Wednesday, June 22, 2011


"...that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one..." - Jesus praying for us in John 17.

In seminary there was a word that was batted around a lot because it earned you smarty pants points. It was Perikoresis - which I think means the way the Trinity relates within the Godhead. Don't ask me to explain more because the word is sort of a go to for explaining something that is way, way, way beyond us humans. Or, hold on a second, is it really?

In John 17 Jesus prays for his disciples. It is such a rich prayer, full of Jesus' heart for not only them but for us, that we might be re-united to our one true Father. It is a privilege to hear all these millenia later, Jesus longing and joy for and over us.

And what's at the center of his prayer? Oneness. That we might enter into the Trinity and experience Perikoresis.

It can seem a little esoteric or intellectual, but it's not supposed to be at all. Oneness with God is foundational. Relating within (and not to) the Trinity is central to being a Christ-follower.

Do I know what I'm talking about? Of course not. But I'll ramble on in the hopes that I spit out something coherent.

I often think that being a Christian is ascribing to a certain belief system. It's not. Being a Christian is being one with our Maker and Creator. Being a Christian is being one with Christ.

In the deeper reality of the kingdom, everything Christ said and did, we did. His life is our life and we enter into the Trinity through him.

I guess the question that would naturally follow would be "Are we now God?" No, but our identity is tied to him. We are now one with him.

So how does this theology hit the road of real life. How does it affect me, Mr. Lazy Bones, trying to rub the sleep off my eyes and trying to put in a productive day of raising support.

To be honest (which is a good policy) I'm not exactly sure. And who is sure, in this matter, of the mystery of oneness with God. What I can tell you though is that it's fact.

Truer than anything about you as a Christian, is that no matter how you feel - perhaps you feel like a dirty rotten scoundrel for example - the truest thing about you, the really real thing about you is that YOU ARE ONE WITH THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE.

Um, that's kind of a big deal. Not the kind of stuff to be yawned at. Not the kind of stuff to be pictured on flannel boards as you wait for your graham cracker and a nap and swipe at the snotty-nosed kid that just pulled your hair.

This is mind-blowing stuff. World-shattering stuff. The stuff way beyond what our hearts have always longed for. The stuff that can best be summarized with "Wow!"

So as I go to grab another cup of coffee, work on my prayer letter, get bored and waste time looking at mountain bikes, I am part of the Trinity, open to deep relatedness with God, wholly accepted and loved beyond my wildest imaginings.

I guess that's sort of cool. I hope you think so. Otherwise I might have to call on my oneness to smite you! Take Care.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Scary God

"I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more. Though you be sought for, you will never be found again, declares the Lord GOD." - Ezekial.

I read these encouraging words this morning and it got me thinking that I definitely don't want to cross God. In fact I don't even want to make him slightly angry. It also reminded me of how so much of what we worry about - politics, corruption and violence - is being watched over by a just God who definitely will deal justice.

So on the one hand I'm really glad that I don't have to face God's wrath because Christ's obedient life and death covers me, and on the other I'm really relieved that God's in control. Maybe it's why I don't pay much attention to politics. Heck, I don't even read the newspaper. (For all of you out there that are aghast at my lack of cultural engagement, I listen to NPR. That should trump all.)

A lot of people struggle with God's judgement oracles in the OT. I do as well. How could a merciful and loving God be so judgemental? He kind of seems mean doesn't he. But the finger our hearts (do hearts have fingers?) point at God when we read these oracles need to be pointed back on us. We brought evil into the world and we deserve infinitely more wrath than God deals.

These oracles remind me to fear God. To give him honor as the one who can build a nation up and tear it down. He can give a king a crown or make him sit on a really pointy one. God is in control. God is to be honored.

And if you are frightened of God, that may not be such a bad thing. I really want to qualify this though. It's qualified by the God of the Cross. The God who gave up everything to be with you and me. The God who could have smited us from the cosmos, delighted in us enough to pay the ultimate price and more for our freedom.

Don't be frightened of God because he's a jerk like your father or something. Be frightened of God because he is Good and we are Bad. The good news is that we are way worse than we think, and way more loved than we dare imagine (thank you Tim Keller I think). Cling to you righteousness in Christ and rejoice!

"The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love."

Monday, June 20, 2011

"In Your Light We See Light"

"For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God--his way is perfect; the word of teh LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him." - Psalm 18.

