Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Interesting

I normally don't do these things, but saw a friend who did so figured I would. It's pretty accurate about me.

Jung Test Results

Your type is: ENFP

Extroverted (E) 58.97%/Introverted (I) 41.03%
Intuitive (N) 60% /Sensing (S) 40%
Feeling (F) 59.46% /Thinking (T) 40.54%
Perceiving (P) 60.53% /Judging (J) 39.47%

ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.

Check it out for yourself...http://similarminds.com/brain.html

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Iron Legacy

I watched Iron Man with a friend last night. I must say that this was probably the most well done comic book movie to date. In the movie Tony Stark is the boy genius who makes weapons. Basically his legacy is for making machines of destruction. Basically he is held captive in this cave with another guy named Gin Sen by terrorist who want him to rebuild a massive weapon so they can blow stuff up. Everyone knows who this guy, Tony Stark is, even Gin Sen, who says that his legacy is a man who creates weapons of war and destruction. As Gin Sen is dying he tells Tony one thing, “Don’t waste your life, leave a legacy.” This whole time Mr Stark thinks that he is creating weapons for good, but comes face to face with the reality that his legacy will be a mass producer and the mind behind so many weapons that cost thousands of innocent lives unless something were to change. I won’t tell you the rest of the movie, go see it, it’s worth the cash.

It’s a good thing to think about. What will people remember you for? What will be your legacy or legend?

Abstract Empathy

Here is an anonymous exert from something I read recently…

“As I sat in this random parking lot in the middle of a beautiful afternoon, staring at the ceiling of my car, I felt the tears flow down my face, and felt what I thought was my heart breaking into millions of pieces leaving me crushed. What was this inexpressible pain I felt? My heart was numb, stomach felt empty, and I had nothing to say. In this moment I did happen to get out this soft broken whisper, ‘I know you are here, I think this could be a fraction of what you feel, and I need you to heal my heart.’”

What happens when you pour out love and it is not returned? Have you ever felt this before? You cannot be mad at the person who doesn’t return it though because of the love you have for them. So what do you do in this moment? Cling to the Father is about all you can do. In these moments, I have personally realized that humanity is able to feel a little bit of the pain God must feel in seeing His beloved creation turn their backs on Him. It isn’t just about the above quote either. Have you ever had a moment where you stop and think, maybe this is what God feels like? I’ve had a couple in my life, when I see family members in pain, strangers being killed across the world, and all kind of personal relationships fall apart. In these moments, even though they hurt, they hurt really bad, like there is nothing you can do but cry kind of bad, humanity is blessed with the opportunity to feel His pain (even though it is always only a fraction) and I think there is beauty in that pain, there is an abstract empathy we are enabled to have with God at that time. So whatever you are going through, look for God in it, His heart burns too, He cries too, are you feeling what He does, can you cry out to Him in this moment, He is waiting for you. He longs to hold his children close and listen to their broken, tear induced whispers even in the middle of a parking lot in the middle of the day somewhere.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lil’ Wayne, Christianity, and Super Mario

You laugh now (at the title of the blog), but wait until you’re done, maybe you’ll here the echoes of this poor lost man in the back of your own head and find it a little bit harder to swallow.

So probably a person who is becoming one of my greatest friends and I were talking tonight about hip hop, like real hip hop. We have this love of the music and culture in common. I’m not talking about women degrading, n word dropping, ignorant ranting and raving about how gangster you are stuff we call rap, I’m talking hip hop, graffiti, break dancing, spinning, and rapping over abstract beats to express a deeper inner thought or acting as a social activist through rhythm. That’s the hip hop we were talking about. I must admit I do have my one guilty pleasure though. I like Lil’ Wayne, most of all I like when he is on a track as a featured artist rather than the main guy. His voice is unique and he is really innovative. My friend always tells me how stupid he is though and always says that he is high or drunk in every interview. Curious enough to attempt defending my own liking of this artist, I look up a video on youtube and come across a little jewel that just hurt to watch.

This interviewer is asking Wayne about how he grew up to which he responds, “I was signed to a record deal at eleven, so there was no real growing up for me.” Then naturally the interviewer ask Wayne about New Orleans after Katrina (Lil’ Wayne is from New Orleans) to which he responds, “I don’t know nothing about them people, I don’t know nothing outside of just doing me and this music, so don’t ask me about other people or what’s going on, I don’t even know what’s going on in this city (as he points out the window of the hotel they were doing the interview in). All I know is that I believe in God and that If I die, it don’t matter because I believe in God.” Then the interview cuts to a short clip of a concert Wayne was doing where he is pumping the crowd up with things like, “put your motha efening middle finga the air,” and then says, “I know three things,” so the crowd goes wild encouraging his response, “One, I believe in God, Two Without Him I wouldn’t be a damn thing, and Three without Him I wouldn’t be $hi+.” The crowd goes crazy after this. Then it shows several other clips of him asking girls in the audience if they would like to participate in procreation with him later after the show and all kind of ungodly things.

