Friday, August 31, 2007

Slow Leaks

I receive regular communication from a missionary friend in Africa. Most recently her email posed an important question about the maintenance of my (your) life. Take a couple of minutes to reflect on this thought--

“Slow leak...that describes the right front tire of our mission vehicle. Was it caused by all the broken glass that litters the roads going into the shack settlements which I visit every week? Who knows?...But we all know that eventually slow leaks need repair. And, if they aren't repaired in a timely way, they become a major hazard: a blowout on the highway is a very serious matter! So we made time today to take the tire to be repaired.

“Slow leaks...where else do they exist in my life? Am I keeping my spirit filled with Bible reading and meditation and open communication with my Father? Are poor relationships or negative emotions daily draining energy....leading to a potential crash? May we be faithful to go daily to our Healer for essential daily ‘maintenance’ and needed life-repairs!!!”

I’m praying for those reading this post that you’ll find meaningful connection with our God today.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Fresh "Cup" of Christ

In the spirit of Starbucks coffee cup messages, consider the Cross-Centered life courtesy of the Shepherd's Scrapbook blog--

Mother Teresa & Dark Times

The soon to be released book on the life of Mother Teresa, “Come Be My Light”, has prompted many conversations about her faith in Jesus Christ and her service to the poor of Calcutta. TIME Magazine has published some excerpts that are somewhat surprising.

Disclaimers: I have respected Mother Teresa for years. I’ve never met her nor do I know anyone who knows her. Therefore, my comments and reflections are based upon the extensive quotes that have been gleaned from over 60 years of her letters and the commentary of other writers.

For those of us that know Christ and follow Him with a whole heart, it is more than curious that Mother Teresa’s correspondence and confessions are so full of darkness and dejection over the absence of Christ’s presence in her life. Some have concluded because of those confessions that the nun didn’t really have a relationship with Christ, but rather spent a lifetime trying to earn salvation by her sacrificial service. Others rightly point out that all true Christians have “seasons” of darkness and feel disconnected with Christ. Many have written about “the dark night of the soul” for hundreds of years.

I have personally had dark seasons of faith. They have had a powerful impact upon me and proved to be important experiences of spiritual growth. However, the prolonged nature of Mother Teresa’s darkness is almost incomprehensible to me since they lasted for decades!

Speaking of Jesus’ love Mother Teresa wrote in one of her letters, “As for me, the silence and emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear, the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak…”

In contrast Mother Teresa wrote vividly of Christ’s call in 1946 for her to go to Calcutta and serve the poor. She writes of her experience of Christ almost romantically. In one such comment she claimed, “Jesus gave Himself to me.” She wrote and pleaded with the pope on behalf of working in Calcutta with dramatic and mystical descriptions of her personal bond with Christ.

Likewise, I can relate to mystical experiences of Christ. I moved my family across the U.S. a few years ago to start Meadowbrook Church based upon a mystical experience I had in prayer. But, I wonder if the “high” Mother Teresa experienced in the 1940’s led her to seek for a replication of that intoxicating mysticism over the next 60 years.

There’s so much more to say but I’ll conclude this post with this observation. Relationship with Christ is built on faith. Faith is rooted in revelation. Christ is revealed to us best and most reliably in the New Testament of the Bible. Christ also reveals Himself to us personally. I must always discern and make sense of Christ’s personal revelations to me through the Scriptures. God is consistent and therefore my legitimate experiences with Him will be in harmony with that in the Scriptures.

To say that relationship with Christ is built upon faith is also to say it is NOT built upon either my sacrificial service or my mystical experiences. Both are important means by which Christ can be experienced but they are not the foundation. I wonder what the foundation was for Mother Teresa.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A la carte, 8/29/07

I’ve had so many things going on lately that I haven’t had much time for blogging. Now that I have some time there are so many things to write about I decided to reflect briefly on multiple items. I expect that I’ll do this from time to time in the future so I’m going to refer to such “bulleted reflections” as A la carte. You pick and choose one of the following for your own reflection.

