The Plot – Acts 7

The Plot – Acts 7

Read Acts 7

The Natural disasters we experienced in recent weeks have provided an Ideal opportunity to reflect on the church’s response, or in some cases, lack of response to the overwhelming need left in the wake.

With his last breath, Stephen cries out to the gathered mob, “Remember why you are here! Don’t lose the plot!

It’s easy as participants of religious institutions living in a country that ascribes to Christian values, to fortify beliefs around “We are right and they are wrong.” The religious community in Stephen’s day employed similar thinking patterns. They persecuted or killed anyone that dared to critique their hallowed viewpoint. (vs. 51-53)

When religious constituents lose their ability to objectively function as a conduit of blessing, a critique must be billowed. Take Hurricane Harvey for example. Many men and women with no religious affiliation were some of the first responders. Yet, several faith communities in Houston were the last to respond.

Ask yourself, “Have I lost the plot by placing myself at the center of importance elevated above the needs of others? As those tasked with releasing blessing and provision, does the indictment of Acts 7 slice a little too close to home?

God, I pray we would be a people of first responders to a world in need rather than passive observers in a world of ease.  

— Christian Trent

Shechem – Joshua 24

Shechem – Joshua 24

Read Joshua 24

The upheaval in Charlottesville has introduced, yet again, the significance of monuments and the power of cultural icons.

Shechem is one such place mentioned over 60 times throughout the Bible. It is here that Joshua, again, calls the children of Israel to remember the enslavement of their past, and renew their commitment as a transformative force of blessing in the world. It is also on this mount, Jesus meets a woman of a despised people and welcomes her to live in the abundance of Divine inclusion and love. (John 4)

Shechem acts as a monument to remind us to not lose the plot.

Personal Application:

What monuments in your life inspire you to stay the course and hold to your true identity? What monuments should you tear down that hold you back from the Jesus way of healing and restoration?

Cultural Application:

How can we work to reshape cultural icons in society to unite rather than divide? Can we preserve a nation’s memory and remove hindrances that are destructive to healing?

Monuments are powerful things. Used correctly, they have the power to ground us, or power to keep us trapped in a false narrative of superiority.

God, I ask that you would give us wisdom to know the difference and to affirm those things that you call good and deconstruct that which causes harm. Amen.  

— Christian Trent

Force For Good – Deuteronomy 6

Force For Good – Deuteronomy 6

Read Deuteronomy 6

Freed from the slavery of Egypt the Hebrew people are entering a time of blessing and prosperity. On the eve of this assent, the people are given a stern warning to never forgot the horror they have been delivered from and hold true to their purpose as a force of good in the world. (vs. 12)

The text states there is unmerited favor being poured out on the Israelites after decades of suffering in bondage and oppression. They are admonished to not take this blessing for granted. (vs. 10-11) They are instructed to tell these stories to their children and children’s children in order that they would never become the same kind of oppressors they were delivered from. (vs. 20-25)

This message is one that holds especially true in our current age. Don’t forget the unmerited favor we have been given, despising it and in turn becoming the very type of oppression we want to see others delivered from. 1 Kings tells us of the abuse of power under Solomon’s reign and subsequent kings who lost the plot, they forgot to heed the warning of their ancestors becoming the very pharaohs they had escaped.

How can we as a people living in the greatest military-industrial-complex the world has ever seen not lose the plot? How can we continue to be a force for good in the world that lives out the Jesus story of inclusion and love?

God, I pray, may we learn the lessons of the past and partner with your restoration in the world!

— Christian Trent

Deconstruct – Exodus 2

Deconstruct – Exodus 2

Read Exodus 2

Out of a season of disruption to the flow of harmony and peace we are introduced to Moses. Born to an immigrant whose way of life was being brutally controlled by a powerful elite he narrowly escaped the genocidal intent of the ruling class only to find himself adopted by an unassuming aristocrat.

Raised privileged, raised to oppress and conquer in the name of the good of the state, the greatness of the empire, Moses could not shake a sense of responsibility to the good of all humanity. (vs. 11)

After an episode of violent protest Moses must flee the affluence of the life he had become accustomed to, seeking the solace of ambiguity. (vs. 12-15)

It is in this solace that Moses must undergo a time of deconstruction. He must allow his mind to challenge and divorce concepts ingrained in him by the empire. He must find a better way to be in the world; a way that has the good of everyone at it’s center.

Have we allowed injustice in our world to disrupt us and lead us into a time or our own deconstruction and non-violent protest against the oppression in our age? Or, have we quietly abdicated our role as agents of positive change in the world, consenting to the burdens of our brethren by our silence? (vs. 11)

God, I pray you would awaken us to the cry, the groan and burden of our generation and respond with your heart. (vs. 24-25)

— Christian Trent

Seasons – Exodus 1

Seasons – Exodus 1

Read Exodus 1

The Exodus narrative begins with a change in seasons, from a time of blessing and increase to a time of slavery and trial. “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” (vs. 8)

In this season of transition we see a minority group who held the power began to fear the larger constituents of the land. (vs. 10) Driven by this fear they began to enslave, persecute and murder those under their trust. Does this plot sound familiar? Is the Exodus story simply for them back then, or are we seeing a modern day inaction of this very thing in our time, in our country?

“When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.”  (vs. 16)

When seasons change and tyranny becomes commonplace and the monuments of a nation are erased paving the way for a new cultural narrative, one in which the powerful control the memory of the culture, what do you do?

And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households (provision/protection) for them.” (vs. 21)

Exodus illustrates to us the heart of the Divine which is for the poor, oppressed, marginalized. Once connected to this heartbeat, we can’t stay silent.

God, I pray for courage in this transitional season to stay true to your heart for humanity, and not lose hope but be catalyst of hope in the world.

— Christian Trent