Check One off the Bucket List

I can (almost) officially check one off the bucket list.

My bucket list is a bit vague and indefinite, but one very clear and definite goal of mine has been to see U2 live in concert. I missed out in 2014 when they played at Vanderbilt Stadium here in Nashville.

I’d decided then that I’d probably missed my chance. I mean, these guys have been around for nearly 40 years. How much longer will they go through the grind of a world tour?

Well, this time came around and I grabbed my chance. Actually, I grabbed, missed, almost gave up again, checked back, grabbed for good, and succeeded.

The first time I tried to purchased a ticket, I couldn’t find any that were under $200, counting fees and taxes. That was where the part about almost giving up again came in.

Tonight, I decided to give it one more shot.

I went to ticketmaster.com and looked for tickets. Lo and behold, I found one that was under $100. I supposed for a bucket list item, that’s reasonably cheap. Also, it’s in the extreme nosebleed section of Bridgestone Arena. But at least it’s inside. I’m going.

There would be a happy dance right now if I weren’t so frickin’ tired. But I’m celebrating on the inside.

I’ve been a fan of U2 since The Joshua Tree in 1987. I own every one of their albums (including the new one, Songs of Experience, which arrived in the mail today) and a few of their concert DVDs. I admire Bono’s outspokenness about the causes he believes in– and most notably, about his faith in Jesus.

I can think of very few other bands that have not only survived but remained relevant for as long as they have. I can’t think of a single other band that has lasted as long with the same lineup.

My next bucket list (in case you’re wondering) is to dine at an In-N-Out Burger restaurant, which will probably also mean me traveling out west.

 

I Love Me a Good Quote

I love a good quote. I love the way someone can express a thought so succinctly. Better yet, I love how someone can take what I’ve been trying to say and state it in a way better than I ever could.

Here is a small sample of some of the quotes that I’ve run across recently that have impacted me.

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world” (Karl Barth).

“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair” (G. K. Chesterton).

“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself” (Charlie Chaplin).

“Religion is what you are left with after the Holy Spirit has left the building” (Bono).

“See, I return good for evil, love for injuries, and for deeper wounds a deeper love” (Father Peter Chrysologus).

“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much” (Blaise Pascal)

“The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy” (Henri Nouwen).

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable” (Brennan Manning).

“Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup” (Someone Wise).

“I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery” (Brennan Manning).

Easter Sunday 2015

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“It is good for us to remember that this stone was rolled away from the entrance, not to permit Christ to come out but to enable the disciples to go in!” (Peter Marshall)

“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act” (Mahatma Gandhi).

“God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you'” (Billy Graham).

“But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross” (Bono).

For me, Easter is a bit harder to prepare for than Christmas. You don’t have nearly the commercialism of the season constantly reminding you that the day is coming. Also, Easter isn’t on a fixed day every year like Christmas.

Most of all, Easter isn’t quite the feel-good story that Christmas is. You don’t have the cute little infant being cradled by loving Mary as a doting Joseph watches on. You have the gory spectacle of the cross and the death of an innocent Man to deal with.

But you need both, I think. You can’t have the Greatest Story Ever Told without both the virgin birth and the death and resurrection. If Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin Mary, then He’s not qualified to die for anyone’s sins but His own. If He isn’t raised from the dead, then we are still stuck in our sins and just as hopeless as before.

So I love both seasons. More than that, I love how Advent comes before Christmas and Lent comes before Easter, giving us time to prepare our hearts and minds for what it all means.

This year, Easter means that no life is wasted. It means that every life matters and every single person ever born matters to God. It means that your and my identity doesn’t come from honor rolls or bank accounts or resumes, but from Calvary. At the core, who I am is the Beloved of God, who proved that He thought I was worth dying for on that cross.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, there are only 263 days left until Christmas.

 

 

Karma vs. Grace at Christmas

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I hear a lot of people who profess Christianity talking about karma. Well, more specifically, I see many of my facebook friends who post how people who mess them over are gonna get what karma’s dishing out.

It’s funny how people always want karma for others but never for themselves. Just my opinion.

I prefer grace. Period.

I know where I’d be if I got karma. Majorly screwed.

Besides, Jesus didn’t come to give karma. Jesus came to give grace, which in my mind is infinitely better.

Karma says you get what you deserve. Grace says Jesus got and paid for what you deserve. That’s the difference.

Karma is all about what you deserve. Grace is what you don’t deserve but get anyway. Karma may be getting your just desserts, but grace is more like a feast– much more satisfying and filling.

Karma says that it’s up to you. Grace says that God is up to it.

Karma says that if you try really hard and be nice to people then maybe, just maybe, on the next go-round, you won’t be a bug. Eventually, if you’re really lucky and eat all your vegetables, you may wind up in a good place. And I admit that I’m exaggerating a bit.

Grace says that no matter how badly you’ve messed up and how even if you’ve made enough mistakes for several lifetimes, Jesus offers forgiveness and a do-over. Jesus offers a new life, not just in the eternal by-and-by, but here and now. Life to the fullest.

I choose grace.

If you want karma, that’s fine. I don’t want to wish for someone what I wouldn’t want to receive myself. I know that it’s not right to want karma for others and grace for myself. It just doesn’t work that way.

So grace wins in my book, hands down. The end.

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My bucket list

First of all, I’d like to know who came up with the expression “kick the bucket” and who first associated it with dying. I’m not losing any sleep over it, but it would be nice to know just in case I’m ever on Jeopardy or a caller on a morning radio show with a chance to win a fabulous prize. I’m just sayin’.

But for real, I do have a bucket list of sorts. It’s not written down, but I have one item on my bucket list. Only one. My one bucket list wish is to hear Jesus say to me at the end of my road, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That’s all. To please Jesus is not only on my bucket list, it is my bucket list. That being said, I pretty much suck at it. Most of the time, I try to please just about anyone and everyone else before I even attempt to please Jesus.

Still, that’s what I want. More than anything else. Sure, I’d like to see Scotland or meet Bono. And for the record, I would try skydiving, but I have a burning desire to NOT DIE! Plus, I’m not really keen on heights, which is pretty much a prerequisite for jumping out of a plane at 1 gazillion feet in the air.

I want to make Jesus proud of  me. I want to be His hands and feet and serve Him every chance I get, whether He be the person at the cash register at Publix or the homeless man on the corner looking for spare change. I want my whole life to be one big THANK YOU note to Him.

I think I’ll get there. In fact, I know I will, because Jesus told me that He would never leave me or forsake me. He said He would finish the good work He started in me. When He sees a heart that yearns to please Him, He honors that.

So I probably have the shortest bucket list on the planet. Just hopefully not the shortest bucket.