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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Can't Remember Your Name...

I have this thing that happens to me nearly every time I watch a movie. I'll see an actor or actress whom I recognize, but I can't recall their name. I will literally spend the next several hours, if necessary, trying to recall their name and what else I have seen them in. This drives my wife crazy because she's happy to just enjoy the movie. It drives me crazy because my mind literally will not rest until I've put a name to the face.

Names mean something. Names are a big part of our identity. When you know a person by name, you ascribe to them a level of value and worth that might not be given to a nameless face.

Genesis 4:26 reads, "At that time, people first began to worship the Lord by name." God had an identity and he had begun to reveal his name to people. He was being made known. And as people understood God's identity, they began to worship Him.

In my estimation, the rest of the Bible becomes a battle of names. God's name is known, but humanity begins to worry about their own name. As people become more concerned with their own name than the name of God, big trouble happens. When people seek after the name of God and place His name above their own, His peace grows.

I am reflecting today how worried I can be about my own name- how many people know me, who remembers me, who values me. And in this mindset, I see myself being drawn away from the one great Name. How about you- whose name are you worried about?

Your name is a strong and mighty tower
Your name is a shelter like no other
Your name let the nations sing it louder
'Cause nothing has the power to save
But Your name (Your Name
, by Paul Baloche)

My his name be on your mind today.

Enjoy the journey-


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Poem for the Busy and the Hurried

We have spent some time this week in class talking about the Biblical idea of Sabbath that God gives to Israel. He invites them into the same cycle of work and then rest that he exhibited in creating the world. This idea- of taking a whole day to quit doing and just be- is largely lost in our society, even in religious circles. It seems out of touch and like a big waste of time.

I can't help but think, though, that in our hurried and frenzied pace we have lost something. We have lost sight of who we are- not human doings, but human beings. This poem was a good reminder to me to slow down. To take time and let go of all that I hold on to and think I control.

Gentle me,
Holy one,
into an unclenched moment,
a deep breath,
a letting go
of heavy expectancies,
of shriveling anxieties,
of dead certainties,
that, softened by the silence,
surrounded by the light,
and open to the mystery,
I may be found by wholeness,
upheld by the unfathomable,
entranced by the simple
and filled with joy
that is you.

Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

May your journey be marked not by the speed at which you rush through life, but by the quality of life you are taking time to live...


PS- In our series at East Hills on spiritual practices, we're talking about Sabbath this weekend! I hope you'll join the rest of the crew there...

Monday, July 20, 2009

You Are What You See

In class today, we discussed a great short story called "the student, the fish, and the agassiz". In this story, a student is asked by his professor to study a fish called a haemulon for hours on end and carefully record all of his observations. After 10 minutes, he's ready to call it quits, but the professor insists. So for several DAYS he looks and records, looks and records, eventually shocking himself by how much there is to see when one slows down enough to pay attention. He reports that after this experience, any fish he draws ends up looking just like a haemulon. He studied it so closely that when he thinks of fish, this pattern has been forever etched in his mind.

It occurs to me that the human brain works like this. Our mind comes back to some topics repeatedly, either by choice or by assignment, and this forms a pattern in our brain that begins to shape how we view everything else. This can happen in positive ways or negative, but I am convinced that it does happen.

If someone is addicted to video games, everything they see will start to remind them of screen images and game characters. They will be ordering lunch at Burger King and thinking about game strategy. If someone is addicted to sex, they will see sexual references and innuendos all over the place- even in places they know they shouldn't. If someone is addicted to looks and appearance, their mind will begin to obsess about dress, fashion, and hair style at bizarre moments. Unbidden, these thoughts return because the brain has been taught what to think about.

Romans 12:2 tells us to let God transform us by the renewing of our mind. What does it mean to be renewed? If I renew a gym membership, I sign on again for the experience and benefits I've had before. If I renew my driver's license, I revisit the qualifications and get certified for more years of operating a motor vehicle. I think to renew our minds means to mentally revisit what truly matters. We are renewed by going back to the image, the picture that can truly change us, namely, the loving, sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. As we return to this image, and this passion, over and over, it will begin to transform us. We begin to see life through a new lens, and much like the student in our short story, when we go to draw life, all we can seem to draw is pictures that look like Jesus.

If my mind and my life will be shaped by something, and I believe that it will, then I want to make sure and choose wisely what is shaping me. Is it culture? Sex? Entertainment? Or is it Jesus? And the best part, I believe, is that when we look at him over and over, he brings true fullness and life to everything else.

What are you looking at? Because THAT'S what you are becoming.

On your journey, I hope you will be looking to Him...the one who is worthy.