Simply Nostalgia! I am posting this video for no other reason, than I used to love “The Wiz”. I mean who can pass on Michael Jackson portraying the scarecrow. Nothing profound here, except…. Don’t Listen To Crows! #EndOfTransmission
Hope is a tricky thing. Some of the most peculiar events can trigger a episode of hope, and the slightest change in a situation can make it all but disappear. I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan for as long as I can remember. I suffered through the ups and downs as a kid, thinking Danny White’s middle name was an expletive. Through the highs and lows ups and downs I have rooted for my Boyz. However, lately I haven’t watched many games. Mostly due to my Sundays being pretty busy, but I must admit when I have had the opportunity to tune in, the games have been extremely hard to watch. I find myself yelling at the screen, while my daughter generally looks at me dumbfounded and makes obvious statements like, “Dad, they can’t hear you.”
The final two games of the regular season, I found myself getting drawn in, during the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Playoff hopes were still alive, if they could only pull off last minute heroics. I was especially disappointed in the last game when all our playoff hopes where on the line. Mr. Tony Romo, who is the quarterback of the Cowboys didn’t play very well under pressure, and I found myself getting frustrated with him, rather than his performance. I had to truly check myself. It is only a game after all.
As I reasoned within myself, “Why am I so frustrated at Tony Romo”, it dawned on me. He was the object of my hope. I hoped he would be the one to lead my beloved team to the playoffs. After he threw his third interception on what I envisioned being the game winning drive, I screamed, and turned back to my laptop, where my friend Ryan and I were having a hack-a-thon. A few days later, I then started to feel bad for Tony. The media blasted him had been blasting him. They made statements, like “This is what Tony Romo does, he plays well when nothing is on the line, but then melts down when the game has any significance.” My question was then, “Why should we expect anything more?” I mean if Tony has melted under pressure before, should we expect that much until he proves us wrong? Perhaps it’s the big paycheck he gets, that makes fans of the organization feel entitled to championships. I can remember half way through the season that Eli Manning won his first Superbowl, the critics were calling him a bust, and he turned it around and won the ultimate prize in professional football.
Obviously, this has me thinking long and hard about where and in whom we place our trust. When a person is hopeful, and what they hoped for doesn’t come to pass, it unsettles the soul and makes that person feel sorrowful, and how we deal with that sorrow can manifest in multiple ways. The proverbs say: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12). Disappointments are inevitable, but we must stay steadfast in allowing hope to remain in tact. So to do so, we must find one who is trustworthy in order to place our trust in Him.
5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
The trustworthy one can be found in God, and if I place my trust in Him, he will never let me down.
My youngest daughter offered a bit of sage advise a few weeks ago, on how perspective can be slanted based on who is telling the story.
As we sat on the sofa watching a Tom & Jerry cartoon. She said, “I always go for Tom.” A bit flustered I asked “What?” Her response, with confidence was, “I root for Tom!” She explained, “He is a house cat, the mouse is stealing from his owner, and he is just doing what house cats are supposed to do.” A light bulb went off in my head, and then I looked at Tom in a whole new light. He is simply doing what he was designed to do.
Since Jerry is a cute cartoon-ized mouse, in which the writers of the cartoon decided to make the hero, we tend to like him. However, in the world we live in, we would loathe Jerry, and would try to exterminate him with extreme prejudice if he were ransacking our fridge in the middle of the night. There is even an idiom for success and ingenuity that urges us to “Build a better mousetrap.” So how did we come to love find ourselves duped into loving a cute cuddly, thief? It’s all about the perspective the story teller decides to paint in our minds. We live in a world were there is also a story teller, who wants to blind our perception of God. The Bible calls this story teller out as “the god of this world.”
2 Corinthians 4:4
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
He perverts the story, painting the idea that what is wrong should be viewed as right, and what is right should be viewed as what is wrong. This is why we must fight to hear what the God of the Universe says concerning our lives and how to live. He sent Christ to show us of his glorious plan to build relationship with humanity, and he has enlisted those who believe in Him, to tell the story of His love with our very lives.
2 Corinthians 4:5-6
5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants[c] for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ
Today, I encourage you to start telling the story that this dark world needs to hear, and painting the perspective the world needs to see lived out with the brush strokes of our lives.
I’ve been reading a great book written by a very influential person in my life, Will Davis, Jr. The book is titled “Enough“. My recent reading of the book has provoked me to begin a category on my blog entitled, “Overcoming First World Problems”. First World Problems, they are silly little anecdotes meant to bring perspective to the mundane everyday issues experienced by those of us who tend to take our luxuries for granted. If you’re not familiar with First World Problems perform a quick Google search on the the subject and you will quickly see how they are amusing, yet sobering if we pause and think about them.
