Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Boogie Woogie Wedding

If you haven't seen, heard, read about, tweeted, blogged or received by ESP the dancing wedding party then the rest of this article will make no sense. If you have been on another planet, say like Arkansas, you may have missed it. Two weekends ago a couple getting married in Minnesota (ehh) eschewed tradition and had their entire wedding party dance into the church to the strains of a modern pop-rock song. The video set records for hits on Youtube, caught the attention the nation and was re-enacted on NBC's Today show last weekend. It was quite a show to say the least. It was fun, maybe even hilarious and a real attention getter. Young people strutting their stuff and really enjoying the moment. Some had rehearsed a little bit and did the same dance moves down the aisle. One groomsman did handstands. The groom turned a summersault down the aisle and the bride boogied down with the best of them while the minister swayed at the alter. And why shouldn't they have fun? It's a celebration and hopefully the most joyous day of their lives, so go for it. But hold on just a moment. Let me think about this. Something catches in my spirit. I've always prided myself on not being an old fudddy-duddy (see I'm not sure how to even spell "fuddy-duddy, maybe its 'ie.'), quickly adopting new things and not writing things off just because no one ever did it that way before. Maybe I'm just getting old and too set in my ways but something was missing in all the fun of the "unwedding" march to matrimony in Minnesota and I needed a few days to put thoughts together. What was wrong? What was missing? What kept me from all out endorsement with a view toward duplication? It it this: it was a wedding, with vows to God, to one another, and yes, even to the community of witnesses. This most joyous occasion is also one of the most serious. It is one of worship and of giving and receiving the blessing of God. One could see the joy in the dancing down the aisle but where was the reverence for the vows and the main One in whose name the vows are given? Can the shift from Watusi to worship be made that quickly? And perhaps the bigger rub is this: God is left out or at least horribly hidden in the antics of the wedding party. Almost no one heard the vows given after that entrance, no one was moved by the prayer of the minister, few probably worshipped the Lord God for the blessing of marriage He provided. Their minds were flooded by the sights and sounds they had just experienced and the focus was squarely on the wedding party, not the Honored Guest of God's Spirit. The Minnesota Mambo merely highlighted what has happened to marriage in general over the years. The focus has shifted, if it ever was there, to the bride and groom instead of the God who brings them together for companionship, pleasure, and a Godly linage. The focus has become the wedding ceremony instead of the marriage. Families spent thousands and thousands of dollars on the wedding and almost no time or money in preparing for marriage. A few years ago when I pastored in Burnet, the average wedding in Austin was $32,000.00. Average wedding! Will the half of those marriages that are statistically headed for divorce spend any where near that in counseling to hold it together? Probably not. Where God intends the marriage to be the soil in which greater love and commitment grow, it has become merely the vehicle for personal fulfillment in our society apart from the spiritual designs Christ intended. The deadly reversal in marriage is that society treats God as though He existed to bless the married with no reciprocation in the hearts of the man and wife. Ideally, in the commitment of marriage the couple learns more of who the Trinity is and how the true community of the Trinity can be learned and lived out in the growing community of the home. The intimacy and the ecstasy the Godhead enjoys with one another is to be learned, enjoyed and shared by the couple in marriage and the resulting strength, beauty and love will both point the greater community to the greatness of God and transform the culture by its true strength of joy and blessing. So dance back up the aisle at the end if you must. Turn it loose at the reception and dance the night away. But for God's sake, and really your marriages' sake, focus on Christ's presence in Holy awe and reverence as you seek His purpose and blessing in your vows and live them in your marriage. Then the high point of your marriage won't be had coming down the aisle, but in your enjoying the dance of life lived to glory to God. Cos

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tranquility Base

I was fourteen and a half when America landed two astronauts on the moon forty years ago. I remember watching the gray, grainy scenes on our old, gray, grainy black and white tv. It was a surreal, fascinating, magical, mysterious, and miraculous. To that moment, it was the greatest and may debatably still be the greatest engineering, scientific feat mankind has produced. I'm not sure young folks really know much about it. It ranks somewhere below iphones and text messaging in their view of wonderful accomplishments. When the lunar module landed Neil Armstrong said, "Houston, tranquility base here, the eagle has landed." They called the area of the moon on which they landed the Sea of Tranquility. They left a plaque on the Sea of Tranquility that read " we came in peace for all mankind." It was so remarkable it was more than some folks could believe so they made up stories about the whole moon landing\walking being a hoax staged by the government in the Arizona desert or on a sound stage in Arkansas. For a few hours, the world virtually stopped to follow the progress of Aldrin and Armstrong. For a few moments the world was "together." It didn't last long. Bullets starting flying again in Viet Nam. Egypt and Israel were rattling sabres soon enough and the USSR was holding its power over eastern Europe. If mankind were going to find tranquility, they'd have to go to the moon. The truth of the matter is that there was a tranquility base on the moon because there is nothing there but a bunch of stinky rocks (moon rocks, moon dust smells like spent gunpowder). The progress came in the Herculean effort to get to the moon and back. Computer advances, communication advances, engineering advances with adhesives, metals, and materials that play into our lives now were made possible by the progress NASA made over forty years ago. For those reasons I hope we can one day go to Mars or where ever and explore it for all its worth. Maybe by then mankind will have figured out that our base for tranquility isn't found on the moon or on Mars or in politics or secured with armies or oil or any other created thing. There is a much closer, deeper space which must be explored. What is there can be terrifying for sure. Yet there is a Guide who knows that tranquility is not something discovered "out there" or landed upon by spacecraft but is created within. Is your heart open to exploration? Terry

