I feel just like Waffle House hash browns…
But at least I am country.
I just feel like Waffle House hash browns.
Know what I mean?
Proud member of the DoomsDaddy Network!
I feel just like Waffle House hash browns…
But at least I am country.
I just feel like Waffle House hash browns.
Know what I mean?
I have a thing or two to say to you.
In church Sunday, the preacher I was listening to was talking about how to listen to a sermon. He was teaching us how to listen to him and apply what he told us. I powerfully resisted the inclination to consider how self-serving such a sermon might be and my heart instead acknowledged that the points he made were valid…and biblical…and wise.
Still, I could not help myself. When he talked about how listening to him was listening to God speaking to us through him, it gave me pause for reflection.
I reflected on how many times I might have said a similar thing…and meant it. I reflected on how natural such a thought once seemed to me. How I might think and say such a thing without much consideration of what I was actually saying.
How many preachers really stop to think about the gravity and enormity of such a claim?
In researching the size of the universe (aka, Googling), I found this interesting scale.
When it comes to how big a statement it is to claim to be the mouthpiece of God, you have to consider: Just how big is God? By how big, I mean how big of a deal; not His size. God is, after all, spirit and hardly seems quantifiable as to dimensions. He is also, we believe, Creator of all that we see and all that we cannot see.
I do not know how big the universe is and neither does anyone else. But, it’s big. Wiredscience.com puts the size of the universe into perspective, sort of:
To try imagining how big, place a penny down in front of you. If our sun were the size of that penny, the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, would be 350 miles away. Depending on where you live, that’s very likely in the next state (or possibly country) over.
Attempting to imagine distances larger than this quickly becomes troublesome. At this scale, the Milky Way galaxy would be 7.5 million miles across, or more than 30 times the distance between the Earth and the moon. As you can see, these are rather inhuman dimensions that are almost impossible to really get a sense of.
But that doesn’t mean it’s completely impossible. Astronomers have made observations and simulations that in some way capture the enormity of our cosmos. In this gallery, Wired will look at the size and scale of the universe’s largest, farthest, and most mysterious objects.
We know that, in the grand scheme of things, we have no idea how grand the scheme of things is. Whatever its grandeur, we are—you and I—but a mere speck. Heck, less than a speck. We are to a speck as a speck is to earth, or something of that order.
You see, then, how enormous an undertaking it is for a speck of a speck to purport to speak on behalf of the One that designed and created everything. To claim to know His mind, His will is rather a big deal.
I am not saying the preacher doesn’t or cannot know the mind of God. I am just saying most preachers I know never seem to consider how big this thing they do really is. Look, I don’t want you speaking my mind. I don’t want you presuming to know what I want or think or need or desire. And I am nothing more than you.
Speaking on behalf of anyone that isn’t you is a great responsibility, fraught with snares and entrapments. Just ask any presidential press secretary
If you are going to speak for the God of the universe, you ought to at least let the awesome weight of that responsibility wash over your soul. If you do not feel the awe of it, if you do not feel the weight of it, if you do not somehow try to grasp just what it is you do…then, please, don’t.
Please do not reduce God to some low-grade level of ignorance just because you undervalue what you do. And please don’t use God’s name to get YOUR message across. Don’t sully the great and holy name of Jesus to further your own agenda or validate your personal beliefs. If what you are saying is to your benefit, then just say so. If it is to prove yourself right or some adversary wrong, then say so. If it is for the purpose of keeping the people over whom you preside in the kind of order you want them, then say so.
That is all just fine. It just isn’t real biblical preaching. It isn’t responsible. And—tell the truth, now—it isn’t God speaking through you.
Please, for the sake of all that is holy, preach responsibly.
By the way, this is not God speaking through me, either. It is me observing what I believe to be the flippant way too many people claim to be God’s mouthpiece and calling foul on it. Feel free to disagree.
The comment section below awaits.
The idea that anything anybody ever does is 100% selfless is just not so. There are heroic acts—acts of great abandon and sacrifice. But every person is motivated by how he or she perceives a thing, by the values or ideals important to him or her.
