Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Brother living

The big brother. The one who won't go into the party, let alone welcome his little brother back, 'cause he would not be seen with "him". This is a tough one for me, since I tend to lean this way.

See, I was a pretty good kid growing, and too often was told how good a kid I was. Although I had it all together on the outside, there were some things that I was really struggling with, that I had to hide, because I was a good kid. I was living the life of the older brother.

In some ways, this life is tougher, because it is often a life filled with secrets. It's not that we want to live with secrets, but because we are so good and everyone knows it, we have the pressure on us of not letting anyone down. I'm a firm believer in boundaries for those that don't know any better, and believe me, when I was 15, I didn't know what I knew, let alone what I didn't know; boundaries, and a healthy fear of my dad, saved me many times. It's when you have to grow up that this become complicated.

See, you've always been the good kid. You've never questioned authority, hasn't really been a reason to; until a little brother comes around, and your confronted, smack dab in the face, by the reality of grace. Then you deal with all kinds of feelings, like they don't deserve it, you've lived a life by the rules and expectations, so why do they get all the favors; why do the breaks all fall to them. It just isn't right. Big brother living.

It's alive and well in the church too. Here's what I mean. I remember being a sophomore in college, and feeling called to youth ministry. We had an evangelist in for revival, who was going to share his story, and talked about it all week. Saturday night was the night to bring your non-Christian friends to hear his story. Long story short, he shared a dark, sordid story of his past life of sin, and how God had saved him out of that life. We all applaud the great displays of God's love and grace, but what about those who are living every day, simply, step-by-step. I remember leaving that service thinking not only did I have nothing to offer students, but I didn't have anything to offer God.

I hadn't had multiple affairs, I had barely dated. I never drank a drop of alcohol, let alone been a clubber. I hadn't gone through divorce, been a drug addict, slept with multiple women; my story was pretty puny. Had I missed out? Was my life cheapened? Did I have a testimony? Those were the questions I was wrestling with, and am too ashamed to tell you some of what I thought about that evangelist. IT JUST WASN'T FAIR!! Big brother living.

I found myself focusing on the wrong things; it wasn't so much the great life I was living in relationship with God, it was the puny one that I had to live. It wasn't a celebration of the things God had saved me from, but I was left wondering what that life was like, and if my testimony would be better with a little spice thrown in, if you know what I mean. Bitter, resentful, fanticising, and unhappy. What a way to live.

Big brother living. Never happy with where you are. Always wondering where they are.

Glad I don't have to worry about that any more; it's just you're problem.

Okay, seriously, there has to be another way.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Seinfeld Post

I was sitting in my living room this morning watching the news, and there were some things being said that created some emotion to be felt by me. So I thought I would write about them.

The first concerns an issue that is affecting all of us, and many of us are currently concerned about, it really upsets a lot of us, and makes some of us very upset.

That made me think of something that happened in Walmart last night, that also ticked me off. I hate how it made me feel about myself and the other people involved, and I talked about it all the way home, so thought I'd write about that too.

That made me think about other things going on not only in my community, but also things related to stuff that will be happening this fall, that also could affect a lot of people.

Then they had an interview in one of the large cities in the US about something going on at a very sacred place, and it made my heart hurt. That made me think of the book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, wishing we would all read that book again.

That is what created the desire in me to write this, and even while writing, to have emotion about what I'm writing and how I'm writing, or not writing, because I realized that I can't really say anything of significance anymore because someone would think me a bigot, racist, elitist, fundamentalist, from the wrong political party and group of people, (oops, sorry if that offended someone).

So I hope all 3 of my followers are okay with the way I write today, in the hopes that I can vent, or rant as I've called it in the past, yet hopefully not offend anyone with anything I may say, er, write. I know this blog is vague and obtuse, but I guess that's where we currently reside in our global society, where any opinion anyone may have that anybody else may disagree with is not welcomed. So, I choose to write in this way, so I won't offend anyone with my opinion concerning anything. Have a wonderful day, unless of course something bad happens to you or your loved ones, then I hope your day is not so wonderful.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Little Brother Living

I'm prepping for my first message as chaplain, and have been living within the 15th chapter of Luke. The story of the prodigal God is an amazing story, and so I thought I'd just share some of my thoughts from it over the next couple of weeks as I'm challenged by the text.

I'm sure many of you are aware of the implications of this text, so I will spare you all the details, but want to focus on the dangers inherent for me that I'm realizing from my reading and study. I see some of me in the text. This text is really about heart, what it is that motivates me.

Little bro living, if I can call it that, is more than a story about a very indulgent, irresponsible kid, because I find some of him in me.

I remember when my dad was first diagnosed with cancer, living with the reality that not only was his tumor inoperable, but his life wouldn't last more than a year, short of a miracle. We were all reeling from this news, and its in moments like these that people say all kinds of things, most of which we can shake our heads at; except this one.

A well-meaning person, at least that's what I'll call them for the sake of argument, went to visit my dad in the hospital. In the course of their conversation, they proceeded to tell my dad that the reason he contracted cancer, was because there was unconfessed sin in his life. Well, my dad didn't know how to respond. He took that persons name to the grave with him, telling me this story without revealng who that person was. Where do statements like that come from?

I want to call it a result of little bro living, from this perspective. Too often in the church, we base our faith on our experience; did it feel good, was it pleasureable, do I feel better or worse about myself, does this confirm the life I live. etc. I'm not talking about sensuality, as much as I'm talking about a form of emotionalism that has invaded our churches. Maybe it's behind some of the worship wars that we find ourselves in, or the reason we respond to some preaching the way we do. I find myself too often complaining because the music wasn't my worship language, or the preaching was less then desirable for me.

It even translates into our thinking that our life should be without pain, sorrow, and struggles. I must admit some anger when my dad wasn't healed of his cancer. Why are some people, and he wasn't. My dad didn't deserve this, but in reality, who does?

I've heard it said that if I pay my tithe, that God can be tested and will never leave me wanting anything. Oh really? Or I've based how real my faith is on what I feel. Or I've believed that if God wants me to do something, it would "feel" a certain way. I've also believed that if we are sick, it's indicative of another issue in our lives, because God certainly wouldn't allow us to be sick if all was well.

Really? The Elmer Gantry's are alive and well in the church today, and people still flock to them. Don't think so, watch some religious TV, and that will take care of that.

There is an old Saturday Night live skit now, at least two years, where the answer for every problem, was just to "fix it". I've joked about that with friends, but I think we have allowed that to become a part of our personal theology, where we think God is just the great "fixer" in the sky. He is there to make me feel good, to meet my every need, and if I don't feel good, to fix what doesn't feel good, so all is good again.

Little bro living.

I don't want my faith to be based just on what or how I feel. Maybe for Wesley, that's why scripture is primary, and experience is secondary. I certainly don't want to fall into the same trap the little brother does, thinking it's about me, my wants, my desires, and getting what feels right at the moment. I'm glad there is another way.