What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to God.
I’m not sure where this even comes from, but it’s pretty cool stuff huh? God has given us everything – our spiritual gifts, our families, our money, even life itself. What we do with those things is how we can honor Him and give back to Him.
I guess Justin’s a cow so I decided to join in on the fun – no – here’s an article I found that really spoke to me about how I treat Miranda – well, how I treat most other people too. I get way too interested in accomplishing my task and don’t pay enough attention to the people I’m with. Jesus always focused on people. Women and even chimps are better at this than I am. (By the way Baby, I’m sorry for the times I’ve paid too much attention to getting stuff done, when I should have just wanted “to be with you.”)
Here’s the article:
Men, Women, Chimps, and Scientists by Dave Brisbin
Women and their men. I see them all the time. Airport terminals are a good place to watch. The roles, the emotions, the language is universal.
I see a young couple from the moving sidewalk coming toward me hand in hand. One of them has just arrived. I can’t tell which; the small case he carries is non-descript. They talk. She is smiling. Looks up at his eyes, back forward again. Up. Back. So much is said with her eyes. I can only imagine. I watch him. He is talking, but looks forward; she alternately at him and back ahead. What I see in her eyes he hasn’t seen as long as I watch.
They pass, and I watch their backs. I see her profile tilted up to his face, but only the back of his head—minding the tiller. I’ve seen this before. Why is it so much easier for women to know where to look? Where to keep their eyes? Moving through their lives with their eyes fastened to the sides, on the eyes of those who travel with them—their men more intent on destination, the negotiation of the journey. And how do women keep that look in their eyes as they search up into the profiles of their men?
Last Wednesday night we got a video of scientists trying to teach human language to apes and dolphins . . . . . a segment stays in my mind. One man, a very famous scientist, spent three years raising an infant chimp and trying to teach him sign language. He named the chimp Nim. Nim did very well. Learned several hundred signs. But funding ran out, the project was disbanded, and Nim went to a zoo or something like it. After reviewing hundreds of video tapes of his sessions with Nim, the scientist concluded that Nim was only imitating his teachers and hadn’t really learned anything. Put a big dent in the chimp-teaching business for awhile.
Several years later the scientist went to see Nim. Hadn’t seen him since funding ran out on the project. In clinical voice over, he wondered if Nim would remember him. The video camera caught Nim walking with a trainer just as he caught sight of the scientist. Immediately chimp screeches filled the TV speaker at the rate of about three per second as Nim threw up his arms and sprinted, as well as chimps can in their loping way, for the scientist who got down on his haunches and braced for impact.
Nim leapt into the scientist’s lap and threw his arms around his neck. Chimp arms being what they are, they almost went around twice. All this time and for as long as the camera held on Nim and the scientist, chimp screeches never stopped or even slowed down, chimp teeth big and bright as the scene cut.
And I kept hearing those screeches, and I laughed and smiled and my eyes stung a little all at the same time because the scientist thought that Nim learned nothing, and Nim thought that the scientist was his father, or brother at least. Because the scientist was looking ahead at where he was going. Nim was looking at him.
I’d rather be a chimp than a scientist.
I’d rather be a young woman watching her man’s profile than a young man watching the road.
How weird is that? We get so caught up in getting everything done and even a monkey knows the most important thing in life is our relationships. I wonder how many times I’ve broken God’s heart by worrying about “getting things done” when he just wants me to “be with Him?” I wonder how many times I’ve done that to Miranda?
No Joke – I just found out today that there is a real disease called “Boanthropy” where someone thinks they are a cow. Someone suffering from this disease actually lives like a cow – they stay outside all the time, eat grass, and drink from a pond. Weird stuff. Evidently this is what King Nebuchadnezzar had during the 7 years that he was off his throne in Daniel 4.
PS – According to what I read, all you vegetarians better be careful – evidently that’s the first symptom of someone with Boanthropy.
