Voting.

I’m not the type of guy who watches Dan Rather every night. I had to search Wikipedia just to figure out that Election day was November 7. THIS TUESDAY. Geesh. I always vote though (except for that one time). Voting is important.

People throughout history have died fighting to preserve our right to vote. If that doesn’t motivate you to vote, I don’t know what will.

When you vote, make sure you vote for the person who will represent Godly values. Don’t just vote for your party. God is not a Republican. (He’s not a Democrat, either).

Waiting.

Sometimes we need to wait.

Like, for God.

Now I’m not saying that God is slow or something. Nor is he too busy for us. But I think we’re too fast sometimes. Like, we’re praying and we say, “God, if you want to speak to me I’m listening . . . [3 seconds] . . . okay guess not.” I think God wants to reveal Himself to us alot more than we realize, we just don’t take the time to seek Him.
Israel Houghton and New Breed have a song called “Nothing Else Matters.” Some lyrics are like this:

Lord, I’m broken before You.
I need to receive a fresh touch from heaven.
I will not leave until you touch me, oh Lord I pray.
I need You everyday.
With all of my heart I believe that You’re all that I ever need.

My favorite part of this song is that line, “I will not leave until you touch me.” How often do we just sit down and wait for God to touch us — and refuse to leave until He does?

In Matthew 15 there’s a neat story that really demonstrates this as well. Jesus was traveling with his disciples and this woman from Cannan came up to him, wanting a spiritual touch. Jesus actually blew her off because he was busy enough dealing with the Jews. He was there to minister to the Jews (later — to save everyone else, as well). He even went as far as to basically call the woman a dog! (figuratively). But the woman didn’t give up. She begged Jesus all the more and chased after Him with everything she had. And Jesus gave her that spiritual touch because her faith was great.
Hurry up and wait. Seriously.

[photopress:poop.jpg,full,centered]

Do you ever screw up? I mean really blow it. Or do you ever see someone else who makes a major mistake or does you wrong. Poop like this causes life to get real messy real quick. I, for one, have a tendency to get really agitated at myself or others when there is a major screw-up. But why?

In the medical profession, doctors often ask patients when the last time they had a bowel movement. Sometimes they ask frequently as everyday, “Have you had a bowel movement?” What a weird question! But its one that needs answered. You see, that daily bowel movement signifies to the doctors that everything in the body is working they way it should. The bowel movement is a positive role in a patient’s recovery; poop is good.

I think we need to lighten up sometimes. When you, or someone you know screws up bigtime, its stupid to get all worked up about it. Sure it was a mistake, but you’re human so that mistake just proves that you’re still working things out; you’re still living. Instead of getting all worked up it would be better to get excited and say, “Yea! Somebody took a dump! We’re alive!” and get over it. Wipe it and be done.

Hide and Seek

God, are you avoiding me? Where are you when I need you? (Ps. 10:1, THE MESSAGE)

Ever feel like David did there in Psalms? Like God took a hike and isn’t chilling with you anymore? David isn’t alone in his feelings; Moses, Job, Jeremiah, Jonah, and even Jesus felt this way at one point or another.

[photopress:hidinghorse.jpg,full,alignright]I think God likes to play hide and seek sometimes. Not like my brother used to play hide and seek; where I would count and he’d lock himself in the room with the atari and I spent hours searching for him. (Yea, I still haven’t overcome the bitterness of being they youngest child).

I think God likes to play hide and seek like my Dad used to play hide and seek with me when I was little. I’d count to 10, and he’d go and hide behind an itty bitty tree, then I’d find him. I’d count to 10, he’d hide half-way under the kitchen table, I’d find him. Sure he made it really easy, but the point was that I had to go find him.

Hurry up and count to 10.

(Hosea 6:3)

Just Do It

The Fifth Stream

The Evangelical Tradition: Discovering the Word-Centered Life

Ah, evangelism. Its one of my two greatest passions in life, the second being music. I have really been looking forward to writing this blog for quite some time.

Evangelism is not knowing the Romans Road, the questions from Explosive Evangelism, explaining the bridge illustration, passing out tracks, or knocking on doors. Evangelism is not being prepared to give a reason for your faith and learning about other religious thoughts so that you can combat against them. Those things may be a part of, but are not evangelism. No, no, no. Evangelism is much simplier than that, at the core.

