Monday, June 27, 2005
So there, my Monday morning rant. I could say more, but none of it would be nice. Trying to remember what my mom taught me. Here's a list of shows that would be much more entertaining, enlightening, and worth my time...
TOP 13 SUMMER TV REPLACEMENT SHOWS ON CHRISTIAN T.V. STATIONS By Dave Tippett
13. "My Big Fat Obnoxious Pastor"
12. "Nursery Fear Factor"
11. "Punked: Sitting in Gertrude's pew spot"
10. "The Simple Life with Davie and Goliath"
9. "Survivor: Little House on the Prairie"
8. "Pontiff for a Day"
7. "Gaithers: Extreme Makeover"
6. "CSI: Potluck"
5. "Pretty Much 'Left Behind': Still Not Sure Who's Going Where"
4. "Extreme Baptisms"
3. "COPS at VBS"
2. "Paul vs. Predator"
1. "8 Simple Rules for Dating my Theology"
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
I'm not kidding.
Anyway, we drove to Knoxville, TN, where UT plays football. The aforementioned girl I was with liked Michael Jackson's music. Pepsi Cola was a big sponsor of this tour, and since I had some family in the Pepsi business, I got tickets. Really GOOD tickets - we were on row 14 in a stadium that probably had 70,000 people in attendance. The biggest tower of speakers I'll probably every witness - 14 rows from my seat, right in front of me. Up to that time, I didn't know that sound could make you physically shake like that. (Now, I have flashbacks every time I pull up to my local convenience station and some dude who has spent every dime of his last 5 paychecks on his sound system decides to leave it on 11 while he goes in to get a Slurpie. I guess he wants to hear his profanity-laced rantings over the hum of the cappuccino machine...in most cases, the sound system is the only thing holding his car together anyway...)
Two observations that I made that night at Neland Stadim remember to this day...
- Though I'm not a fan, it was an unbelievable show. Lots of pyrotechnics and illusions and "wow factor" stuff. Probably happens in lots of shows (I'm sure Sting, Jagger and Bono have tigers and giant puppet-like figures that hover around the stage mimicing the actions of a frog drowning in a torrential rain, all the while sitting on the edge of the stage wiping tears with their hankies while singing "She's Out Of My Life..."). Up to that point, I hadn't been out of the house much, and I didn't hang with anyone like Michael in the foothills of Appalachia where I was raised. In fact, no one existed in Appalachia like Michael. So it was all new to me. I was impressed with the "show" part of the evening. And hey, Tito, Jermaine and the lesser-known Jackson boys were there too. Bonus.
- As peculiar (believe me, there are lots of words I would like to use here, but I'm committed to being nice) as MJ is, nothing scares me more than his legion of followers. I witnessed that night (remember, row 14) young girls crying, screaming, knees buckling (and not just at the concession prices!), the likes of which I had only seen before on old clips of Elvis concerts. As a side note, the girl I took to the concert wasn't buying all that either - we both just sort of looked at each other with that "what's wrong with these people" look.
That brings me to today. Couple of random thoughts as I was somewhat forced to see and hear everything there was to see and hear about the Gloved One - only becuase it was everywhere. First, what's wrong with people? I'm not talking about MJ or the jury. But people out in the streets crying, fainting in jubilation, spending 4 weeks away from families (not to mention THEIR JOBS!) to camp out at the courthouse. I've racked my brain and honestly don't know for whom or what I would behave in similar fashion, outside of blood relatives. Second, I'm a big fan of our country and our justice system though sometimes, granted, it puzzles me. What struck me this morning is the obligatory jury interviews. I'm not saying anything here about whether I think MJ is guilty, innocent, or odd. OK, I take that back - he's odd. I know he was found "not guilty" by our system. But did you hear the jurors? I know, there are lots of angles to this, but its almost as though they decided that the accuser's mom was "guilty" of being a money-hungry opportunist - not to mention a little weird herself - and once they wrote her off, MJ was free. Couldn't she still be all of the aforementioned things and he still be guilty? Just a thought...
A couple of things to wrap up...
- I can't believe I'm writing about this....
- If you have high speed access, watch Letterman's Top 10 list about the Jackson verdict
- As a Christian, I know we shouldn't judge. That doesn't mean we won't struggle with the temptation to do so. So I struggle, as do many. So if I have sounded judgmental at all, I'm sorry (was calling MJ "odd" judgmental? isn't that sort of like calling Shaq "tall?")
- I'm sure the "average" MJ disciple/follower who cries and faints and knees buckle in his presence could follow me for a day and find things/people that I worship, adore, praise. My hope/prayer/goal is that they might see that for me, God gets most, if not all, of my energy. I want to be after His fame, not my own or anyone else's.
"Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; YOUR NAME and RENOWN are the desire of our hearts." - Isaiah 26:8
Monday, June 13, 2005
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Friday, June 10, 2005
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
A couple of days ago, I approached a popular intersection in my neck of the woods - one that I go through several times a day most days. There were 4 law enforcement officials with clipboards stationed around the intersection just waiting for people to pull up and stop. Those not strapped in would receive their obligatory seatbelt infraction ticket.
Before I proceed, two things you need to know....
- I was wearing my seatbelt like a good soldier.
