Almost the Worst

The worst possible scenario almost happened.

Almost.  A small but powerful word.

In the span of six letters, almost can cause grief, worry, general consternation, and downright panic.

The legal adventure of adoption for my wife, son, and me is a perfect example.


Almost Stuck

First things first, the major part of the adoption process has gone off without a hitch.  Our birthmom, who happens to be my cousin, has been great from start to finish with this whole thing.

I would be dishonest if I said I never had a doubt about her backing out — I did.

But this doubt had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.  Let me explain…

When we started this adoption journey, I started reading all about other adoption stories.  And, for whatever reason, I was constantly drawn to the worst case scenario stories.  Here are a few examples of the types of stories I read:

  • Birthmom and adoptive parents come to an agreement before the child is born.  Just before the birth, or just after, the birthmom changes her mind.
  • The birthmom and adoptive family make and agreement and the child is placed with the adoptive parents.  But the birthfather wants to exercise his rights a few months down the road and the horrible scenario of adoption litigation begins.
  • And most relevant to our current situation, an adoptive family is doing an inter-state adoption and gets stuck away from their home due to some paperwork issues.

So when I got a phone call from the social worker we hired in Nevada in which we learned that there were some paperwork issues, I got totally freaked out.  I started imagining all the worst stories that I read about months ago.

I even started to coach myself through the issues involved with being stuck here.  At least your with your wife, son, and mother-in-law, all of whom you love, I told myself.  Maybe you can figure out a way to stay with some of your family in town?  It could be worse, after all…

Of course my wife and I (and many others) prayed.  But when faced with what seems like a looming disaster right around the bend, it’s hard to be as confident in God’s leading as you’d like to be.

The worst almost happened.

The Flipside of Almost

Luckily there’s another side to almost.  There’s the good news.

Our good news came in the form of another phone call from the Nevada social worker and an email from the California adoption agency.  Both of them assured me that all the necessary paperwork has been processed and approved.  We can go home!

We almost got stuck…but we didn’t!

We get to return home!


Happy dance on the other side of almost!

In just a matter of a few hours from the time I’m writing this, we’ll be on the road undertaking a 5-hour road trip with a new born.  Nothing problematic about that!

I wonder what might almost happen on this leg of our journey!


If you’d like to help us with our adoption finalization costs or if you want to read more of our adoption story, then please CLICK HERE.

Also, if you want to keep up with our adoption story going forward, then please subscribe to my blog via email by using the entry boxes near the upper right hand corner of this page (or near the bottom if your viewing on your mobile device).



Praying on the Spot

Maybe you’re like me and you have a hard time remembering things.  I’m horrible with dates, names, places, directions, and on and on.

In fact, I was so nervous that I would forget my wife’s birthday that I set it as my password for everything when we were dating.  Then I did the same thing with our anniversary date when we first got married.  (I have since changed it, so don’t try to log-in to my stuff!)

So it should come as no surprise that I almost never remember to pray for someone when I tell them I’m going to.


Praying on the Spot

So, in response to my poor memory, I started praying for people on the spot.  I began with my close friends and family.

Sure, it was a bit awkward at first, but once we all got used to it, things were great!

I then extended the “praying on the spot” circle to include other people in our church community.  That went well too.

But lately I’ve started praying for people I barely know, like cashiers and other people I run into in my daily life.

Well, as many of you already know, my wife and I are in the process of finalizing the adoption of our little boy Jude Myron.  Here’s an obligatory picture:


Jude Myron, posing for his newborn pics.

For part of Myron’s time in the hospital after he was born, he had to stay in the NICU’s nursery due to some particular adoption regulations.  Well, as you might imagine, we saw some tired and stressed out parents and family members in the NICU (which is short for neo-natal intensive care unit).

Praying in the Hospital

On one particular day a woman walked out of the NICU and it was clear that she was really shaken up.  She was sobbing as she walked by in her hospital-issued gown to go back to her labor recovery room.  My instincts were telling me to reach out to her, to console her, and to pray for her.

