Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"A Friend of Mine Inspired that Book"

This morning I was standing in line at Starbucks with my Bible in my hand. The guy in front of me, a black man (which will be relevant in a moment), saw what I was holding and the conversation went something like this:

Guy in Line: "Looks like you have a good book there."
Me: "Yeah..."
GiL, after a brief pause to order his drink: "You know, a friend of mine inspired that book. A good friend. We go way back."
Me: "Yeah..." with a little laugh.

Which yields three thoughts:

(1) If I would've said something like that to someone in line, I would've sounded totally lame. That's why it was relevant that the GiL was black. For some reason black people can just say stuff like that and it is totally cool.

(2) How come I can never think of something better to say in response in those situations? I'll be honest: I had even just rearranged the books in my hand (I also had my journal and Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret) so that when I got to the barista, there was a chance some conversation could go from there. You never know, right? But then the conversation with this guy happens, and all I can come up with is a lame laugh and a "yeah". Not that it would've made a big difference in this particular situation, but still, how come I can't be super clever when I want to be?

(3) Later on, when I had the inevitable, "This is what I should've said" moment, what I thought of was, "Hey, I go way back with him too. He knew me before I was in my mother's womb even."


So I guess that makes it a "This is what I'm glad I didn't say" moment.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm Addicted to this Song

Seriously, I am. Thanks for showing it to me Dad.

Monday, June 21, 2010

God of Creation, What Shall I Do?

Headed by my re-reading of Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy a week ago, I have been struck by God's self-existence and self-sufficiency in new ways of late. The reality that God has absolutely no needs from anyone or anything outside of Himself is remarkable. I cracked open Genesis 1 this morning and was reminded of it again in that simple opening sentence of the Bible, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

There, in that one sentence, is that same truth: God needs nothing from anyone. He creates by an act of His unfettered will, though even that creation itself is not something He needs in any meaningful sense of the word. He simply wants to do it, so He does. Christians have never been able to figure out why He would create but for one reason: He delights in His own glory, and creation reflects that glory.

And here am I, an infinitesimally tiny blip on the historical landscape of that creation running about with constant thoughts of what I can do for God. Scheming, planning, brainstorming, and conversing, all about that question: what shall I do to bring God glory? But Gen. 1:1 retorts, "You do indeed exist for His glory, Andrew, and He does indeed value you as His image-bearer, but how do you so quickly forget that He can bring Himself glory just fine without your help?"

So I'm not "doing the Lord's work". He can do His work just fine without me, thank you very much. I'm asking Him to do work through me. Wonder of wonders, I'm allowed a place in God's kingdom-mission to glorify Himself. Given this reality, why do I plan so much and pray so little? Imagine Warren Buffet's son setting up a lemonade stand to contribute to the continued growth of the family income. Such is my foolishness.

Maybe God's self-sufficiency has captivated me of late because my life does not reflect that I believe it is true. That lack of prayer is the largest pointer to this. Do I desire to reach lost people for Christ? Do I desire to grow in holiness? Do I desire to preach more effectively? Then I try to think of relevant outreach models, I try to read more Christian books, and I try varying my rhetorical techniques. I don't pray.

I suspect I am not alone in this. I suspect, in fact, that many evangelical churches and their pastors struggle because they aren't really committed to prayer much at all. The ceaseless barrage of advertisements for better mouse traps from Christian publishers worsens the problem. Just once I'd like to see a Zondervan catalog come to our church that didn't have any books or DVD's. It would just be a single page that said, "Don't buy our books this month. Try praying a lot."

But the financial bottom line would not allow for that, just as the ministry-output bottom line in many churches wouldn't allow for a pastor to take that advice. "That's fine, pastor, quit all of our programs and get everyone to pray and fast for a month instead." Unlikely advice, for we've always got to be doing something if we're really going to earn that paycheck, which, I remind you, comes from the people's pockets. Whether the pressure is from the pastor's conscience or the congregation's mouths, isn't this the way it goes?

Maybe I'm a pessimist, or maybe it's just a mood. In any case, I'd do best now to take my own advice and stop giving advice. I must pray.


All-Sufficient God,

Nothing is impossible for You. You have no limitations, no boundaries, nothing within or outside of Yourself that can or will stop You from carrying out Your plans. Far from being academic truths for systematic theologians and their students, this is bedrock, every-day stuff. And yet I forget it almost every day- even when it has been on my mind uncharacteristically often.

So then, if You can do all things You desire in order to glorify Yourself, my prayer is simple: use me in that. This will be my greatest joy. In the midst of that, Lord, teach me to pray like someone who really believes all this. Teach me to trust You. Teach me to delight in You and You alone.

I can only ask these things in the name of the One Who Has Reconciled Me to You, the Lord Jesus Christ, and so I do.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The World's Largest Lebanese Food Dishes

Way to go Lebanon!  You finally did it!  You created the largest bowl of tabouleh and the largest bowl of hummus in the world! 

