..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pirates, Pluralism and The Gospel

Have you noticed there seem to be a lot of pirates springing up lately? I thought we were worried about illegal immigrants but we seem to have a homegrown group of buccaneers springing up on the American landscape. I'm wondering how they will fit into an already crowded horizon of organically odd blossoms. Perhaps our soil is going off. Perhaps too much fertilizer.

It was an easier day when freedom of worship, and liberty mostly did not conflict with one another in such cataclysmic ways. While many of the early Americans where Christians of some sort, I am not sure that they had a clear sense of how challenging it would be to be American and Christian in the 21st century. After all, those fathers were dealing with an infant nation, not a teenage one.

If push comes to shove, were our founding fathers Christians first, or worshippers of freedom first? I am not trying to be controversial but the American Revolution was a rebellion against authority. We wanted our freedom and we used guns and force to get it. Granted, we wanted to worship in peace, but the bible seems to say, "Obey those that have the rule over you" (Hebrews 13:17) and "Honor the king" (2 Pet 2:13) a command that seems to be only circumventable if those authorities ask you to worship someone other than God. The Boston Tea Party, as I understand it, was about taxes and fair representation not religion. It was about doing what you want on your own terms. Talk about a little "pirattitude."

I'm wondering how far America can stretch herself in making room for others on a moral level and how American Christians fit into that. How far can we, as Christians, stretch the very fabric of the gospel itself before it splits in our attempt to be tolerant? What will happen when Al Qaeda terrorist sleeper cells start asking for health care benefits and retirement plans? Are we not forced at some point to choose between our committment to our country and our committment to Christ?

What I am really asking is whether America is going to decide to define herself primarily as a free nation that offers tolerance to all, even those who would prove harmful, or as a Christian or Judeo-Christian nation that has a moral responsibility to God to allow freedom within reasonable, moral, and biblical boundaries?

Will Christians go back to being a minority, or, for those who sense we already are, how will we stand our ground? Do we lock ourselves in the gospel fort battening down the hatch against our enemies? Do we invade the new cultures and christianize them? Perhaps plant a Christian Pirates Gospel Association? If one feels called to piratry, perhaps the best we can do is hope to make it a civilized "christian" piratry. What would Jesus do if America was His? I wonder.

This morning, Good Morning America had a segment on the movie, Jesus Camp, the highly debated movie looking at one way of fighting back the moral confusion and, dare I say it, sin, facing us today. One of the GMA hosts, Chris Cuomo, I believe, said something to the effect of "I grew up as a Christian but Jesus was talked about in terms of love then." Indeed. Now He is becoming "Jesus, Mean and Wild" and folks don't know what to do with it.

We as Christians better use this time to make up our minds. I'm not giving up on America but it is really up to us as individuals to decide what God would have us do. How can we best love God and love our neighbor? Should we be involved with politics or retire to the hills? Step forward and be seen as militant or step silently and fight from the prayer closet? We have some decisions to make. Some may be made for us. Two that will always be personally mine to make are "Am I loving God above all else?" and "How can I best love my neighbor, even if he is a pirate?"


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Disappointment with God: Mary & Martha

Let's face it. There are disappointments in life. The part that we need to watch out for is if our disappointment starts to be disappointment with God. In the story of Mary and Martha we always hear about how "spiritual" Mary was and how Martha was caught up in doing stuff. We know that part.

As I was reading the story of Lazarus' death this week, I suddenly saw that it was Martha who quickly brought her disappointment to God, while Mary held back.

We've come to find out that Jesus does not move on the whim or need of man, but according to what the Father tells Him to do. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, it said He stayed where he was for "two more days" (John 11:6). You can see the human disappointment brewing. And brew it does. Lazarus passes away and Jesus is then led to go to them. Mary and Martha are sisters. They both are thinking the same thing (Where in the world were you? This is not looking like you cared about us!) and don't hesitate to say it, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Note this however: Martha, for all her busyness, is the one to run out to the Lord (vs 20). She is the straightforward, pragmatic type. She is disappointed but she brings it directly to Jesus. Jesus said, "He'll rise again." Pragmatic Martha says, "I know he'll rise in the resurrection." The part that she was thinking was "but we would have preferred to have him with us here and you could have helped." For all that has been said about Martha, she clears the deck with Jesus quickly. She gives him her disappointment and prepares to move on.

