Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Birthday Roast is Now Online

Billy Mew, our local Baptist association director, shared a few remarks at my recent 50th surprise birthday party. Billy served two churches in our association for almost 30 years (I think) before his current position. I was on the committee that recommended him for the job. I also call on Billy to preach when I'm away. The church loves having him as a substitute because he usually finishes his message at 11:45 instead of my usual 12:03! I give him a hard time about it...I won't do that again, however....listen and find out!

I have finally joined the YOUTUBE generation and you...yes, YOU can go there now and see (sort of) and hear his moving tribute to me. The video is horrible because I used my little digital camera on low resolution (in case you have dial-up), but I wanted to preserve the audio anyway. So click on the following link to hear what Billy did. The laughter you hear is mine (and my mom sitting next to me!). Enjoy! (Note: the video starts in about 5 seconds after loading, so be patient!) The link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isrHyjMy_NE

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Only Six Hours Left of Middle Age

Does this look like a mature 50 year old? Didn't think so! My church family gave me a surprise birthday party last Sunday evening, so it must be true. I don't feel like I'm half a century old, but my mother assures me it is true. There was a lot of laughter at the party, and it was great having my non-First Baptist friends, and my mom there, too.

Billy Mew, our associational director was the hit of the party announcing he had submitted my name to eHarmony.com as a birthday present so I can finally get a wife. I'd rather have had a Best Buy gift card! Well, I'll reflect on the death of my youth and middle age in the weeks to come....it's my birthday, but I have a full day including a funeral service, so I'll give you all a birthday gift from me...a SHORT BLOG!!!!!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Squint and focus!

Core Thought: Just playing around!

Here is a picture of yours truly using a Lego "Brick-o-Lizer." You used to be able to buy an actually set that you customized, but they no longer sell them here, but you can "brick-o-lize" a picture and print it out! So here I am....doesn't look like much at first glance (maybe even at the second glance, too), but if you squint and blink a couple of times, you can recognize something that looks sort of like me!Try using your own pictures here: http://shop.lego.com/shopmosaic/MosaicHost_s.asp

What To Get a 50 Year-Old Kid?

Core thought: Nothing deep here, just a birthday gift idea! (Not really) Well, I only have a week left before AARP will really turn up the heat! I spoke at a local school yesterday at their assembly. True to form, I took some toys...how else can you keep the attention of a couple a hundred kids, from 1st grade through 12th grade??? I told them I was doing a "human blog," and used several items to illustrate various truths. I began by saying that it would be my last talk with them as I was about to turn 50, and could no longer buy toys, even for teaching purposes, because it was just too weird for someone "that" old to buy toys. I immediately recanted, however, as I couldn't allow a simple birthday milestone to keep me from teaching young people! You can help me begin my 50th year by getting me a simple Lego set. I have long been a fan of Lego bricks (by the way, the company discourages using the word LEGO as a noun!), and when I saw this set, I thought, "Hmmm, that would be an interesting addition to my collection." I know, I know...it's time to put away childish things. For a couple of reasons, I don't think Lego, Inc., is aiming this at kids...wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...

Here it is...to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars...The Ultimate Collector's Edition of the Millenium Falcon from the first three Star Wars. I say that it's probably not aimed at kids in that it only has over 5,000 pieces (what kid could cope with that?), and then there's the price....it's only $499.00! I'm sure I could get one huge kid's sermon out of this kit, though it would probably take me till I retire to put it together! Since I'm so hard to buy for, I thought you'd like a suggestion!!

If you want to wait till Christmas, I'll understand. Details can be found at: http://shop.lego.com/product/?p=10179&LangId=2057&ShipTo=US

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Valentine Quote Worth...Well...Quoting!

If you are a little sick of overly sentimental greeting card quotes in Valentine Cards, read this:

The love for equals is a human thing - of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles.

The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing - the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.

The love for the more fortunate is rare thing - to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints.

And then there is the love of the enemy - love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured's love for the torturer. This is God's love. It conquers the world.

Source: The Magnificent Defeat, by Frederick Buechner

Another Favorite: "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it up carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable... The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers... of love is hell." - C.S. Lewis

IF you want to see a great 10 minute sermon video on the Old Testament view of love, check out the Nooma Video "Flame" by Rob Bell. The video is on DVD for $13 at Family Christian Bookstore or $10 online. You can see a 30 sec. clip at http://www. nooma.com

Oh, and one more thing: Here is a great Valentine's Day commercial from Publix:www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC5EJ020qhU

So go out and love somebody (Maybe even your enemy!) the Biblical way! Act in their best interest PERIOD! Display an "God-enlightened, God-empowered enconquerable good will!" What does that look light? Hmmm...maybe you know you are loving this way when you are kind, patient, not easily angered, not keeping a record of wrongs, not envying, not boasting, not being rude, and not giving up! (Check out 1 Cor. 13 - it makes a great compass to see when you are loving in God's direction!)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What is my obsession with bird "stuff?"

Core thought: If life isn’t working for you, maybe you’re still being too “seedish!”

This will hopefully be the last post concerning bird waste, but I can’t help it! I heard a sermon by Rick McKinley of the Imago Dei Community Church in Oregon (He’s Donald Miller’s (Blue Like Jazz) pastor). He told the story of going out in his backyard only to be almost knocked over by one of the most offensive odors he had ever encountered. He said you could almost see the green smog over his yard. He then goes over to the fence and sees his neighbor (also on staff at his church) shoveling bird manure on his garden.

