Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Thoughts on this week's The Walking Dead episode

Liz and I are big fans of The Walking Dead. We have watched it since the beginning. It's such a great show. But I think this past Sunday's episode, No Way Out, was the best in the history of the show.

If you haven't watched the show yet then feel free to stop reading because there will be spoilers. If you don't watch the show at all you are missing out, but you can keep reading because there were some incredible illustrations in this week's episode.

Before you read further I want you to watch the show and think about it's implications for you personally and for the church.

First observation: The show began with everyone as victims. Darryl and his crew were victims to the biker gang. Glen and the teen girl (who's name has left me) were victims who couldn't get to where they wanted to go. Rick and the rest of Alexandria were victims to the hoard of walkers who had invaded Alexandria.

As victims they acted like victims: Scared, sheepish, hiding, cowering. 

They covered themselves in zombie body parts so as to blend in and not be noticed.

And if you watched the episode you know that fear lived out led to death (I was very sad about this because I thought Rick had finally found love again) and to Carl getting his eye shot out.

As a result, Rick threw his fear and safety aside and decided to do something about the problem. He took off alone to take on a million walkers.

But something happened when Rick had the courage to take the first step. Everyone followed. There are huge ramifications and implications of this kind of courage in our own lives. We need to be people of courage.

This courage was also displayed by Darryl when he took out the bikers with the RPG. That was so awesome I almost stood up and cheered.

Another observation: They didn't go after each other. They went after the walkers. It reminds me that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the ruler, authorities and powers of this dark world. We have an enemy. It's not each other.

Another observation: We can do more together than alone. They had a major team building experience. They needed one another. They figured that out by working together, fighting together.

I could write more but I don't have the time. And to be honest, I wrote this mainly for myself. I need to remember how important courage is. Be the one to risk for the sake of a cause that's bigger than me, even with death/failure on the line. I have an enemy and it's not the other human beings that share the planet with me. Make sure I'm fighting the right enemy. I need community. I need others.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Two books you need to read

I want to recommend two great books as follow-ups to my sermon this past Sunday about us being Salt and Light. 

The first book is Bob Roberts', Bold as Love. I have had respect for Bob since he spoke to my evangelism class in grad school, and my respect for him continues to grow. If you're not following him on twitter, you should be. He's doing incredible things to represent Christians and Jesus well around the globe, especially among Muslims.

The second book is by Kevin Palau. It's titled Unlikely. I heard Kevin last week at the Come Closer Lunch here in Spartanburg. His story is fascinating. It's about how churches in Portland have come together to serve their city and the unlikely relationships they have made along the way. It's a fascinating book. 

There are a lot of books I could recommend, but these two have been challenging and helpful to me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Live it like a Song - From Jon Foreman

I posted this video yesterday. It really is worth 18 minutes of your time. As an added bonus, here's Jon's transcript that he posted on the Switchfoot website:

There is a melody inside of you, an anthem buried in your chest.
Your heart keeps time, your thoughts and your words sing out in a cadence and a rhythm that is yours alone. 
Every day this song of yours is burning comes to life against the backdrop of the great symphony of time.
The stars, the moon, the sun, the rising and the falling of the tide, the rhythm of the seasons keeping time, and then the human chorus chimes in with emails, and traffic, and coffee shops.
This is the context where your melody takes place.
And yet, you are unique. You were born to sing a song with your life that no one else can sing.
When you were a kid, this melody of yours was easy to sing. It wasn’t perfect, but it came so natural, so free.
And now, maybe it’s harder to find. I know firsthand – the years add layers of pain, fear, doubt, shame and insecurity. 
You read the headlines: murder, war, divorce, hatred, and death and you wonder: 
How can this fragile little melody ever make a dent?
Late at night you ask yourself, Does my song matter?
I’ve been there. those questions are real. 
I’ve spent many nights alone, looking up at the moon, asking the sky:
“Does my time here on the planet have a purpose?”
And you breathe and you close your eyes and listen – 
You hear the ocean’s roar.
You hear the wind blowing through the trees.
And maybe you hear the contagious, unbridled joy of your daughters laughter.
And it’s almost as if the composer of time and space has answered back in wordless beauty:
you matter. 
your song matters.
There is a void in the symphony of life when you are silent – 
Your melody is needed – the good, the bad, the ugly, the shameful, the painful… all of it. 
Don’t be afraid. You walk through the tension. 
Be brave and begin to sing the truth – one note at a time. 
so how do you live a good song? How do you make it count?
Breathe, stretch, meditate, pray. 
This is your instrument! Get a good night sleep. 
When you tune, you learn to know your instrument. You realize what is yours to change and what is outside of your control. 
What does the song need? What do my friends need? My family, my community?
My favorite musicians are the ones who play exactly what’s needed – nothing more, nothing less. 
That takes an incredible listener. 
Listen to BB king – he could play three notes that say more than most guitars players who have ever lived. 
(be yourself)
I spent most of Jr. High trying to be BB king. And it’s good to learn from the masters. We learn best by imitation. But imitation has limitations, and the biggest thing that BB King taught me was that I am not BB King. BE YOURSELF.
You’ll never be as smooth as BB. You’ll never be as cool as Keith. But with a lifetime of practice, you’ll start to sound like you. 
To be yourself will take a lifetime of practice. Humans aren’t like the other species here on the planet. Being human takes practice. 
You don’t have to teach a fish to swim or a horse to run. But it takes us years to learn to walk and talk. 
A doctor practices medicine. A monk practices his faith. You practice being you. 
It’s going to take time. 
(wrong notes)
And you will fail along the way. You will break strings, you will hit the wrong note, you will be frustrated, and you will want to quit. 
Congratulations: you’re human!
Forgive yourself. Forgive those around you – believe it or not, they’re human too. 
I used to hate playing live music – I could get it perfect on the record, but live was the unknown. 
I don’t know if you heard the mistake I made in that last song – the mistakes never stop!
The beauty of music and life is time travel – you enter the song a younger soul than when you exit. And even after the broken string the symphony of life is ever unfolding around you. 
Don’t let the wrong notes in the past ruin the present and the future – the song is still unfolding.
(tension and release)
Music is built by tension and release. Dissonance and resolve.  
Humanity is stretched tight between the womb and the grave, between control and chaos, between conflict and resolve. 
Like a guitar string, we are stretched tight, pulled in two places at once. 
 And when you’re in a difficult season you want to run towards one end or the other. To cut the chord.
And yet, to cut the string is death. The tension is where the beauty happens. 
The melody of our lives is when we dance on these strings of tension. 
Be brave, your melody is worth it. Be courageous, your melody is needed. 
I dare you. 
I dare you to live out your purpose.
That the melody within you would soar above the fear, above the crowd, above the past, above the pain,
and that the song that you were born to sing would come to life. 
The composer of time and space has given you a part to play in the great symphony of time. 
This is your life, this is your opus. I dare you to move.