Monday Radicals

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember that about two years ago I started blogging through The Vision poem by Pete Grieg.  (You can see all my previous Vision posts HERE.) I haven’t exactly been keeping it up consistently, but I haven’t forgotten it either. This poem truly did inspire me at age sixteen with a vision of what radical Christianity looks like, and these phrases are still part of the spiritual scrapbook that makes up my life.

So here we go.

Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night.
They don’t need fame from names.
Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again: “COME ON!”

I know it. You know it. We’re always “radical” on Sunday night… or Wednesday/Friday/Saturday night, as your case may be. Hands raised, impassioned altar call, something moves deep in your gut, and before you know it you’re on the ground making grandiose vows, or jumping up and down in the midst of a sweaty swarm, shouting some lyrics about “glory” and “changing history,” most likely. And definitely something about “fire.”

I’m not knocking it. I’ve had more of those experiences than most, probably. In that moment, you have this vision that the next day at work or school you’re going to become this radical, healing, preaching revivalist – basically the next Todd White – and your entire city is going to get saved in a week. People will look at you as you walk down the sidewalk, some in awe, some in derision, but that’s okay, because it’s all for the Kingdom.

None of this is bad. I want that life. I do want to walk down the street and see heaven touch earth under my hands. I’m going to keep jumping and shouting and making those vows because my sincerity really does count to God, even when I don’t follow through the next morning as well as I wanted to.

Because that’s what usually happens, honestly. Big dreams the night before and then nothing the next day. What happened? Chances are, I was in it for the glory high, not the heart of God.

“Instead they grin quietly upwards…” I believe the secret is that simple. It can’t be about us. It can’t be that I want to be a revivalist because I want to be awesome like that and I want good stories to tell… I want to be radical on Monday, but if it’s all about me wanting a thrill, it’s going to burn out fast. Sure, God might still use me sometimes, but that’s because of His mercy, not because I’m actually aligning my heart with His.

I mentioned Todd White and provided a youtube link (which most of you probably ignored, so here it is again). One of the things I love about that video and from Todd’s ministry in general is that it genuinely is not about him. I know a guy here at IHOPKC who’s done ministry with him, and what has continually struck me from everything I’ve seen and heard is that Todd really does walk in humility and love. He’s so simple and unassuming. Just a random guy with dreads and a t-shirt who gives big hugs and believes God loves people.

Radical worship on Sunday that isn’t expressed in radical love on Monday isn’t radical at all. Anyone can get hyped up by an event. It has to be a day to day faithfulness, or else it’s nothing. Those old ladies in the back who have been praying faithfully and giving of themselves for decades, that’s what radical looks like.

I’m not in the least bit saying don’t pray for people on the streets. Do it!! But do it in love and humility with your eyes on Jesus, not yourself. Don’t do it just to get a great testimony to share. It’s okay if no one but God ever knows what happened. Seeking “fame from names” IS going to burn you. You were not created to live for your own glory. That was the problem in the Garden. Keep your eyes on Him.

That is the fuel that is going to keep you burning. At the end of the day, you’re not going to be judged by how loud you were, but how faithful to His heart you were. Keep your eyes locked on Jesus’ eyes of fire. Glue your feet to the ground and refuse to move. Get lost in those flames. Let His eyes burn away every other selfish ambition.

I promise, the more you’re in tune with His heartbeat because you’ve taken the time to stare into His eyes, the more “radical” your Mondays will be.

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Choose to Lose

Back to The Vision.

This is an army that would lay down its life for the cause.
A million times a day, its soldiers choose to lose that they might one day win the great “well done” of faithful sons and daughters.

What does it look like to lay down my life for the cause of Christ–the Kingdom of God?

letting-goIt starts with a mindset that I am not my own. (1 Corinthians 6:19) I have been bought with a price, so my entire being belongs to God. Laying down my life only costs me the illusion that it was my life to give in the first place. He owns me, in the most beautiful way possible, and I want to cooperate with his ownership in every way I can.

For me, in my day to day safe little American life, literally sacrificing my lifeblood isn’t much of a possibility. But I want my life to be a sacrifice, not just my death. My life is my every moment, every choice. It’s sacrificing my time, my convenience, my comfort, to allow God’s love to flow through me.

