Kanye West, who released albums like Yeezus and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, has now released an exclusively Christian album titled “Jesus is King.” The same man who once rapped “I am God,” now sings on a song titled “Jesus is Lord”: “Every knee shall bow and tongue confess, ‘Jesus is Lord.’”
There’s plenty of scuttle over the genuineness of his conversion. Is it for real? Is this true faith, or another ambitious career stunt? Will he continue to confess his Christian faith in a year, or ten? Is he making money off of his “Sunday Services”? Where does the gospel fit in a world of celebrity, paparazzi, and Kardashians?
Although he also traveled by water, walking was the primary mode of transportation for Jesus of Nazareth. As a child, we know Jesus journeyed with his parents to Egypt. Outside of that, most of his life took place in a small territory in Palestine. His public ministry spanned a region no further than 100 miles.
I love these four words from John 9:1: "As he passed by . . ." A great many events in the gospels happened, “as he passed by,” along the way. On the road. In the marketplace. Out in the countryside. By the city gate. On the shoreline, by the water. In a home, at the dinner table. Very little of Jesus' ministry took place "at church," in the temple. Jesus’ ministry happened while he walked, “as he passed by.”
Speed is an ultimate asset in our culture. We have a lust for expediency. Orders from Amazon come faster. We eat fast food. Microchips in computers and phones get exponentially faster. (See Moore's Law.) We want to make money faster, retire faster, finish a degree faster, get projects done faster. Life is done in a rush. We get to the end of a day and it’s a blur. We think, “I did a lot today, but what did I do?”
The reception desk was staffed with a team of bright, smiley 27-year-olds when I walked into Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. They were hip, casual, and optimistic. After receiving credentials, we met Alex, a friend of a friend, and our "in" to FB HQ.
Accompanied by a small team from my church on a mission expedition to the San Francisco Bay Area, we followed Alex to a corral with rows of bikes. To traverse the complex of buildings, we gleefully biked like kids, calling them "Mark's bikes," a shout out to CEO Zuckerberg.
Like it's own city, the Menlo Park hub has everything, and it's all free. An employee will find:
A sense of optimism permeated the grounds. There was a feeling that "we're changing the world." It seemed less a company and more a cause, nearly religious in nature.
Common reactions to the growing list of men accused of sexual misconduct, harassment, or abuse.
"I'm so disappointed."
"They're dropping like flies."
"I can't believe it. I would never have guessed . . ."
"Who's next? The Pope? The Rock?"
We should all be saying that such behavior is unacceptable.
We speak on behalf of the dignity of women.
We work to break systems of lewd perversion and abuse of power.
We press for a new transparency in workplace and society.
We stand for those violated and look for ways to provide healing and support.
While we certainly say all these things, I'm also looking for what no one else is saying.
"Do you want to quit this job?" the supervisor asked her young employee.
"No," replied the young man. "It's just a lot. I'm so busy. I don't have any time."
"I understand," she stated. "It is a full time job. But let me ask you, do you watch Netflix?"
"How much time a day do you spend watching Netflix?"
"I suppose 2-3 hours."
"Do you keep up on social media?"
"How much time do you spend?"
"Uh, probably two hours a day."
The supervisor paused, and then stated plainly, "No, you do have time. You just need to know where to spend it."
The San Francisco Bay Area is trendy, techie, and cool.
New York is the impressive intersection of the world - business, media, arts, culture . . .
Nashville and Austin are hot and happening cities with booming populations.
I live in St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis was hot at the turn of the century - the 20th century. We hosted the World's Fair in 1904 and were the fourth largest American city, the Gateway to the West. Today, we're a worn and tired city. We've lost our NFL team and a few Fortune 500 companies. We suffer from a history of racism, white flight, and social disparity.
We're anxious right now because of tension over the acquittal of a white police officer who shot and killed a black man. Over the weekend, we witnessed clashes between protesters and police that returned us to 2014 and the unrest that followed the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Twelve years ago, I resisted St. Louis residency. I did not choose to live here. It was chosen for me. Today, I claim this territory as my hometown.
What happens when God calls you to a place you don't want to be?
"How are you?" they ask. "Busy," I reply.
You say it too. "My schedule is crazy!" "I'm super busy." "I've got too much to do."
In his book, The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson gives two reasons why pastors become busy. I believe they apply to all people. I reread Peterson's book annually, and these two statements continue to convict me. They are my yearly "check-up," and help me to refocus my time and energy.
I got at app called Moment that tracks how much time you’re on the phone and how many times you check it in a day. Let’s just say, “Convicting.”
I was at my daughter’s gymnastics class. There’s an upper balcony with bleachers for parents to watch their kids. Forty parents and all of them glued to screens.
Ten years ago, before the iPad and iPhone were mainstream, the average person had an attention span of about 12 seconds. Now it’s 8 seconds. Shorter than the 9 second attention span of a goldfish. See Adam Alter’s book Irresistible and his recent interview on NPR.
So I’m going on a tech diet. I’m not quitting, just putting my electronic devices in their proper place. Why?
Did you give something up for Lent? Why? Why not?
I find it amusing when people give up things that are entirely trivial. Chocolate. Soda. Snacks. Coffee . . . Now, wait. Caffeine might be more than trivial.
You don't have to give up anything for Lent. There's no biblical command to fast. But if you do, make sure it's significant, and make sure it's for good reason. Below are four reasons to fast.
I don't love Valentine's Day. Sorry. We don't go out to eat on February 14th. We don't do roses, chocolate, or gifts.
I bought my wife flowers last week. A spring bouquet with tulips, daffodils, and a sunflower. Why? Because she likes spring and sunflowers.
And because I said something stupid.
Love is the long, perilous work of giving your life to someone else. It's more than flowers on one day. It's the act of selflessness every day. It is not proven in the diamonds and gifts. It's proven in the times we utter regrettable words. The times we mess up, struggle to be happy, and want to scream.
I've learned something from mentors married for decades:
It's easy to buy chocolate and flowers. Try loving someone for 60 years.
The following is what I believe about love. It's an excerpt from my book, Loved & Sent. Happy Valentine's Day :)