Does Any of this Really Matter?…05/17/2017

I remember a time when people were so mad about who had been elected president that dumb news stories, whether they were true or not would get posted. I got so tired of it, that I unfollowed people on my Facebook or just stayed off of it for a time. Fast forward 8 years and now I see it again.

I’ve gotten cynical about the whole political scene. Most of which is done for show on TV. The 24 hour news channels eat it up or make it up so that they can sell advertising.  Most people don’t realize that they are basically being sold to those to the advertisers.

I’ve long subscribed to the saying, “If it bleeds, it leads,” to the whole of the news media. I try very hard to pick and chose my sources carefully, and then double and triple check them for facts left unsaid, or left out, because all the journalists are political operatives with a byline.

I see friends and family being lead down the path. I was there a long time ago. I turned a corner about halfway through Bush 2’s second term, realizing all that was happening. I tried to tell people that they are being used, but to no avail. As humorist Scott Adams says (I’m paraphrasing here), they are living in their own movie, and so are we. I’m not adept to being a persuader. I have to be careful with who or what I listen to. It is possible that if I look at Facebook too long, I’ll get depressed. I’ve pretty much stopped looking at twitter. I listen to a new deconstruction podcast, which helps to lighten my moods, because they are pretty funny, but my moods still swing.

As I watch the news, there are those that tell me that I’m irrelevant. That my opinions don’t matter, because I am privileged, judging me before I even open my mouth, or do anything. The pendulum swings, “fight the (blank)!” The pendulum swings back, “fight the (blank we said was good before)!” I’m beginning to realize the meaning behind the book of Ecclesiastes. “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV)

Fight, fight, everything is fight. What about Love? I realized recently that nobody wants to love unconditionally, because they don’t want to love those that wronged them, the original sin. They say they follow Jesus, but really they follow Moses (the law). And now we have fallen into the time of the book of Judges (Everyone did as they saw fit).

My Dog Showed me This…01/28/2017

About a year ago, our household acquired a young male dog. He was a year and a half pit/boxer mix. He was hard for me to train. Over time he has gotten into the groove of his pack (our family), and is much better behaved than when he showed up. 
There are a few things that I haven’t been able to break him of. Getting into the bay window, and barking at other dogs, and trying to dominate my female black lab. Mia is 13, and is still pretty active for a geriatric dog. In fact, when Niner is bugging her and biting at her, her teeth come out. Niner knows to respect his elder, well sort of. As I’ve studied dog behavior, he’s still trying to assert himself ahead of other dogs in the pecking order.
I see lots of protests online, and ignorant blow back between lots of people. The problem that I see, if you look at it from non-spiritual lens, we are doing the same things as my dogs.
If, for a moment, you recognize that we humans are biologically, animals. The fights online are nothing more than us fighting for dominance within our pack. A lot of the women’s rights issues, are overlooking the evolutionary thoughts that are ingrained in our species. It’s not to say we shouldn’t allow women the same rights as men. Rather, the progressives that think there is no God, overlook their same belief of evolution. That we are no different from the social orders of other mammals.
I guess that’s why I’m believe in a God that says He sees neither male nor female. Jew or Greek. Just people. That we all have a spirit, that he has imparted to us. We are more than animals, fighting for pack dominance. We should be striving for a kingdom here on earth, where we, like God, see neither male nor female. Jew or Greek, or for that matter, black or white or hispanic or…
I think that other christians fighting for the rights of others, need to remember this fact. It would help with their patience and the somewhat incendiary attitude that I see online.
As I have seen it, love is what is needed. As Jesus said, love your enemy. Anyone can love your neighbor. Love the unlovely. This goes both ways. It’s one thing to be prophetic and critique society. It’s another thing to go around and label people without knowing them.
I know this goes against the pack mentality, but then again, we are more than animals.

Watching for Aslan…

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince CaspianMary and I were watching Prince Caspian before I went into work this evening. When the kids are looking to cross a river, Lucy sees Aslan, but is the only one. Why? she is the only one looking for him. Then later there is a conversation between Lucy and Susan:

Susan: Why didn’t I see Aslan?

Lucy: Maybe you didn’t want to.

I think this is endemic in the church. We get into the Sunday services. We even volunteer, but are we looking for Christ?

