Friday, November 30, 2007

Dwayne Wade Commercial

Why does this commercial make me want to cry? I think it represents everything that is good about sports. I played high school basketball and was so good I should have been killed to bring balance to the other players, but I remember hearing my name called over the speakers during opening introductions and this is how I felt. That is all.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Saying Goodbye

I have just returned from a morning of sorrow. A day of celebration turned to a day of grief and wailing. This day was never given a fair chance for for the people at the funeral I have just returned from. How do you approach a funeral like this one, a funeral of a woman who committed suicide leaving behind a wonderful kid with a bright future. This was no ordinary woman now residing in a ceramic jar in front of the church. This was a woman that was the definition of kindness in life. Most people feel the need to eulogize a person as a saint after they have past simply out of guilt, but the truth be told, this woman was golden. One of very few in my life I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I was a boy without much, from a family without much and kids at school are cruel and merciless. She picked me up and took me school shopping. Not the kind where you get an shirt and some pants, the shopping spree kind. Over the next several years she made sure I was in really, really nice shoes, ones that I would not get made fun of for wearing, the kind that ugly kids steal. I will never forget that, but what is so saddening to me is that through all of that huge heart she had, she couldn't find a reason to hold on. She was lonely, her name was Mary Jo. She was a close friend to my family. I fed her grown son as a child. She gave everything she had to everyone. She was full of love. Her heart broke for hurting people. She is gone. I do not understand why. They say that suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness in that you are not thinking of those that you leave behind, but what if you don't believe there is much to leave behind. What if, she say had grown up son that was accomplishing everything he ever wanted in life and she felt no longer needed. What if all of the people she had loved so much and took care of so much didn't make it eternally clear what she meant to them. Maybe they did and it simply wasn't enough to ease the pain of life, of lonliness. Mary Jo shined her faith like the sun. She did have faith, she didn't have joy. I wish she didn't do what she did, we could all go and tell her that what she gave to us was untouchable, it was a diamond in a world of mud. I could tell her that keeping me from getting made fun of for a couple of years may have saved my own life. I could tell her that I have never, and I mean that, ever seen another person like her. I wish I could tell her that now, but I do believe apart from some other Christians, that she will be speaking to Jesus the next time I see her. I will learn to cherish all relationships I have and take nothing for granted, I promise that to God. Goodbye Mary Jo.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We Are Liquid

There was this kid named Josh on Myspace. He went by the name you BROKE my LIFE. He was a 17 year old kid in high school. He was considered to be an emo kid. His friends say he was loyal as a friend and cared a great deal for those that he loved. 2 years ago, Josh posted a bulletin on Myspace that read in the subject, “Do me a favor”, and then when you opened it, it read, “Call the police”, and gave his address, then a note that said, “I’m sorry”. Josh put a gun to his head and committed suicide leaving his note for all to see on his Myspace profile.
Two kids walk into their Colorado high school and open fire on their classmates and teachers killing 13 people and injuring many more. Putting the city of Columbine into a panic about any and all teenagers who look a little scary.
Two kids lured an 26 year old man into their grandfathers garage and I will just read the article myself. There, on a tarp they allegedly spread out for the attack, they slit Sorensen's throat with a knife and repeatedly stabbed him before cutting off his head with a hacksaw, prosecutors said."They lured him in the garage where they prepared a space to kill him," Worthy said. A tarp had been spread on the garage floor, and Sorenson was stabbed multiple times in the back. His head was sawed off and his body wrapped in the tarp, authorities said.They allegedly used a blowtorch on his hands and feet in an attempt to remove his fingerprints, officials said.
These are all horrific stories of violence against oneself and others and to tell you the truth these things happen quite rarely, but what happens too often are the feelings and rejection that lead up to a person doing such awful things. Kids family’s are broken and they bear the brunt of the punishment for it. A kid looks or feels different, so he or she is quickly labeled and feels like a reject. A kid feels like their life is spinning out of control and there is nothing they can do about it, so they cut themselves, because that is something they can control, or they eat a lot of food then throw it up, because they can control that. A kid has forgotten what it is like to be himself because of all of the time they spend being someone acceptable to others, and eventually loses himself completely. These are stories that happen every day in your schools and in your neighborhoods, and maybe in your own lives. Things all caused by the amount of evil in the world, the amount of brokenness that reigns in the lives of teenagers. It is caused by bad parents that think only of themselves when making decisions that effect others around them. It is caused by other kids who feel better about themselves by tearing other kids down. This is the single biggest reason that we exist. We are here to glorify God and to worship and to lead others into committed relationships with God, but mostly we are here for the sick of this world. We feel this way because Jesus did.
Matt. 9:12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
If all of the kids in this community had it all figured out and they were all well rounded and healthy inside and out, there would be no need for us here, we could all just give our lives to Christ and go directly to Heaven. If all of the people in Jesus’ day had it all figured out and lived their lives the way God wanted them to, there would be no need for a savior. But it is because of the need for a savior that Jesus came, because the world was full of evil and violence and greed and hatred and the people were lost, and hurting without hope. Enter Jesus who went to those hurting people even though those that considered themselves to be religious called Him names, lied about Him, despised Him about it. Jesus went to those that were hurting in the world and gave them hope. We are not Jesus, but we strive to be a model of what He looked like. And give you others an avenue to grow together in Christ’s love, and to be a part of a work that is much bigger than you and I. We have the opportunity here to be a part of God’s story. Of how He continues to change lives and save souls, of how He continues to move mountains and break down barriers. This is the story of God playing out here, in this room, in your lives.
What would life be like if all of the lights went out in your city and there were hungry lions on the prowl all around. Everyone is walking around without being able to see what is in front of them, they can’t see the lion about to pounce them and you have the only flashlight. Would you then use that flashlight to guide your own way to a safe place and leave the rest to become lion food? Or would you possibly use that light you have to go and rescue some people that do not see what is ahead of them. This is the very question that God has posed to us. He said:
Matt. 5:14 ¶ “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
It is Gods desire for us to share this truth you have been given with others who are in darkness. See there is this problem in America with people just sitting back and watching all of the crap happening and they just sit back and be glad and thank God that it didn’t happen to them. They pray that God will protect their families and friends and thank Him for keeping them from the disaster. But if God’s people do that, than who is helping with the disaster? Who is there to help others deal with loss, with pain and rejection, with feelings of self hatred? God says that we are the light of the world, He isn’t asking here in this passage, He says you are the light of the world, why because if you believe, than the Spirit of God resides in you and desires to light you up so all can see, but very often, we hide that light. Very often we get too comfortable with the joy of being a Christian and the joy of security, that we do not do anything to help others that do not have what you have. This is not the way of God and it should not be the way of the Church, laziness, contentment in your own little worlds, this is shameful and lukewarm.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Label Machine

