Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Get Rid of Human Beings NOW!!!

This is from the Christian Movie Reviewer Movieguide.org on the recent box office smash AVATAR. I just had to comment. Their article was titled "Get Rid of Human Beings Now!"  The entire review can be found at The Worst Review Site on the Internet. Here is a snippet for your amusement.

Extremely strong, slightly mixed, New Age pagan, politically correct worldview contains strong environmentalist content and extremely strong communalistic group think philosophy, overt New Age Gaia/Goddess worship and tree worship extolling people over the individual and promoting the connectedness of everything in nature, a strong Marxist overtone, and very strong anti-capitalist content where human capitalists are presented as greedy, merciless thugs abusing the creatures and landscape of another planet, but with some Christian references and allusions with some Christian, biblical values able to be read into the movie, including themes of being born again, sacrificing yourself for others, and respecting nature, but, on closer examination, these themes differ from the revealed, biblical Good News of Jesus Christ, plus some occult content of speaking to dead spirits; 26 obscenities and 10 profanities; very strong bloody violence with huge battle scenes, people impaled by spears and arrows, stabbings, hatchetings, attacks by vicious animals, poisonings, bloody wounds, death, people caught in the mouths of large creatures, creepy tree grows into people, and people and creatures shot, blown up, and run over, plus ugly alien creatures could cause children nightmares; sexual content includes allusions of sex between partially clad aliens and hints of bestiality with animals and sentient aliens establishing physical and mental connections that are like a spiritual, almost sexual “high”; some upper female nudity on aliens, 10-foot-tall humanoid creatures nearly naked throughout the movie, with partially nude breasts and partial upper nudity, very thin alien clothing, upper and human male nudity; brief alcohol use; smoking and implied drug references; and, greed and exploitation rebuked, and movie promotes an anti-human, reverse racist ideology.

Wow, I don't think that they liked the movie.  I wonder what they thought of Lord of the Rings. I would let you know, but I would have to sign up for a subscription. For giggles though, I am going to break down the review.  

"contains strong environmentalist content and extremely strong communalistic group think philosophy"  Now when anyone puts "ist" at the end of anything, that means they don't like it. You think Jesus was an environmentalist? How about a communalist? Group Think? Sounds a bit like Ephesians 6, where God discribes the Church as one Body. Can't figure out why they thought this was negative.

"very strong anti-capitalist content where human capitalists are presented as greedy, merciless thugs abusing the creatures and landscape of another planet"  You mean like flipping over tables in the temple? Hmmm.  Let me list what feeds the anti-capitalist content in our culture.

Enron
Exxon (made the largest profit margin in history while the rest of the world suffered $5 a gallon of gas)
AIG
The 140 failed banks this year
Banks in general with exorbitant fees getting to screw you and I yet again through billions in tax payer dollars.
ATT, Sprint, Verizon and all the companies who screw you over with contracts and then offer terrible customer service and a huge fee to drop them.
This is just a short list.  I could go on and on.
Do you think Jesus was a capitalist? Just curious...

"with some Christian references and allusions with some Christian, biblical values able to be read into the movie, including themes of being born again, sacrificing yourself for others, and respecting nature, but, on closer examination, these themes differ from the revealed, biblical Good News of Jesus Christ"

You mean like scaring the hell out of someone so that they pray a flimsy prayer that doesn't truly transform their lives? These concepts aren't overtly Christian. They are completely Jesus. The Christian gospel and the Gospel that Jesus taught are often times drastically different. 

"26 obscenities and 10 profanities"

Fart, penis, poop, crap, Obama.  There. This blog has 5 Movie Guide obscenities.

"very strong bloody violence with huge battle scenes, people impaled by spears and arrows, stabbings, hatchetings, attacks by vicious animals, poisonings, bloody wounds, death, people caught in the mouths of large creatures, creepy tree grows into people, and people and creatures shot, blown up, and run over, plus ugly alien creatures could cause children nightmares"

Ummm, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, and a PG-13 rating. So keep your kids out of the movie unless they are 13. If your 13 year old gets nightmare, you might need to try something besides homeschooling on the compound! And those ugly creatures. We don't allow ugly in Christianity. No, no, no. Gotta be pretty.

"brief alcohol use; smoking and implied drug references; and, greed and exploitation rebuked, and movie promotes an anti-human, reverse racist ideology."

This one was my favorite. They rebuked greed and exploitation?!?  How dare them!!! The movie seems to promote an anti-conservative standpoint, but I will talk more about that when I see it tonight! Brief alcohol use, smoking, and implied drug reference.  Sounds like my small group.