This past week I went camping with 114 friends! It was a great time. Throughout it all Jerry, my colleague, was the picture of a servant. He worked with rangers to insure everyone had their correct campsite. He enlisted volunteers for our community meals. He drove a boat for two days so others could ski and have fun. He brought and set up sound equipment for our Variety Show. I continue to learn servanthood from Jerry.

I had breakfast with Van, an out of town friend who came for a visit. He’s about ten years ahead of me in life and has contended with a number of challenges, setbacks, disappointments and just cranky people. Yet he is convinced that God is not through with him and therefore he must continue to learn, to grow, to become and to serve God until he crosses the finish line. I want to persevere like Van.

Care & Compassion
Yesterday one of the single women in our church had an unexpected and extraordinary need and challenge pop up. Suddenly she was faced with having to move all the household goods of a dying friend and put them in storage within a 48 hour window. A half dozen Meadowbrook men immediately stepped up and stepped in to the situation. All involved are examples to me of care and compassion. I want a life that is so responsive to others.

In a few days I’ll have an opportunity to be with my wife, two sons and future daughter-in-law for a little relaxation. We’ll get to enjoy each other as we use a waterfront condo that has been made available to us by friends. My friends not only make their things available for my use but legitimately seem to be glad that I use it. I want a large and generous heart like theirs.

There you have it. Pick one or more of the virtues listed, reflect, pray and ask God to so work in your life.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How Far Does Your Forgiveness Go?

Talk about a scary story. Sue Ann Gorman was sleeping yesterday morning in her bed. At her side was her service dog, Misty, a sheltie. She also had her neighbor’s Jack Russell terrier, Romeo, in the room with her.

Imagine a quiet sleepy morning with a couple of loving dogs at your side. Suddenly you’re awakened by horrific growling and barking as two pit bulls leap into the room and begin attacking!

That is exactly what happened to Gorman, 59, who lives in Gig Harbor, Washington. The pit bulls belong to another neighbor. They came through the unlocked pet door and without provocation began attacking Gorman and both dogs. The sheltie got away and Gorman tried to throw the terrier into a closet so the pit bulls couldn’t get to him. The terrier was killed as Gorman tried to beat the dogs off with a stick. She picked up a gun and tried to shoot the pit bulls but the gun wouldn’t fire. Finally she was able to grab a phone, run out of the house and get inside of her car where she called 911.

Brian Boman, a Pierce County animal control officer said, “This is the worst attack in my career in animal control.” Boman and Pierce County sheriff’s deputies captured the two pit bulls, a mother and son, who were still loose in the house, after a struggle involving pepper spray. The Pierce County Humane Society is keeping the dogs until a judge decides their fate. Gorman suffered injuries to her face, arms and legs and is hospitalized in Tacoma for the next several days.

Shelly Wilson who owns the pit bulls says she is devastated by the attack, arguing that her dogs are good dogs that were chained up in her back yard. She has no idea how they got loose or why they attacked. Other neighbors disagreed and claim that the pit bulls have been terrorizing the neighborhood for some time.

Sue Ann Gorman will never forget this episode. The vicious scenes will reply in her mind over and again. She’ll relive the bites and ripping of her flesh, the powerlessness she felt while trying to escape, and the dying whimper of the terrier. The questions of Wilson as to why she would own pit bulls or why couldn’t she control them, will go round and round in her head. Fear and grief will be strongly felt for some time.

I’m describing to you a powerful human dynamic called resentment. Left untreated resentment has the power to destroy one’s life. The only antidote is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not based upon the perpetrator being sorry or remorseful. Forgiveness isn’t dependent upon restitution. Forgiveness is a choice the victim makes to release the need to get even or hurt someone in return. Forgiveness is a state of wishing the other well.

That’s not to imply that we remain vulnerable to future misdeeds. We don’t become doormats for people to perpetually walk over. We establish proper boundaries with unsafe people or circumstances. But, we don’t continue on with a grief-stricken, vengeful, bitter desire to see the other suffer as we have.

