The fact that I was in middle school on September 11, 2001 might be reason enough for you to disregard…
A Reflection upon returning from our church’s mission trip to Dar El Awlad boy home in Beirut, Lebanon. It, and…
Ashraf was just a name a few weeks ago. We had several pairs of shoes that had been purchased for…
Thursday has been a full day. It contained a morning chapel time with the Dar El Awlad boys, an hour…
I can still remember the first time I traveled to the Middle East quite vividly. I was a college student…
Have sympathy, though. As of yesterday, he is a lot less busy.
I’ve never thought much of mascots. The costumes often fit poorly, are unrealistically proportioned, and who wants to be that hot? The characters are often poorly chosen or fail to reflect the team name at all. Yes, there are coyotes near San Antonio, but shouldn’t he at least wear spurs? But there is always worse. Take the Tampa Bay Rays with this creature, or Xavier University with their blue blob, the Phillies and their Phinatic, or the fact that the Tennessee Volunteer’s picked a dog. Then again, one could always skip the giant suit and just use an entire Schooner as your mascot (yes, and boomer).
This to say, they seem a bit useless, yes? Well, most are. But in the middle of Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, I gained a new respect for this Coyote fellow. He spent no time with the dancers or mingling the crowd. With a primetime television game, the TV time outs were incessant. The Coyote’s role was clear. How do you keep a stadium full of fans excited with 2 minute break that often? How can you counteract the time out’s taken by the OKC Thunder to quiet the crowd, and maintain the advantage of being on your home court?
This Coyote had a plethora of options. He jumped, motioned, and ran. He pumped, waved, and bounced. He used signs, stilts, unicycles, motorcycles, t-shirt canons, and games to name a few. Not for entertainment sake – but because the energy of the crowd is a crucial phenomenon in sports. Home court advantage is real, IF the fans make it so. He was tasked with maintaining the passion of the crowd in the least passionate moments. He was there to keep people on their feet and cheering when there was nothing to cheer for, no excitement, no action. And when the chances of winning seem bleak, his job grows increasingly difficult. And this was all amidst a decisive Game 5 of the Conference Finals! What greater motivation did these people need? It’s the playoffs, after all.
My experience has been that many people in the church can become frustrated with the stagnant or wavering nature of their own spiritual lives. At times, faith can be difficult to find. Sometimes it is easy to thank God for all that He has provided. At other times, we find ourselves barren and tired and left wondering how we got to this point. Sometimes the action is right in front of us, and things our going our way, and God’s presence is clear and evident in what is happening around us. But as quickly as we experience mountain tops, we find ourselves in valleys.
We all need someone to keep us on our feet – to instill faith in us, faith that not only believes that our God can fulfill his promises but believes he will have the ultimate victory. In the least passionate moments we need someone to remind us of our passion and the importance of maintaining it. When there seems nothing to cheer for, no excitement, no action, we need others who will point us to the reality that our God is risen and reigning. And when the circumstances of life seem bleak, we need someone to remind us that God is good and His loves endures forever.
Worship of God is not merely for the moments when we can see things happening, but for every moment in between as well. Certainly, He is worthy of our constant adoration and praise, regardless of the circumstances, outcome, or time. No need for furry, unfitting suits or large, cheering blobs, but may the mascot remind us of our own tendency to sit down, lose interest, or give up hope. “In Him all things were created… All things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16-17). What greater motivation do we need than the reality of who God is? May we be ever aware of our need to worship, our need to proclaim again and again and in every circumstance, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory.”
Holy Week is a special time in the life of the church. Maundy Thursday is the day of Holy Week…
Have you ever been through an awful situation with a group of friends? Maybe you’ve been drawn closer to a…
In March of 1933, on the occasion of his inauguration, Franklin Roosevelt offered a moving speech with a determination to take on the crisis of the Great Depression. In his speech, America was presented with an appeal pertaining to the powers of the President. At a time of significant crisis he declares:
It is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.
I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.
But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.
For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.
If I’ve lost or bored you already. Stay with me.
FDR found himself before a people who expected him to do nothing short of saving them from their bewildering plight. They looked up at the elected President with hopeful anticipation. Eleanor remarked of the inauguration that it was “very, very solemn and a little terrifying because when Franklin got to the part of his speech when he said it might become necessary for him to assume powers ordinarily granted to a President in war-time [quoted above], he received his biggest demonstration.” You see, with stress at an all time high, a national banking crisis that had crippled the nation, and great difficulties at hand, the people were willing to grant extraordinary power and authority. People looked up for a great remedy, someone who could meet their needs, someone to trust in to deliver.*
Where am I going with this, you ask? The church, of course.
I have noticed a widespread phenomenon in today’s Christian culture, one that is certainly not unique to believers. I speak of what I think of as “celebrity Christians.” They may be pastors, teachers, speakers, musicians, worship leaders, or even pop culture icons who profess their faith. They are everywhere, and we love them. I talk to Christians all the time, well-meaning Jesus followers, who are enamored with the teachings or ideals of a particular public Christian figure. Some contemporary voice who has a clear-cut answer for everything they need one for. Your favorites may have already flooded to mind. But this reality offers us some interesting questions.
I think as Christians, we often find ourselves in a similar plight as our history lesson above. No, not a depression – but a crisis. A crisis of faith, no less. We have deeply troubling questions, unsettling circumstances, and mysterious realities for which we want clarity. Simply put: We want answers. And so, we look up. We look up for someone who surely has them. This pastor or that new trendy author. Sometimes its smooth and pleasing to the ear, and so the best sounding message garners the greatest following. Other times its radical or trend-rejecting, and thus receives the dissenting majority as adherents. We ascribe to someone such power and authority, hoping our trust in them will offer some semblance of peace in our chaos of questions.
A friend of mine, in an unexpected moment of candidness, commented to me about the reality that there is some level of pressure to appear as though he has things together. Society, American culture, even the church, does seem to emit some notion of perfection, strength, or together-ness. After all, to admit to doubt, fear, struggles, frustration, or fatigue is simply to admit to some level of weakness. To appear as unblemished as possible seems to be the goal, and thus, brokenness is defeat.
These thoughts that led me to a brief, but powerful, reflection on one simple fact. Brokenness is precisely what God works with. Brokenness is where He works. Somehow, in some unexplainable way, it is in brokenness that the Lord operates.
Amidst a fallen creation, He sets about a restoration. Even as the world experiences sin and creation appears marred, He begins making things new.