This encouraged my heart tonight as I was getting ready for bed. As I get ready to rest my body and my mind for another week or work, these should be the words on my heart:
O God, I have tasted Your goodness,
and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.
I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace.
I am ashamed of my lack of desire.
O God, the Triune God,
I want to want You;
I long to be filled with longing;
I thirst to be made more thirsty still.
Show me Your glory, I pray,
so I may know You indeed.
Begin in mercy a new work of love within me…
Give me grace to rise and follow You up from this misty lowland
where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Everything in the internet and tech world is in version 2.0. There’s Facebook 2.0, iPhone 2.0, and the nerds even call the whole thing Web 2.0 now. The basic idea is that these technologies and services have grown and been upgraded to the point where they are no longer an intro “1.0” version, but now the new and improved “2.0”. This may be an easy way to label upgrades to features in Facebook or the iPhone, but this same label can be applied to more than just social networking. It’s also my way of describing the change that has occurred in the use our tongues, or more specifically how our tongues are now our keyboards.
Often I find that I’ll jump on to Twitter or Facebook, or glance at a comments section on a blog only to see Christians using their tongues in ways they shouldn’t. Maybe it’s a Facebook status with a complaint about a teacher or how their day is going. Sometimes it’s a Twitter update that just doesn’t reflect the character of Christ. Other times it’s a “Relationship Status” update that gets everybody talking and often leads to gossip. No matter what it is, it doesn’t make sense. James would remind us this way “With the keyboard tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same keyboard mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).
Starting here I was going to break-in to a rather intense Biblical discussion on why it is that I continue to see people using their keyboards to complain, tear each other down, disrespect other people, gossip, or to sum up — sin. But after reading a few other wiser men on the topic I honestly felt that they did a better job of communicating exactly what I was thinking on this subject. If I could, I would like to forward you on from here to read this article from Jay Younts on The Shepherd Press Blog. Though he’s specifically talking about Facebook, I think this article does a great job of communicating the Biblical truths concerning the tongue, as well as what it is that is supposed to be coming out of the mouths of Christians. My hope is that it will encourage and convict your heart and that it would remind all Christians that even our keyboards need to glorify the Lord.
Three years ago my parents moved from a lifetime of residing in southern California to central Kentucky. Their new town is home to Abe Lincoln’s birthplace and you can literally walk the downtown area in about 5 minutes. I just got home (California) from visiting them for the past six days and I only have one thing to say: Kentucky is not my home.
It’s not that Kentucky is all bad — it does have it’s moments. Louisville is a pretty good city, for example. They boast that they are the 16th largest in the Union, but what I love are the old brick buildings and the Ohio river that it sits against. Also, there is something to say for the American history that Kentucky holds. Everywhere you go you’ll find bronze signs with gold lettering telling you that you’ve just entered a historic city and then explain the significance. But that might also be it’s downfall. The reality is these cities were probably a lot more exciting in the mid 1800’s then they are today because I don’t think anyone has done anything to keep them up in the past hundred and fifty years. But that didn’t stop my parents from loading us up in the car they borrowed (or in Kentucky it could be pronounced “burred”) and lead us around every place that might have any significance, historical or not. The view from the back the car wasn’t always bad as the photo above portrays. The chances of seeing a tractor in your lane with a nice water tower in the skyline isn’t that likely in southern California, so I had to get a shot of it at least for posterity. Nevertheless we saw most of what Kentucky has to offer in a few car rides and it’s not something to write home about — which is why I figured blogging might be the option in my case.
California, at least for now, is home to my home. I say “home to my home” because even as I’m writing this I’m realizing that my home really consists of more than a location, bedroom, kitchen, or even fond memories. Bethany (my lovely wife) was telling me about a blog she read the other day that discussed this very topic. The writer, CJ Mahaney’s daughter, basically explains how she isn’t sad that her parents are moving out of the house she grew up in. She explains how her parents aren’t ones to live in the past and how really home is “where mom is.” As I grow older and continue to establish my own home with my wife, I agree with this sentiment completely and would further add some qualifications to it.
Home for me really consists of the following: where my wife is, where my church is, and where God is choosing to use me. To be without my wife (and I don’t mean to sound cliche) would be like a half-me walking around — it would be weird, gross, and pretty awkward for those around me. She is the one that God designed for me and the more we grow together, the clearer that becomes. Furthermore, to be without a local church would be devastating to my spiritual growth. To miss the teaching of God’s word, the fellowship of other believers, and the constant use of my spiritual gift would leave me misguided and spiritually bankrupt. The church is really an extended family. These are people that I trust my life with and people that I want to be around all the time. They are my friends, my mentors, my brothers and sisters, and my teachers. I want to learn from their experiences, rub shoulders with them, share my prayer requests with them, hold the battleground with them, sing with them, learn with them, share the Gospel alongside them, and learn to love Christ more with them. Finally, I want to have God use me where I am. I don’t want to be idle in my obedience to God. I want to do what he says and trust him for the results. It’s in these things that my home is really established. If my home only consisted of my bedroom, some framed photographs of times past, and some simple memories it would missing some very key elements of my life and wouldn’t be much of a home at all — it would be missing God’s plan and God’s people, and those are things I just can’t live without.
Yesterday (Christmas eve) I drove down to Los Angeles to pick up a friend so he could celebrate Christmas with us and some mutual friends. As I was driving I called my dad to ask him his thoughts on what traffic in L.A. would be like on Christmas eve. My dad spent some 20+ years driving to and from Los Angeles, commuting to work so I figured he would be a good candidate to know something about what my travel would be like. But it was his answer to my simple question that killed me. He said, “I think you should be fine…” to which I replied, “great!” — but he didn’t stop there. He continued by adding, “The feelings about Christmas are really bad this year…they’ve taken Christ out of Christmas.” How exactly would Christ being taken out of Christmas affect my drive to L.A. I’m still trying to figure out, but the truth is — he was serious.
My dad grew up in a different time. He grew up in a time where saying “Merry Christmas” was the norm and wouldn’t turn heads or bring about an awkward stare. But this hasn’t been the case for my generation. I’ve grown up in the “Happy Holidays” transition time. That is-the era in which we have tried to make the switch from saying “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” in hopes of not offending anyone. In fact, I was out with my wife this past week and I overheard a conversation that made me laugh. A lady was telling her family who was with her a story about a child at a restaurant that evening. Apparently the waiter came to the table to give them back their card and check and said “Happy Holidays” to which this child replied “We celebrate Christmas!” That really sums up where we’re at today: in a constant, silly battle as to what to say, when to say it, and how to say it, and all in hopes of not offending anyone by adding the word “Christ” to our greetings.
As I sit here this Christmas morning my heart is drawn to think about these things because this is the morning when Christians celebrate the birth of a Savior. Yes, Christians will most likely also participate in the cultural thing that is Christmas with the lighted tree, sharing gifts, and eating a meal together and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I also want to remind myself (and that’s probably why I’m writing this) that today is the day I celebrate the birth of God coming to this world as a baby. Humbling himself even to become a human and ultimately humbling himself to take away the penalty of my sin on the cross. This truth alone should be enough for me to be joyous today, even despite a culture that wants to remove Christ from everything.