March 2005

Jeff Taylor, on his website/blog, listed some songs that he said defined his life, at least up to this point. He asked his readers to come up with their own lists. The only stipulations were: no repeat artists, no worship music, and you could only use 12 songs. It got me thinking about the music of my life, music that would define who I am and I found that a very difficult task. Of course a life is not “defined” by music, but the music is a reflection and description of how we perceive ourselves at the moment – what experiences we are going through now, and in the past, and how those experiences impact our awareness of who we are or want to be.

The lists, both his and mine, also got me thinking about what, and who, “defines” a generation. I didn’t recognize many of the artists or songs listed on his list, or those of his 20-something year old readers. And that is the way it should be. Every generation has their own music that they can call their own. But looking at the lists I couldn’t tell what defines his generation, at least what they perceive as defining them. Does a generation know at the time that a particular incident or event will impact and change them into who they will become years from now? Or do we only know what influenced us 25, 30 years down the road? Take my generation for instance.

Were we aware, whether we were directly involved or not, that our generation would be impacted by events such as the assassinations of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King? Did we know how we would be changed and “defined” by the Viet Nam War and the anti-war movement, hippies, Timothy Leary and LSD, the Civil Rights movement, Russia and the Cold War, Woodstock, The Beatles invasion, the Kent State shootings, and the first human landing on the moon?

And how does the preceding generation influence the next generation? Is the influence a positive one, or a negative one that spurs individuals on to change? On his latest blog Jeff said, “I think what will define my generation is a growing distrust for those currently in charge. We are seeing mistakes, scandals, and misdirected passions and are growing uneasy. I feel that this generation feels that it is its responsibility to “clean up the mess” that prior generations have made. There is a lot of idealism and I think a significant paradigm shift is on its way with regards to society, ministry, and the world as a whole.”

The old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is so true. My generation had a distrust of those in charge. We saw the mistakes, scandals, and misdirected passions. We were very idealistic in our thinking and we were out to change the world. But now we are the ones in charge and I don’t see the problems being fixed, the issues being addressed. In fact, I think we are passing on more “messes” than was left to us. I’m not going into all that here because this post is about what we think defines our generations and us.

I pray that Jeff is correct when he talks about “a significant paradigm shift is on the way,” and that changes will be made in society, ministry, and the world. But as with all generations, the paradigm shift has got to begin in individual hearts. And that can only take place through a changed heart brought on by the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

It will be interesting to see how this television/media generation will develop, and what kinds of leaders they will become. But from the ones I know, or have contact with, I’m encouraged. Maybe it’s this generation that will break the cycle of greed and corruption and the focus on “self,” and become truly defined as the post-modern generation.

His peace be on you.


Theology from kids.

Dear God, please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now. – Amanda

Dear God, Thank you for the baby brother but what I asked for was a puppy. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up – Joyce

Dear Mr. God, I wish you would not make it so easy for people to come apart. I got hurt and had to have 3 stitches and a shot. – Janet

God, I read the Bible. What does beget mean? Nobody will tell me. Love, Alison

Dear God, how did you know you were God? Who told you? – Charlene

Dear God, is it true my father won’t get in Heaven if he uses his golf words in the house? – Anita

Dear God, I bet it’s very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it. – Nancy

Dear God, I like the story about Noah the best of all of them. You really made up some good ones. I like walking on water, too – Glenn

Dear God, my Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go? Love, Dennis

Dear God, do you draw the lines around the countries? If you don’t, who does? – Nathan

Dear God, did you mean for giraffes to look like that or was it an accident? – Norma

Dear God, in Bible times, did they really talk that fancy? – Jennifer

Dear God, how come you did all those miracles in the old days and don’t do any now? – Billy

Dear God, please send Dennis Clark to a different summer camp this year. – Peter

Dear God, maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they each had their own rooms. It works out OK with me and my brother. – Larry

Dear God, I keep waiting for spring, but it never did come yet. What’s up? Don’t forget. – Mark

Dear God, my brother told me about how you are born but it just doesn’t sound right. What do you say? – Marsha

