Spring has sprung here in Colorado, and that means it’s time to work in the yard!!

Most men dread the idea of cutting grass, pruning trees, or planting flowers; but I’m not most men.  I love the smell of fresh fertilizer on the grass.   It’s almost like I can watch the winter brown color vanish before my eyes as the emerald-green reaches up toward the sun.

The other day I was working in the yard and the wind began to blow. The hot sun and was blazing down on me.  Coupled with lack of Oxygen at 7500 feet of elevation in Durango sent my body into full-time sweat mode, and when the wind changed directions-WHEW!!  It was something nasty.

Remember the last time you could actually smell yourself?  Two words:  NOT AWESOME!

I finished up cutting some limbs, headed back to the garage to put my tools away, and caught another ripe whiff of body odor.  Man:  I STINK.  I thought to myself.

I went on inside, took a shower, and got all cleaned up.   When I came down to the living room where the family was hanging out, I just felt new.  Remember the last time you cleaned up and it wasn’t just the dirty and grime of the old smelly self that was gone, but there was a new feeling inside you.  It was almost like you had shed the old self, and you were confident to go out and face the world with the new/cleaner/you.  (gosh, this is starting to shape up like a blog for Zest soap or something.)

Well, that’s what this week was for my soul.  I was at #SimplyJesus2015, where a collection of authors, writers, and Jesus activists were sharing some of the most intriguing thoughts about faith I’ve ever heard.

On The Same Old Self

Paul Young (the author of The Shack) made a comment, “The only time you’ll find God in a box is because he wants to be where you are.”

How many times have we heard that?
We need to think out of the box.
God is in the box.
I even heard a pastor once say, God puts himself in a box. (to which my soul ground audibly in the sanctuary)

I don’t  know about you, but I’ve often found myself asking, Who cares about the box?  Let’s just move.

But with a humble voice of gentleness, Paul just says things like God just wants to be WITH us. WOW!!  What an encouraging statement.  God doesn’t want us to move.  He doesn’t need us to produce.  He doesn’t keep an account of our wrong-doings.  He just wants to snuggle up in the box, and be with – not at – us.

On Salvation

I’ve heard my whole life that God is like a judge waiting to judge us for our sin.  Evangelical Soteriology paints a picture of a courtroom and a logical battle over the salvation for our sin in the world.  And then guilt and shame begin to shroud us like the body odor of working in the yard.  We need a shower.  We need to be cleaned.  We need a lawyer to save us, and somewhere along the way, We see Jesus as an attorney standing in the courtroom pleading on our behalf.

One of the main speakers said, “We don’t need a lawyer, we need a doctor.  Our status doesn’t need saving, WE DO!” – Pastor Brian Zahnd – St Joseph Missouri

I don’t know about you, but there’s something stale about a Jesus that came as an attorney to rescue us from some outside force.  He didn’t come to re-align our position in the universe.  He came to HEAL US from US!

On Religion

I’ve been wrestling with religion for a while.  We use words in religion like Christian, Buddhist, and  Muslim, to label our faith tradition, but in the end those words mean a whole lot of different things to whoever hears them.  Of course if I say I’m a Christian, like-minded tribes, people will understand what I’m talking about. But what of those who don’t?  What do we say in another culture when Christian is a bad word? Not because it’s inherently bad, but because the listener or the culture has experienced a misrepresentation of what we think Christian means.  Do we just keep on using the word?

How about this, “Jesus, not a religion, is the answer.  Not my religion. Not any religion.  Religion points the way, Jesus says, I am the way.” -Carl Medearis-

How bout that?  Jesus becomes the shower to wash off the stink of humanity.  It’s not the shower itself.  The shower is merely a place.  But the spiritual Doctor of Jesus is the one who re-creates all things new in our souls.  It’s Jesus’ way, not man-made ways, that lead us to a place of Loving God and Loving Others.

Like a tired yardman, I entered SimplyJesus tired and stinky;  longing for something fresh and new.

When I walked out, I found my soul filled with life-giving ideas, new ways to pray, and a full heart of thankfulness.

Life’s not about religion, it’s not about systems, and it certainly isn’t about boxes.  Life is about finding those little intimate connections with ourselves, with those around us, and with our God.

May you be blessed today, as I was last week.


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