God in the Hands of an Angry Sinner

My fist pounded the steering wheel as I drove down I-24 screaming in God’s face at the top of my lungs. Both the wheel and my fist were at their breaking points as I literally demanded to know what his problem was.

“If you are really God, then why don’t you care? Aren’t you listening? Why aren’t you doing anything? You know my dad doesn’t deserve this–Do SOMEthing!”

 I screamed until I became hoarse and my vocal chords literally hurt.

The man who loved and was loved by his wife and two sons. The man who drove 100 miles to the mines every day so he could provide for his family. The man to whom children flocked because they sensed his gentle spirit and good-natured humor. The man who served his church as a trustee for longer than I could remember. The man who was more of a father to my wife than hers had ever been. The man who my sister-in-law described as having “Jesus eyes.”

This man lay dying of cancer and was not getting better. I was mad and becoming more angry by the day. And my anger was aimed squarely at God. My dad didn’t deserve this. God knew it and could do something about it, but he wasn’t. Or more like he wouldn’t.

That thought fueled my rage. Rage at my helplessness. Rage at a church that wanted me to gloss over my true feelings with a happy face even if I had to lie to do it. Rage at an all-powerful God who just sat on his hands and did nothing. Just rage.

It all boiled over that day while driving home. I’d had enough and I challenged God with every fiber of my being. Never had I challenged anyone like that before and never have I since.

But finally, finally, God did something. He worked a miracle. He began a healing. Only it wasn’t in my dad–it was in me. The point where I got real with God was the moment he was able to reach into my heart and start repairing the hole that had been ripped wide open.

I wasn’t fooling him anyway–he’s God and he knew I was mad at him. He was just lovingly waiting for me to drop the Christian act so he could help me.

Once I got honest with him, the rage went away and the hurt was covered by peace. The hurt was, and is, still there but it was tamed by a comfort I never knew existed.

Even after getting up in his face he made sure I knew he still loved me just as much as he did before. I couldn’t explain it but everything was going to be alright even though what I feared the most was about to happen. 

Yes my dad died. He died a Christian. No anger, no self-pity, and no doubt in the arms of Christ–the same arms that carried me through it all. He taught me what it meant to be a Christian in death as much as in life. And God taught what love could do in both.

Are you mad at God? Are you keeping a brave Christian face on the outside but shaking your fist at him on the inside? Are you struggling understand why he’s not doing what you need him to do? 

You’re not fooling him, you know. Get real with him and tell him about it. I promise you he can handle it. He’s got big shoulders, thick skin, and a listening ear. And he’ll love you through it all.

Live The Mission,
Greg

Just Do It

We are what we repeatedly do. –Aristotle

Not many of us got to where we are today in the blink of an eye.

Tiger Woods didn’t win the Master’s the first time he picked up a club. Warren Buffett didn’t make billions on his first stock trade. And Albert Einstein didn’t develop the theory of relativity on his first day of school. Yet they all persisted in what they were doing and rose to the top of their fields.

By the same token, someone under a crushing mountain of debt probably didn’t have it fall on them after a single purchase. A prisoner doing hard time likely didn’t get there on a first offense. And the chain smoker didn’t contract lung cancer after smoking their first cigarette. They too persisted in what they were doing and wound up with predictable results.

In First and Second Corinthians, Paul instructs us to examine our lives. Examing the grandiose, once-in-a-lifetime events isn’t that difficult. Stepping back to examine the patterns of our lives takes effort, a sense of responsibility, and lots of courage. And this is where our greatest potential exists–not at one fork in the road but along our entire journey.

Where are the things you repeatedly do leading you? Which ones will make you look like Tiger and which ones will crush you? More to the point, which ones lead to fulfillment of your mission and which ones lead you to chase stuff that doesn’t matter?

Maybe it’s time to just do something different.

It’s never too late. Just later than it was. –Seth Godin

Live The Mission,
Greg

Care to Dance?

According to an old African proverb, when the music changes so must the dance.

So when God changes the music in order to grow and shape us, are we listening and change our dance accordingly? If not then I’m afraid he is merely the background music of our lives.

