Thursday, March 30, 2006

Potatoes And Stupidity

Have you ever noticed that some Christians seem to pick and choose what parts of the Bible are important? They decide what needs to be followed, what parts are relevant, in some circles, even what parts are what Jesus really said. Isn't kind of stupid that sometimes we follow certain passages to the letter, while others we let slide.

So what prompted this post? Ready for this? For centuries in Europe, people would not eat potatoes. That's right, that vegetable you make fries out of. Was it the taste? Nope, nothing wrong with that. Were they poisonous? Wrong again, they were perfectly healthy. So why wouldn't people eat them? Because they are not mentioned in the Bible. Nowhere anywhere in our Holy Book is that ground covered veggie brought up. So, since it wasn't in the Bible, they could not be eaten.

Doesn't that seem funny to you? "We won't eat that because it's not in the Bible." Cars aren't in the Bible, should we stop driving them? What about airplanes, computers... twinkies! Nope, shouldn't be a part of any of that, they're not mentioned in the Bible. But the Bible does mention things like spending time daily with God, refraining from immorality, even if something causes your friend to think wrong thoughts or want to do something wrong, you shouldn't do it. What about those parts? Do you think those potato boycotters were living out those passages?

But at least they didn't eat an unmentioned unholy food like potatoes...


Simeon & Anna

I have two new heroes; Simeon & Anna. Now most people probably have no idea who those people are, so here's a little background (you can check it in Luke chapter 2).

Simeon is an old man who has one thing keeping him alive. The Holy Spirit told him that he would see the Messiah before He died. Now that's keeping in touch with God! And what a promise to be given. But it gets more amazing. Simeon's sitting at home or whatever one day and the Holy Spirit tells him, "Go to the temple." Again, the guy's so in tune with God he doesn't question and goes to the temple. He sees an 8 day old baby and immediately knows who it is. He sees Jesus, takes him from Mary (lovingly of course, not in a child abduction kind of way) and prays over the child and blesses God for letting him see the Messiah.

And then there's Anna. Anna is about 105 years old, and here's how I figured that out. It says she was married for 7 years, then was a widow for 84! That's 91 years, take the average age of a young bride in Israel at the time as 14, and there's your 105. But her age is not the amazing thing (although I could handle living to 105). The Bible says she spent every day, day and night, at the Temple worshipping God, fasting and praying. She has dedicated every moment of her life to God! Is she in tune with God? She must be, she also ends up seeing Mary and Joseph holding a baby and goes over, knowing exactly who it is and also praying over Him and blessing Him.

Can you imagine knowing God that well? That you could be at church on a hot day, outside, and one of the many, many couples who line up at the Temple to have their baby "blessed" 8 days after their born, see one baby in the line and go, "There Is God!" To run over and hold the baby knowing that it is Jesus, God on earth, the Messiah, the One to be their Savior. I like how one translation put what Simeon said. He had "seen salvation". What a cool phrase, but even more amazing, the fact Simeon recognized that he was indeed looking at the Salvation of mankind.

Think you can know God that well? These weren't special people in our sense of the word. They weren't celebrities. They weren't ministers. They weren't Billy Grahams of their day or even teachers. They were people at the Temple trying to get to know God even better (which must have been hard seeing as they had to have been so incredibly close already).

Not to go all Star Wars, but I think George Lucas put it best when talking to a man named Bill Moyers one day. "I think there is a God. No question. What that God is what we know about God, I'm not sure... Even cavemen thought they had it figured out. I would say that cavemen understood on a scale of about 1. Now we've made it up to 5. The only thing is most people don't realize is the scale goes to 1 million."

Where did Simeon and Anna stand on the scale, to be able to pick God out of a bunch of crying babies? 100? 1 000? 999 999? Some days I feel like a 5. Some days a 1. But I'm shooting for a million...


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Been A While

Sorry to all those that read my blog... it's been a while. The last two weeks have been a little nuts, what with all the Real World Retreat and PDYM Conference in California, plus the everyday fun that goes with being Troy.

All I know for today is I made the CD from my sermon on Sunday, and I stutter and say "like" way too much. For those that have to listen to me on Sundays, sorry, I'll work on it.

Other than that, I didn't do much that will be interesting to write about. I'll try and cause some trouble tomorrow so it's more interesting. That shouldn't be too hard, I have a staff meeting :)


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Totem Pole

Everyone know what a totem pole is? It's that big huge pile of faces with a few wings at the top that American Indians build. They're a part of Native American culture. And we have a saying in our society today, that you want to climb to the top of the totem pole. "High up on the totem pole." That's our goal. To be at the top.

