Thomas Lee Returns & I’m Warning You

warningI previously wrote about Thomas Lee, the little boy at the pool whose name I heard 52,000 times within a half hour period because his mother kept saying his name over and over again. I also spoke about the dangers of cell phone parenting. Good news! We were lucky to see old Thomas Lee again at a recent visit to the pool. Unsurprisingly, his presence provided more entertainment and learning opportunities for all involved.

Our good buddy Thomas Lee continued to act like a child, which is what little boys are wont to do. (Wont is a fancy word you use if you’re a journalism major). Thomas Lee ran around, grabbed stuff that wasn’t his, swam in places he wasn’t supposed to swim, and acted crazy. I’ve got a little boy and he acts much the same way, so I understand. The problem wasn’t with Thomas Lee, but his mother. She determined her previous tactic of saying Thomas Lee’s full name repeatedly, (“Thomas Lee! Thomas Lee!”), wasn’t working, so she tried another course of action, “the warning”. (Cue dramatic music). Continue reading

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Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it,” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

kidney-cartoon-657522Kidneys don’t get a lot of love these days. Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone say to another person, “Dude, your kidneys look fantastic, have you been working out?” “Are you using a new conditioner, because your kidneys are very full bodied today?” “Girl! Your kidneys look great in those new pants!”

No, those sort of compliments are reserved for the visibly seen body parts like hair, legs, muscles, eyes, and skin. Heck, even toes get better treatment than kidneys. You can pay someone to rub, file, and massage those little puppies. The fact is that it is easier to notice and praise our visible body parts because, well, they’re noticeable. You can see what they do. They draw attention to themselves, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It’s easy to highlight the outward parts of our bodies, and why not? God made those parts of our body. Why not enjoy what he has made? If you’re a man and God gave you beautiful Jesus hair, then flaunt it. If you’re a woman and God gave you a beautiful smile, then wear it proudly. The human body is a glorious thing, which is why great artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo depicted the human body in classical works of art. (Donatello and Raphael were too busy fighting the Shredder to contribute). Continue reading

Thank God for the Kidneys

CheetosCropAnd thus whenever God wants to make people godly and strong that He gives them everything they ever wanted, lots of money, all the Cheetos they could ever eat, and keeps them from any difficulty, illness, or disappointment. God knows this is the best way to create people of patience, perseverance, and integrity…” – 1st Opinions 5:24. FYI: 1st Opinions is actually not a book of the Bible.

I wish that verse was true though, unfortunately it’s quite the opposite. In the Bible whenever you see men and women of greatness, they are inevitably people who have suffered disappointment, failure, weakness, and pain. God promised Abraham he’d have a son and be a great nation, and then let him wander around the desert without his own child for 25 years. Moses felt called to lead Israel out of bondage, (Acts 7:25), so God put him out in the desert for 40 years. (Huh?) David was anointed to be king as a young boy, then God let Saul throw spears at him and forced him to hide in the wilderness. What about the prophets, God’s messengers to Israel? Do you think they got a pass from this sort of treatment? Think again:

God: “Hey Elijah. I need you to help bring Israel’s hearts back to me.”

Elijah: “Sweet.”

God: “Yeah, but king is going to hate you and his wife will try to kill you so you’re going to have to live in the desert all alone and suffer for years.”

Elijah: “Wait, what?” Continue reading

God gives us pain instead of Cheetos

You Are E.T.

et-the-extra-terrestrialET was a movie made in 1982 by Steven Spielberg about an alien, (E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial), who crash landed on earth, made friends with a boy named Elliot, scared Drew Barrymore, ate Reese’s Pieces, phoned home, rode on a flying bike, and then got on his spaceship and went home. It’s really much better than the description I’ve provided, (Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 98% rating).

