Monday, June 19, 2017

"Do Unto Others..."

I heard a great story the other day. Someone I know was telling me about an experience they had when they were in a church youth group almost 40 years ago. The group had gone skating and this person ripped their pants. When the youth leader found out they took this person home to get a new pair of pants and got them back to the skating party, no one knew what happened and this person got to enjoy the party.

The real part of that story that hit me was their description after. This was something I remember from church. This is something that made me feel special. This is something I will never forget.

When Jesus walked the earth, this is how He did real ministry. Taking time to talk alone with a woman at a well. Playing with children when others see them as a bother. Sitting and simply having a meal with someone. Jesus took time to do these seemingly little things that made so much of a difference we remember them two thousand years later. And they are the things that still make a difference in our lives today when someone does them for us.

Maybe it's time to update the Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Maybe instead of it meaning "be nice" we need to take it up a notch. What would make you feel special? What would make you feel loved? What would make you actually see and feel Jesus in someone else?

Imagine what our world, our church, our families would look like if we lived out that Golden Rule...

T

Monday, June 12, 2017

The VBS Experience

We are in full VBS mode in our church this week. And although that's fantastic one of the reasons I love VBS is we go all out decorating.



Yes, decorating. It's not something I usually get excited about, but I do here. Why? Because at our church VBS is a full blast to the senses experience. It's not just sit and hear about Jesus, it's do, see, hear, be fully immersed in who Jesus is.

And I think the real reason I love it is because we seem to fade that out of our lives as we get older. Learning about Jesus becomes just that, sit back and listen. Where Jesus is at a physical well holding water we talk about this. When Jesus grabs a handful of grapes to demonstrate our connectedness to Him we read about it. Who Jesus feeds bread to we listen, nod our heads, and enjoy.

Maybe the reason Jesus is more real to children than adults has nothing to do with their maturity of faith but more so how we show Jesus in our lives...

T

Monday, June 05, 2017

Maybe President Trump Saying "No" to Paris Was A Good Thing...

Hear me out, please...

I'm not saying we shouldn't be doing all we can to ensure the survival of our planet. I'm the guy who started paper recycling in my school system at ten years old. I 100% think America should have been in the Paris Accord.

But something interesting happened when President Trump said "no". People I have never seen care about the environment are suddenly interested and vowing to change their lifestyle. Businesses decide to follow the new standards even if the government won't enforce them. Donations in the millions are being made to cover what America would have pledged to the global cause.

None of this would have happened if President Trump said "yes".

If he has said "yes" things would have gone on as normal, few people would have cared, and many would try to get out of following these new regulations. Now, the country is fighting for it. By saying "no" it forced the rest of us to say "yes" and step up and take accountability for it.

Maybe this is part of the reason God allows bad things to happen or even flat out says "no" to us at times. If He just said "yes" would we live as if it were important? I read a book the other day where the author made the point if Jesus didn't leave for heaven, would we be even more apathetic than we are now, just expecting Jesus to take care of it all? Instead of being Jesus for people we would step back and simply point them to Jesus and have remove ourselves there?

Sometimes others saying "no" is a good thing, it forces us to live "yes".

T

Monday, May 22, 2017

Are We Too Polite?

The other day I was driving and came to an intersection. There are two stop signs here and the other road is allowed to go straight through without stopping. We've all seen these many times.

But here's where it got interesting. Someone who had the right of way and no stop sign felt like being polite and stopping so the person with a stop sign could go. The person with the stop sign didn't know what to do. So they paused. This caused the car behind the nice driver to take the initiative and go when no one else would, which caused the driver who paused to jut out then pause again and the nice person to sit completely still because now they had cars passing them. And I'm in the back of the log jam waiting to go.

Sometime we mistake nice for right. The "nice" thing to do is always the "right" thing to do, isn't it? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", that's the goal, right?

Maybe there are times when being polite is wrong, or even when the right thing seems impolite. The right thing in this situation was for the driver without a stop sign to keep going. Nothing bad would have happened if they had just done what they were supposed to do. How many times do we get these things confused? What's "nice" and what's "right"?

