a word to the wise…

After some time in Ecclesiastes (Thank you, Midtown), I have the following thoughts (some old; some new) on the downfall of Solomon. As you know, Solomon started great. When asked what He’d like from God, wisdom, not money or things was his request. So how did the man who started off so well, fail?

A woman.

Well, multiple women. Here’s the story from 1 Kings 11: “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women… The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, ‘You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.’ Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord…instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been.

whoops.

And… unfortunately, there’s more:  

1 Kings 21:25 “No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel.”

2 Chron. 21:6 “But Jehoram was as wicked as King Ahab, for he had married one of Ahab’s daughters. So Jehoram did what was evil in the Lord’s sight.”

2 Chron. 22:3 “3 Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong.”

WOW. Even though each King was approached by God at the beginning of his reign with the promise that if they listened to all God commanded them, walked in His ways, and did what was right in His sight; God would (1) be with them (2) build them and enduring house (3) give them the nation; they didn’t. Why? Because they were influenced by the women in their lives. 

You all know the old adage, “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck that turns the head whatever way she wants.” Perhaps there’s some…SOME… truth there. The warning to Solomon was, “Don’t marry/love them because they will lead your heart away…”

None of us want to be these women–“Oh, you think he’s bad? You need to meet his wife/mother/sister/daughter. She’s just evil.” The problem here is not women, but the heart. These women loved the gods they had grown up with, and sure enough, the more Solomon loved them the more he loved their gods– even though the true God had literally “appeared to Him twice” (vs. 9).

The lesson, I think, is this: loving someone naturally turns your heart, even aligns your hearts, together. And this is beautiful. Whether your married, single, a mother, a sister, or just a daughter you have a gift of influencing those that love you toward what you truly love the most. If your god is money, beauty, comfort… yourself… justice, community, relationships, or God, you’re going to influence those that love you toward them as well.

The question for me is, what do I love most?

Advertisements
Posted in women | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

halloween

So, I was driving home after the best Halloween party ever and I have to share what happened on the stretch of road between my place and ATL.

As I sat at a red light on Ponce, I heard what could only be described as the whistle of a train, but I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. This went on for the some time, train whistle + me looking, then I discovered what I really wish I could show you rather than write.

In my rearview, I saw a very large, white pick-up truck swerve into the next lane with the driver hanging out his window waving to me and (you guessed it) honking his train horn. In utter shock, I delayed quite a bit before rolling my window down as well. To my wondering eyes appeared (in their passenger seat) a chicken, rather a man DRESSED AS A CHICKEN, who, with a simple wave, said “hey.” With my mouth hanging open, the polite Atlanta truck-driver asked about my night and how I was. All I could concentrate on were two things:

1. You have a horn that sounds like a train. You picked that. I just imagine how that went down. “No, I want the train one. Yes, I’ll pay extra.” After all, nothing says more about you than your personalized vehicle horn. In any case, I don’t think this should be legal. Seriously, I was looking for a train and that’s not really one of those sounds you want to blow off as though its nothing.

2. There is a chicken in the passenger seat. I know it’s Halloween, but this guy was not wearing his mask when they pulled up beside me. He put it back on as I was rolling my window down. He wanted me to see how awesome his chicken face was.

With these thoughts overtaking my mind, my answer to, “How was your night?” was unfortunately, “You’re truck is soooo loud!”

Posted in life | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

not witholding

I couldn’t sleep tonight (actually, I slept great until around 3AM and haven’t been able to sleep since), so I started reading Matthew 5, the beatitudes.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” mt. 5:44,45

Wow. If you haven’t read Matthew 5 in a while, do it. Tonight, I was confronted (again) with just how much being a disciple of Jesus– becoming like Him– actually requires.

I’ve never noticed verse 45, though. We will be sons and daughters of God, who, as our Father, “causes the sun (which is His) and sends out the rain on the evil and the good.”

He doesn’t have to. At least, that’s what it looks like to me. Now, I am not sure how that would work out exactly. It would certainly be an interesting way to identify evil people. Whether this is literal or figurative, the implication seems clear. God “owns” everything including sun and the rain needed by humanity to sustain life, and He knows who is evil and who is righteous, BUT instead of withholding from the evil He offers them what He gives His own family, consistently.