It’s embracing humility.

Humility is so foreign to human nature. We naturally make our lives about “looking out for number one.” Embracing humility is perhaps the most counter-cultural thing we could do, but it’s perhaps the number one way to be like God.

washing feet“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
(Philippians 2:3-11, emphasis added)

Jesus chose to lose in the most dramatic way possible. He who is El Elyon, God Most High, came so low to wash our feet.

God has honoured him for it, and he will also honour us for following Jesus’ example. I have a hard time imagining anything more beautiful.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
(Matthew 5:5)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
(1 Peter 5:6)

humility-word

Every Secret Motive

Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation.
It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games.

Here I am, back to The Vision at last. I’ve been wanting to keep going on it for a while now, but I got seriously stuck on this line. Honestly, it scares me more than any other line in this poem. Light flickers from EVERY secret motive? Seriously? It sounds completely unattainable. I had no idea how to write about it. I knew I needed to take time to really ask God about it, so last night in the prayer room, that’s what I did.

I remember being about eleven or twelve years old, loving Jesus but not really knowing him or letting him transform me yet, sitting on the floor in my room, singing this song by DC Talk:

I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from You
I am the king of excuses
I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do

What’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior

In the Light, DC Talk

Selfishness and impure motives are so deeply ingrained in the human heart, it’s a wonder we ever manage anything good at all. Humans are notoriously crappy at having truly pure hearts, especially when we try to purify them on their own.

“Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?
-Proverbs 20:9 ESV

Not to burst any bubbles here, but it’s impossible. And it seems that not even becoming a Christian fully rewrites our motivations. I know I still find myself stuck in the same old little prideful thoughts and selfish motivations. It sucks. And somehow I’m supposed to be “perfect as [my] Heavenly Father is perfect”? (Mt. 5:48)

I wanna be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord, be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light

There is only one source of Light in this entire universe. We need to stop trying to conjure up some kind of purity on our own, and instead turn ourselves over to the One who is longing to do this kind of work in us.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
-Psalm 51:10 ESV

We need to be renewed. And renewed. And renewed. Over, and over, and over. This is our only hope of ever having that holy Light burning in our every secret motive. It is not something we can ever,  ever attain on our own power. We need to be constantly refreshed in his grace.

We may never get to the point of being able to say, “I never have an impure motivation.”  But that has to be the vision. That is where the reach in our spirits is trying to get to. Because it is possible to get closer, and looking like him, walking in deeper unity with him, is what our souls crave. We cry out again and again, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me! Give me your light and make me look like you!”

Because the more that Light is flickering in us, the more powerful that love will be. We were once rescued by a pure, burning Love that snatched us out of darkness, and we become a conduit for that same Love to now rescue others through us. We will watch in wonder as the impossible, supernatural Light that we never could have attained on our own reaches out and snags people away from the edge of the precipice.

Remember that “holiness that hurts the eyes“?

This is what it looks like.

Holiness That Hurts the Eyes

What is the vision?
The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes.
It makes children laugh and adults angry.
It gave up the game of minimal integrity long ago to reach for the stars.
It scorns the good and strains for the best.
It is dangerously pure.

Holiness is notoriously hard to define. Some people say it means set apart, or whole, or pure. It is both the core characteristic of God and also a characteristic of his people. We are to strive for holiness, yet we are already holy.

When I read the 600+ times that the word holy is used in the Bible, the first thing I clearly see is that it carries the meaning of “set apart.” There are lots and lots of references to things being “holy to the LORD,” things like the priests’ garments, and the Sabbath, and everything in the Temple, and, most importantly, the people of Israel.

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
(Deuteronomy 7:6 ESV)

We are holy. Set apart. And what does it mean to be set apart? It means to be different. To be a blue monkey in a brown monkey’s world.  To keep ourselves free from the patterns of the world. To march to the beat of a different drum.

Why should we be holy?

For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.
(Leviticus 11:44 ESV)

Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh… HOLY, HOLY, HOLY. This is God’s defining characteristic–not love, as some would think. At the end of time, we will be gathered around the throne of heaven, worshiping him for his holiness.

