What God Deserves

06-01-17I 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)

http://www.sermonaudio.com

Brenda’s Wedding and My Dad

05-12-21 02Dec 21, 2005

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!

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

05-12-21Why 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.

Chronicles of Narnia

05-12-12Chronicles of Narnia – Whoa! I just saw it movie yesterday! It was great! I’m not really into the whole fantasy genre (Lord of the what???? Well done, but just not my thing.) But this was not a typical movie. I loved all the imagery and Christian metaphors.

Lucy (disciple) stumbles through a wardrobe (salvation) to discover Narnia (spiritual world) – the land which always existed, but she had never seen.

Lucy (disciple) tells others about Narnia (spiritual world) and they don’t believe her.

Lucy’s brothers and sister only believe when they have experienced it for themselves.

Everyone tells them about Aslan with a sense of expectation and reverence.

Aslan (God) was both someone to be feared and someone to find friendship in.

The White Witch (Satan) was strong, but even she feared Aslan.

The everlasting snow curse (sin) began to melt as soon as Aslan showed up.

Edmund (Judas) betrayed his brother and sisters.

Turkish Delight (temporary satisfaction) began Edmund’s doubt about Aslan.(God)

The promise to rule Narnia is Edmund’s motivation for betrayal. (Ours is the promise to rule our own lives.)

People who have been snared by the white witch (Satan) are turned to stone. (Those who have fallen to Satan have hearts which are turned to stone.)

Aslan (God) can breathe on them and they come back to life. (We are given new hearts by God.)

Aslan (God) sacrifices his own life for the sins of his followers to satisfy the “deep magic.” (Old Testament Law requiring death for sin.)

Aslan (God) dies on the stone table (cross). When he is resurrected, there is an earthquake and the stone is broken. (The stone in front of Jesus’ tomb is moved.)

Susan and Lucy (women) were the first to see the risen Aslan.

Aslan (God) crushes the White Witch (Satan) in the final battle.

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These are just a few of the things I noticed. Check it out yourself if you haven’t seen it already.

[re]Understanding Prayer

05-11-25I’ve been reading a book by Kyle Lake lately called “[re]Understanding Prayer.” (By the way, he’s the guy from UBC Waco who was electrocuted recently while doing a baptism.) Anyway, one of the chapters focuses on Prayer as Drama. He talks about how we learn certain “scripts” from the people in our church as we grow up in our faith. We tend to use certain phrases and emotional dynamics which we have learned from others in the church. He goes on to explain that those who have been in the church the longest seem to be the ones who are the best “actors” – they know the scripts better than everyone else.

I’d have to confess that this is true of me. I’ve been in the church long enough to learn the “scripts” pretty well – I can “act” Christian with the best of ’em.

You know, the youth that I work with are always reluctant to pray in front of the group. I don’t believe this is because they don’t know how to talk to God (I mean, they talk to God all the time privately) – I think it’s because they don’t know the “scripts” all that well and are afraid to look like bad “actors.” Why do we as the church create these kinds of situations where we make feel others feel insecure? Do we do it because it makes us feel superior with our fancy words? (Check Mt 6:5-8) I wonder what I can do to combat this issue? I wonder how I can help create an environment where we all can just be ourselves, and be humble and honest in our dealings with God?

I’ve seen alot of bad “actors” when it comes to prayer – but I’ve also noticed that many of them are the very ones who seem to have a passion that goes beyond my understanding. I wonder if their relationship with God is just more open. I wonder what it would mean to be “like a child” when it comes to prayer?

The best example I know of someone to look up to – who doesn’t follow a script – is my friend Jon. He just talks to God, “Well God, it’s me again  and . . . .”

Thanks Jon, I’m learning from you – oh – and also thanks Kyle for your book which has helped me recognize some of this stuff.

And thank you God for giving me the gift of each of these two men.

Hmm…

houseHmm. . .

Miranda and I just moved into our new house this month. It’s kind of a mixed bag of emotions that I have. First, I’m excited to have a house and a place share my life with my wife. Our dogs love having a back yard too. Hopefully, one day we’ll have a family to share it all with too.

But there is a downside – we haven’t been there long, and already I’ve got a list of stuff I gotta do. Home is supposed to be a place to come home from work to rest – right?? I just finished building a kitchen table and now we gotta paint it, then I gotta build some end tables, and a shelving unit. I also gotta make sure the yard is kept up, figure out how to get our DSL line working at home, and_____, and _____. It just seems like the list goes on and on.

Anyway, I guess I’m pretty proud of the kitchen table I built and I’d say even after all the headaches, that it was worth it. As I imagine all the friends who will eventually sit at that table and the conversations which will surround it. We’ll probably play cards and laugh with friends there. Who knows maybe, we’ll even eat on it every once in a while? As I built the table, I probably should have prayed for some of those things, but I must admit I was too busy thinking about measurements and where did I put the screwdriver. (I’ll try to do that next time I build something.)

Maybe I just need to turn my thinking around a bit – instead of feeling the pressure to get it all done – it should be an excitement to have more opportunities to serve my Jesus. I can pray at any time – even when I’m doing what I hate the most.

Yoke

05-10-18Cool stuff! I just  learned. Rob Bell in his book “Velvet Elvis” talks about it all.

In Jewish culture, there were lots of Rabbis (teachers) who each had their own interpretations of the scriptures. If a rabbi took on a student, that student was agreeing to live under the “yoke” of that rabbi – the “yoke” was the different ways that the rabbi interpreted the scriptures. He would allow some things and not allow others based on this “yoke.” For example – One rabbi might say you can walk a certain distance on the Sabbath, but if you went any further that would be “work” and it would violate the Sabbath. Another rabbi might permit you to walk further, but forbid other things. It’s all in the interpretation – or the “yoke.”

If a student didn’t quite understand what a rabbi meant the rabbi would say, “You’ve abolished the Torah.” but if the student understood it completely the rabbi’s response would be “You’ve fulfilled the Torah.”

When Jesus first preached that He was there to “fulfill the law, not to abolish it,” the Jewish listeners heard a whole different thing than we do. He was basically saying – I understand all this better than anyone. This is partly why Jesus had som many followers. Most rabbis were teaching the yoke of some other well-respected rabbi – but Jesus wasn’t. He was teaching a whole new yoke. It was rare that anyone would have the guts to say, “My interpretation is new and it’s better than anybody else who came before me.” One way the people could judge whether they were speaking the truth or not, was by who else supported this teaching.

For a student to become a rabbi himself – he had to be validated by two other rabbis who would lay hands on him and pray over him. This is why Jesus’ baptism was so important – the two “rabbis” who laid hands on Him were. The voice of one crying in the desrt (John the Baptist) and the voice from heaven. (God, the Father)

A new “yoke” interpretation would take on the sounds of “you’ve heard it said…but I tell you…” which in many ways was bashing the previous teachers. The process of allowing certain things and forbidding others was called “binding and loosing.” The “bind” it was to forbid it. To “loose” something was to allow it. So a rabbi would “bind” certain practices and “loose” others and eventually when he’d give his disciples authority to bind and loose, it was called “giving the keys to the kingdom.”

Listen with new ears now as Jesus says in Matthew, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

It is very significant to recognize that Jesus is giving his followers  authority to make new interpretations of the Scriptures.