Dear God, if you watch in Church on Sunday I will show you my new shoes. – Barbara

Dear God, is Reverend Cove a friend of yours, or do you just know him through the business? -Donny

Dear God, I do not think anybody could be a better God than you. Well, I just want you to know that. I am not just saying that because you are already God. – Charles

Dear God, it is great the way you always get the stars in the right place. Why can’t you do that with the moon? – Jeff

Dear God, I am doing the best I can. Really. – Frank

Dear God, I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday night. That was really cool. – Thomas

Who would have thought it here in Texas. Got up early and watched the flakes drift to the ground like hugh feathers, soft and white and quiet. Reminded me of the snows back home in the Panhandle where snow, even at Easter, was not uncommon. Most of us expect, and want I suppose, a clear sky and beautiful sunrise for Easter. But for me the snow was the most appropriate weather conditions for the celebration of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because of Easter, He has given us a hope and assurance of salvation, cleansing us from all unrighteousness and making us “whiter than snow.”

His peace be on you.

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” (Psalm 143:8-10)

God’s unfailing love – that’s something we all have trouble with. I don’t know why, we just do. I guess it has something to do with the second part of that sentence, “…for I have put my trust in You.” We don’t trust God. We don’t know how to trust God. How did David, who was running from a king who was trying to kill him, get to this point – the point of total trust? Look at what David did.

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love.” Why the morning? Why not at noon, or at night? The first thing David did when he awoke was to come into the presence of God and His Word, and to trust Him. That’s what trust is all about. David had no idea what enemies he would be facing, what surprises were in store for him that day. At night it’s too late to trust in God to help us face our enemies, whoever or whatever they are. The morning brings a new day to go forth into battle, and so often we go out unprepared. We get up at the last possible second (after hitting the snooze alarm four or five times), rush around getting ready for school or work, fight the traffic and cuss those drivers who are going too slow or just don’t know how to drive (all the while listening to our favorite Christian music on the radio or CD), deal with the stress of the day the best we can, fight the traffic home, eat our supper, watch our TV, go to bed exhausted. And sometimes as we lie in bed we might ask God to help us deal with the pressures of our lives. That is, if we think about it.

David woke up and said, “God, I don’t know what this day will hold, but I’m going to trust you. You haven’t ever failed me and I believe you never will.” What did David trust God to do? The same things we should be asking of God.

First, that God will show us the way to go for that day. We all need direction in our lives, but we want God to give us a complete road map with our entire future plotted out for us to see. But God doesn’t work that way. Just like the Israelites, He will provide for us the manna (faith) we need for today, and just enough to get through this day. Come tomorrow if we try to make it through the day on yesterday’s manna (faith) we will find it spoiled, no good. He will provide for us on a daily basis. What is expected from us? David said, “…for to You I lift up my soul.” When was the last time you lifted up your soul to God? In the Old Testament, “a mortal is a living soul rather than having a soul. Instead of splitting a person into two or three parts, Hebrew thought sees a unified being, but one that is profoundly complex, a psychophysical being” (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). The soul in us is the very breath of God, breathed into us to give us life. Show us the way daily, every morning.

The second thing we should ask for is to be rescued from our enemies. Like David, some of the enemy will be known; others are waiting for us as we live out our day, totally catching us by surprise. We should begin the day by asking God, in His unfailing love, to deliver us from that which seeks to destroy us before we are even faced with the danger. Normally we cry out for rescue after we get in trouble or in a bind; but David asked for rescue before he was confronted with his enemies. What a radical thought. And the only way that God can rescue us from our enemies is if we can say, like David, “I hide myself in You.” Paul in the New Testament had this figured out. Look at what he says in Romans 13: “12 The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight… 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (emphasis mine). If we are hidden in Christ then our enemies can’t find us, they only find Jesus. Rescue us daily, every morning.