Moronic labels are not something that are reserved just for bottles and cans, just clap your hands...just clap your hands. Labels are something that are all too prominent in the places we live, work, go to school, your race, age, gender, everywhere you go, there are labels. Most people use labels to categorize things to make them easier to recognize or find. We label things with a skull and crossbones or a circle thingy... to tell us that something is harmful to us. We label things rated G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, and X to tell us what we are to expect from a movie. We label things reject or irregular if they don’t pass all of the guidelines you need to have quality, than it goes to TJ Max or Value City at a lower price, remember that. We label things flammable, if they are substances that are likely to go up in flames if exposed to fire. The point is, everywhere you go, you find labels that identify who it is, who made it, what is it worth, what will it do. And all of these things are good, but something really bad has happened do to our love affair with needing to label things. People started getting labeled.
I never understood this obsession, why can’t something just be something unique, all it’s own, maybe even a grandma knitted quilt of different characteristics of different things. But instead most are given a label and all of the things negative and positive that come with the label, not the person are assumed to be true. My aunt and everyone has an aunt that was exposed to this side of the year 1900 that has discovered the hand held label maker. She saw one, peed her pants at the sight of something so handy, and handy is the word they all use. They buy it, then they proceed to use a hundred rolls of label tape labeling every redundant thing in the house. She labeled the beans...beans. She labeled the toilet paper...toilet paper. She even labeled the guessed it, soap. Maybe I exaggerate a little, but this woman was nuts with this thing. Everything needed to be labeled in case she forgot what a can of beans looked like. She was obsessed. And so are so many people who feel the need to lump everyone into their own neat little sections of life. Maybe it makes us easier to figure out for those that do not want to take the time to get to know who a person really is, but I suspect that everyone here is guilty of doing it in one way or another, and I am also certain that we have all been labeled ourselves as something we are not. The good news is that Jesus knows that pain all to well. Jesus was notoriously labeled as a bunch of different things. Today He has been labeled a Savior, which He is, a maniac, a lunatic, a lier, someone who never excited, he was actually accused of lying about His own existence. He was labeled a pansy, hobo, drunkard, heathen, blasphemer, and so, so many more. Jesus understands what is feels like to be condemned by your peers as something you are not. They call you a nerd, a homo, any various racial slurrs, stupid, lazy, emo, goth, jock, band geek, loser, burnout, fundamentalist, Jesus freak whatever they feel you are at the moment, but so very few of them make an attempt to get to know you. It is easier to think they have you figured out, it may make them feel better, but it hurts you, and it hurts others and it hurt Jesus, but never did it ever stop Him from being and doing what He really was.
Listen to what people were saying when they heard that the Messiah was here. ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son?’ ‘Is not this the one born in a manger?’ and my favorite is from John 1:46
John 1:46   “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.  “Come and see,” said Philip.
They are doubting the appearance of the Messiah that they all were waiting for because He was born in a particular city. Are you kidding? They were not. For they, such a king must come from a great Jewish city, like Jerusalem, not the butt of Israel, Nazareth. Nothing good comes out of there. Not from a Carpenter, maybe a King or soldier, or a warrior, but a carpenter? He was born in a manger in straw for goodness sake. Not a golden crib, this cannot be a King sent from heaven itself. Jesus got this His entire life and ministry because he chose the foolish things to shame the wise. The Jewish leaders thought they had it all figured out abut this Messiah, they were so smart, so wise, then here comes Jesus going everything purposely backwards. He is born in a stable, from a dump of a city, from an impoverished mother. He comes into Jerusalem riding on a mule, which was the symbol of stupidity, He gets down on his hands and knees and washed the disciples filthy feet, he goes to the drunks and greedy, and sinful and hangs out with them teaching them love, not warfare. Jesus chose to do the opposite of what every label that was put on him before birth had. Jesus was a renegade. And for that, the ignorant just could not and would not believe. I guess they are waiting for a Messiah who is not quite as human as the Jesus of Nazareth. So they will wait and wait and wait. Same thing today, many people still waiting for that sign that something out there cares for them, and is willing to save them, but so many have gotten sick of waiting because the world is so evil that they have given up waiting or hope or belief. When here is Jesus, once again doing the opposite of what we think. We think revenge against those that deny us, Jesus thinks forgiveness, Jesus says He is love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness. Jesus says He doesn’t care at all who you are, what you came from, where you came form, what you have done, who you have hurt. Jesus knows you, the real you, all of you, not just the parts he wants to see. Jesus does the opposite of us, we label, and Jesus searches us. You may have been hurt by others and you may get hurt everyday by others, but what we have when we look up is Christ looking at us, and loving us, offering us a way out of the pain. He offers healing and fulfillment, happiness, and joy. Jesus offers us a better way to live. That is why He came and died for us and rose up again. He did it so we can know Him personally with no labels, just you and God.