I don't know about you, but after reading this, I have to see this movie!  I wasn't too excited about it until now.  Thanks Movieguide!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Southern Baptist Sissies

So, after railing on the Baptists and evangelicals on their fiscal and homosexual lovin' responsibiliites, I ran across this article, and have to say that I was surprised in how they are rethinking the way that they approach homosexuality. 

Read the Article Here

While I still assert that if you should never preach against homosexuality unless someone you know and love personally is one (see Public Relations), I do have to appreciate the Southern Baptists Convention's diligence to recognize that there needs to be a change, although I do feel that their response to Southern Baptist Sissies is because they don't really know how to respond, not that it doesn't need a response.  After all, it is a direct assault on the Baptists position on homosexuality and effectively paints them as haters of gay women and men. I don't believe this is entirely true, although one would be a fool to assume that there isn't a real disdain (to put it eloquently) in many members of the SBC towards homosexual culture. I do still sense a fear in their measured response. It is almost as if they are ping ponging between extremes. One moment homosexuality is laden with fire and brimstone. The other, it is presented equivalent to other sexual sins.

Then there was the guy who ministers to homosexuals who used to be one. That would be like an alcoholic hanging out in bars because the have been "set free." That very well may be true, but I have seen on too many occasions those people falling right back into the same lifestyle. An alcoholic, delivered or not, always knows that they are an alcoholic. Most never stop desiring alcohol, but they control that desire by keeping themselves away from situations where they might compromise, and being accountable to others. I don't think that a homosexual will ever stop desiring relations with the same sex, unless the miraculous happens in their lives. Maybe that has happened with this guy. I am not going to assume otherwise, but I hope that other people who are struggling to get out of a gay lifestyle don't follow this guys example. I have just seen it happen way too much where the environment, or even the possibility, is a more powerful motivator then staying clean.

I do feel that this is a healthy struggle for the SBC, and the quote that I appreciate the most is, 'Dean said. “There must also be compassion. Homosexual behavior is a sexual sin, just like adultery or other kinds of sexual immorality. Jesus’ compassion for the woman who was caught in adultery [John 8] serves as a great model for the church.”' This is absolutely true, and if this is the foundation for their struggle, then they are certainly on the right path!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

For My Wife

I am writing this blog specifically for my lovely wife. For the last three days, I have been Mr. Mom. Julie is sick in bed, and it looks that it could be some time before she is better, which sucks since this next week is Christmas! We are going to try our hardest to be out in West Texas for the big Presley extravaganza. Should be a barn burner!

Let me just start by saying this. I am a pretty good husband. I am a crappy wife. This sure hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination. Thursday was Salem's Christmas party at school, and Julie was supposed to bring juice and help with the party.  The juice I could handle. Playing mommy at the party with a bunch of other mommy's, not so much. Especially since I think that in their mind, they are wondering why I don't have a job. Well, a real job anyways to where I couldn't possibly get away because I am so important. But in reality, they probably weren't thinking that at all, but rather thinking, why does this taco meat taste like ass? That's because I didn't let it simmer.  Julie makes the taco meat!  Not me! Why are you looking at me with those condemning eyes! That's the way it played out in my head. In reality, they were all very nice and thought it was funny that I couldn't do something simple like cook meat. I am a man. Cooking any kind of meat should be in my blood.  Guess not.

So the kids have been pawned off a few times in the last four days. The neighbors, close friends, not so close friends, Sunday school classes, you name it. I have spent the entire time it seems doing dishes. How in the crap do we go through so many dishes? We are a family of four for Obama's sake! Salem has played the Wii pretty much the entire time he has been home.  I know it is not good to do that, but when he's into a game, he isn't making a mess that I have to clean up! Josiah doesn't have a vice yet to hold his attention. Cartoons don't do it.  When Salem was his age, we could have a playdate with his friend Thomas the Train and he was captive for at least 30 minutes.  Josiah isn't interested in the least.  The only thing he is interested in is playing with things that he isn't supposed to. So for three days, I have been hiding things so that he can't get to it, and he will find some object to stand on and typically get to my first hiding spot before I realize that I need to go higher. My only reprieve his his nap. That only happens once a day no matter how much I try to change that.

