Monday, October 30, 2006

Why? redux

As I continue my journey into the imponderables of the Christian life, I ran into another thing that we as Christians do almost reflexively. Yet I have never understood why we do it. That thing is standing every time we sing. Why on earth do we do that?

Does the music sound better 6 feet off the floor than it does 3 feet off the floor? Do our voices sound better to us or God? Are we closer to God because we are standing? I just don't get it.

This past Sunday I chose not to stand for some of the songs. Partially because I have an aching right knee (prayers appreciated) and partially because I had some stuff on my mind that I was praying about. And I pray better sitting than standing.

A well-meaning young man in the congregation was prompting me to stand, and I had to politely tell him that I wasn't going to, which made me ask why do we do this anyway? In the current church era, the 20-minute song sets get a bit tiring on my aging legs. If I wanted to stand that long, I would go to a Pink Floyd concert and wave my lighter.

Seriously, does anyone know why we do this?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Grave Robbing

One of my favorite movie scenes is in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" The plague comes to town and a man goes through the village with a cart collecting the dead so they can take them out of town to prevent the spread of this dread disease. A bit of a discussion ensues between the dead collector, the person carrying the dead person (who isn't dead yet) and the nearly dead person. You really have to watch the movie to see that scene. But it illustrates a larger point about dead things. You can't let them hang around. And you can't bring them back.

Colossians 3;3 speaks to this "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." We are dead in Christ. But so many of us keep digging up our old life and dragging it around, long after it was buried.

How many of you know people who have been in Christ for years, but keep dragging around hurts and injustices from back in the day? They hold onto them like prized possessions and get them out whenever they need a crutch. And that is another separate topic.

When we were born again, our past was nailed to Christ's cross. So whatever was done to us is gone, because it was done to a dead person. That is part of the victory we have in Christ. But we diminish that victory if we keep digging up the stinking corpse and strapping it to our bodies as a shield. It's gross, it smells, and no one will recognize it for what it once was.

Let the dead rest. Including all of the sins we committed and the ones committed against us. Christ paid the price and buried them. Leave them there.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Previously I mentioned that pretty teachers who have sex with students don't have to go to jail, a la Debra LaFave. She is the stunning blonde accused of having sex with a male student.

Well this story out of Indiana gives me hope. It appears that 1) there are jurors with brains in Indiana; or 2) she wasn't that pretty. She didn't even touch the kids and got 9 years. Debra LaFave has a book and movie deal I am sure.

God help this country. We are becoming Rome.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jesus is All I Need

When Caedmon's Call released their "Share The Well" CD, it caught me as I was preparing for my first mission trip to Guatemala. This is one of the greatest CDs I have heard in my life. It is not the most radio-friendly CD, but the songs just rip at my heart. Take this one for example:

All I Need (I Did Not Catch Her Name)

I did not catch her name
I did not catch her tears
But they hit me like a train
When her story hit my ears
Mother of eight sons
Father off to war
Got no home address
Just bricks on a dirt floor
And she said, "Jesus is all I need"

Tiny plot of land
Corn stored up in piles
The years it doesn't rain
They just stay hungry for a while
With no fatted calf to kill
She made a feast of cuy and corn and said
Who else knew my name before
The day that I was born
Jesus is all I need
Jesus is all I need

And she bragged about her boys
And how they're growing into men
And how the learned to praise the Lord
Old style Ecuadorian
But to buy the new guitar
We had to sell the swine
See my boys go to school on a foreign angel's dime

This world calls me poor
I bore my babies on this floor
But He always provides
Sure as the sun will rise
So I sing Him songs of praise
'Cause I know He keeps me in His gaze

Rain fell from the sky
We raced back to the van
Tears in the eyes
Of this poor forgetful man
Mother of eight sons
She knows the peace of God
Lord, help me learn to lean on
Thy staff and Thy rod

Jesus is all I need
Jesus is all I need
Jesus is all I need
Jesus is all I need

How do you not see the simple faith that Jesus talked so much about. No complex theology, no seminars, no books on how to live your best, purpose-driven life. Just the simple faith of relying on a God who continually delivers what she needs.

Ecuador is no paradise, but God is alive and moving in the hearts of the people there. I yearn for a faith unencumbered by the stuff that invades my life here. God help us to lean on you, and you alone.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Why do we do what we do? Have we really sat and thought about the reasons why we do stuff? Especially church stuff?