Everyone's A Pirate

Ever watch a Scooby Doo episode? That was my favorite cartoon when I was little because no matter how many times I had seen the scary monster that Shaggy and the Scoob were running from, no matter how ridiculous of a creature was chasing them, I always believed that this creature was a real life monster spawn of Satan from Hell. Even though every episode I had ever seen had the big monsters mask being ripped off to expose the puny guy underneath. I never got it, I was always fooled. In fact It went the same way with most everything I watched. I loved horror movies and still do because there is this slight chance that what I was watching was reality. Freddy Krueger, in my opinion the scariest monster ever, haunted my dreams the way he haunted the dreams of his victims in those movies. Every shadow I saw was Freddy, every weird noise, every screech I heard from a chalkboard. I was, I think the only kid in the world that cried hysterically when they killed Jaws in the first movie, not because I like sharks, you all know that I hate them, mostly because of Jaws, but because this monster, this evil creature from hell, I had just watch for the last 2 hours eat everyone, turned out to be a simple shark, a normal bloodthirsty run of the mill Great white shark. Big yes, scary, yes please, but supernatural, no. I was shocked and it felt like I was lied to the whole movie, it wasn’t real, the amazing was not real. This is a pattern that continued with me and looking back now and examining the way I function, I realize that I always believed the lies and stories and legends because I wanted to be fooled. Sometimes reality in our lives cause us to prefer a fairy tale or fiction kind of reality or way of thinking. We want to believe so bad sometimes, which is why that show Myth Busters sucks so bad because those morons just can’t leave well enough alone, they have to go and disprove all the the myths that we love to believe and teach others about.
What is the function of a mask? To cover reality right. To make others believe something that is not the truth, whether it is a mask you wear for Halloween trying to scare people ot the a mask you put on to make people believe your skin is tighter than it is, or the mask that many of us are guilt of wearing on a daily basis, the mask that you wear so that other s can not see what is really going on inside of you, or who you really are. Masks were made to deceive and how good we have become at deceiving haven’t we. Some of us live our whole lives for other people that are living for other people. We see what is acceptable or cool in others and we put that mask on, we keep doing this until there is no part of who you really are left for others to see. We pretend we are something we are not until sometimes we do not even remember who we are, but you know that in front of others at least you feel more comfortable about yourself and you know that others feel more comfortable with you too, because people distrust things that are different than them. So we wear the masks through school to college, to work and wherever life takes you we go on trying to make others feel safe and comfortable about who you are. That is why they tell you to never, ever talk about 2 things, what? Religion and Politics, because it makes people feel uncomfortable about you when they find out you believe differently which is why so many in our country just cannot get along. The truth is that people would rather believe that you are the same as them because it makes them feel more normal and you seem more trustworthy, so they would like you to keep those masks on, and so would the Devil.
John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
Christ is described here as light, why? Because the world is dark, it is full of lies, it is full of myths that people love to believe to feel better. They would love to believe that you can work your way into Heaven so that those that make mistakes can’t go, it makes them feel better, they would love to believe that there is no hell, because hell is scary, they would love to believe that every behavior is acceptable because it makes them feel better abut their evils. There are lies at every dark corner you go around. It simply is easier to believe a lie as long as it makes us feel more comfortable and the thought of an all knowing and powerful God who is with us, everywhere makes some feel uncomfortable about themselves. But one thing is true about truth, it is seldom comfortable. Jesus came, He died and rose again for us and gave us the truth, yet because we would rather believe a lie rather than the truth we often write Him off as untrue. We all do it, believer and non-believer, we too often choose to believe what makes us comfortable rather than truth, so we put on the mask to make yourself feel better, but life is not about masks. We have such a short time here, too short to spend so much time living in ignorance, living for other’s comfort.
It is God’s desire for us to remove the masks, and get rid of them. To step out of the shadows we hide in sometimes and walk in the truth that He has made available to us. He has given us an entire book of truth that we seldom read because it makes us uncomfortable to read it. Some say they do not read it because it is boring, and they do not understand it, I say that is a cop out. Bibles today are written in our language, we understand. Boring...In the Bible, a sea was parted, the world was flooded, a donkey spoke to a guy, there is a war in Heaven, an epic battle between good and evil, and a million other things that we would rush to the theater to see, we avoid the Bible because we avoid God. Because He makes us uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that many Christians that really do believe where the unbeliever mask to school so as to not upset others about who you really are. This is no way to live, because you are not making any difference to anyone by wearing costumes all the time. If you like to look like a pirate, so be it, be a pirate, but you are not doing justice to the person that God made you and molded you to be, unless you really are a pirate. If you want to be a clown than go ahead and dance and juggle and squirt people with water because that is what people love, a good laugh. But you know what people need? They need God, they need the truth and they need it from you, so if we could just take off the masks and be what God wants us to be in front of everyone, we will see that people will come running out of the dark corners to find the truth in you, for you to lead them in the right direction, because later in life, when you realize where all of your masks have taken you and you do not know the truth about anything, you look for any truth you can find, and Jesus shines through us like a torch. This is how you make a real difference and bring glory to God in your lives.
Prov. 23:23 Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.