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

I've been in hiding until he was safely in the ground. Is it ok yet? I decided to help all my friends and relatives that I don't outlive to beat the rush. I'll be selling chances for a lottery ticket to my funeral for $25 a pop. No limit. That way we will know what size venue to rent for my memorial service. So far the the back room at Sister's diner is a good fit, actually, the restroom is probably a better fit. Speaking of decisions, we all make hundreds if not thousands of them daily. It starts before we get up (bathroom now or can I wait 20 minutes?)and continues throughout the day. Boxers or briefs? Coffee, black or flavored? Cereal or toast? Honey-nut Cheerios or Total? Well, you know the routine. It goes on and on, most decisions you hardly even think about and rarely second guess. Some of us have careers that require decisions all day that aren't always easy. But in a sense, you even get used to making tougher decisions because that just becomes part of your life. The better balanced ones can make decisions without getting paralyzed and still have a sense of humility about themselves that keeps them from becoming obnoxiously arrogant. I have an unscientific theory that based on a person's education, training, gender, experience, personality, and genetics, a person has a certain capacity for X number of decisions daily. Let's say Bob's make-up allows him to make 2,000 decisions a day while Larry (yes those are the Crocs from Pearls) can only make 1500. When Larry starts to reach his peak, he starts forgetting, slowing down, and become irritated. Bob still going strong for a while longer. I also think everyone pretty much fills his\her decision jar to full capacity leaving little or no margin when life is thrust upon us in unexpected ways. One example of this would be the decisions men and women make at bars late at night. Exceeding one's decision quota can be disastrous. I also think Satan uses this theory to his advantage in the world. In this materialistic world the choices and selections we have are measured exponentially. Blame Baskin-Robbins. It all started with the name even before the 33 flavors. Why couldn't it just be Baskins? or Robbins? or just BR's? No we have to get both names and give you the choice of 33 flavors. Now even the local snow cone stand has combinations into the hundreds. When I was small there were four flavors of snow cones to choose from along with three tv channels to watch. There's probably a snow cone channel, I just haven't found it yet. We end up using our decision capacity with inane choices by 1o in the morning and the rest of the day we make poor decisions like watching too much tv or eating snow cones. As most know, we are in the process of building a house. Our builder is really great. I think he was a marriage counselor before he went into building. He takes a lot of the decisions out of our hand so there is less stress. He simply says, "no, you can't afford that." That helps a bunch. But unfortunately, we can still afford paint in the new house. We decided a pale yellow would look nice in some rooms. Did you know that each paint store, there are only 47 within 50 miles, has 22 different shades of "pale" yellow? You don't even want to know about the other rooms and their "beige" scheme. So if there is no sermon for the next few weeks its because the devil had me thinking "cuddle" yellow and "biscotti" beige and there was no room for Bible study and dealing with salvation, righteousness, guilt, freedom, meaning, sorrow, loss, grace and all that other stuff that has to take a backseat to picking a paint color! Life can get terribly complicated, from the silly to the surreal; from the mundane to the monumental. The sheer number of decisions, not to mention their gravitas, can stoop a man's soul more quickly than time can his shoulders. It was rare genius and oh so kind of the Savior, that when he calls a man like he did His disciples, He simply says, "come, follow me." (Matthew 4:19). Of all the decisions a man has to make, Jesus made the most important one the most do-able. When you're lost--follow Him; when you're lonely--follow Him; when you're hurting--follow Him; when you're confused--follow Him; when you've got a decision to make--follow Him. This will not make all the decisions go away but it will put them into perspective. Following Him closely will also take away many of the lesser decsions we face. How we spend our time, follow Him and He will fill it with good and meaningful things. Money, follow Him and He will guide you in giving and serving others with it. Snow cones, take a kid and watch her delight in the bright color and sweet coolness on a 103 degree day and it won't matter if it's Cherry or Passionate Mango Delight. Your delight will be found in simply deciding to follow Jesus. Cos