Archive for "jesus"

Halloween

So, yesterday morning as I was waiting for a flight from Ft. Worth back to Nashville, I made a quick post on Facebook that basically said this: “early morning flight home to go trick-or-treating with my kids, then back to Texas tomorrow.” I never would have imagined the firestorm it would set off on Facebook. Much controversy over Halloween, it’s origins, what role Christian’s should play in the “celebration” or “non-celebration” of the holiday. A (very) few individuals were extremely critical of me and my faith and a whole host of people came to my defense. But by today, most of the critical post were deleted from Facebook somehow. The truth is, I’m sort of frustrated that all the harsh posts were taken down, because even though so many of them were attacking and distasteful, it showed what a beautiful contrast there is between all that can be so negative and condemning about Christendom and the true fruits of the Spirit that were so eloquently represented in so many of the responding comments.

I guess the first thing that I would say in response to the criticism is this: if my decision to take my kids trick-or-treating is reason enough for someone to “un-friend” me, dislike me, or worse, condemn me as a heretic or a member of the occult, I can, without hesitation, give you a thousand FAR better reasons to do so. Whether it’s flaws in my character or my judgment, the bottom line is that I am indeed a terribly flawed and imperfect man who loves, believes deeply in, and relies daily on the completely sufficient grace and goodness of a completely perfect God. If you’ve ever listened to my music or had the chance to know my heart at all, I have staked my life and all eternity on the fact that I am an inconsistent creature who has been saved by the COMPLETED, and completely consistent, work of Christ. Nothing less. Nothing more.

And please let me say right up front that I may be ENTIRELY wrong about my decisions with regard to Halloween, but I can say that, at the very least, they are thought out and intentional decisions, not off-the-cuff or blind cultural appeasement. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my take on things.

What man intends for evil, God intends for good. I absolutely LOVE that with the freedom of Christ we can take a holiday that was once intended by man for so much evil, and we can turn it on its ear. Imagine the idea that we get to take what was once (and perhaps, for some, still is) a pagan, ritualistic attempt to appease evil spirits, and turn it into a chance for children to dream and imagine and dress up in costumes (my boys were both their own versions of “Super Heroes” by the way), to spend precious time with their families and friends, to go out and actually see their neighbors face-to-face, and, at least in our neighborhood, watch entire communities literally come together and talk and laugh and eat way too much candy. I seriously LOVE that idea. And again, I may be absolutely wrong, but I am entirely convinced that that’s exactly what happened yesterday…at least at our house and on our street and in our neighborhood. I certainly don’t want to hyper-spiritualize it, but it’s almost as if we’re making a declaration, in a way, that old traditions that were once intended for evil, or that EVIL ITSELF, has no power over us anymore – declaring that that power was and is broken by the Gospel. We almost get to make a mockery of evil (one of the few “mockeries” we’re entitled to as Believers) when we take evil’s shining “moment in the sun” and turn it into a CHILDREN’S holiday. We take what was once intended for evil and we turn it into a celebration of youth and imagination and the lightness of childhood. And yes, we may tell a few spooky stories along the way and put scary spider webs on our front porches. The truth is, there is great merit to the more popularly accepted “Christian versions” of the holiday, so some may call it “All Saints Day” and go ”TRUNK-or-treating” in a church parking lot but some may take a less overtly spiritual approach, call it Halloween and go trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods. The bottom line is, best I can figure, is that I think it can be as simple as a fun day for neighbors to actually be neighbors – to actually engage with each other and build community and childhood memories at the same time…to be relational and build bridges. Halloween, for me, is not a celebration of an old, antiquated evil tradition; it’s a celebration of my children. It’s a celebration of my family, my neighborhood, and my community. And maybe a chance to look evil in the face and not be afraid. Not to mention, a good excuse to eat a whole lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Bringing Crew Home

I speak on behalf of Compassion International almost every show that I play about what it means for the body of Christ to actually BE like Christ…about what it means to truly serve the “least of these.”  I speak about our tendency here in the developed West to feel like the issues of poverty, injustice, and “serving orphans and widows” are too big for us to really tackle, too daunting for us to even really get our hearts around, much less do anything about.  In light of that we tend to rely on the “powers that be” to push into those issues on our behalf.  We tend to think that tackling governmental corruption in third world countries or governmental bureaucracy in developed nations would be really getting to the heart of the matter because that’s where the real power to change things really lies.  And although those are indeed noble intentions, the sad truth is that we’ve bought into the idea that the real power on this earth lies in the hands of the governments of this world. Please don’t misunderstand me, there is an absolute need to dive into the issues of corruption and bureaucracy and do whatever we can to change our world through those political and ideological avenues; but we cannot, as followers of Christ, cling to the idea that real change, real power in this world lies in the hands of politicians and police forces.  Is our God not the Author of this world?  After all, it is not the job – it is not the CALLING – of the governments of this world to serve the least of these.  It is the job and it is the calling of the Body of Christ. If you are a Believer reading this right now, it is not a question of IF we are serving the least of these, according to Jesus, that is an absolute…the question instead is HOW are we serving the least of these?  There are so many beautiful ways to do this, from the local food bank around the corner to organizations like Compassion International.  I have been so deeply inspired and moved by the friends in my life who have taken this calling personally, and PERSONALLY decided to dive in.  Whether it’s my friends from the band Jars of Clay who just celebrated digging 1000 wells in Africa through their Blood:Water Mission, or friends like Stephan and Caitland Sharp who are in Rwanda as we speak processing through the adoption of their new son, who they’ve named Crew, so they can bring him home to meet his new big sister, Sadie.  These are the people who’s hearts have been inclined to serve the least of these in very specific ways.  The truth is, not all of us have the means or platform to dig 1000 wells in Africa.  Not all of us are called to adoption.  But we, every single one of us, can be a part of these specific callings in the ways that we chose to give.  I’m asking you today, if this inspires you the way it inspires me, to help my friends Stephan and Caitland with the adoption of their new son, Crew.  As it turns out, they don’t necessarily have the “means” either, but they do have hearts that were called and compelled to have one less orphan in this world…and one more child in their home.  Please go to the link that I’ve posted below to a short video that the Sharps made just before they left for Rwanda 9 days ago.  You will hear just a bit of their story and you will see how easy it is to give to their specific calling to bring Crew home.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE SHARP’S VIDEO

Idols of Misdirection

I’m watching the sun rise over California through an airplane window this morning.  I am on my way back home again.  I don’t know why but there are random moments such as these when I really do understand with clarity the absolute goodness of God.  I have struggled lately in a much longer story with feeling a certain separation from the real source of all that is good in my life, but today it is very clear to me. (more…)

The Hardest Thing

As I drove alone on Wednesday morning toward the Starbucks in downtown Franklin I noticed in my rearview mirror a couple in a minivan behind me. I obviously couldn’t hear a word that was spoken, but it was plain to see that they were deep in the throes of their own private war. (more…)

Down Through Grace

I’m actually feeling the “mundane-ness” today that I wrote of fearing just yesterday.  It’s just one of those days that feels uninspired.  And I get that what I believe IN is not about what I feel – thank God for that – if it were, Truth would ebb and flow with my every whim and worry.  But part of the problem with the mundane is that a moment of it can sometimes stretch and paw and spread itself out until it settles in as it’s own season in my life.   (more…)