I was thinking about the church in Acts 2, and wondered what it was really like. I experienced a group of people a few weeks ago that I think may have come pretty close. Joe, the guy who was my youth minister when I was in High School, holds a Bible Study at his house on Tuesday nights. I was in Ft. Worth a few weeks ago for a conference and dropped in on them – I surprised Joe – It was great fun to see the look on his face when I walked in. It’s a beautiful community of people. They truly celebrated Jesus and seem to really work/walk through life together. I witnessed accountability, support, discipleship, joy, passion, prayer, fellowship, worship, concerns for mission and ministries. Acts talks about how the people had everything in common – I sensed a true sharing among them that night – like if someone had a need, together they’d find a way to fill it. I know it’s only from the outside looking in, but it seems to me that what they are enjoying is truly what church is supposed to be. I wonder what it would take to develop that kind of community right here where I am? I wonder what else God would desire for a community that my imagination can’t even dream? How can I really invest in people and simply give myself “to” them and “for” God’s glory?
Joe, If you’re reading this, thanks for letting me sit in – I’m encouraged by my experience with you.
Here’s a really cool poem that I found about what is to be a “Manly Man!” It’s from a poetry book called “All the Hits so Far, but Don’t expect too much.”
(I wonder if one of our girls could write a poem like this about what it means to be a woman of God?)
Here is the poem:
I don t want my long hair, pretty green eyes, with ( no! I do not have on mascara. ) eyelashes, skinny figure, undersized t-shirt, hip shake too much when I walk confuse anybody. I am a manly man.
Within this sissy frame, obviously rib laden chest lies a heart that beats to the drum of a native American ritual dancing wildness. It pumps an ever cascading supply of untamedness that a herd of wild mustangs have yet to grasp. If danger lurks about, I will seek it out. If adventure abounds, there I will be found. If a damsel be in distress, I will show her who is best. I am a manly man.
Because I don t flush, and I leave the lid up.
I drive a 1988 Ford Pick-up truck. Girls don t break up with me, I break up with them first. ( Except the last time, it didn t really work out like that ) I don t shave the hair on my face ( Because I still can t grow facial hair yet ) But when I can, I won t, because beards are tough.
I fart, burp, and spit when I want, not caring who s nearby. Disrespect my momma, and I will punch you in the eye. I am a manly man.
Or am I? I tell my guy friends that I love em. And sometimes, sometimes I even hug em. Not because I m gay, but because I love em. And when I watched Bambi, I cried. And when my Mema gets mad, I still run and hide.
Like David, I wanna be a man after God s own heart. And I m not there yet, but I m past the start. And when people talk, I try to listen. A spirit of compassion, that s my vision. Surely I am a manly man. I want to be loved and have love and give love.
And not just that romantic kind either. Although I am looking for that beauty. Not helpless, but wants to be rescued. The damsel in distress, man, woman, myth, true. I will fight for her, climb the highest tower for her, love her, share with her, delight in her, be her warrior, her protector. She will be my crown and I will be hers. My masculinity will be passed down and affirmed to my sons. And each of my daughters will know they are lovely, and deserving of authentic romance.
Society tells me all day long that I ve defined manhood completely wrong. But you ask any honest man, and he will agree. You ask any honest woman, and she too will see, that I am a manly man.
I heard a guy (Dan Kimball who wrote “The Emerging Church” – www.vintagefaith.com ) talk the other day about what a Jewish Wedding back in Jesus’ day was like. He related the Jewish customs to our relationship with Christ as the groom. We are the bride. He is the groom. Here’s my take on it all:
1. Selection of the Bride – The first step in the process was when the father of the groom selected the bride. Young Jewish girls had little say in who they would marry and would dream about who would select them. The groom committed his love the the bride based soley on his father’s decision. The bride loved her groom simply because He had loved her first.
It’s good for us to remember that God chose us. Even in the midst of our sin against Him, He still loves us. Romans 5:8 “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Of course it is out of our response to the love that He offers us that we are able to love Him. 1 Jn 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”
2. Mohar – The second step in the process is called the “mohar.” This is the price that was paid to the bride and her family. It represented the magnitude of how the groom valued her. The greater the price, the more value they had ascribed to her.
For us, we should remember that Jesus (the groom) paid the ultimate price for us with His own life. This is proof that we are incredibly valuable to God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “You are not your own; You were bought with a price.”
3. Engagement Contract and Gifts – After paying the “mohar,” the groom would offer the bride a list of promises which he was committing to her for the life of their marriage. This is list was called the “ketubah.” In addition, he would give her gifts to remind her of his love while he was away. (see next step) He would also offer a cup of wine to his girl. If she accepted his offer, then she would drink of the cup without saying a word. This act ceremonially sealed the engagement before he left. (check #5)
We were given a “ketubah” (list of promises) called the Bible, and many gifts (Romans 12:6-8 – spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit, the church, etc.) to remind us of Christ while He is away. Mark 14:25 Jesus says, “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine again until the day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” The last supper represents the seal that Christ has on us.
