Tuesday, April 29, 2008

goin' to bwaston

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am forageing into yankee territory this week. Taking my first trip ever to the East Coast. Boston Ma., leaving tomorrow and not returning until first of next week.
Pleasure trip. Free trip. My beautiful cousins take myself and spouse somewhere almost annually. It started as a way for them to express love to me after the tragic death of my mother. First we went to New Orleans (they thought I needed the bourbon street experience), then to New Mexico where we went to Albequerque(sp), Santa Fe, and Taos. Then we went to San Francisco. There is somewhere else but its not coming to me right now. Writers block.
Anyway, this time its Boston. I picked it. I like history. We are going to do the Freedom Trail (consisting of Revere's house, the Old North Church, Bunker Hill, The USS Constitution, etc) stay at the Marriot on the Wharf, eat some great seafood, and just hang out. We will have drinks and some nice cigars and watch all those yankees walk around with their wierd accents.
I think I'm wearing my boots. By golly I'm from Texas and we wear boots here. Of course there is a lot of walking involved, so, maybe not.
My first stop after landing, however, is for my research project. I research micro-brewerys. I like to compare them. So I'm paying a visit to Samuel Adam's Brewery. Its totally a scholarly endeavor so its all legit. wink wink.
Anyway, will not be checking the internet for about 5 days. I am trying to quit. Its an addiction.
So I shall return back May 5th and give an update.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

stupid christians

We finished up the Bill Hybels' "Just Walk Across the Room" book today. Though my group really didn't "get into it" overall, it brought up some interesting topics. (This book could have been condensed into a 15 page 'what not to do' guide for dummy's thing, but Bill probably couldn't have bragged on himself so much).

One of the topics centered around 'putting people first'! What a novel idea. I'm glad Bill pointed this out to us. Actually, its sad that he needed to point it out to christians, but truth is we as a group sometimes do a lousy job of putting people ahead of agendas or personal stuff. The pastor at my church hasn't even gotten this concept down, so obviously its not a lay person only issue.

One story was of a waitress that went to Willow Creek Church and she wrote Bill a 5 page letter detailing how the wait staff rotated on Sunday's having to wait on the Christians so no one got stuck with them all the time. They, as she said, are demanding, rude, and lousy tippers. Go figure.

So today after church, we go to a McAlister's Deli (where we go every sunday) and I am ordering this and that. The young girl taking my order says something to the Manager who responds 'well just do your best', and she replied that she had already gotten griped at. I asked her if the customers were giving her a hard time and she smiled and said someone was griping at her because the restaurant was low on straws or something that she had no control over. I look around and its obviously a church crowd in there, and this is beginning to look so familiar to the story Bill Hybel's spoke about. I responded "whats wrong with those christians anyway?!" She just smiled, leaned over the counter and whispered "Sundays are the worst".

Now, for arguement sake, it may not have been a Christian. Let me rephrase that: May not have been a person who claims to be a christian and attends church. But given the time, day and crowd I'm pretty sure it was. And I hope this girl doesn't judge Jesus by His so called followers.

So my question to you fellow Jesus freaks is this: When you are out and about town, when you see a cashier, public servant, custodial staff in your building, do you see them as a valuable child of God, a person on a journey in life? Or do you not even really see them at all? Do you know any of them by their first name?

Show me a parable where Jesus didn't have time for these folks. Tell me why you don't.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Introduction to Christ

I would love to go to church and see this, either in person or on the big screen:


Monday, April 21, 2008

random thoughts

I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Literally. Two highways intersect there to form a four-way stop. If not for that you would pass right on through. Its one of those little towns you think of when listening to a John Mellencamp song. I lived within four miles of where I was born, including my residence, my entire 1st through 12th grades of public school,and my church. My entire universe was centered around this part of the world.

