Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Name tags, buying chips and Dubstep

Recently, I was at the grocery store buying some chips and other junk food for a student ministry event, when I noticed the guy at the cash register. Yes, I buy junk food for my students in the ministry.  They aren't exactly begging for asparagus and baked chicken.  "Hey kids, let's hang out and eat some awesome baked chicken and asparagus.  Dessert will be pistachio pudding!"  Anyway, my cashier was wearing this name tag that caught my attention.  On his name tag was the following: "Name: Dave   Ask Me About: Dubstep".  So I did what the name tag asked me to do.  I asked him to tell me about Dubstep.  He went on to tell me all the grand things of the musical genre "Dubstep" and why he likes it so much. Now, I personally, do not like Dubstep because I don't see it as a musical genre that takes much talent to create.  I'm sure some would differ with me, but that is what makes the world so interesting.  The ability to discuss differences, not Dubstep. Anyway, in our brief encounter, I learned the history of Dubstep, where it was started, his favorite Dubstep artist, and how the artist "Skrillex" has made the genre so public.  My new friend, Dave, truly knew and loves Dubstep.  He wants to spread the "gospel" of Dubstep to all who will lend him an ear!

Here are just a few of my thoughts from this short, probably 4 minute, interaction with Dave:
  • What if we had to wear a name tag for everyone to see? 
    • Think about this.  You woke up one morning and had to wear a name tag that not only has your name on it, but what is most important to you.  How would we feel about this? Would you be happy about the fact that everyone now get's to know some pretty personal things about you? We all like to hide.  Certain people know our names.  Even fewer people know who we really are.  What if everyone you came into contact with, whether you know them or not, got to know two very personal things about you, (1) your name and; (2) what is most important to you?
  • What one thing would we want them to ask us about?
    • Our lives reflect what is important to us. I thought of this.  What would I put and have people ask me about? Well of course, my first answer would be "Jesus", but think of this.  Many of us, as believers, would put this, right? Well if we do not have to wear a name tag now, why do we tend to keep our walk with Christ so secret.  We can talk about anything, but if Jesus is the most important thing in our life, as Dave's was Dubstep, we should want people to know that we are follower's of Christ.  Right?!  Many of us would rather talk about sports, fishing, or even crocheting than share someone the eternal, soul saving gospel of Christ.
  • Would we want that one thing put on our name tag?
    • We like to hide things in our lives that are embarrassing, but it is many of those things that are the most important to us.  Would we want people to know that the things we struggle with?  No, Dave did not put "My Addiction to Pornography" or "My anger problems" or even "How God does not love me", but how many people do we come across daily (maybe ourselves even) who if brutally honest, would have to lie and not put what is really, going on in our lives? I mean, how many teenagers put "Ask Me About: Clarinet" when they really want to put, "Why I cut myself and can't seem to stop" or "Why I feel like I'm the cause of my parent's divorce". Funny the things we want people to know about us, when the more important things that concern us we tend to hide from even our closest friends.
  •  It was very easy to start a conversation with Dave because I took the time to notice him.
    • I'm not always good at doing this.  Yes, we all live very busy lives.  From work life, home life, social life, school life, hobbies, etc. are schedules are filled up before we can get our calendars out. Think of this though as you go about your busy life: How many people do we come across everyday and we never take the time to notice them? Try this.  Pick a day and try to keep a record of how many people you come into contact with.  You don't have to write their names down, just write a number.  How many of those did you purposely try to get to know?  How many did you make eye contact with? How may were just looking for someone to notice that they exist?  Think about this the next time you are in such a rush.

In just this short encounter with Dave, I did not just learn about Dubstep.  I had to think of how I am with other people and am I truly reflecting the One that I say is most important with my life.  I'm thankful that I don't have to wear a name tag for people to ask me about Jesus.  I get to live a life that gets people asking questions.  I pray that each time someone wants to ask me about Him, I'm ready to tell them everything. (1 Peter 3:14-17)

Just some Thoughts from Nobody Special.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Who am I kidding?