Mary is noticably absent. Jesus asks about her, but where is she? Wouldn't you think she would have outrun Martha to Jesus? No, she's so hurt and disappointed that she doesn't seem to want to see Jesus, probably for fear that her true feelings toward Him would come gushing out. How long do we wait to bring our disappointed hearts to the Lord? How long do we delay running to meet Him when He calls for us in difficult circumstances?

Jesus, her Lord, did not meet her expectations and that caused a barrier to form in her heart toward Him. Yet, He was her LORD. Martha and Mary both question why He didn't come to help, but they needed to learn that as Lord He will not always come when we expect Him to. Our reaction to the process of His delayed coming will either prove that He is our Lord or prove that we have a long way to go in our journey.

Mary's heart still longed for Jesus to make it right. When Martha returned and said, "He is asking for you, " she got up QUICKLY. She could wait no longer. Disappointment or not, He was still the One that she wanted. But she had given her true feelings away. She had waited and not rushed to Jesus. Some of us can bring things to Jesus quickly and let them go. Others not so. There are pluses and minuses to each of our temperments, but we ALL must come to grips with disappointment.

The truth is, any disappointment we feel with the Lord is but a momentary one. For the scripture says, "As it is written, Behold I am laying in Zion a Stone that will make men stumble, a Rock that will make them fall; but he who believes in Him [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] shall not be put to shame nor be disappointed in his expectations." Romans 9:33(AMP) .

Better to hold out our hearts to Him and experience momentary disappointment but eternal appointment rather then to adopt the world's wisdom on the matter, "Blessed is he who expects NOTHING for he shall never be disappointed." That is not safety or surety, that is death itself.

Are you waiting? Or running out to meet Him?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wind of Heaven

A strong, cool wind
blowing from the heavens
Across time, into eternity,
blowing across my heart.

Sweeping out the old,
Bringing with it
the Breath of Heaven;

Sweeping me to a new place,
above the dust of earth,
above my trials,
above my limited perspective,
to the high places of God:
to His view.

Ah, for a room with such a view!

Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,
Holy Eternal One, Spirit Above,

Change my sight. Give me the vision of an eagle.
Blow, Wind of Heaven, through me.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dorothy, Toto, Poppies and The American Dream

(A prophetic vision)

Dorothy was holding her little dog, Toto, in a scene similar to the one found in the field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz. She was looking at a field of poppies with a look of dismay on her face. The poppies surrounded a typical American-style suburb. There was no one in sight as everyone had fallen asleep just like Dorothy had in the movie.

I asked, "What caused them to go to sleep?" I saw four causes: I saw a television with its sound on.... the sound from the television had caused people to go to sleep. Next, I saw a preacher in the pulpit, it was kind of a stereotypical preacher, his words also had lulled people to sleep. I saw a supermarket and saw that people had overeaten and fallen asleep on their couches. I saw a swimming pool, and people in their backyards with motorcycles and sports gear, etc. I thought, "What is wrong with a swimming pool?" I heard a voice say, "People are spiritually asleep because they have pursued 'the American Dream" and have not pursued first the Kingdom of God. "

my commentary:

I believe the television represents the effects of television, and the larger effects of our culture on our spiritual lives. It steals our time, negatively effects our perception, dulls our sensitivities and offers a world view that is often not in line with God's ways.

It was disconcerting to see the preacher as a cause of people's going to sleep. Yet, in our pulpits what is being preached? How much of it is just psycho-babble, or the theology and reasoning's of men, or sweet nothings lacking power and truth? How much is all wrapping, and no content? Even in evangelical churches the very idea of what the atonement means is being re-worked to better suit our modern sensibilities.

And what of our sinful excesses of the flesh? We overeat to cover our emptiness. We try to quiet the still, small voice of God by swallowing enormous portions of french fries and ice cream and cake far in excess of what is necessary or healthful either physically or spiritually?

And what of the very basis of our society? How many of us worship at the alter of "the American Dream?" I don't think God has a problem with us living in a house and enjoying things, including our swimming pools. But if we put pursuing those material things first (and although we say we don't, we do by the way we use our time and resources) there is a problem. On any given summer Sunday are more suburban folk at their children's soccer games or at church? watching football or serving the poor?

