Thursday, March 30, 2006

A "LOST" Mystery

I really have only two T.V. shows that I am wholly committed to. "LOST" and the greatness of "24"! I’m really intrigued by "LOST". Brittany (my daughter) and I watch the show together each week. We’re not purists in that we didn’t see the entire first season. So I’m no authority on the characters or plot.

"LOST" is intriguing because of how all the lives intertwine. If you watch you know what I mean if you don’t… well please stay with me, there is a point to all this. The reason that people say things like, “It’s a small world” is because it is remarkable how often seemingly random events throw unlikely people together. For example, did you know that Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes Booth, saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln some time after the younger Booth killed Robert’s father Abraham Lincoln?

Strange, random things like this happen all the time. Perhaps not with the same concentration as on the "LOST" island, but they do occur more than we would expect. When these oddities occur in the lives of Christians they are often called “God things.” “God things” are those events that work to God’s purposes, (as we see it) that are too mysterious to have been created by mere chance.

But there are two things that bother me about this. First, we shouldn’t trivialize God to the extent that we think he cares enough about us to help us find the perfect fabric for the drapes in the guest room, but he’s not particularly inclined to help starving children or heal a mother of three who has cancer. Second, I know we are God’s children and he does care about us. But our love for Him should reflect, not the self interests of trivial things in our lives, but His interest and the things that he said matter in our lives.

I love the mysteries in "LOST". But more than that, I love the mystery that is the spirit of Jesus Christ displayed in the lives of noble, ordinary people (Colossians 1:27). Your life is intertwined with other lives today and you don’t know what God is doing on the other side of your life. By displaying the noble heart of our Master, you call those other lives to a higher place. Perhaps the mystery is that our lives, as trivial as they may seem to us, are really to keep others from being "LOST".


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Road Trip

As is the custom at our house, last week we watched a movie together. This week the movie was Elizabethtown. We liked it, but it’s kind of dark for the first 20 minutes or so. The main character of the movie, Drew Baylor played by Orlando Bloom is preparing to commit suicide because his career has taken an incredible, unredeemable dive. It’s at this very moment that his sister calls to tell him that his father has died while on a trip to visit family in Kentucky.

Drew had always planned to take a Road Trip with his dad, but life got busy and he never did. On the flight to Kentucky to handle the arrangements of his father’s death, he met a flight attendant named Claire played by Kirsten Dunst. He was the only passenger on the flight and so there was a good deal of conversation. She drew a map with directions for him to find Elizabethtown and included her phone number on the paper with the map.

Drew finally finds Elizabethtown, and one night during his stay, desperate for a person to talk to, he called Claire. They talked all night. They agreed to meet and watch the sunrise. A friendship evolved and then a relationship. In the course of talking Drew promised that he would take at least some of the trip back to Oregon as a Road Trip. When it was time to leave Claire gave him a large scrap book with a detailed Road Trip with pictures, narrative and even music.

The Road Trip was for him an experience of closure, healing, joy and self discovery. On the sign for Elizabethtown, there is a phrase that appears underneath the name. It says,

“A Heck of a Place to Find Yourself.”

I like the play on words, but even more, I like that people find themselves. Usually in the last place they look. You see, there comes a time when we all need a Road Trip. A time alone in the car, with your music, your volume, your path, your bathroom breaks, your food, your laughter, your singing, your dancing, your prayers, your schedule, your self.

It’s really easy to lose your identity as a person while pursuing a life. We can forget who we are, what our purpose is, who the really important people are and why life matters. Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25) Perhaps Jesus wasn’t talking about taking a Road Trip. But I recall a passage in Matthew that talks about the “…narrow road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
It’s time for a Road Trip.

Michael Taylor

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Evidence of the Boydom

This morning I got up like most days and got ready for work. I went into the kitchen to get my cereal bar. It was setting on the breakfast table. Just a couple of days ago a full scale battle involving two armies and a police force took place on this very table. I don’t really know what the battle was about, how the battle ended or who won…

Our boy is named Caleb. He is 10 years old. I call him “The Boy” or sometimes just "Boy". He’s the only one we have so it works out fine. Abraham said, “I and the boy will go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Gen. 22:5) And Tarzan called his boy, "Boy". Caleb is the kind of boy everyone would like to have. He’s kind and courteous, smart and articulate. He reads more than most adults. He loves sports. He is fiercely competitive. (Gets that from his mom.)

Right now he is in crises mode. He is primarily a football fan and specifically a Dallas Cowboy fan. Yesterday they released his favorite player Keyshawn Johnson. The rumor on the street is that Dallas will sign T.O. Caleb sees this as possibly good for Dallas if Owens can get his life together. He told me the other night, “I prayed for T.O. last night; that he would get his life together.” This is his heart.

