Monday, June 25, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Tragedy, oh tragedy; friends, I have terrible, awful, saddening, disheartening news. Our planet is in great peril, surely this world, after a good four and half billion year run is coming to an end. It seems the earth is getting too hot. Soon the polar ice caps will melt and Kevin Costner will evolve gills (I sure I hope I get some.) Soon Keifer Sutherland and Bill Paxton will team up to fight tornadoes rather than terrorism in
Monday, March 12, 2007
What is it that makes a person great? What does it take to cross the bridge of mediocrity in life and become a hero; to be a hero? What is a hero; I mean do we even have a clue? Think of the word hero; what are the first thoughts that pop into your head? Superman? Firemen? Soldiers? Doctors? Teachers? Your parents? How about Jesus? Jesus is the ultimate hero; He is the standard. What is it though about Jesus that makes him the standard of heroism; what attribute of His character defines that which is heroic? Sacrificial selflessness. Jesus lived free from selfishness; Jesus lived the character he speaks of in John’s Gospel: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John .) Not all people are heroes; not all firemen, not all soldiers, not all doctors, not all teachers, not all parents. Hero is the polar opposite of selfish; heroic acts do not make people heroes in the same way righteous acts don’t make people righteous. The selflessness it takes to be a hero is not that of neglecting one’s self, instead it is that of putting others before one’s self to the point of giving one’s own life. Too often maybe, it seems that the world around us tires to put forth figures of heroism. Is Al Gore a hero for his “work” on “global warming?” Is Peyton Manning a hero for winning the Super bowl? No, most definitely not.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Typically, scars aren’t all that great. There are many memories behind the scars we bare; permanent reminders of past pains and accidents. In this sin ridden world not one of is immune from them; they’re now a part of life, so much so that sometimes people even pay money for customized colored scars. Everyone has scars. I have scars. On the corner of my left eye, one faintly on the right side of my forehead, another on my left thumb, and a relatively new one under my chin. Each one of my scars could tell a story. Running into the corner of a table as a toddler, an altercation when I was sixteen, a run in with a metal stud while hanging drywall on the job, and flipping head first over handle bars on to a “strategically” placed log a few weeks ago, but hey, I still have all my teeth (smile.) Beyond those scars, the ones visible on the surface are those buried behind our sometime pseudo smiles; the scars we don’t share with others; the scars marred upon our spirits. Often we scar ourselves, sometimes others scar us. The scar I carry upon my forehead is less noticeable than it once was but the scar etched upon my spirit that same night still aches from time to time. It’s no easy thing to forget the scars we bare; in fact I’m not so sure we can. But we can learn from them, we can grow past them, we can forgive for them. In all honesty it took a long time to forgive for the scar above my brow but I remembered another who knew my pain. I felt the love of another who took scars I deserved. I felt the grace from a savior which heals wounds and forgives faults. For there is One who sees me without blemish, One who holds me with His wholly yet holy hands, One who lets me see myself scar-less, yet scarlet by grace. Jesus Christ died for us so that we can die to self for those that need Him. Our scars our covered, our sins are forgiven; still we must forgive those that scar us and seek not to scar others. We must learn to: live in grace, seeking holiness and the will of God, grace ourselves, seeing ourselves as Christ sees, grace others, seeing them as Christ sees them. Scared upon the cross Jesus forgave those who inflicted His pain, who are we not to forgive those who scar us. Lord let my scars shout forgiveness, for others and myself…
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Occasionally I find my self in a position where as to have quite an interesting perspective on life, “god,” and the like. My father is not a Christian, though he vaguely considers himself one. He is quite intelligent and possesses a very comprehensive secular understanding of Christianity. Yesterday, I drove five hours to my dad’s house for my little sister’s birthday party; I got to his house at a little after ten. Interestingly enough, there happened to be a birthday party for one of his neighbors which he had been at prior to my arrival. As soon as I walked into the house he wanted to go introduce me to his neighbors, consequently we went to the party. This came as bit of a surprise, but not all that much; I’ve become quite the novelty as being in school to be a “minister” and all. So, down the street to the party we go, and such being a worldly secular party there was a tad bit of alcohol present, a good amount of which my dad had already consumed, and continued to consume. As a side note let me point out that I don’t drink alcohol, not that I’m a prohibitionist, though non-medicinal intoxication is a sin, it’s just that there’s something