Jesus Wants to Know What You Want

What do you want?
–Jesus

That’s my favorite quote from Jesus. Every time I hear people talk about the interconnectedness of desire and God, it lights me up a little bit. Religion is often seen as repressing desire, but that’s because stingy, stuffy, type A personalities have become the face of religion. The root of good spirituality is diving deeply into your desires.spg

Religion and faith at their best lead us down the road of our strong desires, it doesn’t repress them. True religion is considering Jesus’ and the Spice Girls’ question: What do you want, what do you really really want?

In the book Wholeheartedness Chuck DeGroat says we don’t even begin to live our true lives until we are awakened to our deep hunger and start living from that strong inner current running through our hearts.

Maybe stop striving for more and climbing the ladder and trying to get people to like you and start sitting still for a few minutes a day and listening to Jesus ask you,

What do you want?

 

Write Your Own Scripture

song

My church has a list of daily Scripture readings for every day of the year. It’s a common thing in Christianity. Followers of Jesus have been doing it for centuries. The readings will generally be a Psalm or two, an Old Testament reading, and a New Testament reading every day.

I decided since it’s a new month and I want a new heart, it’s time to start a new practice.

I got 1/10 of the way through the first reading and thought, this sucks. Whoever wrote this (probably David) lived in a completely different culture and time than me. It just doesn’t connect. So it got me thinking…

Can I write my own Scripture? (cue lightning bolt)

Seriously. If the Psalms don’t work for me, can’t I just write my own?

What if God is not only after those who quickly say, “Sir, yes sir!”

Even though this Drill Sergeant is stronger by far than anything the mighty U.S. Army has ever seen.

In the army if a cadet in training falls out of line or asks questions, he must face the wrath of a hard Sergeant. And how much more deserving of wrath is a man who dares to question the Sergeant of Sergeants, who turns mountains to wax?

If the penalty is to melt, then here am I, Lord, incinerate me. What can I do?

But if I can be so bold, is it possible that the Mountain God is in search of a few less Yes Men and a few more wrestling matches?

Is it possible that the Sergeant of Sergeants appreciates, respects, and dare I say even enjoys a bit of a wrassle? Could it be that if God wanted to lay you bare and flatten you without blinking his Pacific Ocean sized eye, then you would be toast?

But what if you stood your ground?

What if you were so bold as your spiritual ancestor Jacob, whose desires were strong, who didn’t quickly acquiesce and say “Yes Sir, whatever you want,” but said instead, “I’m not going anywhere until you give me what I want.”

The audacity!

But I can’t help but notice the humility even in the audacity. He recognizes the divine being’s ability and power to bless him. You don’t go to a homeless person and ask him to bless you, right? You go to a king’s palace. You go to someone greater than you, with more resources than you. Asking for a blessing is a humble thing, not a braggadocios thing.

So write your own Psalm. Have the audacity to do that.

The 150 psalms we have are here to stay. They’re not going to be replaced. They will continue being the Jewish and Christian psalms forever. I’m not saying let’s write Psalm 151 and 152 and include them in the canon.

But I am saying, embedded into the Scripture, in fact, one of the psalms, is the admonition:

Sing to the Lord a new song!

John Piper takes this further and adds (John Piper adds to Scripture?) — “sing to the Lord a new song, or picture, or poem, or figure of speech.”

The 150 psalms in the Bible are Israel’s songs, written for Israel, in an ancient context. They deal with kings, thrones, Zion, donkeys.

We need local psalms/songs. So write a Michigan Psalm. Or Iowa Psalm. Or New York. God was doing things in Israel thousands of years ago and the people of God wrote about it. God is doing things in Illinois this week. Why not write about it?
For old time’s (all time?) sake: Psalm 66 —

Take a good look at God’s wonders— they’ll take your breath away. He converted sea to dry land; travelers crossed the river on foot. Now isn’t that cause for a song?

Yeah, that is cause for a song! And so is the God-stuff in 2018, even if it is something like, “Hello?! Where the hell did you go?”

The Bible is Not the Point

ab
“Sticking to the Bible at every turn, like it’s an owner’s manual or book of instruction, as the way to know God misses what Paul and the rest of the New Testament writers show us again and again: the words on the page of the Bible don’t drive the story, Jesus does. Jesus is bigger than the Bible.”

