Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Problem With Christians

One of the biggest problems the world has with Christians is that they don't look very much like Christ. That bothers me. Not that the world thinks that of us...that it's true. But I have to ask I guilty of looking no different than the rest of the world? What does it look like to "look like" Christ? What is the most defining characteristic of Jesus? What would make us look most like Him?

What do you think of when you think of what it means to be Christlike? I think some Christians believe it means living by what they consider a "higher standard". Don't smoke, don't chew, don't go with girls who do. Tithe generously. Dress modestly. Attend church regularly. And, can I say it, vote the right way.

Recently I was at a women's event at our church and out of nowhere, and completely having nothing to do with the speaker, I heard the voice of God in my heart.

"You've been sliding by for a while now. You've been getting away with some things you know you need to repent of. I'll not allow it much longer. I love you too much. There are those who are watching to see what you will do and they will follow suit. So, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. One of your favorite verses is Daniel 10:12 'Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.' My dear have set your mind to gain understanding...but you have not yet humbled yourself. It's up to you. You can humble yourself, or I will humble you."

Whoa. Seriously. I was a little scared. I could feel it coming. Something was brewing and I needed to take a good long look at my life. I had to ask myself, "What does it mean to humble yourself?" Here's the dictionary definition of the verb humble:

1. to lower in condition, importance, or dignity; abase.
2. to destroy the independence, power, or will of
3. to make meek

I'll just say it...I like to be right. I like to get my way. I often feel very justified in my bitterness. And you might even agree with me if I explained in detail. I can be very convincing. But if I refuse to humble myself...will I be different? Is it Christlike? Am I making choices that would cause the nonbeliever to say, "How does she do that?" or "I want what she's got." I don't think so. I felt the loving conviction of knowing that God had His best in mind for me but I was often choosing something else, something less.

Can I make the case that the one thing Christians can do to most look like Christ would be to humble ourselves? Christ was the picture of love, of justice, of forgiveness, but think about how huge this one truth is...God, the sovereign GOD of the universe, the creator of all things, the one and only, all powerful, perfectly just, almighty God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (who owes us nothing but hell by the way) humbled himself and became a man of all things. And then he died in our place, taking on the full penalty for our sin against him, just so we could spend eternity in heaven. Does any other religion have a God that would do that for you?

Growing up, I often chose to learn things the hard way. And I sense he's giving me the choice again. "Humble yourself, or I will humble you." Today in church, he gave me a new verse that articulates it perfectly.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32

I'll be honest. God's given me some pretty specific direction regarding what this will look like in my life. And it isn't going to be easy. But it will bring Him glory. It will point to Him because it will look so unlike Tracy. I'll leave you with this.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Friday, September 4, 2009

Preakness 2009

So, here it is. My blog about The Preakness. Just in case you didn't know, The Preakness is the second leg in American horse racing's Triple Crown and usually attracts the Kentucky Derby winner. It's held in Baltimore, Maryland and for the past two years Jeff and I have been invited up for the weekend by his college roommate, Billy. The night before the race we went to a huge party at Sagamore Farms. It is a huge, beautiful farm owned by Billy's friend who basically created UnderArmour. We parked in a field and were taken up to the house by golf carts. When we arrived at the party, we were blown away. It was decadent. Because there was an UnderArmour connection, there were lots of sports figures there. Boomer Esiason, Rick Nueheisel (head football coach at UCLA) and if you look in the picture below, right under the sign, you can see Cal Ripken.

There was so much going on at the party. There were gambling tables (of course), a big movie screen set up in a field showing movies like Seabiscuit, and hot air balloon rides.

There were several tents that were all connected. They all had delicious food and in every tent there was a different kind of bar.

There was a cake made by none other than the Ace of Cakes himself, Duff Goldman. We heard he was at the party but never saw him. Here is the cake.

In one tent there was a band playing and in the corner was a mechanical bull. Here's my husband thinking he can outdo everyone else.

I, of course, did not attempt the mechanical bull as I would surely hurt myself and the pervert running the bull made the bull shake and shimmy whenever a woman was taking a turn. Just use your, wait...don't.
The day of the Preakness was a little rainy and cloudy but for the most part we stayed dry and the cloud cover insured that it wasn't blazing hot out. Here is the group we were with.

The tables were once again dressed beautifully.

Two of the girls we were with amazingly (and unfortunately) wore the same dress. From what I heard, one was designer and the other was a knock off. I didn't have the nerve to ask which was which.

One crazy thing happened that day. Spike and Kelsey from Top Chef and Next Food Network Star were there. They have an internet show on that they do for the Food Network.
I was approached and interviewed for their show and I just checked this morning and I made the cut! Nutty! Maybe I'll be the Next Food Network Star! Ha, ha, ha!

You can see it here.

One of the really fun things about being on the infield is all the special treats. There were ice cream carts everywhere that you could just open up and take what you wanted.

There was a place where you could get cigars. I'm not sure if those were free.

But there was an open candy tent with table full of candy bins. You just grabbed yourself a little fancy bowl and loaded up.

That's about it. A great time was had by all. Rachel Alexandra was the big winner of the day. We bet $5 for my stepdad on her and I think he got back $9. Woo hoo!

We are really making some budget cuts this year so I don't know if we'll make it for 2010, but I sure hope so.