Monday, October 28, 2013

No Money Back

I have to go to Best Buy this week to return a cable that turned out to not be the item I needed. It's a pretty simple process. If I have the receipt, (which I do) all I have to do is walk up to the front desk, demand my money back, (Or ask politely. Either one works) and they'll hand it to me fair and square.

When I buy products online, I like to check the return policy. Just in case something goes wrong and the product is totally screwed up, I want the assurance of knowing that I can return it for a full refund. Most sellers will, as an incentive to buy from them, sell their products with a strong return policy.

I find that we treat a lot of things as if they are returnable. Say, for example, that Facebook status. So you accidentally posted a really dumb status updated while you were drunk. No problem! Thanks to modern technology, you can virtually erase every trace of any misspoken words.

Or the way our culture views marriage. Gone are the days of actually keeping your promises (Gasp! What a thought!) till death do you part. Now, if you don't happen to feel like you "love" someone anymore, the solution is just a few divorce papers and court rooms away!

Babies are a little more tough though. You can't exactly return them. Instead, you've got to kill them. But hey, as long as you don't feel any pain and you get to go back to life as usual, it's all good, right? You don't exactly get a refund, you just don't have to pay for your mistakes. Perfect!
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8)
I am non-refundable. Un-returnable. I do not come with a money-back guarantee. In an age where Indian giving is as easy as it is, God made sure to explicitly and undeniable state that He will never return us. No matter where we find ourselves, it is never outside the dominion of His grasp. No matter the sin, His reach is uncompromised. No matter the hopelessness, He looks over the moment and sees an eternity of you and Him together.

His heart is broken when we insist on thinking that we've done "too much" for God to take us in. Look, to say that is essentially saying that the cross wasn't good enough. In other words, you think that your sin is greater in strength than the work that was completed on Calvary. And that, my friends, is blasphemy.

So wherever you're at today, take a moment to finally look up. You'll find that He's been holding on this whole time.

Monday, October 21, 2013

God: Our Heart and Lungs

So, I don't normally include pictures in my posts, but this was too good to pass up.

What you're looking at is called controlled cross-circulation, and it is mind-blowing. Before the days of modern heart-lung machines, surgeons who wanted to perform an open-heart surgery needed a way to oxygenate the blood. This was a long time ago, so they hadn't yet invented a machine that could take the patient's blood, filter the waste product out of it, and put fresh, new oxygen into the bloodstream. Their solution?

Open up the father, too.

What? That's right. You heard me. Imagine that your daughter gets sick. Really sick. The doctors tell you  that she has a heart condition. Since this is years and years ago, surgery was not as safe, and there was a big chance that your child might not make it out alive. Anxiety doesn't begin to describe what you're experiencing. But wait, there's more.

They've asked to put you under as well.

They say that the only chance at saving your daughter's life is to bring you into the surgery room to function as your kid's heart and lungs. So you say, "Yes."

Because what other answer could you give? This is your baby girl. Of course you would do it, but not because you felt that you "had" to. In fact, you would walk through hell and back for her, if it meant saving her life. So you do.

They get you ready, wheel you into the room, and put you both on two tables feet apart from each other. You say a goodbye that had to carry the weight of the world, because, knowing the risks, you might not get another one. And then they open you both up and twine your arteries and veins together. You've heard it said that only marriage makes two people "one flesh," but this surgery is making you think you're not too far from that concept.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4)
Through Him. What? Is it just me or is that somewhat the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard? God being murdered, so that life may come. All this for a people that cannot love in return, unless He gives them His very heart. Unless his very arteries bleed off the wooden beams of the cross and into the vessels of our broken bodies, we are totally at a loss to love Him, or anyone, back.

He becomes our hearts, our lungs, our breath; our blood. And yes, they put him under, too. Six feet, to be exact. They put him under, so that he could raise us and Himself back from the very dead.

This, I cannot comprehend. This, this is too wonderful for man to understand. What God is this?

Tell me, what God is this?

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Car Key, Jason DeRulo, and Community

So, in the past few weeks, I went through the harrowing experience of getting a new car. Extremely grateful? You bet your sweet noodle! Somewhat frazzled over the craziness of the situation? Refer to the answer to the last question. But that's another story for another post.

