Monthly Archives: October 2011

Good Christian Belles

So I kept silent about this for a few months because I wanted to tell this story at our home church first. I’m so glad to preach at a church like Highland where I can tell stories like this, and preach sermons about the Kingdom of God without pulling any punches, if you’d like to hear that sermon you can go here. But  since I’ve now told the story there…here’s what happened:

This past summer, I was on my study break that Highland gives me, I knew I was going to do a sermon series on minor characters in the Bible, using the metaphor of EXTRAS. So I decided to go to Hollywood and try and be an EXTRA in a movie. You know, normal preacher stuff.

After many attempts, on July 27th I got into the new Annie movie with Christian Bale. I called in, and after a few tries got through, a lady named Marianne, accepted me as a working class restaurant patron. I had to borrow a shirt without a label, and some shoes (apparently Hollywood is pretty picky about what they let you wear).

The call time is posted at 8:30 Pm; all details are held until that time. So I call in and find out that my call time is 6:00 A.M..So I got to the Disney Studios and discovered that it wasn’t anywhere the New Annie, And Christian Bale wasn’t going to be starring as Daddy Warbucks. This was for the new show Good Christian Belle’s that had been booked by Maryann as a favor to a woman named Annie.

It’s cool though. I can roll with the punches.

The first thing that happens when you show up to a set is that you have to get  camera ready. So you have to go visit the Wardrobe production person. In my case, it was an Austrian man named Hans who just happened to not be a morning person. Which was unfortunate because it just happened to be morning. He made the girl in front of me cry because she didn’t have her clothes ironed. He yelled at her and then looked at me. Hans had me intimated. I had been there all of 10 minutes and was already on the ropes. I told him that I didn’t have a lot of options, just one shirt to change into, and he said sharply, “Then go put it on! And stop standing here.”

And that’s exactly what I did.

I went to the basement where they were holding the Extras, and it was un-classy to say the least. Having done Jail ministry for a while, there was very little difference between the rooms that we were kept in, and jail. The room for men to change in was an old storage unit.

Breakfast was served, and that was nice. People started to warm up. I’ve learned the best way to start conversations with other Extra’s is to ask them about what work they were the most proud of.  What sets they enjoyed working on the most…and to tell them that it was my first time ever to do this. People seemed to take me under their wing and tell me their stories. The problem came when they wanted to hear mine. I guess most preachers don’t do this in their off time, especially the show that we were on.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading Good Christian Belles

The City of Satisfaction

One of the C.S. Lewis’ most famous points came on the heels of his talking about our pleasures. Which is something that Lewis knew something about. J.R.R. Tolkien once made fun of Lewis for what he chose to give up for Lent. He drank 3 ale’s a day at the local tavern. For Lent, C.S. Lewis decided to just drink two.*

So he’s quite the spiritual giant.

Now, Lewis’ obviously knew heartbreak and pain as well. But he also had a deep appreciation for pleasure, and it’s purposes in the world. Because there is a reason in God’s good world that things are created to bring pleasure, and we are created to enjoy certain things. But C.S. Lewis’ famous point about pleasure is that nothing truly satisfies. Every good thing leaves us hoping for more of it, or deeper experience of it. And this, Lewis says, is one of the great lessons of pleasure. That moment of unsatisfaction is actually a God-given gift pointing to something else. Something deeper.

When we approach pleasure as an end we often find ourselves battling addictions or depression or despair. Because no thing and no person can give what most of us are actually looking for. Jurgen Moltmann comes at this from another angle:

“Why have people in our modern world become so perverted? Because both consciously and unconsciously they are dominated by the fear of death. Their greed for life is really their fear of death: and the fear of death finds expression in an unbridled hunger for power. “You only live once” we are told “you might miss out on something” this hunger for pleasure for possessions for power the thirst for recognition through success and admiration-that is the perversion of modern men and women. That is their godlessness. “

The fear of death is really behind their greed for life.

But for Jesus followers, we believe that God created both us, and the very things that give us pleasure. We believe that God wired up the world in such a way as to frustrate us from time to time because as much as we’d like them to fully satisfy us, they cannot. They are sign post that point to another reality. Continue reading The City of Satisfaction

What Could Be (Repost)

Yesterday, as soon as our flight to Atlanta landed, we heard the news that rocked the world. Steve Jobs, the man who changed the world, had died. It’s amazing to see how deep the emotional response is to this news. Perhaps it’s because Steve gave so many of us the gift of being able to tell our own story more artistically. Maybe it was because he inspired us to see what creative excellence could look like. But I think it was because he was one of a few true visionaries that our age has seen.

I know that this can sound like glorifying materialism, and there is a danger that Apple products can do that, but Steve Job’s life has blessed my own for more than just his products, and for that I am thankful. The following is a post from last year about one of the many reasons that I appreciated Steve Jobs way of looking at the world. 

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This is one of my all time favorite Graduation speeches. And it’s not because Steve Jobs is so eloquent here, to be honest, it’s the least charismatic I’ve ever seen him. He’s reading from his notes the entire time. He seems rattled at times, and he makes as much eye contact as a nervous accountant. Continue reading What Could Be (Repost)

Christians and Pleasure

So I love this picture. It’s from the prohibition era, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s iconic for what I believe many people think of when they think of Jesus followers. We don’t cuss or chew, or go with girls who do.

In her book, “The Kindness of God” Janet Soskice writes about how when women have their first baby they tend to feel guilty about the amount of affection that they feel toward their child. They’ve never had an experience quite like this before and so sometimes they will struggle with guilt.

She wrote about how one woman found her devotional life in ruins after her first child. So she went to three different churches because she worried about her lack of time with God. One preacher told her to get up an hour earlier than the baby to pray with God, another preacher told her to have her husband watch the baby three times a week so she could make Mass, and another told her, “Don’t worry about that right now, the church is praying for you.”

All of that sounds like decent enough advice, but…

The problem is that none of it takes into account that perhaps the best way that this woman might experience life with God is through her baby.

Did you know that when a woman nurses, her body releases doses of oxycotin? So God wired mothers up, to where when they nurse their newborn it gives them neurochemicals that produce feelings of intimacy and deep affection. So much so, that in tests on rats, mother rats choose their newborns over cocaine.

Here’s the point…we have been taught to think of pleasure has something that we should feel guilty for, but God wired us up this way. Now there are ways that we can and have abused pleasure, it can, of course, make a great servant and a horrible master. But we must never forget pleasure was God’s idea.And if we let it, it doesn’t point away from Him, in fact, it does the opposite.

Here’s a question for you to chew on for a bit: Do you think that Jesus enjoyed life? I know that it was said the Messiah would be a man of sorrows, and certainly Jesus practiced heroic ways of withdrawing from the world as well. But the question remains: Did Jesus enjoy life? Because your answer to that question, as a follower of Jesus, will shape the way you approach your own. Continue reading Christians and Pleasure