This made me sad. Why? Well, he inferred he was a Christian and as I take a look around a good majority of what America calls Christian I see similar things. Then I think about this whole word, “Christian.” Where did it come from. Well according to Acts the followers were first called Christians at Antioch. This wasn’t a cool name some cutting edge youth made up though, this was a slap in the face to those who followed Jesus Christ. It was a mockery of them being little Christs. I can hear the criticism now, “you don’t even have your own identity, you just act like this guy named Jesus Christ, so you are just like a bunch of little Christs running around!” Seemingly, you are just a bunch of little Christ running around just like the last guy we killed, you don’t matter… Ouch. But what a great honor it was to wear this scarlet letter! They were acting just like Christ acted and thus were censured for it. So when I hear interviews like Lil’ Wayne’s and look around at the current state of 80% of Americans who claim to be Christians, I see that Christians aren’t very Christian at all. I’ll say that again, Christians actually aren’t all that Christian anymore now are they? If the original mockers were to look at our following of Jesus, I don’t think we’d be mocked at all because we don’t act just like a little Christ, we don’t stand out, there isn’t much of a change in us.

I think about Nicodemus and how hard of a concept rebirth was for him to grasp. I think we have this same problem, but it is less of an intellectual comprehension and more of a failure to comprehend practically. The average American who claims to be Christian treats it much like Lil’ Wayne. This Christian thing is like steroids that athletes use or a mushroom Super Mario gets on the first level. This Jesus thing doesn’t require change, but just gives us more power so we can continue to go through life just as if nothing has changed. It’s a power up card to pull out of our back pockets in times of our choosing. So should we be so sure of ourselves to say that we know what will happen when we die? I think not, without being born again one cannot enter the Kingdom of God. I ask you this…take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, is my Christianity a steroid to help through life, a nice shiny thing to carry around or is it a direct representation of the change that God has had on my heart? Has little Wayne spoken for us all? Will we allow comments and thoughts like these to just float around and represent Christianity much longer? Is that what Jesus really died for, just a bunch of people to say one thing and be able to do another? I don’t think so…

Know this…I don’t write from the perspective of a perfect person in any way. I write because I think a lot and have been given a great ability to write and express things verbally. I pray I can escape this mediocre, back pocket religious, steroid ritual of average American Christianity and stand for something worth dying for, true, Biblical Christianity, the kind that flips your heart upside down and thus changes your entire world and everything in it. May you find this Christianity and only visit this old idea of Christianity in the grave yards of history.

Tone Deaf, dressed to a T, and Out of Place…

Worship is tough isn’t it? Have you ever just looked around at the Sunday morning gathering we call church and watch people during praise and worship time? I do. Each and every Sunday I long for, I yearn for a time to get lost in worship, but soon crash into reality to find myself in a huge room full of nicely dressed people out of tune. I am in Bible college, I helped start a church, I have a gift for teaching, and am naturally very passionate and opinionated. It is easy for me to get into theological discussions or make exegetical arguments on certain Biblical texts. It’s easy for me to stand in front of a crowd of people and teach them truths I have been taught form within the Scripture. It’s easy to write a check for offering (although not recently, that will be another blog on tithing and offering soon) or volunteer for service. If all these other good Christian things are so easy, what makes worship so hard?

Let’s take a look at what we are good at first. Offering, tithing, serving, teaching, going to school, having intelligent discussions, and all kind of other bible study things. Within each of these are one common thread. That thread is black. This thread is black because the color is beautiful if used correctly, but can kill a piece of art or clothing if it consist of nothing else but the thread. This thread is the simple fact that we have something to offer, we can actually have a part in it, it is something we can hold or touch, it’s tangible. I can teach because I have knowledge that I have obtained through Bible college and other Bible studying times or tools. I can give because I work hard for my money. I can serve because I make time in my schedule. The idea in all these is it has something to do with me. That feels good right? As long as I can be a part of it, then cool beans. Well, why is worship hard then, don’t we offer something, aren’t we a big part of it?