Freetime! Melissa and the kids are out of town visiting her Grandma and I am free! This provides me with oodles of time to waste and I decided the other night I'd gather some friends and watch a movie. As I'd already spent some freetime watching Super 8, which is terrific by the way, we decided to go see the Green Lantern.

When I was a kid I loved the Green Lantern. Growing up in England, super-heros were hard to come by, but I came by the Green Lantern via one of the funniest fads of my childhood - some Under-Roos sent to me from America. I'd run around with nothing but my green underwear on, feeling the power of my underpants give me herculean strength and invinciblity. I was the Green Lantern...

Last night, being all alone, some ghosts of my not-to-distant past came out to haunt me, and I was in need of those under-pants. So that you aren't wondering I struggle with lust.

The hormones kicked in for me as I was awoken at 1:30 AM and I was sorely tempted to look at things that no hero would look at. So I cried out to my source of strength: God, and he rescued.

But it wasn't all neat and tidy like, and being the sinner I am it rarely is. Interestingly enough, that day I had visited a new church (as I was alone) and heard the entire Pastoral staff talk on setting up good boundaries and barriers in our lives through accountability, honesty and openess with others in the body of Christ. Odd that I would struggle after hearing that, but oh well.

My barriers worked for me, and I'm really glad because I was getting hell-bent. I say it wasn't neat and tidy as I went around and shook all my barriers to see if they would hold. And this morning I'm shaken by my propensity for evil, my desire to see if I can figure out a way to sin and get away with it. How easily I can go from 0 to 100 when it comes to sin.

One of the pastors yesterday used the quote that "In Your light we see light." I couldn't help being reminded of the Green Lantern. I'm not going to ruin the movie for you, it's just that the movies major theme is that this very irresponsible man is chosen by the lantern (something very alien) to protect mankind.

He has no idea why he's chosen, but as he taps into the power of the lantern he's changed. As he repeats the lantern oath: “In brightest day, in blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!“ He's an irresponsible fool who has an alien strength that gives him power to fight evil. Something lights his lamp, enabling him to fight. Sound familiar?

That's the whole idea behind barriers. They are alien to us because they're from God. Little do we know that God's boundaries function as his grace. Grace is the law. Law is Grace. Humans ruin grace by turning it into licentiousness. And Humans ruin the Law by turning it into legalistic ritual. Law and grace are the same.

And last night God's grace through the law, which was represented by appropriate boundaries, rescued me. As I tapped into his alien power and asked him to light my lamp, he was able to make me see, or at least this morning I see, the danger I was in. Christ is my power and refuge:

"my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold... In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears... He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me." - Psalm 18.

Maybe David didn't run around in Under-Roos, but I'm thinking he would have liked the Green Lantern...

Friday, June 17, 2011


How do you come to the end of yourself?

A friend of mine has, and he's experiencing new peace and freedom. My friend is a missionary raising support as well. So he has opportunity to practise his new dependance on God.

At my coffee house/office/place-where-I-waste-a-lot-of-time I always get a username and a password to log on to the internet. This morning my username was an expletive that I simply can't repeat and my password was "ur4u." "Amen," I'm thinking about the password and I'm also wondering about my username curse, "Did God just cuss at me?"

How do I come to the end of me?

I know I need to wave the flag and yell "God, I give up! I want your way not mine."

I'm almost all the time at war with God. My life shows too clearly that I am indeed for me - ur4u.

I've had a few days for my rebellious old nature to rear it's ugly head. My family has been out of town visiting relatives and I've had more time for me. Rather than finding more time with God, I've settled for recklessly diving into my favorite hobby - riding bikes. I've even put work on hold so I can ride my bike more.

It all has me sort of depressed-happy. I'm spiritually hungry and sad, but I'm happy because I'm doing what I want and escaping responsibility. But it's not what I want...

I want to be where God is. I want to come to the end of myself. I want to serve and see beauty and goodness in the world around me. I don't want to be a part of something so ugly as me-time-all-the-time.

And it's got me tired. I can never give myself what God gives. The answer for life is God. The reason for living is God. The joy of life is God. My hobby should be riding bikes with God. Doing everything with God.

How do I come to the end of myself?

Well, since I haven't cracked his book yet today, I'll start there and see what he's up to.

