Easter and the Enneagram

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of the good news, i.e. the Gospel, of what God is doing in the world. Christianity centers on the resurrection, new life, the fact that death doesn’t get the final word.

I’ve heard it said, and I wholeheartedly agree, that the Gospel isn’t good news unless it’s good news for everyone. I believe that it is. I believe everyone can find hope, love, forgiveness, belonging, and transformation at the foot of the cross and at the door to the empty tomb. It is good news for everyone! So let’s take a look at how the resurrection is good news for each type on the Enneagram.

Type Ones, The Perfectionists/Reformers

Good news: There was only perfect person – and he’s not you – and we killed him for it. The empty tomb tells us that we don’t have to be perfect to be loved and accepted. We don’t have to make everything just right in order to enjoy God’s blessing. We don’t have to earn God’s grace – we already have it.

Ones often see the world in binaries – black and white, good and bad, perfect and imperfect. The cross introduces the gray – the only perfect man didn’t make everything right in the way we would expect him to. He was the best that humanity could be, and he died because of it. And if the cross introduces the gray, then the empty tomb introduces the color. The story of God is so much bigger than right and wrong, dos and don’ts, thou shalts and thou shalt nots. Our imperfections are what make us human. We cannot become perfect on our own. We can never be good enough. But God has done all the work for us in setting the world to rights. Because of the resurrection, we get to be a part of bringing God’s good and perfect will into reality on earth around us. We can forgive ourselves and show mercy to others.

Type Twos, The Helpers

Good news: Your needs matter. Your emotions and feelings matter. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb validates the full range of human emotion and experience, including our own insufficiencies and needs. I think of the words the crowd yelled out, “He saved others. Let him save himself!” Twos probably feel that in their souls. But Jesus shows us there are times when we must rely on God alone.

Twos have a deep need to be needed. They thrive when others depend on them. This can become a really unhealthy dynamic in relationships if we aren’t careful. When we seek our validation by pleasing people and only feel as valued as our own ability to contribute and take care of people, then we often forget about ourselves. The resurrection reminds us that we are not God. God alone is to be relied upon for our greatest needs. The cross and resurrection lead us to surrender our need to be needed. We are forced instead to shift our focus on simply being in the presence of God. I’m reminded of the story of Mary and Martha (a classic Two). Jesus and the disciples were at their house. Martha got upset that Mary, her sister, was abandoning her in the kitchen and sitting at the feet of Jesus with the other disciples. Jesus rocks Martha’s world by affirming the choice Mary had made. Simply being in the presence of God is enough. God doesn’t need anything from us. He needs us. Rest a while in his presence.

Type Threes, The Performers/Achievers

Good news: You are loved for who you are, not for what you do or accomplish. The resurrection shows us that what may look like failure to the world can ultimately be used by God for great purposes. The cross allows us to die to the world’s definition of success. By all worldly measures Jesus was yet another failed Messiah. He had failed in his mission to overthrow Rome and assume the throne in Jerusalem. But what looked like failure was ultimately the greatest victory that could have been won.

Threes fear failure and have a strong desire to be (or appear to be) successful. They can be whoever they need to be in the moment to get the job done. Productivity and achievement are the whole ballgame. The cross allows us the freedom of downward mobility. Jesus is our greatest example of what it means to empty oneself of all privileges, distinctions, and honors. He hung out with the outcasts. He associated with the lowly. He bucked the traditional definitions of success, and became a servant of all. There is great freedom for Threes in downward mobility, learning how to lose and “fail.” The grave teaches Threes how to wait and sit without working or doing, simply being. And the resurrection shows us that the greatest success and victory isn’t won by our own volition, but in relying upon God to turn our failures into something beautiful.

Type Fours, The Romantics/Individualists

Good news: You are not broken. You are not a misfit. You are a beloved child of God, uniquely gifted and wonderfully made. Fours are very comfortable with melancholy. They resonate with the description of the “Suffering Servant” as a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” The sorrow and bitter emotions of the cross may be where Fours are tempted to stay. There is a time and place for that “dark night of the soul.”

But there must also be resurrection. If we aren’t careful we can retreat so far into ourselves that we shut out the world. We get too comfortable with the darkness and seclusion. We mistrust the world while still wanting to be an accepted part of it. When Jesus was resurrected, he didn’t just become like everyone else. In fact, people didn’t recognize him at first. There was something uniquely different about the resurrected Christ. When we come out of that dark, sorrowful solitude of the grave into resurrection, we can fully embrace what makes us different and unrecognizable to so many. We can truly be who God created us to be, with all our flaws, quirks, idiosyncrasies, and imperfections. Let the life-giving Spirit of God fill that longing emptiness within you. Step out of that tomb into a new, fresh day.