I see people on venues like Facebook and Twitter talk about how they just love to minister and give of themselves to others.
“I just love to give to others.”
“I find it so rewarding to minister to people in need.”
But the first word in each of those sentences is “I.” If you were not fulfilled by serving in that soup kitchen, if it did not make you feel better about yourself to give your time to serve others, you wouldn’t do it.
Also, why share such things on social media? Is it to inspire others? Is it to impress? Where is the widow quietly giving her last coin? Why the pomp and circumstance? Why the drum-banging?
Don’t get me wrong: I think givers are far more blessed and much to be preferred as companions than takers. They are better adjusted. They are happier. They are more of a joy to be around. (That last observation is a rather selfish one, I know.)
If you are one to constantly give your credentials as a selfless person on FB or Twitter, don’t feel too badly. I have always thought that the most remarkable New Testament character was also the most self-promoting. The Apostle Paul was often defending his credentials or rattling off his resume. I know that sounds a little sacrilegious, but I don’t have a congregation from which I can be fired, so I am free to make an honest observation.
In Galatians 2:11-14, Paul talks about how he set Peter straight. There are numerous examples throughout Paul’s writings where he was seemingly thumping his chest about a position he took or something he did or said.
Apparently, God is good with that. He even inspired Paul to share it.
Why is that?
Well, I think it is because false pretenses are unimpressive to God. What use does He have for them? Why does he need you to pretend everything you are doing is an act of absolute self-abandon and that there is nothing at all in it for you? Why does he need you to pretend anything at all? He knows.
He made us this way. He made us in His image. Look at God’s own nature. Even though He made everything about us and gave the ultimate sacrifice to redeem us, He insists we make it all about him.
How would we survive as a species if we did not have this sense of self-worth, self-preservation? Even our self-sacrifice is a means of preserving the ideal we have of ourselves as a higher form of being than the brutish beasts.
We do not buy Darwin’s survival of the fittest, every man for himself mentality.
But we are selfish, nonetheless, and we may as well get our minds around it and stop lying to ourselves.
Even the Christian call to salvation is one that appeals to our selfish nature. We tell people they can avoid the wrath to come, they can be reconciled to God, they can find meaning for their lives. In other words, we tell them what is in it for them. You don’t have to go to Hell. You get to go to Heaven. You get to live a more abundant life.
The first knowledge is to know yourself. If you do not honestly recognize who you are and what makes you tick, how can you honestly relate to a holy God or a world in need?
Some people are needy, while others (the better ones among us) mostly just need to be needed. And we do need you. We need you giving the way you do, living the way you do.
Just don’t lose sight of who you are and why. If you do, even your selfless acts will stink of selfishness.
May God be pleased to bless all you give and do in His name.
Here’s some Toby Keith…
Last night, NFL pundits celebrated the illustrious career of one of the fiercest competitors to ever don an NFL uniform. From the analysts in the booth and studio to the hundreds of media types tweeting sentimental snippets, Lewis was hailed as a great leader, a great competitor, a great tackler…great, great, great.
— NFL (@nfl) January 6, 2013
Congratulations to the great Ray Lewis, who lives to fight another NFL playoff Sunday.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 13, 2013
— Jeremiah Trotter (@JTrotter_54) January 6, 2013
— Tony Kornheiser Says (@MrTonySays) January 6, 2013
Meanwhile, an obscure nobody named Priscilla Lollar suffered through another day without her son.
It has been 13 years since that fateful night after the Ravens won the Super Bowl and Lewis and his entourage were somehow involved in the stabbing deaths of two men. One of the victims’ blood was found in Lewis’ hired limousine. The white suit Lewis was wearing was discarded and never recovered. Yet, Lewis was never convicted of anything but a misdemeanor obstruction of justice. He was initially charged with murder, but cut a deal.
Lewis received probation and the NFL fined him, but never suspended him.
He went on to enjoy a singular career, one that will have many saying he is the greatest linebacker ever.
But for the Lollar family, Lewis’ fairy tale is their nightmare. Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today wrote about this very dark side of Lewis’ story:
Priscilla Lollar still doesn’t believe her son is dead.
