Don’t Google God.

31 Jan

Over the past weeks, I’ve engaged with three different people seeking out the Christian faith.  Nothing excites me more than to point people to the One True God!  It’s my favorite thing.  Interestingly, all three interactions left me feeling impulsive. I wanted to clutch these earnest seekers by the shoulders and urgently shout, “Stay off the internet! Do NOT start by googling any of this stuff!”

When looking for God, clicking around on the internet is just about the worst thing a new believer can do! 

It’s never been harder to decipher fact from fiction. The amount of information and content has metastasized beyond the galaxy: most of it published to score the ever-hallowed click. (Who could have foreseen that a click would be so economically, even socially powerful?) The recent Netflix film, The Social Dilemma, poignantly branded our current era “the Age of Disinformation,” and that’s exactly how it feels. 

Properly validating a topic via the web now takes more time and is less reliable than ever before.  How can we know what we are clicking on is accurate?  How can we be sure the images we see haven’t been altered? There’s an *inconsumable* amount of content to sift through. When we are seeking to know something as important as God Himself, why would we go anywhere near a chasm that precarious?! 

Is this where we’re at? Has the internet become an information hazard zone? 

In the olden days…say, a time prior to 2007…didn’t the Bible seem colossal? After all, it’s 3 inches thick, has tiny writing and so many long sentences! Back then, its content felt endless, and it seemed impossible to remember what it was saying. I just assumed that you had to be about 50 years old before you had time to know most of it. 

bible in childs hands
everything…not one thing left out…in the hands of a 4 year old

Think about it now through the lens of 2021. Everything the God of Creation wants us to know about Him can be found in a…three-inch…book? In half of a generation, we have an entirely different perspective about it! In stark contrast to the infospew sprayed on us day in and day out, the Bible has never looked more simple, succinct, and knowable!  What a gift! 

For my friends looking to find the Truth, I insist with impassioned urgency, please, stay off the internet! The fastest way to get the information we need is to skip the middleman, and just read it for ourselves. We say it’s hard and we don’t have time. It’s true, we must make time for these things.  But remember, at this point we don’t even have to chop our own onions in America. 

pre chopped onions

So we do have time.  

I hope in this burgeoning culture of disinformation, we can look at our scriptures with a sense of relief.  How simple, brief, accessible and thorough our Lord has made his Word. 

It’s absolutely glorious to be on the side of history where we have it in its entirety, translated into nearly every language! It’s no small thing. We take it for granted, pass it off as boring, and make the excuse that it is too hard to understand. Worse, we forget about the blood, sweat and tears shed by countless saints for this to be so. 

Anyone who wants to brush up on what a Christian believes…or is supposed to believe…can easily go to the primary source, and discover it.  It’s there.  And just because people around us do not live it out properly doesn’t make it less true, less valid, or less relevant. 

In order to know and understand the nature and character of the God we serve, we gotta find out for ourselves. So let’s turn off the apps, memes, and Christian-lifestyle-sub-niche “influencers” seeking advertising revenue from clicks. 

One last thing.  We can’t look to our right and left, or scroll up and down to figure out how to live our best life–each of us has been dealt a different hand of cards. It feels generally unsatisfying to scroll through these influencers because life is actually messy. 

Isn’t it a breath of fresh air to have less to consume?  What a gift.  God is so relevant! Eliminate the possibility of missing out!  Just read.

Read more: 
How we memorized over 12 chapters of the Bible. 
When Reading the Bible Feels Boring
How to Talk to Your Kids about Porn

If Your Candidate Loses.

2 Nov

Today’s the day!  Your candidate will either win or he won’t.

Either way, I wanted to mention something that has been on my heart for the entirety of 2020.  It feels like American Christians have forgotten that our primary citizenship is with Christ and our American nationality is secondary. 

Messiah has already come, folks. 

This is supposed to be supremely good news…it’s the gospel! I am so sad that the term has begun to fall flat.

Did you know that “gospel” was historically a political term?  I recently learned that the concept of gospel (which is “euangelion” in the Greek) preceded the Messiah by centuries. Though we gloss easily over the term, it’s far more than meets the eye.

Euangelion/gospel was actually political concept employed in the Greco-Roman world, and maybe even earlier. When an emperor would take over a new area, a designated messenger would deliver a grand pronouncement to the populace.  The messenger essentially proclaimed, “Good news! You now are a part of our great empire, and therefore have full access to all its benefits.” If you want to know more–listen to this!

 The arrival of the new empire brought the gospel of improved infrastructure, new forms of culture, education, entertainment, and sports.  It disseminated the lingua franca, and best of all, it would mean a greater measure of civil order and peace, especially Pax Romana

So, when the New Testament writers used the term “gospel,” the first-century readers readily understood it in a political context.  They understood that a gospel coming to town would be an all-encompassing, paradigm-changing cultural upheaval.  The scripture writers and readers in their time connected the dots that the Kingdom of God brought both a physical and spiritual Gospel.  Followers of the Messiah are citizens of God’s far superior empire. 

Jesus was and is the ultimate King, and he brought about a final gospel, a comprehensive euangelion–for all peoples, for all time.  Marty Solomon calls it the “Empire of Shalom.” It surpasses any human system of government.  Humanity will never grow out of it, or progress beyond it.  It’s finished.  And we have full access to all its earthly and eternal advantages.

