follow God and not celebrity.

As much as these points are valid what needs not to get lost in the conversation and what I want to say to those who identify with the struggle of faith that has invaded so many Christian leaders is,

It is ok to struggle with God and your faith.

I believe it is un-Christian to not.

To not struggle in some capacity or another is to say that you have a full understanding of not just what the Scriptures say, but of God. If you believe in the God of the Scriptures, then both of those premises are absurd! Us understanding God is like a chair trying to understand it’s maker. The maker of the chair is so far beyond what the chair could ever comprehend.

Luckily we have Scripture and can experience God in beautiful and rich ways. To say that Scripture should be the thing that pulls us through and anchors us into the world of certainty is to claim that we have a perfect understanding of what the Scriptures say, which we don’t. Not even close. We rely on wisdom, experience, and tradition, and we do the best we can.

Often not recognizing this, we fix our faith to unhealthy paradigms.

When doubts and questions appear to unfurl our sails of faith, we become crippled. Instead of pushing forward to discovering brave oceans of new realities in God, we can either give up and lose hope or bunker down in safe coves.

I see neither of the later as viable options.

I believe it is good to doubt and question. When I look at the Scriptures, I can’t help but see a God who wants us to wrestle with the big issues, always realizing that there is more to learn.

There is a story at the beginning of Scripture that articulates this. There is a story about a man named Jacob. Jacob, like us all, has some serious baggage, much of which is self-inflicted.

As Jacob begins to travel to create a new life for himself and his family, he begins to wrestle with his ideas of what his life is and who God is. The book of Genesis records the Jacob has an encounter with an angel where they wrestled, and Jacob left with a limp and a new name. In the words of Switchfoot, however, “[he] wrestled an angel for more than a name.”

The Scriptures record,

“Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Genesis 32:28

While the name change is important, we must not lose sight of how the ancient rabbis interpreted this verse. They believed that this set the premise for our approach to the Scriptures and a relationship with God. (more in this in Chapter 2 of my book Hidden faces).

There should never be a point when we stop wrestling with God, Scripture, or hard questions. It doesn’t mean a patchwork of ideas that we throw together as though we’re filling a pothole, but there are times when we need a fresh coat of pavement.

It is not that Scripture, tradition and experience don’t matter. That somehow our wrestling with the big and small questions undermine everything. It just means that sometimes we need a tweak and other times we need a new street.

For me, because I have experienced God, it demands me to push to understand this life deeper. There have been times when my tradition has let me down, majorly. There have been times when no matter how much I trusted and looked at Scripture, it left me frustrated, confused, disillusioned. I had an experience that I could not deny. I knew and still know that there has to be something beyond myself and that faith isn’t built upon the straw of others nor upon the weak foundation of my limited understanding of an ancient text.

My faith is built upon the fact that I have had experiences with something beyond myself. It now demands of me to wrestle.

Saying this, if my faith stopped at the experience and didn’t have the structure of tradition (tried and true practices, rituals, and paradigms) and the Scriptures (God’s word that tells of the Word, Jesus) then my faith becomes a kite flying in the wind with no string.

We must wrestle with all of these aspects of faith.

As a teenager, I had a lot of struggles with the church. Its brokenness has a continual effect on me. One of the many things that helped save my faith was a little book called Joshua by Joseph Girzone. It’s a story of Jesus showing up in the church today. It was then in my first year of college that Len Sweet’s book Postmodern Pilgrims opened my eyes to new ways of expressing our faith. Sweet helped me find the traditions that could keep me tethered.

During my mid-twenties, I was struggling with the abuse of experience in my movement. As I reflected on those I grew up with and the teens I was now pastoring, it was plain to see that in many cases, their whole faith was built upon experience alone. There were no roots! No tradition or Scripture – no wonder they fell away. It was a dedication to Scripture in this season that helped me sift through the healthy and not so healthy experiences — something I still have to do.

More recently, I had a crisis with the Scriptures. They weren’t working for me anymore. I was preaching and leading others, but the words fell flat for me. Luckily, as I stated previously, my experiences wouldn’t allow me to let go. What I needed was a new paradigm of understanding. I am thankful for POD casts like The Bible For Normal People and Reknew With Greg Boyd. I’m eternally grateful of Boyd’s book, Crucifixion of the Warrior God (I suggest the abridged Cross Vision) that has given me a new lens (hermeneutic) to reading the Scriptures that have allowed it to come alive in my heart again.

If I never began to wrestle I would have thrown it all away, of this I’m sure. If I never struggled through the hard questions, I would never have the faith I do now that is vibrant and life-altering.

I not only see the value in doubting and questioning; I see it’s vital. Just remember, it must never end with doubt and question. That’s just lazy. The doubts and question must propel us forward to seek new lands of truth that direct us to new understandings of God that are never complete but continually drive us forward to new areas of discovery.

Check out the resources used in this post