Here's what I found in Psalm 17: "Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men whose portion is in life is of the world."

I need God to deliver me from the old wicked me. Then perhaps God won't have to cuss at me anymore.

Then: "As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness."

That's how I come to the end of me. When I awake in my righteousness and am satisfied by God's likeness. Right standing before pure wondrous beauty and goodness. Now that's more like it!

(Are you still wondering what my username was? Don't tell anyone but it was "fuqu." Don't worry, I definitely don't think God would ever say this to me, but it got my attention!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I am Royalty, a Force to be Reckoned With!

"Who put glass around my chair? If the commoners are always doing that, I'll never have a place to sit. Oh, and let them eat cake!" - Me.

Is your understanding of the Gospel robust? Melissa and I were chatting about this last night as we thought about the world from our bed.

I know my understanding is woefully inadequate. Unfortanately, for me I often relate it to a formula that goes something like this: Jesus came, died, rose againg and will come back. This formula has in it the essence of the Gospel.

But if it remains a formula, especially in Americanized Christianity, it can become very unnattractive. It's just a means to be saved. "Sign on with this creed, and you'll go to heaven when you die."

That's not at all really Good News is it? Good News to me would be if God had made a way for us to be with him forever; if God had shown both his love and justice in our history; if God had stooped low to lift us onto his lap, brushing away all the tears, hurt and chaos from a world full of death and suffering; if God had made a way to renew his creation and his creatures, to breathe back into them his breath of life, to walk with them in the coolness of the garden, to fill the ache that lurks in the heart of every man, the ache for something more, something greater, something other, something truly good. This would be Good News. This is the Good News. It makes for long sentances with lots of semi-colons.

In light of the above I don't know why I'm stumped when I lay on my bed and think "What difference does it all make?" Last night I asked Melissa, "Are we royaly?" Of course we are!!!

We are "co-heirs with Christ." We are true sons and daughters of God. It's pretty amazing! I have a really hard time believing it. And the amazing thing is we are all this right now. It's just really crazy stuff.

So why do I yawn? Why do I moan and complain about my day? Why do I poke about with my idols, trying to get a little life out of them, when I have everything, absolutely everything and more in God.

Melissa said that it's because we are still hard-wired by our former slavery. It's true, the very state we've been rescued from, the state we're used to seems to rule our daily experience. I can't seem to shake it. One day I will. Every day a little more. And a little more.

God's kingdom came in a small package, a baby. And just like his king grew and matured, my guess is as we seek to comprehend and understand more about the robust Good News, God's kingdom will grow in our hearts and lives. For God is on the move. Our king will win the day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Jesus Kid

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" - Jesus in Matthew.

I wish I was that kid. How sweet would that have been? To be used as an illustration by the great teacher himself. To be honored by Jesus! This dude could heal people. How cool is that? If it had been me I know I wouldn't have remembered much of what he said, but I'm sure I could have felt that it was good, real good, to be honored by such a cool and fun guy.

Which leads me to wonder what kids thought of Jesus. My guess is that they were clawing all over their parents to get to play with Jesus. I mean, Jesus wasn't attractive looking, we know that, but what he did have, the ability to relate to the lowly, he had in Ancient Near Eastern cart-loads.

I've always seen this with kids and adults. The adult that gets down and looks the kid in the eye, the adult that reaches out and tickles, the adult that picks the kid up within 2 minutes of chatting - that adult is an instant hero.

I have a cousin who's like that. In fact most of my cousins are like that, and I really can't think of much I like better than watching my cousins playing with my kids. Of course then there's my Grand-Father, who at age 90, still knows all the tricks in the book when it comes to playing with kids.

One of the chief tricks is getting low. If you want to become an instant jungle gym, I suggest you lay down. Kids love that! But I should also mention you should expect to get up with a few bruises.

Kids, when they're at their best, can be really humble. Not most of the time mind you, but way more than we adults. Jesus is perhaps using the child-illustration since they weren't honored in the Ancient Near Eastern context.

But I believe Jesus uses it as there is also something inherently humble about being a kid. As a kid, sure you are selfish, but you are also immensely curious about the world around you. You don't go around trying to control everything. Mostly because everything is controled for you. You enter situations with imagination ablaze with stories, heroes, villians, toys, forts, castles, horses, space-ships and for my boy David the all powerful "Blue Star Wars Lego Man." (I often kiss him goodnight and whisper "I love you my Big Blue Star Wars Lego Man." I think he likes it.)