about incoherency and impairment that just turns me off. Anyways, so here I am at this party being introduced to a bunch of tipsy lost people; to really grasp this in context one would have to actually know my dad, but it would be pretty safe to say that He didn’t receive the “most likely to father a preacher” superlative in high school. The response as my dad told each person what I was in school for is really rather humorous. Generally, the first response is “seriously? Your son?” followed by “wow,” then usually they wish me luck and commend me. Oh, but that is but the tip of the ice berg; when went over to party so I could meet people, maybe fifteen minutes tops right? Oh no; we stayed about three hours, definitely not my idea but sure, whatever. From this experiment of sorts I have come to an interesting conclusion: people that have been drinking like to bring up basic philosophical and theological issues with the weird minister kid and so I learned a few things. An older man I talked to believed that people were basically good and even more so that each person is “perfect” in their own way, as well as that god is all about love. A middle aged woman expressed a bit of a Taoist/Buddhist thought process, though was noticeably disturbed by talk about Jesus; she also was adamant against hypocrisy in the church. A younger woman was an interested seeker, not so much in Christianity, but instead toward eastern religious thought and Islam. For the most part, the general consensus was that they knew about churches in their area (namely a large Southern Baptist church,) but would most likely never attend. One person even told of how they had just been to the state fair and were approached by someone who asked “if they were to die tonight if they’d go to heaven;” the question just turned that person off even more so. Taking all this in, how are we as the evangelical church, the body of Christ to deal with this people? Do we shun them for their drunkard ways? Do we reach out to them by having Bible studies at hooters? Do we shrug them off as lost causes impossible to reach and destined for hell? No. No. No! I for one refuse to shun, refuse to conform, refuse to shrug; God loves them too, God died for them too, and they can be reached. But how do you reach out to someone who doesn’t think their in need to be reached out to? How do you try to help someone who’s drowning when they can’t even see the water? To be honest, I don’t for sure know; I do know that it’s not going to be easy, but hey, easy is just boring. Well for starters, in my personal opinion, I highly doubt that our conventional roman road, knock on your door, come up to you at the fair, fire and brimstone scare tactic evangelism is going to work. What then can we do but resort to engaging in intentional relational evangelism? Sure it will work a bit better than telling them that their going to hell, but are your opinions and lifestyle going to sway them? Let’s not forget that God is still in the equation; He alone is convictor and draws each to salvation. So we now find ourselves before an unfinished task fresh out of methods and strategy; “well if they don’t want Jesus they can just go to hell.” Ahh! Come on! The audacity of that thought process; what makes any of use any better. If it weren’t for grace and grace alone we’d be hell bound just like them; the moment we become so prideful thinking we deserve the salvation we have or anything for that matter is spitting in the eye of Christ upon the cross and still, even then He has grace. So what are we to do? In Acts to the end of the chapter we find Paul facing a similar type of people. For starters these people were curious about what Paul had to say, but they already had a basic knowledge that he was connected with the “Jesus movement.” People today aren’t much different; when it comes down to it they want to what some future minister believes and in our western culture they have preconceived thoughts concerning who “Christians” are, just turn on the television. As a side note I think too often evangelicals get all up in arms over poor portrayals of Christianity on TV, but why is this? Is the world making fun of Christianity or does the world portray Christianity as they see it? If Christians would learn to act like Jesus instead of like “Christians” maybe the world will see us in a different light. But back to Acts, Paul reached out the people in their arena; he went to where they hung out. In order to reach people we have to go where they are instead of sitting back and waiting for them to come to us, but still living above reproach, not flirting with sin in any attempt to reach out. In explaining his beliefs, Paul started by making a connection between himself and those he was disusing with in that both Paul and the people of
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