"Leave me alone! I can quit whenever I want!"

This is what I used to scream at God and I truly meant it.  I wanted Him to leave me alone because I enjoyed the lifestyle I was living before Christ.  Or did I?  Looking back, I was a slave to what I thought was "fun".  My daily life was in bondage to things that were destroying me, yet I loved them enough that my life revolved around feeding something that was never satisfied.

I thought of this as I sat in the dentist chair today.  A few weeks ago I decided to go to the dentist for the first time in 5 years.  I knew that by going that I would find out I had cavities, plus I had made a promise to my daughter that I had to come through on.  That is when I found out that there was damage done to many of my teeth because of the choice I made to not go to the dentist.  I enjoyed the "freedom" of eating candy bars, not flossing, and drinking sugary sodas.  No one caused me to make that choice.  I just made it on my own.  Well, I sat there in the dentist chair getting the first of many fillings and it occurred to me that sin is like the cavity my dentist was drilling out.  On the outside, my tooth looked healthy, but the cavity was between the tooth and my tooth was actually decaying.  I had to make the decision: Was I going to trust what the dentist was telling me?  I had the proof of an x-ray, my dentists experience, and also knowing that I haven't been to the dentist in 5 years, yet I still had to make the decision to trust what was ultimately the truth about myself.  I then had to take that trust, go back to the dentist in the faith that my dentist was going to stop the decay that was rotting my tooth.

That is what sin does to us.  Sin puts on this masquerade that we somehow enjoy it, yet we don't realize that it is openly eating us alive.  We see the effects in our lives, relationships, maybe even damage to our physical bodies, yet we become so blinded by the temporary satisfaction felt that we do not realize the damage it has caused.  We understand that something just isn't right, yet we continue making the decision to let it rot us.

Many of us have struggles in life.  Some people struggle with alcohol addictions, drug addictions, identity problems and pornography.  Others have struggles in relationships, keeping jobs, financial difficulties, or sexual confusion.  Many do a pretty good job at hiding their struggles, while others have given completely in to their problems and no longer see it as a "struggle" or problem.  We lie to ourselves well, while we believe we are lying to those around us.  We are all professional liars.  If you think you aren't, then you are lying to yourself.  The big lie is the feeling we have to hide our problems and struggles.  I have had many struggles in my life that I have had to get past.  They have all come from choices I have made in the past and I will not say that I was "born this way" or that I couldn't help it.  Every "struggle" I have has come from choices I have made and the only person I have to blame is myself.

I understand those who continue to be in bondage.  It's a weird kind of slavery.  You are a slave who enjoys your chains.  You enjoy working for your master that continually wants more, yet is never, ever satisfied.

The good news of all of this is that there is freedom from the struggle.  There is freedom from the rot of sin in our life. I will never forget that which had me in its chains and I know what I have been saved from.  I will never apologize for the freedom that I now understand and fully live in.

Yet, freedom from these struggles also come with a choice.  Imagine a cancer patient who has caught the cancer in enough time to make a full recovery, but refuses treatment.  Imagine someone with cancer loving the cancer so much that they enjoyed it as they wasted away. We would think that person to not be in their right minds.  That is what sin does.  It makes it so we do not think right. We think everything is alright with us, with our thinking, with our "feelings", with who we are, yet God has graciously told us that we have this thing in us that is rotting us from the inside and that He can take it from us.  Then again, that's a choice that has to be made.  Will we continue to let the cancer, cavity, etc. eat away/decay, or will we turn to the One who has made the way for complete freedom and healing?

