Friday, May 22, 2009

Catch A Wave!

At this time of year every party store looks like the aftermath of a colorful explosion because summer is, apparently, tropical party time!

Tikki torches, coconut cups, hula skirts and flowered leis, aisles of Hawaiian plates, invitations, napkins, banners and wall decorations! It makes me want to throw a party just to enjoy all this fun stuff! I've thrown a few Hawaiian parties and still have half a box of plastic leis to prove it!

It’s a great party theme; all that color, in the d├ęcor and those crazy Hawaiian shirts, there’s the tropical music and all that fresh pineapple and coco-nutty drinks. It conveys a feel of being in a different place; a very special place.

But, I've also been to Hawaii.
So now when I look at all that party stuff, the cardboard palm trees and plastic coconuts and hula skirts, it's feels almost profane in attempting to represent what the islands are like.

I remember coming home from Hawaii that summer and seeing leis at the store, the really nice full ones with the silk flowers, the ones that had seemed so beautiful to me before I’d left. Now they were just poor imitations of the real thing, even when the real thing I had worn was the cheapest and simplest of all the available fresh flower leis.

The simplest real lei far outshone the most beautiful fake lei.

"God" is a popular thing. There are churches on every other corner and thousands of books, shows and Internet sites that talk about God. Signs abound in stores asking God to bless this house or garden or mini-van. People say "God bless you". Inboxs are full of emails that promise if you send this to 10 people in an hour that you will be blessed. We lump all religiosity and religions together. We speak of ones who are spiritual but with no distinction as to whom their spirits are worshipping as if it doesn't matter, just that they are spiritual. It doesn't matter what church, which religious book, which rituals, which songs, which doctrine, which preacher/pastor/priest, as long as it's referencing God, it works...Scripture references this when it says there are those who “have a appearance of godliness but deny its power.”(2 Timothy 3:5)

If you put a hibiscus, palm tree or surfboard on it, is it Hawaiian?
If you put God, "bless", or the appropriate terminology on it, is it of God?

Do not settle for a poor imitation when you can have the real thing.

Do not let a daily devotional or a plaque with a verse be your only venture into scripture when the whole of God's Word is waiting for you.

Why just say a prayer when the God of the Universe invites you to come and pour our your heart before Him?(Psalms 62:8)

Why be satisfied with religious platitudes when you have the opportunity to speak life-changing truth?

Isn’t it a loss to just sing the songs when instead those words can be an expression of your heart’s deepest worship towards God?

Why should we just go to church instead of being the Church in this world; His hands, His feet, His words of life-changing hope to those around us who are hurting, needy, and lonely?

If you had the choice which would you take? A CD of the sound of ocean waves? Or a journey in which you would put your feet in the tropical waters, feel the trade winds swirling around you, the sun warm on your skin, and the air permeated with the scent of plumeria?

You have that choice.
You have that choice every day.

No matter where you are
in your walk of faith from new believer to long-time church member to the senior pastor, the choice is still the same.

Will you be satisfied with the trappings of Christianity, as attractive, appealing and acceptable as they are?

Or will you pursue a growing, dynamic, intimate relationship with Christ himself?

Do you choose cardboard palm trees or a hammock under swaying palm fronds and a blue Hawaiian sky? That makes it seem an easy choice doesn’t it but what about the choice between listening to the Beach Boys' song “Catch a Wave” or actually getting knocked off your board?

A Hawaiian party is safe because you know what to expect, everyone does and everyone has more or less the same experience whereas surfing the North Shore is not an adventure that follows a prescribed itinerary. That wave may take you farther and faster than you thought you’d go. You may get rolled around in the surf and then get to your feet knowing that this was not at all like standing in an Hawaiian party holding a glass of tropical fruit punch.

A relationship is not a ritual, it’s an adventure with it’s own rewards. Following God and not merely formalities, whatever their tradition, is like watching a travel video as opposed to hiking the NaPali coast. It’s a little scary, it’s hard in places, and it’s a long winding trail. You may even end up with some mud on your shoes but the view from here is unlike anything you could have ever imagined.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind had imagined what God has prepared for
those who love Him" I Corinthians 2:9

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