Thursday, February 28, 2013

Watching Wood Burn

Norwegian public television has an exciting idea for a new show.  The network plans to broadcast wood burning in a fireplace for 12 hours straight.  The images of the fireplace will include commentary and expert advice on wood burning from well-known Norwegians (no joke).

That show probably sounds pretty boring to most Americans.  We are all about the action.  We want fight scenes, explosions, and car chases on our television shows.  We want our heroes to do stuff, not just sit around and wax philosophical about all things wood and fire.
With that said, coming to terms with not doing stuff might be a good exercise for many Americans.  Learning to slow down, rest, and relax might be just what we need.  There is a lot to be gained from knowing how to be as well as knowing what to do.

Jesus instructed His disciples to take a break and settle down.  The Gospel of Mark says, “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”  After doing a bunch of stuff, Jesus tells His closest followers to slow down, take it easy, and get some rest.  In other words, Jesus told them enjoy being His disciples as well as doing what disciples do.
As you going this season of fasting, give up the hectic pace of action packed doing.  Take time to get away, read the scripture, sit in silence, and pray.  Learn to enjoy being with Christ as much as you enjoy serving Christ.  There is much to be gained from the act of being a Christian.  And, I am sure it will be more enjoyable than watching Norwegians talk about burning wood.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How God Made a Farmer

DaimlerChrysler ran a commercial during the Super Bowl that created a lot of buzz.  In the ad, Paul Harvey’s poem “So God Made A Farmer” narrated a slide show of striking images depicting American farmers and the landscapes they work.  I was moved by the commercial and it left me thinking that the American farmer is a never failing, always honest, caretaker of God’s creation.

Now, I grew up in a rural agricultural community filled with farmers.  My experience was a bit different than Paul Harvey’s poem.  The farmers I knew were ordinary people.  They had ups and downs and goods and bads just like the rest of us.  With those experiences in mind, I questioned the feelings evoked by the commercial.  I decided the ad was overly nostalgic and a bit dishonest.

Later, I learned that the commercial left out one line of Harvey’s poem.  Ad makers deleted a line that says farmers “finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.”  I don’t know or care why they chose to exclude that line.  But, for me, it made all the difference in the world. 

That line made a big difference because driving to church every week is a way people seek God.  Regular trips to meet God are a way ordinary people are transformed into the noble characters Paul Harvey celebrates.  When people seek God in Bible studies, worship services, prayer groups, and prayer closets, God graciously develops our character.  God makes us more patient, more kind, more faithful, more joyous, and more self controlled.  In terms of the commercial, God makes us a farmer.

As you go through the coming week, take regular trips to meet God.  Pray, study the Bible, go to church, invest in your Growth Group, and be changed.  You will find that it makes you a different type of person.  You will learn the process by which God makes you a farmer.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hip Hop and the Act of Love

I loved listening to a Christian rap group called D.C. Talk when I was in junior high.  I thought they were awesome.  One of my favorite songs began by asking, “you down with the dc talk?”  At the ripe age of twelve, I was indeed “down.” 

Today, many scoff at my junior high music tastes.  That is fair.  But, that song made an impression on my life.  After asking listeners if they were “down,” D.C. Talk sang, “Hey, tell me haven't you heard?  Love, is a serious word…the word love; love is a verb.”

Hip-hop aside, that is a powerful statement.  Love is a verb.  Meaning, love goes beyond sentiments and intentions.  Love is an action.  When we love someone, we do stuff for them.  We give hugs.  We buy gifts.  We serve.  We sacrifice.  Love is communicated through action.
The Apostle Paul agrees.  In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul says that love involves all kinds of actions.  Love is patient and kind.  It does not boast.  It always protects and always perseveres.  Love is a verb.

As you go through the coming week, see how you might put love into action.  Serve your spouse as a way of letting them know you love them.  Sacrifice time at work in order to spend more time loving on your children.  Though I may have learned it through early nineties, decaffeinated hip-hop, the lesson is no less true.  Love is a verb.