I can still recall my best friend John and I (we were neighbors) riding our bicycles from our houses to the downtown area, and riding all over the sidewalks and secret trails behind buildings that only we knew. We would walk the streets some days, picking up coca cola bottles or dr. pepper. You could take those to the local grocery store where they would pay you a dime for each bottle you brought in. We absolutely could not figure out as 12 year olds why someone would just through them out the window, but we were glad they did. We would collect enough money to buy us a coke apiece, a package of gum and maybe some of those pop rocks that we heard if you drink with coke your stomach would blow up and you would die. My friend John was a tester of life. Not afraid of anything. I still remember him eating three packages of those things and chasing them down with an entire coke, just daring the damn things to do anything. I set on the bench next to him in front of the store, waiting for his stomach to explode. Nothing. I was sort of disappointed, but a little glad all the same.

I went to the small United Methodist Church my whole life too. My whole perception of God and church was formed there. It wasn't too bad. It was small town values and routine that formed some of my personality. You could count on the Doxology, the same three or four hymns, and the newest out of seminary pastor trying to get these old people off their asses and do something for Jesus. It was amusing. I recall my confirmation class, which consisted of exactly two of us. And we weren't really willing, we were forced. Yes, forced religion on the two of us by our mothers. So we went, did the thing, got baptized, and moved on. Didn't seem to make any difference to either one of us, but it did our mothers. I was the youth leader, and for a while I had some kids coming to it. Not really for spiritual purposes, but the church in their wisdom had given me a key, so I set up a pool table in one of the non used classrooms (there were many of those) and we put a stereo in there and hung out. Seemed safe enough, hanging out playing pool in God's house while listening to Black Sabbath on the turntable.

I was fairly content there. My world was safe. Everyone knew everyone. Andy Griffith could have been our sheriff. But sometimes, when I was alone, I felt as if something was missing. I was not quite complete. That for whatever reason, this life I was in wasn't really who I am. It was hard to explain or even internalize. I felt, even though I was okay where I was, I wasn't okay with WHO I was. I felt out of place, like I just didn't fit in. The things my friends were obsessed with really didn't interest me a whole lot. I hung out, went to concerts, drank beer on the Dairy Queen parking lot, cruised the streets, all that jazz, and still something, out there was calling to me.

I got that same feeling again last week at work. I was standing in front of my office building watching people come and go ... and I thought "who am I?". Who is this person I have become with a nice tie and slacks and title? What will it all mean in 50 years anyway? And I wonder if others have this thought as well, or are most people content with the roles they play in life? I'm convinced there is more out there, just beneath the surface of our facades we call life. Just past the daily routines and golf games and business deadlines and rules and regulations, there is something stirring just beneath the surface of humanity. Something wanting to scream out "This is not who you are supposed to be!", and there is more too all of this than what you have made of it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Better than I thought...

What a gorgeous weekend! Not hot, very sunny, a cool breeze each day. The world around me was alive with new awakenings. Songbirds proclaiming their presence in sound and color, their plummage of blues and reds and browns and blacks dotting the landscape. A bird's nest just under the eve of the porch contains new life, which will no doubt continue this annual pilgrimage to our front porch as there parents before them. Flowers in full bloom and grass a rich shade of green, with trees engulfed in the youngness of their unfolding leaves, stretching out to catch each ray of sunlight, some of which slips past and darts to the earth in a beam of brightness, piercing the blades of grass and penetrating the soil. There were no clouds, but the moon's image in vague whiteness pushed its way through the blueness of the sky above me.

It was perfect. So perfect that it begged "go fly a kite". So I did. With two of my daughters, we set forth to the open areas and gave flight to our man-made creations. They soared and dipped and twirled about above our heads, giving a spectacular display of aireal acrobatics. My girls were delighted by this simplest of exercises.

I had purposely made no plans for this weekend. It was my birthday weekend. I only had those things to do which I chose to do. The other things merely fell into place as if they originally existed there, awaiting my arrival for completion. To do what they were designed to do. Kites to fly. Songbirds to sing. The moon above to proclaim its presence, both in the light and in the darkness. For me to listen. My soul was at peace.