The next thing we need to ask for is that God will teach us His will. I hear it time and time again, “I don’t know God’s will for my life,” or “I’m having trouble finding God’s will.” God’s will is not a formula or a process, but a living relationship with God Himself. That’s why David declared, “…for You are my God.” If we are living in a daily relationship we don’t find God’s will, His will finds us. But what does it mean for God to “teach” us His will? Learning should be an ongoing, never ending part of our lives. Doris Lessing said of learning, “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.” God is constantly teaching us about Him, about faith, about life and about love. In other words, about His will. Teach us His will daily, every morning.

Finally we’ve got to let God lead us. How else will He be able to show us the way, to protect and rescue us, to teach us, if He isn’t out in front leading us? His Spirit takes us by the hand and walks us through the rough places along the path and leads us to level ground. Since we can’t see the dangers lying ahead we are very dependent on Him to take care of us, to be our Shepard. The American Heritage Dictionary defines lead as to show the way to by going in advance, to guide or direct in a course (lead a horse by the halter), or to guide the behavior or opinion of. He leads us daily, every morning.

We need to get to the point where we can exclaim like David, “Because of Your name, Yahweh, let me live.”

Let me live indeed!

His peace be on you.

It seems lately that I have been dropping out of a lot of things, or wanting to. And I’ve felt I’ve always had good reasons, at least to me. By the way, this will probably be a rant to some extent so just bare with me. Or quit reading now.

First I quit being an active deacon at our church. I wanted to spend more time working on our Singles’ Ministry, but I feel I’ve neglected that also.

Next I quit working on the sound and lighting team. I’ve been doing it for about 16 years and I just got tired of it. Tired of dealing with staff mainly, and knowing a lot of what goes on behind the scenes that I just didn’t want to know. As much as I respect our staff’s abilities and talents, they are pretty much clueless about dealing with a bunch of volunteers who have full time jobs. They love to “delegate” so they don’t have to spend so much time up at church, which is THEIR workplace! So I took a break for a while and I’m enjoying it.

I don’t know why I quit this next activity, but I felt God was saying, “This isn’t where I want you right now.” Our singles group joined with another group to start a Tuesday night praise and worship time, geared towards single professionals in the Tarrant County area. I’ve felt the need and hunger for this for a long time but never really did anything. And now that it is starting I felt like I needed to bow out so that those in charge can get people in place where they need them. I have a tendency to want to take over (it’s a personality flaw I’m working on), but this time was about young singles coming together to worship God and I felt the singles needed to be in charge and make all the decisions. So I’ve backed off. The only regret I will have is not being able to listen to Angie sing and lead me in worship. She has a great voice and I hope she realizes that! Maybe we can do something around here locally so we can use her, and some of the others we have who are good singers. Maybe on a Sunday night? Or when we start our own church?

The next thing I want to quit, but haven’t yet, is my own company. I started a company with two other men and we produce CD-ROMS and DVDs for corporate, religious and educational clients. This is a full time gig for Greg and over and above our “real” jobs for Robert and myself. Robert is a professor at the seminary here in town and has a lot of flexibility in his schedule. For me, I’ve got to do all the work after I get home at night and on weekends. I wouldn’t mind it so much except for two things: the time it takes away from my family time and the fact that I really don’t enjoy the work any more. I don’t want to come home and spend another 5 hours a night and weekends in front of the computer trying to learn new ways of doing things. The work has been slow lately and I’ve enjoyed not having to work on a CD-ROM, but we can use the money so I don’t say anything to my partners. But it’s going to happen, I’ve just got to figure out what I’m going to tell them.

The last thing I want to quit is just a fantasy. Cindy and I want to quit our jobs, sell the house and furniture and one of the cars, and move to a small mountain village somewhere to open either a small coffee shop or bookstore or restaurant. And actually live off of what we make. We’d do it too, except for one small detail – we’ve got a $60,000+ college degree to buy for our one and only daughter. (Go Raiders!) That’s ok; I probably couldn’t sell enough coffee or books to live off of anyway. By the way, if we do it we’re taking our class with us!

Now I’m going to quit writing this post. I’d quit blogging altogether, but I enjoy the writing whether someone reads it or not.

His peace on you.

