After all the heavy stuff we have been talking about lately on the site, I thought I would pass this along. I saw this lady in her Jaguar driving down the road the other day and risked my life to chase her down and take this picture. Yes, I did take it while driving in my BMW, but at least I don’t have the bumper sticker.
My mom left her home (where I grew up) Wednesday from southeast Houston to go and stay with my sister who lives in Huntsville. My brother picked her up early so they avoided all of the traffic and stuff that we saw on the news reports the past couple of days.
Although they will will be staying in Hunstville, approximately 100 or so miles inland, they are still expected to get Hurricane force winds and the spin off tornados all over that region. Back at my mom’s house, the winds are going to be raging at 135 mph plus with gusts much, much higher.
Now, if you have never been through a hurricane, count yourself lucky. In 1983, I was living in Houston and went through Hurricane Alicia in which the eye of the storm passed directly over Galveston, traveled up the I-45 and directly over our house. Now, although the storm surge of Rita appears to be much more dramatic, it will in all likelihood hit land as a Category 3 storm, the same as Hurricane Alicia.
I vividly remember that experience as one of the most frightening of my life. Sustained winds of around 100 mph for approximately 12-16 hours battered our house. First from the front, all night long, the winds were so strong, like nothing I have ever experienced. Frightening and maddening are words that come to mind. To be in darkness and to hear the winds and the banging of objects against your house….amazing. One man’s account of the wind is very accurate: If you’ve never been through a hurricane, it’s difficult to envision the perpetual sounds of nature’s greatest sustained wrath. It doesn’t sound like wind. Wind has a higher-pitched, swooshy sound. This is a deep, insidious, intense, powerful roar. It varies slightly in pitch atonally, irrythmically, and unexpectedly. It sounds absolutely demonic, like a mean, ill-willed chant. And through the prevalent blast, you hear desperate flapping and crashing of things out there. You wonder what the hell is going on.
And then the eye passed…with the most eery and strange calmness in the midst of the storm you have ever felt. It was surreal as my neighbors and I went outside, and I remember thinking, “How many times will I ever be able to walk around in the eye of a hurricane.” So we all met outside, talked about our experiences, helped pick up debris so that later it wouldn’t become airborne artillery against us.
Then the winds started again, beating us from the opposite direction for the rest of the day. What the first wave of wind couldn’t knock down, the next wave from the other direction took care of it. Several of our neighbors lost roofs to the winds, but flooding was not significant in our area so that was the good news. Downtown Houston was inches deep in glass as windows from high rises were blown out. Our home lost many roof tiles and our entire wood fence was blown away (literally gone). I remember watching in the middle of the night as six foot sections of the fence would lift off and become an airborne missile, narrowly missing our house and landing god knows where.
I laid in the downstairs den and remember praying (trust me on that night I believed strongly in the power of prayer), “Dear God, if we survive this, I will never, ever stick around for another one.”
My mom remembers praying that as well…so off she went to my sisters this time around. Of course with Hurricane Katrina fresh in their minds, most of the south east side of Houston faced mandatory evacuations.
So we sit and wait…and hope for a minimal amount of damage. It is strange to be here so far away and think that your childhood home will have to endure such a beating again. Hopefully it will survive, but the most important thing (for me of course) is that Mom is safe and sound and not alone to endure this traumatic experience. Of course my thoughts are also with all the others who will certainly be left homeless (the city of Port Arthur is expected to be completely destroyed according to the mayor there). It will be a definite tragedy for so many, as was Katrina. In the face of certain human suffering and pain, we can hope that we will respond in ways to serve and help those in need to the best of our abilities.
A Pastor walks by one of his church members and the following conversation is observed.
Pastor: Hey brother, I hear good news about your mom, eh?
Brother: Yes it was. She is doing much better now. Thanks.
Pastor: That’s good to hear. God answered that prayer didn’t he?
So here’s what I want to know. What if the mom in question wasn’t doing better? What if the worst had happened and she had died? If this had occurred would the pastor and church member assume that God did not answer the prayer? Actually, couldn’t you assume if she had died that God in some way wanted her to die or in effect was a part of the cause? Or does God only get credit if the outcome is positive? Why don’t we credit God with the bad outcomes?
No, I suspect that if the outcome would have been negative the pastor would have said something like, “It must have been her time”, or an even more generous spin that says “God must have wanted her in heaven with him.”
So why is it that God always comes out looking like the hero and not the villian in all of this?
See You at the Pole was first started in 1990 and since then hundreds of thousands of students have gathered on this one day in front of their school at the flag pole to pray. They are instructed to pray for their school, their fellow students and their country. It all sounds like a noble and harmless cause, but what are we truly communicating to our kids?
I think SYATP is dangerous for the message it sends to students, those inside and outside the prayer circle. Before I go on, let me say that I do not have a problem with the students who are involved with SYATP. My beef is with the adult organizers and youth pastors that support SYATP. I know first-hand how manipulative these type of events can be and the subtle messages that they send to students.
See You at the Pole is all about being “seen”. For everyone keeping score at home, there is nothing that could be more unbiblical.
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:5-6
Jesus is pretty clear about where we are to pray. He tells us to keep our prayers private. We shouldn’t be praying to draw attention to ourselves…that isn’t the purpose of prayer. The very act of praying is for the exact opposite purpose of creating a scene or a making a spectacle of ourselves. Praying in front of your school with one hundred of your closest friends is not quite the same as praying in your room with the door closed. This is pretty simple people.