Last night, we were supposed to have a Christmas party. It got canceled for obvious reasons. Not everyone get that message though. Sorry Bethany. She showed up in her Christmas best with a date and a plate of Christmas cookies.  I felt terrible.  Hopefully the date found some redeeming moments of spontaneity. She did leave the cookies. I was sitting on the couch watching "The Hangover" on my laptop because it had to be back by 9. There were probably 10 cookies on that plate.  I heard a ruccus in the other room where the cookies were being stored, and by the time I got there, all but two had vanashed, and Josiah had a huge smile on his face. Come to think of it, so did the dog. Mind you he is not  yet 2. I guess they were good.  Thanks Bethany!

We do appreciate all of the people who have been praying.  My wife isn't out of the woods yet.  In fact, far from it.  We will know more in the coming days, but please continue to pray that God would heal Julie. She has had a rough few days, and we are uncertain how this will play out. Pray for me too, that I will have wisdom in the decisions that I have to make for the fam. I pray that all of you have a blessed Christmas season. Remember to put the "mas" back in Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why the Church is Responsible for the Healthcare Bill

So the politically charged season continues to heat up as Healthcare continues to make progress. Both sides have some major issues with the current bill that could stall it indefinitely. It is interesting how many believers are having a hard time balancing their social and political views during this season.  Many see those in need in our country, and realize that quite possibly, the only way for these people to receive help is through the government. After all, the agency responsible for caring for the poor, that being the Church, is a little too consumed with its own initiatives, and in fact, so much so that many are willing to put their political opinions (such as a staunch pro-life stance) aside to allow the government to be the Church to the poor in this country. It reminds me of a little book in the Bible called Nehemiah. Jerusalem was so disfunctional during the time of Nehemiah that they couldn't rebuild their own walls. They had fallen from prominence and were in danger of being conquered all together unless someone came along and took care of that which they were responsible for, rebuilding their own walls. So God used a pagan king and one man of faith to take care of an issue that the people of God were no longer able to manage. I see the same thing happening with healthcare.

For far too long, the Church has neglected the welfare of the poor. In the last few weeks, one particular fellowship here in Dallas began their $130 million building campaign. Here is a quote from the pastor. "The finest facility in this area should be one that glorifies almighty God." Never mind that this is Dallas, home to around 40 fortune 500 companies. I am sure God is overwhelmed with joy because of the planned sweeping concourses or the fricken sky bridge. Boy, are they proud of their sky bridge. And I am sure than when people see that, they say, oh glory to God! Seriously? I really wish the guy could be honest and say, "We've got money, yes we do. We've got money, how bout you?" Meanwhile, in downtown Dallas where this construction project is going on, homelessness is rampant, and the believers that are part of that fellowship know deep down inside that $130 million could go a long way to relieve world hunger, fight human trafficking (which Dallas is world renowned for it's mad trafficking skills), and a laundry list of other social injustices rather than spending all of that on comfort and bragging rights, not to mention the countless number of families in Dallas that are hurting because they lost their jobs. Too blessed to be a blessing. 


But lest I be naive, it is certain that this fellowship could never raise that type of capital on those kinds of initiatives. After all, it is tough for you to paste your name on the forehead of a homeless guy like you can on the fricken sky bridge. So since fellowships are spending so much money on themselves, combined with a down economy, many traditionally conservative believers are turning in droves for a solution that will enable the government to cover for the shortfall left by our greed. Many voted Democrat for the first time, and do you want to know why? Because it is the party that seems to emulate the values of Christ on a far greater number of issues than the opposite side.  If the party wasn't pro choice, there might not even be a Republican party. The simple fact is that neither side is more one way or the other as it involves the Christ commanded initiatives of the Church. It is a battle of public opinion. If either can convince you that they are good, then they will win. Every time, and then we spend the next 4 to 8 years regretting that mistake only to repeat it again with the opposite party. We are a ridiculous political culture. That is for certain, and the combination religion and politics are equally as absurd. It's funny how we feel that the separation of Church and State is somehow destroying this "Christian" nation. We need to keep it separate, because I believe that our meddling politics rather than being Christ to others has done a great job at destroying the American Church's effectiveness in American culture. I shutter to consider the consequences of our putting more faith in our government to provide for the needy that we have in our God. That ship might have already sailed though.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I want this shirt!


Now this is a Christian T-Shirt.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christians and our T-Shirts!



