Monday, January 30, 2012

God's Boogers and Lipstick

Do you believe there is a spiritual lesson to be learned in every situation? I do. I think it's there if we only take the time look for it. And what happened at a Denny's restaurant two days ago is a prime example.

I attend a small men's accountability group every Saturday morning at a Denny's restaurant. We eat breakfast; do a Bible study; confess and encourage; and basically do what the Word calls “iron sharpening iron”. Yesterday I came into the restaurant with my friend Lyndy Phillips. (side note: He may be the best motivational speaker in the world. Hire him to come speak to your group. Info here) I took a seat at the usual place where I have been sitting for years: a u-shaped booth at the back of the restaurant. The waitress asked us if we wanted coffee. Lyndy declined. I gave her the usual nod of approval. And minutes later, sitting in front of me was a cup of piping hot coffee. I drank, talked, laughed, and shared like I usually do. I didn't even notice the stares two of my friends were giving to my coffee cup.

Actual Denny's Photo
Apparently on one side of the cup was a “USO”: unidentified stuck object. To this day there is quite a debate on what the object was. I think it was a booger. Others guessed everything from a scrap of hardened egg to a bit of human flesh. But the icing on this grotesque cake was the lipstick on the other side of the cup at the top. A beautiful lip-shaped Cover Girl pink crescent hung like a wreath of feminine victory. It was at the exact place that had been drinking. And no, I do not wear women's lipstick to a men's group, so it definitely wasn't mine. It obviously belonged to the previous recipient of that glass. It had just not been cleansed properly of the former “things”. I pushed it away, never again to touch my lips.

So what kind of biblically spiritual lessons can we take away from a boogered-up Denny’s coffee cup?

Well, for one: If you are truly born again, your cup has gone through the dishwasher and has been rinsed clean from God's perspective. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 1Cor 5:17 You are a new cup. So why do we act sometimes like the booger on the cup, the lipstick on the rim, or the “turd in the punchbowl”? Because we have to cleanse our hearts and purify our lives. We need to keep the cup of our lives clean. We have to scrub the hardened sin spots that have been caked on through persistent use in our previous lives. Old habits die hard. And the things I still struggle with daily to eliminate from my life are the very things I have spent most of my life doing over and over. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Prov 27:17 I need my friends to be human Brillo pads. I need them to help scrub me clean of the deception and dysfunctions I have accumulated through years of living a sin lifestyle.

Another great lesson comes from this scripture: “We do not live for ourselves only, and we do not die for ourselves only.” Romans 14:7 Every time you interact with a person, one of two things is going to happen. Either you will leave your lipstick on them. Or they will leave their lipstick on you. That lipstick could be negativity, enthusiasm, hope, encouragement, fear, pessimism, laughter, tears, or joy. What you have will leave a mark on them. Make a commitment that people will be better when they leave you than when they arrived. Be a positive change in others. Leave the lipstick of the spirit on them.

And the last lesson I learned is to be aware. Look! Open your eyes. The waitress had no idea that there was a booger and lipstick on my cup. I'm sure she didn't carefully choose that cup so she could be malicious to me personally. I simply think that she is so caught up in the routine, mundane life of serving that she is on some sort of auto pilot. We get the same way sometimes, don't we? There are lonely, lost, hurting people all around us that we could encourage with a word or a touch, if we could only see them clearly. But many times we trudge on through the mud of our daily routine never stopping to look and see clearly. We pray for “God appointments”. Then we drive right on past them, caught up in our own little world. “Open my eyes that I may see...” Psalm 119:18

I believe that all things really do work together for good. I believe that the good times and the bad times are partners in our education. The best mountain ranges have both peaks and valleys. Surfers need both crest and trough of a wave for their exhilaration. And I believe that there are spiritual lessons everywhere if we will only look for them; even in a coffee cup from Denny's.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Nothing New Under The Televangelistic Sun

You might think that I am some sort of Neanderthal, but I don't have cable television. I used to have Uverse, which gave me over 400 channels with 56 of them being movie channels. And one night I nestled in on the sofa, popcorn in hand, so I could find something to watch and end my day with a time of mindless vegging. I actually scanned up all 400 channels and couldn't find one single thing of mental value to watch. Nada! So I am now the proud owner of a rabbit ears antennae. It is almost ludicrous to see a cheap antennae running to a very expensive flat screen television. But hey, that's how I roll!