Again, He doesn’t have to. Just like we don’t have to love our enemies or pray for our persecutors either. Only, as sons and daughters of God, we will.

We will love our enemies. We will pray for those who wrong us, betray us, and ultimately persecute us to the point of death because we have a Father who could withhold even the rain and the sun (which obey Him), but doesn’t.

How?

How do we live-out this kind of equality and grace with genuine grace and love?

Posted in reflections | Tagged , | Leave a comment

myFaves

With the advent of the iPhone, T-Mobile’s “myFaves” sadly got overlooked. The gist is this: T-Mobile users can select ANY 5 people, regardless of network, and talk for free. It’s Genius. Mostly because, if you’re still with T-Mobile, everyone you know is with some other provider.

So, who’s your “myFaves?”

We live in a world of 6 billion people. In spite of everything, the population is growing. And in the Western world, we now have access (thank you, iPhone) to minute-by-minute information, not only on our friends (facebook) but on ANYTHING.

So, in a world of more people with more resources to get and stay connected, do we have a tendency to feel just the opposite?

I don’t know your answer to that question, but I know there are times even amidst a crowd of people that my answer is yes. There is a hunger in humanity–no matter how introverted or anti-social we feel at times– to be truly known. It’s what we’re created for.

John 17:3 says it this way, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” There’s a tendency to stop here adopting the “all we need is God” viewpoint; except, back in the garden of Eden, we have a front row seat to the only relationship (apart from Jesus) where God was truly known by a man. It is here God says, “It is not good for man to be alone.”

I could go off on a huge tangent about marriage, but I’ll save that for another day. For now, all I’m highlighting is that in the midst of a pure, whole, and sinless relationship with God, it still wasn’t good for man(kind) to be alone. 

God created us for community.

I think most of us recognize our need for community, and we have access to it through the hundreds of facebook friends we display on our walls; only, are we experiencing it? For me, this isn’t my first day asking that question. It’s becoming a theme I have to go back to over and over because community, although a gift, isn’t just something you get. It’s also something you give.

Look at the life of Jesus. If we use Him as a model (which I think is a pretty good idea since, to date, He’s influenced more people than any other person or thing throughout history), then we have to make some culturally difficult decisions regarding community.

Jesus calls 12 men to follow Him, daily. And He takes these 12 with Him, everywhere. At times, thousands gather around Jesus; but it seems His “community” is much smaller. 72 are sent out in Luke 10, and 120 are gathered in Acts 1, but it’s the 12 who are with Him always. Out of those 12, 3 are invited into more (Matthew 17). Peter, James, and John are part of the inner circle, and the first of the 12 to realize who Jesus really is.

Look at your life. Chances are, you’re acquainted with hundreds, and on a regular basis you connect with 50-ish friends. But, who’s your 12, or your 3? I’m not sure the exact number is the point, but the principle is life-changing, and life-giving. Who’s “living life” with you daily? Who really knows you? Knows everything? What’s more, do you know them that way too?

We need these relationships. Without them, we’ll work to meet our need in every relationship, but there are a couple concerns with this sort of paradigm.

It would be awful if we took this idea and became a bunch of “clicks.” I’m just as disgusted with that sort of community as anyone else. Leaving people out, not being available, or isolation are all terrible expressions of Life in the Kingdom. If we choose to live like Jesus, we will love ALL people, not just those we get along with. Jesus interacted, influenced, approached, invested in, poured into, was friends with (this could go on for a while) multitudes, BUT he always had the 12 and the 3. If nothing else, shouldn’t we start there too? If we really keep Jesus as our model, I think He’ll keep us from playing favorites.

Posted in Following Jesus | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

mulligan, please

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat of its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

I don’t know a lot about golf, but the men and my family do. Overhearing their many conversations, I picked up on a very important concept. Apparently, if you make a mistake like miss on a drive or in the sand; you hit a tree, or bump your ball on a putt, then you can take a “mulligan.” Basically, without penalty, you can put everything back as it was, then try again.

I think this would be most beneficial in conversation.

“Have we met before?” (Inevitably, yes. Several times.)

