"Marketing" vs "Offering a Quality Product and Environment"

One of my friends posted the video below on his FaceBook page, and I wanted to share it here as well. I come from a past where "marketing Jesus" was something that made me a "good Christian", and am in a church right now that sometimes has this kind of weird overtone that gets in the way of outsiders seeing the authentic community and love that keeps me at my current church. (I'd love if we could lose the weird overtone and just trust that living lives built on the real joy and transformational power that I find in Jesus would accomplish things that "marketing" gets in the way of accomplishing!)


"Keeping Safe From Sin" vs "Valuing People"

The Rabbis of Jesus' day had added to the Law all kinds of additional rules to keep safe from their own sinfulness and the sinfulness of others. They loved God, and knew following God was hard. They knew that the ebb and flow of their own passions would draw them away from following faithfully. And they desperately wanted to stay focused and safe!

And then Jesus came along and ignored all the purity rules. He valued people over His own purity! Imagine that!

Jesus took water from a Samaritan woman, and conversed with her alone. Scandalous! Even the woman assumed that He was interested in flirting or more. But Jesus was actually interested in this sinful heathen woman as a PERSON just like you or me, and not as a sexual object -- and was so interested in her as a PERSON that he was unconcerned about appearances or modeling inappropriate boundaries for others, let alone about his own vulnerability.

Jesus let lepers into his personal space. He was so interested in them as PERSONS that He was unconcerned about his own health or the potential for spreading disease to others or the poor modeling of adherence to a good law that was in the best interests of all.

Jesus let a known prostitute touch his feet very intimately. Again, he was so interested in her as a PERSON that he was unconcerned about all the things that he "ought" to have been considering to model holy living.

Jesus went to eat at the home of a tax collector. This action said that the man could move from the category "social pariah" to the category of those that could inherit the Kingdom that Jesus said was among them.

Jesus -- over and over, in his stories and in his actions -- set the stage for what we later see Peter and Paul doing in terms of how they interacted with the sinners around them and in terms of how they managed their concern for purity in their own lives as followers of Jesus.

Over and over we see this astounding truth: Jesus cares more about including everyone who wants to be included in the Kingdom than he cares about making the Kingdom a "safe and pure" place.

Perhaps the nature of the Kingdom is that it cannot fail to purify and cannot fail to save . . . and that any who would come and follow are welcome to do so.

For us:
. . . who am I keeping out because I'm afraid I'll be "stained" by their "sin", as if they were worse than me?
. . . and who am I failing to value as Jesus does, and thereby proving that I have never set foot in the Kingdom at all, or I would never imagine that I could protect myself or the Kingdom by acting in a way that is contrary to the nature of the King?

"Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" . . . and my debts to Him are so much greater than anyone's debts to me!

"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" . . . because HE owns the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, and is the ONE who will keep us safe from our own yuckiness . . . but NOT if we try to keep ourselves safe by excluding any of the ones welcomed by HIS own arms!

The only way over our fear of "sinners" is to fully experience the depth of our own depravity and the power of our God to save us out of it! Then we no longer fear anyone, and we know that his power and his truth can certainly save any other person . . . after all, if he could save me, YOU are infinitely easier than I was and will be!

SIN that makes one impure is not primarily sexual in nature, nor is it primarily of greed, nor is it primarily of laziness . . .

SIN that makes one impure is the sin that blinds itself to TRUTH and tries to make a safer, purer world through rules or a "freer" or more satisfying world through taking God's grace and truth lightly.

We fail to listen to each other and even to listen to our own hearts because we fail to listen to Jesus.


The Yorba Linda Fires

I am home with the boys today -- and with an additional friend for a few hours, as Noah's best friend Matthew hangs here a little. Yorba Linda schools are closed.

The fires are still not completely contained, according to Current stats on the Freeway Fire posted this morning.

This map is pretty dramatic:

Map of the Freeway Fire

We had fire throughout the ridge of Chino Hills that goes behind us, all the way from the 91 to the 57. And I suspect that my favorite spots to hike have been scorched and destroyed for years. How sad!

Please pray for all those who lost their homes, and for the continued efforts to control the fire!


A remarkable ride home from school with Noah and Brooks

I picked up Noah and Brooks after my work day was done, and was driving home with them from their school. I have a few of my favorite CDs in my 6-CD changer in my van, and rarely change them . . .

The song "Come Before the Lord" off of the album "No Greater Love" by Glenn Kaiser and Friends came on the CD player, and I had the honor of hearing a full rendition from the back seat by my seven-year-old Brooksie and my nine-year-old-in-two-weeks Noah . . . and they knew every word! I had chills run up and down my spine and relished the four-and-a-half minutes in which they gave this song their all. It was a snapshot of the best parts of raising a family, and I am and was very grateful!

I have always said that it was music and not sermons or books that gave me the passion for our Triune God that I possess, and that it was music that really taught my heart the TRUTHS that work when I live them out. Something about music goes right past my overly-analytic mind and writes beautiful things in the deepest places of my being.

Today the teaching came from two little boys, and said "the things that really matter also really satisfy!" and "God is teaching Noah and Brooks all they need to know, and is helping you do an adequate job of being His tool in that!" Both of those messages are precious to me today, and were very much needed.

Charlie Peacock, the Resurrection Band, Larry Norman, Glenn Kaiser, and Rich Mullins have been my best teachers over the years . . . and early on I would have included John Fisher and Chuck Girard in that. These days I also include Hillsong United, Third Day, Matthew West, Kutless and many others. They have been the best teachers of theology to me!

I love that 22-year-old Josh has a Rich Mullins ring tone on his phone . . . and love that he sits and listens to my music as I work sometimes. I love that he and my 23-year-old Mike really do love God and are following Him. And I wonder if their mom's love for music that preaches a God that loves them and is worth following had more of an impact on that than any of my words?

I was looking for a clip of the song the boys were singing today, and couldn't find it . . . but I found this video of another of my Glenn Kaiser favorites, and thought I'd post it here for anyone interested. It gets to the heart of what drives me, and what I hope drives my boys. I need God's love more than I need anything else, and so do they. May they know the reality of that in their very core!