Outlawed Tunes

September 10, 2010

So the school year starts with a fresh set of classes, these much more spiritually inclined than the last.

Today in Theology of the Church, Dr. Lavender said something that I have had on my mind all day. “Is what we are doing in our everyday lives evidence of kingdom living?” The phrase “kingdom of God” refers to God’s justice in the world and had a great deal of political weight to the first century audience that heard it.

I’ve always had a short temper; this by itself is dangerous enough, but when coupled with an overdeveloped sense of justice, I can be downright mouthy sometimes. I often say things such as, “He needs to be punched in the face.” I know this isn’t very Christ-like, and I struggle with trying to come to grips with my want for justice / revenge and how God’s mercy works, because in my thought process, shouldn’t justice be swift against chaos and disorder?

By all rights, God should have long burned this world to the ground, but He chooses instead to allow us to go our own ways and make our own choices. It is true that some people’s choices directly affect the people around them, and some decisions even have dire, malicious consequences, so why does God allow us to just do whatever we please, whether good or bad? In one of the many books I am reading for classes this year, this topic is brought up.

“Why could a good God put the creatures he had created for relationship, his own image-bearers, at risk? Because he is love. Love, by definition, must be free. A forced love is no love at all. If there were no alternative to following and loving God, then our responding love would not be authentic, and Christian spirituality is all about authentic loving relationship with God.”

God lets us because He loves us. I have often pondered on the purpose of our relationship with God and what it means for this world; I believe it is to emulate Christ’s behavior, to help push this world back to the way it was meant to be. We are called to be patient, embrace peace and mercy and to love as Jesus loves, and while sometimes it isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to do, it is the right thing to do.

What Dr. Lavender meant by his statement was not, “Destroy the forces of evil.” But, “Are you a reflection of God’s love through Jesus?” “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

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“Excuse me, but you don’t know me…and I sure don’t know you neither.”

March 9, 2010

I have often struggled to reconcile my pride as an oldest child with Exodus 20:12. For those of you not so familiar with Scripture, that is the fifth commandment, honor your father and mother. I cannot begin to count the times where people have used this verse to tyrannically rule over their children as though they own them like some sort of pet.

There are leaps in logic and a laundry list of verses, theology and biblical principles that are forgotten the moment someone’s child comes into the mix; I realize that my statement maybe rebuffed because I have no children of my own, that I “just don’t know what it is like being a parent”, but I do know pride, judgment, barbarity, spitefulness and bitterness when I see it.

Now, before we get off subject, let me be very clear. I love both of my parents very much, and while we had moments when our relationship was strained, I, in wisdom and hindsight, am very thankful that they cared about what I did, who I was with, where I went, and that they corrected me when it needed to be done. This included getting a spanking and, on only one occasion, being slapped.

To be short and to the point, I have amazing parents who while still keeping a watchful eye on me, allowed me to grow and to find the myself and my place in the world. They let me make my own decisions on people and places, knowing full well that making me swallow their doctrine without consideration would only lead me to rebel against them later in life. Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.”

There comes a point in time when parents have to acknowledge that it has nothing to do with them, that their children are going to make choices in trying to build their own lives and it has nothing to do with honoring or dishonoring their parents.

For pity’s sake, get over the idea that you are perfect and know what is best for your children in every single instance. You are not perfect, and in the same way you can politely disagree with any other person alive, you may have to act like that with your children, complete with mercy and grace just like God has with you.

The Buffoonization of the American Male.

February 28, 2010

I’ve been sitting pondering on this particular thought for some time. I chose to wait until I could not only be sure that I wasn’t simply overreacting, but so that I could notice the consistency of what I perceived to be a growing trend…

There has been a continuing movement in our country to make men the blunt of all of our jokes. Now, I am certainly not saying that women have ever had it easy by any means, but if it isn’t a commercial about how men never ask for directions or that all men drool at pretty, scarcely-clad women, it’s that every lead, male character on t.v. is an overweight, unintelligent oaf. When did we as a culture decide that it was so wrong to be male or that there ever needed to be a dumb male to be the butt of many jokes?

Seriously, give some thought as to how many times men are shown as being completely incompetent in life, only to be saved by their female counterpart? The Simpsons, Family Guy, Seinfeld, Yes Dear, Grounded for Life, The King of Queens, and an endless slew of commercials just to name a few.

Where did equality of the sexes go? I am offended at it all. I am an intelligent, motivated man, and I find it degrading to have my gender relocated to the point of a buffoon. There is nothing wrong with being a man, nor is it wrong to enjoy things that maybe considered “less-refined”. I don’t like little dogs in purses, I think tabloid magazines a gossipy pieces of trash, I think 300 year old, sparkling vampires are pedophiles for hitting on 16 year old girls, and I don’t think Lady GaGa has innovative fashion sense. None of these opinions moves me back down the social order to the point of caveman.

“all the times you were denied, you have forgiven…”

February 16, 2010

A couple of weeks ago Lipscomb University began a Tuesday night devotion series called, “The Gospel of Sex” where speakers are going to discuss issues of sexuality and intimacy in a straight-forward, yet Christ-centered fashion. They opened this series with several videos which covered a variety of topics, including pornography, homosexuality, sexual abuse and adultery. While sitting in the auditorium of several hundred fellow students, I have to admit that I was reminded of some of my least favorite moments.

A couple years ago, I hated where I was in my life. In my depression, I looked to make myself feel better in the form of physical conquests. It is something that I’m not proud of and during the process, I hurt a lot of people’s feelings and put some scars on my own heart, but I have felt for some time now that God has called me to be open about that time in my life and use it to help influence teenagers and college students for the better. I strongly believe that one of the most important things missing from ministry today is relationship and the ability to connect with your audience, to sound less like you are preaching and more like you are conversing.

As I mentioned earlier, I have had the past on my mind the last couple weeks and from those experiences come some of my more entertaining stories. To be rather forward, most of them are embarrassing, but yet there is a point to the silliness and laughter at my expense; embarrassment and heartbreak are the kinds of thing that happens when you step out of God’s plan for physical intimacy. God knows what is best for us and this is why He gives us Scripture to follow, not simply as a set or dos and don’ts, but as rules for a better life for yourself and amongst your fellow man.

How awesome is it that God can take the the brokenness and restoration of a person to heal and direct the life of another, to spare them of the same heartbreak. I firmly believe that experience is most often the best teacher, but you cannot argue with the experience of someone who has “been there and done that.”

“You have turned my mourning into dancing…” Psalm 30:11

Divine Inspiration

January 21, 2010

I was originally going to try to post this as some sort of status update, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had so much more to say than just a simple update.

Last year, spring semester 2009, I had a class entitled Intro to Ministry. It was in this class that I met an adjunct professor named Dean Barham. Dean is the preaching minister at Woodmont Hill Family of God here in Nashville and I have been extremely impressed with him, not only his preaching but with his ministry as well. His previous career was that of a business lawyer, but he left his practice to pursue full-time ministry. It was through many of his experiences that he spoke to our class; he was open and honest in a way that I have rarely seen a person who preaches. He has no mystique about his person; Dean is straight forward and honest. His insight to scripture is marvelous and I have been moved by his preaching like I have been by no other, but it was something that he said to me today that has had me pondering for several hours.

Dean and I met today for coffee. We met for no real reason other than to catch up as we haven’t had much interaction this school year. I have stayed occupied more so than normal with the loads of school work I have been assigned, causing me to not be as free and as social as I would like to be, so getting together with Dean was something that I had been looking forward to all day.

I refer to Dean as one of my “Pauls”, someone who is older than I that I can confide in or converse with and get good advice rooted in his life experiences. He has been places in his life that I am in now and it always helps to have an older brother to talk to when you have questions. We talked about everything from his preaching style to my summer mission trip to Honduras, from the situation in Haiti to the new freshman Bible class he will be teaching next year, and it was at the end of our hour long meeting that he said something that caught me off guard.

As we were leaving, he shook my hand, looked me square in the face and said, “Thanks for meeting with me, you inspire me.”

At the time, I replied with a simple, “No problem, I’ll talk to you soon,” but the more I thought about it, the more I found myself surprised by the idea of inspiring anyone, especially someone whom I think so highly of in the theological circle.

After spending most of the day in thought about his statement, I have come to only one simple conclusion. God uses broken, imperfect people to do His will and to speak to other people.  While my life, to me, seems almost silly in some places and a little vanilla in most, there are people who are always watching me to see what I cannot, to see the things that God is doing in and through my life. This is by no means an isolated incident; God works with all people and has a history of using people whether they know it or not to do His will, but how ironic is it that a God of infinite power and strength can move so soft and subtle as to not even make His presence known to us.

Dean has inspired so many people in his time as a minister, so I find it strange that according to him, I have helped him in the creative journey that is his ministry. I was humbled, but those words are not enough.

Confessions of an oldest son.

November 7, 2009

This semester at school has been ridiculously busy for me. I’m taking 17 hours this semester, and while I am enjoying Lipscomb Univ., I am trying to finish school as fast as I can. My work load has, however, hampered other areas of my life. The effort that I was putting forth in trying to lose some weight has gone to the way-side. I also find myself, dare I say it, too busy to consider trying the dating scene. Now, I could talk about the endless studying of Greek, the papers and presentations due at various times during the course of the semester, or the desire I have to be in a relationship, but what has really struck me the most this year so far has been the lack of time I have been able to spend with my family and friends back home.

One of the many classes I am taking this semester is a course called “Communicating the Gospel”, and it is designed to focus on the actual physical preaching aspect of ministry. I often refer to it as a Public Speaking course for Bible Majors. The class is taught by a man named David Fleer. Dr. Fleer is a tall, voicestrus man with a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and a long history of experience in the art of Preaching. Our class meets only once a week, on Tuesday from 2:45pm to 5:20, and while our class is small, I feel that we have been not only very forward but very honest with one another. I genuinely feel very close to everyone in that course and I think it is because of that openness that Dr. Fleer shared with us a very personal story.

We had been speaking about the different types of preaching styles and one of which is called the story-teller. This arch type, as you might have guessed, tells stories to better communicate the point he or she is trying to make, very much in the same way that Jesus used parables to teach in the New Testament. Dr. Fleer then assigned us a sermon from a lady by the name of Barbara Brown Taylor. Her sermon was personal, touching and relevant; it is one of the best sermons I have ever experienced and in the very middle of it, she told a story about herself as a child waiting to see a movie on a hot summer day. The story made sense, it fit and it was easily understood by everyone who listened to it, or read it in the case of our class. After our class discussion, Dr. Fleer told us that, on occasion, as he is pondering some thought or reading some article, he will day dream. He recalls a time when he is younger, a time when his mother, who has been dead for some 20 years, is still alive and able to sit and talk with him for great periods of time. He said sometimes, when he is sitting at his desk, he will day dream that his mother will walk into his office and ask him a simple question, “David, would you like for me to tell you a story?”

It seems silly for an educated, adult male to want to hear a story as though he were some child that needed to be entertained while falling asleep, but for Dr. Fleer, the idea is so much deeper than that. He dreams of a time where he can have one last story told to him by his beloved mother, someone who offered him love and strength during a very turbulent family life in his early years. I’m oft the sentimental type, and I became teary eyed in class, even now recalling him telling the story brings tears to my eyes. The simple story of his impromptu sermon touched my heart and I related quickly to what he was saying in his simple yet elegant message: enjoy the time that you have with your loved ones.

Later that night, when I was finished with the events of the day and I had plenty of time to devote my full attention to a phone call, a called my mom back home in Georgia. I didn’t want anything in particular, in fact, I was satisfied that she picked up the phone and answered it. Dr. Fleer’s day dream concerning his mom made me miss my mom and dad, and sometimes, even an educated, adult male needs to be entertained by his parents.

Don’t worry Mom, I’ll be home in two weeks for Thanksgiving =).

Stay with me here now and never surrender.

September 22, 2009

Earlier today, as per my morning custom, I checked the news via Yahoo! news and CNN.com and I was interested when I came across some information that the “unbiased” media has curiously overlooked.

Our president, Barack Obama, is refusing to allow his college records to be released to the public, something which every president since JFK has done. He refuses to do the same with his birth records, which has also been the common practice of many of his predecessors. Now, I am not one for conspiracy theories. I, however, do think it strange that with the rumor mill aggressively circulating the beliefs that President Obama is not a natural-born American citizen and that he was a foreign-exchange student in some of his college days, that he would not quell the rumors by simply releasing some inconsequential records for public viewing.

I also find it thought provoking that while the main criticisms for “W”‘s presidency were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the 900 billion dollar national deficit, President Obama still has us in Iraq, is increasing troop support in Afghanistan, and has already increased the deficit to 1.7 trillion dollars. These three things, as well as many other empty political promises, were what he spoke about consistently in his campaign, promising to pull us out of both countries and reduce our national debt in beautifully written speeches designed to stimulate the masses. I recall nothing but scathing coverage of President Bush in the media, and yet no one will dare say anything bad about President Obama.

Further more, why is no one talking about the fact that President Obama was the lawyer for ACORN, an organization responsible for potentially thousands of counts of voter fraud and giving advice on how to be better prostitutes to earn more money. His camp was also involved in an $800,000 campaign payment to ACORN, but again, we are given no media coverage that the president was ever affiliated with this group. I will make the bold assertion that if this where a conservative, republican president, he would have long since been crucified by the media with questions and documentaries from everyone of the major news organizations.

I was also a little ticked off at President Jimmy Carter trying to imply that most of President Obama’s criticism comes from racism. I myself didn’t like the idea of President Obama being elected because not only does he have no experience, but he has surrounded himself with crooked politicians, including the recently deceased Ted Kennedy. Now, I typically will support my fellow Georgians, as President Carter hails from Plains, but he was a horrible president. period. end of story. The reason we are having problems right now with Iran are directly related to Carter’s botched foreign relations and his aiding the removal of the Shah of Iran which allowed Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran after being in exile. I don’t want to hear him make any comments to the defense of President Obama; presidents with his level of failure simply need to be quiet and not be involved in the current politics of the day.

I have had some  of this sitting on my mind for about a week now, and I needed to vent about what I view is the unfair preferential treatment of a politician simply because he happens to be the first black president of the United States. I have no problem with a black president, in fact, I had hoped Colin Powell would have run for office in opposition to John McCain’s nomination, but I refused to buy into the chants of “hope” and “change” that came from someone who was no more qualified to run the country than the mayor of Plains, GA.

Diet Coke and Green Tea.

August 11, 2009

Today, I had a much needed lunch date with someone I used to be very close with. I didn’t realize how much I needed something that was in the conversations that we had today. Something small and elusive, yet essential has evaded me for some time. I needed to know that this person didn’t hate me; I needed to know that we could have a conversation and be civil with one another. I have no delusions about what’s going on. There is nothing and nothing is going to happen, but at least we are back at square one, and I’m okay with that, because I can say that I had lunch with someone who used to be my best friend.

As I once told this person, God is all about harmony and relationships, and I’m glad that He has seen fit to restore this friendship. Hebrews 13:5

“Do you feel like a man when you push her around?”

July 22, 2009

So I have had some conflicting thoughts on the fairer sex lately. I seem to have finally gotten past the broken-hearted stage of my last break up, and I’m moving into the irritable, intolerant phase, which I have always known simply as “bitterness”. I’ve been told that healing makes a natural progression this way, but I hate being bitter. I consider it baggage, but at the same time, it is very hard for me to be tolerable to what I refer to as simply as “stupid girl drama”.

Something that makes me more mad however, is when someone is in a relationship and they treat their significant other like dirt. I cannot stand to see guys treat good girls like absolute garbage, especially when good guys would die for the chance to have an awesome girl, yours truly included.

Tonight in Karate class, I stayed after class and worked with some of the ladies on realistic self-defense techniques that they could use if they were ever in a hostile situation. It reminded me that, above all things, I cannot stand the idea of a man hitting a woman; I can’t imagine anything making me angrier than that idea. It is nothing short of cowardess and lacking in anything resembling honor or manliness.

No, no one I know has recently been the victim of some random act of violence, but I think, in some weird way, while I was showing two white belts the ins and outs of how to perform a perfect hip-throw, I let my heart heal a little bit. Somehow, pondering on how strong my desire is to protect my friends, family and loved ones allowed me to move past some of the bitterness and pain that I have been carrying from the last person I opened my heart to.

I think of it like fighting: If you leave yourself open, you’ll get hurt and take too many shots, but if you cover up to much, you can never move forward and take the shot you need to win. That’s why there is always punch-luck…

And now for some random song lyrics…

“I want to be the last first love that you’ll ever have. Lying here beside me with arms and eyes open wide, I want to be your last first kiss.”

“The sun is breaking in your eyes, to start a new day. This broken heart can still survive, with a touch of your grace.”

“Do you feel like a man when you push her around? Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground? Well I tell you, my friend, one day this world’s going to end, as your lies crumble, a new life she has found.”

Viva la revolucion! …not really

July 2, 2009

Over the past week since getting home from Honduras, I’ve had many questions about the trip, not only about the work we did, but also about the military coup that happened right as we left. As I began to type up a blog concerning the subject, I realized that Matt, one of the guys from the trip, had already typed up a pretty good blog summing up our visit to Honduras. I’m going to repost his blog here out of simplicity.

*I give full writing credit to Matt Matthews of Westwood Church of Christ for the following blog =)

So I had the chance to be a part of mission team to Honduras over the last week. We returned to the states on Saturday afternoon, and if you’ve been watching the news, it was about 12 hours before things went really south. We got word that there was a potential coup in the works, and none of what we heard sounded good. So within a couple of hours of getting word it could get bad, we left Gualaco for Tegucigalpa, heading into the hornets nest. In the village where we were people couldn’t care less. But we had to leave that area to get back to the capital, so that we wouldn’t be caught if the roads were shut down…So after 4+ hours of driving through rain, dirt roads, and on back country roads we roll into Tegucigalpa, a city of over 2 million. We passed a total of 12 cars on the way to hotel. 12 CARS. . .THAT’S IT! That made everyone a little nervous, you know how it is when people in a car just get quiet…eerily quiet. We get to the hotel without any events and no protests or problems. We spent the next 36 hours waiting for a plane. Now in the process we got to relax at a 4* hotel, sit in the hot tub, swim a little, eat great food, and do a little souvenir shopping…you know the suffering part of the mission trip!

But on Saturday morning we left the country and once we cleared Honduran airspace there seemed to be a general sigh from everyone on the plane…And then on Sunday everything broke loose. They arrested the President, swore in a new one, and flew the former president to Costa Rica…Was he getting a free vacation? Because within hours he was on international tv, in a nice suit, telling the world how abusive and terrible his arrest was…hmmm, I’m confused. I thought coups, and overthrows were violent, people died, especially leaders at the epicenter of the problems. In a suit, in Costa Rica, on International tv? Wow, someone please come arrest me!!!

Who really knows what’s going on in Honduras? Who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys…I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I don’t like anything that smacks of Hugo Chavez and his antics, and this is the same path that Zelaya is headed down. Maybe, just maybe the international community isn’t really saying what it seems to be saying…put a Chavez-like president back in power? Seriously, he tried to legalize the sale and distribution of narcotics, Cocaine, and Marijuana, saying that they could educate the people on how to manage them, and then he tried to sale the people on the idea of rehab for addicts… Really? Really?? Is that what we want, another trash talking, small army having, drug distributing Napolean in Central America? Let’s hope not!

What the news is not telling you is that Zelaya, former Honduran president, illegally tried to ammend the Constitution of his country as to allow him to stay in as president . The people of Honduras and the Congress overwhelmingly said no to the idea but yet he stubbornly continued forward with his want to continue presidential term, all with the great support of his buddy Hugo Chavez. Why are we as the United States backing his presidency, he is trying to make himself a dictator?