–Peter Enns, The Bible Tells Me So

American Patriot's Bible, Greg Boyd, Perspective

Patriot's Bible

Greg Boyd reviewed The Patriot’s Bible at Christianity Today’s blog Out of Ur.

These days what’s been on my mind is how people’s perspective shapes their thoughts, which shapes what they produce, like blog posts or sermons.  Greg Boyd is going to say certain things about The Patriot’s Bible (if you haven’t guessed, he detests it) based on his own perspective — unfortunately this isn’t as obvious to some — and therefore his sermons/blogs/conversations are going to have a certain bent to them.

It seems to me that we’re all looking for the one right answer to an issue, as if every issue in life were either this or that, black or white, and so when we read a review on one of many Bibles available, we’re looking to give it our stamp of approval or our stamp of heretical.greg boyd

These days what I think of when I read blogs or hear sermons is not, “Is this true or not true,” but “Why has this person come to this conclusion on this text when others have come to completely different conclusions?  What’s at the bottom of this person’s view of the world?”

And most of the time it clears things right up.  Of course Mark Driscoll is going to say that about women in ministry – look at who he reads and the people he associates most closely with.  Of course Hugh Heffner is going to have that opinion about nudity – look at how he’s spent the past 50 years of his life.  Of course Greg Boyd is going to have that perspective on The Patriot’s Bible – listen to his sermons or read his books.

It all goes down to your fundamental views on how life works.

I know this doesn’t solve the issue, and I’m not advocating not debating or blogging about issues, I’m simply saying if we take a few steps back we might save ourselves a lot of energy by first taking a look at everybody’s starting point.

American Patriot’s Bible, Greg Boyd, Perspective

Patriot's Bible

Greg Boyd reviewed The Patriot’s Bible at Christianity Today’s blog Out of Ur.

These days what’s been on my mind is how people’s perspective shapes their thoughts, which shapes what they produce, like blog posts or sermons.  Greg Boyd is going to say certain things about The Patriot’s Bible (if you haven’t guessed, he detests it) based on his own perspective — unfortunately this isn’t as obvious to some — and therefore his sermons/blogs/conversations are going to have a certain bent to them.

It seems to me that we’re all looking for the one right answer to an issue, as if every issue in life were either this or that, black or white, and so when we read a review on one of many Bibles available, we’re looking to give it our stamp of approval or our stamp of heretical.greg boyd

These days what I think of when I read blogs or hear sermons is not, “Is this true or not true,” but “Why has this person come to this conclusion on this text when others have come to completely different conclusions?  What’s at the bottom of this person’s view of the world?”

And most of the time it clears things right up.  Of course Mark Driscoll is going to say that about women in ministry – look at who he reads and the people he associates most closely with.  Of course Hugh Heffner is going to have that opinion about nudity – look at how he’s spent the past 50 years of his life.  Of course Greg Boyd is going to have that perspective on The Patriot’s Bible – listen to his sermons or read his books.

It all goes down to your fundamental views on how life works.

I know this doesn’t solve the issue, and I’m not advocating not debating or blogging about issues, I’m simply saying if we take a few steps back we might save ourselves a lot of energy by first taking a look at everybody’s starting point.

Cornelius Plantinga: Questions Are OK


“It’s no disgrace to have more questions than answers. It’s not even surprising. There is much we don’t know about the world, and much we don’t know about the meaning of Scripture.”
Cornelius Plantinga, President, Calvin Theological Seminary, Engaging God’s World pg. 169

Buechner on the Bible

“The Bible is not first of all a book of moral truth. I would call it instead a book of truth about the way life is. Those strange old scriptures present life as having been ordered in a certain way, with certain laws as inextricably built into it as the law of gravity is built into the physical universe. When Jesus says that whoever would save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life will save it, surely he is not making a statement about how, morally speaking, life ought to be. Rather, he is making a statement about how life is.” –Frederick Buechner

Thinking Through the Big Picture

I’ve been thinking through the big picture of the bible and wrote down some stuff from books that I’ve been reading, and also from Adam Ellis’ summary on these blogs. Ellis’ words are in bold.

WHO ARE WE?

We are the people of God, created in his image. That image is distorted by the Fall but is still there.