Elvis was a pro-life fetus? How did they know that?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Public Relations

On a few occasions, I have seen posts, blogs, articles, and Nashvagas Chrish pop singles on how the Church needs a good PR (public relations) campaign to get the right image out to the people. It appears that to many, pasty old white guy Christianity isn't getting it done. Neither is the uber hippie "I just don't know" Christianity that is building fellowships the size of cities, mostly made up of people who got sick of the old white guy way of doing things, and still haven't seen that the uber hippie way is equally as ridiculous. So many of those super hip Chish folks think that they can tweet the PR that the Church needs to once again be affective in our culture. Good for them. Hope it works.

But I have a bit different way of looking at it. This week, a group of "evangelicals" gathered in Washington to see if they could get arrested while they condemned homosexuals. The legislate resently handed down some new laws governing over hate crimes against minority groups, homosexuals being included in those groups. The "evangelicals" have been saying for months that this law would make preaching against homosexuality a crime in the US, so they went to Washing to prove their point. Such martyrs. No one got arrested. On the other hand, every one of those guys looked like idiots. I always find it interesting when a 300 lb preacher condemns homosexuality. I guess it really hurts to get that plank out of your own eye. Don't hear many sermons on gluttony.

I don't think that good PR will help in this situation. Rather, I think the Church needs a restraining order against these pillars of religious intolerance. Is there any way to make that happen? Is there any way to keep these guys from doing more harm to the Kingdom than good?

Of course, I am certain that God is not nearly as concerned about it as I am. In fact, He probably isn't concerned about us effectively marketing His brand in the least. I don't think that God was shaken in the least when these guys went to Washington and made complete fools of themselves and what they stand for. God can handle His own marketing, and maybe we are looking at more of a management issue. Maybe someone just needs to put the smack down. I don't know. It's just frustrating.

My niece is gay. She and her partner just had a beautiful little girl. I can't wait to see them next week for Thanksgiving. She knows what the scriptures says about homosexuality. She knows that I am a believer in the ministry who believes that the scriptures are authoritative. So, what would it say to her if I spent my day hanging out with those guys on the Hill? What do I say to her in response, that she's an abomination and going to hell? I don't see her as an abomination. I see her as my niece that I love. Jesus paid the price for this sinner to spend eternity with the Father, and although I will die selfish, prideful, gluttonous, and envious of my brothers and sisters, still I will be welcomed into the Father's arms. Why? Because I believe that the scriptures are true, that all who confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe that He rose from the dead will be saved. Has my niece done that? Not sure, but I hope so! What then? Well, she is a new creation. She may very well die a homosexual, just as I will die with a laundry list of the "lesser" sins, but I am just not going to make the doctrinal shift that says she will burn in hell for her sin, but I will not for mine.

So this does bring up the question, should Christians be tolerant of homosexuality? No more so than they should be tolerant of Christians beign judgmental, arrogant, prideful, and ambitious. In truth, I as a believer am inhibited in my ability to see homosexuality as God sees it by a hateful culture that has bred the very things that this hate crime legislation protects individuals from. So this is what I ask those who want to preach against homosexuality. When you do so, do you have someone in your mind who is a homosexual that you love, and don't give me this broad BS that you love everyone, because that just isn't true. If you don't actually know a gay person that you love, then you have no ministry to that culture, so maybe you should stick to being blessed to be a blessing. I actually know people who minister in the gay community. The phrase "You're an abomination and are going to hell" has never come up in their discussions or the presentation of the Gospel. We are all sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God and are in need of a Savior. That Savior is Jesus. Let He and the Holy Spirit handle the sin. Let's just love people for a change.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

The past week has been an incredible one for the Presley family. We are currently on vacation in beautiful Kelowna, British Columbia, and the trip is only tainted by the wild fires burning just over the ridge. We may be evacuated...but hopefully not! The first part of our trip started in Colorado to spend time with members of our spiritual family and enjoy the 70 degree days of the Colorado high country.

The week began with daily get togethers with old friends, and getting acquainted with new ones. I have been part of Ben and Robin Pasley's circle of friends for almost 12 years now, so these gatherings weren't anything new. The conversations centered around sonship in the Kingdom, which they typically do. It is always great spending extended time with a group of people who seem to have a grasp on the dynamics of being a son of a King whose kingdom is often neglected and relegated to the local fellowship.

God always takes time to bake my noodle a bit when I am on these trips, and He wasted no time for this one. As I was listening to conversations that I have heard before, and seeing people's eyes open to ideas that mine had previously been opened, I felt a tinge of cynesism growing inside me. It seemed that my heart was, "Yeah, so...," because we live in a city that is so far removed from the truth that was being said that it is difficult to live it out day by day when we return to the sweltering Texas heat. Then God dropped something big into my heart. He said, "It is easy to be persuaded by rhetoric. It is far more difficult to be transformed by truth."