I have to admit I have even tweeted a few first world problems of my own. Either relating to my smartphone, laptop or both depending on the point of annoyance.
Our power has been out for 2 hours… forced to watch Netflix on my phone #firstworldproblem
— Shawn Weekly (@shawnweekly) July 10, 2012
The above tweet, although offered in good spirits, speaks to how good I have it. First off, I live in a place that the electricity comes straight to my home the majority of the time, not to mention I have a job that allowed me to afford my smart phone, data plan, and Netflix subscription. Even the things I mentioned up until this point are a bit superficial in the bigger scheme of things. I am surrounded by a wonderful family, and have knowledge of a Savior who loves me, and gave His life so that I can fellowship with Him. Boom! Take that First World Problems.
Sometimes as followers of Christ we tend to find ourselves living in a world of entitlement. Perhaps due to our accomplishments, talents, and perceived self worth but none of those things truly matter in the scheme of eternity. I don’t think anyone will stand face to face with Jesus when things are all said and done, and complain about the things that so easily cause us to lose perspective.
I absolutely love to see, “but” and “God” appear next to each other in the scriptures. So next time you feel “First World Problems” attempting to creep into you day to day life. Proclaim, “But God”, and see if that’s enough to turn your First World Problem into, “No problem at all!”
In the 2005 movie, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie play the roles of typical suburban married couple named John and Jane Smith. On the surface they appeared to be successful business owners, with a nice house in a nice neighborhood, complete with the picket fence and detached garage. However they had secret’s they even kept from one another. They were highly trained assassins. They did a pretty descent job of keeping one another in the dark about their secret lives, until their professional paths crossed, and they realized they were each other’s next target.
I saw this movie years ago with my wife while we were on a weekend get away. After my initial viewing, I thought it was okay. But after thinking about the story line a bit further, I fell in love with its spiritual implications on marriage. The character’s Brad and Angelina played in this film ended up destroying the beautiful home they had created together, before they realized that they weren’t each other’s real enemy. The story consist of tender moments, followed by one or the other’s feelings being hurt because they, thought the other didn’t feel the same as they did.
After several fight scenes with rocket launchers, daggers, c-4, and automatic weapons. The couple realize that they have a mutual enemy, and become an elite fighting force.
So I found 4 take-a-ways from this film, that I believe would benefit most marriages.
Love is the key ingredient
1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 7 speaks of Love. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” These scriptures are often used in the context of marriage, however they were written in context of ministry. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to quote 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings, because in my estimation marriage is indeed a ministry. God has given us gifts to benefit the Body of Christ, but so often those gifts don’t get exercised in the context of our own marriages. So remember there has to be a conscious choice to the love. It’s not based on how the other person makes you feel. Pray for strength to love your spouse, even when you feel they are unlovable.
Communication is a must
In our movie, the slippery slope that allowed the enemy to creep in and turn the couple against one another was deception. In Ephesians 4:25 we are told:
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
Lies, even little white ones, absolutely kill relational trust. I have seen many communication efforts thwarted because of falsehood, don’t allow your relationship to fall prey to distrust.
Purpose in your heart that you are going to be truthful with your spouse. Truth telling is only a part of good communication it needs to be coupled with love. A true word given in a harsh context or with motivation to manipulate only brings in strife. James 1:19 gives us a wonderful framework on how to communicate.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
While communicating with your spouse make a real effort to see their side of the discussion. Literally take a T.V. time out to hear, and then communicate your point of view after you have made the initial effort to listen. Pray that your marriage will be one that has healthy communication measures in place. So that God will continually hear your prayers.
Your spouse is not your enemy
The Bible is clear about marriage being a holy union that reflects the relationship Christ has with the church, so I won’t go into much detail about it in this post. However, I do want to point out that our fight is against an unseen foe and not the person you married. Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The Smith’s realized this late in the game, but they get credit for realizing. Pray that God show you that your spouse is not the problem.
The earlier point made is your spouse is not your enemy. Now that you know this, let’s figure out how to fight together and not one another. Since we fight against an spiritual enemy, our weapons need to be of a spiritual nature as well. Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore, put on the full armor of God…”, Ephesians 6:18 “praying at all times…”. It is crucial to learn how to fight together. Pray for your spouse, and with your spouse. Ask God to guide your prayer path together.