I prefer to think of Evangelism more of a result of a Christian living a life. We just have to shut up our spirit so that we can hear God tell us what to do. We don’t have to be paranoid about it and witness to everyone we see at Wal-mart. We just have to live-and be ready for God to use us!
[photopress:swoosh.png,full,alignleft]I think the best Evangelism motto could be summed up in Nike’s motto: Just Do It. One modern chuch leader gave the constant challenge to his church, “Just do the stuff.” I’m saved. I know what’s in the Bible. Now all there is left to do is to actually DO the stuff that’s in the Bible. We must do the things that we already know to do. In his book that I am commenting on, Richard Foster gives two excellent ways to practice the evangelical tradition:

[photopress:streamsbookpicture.jpg,full,alignright]1) Know Our Bible. If we are to give a reason for the faith that we have, we need to be solidly rooted in scripture. Don’t read a few minutes everyday. “The popular devotional practice of a brief Bible reading each morning is a little like trying to take a shower one drop at a time. Just as we simply cannot get a shower that way, we simply cannot become a biblically saturated person that way. So read entire sections of books of the Bible in one sitting.” It is much better to read for 1 solid hour per week than it is to read the Bible ten minutes a day. And don’t just read the Bible to get ammunition against those who think differently than you. Read it to be fed.

2) Know Other People. “I am thinking of those we live near and those we work with and those we meet at the grocery store and the gas station. Now, if we really pay attention to those around us — learning their interests, needs, hopes, hurts, dreams, fears — we will be given what we need to say. Our lives will preach Christ, and our words will confirm and make specific the message of our lives.”

Just Do It. SWOOSH

Justice

[photopress:streamsbookpicture.jpg,full,alignleft]The Fourth StreamThe Social Justice Tradition: Discovering the Compassionate Life

I have heard of missions trips where the sole purpose is to build a building. I always used to think how worthless a task like that was. I mean, if you’re going on a missions trip, you ought to be leading people to Christ. What good is the missions trip if just building a building and not leading anybody to Jesus?

The Bible’s Amos spent his time declaring justice. He pointed things out like slavery, … well… I’ll let you read it for yourself:

Amos 2:6-8 God’s Message:

“Because of the three great sins of Israel
—make that four—I’m not putting up with them any longer.
They buy and sell upstanding people.
People for them are only things—ways of making money.
They’d sell a poor man for a pair of shoes.
They’d sell their own grandmother!
They grind the penniless into the dirt,
shove the luckless into the ditch.
Everyone and his brother sleeps with the ‘sacred whore’—
a sacrilege against my Holy Name.
Stuff they’ve extorted from the poor
is piled up at the shrine of their god,
While they sit around drinking wine
they’ve conned from their victims.

Amos proclaimed how God felt about these blatent injustices and other types of injustices as well.

When there is a social injustice, the Christian has a responsibility to fix it. God is very clear how he feels about injustices in businesses, in the church, and in socioeconomic statuses. If we are the body, then His hands ought to be reaching out to bring justice where there is none.

I went to Honduras several years back and teamed up with Youth For Christ (Juventud Para Cristo, as they called it). We visited one small village – not even a village – a pueblo. It had been struck by a hurricane a year previously. All the people there had lost all their homes, but American’s, with Youth For Christ, had came and built new houses for all the people there. When I heard of this, my preconcieved thoughts flooded my mind. Until I saw the outcome.

Before the hurricane, this remote village had no religious contact. When I saw it (after the houses were built), there was a large tent at the top of the village’s hill labeled, “Youth For Christ Church.” As I looked around the houses, I saw every 6 or 7 houses were labeled “Youth For Christ Group #X.” After inquiring about these, it was explained to me that the people in the villiage all met in the group houses every night for a small group discussion. That community had experienced God – everyone had.

And it was all because some expressed their worship to God by being His hands and they came and they built houses. Little did they know the impact those buildings would have.