Being a forgiving person is a powerful way to live and it is one of many benefits that come with following Jesus Christ. This story illustrates another of a thousand reasons that I follow Jesus Christ. The power to forgive comes from Jesus Christ.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Development of Character

I’ve delayed jumping into the national conversation about NFL quarterback Michael Vick because he has pretty much been presumed guilty until proven innocent. Today it is expected that news will be released about his attempt at a plea deal concerning the dog fighting and illegal gambling charges that have already brought deals and sentences to several of his involved “friends”.

I know that several readers of this blog don’t follow sports related news so allow me a couple of sentences to introduce Michael Vick. He was raised in housing projects and because of tremendous athletic ability became a star quarterback at Virginia Tech. For the past 6 years he has dazzled NFL fans with his speed and elusive agility.

Vick represents the “American story” of rags to riches. He currently has a $130 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons and multiple millions come in annually from his product endorsements.

So, let me hasten to say that I don’t want to “pile on” while a guy is down. I’m simply reflecting on the importance and necessity of character.

Every week I have conversations with friends who are seeking to follow Christ and have meaningful connection with God. Often someone’s circumstances will be challenging or difficult and he or she will wonder, “If I’m seeking to follow Christ and allow God to change my life, why are my circumstances still so difficult?” Answer: Because God is more interested in your character than your comfort or career or success.

The bottom line is that if your character doesn’t grow and stay ahead of life’s blessings and opportunities, then those blessings and opportunities will likely contribute to your life blowing up in some kind of way. Vick is an example.

If the horror of dog fighting isn’t real to you take a moment to “google it” and look at a few pictures. It is unbelievably cruel. When you look at mangled animals you wonder how someone can entertain himself with it. Additionally, Vick is accused of brutally killing dogs that could no longer fight.

The dog fighting, betting and hanging out in such a dark world by a superstar, superrich, super famous person leads to the inevitable question: WHY? Answer: His character has not grown to match the stature of his gifts, celebrity and wealth.

So, my post is really not about Vick. It is about you and me. Are we being intentional to cooperate with God in the development of character? Are we growing in the virtues of honesty, charity, patience, generosity, and kindness?

This is not just a matter of “trying hard to be a good person”. This is a matter of being “clay” in the hands of the “Master Sculptor” so that our lives become the “work of art” that God dreamed before our conception.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Gift of Mercy

Mercy has been described as “God withholding from us what we deserve.” In other words, God is so merciful He chooses to withhold things like judgment and punishment that we truly deserve because we sin against God.

Note: All sin is against God even if someone else gets caught up in our sin. When ancient King David committed adultery with Bathsheba he cried out to God, “Against You, and You alone, have I sinned.” (Psalm 51:4, NLT) Certainly David had sinned against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, but David understood that ultimately sin is against God because “right and wrong” are based in the character of God. Adultery is wrong because we’re created in God’s image and God is faithful. To be unfaithful is to sin against the character of God that is within us.

Anyway…I was having lunch with a friend recently who shared a bit of his story and how he had been arrested for drugs in his early twenties. He stood trial on felony drug charges and was facing 15 years imprisonment when convicted. He commented, “For reasons I still don’t understand today, they found me guilty but suspended my 15 year sentence and gave me 5 years of probation.” He closed his story by saying, “I understand mercy.”

My friend does understand mercy. However, many of my friends don’t. Many of my friends play the comparison game and because their life is better than so-and-so, they conclude they are a “good person” and therefore lose the significance of the gift that mercy is.

Every one of us has sinned against God and every one of us deserves eternal judgment and punishment. But for the perfect life of Christ dying an atoning death on our behalf, we would all be judged and sentenced. But, because of Christ, God chooses to be merciful to those who are “in Christ”.

Anyone need mercy from God today? Then get “in Christ”. Confess (agree with God) your sin, repent (turn away from sin) and follow Christ and you too will be blessed with the gift of mercy.