Over at the Jesus Creed Blog: Scot McKnight is doing a review of King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus by Tim Keller and makes this observation about Keller’s take on the rich young man who asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. (Mark 10:17-29)

Then he sees Jesus pushing the man from seeing God as his boss (from the laws) to God as Savior, and he compels the man to imagine his own life without money. “All you have is me. Can you live like that?” (131). If you want God as savior, you have to get rid of your money as your savior. The issue is the man’s “moral worth” (132). “It’s our moral worth that keeps us from understanding the economy of the cross” (133). Which leads him to Mark 12, and the famous Jesus Creed passage on loving God and loving others.

The other day, I noticed the truck making a noise in the front end. It sounds like another wheel bearing. We were also told that by the owner of the  Suburban that we have been borrowing, they may be needing it back. It would be easy for us to panic over these things, but I’m looking for Christ in the situation. The money that we need isn’t the savior. The Savior may get us the money or some other resource  to help us. We have to be looking for Him and hope to see Him, just like when Lucy is looking for a place to cross the river, she is looking for Aslan to help them.

Of course, as the story goes along, Peter, Lucy’s older brother and high king, decides that they can’t wait for Aslan, and they put together an ill-fated attack on the Telmarines. How often do we do this? Instead of looking for Jesus and waiting for his appearance,  we take matters into our own hands. I often see this in teen relationships. I have seen both guys and girls looking for a relationship. Instead of looking for Jesus and waiting for his appearance to give Godly advice, or introducing them to who God would have them go with, they take matters into their own hands. I can attest to this in my own life while in college. I got into a relationship with a girl that I probably shouldn’t have. Mostly because I took matters into my own hands, instead of looking for him for guidance. I see teens doing this year after year.

I’ve  seen teens, get into jams all the time. They don’t look for Him. They only see the typical saviors, money, friends, and relationships. They see God as boss and not savior. Can you imagine your life without money or friends, relying only on Christ to get your through your circumstance? That’s not to say that you can’t accept money to help you through your circumstance, after all Jesus had people helping Him with His ministry providing support as he went from town to town. The idea is to look for Jesus and rely on him to provide.

I think many times we don’t look for Christ in the everyday, and over spiritualize things to such an extent that when He makes an appearance we don’t recognize Him. We just don’t look. Has a friend offered to give you money or advice (Godly advice), when you were going through something? Teens, if your parents know Christ, do you think that Jesus will make an appearance through them? Do you want Him to? If they don’t know Christ, where are you looking for Him to make an appearance?

When truth can be so distant
and hope evades our reach
Peter swam across the water
and found it on the beach – Five Iron Frenzy

Look for Him. He will be there.

Are We All Hanging on by a Thread?

Notice MeI was listening to a couple of things tonight. One was the most recent Mars Hill Bible church sermon by a guest teacher Peter Rollins. They are doing a series on Ecclesiastes. However, one of the stories he tells was of somebody person on a train that loses their wallet which has their ticket in it. Because of this she has a lengthy conversation with the conductor. The story ends with the conductor telling the train rider that there is no problem with the lost ticket, because she noticed him. Most would think that he is noticed all the time, but really he is just a part of the machinery. Nobody notices him.

Then I was listening to some music right after that and the song by The Letter Black, “Hanging on by a Thread,” came on in the playlist, and this part of the song struck me:

Save me from losing myself
I’m hanging on by a thread
Can You see who I am
Underneath my scars?
I’m afraid to fall
So I’m holding on to You
No I won’t let go
I’m hanging on by a thread

The song is asking for God to notice them and love them. That’s what Peter Rollins asserts that noticing your neighbor is loving them. People are in need of love, being noticed is a part of that.

So now I take it a step further. With teens, what are they longing for? Belonging, being noticed, by their friends, in their world, and for some in their families.  Being noticed, being accepted, belonging. The one thing that I have noticed about the TV show Skins, the kids are all looking for belonging. The show is all based on them finding ways to be noticed by their friends, and in many cases finding ways to be noticed by their families. Many times, it is in not so healthy way.

So one of the ways that experts have found to keep teens and young adults to remain in church, is to give them responsibility in church. When the church notices them, they stay in community. Plugging people into the community is key to discipling them.

I have worked hard at making sure that our kids are noticed by Mary and I. I have worked hard to make sure that kids in youth group are noticed. Has it all worked out? Not always. I still struggle to notice and love people sometimes. Things get in the way. If you read Ecclesiastes, King Solomon admits that everything is futile.  In Ecclesiastes 2:1-10, he lists off all of the things that he has experienced: pleasure, alcohol, building bigger houses, accumulations of possessions, etc. Everything is empty. His conclusion? Be content with what you have (Ecc 2:24-26) and enjoy your work. When you skip to Ecc. 12, you find that he has come full circle, honor God, because this all disappears.