Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Christians - The Real Mutants

Well this last was a big weekend. It involved a home project with Rhonda, a Desperados playoff game with The Boy, and the new movie, X-Men - The Last Stand with a couple of the kids. The home project, a deck addition, was completed. The Desperados destroyed the Georgia Force (more like a Georgia playground shovers). And the X-Men, well lets talk about we mutants for a minute.

After the movie we talked about how each mutant was “gifted” (or cursed,) with a different mutation. In The Last Stand, there is a boy who is a mutant and his mutation or “gift” is that he nullifies the mutation in any mutant that gets close to him.

If the mutations are a negative thing, then this boy represents the cure for being a mutant - thus the plot of the movie. Concerning this anti mutant boy, my daughter said, “He’s like Jesus.” Exactly. He takes the thing that separates us from wholeness and restores us. Well that set me to thinking even more.

What would your mutant name be? The big name Christians would get cool names I think. Max Lucado might be Scripto. Billy Graham could be Thunder. Brennan Manning would just be Deep. Me… well Id be called - mutant #5670496-2-498875.

In this world, we Christians are like mutants. We assemble; we are different in many ways. We are uniquely gifted and often misunderstood. Some are filled with “holy hatred” some are understanding and compassionate. Some love the non-mutants, others look down on them for being “lesser.” Some don’t want to be involved; others want to change the world. Some of us say stupid things before a national audience while others love and serve the non-mutants in the name of our Lord without notice.

The greatest command is to love the Lord. To share the Message is one expression of that love. Yeah, we’re a bit weird… the world probably sees us as mutants, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Display to the world the peace of being in Christ. Live a life that is worthy of your calling. Serve others in the name of our Lord. Glory in the love of our Father and the Holiness that makes us all like Him.
Join me fellow mutants.

telemicus out

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What Did You Sign Up For?

Life is difficult. Being a Christian doesn’t make it less so. It might make things harder, but it doesn’t make it easier. It certainly makes life better, but not easier. Those who sell the Christian life as the way to ease and comfort are mistaken at best and lying at the worst. Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

We’ve been watching the Dallas Mavericks for almost a month in the playoffs. They beat down Memphis in four, and they went the distance against the dreaded Spurs. I’ve been trying to teach The Boy about believing in your team no matter what; and the importance of never giving up even when things look bad.

After game six someone asked the Mav coach Avery Johnson if he feared going to play game seven. He said, "Fear going to play a seventh game? That is what we signed on the dotted line for. You just don't sign when you make every shot. You sign up for adversity too, and that's why we are all here."

Well sure, that’s true of basketball, but even more its true of the Christian walk. Yes we have the benefit of peace with God through Jesus Christ, we have the added bonus of the continual cleansing of our sins. We have the peace of the Spirit, present in our lives and the comfort of his guidance in life and understanding the Scriptures. We have the fellowship with Jesus in life and ministry. We have someone to worship who is altogether worthy and who lifts us to be better people than we will ever be on our own. And these are only the beginnings of our blessings in Christ.

Our baptism (signing on the dotted line) is a surrender unto death. It accepts certain realities. One of those realities is what Paul called, “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil 3:10”). So, to blend what Paul said with what Coach Johnson said: When we come to Christ we don’t just sign on for all those good things mentioned above, we sign on for the fellowship of sharing in adversity with Christ, and that’s why we are all here.

telemicus out

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Choosing Slavery

I run a bit. I don’t run long, I don’t run far. Certainly don’t run fast. I’m trying to work up to about 45 minutes 4 times a week. I’ve got a ways to go. But that is what I am committed to. My only reason for running is health. I want to keep my weight under control and my fitness at a comfortable level. But I have a serious problem. I live with a liar.

When I come home, he is waiting in my closet. He tells me, it’s too hot, too windy or too late. He tells me I’m too sore, too tired or too busy. He tells me there are other priorities that need my attention. He tells me about my dog that needs to be played with, my kids who need my time and my chores that never end. He also hangs out in the kitchen. He tells me I want food when I don’t need it. He tells me I need ice cream every day. He cares only for the joyful images in the moment of indulgence. He never looks at the life mural that displays the trail of consequences.

So what do I do with this man. He is my old self, the flesh. The one I rejected a long time ago. I've made him my slave. He will do what I say, when I say it. He does not have control over me. I have control. On occasion, I let my guard down, but it’s not the norm. I don’t want you to misunderstand. I don’t hate my self or my body, but he is a liar.

Paul said, "Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:26-27).

I’ve decided that this verse is important in my struggle against the flesh. The flesh is here and a part of me. But he is my slave. I will beat him into submission in order that I not be disqualified for the prize. You may struggle with the flesh too. Don’t allow it to run your life. Every time you hear one of those lies, remember Paul’s words, “I beat my body and make it my slave.” In the end, you’ll be happier and a better servant of Christ.

