Archives For Materialism

Starting June 1st I decided that I would take a break from Facebook until August 1st so that I could devote more time to the ministry, to my family and to my God. I must say that I still have not done very well at all three but not checking Facebook all the time has helped. I will make a confession that I got on Facebook a couple of times because I had to send someone a Camp Staff Packet who does not check their email. But I did not browse nor check updates or messages. Just sent a message. Whew…I feel better after that!

When I first started with my Facebooklessness there were some mental challenges, nay devilish temptations, that I had to overcome:

  • What if I missed a ministry opportunity?
  • What if I missed some important information that came on?
  • What if a door was opened on Facebook and I miss it because of this “fast”?

On and on came the temptations and pretty soon I came to the conclusion that if something were important enough to occur on Facebook two things were bound to happen:

  1. Either God was going to reveal this door to me some other way (he can do that you know?) or,
  2. God was going to put someone else there instead of me to help that situation.

Either way I felt as if God was in control and that he either uses me or does not use me but either way he gets the glory.

As I am halfway through my journey I wanted to give you some lessons I have learned (am learning) about my facebooklessness:

  1. You don’t know how dependent you can be on something until it is taken away from you. Learning to do without is a lot harder and takes more self-control than having it all.
  2. I never realized how much Facebook was about gossip. In the conversations I have had with people I noticed there is the “Did you see what they had on Facebook?” It has been a real joy to be able to say, “No.”
  3. The world still goes on without my participation. I used to think I had to contribute to Facebook so that people who are (supposedly) interested in me could stay aware of my whereabouts, studies, pictures, etc. The fact is that out of my 1000+ friends only 10-15% probably look at my statuses. Score a 10-15% on a test and the teacher might consider you completely useless.
  4. I am not tempted as much. Please don’t read into this much but I am a male and part of my struggle is the opposite sex. Most guys appreciate the female anatomy and most (if they are honest) struggle when women wear revealing clothes or, as is the case with Facebook, little-to-no clothes. I don’t have to look at girls (sisters-in-Christ?) and their proud pictures of bikini’s as they pop-up on my news feed. I don’t have to get frustrated by that because I don’t see it at all.  It has been a blessing.
  5. Time has been diverted to what’s most important. I will say that I have spent hours more this month than last month with my kids. Why? Simple…time. I don’t look at my phone for updates, or messages or anything because it does not matter.

Facebook is not intrinsically evil but like many things can be used for both good and bad. Fasting may not be for you but I have really grown from it. I look forward to another Facebookless month. Try it.


Adventures with Fanatics

November 6, 2011 — 2 Comments

Watching the BAMA-LSU game and then seeing the Twitter, Facebook and other various feeds I was taken back at how serious of fans where are when it comes to our sports.  Consider this guy who appeared on national television at what looks like he is crying over the loss…

In fairness, I do not know the guy and it may be that he is empathizing with a player he knows very well on the team.  If my son or daughter lost a huge game and was crying I probably would cry with him because feelings are strong and it is a real loss.  However, I can’t say I have ever cried over one of my teams losing.  Of course, as an Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Vols fan I am a bit acclimated to losing.  I will say I have become pretty upset like running out and screaming at the top of my lungs but I am more tame in my old age.  I wonder if it really matters how much emotion (dare I say tweetage) we put into sports.  I am somewhat embarrassed if Christ were to look at my tweets and see how much time I spent on things that really do not matter.  Why are we so fanatic over sports?  I went to a high-school football game and there was this guy (there always is) who screamed the entire game trying to pump-up the crowd, trying to yell at the referees and trying to tell the offensive lineman the way he should block.  I went to a college football game and there was this guy who was beyond the state of inebriation and he was hackling fans, cussing at refs and getting upset.

So why do we get so worked up over something that does not matter much in kingdom?  Maybe it is systemic of a larger narrative in life which says we get worked-up over a lot of things that have no bearing when it comes to kingdom.  I think we can be passionate about teams and it is ok but becoming so worked up about it that it consumes you might not be worth it. Maybe I am just a jaded person who can say this because his teams stink but stinking all the time gives you perspective on what is most important.

NOTE:  The video was not to pick on BAMA but simply to highlight what is true with every team out there.

