Archive | January, 2013

My Mark Driscoll Dream

29 Jan


Today I was daydreaming. That’s not unusual, I daydream on a regular basis. The daydream was about an event more than anything. An event that would occur at a major Christian gathering. A place like, let’s say, one of the annual Passion Conferences. Yeah, it would be good if 60,000 people were there. Take a moment to get caught up with me in my dream. Imagine 60,000 Christians gathered. Different types of Christians. Traditional, hipsters, reformed, Baptist, Methodist, etc. You get the picture. Here we go.

You look down and in the midst of the coliseum is an octagon. An octagon like in MMA. And all of the people have come to watch me fight. And I’ll be fighting Mark Driscoll. I’m not sure what music Driscoll would come in to. But I’m pretty sure I would choose Eye of the Tiger. Now in my dream I’m not fighting the softened Driscoll. You know, TD Jakes friend. I’m fighting the Driscoll from early 2000. The one who is always calling guys wimps, making fun of overweight wives, cussing like a sailor and cracking jokes on guys with small churches. We are called to the center of the octagon and stand nose to nose. He’s talking trash and I’m just looking at him…down at him because I’m pretty sure he’s kind of short. The referee, who happens to be James MacDonald, explains the rules and now the fight is on.

In the beginning Driscoll catches me by surprise. He gets a takedown on me. Good strategy because I have the reach on him. He kind of smothers me, but I keep him close so he can’t land any punches. After a while the crowd gets bored and the ref stands us up. Now I’m in my game. I land a solid jab followed with a left hook. Driscoll gets a little wobbly as I land three more punches, the crowd goes wild and the bell rings ending round 1.

As round two starts Driscoll is mad. He really brings it to me. I can’t do much. He gouges me in the eye illegally. I tell MacDonald but he doesn’t care. He tells me to keep fighting. Well I ‘ve got one eye now but I’m mad. Understanding the ref is not on my side I realize I’ve got to win this thing the hard way. I need a knockout. So I start swinging for the fence, a little wild but I’m desperate. I catch Driscoll and knock him to the ground. As the ref is counting the bell sounds.

Round three begins. Now it’s a slugfest. The round swings back and forth from me to Driscoll. But I start gassing out. I have no choice. I just let Driscoll swing on me. He pummels me with punches. One after another, but I won’t go down. The crowd senses something great is happening. Driscoll is confused. McDonald is asking me if I give up. But I’m possessed. I yell at Driscoll “Is that all you got?” “Joel O’steen hits harder than that!” “Come on Driscoll!” Driscoll wears himself out on my hard head. Then it’s my turn. I take it to him. The crowd is on their feet. “Boom, Boom, Boom” the crowd yells simultaneously as my punches land. Finally Driscoll goes down. He’s out. No doubt. MacDonald hesitantly declares Driscoll out, makes his way to me and lifts my hand in victory.

The crowd is going crazy as “Eye of the Tiger” is cued up again. My wife rushes into the octagon with my two kids. Driscoll is sitting on a stool in his corner. I look over at him, feeling a little sorry for him. I make my way to him. He looks at me and says “I’m sorry. From now on things will be different.” I say to him “Mark I’m sorry too. Truth is there have been times I have been critical of you simply because of jealousy.” We hug. I walk to the middle of the ring and grab the microphone. Silence fills the auditorium. I lift up Driscoll’s hand and say to the crowd “If I can change, and he can change, then we can all change.”

After a short pause people begin to turn and hug one another. Calvinists and Arminians hug, traditionalists & hipsters embrace, people in skinny jeans and people in ties are high-fiving one another. Mega pastors and small church pastors have their arms around one another. Walls are broken down that divided us for so long. And on top of it all I got to beat up Mark Driscoll.

