Archive for February, 2009

What do we do now, James?

February 25, 2009 Leave a comment

One of the first verses that I committed to memory after being asked to teach was James 3:1.

Let not many {of you} become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

Quite frankly, its a verse that scares the bajeebies out of me.  If I stand in front of someone and exhort God’s word in hopes that they apply and follow it, then I am standing as a vessel of His spoken word.  That is heavy – many times its too heavy for me and it is only through His grace and love that I can perform in that capacity.  You see, I am human just like the people that I am trying to teach God’s word.  I don’t know that they understand that before I have spoken to them, I have had to look in the mirror that is God’s word.  I don’t always like what I see there and I know that they are likely to have some of the same issues when faced with those truths.

I can’t change that truth,  or water it down, or leave pieces out that might be hard to swallow.  One day I am going to stand in judgment for what I have done with the gifts that God has given me.  James has told me that teaching is an area that I will be held to higher accountability.  To not teach would be a great sin, just check out the parable of the talents but on the other hand to teach and mess it up isn’t that great of a prospect either.

Man, I love God’s word and the desire is there to share it with other people.  I want them to know the truth, they need to know the truth.

Check out these lyrics from Mercy Me’s song, ‘Word of God Speak’:

I’m finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it’s okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I’m finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

There are times that I need just that, “not to be heard”.  I just want to hear but then I am like Jeremiah and God’s word is a like a fire shut up in my bones.  His truth must be taught and it must be taught with integrity especially by those called to teach and preach.

Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?  I mean, just teach it and preach it.

If James were around to answer some questions, I would ask him what a teacher is to do when their integrity comes under fire.  Maybe Paul would be able to help because he is the one that wrote that a leader should be above reproach when he was advising Timothy.

So guys, what’s the answer? My 30 seconds are just about up.


Wearing Hats

February 24, 2009 1 comment

cowboyhardhatsWe all do it.  Hat juggling.  Take off the daddy hat to put on the worker hat.  Take off the husband hat and put on the son hat.  Take off the student hat in order to put on the teacher hat.  It all works great until you have to wear several of them at the same time.

Those times cause the head to get heavy and the shoulders to bow.

There are times that I wish I still had the Suzuki 650 that I bought when I was 18.  I can remember hopping on it, throwing on a pair of sun glasses, and heading out to the country side for a leisurely ride… without a helmet.  There was something ‘free’ about the wind whipping across my unprotected head.  It was dangerous but it was also invigorating.

There are times in my adulthood that I feel like the pope looks in his big ol’ hat.  Measured, labeled, cornered… artificial.  Why can’t I find just one hat that brings all the different aspects of me together?  Or maybe, why can’t I just take off the hats and live life dangerously and invigorated?

Oh, that’s right.  Society doesn’t accept that person.  You need your hat so that they know what they are dealing with…to make sure that you are safe.

Dad, I understand now

February 23, 2009 Leave a comment

During my second childhood my father became a pastor of small church.  He didn’t want to be the pastor of the church but God called him there and so that meant that we had to go along as well.  Our lives were uprooted, friends left behind, new schools to fit into, and a fresh set of responsibilities that came with living in a fishbowl.

The church was so small that they could not pay my dad so he had to work a second job to take care of his family.  I say second job because his first job was the church.  And it seemed that it was our job as well.  We were the ones who showed up early and stayed late, the ones who shoveled walks and painted walls, the ones who gave our dad away to every need that the church body called him to look after.  In short, our life revolved around the church night and day, week in and week out.  We all paid the cost for our father to be pastor to a small flock of God’s children.

Most of my fondest memories from that second childhood aren’t around leisure activities with family because we didn’t have many.  They encapsulate working side-by-side with my dad and brothers whether it was on a roof or visiting a church family.  They had to become the best memories because that’s where the majority of the memories rest – in working.

Tonight there are some other memories that are standing out.  I remember the many nights that my father was on the brink of leaving it behind.  There is always going to be criticism or let downs when working with people.  But, wow, I understand something now.  When you pay such a high cost to be a servant, it can be very difficult not to feel the stings.  Some people may say you need to develop a thick skin but isn’t that just another way of saying, “Stop caring”?  Dad could have left the job of pastor behind, kept doing his ‘second job’, and been able to invest more time, energy, and money into his family.  And we would have welcomed it.

