Monday, February 26, 2007

Movie Idea.

Okay, I am officially switched over to the "new blog" format and it was relatively painless. I survived the "clicking" and kept on ticking. I still don't know what it means and the instructions still sound like a foreign language to me, but hey, it's the first step. I'm learning! Besides, I talked to two "really old" friends last week and neither one had ever even heard of blogging. Go figure! Maybe I'm not such a techno-dummy after all.

We had a wild Saturday evening at the Root house. We actually had nothing pressing and no where to be, for a change, so we stayed home and watch DVD's. I told you it was wild. Are you ready for this? We actually watched Ghostbusters 1 & 2 back to back and really enjoyed every minute of it. What fun movies! Nothing deep or bloody (or Donna wouldn't be watching it with me), but just funny, entertaining movies that were still funny after all these years. I loved noticing the differences between the two. The second one supposedly happens five years after the first and, I think, was an improvement. The comedy improved, they all quit smoking, and the new characters really added to the story. The walking statue of Liberty was a stretch, but so was the whole movie - not to mention happy-sing-a-long New Yorkers. And what a rich cast of characters? I'm ready to see Ghostbusters 3! Really! Wouldn't it be great to see how each character has developed over the last twenty years? How about having all of them coming back together to save Dana Barrett's, now adult son, from some new hideous monster that the new CG experts could truly do something fantastic with. They are all big name actors now and would really create some excitement about finishing a Trilogy. Whatdoyathink? I can hear the theme music cranking up all ready and it's gotta have Rick Moranis, the nerdy Louis Tully as an older, mellow husband, married to Annie Potts, the GB's old secretary. How about "The Revenge of Gozer".

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Post Sermon Trauma

I like it when people tell me that my lesson from the previous Sunday caused them to think about it all week long. Well, sometimes I'm a victim of my own preaching. I usually think about the lesson all week prior to the delivery and then unload it on Sunday and start focusing on the next, but this week has been different. I've been thinking a lot about my opening quote in last Sunday's lesson. I introduced it as one of my favorite saying, and it is, and I've spent plenty of time thinking about it in the past, but this week, for some reason, it has come back to haunt me several times. He it is, "The greatness of a person in not found in their talents, but in what discourages them." It's a truly different, and challenging way to look at our character. I forgot where I heard it first, and I've changed it a couple of times, so now I'm claiming it as original to me (originality is forgetting where you got it). What does our discouragements say about us? As I said in the lesson last Sunday, it speaks to our sense of purpose and our priorities in life. If every little thing that comes along that we don't like or want discourages us, it that not an indictment of our priorities in life? Does it show us how self-centered we are, or maybe how ungrateful we've become? My next question was, "What discourages God?" It's not just sin and ignorance, because that's common to mankind (Romans 3:23). It's how we think about him, when we reject him and his gracious love for us.

So why have I been thinking about "what discourages me" this week? I've just realized that when I focus on what God has done for me and continues to do for me, that should dramatically change how I see life's potential discouragements! Let people complain, let the news media sensationalize the mediocre, and the let the temperatures stay in the single digits too long! So what? God loves me! I love him! If I'm breathing, I have another second to glorify Him. How can I let anything that doesn't impact my hope of spending eternity with Him discourage me?

Yet, I do. Sometimes. But I'm not going to let that discourage me, because it's really not about my character as much as it is about His grace!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Beautiful People?

Is church a social club for all the beautiful people? Of course not, but they are just the ones we like to spend time with. I love my church family and I can't wait to see them every time we get together. I like being around smiling, positive, people, who love me and tell me how wonderful I am. It's nice to be loved! Duh. It's nice to have people seem so thrilled to have me pay attention to them - and it's no chore for me to do it because I DO love them and I DO enjoy letting them know that I love them. It's why God told us to get together! It's what "doing church" is really all about - not the ritualistic performance of five man-made acts! BUT, and this is a personally disturbing "but" for me, I know that if Jesus walked into our auditorium, he would talk to each person he met, be encouraging to everyone, BUT his real attention and compassion would be directed to those few who are not "the beautiful people" of church. You know who they are. Every church has them. The socially inept. The unfashionable. The coarse, the crude, and the unclean. The folks who are super shy, or obnoxious, or just different. They may even be demanding, embarrassing, and complainers. Whatever the description, they are hard to enjoy and usually only get our attention when we "run into them" and have to acknowledge them. But spend time with them? Give with no hope have receiving any warm, tingly feeling whatsoever? I wish I could be self-righteous at this point and shame "others," but I am too convicted by how unlike Jesus I can be at times - when it really counts - when no one knows but him, and me. It's nice to have a wife who doesn't know how to be that inconsistent. I've been working on it lately because I hear God speaking to me through repeated reminders. If you want to be like Jesus - look for the people he would look for. Seems like I remember someone talking about "loving only those who love you" being a selfish love. Surely I didn't imagine it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Prayer Giants?