As a kid, your imagination is ablaze with possibilities. The world is a huge adventure! It has yet to be beaten down to the size of petty worries, anxieties and fears that plague adults.

Surely Jesus knew this about children, when he chose a kid for his illustration of kingdom living. Kingdom living is about humility. It's not brow beating stuff, humility. Humility, as Tim Keller says, is thinking less of self. And there's nothing more freeing than thinking less about yourself.

Not that kids don't think about themselves. My kids are obsessed with getting their way practically all the time. But the limits that are placed on them, enables them to have space to imagine, space to dream, space to just be, to be humble, small, and well taken care of.

That, in a word, is kingdom living. Knowing that we are taken care of. Knowing that we are free to play and imagine. Knowing that we can be like kids again. Knowing that we are small and loved. Knowing the joy of being bounced on a knee, looked in the eye and simply held. Knowing God.

The joy of a well-loved child should be the joy of we Christians. For children are what we are. So here's to never growing up. Here's to embracing life as an adventure: a great battle between real good and real evil, but a battle where we are watched over and well taken care of. Something akin to the Narnia Chronicles. Something akin to a kingdom, not a busy city full of worries.

So here's to kids every-where, teaching us how to really live.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Run For Your Life!

I sit here dazed, not knowing really even why I'm writing. Perhaps it's because I've been reading some other blogs with billions of followers and am feeling a little jealous. Perhaps it's because I just don't want to read my Bible that's sitting in front of me. Or perhaps it's just me being me. I don't know...

But one thing I do know, sometimes I've got to write because something good is about to happen. OK, maybe something sort of decent or legible. But I actually meant something along the lines of sorting out some new difficulty or challenge that me being a sin-crazed maniacal Christian living in a dangerous world has posed.

Yesterday I spent running. Not really sinning per-se. But running. Moving fast. Trying not to think too hard. Being besett by brain-movements, I needed to escape.

I literally did. Skipping out early on work, I ran to the Ocoee, which is about an hour outside of Chattanooga and hit some of the trails with my bike and then had a refreshing swim in the river. It was totally sweet.

But even as I sit hear writing, I'm dodging. I should be in a men's group meeting right now, but I've opted out for some "time with the Lord" and a fruit smoothie. Sometimes it takes this boy a long time to recharge. But I suspect that more often than not I make poor decisions when it comes to resting.

In fact I find it all a little depressing and a pain to write about. It's not like recharging is a crime or anything. Sometimes I feel like it is. Especially since I absolutely love to recreate. Honestly, I think I could recreate all the time and be fine with it, other than the horrible emptiness that would eventually hit me of knowing that I was simply living for me, turning into a monster.

This whole missionary-raising support full-time is a joke. Nobody but super-manic freaks could do this full-time. It's not that what I'm called to do is the problem. It's just that I'm not sure human beings can handle so much constant rejection (albeit perceived), fear and dependancy.

But I guess it's good right? Loving God and loving people isn't supposed to be easy, and I can't think of any more challenging place for me to be right now than to be constantly asking people to "give me there money" (that's the way it feels).

So hey, this was pretty random right? Maybe it was worth the read. And I like it because for once I'm not summarizing on a positive note. I like switching things up a bit. But I will say this, for all my running and running of the mouth, I am so glad we serve a God who pursues. It's a real comfort.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Shelf of Impossible Sainthood

"...why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?" - Peter.

No mere human saved me. No mere human discipled me. Only Jesus. Only the Spirit. Only God.

Our culture puts people up on pillars of worship and then reports as those pilars crumble. Just look at how the media sets people up as gods and then gleefully reports on their demise. Why with glee? Because we gleefully lap it up. We love worshipping people and we love it when they fail. We're pretty bad, perhaps evil.

And Christian culture is no different. Dad and I were talking this morning about preachers and how they take on airs as they preach. How they have breathy prayers, build up to yelling in their sermons, wax eloquent and tearful in their "authentic" moments. A lot of the time I wonder if they're striving for an Oscar with their performances. Preaching is not performance.

