Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Umbrellas

Unfortunately, now every time I say the word umbrella all I can think of is that dumb song by Rihanna:

You can stand under my umbrellaYou can stand under my umbrella(Ella ella eh eh eh)Under my umbrella(Ella ella eh eh eh)Under my umbrella(Ella ella eh eh eh)Under my umbrella(Ella ella eh eh eh eh eh eh)

But that indeed is what I would like to discuss/express today. On my way to work I also found a new style of wear they should put on jeans (you know like, rugged, stone washed, acid washed, etc). It’s called rain washed. I let a friend borrow my truck because his car was smoking and he was going to attempt to drive it to PA. Bad idea…. So I didn’t like the thought of him driving a smoky car to PA so I gave him my truck. I love my new bike, I love walking to work, and generally never drive my truck anyways, unless it is cold or rains. Today it rained. This morning I was running late and rode to the gym really fast and arrived almost soaking wet. It did wake me up though. After I got back home from the gym I obviously didn’t want to repeat that water adventure so I decided I would walk with an umbrella. I’ve noticed two things about walking to work with an umbrella, 1) the large water build up in the gutters of the street actually turn into tidal waves when large vehicles drive through them, who apparently paying attention to the poor guy walking to work somewhat dry, and 2) (the reason for saying somewhat dry) the umbrella only keeps your head dry, the rain that splashes off the ground and is blown side ways by the winds gives you a very wet pair of pants and a cool new trendy look to rock, this is where the idea for rain washed jeans came from.

No point to this blog other than venting about my recent realizations about umbrellas and their inefficiencies, next time I’ll just wear a hat! :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Life, Right or Left, Plan or Live?

What if…How do I know…

Once upon a time there was a Jamaican lady who answered phone calls on the television from viewers who wanted to know their future. Her name was Ms Cleo. And for something 99 you could hear your future. How convenient? Well, she and her booming business went bust. I’ve always wanted to go to a physic myself, just to toy with them and see if they can really tell the future. My best guess is that they cannot. I’ve read some on it and basically they choose very vague characteristics from you, read your body language and such, and make large assumptions that could truly apply to almost anyone. Almost like horoscopes. I could read every sign and apply it to me. That information is truly relative to what state of mind you can convince the audience to be in. This is not to debate physics though. Even if it were true, they could tell you your future, wouldn’t that be boring? I mean, to know exactly what was going to happen, wouldn’t that take the fun out of experiencing life? I’m really into learning and the newest thing I’ve learned is the difference between right brained people and left brained people. I’ve learned I’m right brained, not much of a planner, more of a creative, random, free flowing person. Left brained is just the opposite. I don’t think either completely isolated is healthy, there must be right tactics left’s should learn and left tactics right’s should learn in order to create healthy balance.

I have many friends who are planners. I think planning can be dangerous though, well too much planning at least. There is a difference between preparedness and planning, responsibility and control compulsion. We can argue until veins pop out of our necks and we are yelling, but that will not help develop this thought any further. Live is too short, live it to the fullest. Carpe Diem. There are all sorts of well known phrases we can quote, but something within us makes us want to plan and worry, I think it is fear. I was talking with a friend about a certain situation and they said they didn’t know what to do because what if...and then all I heard was yada yada yada blah blah blah. I cut off once people start doing this. My typical random response is, well, what if I walk outside and die? As I read the Bible here are some things I read:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself (Matthew 6:34).

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:13-14).

None of this looks like I should be too worried about the future. Jesus just calls us to live a life of faith that honors Him. I think it is simple and beautiful, I think we all just over complicate things and make this beautiful liberation we are under more like a plan B that falls second to our plan A. I say stop worrying, live life, honor God, love God and then others, follow Jesus. Simple and beautiful, that’s what I think Jesus was after.

Christians in Context

I think one of the most saddening and counterproductive things the church has done is study the Bible as a text book. This is not to say studying the Bible is a bad thing. Studying the Bible is something everyone who wants to know God should do. It is not studying for pure intelligence though, or it shouldn’t be. I hear a ton from well meaning Christians about how things were done back in the Bible, and if they didn’t do this then we don’t need to, if they had this then we should. The problem is not their heart or passion for their agendas in itself, it is the disregard for the world they are in, currently.

How many things we think of that are in the Bible that are used and abused in ways because people forget to apply them to their world, their environment, their life? Don’t get tattoos. Don’t wear hats in church. Don’t work on Sundays. Don’t have a job. The list can go on, but for the sake of not scratching out my eyes and screaming I will stop there. I was having a conversation with a friend Saturday morning about this very thing, the Bible out of context. We read the Bible with very bad habits. We think we can just read this book and apply it to our lives immediately. There are areas that we can, but because it was written way before we were even born or our culture was even existent, we should strive to interpret the Bible and its message for what it meant to the original intended audience. Once we figure out that, then we can apply it to our lives. The word that you will hear over and over again from any good teacher of the Bible is context. What is context? Context is simply the environment in which a factor exists. For me, my context is downtown Indianapolis, Starbucks on Mass, the mind of a 25 year old. Within that I have to consider all the factors that determined who I am today and what other influences mold me. This is context. It would be absolutely absurd to expect me to react the same way to a stimulus as a middle-eastern woman. We have different contexts.