Then again, these are just Thoughts from Nobody Special.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lecrae, music and raising them hands in the air like you just don't care

Seconds - I Am Second

I like rap.  There were three types of music that influenced my life when I was young.  Classic Rock (thanks mom and dad), 90's rock (thanks to all my friends in little ol' Corinth Holders, NC) and 80's/90's rap (thanks LL Cool J, Run DMC, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac).   As I have gotten older, some of my musical tastes have changed, but I still always go back to these same three.  What?!  You are a pastor.  Don't you just listen to hymns all of the time? No, I don't.  Now, I will probably write something at another time about music, worship, etc., but I just wanted to put this up.  Lecrae is probably one of my favorite Christian rappers.  Say what you will about what your particular genre of music you like/don't like, but his verses have more theology in them than many older hymns that are sung now without thinking about what they say and certainly more than many of the empty, pop sounding, repetitive praise choruses.  I mean seriously, I get it, there is "no God like Jehovah" and it doesn't make it less true if we don't sing it 20 times over and over again.  Give me some sound theology in worship over emotionalism/change of chord "hand raising" any day.  This is a great testimony! Watch the link!

Why the name?

"You are special!"

How many of us were told this when we were children? I tell my daughter this and try to remind her of this in many different ways.  I want her to know that she is special and that God's creation of her makes her special. I do not want her to settle for mediocrity in how she lives her life now, the decisions she makes in her life, and also those she comes into contact with everyday.  No, I am not telling her she is special because somehow I want her to think that she is somehow above others, but I want her to live her life with self-respect and determination to make her life count for something.  I want her to see that her day-to-day life is something given to her by a loving God who wants her to live everyday as specially given to her to glorify Him.  Here comes the crazy thing: I don't want her to grow up thinking she is a somebody though.  I want her to grow up thinking of herself as "nobody special".

Yes, I understand that we are all special to certain people and make a difference (good or bad) in other people's lives.  I understand from a biblical view of identity that we are all made in God's image and just that view of who I am should make me feel very special.  I thank God that I was created in my mother's womb by a loving God who has chosen to give me 34 (almost 35) years of life.  I know that I am special to my wife, as husband, and to my daughter, as her father. I pray that there are some friends and family that I have made a difference in some aspect of their life.  Hopefully, there are some strangers that I have crossed paths with that I may have smiled at, held a door open for, or even said "Hello" so that in some way that simple act of human decency made their day a little brighter or gave them a reason to think differently about their attitude.  I know that there have been those who have done the same for me.

So why this idea of thinking of myself as "nobody special"?  It has nothing to do about my self-confidence or me having a low self-esteem.  It has everything to do with Who I want people to see in me and through me.  I do not want people to see me with all of my problems, but I do want them to see Christ working through a man that has problems and struggles.  I do not want people to see someone who has it all together in life, but I do want others to see someone who is trying to keep it together only because of Christ in his life.  I do not want others to see someone who is trying to be perfect, but I do want people to see an imperfect man who is honest and understands that each day is given to him to be more like Christ.

At the end of my life, I want people to talk more about Christ than they do about me.  I want conversations to be about how great He is and how through the good and bad times, obedience and faithfulness to Him brings ultimate fulfillment.  I don't want people to even think of me.  I want Jesus to be honored.  I want Him lifted up. I want praises to sung to Him.  Write on my headstone, "Nobody Special.  He loved Jesus."

I'm happy being a nobody for Jesus.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Beginning of nothing special

So, these are my personal thoughts.  Nothing special and they may never be read by anyone but me.  That's ok.  It helps me to write things down so that I can move on to the next thing.  My mind is always going and I have learned that it helps me tremendously to write down my thoughts.  Will they always be though provoking? No.  Sometimes it may just be the simplest of things that come to my mind.  I guess overall this may help some to understand how I think on certain topics, where I stand on important matters, what I'm reading, or my life as a husband, father, pastor, and just normal guy who is trying to live everyday for Christ.  Again, this is me just being me.  Many will not know my name, but I do hope that you will understand a little more about who I am and my daily walk with Christ.  Feel free to comment.  I would ask that any comments be kept respectful of those who are reading.  Here we go...