Wednesday, July 20, 2005

magazines and holiness...

i am in the process of overcoming an addiction. compulsive fitness magazine buying. or as i like to call it, "getting fit for $5 and good intentions".
over the last several years, anytime i went to any grocery store, bookstore, or any place with a magazine rack, i would scan the fitness section for one of two or three different magazines looking for the latest issue on how to lose fat, gain muscle, and be more attractive. throughout my years in college, and the years since, i have gone through significant periods of time where working out and staying in shape have been high priorities. nothing unhealthy, no obsessions, just a sincere desire to take care of my body and to be healthy, strong, and confident. Some of these magazines offer some decent tips, strategies, and advice on acheiving some of these goals. but over time, i came to recognize that for the most part, i never really read anything "new" or groundbreaking. different people would word and re-word the same information. as i looked through a pile of fitness magazines the other day, nearly all of them had covers promising the definitive excercise or diet to better abs, stronger arms, leaner waist, and other highly sought after attributes of any man's ideal body. more or less, all of these magazines (some of them the same title, just different months) contained the same information.
so what's the problem?
the problem is that i keep buying them. for the most part, i know the information. im sure that there are formula's and equations, ratio's etc. that i dont have memorized, but for what it takes to get stronger, gain muscle, and lose fat, i know pretty much what i need to know to do these things. i don't need to get a subscription or buy next month's "special weight loss" issue (which must contain brand new scientiffic data, since they just had a "special weight loss issue" two months ago). what i need to do is save that $5 (yes... unbelieveably...) and put in to practice what i already know.
but what i have found out about myself is that when i am at the grocery store buying a 2 liter of dr. pepper and a frozen pizza.. plus "low fat" chocalate chip cookie dough ice cream (see.. healthy right?), it makes me *feel* better to buy that magazine. because in my mind, buying that magazine convinces me, if only temporarily, that i am making an "effort' to be healthy. so after i gorge myself on dr. pepper, pizza, and ice cream, i can read an article about how to improve my cardio to maximize weight loss. but the fact remains, i knew that information already, and whether i lose weight or not doesn't depend on my reading the article, it depends on my doing the excercise. not putting the junk in my body that makes me so full i fall asleep reading how frequent aerobic activity increases my energy levels.
another fascination of mine doesn't have to do with my purchasing, but with the obsession of so many people who buy magazines whose sole purpose is to report every move, hairstyle, wardrobe, and latest romance of celebrities. why on earth do people pay up to $5 to read about some famous person who they will never meet?
i suppose that it fuels our idea that if we know the details of the lives of those who are famous, then that somehow makes us important, or at least "in the know". but who cares? i do not care how many children angelina jolie has adopted or what color brittany spears' hair is this week. i certainly could care less about jessica simpson and her husband who is only famous for being married to her.
he is definately *not* still famous for being in the boy band 98 degrees who came in third place in the popularity contest behind the backstreet boys and n'sync. "clear pepsi" and "new coke" had a longer shelf-life. they didn't even get as big as new kids on the block, and how often do you find yourself wishing you could bump into "danny" from the "new kids"? "danny?" you may ask. "dont you mean donnie wahlberg, who is now a decent "b" list hollywood actor?" no, there was a danny too.
and because i remember this, i want to light myself on fire.

my point is, what does it take to be famous these days? apparantly, not much. some people are famous only for being .. well.. famous. take paris hilton. what has she contributed to society? absolutely nothing. yet people follow her, record her every move, and photograph her at every opportunity.... because she is rich..... with daddy's money. she isn't good at anything. she doesn't contribute to anything. no one seeks her opinion on important issues. she is rich. and because of that, in our society, she is a celebrity.
people grab these magazines to read about what the biggest names (which, in a lot of cases aren't even their real names) are up to. i simply do not understand it. why do we make celebrities out of these people? are our lives so void of anything to pour ourselves into that we have such strong opinions about some "person"'s new hairstyle, clothes, or significant other that in some cases they will inspire heated debate? when i worked at wal-mart, i heard more than one literal argument over whether brittany spears was pregnant. i'll say it again... "who-cares??"
surely, as christians, our lives are not so empty as to have to fill them with trivial information about people who do nothing to bring us closer to the knowledge of and presence of the lord.
now hear me out, i enjoy sports, and knowing the stats of those who play them. i enjoy certain movies and t.v. shows. i am not at all implying that we should remove everything from our lives that we didnt get at a christian bookstore. (believe me.. i would never do that.. but that is a whole other can of worms). but i honestly believe that if we are honest, on a day to day basis, our passions and desires for knowledge of "celebrities", or what happens next on our favorite televison or movie series far outweighs our desire for knowledge of our lord and our pursuit of a holy life.
we may say that deep down, we know we desire a closer walk with jesus than who is divorcing who in hollywood, but when we look at the amount of time and money spent, what do our actions say?

