Saturday, January 10, 2009

Keeping it simple on the weekend, embracing Amazing Grace and giving you a couple quick hits

Frank’s note to readers looking for lyrics: Most know this song and what was amazing is that there was not a version of lyrics on the internet that was complete to this version of the song. If you need lyrics for this one, email me and I’ll patch a better version of lyrics together. It won’t be as pretty as the ones I usually get from Metrolyrics.

This has been a very interesting and busy week and for this weekend edition, I’m going to patch a few ideas that have been put in my brain this week together since none have come together as one complete piece. Sometimes God makes his points quick and concise. For the writer in me, that’s a tad frustrating, but I think that sometimes it’s nice to leave with several things to ponder.

The first idea to cross my thoughts after I last wrote was about my favorite song or songs. I have such a list of favorite songs for every season of my life that it’s hard to narrow it down to one. I may talk about some of my favorites in another post, but one thing I found in my discussions with friends old or young was that everyone loves one version or another of Amazing Grace. One of the things I like about great music is that it stands the test of time. Most Christians I know have a story around a time they heard Amazing Grace and that version means something to them. My favorite is the one you see in video form above by Crystal Lewis. To me, Crystal’s version stands out like Whitney Houston’s Star Spangled Banner. It’s the version I think of when I think of the song.

Another major thought this week is discipleship. I’ve had a couple great thought conversations with Josh Lloyd from the youth group I was a part of at Bible Baptist One of the things I’ve always liked about Josh is that he’s a thinker and he often asks questions that make me think. Discipleship isn’t always me teaching you something. Sometimes, you get to teach me something. That’s the great thing about this life on Earth. You learn something pretty much every day until you die.

His second thought provoking idea was talking about how he and many Christians are struggling to just pray for Barack Obama as our new President. Trust me, I’ll give a disclaimer here. I don’t necessarily stand behind any candidate for any office, but what God has told me to do is to pray for my leaders. I’ll give you two sets of scripture to think about.

The first is 1 Timothy 2:1-4. 1)I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-2)for kings and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3)This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4)who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Part of my response becomes personal opinion here, but another man said it best to me today that he felt the biggest problem that George Bush has had over the past few years is that Christians in America stopped praying for him. As a nation, I agree and think that we became complainers rather than prayer warriors. We do the same thing to people that aren’t doing what we want. “Lord, fix them” or “Let that person see my point of view.” We stopped praying, “Lord, Mr. Bush is our leader and please counsel him to do what is your will.” That’s what we need to Barack Obama, whether I fully agree with him or NOT.

The second set of verses drives this point home. Titus 3:1-2 tells us, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2) to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” How many times have I heard people rip on Bush and Obama. Obama isn’t even in office yet, so in truth we REALLY don’t know what he will do or is capable of while in office. I know it’s hard to pray for someone when we don’t agree with their views, but as you see, this is what God asks us to do.

I’ll take it a point further. I’m not necessarily a fan of Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven Life. I do think there are good things in the book, but I’m shaky on where I stand with the rest of his philosophy. That’s for another day. However, Rick Warren has something that I don’t have. He has the ear of Mr. Obama. Rick Warren is a Christian man and probably will attempt to persuade him to do things that do agree with how I think. Truthfully, I need to be praying for him and any other person that is counseling Mr. Obama. Why? It’s quite simple. Something these people say may lead to decisions that affect us all. I pray for the same brand of wisdom to be delivered to these people that King Solomon prayed for during his time as king in the Old Testament.

Finally, the last thought that has pierced my brain today was from Richard White. The two of us were having coffee and Diet Coke this morning at Joe Sippers and we were talking about how one of the jobs I had was as a surveyor at Walt Disney World in Orlando a few years back. One of the concepts that was taught to all Disney employees and taught to us as independent surveyors was that the guests to the theme park may only be here once in a lifetime. Some people save for years, literally, just to come see Mickey and the band while their children are at an age to enjoy it. It is made very clear that when we survey them that we do not interfere in that “once in a lifetime” experience.

After that, it began rolling around in my head that we do that for people going to Disneyland, but not for people when they come to church. Why? It’s certainly not because people are spending their life savings when they come to church. But they are perhaps in a situation that could be “once in a lifetime” to make a decision for eternity. Even though the financial cost is definitely less, the spiritual investment is of great magnitude.

Unfortunately, most people have an attitude that it’s up to the staff and the super saints to make people feel welcome. We shouldn’t be like that as a church at any church. People ask why church attendance is in major decline and I can answer with this. We aren’t making people feel like it should be part of their lives. We aren’t welcoming people like grandma did when people came upon her porch. I’m not saying that we offer coffee, but what I am saying is that we should be more cordial. Kindness never hurt anyone.

We want to make friends and make people part of the community, but don’t want to take 30 seconds to say hi to our neighbors and check to see how their day is going. I’m not just talking to you. I’m guilty of it sometimes, too. God wants us to grow together. Sometimes it is just as simple as a smile. So when you see someone you’ve never met, throw a little love around. It might just make your day.

I love you guys,

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