But I thought it would be awkward, her being in a gown and all.  So I let the moment slip by.

I saw her early the next day and she was with a friend.  They were chatting and things seemed better.  I naively thought, Well, I guess the worst times are behind her.  I felt okay about passing on the opportunity to pray for her the day before.

Then, later on that same day, I saw her exiting the NICU again.  She was in tears once more, but this time she was wearing street clothes.

All the excuses were gone.  Now was the time.  And since Myron was about to be discharged, I wasn’t going to get another opportunity.

As she approached the area where I was seated we made eye contact.  When she was right in front of me I finally gathered the courage to talk to her:

“Are you okay?”

“Not really.”

“I’m sorry.  How long does your baby have to be here?” I asked.

“Eight and a half more weeks,” she replied.

I knew at that point only one tiny drop of the pain she was feeling.  Myron had been in the NICU for three days and that felt horrible…and he was healthy.  My heart broke for her.

“I saw you the other day and I wanted to talk to you but I didn’t,” I said.

“Was I crying then too?”


“Sorry about that.”

“No.  Don’t be sorry,” I responded.  Then I paused for a second or two.  We were still making eye contact.  I knew that I was about to ask her if I could pray for her but I was scared.

“I know this might sound weird…but can I pray for you?”

“Sure,” she said as she brightened up ever-so-slightly.

I motioned her to move closer to me since there were half a dozen people in the waiting room.

“What’s your name?” I asked.  She told me.  “What’s your baby’s name?”  She shared that information with me too.

Then I offered my hand to her and she took it.  I paused, trying to gather my strength, and I prayed.

I simply offered a prayer for her recovery and the health of her child.  I had a really hard time holding it together though.

I finished praying and I looked up and we shared a nice little moment together.  She then told me some more of her story and how hard it was to have such a tiny baby.  I wished her the best and told her I would continue to pray for her.



For every one story like this that I have, I have twenty where I did nothing.  Praying for someone you don’t know can be difficult and weird.

But praying for a stranger can sometimes be the best missional ice breaker ever.

What’s the worst that could happen?  Someone could ask you not to pray for them?

The missional benefits outweigh the “risks.”

Praying for someone who is far from God can be the catalyst to put them on the path toward Jesus!


What do you think about praying for people on the spot?  Is praying in this manner difficult or weird for you?  Or do you find it easy and natural?


If you’d like to help us with our adoption finalization costs or if you want to read more of our adoption story, then please CLICK HERE.  Thanks!

Boy: It’s a Boy!


It’s a boy!

Our son was born on January 21st of 2015 at 11:12AM. He was 7 pounds, 4 ounces and he measured 19 inches long.

His name is Jude Myron Barnes. We will follow a tradition in my family where boys with the initials JMB go by their middle names. So our boy will be called Myron.

He had all his toes and fingers. He passed his first tests with flying colors (#tigerdad).

And Wendy, my cousin who is Myron’s birthmom, was amazing. Not only did she give birth to our beautiful son, she also selflessly hosted family and friends for much of the time before and after labor.

Wendy is a perfect illustration God’s grace through all is this. As my dad said last night, “Wendy is my hero.”

But since this is my blog, I want to share a bit of my experience.

I was super sleepy when Wendy’s labor began. It had been an adventure getting a room in the hospital. And then the process moved pretty slowly until Wendy’s water was broke.

That’s when things sped up!

I stayed with Wendy until she started to push. I went out to the waiting room with my dad but I couldn’t stay. I had to be closer.

So I stood in the hallway outside the labor and delivery room. I was listening to everything that was being said.

My wife, my mom, Wendy, Wendy’s mom, and the hospital staff all worked together perfectly.

But my universe changed when I heard three things.

The first was someone yelling “It’s a boy!” A BOY! That’s amazing! A girl would have been great too. But we weren’t meant to have a girl. God had a boy in store for us!

The second was when I heard my wife say, “His name is Jude Myron.” We had spent months picking names, so hearing her say those words was really surreal! We picked Jude Myron because the names mean “praise” and “sweet oil,” as in myrrh, like that which was given to Jesus when he was born, respectively.

