My writing

Kanye Dig it?

Obviously, from the pun above, you can tell that this post is going to be about Kanye West. Let me apologize in advance for saying that, and I’ll explain my apology later. Much has been made about Kanye’s conversion to Christ and, with the dropping of his latest project, Jesus is King, his situation is being debated by Christians and non-Christians alike. The dirty little secret about Christians, and I’ve made no secret that I am a Christian, and what happens when a celebrity converts is that most Christians cheer it immediately, but then we put them under the microscope and any mistakes they make are magnified. We don’t give them time to grow and then we attack them for being immature Christians. Or, we assume that they’re “converting” for ulterior reasons. So, when my pastor mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Kanye West had professed faith in Christ, I raised my eyebrows and smiled. Then, I did some research.

Maybe I was behind the times in hearing about Kanye’s conversion, but as I researched, I got the impression that what my new brother did to ground himself in the faith was amazing. He’s spent time with his pastor. He’s been having private worship services at his ranch. He’s worked to grow in the faith and get a strong grounding in God’s word. I was flabbergasted. While I hadn’t followed Kanye much, I can tell you that he didn’t impress me. But what I’ve read about how he’s responded as the grace of God has moved in his life puts tears in my eyes. While my opinion isn’t worth much in general, if someone were to ask me how a celebrity should respond once they come to Christ, I’d have given a road map much like the one Kanye followed.

Many of the people who’ve been negative about this conversion have brought up sins from his pre-conversion days to make the case that this conversion couldn’t be real. I guess because God can’t forgive sinners who go over a certain threshold? Perhaps they forget Paul’s claim to be the chief of sinners? So, if we accept Paul at his word, perhaps we could make Kanye’s pre-conversion days the lifestyle of the second worst sinner of all time – which would then force us to acknowledge that if God could forgive Paul, maybe He can forgive Kanye? Does Kanye have a checkered past? You betcha! I don’t think I’d want people to go back and listen to his old music, for example. That being said, all those past sins are forgotten by God. They’re thrown away as far as the east is from the west. He’s forgiven. His sins, like mine, were nailed to the cross and God’s mercy is more than enough to bring forgiveness.

A friend of mine, Lori Twichell, wrote an excellent post about this story and included some great videos. She noticed two things about him that caught my attention: 1) This man had peace that radiated in his face and through the answers to questions. He had no trouble with tough questions and seemed to welcome them; and 2) Kanye used to be all about himself and now he describes himself as a servant of God. He talked about Jesus and about what God had done in a couple of interviews Lori mentioned and included links to in her post. And that’s why I apologized earlier. I think Kanye, were he to be sitting here commenting on this post, would chastise me for saying so much about him. So, any of the praise I’ve given to him, make sure you realize that Kanye would probably deflect it to Jesus.

So let’s get down to his recent project released the other day: Jesus is King. I’m going to be honest. I’ve listened to most, if not all, of the album and I’m not a fan. It’s not bad in any sense of the word, it’s just that my ear isn’t tuned to the cadences of rap/hip hop and I have a hard time making things out. From what I could understand, it’s on solid ground theologically. I’ve had one friend who noted that it’s very sound theologically, moreso than many worship songs we all seem to enjoy. I’ve had another friend say it’s the best Christian album of the year. It may be, but it’s not my cup of tea. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be. From what I could understand of the music, I wouldn’t be ashamed if anyone found out I listened to it, and will listen to it again. I wouldn’t turn it off if it came on the radio. That being said, though, Kanye will reach people I could never reach with this album. A number of people commenting on his songs mentioned their need to go back to church. I hear a lot of paise for Jesus coming through the music. I would have no problem recommending that someone who likes that style listen…and I would add, old geezers like me need to be willing to listen to it and hope to understand that God can use music like that to reach people I could never reach.

The conclusion of all this is that I believe that Kanye’s conversion is real and that he’s already exhibiting a vibrant faith that some of us older people can learn from. I also believe that somewhere along the way, Kanye will stumble and sin – which sin will be magnified beyond measure because of who he is and the number of spiritual vultures waiting for him to fall. When that happens, I hope and pray that i’m the first one to extend God’s love and forgiveness to him as he gets back on track wth his growth. And, even though Kanye would never read this let me just say, “Brother Kanye, welcome to the family! Walking with Jesus is an amazing ride that will never boring and will never get easier. I’m excited for this change in your life and I pray that as you go forward and grow in your faith that you’ll experience God’s presence and grace in the best of times and the worst of times.” I praise God that Jesus is being preached.

Daily Work

The Spiritual Side of Egg Salad

The Pastor at my mom’s memorial service asked a great question: “What is it about the Egg Salad Sandwiches?” Apparently, after she died, people started telling the pastor that they’d really miss her egg salad sandwiches. Before my mom became bedridden, any time the church got together, my mom could be counted on to show up with her egg salad sandwiches. While the ingredients were simple, everyone raved about those egg salad sandwiches. Her pastor missed out on that joy.

