Friday, October 26, 2007


Tomorrow we are having Violet's baby dedication at our home, which will be packed with family and friends. It's a time that Barb and I can set aside and publicly proclaim what we internally know, "She is not ours ultimately; she is God's. She has been given to us briefly. We must prepare her for the life God has for her." We can't prepare for all of the questions and situations, but we can prepare our hearts and souls to trust God.

Trusting God is a topic that has come up for me in my readings and prayers for the past two months. As I read Genesis and Exodus and now Deuteronomy God has used his Word to bring some thoughts up that I really needed to spend time with.

I remember talking with a friend one day while we were in seminary. I was walking to class and he just got out. He was beaming and I was surprised because it was a Hebrew exegesis class. He said, "Exodus is the most beautiful book." He went on to tell me how Exodus is about God literally delivering a baby nation of worshipers. The Red Sea separates like the birth canal and God delivers them and the rest of Exodus is about God, the proud parent, teaching his child to trust him in good and bad circumstances. He wants them to trust him in the desert, in the hard times, in the really hard times when the first hard times (like Egypt) seemed okay, and when the landscape looks foreign and unfamiliar.

That's life. We are to trust God our Father in this whole process. Yeah, but that's tough at times. It's tough to leave the land of the familiar for the land of the unknown, even if the familiar land was a land of slavery and hardship. We would rather have, it seems, a life that is painful but certain than a land that is possibly better--a land where we can worship God freely and know him intimately in ways never known in Egypt.

Deuteronomy 1:29, "Then I (Moses) said to you, 'Don't be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.'" What a beautiful picture. My friend with one "L" in his name was correct. God the Father carries us on his shoulders, not like we're a burden but like we are a bundle of joy! He carries us so that we can see further and better if we look with his eyes, the eyes of faith.

I hope during this season that you find yourself being carried on the shoulders of God. May you know that profound and deep joy of being rescued and redeemed!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Stomped like a Mud Hole

A dark morning and early too. There's nothing like waking up to the sound of the radio, unless it is a song by Journey or Megadeath. That's like a slap in the face with a wet glove, and just about as comfortable too. It has finally started to rain here and I really welcome the gray clouds dotting this river city sky. It helps me be more contemplative, otherwise I want to play in the sun and shadows all day, when my nose should be down in the books.

A month ago I decided to begin reading in Genesis and at least read the first five books of the Bible in order. I went and got a Moleskine journal that fits in my back pocket. My game plan was the read a few chapters a day and then briefly write one thing God has shown me either in prayer or in reading the Scripture. A friend turned me on to the idea of leaving the first few pages blank to use as a table of contents, so that when I wanted to briefly see what God's been trying to teach me I can easily see.

Not that you want in on the secret life of the bees in my head, but here's a few themes: trusting God fully with every aspect of my life, leaving the familiar, God leading and refining through difficult circumstances, and being prayer-dependent. Oh, there's also one entry about goat demons, which was on September 27 when I read Leviticus 17:7.

One of the goals that I had was to take my time and try to relate what I read to Jesus, because if Jesus is God and the One chosen by God to be the redeeming sacrifice, then he should show up throughout the Bible. Of course he was active in Creation says the Gospel of John, chapter 1 and so does Colossians. But the promise of Jesus as Redeemer is made as early as Genesis 3:15 when God verbally curses (not swears) Satan, who had used a snake to beguile and deceive Eve, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heal." That right, one day Jesus is going to come and strap on his black leather war boots and is going to look for a skull to crush. In my local vernacular we'd say, "Jesus is going to stomp him like a mud hole," and that is what Jesus accomplished on the cross!

Jesus is a pacifist and will end all war. Itworks like this--he comes and stomps the heads of his enemies and then there's peace. Nice. Heroic. Of course Jesus suffered great pain--it was exCRUCiating (from the cross), but he was resurrected to new, enduring life that redeems the sons and daughters of Adam + Eve. How amazing and that is given as a promise on page 3 of my Bible. If this was my first time reading the Bible I'd say to myself, "Man, if that's the promise, then this story is going to get really good, really fast."

