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?

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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 22:1-18


Ever discovered a little peace of God’s heart and been so surprised at it’s direction? Every time I sense a new thing revealed by God, I am always surprised at where He is going or what I have been missing this whole time. God is always and has always had a plan and a path that He is carving. He also is continually inviting people to carve that path and help other people find this path.

King Josiah had one of these moments. Josiah understood that he was supposed to honor God and did everything he could to do just that. He even went as far as to remodel the temple. During the renovation, someone discovered that there was an old scroll that had not been read in ages. This ended up being the scroll of the covenant between God and Israel. After Josiah heard what was written in the scroll, he went into panic thinking that God could destroy them at any moment. He orders the leaders of the temple to speak to God for Israel.

This is the moment the story accelerates quickly. The leaders, since they just discovered the scroll, went to a prophet. This woman gave instructions from God to all the men concerning God’s mercy. What makes the story interesting is that it was not the finding of the scroll or following some ritual that made God show mercy. What God responded to was the humility and repentance of Josiaj. Josiah knew that God was over Him. Any indication that he was rebelling against God devastated him. The direction that Israel was going and the direction they were supposed to be going was not in sync.

Many churches end up at these crossroads and are faced with a decision. Will they keep the status quo rituals, even if God is heading in a direction that will call them to abandon those things? Or will they be so in tune with God’s direction that they will embrace the surprise of God’s plans with humility, patience, and perseverance? It’s a question that even the Israelites struggle with. They loved the way they did things. It made them feel safe and in control.

But God never asked what was safe for us. He actually asks for us to risk everything for Him.

He never asked for us to control everything. He asks us to follow him into the way of the suffering servant.

God’s plan always involves reaching out to rescue and serve, even to those who do not get Him. He wants us to carve that path and remind each other that servanthood defines the Kingdom. God is adamant through Jesus that all believers serve and love. That is a core if the DNA of faith. Jesus in Philippians showed us that servanthood and submission is what leads us towards true victory. The cross with the servant hanging on is mysterious because that ends up with the empty tomb.

God’s plans may surprise, but they will win. Not by force or by oppression, but through serving God and serving others. That is a plan worth following and worth seeing win.

Heroic: 2 Kings 21:1-26


When movements gain age, they can tend to lose perspective on what defines them or the stories that have made them. Christians can experience the same exact thing. Early Church history can prove this. Not even 500 years after the death of Jesus, people were already killing each other for mere heresy. Christians, named after the god who defined things with peace, love, and mercy, were out finding enemies and killing them. And it was not even outside of the faith, but with their own line of brothers of the faith. Movements need continuous reminders of what started them. Countries need constant reminders of their founding fathers and documents to define them and Christians need the same concerning God and the Bible. Without it, we tend to find other things to define us, like power, fame, money, etc. In the end, if we stray from our founding experience in Church history and even our own personal experiences, we grab for the same things that we were saved from.

After Hezekiah passed away, his son, Manasseh, became King. After all of the experiences of Hezekiah, which Manasseh had to have experienced on some level. Despite the experiences of Israel, which included rescue from certain defeat by the Assyrians, Israel followed Manasseh into the pagan worship that Hezekiah did away with. This is always the story that repeats itself. The pattern is that they experience a God of amazing love and profound saving experiences and they turn to other thing in hopes that they will bring them a life of peace and meaning. By this time, God has done many things to show that He is better than the other gods. He has shown that he is the one who is always the source of everything good, beautiful, and creative. The common assumption that has not changed to this day is that if it is safe and is adopted by everyone else, then it must be the thing to go for. No risk and conformity are in high demand because nothing is lost. What that leads to is people not wanting to follow a God who calls them to risk. Not even the religion of Christianity is completely on board sometimes and will find ways to twist the gospel and theology to look less risky and conforms to a pattern that popular culture will approve of at least a majority of the time. Even if we disagree with others, the way we do it fits with the status quo. We say that it’s us versus them and that we could never show love to the other people. In the end we end up trying to do things just as we have always done them instead retaking our faith and learning that new way to be human.

