More than you can handle

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

I Corinthians 10:13

If you find yourself in the church culture (like I do), you are well aware of this passage from one of Paul's letters to the Corinthian church.  The verse has often been a source of great inspiration when I feel like giving up and I have told myself I don't have any other choice but to fail.

This verse has taken on it's own deceptive meaning due in part to our propagation of this false meaning to blame God for our busy, stressful lives.

Here's a typical conversation:

Merriam:  "Sheesh, I am so tired and stressed out!  My daughter has baseball practice on Monday and Wednesday and two games this Saturday.  She has math tutoring right after school on Tuesday and has a guitar lesson on Thursday night... she is so talented!  Friday's we're going to our church meeting at the Fillord's home and Sunday, well, Sunday, you know is church."

Ular:  "Wow, I can see why you would be so stressed out.  Just remember: God won't give you more than you can handle."

>>>>> HOLD ON!!!
Someone sound the alarm!

That's a category 5 use of 1st Corinthians 10:13.  Where do we get the idea that God won't give us more than we can handle?  I can see the "not-so" parallel between Him not letting us be tempted beyond what we can bear while ALWAYS providing a way out AND God not giving us "more than we can handle."

However, why do we find ourselves blaming God for signing our kids up for every activity in the Parks & Recreation brochure?

Or, for you college kids, how is it appropriate to apply this poor notion to the so-common situation of trying to write a final term paper the night before it's due while balancing your other commitments in life?

"Oh my!  That is such a rough situation with your final paper.  Remember, God won't give you more than you can handle!"

Two point need to be addressed:

1)  God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But, WHEN you are tempted, he will always provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

    subpoint A)  This passage states clearly that God LETS US be tempted
    subpoint B)  This passage states clearly that you WILL be tempted, it's only a matter of WHEN.

2)  God will give you more than you can handle...on your own.  Did he design us to be self-sufficient beings?  Nope.  We are to depend completely on Him and His grace for everything we are given.  We may be given little, we may be given plenty, or further, we may be given more than we can handle.

John 14:1  [Jesus speaking] Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me.

2nd Corinthians 12:9   [Paul Speaking about God in a time of weakness and distress]But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."



Social Salve

Our world is messed up.  There are outrageous examples and instances of injustice occuring 'round-the-clock wherever we turn.  Our nightly news quickly delivers the stories of the weak and helpless who are killed, robbed, beaten, denied, abandoned, ignored, and ridiculed.  There are many wounds left untreated that our society displays from day to day.  These wounds are ugly.  There are infected because of lack of proper care and continued contamination.

In light of this, there needs to be social doctors and nurses who are willing to dress the wounds of the poor, the sick, the abandoned, the oppressed, and the helpless.  These wounds are gross.  They are repulsive.  Those who are meant to dress these wounds cannot help but face them, smell them, maybe even touch them in order to properly bring healing and restoration.

Social salve:  the dressing for the wounds of the social outcast.

In the account of Jesus' life, these words were spoken by Jesus near the beginning of His work.

 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
 He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
   and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

These words were first spoken by Isaiah, and later adopted by Jesus as His own.  Those who were listening to Jesus speak these words were amazed and enamoured with His bold, new mission statement.

Jesus announced His priorities and His vision.  He identified the authority and the power that would propel His work.

The crowds of people knew that there were others among them in their cities who were blind, oppressed, poor, captive, and hungry.  There seemed, now, to be One who would bring hope for these social ills with authority.

As followers of Christ, He has given us the equipment, the knowledge, and the motivation to bring a social salve.

There comes with this charge a reminder that those who live to advance and promote the Kingdom of God will face opposition.  Jesus could have started the most effective non-profit organization in His time.  However, when He identified Himself as the Son of God and gave the credit to God for His work, His life was threatened and eventually taken from Him.

The social salve of the Gospel brings change and healing, but it's eternal effectiveness is found in the life of Jesus.


Freedom: I'm calling in sick from following Jesus.

Why don't we say what we know is right?
Why don't we do what should be done?
Why is there such a large disconnect between our sacrificial worship to the One True God and enacting the justice of that God, as His people, to those who need it most around us -- the sick, the needy, the poor, the oppressed, the defenseless?

Fear?  yeah, that's a big part.
Someone else will do it?  yeah, that's huge too.

Can love truly offend?

How can we keep hearing the same sermons preached at church and sing the same songs about the same God, and see no change in our lives, our homes, our children, our schools, our neighborhoods, our churches, our workplace, our friends... you get the picture?

