Archive for June, 2004

In Atlanta

Posted: June 18, 2004 in Everything

This next week I will be with a gorup of great teens ministering in inner-city Atlanta. I will try to keep you posted on stuff, but make no promises. God Bless you.

While I’m away, check this teaser from John Eldredge’s upcoming book, “Epic”.

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Simple. Glory.

Posted: June 16, 2004 in Everything

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking, writing, and praying about the glory that God has bestowed on humans. I like these words from Dallas Willard about the ‘habitation of the eternal.’

“The obviously well kept secret of the ‘ordinary’ is that it is made to be a receptacle of the divine, a place where the life of God flows….A Huston Smith remarks, ‘Just as science has found the power of the sun itself to be locked in the atom, so religion proclaims the glory of the eternal to be reflected in the simplest elements of time: a leaf, a door, an unturned stone.’ It is of course, reflected as well in complicated entities, such as galaxies, music, mathematics, and persons…This is why everyone, from the smallest child to the oldest adult naturally wants in some way to be extraordinary, outstanding, making a unique contribution…We were built to count, as water is made to run downhill. We are placed in a specific context to count in ways no one else does. That is our destiny.” (The Divine Conspiracy)

Happy Birthday

Posted: June 15, 2004 in Everything

Today is my 30th birthday. At 12:45 pm, 30 years ago in Jackson, Mississippi my mother finally got tired of carting me around. George Herbert once said, “I cried when I was born and every day shows why.”

I suppose that many people feel that way, but I’m not one of them. Sure, like most people, I have been impaled with more than enough of life’s daggers. We’ve all experienced pain and disappointment that sometimes make us question what is the point of living. But all in all I have more to be pleased about in life than displeased.

I have a wonderful, thoughtful, beautiful wife. I have been blessed with a visitor from heaven in the form of a little girl, my daughter, Malia Rose. I have good parents, a sacrificial grandmother and a kind mother-in-law. God gave me a fun-loving, tender-hearted brother, who I don’t talk to enough. I minister to a church that loves me, though I cannot for the life of me understand why. I am friends with some of the most astute, spiritual men and women in the world. Rochelle and I aren’t rich, but we have blessings and gifts so innumerable that I can’t begin to understand why God has given us so much.

A birthday is a nice event if for no other reason than to awaken us to the gifts we’ve already been given. Gifts that don’t come in a box with ribbons and wrapping paper, but the ones that last, the ones that count, the ones all of us want anyway.

God has never given me prosperity, but he has given me people. And when you think about it, aren’t they what you want to live another year for anyway?

The Glory of Your Life!

Posted: June 14, 2004 in Everything

I used this quote in my sermon this week. It was attributed to Nelson Mandela, but I have since learned that he was quoting from Marianne Williamson. A couple of people asked me about the quote, so I post it here so everyone can get to it.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Mystical, Magical, Spiritual

Posted: June 7, 2004 in Everything

One of the major themes of my life and ministry is living from the heart. Some people don’t like it because they have shut down the voice inside them that wants to live a daring, risky, life that is sustained and fulfilled only by trusting in God’s goodness. They want a religious experience that is chock full of information gathering and downloading Christian tips and techniques from the latest spiritual guru.

I don’t like that!

I don’t like the way the church has reduced the cosmic, magical, mystical experience of knowing God and embraced dissecting glory like a worm pinned to a wax tablet sitting on a biology classroom desk. It gives me the same feeling I had when some silly science teacher explained how a rainbow glows or what makes the proper weather conditions for a lightning storm. Somewhere, someone has determined to explain away anything and everything that someone else might “wow” over. It seems to give them control if they can make what your heart loves something akin to a textbook. No one loves a textbook (except those who write them).

There is one thing that Christians everywhere need to remember, God never asked to be studied, God asks to be known.

Seminary Education

Posted: June 4, 2004 in Everything

I’m in Abilene this week fulfilling one of the many requirements to receive my Masters Of Divinity degree. I’m taking Advanced Introduction to the New Testament. It’s been an enlightening class. However, as the days continue on and we focus on fatigue in the synoptic gospels, redaction-criticism, kerygma and interpretive theory, I am reminded of these words from the great Danish religious thinker Soren Kierkegaard.

“It appears to me that on the whole the great mass of interpreters damage the understanding of the New Testament more than they benefit an understanding of it. It becomes necessary to do as one does at a play, where a profusion of spectators and spotlights seeks to prevent, as it were, our enjoyment of the play itself and instead treat us to little incidents–one has to overlook them, if possible, or manage to enter by a passage which is not yet blocked.”

Elsewhere Kierkegaard throttles Christian interpreters by saying, “Christian scholarship is the human race’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the New Testament, to ensure that one can continue to be a Christian without letting the New Testament come too close.”

I think he’s right, knowledge–and the on-going profession and interrogation of that knowledge–is often a hindrance to what Jesus asks us to do: “Come and see!” Kierkegaard and I aren’t the only ones to think so either. After years of hearing dozens of professors lecture, reading countless essays and books, sitting in on hundreds of scholarly conversations, and knowing some of Christendoms great thinkers, we all agree on one thing when it comes to reading the Bible. The most simple interpretation is usually the right one!