The other part of this vision concerns the poppies. We say we are fighting the war on terror, but the largest cash crop in Afghanistan is poppies (opium) harvested for drugs to be sold largely to the suburbs and cities of the western world in the form of heroin. Don't tell me that a lot of that money does not end up in the hands of the very people who are seeking to destroy us. Through illicit drug use we are opening the door to our own destruction and the destruction of our children and bankrolling our enemies while we are at it. Of course if they were the defenders of God that they claim to be they wouldn't be doing this, but that is another story.

In the original Wizard of Oz, The Cowardly Lion says this, "If we leave her here she will die," said the Lion. 'The smell of the flowers is killing us all. I myself can scarcely keep my eyes open, and the dog is asleep already.'

It was true; Toto had fallen down beside his little mistress. But the Scarecrow
and the Tin Woodman, not being made of flesh, were not troubled by the scent of the flowers."

Not made of flesh. Ah, but we are, and the ungodly but alluring smells and influences are killing us. Toto, representing the younger and smaller of us, even our CHILDREN, are already asleep. Jesus tells us, "Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41).

Put some spiritual coffee on and wake up. Turn the tv off and pray with your kids. Live the way you know you should. Honor God. Watch and pray.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Do Not Let Fear Convince You to Jump!

Someone was walking on a narrow path. It was only as wide as the person's foot. On either side of the path demons taunted the person walking. They called out, and jeered, "The path is too narrow, you will fall off! Jump! Just jump off!" They were saying this because if the person stayed on the path they would be protected by the Lord but if they got off the path they could be attacked. The person's step was sure, there was not a hesitancy of step, but the jeering brought great fear to the person's mind. They became afraid and felt they could not continue to put one foot in front of the other to walk safely along the path.

The person jumped off the path into the brambles. It was not the person's feet that slipped, but the fear in the person's mind that caused them to doubt, and convinced them to jump off it.

Two angels, one on either side of the path, watched the person with some dismay. They wanted to help but were not able to help the person until he or she decided that they wanted to get back on the path.

Do not be lured off the narrow path by fear that you will lose your step. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105). " He makes my feet like hinds (deers) feet, and sets me upon my high places. " (Psalm 18:33).

Following Christ

Following Christ is not for you if you want a mediocre life. It is not for you if you do not want to be stretched to your limits. It is not for you if you fear losing control of what you think you have and are. It is not for you if you would prefer to pull back from full engagement of the height and breadth of the deep range of emotions and soul stirrings that God has placed in the human frame. It is not for you if "better safe than sorry" is your watchword.

If having God confront you with what is in the depths of your heart is too challenging, then turn back now. If being overwhelmed by a Love that is unconditional and without reserve is too much Love, then stop now.

Following Christ is not for the half-hearted or the faint-hearted. It is not for you if you are afraid to go off the well-worn path. It is not for you if comfort and honor and praise of men suit you more than fear of God. It is not for you if you want to be served rather than to serve. It is not for you if you want to give yourself totally and completely to anything or anyone less then the Glorious and Risen Christ.

Take stock of your life, dear pilgrim, and see if your commitment to follow Christ is complete. Surrender all to buy the Pearl of Great Price. The prize of knowing Him fully will not be gotten without your entire, wholehearted commitment. It also will not be gotten except by His grace.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Life is Short!

Its been quite a difficult couple of weeks. There have been two unexpected deaths in my circle of acquaintances. First, the 16 year old son of a local pastor died from ingesting a bit of a health bar that had peanut butter in it. Now of all the things that people die of, especially young people, eating peanut butter should not be one of them.

A couple days ago, a man from our church, only 55 years old, went to bed on earth, and woke up in heaven. No sickness. No warning. Just gone.

We often take our lives for granted. We squander our time. We assume that we have years to live when we might have mere seconds. Each moment we have is a gift of God. In each moment we can glorify God by not wasting the time He has put in our hands. It only takes a moment to touch another person, to smile, to pray, to give, to thank. May we live fully in the present moment, not mulling over the past, nor fearing for the future. Our times are in His hands. We live and die to God alone. Let us remind ourselves continually that it is what we do with the minutes of our lives that count for eternity. So, Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

A few years ago, an older woman in our church, a saint of God, came to church one morning, went to the altar as we worshipped, lifted her hands to heaven, and fell over dead. Her hearts desire was to die praising God. He granted that desire. She lived well, and died well. We have the choice of how we will live each moment. Our last moment is in God's hands, and it only takes a moment to die. Live for God. Life is short.