Jesus wasn't very nice. It goes against what most people think of Him (in a study a few years ago almost 75% of teenagers interviewed described Jesus as "nice") but He really wasn't. Jesus was more concerned with someone's growth, their soul, the real right and wrong in a situation than being nice. He would throw tables, take people into life threatening situations, even call one of His best friends "satan".

Maybe sometimes we should worry less about being nice, especially at the expense of doing what is actually right...

T

Monday, May 15, 2017

What Difference Will This Make In _________?

The other day I was reading about a strategy some people employ so they don't fight with their significant other. It's really simple, before starting to argue something ask yourself, "Will this matter a year from now?" Usually the answer is no so they don't fight. Smart idea.

Liz and I were having a discussion earlier. We were talking about some of the things the church has argued about in the past century, many of which seem so stupid now. They could be big or small, but do we still have a problem with things like mixed race marriages or which side of the stage the piano is on?

Maybe this is a good question we should be asking ourselves before we get upset about things at church, will this matter in a year? Five years? Twenty years?

Maybe it would be better to stop looking at things we shouldn't do. What can we as a church and I as an individual to that will make a difference a year from now, five years from now, twenty years from now...?

T

Monday, May 01, 2017

The Desperation of Absence

It's a phenomenon we're all familiar with but probably don't think much about. I lived through it (and to some extent still am) this weekend. There was an internet outage in our neighborhood Friday that blew up our router. Because of this we didn't have phone or internet until Saturday afternoon. Then on Saturday morning I dropped my iPhone and it became unresponsive. Suddenly, I was at home with a toddler with no TV, no internet, and no contact with the outside world.

It's at points like these we hit our desperation. I didn't think about my internet until it disappeared, now I'm desperate to get it fixed. Our daughter has a million things to do in the house that don't involve internet or TV, but when those disappear now you get a little antsy and decide it's time to come up with a plan.

I was reading this phrase a few weeks ago in the light of Jesus' departure. While Jesus was here we/the disciples didn't need to do much. Jesus had it handled. They didn't need to preach, pray for healing, even get dinner in some cases. Jesus took care of it. But when Jesus leaves now there's a desperation of absence. Who is going to preach? Who is going to pray? Who is going to tell the world about a God who loves them?

In many ways we need to be living a little more in the desperation of absence. We need to stop thinking someone else will do it, someone else will love them, someone else will be Jesus to "them".

What if it's our turn?

T

Monday, April 24, 2017

What's the Next Step?

This weekend we had a huge rally all over the world in the name of science. Tens of thousands marched in over 600 cities in six continents. All to bring to voice their opinion and let the world know how they feel about science and its role in government.

That's great. What's next?

Don't get me wrong, I think that in any movement, be it a world changing claim to a personal improvement the first step is always awareness. But it can't stop there. Awareness can generate action but in and of itself is not action. Just because I'm aware there is slavery in Africa over chocolate doesn't in any way help one of the children in the fields picking cocoa beans. I have to actually do something next.

People marched. Again great, awareness. But what is being done to fix the problem? What if every one of those people gave money to scientific work? That would allows those who are examining the problems with global warming to get more data and more concrete facts to work with. The March for Science website is phenomenal, it's slogan is exactly what I'm thinking. "We marched. Now, we act." And on the website are things everyone can do to help progress science, each day giving new ideas for a full week. You can visit it at https://satellites.marchforscience.com/.

But how many people marched and then went home? How many have taken the time to see the website, give money, do something other than walk and make people aware?

This is all true in our faith as well. Awareness is the first step. I need more of Jesus. I need to work on this in my life. I am a sinner who needs a Risen Savior. But the awareness by itself does nothing. I may be aware I need to be forgiven but I then need to actually ask forgiveness. I need to get involved in a community of faith, to read my Bible, to pray, to serve, worship, etc.

Awareness is great. But what's the next step?

T