In any case, I was looking over the owner's manual of my new vehicular transportation device (what a few people might recognize as a car), and I saw something that I had always suspected was true: pressing the unlock button once opens the driver's door, and you have to press it twice to unlock all the doors. Is it strange that I only realized this after almost three years of driving? Probably. Stop making fun of me.

Why do we have this setting? Vehicular transportation device manufacturers (AKA car-makers, for those few who know them as such) realize that a lot of the driving in the United States is done alone. Since this is the case, it just makes sense. Why would you unlock all the doors, when you just need the one? That would be redundant. (SAT word. Keep following me, sport.) Despite multiple attempts by the government and other organizations to get us to start carpooling, the reality exists that these manufacturers still expect us to be the solitary body in our cars. We even take pride in our lonesome drives. If we didn't, we wouldn't have the words of modern-day, existential philosophers like Jason DeRulo:
I'm solo, I'm ridin' solo
I'm ridin' solo, I'm ridin solo, solo
It would be a crime to not have such profound words. Anyhow, this all goes back to the individualistic bent that America insists on feeding.

"Don't you think you're making too large of a philosophy based off of your car key alone?"

Probably, but you're almost done reading this, so you might as well keep going.

I love me some United States. Trust me, I do. But however much I believe in its strengths, I must also acknowledge it's weaknesses. And one of the greatest weaknesses we face is this idea that we were somehow meant to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, be a lone ranger, and do it all on our own. I'm sorry, but it's just not true.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6)
Ladies and gentlemen, we were built for community. It is ingrained in us to need each other. We were meant to carry the problems, struggles, and temptations of others in prayer. God made us so that when life presses too hard, we have the firm grasp of those who are holding on to us when we can't hold on to ourselves.

 "All I need is God!"

Yeah, but God is gonna get to you through other people. So be there for one another. Pray for each other.

And when you bear one another's burdens, bear them all the way to Calvary.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why Photoshop Exists

This world is full of ugly people. Twisted noses, misaligned eyebrows, thin lips, crooked teeth. Too fat, too skinny, too pear-shaped, too stocky. Stubby legs, toes going in the wrong directions, knees too far apart, knees too close. Muffin tops and cankles. Terrible fashion and too much makeup. Man hands on girls, bulging knuckles, brittle nails. Necks too long and ears too big.

Even celebrities haven't got "the look." Even on their best day in a studio filled with people trained to make their hair fall just the right way, give them smokey eyes, and give them a body to die for, they are still thousands of clicks away from being "beautiful." Even all of the industry's illusions and tricks used to make them look perfect for the camera don't let them escape from the ever-present Shopping of their Photos after they've been snapped.
"...He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him." (Isaiah 53)
The Creator. He who knows the perfect combination of features to make a man look... well... like a god. It is this God who chose to make Himself look... fairly average. And average is ugly. Or perhaps not. Perhaps average is only truly ugly when we insist on finding the details of ourselves that don't fit into what's accepted as "beautiful." Keep in mind, the same people who've constructed this standard can't fit into it themselves. They fight and struggle to have the right genes fit, but they never will. This is why Photoshop exists.

It's a good thing being ugly has nothing to do with how you look.

This world is full of ugly people. Twisted souls, misaligned intentions, thinly veiled motives, crooked desires. Too mean, too angry, too fake, too broken. Stubby hearts, running in the wrong directions, loving too far apart, hating too close. Topped with pride and arrogance. Terribly fashioned and too much greed. Man handling girls, bleeding wrists, bloody razors. Pointed fingers too long and false beliefs of innocence too big.

We're not ugly because of all the ways we don't measure up to the physical standard imposed on us by our culture. We are ugly because our souls need some serious beauty tips. But try as we might to do it on our own, we seem to be failing. This is why the only beautiful soul that ever existed died - that He might give us the beauty we've been trying to acquire through the fractionally-as-important system of physical attraction.

So today, maybe even just for a moment, stop thinking about what others see when you walk out the door, and start thinking about what they would see if they really, really knew you. Past the makeup and imperfections. Past the muscles and posing.

I was told once to picture all of the things that I considered to be part of my identity. So I considered the clothing I wear, the sports I play, the blogs I write, the messages I give, the friends I have. Then, I was asked to picture myself without all of that.

That, my friends, is the guy Jesus loves. Without all of the extra. Without all of the cover up. Without all the things we used to distract others from seeing who we really are.

That's who Jesus loves.