God is set apart in a huge way. He is completely Other, as different from us as an alien from another universe would be on Earth. He is so, so different from everything he has created. We are made of dust… he was never made of anything. He is I AM. That was the only was he could define his existence to Moses. Just “I AM.”

And we are to be holy as he is holy??

Here’s the thing, though. We have no capacity to be holy in and of ourselves. We have been made holy through Christ’s blood. So we are already holy… but we don’t always live like it.

So what does a lived-out holiness look like? 1 Peter chapter 1 spells it out for us. The first part talks about the living hope and the inheritance we have in Christ. Then:

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy…Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”
(1 Peter 1:13-16, 22 ESV)

So, as I see it, holiness is about being set apart from the things of this world by keeping our attention on the things of God and living in love and purity.

And yes, it hurts the eyes.

Moses’ face shone when he talked with God. (Exodus 34) Jesus shone in the Transfiguration. (Matthew 17) Whenever the Bible visually represents holiness, it’s a brilliant light. Fierce and blazing. And the darkness hates it.

People get confused and offended by radiant holiness. It defies every selfish, momentary, flesh-driven impulse of this world. People feel exposed in the light, so they squint, put up their hands, reach for their sunglasses. After all, this is not a nice safe little glow. This is an explosion, like a Time Lord regenerating.* Maybe we are constantly regenerating, constantly being made new. And anyone who gets too close may very well be swept up in the blaze.

This is a holiness that is not content to settle for what our culture considers “good enough,” or even “successful.” It is simply not interested in playing the game. It is always pushing to be more like Jesus.

There’s even a “good enough” in church culture. There’s a tendency to compare ourselves to others around us, and there’s a nice comfortable minimum that we have reached by silent consensus. But our calling was never for “good enough.” It was for radical consecration.

I want to be that person who blazes like Moses. I want to be so extremely different from the patterns of this world that people squint when they look at me.  I don’t ever want to settle for “good enough” and I refuse to let anything compromise me.

Better bring your sunglasses, baby.

 

 
*Doctor Who reference. Pardon my geekness. See picture below.

Mobile Like the Wind

They are mobile like the wind.
They belong to the nations.
They need no passport.
People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.
They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting, dirty and dying.

This is a generation that understands its global calling. These people do not consider themselves citizens of any particular country, but rather citizens of heaven and as such they are free to touch the entire earth. They are the sojourners and nomads. They’ve figured out that what God’s doing is not confined to a particular city or country or culture. At the same time God is with the suicidal high schooler in Seattle, he is with the HIV-positive single mother of six in Mozambique. And because they want to be with him where he is (John 17:24) and because it seems he has chosen to give an extra dose of himself and a special kind of mercy to those who are hurting, dirty, and dying (Luke 6:20, etc), they will follow him into any and every corner of the planet.

Home isn’t a city or an address. Home is in the following. They have allowed themselves to be broken for the brokenness in the world. They give of themselves freely. They are slaves of all who are in need, because really, they are the slaves of the God whose heart beats desperately for them. And in this they have found a different kind of freedom. (1 Peter 2:16, Romans 6:22)

This freedom isn’t of the American dream “do-whatever-you-please” variety. This freedom means freedom from a small story, freedom from living confined to your own little world. They have prayed the most dangerous prayer of all, “Your will be done,” and are willing and ready to follow the Spirit wherever he leads. Even (and perhaps especially) when he takes them into the darkest places of the world.

God, make me the kind of person who sees you in every hurting and dirty face. Enlarge my vision to see the entire world as my mission field. I want to chase after your heartbeat wherever you lead…because when I am tethered to the wind and holding nothing back, I am free. 

Caviar on Monday and Crusts on Tuesday

And they are free from materialism—
They laugh at nine-to-five little prisons.
They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.
They wouldn’t even notice.
They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the West was won.

Do we even understand what it means to be free from materialism? We live in a privileged society where we are constantly being told what is important. Bigger TVs, smaller computers, smoother skin, better job, louder entertainment… the list goes on. Our world has a system, and this system is built on MORE. We are like rats running through a maze, searching for the cheese that we hope is just around the next bend.