Type Fives, The Observers/Investigators

Good news: You are competent and capable. You are safe. Relationships take risks, but they are well worth it. Fives, more than just about any other type, tend to close themselves off in relationships. They aren’t very in tune with their emotions or those of others. They can feel intimidated by feelings and vulnerability. They tend to be more at home in the realm of academics, knowledge, and expertise. They like to know something about everything and everything about something. They tend to be more analytical and “logical” in their processing, because there is safety and security in knowledge.

The cross can be detrimental to a Five, because the cross reminds us that the world does not work in a logical, systematic way. The innocent man was executed while the rightfully convicted man goes free. The cross of Christ is illogical. How much more so the resurrection! People don’t rise from the dead. The tendency of a Five may be to go in search of empirical evidence for the resurrection. But it’s not something that can be scientifically proven or historically validated beyond a reasonable doubt. Easter Sunday calls all of us, and especially Fives, to take that scary leap of faith into the unknown. Will you follow Christ to the cross? Will you sit with him in the tomb? Will you place everything on the line for the hope of resurrection? The good news for Fives is that there are some things that defy explanation or logic. But we can gain experiential knowledge of Christ by participating with him in his death, burial, and resurrection as we follow him.

Type Sixes, The Loyalists

Good news: You are safe. There is nothing left to fear. You may be focused on the worst-case-scenarios. But guess what! The worst thing imaginable has already happened. Christ has been crucified. But there is life on the other side. You may try to prepare for the worst that life has to throw at you, but you can never be fully prepared for the unexpected tragic events. Fear is the enemy of faith. Throughout his ministry Jesus chastised his disciples for living in fear rather than living by faith. That’s the choice we all have to make. The resurrection of Christ shows us that we have nothing left to fear.

FDR famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But what are we do afraid of? Death. Pain. Suffering. Losing loved ones. Living in need. Sickness. Demons and forces of evil. Natural disaster. We probably have a list a mile long. But the death and resurrection blows all those fears out of the water. When we participate with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection, we know that we have already died. The worst-case-scenario has, in a way, already happened. We know that if Christ has been raised then we also will be raised to live with him. And nothing that we fear in all creation will separate us from the most important thing – the love of God in Christ Jesus. Fear and death have been conquered. Christ is victorious.

Type Sevens, The Enthusiasts

Good news: You can stop running. Sevens are a ton of fun to be around. They are often extroverted, the life of the party, with tons of stories to tell. They are always looking forward to the next big adventure. But there is a reason they are always moving onto the next thing. Sevens have a deep need to avoid pain. They are afraid that if they stay in one place, one situation, one job, one relationship, etc. too long then they will have to wrestle with the pain of their past.

The cross and the tomb force Sevens to sit with their pain, to be still and reflect on the darkness and brokenness of life. Particularly in this time of lock-down and quarantine, Sevens are probably going crazy. We aren’t able to go and do and plan and have adventures. We are forced into stillness. The resurrection tells us that true life only comes through the pain. There cannot be life without death. There cannot be joy without pain. There cannot be celebration of Easter without the devastation of Good Friday. Life is worth living and savoring – even the boring, the uncomfortable, the mundane. and the painful.

Type Eights, The Challengers/Enforcers

Good news: God will never leave you or betray you, even in death. You don’t have to fight anymore. You don’t have to take charge. You don’t have to be right about everything. I’m reminded of the story of Exodus when God tells the people of Israel, “You need only to be still. I will fight for you.”

Eights fear being betrayed and appearing weak or vulnerable. For Eights, all those fears are realized in the cross. Jesus was made to be weak. He was beaten and mocked. He was too weak to carry his cross. He was stripped naked and lifted up on the cross for all to see and judge. And after it all, Jesus cried out the words from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Weak, vulnerable, and forsaken. But the resurrection shows us that God can take our weakness and turn it into strength. Even though Jesus felt betrayed, he never really was. God may not be there for us in the way he wanted or needed, but God was there when he needed him. God allowed Jesus to go through the worst humanity had to offer, but resurrection awaited. When we are weak, then we are strong. When we are vulnerable, then we are most able to let down our guards, tear down our walls, and let people see the real us.

