Created in the Image of God

“How could you think that?”
 
“Don’t get me started!”
 
“Are you an idiot?”
 
“Aaaaargh!”
 
Our current political climate can make it difficult to communicate.  One must choose one’s words very carefully for fear of offending.  We live in an era where complete strangers dig through the archives of one’s life in order to find the smallest of antisocial morsels in order to be flaunted.  The tension in the public square is prone to make many clam-up.  Standing for what one believes is becoming harder than ever.
 
Of course, our stance on political issues reflects greatly on our worldview and what we believe.  There are certain topics that transcend the bounds of pure political rhetoric and spill over into the world of right and wrong.
 
Abortion is one such issue.
 
We can debate over the way in which government operates.  We can quibble about tax rates.  We can differ when it comes to immigration policy.  But to hash out the value of human life right at the outset?  This, to me, smacks of something unalienable, something basic, something self-evident. Of course, we ought to value life.  Of course, we ought to protect the most vulnerable among us…right?
 
Nobody claims to be pro-abortion.  It is seen as a last option.  A way out of a tough situation.  We re-categorize the child as a “fetus”.  We say it is not viable.  We question their quality of life. We say it is a woman’s choice.
 


The Art of Discipleship

 
Humans are creative.  We like design.  We like to express ourselves.  We like to make cool things.  Just take a stroll around your neighborhood.  Notice the way people decorate their lawns.  Notice the various uses of colors and shapes.  We even try to make our front doors look aesthetically pleasing. Even in a complex of town homes, each tenant has added their own flair somehow.  Why do we do this?  Why do we feel the need to create?
           
Personally, when it comes to decorating, I could function just fine in a cinder block room.  I have very little desire to “spruce up the place.”  At the same time, in such an environment, I would spend my time reading books and writing songs and be otherwise engaged in creating and enjoying the creations of others.
 
I believe this incessant drive to create is a direct reflection of the image of God within us.  We are created in the image of our Creator and therefore, we create!   
 
Certainly, God has gifted each of us with some amount of “natural” talent.  Some develop these talents and hone their skill to the point where they can make a career for themselves.  Others prefer to create as a hobby.  Wherever you might fall on this spectrum, it is important to keep one thing in mind: You are called to create.
        Read more…


Holy Humiliation

 

Usually when we think of humiliation, we equate the experience with embarrassment.  Embarrassment is not typically something we would choose.  Unlucky circumstances or the ploy of another person conspire to make us the object of ridicule.  This is to be avoided.  In likewise fashion we do not want to become too acquainted with humility.  It is better to be assertive, to make our will known, to demand respect! And then Christmastime rolls around and we come face to face with the example of our Savior.

I love how Paul describes what is going on in Philippians 2:
 
Though he was in the form of God,
he did not consider being equal
with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
by taking the form of a slave
and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself
in the form of a human,
he humbled himself by becoming
obedient to the point of death
even death on a cross.
Therefore, God highly honored him
and gave him a name above all names,
so that at the name of Jesus, everyone
in heaven, on earth
and under the earth might bow
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.


It is Good to Tell the Truth

I love being a worship leader. I love to worship, I love God and I love music. It’s a triple win!  However, while I always love God, I do not always love all worship music. Sometimes the melody is so simplistic it can hardly be categorized as music. Sometimes the lyrics seem like the writers were just randomly flipping through the Bible to pick out “Christian” words.  And honestly, how many versions of the same song do we really need???
 
The modern-day worship music industry can be a frustrating trip down an aisle filled with cookie-cutter song structures and shallow lyrical content. However, do not give up hope! There will always be a new song just around the bend that touches the heart of God, that inspires the soul, that magnifies the Lord and that draws us deeper into the depths of his love.  You might say this is all subjective and you’d be right.  Certainly, two different people do not appreciate songs in the same way.  However, I believe that God is still at work inspiring his church to pen new, relevant songs that glorify His name while drawing us, His people, together.


Making Halloween Meaningful

Halloween is coming up and I hope you already have all the decorations and costumes you want because the stores have switched to Christmas gear.  I myself am a bit of a curmudgeon.  I don’t put up a fake cemetery in my yard. I don’t buy spooky knick-knacks or display carved pumpkins. In fact, if it weren’t for trunk or treat, I wouldn’t even dress up!  I like candy as much as the next person, but I can get that all year long! Despite my reluctance, people will dress up in ghastly garb and spend an untold amount of money (actually Forbes puts the price tag at about $9 billion!)  on lawn décor and bric-a-brac all for the sake of an amusing night of gathering candy from your neighbors under threat of trickery.    It’s fun.  It’s tradition.  It’s good for the economy.  But is there a way for your family to inject some meaning into the practice of Halloween? Read more…



Marriage is Good

Recently, I have been officially licensed within the United Methodist Church.  This allows me to fulfill certain duties that I could not before.  One of those duties is presiding over weddings.
 