Prayer: Father, I praise You that You are so great that You can bestow mercy though our sins are many and egregious.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Elvis and Clearly Living for Christ

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing 30 years ago today. Living in Memphis, Tennessee and with a radio playing in the background I heard one of the first breaking news reports of the death of Elvis Presley.

What an absolute phenomenon. Elvis had been born and raised in nearby Tupelo, Mississippi and moved to Memphis during his adolescence. While earning a living as a truck driver he went in to Sun Records and recorded a record and the rest is history.

Taking the music world and the American culture by storm Elvis became a superstar and the “King of Rock n’ Roll”. Known for his edgy sexuality and pelvic action during performances Elvis was also deeply religious.

Not only a member of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame but Elvis is a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. He won his only Grammys for Gospel albums. Many are the stories of Elvis singing hymns and Gospel songs long into the night with a group of musician friends. It seemed to bring comfort to a soul that was otherwise tortured.

Evangelical Christianity has wanted to claim Elvis as a convert yet has always been conflicted because of Elvis’ widely known abuse of drugs and adulterous escapades. Elvis would often and at length talk about his faith but then live a lifestyle that seemed devoid of faith.

On the anniversary of Elvis’ death I’m not interested in exalting his memory or judging his past. Rather I'm moved to examine my own life.

The Apostle John said that it is clear who is born of God and a follower of Christ (1 John 3:10). There’s nothing fuzzy that leaves someone else wondering if one is a true Christ follower.

My prayer today, “Lord, change my heart, enable me to be single minded in my devotion and without distraction in my following of Christ.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

No One Ever Gets Away With Anything

This past Saturday Seattle police arrested a 20 year old male employee of Cinerama. A woman had discovered a video camera in the women’s restroom and reported it to authorities. When the video tape was examined there was not only the recording of four women using the restroom but apparently the young man accidentally videoed himself installing the camera.

The police showed the beginning of the tape to the theater manager who then identified the employee who was caught on film setting up the camera. The man admitted to videotaping the women and was subsequently arrested and booked into the King County Jail for voyeurism.

What is your first thought and reflection on this story? Maybe you thought, “How dumb could someone be to video himself?” Perhaps you thought about the lack of safety or privacy today. Maybe you focused your thoughts upon the women who were videoed and the violation they have experienced.

Frankly my first thought was, “That is going to happen to everyone some day.” I’m referring to the biblical claim that someday everyone will stand before God and answer for everything they ever did in this world. It will be like a lifetime video being played in court showing every sin we’ve committed and for which we will be judged.

Sometimes it looks like people are getting away with cheating or lying or abusing others. They’re not. No one ever gets away with anything. We’ll all answer to God for it when life as we know it is over.

This is yet one more reason to become a Christ follower. Not only does He cause my heart to come alive to Him and prepare a place for me in heaven, but He forgives my every sin and delivers me from that end time judgment.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Billy Graham on the Cover of TIME

This week Billy Graham will once again be on the cover of time magazine. Coinciding with a new book, “The Preacher and the Presidents” by Gibbs and Duffy, Graham was also the subject of last Friday night’s edition of “20/20” on ABC.

There are many stories circulating this week about Graham that are full of intrigue, historical insight, loving tenderness and faith.

Some especially associate Graham with Republicans. In truth Graham was very close with President Johnson’s family and President Clinton’s. One story tells of a day Johnson took Graham on a walk around his Texas ranch, to a clearing in the trees near where his parents were buried. Johnson wanted to know if he would see them again in heaven. And then another question: Would Billy preach at his funeral? Johnson knew the world listens when a President dies. "Don't use any notes," he said, and no fancy eulogizing either. "I want you to look in those cameras and just tell 'em what Christianity is all about. Tell 'em how they can be sure they can go to heaven. I want you to preach the Gospel." And just one more thing. "Somewhere in there, you tell 'em a few things I did for this country."