- I have no problem with the seatbelt law; some people are stupid (as I'm about to describe) and need legislation to help them.
So I pull up to the intersection, notice the cop at my stop sign look into my car through his David Hasselfoff sunglasses, and sort of give me that nod that says "nice goin' pal - keep up the good work."
However, I couldn't help but notice directly across from me, at the opposite stop sign, a group of motorcyclists. Probably 8 motorcycles in all, with roughly 12 people total on for the ride. Not a helmet to be seen. None of the guys wearing shirts. As little clothing on males & females alike to take in as many rays of sun as possible. Oh, and no tickets being written, either.
Now, I'm in the trusty Buick. If I'm doing 39 mph and have a crash of any sort, many things could happen. Not the least of which is a steering wheel, an air bag, steel, etc. all of which should play a role at some level to keep me off the pavement. Not to mention the seat belt we already established I had firmly snapped into place. BUT, if I'm not buckled up, I get a $25 fine.
Perhaps its just me, but does this make any sense? The dude on the Yamaha? He has an accident of ANY kind at 39 mph, he's in a world of hurt. No protection. No padding. No airbags. Just sort of out there with seemingly nothing.
Its almost as though you're punished if you don't reach the pinnacle of safety (in your car with seatbelt engaged & airbags as a backup), yet rewarded for pushing the envelope of risk (bareback & helmet-free with nothing but sunglasses and a girlfriend holding on tight). I'm surprised the police officers didn't run over and give the motorcyclists high fives! "Way to go! Props to you for throwing caution to the wind! Keep livin' on the edge!"
I couldn't help but consider this as a snapshot of life. My life, at least. Particularly as it relates to being a Jesus-follower. It's easy - perhaps too easy - to take the simple way out. Follow the rules that are handed to us by others. Make sure your seatbelt is fastened when those that matter are looking. Clock in and clock out. Play it safe. Stay well within our comfort zone. And make sure that comfort zone only includes certain types of people. Never take a risk.
I assume that part of the attraction of the helmet-less motorcycle rider is the feeling of the air blowing through your hair and the sense of freedom and exhilaration that comes being somewhat suspended between earth and sky at breathtaking speeds. At least that's what my motorcycle-inclined friends tell me.
Unfortunately, I believe that the Creator God has that same sense of freedom & exhilaration in store for us all! Problem is, we've interpreted "freedom & exhilaration" as some form of cosmic uncertainty. Much better to create some rules. To put on some seat belts. To never take a risk.
I like how The Message states Hebrews 11:1-2 - "The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd." Of course, the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 goes on to describe these ancestors, for whom faith wasn't something you achieved like some sort of finish line or award then sit on for the rest of your existence. Rather, it was an ongoing pursuit that changed and shaped their lives. No seat belts allowed! But rather a life of risk, knowing that He who instigated the risk in the first place was who He said He was. So if you and I believe that God is who He says He is, then....
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Ajai & Indu Lall
Originally uploaded by larzmarshall.
In the fall of 2003, I was privileged to travel to India with a group of pastors, sponsored by Christ In Youth. I spent some time today thinking about that experience, and how incredibly moved I was (and still am, though its frustrating how time can erode those feelings). Ajai Lall and his wife Indu are amazing. Their accounts of ministry and how God is working in and around them are humbling, exciting, and often breathtaking. Their vision of planting churches in central India is somewhat daunting - 80% of Indians are Hindu, 12% Muslim, and a meager 2.5 % Christian. Oh, and well over 1 billion people! But to spend a few minutes with Ajai, you walk away believing that he really could be a catalyst for God to change that nation. It's really incredible, and puts so much of our happy-go-lucky approach to Christianity into perspective. When I met pastors who had been beaten in public because they renounced their Hindu or Muslim beliefs to follow Jesus, that changes the way you think and approach ministry.
A note from my Operation World prayer calendar regarding India...
"Pray that the Church worldwide would rise to the challenge that India presents. India has the greatest number of unreached people and people groups in the world. An overwhelming number have no Christians, churches or Christian workers. Pray that Christians would embrace continued freedom to proclaim the Gospel in India despite intimidation and persecution."
Pray for me, too, as I 1) sort out how to integrate all of this into who I am and what I do, and 2) as I try to get to know the new gentleman from India who just started working at my neighborhood convenience store. He's on my heart at the moment...
(BTW, if you click on the photo above, you can go to a page and scroll through some additonal pics from my India trip. I promise they're worth your time!)
Thursday, June 02, 2005
- Jami Smith's song "Be The Centre" is resonating in my head and is my mantra for the day;
- "In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence" - Isaac Newton, English physicist, 1642-1727
- Brief interview with Lee Strobel, author of tons of stuff, but most recently The Case For A Creator; interview can be read by clicking here
For what its worth...
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Originally uploaded by larzmarshall.
This is from my fledgling collection of Jesus pictures. Saw it today, and it reminded me of the notion of seeing God in the little things. David Crowder's book Praise Habit has been a good reminder - been reading it over the weekend. Kinda makes me wonder if this is where that dude came up with the whole Da Vinci Code nonsense...anyway, this reminds me of some of the VBS crafts I did as a kid.