This book took longer than it should to finish but with each passing page I felt my life and vocation was under permanent construction.  Books that say the same thing about Christianity bore me as those are a dime a dozen.  Books that afford all of the answers and develop a formula for the world’s current existence also bother me.  The Next Christians did none of that as it posed very difficult questions with some great a unique challenges.  This was a book that merged topics like church, culture, spiritual formation, leadership, entrepreneurship, creativity and collaboration all under the umbrella of Lyons’ fundamental thesis (paraphrased): The world “ought” to be different and Christians should seek to restore the world in the name of the gospel.  I think what was most helpful for me was how he dissected the different ways Christians have interacted with current culture in a way that would make Richard Niebuhr proud.  He then offers six characteristics that set apart the next Christians from the current milleu of Christianity:

  1. Provoked, not offended
  2. Creators, not critics
  3. Called, not employed
  4. Grounded, not distracted
  5. In community, not alone
  6. Countercultural, not “relevant”

I am not making an understatement when I say this book has changed how I view Christianity in the present world.  It has changed my focus and even how I read and interpret Scripture.  Normally I give you the strengths and weaknesses in this book and the only weakness I found was that it bordered on the tension between theory and practice.  There were times I felt Lyons spent more time on just talking about gospel-living (or restorers) instead of showing us how we could actually do it.  But that is the paradox in that restorers have no limits to the practical implications of this book.  As cheesy as this sounds, from here you can go anywhere.  Throw cheese bombs at me…I know.

Pick up the book and read it and then send it to a friend.  Let’s start changing things for the better of our society and our world.

“If this Gospel-the Gospel of Jesus Christ-is going to re-engage Western culture in a new way, it starts with us.”  Gabe Lyons, The Next Christians, p. 195

I got an idea for a post when listening to a conversation that was, in essence, gossip.  I have been thinking a lot about the church lately which sounds a little bit strange considering thinking about the church kind of goes with my job description.  But, when I say thinking about the church I mean I have really been meditating, pondering, wrestling and struggling with the ideas of church.  I am reading a book that has slapped me across the face when it comes to thinking about what other people think about the church.  The book is The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons and his premise is that we just don’t listen to what people are saying about the church.

That has spun me in a thousand different directions as to why the church is not relevant in our current circumstance.

Gabe said, “Many churches are increasingly exhibiting less and less real influence in the communities where they’re located.  If they were gone tomorrow, one can’t help wondering if anyone would notice.”  (The Next Christians, p. 25).

Talk about a shot to the lower abdomen.  I want to begin a series of posts with the framework of, “what do you think the perception is of the church is from the unchurched?”  I was talking with a student in my office today and we discussed tomorrow’s See You At the Pole day.  While there are a lot of redemptive things about this day I poignantly asked her, “What do you think people’s perception is when they walk by and ya’ll are huddled up praying around a pole?”  She seemed to think that it would be negative, awkward and maybe even a little resistant.

So…I would like to offer a discourse on the seven deadly sins (Prov. 6:16-19) and use that as a framework for people’s perception of the church.  Sound cool?  After that I hope to give you a review of Lyons’ book.

See you tomorrow.

I went into my room last night and saw a small cassette tape on the table.  We are long past the age of cassette tapes so I was curious about this and I picked up and noticed that it was a sermon I preached while I was an intern at Washington Avenue church of Christ in the summer of 2002.  I came to the church building this morning and searched for a cassette player and as I am typing this I am listening to my sermon entitled, “The Christian Soldier.”  It is a humbling task listening to the way I preached years ago because I thought I was a good preacher back then.  Some of the phrases I used and the theology I purported I think to myself, “How could I have been that naive?”  I even preached from the King James Version of Scripture!!!  I write this to you because it is not a bad thing to look at the skeletons in our closet. 

  • Looking at our past helps to shape us.
  • Looking at our past helps to comfort us and how far we have grown.
  • Looking at our past helps to center us if we have fallen. 

So what skeletons do you need to look at and get rid of in your closet?  What are those pet sins you have that keep you from a relationship with God?  So often we do not look at what’s deep in our hearts because we are scared at what we might find.  If we are scared to look at what’s inside then that should be a pause for concern.  A problem neglected is a spiritual life infected.  Think about that…I just made it up :).  A problem neglected is a spiritual life infected.  If I have a mold problem in my foundation neglecting it does not change it but actually the problem gets worse. 