So here comes the interesting part. My wife and I scanned what was available over the air here in Dallas, Texas late last night before we went to bed. It all seems to come down to three categories: Mexican, Religious, or Network. We chose religious. What a collection of minutia. There were two that captured our attention and made us watch briefly, until we could simply take no more. Evangelist Peter Popoff had a show where if you bought his amazing miracle water, money would come your way. He had lots of testimonies of people who had bought his miracle water and found within a week that somehow the bank decided to pay off their mortgages.

"Operators are standing by. This is a free call!"
Others told tales of money miraculously arriving in the mail from sources they had never heard of. I watched him play with people's hope like my cat plays with a toy. It was sad. I'm not saying that his ministry isn't real. I'm not even saying that those miracles were false. But what I am saying is there were so many red flags going up in my spirit it looked like a Tibetan prayer chain from the Himalayas. There was no mention of the name of Jesus or anything about redemption and salvation; only fast, easy, miraculous money.

We moved to the next station where W. V. Grant, Jr. was doing his miracle healing deal. The problem with his show is that he used so many clips from decades past I am not sure if any of it was recent. He was selling his miracle healing handkerchiefs, and a gold key that contained a personal scripture “just for you”. It was the key to prosperity. I thought I remembered him getting hammered on an NBC special years ago when they did an expose' on televangelists.

Throwin' down the beats for the Lord!
I think Grant was the one that was using a wireless ear piece to receive the gift of “discerning of spirits” via his wife on a microphone in the back. I'm not sure. I do know that he did some jail time. Yes, there could have been real power in those handkerchiefs. And it also could have all been a scam. I'm not saying that. But again I watched the hope in people's eyes. They wanted so desperately to believe.

I love Jesus. I love the fact that the Pharisees needed someone to kiss him so the soldiers would know who to arrest. He looked too much like all the other disciples. There was no hesitation in discerning which one was Grant or Popoff, and who was not. I love Jesus for the fact that he was broke. I love him for his willingness to heal all that were oppressed of the devil; not just one or two. (Acts 10:38) I love the fact that there was nothing the recipients of his grace had to purchase, send in, do, or carry. They came to him with absolutely nothing. And he responded in power, truth, love, and authority. The last time I posted on this blog I asked if Jesus would embrace technology. I'm not sure if he would tweet or have his sermons simulcast. He probably wouldn't wear French cuffs on his starched, white shirt. But one thing I do know for sure, he would point people's attention away from himself and towards God Almighty. I know that one look into his eyes and everything would change for the person who was fortunate enough to cross paths with him. I know that his ministry would not show people how to grow their own personal little kingdoms. He would be very concerned with the condition of their souls; in a way that no prosperity can heal. He would touch them with profound truths which would call them to a deeper understanding of their Creator. And he wouldn't want their money. He wouldn't have to wheedle or cajole them using “heat of the moment” tactics. He would simply trust God for his provision. And like He always does, God would “show up”.

I know that I probably sound way too judgmental. Especially since Jesus said this: "for he that is not against us is for us." Luke 9:50. But are we really "for Jesus" if we don't do what he says? I've lived too many years as a Christian hypocrite. And I'm done playing the game. I want to follow my King in truth and obedience.

So although most televangelists aren't as bad as “Jersey Shore” or some of the Kardashian crap, they should point you to the author and finisher of your faith: Jesus. You can get clearer reception by turning off the television and hitting your knees. But if you need a silken tied, perfectly coiffed compass to point you in the right direction, then by all means head on down to Best Buy. Check in the antennae isle. There is a miracle key and a vial of water with your name on it.