Reformation Day


Tomorrow is Reformation Day. It is not the most popular Protestant holiday, but it has held the most important influence in history as a beacon towards progress and change.

The history of the Reformation’s effects reverberated throughout the western world when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the doors of All Saint’s Church in Germany. It not only created the Protestant tradition, but eventually led to changes in the Roman Catholic Church, who were the object of the protests. It is debatable as to why exactly Luther posted the list, but the common assumption is that Luther was not producing a doctrine, but wanting an honest intellectual conversation on the merits of the Church’s practices at that time, more specifically the practices related to the selling of indulgences by Dominican Friar, Johann Tetzel, who wittily coined the phrase “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as ‘into heaven’] springs.”

Most Church folk know how this story played out. Luther gets into much trouble with the Catholic Church and eventually is kicked out. What started as a conversation starter turned into a battle of wills and led to a separation.

One may ask, what is the point of all the history lesson here. The point is that our more recent history is in some ways not so different from the one just described. How many times do we get into conversations with a person who has too many questions and then get frustrated with them? Have we not at times been guilty, even in the Protestant Church, of making the mistake of condemning and practically excommunicating them?

There have been those on the other side who have been exiled for merely observing things in Scripture that raise questions on theology and have been given hell for it. It is not that they were trying to sabotage the tradition, but they had questions, did not understand how the tradition matched with the Bible, or just wanted to see if the tradition could be made better by a little Q&A. Instead of being given grace and a safe place for questions, they were put on an emotional roller coaster that eventually pushed them away from church.

It makes one think of the command to not return evil with evil, but to do good only (Romans 12:17).

Although Reformation Day is a time to remember this great contribution that began with Luther and continues today, it is also a solemn time of remembrance. It is a time where we look at past mistakes and look inward to see if our mistakes are the same. Take some time today. It might be 5 minutes or 5 hours. Quietly reflect and seek God’s still small voice. In this time, you may find correction for your faults and comfort for your pain.

Challenge by fires of purification and healing by balms of soothing effects.

What are you celebrating today? Is it a time to appreciate the good? Or is it your time to do the same bad that was done to you? Do you want change and healing? Or do you want to feel safe and proud?

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Out of Reach


Have you had a dream where you were trying to reach something but you could never reach it. It would always be just at your fingertips and out of reach. That feeling is very frustrating and is tiring. It leaves you tired in the morning and cranky until you get your first cup of coffee down. That feeling, if you recall the dream, sticks with you. That thing you can never reach. It can even hit you in the most spiritual contexts. Most of religion has a way trying to reach something and attain something. But what humanity has not been able to see is quite impossible to reach. How do you connect with a great reality that you cannot see and cannot explain fully?

People always try to reach God, or something out there that is real that would explain life and give meaning. That is why all throughout history we have seen religions try their hardest to reach out to the unknown and benefit from. If you look at the Old Testament, every other religion seems to be reaching out to with all the rules rituals and rules to get to God and be blessed by His presence. The only problem is that it has been just out of our reach. The moment we feel as if we are being blessed, moments turn for the worst. If we follow these efforts, we find ourselves in those nightmares where we cannot seem reach what we want to reach.

Ever since the fall, we have been stuck in a sick cycle of reaching out to God, but not being able to fully reach Him. But the great thing about God has always been reaching out to us. Even right after the fall, He was calling humanity to let Him change their lives for the better. One story that shows us the difference between being religious and letting God chase us. The story is of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on top of the mountain facing off. They were there to see who could summon their God to answer. The prophets of Baal commit to rituals of yelling louder and louder and then end up cutting themselves in order to get their god to answer them and give them what they need. They are never successful. Elijah, however, knows that God is present enough to just hear him as he prays for an answer. He gets a very powerful answer.

The great thing about the God who answered is that he was reaching out. He always reaches out. If He was not reaching out to us, we would have to yell and come up ways to grab His attention and hopefully getting Him to do things for us. But our God has come to us and can here us. He wants to be close to us in our history. And we don’t have to reach far. We do not even have to reach. He has already put His hand into our lives and is constantly calling us to a better purpose. That is what should amaze us, that a God that humanity rebelled against has decided to chase us and change our lives for good.

