Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hidden Dangers

For those that don't know, Lorie and I bought a house. We're excited, but at the same time I'm having way too much fun (sarcastically) because there is a ton to fix up.

Today we had our air vents cleaned. It was necessary, especially with everything else that we've found wrong with the house. But today we got a little wake-up call. The cleaners found mold in our air ducts. Not a little. Not mild, weak mold. There were near toxic levels of mold all through our vents and in our heater. They showed us on a "mold meter", light green being safe, purple not good. We were past the darkest level of purple on the meter...

But it made me think about our souls. I'm working on a series we will be doing in Sr. High in November about slowing down and taking time for our inner being, our soul created to be in communication with Christ. And if we aren't paying attention, if we are too busy rushing around, we won't notice when our soul starts to get in trouble, just like the house vents. And just like the house, it's not something you can see. No one knew about the mold problem, even the inspection was unable to see it. No one can see into your soul. Only the Person who can clean our soul knows, and we need to be in touch with Him so we can have our souls in the best condition possible.

Psalm 31:6b-7 ~ I trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.

Oh, and get your vents cleaned regularly...


Monday, September 28, 2009

Can They Help You?

In the past few weeks we've been doing the "Hope Lives" study at church, a look at global poverty and what we can do to help.

I was reading last night and came across this quote, which kind of fits in with the series:

“Keep in mind that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.” ~ Ann Landers

It's completely true when it comes to this idea of world poverty. If you choose to help these people, there is probably little to nothing they can actually give to you to help you. But I think that is why it's so important to God to help them. It's a true test of our love for our neighbor, how we can love and help people who can't help us back.

Something to think about...


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Replacing People With Technology

I've heard this argument before, that in our new technological age we are replacing intimacy and relationships with real people with the Internet. Some have said it's because of time spent alone on the computer, where as I always wondered how that was different from reading a book alone...

But today someone told me something that made me look at this in a new light. Think, what do people do on the Internet? The two most accessed Internet categories - pornography and dating sites.

That kind of tells me two things. We long to be loved, but we don't know how to do it anymore. And let's be honest, which is easier? Risking rejection by asking someone on a date, getting dressed up, spending the night out and paying for dinner... or sitting at a computer... ?

But then again, when has easier ever been better...? T

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Take Things Calmly

I didn't know this until the day after, but yesterday (Monday) was the International Day of Peace. Maybe we should try going for an international year, or century...

But anyway, in my reading about peace I learned a little fact today. I had always heard that when someone is angry they are more likely to have a heart attack (or stroke). But did you know it's 14 times more likely?? And that danger zone lasts two hours after your angry as well.

So if you feel angry, try to calm down, not just for the sake of others, but your own as well.

James 1:19-20 ~ My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants. (NCV)


Living Out Your Purpose

Last week at youth we talked about being free to live your life as God intended. How there are people / things / all sorts of stuff that will stand in your way. It's funny how after talking about that, I came across this quote yesterday:

"The sign said, 'This door to remain closed at all times.' Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that defeat the purpose of a door?" ~ Danny McCrossan

I wonder how many signs we've put on our lives (or allowed people to put on our lives) that stop us from really living out the purpose God intended for it...

Just a thought.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Work Harder

Last night I was reading a little about genetics and behavior, the idea that some of who we are and what we do is designed in our DNA.

Now before I get to into this, I should say all of this is still being worked on. Scientists have not isolated an "anger" gene or anything like that. There's only one way they know to test this and it's very hard; through twins separated at birth and brought up in different families. If two people with the same genetic makeup start to act the same despite living in different surroundings, then it could be because of their genetic make up.

Basically, it's the idea that you are designed to act in a different way. Some people could have a gene that makes them get angry easier. There could be a gene that gives you more (or less) patience. But it could also be bigger. There could be a gene that determines what kind of person you are attracted to, one that pushes you toward crime, one that makes believing in God easier or harder...

The "what if's" are endless. But the person writing what I read is a Christian and he thinks we tread in dangerous water if we get too into this, and so do I. Before we thought it could be genetic, if someone was angry all the time did we just allow them to be angry? No. They simply had to work harder at controlling their anger than others.

We all have traits, good and bad, that are learned, genetic, chosen, whatever. For the good ones we are thankful. For the bad ones, we don't simply act on them with the excuse "it's in my nature". Instead we need to work harder at them to to the right thing. Doing what is right in every circumstance is easy for no one, everyone has areas they need to work on. So how about we start being the best we can be without excuses? Doing the hard work that needs to be done?

That is, if your DNA will let you...


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Knowing It All

We had an interesting discussion at Downpour (Bible Study) tonight with the Sr. Highs. It focused a lot on the resurrection of Christ, which is always good, but eventually we circled back a little to evangelism and sharing our faith.

Here's the interesting part. Almost everyone who participated in the discussion talked about how they don't really feel comfortable sharing their faith because they don't know what to say if someone asks a question they don't have the answer to. They don't feel comfortable because they don't have all the answers.

Now there's two things that make me think with this. The first is why they feel the answers are important. When asked, none of the people in the room thought the reason they started a relationship with Jesus way back when was because of theology. They didn't have the answers when they started their faith journey, instead they came to see and know Christ through the actions and love of others. So if they didn't need the answers when they started their journey, why would the people they share Christ with be any different?

But also, they have now been following Jesus for quite a while and they still don't have all the answers. And they're still okay with that and they are still following Christ despite that. So if they don't need the answers now years later to believe, why do they think their friends need the answers to start believing?

I don't know, it just seems like for our own faith, we are happy seeing and living it out, but when it comes to sharing our faith, somehow now we need all the answers. Matt told a story about a friend of his who upon coming to know Christ brought 20-30 people to know the same Jesus he just met by simply saying, "I admit I don't know everything, but I know this. He loves me! Let me show you."