Yeah, tonight, I am feeling a connection to the man my dad was during those days.  What cost is my family paying for my investments into God’s ‘kingdom work’? I know they would welcome the investment in them and the likelihood of criticism would dramatically decrease.

Bummer, huh?

I wonder what God is trying to teach me through this.  I have lots of thoughts but no clear direction at this point.  There are times that I find myself unbearable because of a certain proclivity to over analyze situations.  Time to dig into the Word and definitely time for prayer.

Question – Join What?

February 20, 2009 Leave a comment

So I over-analyze most things.  I can’t help it because I can’t turn my mind off.  Its always running – even in my sleep.  I am going to post a question here that I thought about this past Wednesday night while listening to the 789 youth pastor give his sermon to the 7-12 graders at Ground Zero.

The premise of the sermon was to join God where He is working.  It was based on the lesson of Jonathan attacking the Philistine garrison while his father slept under a tree.  You can read about it in the 14th chapter of 1 Samuel.

My experience has led me to believe that the majority of people that I come in contact with inside of a church building do not have the ability to voice their understanding of the relationship that they have with God.  That is not a criticism – it is just a statement of my experience and may not reflect the true situation.

As it is my perception, this is the question that was going through my mind, “How do we invite people to action, specifically, to join a God in His kingdom work when they haven’t spent the time getting to know Him?”

Want to put my question to the test?  Think of your closest friend on this earth.  Can you describe them in great detail – what makes them happy, or sad, what makes them come alive or what makes them mad?  Would you know how to surprise them with a special gift or action?  Can you describe what they mean to you?

Probably not hard, huh…

Now do the same thing with God if you are a person who claims a relationship with Him.  Is it easier or harder than doing so with your friend?

I am still mulling over my question.  You can help me with any feedback that you have on the subject.


February 19, 2009 1 comment

I stopped by CNN this morning to do a quick hit of today’s headlines.  Here are the top 3 stories on that site at this moment:

Foreclosure for octuplets family?

Commentary: Post Cartoon is racist

Holder: U.S. ‘cowards’ on race

What I find interesting about the top 3 stories is this – 2 of them discuss racism.  I read through them because I am intrigued by the dichotomy that we live under here in the United States, that being “don’t treat me differently because of my differences unless its to my advantage”.   Please notice that the statement is about ‘differences’ which go beyond one’s skin color.

Americans have developed a certain sense of entitlement as if by being born we have the right to a Hollywood Celebrity lifestyle.  I think TV and the media are much to blame for this predicament as we have had the consumerism mentality foisted on us from birth.  And while this is a major contributor to this shared propensity, there is at least one other pervasive thought that keeps occuring in knee-jerk response to our pasts.  Somewhere along the way we have adopted a practice that we should erase yesteryear’s woes by overcompensating for today’s issues.

Case in point:

What could be seen as silly humor if President George W. Bush were in the White House has to be seen through the lens of America’s racist past, as noted by the leaders of the New York Association of Black Journalists, who also are demanding an apology from the Post.

Please read “Commentary: Post cartoon is racist” to get the full context of this statement.  Racism is a terrible, terrible thing.  There is no doubt of that sentiment.  I don’t think we, as a country, will ever be able to continue forward until we stop looking back.  While we have to learn from our history in order not to repeat dreadful mistakes, we must also not cater to hypersensitive attitudes that swing the pendulum in a direction that can be just as destructive.

Just some food for thought.

The Word Religion

February 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Wow.  Now that’s a loaded word – religion.  Its a singular word that brings so many thoughts, images, and debates to mind when its mentioned.  It is said that in polite company one should not broach the topic of religion.

That is a sad thing.

Because I think we have had it all backwards for a while now. 

I know that the evangelical world shies away from the word opting to use the phrase ‘in a relationship’ instead.  And the secular world refers to the believing crowd as those ‘religious people’, addressing their belief-sets as a way to label them.