People trying to reach God creates two things, people frustrated at not feeling the spirit or people confident that they have completely experienced God with no need for more. Those are things God is out to stop. He wants us to be confident that His Spirit is here with us and that He is taking us on a journey. This is not an arbitrary journey that He is making us travel for His own amusement or to make us jump through the hoops to please Him. He really wants us to have a purpose towards greatness to create faith, hope, and love. He wants us to be the people He created us to be. What will we be? Are we going to keep reaching out to the things we will never reach? Or will we let God reach out to us and transform us and the world around us to be beautiful?

Heroic: 2 Kings 24-25


There are times when our communities can forget what we stand for and fall into something that we cannot get ourselves out of. The thing we fall into is that we try to become our own rulers instead following God’s will, something that we have been attempting for thousands upon thousands of years. That story always turns out with someone getting hurt or oppressed throughout Scripture. We have this tendency for trying to take over what God has given us. All through our history, we have been trying to take over God’s throne. This story repeats itself in over and over again and shows up in these two passages for today. The kings of Israel wanted to take control over the world and make it what they wanted to be. They wanted to fit in with the rest of the world. The only problem was that this was a world of of violence, oppression, and greed, much like todays world.

It is in this world that trouble is born. If we participate a world that is dog eat dog, we will try to be the top dog. We always tend to forget that at some point there will be a bigger dog ready to eat us. It’s a known fact that if we are alive long enough in the world, there will be someone else bigger and better than us. That reality makes this world end up in a cycle of having its own system turn on itself. The kings who did the oppressing in this story were attacked and oppressed by a bigger power called Babylon. The story ends up being a tug of war for power until Babylon finally places its own people in power and says we are not going to let a small country threaten our thirst for power again. Israel ends up having its land stolen from under her, just like she took it from the weak in her own community. It’s the ultimate ironic twist. People so good at taking from other end up having things taken away in the same way.

Does this not make us raise questions? If this system is going to continue to cannabalize itself, then why keep it? Is there a better system out there that would promote life for everyone instead of taking life from people? By the end of these two chapters, we see God begin to intervene for the people of Israel. As the last king of Israel is imprisoned by Babylon, one of the rulers sees him positively and begins to give him bigger and better things. This intervention stands in stark contrast of what Israel’s king did. The king, who came out of a reality of taking, is being subjected to reality of generosity and peace. God is trying to grab his attention and say that peace and love is supposed to overtake destruction and greed. The story ends with this. It’s the rhetorical ending asking if God’s people will take back what they were meant to be, a light for the nations.

What in our communities of faith is stopping us from being heroes of faith? Are we taking life from people? Do we offer peace, hope, and love? Not just spiritual talk, but real and tangible items of hope. Do we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the orphans? Do we seek the betterment of the weak people in our society? To make it more applicable, do we try to take away what could be given to those in need? Some people would rather fight others with no second thought that those people could be ministered to. They look at taking care of those who have little as a sign of weakness. Even some Christians will say this. When you look back to the first century Christians, we see that we come from a people who would originally care selflessly for people and be a voice against violence. Today there are many believers who are standing between God and the world and are turning their back on what God has for them and the world. How long until some of the same things are done to us? Are we safe from being on the other end? There is no guarantee that we would not be the person in need. In the moment of need we become acutely aware of how being deprived of the necessities of life makes life hard and miserable. If we could only know what it means to need Jesus and need some hope, we could understand the command from Jesus to do for others what we would want done for us.

This is a call to thought. What does it mean to follow a Prince of Peace and to take seriously that he has come to bring life to the fullest? God is calling us towards a new reality. We have too long been chasing a reality of greed. We have for too long chased a reality that is not based on faith in Jesus, but is faith in our own ability to get what we need. We should put away those efforts and pursue the reality of heaven, where there will be no one dying, no lack of what we need, and no reason to mourn our present state. If the Church took up this reality, people would begin to wonder at us. People drop the world and come to Jesus, but we have to follow that calling. God has invited, but will we respond. That is where this story ended, but the question has hung in the air ever since the Fall.