The Fire

The fire

I've felt the fire and it hurts a bit, but if you live you are refined, like silver hidden beneath the tarnish exposed in a kiss.

How are you? I am good, I am learning, I am getting better at life and that is do to my inclination to give up trying to be me by myself. It sounds weird but I cannot attribute a thing that has ever been good about me to myself. I am grown up and I can see the way that God has put obsticles in my path to teach me to jump, He has put mountains in my way to teach me to climb, and in the end when you have felt the fire and you still live, you are refined, you are new, different. I cannot be the person I used to be and would never want to be, I am new. You get knocked down over and over, and will get pushed around and hurt and cheated, but if you trust in God, you will get up, because He has plans to help you, not to harm you, even if those plans hurt really bad at the time. You get up, you look the world over annd get knocked back down, but then you get up again. It is God inside that promps you to fight, to wipe away your tears, stop feeling sorry for yourself for having been in the fire, and be glad that you were burned. Because without that pain, there is no real joy, you would never learn or get to the place you need to be to be me with God and not me with myself. Left to myself and my own devices I am a blundering fool, anything that is good from me is from God. I used to think that life was like some series of hills that you must cross over to be complete before you die. The high points are the times you are doing well spiritually and God feels like He is closer that your own heartbeat, and the lows are the times that God feels forever away. I used to think that was the way it had to be, but maybe that is because I am so foolish that I must always seem to have to learn the hard way on things. Maybe I need the lows because I am not smart enough to look around and see the lows of others as a lesson for me to learn, I must experience these things myself to realize that I should have learned ages ago. Maybe, life doesn't have to have those series of lows, maybe we can go up all the time until we reach the highest point of life, then go meet our God, then you can ride that first hill forever. Maybe memories, the thing I am closest to in life, are a gift, like presents, things to take with you on the ride to show you were you have been and what you have learned. Over the past several years, I have looked really hard at myself and have been stumped with the desire to revisit my past watch it play out again, but why would I ever want to do that. I remember my past because it was filled with fire and I am here because I lived and was forever changed. Those things I have seen and experienced are gone and will never be again, and that is a good thing because I would never want to be that guy again anyway. Memories are Poloroids that are meant to be stored in a box for a time when you are lonely and lost and need to revisit what you have learned and where God has been in your life to put you back on track. I will prolly be moping about getting another year closer to death in a couple months, but for now, I'll take this over anything.