Ancarrow..the blog

Welcome to "Ancarrow...the blog," a place for us to share some random thoughts as we help start new churches in MD.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gospel before Boldness.

If you know our story, and why we moved to Maryland, you've heard us share about the need for the gospel to be proclaimed in this place; specifically, through the I-95 corridor. You'll not be surprised that I am struggling to see a of lack gospel centeredness in the lives of people. What you may find surprising is that this lack of gospel-centricity in Maryland is not just relegated to those who proclaim an open hostility to Jesus, and in turn, genuine Christianity; instead, there are plenty of "religious" people who love to live behind a rouse of their brilliance, and have no desire to place Jesus at the center of anything.

Today has been an interesting day. This morning, Westboro Baptist Church paid a visit to the county, this time to a local high school. This high school is near a military fort, and, according to WBC (who you may remember from soldier funeral protests & the, purports to have a high homosexual population. Given the blend of government and "gay," WBC was out in full effect. They were there with banners, disgusting press releases, and diatribes speaking out against our "whorish nation."

On the other side of dividing line was a barrage of "supporters" for the high school. I use "supporters" loosely, because most were there not to support students, but their respective agenda. Some love the military, some love someone is in a homosexual relationship, and some just love the idea that no one should be able to ever disagree with their lifestyle (of any kind). Some got equally offensive in their slurs, some held signs proclaiming God's unconditional love, and some used it as an opportunity to draw attention to themselves.

Amongst this group were a few people I knew personally. They love Jesus and His Truth. THey wanted to give a fair picture of the church to all parties involved, and made it their endeavor to demonstrate a balance between truth and love both boldly and gently. While all other parties left vindicated in the points they made, these folks (according to some Facebook posts and some brief conversations I've had) left today feeling the weight of trying to bring Jesus to both sides of the fence.

This whole idea, of course, is nothing new to Jesus. Jesus is not used to be pigeonholed as only loving or only concerned about justness. On one hand, Jesus had Pharisees and religious leaders who would focus on keeping the letter of the law. Jesus' harshest words (in terms of reprimands) are for them., which can be found in Matthew 23. His mercy to people who had made train wrecks of their lives (see John 8) turns the idea of "do-good religion" on its hind end. At the same time, Jesus refuses to all people to make excuses for their pasts (Luke 19) , or even to live under the idea that they can do whatever they want whenever they want to, and still be okay (Matthew 19). Simply put, Jesus can't be turned into the puppet that either party desires Him to be. While He takes love quite seriously, He refuses to allow people to define "love" simply upon the picture they want to see.

One side of the fence wants to feel vindicated by the idea that they are "better than someone else." The other side feels like any authority is bad authority. Both make God their puppet. One chooses His wrath, and the other His unconditional love.

Read the gospels. If your goal is to feel vindicated by how "awesome" you are and how wrong everyone else is, Jesus will press your self-righteous buttons. If your goal is to pigeon-hole Jesus as just another hate-monger who says he's the "only" way as a means to control you, then you'll find His love and compassion, especially for those who disagree with Him, far greater than you've been taught to believe. Jesus is the ultimate balance of truth and love.

Both side of the fence try to formulate their maker. Some keep Jesus at arms length because they know it will require a moral decision - one they refuse to make. Another is obsessed with the letters of the law, obsessing over secondary religious issues. Where you find one, you often find the other. Westboro Baptist may not be from a big city, but I can name several churches who , whether intentional or not, give a similar message (we're're's us vs. you). I can also name a myriad of people who lack the boldness to say, "I love you too much to not tell you the truth." In Maryland, both fill church buildings every Sunday.

All truth and no love is brutality. All love and no truth is hypocrisy. Both can break the heart of God, and distract people from the gospel.

If you're a Christian, repent frequently. Pray, center your life on Jesus. Let the scriptures affect you greatly. Then, go be bold. Until you've done the former, the latter (the boldness) is likely to end up resulting in the wrong kind of extremism - one that does more harm than good. In the end, your attempt to bring out only one part of Jesus' character will have robbed you and those around him from experiencing Him through you at all.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Waynes World 2" taught me well.

12:18 a.m. - The pending to-do list coupled with some life frustration keeps me up late. Part of me is working ahead, and part of me is brewing on the frustrations I feel at the moment.

In channel surfing. I find "Wayne's World 2." I sit mesmerized as I watch scenes that I literally had memorized as a teenager. Simply put: I love this film.

My friend Kenny is a film connoisseur. This one's not on his list of the "top 100 movies ever" . Tonight, I think it should be.

Wayne and Garth set out to put on a concert. They go to painstaking lengths, dealing with incredible disappointment in naysayers and hardship. Almost none of their plans go as written. Once they get one problem solved...two more problems appear. In their weakest moments, their insecurities are preyed upon. They struggle with the administrative details, the danger of creating something from scratch, and along the way - the drama of interpersonal relationships.

Yet, Through it all, there is a quiet voice (in this case, the voice of Jim Morrison) giving them just enough information to keep them going.

I long for Wayne & Garth's persistence. I long for their ability to laugh as they adventure; to make the best of any situation that should be thrown at them, rather than losing sleep or allowing themselves to be overly frustrated by the trials of the journey.

I just read Donald Miller's newest book. My ultimate take home: there's not a great story without risk and tension. No one cares about a story that's too easy or lacks in conflict. Wayne and Garth are so devoted to what and who they are that they are not dissuaded by the things they lack. They know that they are called to put on a concert, even if they're not the "right' ones to do the job.

I long for a deeper faith; one that embraces the challenges given and trusts that the sun rises on the other side. One that deals with temporary setbacks without allowing heavy doses of perceived inferiority cripple me from moving forward on what I know I'm called to. A faith that to the wayside, especially the fear of failure. I long for a faith bold enough to not be consumed by the approval of man.

Thank you, Wayne and Garth, for reminding me to stay focused, and to laugh along the way.