Heroic: 2 Kings 23:1-37


Being a facilitator of change usually takes epically heroic nerves. Changing things that are ingrained into the culture of a people is near impossible.  Josiah, after hearing God’s will for the community, decided to change everything around him. Everyone was comfortable with the status quo of their religious tendencies were not even thinking change was a necessity. But God revealed to Josiah that the way things were were not the way they should have been. So he called him towards the tough road of change.

Josiah’s change starts with the symbols. When you try to enact something that brings people closer to God, you are always bound to face resistance at some point. So many things in church communities are symbolic, from what they sing to what they do. Even how things are done have symbolic value. When these values start to hurt the mission of God to humanity, most communities are severely invested in the value. Whether written or unwritten, the expectation towards the practice is assumed and when people do not move in that direction, they are labeled as enemies either of the leaders of the community or worse enemies of God. The passage does not say this, but there probably was someone saying that Josiah was destroying their traditional values. Josiah, knowing God revealed this mission to Him, was undeterred. The change had to happen. The good of the world depended on it.

Josiah’s change never included disrespect of those who came before Him that were chasing what God had for them. One of the easiest things to do when changing things is to disregard other Godly people or not learn from those who came before you. We have so many people we can learn from who were game changers of faith. Without those people, the movement of Christianity would not be here. It would just be a dying mass of people who were not experiencing anything important from God. It is these people who made faith what it is today and we owe it to them to keep looking for the things that need to change. We should always remember those people and remind others of them. It is with gratitude that we look back to these people.

Another aspect of Josiah’s change was that it did not guarantee success. Josiah never saw an Israel of economic success or in a time of peace. One of the things we have to accept as heroes is that tragedy is possible. By tragedy, I mean that we might never see the fruits of our work. What makes Israel’s situation more dire is that the next king brought back the bad things that existed before. Have you ever seen a community like that? These are people led by this desire to keep certain trends, rules, or traditions with no regard to how they affect people. Even in getting the traditions back, they will burn anyone who stands in their way. It’s amazing what we will do when we allow religion to over turn our God given mandate to love others. We will raise a banner with holy written on it while trampling over others. This is the reality we live in, a world battling back and forth between God’s will and human demise.

The reality raises the question is changing the world worth it? It’s a good, pragmatic question. If we are practical about this, there is not a guarantee that we will see our return on investment here. We might have to let posterity experience that. But the answer is still yes, it is worth it. You can’t see that by asking the practical questions. You have to ask the experiential questions. The only way to do that is to be the change for good in others. Have you ever given money to poor or been there for someone in need? In the end, those experiences might be unforgettable for some. We have the potential to change a life for good. We can’t do that if we are focused on tradition and ritual. We can only do that when we are focused on people. Traditions and rituals have to at least be peripheral matters. People seeing Jesus and experiencing blessing must always be our main mission.

One last thing, change needs to be about people seeing and experiencing Jesus. Change for change’s sake is just as bad as resisting change no matter how necessary it is. God changes the world for the benefit of the world. It’s time we begun the changes we need and did them for the right reasons. If we keep people in mind and follow God into this, we can trust that this is worth the work and disappointment, because in the end, lives are changed in an unforgettable way for the better.

 

Heroic: 2 Kings 19:1-37


Enacting change that shakes a certain ethos of a community can be difficult. Change is never easy. When we talk about change, the very subject leads most people to think that they will lose something valuable or that they will be forgotten as the change progresses. Others tend to love the dysfunction of the status quo and will do anything to keep it because they are reaping a temporary benefit from it. And there are also times that forces, spiritual and physical, will surround us and attack us. Change for the good is always being opposed by someone somewhere. But if we are able to stand within the confidence that God is doing something important in the world and for us, we will someday see God make His dream for humans come true.