Men Baked in the Devil's Oven

As I was praying I saw a large batter bowl full of batter and someone was stirring the batter. In the batter were large lumps. As I looked, I could see the lumps were men. Some were dead, they had drowned or suffocated in the batter. Some were still barely alive. I asked the Lord what this meant and He said that men were being lured into spiritual death by illicit sweetness in the night hours. The "illicit sweetness" was pornography and sexual sin. They are lured to partake of the sweet batter and then drown in the Devil's trap as they cannot get out of the bowl.

As I continued to look I could see it was the hand of the Devil stirring the batter and that just beyond the bowl was a hot oven! The intent of the Enemy was to bake the batter with the men in it and make a cake of it and eat it!

Let us not be indifferent to the Devil's plan to destroy people's lives through pornography and sexual sin. Pray that God will cause people to see they are being lured into a trap that will kill them spiritually. When God cursed the serpent in the garden of Eden, He said, "Dust you will eat (Genesis 3:14)." It is we who are dust, and we become the Devil's food when we sin and go out from under the covering of the Lordship of Christ.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Jonathan Edwards: "A Sweet Burning in My Heart"

And my mind was greatly engaged to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of his person, and the lovely way of salvation by free grace in him. ...and found from time to time, an inward sweetness, that would carry me away, in my contemplations. This I know not how to express otherwise, than by a calm, sweet abstraction of soul from all the concerns of this world; and sometimes a kind of vision ...of being alone in the mountains, or some solitary wilderness, far from all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ, and wrapt and swallowed up in God. The sense I had of divine things, would often of a sudden kindle up, as it were, a sweet burning in my heart; an ardor of soul, that I know not how to express. --Jonathan Edwards "Early Years and Personal Testimony"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What Happens When God Pings Us?

I am new to all this computer language, but I am really liking the idea of the "ping". There are some interesting parallels between "pinging" and what happens between a Christian and God on a moment to moment basis. I'm better at Christian language than at computer language, so I'm translating this for anyone out there in the same boat!

Basic to Christian theology is the idea that each Christian is given the Holy Spirit as a way to connect with God on a continual basis. So often I think that when life gets hard I have to "find God" when all the time God is continually "finding me" and knows my exact address. I searched Google for a definition of "Ping" and its opened up a great checklist of questions for us as Christians. Follow with me below:

Ping definitions:

#1) A utility that forwards data packets to check the quality of a link or verify the connection of a machine to the Internet.

TRANSLATION: God sends me the information I need, He also checks to see if I am receiving it or if anything is blocking its path. Is anything deliberately blocking it?

#2) a program and UNIX command that helps testing and debugging network and/or Internet connections. An 'Echo' command is sent to a specified computer and then waits for a response. The result is a report that displays the success or failure, usually a report back of a timed response in seconds, of the intended action.

TRANSLATION: Am I obeying what God has asked of me immediately, and how long does it take me to do what He says?

#3) is used to test the availability of a host on a network or on the Internet. ... If you get replies the server is up. If not, it may be down or there may be a problem between you and the server (such as a downed phone line). ...

TRANSLATION: Have I taken the phone that connects to heaven off the hook?

#4) a utility to determine whether a specific IP address is accessible. It works by sending a packet to the specified address and waiting for a reply. PING is used primarily to troubleshoot Internet connections.
TRANSLATION: What is breaking my connection with God? God already is sending me information on how to fix it.

#5) Ping is a basic Internet program that lets you verify that a particular Internet address exists and can accept requests. The verb ping means the act of using the ping utility or command. Ping is used diagnostically to ensure that a host computer you are trying to reach is actually operating.

TRANSLATION: Can God trust me to do what He asks of me? Am I listening?

#6) A diagnostic utility program that indicates whether a remote host is actually connected to the network.

TRANSLATION: Am I connected to the Body of Christ or am I a lone-ranger Christian?

#7) A way to test the communication to another computer on the Internet Data is sent to the other computer & if the communication is successful then a reply is received - the speed of the connection can also be tested.