Monday, May 15, 2006

His Mother Spoke Up

In Luke chapter 1, we read the story of the birth of John the baptizer. You’ll recall how the angel appeared to his father Zachariah to foretell the birth and how he was made to be mute because he did not believe. When John was born they took him to be circumcised on the eighth day and that is when he was to be named. Verse 59-60 say, “…and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John.”

I had the honor of growing up in a home with a strong spiritual leader. Dad was a Christian man for most of my memory. He was a minister in all of my growing up years. He lead by example, by words and a strong hand.

Mom was never big on that whole, “Wait till your father gets home” business. If a thing had to be dealt with, she dealt with it. Not always in the same way, but deal with it she did. On occasions when mom felt that dad was over the line or off the mark, she spoke up. When my older sister or I was setting a poor example for our younger siblings, she spoke up. Even today, though I am a grown man, if I’ve been in the wrong, she speaks up still.

Mom is not overbearing. She is not pushy. She is not even assertive. But when it is right and needed she has always spoken what needed to be said. So I’m grateful for a mom who has that most excellent balance of being in proper submission in her heart and enough of the spirit of Elizabeth to speak up when God’s cause demands it. The world was blessed when John’s mother spoke up. I’ve been blessed because mine did.

Thanks Mom.

Love, Michael

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Simplicity of the Gospel

This Blog is not deep. It’s not that I’m shallow or never think deep thoughts or wrestle with complex issues. But, I have passed the time of enjoying theological battles. I want to encourage people to live better lives for Christ’s sake. We cannot reach the world by proving that this pastor is shallow or that one is a fraud. Allow God to deal with his own servants. He is able to lift them up or take them out.

I’m a simple man. I think most Christians are simple people (theologically). They don’t need to be able to argue transubstantiation; they want to know how to raise their kids or keep their marriages together. They’d like to be better people and if ministered into it, they will become better followers of Christ. They are capable of learning new and deeper things and of maturing in their walk with God.

I’ve listened and read a lot of the “deep guys” bad mouth and talk down the ministries of some prominent Christian pastors because they are preaching a simplistic feel good gospel that doesn’t call people to the deep things of God. They criticize them for not presenting the full demands of the Gospel. They write off these purveyors of the “shallow gospel” of pop psychology and feel good religion as almost apostates (that means one who abandons their faith). This way of judgment is wrong.

I encourage you to read the book, A Simple Path by Mother Teresa. It’s real and practical and while you’re not looking, it gets you deep into the real call of God to participate in a Gospel that is about ministry to real people, and a love for God and Jesus Christ. The Gospel has always been about God’s desire to save man through the message of Jesus. His message was to love God and love others. The legalists and judgmental don’t know this message. They talk of grace while citing law and fuming judgment.

I have on my bulletin board a bumper sticker that is white with black letters. It says, “Generic Christian.” I’ve had it for years. It reminds me that we are not about anything but that which is Christ centered. So pardon me if these articles don’t get too deep. I write each week to encourage who ever might stop by to think nobler thoughts and to live in such a way as to make a difference in the world, for Christ sake. If you need to be yelled at or beaten down, I can send you some sites that will do that. In the mean time, I will continue to encourage through the simple message of the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What Forever Is For

This past weekend I took my wife and my parents to see Michael Martin Murphey in concert. Many don’t remember him but he had a couple of number one songs in the 70s and 80s. These days he sings mostly songs about cowboys and the west. This concert was held in a little town called Linden in east Texas. The theater looked like an abandoned building on the outside. The parking lot was kind of like a pasture. But inside, everything was nice, clean and modern with a country feel. Very quaint. It seated about 400 so we were close and the sound was great.

As you know, if you know me at all, I am NOT a fan of country music. But I’m a fan of good music with a good message. Michael Martin Murphey has both. I’ve seen some good concerts in my life… Springsteen, Rich Mullins, Paul McCartney, John Denver, Journey and others. This one ranks among the best. After the show we stayed around for the fireworks show and got to meet “Murph”. His friends call him that.

One of Murphey’s hit songs is called “What’s Forever For.” The chorus of the song says,

“So what's the glory in living
Doesn't anybody ever stay together anymore
And if love never lasts forever
Tell me, what's forever for.”

Well on Tuesday, Rhonda and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. It hasn’t been easy. But we haven’t had the hardest road either. We’ve had all the normal ups and downs. Had days we were more in love than is good and days we were willing to walk away and forget the whole thing. But I think what makes any marriage work is the work of love. It’s hard work! You’ve got to do things you’d rather not do, listen to things you don’t want to hear, go places you don’t wish to go, and say things you don’t want to say. For anyone to stay with another person for life, the work of love has to be done.

You might think that calling love - work takes the romance out of it… no way! It’s very romantic to fight through the struggles together and when the day is won, to look at your bride and know that the enemy of your life together has been vanquished yet again. There is no romance like victory romance. (wink wink). Love does last forever and in the final analysis, love is what forever is for.