This is the moment where we return to Hezekiah’s story. Israel is surrounded. Hezekiah is at the brink of losing His mind because of Jerusalem being seized by the most powerful military of His day. This was a military in which Israel stood no chance against. In the middle of this, God uses Isaiah to let the king know that there is something bigger happening here. When it is all said and done, the good will win. Violence will lose to peace. Love will triumph of oppression. Those who know they are powerful will find out that they are actually weak. What makes this story even more amazing is that God himself says that he is going to take care of things and make Assyria run for the hills.

This goes back and forth and we can be certain that the Hezekiah went from despair to faith over and over again. Note that the word is faith and not confidence or certainty. Hezekiah was far from certainty the whole time. There was no rational being that could even remotely fantasize that Israel was going to make it out of this. The story shows us how joining God’s movement will take moments where our fate is balanced between tragedy and success with most of the evidence saying we will have a tragic ending.

What makes this story simply astounding is that the act of God takes time to happen, but when it does happen, it is overnight results. The invincible army of the nation whose god had conquered all other gods and was ready to take the title of God over all gods home was reduced to barely the population of a small village by the God of the small and not so impressive Israel. The god of Assyria had lost to the God of Israel. It’s no small wonder that after all the taunting about how great his god was, the King of Assyria left the camp immediately and went straight back to his palace. Not long after that, he was killed by his owns sons, showing that his god was not protecting him.

As Christians we are not supposed to simply put people in separate categories of us and them, but the reality is that people who are not following seeking good, which comes from God, are in another category based on what they are pursuing. And have you ever noticed that people tend to take on the virtues of the group they are part of? If you hang out with athletes, you will likely try a sport. If you hang out with entrepreneurs, you will likely try to create a new line of business. If you hang out with artists, you likely try to make an work of art (and maybe complain about everyone else selling out). You take on the character of your investments. It’s not necessarily bad. For groups to move forward they have to accept at least a few main goals to chase together. Even some of the greatest movements were formed from groups accepting a common goal. These groups, however, can be either good or bad for humanity. They can choose to end violence, stop hunger, and create things that make people want to do good themselves, but they can also kill millions of people in concentration camps, steal money from weaker people, or do things that cause everyone else want to give up helping each other. Either way, we will reflect the group that we join, or we can change our settings.

What made Assyria bad was that their entire culture wanted power and control and they would stop at nothing to get it. It led them to do terrible things when they conquered other countries, but it also led their King’s own sons to kill him while he was worshipping their god. This god supposedly supported violence and when no one challenged the assumption towards violence, even the royal family was not safe.

Israel was different. Their God was one who wanted to take all of humanity out of violence, oppression, and fear and propel them towards love, peace, and joy. This meant that this people who were brought out of a culture based on violent assumptions were always interacting with figures like Hezekiah who would be led by God to change things for the better. And Hezekiah had to put much work into being a catalyst for change while trying to keep trusting God. Once again, he was not certain, but he had faith. And this God, who brought up this people to change the world, saved them in the end. And note that the ones he lead are not going out and taking over everybody and wiping out whole cities. They are actually praying to God to help them.

There are a few things to pull from this post. First, change takes work, but if it is change that God enacts, then it is worth pursuing because it makes the world better. Also, the values of your group or tribe are very powerful and can shape you if you do not choose to shape the values. Choose carefully which group you try to identify with and be someone who seeks to contribute to the group by allowing God work through your voice. Be open and warm to everyone, including those who want to make the world a terrible place. But always remember that we identify with Jesus who gave his life so that others could have their life made fuller in Him. And finally, remember Hezekiah’s story. It will try your faith to shift a community back to what God created it to be, but that is faith. It’s not when you have the sun shining on your face and the cool breeze hitting you that you learn what faith is. It is when you are in caves of doubt and feel like curling into a fetal position that you learn what faith in an unseen God is. It’s remembering that there is a promise of something better and moving towards it. Heroes are alway remembered for the changes they make in their story and the faith they have in the change they are enacting.

So how is it that you can enact a change in your community? Maybe there is some form of oppression or some assumption that is biblical bad for humanity. Maybe there is a lack of passion for Kingdom and Mission. Either way, once we see what God wants, we have a choice to ignore it or jump into it. We can take a safe status quo if we want, but jumping into God’s plans, though risky, can produce a beautiful movement if we only respond to the good wishes God has for us.