The pattern does not stop with Manasseh, it continues on to the next king, Amon. Eventually, these kings die and another king named Josiah takes over, which leads to a better situation, but for the time being we must focus on how devastating losing our core narrative is. We cannot deny that Jesus changed everything. Even many non-Christians admit that His existence shifted history. Even His followers, who kept connected to the narrative that Jesus created shook the Roman Empire and the rest of the known world. Think about the story of Acts and how many people were probably healed. Think of the national and ethnic lines crossed to bring different people into what was an almost impossible community. Think of the many people who society forgot and were remembered by these heroes of faith, all because people took the story of Jesus and lived it in their world.

2000 years later and we have seen many ups and downs and have seen ourselves stray from the story and then come back to it. The question is where is your community of faith now? Is it heading in the direction of the story of Jesus or has it abandoned that story to find a more comfortable story? We are called as a people to lead the world and each other towards the story that God has made for us. This story is about creating a beautiful reality. The risk is still there as it has been for thousands of years. The fallen kingdom is filled with violence, greed, and misery. We combat that with the story of Jesus. We give our lives for others and live in a community fighting to bring good to the world. God has never stopped calling us to that. Our choice is simpler that most would have you think, choose to live the story we need to be saved from or, like Hezekiah, we can decide to shake the world and find our God given story again.

Heroic: 2 Kings 20:1-20


One thing that heroes of faith always have practiced is the relationship with the God who has pursued them. This relationship leads to things that most people would miss when just pursuing religious ritual or status quo. Having a relationship with the God of heaven means learning what he sounds like and how His character affects the world. These kind of relationships are something  that are experienced by staying closely in contact with the one whom you’re connecting with. Hezekiah got to see this kind of relationship with God from prayer.

One of the things that some people expect to have happen is an automatic connection to God just because they read a prayer, but most of the time we need the communication with God. When we we connect with God in prayer or reflection we begin to know God’s voice and begin to recognize what his voice will direct us towards. But it takes connection. It’s not that God is not talking and reaching out to us, what is really happening is that when we do not communicate is that we do not hear what God is saying and do not see what He is doing. It is pretty much a practice of the phrase, “ignorance is bliss.” The problem with the ignorance is that it is an ignorance that is chosen and is applied towards God. This is the story of the people of Israel over and over again. They know of God, but when it comes to it they did not practice the awareness of His presence. It was taken for granted, which meant that this project of faith was doomed to failure if the people did not switch their focus back to God.

Before one begins to say “Lets bring our country back to God,” I want to take us a different direction which Scriptures are more inclined to. When we look at this story, Hezekiah and Isaiah are promoted as faithful examples for us to look up to. The reason why they are examples is because of their connection to God. Note that it is not their commitment to Israel as a nation that makes them good. Many other Kings were invested in the survival and prosperity of this small country. It does not take a holy man to have national pride. What does define them is that they wanted direct connection to the God who saved them and were responding to Him by communicating with Him and reflecting on what he revealed to them. It’s very easy to make a building, institution, or even a nation the defining mark of what it looks like to be in relationship with God, but the Bible is very clear that relationship is directly between God and humanity and that God actually has His own nation and does not need a human one.

What we can say is that lets bring each other back to God. God desires us to be close to Him and to hear what He is telling us. All of the human race is able to experience this closeness and can see what he has no matter where they are from or how they originally define themselves. When God overtakes us, we are adopted into His family and become apart of His country. When Hezekiah has things revealed to Him, it almost seems like He is expecting God to reveal something to Him. His relationship and his spiritual awareness of God’s voice is so practiced that it seems like the one thing he is absolutely certain of is that God will speak, whether it be comforting or challenging. He experiences both in this passage.

One thing that always comes with things this connection is responsibility of response. When we receive good news from a friend or a friend tells us something important, we usually respond because of the relationship. God is the same way. Hezekiah receives great news that God is extending his life which definitely led to celebration and the foretelling of Babylonian invasion led to deep reflection and sorrow for his people. When we come close to God we learn to hear Him when he gives us good news along with possible bad news. The nature of a good relationship will lead us to respond to God and to the humanity that God loves.  But this responsibility comes with being part of a large movement to save the world. We have been given an opportunity to change the world together. All it takes is responding to a God who reaches out in love to heal the word. Communicating with God opens the doors of possibility and opportunity to experiencing what God has for us.