TRANSLATION: Do I run to do the will of God, or just do it as it suits me?

#8) A basic program used to verify that a particular IP address can be seen from another.

TRANSLATION: Am I available to God and to people who He sends to me?

#9) Ping can be used to see if another server is running or to measure the distance to another servers.

TRANSLATION: If someone needs help, am I the closest person that God will send to respond to that need?

#10) A program used to test whether an Internet host is currently online.

TRANSLATION: Am I praying or watching tv?

#11) A command that sends an echo request to a host with the expectation of a reply.
TRANSLATION: Does God find me reliable in obeying Him?

#12) To check if a host is up and running on a network. Ping is a command that sends out a packet of data and tests to see if the other host replies back. Often used to check the integrity of a network or internetwork.

TRANSLATION: There will be tests. Will I pass the integrity one?

#13) A command that provides a check that a particular host is available and reachable.

TRANSLATION: Is my heart hardened?

#14) is a DOS command installed as a part of Windows used to test connections over a TCP/IP network. One computer sends a "ping" to another, and either receives a series of three replies or (if the connection fails) a "connection timed out" message

TRANSLATION: Do I take too long to reply to God? Are my prayer times too short and spread too far apart? *Special Question for charismatic/pentecostal folk: Have I prayed in my native language and "in tongues" and/or both, to give the reply the highest possibility of being received in the Command center and to cause my system to work more efficiently? :)

#15) ping is a simple program that attempts to make a very basic kind of connection to a target machine. If the target machine responds ping alerts you that it is "alive", otherwise ping returns a message that the machine is unreachable. Note that the ability to ping a machine does not mean that the machine is fully functional, but it does indicate that the network path to that machine (including all routers between you and the machine) are up and functioning. ...

TRANSLATION: Do I belong to God or am I still "dead in my sins"?

#16) A command that can be used to determine the connectivity and speed of connectivity of a remote host. On UNIX, the ping command is used by network administrators to determine the status of host on their network.

TRANSLATION: Am I ok or does God have to ping other nearby folks to come to help me?

#17) Every time your computer connects to a P2P network, it sends out a “ping” request to other nodes so that other computers on the network are aware of your connection. Nodes that receive a ping return a “pong” back to your computer to confirm the ping request.

TRANSLATION: Am I a team player on God's team? When I pray and say, "Yes, Lord" that is a reply back, a pong.

#18) An Internet utility used to varify a connection with another site. It repeatedly bounces a signal off the remote site, showing you how long it took to complete the round trip each time. If nothing bounces back, the site is either down or unreachable.

TRANSLATION: Have I crashed and burned spiritually? God knows already and is going to send help.

Its great to know that God can reach us everywhere. At any given moment He knows where ALL His children are and what they need. David said, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your Presence? If I rise on the wings of the dawn,...PING! if I settle on the far side of the sea,PING! even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 7, 9-10, 23-24) All these are the pings of God: not a mechanical machine, but a Living Person, in love, seeking us out.

God is always searching for us? Are His "pings" getting a strong pong from us?

(And special thanks to Rich Tatum of BlogRodent for helping this neophyte blogger with patient, helpful suggestions. Thanks, Rich!)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Something Worse Than Losing Your Mind

I'm thinking that our biggest fear as Christians is not about thinking that God will ask us to become missionaries to some province of the globe that does not have a Dunkin Donuts on the corner of its Main and BungaBunga St. It is not the fear that I will have to die a martyr under the sharp scimitars of Islamic terrorists riding on horseback across the Great Plains yelling, "Allah Akbar."

As scary as these thoughts might be, what is really frightening many a Christian, is the idea that, if they surrender completely to God, they might go "off the deep end." You know, "crazy." Of course we do not say this, but this is what we think. So modern Christianity has created a filtration system that lets us follow Jesus quite a bit,well, quite a bit from our perspective, but doesn't expect us to to go all the way in our pursuit of the Lord.

Complete surrender, would, after all, be out of balance. God, heaven forbid, would never want us to be out of balance. Being a good Christian, after all, is kind of like being a good American: its about Balance and being good to ourselves and our families, helping people fix their flat tires, and giving to missions, not everything mind you, but just the right amount, which is determined after we look at our bank BALANCE. We can really start to worship this balance thing. Are you starting to see my point?