Admit it… when you think of the word religion, it stirs up uneasy feelings as well.  Just as  ‘Christian’ or ‘fundamentalist’ are starting to become negative labels in our society.  So what has happened to cause this not-so-new ambivalence?

Here it is… the actions of the self-proclaiming religionist, Christian, or fundamentalist have been weighed against a belief system that the they cannot attain and are, therefore, judged to be hypocritical.  And truth be told, I understand and agree with this judgement.

But I think its time to give the word religion a second chance. And here is why:

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of {our} God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, {and} to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – James 1:27

Confused?  Good!

The word ‘religion’ does not show up very often in biblical scripture, in fact, the underlying Greek word in the above verse only shows up 5 times in the New Testament and is not always translated to religion.  In other places it is translated to ‘worship’.  What is really cool is that in this instance, James is talking about the actions that the people do in the course of living out their beliefs.  Religion isn’t the belief but the actions that correspond to that belief. 

Let that sink in.  Religion is NOT the set of beliefs but the actions that correspond to them. 

James wants to make sure that we understand that AND that there is a way to know how to do it right.  He tells us that there exists a pure and undefiled way of carrying out those actions.  When we think of pure and undefiled we should be thinking about a stream in a forest and how we would assess whether or not we would drink from it.  We would want that stream to be as close to the true source and with little unnatural additives as possible to insure that it would not make us sick.  To point, we would want it to refresh us.

James is making the same point.  If you want a religion that refreshes you then get to the source and and don’t start adding things to it.  In fact, he gives us an example of what that kind of religion looks like.  He mentions taking care of orphans and widows and not being stained by the world.   Basically, he is telling us that true religion looks beyond self and finds the need in other people’s lives.  Not only finds the need but acts to care for that need.  Its all about action, baby!

Of course we can’t skip over the part about remaining unstained by the world. This is not a command to become pious do-gooders that live inside of Christian bubbles.  If you are trying to quench the thirst of someone in need of water you don’t put the person in the water you put the water in the person.  Otherwise you just make the water dirty and the person angry.  We need a religion that is not about reflecting the principles of the thirsty.  That’s what the world is seeing the church as today.  A bunch of johnny-come-lately’s mimicing what they already have and have found wanting.  Its not about the kind of music that we have on Sunday morning or how we dress.  Its not about having a charismatic speaker who could make us cry one moment and then laugh the next.  The world already has those things and they are still thirsty.

They need people to dip some water and carry it to them.  Clean and pure water that quenches the thirst.  They need some people who understand true religion is acting on the belief that Christ loved them so much that they just can’t help but love on somebody else.

So how about you, you ready to give religion a second chance?

Hello world!

February 4, 2009 3 comments

So we have all heard about the 5-second rule… you know, that old adage that children and grown men would use to justify why they could scoop up food that had hit the floor and still enjoy eating it. This is always done to the dismay of all female types in the vicinity.

There is a new scoop out there that proves not only were us men right about the 5-second rule, we actually have 30 seconds in which to take our time in retrieving those lost morsels that try to escape the inevitable trip to the gastro-intestinal tract.  AND more importantly, that applies to wet foods that hit the ground – with dry foods we can have up to 5 minutes.  BONUS!

Don’t believe me?  Read HERE.

So I have decided to create a blog that is all about the 30 second rule – BUT – with a twist.  If those foods that we once valued can be redeemed by simply picking them up before the 30 seconds are up, how can we apply that idea to people?  You could say that this blog is going to be about 2nd chances.

I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I have hit the floor physically, emotionally, and spiritually – times when I needed a second chance.

Now, its not like everything I will have to say will come with a lesson attached or will be relevant for that matter.  Most of it is just going to be me spewing the thoughts that cross my mind to a screen that people may or may not read.  Doesn’t that sound like fun!  (At one point, I almost titled this blog “Musings from the Throne” which would have entailed me writing about the thoughts that I wander about while, well, on the ‘throne’.  Aren’t you glad I didn’t go there?) 😉

So what you read here will be me… unadulterated – whatever that means.  I hope you will give me a second chance – my 30 seconds are just about up.