Not entirely. Worship unlike every other aspect of the Christian religious lifestyle requires us to fully surrender ourselves and have nothing to offer of worth. Outside of it being difficult to focus in general the problem we have with worship is that it requires submission on our part. We have nothing to offer God that could ever pay Him back or even come close to even showing Him the much deserved appreciation we owe Him. So here I stand in this big auditorium, music blaring, lights going here and there, thinking, God please accept me, I’m so useless and utterly worthless and here I stand in front of a Holy and perfect God expecting Him to accept this…What’s hard about worship is that it requires us to reflect on how we have nothing to offer. It makes us realize that the relationship between God and man is completely lopsided. That makes us uncomfortable doesn’t it?

Last Sunday was an exception to what I normally experience and what I truly long for in worship. I closed my eyes and lifted the palms of my hands up as an affirmation of my need. I told God in my heart I was worthless, nothing, undeserving to stand before Him, but knew He accepted me because of my faith in Jesus Christ and I simply worshipped Him. I didn’t care about how I sounded, what I was wearing, what the person next to me smelled like or what the next song would be. There for a brief moment in time, I stood before God stripped of all the self righteousness I clothe myself with all too often, standing there with my dirtiness exposed, my sin in full view, totally broken, trusting God to accept what shouldn’t be accepted. That’s uncomfortable and that’s what is so hard about worship to me.

What’s difficult for you? May you learn to worship God, learn to yearn for this time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tears of Regret

The force of the blast scattered clothes and other household items outside the two-room home. A single white children's shoe, flattened by the explosion, lay on the ground near a blue pair of shorts covered in sand. A green baby seat, one end bent, stood empty.

This was the aftermath of an explosion of a home in the northern Gaza strip town of Beit.

Innocent death. Lives ended because of war that they have no place in. As we wave our red, white, and blue flags all across the nation, let us not forget those innocent lives being stolen away due to our violence. This is bigger than America, bigger than Republicans, Democrats, religions, or anything else. The violence is something that we have so accustomed to that when I read these stories, the first time doesn’t bother me because it’s always the same, some poor innocent family is whipped off the face of earth.
Can you imagine the pain this family must be going through? I cannot even taste a fraction. Where is their hope? They do not know it, they do not know Him. Instead they know American religion, politics, and bigotry. There is so much pain that these innocent deaths cause. Their families, the families of those who killed them, the people who read the news, me, you, everyone it touches practically. Next time you run across a story like this or flip past the news channel, stop, listen, and pray for healing of those families. Stop and consider what it must feel like to see the scene described upfront. Can we pray for these families, can we stop worshipping our flag long enough to consider other beings God longs to have a relationship with?? May you always pray for the lives of those affected by war (in any way) and always have mercy and love in your heart for those who do not know Jesus, the source of hope, a way out of the bottomless pit of despair they must be in after their family is taken away.

Tight Rope to Walk

There is a balance between being faithful and misunderstanding. Read this story. Apparently these parents misunderstood what it meant to be faithful. Their daughter is diabetic and became very ill, instead of taking her to the hospital they allowed her condition to get worse and worse until eventually the girl died. Before I go any further let me clarify that this is not going to be a blast on the parents! Those parents DO NOT NEED THAT RIGHT NOW! This is an issue of misunderstanding what being faithful looks like. Faith is different in each context. The wandering Israelites were faithful (for a little while) for God to provide them manna, all their daily needed food. I have faith for God to provide me with a job that provides for my needs, as well as housing. The parents allowed their child to be prayed over and said they had faith God would heal her. This is not to say God can’t heal people still, because He does all the time, I’ve been witness to several. But these people are living in the 21st century, in the wealthiest nation on the planet, in a time where modern medical help is easily available. Instead of using what God has put at their disposal they decided to pray. This is a fine line to tight rope walk because God still does miracles, but we must understand that those miracles are only to reveal His glory (or at least a study of Biblical miracles would expose such truth). Well, the girl died. Who knows all the details, but I know this, people are being taught false things and taking their faith out of the context of which God gave it to them in. This doesn’t limit God, but does make us rational thinkers. God calls us to be faithful, but not in such a manner that we ignore common sense things, like medical care.
So I wonder how many other lines we blur like this in our modern church? Speaking in tongues, healings, laying of the hands, evangelism, etc. If this family were in some third world country with no medical help available I’m sure it would make more sense for them to pray for a miraculous healing because that is all they could really trust to experience. I’ve been to church where the entire congregation has spoken in “tongues” (or at least that is what they told me). I don’t think God wants a church full of people just speaking in random gibberish for the sake of it. The gift of tongues is given for a reason. If I were stranded in Africa and God had called me to speak to locals in their native language (tongue) I do not doubt God would give one this gift in order to spread His gospel. I’ve heard several cases of terminally ill patience stop taking needed medications because they were told by some loopey big wig charismatic evangelist that they were healed. They ended up not being healed and died shortly after. Where is this balance? Do you find yourself leaning more towards one than the other. I think it has to do within which context or culture God has placed you in. So now it’s your turn…what do you think of this incident and the whole thin line between faith and craziness deal?