As I pointed out while I shared at her memorial service, my mom had a secret ingredient that didn’t show up on any recipe card: love. She didn’t make those sandwiches to fulfill an obligation to provide something for people at those church get-togethers, she shared her heart as she made them. She made them for her pastor, her fellow deacons or Sunday School teachers, or fellow committee members. She made them for her children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. I’m sure that she thought about each person who’d be eating them as she made them. She loved the people in her church, and she loved her family, and egg salad sandwiches were one way that she showed that love.

Egg salad sandwiches take a little more effort to make than most sandwiches. For most sandwiches, when you decide what you want, you take the bread and slap on a dressing, some meat, some cheese, and maybe add some lettuce or tomato. Egg salad sandwiches are different though. You have to prepare for them. Eggs must be boiled, then peeled. After I rinse off the bits of egg shell that may be left, I dry the egg on a towel, because water just doesn’t work with egg salad. I chop the egg up, or double cut it with an egg slicer. Then, you mix in the mayonnaise, the salt and the pepper, put mayo on the bread, which, according to the Mary James standard, should be the very thing white bread, and finally add the egg salad.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to do something I know my mother would have enjoyed: I made egg salad sandwiches for a get together at church. We’re doing a dramatic interpretation of Holy Week called “Journey to the Cross” by having people welcome Jesus as He entered Jerusalem, go to the last supper, experience His prayer in the garden and His arrest, go through the trial before Pilate, pray at the cross, and experience the joy of the resurrection. The church is providing snacks each night, and tonight was my night to help.

As I made the sandwiches, I thought of the love my mother showed to everyone by making her sandwiches. Then, I thought about the people who would be eating the ones I was making: the cast, crew, and the participants. While I didn’t know who would eat those sandwiches, I prayed as I spread the mayo on the bread and added the egg salad. I prayed that not only would they enjoy the food I was making, that even more so, that God would strengthen their faith or help people begin a walk of faith because of tonight’s event. I can’t say for certain that I experienced the same kind of love that my mother did as she made her sandwiches, but I can tell you that a lot of love was added to the egg salad sandwiches I made.

Sometimes we go through the motions when making or eating food. We say the right words before we eat, or after in the tradition of some, and then don’t give another thought to it. Today, I had a spiritual experience making egg salad sandwiches. I thanked God for the heritage of my family which continues to stay strong. I thanked God for providing the ingredients. I prayed over each sandwich that those who ate it would experience special blessings from God. I was reminded of the great provision God makes for each of us. I’m reminded that I should never take food for granted, especially in a world where it’s sometimes scarce. All because of a sandwich.

Daily Work

April 6 – Everybody Wants to Be a Superstar….

Today’s New Testament reading included a scene where Herod’s wondering who Jesus was. I focused on that, but also remembered that one of the networks had done a special presentation of “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Sunday night. Alice Cooper played Herod and did a great job….I saw just the clip of his performance first, it was research of course, and then, after finishing the devotional, I watched the whole presentation. The scenes with the betrayal, arrest, and then the denial were powerful. While officially set in ancient Jerusalem, there was a modern feeling to it and the arrest scene dealt with that. I caught something I hadn’t caught before. Judas is hassling Jesus about hanging around with Mary Magdalene because of her alleged status as a prostitute. Later, Caiaphas was talking to Judas about the silver he got for betraying Jesus. My paraphrase is “30 pieces of silver ain’t bad wages for one little kiss.” Yeah, let that sink in. By the way, Alice Cooper is a Christian, just in case you didn’t realize that. Superstar has one major weakness in the writing in that they leave out the resurrection. Some productions try to find ways to bring it in, but it’s hard to maintain that flow when it’s not in the script.

I had a few other errands to run today so my editing didn’t start until later in the day. My goal is to edit at least six days worth of devotionals every day to get caught up and on time. I barely finished my goal before midnight this night. I had to do a lot of reformulating and re-writing on some of the devotionals – not sure if that means I’m getting pickier as I edit, or if my writing was that incoherent on those days. I hope I improved things.

Today’s Devotional of 567 words – April 6 – “I’m Dying To Be Shown That You Are Not Just Any Man”

Reading didn’t happen today with everything else going on.

Uncategorized

March 27 – Living With Routine

I need routine. This is the second day in a row that I’ve posted this update a day after things happened. My routine was disrupted by my wife coming home from a conference and I didn’t write last night. This morning was rough too because of routine breakers. I added a new chess teaching time today (yesterday of course) with a young man whose parents are friends. He was so far ahead of some kids and this was his first lesson. I asked him why he did something the way he did, which was the right way, and he told me that he figured it out on his own. I was blown away!

Anyway, the devotional of 456 words: March 27 – How Jesus Saw His Ministry 

I also edited 6 more days on my devotional book. I’m no up to May 12.