I love that the Smith’s found how to salvage their marriage and it wasn’t to late. I hope that this encourages and blesses someone that God can heal their relationship.
The women in Togo, a small country in West Africa, may be onto something. These Togolese women are staging a Sex Strike, which they have branded “Keep the gate of your ‘motherland’ locked up”, in an attempt to remove from power a dictator. As I read the headline earlier today, I admit I was intrigued, but as I continued to read, I thought the power and intent of the strike wouldn’t make a dent in the power structure of the nation. Why am I so cynical? Well the strike is only scheduled to last 1 week. Sure a guys resolve wouldn’t be weakened after only one week, right?
I couldn’t help but think how this would work back home in the United States. The land of the oversexed. I am not surprised by the statistics I read about sexual activity in the U.S. anymore, but the nonchalant attitude towards the act of sex is disheartening. Especially among people who profess a relationship with Jesus Christ. Much like the battle the people of Togo are waging for control, we are getting our hats handed to us, spiritually by a very controlling dictator.
Some opponents of this strike say it further devalues women, and makes them looked at as only sex symbols. I somewhat agree with that statement, using sex as a bargaining chip in my perspective cheapens the experience. From my biblical worldview on sex, I believe it’s a sacred and holy act, to be celebrated in the context of marriage. So I propose that my fellow believers in Christ take control of their lives by eliminating sex if you are not married. This includes other activities that stimulate sexual appetites as well.
Practically, I have seen so many issues in peoples lives that are a direct relation to sex before marriage. These issues range from death and diseases, to baby mama/baby daddy drama. Some may argue well those things happen even in the context of marriage, and they are absolutely correct. So to that I say, Take a look at 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.
1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lustlike the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
God is clear about His children living holy and sanctified lives, and sex being enjoyed within the context of marriage. If you are reading this post, and you are an unmarried believer and having sex. STOP IT! We have clear instructions that this behavior is not God’s best for you. Take back control of your life. Start a “Sex Strike”, and take back control of your life.
Several years ago my wife and I decided to build our would be dream home ourselves. Our initial plan to simply supervise a general contractor went south in a hurry, and I found myself doing a lot of the labor myself. In the process, I got quite familiar with the gentlemen who contracted various tasks on the project. One of my favorite encounters during the building of our home was with Richard, the electrician. Richard is an older gentleman with adult children who were my age at the time, and would often ask my perspective on various subjects. We would talk for hours sometimes when we should have been working.
One day as Richard was installing the circuit breaker we began to talk about life and God. He shared a point of view that I had heard several times before. He began by saying, “I believe in God, I just don’t want to be fake and run to Him only when I’m in trouble”. I sat quietly listening to Richard tell me of his upbringing, and experiences with the church. He continued by saying, “One day I will get it together, but I just don’t want to play with God”. Some of you may be able to identify, because you have heard or even said those exact words.
As Richard continued splicing wires, I asked him a few questions. I said, “You’re a good dad, right”? ”Yes”, he replied. I continued, “Well, being a good father how would you feel, if your kids got into some trouble, and they refused to let you in on it”. You could actually see him play the scenario in his head, as his facial expression turned from a man deep in concentration, to sincere anger. He said, “I would be so upset”. I could tell he meant it too. ”Why?”, I pressed a bit more. “Because, that’s what Daddy’s do, I would give my last for my kids”.
Suddenly he got it. I didn’t have to say another word. You could literally see the wheels were turning now, and he responded, “Oh!” A huge smile came upon his face, as he said, “You’re pretty good”. My rebuttal, “Nope, God is.”
At that point Richard, gave me a look as if he wanted to hear more. I didn’t want to ruin this “Aha!”, moment but I felt there was a bit more truth that would drive the concept home. So I merely shared a “Shocking Truth” from God’s word. Jesus is intimate with what the temptation of sin feels like, and because of this He is our biggest advocate.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
What about you? Do you feel like you have to get it together all by yourself, before you can approach God? Pray that He reveals the truth, that you are able to approach him with confidence, because of His grace.
In a day and age where it feels like our human pursuits are wrapped up in the idea of perfection. Equations like perfect job + perfect house / perfect family = happily ever after. I hate to kill your pursuit of perfection, but it simply isn’t obtainable. So drop the bar bells, and put down the protein shakes for a second, there is no such thing as a perfect body. However, the one perfect person wants to minister to you in the midst of the inevitable failures that you will encounter in life. As the Body of Christ, His Church, He wants to minister to us even though we are no where near perfect. Jesus takes our moments of failure to teach us invaluable life lessons, and display His everlasting love towards us. I was blessed with the opportunity to communicate this truth at Austin Christian Fellowship. (See video above on Vimeo)
In John 21:9-19, Jesus finds His friend Peter just after a terrible public failure. In the scriptures we see Jesus ministering to Peter at the fire. What does significance does that F.I.R.E. teach us about Jesus in our time of need.
