27 December 2006

Wins don't matter in exile

Read this excerpt from the article, "Knight's record-setter could have been much more" by Pat Forde:

Knight, who is now tied with Dean Smith at 879 victories, likely will become the winningest coach in Division I men's college basketball annals during the Red Raiders' ongoing four-game home stand. In hope that people actually will show up to see Knight enter the record books, Tech has been offering $8.80 general admission seats to the four games at United Spirit Arena. And if you buy a lower-level ticket to those games, you can get one upper-level general admission seat for free.

It's not an easy sell. Texas Tech averaged 6,707 fans in its 15,000-seat arena for four of its early home games this season (attendance for Sam Houston State was not listed) before pulling in 11,561 for the record-tying game against Bucknell this past Saturday.

This is the bed Bob Knight made for himself: He'll make history at an out-of-the-way school with no men's basketball heritage in a football state, in front of a house that very well could be less than full. He'll make history in exile, in effect.

That's just sad. I don't care how many wins Knight pulls off, because he'll never walk off the court with the honor and clout that Dean Smith has.

24 December 2006

Jesus and Saliva-Covered Toys

Tonight, my family drives over to the Robertsons' house to have a Christmas Eve meal and chill time. It's a tradition that started a number of years ago, probably when I just started high school. We had a good time of stuffing our faces and having conversations inbetween mouthfuls. This time we had a 16-month-old child with us, one of the newer additions to the Robertson family. Last year, Conner (the child) was only a few months old and couldn't do much of anything. Now, he has hit the walk everywhere and taste EVERYTHING stage. So, as Freud predicted when he named this time of the toddler's life the "oral stage," Conner picked up multiple things, like little Santa figurines and toy cars, and then proceeded to place them in his mouth.

Since it's this time of year (and we should be focusing our thoughts towards the birth of Jesus), I began to wonder: Did Jesus go through an oral stage as a toddler? Did Jesus cover all the household items in saliva as this is the main way that a toddler of this stage can learn about his environment? Did the ruler and creator of the universe have to re-learn what a dreidel was by sticking it in His mouth? If Freud was right, and most toddlers prove that he was, then it is safe to assume that yes, Jesus covered his dreidel in saliva. (Okay, so Jesus probably didn't have a dreidel, but it makes my point.)

I can not begin to fathom the greatness of the mind of God. Yet, with my limited concept of God's powerful might and genius, it blows my mind to attempt to understand that the same Jesus, who created all that exists, could choose to put on the same skin that we wear and choose to go through the humbling human process of learning as a baby. How great and loving is our God.

22 December 2006

Christians of Inaction - Part 2

I have decided that as I am inspired to write about Christians who love to run their mouths about issues or problems without putting their concern into action, I will post my frustrations. They will be short (well...I'll try) and to the point. Here is installment number 2.

In my first installment, I discussed one of the two major political agendas that the majority of fundamentalist, Republican Christianity has decided to push, which is abortion. Now, on to hot button #2: homosexuality.

First, let's get some things clear. For those people out there who already assume that I'm about to defend homosexuality, you know what assuming does. So don't. For those who somehow think homosexuality is a worse sinful lifestyle than the wretched lifestyle that you and I were saved from, you are far away from understanding God and His grace. For those who think that homosexuality is worse "because it's not just a one-time action, it's a lifestyle," you need to realize that it is no worse of a lifestyle sin than is a repetitive gossip, repetitive adulterer, repetitive drunkard, and this list goes on. So, please, I ask that you let go of the awful stigma that we have so wrongly placed on those who struggle with homosexuality. For those who do not meet any of those categories, thank God for opening your heart to a more grace-filled understanding about life.

Now, on to the topic at hand. Here's my deal. This series is called "Christians of Inaction" because I feel that we are always known for what we're against and never what we are for. People know what we hate and don't have a clue what we love, and that is our fault. It is our fault because we spend so much time bashing instead of loving and lifting others up. So, here's part of my theory. I think that maybe there is such a move towards different sexual lifestyles (homosexuality, transexuality, bisexuality, etc.) in our society because of the obvious failure of the one generally accepted sexual lifestyle, monogamous heterosexual marriage. The Barna Group just posted this year that it is more likely for an evangelical Christian to face divorce than it is for an unbeliever. The divorce rate in America is somewhere around 50% overall. That's half!!! Has that percentage smacked us in the face yet? Do we fully get that? Why are people looking for other options? Maybe it's partly because we have FAILED at God's option. Does that mean there is something wrong with God's option? Does it need to change because it's not working? Of course not! OR....could it be...that WE need to change because we're not working at it?

I wonder what would happen within our society if the divorce rate among evangelical Christians went to almost nothing. I wonder what would happen if evangelical husbands could keep their pants on at work and evangelical wives could not try to find emotional fulfillment other places. If the bluntness offends you, you won't like reading Paul's letters either.