Type Nines, The Peacemakers

Good news: You matter. You are valued. Your presence is noticed and matters. Nines are able to see all sides and all perspectives. That can be useful tool, but it can also be disorienting. Nines can lose the ability to differentiate themselves and their opinions from those of others. When faced with potential conflict, many Nines would rather fade into the background than to face it head on.

In the cross we see the greatest Peacemaker face down the greatest conflict of all time – the conflict between the evil ways of the world and the good and true way of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus did not shy away from the confrontation he faced. He knew that true peace could only come from enduring the pain of the cross. He came to bring peace, but it was not in the way the world brings “peace.” The world brings peace by taking lives. Jesus brought peace by giving up his life. The conflict came to a head at the cross, and the victory was won through his death. He laid everything on the line. When we wake up to the injustices in the world and the battle worth fighting, then we can truly work for the things that bring peace. Peace is not necessarily the absence of conflict. True peace comes from those who are willing to lay down their lives in the effort. These peacemakers will be called Children of God. And if we share in a death like his, we know that we will also share in a resurrection like his.


So what do you think? If you know your Enneagram type, what is something you learn from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?

LIGHT | 40 Days of Focus, Day 1


And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
(Genesis 1:3-5)

Light is one of the most common themes in all of Scripture. If you think about it, Light vs. Dark is one of the most common themes in all of literature and entertainment. Countless stories have been told throughout the generation of Light triumphing over Darkness – from Beowulf to Star Wars, from The Lord of the Rings to Mean Girls, from Harry Potter to The Princess Bride. Light represents good, and dark represents evil.

But I want you to notice something in the passage above. On the opening day of Creation, God created Light and separated it from the Darkness. Here’s an interesting thing to keep in mind – God still put the darkness to use. We need darkness in our lives. Our bodies survive on a natural rhythm of light and darkness. It’s how we are able to produce melatonin which helps us fall asleep. Many animals are nocturnal and would not survive in complete light. I love what David says about light and darkness in Psalm 139.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

The natural state of the universe is darkness. Without nearby light sources, like our sun, space is completely black and devoid of light. But that’s not the case if you look back far enough in time. When scientists pointed their radio satellites into the darkest part of the visible sky, they accidentally found light. In the earliest days of our universe’s existence, everything was full of energy and light. The whole universe glowed brightly with what astronomers now call the “Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.”

Let there be light, indeed.

When we look at the night sky, what looks like complete darkness can actually be filled with light if we look hard enough – just like the human heart. Even in the most corrupt, most evil of people, I believe there is still a spark of light waiting to be ignited. Otherwise, Jesus could not have said this to a huge crowd of complete strangers:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:14-16)

But how can we be the “light of the world” when we know how much darkness resides within us? Simply put, we can’t. On our own we try to hide our light out of shame for our darkness. Thank God he doesn’t leave us on our own.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
(1 John 1:5-7)

On day one God created light, but he also left the darkness. There may still be darkness within us, but the closer we walk with God the brighter the light shines forth. As we embark on this journey over these forty days, I pray that you will learn to walk in the light and overcome the darkness. As the saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn. That’s just how it was on that Good Friday so long ago when Christ was crucified and sealed in a tomb. The world seemed darker than ever before, but a new day would dawn with the resurrection.


Do you remember being afraid of the dark? Why do you think that happens?

In what ways do you see darkness in the world and in your life?

Are there specific areas of your life in which you may be afraid to shine a light? Is there anything you are worried that the light might reveal?

How can you be the “light of the world” in your family? in your workplace? in your school? in your community? online?

My Re-Birthday

Yesterday was Pi day. Yet before I knew that magical, irrational number, March 14 was the day on which I was baptized. I guess I was in 5th grade back in 1999 when I made the decision to obey in faith the gospel which I had been taught.

It’s interesting to me that I could quite calmly make the biggest decision of my life as an 11 year old. But now that I have been a Christian longer than not, I look back and realize that in the last 12 years, I have sinned WAY more than in the first 11.

That brings me to this song. I have been a big Relient K fan ever since their first album. They put out a single a year or two ago that I just recently started paying attention to. It’s called “Forget and Not Slow Down.” The chorus is a great reminder of the fact that on our journey to follow God, there will be many times that we fall down, turn aside, or just lose track of where we are.

But God will always be there to “resurrect the saint within the wretch.”

“But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son continually cleanses us of all sin.” 1 John 1:7

And since I’m on the topic of baptism, here’s “Rebirthing” by Skillet. I personally think we should blast this song over the PA system whenever someone is baptized.