Another story tells of the last days and hours of Ruth Graham’s life. Billy and their five sons and daughters were ringed around Ruth's bed, reading Scripture, singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness, a hymn sung by millions of people at Graham's crusades. Finally, at twilight, she took a few last breaths. Billy leaned over and kissed her cheek and her forehead. He asked his children to sing the doxology with him, and they struggled through it, praising God, "from whom all blessings flow." The cat that had been shooed away from the bed for months was now allowed to jump on and curl up beside her. And then the family lit a fire in her fireplace, just the way she had liked it.

Many will find the book and TIME articles to be a fascinating read. However, some are convinced that something sinister or at least unfair is taking place at TIME. You’ll notice on the magazine cover that the “M” in TIME is strategically placed over Billy Graham’s head so that it appears he has devilish horns.

Read the articles for yourself. I found them to be fair and balanced (no reference to FOX intended).

Such reflections have me lingering with the same thoughts I posted previously regarding Colin Powell and the importance of a life well lived and a legacy. Today was another good day of purpose, focus and engagement. With God’s help let’s do it again tomorrow.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Leadership Summit

I’ve been privileged to spend the past two days at the annual Willow Creek Leadership Summit. These are long days sitting at the feet of world class leaders in government, business, education and ministry. Six other leaders from my church are attending with me and we’ve had a couple of stirring lunchtime debriefing conversations. God is at work in all of us.

One of the presenters today was General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the highest military position in the US) and former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush.

I was fascinated by his so-called “Powellisms” which are one phrase or one sentence leadership statements that reflect his values and practices in leadership.

Speaking of the influence of his parents and extended family he identified what he considers their two best gifts to him. One was a sense of expectation. The second was a sense of shame. Both statements made me do a double-take.

Powell recounted that his parents had immigrated to the US along with siblings and cousins and had very little material possession or opportunity. They all worked hard to make a living and a life. Because of their efforts they “expected” that Powell and his cousins would make something of themselves. It was never a matter of discussion whether he would attend and finish high school or college. “They had worked too hard for me to not get an education.”

Powell’s family had also established themselves as a people of integrity and honest character. The family conveyed to Powell that he had a name to honor and that he had better never conduct himself in a way that would harm their name or bring shame.

Powell’s family commentary made an impression upon me because I didn’t have a heritage of expectation or honor. Both sides of my family tree are filled with adulterers, cheats, addicts and dysfunction.

However, God has so wondrously and graciously saved me that I have become something of a transitional person in my lineage. My legacy will be and is vastly different than my heritage. I’m not bragging but expressing thanks. So, I don’t take legacy lightly. My children have a pretty good sense about “expectations” and “shame” as Powell referred to it. Today I was freshly envisioned to make sure that values/experiences are passed on to future grandchildren and so on.

I don’t sit around and think about legacy. Do you? What are you or will you hand off to the next generation? What role is God having in shaping your legacy?

When asked what he wanted inscribed on his tombstone Colin Powell said, “He served well and left behind a good family.”

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Life Wreckage

Earlier this week I was out driving early and within a couple of miles of my house I came upon a wrecked car in a ditch. I immediately pulled over to see if I could be of some help. The car was empty. It had deployed its air bags. I hopped back into my car and resumed driving wondering what happened with the driver and if he or she was okay. Later in the day when I returned up that road the car was gone.

That image has remained in my thinking this week. Of course the news is filled daily with stories of twenty-something rich and famous stars that are constantly wrecking their lives and ending up in rehab. After a while you can become desensitized to life wreckage.

But then you have a phone call or an email or a meeting with real life people in your world who are contending with life wreckage and you’re caused to both care and share in the pain or to cynically harden your heart and go about your business. I want to make a case for the former.

Today, someone in your world has a troubled teen or is a stressed out parent of a toddler or a lover whose heart was broken or is financially wrecked. Someone has received a diagnosis that involved the word “cancer”, has real life addiction rehab or is dealing with the issue of suicide.

