Wow – Spring Break has been fun! We’ve been to the Marquee theater, to play laser tag, and the best of all was the picnic at Shy Pond! If you weren’t there, you sure missed out! Anyway, it’s been fun hanging out with you guys!
Today a bunch of old friends came by on their way to the beach. It was tons of fun catching up with them and seeing what God has been doing with them all. It’s such a cool thing to know that God is always at work – all over the place. I get so caught up in my own life that I sometimes forget to look around and notice that life is not about me! It’s about God! When I get caught up in my own stuff, I sometimes remember what a friend of mine (Dustan) once said – "Don’t sweat it! It’s just life!" Most people think that life is a BIG deal, but Dustan’s idea is really probably more true – life is pretty short compared to the eternity that we have before us! I think he’s right alot of the time – It’s ok to stress about "eternal" things, but these "life" things are not worth worrying over.
Anyway, I hope you have a great Spring Break too.
PS – I’m not saying that life isn’t important – just that there are more important things.
Here’s a Franciscan Benediction (from St. Francis) that I think is cool. I found it on a Charlie Hall CD.
“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”
Wow – I love it! Cool stuff! Yes God I pray that for all the Christians I know and for me too!
This past weekend we went on a retreat to Camp Tejas. We called it our “Risk” retreat and focused on what it means to take a step of faith and risk moving out of the normal and into the supernatural. Anyway, I just thought I’d share one of the best moments for me. It was Saturday afternoon and we had a guy named Rodgers speaking to us about his life in Kenya. He made a reference to a story in the book of John (Chapter 5) about the guy who had been trying to be healed for 38 years. He asked if anyone knew the story and I could see the lights going on for Zach, one of our younger guys – he knew the story! He knew it really well ’cause we had studied it in Bible Study earlier this year. Anyway, in that split second of watching him remember the story and the excitement on his face – I knew that my work was worth all the heartache that it causes me. This guy knew the Bible because of something that I had been a part of – thank you God for reminding me that my struggles are worth it. Any “risk” I take for you is no “risk” at all – ’cause you’ve got my back!
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)