Archive for the ‘BLOGSTUFF’ Category
“I have a dream…”
Fifty years ago.
Discrimination. Segregation. Racial hatred. All eclipsed with hope… from Christian faith… out of the language of Scripture… in a sermon that changed a nation.
But now, many want to remove Christian faith from the public square and public speech and from public discussion. The faith that inspired Lincoln and propelled Martin Luther King, Jr., and fueled the change that was too long in coming.
So now, on the fiftieth anniversary of MLK’s powerful speech, our public square is strangely silent and our public officials — and especially our President — our deafeningly silent and complicit in the murder, torture, and persecution of Christians in Egypt and Syria. We’re afraid of offending Muslims and leave Christians to be slaughtered, brutalized, and forgotten. If MLK’s powerful speech means anything, it means this: no person, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or nationality, should be afraid to live out their faith. And when we stop standing up for this, then we have a dream lost.
Worst of all, Christians in the west sit passively saying nothing.
Don’t believe me? Read this powerful article by an atheist in a Jewish publication questioning how this could be so: WHERE ARE PROTESTS AGAINST MURDERS OF CHRISTIANS!?
I have a dream!
God’s Kingdom coming.
God’s people caring.
Where color and country don’t matter and character does.
So where is our concern? Even more, where is our character?
For more on how to care, to express your concern, and to help, please see: Help?
We need to pray, as MLK did fifty years ago:
But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24 NASB).
God has a dream!
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10 NLT)
Will we share in God’s dream or sit silently by?
Have you ever wondered where lint in the dryer comes from?
I mean, really! How many tons of the stuff have come off your clothes over the years? It’s almost like lint multiplies while in the dryer. You see, lint in the drier is just one of those crazy realities of life: no matter how much you have cleaned out the lint screen, you know with the next round of clothes, the lint is going to multiply in that thing and have another batch of the fuzzy stuff waiting for you in that screen!
Little annoying habits are a lot the same way. They’re so easy to pick up. Even when we are not trying, we can slip into them. We often don’t even notice them. Whatcha bet our spouses know them? Thankfully, he or she just ignores them most of the time. It’s part of the grace of love — we overlook each other’s “bad lint” — those irritating habits that come with the person we love!
Years ago, when Donna and I were engaged, I learned that it drove her crazy when her room mates in college whacked their tooth brushes on the sink to get the water out of them after they finished brushing. She never knew that I spent three months trying to get rid of this lifelong habit until years later. She heard me use it in a sermon illustration. She had never known I had done that. Let’s just say that it scored me a bunch of unexpected brownie points! And that’s not even why I did it. I did it because I was so in love with her that I didn’t want to do anything that might drive her crazy with me!
Now let’s be clear, whether you are whacker of the toothbrush like I was before making my quiet correction, or a flicker (running your thumb nail over the brush to get the water out), a sucker (you suck the water out at the end of brushing — yes people really do this), or a rinse-and-dripper isn’t the issue. The issue is very simple: there are jillion things we do that drive our spouse nuts! Most of them aren’t a big deal. Yet over time, a lot of those little things can make a big thing. After awhile, the lint adds up! And just like in the drier, when you don’t clint out the lint filter, sooner or later the drier is gonna break or catch on fire!
So the good news is this: giving up an annoying habit for Lent, or just for love’s sake for that matter, is not really a sacrifice. It may not even be noticed. However, it will do one very vital thing in your heart: it will remind you that annoying habits are easier to break when done out of love rather than out of conflict! And, whether noticed or not, your heart can feel glad for doing something out of love for the one you love! After all, how many gracious and loving things has the Lord done for you lately that you may have never noticed? Since the Father delights in giving good gifts to his children, so shouldn’t we find delight in getting rid of a little of that “annoying habit,” that relationship “lint,” whether we do it simply for love or as a commitment for Lent?
The Father’s fingerprints are on me. They are also on you. In fact, despite what you may have been told, your DNA was not based on a random fertilization of your mother’s egg and your dad’s sperm. Behind their love and passion, here was a holy conspiracy to get you here! Listen to how David wrote it for us to say with the hundreds of generations who have said this Psalm as a part of their shared worship:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-15 NLT).
But sometimes some things are better seen than just said, so be blessed by this!
If you cannot see the video, go to Worship House Media and check it out here:
Life is Sacred
Two things strike me as absolutely hilarious and a bit sad about the the YouTube video below.
