Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Outsiders

If you have not heard Needtobreathe's 2009 cd The Outsiders stop what you are doing and go to your online sources and get it. Good luck finding it in stores. I stated and stand by the assumption that the best rock cd of 2008 was War Paint by The Black Crowes. I think the best rock cd of 2009 has to be Needtobreathe's The Outsiders.
The album just pulls you in from the begining with the anthem of those who stand on the outside. The lyrical imagery they take to tell their stories in song is exceptional and something you miss in much of today's music fueled by hooks and beats.Valley of Tomorrow says "I pulled a 38 out of my beating heart, I killed my selfish needs thats bringing me this far." another great line in "Valley of Tomorrow" is "I never second guess the little voice I heard thats just a whisper that sounds like a scream."
The song with it black gospel feel "Lay It Down" brings to mind the imagery of baptism as a place one can start over and leave all those things there in the water.The song "These Hardtimes", sure makes us people living in them believe that there is hope. There is the beautiful "Stones Under Rushing" water sung with Serena Ryder, is a heartwrenching look at how a love can grow cold and what it takes to make it work again. "Why don't we laugh anymore? Im not ok with that." Just sitting down and talking about it seems to be the answer. The recent hit from this album full of hits "Something Beautiful" reminds to find the beauty that exist in the world and seek it out. I truly could go on and on about each song but do yourself a favor and get this album you won't regret it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Metal Fence-1 Me-0

Recently I started writing for a sports blog . I love football and writing at times so its a good fit. As I have been tackling the various issues that are prevelent in sports, it got me thinking about my own athletic ability (or lack there of) Most of the people that write on the blog have some history with sports. In fact the main guy David Johnson played for my beloved Aggies.
Well with full disclosure I have to say my sporting history is not that long or interesting. I can say I LOVE football and have watched it all my life. I havent really played though outside of flag football our private school played, which I took just as serious as real football even if I had to count to 3 Mississippi before I went after the QB. I also did throw up the game winning basket in basketball with out any style or grace and I believe the Pastor of the church school I went to made me into a sermon illustration about having heart.
So I say that to say that today was one of those moments that reminds me of how truly unathletic I am. I was running around at the park playing a lively game of "I'm Gonna Get You!" The basic rules are you look at your child and say "I'm gonna get you!" then proceed to chase them across the park playground. My son, Caden decided to add a wrinkle to the rules. Basically, if he drops to the ground like a opposum he is safe. Im not really sure where he came up with this idea but since we are the only 2 playing it seemed fair enough. Until......
Until there was a new player in our game I hadn't expected to join. I began to chase Caden at a high rate of speed or at least the highest rate of speed my almost 36 yr old legs would do. I am running full speed when Caden decides this is the time to hit the ground and duck and cover. Since my body is moving quite fast and his isnt I jump to avoid running into him. At this point I become airborne and in my mind Jordan couldnt have excuted a better jump in his heyday, though Jordan's landing was much better.
This is the point when everything slows down and I see everything in SLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWW MOOOOOOOOTIOOOON. As I am flying over my son and a small partition I notice what is fast approaching next member of our game...a metal gate. During my flight I begin thinking the ground would be softer if I can only get low enough I will hit the dirt. So make the best baseball dive Ive ever attempted in my life towards the ground only to meet the other member or our game head on! My wife said I was all legs as I flailed about through the air, and that she thought I was going to great lengths to get a laugh. I assure I was not but as I lay with my head pounding facedown in the dirt all I could think was Metal Fence -1 Me- 0. So while I may not be athletic enough to play I think I am happy just to write about it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Grace Flows Down

Recently, I watched a documentary called "The Gates of Hell" In this documentary the people went to the places that are said to be the entry places to the Underworld. One of the things they wrestle with in the film is the existence of Hell, the Devil, etc. They say if you believe in Heaven there must be a Hell. If you believe in angels there must be demons, and If you believe in God then Satan must exist as well. When the filmakers talked about Hell they went on and on about how it is the place to punish the wicked, a place to punish those that have sinned against God.
Now while I have no qualms agreeing with the existence of Heaven or Hell, I do take offense to the idea that if I am not good enough there resides a place for me in the Lake of Fire. First off let me state I am a sinner and everyday I myself fall short of God's glory. I fail, I am in no way deserving of the love that God freely bestows upon me. I really think about how I fall short, and I am amazed that God would take the time to love me as I am.
Hell does exist and so does Heaven, they are literal places that we will spend an eternity. The rule probably should be like this: Good people , nice, well meaning moral individuals of the world go to Heaven. Bad people, mean murderers, vile, disgusting dregs of society go to Hell. This idea seems simple enough but this type of thinking leaves out something. It says it is either black or its white. It would probably be true if we served a God that just choose who was good and who was bad. If God just choose to reward the good and punish evil.
In reality God did the exact opposite instead he rewarded the evil and punished the good. Why? Okay before you cry heresy hear me out. I stated in the begining that I fall short of God's glory daily as do you. We are indeed the evil in the equation while Jesus Christ is the good. We never suffered an agonizing death upon the cross for our sins, but Jesus who was good did. Why? Why did God want to restore us? What makes you or I of any worth to God?
God is love, He desires to have a loving relationship with us. The volcanoes may be making more room for the inhabitants of Hell but there is not enough oceans in the Sea to contain the grace that flows to us from Heaven above. Jesus bled and died on the cross of Calvary because God loved us soo much; He was willing to let his Son agonize for our sins. We do not deserve the love of God he pours out from Heaven but thank God He does. So instead of worrying about being good enough to get to Heaven we should instead be glad His grace flows down and willingly accept this grace.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dinner for Schmucks