“God created people in his own image.” 1

“You made us only a little lower than God.” 2

“They will be masters over all of life.” 3

“God made human beings precisely in order to care for the earth. We were made to serve this purpose. It is built into our very being; it is our very design.” 4

“Humans were made to reflect God’s creative stewardship into the world.” 5

“To image God, then, human beings are charged not only with care for earth and animals (‘subduing’ what’s already there) but also with developing certain cultural possibilities (‘filling’ out what is only potentially there). 6

 

WHERE ARE WE?

We live in God’s world which he created and loves. God loves creation simply because it exists. We believe that this world was created “good” (in the “loaded with potential” sense) and not perfect (in the “complete” sense). We believe that God created us and this world to live in harmony with each other and with him.

“The first act in the world’s drama is God’s act of creating and sustaining ‘all things visible and invisible’ out of a generous desire to enlarge the realm of being, to bestow life and goodness on others, and to assist others to flourish in the realm created for them.” 7

“God leads a very interesting life and is full of joy. Undoubtably he is the most joyous being in the universe…We pay a lot of money to get a tank with a few tropical fish in it…but God has seas full of them, which he constantly enjoys.” 8

“God loves creation. God celebrates creation. God even plays with his creation.” 9

“It was good…it was good…it was good…it was good.” 10

WHAT IS WRONG?

Human beings make an extremely destructive choice very early on in the narrative. That choice has far reaching consequences and knocks the entire creation project off course. The shalom, or harmony that is supposed to exist between God, people and creation is shattered. The world is not what God dreams for it to be, and all creation seems bent on moving in the opposite direction.

“The glory of God’s good creation has not been obliterated by the tragedy of the fall, but it has been deeply shadowed by it. The history of our race is, in large part, the interplay of this light and shadow.” 11

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

God does not give up on his dream for creation. He enacts a plan to bring about the “restoration of all things.” This plan involves covenanting with a cummunity of people to operate as agents of shalom in the midst of a broken world. God becomes a human being whose life, death and resurrection open the door for a renewed creation of shalom between a) God and human beings; b) human beings and other human beings; and c) human beings and creation. God calls a group of people to live in his reality now in the midst of a broken world. He calls us to partner with Him to make it more and more the place he always intended it to be. He promises that one day Jesus will return and that heaven and earth will be renewed. He insists that we will be resurrected so that we may enjoy the fulfillment of his promise and his dream for all creation.

“The Christian life is a quest to recover our humanity.” 12

“You have stripped away the old self, with its ways, and have put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in fuller and fuller knowledge, closer and closer to the image of its Creator.” 13

“The principalities and powers that kept us in exile have been defeated; they need reminding of this, and we need reminding of it too, but it is a fact – if it isn’t, the cross was a failure.” 14

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

“Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” 15

“The story of Scripture is the story of ‘Emmanuel’, for it describes how God progressively comes to live with us on our planet, at each appearance staying longer and in more permanent form.” 16

“Our destiny is an earthly one: a new earth, an earth redeemed and transfigured. An earth reunited with heaven, but an earth, nevertheless.” 17

“Scripture appears to teach not only that there shall be a new heaven and earth, but also that it shall be this earth, renewed. In Revelation 21 the city of God descends to us. We do not go to heaven; heaven comes to us.” 18


__________

1 Genesis 1:27
2 Psalm 8:5
3 Genesis 1:26
4 Heaven is Not My Home by Paul Marshall pg. 18
5 The Challenge of Jesus by NT Wright pg. 184
6 Engaging God’s World by Cornelius Plantinga pg. 33
7 Plantinga pg. 44
8 The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard pg. 62,63
9 Plantinga pg. 24
10 Genesis 1
11 Plantinga pg. 53
12 Heaven is a Place on Earth by Michael Wittmer pg. 83
13 Colossians 3:9-10
14 Wright pg. 185
15 Revelation 21:3
16 Wittmer pg. 205
17 Marshall pg. 11
18 Plantinga pg. 32

Marvin Wilson on the Hebrew Bible

wilson

“The bedrock upon which New Testament faith rests securely is the Hebrew Bible. Christians more commonly refer to it as the “Old Testament” …It was certainly an unfortunate day for the Church when the Jewish Scriptures began to be called the “Old Testament.” Such a title implies that this Testament is now passé.”

Marvin Wilson, Our Father Abraham

Dr. Wilson served as a translator and editor of the New International Version of the Bible