On Reconciliation…


I’m starting this post by talking about a couple changes I made to my blog before I talk about “the topic.” I changed both the title of the blog and the URL because I decided that I want to incorporate more into it than just my thoughts on the verses I’ve been studying. I want to include stories from my entire life. However, this first post does include quite a bit from the sermon on the mount.

Yesterday The Salt Company held it’s very first bar crawl. I had the idea to do a bar crawl over a year ago for Campus Crusade for Christ, the ministry I was involved with at the time, and no one else felt that it was a good idea so I dropped it. Salt started at Iowa last fall and while on a trip to Ames to see their version of The Salt Company I was reminded of the idea and mentioned it to a guy from my connection group. He told the staff and a last minute bar crawl was thrown together this week as part of the way to promote our topic for the big meeting next week, “Jesus the Drunk.” Not only that, but me and the guy I told about it were selected to be in charge of it.

So, how does this fit with reconciliation or the sermon on the mount? My connection group leaders wanted to show us their support and dedicate the bar crawl to God through song and prayer. I don’t want to give all the specifics of what happened, but their plan backfired, a pretty bad argument started, and everyone left connection group angry at each other and the bar crawl never got a dedication that it should have. I’ve never left a Bible study angry before, but last Thursday I did.

Matthew 5:21-24

21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

These verses were very convicting Thursday night and Friday, because although I obviously don’t hate or want to murder anyone, let alone some of my closest confidants (and guys I’m living with next year!), I was very angry with them and I know they were very angry with me. I got to have lunch with them on Friday and talk about what happened the night before. I don’t think I ever thanked them for the gesture and support that they showed in all the frustration, but I really was and think it’s pretty cool  that they wanted to support me in the best way they know how — even if it didn’t work out so well, I know they had nothing but the best intentions.

Anyway, it’s really cool that as brothers we are able to be really angry with each other one day and the next day able to resolve our issues and be in good graces with each other. Outside of the Christian lifestyle it just doesn’t happen that way. I think the two advantages we have over non-Christians with regards to forgiveness is that all of us have experienced forgiveness ourselves and all of us can agree that what the Bible says is always right and it always takes authority over personal feelings and opinions. By conceding those two points, we are able to find a starting place to agree on. From there, forgiveness comes easy.

So what was the end result of the bar crawl? It was a success! It was a lot of fun and we were able to talk to quite a few people at several of the bars. People thought it was pretty weird that a church would do a bar crawl, and a few people disappeared pretty quickly after mentioning it, but a bunch of people were real receptive to talking to us, even as just random strangers during UFC night.

UPDATE: click here to listen to the sermon, Jesus the Drunk.


A Little Bit of an Update

Leave a comment

I realized that it’s been over a week since I posted. I haven’t done too well of a job of keeping up with the book of essays that included the two I wrote about in my last post. So I decided to just reflect a little bit about what I have done.

I’ve started memorizing Matthew 5. My goal is to have the chapter memorized word-for-word from the NIV by May 30. I really did not think it was going to be tough to do, because the beatitudes only took a few hours to memorize. Now, over a week later I have memorized Matthew 5:1-16. I’ve been working hard on memorizing the section about Jesus’ fulfillment of the law, but for whatever reason, those 4 verses are just getting me frustrated – I know when I make a mistake, but I don’t know what the correct phrase is. I shouldn’t let it frustrate me, but it does.

I was talking to my friend James Laugerman, who is also the leader of my connection group as we came back from a trip to Ames last night about reading and memorizing the Scripture and prayer. He asked me how this goal of spending a year learning from and memorizing the Sermon on the Mount is affecting my life. I didn’t really have anything to say.

I guess that’s one problem I have when I read Scripture. I don’t really intentionally apply it. I mean, when did I show someone mercy this week? When did I act like the salt of the earth or the light of the world? Did I ever set aside one of the least of the commands of the Law? I feel like I read it for the scholarly value, not the application value. For example, James quoted Jesus from Matthew 4 (Man cannot live by bread alone). I asked him where Jesus got it from, because I knew he got it from Deuteronomy 6 (scholarly), but when do I live in the application of that. I don’t feel like I cling to everything from the mouth of God… In this last week alone, I only opened my Bible twice.

As for prayer, we talked about it the other day too. He’s reading this cool book and it inspired him to be real intentional about prayer. It occurred to me that I had this very intense Bible reading plan last month and am spending the year on the sermon where Jesus outlines how to pray, but I’ve only prayed a couple times all year, and they were mostly just over meals. This week I’m making it an intentional goal to make prayer a larger part of my life.