the waste of faith

Category : God, barbarian, bible, miracles, trust

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Every year my church does a crazy Christmas show.  This is a full out, laser-snow-machine-giant-screen-booming-bass show.  It even has 50 foot tall battle-hardened angels.  In fact, it’s one of the best produced (and written) show’s I’ve ever seen.

But almost every year I hear someone complain that it’s “over the top” or “too expensive”.  Some even wonder “why go to all that trouble?”

I understand their points.  Part of me even agrees with those thoughts.   I don’t know how much money is spent on free coffee, free hot chocolate, free cookies but my guess is over the course of two weeks it probably runs into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Shouldn’t we be better stewards of God’s things?  Doesn’t God want us to cut out the waste?

Frankly, no.

Because what we are doing isn’t wasteful.  It draws somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 people every year.  That’s a lot of people to connect with God.  Many of them are making that connection for the first time.

All of this has been running through my mind as I’ve been reading the “minor prophets” in the Old Testament.  As I’ve been reading I’ve noticed (for the first time) just how many crazy, outlandish, unnecessary things God calls prophets to do.

He calls Hosea to marry a prostitute.  He had Jonah swallowed by a big fish (although that was more because Jonah wasn’t cooperating than anything else).  He asked Ezekiel to lay on his side for more than a year.

I am sure that some people, even today, would say that those things were a bit ridiculous.  “Come on!  A whale?  Can we really afford something as big as a whale?  What about something more the size of a large tuna?  Or maybe a mackerel?”

That was a problem even with Jesus.  Some people saw his ministry as too extravagant.  Too relaxed.  And so he was labeled a glutton and a drunkard.

You know why these aren’t unnecessary?  Because God is willing to do anything, short of sin, to bring us into a relationship with him.  He asked these prophets to do these crazy things so that their actions would cut through the cultural noise of their days.  Sometimes the way to get someone’s attention is to go bigger, louder, and badder.  And sometimes

Do you really think God has suddenly stopped trying to connect with us in any way possible?

Now I’m obviously not advocating waste.  But I am advocating crazy generosity.  I just hope God doesn’t ask me to shave my head.

God asks us to do hard things

Category : God, barbarian, bible, choice, different, taking action

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Never think that God won’t ask you to do something hard.

In fact, that seems to be God’s favorite thing to do.  He never seems to say, “You know what, if you go on vacation to this exclusive resort, that will really get the people believing in me!”

Instead he says things like “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek”.  Or if you are like Hosea, he tells you to marry a prostitute.

Ouch.

A while back I wrote that God never gives us more than we can handle.  It’s one of the most popular posts on R3.  People have a hard time understanding why a “loving God” gives us hard things to do.  We don’t really want a God; we want a super powerful Santa Claus.  But taking an easy path in life isn’t always the best way to go about living.  I think God knows this.  He knows that sometimes the most growth happens when we have to struggle.  He knows that some people will be held in bondage unless we act.  He knows that evil won’t stop, just because we don’t want to get involved.

Sometimes the only way to advance the Kingdom is to push.

The more I struggle to understand what it means to be a parent, the more I realize just what God goes through.  When I look at my own parents I realize they held me to high expectations, not because they were being “controlling” or “demanding” but because they knew I had more potential in me then even I realized.

We don’t really want a God; we want a super powerful Santa Claus.

It’s the same with God.  He knows how much we can grow.  How much we can handle.  And sometimes to bring out our full potential, we need to work really hard.

There are things more important to God than giving us an easy life.

This is clearly seen in the Bible.  God has always been more interested in our relationship with him than in our sacrifices (for Jews) or following a bunch of rules (for Christians).  But we can’t seem to get that through our heads.  We keep trying “harder” to please God, when that misses the whole point.

When God gives us something hard to do (like telling Hosea to marry a prostitute) we change not just ourselves, but the world.

You can’t find a story in the Bible where something amazing wasn’t experienced when hard tasks were done.  You can’t find a friend who has been obedient to God, who hasn’t grown.  You can’t find lives changed when we, as Christians, do the hard thing.

What else can you make that claim about?

So when God comes to you and says, “I have something hard for you to do.”  Don’t fight him.  Instead, say, “how can I do it?”  And then go and do it.