So, don't whine and cry about homosexuality going through legislation when we are failing at our institution of marriage! Christians should not just be against homosexuality and other sexual lifestyles; instead, we should DO something to make our own marriages work and last.

21 December 2006

Kevin Myers & Crossroads on Catalyst podcast

Guess who is the special guest speaker for episode 17 of the Catalyst podcast?

Okay, my title gives it away... KEVIN MYERS! Kevin is the lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Lawrenceville, GA, right outside Atlanta. This episode of the Catalyst podcast is a Christmas special episode. For this episode, they took a message that Kevin did at his church a few weeks ago and cut it down a little bit to put on the podcast. Awesome! It's awesome that Kevin and Crossroads (a Wesleyan church) is the focus of a Catalyst podcast, but it's also a great message that Kevin brings to us about the "not so big" Christmas.

Go check it out!

19 December 2006

Restraint doesn't mean transformation

Listen to these words from Colossians 2:20-23:
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
I remember once, when I was really young, my friend's mom once told us that one day our children would be ten times as bad as we were. At the time (unable to think abstractly), I believed her words of wisdom and feared them. The fear lasted for awhile. I would not do things that I knew were bad, but I still wanted to do them.

I remember another time, again at a very young age, when I did something mean to someone else and a teacher made me apologize. I apologized because I knew the rules, but I didn't have remorse, nor desired this person's forgiveness.

In this passage, Paul is discussing this very idea. We, as humans, make rules to guide us in this life. We make rules for everything: road rules, classroom rules, board game rules. Rules guide how we act and live. Rules decide if someone is speeding down a road or not. Rules decide if a person can sharpen their pencil while the teacher is lecturing. Rules decide if you can pass go and collect $200. Rules may guide how we act and live, but rules do not guide how we think and feel. A person can follow the rules, yet desire to live outside of them. Which one is better?

Take a look at a man who desires to sleep with an unmarried woman. Who is the better man: the man who sleeps with her or the man who lusts after her? Jesus says neither; do we truly understand that? Somehow, we have started to think that if we don't act on it, we are okay. Who is better: the man who wants to sin and does it or the man who wants to sin and starves himself of the pleasure? Paul says that is "false humility" and "harsh treatment of the body". Paul then says that it lacks "any value in restraining sensual indulgence." These legalistic rules that we follow have the "appearance of wisdom" because they keep us from indulging our bodies in sin, but these rules do not keep us from indulging our hearts in sin.

The rules can never save us nor make us acceptable to God. The rules can guard against sinful practices by giving us standards for behavior, but it can never guard our hearts against desiring sinful practices. The rules can convict us of sin, but it can never move us to desire repentance.

For most of us, this is a scary thing to deal with. Most of us who have grown up in the church have been taught a severe lie. We have been taught, intentionally or not, that if we abstain from sin, we are living morally as Jesus wants us to. However, this teaching of abstaining from the act of sin does nothing to cleanse the heart that is still passionately in love with sin. This is hard to swallow. I know it was for me. This is hard to swallow because I think we have accidentally based much of our own morality on this lie. If this is not true, then my whole idea of morality crumbles and then I will have to admit and deal with the darkness of my heart. There is something deep inside of us that screams to us, "Don't make me deal with my own darkness!"

So, if we decide to wrestle with this and deal with the darkness of our hearts, the question is: what does restrain sensual indulgence? If the rules do not rid the heart of its passion for sin, what does? Praise to God who spoke great wisdom through Paul in this letter to the Colossians! Right after this portion of Scripture, Paul says:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (3:1-3)
How do you change the passion of the heart? By binding it completely to Christ. If we could begin to focus our hearts above, to Christ and His work, then the heart would change and its passions and desires would change as well. Binding yourself to a life of rules can not transform your heart; so bind your heart to Christ.

04 December 2006

Mute Math Worship

Yesterday, I stumbled across a link to a worship album recorded by some of the members of Mute Math with some other people. Paul Meany, lead vocalist and keys player for Mute Math, led worship at a church in Louisiana a few years back. The church recorded it and had it made into an album called "Elevator Music". Mind blowing. Innovative and creative worship. These guys show me why God created music. The Creator of all, the most creative and innovative Being ever, has put in His creation the ability to be "little creators" within His creation. Paul Meany and Mute Math blow me away. I was already sold on them, but this is further proof to me of how amazing these guys are.

If we truly are the followers of the most creative and innovative Being ever, then we should be the ones who lead the way in creativity, innovation, and in any area of artistry. We should not be following along behind culture. We should not be mimicking the rest of culture on creativity. Mute Math has provided us a look into what that should look like. Worship leaders of the world, take note. Learn to be the artisan that you are supposed to be.

Here's a link to "Elevator Music": http://www.f-forge.com/?d=uxjqs4n1zpJe0aVWk85y

If I find a place to buy it, GO BUY IT!!! I'm going to buy it as soon as I can find somewhere to buy it.