Jude Myron is a gift of praise to the Lord.  It’s our deepest desire that Myron grows into this name with all humility and grace!

And the third universe-changing thing I heard was this: “WAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Myron’s cry made my heart grow, burst even. In that tiny moment I knew that I would be loving that boy for the rest of my life.

I literally felt my capacity for love grow because of that boy.

I had always heard about how amazing meeting your child is but experiencing it was amazing!

The voice of that boy changed everything for me.

I just leaned against the wall in the hallway and wept tears of joy.

Getting to hold Myron was great. Feeding Myron was great. Even changing him was great!

Gosh, I love that boy.

God, thanks for this gift. Now we want to give him back to you. Our boy is yours.

Today Is the Day

Today Alida was running when the sun was rising. She looked out over the sky and saw that it was half pink and half blue.

Now neither one of us thought that God would reveal to us the sex of our baby in some way before the baby was born. However, both of us took this particular sunrise as a reminder the God is with us through this process.

Today is the day. Today is the day that we pack up the car. Today is the day that Sunnie, our dog, gets dropped off at some friends’ house. Today is the day that we drive for four and a half or five hours to Las Vegas.

But more importantly today is the day then Wendy, our birth mother, is going to be induced.  In fact, that process begins today in about eight  hours from the time I’m writing this blog post.

Alida and I have no idea how much our lives are about to change because of what outs happening today.  But I can honestly say that we’re super anxious to find out!

So please keep praying for us, and for Wendy, and for our baby, and for this legal process to go smoothly. We would greatly appreciate it!

Also, if you would like to read more of our story and/or support us in this process, please click here.

And lastly, if you want to keep up with our adoption news, then subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the upper right hand corner of this page (or at the bottom of the page if you’re viewing this on a mobile device).



Have you ever waited for something?  Like really waited for something?  Like for something that is more profound than you could ever imagine?

My wife and I have been in a constant state of anticipation lately.  We aren’t generally neurotic or worrisome sorts.  This state of anticipation is specific.

We’re adopting.

And adoption is chock full of anticipation.

But so is waiting for a child to come into the world through biological means.

And so are a thousand other things in life.  And, if you’re anything like me, then that ubiquitous anticipation is torturous.

Anticipation is just difficult and often painful.

Is Our Anticipation Special?

I’ve learned something recently — being in a near constant state of anticipation can alter one’s perception of reality.  In fact, it can cause one to think that his or her anticipation is special, unique, and one-of-a-kind.

And in the previous two sentences the word “one” really just means “my” and “me.”  I’ve learned that anticipation has altered my perception of reality.  I think my anticipation is special, unique, and one-of-a-kind.

Sure, the situation my wife and I find ourselves in is unique.  But every single situation in the universe is unique.  And when someone is waiting for something, their anticipation is completely unique.

Everyone’s anticipation is special.  So, in a certain way, no one’s is.

But Anticipation Is Difficult

But just because everyone’s anticipation is equally special doesn’t mean that the anticipation we all experience is therefore easy.  It’s not.  Anticipation can be difficult sometimes.

And when it is, I’ve learned that there are few things which are totally unhelpful, whether because I’ve done them or because I’ve been on the other side.