it's not too different than my fitness magazine addiction. it screams for a reference to james 1:22-25.

but be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. for if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. for he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.but the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

as christians, we cannot go through our lives simply "knowing" what the scriptures say, but never applying them. likewise, we should heed the wors of paul in romans 12

i appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of god, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to god, which is your spiritual worship. do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of god, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

and in phillipians 4
finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

if we are to be consistant in our lives, we must take a look at what our actions say about our priorities and what we believe.

"some christians sow to the flesh everyday and wonder why they do not reap holiness".
-john stott

grace and peace,

Friday, July 15, 2005


July 5th, 2005

after a week away preaching at a camp, then a weekend away with christi to st. louis, im finally back at home.thanks for the prayers that were offered up last week while i was teaching. it was a great week. the group was much younger than we had anticipated, with the average age being probably around 14. that age group is a very important one, ill be the first to admit, but i definately am more comfortable with an older group -college, young adult and up- but the challenge was a good one. i got along well with the kids and i think i at least communicated the gist of my messages to the point where they could know what i was trying to say. i was reminded once again how humbling the gospel is. we all stand on equally condemned ground before the cross, and it is only the grace of god that saves people i speak to- not how polished my delivery is, how funny my illustrations may be, or even how earnestly i emphasize the importance of my topic.anytime i do a camp/conference/retreat, i have the group keep an anonymous journal. each person has a journal with a number on it. they choose it the first night, and no one else knows what number they have. they do not write their names anywhere in or on it. the notebooks provide them with adequate space to take notes, but they serve a greater purpose by allowing the individual to ask questions that they may not ask if they had to reveal their identity. they can also ask for prayer on certain subjects or situations that they would otherwise remain silent on. i feel like it is beneficial for them to express these things without fear of condemnation from a “leader”, or ridicule from the group.this past week, i had questions ranging from ” how do you like your hotel room… is it nice??” to ” i noticed that you said that ‘christ died for the sins of those that would believe in him’….i thought he died for the sins of every person ever… could you explain the scope of the atonement??” [yes, this person used the word “atonement”]i was up untill 2 a.m. one night answering questions and making comments in those things. i know that i was blessed more by the honesty in those thirty-five cent notebooks than they were by my answers and comments. one of the most memorable was a question one night after i had gone great lengths to talk about the difference between simply being “religious” and being a christian called to holiness. it read:“how do you know when you are ready to be a christian? what does it feel like? can you please answer??”
as i started writing my reply, i stopped to pray every few moments. i so wanted to accurately convey not only the gospel, and the response of obedience, but i wanted to be totally transparent about the joy that comes with knowing you have been accpeted by god almighty.
i am reminded of psalm 51 where david wrote :Restore to me the joy of your salvation,and uphold me with a willing spirit.(v.12)
the *joy*of his salvation granted to us. joy. how often do i go day to day, week to week, month to month, living each day without giving consideration to the wonder that i am saved, much less joy.i sat with over 47,000 other people at a st. louis cardinal baseball game this weekend. the sound of tens of thousands of conversations filled the air before the game. but upon announcing the starting line-ups, and especially the individual players as they came up to bat, the stadium was deafening with cheers and applause and shouts. i was right there with them. my uncle and i remarked several times how there was “nothing like being at a st. louis baseball game.”in no way do i criticize the enjoyment of such activities. there are so many things in life that we should do and enjoy. but the fact remains, i rarely get excited about the fact that because of the work of christ, i a sinner deserving the eternal wrath of god, have been redeemed. not just getting excited about a church camp, a sunday service, or any other activity, but just simply the fact that i am saved.we have so cheapend the word “joy”. our world and particularly our culture has stripped the word of all of its passion and has made it a limp synonym for “glad”.oh that the lord would restore to us the joy of the salvation he has given us. true joy. a washing over of awareness of our inability and utter inadequacy to express the fulfillment,completion, supreme satisfaction and delight in our lord and the work he has done.

