Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My Purpose-Driven Journal

Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life and all its ancillary products are kind of the Barry Manilow of Christian publishing: wildly popular in its day, but now hardly anyone admits to having been a fan except old ladies.

I certainly understand some of the second-guessing that has been done since its publication, and I'm particularly NOT a fan of how Bro. Warren bounces around translations until he finds a phrase that fits his outline, still, as evidenced by some notes I made in my journal, there was definitely some food for thought within those pages.

"You were made for God, not vice versa, and life is about letting God use you for his purposes, not your using him for your own purpose."  -  Which is exactly the opposite of popular culture today: God can help you reach your full potential. Or even: If believing in a god makes you happy, then that's great  -  for you.

"If there was no God, then we'd all be 'accidents,' the result of astronomical random chance in the universe. But there is a God, he made you for a reason, and your life has profound meaning! We discover that meaning and purpose only when we make God the reference point of our lives."  -  Woe to those who have faith only in randomness and time. How can they face each day, knowing that they are just a happenstance - an accidental configuration of DNA that is just as much a result of circumstances as a snowflake?

"Your value is not determined by your valuables....Real security can only be found in that which can never be taken from you - your relationship with God."  -  Let my driving passion be to live as God's man - wherever that may take me.

"Everyone wants to be remembered when they're gone. Ultimately, what matters most will not be what others say about your life but what God says about you. How will you answer God when he asks, 'What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?'"  -  I loved Jesus with all my heart and carried Him to others/carried others to Him.

Truth is...as I look at my fervent responses and ardent desires; as I think back to the long-gone years as a youth minister, the sweetest words I've ever heard are "You made a difference."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Best Sellers Aren't Always Best

Dan Piraro's comic strip, Bizarro, usually lives up to its name...in spades.

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that; especially when the humor also includes a big, heaping helping of Truth like this recent panel did:

Truth is...The time will come [and is now here, IMHO] when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3, NIV)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sacrificial Love

Mark 14:3-9 (The Message)
Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While he was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. “That’s criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year’s wages and handed out to the poor.” They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could — she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly.”

From My Journal: February 1, 2001

I ought to be able to relate to this woman. I know what it's like to spend what you can't afford in order to express love. I've done it with Beloved more than once.

Lord, have I done it with You? Have I truly sacrificed in order to say, "I love You, Lord"? Have I been lavishly extravagant in my devotion to You?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
Truth is...He has been more than lavish showing His love to me. "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (I John 3:1)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Can We Talk?

I've been reading a book by Richard Zoglin, Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-Up in the 1970s Changed America. Each chapter either profiles a specific comedian (e.g., Lenny Bruce or George Carlin) or subject (e.g., New York comedy clubs or improv).

In the chapter about female comics (and how few of them there were in the 70s), there's a nugget of truth hiding in a paragraph about Joan Rivers.

Rivers struggled for years, driving in from the suburbs in her broken-down Ford, lugging a Wollensack tape machine to record her act. She watched contemporaries like Bill Cosby and George Carlin, whom she worked alongside and got to know in the Village, break through on television, while she continued to plod along, undiscovered. She was past thirty, and agents and managers were giving up on her. "You're too old," said Irvin Arthur, the agent for whom she had once worked as a secretary. "Everybody's seen you. If you were going to make it, you would have done it by now." Some of the few words of encouragement came from Lenny Bruce himself, who saw her act at Upstairs at the Downstairs and left her a note: "You're right and they're wrong." Says Rivers: "That kept me going for a year and a half."

Truth is...You never know whether what seems to you like a small word or act of encouragement might feel like the weight of the world being taken off someone else's shoulders. So pass out those encouraging words with abandon. You have the power to keep someone going for a year and a half.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Pornography on NPR

Well...if THAT title doesn't get this post a few extra clicks, I don't know human nature at all.

But it actually happened.

I was running some errands...well...driving around doing some errands on a recent Saturday, and had NPR playing on the radio. It was an interview with the outgoing (as in leaving his position, not as in gregarious and extroverted, though he kind of appeared to be both...but I digress) cartoon editor for The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff. And he used the word pornography, so there you have it...pornography on NPR.

But you're wondering, I hope, what the context was and why it was "important" enough for me to write about.

It was just one sentence, but it was all I could think about the rest of the afternoon:

"Jokes are the pornography of humor."

Truth is...Mr. Mankoff wasn't trying to make a profound point. In fact, the line was just kind of mumbled at the tail end of a longer thought, and the interviewer didn't respond to it at all. But for me? For me, it deepened my understanding, not only of what a sense of humor is, and its relationship to a go-for-the-guffaw joke, but also my understanding of pornography's relationship to sexual intimacy...how it cheapens and spoils the concept of romance, turning it into a commodity instead of a relationship.