So open your closet door, and get the skeletons out.  In honor of the KJV and my sermon…

“Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matt. 15:17-20). 

I close this series with joy filled in my heart anticipating Christmas day.  I long for the time with family, the meals, the happiness, the presents but also the knowledge of why we are there.  “Advent” is a word that comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming.”  It is the Latin translation for the Greek word parousia which is used in the New Testament most often to describe the Second Coming of Christ (see 1 Thess. 4:13-5:11).  Apparently advent was started in the 18th century to recognize not only the birth of Jesus but also the coming of the Lord.  We live in a tension right now that all Christians live in from the time Jesus ascended in Acts 1 until the time of Jesus returns.  The tension is entangled in mystery and wonder knowing that God has wrought a day in which the Lord will return and we shall be like him and dwell forever.  But not yet…not now…not here…not long.  The advent season is about recognizing and celebrating the birth of Jesus but paradoxically anticipating the return of Jesus.  The fact is…Jesus is here and there are implications for you and I.  To really celebrate Christmas is to subvert the consumerism that society puts out and to make it more than simply “HAPPY HOLIDAYS.”  I saw last night where the ACLU sent memos to Tennessee schools warning them of celebrating one religious holiday to the exclusion of others.  That’s fine but the celebrations typically seen are incorrect for the real point of advent is to show that everywhere and anywhere Christ is the Lord who was born of a virgin from the seed of David.  Caesar was not Lord nor is the president today.  Our idols of power, freedom, pride, consumerism and safe-living all miss the mark for the only true Lord in this world is and was Jesus Christ.

So celebrate appropriately.  Decorations are only a hint of the beauty of Christmas as we celebrate the coming of God himself.  We celrbrate that JEsus is Lord.  We anticipate that one day all wrongs will be right and that true peace will reign at the coming of our Lord.  We long for that day but know there is much work for us to do while injustice and evil still reign.  Jesus, we welcome you in our lives as Lord.  Thank you for coming down to this earth and relinquishing your God-abilities to be human.  We recognize the work of your Father as the work we adhere to.  Forgive us this season for our consumerism and allow us to celebrate what is most important beyond the toys, decorations and false narratives sent by society.  Allows us to celebrate you.  Thank you for coming.  I love you.  Reign in my life and let my breath breathe the air that comes from only you.  Amen.

Below is an advent poem by W.H. Smaw and then a couple of songs I thought were worthy of note.  Peace.

I am. I was. I will be.
I am not coming soon I am here.

I was born on a cold night in a cold place
Unnoticed, unheralded by cold people
Who turned my mother away.
On that night were you listening?
On that night the “least of your brothers” was me.
Now do you see, do you hear and do you care?
I am not coming soon I am here.
In your life do you see me
In the ragged men and women
Who search the cold street
Looking for my reflection in your heart?
Do you hear my voice in
Their muttered plea or in their tear?
I am not coming soon I am here.
Do you hear me when your friend turns to you
To ask forgiveness and trust?
Do I not forgive you always?
Do I not give you a merciful ear?
I am not coming soon I am here.
In this season I was born unto you
Fulfilling the promise of God’s care.
Look for me, listen to me…
I am not coming soon I am here.

Like any tool, Facebook should be used in an appropriate manner.  There are correct ways to use certain tools and, obviously, there are incorrect ways to use them.  Of course, from a Christian worldview, the purpose of Facebook may be completely different from someone who is not a Christian.  Since this is my blog and the lens at which I approach the world (or at least try to) is through Jesus Christ that is the way I want to approach Facebook.  I have compiled some general observations that range from Facebook annoyance to serious theological concern.  In no particular order here is my list to help you avoid being THAT girl or THAT guy.  Some of this is a bit sarcastic so please take my humor where it applies and do not be so full of yourself. 