Please. I love balance. Every day I see people that are way out of balance in a bad way and it is not good. This is what I will call "small b" balance. At some point or in some way, we all struggle with this. We eat or shop or indulge too much, get addicted to soda or donuts or our cell phones,or go the other way and become overly scrupulous or judgmentally Pharisaical. Either way, when we are like this, and the nuances are myriad, we are not focused on the Lord but on issues of being good, or not being good. All of this is not as the Lord would have it, but these issues are mere branches of our big issue: fear of losing control.

"Large B" Balance issues are about not being able to sell all to Christ. They are about why Jesus confronted the rich young ruler. They are about being good, but not perfect (Matthew 19:21). They are about not taking the "kingdom of God by force" Matthew 11:12), or not investing in the Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:46). In the time of the prophet Daniel, King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar's son, was "weighed in the balances and found wanting"(Daniel 5:27). You see, when God looks to see if we are balanced he looks for far different things then we usually do.

Belshazzar's father, Nebuchadnezzar knew that well. He ends up going mad from not surrendering completely to God and therein is the real lesson in the story. When Nebuchadnezzar was reduced to being a crazed man, when all his glory was taken from him, he was forced to rethink things, and turn to God where he found sanity and some semblance of a sound mind.(Daniel 4:33-37). God always want to restore our minds, not push them over some edge.

You see the devil has lied to us once again. He tells us that God will push us over the edge and the result will be insanity. The flaw in that thinking is that the seeds of insanity are already in us and if we don't surrender to Him they will grow up into something that cannot be fixed. Without God, we are already just about insane! Eve thought God was holding out on them in the garden. God, as always, was looking out for their best interests.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend about "selling all to Jesus." Dear God, what if Jesus asks me to sell everything and follow Him? Right there is where our lives can be impaled on the modern rework of what faith has come to be.

J.I Packer said, "Our business is to present the Christian faith clothed in modern terms, not to propagate modern thought clothed in Christian terms. Confusion here is fatal."

It is easy to rush in when someone is presented with this idea and say, "No, of course, Jesus wouldn't want you to sell everything. That wouldn't be balanced" (according to the modern unspoken way of understanding things). So we take the edge off the hard way that Jesus comes to each of us. Of course Jesus asks us to sell everything. Whose bible are you reading if you think not? For each of us do need to come to a place where we "sell everything." And God bless us when its gone! Apart from God, what is it that we have that is of any worth? Anything God is asking me to sell may seem like a lot to us, but to Him, it is only that which is holding Him and I apart. Usually that is called "sin."

What is the "everything" I must sell? All that means more to me then He does! All that has authority in my life apart from Him! This is always about inward attachments and ways of holding onto ourselves. The money in the bank account will be distributed righteously when I am righteous! It is the least of my worries if my heart is right. It is what I think about myself that I must divest myself of. There is so much that we value and must sell: wanting people to think that we are balanced, wanting to feel that we have a say in what God will require of us, even wanting to be a good testimony to others etc. all of which can lead to fear, and jealousy and greed, and....whoa....

Jesus said, "He that finds his life shall lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake shall find it" (Matthew 10:39). The fear of breaking out the mainstream is what will keep us imprisoned. When Thoreau said the mass of men "live lives of quiet desperation", wasn't he talking about people living half-lived lives? Of not stepping out into the grand adventure of following God without reserve? Being set apart completely to God is not mainstream. It never has been and it never will be! Sometimes we see that rare clear-eyed person that has sold out to God. They may have that wind-burned look of traveling "twice the speed of sound" but they are of sound mind, saner than sane, and pure and gentle of heart. And those traits separate the merely odd from the holy. Ah, to grow old as one of these kinds of souls!

If we believe the lie that entering into complete surrender to God is only one door down from entering the mental institution then we have believed what Packer warns us about: we have clothed modern thought, (and worldly thought at that) in Christian terms. Jesus never asked anyone to follow Him, "a little bit, a little way, for a few years, or until it cost something." It should cost everything from day one. And until we unload our fear of losing our minds into the arms of the Lord, we will only live tortured, fearful but perhaps "balanced" lives. There are worse things than going off the deep end. One of them is wading forever in the shallow end of the pool.