If you want to make someone feel like a real spiritual dwarf just talk about the "hours" you spend in prayer. You do spend "hours" at a time in prayer don't you? Why that's got to be one of the clearest and purest signs of spiritual maturity, right? Let's see, the sum total of prayer training that most Christians receive consists of a two minute Sunday morning "formal" prayer and a ten second offering of "grace" before devouring a meal. Then we talk about "hours" of prayer and utterly squash any sense of spirituality that young or immature Christians have. Do most Christians understand that seeking to know God is building a relationship with God? It's not just gathering info about Him, but creating a closeness that makes Him real, present, and powerful in our life. If that is true, do you know of any relationship that started out with long periods of communication? Eventually, yes, but to start with, most relationships are learning, sharing, asking, and usually lots of short discussions over a long period of time. AND THAT IS WITH TOUCHABLE FLESH AND BLOOD! How much more time is it necessary for a relationship based on faith? Once a relationship is established and strong, the deeper and longer periods of communication happen naturally. It's not forced, it's part of an intimate relationship. Prayer is the most important element in building a relationship with God. By it's very nature, it must start out short and simple, but as often as we can make it. Prayer is simply inviting God into the thoughts of our heart. The more we do it, the more real and present He becomes. The "baby steps" become mature adult steps and we talk about all kinds of things without any regard to time. If it's not part of a natural growth in our relationship to God, it simply becomes a forced ritual for the purposes of self-righteousness. Anyone wanting a relationship with God, who doesn't know how to make it happen, must think "baby steps" when it comes to prayer. Talk to God all day long in short, but intentional efforts to make Him an integral part of your life. It will grow as you get to know Him better.

Two things to chew on. How much praying did the apostles do during their three and a-half years of walking with Jesus? You say, "Well, they had Jesus" but even Jesus felt the need to spend a lot of time talking to His Father and He was disappointed with their inability to pray in the Garden. And secondly, why is the "Model Prayer" one of the shortest prayers in all the Bible? (Jews, who needed to be taught how to prayer? Go figure?) Maybe the point is that it's not the "hours" of prayer, but the heart of prayer that God is looking for.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sweating to the Coldies

Weather is weather. That may not sound super intelligent, but we all tend to try to explain why weather happens like it does. How many people have explained our resent ice age as our "paying for the mild winters of the last few years" or "paying our dues for the mild late December early January we had." Hey, it's winter! Cold happens! It won't last much longer, and besides, in a short time we'll be looking for some mythological explanation for why it's too hot. I personally like four distinct seasons and I really like the fact that no single season is too long. Hang in there it will change. In the meantime, we can turn ice into a hockey game, like the kids in our neighborhood did on the pond behind our house this past Saturday. I took the above pictures from our kitchen window. They zoomed up and down the full length of our pond for well over an hour. It's pretty solid, but there is a small, about four foot opening on the far side where a muskrat family lives. Obviously, they had to avoid it. Hmmm! I wonder what an ice hockey game looks like from underneath the ice? I bet there are some seriously frightened muskrats living there now.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Parenting Pop-Ups

One of my Rootisms is "If something keeps being repeated, maybe God is trying to tell you something." Ever notice how a subject just seems to stick around and keep popping up as if to say, "Pay attention to me?" Well, I've had several "pop ups" about parenting in the last two weeks. Donna and I studied and prepared to do a presentation on parenting last week, and somehow, in my Wednesday night class on Psalms we started talking about it, and then yesterday Donna showed me an really thoughtful article that Mike Cope wrote in his blog about parenting. All I can think of is, "Okay God, you have my attention. Just what am I supposed to do with it?" Do I need to teach my Pillars of Parenting Seminar here at Florissant? Are we supposed to seek ways to help our young families here? Why do I feel like He is saying, "share it before you forget it?" My Pillars Of Parenting Seminar has eight sessions. I don't know if I've forgotten a lot or not, but my eight points have been reduced to three. After lots of reflecting and studying, I see only three essential elements in parenting: love, clear direction, and consistent discipline. I fought the urge to change love to charity so I'd have three "C's". That being said, it's still true that the most valuable gift any couple can give their children is a strong, healthy marriage. The ironic part of it all is that no matter what our rules, values, or principles of parenting happen to be, our children will be more effected and molded by the character of our hearts, what we have a genuine passion for, and what kind of attitude we approach life with. The right spirit will always cover for mistakes in parenting, but correct parenting can't overcome a negative and inconsistent life-style.

Why do I feel like this isn't going away anytime soon?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Let There Be Understanding?

