Monday, April 30, 2012

Perception Affects Change

Spring is here. It's a wonderful time of year, the grass is green, flowers are blooming, and we haven't hit the over-bearing heat of summer yet. It's such a nice time of year.

But Lorie and I have noticed a problem at home with spring. It's incredibly cold. Our house is freezing. Part of that may be me keeping the heat at Canadian temperatures, but we wake up in the morning and it's incredibly cold.

The other day I figured out why. Our heat was set at the same temperature as it was all winter. So in reality, our house is no colder than it has been for the past six months. But winter looks cold. There's snow on the ground, wind blowing, the darkness creeps in so early. And because of this we dress for the cold, heavy sweaters and slippers on our feet snuggled under blankets.

As I write this it's sunny and nice outside. The sky is blue. Birds are chirping. So I am dressed like spring, t-shirt, even wore shorts to bed last night. But the house is still the same temperature as it was in the middle of January.

Instead of dressing for the temperature I've been dressing for how the day looked. I've been basing what I do on what I perceive not where I really am. And in my readings there has been a common thread that when it comes to change this is a problem. We perceive things to be different so we act different. We exercise for six weeks, finally see some progress, so we back off a little, we perceive a change has happened. We faithfully spend time with God, things seem to be better, so we skip a day here or there, I've perceived the change so I don't need to be as diligent. In reality, these little perceptions cause us to change what we should be doing and we slide back to where we started (or even further back).

Sometimes, we need to wear a sweater even if we see the snow melting. Dress for the temperature, not what's outside the window. Do what's right beyond the change we immediately see...


Monday, April 23, 2012

People Don't Like Your Smell

Some of you, this is true (I've been on mission trips with you), but I'm not going for the physical smell. Yesterday Pastor Kevin talked about the aroma we give off, our Christ-like fragrance.

II Corinthians 2:14-16 ~ But thank God! He has made us His captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? (NLT)

Naturally, I like to gravitate to the nice-smelling, pleasing to God type picture here. But the last few weeks we've been talking at Fire & Water about sharing our faith, our theme for the year of "Everyone Involved, Everyone Inviting". In our discussions we've talked about how a lot of students have friends at school who really want nothing to do with God.

Maybe this verse sheds a little bit of light on that. Perhaps it's not because they don't like us, but we are the smell of death and doom. We're happy, they're depressed, and they don't know why. We feel loved in a way only God can provide, they don't, so we smell. We are forgiven, they carry the weight of their sin, the pain, the guilt, the overwhelming sense of helplessness. Maybe the world's hatred has nothing to do with us but with what we have and they're jealous of it.

If only someone would explain this is a free gift and help them understand they could have the all-encompassing love of a Holy Father too...


Monday, April 16, 2012

One-Sided Relationships

Last night at Drink Deep we talked about how Americans really don't like making friends. It's something we're just not good at. I've been wondering to myself if TV has ruined our ability to have real relationships.

Here's what I mean. You can watch a television series and get to know a character, their likes, their dislikes, their favorite food, what they do when they're stressed out, you can get to know them really well. So well you've formed a bond with them. When they hurt, you hurt. When something great happens to them, you celebrate (I always think of Friends, when the characters would have ups and downs, how people related with them). In essence you have formed a relationship with that person.

But it is completely one-sided. They know nothing about you. You have zero involvement in their life. To them you don't exist. And I almost think we like it that way. We get the feigned intimacy of knowing someone really well without having to put in anything ourselves. No risk. Even today with Facebook, you can not actually talk to or see someone for a decade and know what's going on in their lives, and you've put nothing into that relationship.

Real relationships are harder. Real relationships take work. One of our core values at FIRE & WATER is Allying, the idea that we need real relationships that are so strong they aren't viewed as a once in a while friendship, you would actually call this person an ally. But to have a relationship that deep, that impactful, that strong, it can't be one-sided. It takes work. It takes time. It takes commitment. We just have to decide if the effort is worth the pay off.

Are real relationships worth the time and effort to you?


Monday, April 09, 2012

An Easter Question

This has been on my mind for a while. If you have an answer I'd love to hear it...

Why did Jesus teach first, then go through the crucifixion and resurrection?

Why didn't He do it the other way around? Think about it, if Jesus rose from the dead then taught us how to live, wouldn't people be all over it? If He got a crowd by doing a few miracles, what if people saw Him die and rise again? Wouldn't that be instant followers?

Maybe those aren't the followers Christ is looking for, He wants those who choose to do what's right when there aren't signs and wonders.

Maybe people would be so in awe of the resurrection they wouldn't listen to the teaching.

Maybe I should shut up and accept that God knows what He's doing...

Just something in my head lately, especially with having just celebrated Easter.


Monday, April 02, 2012

The Power of Words

I heard a story the other day, I had to check it out and see if it was true. It was...

On December 19, 1973, the Tonight Show aired as usual with Johnny Carson performing his evening monologue. Earlier a Wisconsin congressman had announced that the government was falling behind on making bids to get toilet paper. So Carson made a joke about it, saying toilet paper was disappearing from shelves, that there was a shortage of toilet paper in America.

It wasn't true, there was tons of it, but it was a poorly timed joke. The country was in the midst of other shortages, oil for instance. So when the 20 million viewers heard there was a shortage of toilet paper they ran out and bought as much as they could. They created a panic. And they created a shortage on toilet paper. For the next few nights Carson tried to explain it was a joke. Toilet paper companies showed videos of the plants making toilet paper. But all people saw when they went to the store were empty shelves where the toilet paper should be. They had created their own shortage. It took almost a month for the stores to be resupplied consistently and end this "toilet paper shortage".

The fact is the people created their own panic. And how often do we do that? We hear something and blow it out of proportion, we create our own panic. Maybe it's not toilet paper, but something at work, in a relationship maybe. It's kind of like the comic I saw as a kid, ten people told a girl her hair looked nice, one made a snide comment, and she goes home saying "everyone hated it". I've seen it happen. What we say, even in jest, has the power to change our world. Even if it's in toilet paper consumption.