Genesis 2:7

[photopress:streamsbookpicture.jpg,full,alignright]The Third Stream

The Charismatic Tradition: Discovering the Spirit-Empowered Life

We do not live our lives “under our own steam”; we were never created to do so. We were created to live our lives in cooperation with another reality. The Charismatic Tradition gives special attention to this other reality, which is, quite simply, life in and through the Spirit of God.

Perfect

The Second Stream

The Holiness Tradition: Discovering the Virtuous Life

I always considered “holiness” the idea of doing all the right stuff. Churches that focus on “holiness” are often apparent in there overtly modest clothing. I remember a holiness church group that had a youth camp, and they required boys and girls to swim in separate swimming pools. The idea of true holiness cannot be better described than in the words of Richard Foster:

[photopress:streamsbookpicture.jpg,full,alignleft]Holiness is not rules and regulations. Elaborate lists of dos and don’ts miss the point of a life hidden with God in Christ. No single standard of behavior is dictated by the word holy. All external legalisms fail to capture the heart of holy living and holy dying.

Holiness is sustained attention to the heart, the source of all action. It concerns itself with the core of the personality, the well-spring of behavior, the quintessence of the soul. It focuses upon the formation and transformation of this center.

Holiness is not otherworldliness. Its life is not found by developing logic-tight compartmentws of things sacred and things secular. We do not come into it by studiously avoiding contact with our manifestly evil and broken world.

[Get ready for this…]

Holiness is world-affirming. The holy life is found smack in the middle of everyday life. We discover it while being freely and joyfully in the world without ever being of the world. Holiness sees the sacred in all things. (page 83)

Christianity isn’t about getting everything just right. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He just expects us to run towards him in our everday lives. This video says it perfectly.

Shut Up

[photopress:streamsbookpicture.jpg,full,alignright]The First Stream

The Contemplative Tradition: Discovering the Prayer-Filled Life

“Put simply, the contemplative life is the steady gaze of the soul upon the God who loves us. It is an intimate sharing between friends.” (page 49).

Out of all the traditions, I stink at this one the most. I am most definitely an activist, I love to be busy, especially when the work involved is ministry. I remember a few years back when I was going to my college working towards my degree with an 18 credit hour load. I practiced the piano at least 2 hours everyday. At the same time I had night classes for Bible College 9 hours a week. At the same time I was leading a large non-churched children’s minsitry in which I needed to organize about 50 volunteers. My weekends were even blown: I had two classes on Saturday and church all day on Sunday. I actually charted out my committed time, and I discovered that I literally had two hours every week of non-committed time that I could use for personal things like take a shower. Two hours of free time a week. I never had any downtime. I was very tired. I remember I explained this “load” I was carrying to my chiropractor, and he said words that resounded in my mind for quite some time, “Well, at least you’re doing the Lord’s will.”

Was I?

Was it really God’s will that I work my self to death? Was it really God’s will that I woke up at 7 and worked hard until 2 every single night? Was it really God’s will that I took on so much work (be it of a religious nature or otherwise) that I didn’t have time to just listen to Him?

This chapter on page 57 really messed with me:

Third, undermine that perennial, everlasting human itch to get ahead with intentional times of “holy leisure.” Take a nap. Spend an hour visiting with your neighbor about nothing important. Help each other watch the sun go down. Take a walk, not for excercise or to study plant life but for the sheer joy of walking. Stop praying for a day. Listen to the birds — not to get some “message” from them but to hear them. Sit in the silence, doing nothing, having nothing, needing nothing. Take a bath instead of a shower. Waste time for God. The ideas are endless.

It’s easy for me to get too excited, even about spiritual things.

I need to shut up and listen more.

This Week’s Blogging Theme

[photopress:streamsbookpicture.jpg,full,alignleft]I am reading Richard Foster’s “Streams of Living Water” right now. I will be finishing it later this week. This book shares six historical traditions of Christianity and discusses what we can learn from them. They are the historical “Streams of Living Water.”

For both copyright reasons and as your resource (should you decide to read this book) I will provide more information here. The full title is “Streams of Living Water: celebrating the great traditions of Christian faith.” By Richard J. Foster. Published by HarperSanFrancisco, 1998. The ISBN is 0-06-066743-5.