This mornings service really made me think today. We talked about how the Romans had different class system. Basically there were the well to do people, and then the poorer among them. The poor people were not invited to sit at the table with the aristocracy of the day.
When the apostle Paul heard that this practice was being done during the Lord's Supper It upset him. Paul wrote that He hears there are divisions among you, and even though it is hard to believe to be true, there it is. (1 Cor 11 The Msg) He was upset mostly because Christians were basically excluding those that were or a lower class. It is almost like the title of the new movie with Steve Carrell "Dinner for Schmucks" I mean basically the poor were invited to the Supper but really only to be looked down on. They had to come late while all of the good stuff was gone because the wealthy of that day came early and ate and drank it all.
This got me thinking about how we as Christians today tend to look down upon others. Maybe we invite them to church or give them a tract and say come but we never really invest our lives in thiers. We fulfill our "duty" but thats as far as we are willing to take it. Or we may look down upon the culture in which we live as if we are better because we are Christians. We think, we are above those that are downtrodden around us. Many times as Jesus said "We spend so much time looking at the speck in our brothers eye that we miss the plank jutting out of our own eye." We think by going certain places and avoiding others that we are holy and "set-apart". It seems when we look at Jesus example the places he frequented were places where those that needed him most would be. Maybe instead of judging those around us and looking down on them we should be offering a seat at the table next to us, because as Natalie Grant sings "There's No Such Thing as Perfect People"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Where is your focus?

I will say this with as much respect to Dr. Still my Greek teacher for what seemed like forever at DBU. I hope Im getting the Greek right cause it IS the crux of my entire argument. The Greek language has what is called the Future Passive Indicative tense, unlike English where we just use the Past tense of a verb. The Future Passive Infinitive of a word means that it is in the state of being. Now not to sound too much like an English teacher, I will begin.
We come across several times in Scripture this tense being used. Most notably is when John the Baptist and Jesus declare "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Now we in the western cultures view this phrase as a future tense. So we think okay we need to look forward to a grand day in the future when The Kingdom will appear. This I believe is how we get our many predictors who write such books as 88 reasons Jesus Christ is coming back in 1988. Now I am not necessarily proclaiming to know more than Hal Lindsey, the author of that book, but it is well past 1988. In fact if my calculations are right we should have those hoverboard's from Back to the Future 2 by now.
Okay so back to the phrase, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand." This is to be read in two ways in english it is what is called the "already and not yet principle." When Jesus proclaims his Kingdom he is telling us that it IS here on this earth and is not completed but it in the process of completion, much like our very salvation. Yes, we are saved but we have not been saved, so much as we are in process of being saved. Growing up in church it was always a simple God said it I believe it that settles it mentality. Until I was able to get my head around Greek phrases I did not have the full understanding of the Word as I do. This is not to say I am a scholar by any means but its amazing how understanding the Greek opens the Word up to you in marvelous ways.
When you think of salvation in these terms, you realize that we are a people in need of Savior every single day of our lives, and it brings taking up the cross daily into a whole new light. This to me helps me understand my own struggles with sin, you see I am dead to sin, or better am made dead to sin. However, I am also in the process of being saved as well as I am saved. The best way I can think to exemplify the two is that I am alive therefore I am also in the process of salvation while if I were not alive then I could say I was saved.
Now with all these major concepts somewhat put into place I go further. Heres the crux of what I am writing I think. I see us as Christians living in two manners. There are those that are looking forward to a great rapture, and then there are those regretting the past.
Essentially we are looking forward because Jesus may come anyday. In fact I believe the phrase is "Jesus, is coming soon, so look busy!!" Yes, Jesus will come back someday, but that does not absolve us from our resposibility as Christians to be living. We are to be living and working on this earth, because as it says in Revelation the entire earth is groaning for its redemption. We are to be apart of that transformation. We are to lead the lost to a Savior that will continue to love us daily, and start the process of salvation in our lives. Now, understand I am not saying that our salvation can be lost, just that it is a process and not a finished act.
The other major flaw in our Christianitan thinking is our focus on our past. I think of the scene in the Lion King when Rafiki whomps poor Simba on the head and he says "Hey!,What did you do that for?", to which Rafiki says "What?, it is in the past." Imagine if we lived in this manner too. Okay maybe not so ridiculous, but instead what we do is worry about or past sins and failures and feel this deems us unworthy to serve, unworthy to worship, unworthy to be loved by our Savior. We allow the past to interfere with our realationship with Jesus. We, become so focuse don our sins, and in turn ourselves that we miss a loving Savior that wants to use us in mighty ways.
Thus I say that when we focus on the future, or regret the past, we miss the most important part which is RIGHT NOW. I believe that the way these concepts are presented in Scripture are to point to the present. Jesus said He will come like thief in the night. The purpose of these analogies He used was not for prediction but for readiness. Jesus wants us to focus on RIGHT NOW because, RIGHT NOW someone is homeless and needs food, RIGHT NOW someone is abused and needs LOVE. RIGHT NOW someone is drowning in their own despair and needs to be LIFTED UP. RIGHT NOW there is a world that needs Jesus Christ and RIGHT NOW we can be the ones to introduce them to HIM, but not if we are too focused on the past or what may happen in the future, (besides we never got any of those cool future things promised to us anyway where are those flying cars and hoverboards? )