I had to take a second to let that sink in...and then a few more seconds to let it sink in some more. In fact, I don't think that I now fully comprehend the depths of that statement and how it applies to how I have been living my life over the past 32 years.

In our culture, rhetoric is a powerful thing. So powerful that one can get elected president on rhetoric alone without having the least bit of experience or truth to back it up. Now this is not a political conversation. This is a conversation about how rhetoric drives our ideas and how we react to the culture around us.

I began to realize that I have been taking rhetoric, and making it part of my conversation and collection of ideas, rather than allowing the truth behind the "speak" to transform my life. In other words, I took on and expoused different ideas that impressed others and made me feel that I had it a bit more figured out than the normal Chrisitian, but I hadn't allowed the truth to make me a different person. In fact, I would say that I was the same person as before, but just with a new collection of descriptave words to depict my faith.

I have said this a number of times, but will say it again. God called us to go out and impact culture to build His kingdom. Rather, Christians have been busily building a culture and calling it His kingdom, when really it is only a collection of people who are too afraid and/or self centered to take the Gospel where it should live, in our daily lives rather than the ministries of our particular fellowship. For me though, this was just rhetoric, and every time I stated it, people would go, "Oh, that's good. I am going to have to think about that one." But really, upon that revelation, I should have completely changed the way that I was intersecting with culture. I should have become extremely agressive to finding ways to get into the culture that God has called me to reach and living life with people who need Jesus. Rather than that, I only took on the idea, and shared it with others, because of the appearances that it bred.

That evening, as we sat around the fire, enjoying the chill of a Colorado evening, my eyes were opened to the effective campaign of the enemy to take the revelation of God in my life and relegate it to an idea, which has seemed to make it truly pointless. I mean, really, what good is the revelation of God unless the result is a greater love for the Father and those He has called us to reach? I have seen this time and time again in my personal life as well as in others, and all along, I felt that we were really growing in the Lord, when in fact we were only growing our own egos and vocabulary.

Now, I don't want to say that all rhetoric is bad. In fact, with the understanding of the power of rhetoric in our culuture, I am asking God how we can use rhetoric as a gateway into other's discovery of the truth of the Gospel, but it can't simply end with an idea. It can't simply end with a mission statement or a slogan. Although many are foolish enough to blindly follow a slogan, we as believers must back it up with our lives and our love. It requires a transformation, one that I feel that I am finally embarking upon, and God is unpacking so much in my life right now that it is hard to keep up, but I will certainly be logging the transformation! I hope that many would have their eyes open as I was this weekend. We will see.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Lilies

Tonight, I watched the recent sci-fi thriller "The Day the Earth Stood Still" staring the ever stoic Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connolly. The film is about an alien who comes to earth to save it, and by doing so must wipe out the human race. It's basically a modern telling of the Noah story. Even the animals are taken away to preserve them.

You might have seen the previews where there is a cloud of something that is dissolving everything in site. Tanks, buildings, semi trucks, and people are gone after this cloud passes over them. I found myself rooting for the cloud, and in the end, was hoping for a not so happy ending. I won't tell you if I got that ending or not. You will have to see it for yourself.

I found it curious as to why I was wanting the cloud to win, as though we as humans deserve complete destruction. We deserve to be wiped off of the face of this planet. I see what we have created around us that we call life, and how it consumes our every thought and activity. I will work most of my life so that I can have a house, drive a car, talk on my IPhone, and type on this fricken computer, which I do far too much as it is. I look at my life and sincerely long for something more simplistic.

Looking at scripture, Jesus asks us to consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. They need not worry because God has already provided that which they need to survive. It makes me wonder if we as a human race have built so many comforts and conveniences around us that we will never be able to live our lives like that. I mean, did God really create us to sit in traffic? Did He create us to pay a mortgage? Did He create us to achieve the American dream? Or all of these things a giant distraction which will eventually lead to our demise?

I chuckle nervously as I write this post. I saw Terminator 4 this weekend, which of course is also about man's annihilation because of what we have created. As I read over Genesis, I have to ask myself the question of just what was so bad that God had to flood the Earth? How did they get to the point to where there was no other family on the planet that knew God other than Noah and his family? With the decline in Christianity here in the west, how much time will have to pass when, if staying on our current path, we are in the exact same spot, and there are no believers left?