Beginning, pt. 2

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

So begins the creation story. From there, God goes on to create light and land and stars and everything else. As a child, and on into adulthood, when thinking about creation, I always pictured God sitting in his throne room which resembled something like the bridge on the Enterprise from Star Trek. I imagined God sitting atop his captain’s chair, handing out marching orders to the angles around him, and watching it all take place before him on a 72″ LCD screen.

But look what it says:

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Formless. Empty. Dark. Deep. This sounds like a place I would never want to be. This sounds downright hellish. This sounds like the opposite of where God would be found, thus the made-up image in my mind of God creating from afar.

But God was right there. His Spirit was hanging out right in the middle of the darkness, the emptiness. Before there was light, or stars, or sky, or even love, God was there. When there was nothing but chaos and mayhem, God was there.

YHWH has never been one to rule from afar. He is and has always been an on-the-ground type of leader, one who would command from the trenches, one who would lead His army from the front lines. Creation was no different. He faced the void head on and watched the universe take form all around Him.

He created structure out of formlessness. He fill the void with the fullness of the universe. He vanquished the darkness with His light. And He raised up mountains from the abyss.

How’s that for a powerful God?

And the best thing of all is that He is ready and willing to do the very same in our own lives!

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).

(For more on this topic, you can listen to the sermon I preached a while back under the “Sermons, etc.” page.)


I watched this the other day. I had heard most of it from the sermon podcasts I listen to from the Mars Hill Church, where Rob Bell is the pastor. This is pretty much a condensed version of his sermon on resurrection highlighting the main points. If you can get past the overdone, in your face visuals, his message is pretty legit. The video is from YouTube, but the video and script can both be found at robbell.com/resurrection

Jesus is standing in front of the temple in Jerusalem
the massive gleaming brick and stone and gold house of God
and he says destroy this temple
and I’ll rebuild it in three days
the people listening to him said how are you going to do that?
it took 46 years to build this temple!
but he wasn’t talking about that temple
he’s talking about himself
he essentially says, listen
I’m going to be killed
that’s where this is headed
because you don’t confront corrupt systems of power
without paying for it
sometimes with your own blood
and so he’s headed to his execution
if you had witnessed this divine life extinguished on a cross
how would you not be overwhelmed with despair?
is the world ultimately a cold, hard, dead place?
does death have the last word?
is it truly, honestly, actually dark
and so whatever light we do see
whatever good we do stumble upon
are those just blips on the radar?
momentary interruptions in an otherwise meaningless existence?
because if that’s the case then despair is the
only reasonable response
it’s easy to be cynical
but Jesus says destroy this temple and I’ll rebuild it
he insists that his execution would not be the end
he’s talking about something new and unexpected
happening after his death
he’s talking about resurrection
resurrection announces that God has not given up on the world
because this world matters
this world that we call home
dirt and blood and sweat and skin and light and water
this world that God is redeeming and restoring and renewing
greed and violence and abuse they are not right
and they cannot last
they belong to death and death does not belong
resurrection says that what we do with our lives matters
in this body
the one that we inhabit right now
every act of compassion matters
every work of art that celebrates the good and the true matters
every fair and honest act of business and trade
every kind word
they all belong and they will all go on in God’s good world
nothing will be forgotten
nothing will be wasted
it all has it’s place
everybody believes something
everybody believes somebody
Jesus invites us to trust resurrection
that every glimmer of good
every hint of hope
every impulse that elevates the soul
is a sign, a taste, a glimpse
of how things actually are
and how things will ultimately be
resurrection affirms this life and the next
as a seamless reality
and saved by God
there is an unexpected mysterious presence
who meets each of us in our lowest moments
when we have no strength when we have nothing left
and we can’t go on we hear the voice that speaks those
destroy this temple and I’ll rebuild it
do you believe this?
that’s the question Jesus asked then
and that’s the question he asks now
Jesus’ friends arrive at his tomb and they’re told
he isn’t here
you didn’t see that coming, did you?
he’s isn’t here
there is nothing to fear
and nothing can ever be the same again
we are living in a world in the midst of rescue
with endless unexpected possibilities
they will take my life and I will die Jesus says
but that will not be the end
and when you find yourself assuming that it’s over
when it’s lost, gone, broken and it could never be
put back together again,
when it’s been destroyed and you swear that it could never
be rebuilt
hold on a minute
because in that moment
things will in fact have just begun