Monday, November 28, 2011

Choosing To Share Christ

This weekend I experienced what is becoming a more regular occurrence in my life: Black Friday.

Lorie's family love this day. It's fun. Things are cheap. We party all night, and find some great deals in the process. I, however, hate shopping. With a passion. Years of walking through malls with my mother has calloused me.

But I try to make the best of it. When we were shopping I tried to be pleasant to the people working (after all, would you want to leave Thanksgiving dinner early to work an eight hour shift?), be nice to other shoppers, even have a little conversation while waiting in line. It almost worked...

There was one line I remember. I showed up and there was only one person in line in front of me. She immediately made it known she was first and to get behind her. Okay, no problem. Then the employee started checking people out from the register by our line. She laid into him, she was here first. If anyone showed up she scowled at them. It was so bad that after she paid and left we made a comment to the salesperson, who informed us he lived across the road from her, has for thirty years, and she is just as mean at home. The kids in the neighborhood can't stand her, they've been yelled at enough.

It's kind of sad, but it's a choice she made, likewise how we treated her was a choice we made. Too often we seem to think there are other factors, but really there aren't. In this season of Christmas, in the hustle and bustle of shopping, waiting in line, traffic, fighting over that toy, stress, the constant running around, if in all this you are waiting until you feel loving to be nice, sorry, it ain't gonna happen. We have to make the choice to be kind and considerate, even despite how we're feeling sometimes.

Paul writes in Philippians: I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgement, so that you will be able to choose what is best. (Phil. 1:9-10, GNT). We have to choose to do what is best. We choose to be kind while shopping. We choose to treat others with love. We even choose to share Christ's love this season.

Choose wisely...


Monday, November 21, 2011

How Much Is Too Much?

I had other plans for the blog today but our student ministry last night is still in my head. We did something a little different, I had students write down all the things they own, then all the things their family owns, then everything they had access to. I did my best to give lots of time (about half an hour) and asked they be as specific as possible (you couldn't say "clothes", how many pairs of socks, etc.)

My thinking was how can you be thankful if you don't think about what you have. The outcome is what surprised me. I was expecting people to be thankful (which they were) and think about those who are less fortunate (which they did), but we had one other major result. They simply shut down.

Some students stopped writing their list. Some asked me to make it stop. Some just completely checked out and went into their own little world staring at the floor. So I asked who was overwhelmed by making this list. Every hand went up. Everyone.

My goal wasn't to overwhelm people but make them think. The problem is, this is something we don't usually think about. The other problem is, we have so much stuff it's overwhelming. Some of the small group conversations turned to those who have less yet seem happier, even how many of their friends at school with more were more depressed. The simply fact of listing out what we have at our fingertips was so hard to do and so much to take in people mentally checked out, it was too much to handle.

I'm hoping people are thankful for what they have and they think a little bit more about it this week. But it's been making me think today. Do we simply have too much?


Monday, November 14, 2011

Too Content To Try

I was reading Seth Godin's blog today and really started to think about a section in it:

"It's difficult to change an industry, set a world record, land big clients, or do art that influences others. When faced with this difficulty, those with other, seemingly better options see the barrier and walk away.

Why bother? The thinking is that we can just pump some more oil or smile and gladhand our way to an acceptably happy outcome.

On the other hand, people who believe they have fewer options take a look at the barrier and realize that even though it will be difficult to cross, it's the single best option they've got."

Godin's blog is always very business related, but his logic always makes me think. People who have lots of resources don't tackle the one problem in their way, they look for other options. Those with less resources understand they need to solve this problem, there are no other options, and start to work on it.

The danger of having too many resources is eventually you stop dealing with problems, you lose focus of why you're even there in the first place.

And this got me to thinking about church, specifically mine. Do we have so many resources that when we hit a problem we should be solving we instead skirt the issue and try to think of another way around it? Take evangelism, something every Christian should be doing. But it's hard, it's time consuming, it may even be uncomfortable. So instead of me sharing my faith, I'll just use other resources, give money to the church to print a flyer and mail it. I'm still evangalizing, right? If we didn't have the resources to print a flyer, we'd have to go door to door, but since we have the resources, we're just solving the problem in a new inventive way.

The problem with skipping the problem and solving it the right way is you usually don't get the right result. Like above, instead of me sharing my faith and growing in Christ, instead of a person get a one-to-one message of God's love from a person who has experienced it, they get a pretty piece of paper they may never read and we get to sit at home without doing any real service or sharing. Who's growing now?

Maybe instead of looking at how we can use the things around us to get out of living our faith, we should be trying to figure out how we can strengthen our souls so we are doing the things we should be doing...


Monday, November 07, 2011

Cutting Corners

Over the past few days I've been reading about some of the worst fires in U.S. history, theaters, textile plants, etc. I know, a little weird, but interesting. The part that drives me nuts (and why I think I keep reading) is all the fires could have been avoided.

All fires start with an accident. That just happens. There's nothing you can do about that. But how the fires escalate and people die, that's a different story. Fire exits lights that were not installed, fire escapes that didn't have the bottom ladder because "it cost too much", fire hoses that were not inspected or kept up, some places even had fire doors nailed shut to stop people from breaking in. Over all it all conclusions lead to the managers/owners of these buildings trying to save money, cutting a corner here and a corner there. Too many cut corners and eventually you have a building full of holes. Really, if you knew it would save a life, would you have changed the light in the fire exit sign?

Too often, that's how things go wrong in our lives. I know, Lorie and I are sick right now. Our house is a nightmare. When you're sick it's easy to cut corners. Leave this out one more day. Do dishes tomorrow. But eventually it all piles up. And it got me to thinking where else in life we cut corners, thinking it's okay or that will never happen to us. I can skip exercising, I won't be the one to have heart failure. I don't need to do that reading, my mind won't start to turn into mush, I'm really smart! I can read my Bible and pray tomorrow, God will still love me. And soon enough, corner after corner is cut, an exception becomes a habit, and then where are we...?