I don't think that this will happen, and there are plenty who can get their theological Ginsu knives and cut that doctrine to shreds, but even with those guys, who spend their entire lives educating themselves of the nature of God, how is that being the lilies of the fields or the birds of the air, and of course there are many believers who are distracted by theology just like I am distracted by Twitter, my four year old, and the 24 season finale. We all have these man created systems around us that keep us from being that which God created us to be, and I know that this is so prevalent in my life, and all I want is for the cloud to come and take it away, so that maybe I can see clearly that I am God's beloved, He has a plan and purpose for my life and my family and friends, and all the rest is pure bull shit.

Now I am concerned what people will think because I used the word shit. Who am I kidding. No one reads this anyways. Anyways, back to the topic. Monthly, the place where I live cost me roughly 1/3 of my income. In other words, since I work about 16o hours in a month, I spend 50 hours a month making money to have a house. That's about 1 and a half hours a day. Do I spend that with God....and I wonder why I can be like the lilies. Obviously my house is more important. In fact, as far as my time is concerned, the only thing that I would say is more important than my house is my television, because you can bet that I spend more than 1 and a half hours a day watching that. The other thing would be my family. I will typically spend more time that that a day with them.

So what does that say about me as a person? It says that my house and my television are more important to me than my relationship with God. I mean, let's face it. Even if I get 40 minutes in the car to pray and mediate on God, it still doesn't come close to the amount of time that I spend on the house, and in reality, my heart is longing, dieing, crying out to know God more, and could care less about this house, but my mind and my flesh continues to buy into the lie that these things are important. I simply cannot be a Lily. I can't be a Lily, a father, an employee, a husband, and a son.

One of the points of the movies is that the Aliens had to come because the people were unwilling to change. The point is made that it is only on the precipice, at the point of total destruction, do a group of people truly change. That is why I have seen heroine addicted drug addicts miraculously turn their lives around on a dime. I have also seen some destroy themselves, but I am not now, nor ever have been at that point. Sure I have had some really difficult times, but my complete and total destruction wasn't the result unless I changed course. During the difficult times, God is so clear, like the morning after a huge thunderstorm, but it is only a matter of time until the distraction come back, because I didn't really change. I was just desperate for God and because He loves me, He was there for me. I have to ask myself the question though. Will it take my immanent destruction for me to truly change, because I can tell you this. I don't know of anyone who has willed that to happen; who one day woke up and said I am going to change today. In every case, there has always been their immanent demise, whether it was losing 300 pounds for Oprah or realizing that you need to diet and exercise because you had a heat attack.

That is not to say that instances like that don't exist, but everyone that I have known for some time are pretty much the same as the day that I met them, especially other believers. Some are more predisposed to ideological shifts, but not in a way which radically removes every obstacle that keeps them from having a full relationship with God. Those who had a vibrant relationship with God still do. Those who were faking it still are. Those who didn't want to have anything to do with God still don't for the most part, and it is only those whom I have seen come to know Christ who have been transformed and are radically different. Either that, or they reached a moment in their lives of destruction, and God had to piece their lives back together. I long for that destruction, because without it, my life is just like that of so many believers whose relationship with God is merely something that they make time for. It isn't something that drives their daily existence.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pain Unimaginable

A friend of mine lost his two baby daughters this week. They were conjoined and the doctors didn't expect them to live very long outside of the womb. They had about an hour to spend getting to know their children before they went to be with Jesus. I cannot image the pain of such a loss. Well, I can image because I have two boys, and losing them both would be a torture unimaginable.

There is far more to this story that inspires faith in many, watching this family struggle with God's design, perceptions about how babies should look, and succumbing to the knowing that it is only a matter of time before they will have to deal with this loss. I know many charismatic Christians would have said that they needed to have faith that Jesus would heal these two little girls. Some may even say that it was their fault that they weren't healed due to a lack of faith. Those people have probably not dealt with the loss of someone extremely close, but one day they will, and this crisis of faith will either lead to their distancing from God our the changing of their doctrine.