I think we need a little more of that than theological head knowledge...


Thursday, September 10, 2009

And People Are Hungry...

For the month of September (and some of October) our entire church is doing a series called "Hope Lives", a look at global poverty and how we as a church can still have hope and be the change necessary in this fight.

Yesterday I was reading (as I sometimes do) and came across a horrible statistic that got me thinking in light of our series. In America, we throw away 96 billion pounds of eatable food a year. Just think about that for a second. Not rotten food, just extra food (more specifically, categorized as "edible surplus food"). 96 billion pounds (or an average of 300 pounds a person). 96 billion pounds.

I don't think anyone would argue that we are not only comfortable in America, we have too much. But really? We have so much food we throw it away, the leftovers we don't feel like eating in the fridge, the food at a restaurant we don't want on our plate along with the extra they bought and cooked hoping for customers (in our quick microwave society, we don't want to wait for it to be cooked to order), food in grocery stores that just sit to expiration...

Can you fathom that? 96 billion pounds. Hey, I wonder what most people in the world would think just to walk through a grocery store here, but what if they knew how much we threw away?

Let's do our part to feed the world, not the garbage pile.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Necessity Of Prayer

In a few weeks we will be talking about Nehemiah in church. But as we're talking about him, I've been doing some reading and part of what we will be talking about is the necessity of prayer. When Nehemiah prayed, he was needing God's help.

And it got me to thinking, do we pray here in America because we feel we need something from God or because we want to feel good? When we pray because we need God to do something or would it just make our week a little better?

Here's an example. Grace. Almost every good little Christian says grace. But why? Do we really ask God to bless our food because we feel it needs a blessing, we feel that without God intervening the food is dangerous, or are we asking simply to be nice to God, make Him feel included?

What about our other prayers? Are we asking for God to heal whoever because we are pleading for His divine intervention, if that person isn't healed it hurts us? Or would it just be nice if God helped? We don't believe He will do it, but it'd be a nice little bonus if He did.

I don't know, it's making me think a little more about my prayers and what I really need from God or just think it would be nice...


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

We Know What It Is!

Sorry it's been a few days. Lorie and I have been sick and out of town, a great combination.

Anyway, the big news of the day for us. We have a little garden next to the house and as I've mentioned here before we have this one plant that is absolutely huge, a big vine with yellow flowers, and we have no idea what it is. Today we found out. There was a tiny little fruit on it, about the size of a gumball (it took me a while to find a comparison, my youth pastor mind kept going to empty water balloon). Small, but it looks kind of like a watermelon...

It is a watermelon! We have a watermelon vine that is taking over our garden. Only one small problem, we didn't plant any watermelon!!!

So how did it get there?

Our best guess is this. We have been composting since we moved into the parsonage. And we have eaten our fair share of watermelon (although we usually get seedless). The best guess we have is last year a seed got in the compost, it stayed dormant in the winter, and when I spread the compost this spring, we got watermelons. And since it was in the garden we didn't think it was a weed so we didn't pull it. But yes, we got a watermelon vine by surprise.

And it got me to thinking (as random things usually do) how this can happen to us in our garden of life (cheesy, but follow me). Every day we continually plant things in our soul, what we watch, what we listen to, who we talk with, etc. and if we are not careful, tending to our soul, stuff that snuck in will manage to grow. And take over. And become a huge plant that sucks the nutrients needed for our more important plants (one of our cucumber plants is dying because it can't get sun thanks to this huge vine).

So be careful what you put in your soul. Even the stuff that gets in by accident can take up root if you're not careful...


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Unseen Heroics

Something I've been thinking about.

In Ephesians 6 we're told about how we're in a spiritual battle, one that isn't really seen or heard, but one that we are in nonetheless. But when we can't see or hear it, do we still fight it or do we forget about it?

This hit my head when I was watching football and the Matrix (I told you, it's on TV all the time lately). So many people have this longing to do something great (if you were at Fishers UMC today you heard all about that). People want to do something great. Be the one. Catch the end-zone pass when the clock runs out, or return a 2-point conversion (that was crazy yesterday). People want to be something great.

And here, we have a chance to. The difference is, there's no screaming crowd, there's no crazy theatrics, there's no adrenaline, there's just simple things like prayer, serving, putting others first, giving, study of the Word of God, living a life of worship. And I was thinking if that negates how great those acts are. In essence, no, it doesn't. But without the emotion or the black and white of a scoreboard, it sure feels like we're not doing anything big at all.

I think that's what makes it even more important! God wants us to live holy lives of worship for Him without the hype, without the craziness, with only you and Him. When it comes down to it, it's a lot easier to be the hero of the day with fans and adrenaline and chalk-lines, but can you be the hero of the day in the silence of your own heart?


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Knowing The Path And Walking The Path

The Matrix movies have been on TV the last few days, the sequels aren't that great, but I love the original. All sorts of things to think about in it that make your head hurt, and stuff blows up a great combination.

Anyway, there's a little line near the end where Morpheus tells Noe there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. And boy does that ever apply to faith.

I think deep down inside, whether people believe in God or not, they have a pretty good grip on what is right and what is wrong. For most people you don't have to teach them that murdering is wrong, most people just get it. But then, if we know right and wrong in our heart, why do we still do stupid things?

We're not alone in it. I do it, Paul did it, and everyone else who lived in the two thousand years in between (and those outside) had the same problems, but the line is still true today. Many people know the path but choose not to walk it. And for people who believe in God we should be holding ourselves to a much higher standard in that regard. The path we have chosen is higher and harder, but that means we have to walk higher and harder, not just walk when it's convenient...