…back to the battle of the breakfast table. The green army was fighting the brown army but I don’t know who the good guys were. And I’m not sure whose side the police force was on. This morning, they were all gone. The battlefield was clear. No bodies, no debris. Then I saw it. In the string that lifts the mini-blinds on the window next to the battlefield, a single brown soldier hangs as the only reminder of the epic battle that took place here. This toy soldier doesn’t tell us who won the battle. But it does tell us one thing… this is the kingdom of a boy – a “Boydom”.

For all who live in a Boydom you know it’s a great thing. These little pieces of evidence, like hanging soldiers in blind chords, remind us of the greatness that lives in the heart of a boy. I’m grateful for having been a boy at one time myself. But more than that, I’m thankful for the boy that rules of our Boydom. He will be a strong man of God someday I’m sure… but for now… He is “The Boy” and I love him.

Michael Taylor

Special thanks to "The Hope". She took the pic and sent it to me at work.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

And the Oscar Goes To...

Last Sunday night our family watched some of the Oscars. We noted that the dresses were decidedly less “hoochie” than in years past. We were hoping that “bm” would be shut out and it almost was. We were able to cheer for Narnia and Kong in the technical awards and for Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line (greatness).

I didn’t like the little speech by George Clooney who said, “I'm proud to be part of this academy, proud to be part of this community, proud to be out of touch.” It reminds me of the verse that says, "…many live as enemies of the cross of Christ… and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." (Philippians 3:18-19) There is no doubt that sometimes Christians have been their own worst enemy in regard to what some so called leaders have said. We haven’t always handled well, delicate issues like AIDS. What I’m wanting to say here is that there is a need for godly wisdom as it relates to being out of touch on both sides of morality. And Christians are the only ones who have access to that kind of wisdom.

We live in a time when “stars” think they are the end all of humanity. They express moral judgment on the entire world based on their brand of politics or their "enlightened" amoral existence in the “out of touch” reality that is Hollywood. Even Jon Stewart took advantage of the Oscars to "poke fun” at Hollywood by saying, “A lot of people say that this town is too liberal, out of touch with mainstream America, an atheistic pleasure dome, a modern-day, beachfront Sodom and Gomorrah, a moral black hole where innocence is obliterated in an endless orgy of sexual gratification and greed. I don't really have a joke here. I just thought you should know a lot of people are saying that."

Well he wasn’t nominated this year, but I’d give another Oscar to Sir Anthony Hopkins simply for what he said recently in a London magazine. Of his new movie, The Worlds Fastest Indian, Hopkins said, “No sex or violence, and that's refreshing.” Speaking of the attitudes that some of his colleagues display he commented, “I can't get caught up in the self-importance. People bow to your every wish and you forget where you come from and what you're doing. - It's a job, like any other, so don't make a big deal. Be polite, treat the crew with respect and don't think you're different.”

Sounds like the “Best Actor” I’ve heard in a while. As you know, I love movies. They are (or can be) the parables of our day. Go read Jim McGuiggans piece on Shrek and Jesus. You’ll see what I mean. I really like it when one of the Hollywood crowd just gets real and speaks what is right and true. And it’s a bonus when the one who says it is a Knight.

Michael Taylor

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Are You Asking the Right Question?

A while back I went to see a not totally lame movie called I-Robot staring Will Smith. In the movie Dr. Alfred Lanning is murdered and Will Smith’s character, Detective Del Spooner, is the investigator working the case. He finds an interactive hologram device that was created by Dr. Lanning to guide him through the investigation. Spooner asks this hologram questions and at certain points in the process the response programmed by Dr. Lanning to Spooner is, “You’re asking the wrong question. Program terminated.”

The apostles were in a discussion with Jesus one day. He had been teaching them about forgiveness. Their response was, “Increase our faith.” To this Jesus said, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." (Luke 17:6) It wasn't so much the wrong question, it was the wrong request. Consider Jesus’ next statement,

"Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'?
Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"
(Luke 17:7-10)

How does this fit? I think there are several things for us to learn from this exchange. First, it is not how much faith we have, it is in whom we have faith that matters. Second, don’t expect the Lord to do in you what you are responsible for. It was not Christ’s responsibility to increase their faith, it was their responsibility to do what they were told. It is not the Lord’s place to solve our problems, it is our responsibility to solve problems according to His will. Finally, Jesus was teaching his disciples to recognize who they were in relation to him. There is a danger in being too familiar with the Lord. As we like to say, “Jesus ain’t your homeboy. He is the Lord.” And when we have done what we were told we should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”*

Michael Taylor

* I know that Christ makes us worthy, this does not nullify the truth they needed to hear and it goes for us as well. He is the Lord.