Tuesday, May 29, 2007

$10 Rambler Theology

When I was 16 my dad promised me he would buy my first car. The only caveat to this tantalizing teenage dream was that he would observe my driving behavior and purchase a car that he felt was equal to my level of maturity. Four months into my test, dad drove up with a 1959 Rambler which he found rotting in a backyard and bought for $10. Painted with house paint and 2 of the 4 doors rusted completely into useless oblivion (the 2 useful doors were on the passenger side) this finely crafted piece of automotive genius was my dad's way of trying to tell me something.

When it rained, the house paint drooled off the fenders of this Rambler and onto the driveway. The chrome letters in the grill that once proudly spelled, "Rambler" were diminished to "amle". Since my humility was not so much chosen as it was imposed upon me, I took the low road approach to my father's object lesson. I decided to run this "thing" into the ground. I drove it harder than any car should ever be driven. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that I was a geeky, yankee duke of hazard with a Private No Class Amle and not a General Lee. That dumb car had no better sense than to last a complete year! My dad had successfully taught me a valuable life lesson.

At the risk of straining an analogy, let me pose a few questions. I walked past a "Christian" section of a book sales rack the other day at Wal Mart. On the cover of the most prominent book for sale in the Name of Jesus, for all of the millions of middle America to see, is a full color picture of a nuclear bomb. The author wants us all to know that God is fixated on His wrist watch, the middle-east is in the oven and our "goose" is almost cooked. So I ask you, with the apparent popularity of this kind of tripe, is it possible that God, our Heavenly Father, has allowed for a theology that matches our maturity level?

Is He standing back and allowing for us to be sufficiently humbled by this embarrassingly shallow interpretation of the treasury of the scriptures? How many widely varying predictions of the late great planet earth have to be dead wrong before we look to the Holy Spirit for a more complete and soul satisfying revelation of Jesus Christ? If the devil can not get us interested in out right miserable lifestyles, wouldn't it stand to reason that he would have us obsessed with self-destruction which is labeled "holy" so that we can not effectively exercise our faith for the healing of the nations? Why would I pray or believe for a nation to be healed if I am taught that that nation is just a pawn for the "showdown" at high noon? Here's another intriguing question for you: why would I have any true vested interest to pray and act for the Kingdom of God to come on earth, just as it is in heaven, if I am convinced that everything is just hooked up to God's time table for a group of angry little nations who have been bitterly fighting each other for the past ka-zillion years?

What if God's time-table (if such a thing exists) is connected to the Body of Christ growing up and becoming a magnificent partner of and mirror image to Jesus Christ? What if the metaphors and the artistic, poetic majesty of books of the Bible like "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" held explosive spiritual secrets waiting for hungry, curious, insatiably and voraciously eagar seekers to find a True and Irresisitible Spirituality? What if some of us decided to walk to that goal rather than to drive a contribution to the spiritual pollution that has been killing the ozone of God's Highest and Best?

And, by the way, hasn't the greatest enemy of "Best" always been "good"?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I grew up with a love-hate relationship with my name. “Randy” just never seemed cool enough or tough enough. I had friends named, Bob, Joe, Al, John, Roger and David and for some reason I saw them as regular “guys”. It was like I had a mental image in my head that said, “Their name can beat up my name.” The “y” on the end of my name had a girlie sound to it in my thinking. Of course, it didn’t help anything when in 7th grade a new girl showed up at my school with my name. The fact that her name ended with an “I” did nothing to ease my angst.

For a little while I tried my legal name, “Randall”. That was until a junior high teacher started saying, “Good morning Ran-doll” and all the Bobs, Joes and Johns around me started having way too much fun at my expense with the “doll” part of that equation. So, did I say I had a love-hate relationship with my name? Maybe if you figure it as 10% love and 90% hate.

Somewhere in high school everyone started calling each other by their last names and that came just in time to save some of my tattered self-image. “Dean” felt cool. But then the summer before I went to college I got a job working with a couple of British seminary students and all it took was a moment of weakness on my part when I introduced myself, “Hi. I’m Randy”. Do you know what I mean when I describe that awkwardly long wait for someone to stop laughing at you so you can ask them, “Did I say something funny?” only to have them start laughing again? If you aren’t sure what’s funny about my aforementioned introduction look up my name in a British friendly dictionary.

Well, all of that is to say that I have always been fascinated with how quickly and easily God took to changing names in the Bible. Abram to Abraham, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul. I completely understand why God needed to do this in some cases just from the standpoint of the need for these folks to drop their previous self-loathing behavior. A name was a prophecy and a name was a destiny.

So, without going to court for a legal name change, I have, a long time ago, found my way to be renamed. I am convinced more people need the same spiritual therapy. Self-prophecy, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will do you more good than you may be able to imagine. In fact, one scripture says, “making melody with (and in) your heart”. That means change the internal dialogue, find your name and every time you hear it….say “AMEN!”