Sunday, March 10, 2013

Be our guest

I travel a lot lately. Too much. And while I love seeing the work World Vision does around the US--and the people are amazing--I miss seeing those 4 most important people in my world's vision.

Hotels refer to me as a "guest." But a quote from Bonhoeffer I read recently had me pondering the meaning of that word.

"I ought to behave myself like a guest here, with all that entails. I should not stay aloof and refuse to participate in the tasks, joys and sorrows of earth, while I am waiting patiently for the redemption of the divine promise." 

Now this is not the kind of guest that stays in a hotel. How weird would it be if I participated in the tasks as a hotel guest? "Excuse me, but can I vacuum my own room today?" said no one in a hotel ever. No, this is more like the close friend/family guest in your home. The ones willing to sleep on the floor in sleeping bags, who don't mind waiting for the bathroom because it's just really great to be together.

We have some great friends trying to sell their house to move into a new one they're having built. We live in a solid housing market, so the chances are good they will have to leave their current house before the new one is ready. We've invited them to stay with us. We've got 3 kids, they've got 3 kids; why in the world would we do that?

Because those kinds of guests you love. They share, they participate. They engage.

That is who you and I are as followers of Jesus.

In Hebrews 11, some of the heroes of the faith are referred to as "strangers and exiles." Guests. People looking for their homeland. But as Bonhoeffer says, it was their very guest-status that allowed them to engage more deeply. It was precisely because they were not in their home that they could build roots, share, participate. And God was not ashamed to be called their God.

What kind of guest are you in this world?

Are you a consumer-guest in a hotel, coming out to get served and then retreating into your pseudo-home?

Or are you the guest who knows their very guest-ness demands a sacrificial engagement in the "tasks, joys and sorrows" of those who host?

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Hunchback of Notre Dame

Tonight we're watching movies to get us ready for our Europe trip, and we just watched Disney's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." I had forgotten the greatness of this movie.

As it started, we were all taken a bit aback by the darkness of it. But as Esmerelda took sanctuary in Notre Dame and prayed, not asking for herself, but for the outcast, for those she knew worse off than herself--juxtaposed in her duet with Frolo praying about his own self-righteous desire to either possess her or kill her "in holiness--it brought tears to my eyes.

The movie is about outcasts, about grace, about sacrifice. About justice.

Who is monster, who is man?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wealth inequality in the US

This is a must-watch to get a basic understanding of wealth inequality in the US. I've not seen this good of a presentation around what we THINK is the reality compared with what we see as IDEAL reality and how they both stack up with what ACTUALLY IS REALITY.

Wealth inequality in the US

This is a must-watch to get a basic understanding of wealth inequality in the US. I've not seen this good of a presentation around what we THINK is the reality compared with what we see as IDEAL reality and how they both stack up with what ACTUALLY IS REALITY.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Book Review: Dirty God by Johnnie Moore

Most of the time, I love to be surprised. But I'm not easily surprised by a religious book anymore.

 The book I just finished is a wonderful exception.

Most of the 3.5 faithful readers of my blog will know that I'm a recovering fundamentalist. In my early 20s, my faith was a  somewhat radicalized one, in a judgmental kind of way. Grace was a theological concept to be debated, not a life to be lived and shared.

But what you may not know--what I have only recently realized myself--is that I'm also a recovering anti-fundamentalist.

You see, when I experience fellow followers displaying that same judgmentally immature faith that I had at 20, it frustrates me. It angers me. I hate the man-made barriers we have Pharisaically thrown up between God and the most vulnerable, "sinful" of people. But in my own desire to radicalize grace and oppose fundamentalism, I may have not shared the same grace I have received.

For we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All. Me too. But I've gotten away from the point of this post.

As a recovering anti-fundamentalist, the mere mention of Liberty University can raise my hackles. I've got some friends who went there and loved the place. It's probably a wonderful university experience in many ways. But I have a hard time getting past the fundamentalist reputation of Liberty having no liberty or grace. So when I received a copy of Johnnie Moore's "Dirty God" to review from Thomas Nelson, I was actually looking forward to reviewing a book that I probably had some issues with. Boy, was I wrong. This is a great book, and all the more great because it was written by a VP at Liberty. Johnnie (I hope I can call him Johnnie and that's okay, but I really don't know him at all) has written a book about God and grace that is excellent. Moving between his own experiences around the world, his wide reading, and his passion for an abiding grace in his own life, Johnnie makes an excellent case for loving God and especially for loving neighbor.

This book is well worth the time invested in reading. And he wrote an afterword just for me--at least that what it says. He challenges me to not just theologically understand grace, not even just to practice grace, but to be involved in a grace movement that changes me. But not just me, the circle of people around me. And not just them either, but the whole world. I finished this book just now, and needed to write this review immediately, but hopefully I can do just that: be a piece of God's wave of grace splashing and crashing around the world.

To quote the great French/British philosopher Jean-Luc Picard, make it so.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Mean what you say

Sometimes I wonder if people really mean what we say. I've had this thought twice now in the last 24 hours. The most recent example was this morning as I took my daughter to school, and was behind a pickup with a growingly popular bumper sticker in Texas. The sticker looks like the Texas flag with the word "Secede" emblazoned on top. Now, at the risk of outing myself and all Texans as blustery giants who are all talk and no action, let me say that I'm sure there are many Texans ready to back up the bumper sticker with a real vote (and action!). They would be ready to recreate the Republic of Texas in a heartbeat. But, I think, most of us--regardless of how we might feel about the federal government or the president, would see the negative realities of secession long before such a vote could be made. If we think that taxes are bad now, how high would they get if we have to provide for our own common defense, build our own highways, create our own free-trade agreements with surrounding states, patrol our own borders and the like? But I'm not here to argue for or against secession, I just wonder if the guy with the bumper sticker really means what he says. Then yesterday morning in church, we sang a song with these lyrics: "Yahweh, Yahweh, we love to shout your name O Lord." I honestly decided I couldn't sing those words. Because I don't mean them. Forget the fact that my logical brain keeps telling me that we don't really know how to pronounce the tetragrammaton (in Hebrew YHWH, often written in English as "Yahweh"), I'm just not that fond of shouting in general. Shouting names in random moments of worship is frowned upon in our culture, especially in libraries and elevators--don't ask me how I know, those records are sealed. (Okay, so maybe I sing loud in my truck, but that's beside the point here...) So I'm not here to argue against shouting God's name either. Or letting our culture's desire to label religious people as crazy define my behavior. The thought all this prompted in me is that we often say things we don't mean, just for the effect of it. I'm guilty. My guess is you probably are too. And this morning, I pondered the words of Jesus: let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Do I mean what I say? Do my words reflect my character? Are my words and actions in line with each other?