So, here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • Don’t try to make people feel what you think they should feel.  That’s not helpful.  Just let people feel whatever they need to feel.  Empathy is key here, not sympathy and certainly not unsolicited advice.  Ask questions for which the person feeling the anticipation can answer honestly, not just in the way you want them to answer.  Give people space to feel.
  • Don’t judge people for being different than you might be.  Here’s a great example of a mistake that I tend to make: I sometimes foist religious lines on folks.  Something like this: “Don’t worry; God is good.”  Or something like, “Just have faith in God.”  Whether the person who is experiencing anticipation believes in God or not, saying things like these is not generally helpful.  It says to the one feeling the anticipation that what he or she is feeling is wrong and that he or she needs to feel things correctly.  His or her feelings are wrong.  And, as any human being who ever lived can attest, it’s super hard to prevent feeling the feelings that we feel.
  • Be there.  Just be there.  I’ve not always been there for people who are in the midst of anticipation.  I don’t ever know what exactly to say.  I’m fearful that I’ll do or say something wrong, like the previous two bullet points above.  But in my experience, on both sides of anticipation, just being there is enough.  Have a meal together.  Go on a hike.  Do normal things.  If the subject of anticipation comes up, let the one in the midst of it take the lead.  If all they wanted to do was pick at the anticipation scab for one second and then move on, cool.  Let them.
  • Lastly, pray for them.  Even if you’re not a Jesus follower, pray for your friend or family member that’s facing anticipation.  Ask God to be with them.  Ask God to be faithful to them.  Ask God to be good to them.  Ask God to help them feel hopeful and excited.  In other words, pray to God all the things that you may have wanted to say to the person!  Why?  Because those are good things!  And the person in the midst of anticipation needs them.  So ask God to give them to him or her.

Welp, that’s about it.  Do you have any other thoughts about dealing with anticipation or interacting with folks who are?  Let me know in the comments below.
If you’d like to keep up with more of our adoption story, subscribe to my blog via email in the upper, right-hand corner of this page (or near the bottom if you’re reading this on a mobile device).


Also, you can click here if you’d like to support my wife and I in this crazy process!  Either way, we would appreciated your continued prayers!

The Watching World

The World Is Watching

People are watching folks who follow Jesus.  They see what we are doing.  They’re watching how we live.  They notice us.

Why does this simple fact — that the world is watching — matter?

Well, it matters because our words communicate some but our lives speak much more.  Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, has studied this matter a lot and has determined that 93% of communication is nonverbal (body language, nonverbal vocal cues, etc.).  That’s crazy!

Think about that for a minute.  What we do and how we do it communicates a ton, way more than our actual words do!

So what does this mean?  Well, this is not a call to legalism.  You may be thinking, “But if what we do matters to people, then shouldn’t we always behave uber-properly, so that they get a good view of Jesus?

Here’s my short answer: “No” and “Yes.”

Here’s the longer answer: “No” because if we get focused on the details of doing what we think is right (or what we’re told is right) people see that too.  They’ll pick up really quickly that we care more about doing what’s proper than we do about people.  And “Yes” because behaving ethically and in ways that promote justice are centrally important.  Ethics and the pursuit of justice are different than following rules out of obligation.  Why?  Because ethics and seeking justice have to do with making sure that other people in the world are taken care of (Phil 2.3-4), whereas legalistic behavior is inherently self-centered.

People will see the difference.  They’ll notice if we’re following rules because doing so is right or if we’re seeking the best for others despite whatever personal cost there may be.

An Example of Living While the World Is Watching

Who can serve as a good example of living an others-centered life well while the world is watching?  None other than Jesus!

Check this out: “During the Passover feast in Jerusalem, the crowds were watching Jesus closely; and many began to believe in Him because of the signs He was doing” (John 2.23 in The Voice**).

Did you see that?  People were watching Jesus too.  They saw his life.  They observed the signs he performed.  They saw his love for his close friends.  They witnessed his miracles and concern for the marginalized.  And, of course, they heard his teaching.

And what did people see Jesus do in John 2?  They saw him turn water into wine, thus preventing a wedding party from being lame and bringing shame on the groom and his family, and they saw him exercise his passion for proper worship and justice when he cleared out the temple.

They saw Jesus’ actions, actions which were for the benefit of others.  John also says that people saw other signs he was doing, and if these unspecified signs were anything like all of Jesus’ other signs, then they too were done for the benefit of others.

Here’s the crux: People saw what Jesus was doing, and when the watching world looked at him they saw him living for the benefit of others.

What Does the Watching World See in Us?

The answer to this question has been studied quite a bit.  Here’s what researchers have found: When people are asked to describe Christians they saw we are judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%).