(F) Focus on grace
Jesus knows our struggles, and wants to minister to us despite our ability to blow it. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
(I) Identify sin
Sin is the very thing that keeps us tangled up, Jesus wants us to identify those things that cause us to fail, and cast them away (Hebrews 12:1)
(R) Rethink your purpose
It’s not about us. We need to learn how to get over ourselves and identify the good works we were created for. (Ephesians 2:20)
(E) Expect to die to
Once we have navigated through the first three letters of the “Fire”, we must loose sight of ourselves and Follow the Lord. (Luke 9:23)
Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to say this is not an anti-international missions post. I wholeheartedly believe supporting the less fortunate in other countries is totally a God sanctioned activity, and I look forward to spending more time serving internationally. So for the 3 or so individuals who actually read my blog, if you have a passion for international ministry, please don’t comment on the beauty of serving Christ internationally. I got your back, and I believe in what you do!
Now that I have placed the disclaimer out there, I want to speak to a hidden enemy in America that weighs heavily on my heart. When I speak to people about serving the less fortunate, places outside of the U.S. have a monopoly on their thoughts, prayers, and emotion. While the less fortunate in this country are considered unmotivated to do better, and the federal governments problem. There is a certain underlying school of thought that I pay taxes that deal with “those people”. This attitude further annoys me about the struggles of poor folks in the U.S. However, I am recently being forced to examine my heart even more closely. Does it really annoy me that much? Has my heart really been broken for the less fortunate in my own backyard?
Don’t get me wrong, I give to worthy causes, and have even co-started a initiative with my friend Ryan called the Arimathea Project (http://www.arimatheaproject.org) designed to empower folks with a skill set to combat poverty and the mindset that goes along with it. But, am I really so far removed from my days of growing up in East Austin, where I found myself going to bed hungry many nights? Apparently I am, because I found myself remarking to someone a few nights ago, “I am starving!”. Immediately, I caught myself. That statement was so far from truth for me. Even if I would have said, “I am really hungry”, it still would have been a false statement. The irony of those words often coming out of our mouths, as we walk into restaurants. Yet there are millions of people in this country who face having to make decisions daily about where there next meal will come from or even if it will come at all.
Interesting Facts about Hunger in America
- Over 15% of American’s will run out of food and money in a given month, and have to seek help.
- Hunger hinders a child’s ability to learn, thus impacting their future.
(A kid that can’t learn drops out of school. In my old neighborhood that inevitably led to some sort of criminal activity. ”Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” – Aristotle)
- It’s not only children. 32.6 million adults/16 million children live in food insecure households.
- The most likely person to go hungry is a single working mother.
(Federal programs ensure kids eat at school, but what about the parents?)
- There is a growing number of seniors who have to choose between food and medicine.
- 40% of the food we produce in this country is ultimately thrown away.
- Only 14% of children receiving federal assistance at school, participate in summer feeding programs.
While I feel like those numbers are staggering considering the shear amount of wealth that this country possesses. I personally feel that what is reported could possibly be a bit low. I remember the shame associated with not having anything to eat growing up. I didn’t let many people know about what was going on at home, because 1.) I felt embarrassed and 2.) I didn’t trust the people asking the questions, because I didn’t want to end up getting taken away from my mother due to the circumstances I found myself in. Someone has to do something about hunger in the U.S. The federal government is not going to be able to handle it on it’s own. I pray that the words I shared in this post will prick hearts and cause some folks to jump in the game.
“I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.
I would love to hear your thoughts on poverty here in the U.S. Please don’t make blanket statements, and point fingers, that was not the intent of this post. I would rather dialogue about how grass root efforts can be formulated by the citizens of this great country to help fight against the enemy, hunger here in America.
Jeff Goins challenged his readers to make the declaration “I am a writer”. I am a writer! I must admit I feel a bit uneasy as I wrote the previous sentence, yet it was so liberating at the same time. My primary concern with stating “I am a writer”, has been the fact that I am not very good at it. I’ve never really had enough time to devote to becoming a good writer, nor the discipline to be consistent in my writing. I have been gifted with the ability to speak, and people listen, however I know my writing doesn’t command the same attention. Despite my shortcomings in communicating in written form, I am declaring today, “I am a writer”.