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Love is the Light

When you are sitting at home watching your favorite show on the television and suddenly the power goes out if you can not find a flashlight probably one of the first things you do is light a candle. Once the candle is lit it illuminates all that is around you so that you can see what was once in the darkness. We are compared to a candle.

Jesus said "You are a city on a hill" and "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify the Father" We are called to be the light in a darkened world. He tells us to be the light of the world. Notice He did not say the light above the world. That means we are to live here down in the dirt and grime of the world with everyone else.

We are to shine amongst all the world around us. We are not to live this life with our heads in the clouds. We need to be the light. The love we show is that light. I say "Love is the light". The one thing that shows other people that you indeed are a believer is the love you show them. No matter what you say, or what you do, its not about words or actions if there is no love. Love is what seperates us from everyone else. We are commanded to love as He loved us. How does he love us? He initiates a relationship with us. That is also how we are to love.

We are to love by not coming to people like we are above them or better than them but that we are one of them. We have the same trials, temptations and tribulations that they do. We are all in this together this life we live. This means we cannot just simply hand someone a tract or go "soul-winning" and expect results. We are not salesman for the Lord. We are not advertisers for Jesus. We are the light. We are that beacon that shines and shows the ones who do not know Him what direction to go. We are what illuminates the darkness around us. We can not be this guiding force by simply investing 5 mins at the door of a stranger in which we become the "Great Inquisitor" asking simple questions about thier mortality.

Honestly, this is a weighty question should'nt more time and energy be invested in such a question than just spouting off scripts to get to Heaven? It seems to me we must be willing to invest our lives a little more than just that. Jesus did not go to the fisherman in the Sea and say heres is a 8 point plan to get you to Heaven. He said simply "follow me" This type of thinking may mean you do not get to see some results. You may only be the one watering the plant and someone else may come along to see the harvest. That is okay because God uses all of these people to bring others to Him. Every bit of this process is necessary and relevant. This is not simply a question to give people fire insurance for the after life but a question that asks are you ready for the commitment of a relationship with Jesus?

Friday, May 14, 2010

There's really not an app for that !!!

You know those commercials that say need such and such well theres an app for that? Well guess what? They do not make an app to get toilet water out of your iPhone. Believe me, I looked,twice.
Okay this week has been insanely lonnnng. It started with my youngest sending my iPhone into the abyss of our toilet. Luckily getting another was not that hard but i felt so disconnected from the world. I want to thank everybody that took the time to read my blog last week it meant alot to me. I read the blog in Tommy's funeral too. In case you didn't know Tommy is no longer suffering and is now walking the golden streets of Heaven. The family I know appreciate all your prayers.
Speaking of prayers answered "I PASSED THE ESL TEST!!!" I am on my way to definately becoming a teacher I can feel it. I was a little worried that I would be taking that bad boy again, but thank the Lord I will not. Well that about catches things up for today I have no deep theological diatribes this time around.