At the risk of sounding supremely negative, I can't help but reflect this morning on several things that just don't make sense to me - things I see or hear regularly and just don't understand. For example:
* I don't doubt "global warming" but I don't understand why folks try to get people to CARE when they are freezing their...toes off! We could use some global warming right now!
* If a man can be an incredibly successful business man, governor of the second largest state in the nation, win a national election, and be in his second term in the White House, I don't understand how can anyone call him "dumb"? If that's the most intelligent way I can disagree with him, it says more about me than it does him.
* I don't understand, and NEVER have, why anyone, but especially players and coaches, would yell at a referee. Here's a news flash! IT NEVER WORKS! IT NEVER HELPS! ALL IT DOES IS PREJUDICE HIS THINKING AGAINST YOUR TEAM!
* I don't understand why people don't use their turning lights, which is a common courtesy and the law, but use their car horns which haven't been needed for decades now.
* I don't understand how you are supposed to know how to spell "courtesy" when you spell things phonetically. "cur...cir...cer...maybe it starts with a k..."
* I don't understand why someone would use part of a Sweet & Low pack and leave the rest for someone else. Who in their right mind would use the remainder of a total strangers pink packet?
* I don't understand "Group Meditation." Isn't that an oxymoron or something?
* I also don't understand "Sports Bar." Just what kind of sport is that. Isn't it a place full of people desperately needing some physical activity in their life? Call it what it is: A Sports Watching Bar!
* I don't understand why so many people act so totally crazy when a TV camera is one them. I like watching some of the Today Show early in the morning, but I'm embarrassed and distracted by crazy people who think being seen on TV is such an astounding event. I can almost understand it at football games, but even then I find myself thinking, "Come on people, get a life!"
* I don't understand teens smoking. Is there anyone in the whole world who still thinks smoking looks cool? What's cool about stinking?
* Along with that, I don't understand why smokers can't or won't comprehend that in a restaurant their smoke stinks, gives head aches to many, and ruins the wonderful smell and taste of the expensive food we are trying to eat. Call me radical, many have, but that seems like a no brainier to me.
* And speaking of restaurants, I don't understand why anyone feels the need to be mean or impolite to a waitress. It's a sure sign of an inferiority complex or being a control freak. Some even act like it's their right - what they are paying for, and that's truly sad. I've been amazed at how some Christians can suddenly be rude and dismissive to someone who is being a servant to them. Go figure! At our New Member's Dinner, the shepherds and ministers server dinner to the new members and the symbolism is intentional. Can you really serve if you don't know how to be served?

These are not things I dwell on. This is not ranting as much as it's wondering. I have too much to be thankful for and too many wonderful people in my life to think about. However, I do find myself forced to think about these recurring experiences, and I guess I will continue to not understand why they happen. I wonder how many things I do that people shake their head and say, "I don't understand why Mike..."? I remember several years ago, on a road trip with a fairly new friend, I was down about several things and I sort of unloaded on him, hoping for sympathy and pity. After I ranted for a while and waited for his words of comfort he said, "Wow Mike, I always thought that you were a very positive person." Uggg! He was hoping I'd be the one to lift him up and instead I dumped on him. Well, the above is mostly tongue-in-cheek, so I hope you can laugh and not feel dumped on. May God bless you will full understand of all the things you see and experience today! At least be nice to referees and waitresses.

Friday, February 02, 2007

"Lost In Thought"

Have you ever contemplated the phrase "lost in thought"? How many times have I used that to explain to someone why I didn't hear what they said to me? How many times did that describe why I didn't get things done? How many times has that been the definition of my day? I think it's good to think. I think I've always thought that thinking was the thing that made thinkers of us all. Dah! I've been lost in thought in nearly ever class I ever sat through. I've been lost in thought watching TV - especially the famous History Channel, as it caused me to think - which is also why I like the CSI stuff. I've been lost in thought during sermons!! Yes! Not mine, of course, but others who were boring and unchallenging, and some who caused the thinking with their insights and relevance. I've been lost in thought while sitting in a tree stand waiting for the "monster" to walk by, and I've had many a deer under my stand before I found my thoughts.

Some times the "lost in thought" was worry and anxiety, and other times it was pure dreaming and fantasizing. "What would I do if Publisher's Clearing House knocked on my door with a ten million dollar check?" While that made me think of new houses, ATV's, and vacations on beaches, the most fun was dreaming about giving it away and helping others. Some times I worked through problems while lost in thought. There have been many theological changes that took place because of being lost in thought. The best "lost in thought" moments have been spent with God. Inviting Him in on the discussion, asking Him questions, and just knowing He was there. I wish I'd remembered to include Him more often. I guess you'd have to say that if He is part of it, it's never "lost" in thought, but always "found" in thought. Quiet time without God is just less noise, but quiet time with Him is a symphony of love.