Friday, April 23, 2010

HA!.. you think I'm here to clean your house?

Why do you do what you do? Does it define you or do you define it? Do you look for purpose in it or bring purpose to it? Is fulfillment sought in the circumstance or the calling that finds you there?

Read Augusta's story.... you can find the entire account in Stephen Baldwin's book, "The Unusual Suspect". (yes.. the actor)
Stephen and Kenya Baldwin  settled into married life, and soon they were expecting their first child.  Kenya explained to Stephen that it’s customary in Brazil to hire a nanny when a baby is on the way. Since Kenya is Brazilian, that’s the way it played out.

So, they hired this lady from Brazil named Augusta, and the whole first week she’s working for them she’s singing in Portuguese, which she only spoke with Kenya.  She’s singing about Jesus, and Kenya comes to Stephen in a few days and asks, “Do you hear what she’s singing about?  She’s singing about Jesus.” Kenya, after a few more days, approaches Augusta. “I noticed your singing, and I’m wondering why every song is about Jesus?”  Augusta had this very interesting reaction. She burst out laughing. Kenya said, “What’s so funny?” Augusta replied, “Quite frankly, I think it’s a little bit funny that you think I’m here to clean your house.

 She goes on to tell Kenya that before she had accepted the job, she prayed with her pastor and some church members in Brazil. She was told through a prophetic word that she was to go to America to become the nanny for some people who needed Jesus Christ and that one day Kenya and Stephen Baldwin would come to faith and be involved in ministry.

 Life at the Baldwins’ began to change.  Kenya was the first to dive into the Bible.  She spent many hours with Augusta talking about Jesus. One night, Kenya went with Augusta to a Brazilian church in New York City. She comes home and says to Stephen, “Honey, sit down. I’ve got to talk to you. I’ve accepted Jesus Christ tonight as my Lord and Savior. I’ve been baptized in water. I need you to know that, from now on, what I need to do each day to the best of my ability is to become the most obedient servant to Jesus Christ that I can.  Now, I need that to be clear, and I need you to understand. I don’t know what you’re going to do, but that’s what I’m going to do.” Then he watched her go through what he described as a radically beautiful metamorphosis.

She went into an intensive prayer and Bible study regiment.  Up in the morning, on her knees face down on the ground for an hour, without flinching, up off her knees into the bed with the Bible at least 30 to 45 minutes, every morning, every night, for one year.

While Kenya was seeking God and learning more about Him, Stephen was beginning to ask questions, especially after September 11th which really freaked him out. He said, “Hey, what’s this all about?  My wife’s a Jesus freak. Maybe it’s time I begin thinking about this faith thing.”  He pursued it, became born again, accepted the Lord, and was baptized in water.

The follower/disciple of Jesus Christ lives in another realm... for another purpose... with a broader vision of their life. Are our lives about making money, meeting obligations, supporting families,  funding college, climbing the ladder of success, or socking away some cash for retirement? Didn't Jesus say those are God's obligations? How are you handling God's job? What would life look like if we began living in liberty... for eternal things... as though all that Jesus said about this were actually true? Did it ever cross your mind that you are not where you are to just "clean the house"?

Augusta laughed out loud because someone thought that was what she was there for. She could laugh while she cleaned the house because she knew better.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thank You Russell Rigby!

Susan and I are getting ready to sit down and enjoy following the NFL draft wondering where Colt and Earl and Sergio and some other Longhorns are going to land. We'll bounce around between that and the NBA playoffs. We stayed up late last night watching the Spurs beat the Mavericks. As we keep up with former Longhorns in the NBA, we were up late the night before watching Kevin Durant lead his OKC Thunder team to within a cat's whisker of beating the Lakers in L.A. We caught some of LaMarcus Aldridge and the Trailblazers and D. J Augustin and the Charlotte Bobcats. All this NBA playoff stuff comes after a period of withdrawal from watching wall-to-wall March Madness... all of it. Our brackets got blown up early but it was awesome fun! That event was the culmination of weeks of fussing and fuming over the frustrating Longhorns basketball team. Which followed a great season cheering the UT football team into the title game. We typically watch golf most Sunday afternoons. We have enjoyed a lot Grand Slam Tennis tournaments over the years.