You don’t have the power to fix or heal or control someone’s circumstance but you do have the power to care. You may have the opportunity to communicate your concern with your eyes or with a tender word or even a hand on the shoulder. Though caring has its own power to encourage perseverance or hope, it is exponentially multiplied when we care enough to pray.

You don’t have to be demonstrative and raise your hand or voice to pray for someone in pain. Praying silently without anyone else even being aware can be sufficient. It may be helpful to let someone know that you are praying for them. But the main thing is to care enough to call upon God to bring His grace and power into the circumstance of another.

It is during such prayerful encounters that I’m reminded how great God is. Six billion people on the earth and He is so great that He both hears and responds to my (your) simple prayers.

Let’s not just drive by life wreckage today. Let’s pull over and care.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Live Like You Were Dying

Country singer Tim McGraw gave me an important reminder this morning while driving to work.

“He said I was in my early forties,
with a lot of life before me
And one moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days,
looking at the x-rays
Talking bout' the options and talking bout' sweet times.
I asked him when it sank in,
that this might really be the real end
How's it hit 'cha when you get that kind of news
Man what did ya do?
He said...
I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin'
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin'”

Just yesterday someone asked me a question about the biblical perspective on planning for the future, retirement, etc. I replied, “Biblically we’re taught to plan and prepare as if we get to live 100 years, but live today like it may be our last.” It is a paradox and a tension in which we live. It’s also a matter of stewardship. If we have chosen to become a Christ follower then we have given our lives to Christ. Our lives are no longer our own but belong to Him. We’re accountable to Christ for how we spend each day.

I like the way the song says it, “Live like you were dyin’”.

Sometimes I’m amazed at the various ways that God can speak into our hearts. God is so great He can even bring a timely message through country music :)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Bell Curve vs. The Well Curve

Leadership consultant, Chad Hall, recently observed that society is moving away from the “bell curve” (pictured) and toward something called the “well curve”.

You know about the bell curve that defines normal distribution as being massed near the middle while being low on the extremities. As a graph the distribution looks like a bell-shaped curve. The implication is that most people gravitate toward the middle. Most people are of average height, make average grades (“C’s”) and have average sized families. Few people are really tall or short, make “A’s” or “F’s” and have very large or very small families.

Today a new phenomenon is being recognized. The distribution for some choices is an inverted bell curve or “well curve”. In these cases the population gravitates toward the extremes and is lowest in the middle. Hall sites examples such as television screens getting both larger (60” plasma) and tinier (iPod); stores are getting huge (Wal-Mart) and small (specialty boutiques); people are eating more healthful food (organic) and more fast food (McDonald’s).

If so, the well curve describes the disappearing middle-class, the demise of mid-sized companies and the polarization of politics in America.

I think this phenomenon is also seen in the increased numbers of “spiritual” people but decreased numbers of those actually “connected” to God.

Friday, August 03, 2007

How Crazy Can We Be?

Roy Pearson (pictured) is a lawyer in Washington D.C. In May 2005 he was appointed to be a judge. It was to be a 10 year term on the bench. Anticipating his first day on the bench Pearson took a favorite pair of pants, gray with blue and red pin stripes, to a local drycleaner owned by Korean immigrants Jin and Soo Chung. Later Pearson returned to the cleaners and learned that they had lost the prized pair of pants. Pearson sued.

You’ve probably seen reports both in print and on television covering this bizarre story. Roy Pearson sued the Chungs for $54 million! Time and again when I’ve seen the story I’ve just shook my head in disbelief. I couldn’t force myself to read more than a few paragraphs. The level of absurdity literally turned my stomach when I would think about it.

The story actually begins in 2002, before the loss of the pants in question. Apparently Pearson had lost another pair of pants earlier at the same cleaners. He was so disagreeable about the matter that the Chungs gave him a check for $150 and banned him from ever returning to their store. Pearson later begged the Chungs to allow him to once again do business with them claiming that he didn’t have a car and their cleaners was the only one in walking distance.