I personally have been impacted more than many looking from the outside in. Recently, my family has been going through difficult times as well, which pail in comparison to what this family was going through. What is amazing is that the father of these two little girls was a great encouragement to my family, in spite of the fact the he know that in two days, he would lose his little girls. He was fully justified in letting us handle our own problems, because his were much bigger. My friend Mimo wrote a great blog called, "Not now, I am Trying to Save the World" which speaks on this topic. The basic point that he makes quite well is that far too often we are too self absorbed in our own issues, calling, or ambition to spend any time helping others through their difficult times.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Church has always demonized those individuals that walk by this beaten down man without lending a hand. Maybe the first person was late to a lunch appointment. The second had lost his job and was wondering how he would make rent that month. The story of the two is no different than most of our daily existence as believers, but my friend is not that person. He took the time to spend with our family when his family was hurting. The thing that breaks my heart is that I am not sure that I would do the same. To be honest, it never even dawned on me during the time that his circumstances far outweighed mine. All I could think about was how we as a family was hurting and concerned about what we were going to do next.

I am inspired by this man. I am inspired by his humility, genuine love, and the fact that I can't mistake the face of Jesus when I spend time with him. I trust him with my family, even when many times in the past, men in his position have betrayed that trust. This family has been through the fire, and they are still burning, but the fact that they faced it head on despite the pain makes them worthy of trust.

My prayers are with you. Thank you for being a real example of Jesus in a world full of counterfeits. I am very fortunate to have people like yourself in my life.

Interruptable

I was reading a LA Times article today on the phenomenon of Twitter. I subscribe to Twitter and put post and ideas up there fairly often. The article mentioned how people are allowing interruptions to happen in their lives through this service. Me personally, I have the Twitterfox add-on for Firefox and every time there is a number that pops up, I open the window and find out that a friend is bragging about running 5 miles or telling me where they are going to eat dinner. Then I hop on there and brag about some thought that I have, and my narcissistic tendency waits with baited breath for a response from someone to legitimize my thought, action, and/or existence.

So I can see why people would post to Twitter. After all, we are probably the most self centered generation this planet has ever seen, myself included. We have successfully isolated ourselves in such an efficient way through the web and our cultural circles that we have to somehow create a marketplace around us that will celebrate our ideas and achievements. No longer are the influential few celebrated widely. The internet can make us all stars.

Now what about those, like myself, who spend their day being interrupted by people's updates? I find it curious that privacy is no longer a value in our culture. We used to value the ability to disconnect and be unreachable, but today, we invent ways to divert our attention and be distracted. I am a multi-tasker. I like having a number of balls in the air to juggle at once (your welcome Office fans). I typically don't like to focus on one task for an extended period of time, but I rather treat my life like a multiple download. I don't have time to sit and wait for one song to finish downloading before I start the other. For some reason, I think that downloading all the songs at once will get it done quicker. Of course it won't, but in my mind, it is certainly faster. There are hundreds of other ways I do thisl.

Because of the way that I am wired, I have always had to force myself to stop everything and spend time with God, but one thing is certain. I am interruptable...but not by God. I interrupt myself countless times a day to check email, read a text, check twitter, read status updates, and the list goes on and on and on. I very seldom find myself being interrupted by the voice of God, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or intimacy with Christ. I feel as though my life is getting entirely too cluttered. There are too many items in my life that I have added to make communication more simplistic and efficient but are having the opposite effect.

I guess I can equate this movement to something like film making. Making a film typically involves a symphony of artists working together in concert to create one collected work. That was the case until Blair Witch came along. Now anyone with Final Cut and a camcorder can be a film maker. True, we have some some incredible works of art come from this movement, but it has also created a tremendous amount of noise out there. The same is true with Myspace and the music industry. While the independent artist has opportunities like they have never had, it also have introduced so much material into the marketplace that has no business being there in the first place. Noise.

I fear that with these social movements, the same will happen with our relationships and our connections with one another and with God. I am afraid we will start having the mentality that we can communicate our love, affection, and even testimony in 140 words or less, but even more so, that our communication and connection with one another will be so full of noise that it loses all meaning. There is just something about this social networking thing that doesn't sit right with me. For some reason, I don't think that God needed a college geek in a dorm room to create methods for us as humans to connect with one another in meaningful ways, and I certainly don't think that God intends for the daily ins and outs of our lives to be extraordinary in the least to one another, especially if we spend more time in the discover/communication of the mundane than the consistent discovery of the eternal and never ending glory of God.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Impressive

Being here in Dallas, this is the land of impressive fellowships. The fellowship which employs me is fairly impressive. Down the street, there are fellowships with huge steeples and parking garages. They are really impressive. Even further, you have fellowships with moving lights, multiple projection screens, worship leaders with cool hair, and pastors who look great on 20/20. Very impressive indeed. You go even further and you have all of that plus about 20,000 people who join in the impressiveness. Yes, I live in a region of the world where the Church is very impressive.

