Just Choose the Bran Muffin

Lately in the US we've decided that we are fat; we'll this is probably true and we need to react to it by being...less fat. For the most part I think we are doing better, marketers are certainly capitalizing on this concept as we continue to see commercial after commercial after reality show of people losing weight and how they all have the easy answer to making it happen. We have drugs that will take away your hunger, we have classes, shakes, machines, you name it, we've made it the answer to a better/skinnier life, the whole time forgetting that if we eat less and run more, good things will happen, and instead of spending money, you may even save some.

After this this next form of a "health kick" came in, putting all the vitamins and supplements we need in the food we already like to eat, I mean come on, who needs vegetables anyway? I saw a commercial tonight advertising the amount of fiber that has now been added to yogurt in order to make you regular again. Naturally we look at anything with fruit in it has high in fiber but if you read the fine print on any yogurt cup you will notice that it says "not a good source of fiber". Which means that the fiber had to be added to the yogurt in order for it to get into your body.

Knowing all this information we have to ask the question, why not just choose the Bran Muffin? We all know that bran muffin's are high in fiber and can really help you out when needed, however we choose to use cheap imitations of the things we truly need. Is it to make it more convenient? Easier? Tastier?

It seems that our world is choosing to adopt this principle that we can get anything we need in any form that we want, even if it doesn't quite do exactly what we need it to do. We don't need diet and exercises, just pills that do it all for us, we don't need parents, just highly trained day care providers, we don't need relationships, just an Internet connection and a myspace, and we don't need a bran muffin, we only need yogurt that has a good amount of fiber that has been pulled out of other forms and thrown into a $2 cup of fake fruit.

Why do we choose the journey's that are not authentic? The journey's that make everything look and seem great and possibly do some good, but never actually amount to the truth of the original. People search, and when searching will choose a wrong path on their journey at times, I've done it, you've done it, and the great thing is; that is exactly what the journey is supposed to look like.

I want to be a person that loves Jesus and not just with part of me, with all of me. I want all that I do to truly be something that shows that Jesus is transforming me into his likeness and that this transformation will never end, I will always be growing always morphing, always learning.

We live in a world of substitutes, why have they found their way into the church? I work in a church and the easiest thing to do is to become a bit of a cynic when it comes to the way we go about things. In many communities where Jesus Lovers gather we have settled for an un-authentic display of what look like God, talks like God, even acts like God at times, but really isn't God. I heard a speaker say one time that there may be no greater evidence for the existence of God than the gift of community. We love to bounce back and fourth between our events when we have a world that hurts, a world that is searching and world that is desperate for something real for once, a world that needs a bran muffin instead of a quick fix that leaves you lonely and disappointed in the end.

I want to end this post with a tough question, when others come in contact with you, are you the bran muffin or are you the opposite?


Faithful; Small

"The quest for enlightenment begins with faithfulness. Before David was king, he was a warrior. Before he was a great warrior, he was an obscure shepherd. Before Joseph became second only to Pharoah in the empire of Egypt, he endured the life of a slave. Before Ruth found a life filled with joy and promise at the side of Boaz, she endured the death of her first husband, but gave her life to serving Naomi, her mother-in-law. She chose faithfulness to the family of her deceased husband above her own pesonal good. It was only on this journey that she found the future God planned for her." -Erwin McManus

I continuously find my soul longing for more, longing to be more, to mean more, to make a bigger impact. I'm never settled with where I am, there is more to be done, there are bigger things to be done, there are always more ways to make a difference than I am able to get to. My soul aches for those things. I mentioned to a mentor of mine as I was leaving college that I constantly feel like a caged lion. A caged lion that is meant for the wild, meant to be free and to be what God had created it to be, but instead it is domesticated and fed what is nesseary and is not encouraged to hunt, to kill, and to eat as it pleases.

God has either blessed me or cursed me with a mind that doesn't stop working, always striving to be the person that God would have me become but also the person that God created me to be. And I always feel suppressed, in fact, when I told my mentor about my caged lion feeling he said "i'm pretty sure you'll always feel that way Jeff".

The tendency is to stop, stop moving forward, stop doing what you're doing until you get what you want or get placed where you need to be. The problem is that if you stop now, you'll stop later, because where you are will never be perfect. Jesus knew this. He gave us the parable of the talents found in Mathew 25. Jesus tells a story of servants that are given small yet different amounts of money and the two that come back with more are given more to be in charge of since they were faithful with the small amounts but the one that simply tended his money not to loose it returns the same amount because he just baby-sat it, he did not multiply it.

Most of us would take the small amount, look at it, and realize that we can't do much with it, we can multiply it but it won't multiply into much so we choose not to worry about it. With money, that doesn't really matter, its' your money you can do what you want with it. But how many of us are waiting for something to happen until we begin to "live well"?

