9:42 AM Hello fellow thoughtful bloggerites. Some random reflections before leaving for the great state of Maryland. I’ve been completely and totally swamped this week. My three days on campus felt like performing brain surgery for a straight 72 hours. And then it’s back to the airport today. I can hardly keep up with my schedule. But I’m good, thank the Lord. Someone asked me in class on Tuesday how I felt the day after my marathon. I told him the next day I hiked Snow Canyon and went horseback riding, then the following day I hiked Bryce, and then the following day I climbed to 11,000 feet at Cedar Breaks. I’m so grateful for the undeserved health and strength God seems to continue to give me in the face of the pressures and opportunities of life. Next weekend it’s the wedding in DC and then the following week we’re commemorating the 4th anniversary of Becky’s glorious homegoing, followed by the Richmond Marathon on Nov. 11. And I haven’t even mentioned the “real” news I’ve been reading all morning long, like who said what when? (“I didn’t say that,” “Yes, you did!”. “No, I didn’t, and I can prove it!”). Oh my. What’s even funnier is watching evangelicals stumbling over themselves trying to invite the ambiguity of politics into the kingdom realm. The sad truth is that while evangelicals are fighting over what Caesar should or not do, the church continues to spend at least 95 percent of its resources on ourselves. That’s not giving. That’s pooling. The problem isn’t merely that we don’t get it. The problem is that we don’t know that we don’t get it. It’s just possible that evangelicals will come to see that we’re the ones who are actually on trial in our culture. If we ever did that, we’d begin to confess our sins and guilt and really repent, step down from our places at the table, and begin washing feet. I tell you, I’m so proud of my students. They’re beginning to reassess everything in order to advance a Jesus-looking kingdom. Are we imitating Jesus and obeying God? Those are the two questions I’ll be posing tomorrow when I speak to this group of pastors. Those are the standards by which we should judge ourselves, and believe me, they are anything but “normal” nowadays. This is why I have resisted, and will continue to resist, the temptation to speak out directly on this blog about politics or argue about what our nation should or should not be doing. It’s not my calling to resolve political problems. Sincere followers of Jesus completely disagree on many of the core issues. And why shouldn’t they? There is no real “Christian” position on matters so complex and ambiguous. My focus is on … staying focused. A lot more could be said (and will be said in my book Godworld), but I hope my main point is clear: followers of Jesus have one concern — to be about everything Jesus was about. We need to join Him in rejecting sexism and misogyny, we can’t prefer one race over another (and thereby use that to justify treating non-whites as inferior), we have to be about the Gospel Commission as never before, etc. We have a job to do and that is to keep the kingdom holy. I’m increasingly convinced that we serve Jesus best when we truly to commit to Jesus’ command to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us. In light of this, I see no reason to get involved in the culture wars (though I did at one time). Life is so very, very short. It’s so full of wonderful things, and it’s so full of opportunities for the kingdom. I want to grasp this moment in time and leverage it to the fullest if I possible can. I noticed in our passage from Philippians this week (Phil. 2:19-30) how often Paul submits his travels “to the Lord.” He writes “I hope in the Lord” to do this or that. Paul was submissive to the Lord for his travel plans. Whether it had to do with Timothy or Epaphroditus or his own travel itinerary, Paul’s theology taught him that God rules sovereignly, while his practice led him to accept — with any question whatsoever — what the Lord ordained for his life. This morning I asked the Lord to show me clearly where He is sending me next in the world. Thus far he’s confirmed two international hot spots and a third is in the works. Ladies and gentlemen, believe it or not, at my age I’m still eager and willing to travel 12,000 miles if need be. I, for one, am very much looking forward to these trips. Right now I’m packing for Annapolis and am asking myself which of my writings I need to take for the conference book table. I can’t take all of them.
Will the pastors be interested in my Greek books? (I hope so.) Will they want a copy of Becky’s book for their wives? (They better!) Will any of them be interested in my non-Greek books like The Jesus Paradigm, Christian Archy, or It’s All Greek to Me? Maybe I should take a copy of each? But then how would I be following the Lord’s instructions to “travel light”? (Wink.) Anyhoo, I’ll take what I can fit into one suitcase next to my clothes. By the way, if you’d like to see the power point we’ve put together for tomorrow, you can go here. You might especially enjoy the outlines of Philippians we’ve collected at the end. I used to call the theme of Philippians “Ecclesial unity in the cause of the Gospel.” I’ve since repented of such horrible verbiage. I much prefer something like “Working together as a team to love and serve others in the name of Jesus.” If a man like Bishop Wilson could pray for his tormentors in a prison camp in WW2 and then return afterwards to baptize some of them, how much more should I be able to love the enemies of the cross?
Well, I think that’s all for now. Let’s keep on walking in love, as Christ loved us, and keep on thinking and growing.