Thursday, April 30, 2009

Death's Door



I'm proud of myself today. I was able to get out of bed and my cold medicine drug induced zombie-like coma in order to spend a fulfilling day with other clergy from my conference learning about ancient Jerusalem. While I felt like I've had one foot in the grave this past week, I found irony in the thought that I was sitting in a replica of Roman catacombs where early Christians met. There were even fake bones sticking out of ossuaries. (note picture above from said setting)

Then later on at a ball game I talked with a mom who wants to tour Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. I think she thought that it was morbid but I'm one of those weirdos that likes to tour historic cemeteries. She even told me the story of one person who proposed in a cemetery because it was such a beautiful setting. My thought was - of course - it is til death do us part so why not start the contract in a cemetery?

I think I've come a long way with my thoughts on death. Just a few years ago I lost a great friend and the thought of the places and conversations I had today would have put me in a spiritual hurricane. But today I was at such peace talking about death. As one of my favorite theologians once said "To the trained mind, death is just the next great adventure." (okay it was Albus Dumbledore who said that and don't take me too seriously)

So I guess its time to finish writing my book. WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE KEEP NAGGING ME TO DO THIS?????????? I'm ready to wrap it up. I've healed enough to tie a bow on it and call it done and even write the happily ever after ending that ALL good books have. I just need to sit down and do it. Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.

Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pack Mentality

I had an interesting conversation the other day about the validity of the pack mentality that is portrayed in the Twilight books. More specifically if the "beta" in the pack can just suddenly decide to break away into his own pack and become an "alpha".

We after extensive research (or a quick search on wikipedia), I've discovered that no, an alpha cannot just break away. One must challenge the alpha for his position and fight for it - often to the death.

But then my conversation turned interesting. We discussed how Jesus is the Alpha and when we decide to follow him we become part of his pack but some of us believe (sorry my Baptist friends) that in this situation you can decide to break away and follow another alpha or be your own alpha. In other words, once you're in the pack you don't have to stay in the pack.

To confuse things even more Jesus is also the Omega or the bottom of the food chain. He has a servants heart so much that he did die. So what does it mean to follow someone who is the strongest and most powerful but also the weakest in the food chain.

While it is totally my own made up analogy (Jesus was using Greek terms not canine) I think that while Jesus is the Omega in an earthly sense (ie not out for power the way we define it) he is also the Alpha in a spiritual sense (ie he definitely is at the top of the spiritual food chain).

So anyway, I'm glad to be part of such a strange and wonderful pack AND one that is abnormal from a canine pack. In my pack we all get to eat and free will abounds.

Tune in next time to discover the next supernatural creature that I'll relate to God. I've discusses zombies and werewolf (ala Twilight).

Suggestions?

Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Zombies

Watch out world! I'm preaching again. I love preaching because I discover so many new and different things each time I do it. Most of the time I find something new and intriguing in the scriptures and this week was no exception. But I don't want to spoil any surprises for those who may actually be in worship this week at Lighthouse (did I tell you its the coolest, hippest, funnest, most open-laid back church ever?).

Anyway (enough plugging) with all the talk of Easter, I'm sure you may have heard that Jesus is alive. Yes alive. He died but then came back. I know it sounds strange. It sounded strange even then too which is why people went to the tomb to see it in person, but they were asked, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Good question and as Pastor Mark said (more eloquently I might add) the answer is because the story is not about death like we may believe but its about LIFE!

So my question this week is: If the story is about life, why do we see so many dead among the living?

Catchy huh?

Okay there are so many levels that I can and will go here on Sunday but the living dead makes many think of only one thing - ZOMBIES!!!! (I can hear my SIL making her pirate noise now as she can't audibly distinguish between the two)

Now I'm not a zombie movie fan. Nor a zombie book fan. Vampires - YES. Zombies - NO. In fact that one part of zombie-like creatures in Harry Potter really froke me out. But I just had to find out more about zombies if I'm going to talk about the living dead and I discovered that there are several animals that are zombie-like. Most of them get this way due to parasites that invade their bodies to reproduce. The parasite must have its host alive in order to reproduce but it also can't have it functioning as it normally does so it basically disables many of its functions until its business is done. Creepy huh?

For more info on that go here: http://discovermagazine.com/photos/04-zombie-animals-and-the-parasites-that-control-them

But what I think is the best is that God does not make us zombies. God actually needs us alive in order to have a relationship with us AND in order for us to be His hands and feet so that we can help change the world for the better. He give us a choice to follow Him and I really like that about Him. No strong-arming no guilt (that comes from established religion) and no contract. In fact its just as easy as following someone on Twitter. God says, "Follow me. I love you." All it takes is a yes - no mind control needed.

I'm so excited about Sunday because I know that "its all because of Jesus I'm alive." And I plan to celebrate in a big way.

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

He make's all things new.

"And behold! I make all things new!" - Jesus (somewhere in Revelation; I'm too lazy to look it up but I know its there somewhere toward the end @22 or so) Plus I like saying "behold" and I'm not sure most of my translations use that one. I know KJV does.

For Lent I gave up buying new things. This is in an effort to 1) go green 2) save some green and 3) remember that Jesus makes all things new again. (probably not in that order)

At first I thought this would be no problem. I thought ahead and purchased one or two things before Lent started, but thought "heck I can do without for at least 40 days." I gave myself the out on food (I don't even know where to get used food) and if there was something I needed for work or the kids' school work then I'd make exception (and even then I was hoping someone would purchase these for me).

The first few days were hard. I didn't realize how much internet shopping I did. I began to write down my shopping desires so that I could think about purchasing these things after Easter. After two hours on Ash Wednesday, I had a full page list going. So I took a step back and tried to see what I could either get used or find something else to use that I already had. This is when creativity came in. I found some good consignment and thrift shops but for the most part I really didn't need to buy things used. I did find that clothing wise I could make due for 40 days. Plus, its one thing to buy used jeans but there's no way I'm buying used undies. ("and all God's people said 'eew'")

After the first week I caught myself. We had started a message series called [scrubs] based on the healings of Jesus. Pastor Mark and I decided to get into the spirit and wear scrubs on Sunday morning. So with great excitement I purchased my first pair of scrubs. I felt so important and medically official. I was ready to walk into the hospital to see if I could help when I realized that I HAD BOUGHT SOMETHING NEW!!! I could have borrowed scrubs from many different people but here I had broken my promise! I was a failure! Yes it was for work but still I felt ashamed. I would have returned them but I bought them from a store that a congregation member runs and I'm not sure she would have understood my angst.

We're coming to the end of Lent and I've realized a few things.

1) I really can be much greener than I thought I was. So far I've only embraced the recycle part of the mantra but after Lent I'm really into the reduce and reuse aspects as well.
2) I didn't save as much green as I thought. I guess I have that emotional need to spend money. I tended to make up for the gap by buying fancy thing to make for dinner or going out to eat. But overall I was much more thrifty than I ever thought I could be.
3) I'm very nervous about buying new things again. I worry that commercialism will get the better of me again. Every time I wanted to buy something new this season I thought about God. I've gotten closer to God. I really don't want to give that part up.

So as we turn to Easter, I hope you've gotten closer to God in some way as well. I hope that I can keep up parts of this little experiment for the long term as i think about how much I've wasted in the past on stuff that doesn't matter.

Here's to hoping that all your things, dreams, ideas, and feelings are new each day!!

Until Everyone Hears,

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