January 28, 2009

Procession in Recession

Processions are what happen at graduations, weddings, and other noble events. It is a serious, significant, and happy move forward to a new place. I want a Procession in my Recession. 

Recessions are tough for sure. Especially on the folks that I pastor. The urban poor feel the brunt of this in disproportionate ways. With low end jobs they are often the first to be let go. With no savings to fall back on and limited resources available in their extended family, they are soon in the welfare line to grab what little they can. My comments today are not directed to them.

My comments are aimed at the rest of us who have more than we need but less than we want. 

Procession in Recession...I believe with God's help we can move forward in significant ways during economic downturns. Here are a few thoughts I have on moving ahead when your standard of living is falling behind: 

1. It forces an analysis of our spending patterns. Every dollar for a Christian is a sacred trust, one that we take too lightly too often. Squandering money on unnecessary things easily becomes a habit...a habit that is only broken when necessity forces a deeper concentration on every dollar.

2. It can bring a detachment from things to a deeper attachment to people. A 30 dollar trip to the movie can be replaced with a free trip someones house for a game of Scrabble. 

3. Replacing a habit of replacement with an act of rejuvenation. We have become the "throw away and buy a new one" generation. Very few things are repaired and kept. While it is true that things are manufactured that way these days to force continual spending- we can break the automatic reflex we have developed and seek to repair what we have. And we can seek to only buy things with greater longevity. 

4. A simplification of pleasures...we have become an unimaginative lot and to access other people's imaginations cost you money...think cable tv, movies, computer games, entertainment parks, dvd's, etc. Recession can help us rediscover our own imaginations and find joy in the simple. 

5. A rediscovery of what is free in the world...one public library has enough free entertainment to keep you busy for years...listening to pandora.com instead of subscribing to sirrius radio... samples at Costco...pedaling a bicycle...sunsets....free days at art museums...

6. A discovery of new skills. When forced to broaden one's marketability, you can discover or develop new skills that become a joy and a source of income throughout life. 

7. Deeper trust in God. When times are tough, we have the opportunity to meet God in deeper ways, to know Him more directly as provider, to be satisfied more often by HIM instead of by things. 

January 20, 2009

Barak, Rick, Larry

Names...it was all about names today. Big names.:Barak Obama, Joe Biden, Martin Luther King, Jr., Aretha Franklin, George W. Bush, Rick Warren, etc.

Deb and I watched the streaming live video on our computers while leaning back on our patio chairs under the bright California sun while those in D.C. were huddled together like sheep in a snowy field.

We were cheering the fact of an African American president being sworn in on a terrace built partially by slaves! I felt like congratulating every African American I met yesterday.

As we were listening, one commentator said, "Anyone who is anybody is here". I was a bit offended by the statement. I don't want to be "somebody", but I am NOT a "nobody", which means I am an "anybody" and I wasn't there.

My closest link to the event is about as distant as can be. Rick Warren was there and I once had lunch with Rick Warren...well there were six other people at the table so it wasn't like Ricky and Larry hanging and shooting the breeze...but still...does that make me "somebody"?

Rick gave the book I coauthored 5 stars...does that make me "somebody"?...of course he may have had some of his staff review it for him. Which means he still wouldn't know my name.

Rick did a great job today praying his inaugural prayer. I voted for Rick for president...but it was "write in" campaign that never got anywhere. :)

Anyway, I was impressed today by the fact that there is only one name that really lasts and Rick said it in 5 different languages---"JESUS". That's the only name you can invoke to enter heaven, to get right with God, to bless a President, to lead a country".

JESUS that's the NAME of the greatest person by FAR that was there, yesterday. Now HE IS a personal friend of mine. We hang out all the time. He thinks I am fantastic and I feel the same about him. And that does make me "somebody"!

January 12, 2009

Forgetting Myself Into Greatness

"Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity while one wise man forgets himself into immortality" - Martin Luther King Jr.
"If a man would gain his life, he must lose it." - Jesus Christ
The strive to "make a name" for myself is a hopeless, petty, and foolhardy ambition. It colors my "serving" in an ugly hue of "self".
I have "a name" and it's one that is cherished on the lips of Jesus. When I see him face to face, he will give me a new name.
Revelation 2:17 tells us "If we overcome...He will give us a white stone with a new name written on it."
Too often I try and "become" somebody important. The important thing is that I "overcome". I seek to see my name in "white lights" but Jesus is going to write it on a "white stone". Unlike the faddish coming and going of the names of the stars, this engraving will last forever.
Martin Luther King was not out to become someone great, but to overcome something great. He was not out to see his name rise, but to see others rise. He was not out to be a celebrity, but to be a servant.
Mother Teresa lived this style of servanthood also. She said, "Anyone can be great, because anyone can serve".
To give yourself away in service. To overcome on the mission God has placed you on, this is the real way to "MAKE A NAME FOR YOURSELF"!

January 05, 2009

URP about AARP

What an insult. The AARP (American Association Retired Persons) had the audacity to send me a membership card on the last day of 2008. I wanted to URP (evacuate).

Do they think I have grey hair, wrinkles, drive a 2001 Sebring Convertible, creak when I get out of bed, and am growing hair off my ears now? ....oops...guilty on all counts.

But come on...I am only 51 and longevity rates are rising alot faster than the stock market.
I will live to be 78 if I am average and since I have hit 50 without major health complications...83 should be no trouble for me.

If 83 is my number then I have 32 more years....they seriously want me to adjust my self-image enough to join their organization for the next 32 years??? And "retirement"...what gives with that word? They think people can afford to retire at 51 years of age?

With 401Ks sinking faster than the reputation of Illinois politics, there is not a chance of retirement. Besides I love what I do and have no desire to ever retire...get out of the way for the young bucks, yes...but not to get off the payroll and let them miss decades of the wisdom I got from all my mistakes.

So AARP back off for a couple of decades....although 15% off at Denny's is very tempting.