Why did I bring up a 34-year-old film? Because if you are a Christian, you are E.T. You are an Extra-Terrestrial. When you put your faith in Christ you no longer belonged to this world. Earth in is no longer your home. You belong somewhere else. Your natural identity, culture, and affections are bound to another land. There is a longing inside of you to “phone home”, to leave this awkward place, and be back among your “kind”. (There is also probably a longing inside you for Reese’s pieces, but that has more to do with your sugar tooth).  Continue reading

Things Parents Say to their Children, Part 1

For today’s reading enjoyment we are going to observe the language patterns of the North American parent. For those of you without children, just sit back and laugh at us.The following are statements regular stated by parents to children:

StopStop whatever it is you are doing.” – This is usually said when multiple children are involved with one another. You, as the parent don’t even have to be in the room or know what is going on, but you hear snickering, giggling, or fighting nearby. You’ve been around the block long enough to know those particular sounds are only going to lead to mischief or mayhem, so without even investigating the situation you say, in your sternest voice possible, “Please stop doing whatever it is you are doing.” Even though you don’t know the specifics of what’s going on, you KNOW it’s not going to end well and it needs to be put to a stop to immediately.

I don’t care what they did and who did it first.” This is usually announced by parents who have multiple children over the age of 5. Continue reading

Christians should be a bit nuts.

WillyWhat do you call someone who talks to themselves all the time? I’m not talking about asking yourself where you left your keys; we all do that. I mean someone who literally has full conversations with themselves as if they were not one individual, but two separate people. We usually call those people crazy.

Christians should be a bit nuts. We should be people who talk to ourselves on a regular basis. Why do I think so? Because the Bible tells me. So there.

In Psalm 42, the author talks to himself over and over again. What makes him do that? Is he crazy? Maybe not. The psalmist in verses 1-4 thirsts for God like a deer thirsts for cool waters. Whatever he is going through has brought him to the point where his tears have been his food and drink. He is in a dark place, spiritually. What’s worse is he can remember the mountain top. He can remember when he was close to God and life was going well. Now he is in a place of despair and emptiness.

So what does he do? He talks to himself. To you and I that may seem crazy, but in actuality what he is doing is perfectly sensible. He hears the voice of darkness and despair screaming in his ear that he is alone, that God has forsaken him. He could simply submit to those voices, or he could talk back to himself and remind himself of the truth.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God,” (Psalm 42:5-6).

The author begins talking to himself like a crazy person. But unlike a crazy person, he is speaking sense and truth to himself. Instead of being guided by his own emotions and fears, he reminds himself of truth. He says, “Hope in God. One day I will praise him for his deliverance and help.” The word “hope” could also be translated “wait” because the idea is not blind hoping God will show up, but a faithful expectation. It’s like waiting for payday when the bills are due. You are not hoping the check will arrive, you know the money is coming, it’s just a matter of getting to Friday to receive it.

The psalmist sinks back into despair in verses 9-10, which is actually pretty encouraging. It’s not that I delight in people suffering, but it’s nice to see authors of sacred scripture struggle with their emotions and doubts just like I do. The author is earnestly questioning God, even to the point of saying God has forgotten him and is allowing him to be tormented by his enemies who taunt the author, saying “Where is your God?”

You have heard those voices in the dark, haven’t you? Either from your own mind or from the voices of your enemies, we have heard those wicked taunts. “God is not there. God doesn’t love you. You’re screwed. This is hopeless. You have got to figure this out yourself. The Lord can’t or won’t help you.

So what do we do? We can either surrender to the voice of circumstance, fear, and doubt, or we can be a bit nuts. I hope you’ll join the psalmist in being a bit crazy and start talking to yourself, like so:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God,” (Psalm 42:11).

talk-to-myselfThe psalm ends with the author talking to himself, reminding him of the character of God, and telling himself to wait in faith. This is our challenge. When we feel like God doesn’t love us, we must tell ourselves Jesus gave his life for us, (Galatians 2:20). When we hear the voices say God is not in control, we must tell ourselves God works all things according to his will, (Ephesians 1:11). When we feel inadequate and small, we should remember Christ is our strength in our weakness, (2 Corinthians 12:9).

So I challenge you to lose your mind. Talk to yourself when you are overwhelmed with worry, doubt, and fear. Tell yourself the truth of God’s character. Remind yourself of God’s Word. Be a little crazy. You have to be in order to preserve your faith in God.