According to the SYATP website, here are some reasons your students should be involved with See You at the Pole.
Do you really want to see and experience an unbelievable wave of awakening on your campus? What is going on at your school that can only be explained by the power of God? How desperately do you desire for God to come in power? Is your heart truly broken for your non-Christian friends and the sin on your campus? When you are seriously sold out and passionate about God He will honor your humble, broken, desperate cry. He wants to hear from you!
Oh my! Where do we begin? Do people really talk like this? Is it just me, or does anyone else out there have a problem with this? Are youth pastors nuts? Seems like all of the problems in your local school is because your kid just doesn’t pray enough. Shame on them. Get on your knees Billy and Betty, forget your homework, you’ve got some praying to do!
The more I think about what to write next, the more filled with disgust and outrage at the “stupid church people” that think SYATP is a great idea. This event is so myopic, hyopcritical and obnoxious that I don’t know what to say…for once I may be speechless. Or just tired of it all. You know, I think that’s it. I am just really tired of the stupid things we Christians plan and do and then believe that God is behind, or involved with, or supporting, or “moving through” or whatever. Ugh…I gotta go to bed.
P.S. Listen to our podcast on See You at the Pole here.
This quote from Mike Yaconelli has been resonating in my mind over the past 48 hours, so I thought I would share it with you again. It is worth reading and letting the impact of these statements truly sink into your mind.
Mix a good dose of ego addiction with Jesus, and the consequences are frightening. It causes ministers to build huge churches as a monument to their own ego, it causes people to go on television with their “unique ministry”, which is another term for “my ministry”. It causes people to write books, speak all over the world, abandon their families, their friends, and their neighborhoods so they can respond to the “great need”… which is really the need to be needed.
Think of all the churches in America right now that are supporting the egos of their ministers. Think of all the supporters of para-church organizations that are supporting the ego of their “founder and president.” Think of all the churches and organizations that are supporting the egos of their “internationally known speakers.”
The result is that the evangelical church is known more for its “big” churches and famous people than it is known for its Jesus. (The Door Magazine, #125, October 1992)
I wish I had written that, but I didn’t so the best I can do is share it with you. Read this one line again, Think of all the churches in America right now that are supporting the egos of their ministers. Do you find yourself shaking your head at the truth of that statement like I do? I have been on both sides of this equation and know it to be true.
It is happening not only in “big” churches, but also in churches of all sizes. We can’t just point to the Saddlebacks and WillowCreeks of the world and shake a finger. No need to look at the Osteens, the Warrens and the Hybels of the church world to search for the ego-addicts…simply look in the mirror. If pastors and church leaders are honest they will admit it is true in their lives and churches as well.
As my youngest son approached five years old, the pressure increased for him to learn to ride his bike. All the other kids his age had already “gotten it” and were flying around the streets of our neighborhood. The pressure was beginning to build, the immense burden of not knowing how to ride a bike was upon us. But it wasn’t my little Grant that was feeling the pressure, it was me, his Father. What would other parents think of my severally motor-skill challenged off-spring? Was I not a good Dad? Have I not spent enough time with him? I am such a bad parent.
Flash back to about six years ago when my oldest son was also approaching five. Bryson was a little behind in this department. So one fine day, I stripped off the training wheels, told him today was the day he was going to learn to ride and off we went. I was armed with the philosophy of “if we throw him in the deep end, he’s gonna have to learn how to swim”.
Well after about 20 minutes of falling, crying, bleeding and my obviously dangerous psychological philosophy, we came back into the house. Bryson went up into his room crying and I, feeling much the failure, said that my son obviously inherited his mother’s athletic ability and stomped away to other important projects.
Bryson eventually learned to ride his bike but the experience was one that I dared not to repeat.
Now, fast forward to the past few months. The bike in question still remains as a hand me down and has not had the training wheels on it for quite some time. About two months ago, Grant and I went out and I pushed him around on it, but he said he was scared and I just told him it would be OK. We spent about fifteen minutes running up and down the street. I, being in such superb physical condition, could have endured an entire night of this joyous activity, but Grant grew tired so we stopped. I asked him if he wanted to try another day and he said, “Sure” and off he went to fight spiders or other ominous bug-like creatures around our house.
The bike subject did not come up again for the past two or three months.
Then, two days ago, Grant came into the garage and announced, “Dad, I want to ride my bike. Can you help me?” Well, having trashed my philosophy of several years ago, I told him, “Sure, let’s give it another try”. We went outside and proceeded to go up and down the block, me running alongside him every inch of the way. First I had my hand on his seat, then I moved it up his back, gently holding his shirt and finally I would let go every few seconds…until eventually he was on his own.
No screaming, no bleeding, no crying, no whining….from him or from me. Just encouragement, a gentle hand, steadying him as he went.
And, before you know it, there he goes!
Next stop college….and then I’ll get the bill and you’ll hear lots of crying.
Josh and I had the privilege of appearing as guests on the Etcetera live internet streaming show today. We got to hang out with Erik, Sharon and a few other people for the whole hour and talk about “The Church”. It was very cool and we enjoyed ourselves. The interview and discussion on the show today presents a broader view of SCP.
Etcetera is our tamer alter ego and we are proud to hook up with them. They have a fresh perspective on the “christian podcast” world. You can download our interview here and visit their site to listen to all the other shows they have to offer…we think you’ll enjoy it.
Download the SCP interview here: Etcetera 09.07.05