It will take a radical new dream to defeat the system.

God is looking for people who are unimpressed with the best the world has to offer. Sure, we can enjoy it, but we need to be able to equally enjoy life minus all the “good stuff.” We must learn to say with Paul, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Philippians 4:11-12 ESV)

Contentment. If we can discover the secret of contentment like Paul dd, we can go anywhere and do anything, and be able to focus on God and others instead of ourselves.

Go to Thailand, sleep on the ground, not shower for a week, and eat God only knows what? No problem. Hang out with homeless people in LA? Can do. NOT spend money on a new wardrobe/car/computer and instead give the money to a cause that matters? Absolutely. Sell everything we own and move to the Tenderloin, the worst part of San Francisco? Why not? When we cut our dependency on the material things of this world, we become available for God to use us anywhere and however he wants.

And he might use us in the more elite realms. Some of us are called to be performers, athletes, businessmen, and politicians and might end up surrounded by some of the markers of wealth. So what? Increased resources are a blessing, and no more so than when they are used to bless others. We are not of this world and we are not defined by or dependent on our stuff, but instead we hold everything with an open hand and give freely.

Everything we own is just a prop anyway, like cheap plastic jewelry worn on Broadway. What’s the use of holding on to it?

We need to become a generation that rises above the system. This is our Matrix; the world that flashes around us is not the real world. The real world lies beyond the skin of this one, unseen. It is only when we grasp this truth that we can laugh at the nine-to-five cycles and refuse to be rodents running on a wheel or chasing that ever-elusive cheese. We need to catch a higher vision.

Only then can freedom begin.

What Do You See?

The vision is of an army of young people.
You see bones?
I see an army.

“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’”
(Ezekiel 37:1-6 ESV)

What do you see when you look at this generation?

Do you see a swarm of young people selling their souls to entertainment, empty relationships, and cheap thrills?

Do you see minds numbed by overstimulation–overconnected and yet isolated?

Do you see an empty chaos of texting, fashion, sports, popularity?

Do you see confused minds swallowing lie after lie about themselves, the world, morality, and God himself?

Do you see a generation that imagines itself more empowered than any other, yet its people are still completely consumed by their own small worlds and bound by apathy about the things that really matter?

Do you see church kids who aren’t really much different?

Do you see bones? I see an ARMY.

Because this is the generation that God has chosen.

He who makes beauty from ashes will raise up and transform this generation into a powerful army. He will capture and refine that aimless passion into a force to be reckoned with.

Beneath the cacophony that floods the school hallways, there is a profound silence. There is a boredom with life as it has become. People are looking for a cause. They want to devote themselves to something bigger than themselves. They know, deep down in a place they can’t even name, that they were created for a love story and a great adventure. They are just waiting to be awakened.

And even as the Spirit hovered over the waters at the beginning of the world, and even as he breathed life into a field of bones in ancient Israel, God will resurrect this generation. In fact, he’s starting already. The sleeping giant is rising from her slumber.

Awake.

                   Arise.

Let the wind that first stirred the dust breathe life into you again.

Obsessively, Dangerously, Undeniably

The vision is Jesus.

Obsessively,

                               Dangerously,

                                                           Undeniably,

JESUS.

I am completely and unashamedly obsessed. He is what it’s all about. All eternity points to him. All creation groans for him. Every soul was created to long for him. He is my first and my last, my beginning and my end, my waking and my dreaming. He is my magnificent obsession, my beautiful daydream, my inescapable addiction.

Dangerous? Heck yes.

Take up your massive instrument of torture and execution and follow me.  I did not come to bring peace, but to rip families apart. Blessed are you when the world scorns, slanders, persecutes, and hates you because of me. When the world despises you, don’t worry, they despised me first.

When your oppressor forces you to trudge one mile, willingly walk with him two.

Sell everything you own and give the money to the poor.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.

Scared yet? Wanna trip, baby? Because if you jump off this cliff, it will be the ride of your life.

Could I even deny him if I tried? He is my everything, and there’s no use even pretending otherwise. I would rather take a bullet to the chest or curl up in a ball and die than deny the beautiful Man who is my savior. He is the only thing that makes any sense at all. My every breath testifies of his goodness, every cell screams his name. Denying him would be like carving out my own lungs. He and I are inextricably woven together. And what God has joined together, let no man separate.

