Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fruit For You
So, Christy got me this new book all about how the Beatles recorded their innovative and unbelievable albums and one of the things that I’ve learned in reading this book is how cut-throat a producer can be... See, a record producer’s job back then was simply to make hit records. They had one goal, which was commercial success and they would do anything to achieve it. For instance, the classic Beatles song, “Love Me Do” has a different drummer on it! Apparently Ringo couldn’t get the part right, so the legendary producer, George Martin simply hired another drummer! It didn’t matter that Ringo was angry, hurt and humiliated by this. It only mattered that the drums on “Love Me Do” sounded right. And, apparently George Harrison often labored unsuccessfully to get his guitar solo right, like on the song “Taxman” where he struggled in vain to play a passable take for over three hours. Finally, George Martin walked in the studio and said that Paul McCartney was going to play the solo. Harrison started yelling at the producer and finally stormed out of the studio! Fortunately for the album, Paul laid down an unbelievable part on the very first take.
I think there’s a part of me that sometimes wonders if God is like a record producer... what I mean is, I know He’s after a final product. I know He’s interested in yield and sometimes I feel afraid that if I don’t produce, He’s not interested in me because what He wants is a hit, whether or not I’m even on it. I mean, look at John 15 where Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Jesus says God is a farmer who wants fruit! He wants that final product, and He’ll do whatever He’s got to do to get it! Look at Ephesians 4 where Paul says, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” He wants us to walk this thing. He wants results... but you know what, I don’t think that’s all He wants.
This week, Jack started to walk on his own. Most kids his age have been walking for a while, but Jack has taken his time to get there. Most likely he’s struggled because of his hearing and balance. He recently had surgery on his ears and the doctor said that he’s pretty sure Jack couldn’t hear a thing, but either way, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve been holding his little fingers and conducting walking practice like crazy for months. I really want him to walk. When I finally saw him walking for the first time by himself, I cried. I was going crazy with excitement and crying. The thing is, if Jack never, ever walked, I’d still love the guy and I’d be glad to carry him everywhere. I want him to walk, but I want him to walk because walking is good for him. It’s better that way. God wants us to walk with Him. He wants us to be fruitful, but not just because He wants a stocked up fruit stand. He wants you to be fruitful, because it’s better for you. You’re better that way. He’s not just some record producer looking for hits at the expense of the band; no, He loves you and wants to see the best you for your own sake. A fruitful you is a better you for you and that’s what He wants.

Oh, and here's a little video I put together for that big moment:

Jack! from James Younger on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Last weekend we had to go to a wedding rehearsal in Loudon Tennessee (about an hour away) and we decided to take the girls with us. I know how to get to Loudon, but didn’t know exactly how to get to the wedding rehearsal location, so we followed some friends who knew the way. Everything was going along wonderfully when all of a sudden a car got in between us and the car we were following. I didn’t think a thing of it, but Anna hit the roof! “Dad! Dad! Drive faster! We can’t even see Ty’s car! Are we going to be lost forever!?” Norah followed this dramatic spiel of Anna’s by simply screaming out, “Dad! Why do you drive so SLOW!?!” I looked in the rear-view mirror to see Anna’s face contorted with pure panic. It was as if she had just realized she had been kidnapped or something. She was breathing loudly and way too fast, and simply couldn’t hear me explain that everything was okay because I was fairly confident that I could make it to the interstate, having driven this road about seventeen thousand times...

I tried to explain to Anna that I could still follow Ty’s car even if another car got in between us, but it was no use. Literally every single time someone else filled in the empty space between our two cars, Anna gasped, winced or in some other way freaked out about my slow driving and the fact that we were destined to wind up stranded and alone, lost in the inhabitable wilderness that is Knox County. The absolutely palpable tension was ridiculous. I simply could not convince Anna that I knew what I was doing and that she could just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride while I steered her faithfully to her destination. I tried to explain the subtle intricacies and etiquette of following another car on the interstate, but it didn’t make any difference. After all, Anna’s only driving experience can be summed up with a purple Barbie jeep powered by a 12 volt battery in my driveway. No matter what I said, it didn’t land. She couldn’t get it.

When I think back on that night, I am reminded of Isaiah 55 which says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