4. “Mikvah” – The fourth step in this process is called “mikvah” which is a ritual bath that the bride would take to “set her apart” from the world and “for” this man. She would symbolically say – my old life is gone and the new has come.
Our baptism is our “mikvah.” It is the time when we decide to “set ourselves apart” for Christ. It is during this time that we are made “new” again. Jeremiah 1:4-5 – We are set apart for God.
5. Groom leaves to prepare the wedding chamber. Typically this would last about a year, but the groom could not decide when he was ready to come back for his bride. This decision was made by his father. Most grooms would typically want to rush through the preparations to “get on with” the wedding, so their fathers would decide when the chamber was ready. When the day finally came, the groom would gather his friends and together they’d march into town blowing a “shofar” to announce their arrival. They’d make all kinds of noise to show how proud they were for this union. It was the bride’s job to be ready (to have her lamp trimmed) for when he came.
John 14:2-3 – Jesus speaks of leaving to prepare a place for us in heaven.
Matthew 24:36 – Not even Jesus knows when He is coming back, only the Father does.
Matthew 24:31 & 1 Thessalonians 4:16 – Jesus will come to get us loudly – with a loud trumpet call.
Matthew 25:1-13 – It’s our (we are the bride) job to be ready for His arrival.
6. Wedding Ceremony – In most cases a “chupah” (canopy) was built for the ceremony to be performed under. It symbolized the “covering/blessing” of God on this union. The bride would receive a crown and the couple would drink another cup of wine. (Another custom which was added later is that this cup would then be broken as a symbol of the “bittersweetness” of the day – sweet for the couple, but bitter for their people whose temple had been destroyed.)
When Christ returns and gives us our crowns, our union will be complete and we will be with Him forever. As the cup is destroyed, we can remember that we will no longer need it for communion – we’re already communing with Him.
7. Wedding Feast – There was one final step in the wedding process. The party time!
This is the time after we are joined with Christ forever and begin the eternal party with Him. Rev 19:6-9 and check out who is invited to the wedding – the normal/poor people – Rev 3:20.
I was listening to a sermon by Paris Reidhead called “Ten Shekels and a Shirt.” He explains how we Christians have become humanists without even recognizing it. By coming to Christ because of heaven or some promised “better life” we are coming to Him out of our own selfish desires. We are really only after what we can get out of God – this is humanism. He goes on to suggest that God is still God and still worthy of us giving our lives for even if there was no heaven. More simply – God deserves to receive the lives that He paid for on the cross regardless of anything we might get out of the deal.
As I reflect, I wonder if it’s possible? Is there any way to give Him all I am without expecting anything or does my humanity mess that up for me. I do believe He should have what He deserves, but can’t seem to give myself totally selflessly either. If there was no heaven or any kind of reward, I would hope that I could still serve Him wholeheartedly simply because He deserves it, but. . . .would I???? How can I love selflessly?? How can I give myself unconditionally??
Only by His Spirit. Only by His power.
Lord, help me to be yours.
This link will get you to sermonaudio.com. From there you can search by speaker (Paris Reidhead) and find the download for this sermon. (Ten Shekels and a Shirt)
Miranda and I just celebrated our 2nd anniversary! It’s a miracle that anyone could live with me for that long. Thank you Jesus! I don’t do very well at the whole “romance” thing – well, not since we got married anyway. Anyway, I thought I’d make a real effort this year. I spent quite a few hours making arrangements and shopping and getting things set up with some youth from our group and planned a candlelight dinner in a park. Meggaen came to the door and picked us up as our chauffer and she brought flowers which I had pre-arranged and placed a card in. We sat in the back of her little car which was filled with flower petals and she drove us to the park. It was just about time for the sun to set as we park and we were escorted to our table which was covered in white (along with the chairs) near the water where the sun would set across the lake from us. We enjoyed a candlelight dinner as some other youth (Katie, Cristy, and Tiffany) served us. They had also placed a CD player there which played music which I had recorded for the occasion. After the sun set and we had finished dinner, (still not completely dark) we fed the ducks and made our way to a little dock. The girls had placed tealight candles around the dock and set it up for a great little dance floor. After dancing, we made our way back and helped pick things up – we also tried to leave a big tip for them of course.
