Monday, February 15, 2010

Better Than Sometimes.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

Romans 8:1

On Sunday, I preached a message on rebellion as one of the spiritual roadblocks that hinder our relationships with God and others.

My fundamental point was that rebellion, particularly in the church, plays itself out in quieter, more subtle and less obvious ways than what we would expect from images that the word conjures up in our heads.

I mean, normally we think of rebellion and we picture very up front and arrogant rejections of authority. Picture, if you will, me, in a diaper, kicking and screaming because I can’t have any pudding.

Ok nevermind that.

But I believe that more often than not, the quieter and more subtle faces of rebellion are the ways we as God’s people tend to act out... and get by each day, never really needing to step away from it... because its not so obvious.

I shared a list I created of just a few of the “faces” if you will, that rebellion wears. I called it my “sometimes” list... because rebellion is sometimes described in any one of these ways. A few of you asked for copies of the list, so I figured I’ll post it here for you. If you're like me, at least some of this list lands on you.

So I want to encourage you to look at this list the way it landed on me. I thought of all the times I've been "busted" in rebelling, and mulled those over as I read the list.

But you know what else I did?

I thought of all the areas that I haven't been busted. Maybe its the areas that I know about that no one else does. Or maybe its the areas where I am awfully proud of the image that I project. I thought of that little corner of my life that doesn't get swept very well... like a coin lying on the corner of the kitchen floor that a broom can just never pick up.

Maybe its only me, but when I look in all these places, and I slowly read this list, I recognize more than anything that the reason the list resonates with me... is because I am very familiar with at least a few of these "sometimes":

Sometimes rebellion is a reaction to someone or something around me.

Sometimes rebellion is a habit.

Sometimes rebellion is a quest; maybe long, maybe short term.

Sometimes rebellion is an act of not waiting.

Sometimes rebellion is an act of doing nothing but waiting.

Sometimes rebellion is a roller coaster ride that I buckle into... I get myself so emotional by mulling it over and over... so that when the time comes I know I can’t say no.

Sometimes rebellion is a calculated effort to attain something or to commit something.

Sometimes rebellion is something missing that could have been... or should have been... in my life.

Sometimes rebellion is a weight that hangs on your leg keeping you from moving.

Sometimes rebellion is wire that holds your mouth shut when it should have been open.

Sometimes rebellion is a drug that opens your mouth too wide when it should have been closed.

Sometimes rebellion is wrapped up in unbelief.

Sometimes rebellion is falsely attributed to faith.

Sometimes rebellion is packaged to look like fear.

Sometimes rebellion is packaged to look like anger.

Sometimes rebellion is packaged to look like shame.

(if you're paying attention, its packaged to look like some of the other roadblocks we've spoken about during this series)

Sometimes rebellion looks like selfishness.

Sometimes rebellion is a stiff-necked attitude that I am right and you are not the boss of me.

Sometimes rebellion sounds like, “I know _________ but you know what.... ________!”

Sometimes rebellion sounds like, “I just can’t _____________.”

Sometimes rebellion is silent.

Sometimes rebellion is loud and abrasive.

Sometimes rebellion looks like wisdom.

Sometimes rebellion looks like God stuff.

Sometimes rebellion looks smarter than me.

Sometimes rebellion looks gracious.

Sometimes rebellion looks conservative.

Sometimes rebellion looks liberal.

Sometimes rebellion looks spiritual.

Sometimes rebellion looks like disobedience.

Sometimes rebellion looks like obedience.

Sometimes rebellion feels like a moment.

Sometimes rebellion feels like forever.

Sometimes no one knows and it feels like everyone knows.

Sometimes everyone knows... and it feels like no one knows.

Sometimes rebellion is a distraction from responsibility.

Sometimes rebellion is the responsibility being used as a distraction.

Sometimes rebellion has a gravity of its own.

One morning when I was younger, I woke up and realized there was a hand pressing down on my face. It all happened very very quickly. Being in a morning daze, I couldn't get oriented.

I tried to turn my head but I was in an awkward position... and my eyes and nose were covered. I panicked, I yelled, threw the hand off of my face and jumped up... to realize that it was my left hand. My whole arm had fallen asleep.

I had lost my sense of touch and didn't even realize it was my own arm.