So the conversation starts with great passion. The idea is that Americans are distracted by everything that we have jobs, cars, money, etc. and therefore should get rid of these things in order to truly follow and trust God. The idea is that God is big enough to not need these elements. That idea in a sterile state is completely true in principle; however, the problem is that we do not live in a vacuum. We are surrounded by factors that make up our context. To ignore our context is unhealthy. Although true, the idea of throwing away our context is dangerous. God placed me to be born in America. I was born into a culture that is driven by money, the ideals of success, entertainment, and self absorption. I cannot change that environment. I can only hope to react to these stimuli in a way that is not like the typical, in a way that is true in the principles presented in a different context. So it does me no good to quite my job, live on the streets, stop using money, and only talk about Jesus. This would not fit in our context and actually isolate me from the very world Jesus said I was sent in, but not of. I wrote a blog about this whole idea of being in the world but not of it a while back, check it out here. We should long for a different world, but seek to flip ours on its head. We can flip greed into generosity, success into faithfulness, for selfishness into selflessness. I think this flipping of empires is closer to Jesus message than trying to take yourself out of the context you have been placed in by God because you think He should be doing something bigger. He is always capable of much bigger than we could ever imagine, however, don’t think you know best, maybe God works in small ways in context that are actually huge, we just can’t see it. Context is important; we must seek to be Christians, followers of Jesus, within context. That sounds like a movement I can jive with.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Childlike Prayers to a Big God

Cute picture right? This is a child’s prayer letter written to God. We can often look at this and put our nose in the air, but actually have much to learn to get closer to a childlike prayer than we realize.

I meet with a group of friends to pray each week, not because we feel obligated to do some holy prayer or seem spiritual in the eyes of others, but to be simple, broken, and humble, and hopefully get changed how God wants to change us. We’ve all got our issues, all fall short of what God’s perfect standard is, but all have a heart for Him that is unmistakable in the reflections of our hearts through prayer. Last night was one of those special nights, like as I was praying I felt like I was not there. The best way I can describe it is that I felt like I was in a room with no walls, no ceiling, no floor, just sitting in a chair. It was just this peaceful time together, four men coming to their Father humble and childlike.

Coming to Him childlike was kind of the unofficial theme of the night though. One friend lamented on how he may limit God by trying to make everything so logical and intellectually explainable, loosing the mystery of God which is so beautiful. I reflected on how God had been teaching me since the beginning of this year that this faith thing is not about me, following Him is not about what I can do, be, or offer, it is about the grace He extends. Because of that grace I will respond. We all just sat there saying how that the more we have learned, several of us have even been through Bible College, the less we know or the more we realize we don’t know. The more we grow and have tough conversations and authentic prayers the more we all realize that there is almost a digression of logical assurance, for lack of better terms, and we find ourselves baffled by this great, glorious, never ending, all-knowing, timeless, all-loving God. When we meet with this God we fall prostrate before Him speechless, when we meet Him we respond with reverence and humility, when we meet this God, only this God, will we be truly changed into what He has planned, for the best.

Afterwards we were talking about how it is so refreshing yet so scary to see God like this and to unlock our ideals and precepts of Him from the box we have allowed, grown up in, or been taught that He exist within our culture. Another friend told a story of how he was sitting in a room and saw shadowy figures and after looking into how or where they could have come through, he found they were unexplainable. This is not to sound fanatical, but it is to simply say, God is bigger than our intellect or expectations. I told of a story where I was really broken and just earnestly prayed to feel His presence and within that time of prayer I felt this weird presence that petrified me, made me cover my face and get goose bumps all while feeling a strange sense of comfort. I believe this was His presence with me, His Spirit.

I truly believe the Spirit of Christ is moving in this city and preparing us for great works. I think He is simplifying overly complicated religious people, crushing their intellectual ideas, Bible College theologies, and small boxes in order to do something big here, now. If God is doing this, shouldn’t we respond in a new way, shouldn’t our response to Him be prayer and love? Last night was an amazing night to see, reflect on, and feel God within the context of a community united by Christ, which is by definition the church. May God continue to build His church here and may you feel that, feel Him, and respond accordingly. May your prayer and faith become more childlike, simple, and unadulterated by anything that limits Him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Present!

This is not what I have been yelling when inquired about my presence in the blog world latley. I have taken a long, feels like way too long, break. Part of it is just going through things in life and not having much to say because I'm in a weird place right now and the other part is that I feel I am not as motivated to write latley, which is a big problem. So I wanted to update those of you who do keep up that I am planning a couple things and plan on making my return to the blog world. Grace and peace.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jesus Loves Strippers

I love reading and hearing stories of true life change, redemption, and stories of triumph. I was just perusing the local pages looking for music events to go to this weekend and stumbled across this jewel. Read it here.



May you see, be the wretch He sets free.