Heroic: 17:1-42


Have you ever had that thought that if there was a God that never gave up that you would follow Him? Or maybe at least if there was a story that proved that. This story produces an interesting moment for you. All throughout this book we have been experiencing a people struggling with experiencing a God who was chasing them and doing everything possible to bring them towards living with faith. The problem was that they had no desire to live with faith in this God. They wanted a God that looked more like them. They wanted a God in their own image.

One of the major themes that hits this verse hard is the fact that when humans want to vindicate a way of life contrary to faith, hope, and love, they will invent a god that looks just like that. If we want violence, we create a violent God. If we want greed, we create a greedy God. Whatever gives us the vindication to be whatever we want to be, we can find a way to vindicate it. These days it looks very different because we worship differently. Most of the things we worship is power, money, fame, influence, etc. we love those things and anything that endangers them is subject to being called evil and outlawed.

The thing about God is that he endangers all that we hold dear that would be bad for us. The love of these things will kill and destroy us and all those around us. God’s intent is for life and love. He will stop at nothing to weed out the things that are bad for us. He is the doctor with the scalpel. He is doing the work that brings us pain but life in the end. What the Israelites at this time failed to realize is that they needed this God to bring life, yet they were turning to the things that would harm them in the end.

A parent gets this when their kid goes after the burner or the Benadryl. No matter how many times we tell them no, they keep going back to it. The kid wants to go towards the thing that will hurt them, but the parent keeps stopping them. We have a tendency towards getting what we want. What we tend to miss is that we are made for serving and being for other and for reliance on God. The universe that God designed is one that thrives when we serve each other and one that implodes and dies when we fight for our own selfishness. It started with the fall of man in Genesis and has been like that ever since.

The crazy thing is that God does not give up on us. Even though we keep proving that we are bent on self destruction and defiance He still keeps giving us ways out. This God never gives up and does everything possible to draw into the life he has for us. He has such unconditional love that there is nothing that dampens His love for us. The question becomes how do we respond to this kind of God. A God that loves beyond outright betrayal and destruction of the life He gives is very unpredictable and we have reason to fear that He comes to us to cut away what is bad for us. It could be painful, but it brings life.

What do we choose…a blissful existence with certain, self-imposed death or a moment of losing what we want to gain life? I think life would be the best option.

Heroic: 2 Kings 15:1-31


When we talk about life as people of faith, one question that will come up is how can we trust those who lead us. It’s a natural question for us since we have heard so many stories of pastors taking of This story today shows a list of leaders of Israel were not following God and ended up misleading the people of God. The crazy part of this story is that these were expected to lead to the people to a good place and were supposed to be chosen by God to lead. However, they took them down a path that many leaders do. They made the people fit their own plans and dreams instead of the path that God had made for them. It shows that leaders lead from what is inside them. It’s amazing that we tend to do things from our true values. When we live as heroes, we will be endowed on some level with a form of leadership, but as we do, we must keep the connection with who made us heroic in the first place.

If you look at the history of humanity, we are very inclined to express what we believe. We create our own stories from what is deep in our desires and we try to fit others around that mold. If you do not have a good path laid out for you and you are a leader, you could very easily take people down a path that does not create a good future. If you look at the era mentioned in the story, it is an era of prophets, and one thing they are very quick to point out is when kings and countries are going down a destructive path. We see that it has not changed that people lose sight of what is good when they just focus on being a leader. Most people have a leader inside them, but a good leader puts people before his own interest.

It takes a certain kind of connection to bring out the good in a body of faith. It takes being connected to the source of love, peace, and perspective outside of the self. Many leaders that have arisen have put so much hope in the fame and glory that came with leadership that they lost sight of what kind of hero God has made us to be. It takes hearing from the Spirit of God which will always lead us to love, joy, self-sacrifice, and anything that creates a better world.

And all of this brings a really good question into the conversation…

What are we connected to?

