Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Sorry it's been a few days. We were gone for Thanksgiving and then with my birthday on a Sunday, it was a busy weekend.

But over the weekend I noticed something. Black Friday. The holy day of shopping. Lorie's family always does the same thing, they buy the $4 paper with 2000 ads (how many trees do we kill for this) and find the best deals.

And all these deals worked. There were people out shopping in the wee hours of the morning (my father-in-law was up at 2:00). And they shopped. But something I've picked up from talking with people. A lot of people were not shopping for others. The computer and TV deals were not for gifts, they were for themselves.

Think we're losing a bit of the spirit behind Christmas? First it was present over Jesus, now it seems to be me over others. I hope it's not a trend...


Friday, November 20, 2009

Afterthoughts Of Religion

Tonight I was watching a great TV show. I know it sounds weird, but I basically judge a show on its willingness to kill main characters, it lets me know the story is more important than an actors contract. But I digress.

In said show someone died, someone important, and it was hinted that at the funeral they played "Amazing Grace". And I started thinking. Unfortunately, being in ministry I've been to a few funerals, and at almost every single one they have played that song.

But why? Why that song? I know it's pretty and all, but it's a song of life. A song of hope. But then it struck me. Because we've done to this amazing hymn what we've done to so many things in Christendom. It's a religious afterthought.

I'll explain. There are many people who say they are Christian. They don't live like it, they don't even really believe it, but for some reason, upbringing, heritage, even just being American, they feel they are "Christian". But deep down inside they know they are not. And the problem with death is it's final. There's no turning back. And I think the people around them know this too. So what do you do? Try to cram as much religion into the last moments and memories of their life so we feel they at least did something. Last rights, last prayers, sing amazing grace, a eulogy that mentions Jesus, something, anything.

The problem is following Christ cannot be an afterthought. You can't wait until the last minute (or later) and try to influence God or others about where you stand. Playing Amazing Grace at your funeral doesn't make up for all the times you should have been exercising Amazing Grace to others, or even accepting that Amazing Grace for yourself.

Let's not wait until the last minute for God. Let's not try to cram as much Jesus into the last moments of our lives to somehow make up for all the years before. Many times Jesus tried to explain that God is the God of the living, not the dead. So let's give Him our lives, not our deaths.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sheep And Goats

Last night I was reading the section from Matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats. I don't know what it is about this section, but I feel in the last couple of months I've heard it so much I've memorized it (I actually had to slow myself down and read it, I found myself wanting to skim).

But it really makes me think if we view strangers as God. How would we treat people if we thought they were going to give a direct report to Jesus on how we acted around them? Even people at church, if they have a relationship with Jesus the Holy Spirit dwells within them, how would we act towards them if we saw it as a direct action towards the Holy Spirit Himself?

Just pondering. And I know, it applies to me too :)


Friday, November 13, 2009

The Circle Of Weight

I read this today, it just made me laugh.

In 2002 Jenny Craig, the weight-loss company, was bought out... by Nestle. So a weight-loss company is owned by a chocolate company.

I guess it makes good business sense. You sell one product and someone gains weight, so you can sell them another product to help them lose weight, but it tastes bad so you sell the chocolate again... but isn't there some moral dilemma here?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance / Veterans Day

It kind of makes me sad how little we remember war and those who fought here. On one hand it seems a little over-the-top to me how Americans are so uber-patriotic and how war and the armed forces are promoted. But at the same time, how did we honor our veterans today? The high schools got to sleep in. That's the only thing I noticed.

It made me think back to growing up in Canada. In my little town there was a parade, we were all taken out of school and had to stand downtown in the cold (it is November in Canada), everyone was wearing a poppy to represent Flander's Field, and those who served in war for our country walked proudly downtown while everyone stood silently and reverently.

Everywhere I've lived in Canada did something like that. Maybe downtown Indy's too far to go for us in Fishers but when I went to one of the high schools for lunch (I didn't get to stay, no other youth pastor showed up) you would never have known what today was. It reminded me of the George Santayana quote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Not many signs of remembering while American troops are in how many wars at the moment...?

Something to ponder.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hollow Noise

Again, sorry it's been so long, but I should be back in routine now... hopefully...

Lorie and I are finally moved out of the parsonage. We had everything out before, but we wanted to go back and clean properly (it was a little hard to do at 2:30 in the morning) so we did it the other day.

While there I noticed something. It started in the garage, but it was also in the entire house. There was an echo. There was a hollow sound. It seemed like everywhere in the house you were in a cave. Now I hadn't noticed that while all our stuff was there, the physics reason being the sound was being absorbed by furniture and the like. But it made me think a little. Emptiness sounds hollow.

I know that doesn't seem like a great epiphany, but I started to wonder how it fit into our everyday lives. Have you ever talked with someone whose words just sounded hollow? Or more to the point, have you sounded that way? Just shallow, hollow conversation with no substance (generally about oneself)? Perhaps there's a reason to it, perhaps they are empty on the inside.

Do I mean this in a degrading way? No, not at all. But if someone does not know the true meaning of life they will inevitably try to find some other way to fill the void. All too often, it doesn't work and life sounds hollow. If you know someone who sounds hollow, instead of getting annoyed or even trying to avoid them, what about trying to fill the void? Telling them they are loved for who they are, telling them there is Someone who is willing to love them even more? And if you think it's you, maybe it's time to refocus a little and get priorities back on Who they belong.

After all, John 10:10 tells us that God wants us to have an abundant life, or as some translations put it, life to the full. Let's all do what we can to have a full life, and more importantly, help those who don't know there is a God that loves them be introduced to Him so He can start to fill their lives too.