“Your name was _________, right?” (Never right)

“Are you and ______________ still together?” (they broke up 6 months ago)

Or the classic, “Remember that time when…” and who you’re talking to was not there in spite of the many attempts to remind them with every detail only to conclude, “Gosh, I thought that was you.”

I bet you have about thirty examples of your own because we all say things we’d like to take back — these mulligan moments we wish we could rewind and try again. Only, it’s over much more than saying the wrong name.

Words have power.

It matters what you say and how you say it.

I would like my words to breath life into the people around me, into anyone I meet, but I’m realizing this doesn’t happen simply because I try harder or say less. I’ve tried that and the fruit it bears isn’t freedom.

I have to change.

The battle isn’t the words I use, or don’t use– as important as they are– but the thoughts I think. If/When I am unkind, or (too) sarcastic, judgmental, and snippy its always connected to what I really think or how I really feel.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

You can’t make yourself overflow. It happens when something, or someone, is being filled. The question is not will you overflow, but what is filling you?

That answer will be revealed in our words.

So what do you do when the overflow isn’t what you want?

I’ve been wrestling with this a ton and here’s where I am today. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” ps.51:9-10

Now, here’s what I think God wants to do. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ez. 36:26

I don’t know where you are with God, but I know He wants us to want Him. If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us and… “fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 15:13

I don’t begin to understand all of this, but my simple conclusion is that trusting in God, opening ourselves up to even the possibility of Him, and inviting Him “in” releases Him to fill even the deepest parts of us with His life-giving Spirit and overflow with hope on the people and situations around us.

All I have to do is ask. He’s already promised to give it.

Wow.

Posted in reflections | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

as you’re going…

prov. 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Last night, after a pretty great, but a pretty long day at Catalyst, I wanted to dip out just before general dismissal to beat the traffic, get home sooner, and process some of what I had heard before sleep inevitably took over.

The Arena was full and there were lines of people forming for prayer. I know because I was fighting my way through them to get up the stairs. This wasn’t a scenario where I knew I should stay and pray with people, but I wanted to leave…I just felt the freedom to go. Honestly, it was weirder for me to go than to stay and shut down the place, so I hesitated a while before deciding I was actually going to leave.

Then it happened.

As I climbed the stairs, arms full, from the floor all the way up to the first level (it’s long), I passed a girl in a pink shirt. Although there were hundreds of people I walked by, she stood out. I knew she was hurting and I felt for her.

You may think this is normal for me, but I am still getting used to how God works. On this night, He made me laugh. See, growing up, I bought into a works-based faith + Jesus, so I am pretty quick to start “doing.” Only in the last couple years have I begun to experience the freedom of “being.” Being with Jesus, makes the “doing” look a lot different.

That’s what last night was all about. I was on my way somewhere else, and feeling pretty good about it, when God opened a door. As I tapped this stranger on the shoulder, she burst into tears. She was so ready for healing I don’t think she really cared who it was coming through. As I prayed over her, I really don’t know who was blessed more.

See, I think I have made “God’s will” a little legalistic. At minimum, I have believed He is sometimes stingy with revealing it, only that’s not true, is it? If you’ve grown up around or in the church, you already know that God’s will for you (and for all mankind) is simply to know Him. And that lesson goes all the way back to the garden. This truth is so elementary, I feel I’ve missed the heart of it: God wants/wills me to know Him. He wants to reveal Himself to me. He wants to show me who I am, what I am to do, and what He has for me. He wants to.

That makes me want Him more than all He has for me.

Here’s where I think something mysterious happens. As we freely choose to be with God– just to know Him, the things we want actually change. What you want to do, who you want to be with, and how you spend your time, money, and life begin to change because God actually starts making us more like Him, wanting what He wants.

Every-day-life-decisions still need to be made, not to mention the life altering ones like your Calling, Marriage, etc. But what if it’s not meant to be as hard as it seems? What if being with Jesus, actually means we can “make our plans” and trust Him “to direct our steps?” Even if you’re on your way somewhere else, and feeling pretty good about it, God may open the door you already wanted to walk through.

Posted in reflections | Tagged , , | Leave a comment