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Archive for the ‘Greatness’ Category

 “My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.  You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.  Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one;  clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. In your majesty ride forth victoriously  in the cause of truth, humility and justice;  let your right hand achieve awesome deeds (Psalm 45:1-4).”

It’s not exactly news that Hollywood movies  and TV dramas and sitcoms seem to glorify the profane. The nature of these media is contantly debated.

Novels and biographies also seem to glorify the seedy aspects of the human race as well. It is perhaps because I read a novel the night before whose protagonist is a less than stellar man that I woke up thinking about  why the characters in our electronic and paper-based productions are so popular.

I came to the conclusion that it is because the people in our movies, TV shows and books are interesting.  This led me to ask,”Why can’t righteousness be interesting?”

Being holy and good conjures up images of boring churches,  tedious activities and mundane people. Who wants to be bored? Life is hard enough.

Oh, occasionally our press glorifies the godly among us. Mother Teresa was praised for her work among  the poorest of the poor in India, and rightfully so. Yet, when this saint died on the same day as Princess Diana, the glamourous, yet troubled, royal personage of England, guess where all the attention went?

Even this week there was a TV program in which Diana’s secret tapes were aired. They were full of self loathing, adultery and dysfunction.

I haven’t seen much on Mother Teresa since her death. I guess her life of hard work, suffering and self sacrifice  just isn’t something we want to dwell on.

The formula that works in novels and stories is a crisis that builds and gets progressively intense.  The storyline is exciting and the characters involved are at risk.

Much of the risk in our current day cultural realia is caused by the destructive actions of struggling people. This is what draws our interest.

The majority of us, as Henry Thoreau said, “lead lives of quiet desperation.” More than likely, these days, we are desperately bored.

This is one of the factors cited as the cause of recent violence across the globe by young people.  Some say their riots and destructive actions aren’t the result of political disenfranchisement or poverty.  These kids just have too much time on their hands and need to stir up some excitement.

What makes immoral behavior and violence thrilling? I believe that what appeals to us about wretched TV doctors, illicit and stupid fathers, sensual vampires and bloody  crime scenes is their extreme natures.

Even  our  sports exhibit extremity. We want far out danger and we want excessive risk when we either participate in them or watch them. Folks are even willing to give up their lives to get the thrill.

Is it possible to go to extremes of goodness? How about engaging in a high degree of holiness and out-of-this world kindness and compassion?

Would this get people’s attention? Can there be  enough risk and danger involved in righteous activities and enterprises to titillate the senses of people? Is the personhood of God sufficient to stimulate us?

Many, many times the people of Israel didn’t think God was exhilirating enough for them.  For example, at one time Israel was ruled by God Himself,. His prophets carried out His governance.

This system wasn’t  adequate for the people of Israel, despite God’s previous miracle working among them. They wanted glamour and pomp, so they asked the last of their judges,a man named Samuel,  to find them a king.

Samuel did so, but as he stepped aside he gave the people a little history lesson. He reminded them of God’s supernatural deliverances in the past, including one worthy of a Hollywood production: the dividing of the Red Sea which allowed the Israelites to escape from the armies of Egypt (I Samuel 12:6-10).

As a parting exhibit of God’s electrifying capabilities, Samuel arranged for the Lord to send a major” shock-and-awe” weather event. The people were sufficiently “wowed”, even to the point of fearing for their lives.  They got the message that God was pretty awesome and exciting (I Samuel 12:16-19).

Samuel’s response to the people’s change of heart was to tell them to serve the Lord in goodness  with all their heart.  When they were tempted to get bored,  he advised them to think about all the crackerjack stuff  God had done for them in the past (I Samuel 12:20-25).”

If you want something in the media that will thrill you, and reflects how wondrous God is, try this on for size.

I know that even when I focus on  God’s greatness in my own life that I will still get intrigued by the screw ups of those portrayed in movies, on television and in books. However, I have to draw the line at admiration.

What is admirable is the glorious God we worship and the people who get it and mirror His greatness.

Jesus demonstrated how awesome the good work of God could be:

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”   Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”  The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. (Luke 7:11-17)

Jesus comforted a heartsick woman. He was compassionate. Jesus brought a dead boy back to his Mom.

Isn’t that pretty awesome?  The people who saw it thought so. It surely made headlines!

Why should my life be boring? It doesn’t have to be.

God definitely has the wherewithal to stir things up. He just wants all the excitement to be of the righteous variety.

I think I will start my own reality show which focuses on God’s goodness and greatness in my life and in the lives of others as He works through me. Sound uninteresing?

Stay tuned.

 

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“Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him (Psalm 28:6,7).”

The woman sits at her desk, staring at her computer with a bored expression. On the screen is an Email that says “Sick of your job? Exciting new offer!”.

The woman clicks the message. She is immediately confronted by a jib-jab-like cartoon character who yells:

,”Congratulations! You’ve launched the pink slip virus. You’re office is now infected. Now, back to you. Good luck finding a new job!”

The announcer for this airline ad does a voice over as the cartoon character’s sound is heard throughout the office and the woman slinks into her cubicle. He asks, Wanna Get Away?”.

We’ve all had these kinds of embarrasing and awkward moments. Sometimes they are as damaging as the pink-slip virus.

You feel extremely lonely in such circumstances. No one understands what led to your demise and how you feel.

Neko Case wrote a song about a person cut off from others. According to one commentator on the Internet, she wrote it about her aging, strange father.

