January 26, 2008

I'm Just Sayin'

Let me start by saying, "I'm not a democrat". But let me also say, I'm not a republican anymore, either. I find myself in a place that 4 or 5 years ago I would never have imagined: neutral. I don't want a party, a label, some sort of imposed categorical demand of what I'm supposed to vote for or any other political load of hoo haa pressed on me. I'm done with it.

But I had a thought. I'm sitting here a moment ago watching Barack Obama give his victory speech after cleaning house in South Carolina. Hillary Clinton, who barely set foot in the state the last week (she let her husband do that!) came in second. And then there's John Edwards. Oh, John. In his homeland of the Palmetto State he came in a whopping 3rd out of 3. I have some advice for Mr. Edwards. Pick up the phone. Call Obama. Tell him, "Congratulations on kicking my butt in my home state. I've had a thought. Most of the votes I'm getting would probably go to you if I bowed out - at least that's what my people tell me. So, here's the deal. I'll bow out if you'll take me as your running mate. Let's claim the ticket right now, before there's ever a nomination. Together, we can do it. Wha'da you think?"

If John Edwards would humbly step back and realize he is NOT going to win this thing in a million years...BUT, he still has a shot of getting to the White House, I think he would make that call. I don't know what you think, I'm just sayin'.

This is a non-partisan, hypothetical idea from a worn out, undecided voter. If you disagree with the proposition, great. Explain why.

VOTE 2008.
If you have no VOTE, you have no VOICE. Speak up!

January 24, 2008

The True Center

Lately I've been in the "funk". I've talked to some of my friends recently about the restlessness I'm feeling, like nothing satisfies me. I'm so tired of the routine. Not the discipline part of routine, but the Groundhog Day, "Here we go again" part. When this happens you start overanalyzing and emotionally overblowing everything. At least I do. I start wondering things that I roll my eyes about when other people wonder. It's all quite disconcerting.

Today I read in Acts 26 where Paul is standing in front of King Agrippa and the court and sharing his testimony. When he tells them about his conversion - about his face-to-face encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road - he says that Christ told him "I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness". Pretty simple. Paul always kept it simple. Then, in Philippians 3 he says that nothing even compares to "the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." And herein lies my problem.

So many times I get infatuated with other things. #1 for me - WHAT I'm doing for God. And Paul is trying to tell us that nothing we can ever DO for God will even hold a candle to the privilege of KNOWING Him. So why do I spend so much more time and energy on a daily basis trying to DO things for Him rather than pursuing Him and seeking to know Him?

I have no response. (I actually just stared at the screen for what seemed like 5 minutes waiting for an answer. Didn't get one. Weird)

But I am refreshed and reminded today that when I begin to fall into the "funk" that it's time to get back to the true center: knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Whatever it takes, get back to that true center.

January 23, 2008

The Mirror in Me

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3 that when we turn to Christ and believe Him that He "lifts the veil" - He frees our minds to understand the truth that the Holy Spirit is constantly trying to convey to us and He begins to cause us to be His reflection.

Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost For His Highest that "You always know when a man has been beholding the glory of the Lord, you feel in your inner spirit that he is the mirror of the Lord's own character." That is deep and far-reaching, but at the same time I read this and know what he's talking about. It's like the times in my life when I've been around Louie Giglio for just brief moments. There is something inside you that says, "This guy has been hanging out with Jesus". You don't want to walk away from that.

That's what I want. There are so many other things that my flesh spends time and energy trying to convince me I want, but those things don't even come close. I want to reflect Jesus Christ. Period. I want to pursue Him in such a way that the scars and marks from the journey are burned into my face. I want there to be no question as to who holds my heart and where my loyalty lies. This requires slowing down. This takes discernment.
Above all, it's takes prayer.

May Jesus Christ always be the mirror in me that exposes people to who He really is. If that is not my desire, I'm chasing the wind.
Good luck with that one!

January 21, 2008

Stop Talking & Start Walking

Today is Martin Luther King Day. It took me a lot longer than it should have to understand the profound and significant impact this man held not only on our country but the world over. I guess when you're 17 and in history class you're paying more attention to girls or "when is the bell gonna ring" and those things slip past you. I get it now.

But I couldn't help but notice the countless "gatherings" there were all over our country today to celebrate MLK. We had democrats gathered and republicans gathered and churches gathered and all kinds of groups coming together. I couldn't help but thinking, I bet if Dr. King saw all this going on he'd probably say, "What the heck are you all doing sittin in here, reminiscing and talking about me? Get out there and DO something! Stop talking about how things oughta be and go out there and make it a reality." I'm pretty sure the fanfare and politics would have been frowned upon.

I think Dr. King's dream is much closer to reality today than even a few years ago. And sure we need to continue to remember and honor his contribution to this nation and to our culture. But I think the best way of doing that is to BE change. MAKE change.

