It doesn’t feel great to win the war, when you’ve lost the last battle.
Five weeks back, I baptized a young man named Eric Kleist at Lakepoint Church… this week I did the memorial service for his suicide.
His baptism was legit. He was genuinely on fire for Jesus. Always reading, always confessing, always leaning into God for becoming a better person. He’d comment on all my messages. Just days before his passing, he sent me a strong email urging me to preach baptism more strongly at Lakepoint. His foundation of faith in Jesus meant so much to him, that he wanted everyone else to experience the same.
Eric went off of medications for his mental illness around the time of his baptism, which explains the suicide just weeks after.
Here’s the eye opener for me: you’re never done fighting the battles, even if you’ve won the war. Eric was rock solid and on track with Jesus. There’s isn’t any more you could look for in a new believer. The war for Eric’s life was won. Satan didn’t concede though, and won the last battle. Continue reading
According to Barna, Milwaukee ranked #82 on his “Most Bible Minded Cities” study. In other words, Milwaukee is amongst the least Bible minded… second least amongst midwest cities included in the study.
It’s interesting to ponder.
I recently moved from Albany, NY, which was ranked #2 least Bible minded… and boy did I feel it out there! I had good friendships in which it was 2 years or more before I saw any receptivity to spiritual conversation. By comparison, I feel Milwaukee is much more open to faith… but I suppose the study predicted that by comparison.
At any rate, it’s important for us not to take spiritual interests for granted. A lot of times us Christians get caught answering questions that no one is asking. Let’s keep a pulse on our city and what the “good news” of Jesus would look like and sound like in their terms.
I had fun with an article and ellaboration on Jim Collins’ How the Might Fall. While most study how to succeed, Collins has done a study on how to fail. It’s an interesting perspective from which we’d all stand a little health check.
Collins sites five contributors to decline:
- Hubris born of success
- Undisciplined pursuit of more
- Denial of risk and peril
- Grasping for salvation
- Capitulation to irrelevance or death
Like most books on organizational leadership, I enjoyed pondering the perspectives for church leadership and spiritual formation. It’s really easy to bless reckless behavior under the heading of “faith.” It’s very tempting to tally up anything that may be counted as success while the core of Jesus’ calling seems out of reach. A level-headed balance of faith and stewardship with an open ear to God is our best move forward.
I find it rather difficult to find the balance between faith and stewardship. Both are Biblical directives for life. Stewardship is making the most of the resources God has already given. Faith is the grasping for what God is yet to give. The dangers, as I see them, are to either steward too systematically and never take holy risks, or to charge off in any direction and expect God to compensate for lack of planning.
My present quest for a life of balance continues.
The author of Ecclesiastes has an obsession, or fear, of dying. He writes on it often.
Death is in fact the arch enemy of the rich and successful. Death levels the playing field of all peoples in their final moments.
The author of Ecclesiastes does observe that some ways of living are better than others, but he instructs us not to take our pride to seriously in this regard. No matter how wise or foolish you are in living life, we all lose everything to death in the end. Complimentary to this thought in New Testament theology is Jesus’ words in Matthew 11.25, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” Just as death is loss that levels all, faith is win that lifts all. There’s not a lot of room to pride yourself in how you live life.
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise man has eyes in his head,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
that the same fate overtakes them both.
15 Then I thought in my heart,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said in my heart,
“This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
in days to come both will be forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise man too must die!
I have been trying a fresh read of Scriptures since Francis Chan’s recommendation at the Exponential Conference – reading nothing into it, only out of it, daring to believe and do only what I find there. Everything that has been flying at me this past weak has been life-changing. I can’t seem to get out of any chapter without the sense that I’ve missed the boat and need re-do just about everything.
I’m actually scared to read the Bible every morning. I know every time I open it that God is going to correct, convict, and throw me in a hard, new direction.
Another plus for this new approach is that it keeps me from approaching God like a seminary grad know-it-all.
Francis confessed his insecurities that hinder his boldness. Sometime he’s on-fire confident, other times he’s self-reluctant hesitant. He compares himself to Piper. He compares himself to other talent at conferences. He compares himself to the Acts church.
In Acts, people were astonished at the apostles’ boldness and lack of education. In his own church, Francis is astonished at the education and lack of boldness. Our churches know more than the apostles did, but we’re hesitant about changing another. One regret Francis wishes he could do over: starting his church with boldness. We need to believe miraculous things in the Holy Spirit. Continue reading