Friday, July 30, 2010

I’m becoming less of the old me.

I’m becoming a whole new me. Or maybe a better way of stating it is: I’m becoming less of the old me.

I’ve told you about this crazy headache diet that my doctor has put me on. The basics of it are: If a food tastes good—I can’t eat it. The bad news is that I can eat nothing but dry salad, dry meat, and a few fruits and veggies. Yuck! The good news is that in the last three weeks I have lost 16 pounds.

And now thanks to my insurance company’s approval, on Monday I am going to have my first Botox treatment for my headaches. As you may or may not know, Botox has been used to turn aging, wrinkled, and past their prime Hollywood has-beens into non-wrinkled, past their prime Hollywood has-beens, but for me—hopefully it will turn me into a headache free pastor.

So if you are keeping score at home—while I am not quite svelte I’m getting “sveltier;” and while I’m not getting Botox for my wrinkles I will be “Botoxier;” and the calendar says in the not too distant future I will officially be in my late forties (right now, at 46, I say I am still in my mid forties but hitting 47 will definitely push me face first into my “late forties”). All this to say, as a “sveltier,” “botoxier,” older version of me—I am just a few gold chains, a couple of unbuttoned shirt buttons, and a white convertible away from a mid-life crisis. Karla is worried. Very worried.

I’m not exactly sure what one does in a mid-life crisis, but the name sounds like it can’t be good. Anything that ends with the word “crisis” is generally bad. The Cuban Nuclear Crisis wasn’t good. Neither was the “Iranian Hostage Crisis” nor was the most recent “Gulf Oil Crisis.” So if you don’t mind, I think I want to avoid a mid-life crisis. Besides I really can’t afford a convertible at this time (or a gold chain for that matter)—I have a son that will be a freshman in college in the fall.

In fact, the only good crisis I know of is the one Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 5:17: if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Whatever time in your life (mid-life or otherwise)—you can have an “all-new-you” life—a crisis in the best possible way! A God way!

Paul knew a thing or two about doing the ol’ 180 degree turn around in one’s life. He went from being a fiery, Jesus hater to an on-fire, Jesus proclaimer of the highest regard. He went from being the guy chasing down Christians and tossing them in jail, to being the one tossed in jail for his faith in Christ. And when asked if he would have it any other way he said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Now that’s a crisis I wish we all would experience—and one added benefit of having a Jesus crisis-- you need not purchase a gold chain or a convertible to get it!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Firewords and the 4th of July on a Sunday

I like fireworks. I am more of a big lights in the sky kind of guy rather than a big boom kind of guy. But I like all of ‘em, truth be told. I like it when there are loud speakers or you can tune in your radio to a station playing patriotic music as the fireworks are bursting. I like it when you are in a place where you can see not just your fireworks display but other community’s fireworks displays too. I like it when families can make a “night out” of the fireworks event. They get ice cream. They have fun. They “ooooh” and “aaahhh” together at the pretty displays in the sky. I like it when the pyrotechnic technicians fake out the viewers into thinking we are seeing the “Big Finale” only to continue the show and then give the “real” Big Finale a few minutes later.

I am not sure who first said, “Let’s celebrate America’s freedom by blowing stuff up in the sky!” But whoever it was… genius. Pure genius. It’s a great way to end a great day!

Of course, this year the Fourth is on Sunday. So that means we have the opportunity to begin celebrating our Freedom by celebrating our freedom to worship. Which I guess makes sense. Since so many early Americans risked life and limb to come to a land where they could worship and pray and in a manner in which they pleased—it seems appropriate before we fire up the grill, break out the potato salad, and let Frisbees fly that we take time to worship. Long before gathering up the lawn chairs and the blankets to watch a fireworks display we gather and say, “Thanks to God from whom all blessings flow.” Could it be that the most patriotic thing we can do is not wave a flag or stomp to a John Phillips Sousa tune but bow our heads and seek the Lord and live by the words in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”