Talk is cheap. Stop talking and start walking.

Pride (In the Name of Love) U2
Early morning, April 4, shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
but they could not take your pride
In the name of love, one more in the name of love

January 17, 2008

Some Things I've Noticed

Lately, there are some things I've noticed. In all honesty, some of these things have caught my attention (for better or worse) for quite awhile. Maybe you've noticed, maybe not, but I've got to get it out on the table.

First of all, there are these signs at many intersections now that say "Right Lane Must Turn Right". I've noticed that most people either don't pay attention to these signs or just don't give a flying flip about it. Some woman almost smashed into me the other day because the sign obviously didn't apply to her.

I've also figured out that you can always find the chain smokers when it's sub-zero outside. They're the ones driving down the road in the blizzard with their window cracked, freezing everyone else out of the car, so that 16 inch crack can vacuum the smoke right on out of there. But hey, at least the other passengers aren't getting lung cancer. Am I right?

And how about the genius in the marketing department for Liberty Income Tax who decided that it would be a great idea to stick some poor sap out on the corner in an Uncle Sam or Statue of Liberty costume. It pains me to sit at a stop light and watch aforementioned sap chasing his Uncle Sam hat across the parking lot, trying not to freeze to death, standing head on into the 25 mph north wind. Do you think I'm going to these people for help with my taxes? I think not.

Sorry, there's not really any theological insight from this whatsoever. I just feel that taking a lighthearted look at the world around you and laughing about it is important every once-in-awhile. And if you happen to be a smoking, Uncle Sam costume wearing driver that ignores traffic signs, please accept my apologies.

January 14, 2008

Who Will Go?

In reading in My Utmost this morning I'm reminded of the call of God in Isaiah 6:8, "Who will go for us? Whom shall I send?" Isaiah quickly spoke up and said, "I'll go Lord. I'll be Your voice. I'll go to the people." What we rarely pay attention to is that this was not God calling Isaiah - God was calling and Isaiah happened to overhear it. His only response - because his heart was in tune with the Almighty - was to say, "Send me".

I think so many of us are often waiting on our special calling - for our divine billboard of direction and/or purpose - and all the while God is calling. "Who will go and tell the people?" And our reason and rationalization takes over. "Oh, that's not my calling. That's for someone else. That doesn't really fall under my 'gifting' or my passions. I'm waiting on God's special call for me."

And we wait. And wait. And wait......

When our heart is beating for the Creator and Redeemer we begin to hear Him whispering ever-so-softly. We figure out that the "still small voice" wasn't just the way He communicated with Elijah, but with all of us. Are we listening? Are we ignoring?

Who will go?

January 13, 2008

The Creative Unpredictable Mystery

"In the beginning God created...." I'm sure you're aware of this. And in case you didn't know, creating takes creativity. I know it sounds stupid, but it's true. Creating something from nothing - bringing something new to life, something fresh, something that is birthed from within your own mind and soul - takes creative genius. Whether it's a small morsel or a catastrophic amount.

Being a creation of the Creator, also being told in Ephesians 5:1 to "Imitate" Him, it is my undeniable conclusion that I am a creative being. At least I used to be. And I'm supposed to be now. This is why I have reached the place in my life where I am at the end of my rope with predictability. I can no longer stomach hearing, watching, tasting, and experiencing the same old thing.

[Long pause for internal scream!]

Are you there?
Will someone please surprise us with a life that turns heads for God's sake?
Can someone go out on a limb and risk something - anything - for the chance to watch God use you like clay in a potter's hands?
I'm ready to go there.
Shock and awe. Caught off guard. Impossible to predict.

Is the life we're living pusing anyone to the ledge that peers over into the vast mystery of the God of the Universe?
That is where I want to be.

January 10, 2008

What's left?

Last night I was in a meeting, talking through a sermon series that I'm preparing for. In reference to one of the messages we began talking about the story of the woman who comes to the temple and gives the equivalent of 2 pennies. This story has paralyzed me most of my life because of the overwhelming lesson Jesus teaches us through it. God sees our heart and our motive and that is what He cares about, not our money.

First off, we have to realize that there are numerous collection boxes in the temple at this time. Do you think Jesus just coincidentally happened to be watching the box where this lady came? No way. He knew who would be coming to this box and what they would be bringing.

Jesus watches when we give. He sees our gift. He sees our heart. He knows our motive. But I think that often more than paying attention to what we've given, God is examining what we've held back. I have to painfully drink this in. Jesus was looking at what this woman placed in the box, but He was overjoyed knowing what this woman had left out. Nothing.

I want this new year to be about holding nothing back from God. Nothing.
I want to have the courage, the faith, the trust, the discipline, the selflessness, and a painful hunger that won't allow me to hold on to anything that is better off laid at the feet of my King.

So when you give, pay attention to what you're giving. But make sure and take a hard look at what's left.

Malachi 3:8-12