Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dear Abigail

Little Princess,

First of all, I am sorry I haven't written you specifically yet.  Part of me doesn't want to admit you aren't here.  Part of me still wants you to run and give me a big hug like you would do almost every day.  Part of me wants to re-do April 11, 2010, and lock the door when I go in.  So I haven't written you yet, and I am sorry.  However, I had a shock to my system this week.  Your monument marker came in on Thursday, and I got to see it in person today. 

You would be so proud to see yourself on this, Abigail.  I know it.  You loved to look at yourself when you were pretty, and you are so beautiful on this marker.  I remember taking the picture of you in the swing at your 2nd birthday party that was on the marker.  In fact, I can still see you through the viewfinder.  You were waiting on someone to push you on the swing.  Remember, PawPaw came and pushed you right after I took that picture.  You were so happy on that day.

Abigail, it is really hard to see your smiling face on this marker with your birth and death date.  I miss you so much.  Your momma and I cry all the time over how much we miss and love you still.  You made our family whole, and we are just broken without you.

I am so glad I was your daddy for 2 years.  I really miss you so much.  It just hurts.  I am glad you are in Heaven with Jesus.  I can't wait to see you again, and get to hold you again.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Opposite Perspective on who we are...

I hate Joel Osteen.  Well not really, I guess that is a bit strong.  I don't know him, so it would be hard to hate someone you don't know.  However, I do hate what he stands for.  The Jimmy Swaggert types.  Preachers that stand in a pulpit with $$$ in their eyes.  Preachers that are looking to grow a congregation, rather than really reaching people.  Churches that model themselves after business, rather than Christ.  I hate it because it's wrong. 

Please don't misunderstand me, because it definitely can make you rich and famous.  People gravitate to the wealthy, the powerful, the greatest whatever it is.  That is why politicians and sports figures are so popular.  And the pastors of churches that fall in this category definitely can have it all.  And it's easy really.  It's easy to say the right thing that doesn't make you uncomfortable, that doesn't offend.  God wants to bless you.  God wants to do great things for you.  God wants to bring you greatness.  It sure does sound good, too.  Everyone wants to hear that.  God wants me to have this Porche, because he wants to bless me.  God wants me to win the lottery, and I know he will help me because he wants to bless me.  It really is easy to sell this.  Much easier than you are really screwed up, and its only through the grace of God that you are here.  However, the lie above brings in the masses, because it is easy, it is light, and it doesn't offend. 

I should point out that God does want to bless you, but I tend to think these guy's definition is different from God's.  His definition of being blessed typically doesn't include money or power.  But it does include how you impact others.  Think about where Jesus really stands out in the Gospels.  It's not the "Rock Star" persona he shows a few times, especially when he is headed to Jerusalem.  That was great and all, because it showed that the people acknowledged who He really was.  But in my mind, Jesus really stands out when he interacts with people that are nobodies, people that are broken, people with disease.  People that are hurting.  Because at these points, he is their hero, their savior from themselves, their glimmer of hope in what was to that poiint a hopeless existance.  It's that love He shows people that think He doesn't know them from Adam.  It affects them, changes them.  These are the ones that can't be quiet, because these are the ones who saw who Jesus really was.  His impact on the people was much greater when He did a miracle, rather than when he talked to the people.

Don't think I think the words of Jesus are of little value.  Just the opposite, they are the basis of the description of what we strive to be.  Yet, I think God left the His miracles in the Bible because He wants us to know that is what we are supposed to do.  We are supposed to act.  We are supposed to Pray and ask for guidance, but just as important we are supposed to act when it's important.  When it matters.  It matters when people are hurting.  Orphans and widows are hurting.  Homeless men and women are hurting.  People addicted to drugs are hurting. 

I just watched a documentary about sex slave traders in Eastern Europe, and how they kidnap women from families and sell them to people in other contries for sex.  These were sisters, wives, mothers forced to do something they didn't want to do,  It was horrifying, but was reality for these people.  And they were permanently damaged emotionally, probably never able to truly love again.  I also watched a video the other day about a youth group that visited orphanages in an Eastern European country in the past 10 years.  The video showed images of these orphans that was horrifying.  They looked malnourished, and were desperate for someone, anyone to hold them and love them.  Yes, the youth group went away moved by the horrible conditions.  But they went away just the same, and these children went back to their hopeless existance.  No one to love them, to care for them.  This is just two examples, but this goes on everyday everywhere. 