And it does, but you think it's going to be solved quickly, but in the next chapter we have a brother who kills his sibling, someone who institutes polygamy against God's intentions, and then Noah gets drunk and gets naked. And then I say to myself, "This story has gotten interesting, but is not really what I expected from people God uses." And then that's another point that I've picked up too--God doesn't use perfect people. He uses imperfect people so that when it is accomplished in their life they don't say, "It's because I've got so much integrity that God let this be done." But rather that when they look at us they say, "Dude, the only way for them to have accomplished that is divine, mysterious intervention."

I'm only 6 weeks into this, but every time I open it I learn something new and amazing. So, between now and Christmas imagine what you and I can learn together! Adios. Have a good, gray day.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Voting in Memphis

Several years ago my father ran for public office and I would spend evenings and weekends knocking on doors with him. We spent a lot of time talking, speculating, and hoping. One day we knocked on the door of an elderly gentleman we had never met. He was cordial, intelligent, articulate and very hospitable. My dad asked him for his support and his vote. The man turned pensive and said, "To be honest, Mr. Elder, I can't read. I've never voted. Though I would support you, I can't vote. I can't read." My dad replied, "Well, I can't go in there with you to help you cast your vote, because I'm running for office, but my son can help you. You can vote for me if you want, but you should vote. It's important." It was Presidential election time too, which made this a very significant time for this man. Here was man who loved his country, but who had never been to vote. Astonishing for a twenty-year old. I remember it so well. Almost as well as my first kiss.

Election night came and I drove over to the gentleman's house and took him to his polling place. We went to registration and he "made his mark" and then went to his booth. I got to read the names off to him and he would give his brief opinion. I said, "If you want to vote for that person, just check this box." And in a few moments we made history together. My dad didn't win that election, but a brilliant gentleman was able to experience what billions of people in this world have yet to experience.

I, like you, have a lot of concerns about our country. I'm sure that some who read this have a differing viewpoint on health care, taxes, our current foreign policy ethos and what it means to even try to have a war on an inanimate object like terror. Personally, I believe that war is a symptom and not a cure and I'm really concerned about the war debt that we are accruing. We spend $16 billion each month on the war. That's $92 billion a year. Given how much Americans spend on Christmas, we could have this and the next 5 years of this war paid for in cash by December 26th. Dave Ramsey would be proud.

I love this country so much. We recently voted for who should be our Mayor for the next 4 years. I got my voter registration card, got directions to Rozzelle Elementary and got my pointer-finger ready to do some touch-screen voting. I walked into the school and saw a room dotted with various races, each giving their time to help me and others vote. I showed my drivers license (the best dmv picture of me yet, btw), gave them my Jason Hancock and got to vote for who I thought could do a better job of leading us forward.

I voted, spoke briefly to a neighbor, and walked to my car feeling a surge of pride. Almost 40 years ago some of those same African Americans who helped me were unable to vote. They had just helped me enjoy that which I had never been deprived. How wonderful. How beautiful. How American.

Though my candidate for Mayor didn't win, there are no riots in
Memphis. Grenades and tear gas aren't filling the streets, filling the air or filling the hearts of citizens with fear. Mayor Herenton will be able to serve his term without any undue external duress. The press and media can critique and report as much as they want without fear of reprisal. This morning I am disappointed how so many tens of thousands of people couldn't be as brilliant as me (smile), but I am safe and free just like you.

Next November we will vote for who we think should be our President. We get to reach out and touch the name of that candidate to whom we look for leadership. Like the last Presidential election and the 54 elections before that, the government will not experience a coup and the military will not intimidate us. Thank God that now every eligible person will be able to tell the rest of the nation their opinion, and not just the few, the proud, the white. Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian or Independent--it doesn't matter. Any eligible person can vote! No race, color, or creed disqualifies you. You don't even have to be literate to vote, but you'd be stupid if you didn't.