  • The “comment-on-everything” person – There you are with your mobile device or at your laptop with WiFi commenting on this picture, on that statement, or this status.  When I look at your profile and see you have made 35 comments in one day I start to wonder if you are ever going to get out of the house and see the sun.  You know who you are…sitting there commenting on a photo 12 times so that when I get to my computer I have 65 notifications and it is ______________ commented on your photo…12 times!!!  Keep your comments to a minimum. 
  • The “hidden-message-status” person – This person tries to be all sneaky with their statuses as if what they are saying could only be decoded by special operatives in the CIA.  They make inferences, implications and try to be sneaky with their statuses like, “_________ is thinking of him” or, “___________ wonders what may come of this” and, “______________wishes that just did not happen.”  Look, if you want us to ask what happened, who you are thinking about and what may come of whatever it is that you are hiding than tell us otherwise do not make us go through FBI training to decode your weird status update.  If you want us to know then tell us!  But that leaves me to the next person…
  • The “my-life-is-going-to-end-status” person – This is one of the most annoying people out there because they pour out their raw, uncensored (I would add uneducated) emotions into a status update so that everyone can see.  Examples are “___________ is thinking that her life is ruined and there is no help in sight” and, “_____________ has been crying all night over her,” and my personal favorite, “_______________is in so much pain and does not know what to do.”  Look, I get it….you are struggling and you want some help but we do not want to see that.  Get the help you need from a counselor, a minister, a close friend but people on Facebook do not care that your life is ruined.  Most of the time your status the next day is “_____________ is on cloud-9 about him.” 
  • The “deep-quote-status” person – I am guilty of this but cut and pasting from a quote page and putting it on your status does not make you smarter.  Anyone can press CTRL+C and then CTRL+V.  I learned that in 9th grade typing class.  Be original people.  Also don’t plagiarise quotes…tell who and where it is from if you put it on there instead of  passing it off as if you are smart. 

Enough with the statuses…

  • The Farmville/Quiz Takers/Application Person – You annoy me more than anybody.  You sit there and play a weird game on Facebook that really does not matter and invite me and other people to play all the while taking up space on my news feed.  Shame on you…commmunicate with people instead of answering quizzes, building crops and other silly stuff. 
  • The “I-love-Jesus-religion-but-I-am-in-a-picture-at-a-party-with-alcohol” Person – You are the ones who say, “Jesus is my savior” yet you have pictures on your profile of you and others getting your drink on at a college party…not to mention you are underage and I can report you to the authorities if I wanted (I don’t but I could).  Look if Jesus was really your Savior you would not have pictures like that up there nor would you be touting movies like Mean Girls, Sex in the City, The Hangover and Scary Movie as some of your favorites.  Quit being hypocrite…maybe for your religion you should put: “Putting Jesus in the backseat for now,” or, “Sowing my wild oats,” or, “Apathetic at this point,” or, “Maybe later.”  I would believe that and actually think better of you.  Speaking of pictures…
  • The “revealing-but-not-really-picture” person – Facebook does not allow nudity on people’s pictures but there sure are many who are proud of their bodies.  Whether it is girls and their skimpy bathing suits showing everything but or guys taking pictures of themselves of their ripped abs in the mirror it is really annoying.  Really, why did you put that picture on your profile?  Because you are proud of your bod and want everybody to know it.  First of all, your body is not yours to begin with…it’s the Lord’s.  You are living in his temple so treat it as such.  Secondly, as a dad, I do not want people looking at my girls and as a husband I do not want people looking at my wife.  So…cover it up, hide it, tuck it in and be respectful 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this series and have learned how to use Facebook responsibly.  Love you all.

Materialism Quote

August 31, 2010 — Leave a comment

Thought you might enjoy this rather long quote from a most wonderful book I am reading called The Radical Disciple by Dr. John Stott. 

Matierialism-a preoccupation with material things-can smother our spiritual life.  Jesus told us not to store up treasure on earth and warned us against covetousness.  So did the apostle Paul, urging us instead to develop a lifestyle of simplicity, generosity and contentment, drawing on his own experience of having learned to be content in whatever circumstances he was (Philippians 4:11).  Paul added that “godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6), and then went on to explain that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”  Perhaps he was consciously echoing Job who said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart” (Job 1:21).  In other words, life on earth is a brief pilgrimage between two moments of nakedness.  So we would be wise to travel light.  (20-21).