My friend Melissa had a post about this sort of thing, but her question was asked at the beginning of a class. Mine was asked in a job interview. I hate those kinds of questions, which is all the rage now in job interviewing. You go into a room with a panel of interviewers and they ask you questions like, “What strengths would you bring to the job?” Or “What are your weaknesses?” Or “If there is a problem with one of the employees, how would you handle the situation?” What situation? Exactly what did you have in mind? Was this person beating up on the customers or cussing them out or just not doing their job? The questions are so open ended it’s impossible to really know what the interviewer(s) is wanting to know. So I answer to the best of my ability, giving them some of what I think they WANT to hear, and some of the truth. Here’s hoping I gave them some of what they NEEDED to hear.

But the interview got me thinking. Jesus was walking along a road in Caesarea Philippi, and He turns to His disciples and asks a very simple question, “Who do men say I am?” That’s easy enough to answer. The disciples only had to be involved with the people they came in contact with and listen to what they were saying about Jesus. So they tell Jesus, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Is this what Jesus wanted to hear? Was this really a trick question? Was there more to it? No, He just wanted to know what people were saying about Him. And their answer revealed a lot about His ministry and how the people misunderstood what he was all about, and what changes He wanted to make in their lives.

But then He looked at His disciples and point blank asked, “But you, who do you say that I am?” Uh-oh. Now the pressure is on. Who do they believe he is? Is He who He says He is? Or have they misunderstood also? Of course, Peter steps forward and says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” I’m not sure Peter really knew all that meant in that confession. Just a little further down in the Scriptures Jesus is telling the disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer and die, and Peter pipes up and says, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You!” Then Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.”

What about our own confession? Jesus looks at you and me and asks, “Who do YOU say that I am?” How do we answer? “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” OK, but what does that mean exactly? I heard an analogy once about faith. There is a great trapeze artist walking a tight rope across Niagara Falls. You know he is a great trapeze artist and know for a fact he can walk across the raging waters on that tiny rope. You have faith he can do it! But wait. He wants you to get in a small little wheelbarrow and he is going to push you across the falls, on that tiny rope! Would you do it? Would you now have the same kind of faith in this man’s ability as you did before?

Sometimes our confession of Jesus is the same thing. We claim that He is the Messiah, the Lord, the Son of the LIVING God. But allow Him to push us across the great falls of our lives in a small wheelbarrow on that tiny little rope? Nope, not so sure He can do it. I’ll take care of it myself. How? By staying on the safe, solid ground. I know He is good, but not that good. And if I’m in the wheelbarrow on the rope, I have absolutely NO control over what happens to me. And that scares me. I’m learning what it means to get in the wheelbarrow and enjoy the adventure; it’s so much more exciting than staying on the safe, solid ground. But I keep having Him turn back and wait till I catch my breath. Help me Jesus in my unbelief. May you have the faith to get into the wheelbarrow also.

His peace be on you.

Oh, and I’ll let you know if I get the job.

I know, for some of you, this was before your time. Three Dog Night had a hit song in 1969 called “One.” Lyrics weren’t all that great, but it had a catchy tune that everyone could, and did, sing. The first line of the song was “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” And it pretty much repeated that thought throughout the song.

I think that is the way we live our lives today. We try to do life alone, on our own, damn the torpedoes full speed ahead! We are independent creatures: full of adventure and free spirit. But it’s that independence that keeps us from really living the life God intended for us. God created us with that independent spirit – we call it free will. We are free to accept His love and peace, or not. No pressures. He will not force a relationship with us. We can live life to the fullest as He designed it, or live life as we see fit. Personally I want to live the life He has for me. But I don’t. We don’t.

We struggle with life. We struggle with faith. We struggle with God’s will and plan. We struggle with whether we are “acceptable,” to God and to others. We struggle because of our independence.

We will all say that God is important in our lives, but the problem is He is important in the midst of a great number of important things. He is not THE most important priority of our life. He is like an extracurricular activity – something that can be pushed back or dropped if something more important comes along. He wants us to pursue Him passionately, with ALL of our heart, ALL our mind, ALL our soul. To not do life alone. That’s also why we have each other.

“One is the loneliest number, worse than two”

Much worse.

His peace be on you.