But then Dad and I began talking about Billy Graham. For all I know he is a man who has walked close to God for a very very long time. Dad and I were wondering what we'll do to him when he dies. I know what we'll do, we'll deify him. Put a halo around his head and forget about him. It's pretty sick I know.

But from the grass-roots of Christianity we see this happening. People looking to people for worship and salvation. That's why Peter says what he says above. In essense he goes on to say, "Look you crazy peeps, this Jesus, who you killed, who God raised, healed this man. Now repent, so that you can experience Jesus do his thang."

I worship people constantly. And yes, sometimes I love it when they fail. Other times I have so much vested in them as the objects of my worship that I'm devastated when they fail.

I need to be shaken, perhaps even slapped around a bit, to see the kingdom reality that, as a Christian, there is only one savior, only one discipler and only one sanctifyer. People don't even partner with God. God has to rescue and transform them to the point that they get with his program. They then follow God as he disciples, etc. etc.

Maybe I'm splitting hairs. But according to my wife split hairs mean something. And this has been such a point of trauma in my life that I've just got to write it down.

I've been burned over and over again by worshiping people and not God. People who I've thought were saints have hurt me and wounded me deeply. I don't think I would be immune to hurt and wounding if I didn't worship individuals, but rather than treating people as objects of worship, as idols, perhaps I would treat them as people, broken and in need of mending just as I am.

This is a very important point. If we lift up our pastors and spiritual leaders, we strip them of their message and set them up for failure. Who ends up hurting who? Everyone seems to get hurt! And in time, if our pastors meet our standards for worship they become objects that we put on the "shelf of impossible sainthood." Rather than marveling at God because of what he has done with their lives, we stick them up there and forget about them. Those impossible saints.

I know I need to "repent therefore, and turn again, that (my) sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may com from the presence of the LORD." - Peter.

I know I need to quit ignoring what God's doing in people and start attending to God, for he's always on the move. Beware!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"You Can Do Nothing" - Jesus

"...apart from me you can do nothing." - Jesus to his disciples.

"Come on Jesus. You've got to be exaggerating. I can tie my shoes without you. Look, I can even double-knot it...Oh...Woops."

I know I think I can do a lot of stuff without Jesus. There are a ton of things that I think of as nonspiritual and not in need of his divine intervention or touch. But the reality is, Jesus is right (who would have thought?), we can't do anything without him.

I believe that even people who don't believe in Jesus can't do anything without Jesus. I may be on shaky ground here, but the one who holds the keys to everything good is Jesus. So anything anybody does anywhere that is good, however tainted, has done so with Jesus. That includes tying shoes.

Can you imagine a world without Jesus? I don't believe anyone can even comprehend the horror that would be that world.

I've had conversations with high schoolers who think they're "all good." They don't need God, they politely assure me. When this happens, I try to help them see that we're having a conversation rather than trying to rip each other's throats out. We're probably even eating food, rather than simply trying to eat each other.

We would never be "all good" without Jesus. It is simply by his grace that we're not "all bad" all the time.

Can we even imagine a world without Jesus, a world without good? I don't think so, and I don't even really want to try to. And this time I'm not just being lazy.

But in the quote above Jesus is addressing something beyond the more general reality that there is no good apart from him. He's drawing a line in the sand for his disciples. He's saying, "You can do nothing apart from me. You need to eat, sleep and breathe me."

It's such a "counter-Phil" statement Jesus is making. "Counter-Phil" because it's "counter-fall." "Come on Jesus, don't smother me!" I want Independence. I want to be able to do my own thing and not be held accountable.

But as a disciple of good, I'm called to stick to the source of good, Jesus. I'm called to stick to him like crazy-glue. Because If I don't, I'm told that I can't do anything good.

And I want to do good. Or rather at least I want to not be unable to do anything. So I guess as a disciple, I'm going to have to learn more about this whole "abiding" thing Jesus makes such a big deal of. I believe I know much about it already, because of the grace he's given me. For there is so much good in my life not of my own making. He abides with me.

In the chapter I'm quoting, John 15, Jesus says "Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you." I am clean! What pure joy it is to know that I am clean. What a joy to be tethered to this Jesus, not only because he kicks tail at Field Day races, he's just so totally good.

So next time I tie my shoes, I'll try to remember where the ability comes from. And if I mess up, I'll know who to blame. Just kidding Jesus.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Light Up My Eyes

"light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death" - David.