cliche song lyrics

June 17th, 2005

i wonder how many songs have the words “life’s a journey, not a destination” in them. i know aerosmith has it in “amazing”, i know that there are more.anyway, its almost 3pm and i am still in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms. i quit my job last week, and i have become “that guy” in one week’s time.actually, for some reason, i have been dealing with a rather persistant bout of insomnia. i was having it over a week ago, then my wife christi and i went to tennessee (i.e. god’s country) to see my folks, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. i dont know if it was being “home” in my old room or what, but for whatever reason, i slept fine.upon arriving back to louisville, christi left monday morning to go to michigan with her sisters and mom, and the insomnia what this basically means is i have been awake untill around 4 am four nights in a row, and sleep for a few hrs. get up, and never feel like i slept.
this is suddenly turning into nothing… sorry.
my still being in pajamas reminded me of when my back went out again in the fall of 2003. i had surgery in 1999, and after recovering from that, i had had relativley few problems with it other than the occasional soreness and rare days when i couldnt move 2003, i was living right outside of nashville with my friends -andrew (one of my best friends), his wife haley(who was about 7 months pregnant), and their 1 yr. old son gibson. andrew and i were gigging with our band, ebeneezer , and i was working a couple of part time jobs lifeguarding and waiting tables. it was, at the time, our small part of “living the dream” i suppose.

that made me laugh just typing it. so cliche', but it was real.

anyway, one night at a show, during the last song, my back just completely locked up and a searing hot pain shot through my entire body. i had to be helped off the stage and into the car. i was 25 years old, a college graduate, and i had to go back and live with my parents.for almost three months, i was back in the room i grew up in. the same posters were on the walls. michael jordan and the chicago bulls, st. louis cardinals, kurt cobain and nirvana. it was like a 80’s/90’s time capsule.between the x-rays, m.r.i.’s, trips to physical therapy, and all of the drugs i was on, it completely threw my system out of whack. i would be up a 5 a.m. reading notes i had passed with friends in ninth grade, freaking out that i could almost “smell” the time and place when they were new.
i wore pajamas a lot then too.
upon first having to move back in with my family, i was anxious to get better and get back to nashville. there were gigs to play, recordings to do, and all of those type things. it wasn’t at all that i didnt like seeing my family. it was the exact opposite. i started college in the fall of 1996, and rarely came home except for summers. after 2000, i didn’t come home for summers anymore. so it was refreshing, if not theraputic and healing to be back “home”.slowly, as i was reading through the bible and other books i had brought with me on church history and doctrine, and talking with friends, i realized that my desires had completely changed, and i had either been ignoring them, or just didnt realize the day after christmas 2003 i moved to louisville kentucky to start seminary. theology, doctrine, and church history had become a hobby over the past few years, but suddenly i had realized that there was a purpose to the few years prior of investigating, probing, reading into these things, to prepare me for the next jumping off point of my life. so i moved to louisville.
in the year and a half since then, i have changed apts. 3 times, jobs twice, gotten married, and changed my major. after years of wondering what it would be like to be a “real” musician, i was able to open for derek webb… twice, with an open invitation to do it again. i haven’t seen him since that last show. and i haven’t played with my band since last october. i have started looking for and recieving opportunities to teach/ preach, and most of my “spare” time is spent reading systematic theologies and commentaries. there have been times when i have gone up to a month without touching my guitar.
and i love my life.
when my back went out in october of 2003, i was thinking, “ill be fine, i just need to rest and ill be back. this wont change a thing.”

