Trevor Noah, comedian and host of The Daily Show, was featured on 60 Minutes last week. I’ve been thinking about one sentence he said. “Everyone is trying to belong.”
The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill is captivating the Christian podcast world. It chronicles the ministry of Pastor Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Mars Hill’s explosive growth sparked one of the largest church planting movements in American history. Driscoll was a voice for a new generation of church leaders at the turn of the millennium.
The podcast uncovers all the issues under the energy of the movement. Money, celebrity, scandal, and power. Driscoll’s stated goal was a church of 50,000 people and a media platform reaching millions. He was (and is) a brash, controversial personality. In 2014 he left the church under a myriad of accusations from abusive behavior to plagiarism. Mars Hill dissolved shortly after.
The church is not immunized against the lust for celebrity. We prize the platform. “Build a brand. Get noticed. Reach the masses.” We all want to be admired, to be liked, to be someone.
My counselor is “retired.” He is the former director of his counseling agency, but maintains a part time caseload of clients. Last week he told me, “I have never been busier in my whole career. And I’m retired!”
He shared how unique this present moment is. “No one alive has been through this before. In my career I witnessed Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, 9/11, and the 2008 economic crash. But this is different. I’ve never seen as much anxiety in nearly 50 years of work.”
“How are you?” she asked. He usually says, “Good.” But today, his eyes were dark, almost bruised underneath. His hair was a mess.
“How are you?” she repeated. His only response was a five second sigh.
Inexpressible exasperation. You feel like you’re carrying a backpack full of rocks and you’re not allowed to put it down. Pandemic anxiety. Masks and vaccines. Political toxicity. 9/11 remembrance. Afghan tragedy. Hurricane devastation. Future uncertainty. Families fractured . . .
It is a moment in history when only a sigh will work. There are no words. At times like these, I’d like to make a case for revival. I know. You’re thinking of a big tent revival with a fired up charismatic preacher shouting and sweating behind a podium. But “revive” is a biblical word. It means to “restore to life” or “to give new strength or energy.” I want to show you this word in the Bible and how you can use it in your life.
Sometimes ministry is like firing a cannon. You stand at a distance, choose targets, and fire strategic shots. But sometimes, ministry is like a knife fight in a crowd. Things get serious. There is a continuous onslaught of threats and challenges that require physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. It’s hand-to-hand combat.
Lifeway Research conducted a national poll on belief in the resurrection of Jesus, and published the results last week. They found that 66% of U.S. adults agree that Jesus physically rose from the dead. This is twice the number of Americans who attend church on a weekly basis. So what does this mean?
Something Jesus said puzzled me. From the cross, he gave John to take care of his widowed mother, Mary. "Woman, behold, your son . . . behold, your mother" (John 19:26-27). Here's the mystery: Why didn’t Jesus call on his biological siblings to take care of Mom? This was the conventional custom. As the oldest son, Jesus bore the responsibility to care for his mother. Upon his death, his siblings ought to have taken that role. He did have other siblings. We know of his brother James who became a leader in the early church. Why couldn’t James take care of Mary?
We are at a year of the COVID pandemic crisis. It was around mid-March that the implications of COVID changed daily life for everyone. No human on the planet has been unaffected. Our generation will mark history as “before COVID” and “after COVID.”
In my city, the crisis began on Friday, March 13th, 2020.
Are you empty? Good. You are completely normal. The things happening to you should deplete you. The pressure of this moment reveals your natural limits. You are finite. You only have so much to give and then the vessel is empty. No man is God.
But emptiness is not an easy state. It leaves you:
For much of the United States, there is a polar vortex assaulting us with cold air. We are in the depth of winter. When the cold bites your nose as you walk out the door, you remember how harsh life can be. At the same time, there is a beauty to winter's austerity.
Seasons are necessary components of nature, a natural cycle. So too, our lives consist of seasons. There are times of abundant fruit. There are times of barren loss.
Are you in a winter season right now? Some thoughts on winter in nature, and in your life: