Monday, September 18, 2017

Why SPAM Doesn't Work On Me

Because I'm not desperate.

I realized this while going through my spam folder one morning. There are a lot of weird and really inappropriate offers. Why would anyone ever fall for them? And I started to think about it, if I were really, really in need of something, I was incredibly desperate, they might work.

I'm not desperate for a get rich quick scheme, but if I were days away from the house foreclosing on my family would I open it? I'm not desperate for human interaction, but if I were incredibly alone would even a stranger in an email be enticing? 

It got me thinking how desperate people will do crazy things. And they're not always bad. A financially desperate person may finally take the leap and patent that new idea. A desperate person in an abusive relationship will find the courage to leave and live somewhere new and unknown. Sometimes, desperation can cause us to do amazing things.

What would it look like if you were desperate for Jesus?


    I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. 
      He freed me from all my fears. 
    Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; 
      no shadow of shame will darken their faces. 
    In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; 
      he saved me from all my troubles. 
    For the angel of the LORD is a guard; 
      he surrounds and defends all who fear him.  ~ Psalm 34:4-7 (NLT)

T

Monday, September 11, 2017

Are You Only Going to Church in Case You Miss Something?

That's an odd question, I know. I mean, who ever thinks of what they might miss at church Sunday morning before deciding if they should go to church or not? It seems ridiculous.

But do we do that?

I was reading last week about how there are studies (yes, multiple) about when selling to people of trying to sway people to be a part of whatever you are offering, they are more likely to buy in if you instill some fear of them missing out than what they may get out of the situation. So if I was selling a book (which I am), I can tell people how good the book is and what they will get from it but if I want to sell more copies a more effective tactic is to say, "only a few copies left".

It's a product of our Instagram society. Fear of mission out is one of the greatest fears of teenagers and younger people, as they get older I predict it takes the number one spot over fear of public speaking (this is also the YouTube generation). So when it comes to making a decision, people will commonly skip over "is this good for me" and think "will I miss something by not being there."

I wonder how this affects our worship. When we make plans for the week do we factor in if church is something that is healthy and necessary for our soul? Or do we think about what we will miss (or not miss) if we don't go? Hopefully each time we worship together we have a rich spiritual experience together and we see Jesus. After all, who'd want to miss that?

The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. ~ Acts 2:42 (CEB), from when the first church was forming.

T

Monday, September 04, 2017

Rest

Today's Labor Day. Instead of a long post, here's my one question:

When was the last time you rested (I mean really rested)?

Think about it...

T

Monday, August 28, 2017

What Rules Have You Broken

Last night we talked at FIRE & WATER about the rules to follow Jesus, the Pharisees (they loved rules) and what true worship really is. Here's the one thing I found out that I really didn't like:

They still get in trouble for breaking "rules".

I get it, no one is perfect and there are things we should and should not be doing that will help us know God better. But when and where you wear a hat probably isn't one of them.

If you are a part of a church or some group that worship, please, don't put your made up rules on visitors. If you are more worried about what a person wears to church then the fact they took the risk to visit for the first time you're missing the mark.

To those that aren't a part of a church, don't let one church's "rules" or even what you've heard about the "rules" stop you from coming. There are a ton of people that love Jesus and just want to get to know you. Try to find them, please.

As someone who has broken the rules many times and still occasionally gets in trouble for it, let's make it less about us and more about Jesus. Please.

T

Monday, August 21, 2017

Today the Moon Blocks the Sun

Have you ever thought about how crazy that is? The moon can block the sun and make the sky dark. The moon can make the sun so dark that you can stare directly at the sun and burn your retinas. I'm already gearing up to hide our daughter in the basement so I don't have to explain why it's already night time.

But how can this be since the moon is so much smaller than the sun? If the sun were hollow about 64.3 million moons can fit in the sun, that's how tiny the moon is compared to the sun. So how come the moon can completely block out something so much larger than it?

Proximity.

Because the moon is almost 400 times closer to us than the sun it can block it out. Because it is so much closer something incredibly bigger disappears.

I wonder how often this is true of Jesus in our lives. He is infinitely bigger than any problem we could have, but if we hold on to those problems closer and push Jesus further away doesn't it seem like that problem is bigger than Jesus?

Don't let the little things block you from seeing Jesus. The closer you hold them the less Light that gets through...

T


Monday, August 07, 2017

Listening to the Lawnmower

I have an old lawnmower. I don't know how old, we bought it second hand. I've had to do a few Macgyver-ish repairs to it over the years. The push assist doesn't work anymore. It's covered in duct tape and zip ties. But it mows the lawn.

One interesting thing about it is the sound it makes when the grass bag is full. There's a window in the bag so I should be able to see the grass clippings, but it is so old and dirty I have tried to clean it and it lasts about four minutes. So I have another way to tell when the bag is full: the sound. When grass starts feeding back into the mower there is a distinct clunking sound, different from the other clunking sounds of being an old mower. I know when I hear that sound it's time to stop and empty the grass clippings.

As I was mowing the other day I started to think how this in many ways is like hearing God. If I could choose some other way to tell when the bag was full, I'd do it. In a heartbeat. But I can't. I had to learn to let go of how I wanted things to work and learn to listen to the actual signs in the midst of all the other noise.

Sound like God a little?

Too often we have ideas of how we want God to speak or communicate to us. The problem is, it's not up to us. He does it His way. And until we recognize that we will never hear Him. We will miss His voice in the midst of all the other noise.

So what does God sound like? And will you start listening for Him?

My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. ~ John 10:27 (TLB)

T

Monday, July 31, 2017

Support Those Who Support Us

So after having a little time off from the mission trip, here's the one thing that really stuck out to me...

This happens every year, and every year I am surprised. But this year I had a precursor to this experience on our trip. I was a part of a conversation with a couple of youth pastors, one of whom did Youthworks this summer and was very upset with their staff. After hearing their complaints I asked a something more. These students could do anything for the summer but they decide to work at a grueling job for nominal pay so our students can encounter Christ. Did you say "thank-you" or offer them any support?

And as always, the answer is no.

A week before our trip I was talking to Alize, our site director. She was giving me the information on the trip and like always she asked at the end if there was something they could be praying for in regards to our group. And I asked if there were any requests for us to be praying for them.

I was the first person to ask that all summer. We are the second to last group of the year.

During the week we occasionally stop for a treat after a hard day of working, ice cream or Starbucks, something like that. And I purposely bought a few extra for our staff so they could have something too.

I was the first person to do that all summer.

The sad part is so many of us see roles in our society as expected. Don't bother cleaning up the mess you made, that's why we have janitors, it's their job. Why say thank you and help out the Youthworks staff, we paid for this trip and they are working for us.

Really these people are supporting us, whether paid or not. When was the last time you went out of your way to thank someone or support someone who you see as it's their job to support you?

T