The fairness of the criticisms may be unfair.  But what is not up for debate is that these descriptors are what people see in us.  This is how the watching world describes us.

This situation is sad, of course.  But all hope is not lost.

One relationship at a time with people who are watching us, we can change people’s opinions.  We can be accepting the way that Jesus was.  We can be less judgmental and more loving.  We can learn to be shockproof when we encounter messed up stuff in the world.  We can be more open and honest about our own sinfulness.  We can stop pretending we have it all together and that we have all the answers.

In short, we can live others-focused lives the way Jesus did.  To paraphrase a theme from one of my favorite books, Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth, by one of my favorite authors, Hugh Halter: A follower of Jesus is a person who lives Jesus’ human life in his or her human life.

How do we live Jesus’ human life?  Well, we need to find out how Jesus lived by reading about his life in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Then we need to gather some friends around us who also want to live Jesus’ life in their lives and start doing the things we see Jesus doing.  We need to pray for each other, celebrate together, hold each other accountable, and encourage one another.

I can’t emphasize this enough: DON’T TRY THIS ALONE.  Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, didn’t even try this alone!  What makes you or me think that we can do it?  Here’s a good place for you and your friends to start together: The Tangible Kingdom Primer, by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay.

So, the watching world is watching us closely.  What are they seeing?  And what can we do about it?


** The Voice is a newer translation of the Bible that I highly recommend.  It was put together by a team of biblical scholars and artists, so it is faithful to the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) but it is written in very easy-to-read English.  This is a perfect Bible to give as a gift to someone who is part of the watching world who gets interested in Jesus!


If you’d like to keep up with my blog easily, then please subscribe using your email address.  The box to do so is found near the upper, right-hand corner of this page (or near the bottom of the page if you’re viewing this on your mobile device).  Thanks!


Countdown: Adoption Style

It’s January 14, 2015.  The countdown has moved down to six days.

Six.  That’s less than a week!

It’s crazy!  In six days (if not before) my wife and I will be holding our first child.

Writing that sentence makes me lose my breath just a bit.  It’s totally surreal in fact!

The reality of this countdown has been pretty insane.  Here are some of the things that have been going on lately in the Barnes house:

  • We have our bags packed just in case we need to hit the road quickly.
  • We have a diaper bag packed and ready to go.
  • We have a couple of bags of baby stuff packed and ready.
  • Our dog is packed and a sitter has been arranged.
  • We have an infant car seat installed in our car.
  • Cloth diapers have been prepped, washed, and dried.
  • Baby clothes, towels, blankets, swaddlers, etc. have all been washed, sorted, and stored away.
  • The nursery has been finalized, minus a few things that we don’t need until later.
  • Baby-proofing of the house has ramped up significantly.
  • There’s a ton of baby food in our house, thanks to our wonderful friends.
  • I’ve become very well acquainted with the baby aisles in Target.
  • We’re learning how to swaddle, mix formula, use cloth diapers, etc., etc.
  • We’ve had a thousand conversations about parenting.
  • We’ve prayed for Wendy, our birthmom, our child, and this whole process a ton.
  • We have leaned on on friends and family in ways that we never have before.
  • And we have seen God’s faithfulness to us like we never have up to this point.

This countdown has changed our lives.

Once the countdown goes to zero our lives will be changed again!  Baby Barnes will transform who we are as a couple, as individuals, and as followers of Jesus.

So, please keep praying for us.  Pray for the adoption process to continue to be smooth.  Pray for our nerves as this countdown keeps ticking away.  And pray that the good news of Jesus and his kingdom will be lifted high through all of this!

If you’d like to read more of our adoption story and/or if you’d like to find out how you can support us, please follow this link:

And if you want to follow our continued adoption saga, enter your email in the subscribe box near the upper right hand corner of this page (or near the bottom of the page if you’re reading this on your mobile device!).



Exclusively for Everybody


This tagline from Smirnoff is brilliant!

How well does it apply to following Jesus?

Waiting for the Drop

The Drop in Dubstep

Dub-what?  If you’ve not heard of dubstep, don’t worry.  It might not be for you.  Or it might.  Who knows?