You see, there is absolutely no reason for me to freak out or worry about any of the things that happen in my life. The Bible says over and over again that God is in total and complete control of every single thing that happens in this world! As Dave Roper said, “There is no maverick molecule in this universe.” Paul, in Ephesians 1:11 says, “we were also chosen, having been predestined  according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in heaven, He does whatever pleases Him.” When I call into question the circumstances and struggles of my life, I am basically saying that God doesn’t know what He’s doing and that I would be much better at His job! The truth of the matter is that God, in His genius fashion, is working out everything in my life for my best; and His plans, His thoughts and His ways are so far over my head, so high above my own, that I could never understand why He does the things He does. If He were to explain it all to me, I wouldn’t understand half of it! I don’t need to panic! I need to sit back, relax and let Him drive... 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Well, they’ve done it again... someone, somewhere has come up with an idea so ridiculously simple and so sickeningly obvious that no one else even saw it coming, and as a result they got the jumpstart on a very specific and short-lived industry that will undoubtedly make millions of dollars. Now, these types of things come and go, but while they’re in, they’re so in and you’re only in if you have them. When I was a kid, the fad was called “Slap Bracelets” which were basically springy little pieces of tin covered in decorative cloth that snapped around a person’s wrist. Wow. There have been Cabbage Patch dolls, Beanie Babies, Crocs Buttons and on and on. The newest fad on the block is called “Silly Bandz” and believe it or not, some genius had the idea of making a rubber band mold shaped like an animal instead of a regular circle. You wear the animal-shaped rubber band around your wrist like a bracelet, and then when you take it off, it goes back to the molded animal shape... So, the manufacturer can basically make any shape and any color. Cha-Ching!
Somebody out there is laughing right now... About a year and a half ago, a guy in Ohio came up with the idea to pour colored silicone into variously shaped molds and started telling folks about it. The word of mouth advertising took a while to fire up, but now there is a website, a facebook group and a twitter feed. As you would expect, there are even tons of copycat companies trying to get in on the frenzy, although the ‘Silly Bandz’ official website warns me not to be “fooled by imitators.” Okay, I’ll bear that in mind. There are even Christian toy makers who have started to manufacture so-called Believer Bands... yep, that’s right, rubber bands shaped like crosses and fish are being touted as a ministry tool so that kids have “a new way to share their faith.” This fad has become so popular that many stores have to limit their customers to just a few packages per purchase and in the hands of the kids, it has become such a fierce social trade industry that many school systems have banned the bands altogether!
I have no doubt that within another year or two, the folks at Silly Bandz will pack up their gecko-shaped molds, disable their flashy website and laugh all the way to the bank as the fad dies away as quickly as it took the world by storm. No self-respecting third grader will be caught dead wearing a funky, purple giraffe around her wrist and our landfills will be packed with the rubbery remains of the money-making menagerie. and that’s how it works... fads come and go. Sometimes, they go quite a bit faster than they came. When you look around these days, you don’t have to search long to find people in another kind of frenzy. Folks are fired up, emotional and possibly inordinately engaged in a kind of fad. I think the Bible would call the fad ‘human arrogance’... and it is expressed in all kinds of popular crazes like money, material possessions, fame, beauty, sports and governments of men. I know, I know, all these things have always been with us for thousands of years, so how could they be called a fad? I would say they are fads because, just as sure as they are empty, they are on the way out and in the grand scheme of things, thousands of years will only be a drop in the bucket.
Isaiah chapter 2 says, “The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear.”
See, there’s coming a day when all the stuff we get so fired up about will be gone. All our money, trade, power and beauty will be a thing of the past. All our governments with their theories and policies will be overturned and ended. On that Day, only One will be standing. On that Great Day, everything we hoped in apart from Him will be undone. Everything we’ve trusted in to do for us what only God can do will evaporate into smoke and blow away. Only the unshakable will remain and all the fads will fade. I don’t want to give my heart to something that’s temporary, whether it’s a slap bracelet or a four-year administration. I don’t want to pour my energy into a fad. Let’s set our hearts on Him, the Unshakable.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Where To Fix Your Thoughts

So, last week I did something I’ve never done in my entire life... and really, it’s kind of amazing that I’ve never done this at all during the entire span of my almost 31 years on this planet. I mean, you would think that at some point along the way I would have, but no. The funny thing is that as soon as I did this thing and people found out about it, I unknowingly entered an unofficial little club I never knew existed where people I had known for years all of a sudden decided that they really liked me and wanted to hang out with me... Okay, so what was this mysterious activity which I have somehow managed to escape participating in for three decades? What was this unavoidable cultural phenomenon which I have always (in one way or another) avoided? Well, here goes: 

Golf. It was golf.
Last week my mom took me out for my first ever round of golf... Up to this point, I had never actually even held a driver and had no idea what a pitching wedge was! At every point I had to ask which club I should use for my next move and I still have no idea how she formed the answers to those questions... She would say things like, “Hmmm, you’re gonna want a 7 iron for that shot.” And I was sitting there thinking, “What? How in the world do you know that? Are you making this up?” The long and short of it was that I stink at golf. I can’t put, I can’t pitch, I’m utterly hopeless in the sand and although I can sometimes drive a little, I mostly can’t do that either. But, as I was saying, as soon as the news spread around a little that I played a few holes of golf, I started getting all these invites, phone calls and text messages. Folks want to play... they want to coach me... they want to hang out with me... it felt good. 
Truth is, if I had known fifteen years ago that there was this game you can play where you instantly have tons of friends and they all want to hang out right now no matter how bad at it you are, I would’ve started stinking at golf a long time ago! I’ve been looking for people’s attention, help and approval my whole life. This magnetic pull towards wanting to be liked, appreciated and invested in has mostly led to the craziest messes of my life and to my darkest places emotionally; and that is because no regular human person could ever fully meet the needs of my intensely needy heart, or yours for that matter. We need oceans more TLC than anyone can give.
That’s why Hebrews 3 is so cool, though. Verse 1 says, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.”
Isn’t that awesome?! I don’t need anyone’s approval because Jesus is the Apostle I confess! Apostle is a word that just means “sent one”. Jesus is the one God sent for me. Why? Because He’s so crazy in love with me that He sent His own son to save me! I have God’s love and approval and He proved it to me by sending the Sent One! Not only that, but I don’t need to depend on any person around me to do stuff for me, because Jesus is the High Priest I confess! Other people may let me down, but Jesus is my priest... He stands in the gap and does for us everything we can’t do for ourselves, presenting us holy before God. We have the help and the approval of God Himself! All we have to do is fix our thoughts on Him! God loves you and He’s right there to help you... think about that!

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