About Me

Christ follower, husband, father, minister, musician.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What did you think He was going to do?

Sunday was Palm Sunday - the Triumphant Entry.

Matthew 21:6-11
 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
   "Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!"
   "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"[c]
   "Hosanna[d] in the highest!"
 10When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"
 11The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."

Such a jubulant celebration.  Over the top, almost.  It was enough to get the attention of the whole town.  But only few knew how Jesus was going to save them.  Most had their own presumptions.  There was such angst and vitriol against the Romans.  There was corruption within the Temple Leadership.  Society needed a re-boot and Jesus had been gaining a reputation.  Many were willing to follow him, to fight for him, maybe even to die for him.  But they didn't realize that Jesus was willing to die for them.  In fact, he meant to.

Who do we presume Jesus to be?  Who do we want him to be?

The Great Provider (Genesis 22:13-14)
The limitless & free Vending Machine
The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:24)
One who makes everything easy and stress-free
The Strong One who Sees (Genesis 16:13)
One who Tells Us All He Sees, except what might make us uncomfortable or sad.
Savior (Genesis 2:4)
The Eliminator of the Difficult, Painful, and Inconvenient
Consuming Fire (Heb. 12:29)
Wrath Bringer, only to really bad and evil people.
Creator (1 Peter 4:19)
The Divine Being who may or may not have started the chemical processes that produced Earth, the universe, and all living things.
Deliverer (Romans 11:26)
See Savior, but with more urgency.
Faithful & True (Revelation 19:11)
One who is who We want Him to Be and Tells us What We Want to Hear.
Judge (Acts 10:42)
Judge of everyone Else.

OK, a bit over the top, but really, not too far fetched sometimes.

It amazes me how much we are alike the people of Jerusalem - praising Jesus on Sunday for who we think He is.  And then as the week goes on we're more and more shaken (and stirred) on who He really is, how He really wants us to live, and by Friday we've all but denounced and disowned him.

I'm so grateful Sunday comes around again each week.

And then there's Monday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mountain Music Part 2: Wander & Wonder

So it's been a few weeks.  I meant to get to this within a week of the first post.  But life is crazy!  I know we're all waiting for the next thing to be done so we can get a break.  But then that new next thing comes up, right?!?  Anyway, let's get on with it.

So in watching the PBS Series on National Parks it occured to me that we don't take time to wander and wonder any more.  At least not outside (more on this below).  The fact that there are camping campaigns like goRVing.com tells you that it's not in the forefront of the American Mind to "rough it" for a few days.  And for those that do "tent-camp" you can have ceiling fans, AC power, and fully inflatable furniture to make you feel "at home."  Even at summer camps there are air-conditioned, carpeted rooms with bathrooms & showers in the "cabins" (which are more like hotel suites in some cases).  But this is not about venturing into the wilderness with a knife and burlap sack.  It's more about venturing at all.

In the days when there was still "back country" in the US, people loved going out and exploring.  The National Parks were designed to allow people to experience nature - the landscape, the scenery, the vegetation, the wildlife - as closely untouched as possible.  And people did it!  They hiked trails, crawled through crevasses, rode horses down riverbanks and up mountains.  At first, due to the expense of the travel, the wealthy and aristocracy were the only ones to experience the unforgettable.  But the vision of the NPS was to be accessible to the entire public, and eventually they all came.

Through most of the 1900s, it was a family tradition, a right of passage, to load up the family car and drive 1000s of miles to visit national parks.  (Note the picture at the top when they drove a car on the fallen Redwood!) The first interstate roadways in the west were created to facilitate the traveling tourists.  Even into the latter part of the 1900s it was tradition for the family to take 2-4 weeks and hit the open road, stopping at scenic pull-off spots on the road to gaze across the horizon at rolling hills, snow-capped peaks, and rainbow colored canyons.  The agenda was getting there, and eventually getting home.  Not much more.  The trip and the experience was worth it.