But if you want to know what it is, well here’s the best way I can describe it: It’s a genre of electronic dance music which generally starts out slow but after a short while a large bass sound hits and the song’s aggressiveness increases.  Dubstep’s is chiefly characterized by its 140 or 70 beats per minute pace, its use of lots of “wub” and “wah” sounds, its sampling of vocal tracks (rapping or singing), and its “the drop” (that big bass sound at the beginning).

And it’s the drop that I want to talk about here.  Why you ask?  For one reason: the way some people dance to dubstep.  (Note: I rarely dance and never to dubstep, at least not to date.  All of my dubstep dance knowledge is due to So You Think You Can Dance? and YouTube.)

So when people dance to dubstep they typically do what is called “waiting for the drop.”  What this means is that the dancer does some light and slow moves prior to the drop.  But when the drop hits, well, things generally get crazy!  There’s lots of flailing, locking and popping, and general silliness!

Sometimes dubstep dance instructions are even given like this: 1. Wait for the drop; 2. Go nuts!

But what if the drop never came or took a long time to come?

Waiting for the Drop in Life

There’s something that I have done in my life from time to time that maybe you can relate with.  I wait for the drop.  What do I mean by that?  Well, let me unpack it a bit.

A lot of us who follow Jesus are convinced that at some point in our lives we’ll get some sort of a uber-clear directive from God (AKA “the drop”), after which we’ll get busy following Jesus for real.  So what do we do in the mean time?  Well, we try to be good by not doing things that we’re told are wrong.  We go about life like everyone else, working, dating, getting married, retiring, etc. (all good things!).  Sometimes we’re in a holding pattern until the drop comes.

But what if it doesn’t come?  What if we never get that uber-clear directive from God, that be-a-pastor, go-to-southeast-asia, lead-a-revolution-for-the-sake-of-the-kingdom directive?  Will we just continue doing what seems right to us, what we think pleases God?  Will we just simply continue to do what everyone in the culture around us is doing?

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been guilty of this many times.  I’ve wanted to hear that call to a BIG obedience and missed out on all the things God might have for me day-to-day.  While waiting for the drop, life passes me by.

Can you relate?

The Drop Can Wait

Let me share with you something I’ve learned during my 25+ years of following Jesus — the drop can wait.  Can you or I control when God might want to call us to some sort of a BIG obedience?  No!?  But what we can control, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is what we do when we aren’t experiencing the drop.

And what does that look like?  How should we dance before (or after!) the drop hits?  Let’s turn to Scripture for some help…

He has told you, mortals, what is good in His sight.
    What else does the Eternal ask of you
But to live justly and to love kindness
    and to walk with your True God in all humility?”

(Micah 6.8 in The Voice translation)

So while waiting for the drop (or the second, third, fourth, etc. drop), let’s do these three things that are good in God’s sight:

1. Live justly.

Translated literally, this phrases says something like this “diligently seek justice.”  But the way the The Voice puts it is great — “live justly.”  Justice is not just something that we pursue only when we feel some super-obvious call from God (“the drop”).  No!  It’s something we live, something we seek with all we are.

And the justice that we are to live out it not our personal version of justice, American justice, Democratic or Republican justice, ethnic justice, or any other sort of justice.  It’s God’s justice — defined by him and his Word and sought after in ways that he sees fit.

So what might God’s justice and the pursuit thereof look like?  There’s one best place to look — Jesus’ life!  Read through the Gospels.  See how Jesus sought God’s justice for people, especially people who had been written off, like sinners, tax collector, religious zealots, work-a-day people, etc.  Then imitate Jesus in your life.  Live Jesus’ human life in your human life.

2. Love kindness.

Things get more sticky with this second idea.  Why?  Because I can try to live justly in an unkind manner.  But we aren’t given that option in Micah 6.8.  We are told to also love kindness.  So while we’re waiting for the drop, not only should we live justly, but we should love kindness.