The song begins this way:

“Chimney falls and lovers blaze
Thought that I was young
Now I’ve freezing hands and bloodless veins
As numb as I’ve become

I’m so tired
I wish I was the moon tonight.”

When you are lonely, you wish you  were far away. You also are very fatigued emotionally.

“Last night I dreamt I had forgotten my name
‘Cause I had sold my soul but awoke just the same
I’m so lonely
I wish I was the moon tonight.”

We end up in no-win circumstances, in between a rock and a hard place in which the decisions we have to make are really difficult to live with. This makes for a lot of stress and sleepless nights.

I didn’t push a button and unleash a computer virus at my office this year. However, I might as well have.

I made a couple stupid choices. I ended up losing my job.

“God blessed me, I’m a free man
With no place free to go
I’m paralyzed and collared-tight
No pills for what I fear.”

In such circumstances, the experts say the initial feeling when you either leave or get fired from a bad job is relief. This is true. I had similar emotions.

However, as I told one former colleague I met later, who asked me what it was like to be away from my former workplace, I have learned that a bad job is better than unemployment. You’re not really free and you can’t relax.

Unemployment is no vacation. The stress is greater when you are on the street.

“This is crazy
I wish I was the moon tonight.”

As a result of my unemployment, I am now heading overseas.  I am returning to a previous employer I thought I would never work for again.

While I am happy the job is available (it beats homelessness), taking it comes with a catch. Circumstances are such that I need to leave my family behind.

“How will you know if you found me at last
‘Cause I’ll be the one, be the one, be the one
With my heart in my lap
I’m so tired, I’m so tired
I wish I was the moon tonight.”

When I get to my new/old place abroad, the people who know me there may have a hard time recognizing me. I’ve changed, both physically and emotionally. But I will be the one at the airport who looks worn out, beaten up and has his heart on his sleeve.

“Chimney falls and lovers blaze
Thought that I was young
Now I’ve freezing hands & bloodless veins
As numb as I’ve become.”

As a chimney falls, it splits in two. My dumb decisions at my previous job have led me to a new chapter in my life where I will be seperated from my loved ones for what looks like a long time.

The Bible tells of  a family that was split apart because some of bad choices. For some of them, the chickens came home to roost as a result.

The book of Genesis describes a group of siblings who were jealous of their brother Joseph. They sold him into slavery and thought they were done with him.

Years later, when a famine hit, they went down to Egypt and met up with him again. Now, he was the head of the whole country. They just didn’t recognize him.

Joseph played some hard ball with his brothers. He treated them harshly and set them up for potential harm.

He demanded that they prove their stories by going back home and retrieving their youngest brother, whom their father Jacob had refused to send along out of fear.

Joseph had never seen this younger brother.  While they were gone, Joseph demanded that one of the brothers be left behind as an insurance policy. 

In the meantime, he had the money they had paid for food put back into their baggage. When the brothers discovered this on their journey home, they reacted as you might expect:

“Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?” (Genesis 42:28).

Joseph’s brothers had had their “wanna get away” moment. Their response was to blame God for the whole thing. They had to wish they were the moon that night.

What the boys didn’t know was that ultimately God would use the whole circumstance to keep the family alive and birth a nation. Joseph reflected to them that even though they meant evil to him originally, God used their stupid choices for good (Genesis 50:19-21).

When we are down in the dumps over our circumstances, it is best to ask the question my friend likes to ask: “Where is God in all this?”. I think in many cases, He is trying to teach us that He is much bigger than our puny minds give Him credit for.

When the people of Jericho heard about what God had done for the Israelites in eventually bringing them back out of Egypt, they were scared to death. Rahab the prostitute, who had hidden Israelite men sent to spy out the city, told them:

“When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below .” (Joshua 2:11)

In essence, God was trying to teach the Israelites the same thing, that He is bigger than they could ever imagine  Shortly after they left Egypt he reviewed with them all the wonders He had done for them and exhorted them to take to heart  His greatness and sole ownership of their lives (Deuteronomy 4:39).

He promised the Israelites that if they didn’t, their lives would be cursed. God told them he would send them away, and this would be the result:

“There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.  You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life (Deuteronomy 28:65, 66).

 Want to know where that “want to get away?” feeling, those feelings of uncertainty, embarrassment, fear and shame come from feeling come. Well first of all, we can rest assured they don’t come from God.

 These feelings of lonely despair are the result of having a heart that doesn’t let God rule there. Satan likes to come into that vacuum and take over.

I think the reason we wish we were the moon at times is that we think we will find the majestic God there. We’re wrong on that, though.

We don’t have to go far to find the Lord of Heaven and Earth. God is in our hearts, and it is from that place we can be healed. 

If we let Him, God will be in charge in our hearts. We might as well, as He is in charge everywhere else, also.

The medicine  for loneliness and depression is topraise the God who is already in our hearts. I will leave it to the words of Chris Tomlin to do that here:

Lord of all creation
Of water, earth, and sky
The heavens are Your tabernacle
Glory to the Lord on High

God of wonders, beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy

Lord of heaven and earth. Lord of heaven and earth.

Early in the morning
I will celebrate the light
And as I stumble through the darkness
I will call Your name by night

God of wonders, beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy

Lord of heaven and earth. Lord of heaven and earth.

Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth. Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth. Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth.

God of wonders, beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
Precious Lord, reveal Your heart to me
Father holy, holy
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy, holy, holy

Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth.

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