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Siri on the Meaning of Life

So I asked Siri on my iPhone 5 about the meaning of life. It was a funny and enlightening conversation. It highlighted that somethings are not created to care about these questions, but we are…

 
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Shark Week: Why We Buy into Unreal Reality

I just finished watching the first night of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. The programing the first night was designed to grab people’s attention at the beginning of a celebrated week of shark attacks, science, and slow motion. It’s yearly television event my family all watches together. However the first special was called Megalodon. This 2 hour special presents the case that this ancient 100 foot shark still lurks beneath the deep. They go so far as to show footage of a boat being sunk by this “shark” and tell how the crew all mysteriously died in the process. Oh, “Parental Caution” was advised.

Now for my ire…

This show was a farce. At the end of the exaggerated show, climaxing in a filmed attack by this 100 foot shark, popped this very quick disclaimer…

“Though certain events and characters in this film have been dramatized, sightings of “submarine” [this supposed shark] continue to this day.”

Shark Week 2

This 2 hour special billed as factual was all fiction based on hearsay. Upon doing a quick Google search, none of these sightings they present show up online. This was intended to raise awareness of Shark Week. Sure it trended on Twitter and inevitably will garner a large audience because of it, yet it presents a problem incredibly present in our culture.

We are so desperate for reality; we invent our own. Just by reading Twitter, thousands upon thousands of people of all ages believed this show. This shows how eager we are to settle for entertainment at the sake of truth. And we settle for it all the time.

How popular have “reality” shows become? Now how often are the real? Hmm…

We escape our own reality to enter into a pseudo one. Why?

As a pastor, I like truth. Truth strips down our reality and in the process, Truth redeems it. I have no problem with being entertained, but when we substitute what is real with what is fake, we’ve only run from our own problems.

So I’m angry with Shark Week, yet it just highlights a bigger problem. It’s not that we can’t handle the truth, but by and large, we simply don’t want it.

Who wants truth when you can be entertained?

Grr…

 
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Pray for Abortion to End?

I saw some people holding signs today that read, “Pray for Abortion to End.” A sign like this begs the question, “what is going on here?”

I walked to a sandwich shop in Louisville, KY to pick up some lunch for my wife. As I traversed the 2 blocks to Subway, I passed many signs along my way: “We sell Guns!” “Free Diamonds” “No soliciting.” There were many signs, yet something about the first sign stood out to me. First, no other sign was being held by a person, much less a group of people. Something about this sign was different. Most signs are passive objects, but this sign was active. People were looking for people to actively participate in the message of their sign.

I then noticed the building they were in front of; it was an abortion clinic. (The fact it was so close to multiple gun dealers was almost laughable if it wasn’t so ironic.)

This tribe of protesters were passionate to end abortion. Although not actively marching, (they were huddled up since it was 30 degrees) their message was clear. Abortion is bad.

But have they missed something?

I believe yes.

Standing on the corner in sub-freezing weather is admirable but not changing anything. Catching a cold is going to be the end result of such an exercise.

Yet what if the sign read, “Can I Pray with You?” or “I listen well” or even, “I Care, So Does Jesus”? What then?

Which sign do you think would make real change in the life of a woman heading in for an abortion, one condemning their soon-to-be-decision, or one inviting them (with all of their messy life decisions) into believing something different about themselves and God?

My point is this, you and I can’t change society’s values or social issues by merely crying foul. But we can make a difference in the life of one person at a time. It may seem small, but at least it’s real change. Jesus has a way of affecting the most broken among us, one at a time.

Let’s focus on that.

Yet are we focusing on anything at all? At least brave folks were trying. Are you?

 
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You Can’t Tweet the Gospel?

“You can’t really tweet the gospel”

Lately I’ve racked my brain, trying to imagine what the next evolution of what faith looks like online. Yet these words from Rob Bell (I respect the man deeply, but I seemingly can’t get away from him recently) have haunted me. I firmly believe in the impact of social media on humanity. From the rise of Facebook as a way of life, to YouTube changing the way we think through issues and enjoy entertainment, to Twitter’s role in the overthrow of governments, social media has become a huge factor in the development of this generation.

But is the Gospel divorced from this new segment of our lives? Is there room for the Gospel in a Tweet?

I’ve come to realize that faith online is mere reflections of the real thing. It’s good, but there is something better.

The Gospel is lived out action.

It cannot be Tweeted, it must be lived. The Gospel is expressed in messy relationships between you and God and you and other people. It must be lived.

Yet do we understand the idea of the Gospel? Ideas are best expressed in the simplest form. Simple ideas work like a virus; they are small yet profound, and they replicate…

Have you internalized the Gospel well enough to express it in it’s simplest form? Could you express it in 140 characters or less?

Think on it.

Try it.

Do we understand it? Do we live it?

The world needs Christians online. But the world needs us in person even more.

#LivetheGospel

 
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Jesus on a Plane

I love getting to new destinations. I hate traveling.

Irony?

Perhaps.

Taking personality profiles, I’m an extrovert, yet there is some magical transformation that takes place while I am in an airport. I withdraw within myself. Though I will hold a conversation with someone, I’d much rather buy a magazine, put in my headphones and pray my flight is on time.

When traveling recently, I sat next to another extrovert, who was very keen on talking. At the moment, my nervous energy overwhelmed my timidity and I started a conversation.

“Where are you from?” I asked. “Seattle” he replied.

“Why are you flying to Houston?” I added. He then proceed to give in long detail how he develops genetic testing machines. Incredible stuff, yet completely over my head.

“What do you do?” he asked me. “I’m a seminary student. I’m going to be a pastor in the United Methodist Church” I responded.

“Oh, well, that’s good too…” he said as the expression on his face changed. Immediately I sensed him pondering that this is going to be a long flight. He was not a Christian, as he made that clear as he floundered for what to say next without offending me. Not only was he from Seattle, which has a large population of atheists, he was in the medical/scientific field. All of this adding up to a possibly awkward two hour flight.

I knew not what to do from there. We continued our conversation for a few more minutes and each of us then settled into our respective distractions.

I felt burdened for him, so I did what any “good” Christian would do. I prayed for him. How good of a Christian am I!

or not…

I sat there, “praying” for the man next to me, when God, in that still small voice, said, “He doesn’t need your prayers, he needs you.” Ouch! God showed me as we were preparing for landing that I was Jesus on the plane for this man. Christians are Christ to the world. Prayers are good, being physically there is better.

I’d like to say I then turned and gave the man Jesus. I’d like to say I laid hands on the woman across the aisle who was flying to and from Atlanta for chemo treatments. I’d like to say I even pulled my Bible out as a conversation starter. But I cannot.

I am still learning what it is like to be Jesus to people. But I have realized the first step in this process is realizing you are Jesus to people, maybe the only Jesus representative they encounter. It doesn’t mean you should make everyone uncomfortable by preaching in confided spaces, but when God moves your heart for people, be more than just a prayer warrior for them. Give them Jesus.

God Bless,

 
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