The word for “kindness” here is one you may recognize: hesed.  It is often translated as follows: “mercy,” “loving kindness,” “unfailing love,” and/or “loyalty.”  The ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, which is called the Septuagint, translates this word as eleos, which means “mercy” or “compassion.”  So the idea seems pretty clear — hesed is not a one-off kind of word.  It means to show mercy or compassion consistently.

And not just to show kindness to others…but to love it!  How many of us love showing kindness?  I don’t always!  But that’s our instruction.  We are to love having compassion on others.

And what does this look like?  Well, again, look at Jesus’ life and words.  He said “love your neighbor as yourself” and he did just that, giving away his time, his sleep, his comfort, and ultimately his life.

3. Walk with God in all humility.  

Sometimes the best way to understand something is to think of the opposite.  So, what would it look like to walk with God in all pride?  Perhaps you would walk with God only to get out of him what you think is best.  Maybe you would walk with God, pretending like you are an equal with him.  Perhaps you would walk with God in such a way to improve your reputation and not his.

So a good start with walking with God in all humility might be NOT doing those things!  Instead let’s follow God in order to serve him and his will in this world.  Let’s follow God while keeping in mind an honest appraisal of ourselves as sinners desperately in need of his grace and forgiveness.  And let’s follow God in such a way to make ourselves less and to increase his fame.

So while we are waiting for the drop we should walk with God humbly.  Walk.  That implies action, movement, and consistency.  Walking humbly with God is not a one-time decision.  It’s a lifestyle.


So let’s stop waiting for the drop.  Let’s start living for God now!  And when the drop comes, when he asks us to something specific and “big,” then we’ll be ready.


What do you think?  How should we live as we wait for the drop?  Let me know in the comments below.

Passion: Missional Fuel

Is it just me or does it seem like followers of Jesus are subtly expected to be devoid of passion?  There are times when those of us who are bent toward passion are told things like this: “tone it down,” “cool off,” and “just get over it already.”

But is this fair?  Is this good?  Is this healthy?

Isn’t their a place for passion in the life of a follower of Jesus?  Isn’t passion the exact thing we need to fuel our missional efforts?

In order to answer some of these questions let’s look at the life of Jesus in John 2.13-25.

Passion in Jesus’ Life

I’m writing this blog from a Starbucks.  I know, I know…how cliche!  But that’s just the truth.  And while sitting here quietly drinking my venti black coffee, I heard a man talking about Jesus.  He referred to Jesus like this: “A short, long-haired, big-nosed, bearded, contemplative hippy.”

Does this description sound familiar to you at all?  It certainly does to me.  I grew up in a church culture which was influenced by the Jesus Movement of the 1970s.  And the picture of Jesus advanced by the Jesus Movement was that of a hippy religious leader who said some esoteric truths from time to time.

But where’s the passion?  When I think of a hippy, passion is one of the last words that comes to mind (unless, of course, by passion “free love” is meant!).  But the kind of burning in the gut that causes one to take strong and even unpopular stands usually doesn’t mesh well with the Jesus-is-a-hippy idea.

However, even a surface reading of Jesus’ life will show something different than the Jesus Movement’s caricature.  In the Gospels we meet a Jesus bubbling over with passion.

Passion in John 2

John 2.13-25 is one of the best places to see Jesus’ passion.  In this section of John’s Gospel we see Jesus going to Jerusalem for Passover.  When he gets to the temple, the house of God, he finds the courts full of people selling animals to be sacrificed and money-changers who are exchanging Rome’s coins for money acceptable at the temple.

This sight makes Jesus angry.  John doesn’t use the word “angry” in this passage, but it seems pretty clear.  Why else would Jesus make a whip (John 2.15)?  This wasn’t just some passing frustration.  He saw something that angered him and he spent the time to make a whip.  That’s passion that was oozing out of Jesus’ pores!

So Jesus goes back and drives the animals out of the temple courts and overturns the money-changers’ tables.  He then says to them, “Get all your stuff, and haul it out of here! Stop making My Father’s house a place for your own profit!” (The Voice translation).