So what is my point here?  My point is we want to hear that everything is ok, that our world is ok.  But it's not.  It is just the opposite of that.  When I look at myself, I see 2 things.  I see a foolish sinner that has been bestowed with Amazing Grace.  God loves me so much, and I am so grateful.  However, I also see someone who is so lucky I was born where I was, bestowed with the blessings I have been given.  I don't need to be rich or powerful.  God has blessed me because he has shown me love.  Our chase for wealth and security leaves us missing the point.  We are already given so much, yet we are greedy for more.  Our greed for our "place in life" keeps us from really doing what Jesus wants us to do.  From really taking up our cross and following Him.  I am terribly guilty of this.  And I think Jesus cries over the ones above, because they are hurting so bad with no hope, just like the ones in the Gospels that He showed mercy and grace toward.  He wants us to be His body, and do the same.  Yet our own pursuit after ourselves prevents us from seeing this glaring need.  Others need us, but we can't get out of our own way. 

So Mr. Osteen can tell you whatever you want to hear.  And you may even get it.  But I am here to tell you it is a lie.  Our blessing doesn't come from what we can get, but what we can give to the glory of Jesus Christ.  And the gift of ourselves to others is really the greatest gift we can give.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Defining Christianity

That was a bit of a break, wasn't it?  Well, I didn't plan on spacing out my posts so far, but, to be honest, I didn't have anything to say.  I guess I'm like Mr. Ed, I won't say anything unless I have something to say.  But I'm glad to be back here again.  And I hope you are too. 

I said from the beginning that this blog would be about the idea of how do we turn ourselves into Christ followers rather than Christians.  I think there is a distinction.  Jesus was pretty clear in the Gospels that taking up your cross and truly following Him is not easy.  And it's not for everyone, apparently.  I can think of at least one example in the Bible of the Rich Man that when he asked and Jesus responded, he walked away dissapointed.  Because he knew he couldn't do it.  So here we are with this dilema.  How do we be like Christ, rather than just calling yourself Christian?  Rather than just being selfish and looking for "fire insurance" as some well-meaning but ignorant people have put it, give ourselves for the glory of Christ Jesus, because he gave himself for us.  For you. For me.  For men, women and kids we don't know, in places we've never been.  Christ did- his life and death exemplified this.  But how do we do this?

I really liked the definition Eric Ludy used in his video about what we are supposed to look like.  I told you that his message comes from, in my opinion, someone who is ordained by God to cry out to us all.  Just like the Prophets of old did.  We are supposed to be different.  Act and look different.  "Odd" and "from another realm" as Mr. Ludy put it in the video in my previous post.  But the problem is, we don't.  And I think we suffer from the same problem that the Rich Man did.  It's too hard.  It's uncomfortable.  And most importantly, it's real.  You can't hide from your own Cross.  That shows not only others who you are, but more importantly, you who you are.  So we walk away just like he did, because we don't want to see it either.

People who are skeptical of Christians have good cause.  If I wasn't completely confident in my Creator and his love for me, for everyone, I would probably be in this camp.  Because too many people calling themselves Christian do too many stupid things that are directly contrary to Christ every day.  We are all sinners, but come on.  People with fish on their cars driving like fools.  People wearing religious stuff, but talking like drunk sailors.  I fall into these, so I am no better.  Yet, it is hard for someone to accept this kind of action from someone who claims to be a Christ follower, but doesn't act like it.  So I can understand why someone would be skeptical.  And in a lot of ways, I agree with them.

It's real easy for us to trap ourselves into our fake lives.  Go to church- everything is great!  Go to work- everything is great!  Go to school- everything is great!  Go to kids activities- everything is great!  That's the cycle we trap ourselves in, the cycle we fool ourselves with.  But the truth is, it's not great at all.  To be blunt, it sucks. 

It's hard to look at yourself- the real you.  But that is what God sees.  He sees everything you despise about yourself, and considers it great joy just to know you.  He loves you that much.  The very parts you hate, He loves.  He loves you just as you are. 

If we are really trying to know Christ, our definition of what that means has to change.  No more hiding behind ourselves.  We really don't have an option.  We are loved in a way we can't understand.  And because of that, we really don't have any grey area to hide behind.  I challenge all of us to be different today.  Take up our real crosses and follow Him.  Because He loved all of us so much, He took up His.