The funny part is this saying is completely misconstrued (my big word of the day). In Native American culture, the person on top is no more important than the person right below them. Rather, the most important person, usually the chief of the tribe, is at the bottom of the totem pole. That's right. The highest is just some guy. To be important on the totem pole standings, you want to be at the bottom.

When will people learn that it's not all about being on top? All about me. All about what I can get from others. In Mark chapter 9, Jesus spells it out for His disciples. If you want to be first, you have to learn to be last. If you want to be the most important, you have to learn to be a servant. It's not all about what everyone can do for me, but what I can do for everyone.

So have your spot on the top of the totem pole. I'm aiming for the bottom.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

30 Hour Famine

I sent in the money today, so it's official. Fire&Water Ministries raised $2210.32 for children starving around the world. That's pretty impressive. Think about all the school books that can be bought for that. All the food. All the water that can now be safe to drink.

My big question is this. If 15-20 people can raise that much money for one weekend, what could we accomplish if we got the other 200 million Americans involved? Plus people in other developed countries, England, Canada, Australia, heck, pretty much all of Europe. Would we even have any world hunger? Are we seriously that close, yet that uncommitted to do anything?

Thanks to all those that helped out and raised money! It is greatly appreciated by those around the world that will get to eat, drink and be clothed for the first time in a while...


Monday, March 06, 2006

Why Show up Sunday Mornings?

I don't know, this has been hitting me kind of hard lately. Why people seem to come to church on Sunday's for really no reason at all. It's like they come because they have to and somehow sitting their butt in a pew for an hour constitutes them "doing their duty", thereby getting them out of God's wrath until the next time they can show up.

I'm ready a book by Rory Noland, a worship leader, and he asks these questions. "When your church gathers for worship, are you there ready and willing to engage fully with God? Or are you 'somewhere else' during corporate worship, distracted by personal concerns or the events of the day? Do you come ready to be loved by God, or are you there to criticize the music, the drama, or the sermon?" I mean, seriously, if you're not coming to church with an open heart to be closer to God, why bother? Do people get a sense of peace by doing a ritual that doesn't make them in some way better?

The sad part is, I'm not being hypothetical. Hey, I've even had someone come to church and the only feedback they could give on a comment card was about my hair being messy. Really, where is your heart at on a Sunday morning if my hair distracts you from seeing God?

And this doesn't just apply to Sunday mornings. This should be true in every area of our lives. If we believe there is a God (according to the surveys, most of us do) and if we want a personal relationship with Him (again, the surveys say most of us do), then why do we live our lives as if God is not a part of it? Lately I've been understanding Paul's verse in Romans 7. "I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it. I do the very thing I hate." (v.15) It's hard to live for God. Sometimes I think our society has made the Christian walk backwards. We seem to make it hard to come to know God, then easy to follow Him, when in reality, it's very easy to accept Jesus into your life, but it gets harder from there. Everything else in the world is like that, why do we try to make our spiritual growth different?

Too much rambling, sorry for the length.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Over The Hump...?

It's finally March! I know for most of you that means absolutely nothing, but in the hectic world of Troy, that's big news. That means that the stress level decreases and amount of time increases. Finally, the hard part of the year is done. Christmas, New-Year's All-Nighter, Budget meetings, Ski Retreat, Superbowl Party, YAC (which we didn't do much with this year), Lay Speaker's Retreat, 30 Hour Famine, and of course, all my ordination stuff that was thrown in this year (I passed my exam, woo hoo!), plus the every day activities that go on here at Fire & Water Ministries, including starting up Home Bible Studies. So busy. For some reason, March is busy too, but it seems like stuff that is a little easier to deal with. Sermon series, website up and running, Real World Retreat and my trip to PDYM in Cali. That's why I wonder if I'm actually over the hump yet. Easter still to come. Our bi-annual Dan's Fish Fry.

We're really busy people. It's kind of crazy. Yet, according to all the research, we have more free time in our lives than anyone else in history. What's even funnier is in the sermon series going on here at the church, I'm the one who gets the section about slowing down to pray, taking time out of our busy lives for God. It still amazes me how easy it is to fit a two hour movie, the three hours a week we have of American Idol, or a 3 hour sports game into our schedules, but ten minutes with God is our max.

Life won't slow down. You have to slow it down...

Ps. 46:10 - Be still, and know that I am God.