“life’s a journey…”

loving our homosexual neighbors

June 16th, 2005

the following is a post of mine responding to this post from an on-line theological/worldview board:

“[what about the suggestion] that homosexuality might have been a hygenic or even social law (if the Israelites were a small group needing to reporduce) and that there was nothing inherently SINFUL about homosexuality.”

and more specifficaly this response from another member:

“well i guess jesus was kidding when he told us to love our neighbors. i’m sure he meant to say “love only your straight neighbors”

this is my response in the midst of 7 pages of discussion of both sides.

the statements made about jesus telling us to love our neighbor… very true.jesus did say he came for the “sick”, those who needed healing. he dealt with and ministered to the outcasts, the poor, the broken… all sinners.but when he did so, he commanded them to sin no, if jesus were physically among us, i have no doubt that he would interact with homosexuals. but he would tell them to “sin no more”, he would not simply say ” well, i do not agree with you, but i will still love you and stand up for your rights as a person if you choose to remain in your present lifestyle.”i don’t see why this is so hard to see. jesus taught repentance and forgiveness of sins, not acceptance. those who would not repent and follow him simply turned away (rich young ruler). loving sin instead of turning from that sin is saying “no” to christ.obviously people gave and give their life to christ and continued/ continue to commit *sins*, but to constantly live in a lifestyle of sin is a constant denial to follow him fully.we all sin, we all have reocurring sins.. pride,lying, lust, etc. i am not saying that we don’t.but i think there is a distinct difference in suporting or saying ” i am a homosexual and i choose to openly live this lifestyle”, expecting everyone to just ignore the scriptural teachings on disobedience in general, not to mention speciffic teachings on do not see a group of people who are liars, or struggle with lust, or pride or what have you saying that they will now live an openly sinful lifestyle by lying,cheating,lusting, etc. without shame or admittance that these actions are deliberate sins- that is the way they are and everyone should stop being so judgemental and accept them for who they are. because, hey, they are people too!some of my closest friends have been homosexuals. i do not take this topic lightly. i know i have sin in my life. i in no way think i am above any homosexual in meriting the grace of the lord.but it is time that we stop hiding behind political correctness. what we are doing by”proving” how loving and accepting we are is giving an “o.k., you do what you have to do and be who you have to be” to people we should be praying for and ministering to, just as we would someone who had a major sin problem in any other area of their life- and as i hope people would for us were we to openly be involved in a sinful lifestyle.

i have more than a few friends who would say themselves that they are quite more liberally minded than i am. i am still trying to work through and figure out where exactly the line is that divides “loving one another” and excusing sin and calling those who call it such sure that the line must be somewhere close to the planks in our eyes and the absolute truth of the bible. we know we have planks in our eyes the same way we see the “speck” in the eyes of our brothers. because, plank or speck, sin is sin, no matter whose eye it is.
we are constantly blinking.

narcissism fulfilled

June 16th, 2005


Main Entry: ego·ismPronunciation: ‘E-g&-”wi-z&m also ‘e-Function: noun1 a : a doctrine that individual self-interest is the actual motive of all conscious action b : a doctrine that individual self-interest is the valid end of all actions2 : excessive concern for oneself with or without exaggerated feelings of self-importance

i have debated for awhile whether or not to have a blog. a huge part of me thinks that it is pretty arrogant to think that what i have to say is important enough for anyone to desire to read with everything else they could be doing. alongside with that is the fact that, if i didnt have a blog, i probably wouldn’t think to say or communicate most of the things that i will end up writing. so in my mind, my having a blog is basically admitting that i want to have a space of the internet for people to possibly read about my opinions or perspective on things that i wouldn’t probably communicate unless i had a blog.
oh well, call me arrogant i suppose.
but then there is another part of me that knows a lot of times there is so much going on in my mind, that unless i do have an outlet, whether it be face to face communication, writing a journal, or whatever else, i get frustrated that i can’t articulate it.
so if i go from that perspective, i have a blog to keep from frustrating myself due to not having an outlet to consistantly think things through. and thats healthy… right?
that, at least on the surface, seems less self-absorbed.
assuming of course, what thoughts/idea’s/etc. i have are worth even thinking, much less posting publicly.
this should be interesting….
(there i go again… assuming..)