If rebellion takes root in our life long enough, we'll gradually begin losing a sense of what is or isn't us anymore.

And it will expand... past the "sometimes" places, into areas of more obvious rejection of God's authority.

So may you see. May you sense. May you listen to and hear God speak to you as you examine. May you lean into and trust, hope in and be desperate for God's Spirit to speak into your life in whatever area He wants you to grow.

And in the middle of this work (yes, sometimes there is work involved and that is ok) of maturing, may you cling tightly to the news that even in our messes, even when we trip and stumble and don't get it right, and when we miss the boat over and over... may you know deep down in your toes.

Yes even in your toes.

That there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

There is always amazing grace.

That is so much better than sometimes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. - Colossians 3: 12-14

Wrap me in Huggies and fill me with Gerber. I think I’m somewhat of a baby.

Its sad that I know how few people would argue with this.

And it has to do with my anger. I don’t get my way and I get very angry. Sometimes I throw visible and invisible tantrums. Yes, babyish. (Lane household, please stop looking at me that way.)

I think this speaks into the way many of us wrestle with anger. I believe that it can often be attributed to us not getting what we want.

I mean it. Check this out.

Take whatever it is that has made you angry, and ask yourself if you got what you want. Not meaning whether or not you gained something... but like this: Did things happen the way you think they should have happened, or did whatever scenario go down the way you’d expect or want? When we’re angry, usually, the answer is no. For instance:

  • The weatherman on TV that you don’t think should be the weather anchor because he doesn’t seem to really know anything and he’s rarely right. (And he looks like a Ken doll.)
  • The person this morning... that one on the road like Betty White wearing a straightjacket driving an Amish buggy... ignoring the fact that you were in a real hurry.
  • That immense pressure from work. Or home. Or family or friends.
  • The family member who smells like cheese and always wants to talk to you and just you and won’t let you a.) get away from the appetizer line or b.) get a word in edgewise.
  • The loved one who betrayed you.
  • Tragedies. All of them.
  • The person behind the counter who treated you as an interruption to their day, and still charged you more than you think you should have been. After all, its just a bag of prunes.
  • The parent who raised you with the hammers of judgment and criticism, thereby breaking your heart and the belief that you might be worth something... into a million little pieces.

In all of these scenarios, we did not get what we wanted.

People didn’t do what we wanted them to do.

Situations didn’t work out the way we wanted them to work out.

The world did not act the way we think it should.

Whether the world, the person, the situation was right in a universal sense or not, whether we were attached to something or not.... everything is off, and anger rolls like the tide.

(Literally, as I write this, a local business owner that I am working with didn’t do what I wanted him to do, and now I’m angry. Hilarious. Sort of. I mean its comical the irony in this.)

And as Brian said on Sunday, anger in and of itself is not a bad thing. It is an emotion... a characteristic to being human. As normal as laughter.

But sometimes I don’t keep my anger in perspective, and about as often, I’ll neglect to give the reigns of my anger over to God.

So I begin to get baby-ish. Maybe its a big tantrum... maybe in public or maybe online. Maybe its quieter, just as dangerous and more hidden. Either way... somehow, this unchecked anger begins affecting me.





It doesn’t want to leave room for anything else in these places.

If anger is left unchecked, it leaves no room for things like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience... and my reactions, whether visible or unseen... will not marked by any of these fruits of God’s love. (Great... now I’m thinking about the business owner that made me angry.)

I mean, here is the question: am I going to let my anger control me? Am I going to give the reins of my thoughts and attitudes and life over to anger, or am I going to hand the reins over to God? Am I going to ask His Spirit to fill me and speak into my anger, that it might not be unchecked, and that it might be kept in His perspective?

Yes, this is harder than just being a react-or. Trust me. I’d prefer to just react to everything in anger. It keeps me safe; you can’t get to me if I’m angry and I keep everyone else in my head as wrong. But boy that sounds babyish. I know. I’m good at this. Ugh. Anger makes me angry.

So this week, when I don’t get my way, I will give the reins of my anger to God.

I will ask Him for perspective.

I’ll make room for compassion in my heart, and kindness in my mind and attitudes.

I will ask God to wrap up all things in love.

I’m going to drop the Huggies and get past my Gerber.

I will be less babyish.

Won’t my wife and kids be thankful.

(Okay fine. maybe that business owner too.)