A theology class I am taking recently forced me to think about what is embedded -taught by others and accepted by me -, and what is deliberative - what I have thought through and learned by asking questions. No shocker here, but I am more deliberative in my theology.

For example, why do we believe what we believe about creation? Some people are literal 7-day folks. Others see the Genesis account as more metaphorical than literal. Some see 2 creations in Genesis, with an intervening time between them. Others, like me, are say " I believe God created everything" and don't get into the discussion of 7 literal days. I've chosen that route because I just don't know the answer and I don't believe anyone on earth today has a definitive answer on the question of a 7 day creation. And I don't think it really matters. But I do wonder why we believe what we do.

That's really the question. Is it because of the church we attend? The way we were raised? Because we are trying to impress someone? Or have we truly searched the scriptures, sought God's face, and believe this is the answer He has given us?

Will our entire theology collapse if we do not believe in this issue. Or is this just something we have been taught and reflexively spout when asked.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The apocalypse

In a previous post I mentioned that the Detroit Tigers were in first place, which was causing a cosmic disturbance of epic proportions. Folks, it is much worse than that. The Tigers are in the World Series. And they are the favorite by most accounts.

This is really big. This is a team that set the American League record for losses three years ago when they posted a splendid 43-119 record. That is a record only surpassed by the New York Mets when they were an expansion team.

Yet three years later, the Tigers have mown down the mighty Yankees and swept the A's. My head is spinning.

I'm piling up my mashed potatoes and heading for Devil's Tower. I'm sure that something is coming, alien or apocalypse. I just want to be prepared.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Do you ever have one of those "God Moments" that just humbles you to your core? One of those times when a truth is spectacularly revealed to you or the Spirit speaks so clearly that it is unmistakeable? They are not frequent for me, but I just had one.

The Lord spoke to me through a person who told me that I am where I am for a specific purpose, and then spoke about that purpose. Without giving away details, he told me how my knowledge, skills, and gifts etc. assisted him with an ongoing issue. I didn't think a great deal about it at the moment, because I changed the subject (which is how I deflect praise) but later that night the Spirit clearly spoke to me about it.

All of the grief, trouble and heartache that put us there now pale in comparison with the thought that I was sent by God for a specific purpose and task. What a humbling thought that is to me. We came to the thought that God may be using me as a transitional figure, which, looking at my past, is a possiblity. Like John the Baptist, I may be used to end one era and usher in a new one. In many ways I hope that is not the case, because that implies a great deal of change and bumping and rubbing. But, God is sovereign and I am not

Monday, October 09, 2006

Miracles and Wonders

In Paul Simon's masterful Graceland album, there is a song called "Boy in the Bubble" that describes the world 20 years later.

The Boy In The Bubble

It was a slow day
And the sun was beating
On the soldiers by the side of the road
There was a bright light
A shattering of shop windows
The bomb in the baby carriage
Was wired to the radio

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all
The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby don’t cry
Don’t cry

It was a dry wind
And it swept across the desert
And it curled into the circle of birth
And the dead sand
Falling on the children
The mothers and the fathers
And the automatic earth
These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all
The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in the corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby don’t cry
Don’t cry

It’s a turn-around jump shot
It’s everybody jump start
It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts
Medicine is magical and magical is art
The Boy in the Bubble
And the baby with the baboon heart

And I believe
These are the days of lasers in the jungle
Lasers in the jungle somewhere
Staccato signals of constant information
a loose affiliation of millionaires
And billionaires and baby
These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all
The way we look to a distant constellation
That’s dying in a corner of the sky
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don’t cry baby don’t cry
Don’t cry

© 1986 Paul Simon
Music by Paul Simon and Forere Motloheloa

We still have bombs in baby carriages, cars, buses and any other device that can transport a bomb. North Korea just detonated a nuclear device, much to the world's chagrin. We plan trips to Mars, watch space shuttles disintegrate before our very eyes, and are working on laser-based missile defense systems.

At the same time, we have breath-taking advances in medicine, robotics, nanotechnology and circuitry. These truly are the days of miracles and wonders.

I was painting my garage listening to that song and it just struck me. Not much has changed in 20 years. And it is still a bit scary.


Check out this article on Finding God's will from the most recent issue of Holiness Today, published by the Church of the Nazarene. It adds to my previous post.