Will we allow God to speak to us and give us a chance to join the movement to heal the world? Will we open our ears to hear God’s plans? We will join into the plans he has?

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: 2 Kings 15:32-16:19


This current story begins Jotham as a young king. He did not quite do everything that would have made the community great, He still encouraged doing things well. He sounds like many leaders today, he might not be great in any popular sense, but at the end of the day, the country was still intact and the worship of God was still standing. There was relative peace. It’s a great start of a story, but the story does not end there. After Jotham dies, His son takes over the country, but he does not live like his father.

Ahaz, Jotham’s son, was the next king and was described as evil. He allowed many pagan things to be prominent in the country. As the story moves forward, it becomes apparent that Ahaz does not fully trust God to rescue. In the moment of disaster, he began an alliance with Assyria which would shape Israelite culture.  Assyria comes to its rescue, but not without a price. The Assyrian King meets with Ahaz and in the process Ahaz gets guidance on how to run the religion.  By the end of the chapter, Ahaz has made the religion of Israel to look like the religion of Assyria. It seems strange enough that this King decided to allow these changes to the religion. Most people have a hard time with these kind of changes and would prefer for the status quo to be upheld in matters that do not matter, like the color of the carpet or a minor detail in the structure of a temple. What Ahaz did was not that menial. Ahaz began making Israel’s religion into the image of the Assyrian religion, which was dangerous, since Assyria was not taking the same path God had laid out for the world.

A look at ancient history shows us that Assyrian culture was violent, oppressive, and based on utilizing force for influence. Their religion helped support that justification of violence utilized for control. Ahaz’s transformation of the religion was not simply being progressive change of the practices of faith, but changing it into something that God was trying to avoid. If you compare the Law of God in the first five books of the Bible and the religious/political law of Assyria, you begin to see that violence was much more prevalent in this culture. God was always trying to make a better world for everyone. Assyria was trying to make a world that fit them. It’s not bad to make changes in a religion, but when your religion is based on faith, hope and love, and you start to tear that away from the canvas, you begin to endanger the very essence of what God created.

The question that raises for us is are we willing to give up what we stand for in order to survive. Now before we begin any conversation about fighting for the survival of Christianity, let me begin by saying that we are to reflect a savior whose defense against His oppressors was dying by their hands. There may be times to struggle in a physical sense against something or someone, but we cannot let it eradicate our call to love our enemies and bring hope to everyone. The core of our faith is King YHWH loving us and allowing us to be apart of His grand scheme. Are we doing that with those around us? Are we being inclusive hope? Are we helping people realize their potential in Jesus? Are we willing to carry that kind of  work when it endangers us and the ones we love? That is what faith means in Christianity. It means being passionate well into the painful storms of life and knowing that one day all of this traveling on the path God laid out for us will lead to place of glory, honor, and peace.

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 14:1-22


When a movement gains momentum, it becomes susceptible to mistakes, corruption, and even ill placed zealous acts. Enter Amaziah, a king was not a completely evil King. He followed some key points of the law, which included limiting himself on putting people to death, something many other Kings would not have done. He was a pretty good as far as most kings go, especially considering some of the other kings that

However, when it came to the pesky Northern Kingdom of Israel, he was a little greedy and cocky. He went to attack the northern kingdom of Israel. King Jehoash must have known something that Amaziah did not because he asked Amaziah not to attack or he would be defeated. Amaziah refused to listen and was defeated and carted off as a prisoner. Have you ever seen leaders like that? They are not known as bad people. They even get most things in their lives right. They love their families, follow all the church rules, and maybe are even memorized most of the Bible. However, when it comes to being leaders, they tend to veer of the path of faith, hope, and love. They tend to attack people in disagreement and coerce others into doing things their way. In the end, what happens is they end up inadvertently destroying the things they love. Amazaiah lost his throne for a period of time and had to watch part of Jerusalem’s infrastructure get torn down. This is not what Amaziah wanted to be remembered for. He wanted to be the great warrior who got Israel back under the rule of Jerusalem. He was willing to do whatever it took to get that, even go to war.

