Head First: November 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

This is happening a little too fast.

I didn't feel old when I turned 40, but then, I wasn't the father of a teenager.

My firstborn will turn 13 on Tuesday, and as usual, the festivities (which take several days) will begin at Grandmom and Grandad's house in Maryland on the day after Thanksgiving and end at my house sometime next week.

I've purposed not to get too reflective about my baby entering the "next phase" (at least not for a couple weeks). There will be plenty of time later to fret about the makeup, the clothes, the boyfriends and how to dispose of their remains. She'll be grown soon enough. For now, she's still my little girl.

Being a parent has taught me a lot about how much God values me, and the way He wants to relate to me. I enjoy spending time with Catherine. She's just fun to be around, hugely talented, with my sense of humor. Like me, she's alternately frenetic and brooding. Sometimes, I just enjoy watching her be herself. Once in awhile, she'll do or say something--display some mannerism--that I know she picked up from me. When that happens, my breath catches a little. It's a bit of a thrill to see yourself reproduced in your child in such a way.

I think it's the same way with the Lord. He delights in being part our daily lives, just watching us be ourselves. And I'll bet His heart jumps a little when He sees us behave in a way that imitates Him, not because we're trying to, but just because we've picked up certain of His traits from being around Him so much. I imagine it thrills Him a little to see Himself reproduced in us in such a way.

Anyway, happy birthday, sweetheart. Daddy loves his girl.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chicken Poop for the Soul

Whoever said, "God never gives you a heavier load than you can carry." is a freaking idiot.

I was just online with a friend who's feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders. As he shared very briefly, I began to feel some of his heartache in my own chest (is that what Paul meant about bearing each other's burdens?). I mean, I could literally feel the emotions he described. I wanted to tell him that, but I couldn't think of a way to say it that didn't sound like some sappy fake crap. "God is in control." might be true, but it sounds so glib. All I could really say was, "I'm praying." Even that didn't sound sufficient, except I meant it.

If God never gives me more than I can handle, then what does it mean when I fall down? More guilt? More "If only I had tried harder?" If God never gives me more than I can handle, then what implications does that have for my ability to please Him--to carry my own weight, as it were?

I can't decide how this jibes with scripture, but sometimes I think God allows us to be crushed by the burdens of this life. I know that I've been broken on the rocks of circumstances I thought I was supposed to control. It seems to me that the only way God can get some of us to "cast our cares upon Him," is to make those cares so completely unconquerable that we have no choice. And He must find it easier to work with broken people than those who think they have some strength left.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Good Tidings of Great Joy!!!...er, um...

This is a t-shirt design from the fine folks at ShirtsThatPreach.org, the outerwear arm of Life and Liberty Ministries, whose primary purpose seems to be stamping out abortion.

Make no mistake, I hate abortion. I think it's a tragedy. I think it should be unlawful. But I don't think outlawing it will stop it. And I don't think this sounds like the Jesus I signed up for.

If you would like to take a moment and offer these folks an encouraging word, you can contact Dennis Green at lifeandliberty@juno.com. Then you can gather the kids around the computer and check out the billboards with the mutilated dead babies on them (please don't).

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Love is...

...patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs...(1 Cor. 13:4-5)


Thursday, November 03, 2005

!%#@!*!!*&@!*! %!*#&@*#!

I don't know just how righteous this indignation is that I'm feeling (if I had a flamethrower, I'd be torchin' me some SB churches), but I thought I'd spread the love.

Apparently Anheuser-Busch donated 22 palettes of canned drinking water to be distributed with other emergency relief supplies to hurricane victims in the town of Clewiston, on Florida's Lake Okeechobee. However, one band of relief workers, a church group headed by a Southern Baptist Convention pastor, chose not to distribute it.

You can read the full story here.

An SBC publication insists that they had plenty of their own water and that no one was turned away. But it seems that Tim Bridges, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Clewiston, didn't want people to get the wrong idea since the cans bore the logo of Anheuser-Busch. Well, pastor, mission accomplished. I think we now have a pretty accurate picture of what you are.

If this is what people think of when you say "Christian," then please stop calling me a Christian.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I've Gotta Be Me?

(Jeff got into a discussion about legalism and the purpose of liberty over at demerging. I missed much of the discussion until after it was over, and thought I'd try opening it up a little here.)

"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.(1 Cor 10: 23, 24 ESV)

A great number of people--many of them pastors, many others just "called to control"--view the idea of liberty as just another opportunity for people to "get away with something." For them, freedom is nothing more than something to abuse. Indeed, many Christians behave as if "All things are lawful," ended with a period instead of a comma.

And while some of the teaching on that passage appears to be balanced, we never really get to explore the true nature of freedom. I suppose that's why almost every discussion of liberty devolves into a debate about cussing and drinking. To me, that's not a freedom issue. That's a maturity issue (and not in the way you might think).

My impression is that Paul's remarks were offered in the context of his persistent state of mind to be "all things to all men." To me, that doesn't really give me license to do whatever I want. Better--It grants me the freedom to be myself--to relate to others in my own way. It's the freedom to acknowledge my inconsistencies and laugh along with everyone else at what an idiot I can be sometimes. It's the freedom to sit down on the curb with the homeless guy and understand that when he offers me a swig from his bottle, it's a gesture of hope for some sort of connection (and yes, I drank from it).

Reducing the argument to what we can or can't get away with is about as effective as the legalism that started the argument to begin with. It's like punching air.

If there's one common thread in virtually every blog I visit, it's that no one likes...no wait...everyone despises a phony. There are few things more disgusting and tragic than a Christian who has been convinced that he can act good enough, trying to hold his mask in place as it crumbles in his hands.

Liberty is my escape from the cookie-cutter that says, "if you want to be one of His, you've got to act like one of us." It's freedom from the wages of my sinfulness, so that I can go and BE. Be what? Well...myself...but not me...Christ living in me.

And what does that look like?

Love, baby. Love.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (1 Cor 10: 31-33 ESV)