Any day now, she hopes he might finally return from Atlanta, walking through the door of her home in Akron, Ohio, as if nothing happened on the morning of Jan. 31, 2000.
“If I truly accept that he’s not coming back … ” says Lollar, her voice trailing off. “I don’t discuss him in the past. I don’t really acknowledge anything.”
Deep down, she knows he’s gone. She knows it every time she turns on the television and sees Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis – a reminder that her son, Richard, has been dead for 13 years, stabbed to death outside a nightclub in Atlanta, along with his friend from Akron, Jacinth Baker.
Their murders remain unsolved. But as the anniversary of their deaths approaches – and as Lewis dances into the sunset of his NFL career – the victims’ relatives are still seething at him. While Priscilla Lollar says she’s “numb” to Lewis, others want answers. And justice.
“My nephew was brutally beaten and murdered and nobody is paying for it,” Baker’s uncle, Greg Wilson, told USA TODAY Sports. “Everything is so fresh in our mind, it’s just like it happened yesterday. We’ll never forget this.”
Ray Lewis wraps himself in Christianity now. He boldly wears the big C on his chest like he is the big celebrity Christian, giving God all the glory for his life and career.
After his Ravens pulled off an inspired and unlikely upset victory over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncose, Lewis was found on the sideline by a CBS reporter. Lewis, hoarse but passionate, kept repeating a portion of Isaiah 54:17.
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper,” he shouted several times.
Many, myself included, found his choice of Bible verses odd. You would think a man associated with the violent stabbing deaths of two men would avoid referencing weapons when thumping his chest and giving “witness.”
Now, I, of all people, know the importance of forgiveness and restoration. I believe all kinds of sins can be and are forgiven, even the biggest and ugliest of them.
But I do not believe in this convenient form of Christianity that people in trouble find in order to reinvent and redefine themselves. I do not believe in using Jesus as a reputation repairman.
I do not believe in redemption without repentance.
The Apostle Paul, himself was party to murder prior to his conversion. But he never hid behind a plea bargain. He never covered up a thing. He never discarded evidence. In fact, he made himself an example of the ugliness of sin and the riches of grace.
1 Timothy 1:15
Lewis’ celebratory Bible quoting was defiant in tone and generally confusing.
What did it mean? Was the weapon Peyton Manning’s arm? Or was it an article in USA Today? Was it the nagging gnawing of his conscience? Or, does he even feel remorse?
Who knows? He won’t talk about it.
Has Lewis ever met with the families of the victims? Has he ever tried to give them closure, to explain what happened, how he didn’t murder their sons? Or, has he, with the aid of the NFL and the media, simply swept it under the rug?(As a side note, I find it odd that Tim Tebow is taken to task and ridiculed and hated for his Christian witness, while Ray Lewis is celebrated. Odd. Sad.)
How do I know Lewis remains unrepentant? He said as much…
Lewis declined to comment when asked about the subject Thursday by USA TODAY Sports. Messages left for agents and attorneys representing him were not returned. Oakley, recently living in Atlanta, didn’t return messages seeking comment. A relative of Sweeting, living in Miami, hung up when reached by USA TODAY Sports. And the prosecutor, Paul Howard, declined a request to be interviewed.
Said Lewis: “You want to talk to me about something that happened 13 years ago right now?”
I refuse to celebrate the career of this man. I refuse to identify myself with him in some bond of a common faith. The Jesus I know is not a force field to ward off the inspection of a life or investigation of a deed. He deals in truth AND grace. He is full of both.
Am I wrong?
I know some are willing to give any celebrity a pass, as long as they proclaim Christ. They somehow think the cause of Christ is more apt to be furthered by the endorsement of celebrity.
Here is a news flash: Jesus doesn’t need your endorsement. God is not impressed with accomplishment or human acclaim. He is not some outsider, hoping an insider puts Him on the map.
Those without Christ are the outsiders. They can celebrate one another and promote themselves all they want. Without Him, they are dust in the wind. A tale already told. A puff of smoke. A vapor.
Ray Lewis needs Jesus; not vice versa. And…if he knows Jesus, he needs to stop misrepresenting what Christ is all about.