Killing a Cousin

Herod killed Jesus’s cousin. The tetrarch chopped off John the Baptizer’s head because he wanted to save face in front of guests. It doesn’t get much more brutal than that.

Let’s take stock of how Jesus responded.

He did not:

  • Call down fire on Herod’s head.
  • Stage a “Down with Herod” rally.
  • Boycott Herod’s palace.
  • Bemoan the removal of religion from the government (after all, Herod kept John around because of his troubled conscience).

Instead, he did this:

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

In other words, He mourned and then got back to having compassion, healing people, and teaching the Good News. Jesus knew His Father will ultimately take care of injustices. But, more than that, He knew what mattered.

While Jesus did take time to condemn the God-deniers and religious frauds on occasion, His more immediate concerns were just that—immediate. As a bereaved cousin, He certainly had justification for going on the offensive. But He didn’t. Instead, His focus remained on something far more important than temporary pains, setbacks, annoyances, or persecution. The Good News, after all, is urgent news; there’s no time for commercial breaks, protests, and infomercials.

So, if someone says “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” or if atheists plaster billboards all over the place calling the nativity a myth, remember how Jesus responded. Go show some Christ-love—that’s one thing no one can deny.

Going Back for More

I’ve never graduated. Sure, I’ve earned degrees and passed tests and collected rolls of paper (otherwise known as diplomas) that haven’t seen the sun in years. But I’m talking about something more basic.

The four accounts of the life of Jesus—I’ve never moved beyond them.

I can empty epistles, handle histories, wrap my head around wisdom, but the longer I study those, the more I sneak back to the four standbys. I’ll attack Hebrews from every which translation I can find—and then wonder what John has to say. I’ll dig down into Solomon’s brains—and then go scrambling for Matthew’s take.

There’s something about those four books—Someone, I should say—that points all my devotions there. If I haven’t read one in a few weeks, you’ll find me there pushing Zacchaeus over for a better look.

And, really, I hope I never move beyond that. The gospel isn’t just for newbies or infants. It’s fundamental for continued growth. You never outgrow Mark and never out-hustle Luke; you only realize what you missed the last time through. The gospels are more than the runway; they’re the airplane.

If you need me, you know where to find me.

A Name Change and a Vision

You may have noticed that the name of this blog has changed slightly from “Riding Blind” to “Riding Shotgun.” I never meant to imply that God leaves us in the dark about His plans completely. After all, He gave us 66 books of meaty goodness to learn all about that. Mainly, the title simply meant that you, my faithful readers, wouldn’t know all the details until I was ready to share—and was sure myself.

But now that I’ve had the confirmation I prayed for, I wanted to share the vision He’s given me. Ready?

Vision Statement: To plant a biblically faithful, culturally relevant church that reaches the least, the last, and the lost; that equips a diverse community of Christ-followers to grow in fellowship and Bible study, to share their faith in love, and to multiply themselves through discipleship; and that transforms a city and beyond by declaring and showing God’s unconditional love and grace.

Thoughts? Anybody want to come?

What Is the Church?

As I’m continuing to scheme and read, I came across this definition of church that I couldn’t have put better myself. Enjoy:

“The local church is a community of regenerated believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord. In obedience to Scripture, they organize under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and worship, observe the biblical sacraments of baptism and Communion, are unified by the Spirit, are disciplined for holiness, and scatter to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission as missionaries to the world for God’s glory and their joy.” Mark Driscoll and Dr. Gerry Breshears, Vintage Church

As I’m Working …

I’m building a list of ideas to serve a particular community (more on this later), and I thought I would share them here (especially since I stole most of these).

Ideas to impact a community:

  • Find cultural interests and needs and offer a “safe place” for the uncertain (e.g., an art house, a coffee shop, a restaurant, a clinic).
  • Emphasize acceptance no matter appearance or background.
  • Challenge cherished religious ideas with grace.
  • Reach out to culturally diverse churches and neighborhoods.
  • Do what no one else wants to do in love.
  • Meet with and love the antagonistic.
  • Present a non-traditional image with logo, worship location, and approach to discipleship.
  • Take the gospel to the college kids and give them easy inroads through music, art, and free counseling.
  • In fact, offer free counseling to anyone.
  • Pour out love to single moms and those with unplanned pregnancies.