"Earthy." That word seems to best describe the poetry of the OT. It's not esoteric or pie-in-the-sky kind of stuff. It's the stuff of the everyday, the kind of stuff that speaks to earth-bound humans.

A recurring phrase through the OT is "it lit up his eyes." It happened to Jonothon when he ate honey after returning from battle. It has to do with good food. I like good food, and sweets.

That gels with my growing understanding of God, that he is concerned with my creatureliness. He's concerned with my everyday needs.

So why do I get caught up with money, anxiety, fear and respect? I believe it is because I forget my provider. I forget that the one who "lights up my eyes" is God. "...Give us this day our daily bread..."

This comes as a relief to me today. I don't have to worry and dabble in areas beyond me. I can simply be. For I am taken care of. I have food. And I have food for my soul in God.

I was just talking to a friend who's worried about a group presentation he has to make today. I feel his pain. I hate public speaking, unless it's yelling at a referee or something. And thinking of everybody in their underwear seems to be an equally fearful thought.

The fear of man and his approval is deeply rooted in my fallenness. But in God, I have the one who lights up my eyes sitting on the front row of every public engagement. He is my greatest cheer-leader. He made me and he loves me. He lights up my eyes. He intimately knows the heart that pounds, the palms that sweat and (my favorite) the stomach that rumbles.

Through public speaking disasters, I have realized that I can do nothing better to grow in sanctification than to fail miserably at something. For in failing I fall into my Creator's arms. In failing I recognize that I am just flesh. In failing I recognize what life is about. Life is about God.

And this frees me up to fail spectacularly. It frees me to live boldly. It frees me to embrace this earthy, gritty reality that is God's creation, that is me. Living in the excitement of what he gives I can be like a dog wagging his tail over a treat (perhaps not the best metaphor), for I can know for certain that God's greatest desire is to give. I am told in the Good News that this is his heart - to be the ultimate giver.

May God light up your eyes today. Don't try and live dead.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

This Bad Priest

"They made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription, like the engraving of the signet, 'Holy to the LORD.'" - Moses in Exodus 39.

I don't see reality very well. My perspective is very ego-driven. Or rather my perspective on life is filtered through the lense of me. I like to call it "me-ness mean-ness." It's mean in that it's just not nice, and it's also mean in that it doesn't give.

Most mornings I wake up as a me-ness meanie-monster, thinking, "How can this be the best possible day for me I've ever had?" Recently, like George Castanza in Sienfeld, I've been pondering making this the Summer of Phil!

This is the definition of evil. Hitler probably woke up like this.

As I was attempting to have my devotions this morning (which translates to bleary-eyed and bored) this verse popped a knuckle in my brain. There's something about being considered "Holy to the Lord" that appeals to my me-focus.

But if I consider where the phrase was located, on the crown of a priest, something begins to work against my me-ness mean-ness. The priest is FOR the people, he represents the people and on his head he wears a crown that says "holy to the Lord."

As I ponder the significance of priesthood, I think of the stuff in the New Testament where we are called to be a priests, to be part of a royal priesthood.

We are considered by God to be holy, it's literally etched into the crown we wear right there on our for-heads. I find this literal stamp of divine approval to be really inspiring. For everything in me seems to be about me, but the truth is I am holy to God, which means "set apart" for God.

I rarely think of myself as set apart for the work of God: Set apart to lift up others. Set apart to be a light to the nations. And set apart to offer up to him sacrifices with shouts of joy.

I am a His priest!

What we are makes a difference. What we are determines what we do. I'm still a sinner, so I still have this horrible me focus distorting reality and corrupting everything I do.

But reality says that I am also "holy to the Lord." This encourages me with it's bright hope. I have bright hope that I can do God's work - his work of lifting others up, bearing the burdens of the tired and broken and sharing the message of Christ to the lost. My calling is to intercede for my fellow man, because I am a priest.

It's a good thing that God uses bad priests like me. It's a good thing that we have this crown fashioned by his divine plan. It's a good thing that God knows the way out of "me-ness mean-ness." And it's a great thing when we seize the opportunity to be what we are, "a royal priesthood."

May you be a priest today, and look to your priest to do so. (After all, the idea of being part of a "royal priesthood" comes from Christ being our king.) Let's not forget what's stamped on our for-heads regardless of how bad we are.