Bearded Maturity

Spiritual Maturity is your conviction driving the bus and telling your emotions and doubts to sit down.

This is a quote from one of my favorite Pastors, he mentioned this one week in a sermon on spiritual maturity. Why is this an important quote or relevant in any sense? Well, we (humans) are emotional beings. We make decisions based upon emotions. Basically what happens is that we are born this way, but it’s like this uncontrollable disease we have. It isn’t until one meets Christ that controlling or managing emotions becomes anything significant. I hear it all the time, “I wish I could quote more Scripture,” “One day I want to be able to know the whole Bible,” ect. The point in Spiritual maturity is not to puke up more and more facts about God or quotes about Him. Spiritual maturity is truly controlling your emotions. So many things can be looked at as a failure to manage one’s emotions properly, a slanderous tongue, gossip, lashing out at people, anger, etc, you get the picture though. So I had to look myself in the reflection of my little laptop that morning and say, am I mature? What does that even look like?
Practically here are a couple examples. I want to tell him/her that she needs to stop being selfish because it is tearing people apart. I want to react to someone who talks about me behind my back by ripping their character apart and pointing out all their flaws. These would be bad moves. Maybe what I say will be right and even make sense to a third party, uninvolved obviously, but is it ever right to purely make an emotional decision. What is an emotional decision? I think in short one can say emotions are little chemical reactions to stimulus our body creates that release endorphins that make us feel whatever emotion that we do feel. If this is true then we would be unwise in making a decision based upon a reaction to a stimulus right? We should think about things before we do them, consider others, consider Christ, do them with love.
So spiritual maturity is not not having emotions, it is managing them in a such a way that they are balanced with rationale thought. Too much of either is dangerous though, too much emotion and you are a nut case, too much rationale and you’re a prude. Where do you fall I wonder (this is more of a rhetorical question than anything)? Are you spiritually mature by this definition? I wonder how often I act very very immature because I let my emotions rule me in certain circumstances. So it’s like do you have peach fuss or have you grown and matured to a full grown beard, burly and full of knowledge and maturity? By the way ladies, in no way is this condoning facial hair…

Grab Bag of Options

Discipline is a redemptive act.

Looking at the Bible and as I get to know God more and more, this statement becomes more and more true to me, it makes perfect sense to me, the problem is that everyone else seems to have a problem with the statement.

God gave Israel the Law (Ten Commandments). This was an act of love though, no one sees that though. Back in the day when God choose Israel and was leading Moses there were other people besides Israel worshipping other gods (false identities really). We don’t see this in the bible as clearly as history tells us though. A historical study of that culture in that time would reveal this, the worship of idol gods. The problem with those gods was that their followers never knew what to expect. These gods were like hormonal charged teenage girls, always something different and unforeseen. If it rained then that must mean they were happy so they would dance, if this happen then they’d do that, if that happened then they’d do this. It was this big guessing game that took them in circles that began and ended with uncertainty. God gave Israel the Law to tell them who He was and what He expected out of them so there wouldn’t be any questions. That’s revolutionary!

The bible says that a parent who doesn’t love their child hates them (Proverbs 13:24) and that the Lord only chastens those He loves (Hebrews 12:6-11). There is this idea that God is redeeming things, bringing things back to the way they were in the beginning. He sent prophets to Israel to preach repentance, so they would turn back to Him. The word perseverance is popular in Christian circles too. Trials bring about persecution. There is always hope through discipline or trials because they are supposed to be redemptive in nature.

I’ve learned over the last few weeks as I have seen gossip sneaks its ugly little head into the body of believers, families not practice forgiveness, and people hate discipline, that no one likes discipline because they don’t like to be hurt. Then there is the absurd argument of, “Where’s the grace?” Grace is always around, but when does one become a pansy and stop standing up for anything because he wants to be graceful, but then again, he dare not be harsh and call out everything. I think this is an odd thing because as I see more and more Christians, or at least people who claim to follow Jesus, through His ways out the window I am more and more convicted that they need good Biblical discipline. Who wants that though?

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8, NIV). The idea is that we cannot get these mixed up. If one loves justice and forgets mercy then he becomes harsh and legalistic, but if one loves mercy and forgets justice then he is a push over and doesn’t stand for what God does.

Interesting balance I think. What do you think? Justice, Mercy, or both, if so how much of both, what is the better side to error on. Do you hate discipline?