I received many expressions of good wishes for my birthday, in email, phone calls and in person. I was blessed to spend time with my family, both biological and self proclaimed. My sunday morning fellowship was in rare form and the discussion was lively. I spent the evening with the youth program, getting greetings from them in the forms of the ever popular knuckle to knuckle and "Yo - Mr ___" with an upward headnod.

And last night, as I laid down to sleep, I thought to myself that I really never stopped and spent any time with God. I SPENT THE WHOLE TIME WITH GOD! He was there in all of this, and I was surrounded by Him all day. And I smiled.

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. and I was. ~npp

Friday, April 11, 2008

Its My Birthday!

This weekend is my birthday. Sunday to be exact. I will be... well nevermind that. And I wrote this blog solely for the purpose of gettings lots of Happy Bday comments. No, thats not true. Actually, for the first time in my life, I don't care that its my birthday. It just doesn't seem to carry the same excitement it once did. My birthday. Big Deal. Another day out of 365.
And I have been wondering, "Why don't I get excited about my birthday anymore?". Maybe its because I've had a few and it wears off, kind of like buying a favorite movie and after you watch, oh, a thousand times, you loose interest. The movie is still good, just doesn't appeal to you that much anymore. I would like to get backthat feeling as a child about my Birthday. MY DAY! Its ALL ABOUT ME!
Now the world I live in is too busy, filled with obligations and time constraints and demands... it doesn't leave time for My Birthday. Or rather I don't make any time. Either way, its pretty sad. I was asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, and I had no answer. To do nothing sounds bad, but it was the first thing that came to my mind. How about nothing. How about I just get to rest.
So I am just going to let whatever transpires happen. I will just be in the moment. I will make no plans that will inevitably get changed anyway. I think I will look closely at this world I live in, and try and take it all in.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

F the Police

F the Police. I saw this line in someone else's blog, and I have to admit it made me a little uncomfortable. It was in context with a musical festival which featured rap music. I like to think of Rap as missing one crucial letter - C, at the beginning. But I have to admit that I like some of it. Tobi Mac for instance. The "C"Rap I dislike is that which spews the message of hate. F the Police. Or hoes and bitches, a total disrespect for the femine influences in the world. What's ironic is that a majority of these "C"rappers were more than likely raised by a woman, either an aunt or grandmother. Not their dad. I work with these troubled youth and I understand their anger. A lack of a secure and affirming family structure of epidemic proportions in this culture is breeding anger. It is creating a self sustaining pattern of fatherless homes. It is bad. I do not, however, condone their message of violence.

And I was thinking about F the Police. What does that mean? The Police are nothing more than a reflection of the culture at any given time in history. The institutional enforcement of the norms of society. They are not an autonomous group out there on their own. They are legislated, regulated, and given the stamp of approval by whatever governing body who are voted in by the populace. So do we totally label (and you know how I hate labels) Police by one individuals dealings with a bad officer? Do we label all Christians by the actions of One Christian (you can fill in the name)? Do you wished to be viewed by the actions of Rev. Wright, or Jerry Falwell, or Benny Hinn, as representative of what YOU are? (Plug in your profession, and now think of someone who isn't representative of your ethics in that profession, and you see the point.)

I know many police officers. They have families. They attend church. Many are bi-vocational pastors, big brothers & big sisters, deacons, food bank volunteers, givers. A positive influence in their world. Most got into that line of work because they are servant hearted. Like Christians SHOULD be. They are geared toward helping people. Yes, there are some that are in it for the power trip. Met them too. I have also met pastors who share these same traits - both servant hearted and egotistical. I do not hear of many of these young rappers with the aforementioned attribute of servant heartedness. It appears that most come from their own ego's and extremely worldly motivated by perceived power through violence, substance abuse, bling, and the degredation of women. This does not give legitimacy to their anger.

So F the Police? I think not. Maybe its F the Individual who will not take responsiblity for thier own actions. Maybe its F the People who enable others to use excuses as crutches for where they are. Maybe its F the Haters who build walls instead of bridges.

Word from the Prophet: If the message isn't love - then the message is wrong.