First, wow, what a different world we live in today than just a few decades ago.
Second, sex sells. Always has and advertisers will always use it. The sad thing is how much more “sexploitation” it takes to sell today.
So go ahead, amaze your friends and drag out one of these old phones and see if the instructions still work for you … or better yet, just laugh and remember when … if you can.
OK, so I saw the elimination deal on “American Idol” the other night. You know, the one with Carrie Underwood singing the new song with the crazy-weird wind tunnel effects. Not impressed — but I admit, I don’t watch “Idol” very carefully, usually doing something else and listening on a lousy sound system.
BUT, then I heard the song and listened to the words more carefully on headphones. Wow! Deeply moving, and it reminds me of the line in “Forest Gump” when Jenny has thrown rocks at the old house where she had been abused as she grew up and Forest said, “Sometimes, I guess, there just aren’t enough rocks.”
Eventually, Forest bulldozes down the house so all those memories can be bulldozed away.
“Blown Away” is a song that’s really a prayer by a daughter who has been abused by her drunken “father” — her mother is “an angel in the ground.” She’s praying that a tornado that’s coming on the storm will blow away the old sin-filled full-of-bad-whiskeyed-memories in that house, along with her dad asleep in a drunken stupor on the couch. The haunting lines that stick with me are these:
There’s not enough rain in Oklahoma to wash the sins out of that house.
There’s not enough wind in Oklahoma to lift the nails out of the past.
I contrast this to an old Amy Grant song, “If These Walls Could Speak.”
Such a difference, and all built on how we’ve experienced family and home so often tied to a place — a house, an apartment, a neighborhood, or a city.
So what are we doing to redeem this mess of a broken world? What am I doing to ensure that hurts of those bad houses are blown away and the blessings the latter help the walls of grace to speak of God’s love?
How is church, how are we personally and collectively, going to be more than buildings and programs and performances, and more a place for healing, redemption, and restored family?
You and me, well let’s be honest, we can’t change a lot, but we can redeem something … someone … kids and families, close and faraway. And isn’t that what’s all about? And if we join together, can’t the Holy Spirit do a whole lot to change a whole lot more than we can ask or imagine?
So here, God, take the rest of what my life has to offer and please use it to make a difference … to my own precious kids … to my foster grandchildren … to precious “daughters” in Asia … to Peruvian orphans … to Compassion kids … and more. Please make your House, your Family, your People, and me, places and people of blessing, healing, comfort, and hope so hurts can be blown away and grace can speak more clearly into the hearts of the broken, alone, and lost. I ask this humbly in the healing name of Jesus. Amen.
I love it when I stumble over a little phrase in my Bible reading and the Holy Spirit sort of thumps me on the head and says, “Hey Phil, notice this. It’s important for you!”
Tucked away in the book of Numbers, as Moses is apportioning the land of Promise to the twelve tribes of Israel is a little phrase that caught my attention — granted, I had to have the thump on the head, but after that I really noticed it.
You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. … for they have wholeheartedly followed the LORD.”(Numbers 14:30; 32:12 nlt)
We all like to think we are exceptional at something. We all want special treatment and to be granted an exception to the normal rules. But God is talking about a different kind of exception in this case. All of one whole generation died in the wilderness because of their lack of faith. The only exceptions were Joshua and Caleb, who risked their lives because of their trust in the LORD and his great promises. They stood against ten other spies who didn’t feel God’s people could possess the land the LORD had promised to give them.
I want to be this kind of exception. Someone who believes God and stands against the flood of faithlessness and doubt. Someone who is strong enough in personal conviction to go God’s way even if everyone else goes the direction of culture and popular opinion. And amazingly, Joshua and Caleb managed to do this without totally alienating the people who went the other way — initially the people were ready to “string them up” but gradually accepted them and recognized their own faithlessness. For forty years, Joshua and Caleb walked beside their own generation of doubters, they did what God asked them to do as they wandered in the desert, they supported God’s leader Moses in every way possible, and they went God’s direction at God’s pace even though they had to wait for four decades to receive God’s promise because of everyone else’s doubt and faithlessness.
I pray that when the chapter of history for my generation is written, we leave behind a legacy of faith and a new generation ready to receive God’s promises. And for that to happen, more of us — and at this point the Holy Spirit is directly thumping my head and reminding me this means me — have to be willing to be one of only two exceptions!