Most of us have been stifled.  We've been paralyzed by our stuff, our feelings, and our circumstantial state.

Our reasons for inactivity within the Kingdom on earth are staggering.  And, they are just that, REASONS.  We have reasoned ourself out of the mission of Jesus -- to seek and save what is lost.  To redeem.  To bring right and restored relationship to God.

Our self-stimulation, our insatiable appetite for personal wisdom and knowledge without action, and our entitlement as the 'free and chosen' have blinded us to the mission of Jesus.

For freedom we have been set free?  Free to do what?
Is it a self-serving freedom?  A freedom to seek personal blessing, favor, and expansion for ourselves while so many starve, thirst, suffer, cry out for life?

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom?  Again, freedom for WHO?
Yes, we've been set free and blessed, SO THAT, we can freely be a blessing to others.

I was posed a tough question a month ago:

What is your theology of suffering?

Suffering?  Compared to the 73,000 members of the homeless community IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY, or to the impoverished citizens of non-Westernized nations facing political, religious, or humanitarian oppression... I probably don't have a real good clue as to what suffering is.

I do know and see in the Word that those who are followers of Christ will face sufferings of many kinds.  I don't think forgetting to record 'Lost' counts as suffering, or having to go to church when the Lead Pastor isn't preaching, or not having 'my' presidential candidate win.

Suffering actually demands that I choose Jesus over EVERYTHING.

Face it, America is a bubble.  Southern California is paradise.

So, maybe if I followed Jesus as He leads, I would suffer.  My worship would match my actions.  I would let go of my 'excuses' and do what He wants me to do.  Some folks might SEE and FEEL the good news and know the Jesus is real.

I might be able to poke a few holes in the 'social fabric.'



7 years

Today is my 7th anniversary w/ my beautiful wife.

It's basically the best reminder of where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going.

Love you Heather!!



what I didn't learn from a book

Today I sat down with Manuel deJesus.

He's a homeless man from Guatemala living in the US for 14 years now.  He primarily lives in Inglewood with a few stints in Redondo Beach when the food is available.

A couple of friends and I invited him to our table for coffee and conversation.

I was floored by his observations and understanding.

Manny shared that he had NEVER sat down with Americans for a meal or coffee in all of his 14 years here.  No one had ever told him that he was good, smart or wise.

Manny said that friendship is better than any material thing you or I could ever have.  Also, he said that you could have the best idea in the world, but without a friend there to support and encourage you in it, it is empty.

Manny asked if he was still on planet earth in the middle of our conversation.  He couldn't believe that 3 strangers would invite him, a homeless man, into their life and conversation.  He asked, "How did I end up here at this table?  Did I ask you for something?"  We told him, no, but that we invited him.

Manny has 3 daughters in Guatemala, a successful brother in South L.A. whom he sees twice a year.  He crossed the border 14 years ago with his good friend who now owns his own company and is very successful.  Manny chalks his misfortune up to not being smart enough in a country of such opportunity.

Manny is smart.  He taught me things I read hundreds of pages to understand.  He showed me these things without eloquence or elaboration.

The power of invitation to a table is unfathomable.




The Idea Camp in Irvine, CA ended last night.  I had a good time connecting with people, sharing dreams and ideas, enjoying meals, and seeing a dual emphasis on technology within community and the desire for true, authentic relationship.

I have been thinking about the concept of awareness lately.  I determined about a week ago that I want to be a better observer.  I've considered myself to be a person who notices things that often go unnoticed.  Lately, I've realized how I live my life on 'auto-pilot' most of the time.  I noticed a disconnect between my desire to make a difference in the lives of the poor and needy people in my local world and my lack of ability to see the REAL need that exists.  As a member of suburbia, I've been unknowingly trained to not see the corners and fringe characters of society.

The solution to my impairment is awareness.  I need to take my foot off the gas, pull over to the slow lane, and see the passing scenery and all of its contents.

Awareness starts at a personal level and grows into the community level.  At the personal level, awareness deepens and widens the angle of my lens.  I gain ability and capability.  My capacity to act and my potential to influence multiplies.  At the community level, awareness moves from a personal maturity to a tool for change.  An individual can see a need and meet a need in a linear, 2-D capacity.  At the community level, awareness fuels a movement for justice, change, and influence.  Individuals become bound through 3-dimensional connections crossing multiple domains of experience and ability.  Awareness at this level moves with force and direction.

The Idea Camp offered many opportunities to connect with individuals who are aware of injustice in many forms.  Many individual people aware of a need requiring a solution were connected with the purpose of taking action.