I read an article by an author and he told a story of he and his wife. He wrote that they decided to only buy things for their house that would help create relationships with other people, so that they could show others who the real Jesus is. Sometimes we don't realize how faithful we can be with our Bar-B-Que.

In whatever you do, do it well, complete the mission. Look back on your life, examine the times that stand out as significant to you because of what someone else did for you, was that person being faithful in the small things? I'm going to guess they were. The point is that if you want to make a dent in this world, if you want to live in a way that when you are gone and people are reflecting on your life they see that you participated in the redemptive mission of our world instead of living a selfish life, start with where you are. Be faithful with your BBQ, be faithful with your car, get to know a family that struggles to make it financially and make sure they always have milk in their fridge and blankets on their beds. Because where you are is your mission, it's not where you're going.


Feel the Rhythm

I remember sitting at the second U2 concert of my life at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I had just began to really love the bands music. The first concert I had seen was a few months before and I was blown away by the entire thing, completely overwhelmed. The second time was different, do you know that feeling when something is new and you just can't get enough of it? But then you keep it for a while and start to appreciate it and start to see it for what it really is. This second concert was like that for me. I had started to see everything surrounding their music. I knew the band had extremely deep lyrics and was not simply an emotional or activist band that just had something to prove or too much to say, but this time I became engulfed in the lyrics, but not just the lyrics, it was the lyrics and music together, for the first time in my life, I Felt the Rhythm.

Before I go any farther I want to say that this is not a another post about u2 and their Christian influence. It's been used so much in Christian magazines, books, articles and sermons that it's become the new buzz-word for the mid-generation Christian. And just like many other people, it's become pretty annoying to me. This is simply a post about where my blog comes from and where it all started. The U2 Concert.

In life we constantly hear the rhythm, it's loud. If you have ever been to a junior high band concert, chances are you have heard parts of the band playing way to loud or fast and they are way too noticeable over the rest of the orchestra. The things that are LOUD tend to grab our attention, the things that make big and noticeable impact. But do we ever take the chance, or even try, to Feel the Rhythm? The things that fade into the background that drive the band? The Rhythm.

There I was, sitting next to one of my best friends since high school at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and the band went into one of their greatest songs of all time; I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. If you haven't heard that song, do yourself a favor and check it out sometime, once you hear it you will understand more about this post. As they sang this song the entire crowd sang along with them, and I don't mean just sang the song, they meant it. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. I had goosebumps. A friend of mine named Matt said it best: "Have you ever been in a moment that was bigger than you?". At that point; I was. I don't know how better to describe it than that, the moment was bigger than me. I stopped and started to look around at all these people that meant this song, it came from the depths of their soul.

Now, I'm realistic enough to know that not everyone in the 30,000 seat arena was singing like that, but if you were there you wouldn't be able to deny that something bigger was going on than singing the song.

It hit me a moment later, these people were on a journey, they were looking for something, and ultimately that thing was God, but not all of them knew that, they couldn't have, not if you saw what was going on then. I knew at that moment that God was shaping and molding hearts of people that happened to be in the crowd that night, ultimately that shaping, would lead to him. These people Felt the Rhythm.

God has a rhythm, he creates a beat, his world works in harmony, his world works in melody. How many times do we choose to Feel the Rhythm moving through the world? It's not something we can always see, but it's something we can feel. I heard one pastor comment in a sermon that even if the bible was proven wrong today and everything we based our faith on was wrong he knew that he still had a relationship with his God that had surrounded him for so long. Why? Because he felt it. He felt the pulse, he felt the rhythm.

God creates a symphony around us, and when a symphony is perfect you don't notice 1 instrument above the rest, you notice the music. I'm not a musician, far from it, but I love good music. When I hear a band that I really like, I can't always pick out a certain instrument that is playing, I hear it all working together to create the perfect sound.

In the book of Jeremiah a letter is written to people that had been exiled by Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar. The letter says: This is what the Lord says: "You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. 'For I know the plans I have for you' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,' says the Lord.' "

It would be easy to not believe the message that God had sent them, as far as they could see the current plans were hurting them, if they looked around them that would make no sense. But to realize what was happening they would have had to feel God, and Feel the Rhythm that was playing in the background. The rhythm that told them it was real and not just merely words on a piece of paper, the same rhythm the people were feeling at this U2 concert. The felt it, they knew it was there.

Have you ever felt the music pulsate through you? At one of those moments where you could swear there was more to it than just a few guys playing their instruments? God is reaching for us to be in the moments that are bigger than us, the moments where we know there is a bit more happening on the earth than we can put our fingers on or turn our eyes to. Those times where we know that if we look for him wholeheartedly we will find him.

Have you seen the Melody?

Have you felt the Rhythm?