In the end, Amaziah is killed because of his misplaced zeal and His son is crowned King. The son Uzziah has to rebuild the parts of the city that were destroyed in the conflict between Amaziah and Jehoash. That the worst part about these kind of conflicts, the younger generation has to come in and pick up the pieces. The history of the Christian Church is a prime example. In our history, we have been known to burn people who said things that were a little off the beaten path of orthodoxy and even made war with kingdoms who were not of the same persuasion as we were. There are many non-Christian people who look at this history and are convinced that religion is bad for humanity due to the many evil things that it has done. Though we could talk all day about how imperfect people are responsible for making God’s Church look bad, those people only see the evil done and are convinced that it is bad news to be in a community of faith. There are many other examples of this, but the theme is the same. Those who came before carve the path for the future, whether good or bad.

Despite the zealous intentions by some, a little pride can blind us to God’s will and leave those who come after us to pick up the pieces. It can make it not only hard for those who come after us to have faith, it also make it hard for them to have faith at all. We have to ask what kind of future we will be creating for our community of faith. Are we going to make it hard for people to live by faith or are we going to be a catalyst for faith.

Heroic: 2 Kings 12:20-13:13


In our culture, one of the prominent arguments is that science and religion do not mix. In both the science community and the Church, we can find examples of people who are completely dismissive of the opposite side, like Richard Dawkins or Ken Ham. When we think of science and faith, our culture has trained us to think that you are either a full rationalist who thinks everything can be simply explained or a person of faith who ignores science. Our story picks up in the middle of an entire book that shows the interaction of God followers and everyone else. We have seen people outside of the faith and inside the faith. What is amazing is that the scenario of human knowledge verses faith was in some way present. Most people had theories about divine entities causing this or that thing to happen. In the Hebrew circles, God was supposed to be the only cause of everything.

In the beginning of this story, Jehoahaz takes over and does everything connected to what was wrong with Israel. Long story short, God does not stop foreigners from attacking. After much pleading from Jehoahaz, God intervenes. However, Jehoahaz keeps on doing what he was doing. Nothing really changes. Even after his country barely makes it out of the fog of war, which was a miracle in itself. When he died, Jehoash takes over and does the same thing as Jehoahaz. No word of wisdom about the greatness of God over every other divine entity ever spoken of. Without the details of this story, one would assume that Israel just got lucky. Elsewhere in this book, even mighty warriors of other pagan nations were experiencing God and noticing that the Hebrew people had something pretty special. The Hebrew people, however, were having a tough time recognizing this.

The crazy reality about religion is that complacency is an every present danger. People who do not expect God are expected to see something else when God acts. People who know God should see God when He acts. What usually happens though is that a noticeable amount of non-believers begin to see that they can’t explain things away and find that the most reasonable assumption is that their has to be a higher power at work. Christians on the other hand can have a tendency to assume God is not working when He really is. Christians tend to focus more on blessings that they could receive and can miss who is the center of our faith. God provisions and blessings do not guarantee that we are in track with His plans. God is always prompting us to join Him in his mission and will always be giving us the tools and resources to do the great, heroic acts that he has for us to do. However, our decisions do still need to happen. Walking with God is not just about what he does for us, but how we respond to Him also. And when we respond to Him, we begin to notice His faithfulness. We begin to realize that our science and religion categories really do not match the true reality, which is that God has a story for us. We begin to see faith as a completely new lifestyle. Seeing that we do not have to be defined by the categories handed to us by other people, but that God has created a single category for humanity. It encompasses all of life and leads to hope and love.

If we are going to be heroes, we have to grab onto faith. Faith does not actually include being academically sure or religiously blind. Faith is about trust. So many times in the Bible has told stories of faith that have nothing to do with certainties or blind zeal. They had do with obedience, trust, knowing that on some level God was their and was about to enact something amazing. It took faith for Abraham to become the father of a nation, for Peter to lead the Church. Even Jesus practiced faith that His Father would raise Him from the dead. The irony is that the ones who were considered zealous for God or even intellectually superior killed Him. What God has for us in a journey of faith will bring more good in the end. It will lead us to share in the resurrection of Jesus into the Kingdom which is to come.