To be candid, I was perfectly fine existing in a world where I would never have to perform a wedding ceremony.  So often weddings are full of fluff and nervous concern about things that do not really matter.  It’s the “big day”.  Months of preparation and thousands of dollars have been poured into one ceremony.  There is also the drastic rate of fallout.  Divorce is not only commonplace, in some ways it is expected, almost as though it is a life stage everyone goes through.  Statistics on divorce are everywhere and our culture no longer mourns the loss of intact families…it is now an accepted element within the landscape. So, for me, the whole idea of being part of a wedding is tough to swallow.  In my jaded view a wedding ceremony is a pre-divorce hearing. It’s not something in which I want to involve myself.


The Top of the List

                                                                    Life is nothing more than a series of decisions.  We decide what to eat and where we go and what we take along the way.  It’s true, we can’t always determine what hand we are dealt or how the plans of others may conspire to thwart our own, but despite these intrusions, we still get to decide how we react to such events. 

We realize that here are not enough hours in the day to belabor every single decision.  We have ways for streamlining the process, of taking shortcuts.  One of our main strategies is a listing of things we value most.  We call them priorities.

All the decisions that come our way are automatically filtered through this list of priorities.  The way we vote, the way we eat, the way we dress, the state of our homes, the cars we drive and the way we raise our kids.  Our priorities are so powerful that they actually shape our lives and if we are really committed to them, they will eventually define the way we live.   

This next question is natural: What are your priorities?  What lies at the top of your list?  When it comes to your children, what are your priorities for them?  Many people would hope that their kids would be successful, achieve good grades, excel in sports or music.  Amid these hopes and dreams, sitting there at the top of the list, many parents would simply site “happiness” as their top priority. Read more…



A Prophetic Love

So often we are prone to think of God as having a split personality.  Likewise we think of the Bible as two separate stories.  Now granted, it is written that way.  There are clearly two testaments, but we spend so much time in the New that we forget its origins found in the Old.  We gloss over all nuance and conclude that Jesus is the “nice” God and that God the Father is “mean”.  Why would we want to read about a cranky, old, judgmental God?  We prefer the good news only.  It is important to remember that, even though we have two testaments, the Bible is still a whole.  One story. And God is still God, and Jesus is Him. One God.
 
As you read through Scripture, you will find one of my favorite attributes of God: He wears His heart on His sleeve.  The Bible can at times read like a journal that God has written about his love for the world he has created.  And the apple of his eye, the one that captures his heart, the one that he has actually proposed to is…no, NOT you, but the church.  The people of God, the body of Christ, the gathered believers.  Yes, this means God loves you too, but God’s heart beats for his people as a whole.


Wisdom in a World Gone Mad

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All who follow his precepts have good understanding.”
  • Psalm 111:10

 

Wisdom is precious and becoming more so as years march on.  It is a rarity to come across one who is wise.  We are much more liable to find those who are angry or offended, those fueled by emotion or obsessed with a crippled form of justice.  Most people are agenda driven, close-minded and less than willing to point the finger at themselves.

 

Many define wisdom has being in possession of facts.  But simply knowing information does not guide one on how to live.  Take Batman for example.  He is actually not even a superhero.  He is a brave billionaire with amazing gadgets and weapons at his disposal.  But the only way Batman can fight crime is by knowing how to use each and every device in the most effective way.  One misstep or mistake could do him in.  In the same way, we might be armed with facts, but do we have the wisdom to know how and when to employ them?

 

Many define wisdom as being in tune with oneself.  The idea would be that if I know myself well enough, then I can bring the wisdom of my experience into the world.  I should be an expert on myself and willing to share my perspective. But then what do I do with the things that are beyond myself?   

Read more…



Pentecost Power!

 
Pentecost was an incredible event that occurred in Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago.  God unleashed his Holy Spirit upon those who were Jesus’ disciples.  They boldly proclaimed the truth that Jesus was the Son of God.  They told their audience (the Jewish people), that they were nothing short of guilty for killing Jesus and they exalted Jesus as Lord and King.

The people who were gathered were from all across the known world.  They each had their tribe and language and yet God’s Spirit enable each person to hear the message in their native tongue.

The results were astounding! The people were convicted.  They were ready to repent.  They accepted the message; both their guilt and their forgiveness.  They were baptized and 3,000 became followers of Jesus that day.  You can read about it in Acts 2. Read more…