Then some people who were observing Jesus’ behavior became confused and probably frustrated.  They have a verbal exchange in which Jesus foreshadows his death and resurrection.

But what made Jesus angry?  What ignited his passion?

The Cause of Jesus’ Passion

Jesus is obviously angry that people are turning the temple, a place in which people are supposed to be directed toward God, into a marketplace.

There’s has been much written about this passage in John 2, and many scholars, pastors, and authors point to the fact that the animal sellers and money-changers were likely engaged in price-gouging.

Think about it.  It’s Passover time and people from all over the region are coming to Jerusalem to worship.  A central part of that worship is animal sacrifice (sorry PETA!).  So the demand for animals is really high and the supply is controlled by the sellers.  What does that equal?  Extraordinarily high prices.

The same factors likely influenced the money-changers.  They knew they could adjust the rates of exchange in their own favor and no one could do anything about it.  The temple only accepted a certain kind of money, so, again, the demand is high and the supply is controlled.  Their rates likely skyrocketed!

And while some of the people who came to the temple could probably afford the ridiculous prices since they were wealthy, most people couldn’t.  Most people had to save all year in order to attend a festival in Jerusalem like Passover.  So, much like modern-day payday loan businesses, it was the poor who were taken advantage of the most by these folks in John 2.

Here’s my contention: Jesus passion in this passage was fueled by his anger that a place intended to point people to God was overrun by people trying to make a profit on backs of the poor.

Passion Is Okay

After Jesus goes on his rampage in the temple, his disciples remember Psalm 69.9 “Zeal for you [God’s] house will consume me.”  His disciples understand what Jesus is up to, at least in part.  I’m sure they were confused by his comments about “destroying this temple” but they understood his passion for the sanctity of the temple.  In fact, that was likely a common conception of how the messiah, the promised Jewish savior, would behave.

So Jesus’ passion lined up with his disciples’ understanding of Scripture.  And it made sense in it’s context, specifically regarding the taking advantage of the poor through price-gouging.  In other words, Jesus’ passion was okay.  It was acceptable.  It was viewed by some (but not all) as righteous and justified.

Therefore, our passions can be okay too.

What makes us angry?  If it’s something that is selfish at its core, then you should try to fight against it.  But if it’s something that is more akin to Jesus’ passion, then let it lead you.

And what was Jesus’ passion like?  It was concerned about God getting his due glory and about the poor being taken advantage of.

Are our passions ignited by these same sorts of things today?

This is just me — but I doubt that our anger over the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays!” fits this definition very well.  Neither does our anger at the fact that “that kind of person” is moving into our neighborhood or coming to our worship services.  And our passion about the style of worship we prefer certainly doesn’t fit that well either.

There are plenty of things in our world that do match up well with the passion of Jesus.  Here are a few: Concern that our churches point people to God and not to a generic American ideal; Passion for the proper and right treatment of the underprivileged and marginalized in our society; and Anger toward those who take advantage of the poor, especially if done under God’s banner.

But Passion Can Be Costly

Check this out: the Latin root for the word “passion” — passio — means “suffering.”

Friends, there’s a link between our passion and suffering.  Jesus highlighted it in this passage.  He predicted his death and ultimate resurrection.  This is why a story about the crucifixion of Jesus is typically entitled or labeled as a “Passion of Christ,” like the Mel Gibson movie.

So it should come as no surprise that when we let godly passion exude from us that suffering may be in our future.  People won’t always understand, just like some of the Jewish leaders in John 2 didn’t.

But passion that is from the Lord will lead true followers of Jesus to greater understanding, just as it did in John 2.  It will be focused on God and his glory and on preventing people from taking advantage of others.

And it will often lead to suffering.

Jesus never promised to lead us into the easy life.  That’s the American Dream!  Jesus promised to be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28.20) as we follow him, where ever that might lead.


What are you passionate about?  Does it line up with Jesus’ passion that we see in John 2?  Will you fan the flame of your passion even if it leads to suffering?  Will you let righteous passion fuel your missional efforts?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!