Holding up a sign

Posted by Max02 | Labels: , , | Posted On Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 12:57 PM
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This past Sunday, Leslie and I were driving to South Padre Island to visit Zeste, a new gourmet-market place we stumbled on a few weeks ago. They sell these dehydrated vegetables that Leslie fell in love with. Good stuff. We ended up eating there. Good times.

On the way there, we saw a guy on the side of the road holding up a sign that said, “JESUS SAVES.” Brownsville’s a pretty small place, but I’ve actually never seen anyone on the side of the road with a sign that wasn’t either begging for money or asking for donations. But this guy was just standing there, sign held high. I thought it was really cool.

Anyway, the guy with the sign got me thinking that as courageous and as gutsy as it to stand on a busy street corner declaring “JESUS SAVES,” that’s only one part of the picture. I don’t know his name, I don’t know what church he goes to and I don’t know if he has a family. I don’t know if he believes in speaking in tongues, “missional” living or baptizing babies.

I don’t know if he’s a Presbyterian, Baptist, Non-denominational, or “other.” I don’t even know if he goes home and looks at porn, lies to his friends and family, or cheats on his exams. I don’t know anything about him. The only thing I know is that he’s standing on the corner of a busy street with a sign that says, “JESUS SAVES.”

If his sign is all I have to go on for him, he’s off to a fairly good start in my book. But these were my questions, “Who are you when you go home? What’s on the other side of that sign?”

It’s one thing for us to hold up our sign, go on a mission trip, church camp, or church service and then go home and live the rest of “our” lives. So many people get caught up in the actions of being a "good Christian," as if they can hold them up to God and say, “Look. You see that? I did that for You. Please be happy with me now.”

The Bible says:

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say
you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?
Can that kind of faith save anyone?”
James 2:14

You can read the rest here.

The area that I live in is very Catholic in culture. However, it’s not a practicing, devout Catholicism. I grew up knowing that if someone said they were Catholic it meant they hardly ever went to mass, except for the "Holy Days" like Easter and Christmas, maybe Lent, and they went to confession every now and then. Other than that, they were no different than any other person who wasn’t a Catholic. They cussed, they fought, they cheated, stole, etc. That stereotype is still very much alive today.

Sadly, this definition of spiritual belief often defines Christians as a whole. Many of us go to church on the weekend, then go right back home to the thing God hates. One of the pastors at my church, Randy Cawlfield, said something along these lines. He said that some people come to church knowing full well that they will cheat on their wives in a few days, that they’ll go home to their live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, or that they’ll cheat on their taxes this year.

Who are you when you go home? When nobody else is watching? When you’re not standing in a room full of people raising their hands in worship? When you’re not in a far off country preaching about God’s love and plan for our lives? When you're not taking theology classes? Who are you?

Do you sit at home and watch TV shows you know are wrong and would never even think of recommending to anybody in church? Do you ignore your family? What are you like?

We hold up signs that say: Christian, Loving husband/wife/son/daughter/parent, PTA member, Small Group Leader, Pastor, Worship Leader, All-around good person. But what’s on the other side of your sign?

As hard as it can be to publicly announce your faith by word or deed, it’s what comes after that is even more demanding: what does the REST of your life say about you?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing
to God – this is your spiritual act of worship."
Romans 12:1

&

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
Romans 12:9

Read the whole thing here.

I don’t exclude myself from any of this. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve done all these things and then turned around, woke up every morning, and went to work at my church. I was a hypocrite. Plain and simple.

(Thank You, God, for forgiveness, mercy, love, and second chances.)

This is the question I find myself asking today:

Who are we when no one’s around?

Dinner, song writing and love

Posted by Max02 | Labels: , , , | Posted On Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 12:32 PM
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Leslie and I wrote a song yesterday.

In the past month or two I’ve been feeling like our church should start writing music, but I wasn’t sure how or where to start. A few weeks ago, one of the bass players in the band asked, “Have we ever thought of writing our own music for the band?” It was both timely and interesting to me because, as I’d said to my wife, I wanted to ask him to help me with just that.

God moves and speaks; it’s awesome.

We made some plans but they fell through because of unexpected work scheduling. We’re still planning to get together, but not for another week or two, depending on the schedule. I’m really looking forward to it.

The other night I had a really strange dream. I dreamt I was in a home with a family; father, mother, three children, grandma, and me (maybe I was part of the family, maybe I wasn’t, I can’t remember). What stands out to me, other than the grandma sitting on a rare mask the dad was hiding from the mom (don’t ask, I don’t know), there was the oldest girl. She was between 9 and 12 years old. She had really dark hair, dark eyes, thin, pretty pale, and kind of sad.

In my dream, this girl did something that was almost borderline evil, but I don’t remember what exactly, and the parents spanked her. She was devastated, as all children are devastated when they’re corrected. But there was something different, something off about it. Her clothes were suddenly drenched, you could practically see through the layers of fabric. She was wearing a hood-type shirt that she put over her head. I felt like I needed to talk to her, to tell her something. When I went and knelt in front of her, she used the hood to cover her eyes.

Aside from the wet clothes, strange hood and pale face, the thing that stood out the most to me were her eyes; they were white all over. It seemed like her pupils were being covered by this glossy, milky-white substance. You’ve heard the expression, “our eyes are the windows to our soul”? Well it felt like I was watching this girl’s heart and soul detach and pull away from the world. I don’t know what made her think or respond that way. But I remember saying, “You are loved.”

She hid her face from me again in her hood. She tried to pull away from me and the words that couldn’t be true. I made her look at me as I told her again, “You are loved. Don’t you know that you’re loved?” As I spoke those words to her again and again, it seemed as if the color came back to her eyes; that whatever it was that covered her eyes was being overtaken by her return to the world, emotion, and love.

That theme rang in my head all day yesterday. It reminded me of a scripture I half remembered about God’s love. I looked it up on www.biblegateway.com (wonderful site) and I found it:

Jeremiah 31:3
“Long ago the LORD said to Israel:
‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.’”

When our dinner plans for yesterday fell through, I sent my wife an e-mail saying that I wanted the both of us to try and write a song. She was pretty excited about it and even started thinking about the theme I wanted to go with, “You are loved.”

Last night, after one of the best meals she’s ever cooked, we sat down with a notepad, pen and guitar and got to writing. I was working on chords while she cooked, so I had some rough melodies laid out. After the first session, which had almost the entire song written, we took a desert break, and then came back and finished off the bridge.

It was the first time Leslie and I started a song together. All in all I’d say it was pretty darn successful. At the end of the night we had an entire song completed (still a work in progress, of course). I think we make a great team.

All that to say, if you’ve ever felt worthless, unloved, unwanted or alone, please know that God loves you, He wants you, He chooses you, and He treasures you more than you know. We’re captured in His love; utterly covered by it.