Think of vacations today.  The itinerary is set online, probably prescribed for us.  We go from garage to parking garage to shuttle to airport to shuttle to hotel to shuttle to amusement, flustered if any leg of the journey isn't smooth and uneventful.  At our destination we walk only to strap into new seats, watch bigger screens, experience simulated "adventure" and escape into fantasy for 3-5 minutes, preceded by a 3-5 hour zig-zag line of waiting.  (Of course you can always pay more for those speed-passes which get you in.) Sometimes we actually get bored and leave early!

But if we slow down enough and choose to head to one of these parks - or to a local nature preserve, state park, or even city park - the unpredictable awaits every time.  Why wait in line for 3-5 hours when you can hop in the car and watch as the landscape goes from trees to fields to hills to mountains to shoreline?  I've found that when you slow down enough to look to the left and the right, the world becomes infinitely larger.  Most times our pace is so brisk that we don't dare look to the side for fear of falling flat on our face!  But hiking through unfamiliar terrain causes us to watch our step, examine our surroundings, and observe in greater detail the greatness that has been created for us to enjoy.  We find ourselves not thinking about the inbox, not worrying about the DOW average, not pondering politics.  It is the one time we use technology to express our wonder at what we cannot create, or recreate with technology.  We can only do what people have done for decades - take a photograph and reluctantly share it with others knowing that the 2-D depiction, no matter what resolution, cannot truly express the grandeur of it all.

We find time to stop.
We find time to breathe.
We find time to smell.
We find time to listen.

This whole phenomenon got me thinking: Do we think of God's majesty (from the enormous to the intricate) anymore?  Do we really take time to reflect and take in all that God is?  Do we ever slow down and experience him with all the senses?

One thing about national parks is that you can't just go for an hour.  Even if that's all the time you plan for, you'll stay for a day, or a week.  Do we ever really experience God this way?

Is our agenda so packed that God only fits within a 15minute commute?  Do we multitask God-time? Do we take time to wander and wonder with God? To God?

Part 3 will come soon.  Thanks for taking the time to read!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Mountain Music Part 1

Purple Mountain Majesty

For the past few weeks my wife and I have enjoyed watching “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” on PBS.  It’s been a fascinating story about the initial inception of the park network in the mid 1860s all the way until today.  There were personal accounts from naturalists, zoologists, scientists, park rangers, and visitors – all sharing their perspective on the parks, what they meant to them personally, and what they meant to the country as a whole. 

If you’ve ever been to one, especially one out west (where most originally were) you understand the majesty and wonder that is a National Park.  From the snow-capped mountains, to the mile-deep canyons, to the millennia old sequoias, to the lush expanse of the Smokies & the Everglades – there is so much to behold in the natural panorama of America.

I’ve only had the chance to go to two national parks and a few national forests.  But they are amazing.  It is one thing to see the great photography of Ansel Adams, or to watch Ken Burns’ films, or even to catch an IMAX experience.  But to be there in person, to hike up and down and around and through for miles, to be in the center of a National Park’s magnificence is a bit mind-blowing.  To experience the animals and plants and landscape with all your senses overwhelms you.  You are small, and yet while not insignificant, your consequence is put in its place.

I think of Psalm 144:
 3 O LORD, what is man that you care for him,
       the son of man that you think of him?
 4 Man is like a breath;
       his days are like a fleeting shadow.

Even the trees live for hundreds of years, the rocks thousands.  How long will the rivers continue to run into the see after I’ve gone? 

Still, Psalm 8 reminds us.  Truly majestic is the One who created the wonders.  And we, although finite in this seemingly infinite world, are but a little lower than He, and tasked with the stewardship of all that is seen. As Howard Zahniser, primary author of the 1964 Wilderness Act said, "We are guardians not gardeners."  What a humbling, yet empowering task.

I love nature, but am not a complete naturalist, per se.  This post is not intended to be a soapbox for the Sierra Club or Green Peace or even the National Park System.  It is the first of 3 blogs that I’ll share as I have begun to reflect on the National Parks and how they ultimately can help us in our understanding and response to who God, and our perspective on worship.   Come back soon for part 2!