Are we connected to fame, power, money, influence? What drives us in the end will define the decisions that we make. That is not just true for individuals. It’s true for communities. Bodies of local believers can take on their own persona which includes a system of values. Just walk into any church and you will see that to be true (Ever worn a t-shirt of a rock band into a traditional rural church?) No one is perfect and everyone gives into these value systems on some level, but its good to be aware of that reality. How we travel on the road affects every other person. The best way to counter the negative effects of selfish leadership or even the community spirit that can exclude other, we should be aware of the path that God has set for every individual in order to define community. The Spirit of God is the compass for our journey. Before Christ was glorified, he promised us a presence with us. This all means we all have access to the transformation away from selfishness and greed which can ruin the world. We have been enabled to choose love, faith, and joy. We can live better lives in light of the acts of God. The only question is will we choose to realize it.

Heroic: 2 Kings 14:23-29


One of the strangest passages that probably is the hardest for Christians to by is this one. Jeroboam II, an evil king, is used by God to rescue Israel. He takes back territory for Israel because God notices their suffering and is willing to use this king to rescue His people. It’s so strange to be in the service

Most people would be taken back by this idea. A person who is in defiance is the one that God uses. It seems so strange that the God who is supremely holy would make use of someone who would go against that. Why would he use someone so opposed to Him? This seems to contradict the notion of God we are used to. God is supposed to use believers for the purposes of the kingdom, but this passage teaches us that God will uses even the worst people to leverage things for good.

The truth is that God uses whomever fits for His purposes. Jesus said that the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. Which is always unnerving. We all feel safe with a God that will simply bless those who try to get His favor, but a God who is willing to use someone not on His side is either a God with mental issues or a God of severe grace. What we have learned through all of History is that God is about grace. He will do anything to get people in on His plans. If you are trying to be a hero in the Christian sense, you have to understand that God wants inclusion and directing people towards Jesus. If we can swallow our pride of righteousness, we will begin to see that God can will use us to reach everyone, even the worst people. The question is are we willing to do what God is willing to do.

Heroic: 2 Kings 11:1-21


Have you ever met those people who are always able to take risks? One question that always gets asked about these people is how they are able to take these risk without getting hurt or being scared of retaliation. The truth is that most of the time, the risks taken by these people actually include fear and pain. Risking to see God move take bravery and a willingness to take fear and pain. We never escape the trial by fire experience, but what we can be escaped is futility. The efforts that are risky for heroes of faith always need to be couple with the thought that God will take the effort to its ultimate end, victory for what is good.

The old king, Ahaziah, was originally killed by Jehu. Immediately, the matriarch of the family, Athaliah, does what she can to protect the lineage of the the family while ensuring that their belief system . However, with all the paganism that was expected by the mother, this meant destroying any potential reform. Everyone was folding to Jehu’s reform and Athaliah was having none of it. So she killed off her family and took over. It’s a pretty gruesome thought that she did this, but it should not be surprising. Many people take extreme measures in order to preserve the legacy they create. Many people who embed themselves in churches are secretly trying to create their power circles with no regard to God’s will. It’s a hard thing for a church to rise out of this reality and it takes might heroes to team together to take the Church into the reality that God has for her.

Jehosheba was the first to act in hope. Her protecting Jehoram was planting a seed of change and revolution that would bring the people of God towards God. Had Athaliah learned of her plans, she would have been killed along with the baby. Sometimes individuals are the ones that begin a movement. It takes bravery to take actions that will create future change and will eventually create a challenge. The risk can be so great that not one individual will try to take action for a very long time. The fear is that they may punished with shame or even ostracized from the community.

Another thing is that it’s astounding how much time it takes to see the changes take place. Six years later, waiting to proclaim the proper king, probably seemed like a lifetime of waiting. Why they waited so long to make Joash king is not certain, probably waiting to learn who to trust and who to hide from. They probably were also building a base of loyalty much greater than Athaliah’s. Though it may seem sneaky to build up a coup and would be a call to shame, it is actually more respectful to the way God created human freedom. People are able to make the choice about who or what to follow. When we reach the New Testament, conversation based on convincing others was the primary way of bringing people to the way of God. It was also the primary way of correcting others in the faith. This is one of the greater risks of being a hero of faith, letting the other person make the decision of faith. It would make sense to counter the other power center and force people to follow what you believe, but what God wants is for those who follow His way to want and love to follow Him, which takes someone buying into His plans and not just going through the motions of fake faith.