Yes... this is what we do together. But what Susan and I now enjoy began years before we even met

I owe a debt of gratitude to Russell Rigby, my father-in-law. I was only 28 when he passed away in 1978 and I regret that I didn't enjoy knowing him farther into my adult life. My initial common ground with him was sports. He commented once that I knew almost as much about sports as he did. That was high praise for a kid like me. When he was living in Austin and we were living in the valley, he'd cut articles about the Longhorns out of the American Statesman and mail them to me. Sports was a great point of contact and gave us a lot to talk about. It helped us to really like each other and enjoy being together. And trust me, it didn't hurt to have that card in my deck as a suitor for his daughter's hand. I was in his camp! Waaay ahead those other guys who were smarter, better looking, and had REAL prospects.

What incredibly good fortune for me that early in Susan's life when she balked at being "dragged" to various sporting events, he said to her, "One day you'll likely marry a guy who loves sports and you'd better learn to love this stuff now if you want to be included in that part of his life." She was already an angel wearing skin but that she heeded that advice has made our nearly 40 years together even sweeter than it was already going to be. I can't imagine having missed all of that.

I didn't realize what I had until it was too late to thank him.

So thank those who have contributed to your life while you can.

Got to go! The draft starts in 5 minutes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bill Moyers Retiring

Many younger folk may not recognize the name Bill Moyers. He has been a fixture of political, philosophical, and cultural commentary on PBS for many years. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Marshall, Texas, he received a degree from Southwesterm Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and was ordained. He never pursued the ministry but chose instead a path into journalism and politics. He ascended to the high station of special White House Assistant to President Lyndon Johnson and ultimately into a journalistic career immersed in the world of ideas. To see his bio just Google his name and see wikepedia.

Moyers' life and public influence makes for interesting reading. His world view evolved from a conservative, East Texas, evangelical protestant to a world-reknown, open-minded, idea-monger (not a negative term). An admission from him in today's Austin American Statesman speaks volumes to the emptiness of the socialistic, humanist ideal that producing knowledgable, educated people will produce good people. Moyers long held a strong conviction, as naively articulated by Robert Kennedy, that societal ills were due to a lack of awareness and information, and providing both would translate into compassion and improved national character. All that was really needed was enlightenment and education and the inherent goodness of humanity would emerge. In this exerpt Moyers admits that in retrospect that popular view of the human condition was wrong and he does not know what to do about it:

Moyers has devoted much of his life to the larger idea of an informed democracy. Yet he bows his head ever so slightly at the mention of Robert F. Kennedy's intent, articulated in 1968, to have the major TV networks air a two-hour prime time documentary on American poverty if he were elected president. If the people knew, certainly they would act.

"I no longer believe that, by the way," he says softly. "We have so much information. We know what's wrong. The predicament is: We don't do anything about it. That may be a factor in my decision to retire. ... We're saturated. There are more people who know than there are people who do. That's a quandary I haven't resolved yet. But it's a fact."

How sad and disillusioning must it be to realize toward the end of one's life that one of the primary hinges upon which your world-view has swung is deeply flawed or downright wrong? That being your understanding of the human heart. The secular humanist sees humanity as essentially good, gradually getting better (evolving), and in need of continued improvement. Mankind's universal task is clear... discover and implement the means for that improvement. Who gets to decide on and engage the proper means is a topic for another discussion.

So... we are getting systematically, observably better through evolution, education, and technology? Nature, intellectual awareness, and information are our saviors? Moyers, the poster boy for free thinking and icon for adherents of relative truth, now thinks not but has no fall-back remedies. It is hard to overstate the magnitude of this admission in cultural or political terms.

But how could any honest, objective observer conclude otherwise? The evidence is in. The most recently completed era of mankind, the 20th century, was the bloodiest in the annals of human history. WW1 and WW2, the slaughter of millions of their own people by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot are the much-ignored documentation that mankind may be more devious, clever, powerful, and ruthless... but better?

The fool has said in his heart "there is no God". Those who minimize God or deny His existence have no choice but to place their hope in the flawed devices of humankind. They must write checks on a bankrupt account. What a frightening prospect. But where else does that one go? I'd like to ask Bill that question.