Archive for June, 2008

Salvation

Posted: June 30, 2008 in Everything

Once again a prayer from Walter Brueggeman’s Prayers for a Privileged People.

Salvation Oracles (On reading Isaiah 43.1-5)

There is a long list of threats around us:

terror,

cancer,

falling markets,

killing,

others unlike us in all their variety,

loneliness,

shame,

death —

the list goes on and we know it well.

And in the midst of threat of every kind,

you appear among us in your full power,

in your deep fidelity

in your amazing compassion.

You speak among us the one word that could matter:

“Do not fear.”

And we, in our several fearfulness, are jarred by your utterance.

On a good day, we know that your sovereign word is true.

So give us good days by your rule,

free enough to rejoice,

open enough to change,

trusting enough to move out of new obedience,

grace enough to be forgiven and then to forgive.

We live by your word. Speak it to us through the night,

that we may have many good days through your gift.

Off The Tracks

Posted: June 30, 2008 in family, life

Do ever feel as if your life has come off the tracks?

Right now, there are hints of derailment going on at our home. First, my wife, Rochelle pulled her Achilles and is in the third week of a six week confinement to a boot and crutches. Second, her mother, who was here to help with our kids, had to be rushed to the ER with a rapid heart beat. And third, Saturday night, our garage door literally came off the tracks. It took me and two of my neighbors and hour and a half to eventually pull the door down and we about had to nearly break the door to get it down.

My mom used to say of tough times, “When it rains it pours.” That seems true this summer. This spring we had a fabulous summer planned for the family, and at each turn more and more of it seems to be coming off the tracks. Sadly, our eldest daughter, Malia, keeps asking her mom, “When are we going to the beach?”

Nevertheless, we are striving to not complain too much. Even in the difficult times, Ro and I feel as if we’ve been very blessed. We continually talk with our girls about forming a “toughness groove” — a mental attitude that can take whatever life dishes out without whining or complaining. Well now is the time for us to use our toughness groove, pray that everyone heals well, and get the failing things of life back on track.

5 Things I Think I Think.

Posted: June 25, 2008 in Everything

Borrowing again from sportswriter Peter King, here are 5 Things I Think I Think.

1. Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog has the best take on the Dobson/Obama biblical debate. Check it out here.

2. The most nervous person in the world yesterday was Tiger Woods’ knee surgeon. Can you say “Billion Dollar Knee?”

3. Nothing fun happens in late June concerning sports or politics, thank goodness for a rapping Shaquille O’Neal.

4. Don Imus: This time is much worse than the first!

5. A Playstation 3 can eat up ALOT of time and 11:00 pm.

Prayer

Posted: June 16, 2008 in consumerism, covet, iPhone, iPod

Forgive me, Lord. I covet.

Happy Father’s Day

Posted: June 14, 2008 in family, fatherhood, home, kids, life

Today is Father’s Day. As I was playing with my daughters earlier I realized that they are what makes me a father, and they are the reason I want to be a good father. Chris Rock once said that father’s of daughters have one job: “to keep their daughters off the pole.” Obviously there is a little more to it than that, but certainly not any less. Being a father is a sacred trust. I’m learning how to be a better disciple of Jesus through discipling my kids.

This father’s day I’m also learning how deeply I am indebted to my own father, even though we have not lived in the same place since I was 13, I am grateful for all that he has taught me. As my recently deceased favorite journalist once said, “The older I get the smarter my father gets.”

Today I’m also mindful of the millions of Americans with my skin tone who — for one reason or another — never knew their fathers. It is a plague that is killing our country and slowly relegating blacks to a permanent underclass. (Helen Andrews has a wonderful article about the subject here.)

So to all the good fathers out there: Happy Father’s Day. You are an inspiration to me and you are doing the most important work that can be done.

I’ve always had a romantic view of the 60’s. The stories my father taught me about courageous men and women protesting for equal rights as citizens and others who voiced opposition against the Vietnam War always seemed heroic to me. Part of me has always wished I could have lived then. I, unfortunately, grew up in the pitiful pit of 80’s greed and the messy mire of the Clinton and Gingrich sex scandals of the 1990’s. It didn’t seem nearly as exciting as the 60’s did. Worse still, it was as if no one in public life in the 80’s and 90’s had a core or center that guided him or her in any way.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so interested in what will happen this summer. 40 years ago was the long, hot summer of 1968. It was the summer when Robert Kennedy – immediately after winning the Californian primary – was shot in a hotel kitchen. Yet before he was shot, Kennedy penned a Op-Ed noting that race relations in the United States were moving so quickly that he could envision a black man being president in, yup, you guessed it, 40 years.

At the same time that Bobby Kennedy was forecasting America’s future concerning race relations, brave men like Dwain Evans (a mentor and member of my congregation), Walter Burch, Roosevelt Wells, and others were mightily attempting to bring about racial change and harmony within my non-denominational denomination. Sadly, their heroic efforts remain less fulfilled than Kennedy’s.

This summer as Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination on the 45th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, I will still be one of three adults of African-American descent in my congregation. And I will be such with full knowledge that there are black churches and white churches across my non-denom-denom where there are NO people outside the majority race. What’s more, the majority race – whether white or black – will be sending overt and subtle messages that they want to keep it that way.

40 years later, the kingdom of God is better reflected racially and culturally at political rallies and sporting events than it is in the church!

40 years later people in churches are still saying that it is “Okay” because of “cultural” differences for there to be two (and perhaps three, four or five) different churches!

40 years later we are closer to “I Have A Dream” than John 17.

So, perhaps I’ve been wrong. I don’t have to fantasize about living in 1968. I’m living in 1968…but only when I look at the church.

——-

P.S. Today is Loving Day, the day we celebrate the Supreme Court granting equal rights and protection for interracial couples. Click HERE for more information.

This Sunday I’m beginning a sermon series entitled, Felt Board Basics: Rediscovering the Tales Told to Jesus. The impetus for the series comes from reading Old Testament Bible stories to my two young daughters, Malia and Katharine. Indeed, these are the same stories that shaped a young boy named Jesus who couldn’t get enough of hanging around the temple. Sadly, other than sitting in Old Testament survey classes in graduate school, I had not heard some of these stories (Jonah, Neduchadnezzer, Abraham and Issac, etc…) in many years. As I read these stories to my daughters and listen to their interpretation of their meanings, I’m amazed at how deep and challenging the narratives are. And it shocks me how and when the echoes of these stories resound in the life and teachings of Jesus.

I remember my faithful Bible teachers as a child placing figures on felt board and bringing the stories to life. I am grateful to those women. Now I’m grateful to my girls for showing me the life in those stories.

It appears to me that familiarity breeds familiarity, but not necessarily understanding. That’s what has happened to the great stories of God’s faithful, reluctantly faithful, and unfaithful people chronicled in the Old Testament. My hope is to reclaim the very stories that informed the mission and ministry of a young boy in Nazareth named Jesus. If you’re in Houston, come by and join us!