Live The Mission,
Greg

Identity Crisis

Originally posted on River Groups Blog:

“Are you playing?”
“No, I’m Zachary.”

“Are you cold?”
“No, I’m Zachary.”

“Are you 3?”
“No, I’m Zachary.”

We’ve gotten plenty of amusement over the past few months as our 3 year old son learns the nuances of the English language. He always thinks you’re getting his name wrong when you ask “Are you…” and the next word isn’t “Zachary.” In fact, substitute any word after Are you and he’ll most likely answer the exact same way every time.  

But one thing is for sure–Zach knows eactly who he is and he isn’t shy about correcting you if he thinks you don’t. I think I’d do well to learn a lesson from him when Satan tries to confuse my human condition with my identity in Christ.

“You are worthless.”
“I’m a child of God–bought at a very steep price.” (I Cor. 6:20)

“You are a life-long loser.”
“I’m a child of God–I choose to lose it all. (Matthew…

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Reverse Logic of Need

This post is a continuation of a discussion from the RiverGroups blog which I also write. The complementary post from that blog can be found HERE

Forgive me, but I couldn’t leave this discussion of need from the RiverGroups post without touching on how our own needs are met. Even though we do have a mission to fulfill, each and every one of us still have needs that must be met. How do we balance a sense of mission with our own very real needs?

In what is arguably the most well known model used to describe human need, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his “Hierarchy of Needs.” It’s shaped like a pyramid and made up of layer upon layer of different need types. You can see it below. The thought is that after meeting the most fundamental need on the bottom, we can then move up to meet the next need. This step process continues until the top of the pyramid is finally reached, representing the highest fulfillment of human need.

 

This model says we must meet our own needs first, then move up the pyramid until we “self-actualize” and be useful to others. For example, if someone with the capacity to be a medical genius has no food to eat (the 1st level), it becomes very difficult for them to develop a cure for cancer (the 5th level). All their effort must be tied up in taking care of their first level needs, mainly food. There is no energy or time left to devote to finding a cure for cancer.

It takes a lot of energy, time, resources, and talent to reach the top of this pyramid. In doing so, Maslow’s model fits nicely with the American Dream as discussed from the RiverGroups post-expend all your time and effort into building yourself up but leaving little left for anyone else. Even though the world’s intent is to become something more than it is, in practice it becomes useless to everyone.

Which brings us to the problem with this traditional view of meeting our needs—it’s completely backwards. For the Christian, the model isn’t based on material need but rather on a relationship with God. You see, when a person becomes a Christian they begin at the top of the pyramid. They’ve attained the highest level of human achievement by entering into a relationship with God. It’s what we were created for.

So what about all the needs below the top level? That’s the best part about being a Christian—God has already taken care of them all. Take another look at the levels in the pyramid and consider:

- Our esteem and status lie in being the children of God. (Romans 8:14-17)

- We love each other as the family of God. (I John 4:19-21)

- Our security rests in him. (Psalms 125:1-2)

- God is the provider of all our resources, even food and water. (Matthew 6:31-34)

The way our needs are met is completely opposite of the way the world’s needs are met. This fits the same reverse logic we find all through Jesus’ teachings.

Matthew 20:16
So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

Matthew 20:26-28
Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 16:24-26
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
 

Unfortunately, we can not follow the world’s model of trying to meet our own needs without it impacting our mission as a Christian. Once we realize we’ve reached the top of our need pyramid by accepting Christ as our savior, we can fulfill our mission by helping others reach the top of theirs.

Live The Mission,

Greg

Semi-Hiatus

This post is intended to let anyone who follows SonBurn know that I have decided to place SonBurn in a state of semi-hiatus. I don’t intend to take it down or stop posting completely, just make it a little more quiet than in the past.

But it’s not all bad news. The reason for this slowdown of SunBurn is that I will soon be blogging for my church’s small group blog simply called the River Group’s Blog. I intend to update it every day Monday-Friday (mostly) so you can catch me more often on there than here on SonBurn. If you’d like to check it out, you can find it at http://rivergroups.com/. Even though it’s more work, I’m really looking forward to it. I’d be honored if you subscribed to it.

Hope to see you there!