This entire story goes beyond being about one hero of faith and moves to being about a community of heroes surrounding their leader. It is important for a community to be supportive of each other and to move towards changes and challenges that produce growth towards God. The one thing that brings Athaliah to the end of her rope is the fact that the entire community stated through their actions that they were ready to take God’s plans over human plans. There is also a bit of irony that could present itself when we gather together under God’s plans, the one who is not following God’s plans may act as if the other side is not following God. In this setting the one who is working against the movement of God is the one screaming that everyone else is disobeying God. They are actually more worried about treason against their own will more than they’re concerned about God’s will. It can make it confusing for most and it takes much reflection, prayer, and maybe even study to see what would have for the situation.

It takes many risks and much time to produce good change that moves people towards greatness and heroic acts of faith. Faith is brave and realizes danger, but is worth risk and creates adventures that lead to stories to last for generations. The questions is what will we follow? Are we busy looking for religion, traditions, and rules, or are we more worried about aligning our character and virtues with the path Jesus laid out for us. What is worth it is the path of Jesus. It will lead to greatness in love and create the best relationships.

Heroic: 2 Kings 10:1-36


I have no other way to describe this passage than violent. I’m not kidding, it’s a violent that would even make Quentin Tarantino squirm. The majority of this passage is filled with the endeavor of Jehu to rid Israel of Baal worship, which is just one giant massacre. We learn that he succeeds in doing that and he is honored by God for doing that. Baal worship was creating major problems for Israel. Despite that violence, the story ends surprisingly tragic. After all of his efforts to turn Israel back to God, the sin that was plaguing the dynastic history of Israel was still in place.

Have you ever met people like that. They have this very strong sense of moral responsibility for other people and will go out of their way to make sure that those who are not morally in line on a specific topic need to be set straight. Make not mistake, Jehu was used by God to eradicate Baal worship from Israel, but he missed a major part of God’s plan. He was relentless to pull people away from what was obviously wrong, but forgot that God also is calling us to something. God is not simply trying to tell us what not to do but is also giving us a mission and a task as a people. Also, there is always something that God wants to change. He wants to take us to better places and those places can look vastly different than we would expect them to be.

To take this a little deeper, its not a bad thing that Jehu was acting on his moral conviction. Those things are not bad to have, but morality and ethics are not the bases by which we live. Character and virtue are the driving forces of our identity. When we live by character and virtue, we become consistent, honorable, valiant, loving, and many other things that define us as Christians. It’s easy to think that moral power can change the world, but it takes humility to believe that it is the Spirit’s power that transforms us (Romans 12:1). We really cannot change anything without God directing us, but we can be sure that every good thing that is every attempted is from God speaking into us and challenging us to create better worlds and live like heroes of faith.

Jehu was used by God the same way many humans are used by God. They are driven from religious zeal and try to eliminate anything that opposes certain rules. If we are to seek true heroism as found in Christ, we have to find the heart of the matter and speak in love. We have to seek people instead of law. We have to work with conviction and not coercion. It is always astounding when people begin to force people to follow a way of life have their character deteriorate. People who experience this most in their lives usually are in a community with low creativity and a high sense of legalism. Although some think that even if you are legalistic that you are at least doing the right thing. One thing that this story and even other stories in the Bible show us is that is not true. Even in modern times, some people are following a strict conservative rule book, but when you look at their hearts and their missions, you only see that they want rules and not relationship. The worry about the Bible being historically factual than letting it speak truth into their lives. They worry about fitting around certain taboos rather than letting the love of Christ guide their lifestyles.

What would happen if we choose creativity, conversation, and conviction over coercion and legalism? What usually happens is a real and vibrant faith. People begin to experience a real, loving, and creative God. The world begins see Jesus as the changer of lives and the creator of heroic stories. We begin to live the heroic stories we were made to live and become the changers of the world.