Without Love …

Without Love… from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

More thoughts here.

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Getting #Linsanity: waiting for your big shot.

20120221-031836.jpgWhat do you think of Jeremy Lin’s story? Are you caught up in #Linsanity?

The power of his story has almost single-handedly saved the lockout-shortened NBA season, and reminded us of the pure joy we find watching players who make everyone around them better, lead by being generous more than prideful, and the team becomes a more powerful force than they could be as a random assortment of stars.

“The Lin story has broken out into the general culture because it is aspirational in the extreme, fulfilling notions that have nothing to do with basketball or race. Most of us are not superstars, but we believe we could be if only given the opportunity.”

David Carr (via New York Times), adding:

“We are, as a matter of practicality, a nation of supporting players, but who among us has not secretly thought we could be at the top of our business, company or team if the skies parted and we had our shot?”

Do you secretly have those same thoughts? Are you patiently waiting for your ‘big shot,’ toiling away in obscurity while embodying faithfulness and perseverance, on the path toward gaining godly wisdom?

Source: Getty Images

Just having a conversation about Justice.

Today and tomorrow I am at The Justice Conference, hosted here in Portland. So grateful to join in the conversation.

The Justice Conference 2012 is the second annual international gathering of advocates, activists, artists, professors, professionals, prophets, pastors, students and stay-at-home moms working to restore the fabric of justice. For some it means speaking. For others it means singing. For some it means going. For others it means giving. For all, it means living with mercy and love.

Justice Conference founder (and lead pastor of Antioch Church in my beloved hometown of Bend) Ken Wytsma writes on why justice matters to followers of Jesus and all who trust Scripture:

People matter to God and therefore they should matter to us – every bit of them from the salvation of their souls to the meeting of material needs (see 1 John 4:20-21).
Justice is rooted in the character of God, commanded in his Holy Scriptures and exemplified in the life of Christ and the history of the church.
Justice is the right ordering of our relationships with God and neighbor.
Justice, in all spheres and slices of life and especially in the social sectors, is biblical, God-honoring and right. Politics, theories or political platforms, however, are open to dispute and disagreement.

Because Justice is much bigger than “social justice,” he gives a helpful pie-chart to see how various kinds of justice are interrelated:

Hello (9 years after I caught on fire).

Nine years ago she said Yes.

I proposed in an old fraternity building undergoing massive renovations, the least likely place she would anticipate. Yet, if you know me, it kinda makes sense. After using a Lite-Bright to ask the big question, we sat to thank God and in the middle of prayer my shirt caught fire from a rogue candle.

True story.

I can confidently say it’s been the best near-decade of my life.

Still get goose bumps when she walks in the room.

Do I tend toward religious performance or living by the Gospel of grace?

A few years ago a friend introduced me to a helpful way to examine my heart and see if I am living in God’s righteousness, or asserting my own self-righteousness. The simple chart shown below was adapted from Tim Keller’s talk “Preaching the Gospel.” I found it at a time when I felt far from God’s will (vocationally), but desired to live more deeply in His will (personally). Since then I’ve walked through it personally with many, each time rejoicing in the Gospel truth.

While the chart is useful for instructing others, we must begin by filtering our own heart through it. Do I tend toward religious performance (acceptance based on obedience) or living by the Gospel of grace (obedience flowing from acceptance)? 

To this I would add: we are saved by works. Yet these works are not our own; we are graciously saved by the works of Jesus, who lived the life we should live — in perfect submission to God’s will — but haven’t, and died the death we should die, but won’t have to, if we trust in Him.

RELIGION

GOSPEL

In religion one says, “I obey — therefore I’m accepted.” In the Gospel one says, “I’m accepted — therefore I obey.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Motivation is based on fear and insecurity. Motivation is based on grateful joy. 1 John 4:7-11
I obey God in order to get things from God. I obey God to get to God—to delight and resemble Him. Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23
When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life. When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial. Psalm 23:4; John 16:33; Phil. 4:11-14; Hebrews 12:1-13
When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs. When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism. That’s how I became a Christian. Romans 10:4; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18
My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment. My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him. Philippians 4:4-7
My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble, but not confident-I feel like a failure. My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever. In Christ I am simul iustus et peccator—simultaneously sinful and lost yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time. Neither swaggering nor sniveling. Romans 10:4; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18
My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’ My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments. Phil. 3:8-9; Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:1-11
Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols. It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc. I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God. I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc. But none of these good things are ultimate things to me. None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost. 1 John 5:11-14; Psalm 73

(Scripture references added)

Keller says he got the idea of contrasting Religion and the Gospel from reading C.S. Lewis’ short essay, “Three Kinds of Men,” in which he says there are not merely two ways to live (God’s way and man’s way), but three: religion, irreligion, and according to the Gospel of grace.

Romans: the more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.

On Romans:

“This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.”

—Martin Luther, The Letter of St. Paul to Romans, written 1546

Chart source: Mark Barry, Visual Unit

Trouble: the rush and pressure of modern life.

“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence… activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence… It kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

—Thomas Merton, via Chad Lewis of the Sojourn Network, who adds:

“If you are not doing the hard work of sitting at Jesus’ feet daily, you are in trouble.”

So true.