There seems to be quite an epidemic running rampant among youth ministry and the church ministry as a whole. At first glance into this dilemma I wondered “maybe I’m just too old fashion; an old stick in the mud.” In retrospect though, after various encounters with this plague, I’ve found that I’m not the only one seeing this. Paul writes in Romans 12:2, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” This clear and present epidemic which is choking the life out of youth ministry in particular is that of conforming to this world and it can be seen no clearer today than in our “worship.” Before I open a frenzy of debate over what worship is let me give my simple definition: intentionally giving glory and praise to God. With that said let me just step out and say the obvious; we too often sing about worship rather than actually, worship. We are all good at playing the game and at times we’ve all played the worship game: stand, sing, clap (maybe), lift hands (hardly; we are Baptists you know.) But that’s not really the problem, though we do need to stop playing the game and start living out true worship. This plague I mentioned earlier though, rises up when we let that is of God, look as that which is of the world. Where we once had worship, we now find fog machines, light shows, and a “look at how awesome our band is” concert, with Christian of course music. But hey, dense fog and colored lights are cool, are they not? Well yeah, they are, at a concert. Christian concerts are cool and sure, there can be worship at a concert, but that’s just not where the focus rests. Worship does not need smoke and mirrors; smoke and mirrors are just illusions and an illusion of worship is not worship. A bunch of lost kids at youth worship event tainted in an atmosphere of blinding lights and blaring music are not going to think, “wow, these people are worshiping a God they love,” more or less their going to be thinking, “this concert’s pretty cool.” So then, hypothetically, some of the lost kids at the worship rally accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and from their experience they understand worship as equal to a concert. Thus worshiping God is just like a concert; as long as I’m having a good time and into the concert I am worshiping God and it is there where this plague becomes clear: worship is no longer focused on God but on self. It becomes focused on how “I” like it, how “I” feel about it, I, I, I, me, me, me; It is not about us. Still, it is not just “worship” which this viper has sunk its venomous teeth into. We must strive to keep church worship services from becoming more like a taping of the tonight show rather than Spirit led worship. If we allow the Christianity to conform to this temporary world, how will the lost, hell bound world see a difference!? How will the saints of God know the difference!? We are called to be different; not boring, but not a dog and pony show either. Don’t conform to or settle for the secular; be transformed to that beyond boring, beyond fads; transformed to the mind of Christ.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Some of God’s greatest masterpieces are found painted upon the canvas of a pond by the late afternoon light. The lightly wind rippled surface of the water comes to life in vivid color as the sun fades into twilight. I’ve always enjoyed spending time out near or on the water; I have found no better place to go relax, think, and pray, than leaning on the railing of a dock and looking out over the water. Looking out upon the reflected sun setting sky, God impressed upon me a metaphor for life. Like the water God has painted a reflection upon Christians. John writes in His first epistle that no man has seen God, rather God reveals himself to the world through those He indwells; we are to be a reflection of Jesus. Much like the pond is rippled by the wind marring the reflection, we can be as James writes in a similar analogy, like a wave tossed and turned in the sea. It is without a doubt we will face great struggles in this life, we will face great pain in this life, and we will face great opposition in this life; our lives can be choppy and at times our lives could suffer fierce storms. But we can not let this deter us, for there was once a great storm that caused great panic, but with three words the raging winds ceased: “peace, be still.” It was Jesus who awoke amidst upon the Sea of Galilee to His disciples full of fear and stress at the tempest that engulfed them and it was Jesus who said “peace, be still” to the storm, and it still Jesus today who when problems arise in our lives and we are full of fear and stress that Jesus says, “peace, be still.” It’s a bit funny though, I mean think about it: was Jesus talking to the weather? Honestly, I don’t think He was; He’s God, to calm the storm would take no more than a thought, maybe even only part of a thought, but He definitely wouldn’t have needed to speak or even wake up for the matter. Jesus did not just calm the storm by saying, “peace, be still.” Don’t get me wrong, Jesus did calm the storm, but He said “peace, be still” to calm the disciples as well. I think if we were to modernize that phrase a bit it would be more like Jesus saying, “it’s alright, relax.” In order to live this Christian life without going halfway past insanity into the realm of dye your hair TBN pink or falling off the edge morality into the depths of sin and shame we as believers have got to learn to relax, even when the world is ripping apart at the seams. “Relax? Relax?! How in the world can I relax in a time like this?” Hey, God is still in control, God knows what’s going on, God is going to get your through this. Take a deep breath, remember who God is and relax; stressing yourself out doesn’t help anything. Relax, praise God, keep going, and watch as He works His miracles. It’s alright, Relax…