JESUS.

 

In these moments, I could run like this forever. In these moments I mean every word. Oh, Jesus, my rescuer, let me never lose this place.

The Vision

This is The Vision by Pete Greig. Pete is a leader in the 24/7 Prayer movement. This poem was written late one night in a 24/7 prayer room, fueled by coffee and barely articulate dreams. It was scrawled on a wall with a marker and abandoned, but God had other plans. As if the poem grew legs and walked out of that dark little room, it was soon flashing around the internet, inspiring believers everywhere. By the time it made its way back to Pete, he had all but forgotten about it. Now it is a battle cry of a new generation, a generation willing to give it all for the cross, to live in radical love extravagant grace, and set the world on fire with the message of the King.

I’d like to blog my way through this poem a bit at a time, because since I first heard them in 2006, these words have stirred my soul and birthed a fiery battle cry within me.

This is my vision.

The Vision
by Pete Greig

So this guy comes up to me and says, “What’s the vision? What’s the big idea?”
I open up my mouth and the words come out like this…

The vision?
The vision is Jesus:
obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.

The vision is of an army of young people.
You see bones?
I see an army.
And they are free from materialism—
They laugh at nine-to-five little prisons.
They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.
They wouldn’t even notice.
They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the West was won.

They are mobile like the wind.
They belong to the nations.
They need no passport.
People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.
They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting, dirty and dying.

What is the vision?
The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes.
It makes children laugh and adults angry.
It gave up the game of minimal integrity long ago to reach for the stars.
It scorns the good and strains for the best.
It is dangerously pure.

Light flickers from every secret motive, from every conversation.
It loves people away from their suicide leaps—their Satan games.

This is an army that would lay down its life for the cause.
A million times a day, its soldiers choose to lose that they might one day win the great “well done” of faithful sons and daughters.

Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night.

They don’t need fame from names.
Instead they grin quietly upwards and hear the crowds chanting again and again: “COME ON!”
And this is the sound of the underground, the whisper of history in the making, foundations shaking, revolutionaries dreaming once again.
Mystery is scheming in whispers, conspiracy is breathing…
This is the sound of the underground.

And the army is disciple(in)ed—
Young people who beat their bodies into submission.
Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms.
The tattoo on their back boasts “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes.
Winners.
Martyrs.
Who can stop them?
Can hormones hold them back?
Can failure succeed?
Can fear scare them or death kill them?

And the generation prays like a dying man with groans beyond talking, with warrior cries, sulfuric tears and great barrow loads of laughter!

Waiting.
Watching.
24-7-365.

Whatever it takes they will give:
Breaking the rules,
Shaking mediocrity from its cozy little hide,
Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs,
Laughing at labels,
Fasting essentials.
The advertisers cannot mold them.
Hollywood cannot hold them.
Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late-night parties before the cockerel cries.

They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive on the inside.
On the outside?
They hardly care!
They wear clothes like costumes: to communicate and celebrate, but never to hide.

Would they surrender their image or their popularity?
They would lay down their lives, swap seats with the man on death row, guilty as hell: a throne of an electric chair.

With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and fruitless days, they pray as if it all depends on God and live as though it all depends on them.

Their DNA chooses Jesus.
He breathes out.
They breathe in.
Their subconscious sings.
They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.

Their words make demons scream in shopping malls.
Don’t you hear them coming?

Herald the weirdoes!
Summon the losers and the freaks.
Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes!
They walk tall and trees applaud.
Skyscrapers bow.
Mountains are dwarfed by these children of another dimension.
Their prayers summon the Hound of Heaven and evoke the dream of Eden.

And, this vision will be.
It will come to pass.
It will come easily.
It will come soon.

How do I know?
Because, this is the longing of creation itself, the groaning of the spirit, the very dream of God.
My tomorrow is His today.
My distant hope is His 3-D.
And, my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking, great “AMEN!” from countless angels, from heroes of the faith, from Christ himself.

And He is the original dreamer, the ultimate winner.
Guaranteed.