Anyway, it was a beautiful night. I hope Miranda knows how much I care for her and love her. This was alot of fun to plan and arrange (I don’t do it enough) but it still wouldn’t even come close to expressing how much I feel for her. She is my bride! She is my friend! My encourager! My love.
All this is to say, I wondered afterwards about how I express my love for God. Have I gone the extra mile like this to tell Him I care about Him? What would it mean to Him if I did? How could I do that? It all reminds me of the Ten Shekel Shirt Song “Unashamed Love.”
You’re calling me to lay aside the worries of my day
to quiet down my busy mind and find a hiding place
Worthy. You are worthy.
I open up my heart and let my spirit worship Yours
I open up my my mouth and let a song of praise come forth
My sister just got married this past weekend. I must admit (something you will rarely hear me say) that she was beautiful.
The wedding was at Chain of Lakes near Livingston, Texas. It was nice, but not quite what she had hoped for. The original plan was to be married on a a beach in Cozumel, but Hurricane Wilma destroyed both the resort and her plans. It was pretty funny to see my sister in a wedding dress designed for the beach and Schonn wearing a Hawaiian shirt in the middle of winter. It was about 40 degrees outside too.
Brenda and Schonn have been together for a long time, but finally made it official. It was a small little service (family and close friends) and Mike (my Father-in-Law) and I kinda tag-teamed in leading the whole thing. Brenda wanted a personal, informal service and she hads given me permission to tell a few stories on her. I was able to say a few things that only a brother could say, and we all laughed, but I tried to be quick to point out the beautiful things about their relationship and the commitment they were making. In addition to asking them about their commitment to each other, I also thought it was important to have the “family and friends” make some promises. We promised together to encourage them in their relationship and even told them collectively that we believed in them.
Anyway, I guess right now as I reflect on the whole thing – I’m hit by the feelings that come when you watch your little baby sister making a truly adult decision. I’m proud of her, excited about her future, and yet I will be sad to never know her as a little girl again. I don’t think I’ll ever see her cry over an Ewok (Star Wars) stuffed animal again. I might never double bounce her on a trampoline again. And calling her “baglady”. . . . – well, that’ll probably never change.
Another thing that hits me is the thought of my dad. Brenda stressed over this day for years ’cause he wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle, but you know, I never felt like he wasn’t a part of it.
Dad, you are still very much a part of who we are as a family. Schonn may have never known you, but then again, he knows us and we are just an expression of you. If we laughed, (and we did) it was because you taught us to share the joy we have. When we hiked with the boys, it was with your example before us. When we cried, it’s cause you showed us that men could hurt too. Even the simple fact that we wanted to be together for such an occasion, is a testimony to the love that you had for us and that you taught us to have for one another. The older I get, the more I see you when I look in the mirror. I love you Dad!
Why are Christians making such a big deal about the use of “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas!” I guess I understand the concern about taking Christ out of the season, but is that really possible? To those of us who are Christians, it’s certainly not possible and to the rest of the world, well, how can they celebrate the birth of a Savior they don’t know?
I guess I just feel like if you’re gonna be upset about something, why not worry about the guy you work with who doesn’t know Christ? It seems like a much more worthy concern to me.
This whole thing just seems like something that’s “not worth the fight” to me – I’m not apathetic to the gospel, but rather I am passionate about it, and want the opportunity to communicate Christ to others without more hurdles to jump than are neccessary. These kinds of fights just throw up more walls between people and Christ. It just seems to me that our efforts should be spent serving and sharing Christ with individuals, rather than fighting over words on some billboard. Maybe even the perceptions that the world has of Christians could actually be changed by people truly loving and serving the world???
By the way, if you want to complain about the words in a phrase – Mark O from Youth Specialties says this too – is “Merry Christmas” really the best thing we can wish people during this season? “Merriment” (is that a word?) certainly isn’t at the top of my list. What about wishing them a “Peaceful Christmas” or an “Ever-Aware Christmas?” Wouldn’t it be better if people experienced the “peace that passes understanding” during such a hectic time or if they were somehow able to be “ever aware of Jesus’ presence?”
I dunno – just some random thoughts I’ve been having lately.