Potted Meat

29 Jan

“I’m thinking, today if I were a food, I’d be potted meat”. That was my Facebook entry for Friday morning. I don’t know if you ever have days like that, but I sure do. In fact sometimes I have entire weeks like that! I would love for my life to be as exciting and entertaining as a thirty minute sit-com. But the truth of the matter is that it’s normally like a long and drawn out documentary full of stuff that I’d rather not know about. Sometimes I wonder where that “life and life more abundantly” Christ promised is. While we may not feel very “churchy” talking that way, the fact of the matter is that we all go through spiritual and emotional valleys. If we ignore them, we deceive ourselves. If we embrace them, we can be strengthened. Everything we learn about God is not in the flowery fields of God’s summertime; some are in the frozen tundra of God’s winter. If we close our eyes during the trials of our life, we will miss much of what God has to teach us during our pilgrimage on this earth. Once when David was experiencing serious turmoil in his life he cried out to God “Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6). I think we’ve all been there. We want peace. We want escape. But we feel confined and agitated. So this month I want to encourage all of us that are crying out to God “Lord, get me out of this mess!”

I think the first thing we need to understand is that what looks and feels like a mess to us, is not really a mess at all. What Joseph’s brothers did to him looked like a mess, but for God it was an opportunity. The Jews in the wilderness for all those years looked like a mess. For God it was a time to prepare a people for Himself. The cross certainly looked like a mess. But in the end, it was the greatest manifestation of love we could ever know. If you know Christ, your life is not a mess. It just feels that way sometimes. Those unsavory circumstances in your life are just one of the ingredients in the recipe of your life. We need to understand that God has a plan for us. That plan is not to make certain that we are happy and satisfied every moment of our lives. It is to make certain that we are being conformed into the image of His Dear Son. You can’t make good biscuits without disgusting buttermilk. You can’t make a cake without raw eggs. And you can’t make a beautiful life without the undesirable circumstances of life. To leave trials out of our life is to greatly reduce the flavor of life God has for us.

We also need to understand that spiritual warfare is a reality. God has a purpose for our lives. Satan wants to destroy that purpose. Therefore, he has hosts of demons that are active around us. Paul reminded us in Ephesians 6 that the battle we face every day is a spiritual battle. Satan wants to get me and you to give up. If we give up, one of God’s tools is in the tool box and not on the job. Something happened to me when I was in college that I will never forget. One morning I woke up, spent some time with the Lord and began dealing with all the frustrations that life brings our way. In that moment God spoke to me very clearly. He showed me that Satan wanted to keep me from being what He wanted me to be. Then and there I decided anything that kept me from using my spiritual gifts, I would see as an attack from the enemy. It may sound simple, but that one truth has kept me going for many years now. Satan wants you to lie down. He wants you to stop. You can keep believing the gospel, he just wants you to quit living the gospel. If we respond to trials by running away from God’s service, we have fallen into Satan’s trap.

Finally, we need to understand peace is not the absence of strife; it’s the presence of God. It’s interesting how many times peace is mentioned in David’s cry found in Psalm 55:6. He wants to be like a dove, which is a bird that symbolizes peace. He wants to fly. There’s nothing more peaceful than soaring through God’s blue sky. He wants to rest. We are at peace when we are asleep. The problem is that David thinks that peace will be found if he could just be removed from his circumstances. That’s the way we usually think too. That’s not the case. If we find ourselves trembling and uneasy in the midst of a trial, it is not because we do not have peace. As believers we are filled with the peace of God by virtue of the Holy Spirit. Our problem is that we don’t have enough faith. Doubt dispels the experience of peace in our life. Peace is experienced in our life when we engage our faith. We have to trust that everything is alright because God is in control. We have to take up the shield of faith and quench the fiery darts of the devil. And finally we have to understand that peace is the presence of God. Think about this. If God is in your trials and you leave your trials then you have left God. God isn’t in our lives just to rescue us from all our tribulations. God is here to prove to us that He is greater than our tribulations. We prove that we trust in Him by remaining Christlike in the midst of trials. So the next time you feel like a can of potted meat, don’t ask God to open the can. Just thank Him that He’s in there with you.