He told his neighbor, who had given him vegetables before, not to bother giving him anymore! “But you can’t beat this organic stuff…it will be great!” his neighbor responded. Rick jokingly said he wasn’t convinced, but upon reflection, he marveled at what God reminded him of in the scene before him.

In the mystery of God’s biological brilliance, the seed so tiny, dies to what it is…dies to its smallness. It takes the filth, and dirt, and chaos around it and extracts what it needs to begin a transformation that is difficult to comprehend, yet easy to ignore. It is true, that in an acorn there lies a giant oak. (I wonder what a redwood or sequoia seed looks like!)

The seed produces a new kind of creation so different from its “seediness!” No longer something tiny that can so easily be ignored, it becomes a tree that reaches toward the sun, and does so many wonderful things a seed could never do had it remained a seed.

By dying to itself and yielding to God’s process of transformation, that seed takes the circumstances that surround it (dirt, decay, water, air and light) and grows into a tree, that brings forth fruit for nourishment, shade for pleasure on a hot day, life-giving oxygen from the carbon dioxide we breathe out as waste, wood for a variety of uses, and more seeds to eventually reproduce itself!

In short, a tree is an amazing, and often ignored, blessing from God that has a life-giving, life enhancing purpose! The Bible reminds us over and over again to be like a tree! We are not here to complain about how bad things are; we are to trust God to show us how to die to our own self-centeredness (through our relationship with Him through Christ) that we might grow into new creations, taking everything this life can throw at us and become life-enhancing children of His who bring blessings in our wake!

Are you frustrated? Stagnant? Cynical? Maybe you’re still acting like a seed, cold, hard, far from fulfilling your destiny. Sure, life can be smelly, and dirty, and chaotic, but if we trust the Great Gardener, He’ll grow us into something beyond our imagination!

I wonder how God feels when we ignore His genius! If He can take a tiny seed, dirt, chicken poop, water, air, and light to do what He does with a tree, why do we worry about all the stuff we worry about? He can handle it, and He will if we trust Him, and in the process, we will be transformed!

Monday, February 05, 2007

When The Birds Do Their Thing, What Do You Do?

Core Thought: Don't let the bad circumstances of life mess up your shine!

Please pray for the birds that inhabit the areas around the Methodist Oaks retirement center in Orangeburg, SC. Judging by what they did to my car last week, they need to see an avian gastrointestinalogist. I went to visit “some” of my church members over there (we now have too many to see in one day!) in the main building, and I parked in my usual spot near the chapel. I have parked there many, many times.

When I came out an hour and a half later, I found that I had been brutally and mercilessly attacked by a flock of some unknown species of birds (maybe they were Methodist birds making a comment on how my Baptist members are taking over their retirement center!) decided to coat my car with their destructive, corrosive, offensive, fecal material!

Though I had to pause to admire their sense of symmetry and uniformity in coverage, I knew their waste was already burrowing through my car’s clear coat finish, and would soon penetrate the paint underneath. The last thing I wanted was a permanently spotted car reminding me daily of the horror of that moment!

I drove to a carwash and did the $6.00 deluxe (with the “blaster” option) wash and was hopeful that it might not be that bad as I saw some of the “stuff” on the windshield beginning to break-up. Alas, my hope was short-lived for when I got out and examined the car I saw that no real progress had been made.

I went across the street to K-Mart and got $19.00 worth of bug/tar remover, auto towels, and cleaning mitt set (It was on clearance for $10)…then back over to the car wash where I worked for about 30 minutes spraying each spot and having to wipe and buff each spot!

Then I had to rinse the stuff off with the cleaning wand BEFORE I went through ANOTHER $6.00 wash! On the brighter side, my car looked great afterwards!

The moral? First, look at empty parking spaces under trees if they are empty with the rest of the lot full! Second, we all get bird “stuff” (my word of choice for human or animal waste in a public setting!) on us from time to time. Whatever the difficulty is, whether real or perceived, we have a choice as to how to respond. The bird poop reminds me of “unhealthy” responses like anger, bitterness, despair, etc. to our circumstances. Now, the responses are not necessarily unhealthy as a first response (like my first response when I saw the car), but if they are left on the car…uh, your life, they can ruin your shine!

Bad stuff is going to happen, that is certain. I have seen, however, a wide range of responses to similar situations. Some people harbor bitterness and anger, and those attitudes burrow their way through the surface of their lives to their hearts, and to the part of their brains that control vision. What I mean is that unresolved anger and bitterness color how they perceive the rest of life…like looking through the windshield of my car, I couldn’t see clearly, nor focus on the road with all that “stuff” in the way.

Some people, spend their whole lives with a dirty windshield, filtering everything through their hurt or disappointment or pain…and they miss opportunity after opportunity to get better finally decide that this is how life is supposed to be…covered with bird droppings. They even forget how their life was before when they were shiny!

We are supposed to be shining in a dark world with the love of Christ, but if our main agenda is to display our disappointment and heartache and bitterness, etc., then we miss the point of the journey all together. God promises to work all things out for good if you trust him. He provides the truth and power necessary for you to forgive others of whatever they might have done to hurt you, in effect, cleaning off the “stuff” that has so clouded your vision and dulled your shine.

How can you tell if you need a trip to the carwash (or “soul” wash?)? Check your shine! Paul gives a great description of it in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

If your life isn’t looking more and more like this, maybe you need to take a closer look at your windshield, because you never know when someone is taking a closer look at you!