4 years ago
The Only 2-Year-Old I Know Who Got A Lighter For His Birthday

Last night my wife and I threw a surprise party for a good friend.

It was his second birthday.

Two years ago, he came to Christ after almost 40 years lived away from God. So we had a few of his new found family over, a cake with a “2” candle, party hats, and cookies with his name on them.

The people who came even brought gifts: a container of salt (Mat 5:13), a lighter (Mat 5:14), and a car air freshener (2 Cor 2:14-15).

It was a blast.

I hate that this was the first one of these we’ve thrown. But I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. After all, what’s more worthy of celebration than the total transformation of a soul and a complete alteration of one’s destiny?

Happy birthday, Bill. …And many more.

4 years ago
How God Is Like Joshua Bell

So what happens when you put a world-famous violinist in a subway station, dress him in regular clothes, and have him play during rush hour? Apparently, not much.

A couple of years ago, a Washington Post reporter tried this with concert violinist Joshua Bell. He put Bell in a DC subway and had him play a $3,000,000 Stradivarius as over one thousand people passed him.

Bell made $32.17. $20 of that was from the one person who recognized him.

That happens with extraordinary things, doesn’t it? So often, if they’re not set apart for us somehow, we don’t notice them.

Now, if you were to put Joshua Bell in a tuxedo on stage in Carnegie Hall, it would be different, right? Everyone would say, “Wow. What an incredible performance.” And what would you have done? Dressing him differently and putting him on stage certainly doesn’t increase his talent.

It just glorifies him.

Glorify: (v.) 1. to reveal or make clearer the glory of

This is what we’re called to do with God. We don’t need to add to his talent, we just need to demonstrate it. My life becomes the stage, my love the spotlight.

Because it would be tragic if people in the subway walked by and missed him.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

4 years ago
Shedding the Lizard Brain

Heard a great presentation recently from Seth Godin. He talked about how chickens and other stupid animals have what he calls a “lizard brain"—a very low-functioning brain that’s always 4 things:

  • Selfish
  • Hungry
  • Scared
  • Horny (pardon the indelicate word, but it’s his and it best communicates the truth here)

Those four impulses rule the lizard brain. It doesn’t (and really, can’t) think beyond them. Altruism, selflessness, benevolence, peace—the lizard brain has no place for them. This makes wild animals wild, Godin says. They have lizard brains.

The lizard brain was in charge of you in high school.

The lizard brain is still in charge of a lot of people.

And the lizard brain is exactly what Christ came to rescue us from.

I talked just yesterday to a woman who’s on a journey toward God. We’ve been studying through the gospels, and as she’s encountered Jesus she’s been changing. Her behavior, her perspective—they’re slowly being shaped by her new proximity to Christ.

Then, on a trip she took last week with an old friend, she got a close-up view of the life she’s decided to leave behind. It was the lizard brain life. Selfish. Hungry. Scared. Horny. And she hated it.

She hated it because she’s seen the alternative. She’s seen what life can be like with God.

And she doesn’t want to be a lizard anymore.

4 years ago
Too Perfect

I seldom drive past houses at Christmastime without thinking about my sister’s deep hatred for what she calls “grid lights.”

These are the Chrismas lights that come prearranged in a grid pattern; you’ll often see them draped over people’s bushes and shrubs.

It’s a whole lot easier than painstakingly threading a single string of lights back and forth across the bush.

And they’re perfectly spaced.

But these are exactly the reasons my sister hates them. Too easy. Too perfect. They end up becoming the kind of thing my wife often describes as “too slick.”

It’s interesting—there seems to be a fine line between purposeful, intentional, designed beauty and slick, too-perfect, inauthentic-looking creations. I think this is why we gravitate toward cool tattered-edge book pages, beautiful grunge design, or casual-but-compelling presentations.

We want things to be good, but not so good they seem inhuman. At that point, they stop being good and start being perfect, and something inside us tends often to bristle at perfect.

Of course, the ironic thing is that there’s a perfect imperfect. There’s a just-so look that comes from getting the Christmas lights scattered in a way that both appears random and well-balanced.

And since that’s most pleasing to our eye, isn’t that the most perfect perfection of all? We don’t want something that’s all messed up. At the same time, we want imposed beauty but we want it without the charm and personality of imperfection being completely erased.

Which is cool, because it’s exactly what God does with us.

Saves us. Washes us. Transforms us.

But saves us. Washes us. Transforms us.

In the end, He preserves the idiosyncrasies, quirks, and eccentricities, creating a perfect imperfect.

And isn’t that the most perfect perfection of all?

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