Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Good Friend

Did you know there are only 5 weekends in May? I realized that last night while talking with some friends. Now I'm challenged with being in two different states for two different commitments during the same weekend.

That's a good example of my life recently...the last weeks I've been pleasantly occupied but frustrated.

In this jumble I haven't been a very good friend lately. Last night, after realizing I'm going to have to make some phone calls, I started thinking about a lot of my friends....when was the last time we hung out...oh, I forgot to call him back...did he ever hear back about that job offer?...when is her graduation?...we need to get coffee like we use to...

I don't hear people talk about what makes a good friend. I'm not sure why. We have all kinds of relational books, even in the "Christian World," but not many about friendship. What makes for a good friend?

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:13-15

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How's the reception?

We have a Christian television channel, TBN maybe, in our cable package at my apartment. Every once in a while I stop there. T. D. Jakes and Joel O are two I enjoy getting riled up listening to. I certainly don't endorse a regular diet of them, but I've come to realize that they are lightning rods for criticism, often without honest consideration. Christians are good at doing that, myself among them regularly.

I was flipping through the channels today. I came across a preacher I've never heard of. I had no intent to stop and listen. But what he said caught my attention. He was preaching on "Seven Secrets to Victorious Living." In today's message, he was talking about being available to God in prayer. The first thing I heard him say was this: "If there were just a few who were willing to turn off their TVs to listen and be available to pray. . ."

I didn't catch results he promised. The irony--absurdity even--of what he said distracted me. If I turned off my TV, then I wouldn't be watching this program, listening to this sermon, I thought. This left me with two possible interpretations of what he actually meant.

The first possibility was that he meant that I should turn off the TV after I'm done listening to him. If this is the case, then he doesn't actually mean turn off the TV no matter what. He means turn off the TV under certain circumstances. But he leaves those circumstances open for me to figure out. He's not saying, "Don't watch TV." He's saying, "Watch the right kind of TV programming." Taken too far, I could conclude that I don't actually need to turn off the TV if I simply find enough of the right kind of programming.

The second possibility was that he meant that it would be worth my time to turn the TV off--even his sermon--and pray. If that's the case, then I wonder why he's on TV in the first place, if nothing on TV is really as important as prayer. Again, taken too far, I might conclude that spending time alone in prayer is more valuable than listening to a sermon--including one heard in church.

The contradictions between the medium and the message simply baffled me. It's like preaching one thing and practicing another. We have labels for people who's words and actions don't line up. I'm not saying this preacher doesn't absolutely believe what he's saying about turning off the television, whatever he's actually saying. I'm saying that he's failing to see how the way he's communicating it contradicts what he's saying. His medium and his message are in conflict.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Guess I'm Urban

Earlier today I posted the following


I meant to save the draft as a reminder, not post it! I'm writing a paper on Fasting and Consumerism/Capitalism and wrote, "

Whether the meal is entertainment, shopping [...] we ferociously inhale the world around us.

I couldn't think of the word ferocious or the word vicious. So I just figured verocious was a word. It's not, but the urban dictionary thinks it is!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Fear about Love

Andrew Peterson is one of my favorite song writers. While riding my bike home from work on Tuesday this line from his song, "Just as I Am," struck me

It's the fear that His love is no better than mine.

I shared this with my small group the next night...

My love is quite conditional. I'll love you if you love me. If you reciprocate my feelings, my words, my efforts back to me than all I got is love for you.

However, if you don't there won't be much love flowing from me. Worse, if you wrong me (well, I'll try not to wrong you back) I won't love you. I'll despise you, abhor you, and the last thing I'll do is pray for you.

Sound harsh? I think it sounds true of the human condition. The thing with my love is that it is about Mike. I can give and give and give but if I don't feel valued in return than I can grow and grow and grow in resentment. Why? Because I'm not being validated, because I have been wronged.

But God doesn't love like me. God gives and gives and gives and often I reject that love. God does get frustrated and angry and upset. It might boil into discipline but it is never subtracted from love. The truth is that despite my rejection God continues to pursue. Because God's love is not about God's self but about the ones he loves. That is unconditional.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Cut and Paste Bible

The strength of the Bible is the unity in the text. So at times I like to re-mix it and put verses together that speak into my life. Obviously this could be detrimental if you take it out of context but what I did below holds the integrity of the passages.

So try reading it all together

Am I now trying to win human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal 1.10) Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? (2 Cor 3.1) See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Col 2.8)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above. (Col 3.1b) In Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority (Col 2.10) Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold (2 Cor 3.12).