I am kind of impressive too. I have a beautiful wife. I have reared children that everyone adores. I can do allot of stuff really well. As individuals go, I would think that I am just north of average on the impressive scale. I hang out with impressive people who do even more impressive stuff than I do. Their blogs and podcasts are impressive. Their songwriting ability is impressive. Their ability to attract others like them is impressive as well. With all of this impressiveness floating around, it has led me to one central understanding that is quickly becoming core to my understanding as a believer.

There is no way in heaven or hell we are going to impress anyone into the Kingdom of God. The phrase will never be uttered, “I came to know Christ because I was just so impressed by those Christians and their impressive lives!” The entirety of the attraction that the family of God brings is not that God makes us more impressive to others. It is that we as sinners, depraved and broken, have been adopted into the family of God. We once were orphans. Now we are heirs, and although we will remain depraved and broken until God takes us home, we are covered by a grace that both stays the wrathful hand of God and allows us to know our Father, His Son, and His Spirit in a radical, counter cultural, unimpressive and humble way.

The Sexy Christian

Ok, so I have been trying to figure out why I want a Mac so bad. My work provides me with a perfectly good PC to check my email, hop on the internet, and post to this blog. In the creative world, Macs are simply better because of their processing power and OS, but that doesn't matter too much for me checking my email and posting to this blog. So why is it that when I walk in to Starbucks, and pull out my Dell, I feel embarrassed?

Tonight, I watched a Mac commercial. It was about how Mac is green. The battery last a long time and has a longer shelf life, etc. I thought to myself, I need a Mac so that I can care about the environment more. How retarded is that? If I don't have a Mac, I am the pudgy, dorky, slightly overweight guy who could never get laid, especially if you are standing next to Mac guy. Fortunately my wife lives me for my Dell!

So what does this say about us as consumers in America? How about all of my Mac friends out there? Why do you have a Mac? Is it for the processing power? Is it because it offers you more programs than a PC that you use for your business? Or do you have one because it's more sexy than a PC? Or even more so, do you have one because you subconsciously believe the ads that the Mac itself makes you more sexy, greener, artistic, and/or hip?

I think it would be a far more interesting discussion to think about how the Mac influence has worked its way into what we do in ministry. I only bring this up because as I look at myself in ministry, and even the motivation behind why I do what I do, I can see allot of the same mentality creeping up in my drive and purpose. How can I be a more sexy Christian? What do I need to do to be more artistic, greener, and/or hip? Is it possible that I have been influenced by a very effective marketing campaign whose book deals and growth techniques, or better yet, the crafty lies and deceit of an enemy set on destroying our intimacy with God, have convinced me that there is a formula, product, or program that will make my ministry more attractive to others. It will make my band be more attractive, my art be more attractive, and the list goes on and on. How can I make my ministry more sexy? How can I be a more sexy Christian?

Paul warns against this kind of stuff. He warns of us being more influenced rather than being an influence. I am going to paraphrase here, and possibly take a bit of artistic license. He speaks of how he preaches the cross and Him crucified. He says that this is the only tool that he has to be an affective minister, but I really don't think that we as believers today actually believe those words. I mean, it has to be the Gospel...and. Yeah, we have the Gospel and a sweet multimedia presentation. We have the Gospel and a television ministry. We have the Gospel and a drum circle. I am certain that I don't think that any of these things are bad, but my concern is that I have come to the conclusion that the Gospel isn't sexy on its own.

My wife and I are involved in a ministry that goes into brothels to minister to prostitutes. For the last year, they have tried everything to gain entry into these people's lives. They tried serving them, gift baskets, being covert, but none of that worked. One day one of the team members got a really dumb idea. She suggested that they go in and wash these whore's feet. I use that word because that is the typical stigma that Christians put on these men and women, much like the people did when Christ loved on Mary Mag. It's the reason why these sons and daughters are the most marginalized people in our society.

So they started doing that. They started praying really hard, and going in and sharing how Jesus came to serve and would wash his disciples feet. All of the sudden, they began to be invited into the brothels. They were asked to stay for dinner by the House Mommas. They were asked to pray with the girls, read scripture, and share about the life of Jesus. Low and behold, people started getting saved in the whore houses! The Gospel worked! It really worked! It was sexy enough.

So I think that I'm bringing sexy back, and am going to stop this nonsense that says that God needs my anything to reach the lost. He has already done so, and the greatest story that was ever told is my story to tell, and is the only thing that will be affective should I allow my giftings to tell it without Mac pollution.
 
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