This is such good news!  

The “go to heaven when we die” mentality throws us off track.  It rouses a resignation mindset: as long as we’ve professed our faith in Christ/believe God raised him from the dead, we’ve scored our ticket to heaven.  So we just sit the bench, and essentially to be evacuated from here to somewhere…else.     

But the world to come will be creation restored—and the bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus is our first glimpse of the restoration. When the Messiah returns, creation will follow suit.  Our bodies and the earth will be renewed to their original state—dripping with glory— free of pain, sorrow, or death.  No more hate, abuse, pollution, hunger, victimization, oppression. Our eyes, the eyeballs that are in our heads right now, will get to see the healing of this world that we are all screaming out for.

Now THAT is a Kingdom to get excited about. 

Unity, love, reconciliation, and emotional prosperity are intangibles. They are spiritual.  We are (loudly) demanding self-control, peace, kindness, gentleness from a U.S. President. And it seems we are expecting a political party to disseminate them to us.

The American identity crisis has metastasized because we are expecting spiritual prosperity from our political system. Spiritual prosperity is only attained through spiritual channels. This stuff is not going to come from any elected American president.

If your candidate loses, you’ll be gutted. But don’t fret! Messiah continually told us that the activated Kingdom of God is here!  It’s higher! It’s not on hold until He returns. It transcends our national and ethnic boundaries. There is plenty of exciting work to be done, and a universal need for us to continue creating.  We usher more of it in with every nugget of Truth we share, each kind word we speak, every thoughtful gesture we offer, every time we step out of our comfort zone to see and meet someone’s need.

Every faithful deed grows it a bit more.

We’re invited to join, which gives us both team and a cause, here’s a huge dopamine hit in that!* I hope soon, VERY soon, He will come back and finish the rest of it. 

Leigh


Note: The word “gospel” came from the Latin evangelium, which came from the Greek “euangelion.”  Literally translated, it means good news: from Old English gōdspel (translation of Late Latin evangelium), from gōd good + spell tale.

Resources:

BEMA Discipleship Podcast—Season 3: Episode 83, Gospel Narrative

Ask NT Wright Anything—Episode 3, Questions on Heaven, the Kingdom of God, and the return of Christ

*me quoting Rosaria Butterfield, who was quoting the book Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier

https://www.nae.net/theology-behind-euangelion/

https://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/archives/2010/02/25/pre-christian-uses-of-gospel

Keeping a Record of Rights

20 May

The hardest part of homeschooling (or–schooling at home): learning how to live and work together well.  Anyone who knows me in real life can testify that I am not patient at all, about anything.  Secondly, it’s hard for me to breathe with my house this messy.  Both of those things continually rage against me, as we’re living in here together, perpetually, with no breaks.  

But impatience and filth are not my biggest challenge.  The solitary thing that puts me on my back at the end of any given day is the endless chastisement, re-directions, reminders, and corrective training.  Over time it builds up.  It feels like my words are all negative, all the time.  It absolutely takes its toll on the children; and before long, it feels like I am the one who is actually failing at everything.    

I have felt desperate, thinking, “Oh my GOSH!  I never see any good in them!”

Love keeps no record of wrongs, and this seems like a paradox for parents raising wayward children.  For years, I’ve earnestly prayed for the gift of encouragement, especially within my own family, which should be automatic, considering how much I love these people!

We know what we want it to be, but neither they nor we can keep it together long enough to rise out of the cycle of negativity.  It can feel we are stuck in the same place day after day.


My family has found a simple but concise practice to counteract some of the negative, critical talk that inevitably permeates our daily speech. 

As much as possible, I try to keep a running “record of rights.” 

I jot down anything good I have observed from each child over the past day or days: their kind words spoken, their helpful actions, loving gestures, and taking initiative.  I look for instances they produced any of the fruits of the Spirit!  I try to record as many occurrences I can think of, and God brings many to mind. 

Some days I just have one for each person.  If it has been a while, I think back over the past week or so, and I record five or six per person.  At the end of the day, usually at the dinner table, my husband or I read the list aloud.  Every child receives a round of applause and a decent dose of positive affirmation. 

They are tremendously pleased to be acknowledged and thanked for the good things they have done. 


What an aroma of grace over our family!  For one thing, it verifies that I am, in fact, encouraging and seeing the good in my kids.  And it warms my heart toward them when it’s beginning to grow cold.  It infuses reassurance, approval, and praise into each of our relationships. 

Kids adore the recognition.  Because they know there’s potential for commendation, this is also a great way to foster in them a habit of thinking, “Have I done something good for someone else today?”  (Then again, they should do it whether anyone notices or not.  Different lesson.)

Encouragement is a gift of the spirit and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it is within reach. This builds a framework for just how to intentionally and quantifiably give this gift. 

Try it out!  The fruit of this will multiply in your home and out your front door as everyone in the family has their spirits lifted—they will be filled enough to potentially fill others.  It models and demonstrates the art of encouragement in just a few minutes per week.  It will brighten the spirit in your home…and, you can lay your head on your pillow at night knowing that not everything you say to them is negative or critical!

We are all doing our best!!  Stay safe, and continue your pursuit of spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional wellness!

Let’s keep track of everything good,
Leigh

The Other Guys. Best movie ever.

%d bloggers like this: