Posted in Different Scriptures

Intent vs. Content

My 5 year old daughter Ruby is picking up on a lot of things.  Recently we were driving home from a friends’ house, when from the back seat we heard her proclaim, “Dad!  I know when God’s going to make New Creation!”  I smiled, simply for the fact that my 5 year old knows there’s something to look forward to besides Heaven.  But then I was curious, after all – God seems to favor using children to proclaim important/new things.  So I asked her, “When?”

“At the end of this age!”

Wow.  In a few moments, my daughter was speaking of things I hadn’t really grasped until reading NT Wright talk about the concept of ” αἰώνιος Eyes wide, I turned to my wife who was almost as surprised as I was.  Her face quickly changed, however, and she simply said, “What did you expect?  She hears you talking about it all the time.” with a loving smile on her face.

Whaddya’ know?  Parenting works.

There followed a short conversation, where I excitedly tried to explain to our daughters how Ruby was right, although New Creation had already started too!  To which Ruby responded with something between anxiety and confusion, “But daddy, I thought the dead people would come alive?”  Calmly I tried to explain as best as I could that scripture tells us that anyone who has accepted Jesus as their source of life, is already a part of the New Creation yet to come.  It’s hard for me to grasp, so I can only imagine how many more conversations we’ll have as she grows.

Nevertheless, it was a great reminder that we easily learn all the right words to say.  Whether it’s a 5 year old talking about New Creation, or a 40 year old praying at the altar on Sunday morning, we learn the vocabulary and use it.  Influenced and flavored by prayers we’ve grown up with, worship songs we’ve sung, and the theology we prefer, we bring our prayers to God – often already knowing what the exchange will look like.  Already aware of the CONTENT we will present to God, and the CONTENT He will give in return.

BDataNeverSleeps_2.0_v2ecause whether we’ve developed self-control over how we interact with it or not, we all exist in a world where CONTENT floods our lives.  In the form of Tweets, Instagrams, Headlines, Blogposts, Facebook Posts, and more, we have become a never-ending culture of creating/consuming CONTENT.  It hits us head-on when we wake up, and the waves continue lapping the shores of our devices well into the hours we should be sleeping.  That influences our children and their development, but also impacts our lives, how we relate to each other, our family friends, and even God.

But we’re reminded by the story in Matthew 22:15-22 that Jesus sees beyond our words and actions.  We may fool other people.  We may even fool ourselves.  But Jesus knows our hearts.  The Pharisees came trying to trap Him with their fancy words, and question aimed at accomplishing what they wanted.  Jesus calmly responds with a question, and directs them to yield themselves to God fully.  Just as the coin stamped with the image of Caesar belongs to Caesar, so a man/woman who has been created in the image of God belongs to God.

We are both challenged by this, and encouraged.  We are challenged as we realize God is not impressed or distracted by the “#self” we present to the world.  We cannot show Him our polished areas, and hold back the things we’d rather not yield.  God calls us to give ourselves completely, proclaiming by such submission – Jesus is Lord even now!!  (and we are His New Creation!)  And therein lies the encouragement.  Submission to God opens up an existence as His New Creation, and serving a Lord who knows us intimately.  Todays’ “Insta-Tweet-Booked” existence can be lonely and consuming.  Smashing through such an existence is a God who knows us well beyond the images and 140 characters we share with others – and proclaims His overwhelming Love for us…

..and sends us out to do the same for a world that so deeply needs to be known…and Loved. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized

the 300 are ours.

By now you might have already heard of the huge party that most of us weren’t invited to.  300 Teenagers in New York decided to break into an ex-NFL star’s giant home, and throw a party.  The party involved drugs, alcohol, destruction of property…and lots of selfies.

Because of all the “selfies” and social media posts, they were able to identify quite a few of the close to 300 partygoers.   The NFL star himself invited them to all come back and help clean up in order to avoid criminal charges.  Apparently only 4 of them did.  (pitiful hand-clap)  Then he took action by posting the pictures/tweets they shared publicly while on his property.  By simply seeing what was available online, with some help, he compiled a list of names, and is calling those teens to respond by giving to charity.300-logo3  Kudos for him realizing this whole situation could be used to do something much larger than recoup the damages.

This party reveals quite a bit about youth culture, and one of the most dangerous things seems to be the elevation of self over….well, everything. The pictures & tweets posted seem to be of young people living out all the cliche’d phrases we hear pumped out in horrible music and quoted in memes all over social media. “Night of my life!”, “Live in the moment!”, “Don’t Care!”, “Don’t judge!”, etc. The list could go on, including every aspect of life being a continuous unchallenged party.  Combined with mob-mentality bad judgement, the feeling of invinsibility continued even long after the party was busted up.

I’ve seen some responses that are blaming the parents. Certainly there’s some major blame there, whether it’s bad decisions or not being present. But we cannot support the culture of excess, parties, escape and consumption (of people and substances) the way many of us do; and innocently point a finger when an event like this happens. We cannot pretend to be surprised when all the bumper stickers, song lyrics, and cliche’s become the life choices of our younger generations. Even as the cops closed the party down, so many of these teens were sharing how glad they were to have been there. The elevation of “epic experiences” over making right decisions isn’t something confined to our youth.

Reading Titus chapter 2 gives us a great reminder to the ENTIRE community.  Whether older men, older women, younger men, or younger women…one thing we all have in common is the need for “self-control”.  To be “sober-minded”.  To have control or “reign” over ones desires/passions.  This was obviously big enough to write about several times throughout scripture, and one of the ways we know we’re bearing the “Fruit of the Spirit” is by the presence of self-control.  This isn’t a new thing, and it isn’t something we’ll solve in a week.  We must be making choices today about what we support, and see the connections between the life we’re living and the choices of the generations following in our footsteps.

How does your life reflect the call/challenge to practice self-control for the sake of those who are growing up in the world we’re shaping?