Thursday, May 31, 2007

Secret Identity

While eating lunch today I read a post on Patrick Mead’s blog, where he wrote about an ancient family name, kept secret, apparently for a LONG time. Hence the ‘ancient’ in ‘ancient family name’, right?

Honestly, this sent my imagination on a little trip. What would cause a family to keep their real name secret? Particularly over such an extended period of time? (One of these days I will write a novel; thoughts like this make my head percolate with ideas.)

But this also reminded me of a part of Eldgridge’s book, Wild at Heart, where Eldridge encourages readers to ask God to tell us our name. To tell us what He thinks of us. This idea that God has a name for us, a name that identifies who we really are.

Now, I’m known as Brian, Daddy, and once in a while ‘Mr. McKean’ (although at 33, I’m still young enough to look over my shoulder for my pop if you call me that). A few people might even call me Max.

Can I take a moment and tell that story? I went to a rather large high school – about 2000 juniors and seniors – and on picture day, a friend of mine signed me in. For fun he wrote my name as Max McKean. When those pictures came, my mom wasn’t thrilled with how they turned out, so she told me to sign up for retakes – and when those were taken, I signed in as Brian.

When the yearbook came out, both my pictures made it in – one identified as Brian McKean, and the other as Max McKean, with different shirts, slightly different expressions on my face. If you’re wondering, yes, I had hair in both pictures. And for a while, a few friends called me Max, just for fun. Epilogue: Shortly thereafter, at my high school job, the manager called me into his office and asked pointedly if I had a twin brother. Someone had brought him a copy of the yearbook, and shown him the pictures -- and he thought that perhaps I’d kept my 'twin' a secret because ‘we’ were both working under my name in order to split the work hours at this one job!

But I digress. The only point I was intending to make in the mess above is the need we all have to get a grip on our identity. Who am I? And whether you have an ancient name, as Mr. Mead does (and that is wicked cool, btw), or whether you have a new name pending from God, as Eldridge asserts, you absolutely have an identity in Christ, a persona whom He intends for you to become.

Some of that becoming won’t happen until we reach God’s side – the new body we’ll receive, the identity we’ll have there is hard to see (i.e. through a glass darkly). But part of that becoming is supposed to be happening right now. If we’ll just engage with God. Today.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Luke 4:24-30

Finished Luke, and jumped right into Acts. In chapter 4, there is a prayer said by Peter and John -- or possibly by one or more others among the believers.

"Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
" 'Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
26The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the Lord and against his Anointed One.'
27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."

Reading this prayer, several thoughts came to mind:

  • I love that they prayed scripture back to God (v25 and 26). I expect to take a Saturday in the next couple of weeks and go to a park and really try to spend some quality time with God, and I must confess that I've wondered what the heck I'll talk about if I spend more than 20 or 30 minutes in prayer. I'll file this thought away for that day.
  • Fascinating to think that (as in v28) its possible for us to do so terrible a thing as torture and kill Christ, only to find that God's power and will had decided this should happen. This certainly doesn't mean that any bad thing we do must have been God's will, but it could mean that some of the challenges we face were probably in the works for us, and just like Jesus, our role is to face these challenges as God leads us.
  • Do you notice that the requests made of God come at the end, and even then the first request of God is that he would empower the believers to take action? I mean, my first thought on reading that part of the text was to pray the very last part, that God would stretch out his hand to heal and perform miraculous signs ... but they only asked for that after they asked for empowerment from God to speak his word themselves.
  • And how would they know his word? From the teaching, from time spent reading his word, and from prayer. Which brings me back to the first bullet above. I need to step up in these areas.

Just thought I'd share today's study time with whoever might be listening.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Buckle Up

I'm very excited to see what God has in store for Southlake this summer. Having just hired a preacher after a 2 year search, the elders and staff are coordinating a major undertaking for the summer. Sunday mornings will have a very different feel in several ways, and the small groups will be strongly encouraged to get out of the building and find a way to serve the community. There is a feeling of momentum like I haven't felt in a long time, and an eagerness about what will happen next.

One of the changes in Sunday mornings this summer will be an intentional move to make time for testimonies from the body, on a regular basis, about what God is doing. My understanding is that they will intentionally look for things God is doing now, and not a year ago, or 3 years, etc. In other words, the desire is not to dwell on what God used to do, or what he did, but on what he is doing ... right now.

One of the ways I think I see God moving -- and where I hope to have some testimonies of God's hand at work -- is with the band at Southlake. We may have an opportunity to lead a worship gathering at a prison this summer -- how cool is that? What's more, we've talked for several years about recording a few songs on CD, to give away to visitors, etc -- and there is real movement afoot now to make that happen. (Does talking about it out loud have the potential to jinx it? I hope not. :-)

Seriously, I think there is probably a reason why we have not recorded anything before now -- I think the timing is God's.

Don't believe me? Get this: I taught myself to play bass literally 4 months before the band played together the first time -- and without knowing that there would be a need for me to play. Nino was new to the guitar when he came. Kyle Conway had to have Nino teach him the songs (and some of the chords!) the NIGHT BEFORE the band played together the first time. And yet we've gotten positive feedback (praise God!) pretty much every time we've played together. God's hand was all over the timing in these things -- we were ready, just when he needed us to be. Just in time.

Want another example? Stephen Lemmons was our primary (read, 'only') keyboard player for quite some time. (He's amazing -- totally self-taught, if I'm not mistaken.) But one day he was asked to be a shepherd at SBC, and there's really no way he could have continued to be our one-and-only, or even our primary keys guy, and shepherd at the same time. Well -- wouldn't you know it? -- a few weeks earlier, Mikey Cunningham had shown up for the first time at SBC. (If you don't know Mikey, he's our primary keys guy for the past year or something; I think he was born playing piano, and he picked up a stack of other instruments along the way.) God brought Mikey (and his wife Janet, too!), just in time.

So what's coming? I don't know. If you know me, you know I've felt like I'm waiting for something to happen for some time now. I don't know what that is, or what it means. It might just be something I ate. (No, seriously. I should really eat healthier.) But maybe, just maybe, God has some exciting things in store.

And with the momentum seeming to pick up at Southlake ... I'm buckling up.