Seriously.  I got these from this photo blog chronicling a bunch of Guinness World Records.

I think what I love most is how excited they all look- as if with that last spoonful of hummus they just did eek out a record they weren't totally sure they could break.  I mean, really, was this even close?  Were there bowls of tabouleh or hummus that gave these folks a run for their money?

In any case, I've never been so proud to be a Lebanese American.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fast Blues Cover of "Tic Toc" By My Friends


It's a facebook video, so hopefully it'll still work even if you aren't friends with Jarred Coleman.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (or My Current Obsession)

Watch and delight.  Try to get past how weird the girl singer is and just enjoy how ridiculously awesome this song is.

Here's another one from NPR's "Tiny Desk" series (which, by the way, also has had performances by the Avett Brothers and Ralph Stanley, among others).  They play three songs in this video, including "Home".  Don't skip it though.  It's clearly good enough to listen to twice.

HT: Justin My Musical Hero Botz

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Best Commercial Ever?

Quite possibly.  If I didn't already use Old Spice, I would now.  Kind of like the way I used to eat at Jack in the Box occasionally just as my little way of saying, "Thanks, Jack in the Box, for making me laugh with your commercials, even though your food really isn't that great."

HT: Jamin Soch

Monday, February 22, 2010

On Coffee Shop Bible Studies (or Seminary Grads Don't Have a Monopoly on the Holy Spirit)

Britt and I were sitting in Starbucks tonight doing some work when I saw four young black men sitting together while one of them taught from a tattered Bible.  He was reading from one of the accounts of Jesus' call of the first disciples- maybe Mark 1:16-20.  I couldn't hear much of what he said specifically, but I caught the words "steep expectations" as the smile of a serious disciple formed on his face.  I couldn't help but to sit and stare for a bit, even knowing I was breaking social protocol.

Something about this sort of thing always affects me.  I have seen plenty of coffee shop Bible studies before, but every time I think, "Isn't that great- look at how those brothers of mine are reading God's Word right over there, and I've never even met them." That, I think, is what I love: that people I have never seen before are talking about the same Jesus in the same Bible by the same Spirit that I have.

Whatever else he said- there was another something about how these men left their fathers in their boats to follow Jesus in connection with those steep expectations- I wonder why it is that I can sit and think, "You'll have to use me and all my wisdom if you're going to do anything in my church, Lord." That is clearly false, as evidenced by this man's patient listening and teaching.  He was clearly invested in these other men, who looked a couple years younger than he was, and they sat for a few hours around the Bible.

Well-worn Bibles are in the hands of brothers and sisters all over the place.  This is a joyful realization.  God's Spirit doesn't need me- He's using plenty of others.  It is my privilege to be a part of it, and for that matter, to witness the parts of it that others play.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm Tired of Being Friends with Wannabe Missionaries

Justin Botz is leaving indefinitely for Cambodia this weekend.  You know what I think?  I think it sucks.

Well, not really.  It's a pretty fantastic opportunity for Botzy and I couldn't be happier for him in that respect.  But it does bring up the larger reality that being friends with people who are set on doing missions is crappy because they inevitably just leave.  Like Kyle and Melody Thibodeau did last weekend.  Here one week, in South Korea the next- and for two years at that.

Soon enough the Kyle and Sarah Fox and Trey and Erin Allen will go do the same, and my reaction to those is quite the same: it's fine that you want to go serve Jesus overseas and all, but what about me?  What about the fact that this means we don't get to hang out while you're there?  Ever think of anyone besides yourselves and Jesus?

Apparently not.

So let it be a lesson to all of you: don't be friends with people who want to do missions.  Eventually they just pick up and leave and it's stupid.

Except for the part where it's awesome, of course.  Y'all better send me a card once in awhile.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jesus and Stuff

As I mentioned here, I've been listening to David Platt like crazy. I've nearly finished his "Radical" series now and Britt and I have realized just how much stuff we have and how much more money we could give for the sake of those who are in so much need.

The fact that I didn't notice this sort of thing sooner is troubling. How could I live so selfishly with my money? How can I justify spending so much money on food, drinks, and books, while people who can't read die of starvation and thirst? How come I don't more readily see myself as the Rich Young Ruler? How come I have so long glossed over the many Biblical passages that tell me that murderers, adulterers, and those who neglect the poor are all in the same boat?

What Platt constantly reminds me is this: none of the pleasures of this world are greater than relationship with Christ. It is, as he says, almost unreasonable to call it "sacrifice" when we give away our earthly possessions when we consider how much greater is the reward of Christ. As all of my Reformed heroes have taught me, so I am reminded: there is nothing in this world as good as knowing Jesus Christ. When compared with this, every other pleasure looks more and more like I'm getting ripped off.

And so, our Lord says, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Will I be the Rich Young Ruler who laments Jesus' call to sell my many possessions and so rejects him, or will I joyfully sell it for the greater treasure?

Lord, make me like the disciples who dropped their nets to follow you.