Brandee and Dustin

Brandee and Dustin

In marriage we are more humbled than at any other time. Who we pretend to be quickly gets exposed. And if our spouse is wise they will draw us out and rebuke the pretensions that consume us. My wife has done just that and there are many habits, particularly, ways of thinking she will not standby and watch me continue thinking.

Often as Christians we know quite well that we must deal with our guilt (dealing with our wrongful acts, making amends for sinful deeds), but how much more difficult is it to deal with our shame. Shame is the feeling that I am not quite enough – who I am, my very identity is not enough – I must prove to you and the world that I am worthy of love. Many of the most accomplishment driven people in the world do so to hide one very agressive stalker, shame.

Shame doesn’t quite give in so easily so the more accomplishments the better to create a large and decent covering over our shame. Shame is what drives us to build elaborate, yet often translucent, hiding apparatuses and some others that are quite obvious.

The only way to truly way to escape the stalker is to accept the One who bore our shame. There is no other way than to accept Jesus’ great gift who became shame so that we did not have to bear the weight of the shame of this world. This is what we hope for and in our hope we will not be disappointed. For on the final day we will experience shame no more.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5




This morning as I prayed these words came to me,

“Lord, from your voice let me hear your Word. From your heart let me experience your love. From your mind let me know your truth. From your emotions let me feel your joy. From your being let me understand your friendship.”

Simple words and a simple prayer, but indeed it helped me connect with the heart of my Father in heaven.

url-1I have been on both sides of this as one who has had too great of expectations on my spiritual leaders and one who has had many unreasonable expectations thrust upon me. By faith and prayer let’s love our spiritual leaders and understand that there roll is God given and temporary.

“Religious leaders, priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams can be admired and revered but also hated and despised.  We expect that our religious leaders will bring us closer to God through their prayers, teaching, and guidance.  Therefore, we watch their behavior carefully and listen critically to their words.   But precisely because we expect, often without fully realising it, to be superhuman, we are easily disappointed or even feel betrayed when they prove to be just as human as we are.  Thus, our unmitigated admiration quickly turns into unrestrained anger.

Let’s try to love our religious leaders, forgive them their faults, and see them as brothers and sisters.  Then we will enable them, in their brokenness, to lead us closer to the heart of God.”

Henri Nouwen


self-absorption 2.png-675x550Being about the self is what we seem to be born with and it is what Jesus uses to relate his greatest command on – love God and love others (the same way that you love yourself). It is like an instinct that we care for, nurture, and help ourselves. However, in today’s Western world we are not just self-interested, not just self-aware, not just self-caring, but we are self-absorbed! We are consumed with ourselves. We spend much time wondering what others will think of us when the truth of the matter is that others can’t be thinking of us, because they are already mentally full thinking mostly and consistently about themselves.

Pastors can be particularly susceptible to this self-absorption. I know because I served as one. With the power of God behind you and the force of a strong will and a big dream you begin to think the world revolves around you and only you. I’ve seen this happen to my pastor friends, my pastor coworkers, and read excerpts from pastors who are self-absorbed. God’s vision for the people gets consumed by the pastor’s vision for the people. Self absorption is already endemic in the church, now imagine outside the faith how much more susceptible the world is to self-absorption.

Most of the sinful conflict and problems we face can be drawn back to small decisions to be absorbed and consumed with ourselves. We make one small compromise to demand (not ask) “me first!” and from there conflict erupts. This is why the Bible consistently teaches humility. Without the clothing of humility that thinks of others just as much and as well as ourselves we are doomed to self-consumption. Colossians says it like so,

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Three Great Quotes

%27The_feast_of_reason%2C_and_the_flow_of_soul%2C%27_-_ie_-_the_wits_of_the_age%2C_setting_the_table_in_a_roar_by_James_Gillray“Holy scripture can never lie or err, and its declarations are absolutely and inviolably true. I should add only that, though the Scriptures cannot err, nevertheless, some of its interpreters and expositors can sometimes err.” Galileo Galilei

“The highest attainment of reason is to know that there is an infinite knowledge beyond its limits.” Blaise Pascal

“God is the same God, always and everywhere…As a blind man has no idea of colours, so have we no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things.” Isaac Newton

Russell Moore gives a good sermon on the connection between our words and our actual experience. He says that often Christian express (or market) a fake Christianity that isn’t really living the courageous, cut-throat gospel Jesus calls us to live. He ends with a sincere prayer for courage and faith. 

Matthew 14:1-13 — Cut Throat Christianity: The High Stakes of Missional Provocation

“Lord, help us to be courageous. We serve the God who says fear not for I am with you and we still tremble at the world around us. Father, give us such a big, broad, expansive view of you that we respectful of others, but never afraid of them. We reserve our fear and awe for you. Only you are worthy of such high honor. Amen.”

holographic-tupac-may-be-coming-to-a-concert-near-you-93d59c62afMy wife and I love rap music. We love listening to it, dancing to it, and quoting catchy or funny lyrics. On station 93.5 K-day in LA they play old songs from when we were in high school (We were in high school the last half of the 90’s…). We heard a Tupac song where he was angrily rapping all the reasons and ways he hated Notorious B.I.G. and his crew. It was a song at the height of the east coast (NYC) and west coast (LA/LBC/Compton) rivalry. Tupac (west coast) had just been attacked by someone one from Biggie’s crew (east coast). He was mad, obviously, and wrote and rapped his revenge. We were surprised that lyrics like this can be sung in today’s world that’s how violent they were. But this led to a discussion of how rap has changed, for the worse.

When hip hop started it was primarily young black men who were writing and rapping about the injustices of the world. Ice-T sang about “F-the police” because there was real corruption and misuse of power in organizations like LAPD. Tupac struggled with the dual identity of street criminal thug and a God who would one day judge him and was he worthy enough for God’s presence (i.e. lyrics like, “Only God can judge me” and “I wonder if heaven’s got a ghetto”).

But when we hear lyrics today rappers aren’t singing about anything of substance. Rappers today only talk about how much money they have, how many girls they’ve slept with last night, how awesome they are, and how jealous of them everyone else should be. So today I pray for our rappers and hip hop artists to actually say something that will add value to our society and not take away from it.

“Lord, we pray for our hip hop artists that they would be filled with your Holy Spirit and rap about things that count. That they would go back to the days when rappers rapped about injustice and oppression and reflect on this artistry, that you gave the world. Lord we pray for truly inspired lyrics. We pray for rappers who would not be consumed by the lure of money, sex, and fame. We pray for new words to speak to a new generation with new problems and new injustices. We want to hear words that ask young people to consider their violent actions before they act. We want to hear from a humble rappers. We want to hear words that cause us to change and think. We want to hear your words Lord. Amen.”