Then three years later the second and “favorite” pair of pants was lost. At first Pearson demanded $1,150 for a new suit. Lawyers were hired and the legal battle began. The Chungs then decided to offer Pearson $3,000 in compensation. Then they offered $4,600. Finally they offered $12,000 for the missing pants! Pearson turned it down.

So how did Pearson justify a $54 million settlement? He said the consumer protection laws indicated that he was entitled to $1,500 per violation--each day that the “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service” signs were up in the store. It had been more than 1,200 days. He multiplied each violation by three because he sued Jin and Soo Chung and their son.

During the trial Pearson represented himself and while questioning himself about the pants became so emotional he began crying on the witness stand. The presiding judge threw out the case and it is now under appeal.

The Chungs are under such duress and financial pressure paying for their legal fees they’re talking about closing their business and moving back to Korea. Meanwhile the Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges is questioning Pearson’s suitability to serve as a judge and he may well lose his position because of the “lost pants lawsuit”.

In perusing the Internet for thoughts, opinions, and commentary about this story it seems that the entire world supports the Chungs and is rather ballistic about Pearson. So, why is he appealing? How can Roy Pearson, an educated, credentialed lawyer and judge pursue a course of action that is so obviously foolish to 100% of the watching world?

Then my incredulity began to take note of “insane” behaviors in my own life. I eat when I’m not hungry. I stay up late and channel surf when I’m tired and need sleep. I allow distance in my marriage or friendships when I need intimacy and closeness. You get the point.

How about you? Are there points (large or small) of insanity in you? Perhaps life’s greatest insanity is ignoring or even running from the God of the universe who declares Himself to be the lover of your soul and whose intent is to bless you and give you life abundant.

Yes, Roy Pearson is pursuing a crazy path over lost pants. How is your craziness being played out?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Who Are You, Really?

Okay, I’m excited. Tomorrow is the opening day for the latest in the Jason Bourne trilogy, “The Bourne Ultimatum”. I’ve already bought my tickets in advance and my wife and I are going to see it with six friends!

Seattle Times movie critic, Moira Macdonald, tells us that this is the sort of movie in which somebody says, “Um, he drove off the roof,” and it isn’t a metaphor. If you’re looking for action you’ll see Bourne ride his motorcycle up a concrete wall, beat up a faceless army of tough guys, jump across rooftops, race a car through the streets of Manhattan, and do a few nifty tricks with cell phones.

For a cool video timeline of the Bourne saga check out

You’ve been disengaged from life in America for the past 5 years and you don’t know who Jason Bourne is?

Jason Bourne is a fictional character created by Robert Ludlum in books and film. The first film, “The Bourne Identity”, is the intriguing story of what it is like when you forget who you are.

Jason Bourne is a highly trained, specialized agent of the US government who has tremendous ability to fight the enemy, to discern dangerous situations and to think strategically and overcome problems. But, Bourne has forgotten who he is. In one battle with a bad guy Bourne is shot and nearly drowns. The trauma causes him to have amnesia.

At one point Bourne questions who he is because he is sitting in a restaurant and he has observed every car in the parking lot, memorizing every license plate, and can close his eyes and tell you with detail about the appearance of every person sitting in the restaurant. He questions, “Who does this kind of thing?”

It’s a great question because the answer is relevant to his lost identity. The person “who does this kind of thing” is a secret agent.

When a bad guy attacks Bourne, Jason instinctively deflects the enemy’s blows and knocks out his opponent. When hearing a foreign language spoken across the room he not only understands but returns a comment and thereby discovers that he knows that language.

So, let me shift gears from the movies and fictional characters to you and me. Those who have become followers of Jesus Christ also have a “Born” identity. The Apostle John tells us that we are children of God if we have been born from above or born again. This connection with God transforms our lives so completely that we truly begin to have a new identity in Christ. However, life’s traumas sometimes leave believers with temporary amnesia and we forget our “Born” identity, someone endowed with grace from above to be agents of love, hope, joy and life.

Jason Bourne is on a quest to fully recover his memory and identity. I’m reminded that Christians must be on the same quest.