Monday, February 26, 2007
The other my family was having some ice cream for dessert after dinner. As we were dishing it up, the call came out from my kids, "Make sure I have the same as him (her)." They both wanted to make sure I gave them equal portions and that I was being "FAIR." Fair is important with kids.
The truth is, however, that fair is important with adults as well. Do you ever look around and feel like life isn't fair? Maybe you don't have as nice of a car as someone else. Maybe you don't have as nice of a house as someone else. Maybe you feel like you have more problems than someone else. And I want to tell you, in many ways life isn't fair.
It doesn't take long to notice that life isn't fair. We don't all get the same things. We don't all get the same oppotunities. We don't all have the nicest things. We don't all have enough money to do what we want. We don't all have perfect lives.
So, if life isn't fair, then what are we to do? Many people like to complain. But complaining usually doesn't make life any more fair. And if fact, after a while, people get tired of hearing us complain. Others try to work harder so that they can have what others have. But that doesn't usually work either, but often times it causes other problems.
What we should do is follow the apostle Paul's advice in Philippians 4:12- "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Paul learned how to be content where he was. Learning how to be content is important in life, because if we are always wanting more, we will never be able to enjoy what God has given us.
Now, in being content, that doesn't mean that we don't try to make our marriage better if it is struggling. Being content doesn't mean that we live in poverty if we can get a job. But it does mean that we stop complaining and stop trying to compare ourselves to others. And on top of this, PRAY. God promises to take care of our NEEDS. When we pray, God will hear us and answer our call.
How do you feel like life is not fair? What do you think we should do about it? Let me know what you think (email@example.com)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Last Sunday I went with some of my congregation to see the new movie "Bridge to Terabithia." It was quite an enjoyable movie. The 2 main actors (Jessie-Josh Hutcherson and Leslie-Anna Sophia Robb) do a wonderful job, and the animation is quite fun. I would highly recommend this movie to you to go see.
As I was reflecting on the movie afterward, I was taken by the friendship that the 2 kids developed. Both had difficulty making friends, and seemed to struggle with being outcasts. Because of this they both were picked on by their classmates.
Shortly into the movie Leslie moves in next door to Jesse. They immediately become friends, and begin to adventure around their houses. They discover a rope that is hanging on a tree, and decide to swing on it. On one of the swings Leslie lands on the other side. Jesse doesn't see her at first and so he hustles over to find her. Thus starts the beginning of their real adventures.
But even more than the adventure in the movie is the friendship that they develop. As I said before, neither of them had any friends until they met each other. As they spend more time together, they begin to enjoy the support and fun that they other brings to their life. For the first time in their lives, they have a true friend; someone they can be real with.
This is true of our lives as well. We need at least one true friend. If you have a friend like this, you know what I am talking about. To have someone you can be real with, and who can support and encourage you is invaluable. In fact, it is one of the prime ways that God created us; to be in relationship and fellowship with others. The beauty of the church is that we can worship together.
Another important aspect is that Jesus is not only our Lord and Savior, but He is our friend. As we are told in John 15:15- "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." Do you need a friend? Pray to God to bring you that special friend. But also remember that Jesus is there to be your friend.
What do you think about the need for special friends and about Jesus being our friend? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, February 19, 2007
As a whole, people take life too seriously. Now you might want to disagree, saying that we need to take life seriously. There are deadlines to meet, and responsibilities to take care of. If we didn't take these things seriously, then the world would fall apart. Right? And yet, if we get too serious about life, then we lose the fun that God created us to have.
This morning, as I was getting ready for work, my daughter put on these blow-up clown shoes that she won at a birthday party. It was impossible for her to be serious with these shoes on, and her laughter and fun made me smile and laugh. In fact, as she was playing some music, I had to stop getting ready for a moment and dance with her a little. So what if I was a couple minutes later to work!
There is a cartoon of a young man speaking to his minister; he says,“Being a minister must be really hard. I mean, living for others, leading an exemplary life. That’s a lot of responsibility. The pressures must be tremendous! The people are always watching you, waiting for one false move. I don’t know how you handle it!” The minister smiles and says: “I stay home a lot.”(Amusing Grace, #746)
When we let the pressures and seriousness of life get to us, then we get all stressed out. And when we are all stressed out, life no longer becomes fun. We just go through the motions of work, go through the motions of parenting, go through the motions of daily living. There is no excitement or enjoyment of life when we are stressed. This is not how God designed us to be!
We need to relax more when it comes to living life, and be more like children. One of the wonderful aspects of children is their creativity. When is the last time you were really creative. In Matthew 19:13-15, some people were bringing their children to Jesus. The disciples thought that Jesus' ministry and time were too important to be bothered by children, and so they tried to keep the children away. But Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
How can you be more like a child today? How can you be more playful and creative? How can you have more fun in this life God gave you, and take life less seriously?
Do you agree? Write me and share your thoughts on this subject (email@example.com)
Thursday, February 15, 2007
A couple of months ago my kids were spending the night at my aunt and uncle's. At the end of the night I turned off the light and started to go upstairs, but something felt different. Was it just that the kids weren't there? Was it that there was less noise because of their absence? At first I couldn't decide what was different, but then it hit me. We normally have 2 night lights in Tiffany's room, one in Tyler's room, and one in their bathroom. But since they weren't home, none of the night lights were on. The difference was that it was very dark. Thankfully I know my house well enough to get around in the dark.
As I thought about this, I thought about this as a truth in our own lives. How often are we walking around in the dark, feeling like something is not right, but not knowing exactly what it is that isn't right? Maybe you are asking yourself questions like: Where am I in this relationship? What is going on with my job? How is my faith with God?
Sometimes we are in a place of darkness, and we need God's light to show us the way. As we are told in Isaiah 42:16, "...I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground..." God can shine light into our darkness and help us to know what is right. God can help lead us past the rough places and onto smooth ground. But we have to seek Him out and let Him lead.
And the truth is, when we start to follow the path God lights before us, it might not feel comfortable. Sometimes when you're on the right road, it might not feel right at first. It doesn't feel right because it is so different from the wrong road we have been traveling. We have to get used to the light God is shining before us.
Where are you right now? Are you walking in the dark, but not realizing it? Are you seeking after God, but haven't found Him yet? Are you questioning the path you are walking? Let God shine His light before you, and let God smooth out your way. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear your thoughts. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monday, February 12, 2007
Last week I went to a Pastor's Conference in San Diego, and I went to an interesting seminar: "They Like Jesus, but not the Church," by Dan Kimball. I don't know why I was surprised by this topic, but I was. Kimball had gone out to colleges and talked to students about Jesus and the Church. In regards to Jesus, the students had positive things to say. People loved how Jesus was loving, and giving, and sacrificial. But when it came to the church, they had a much different attitude. Here are some of their responses:
I believe in Jesus and his teaching are inspirational but the church has corrupted his teachings.
Church confines people minds, keeping them from other forms of spiritual expression.
Church rearranges things that don’t go along with their beliefs.
Closed minded individuals.
The Church tells you what you should believe.
I haven’t met very many true Christians.
It is interesting to me, as a pastor of a church, that so many people have a negative view of the church. It makes me wonder what kinds of experiences they have had. The truth is, that many of these people admitted they have never really been to church. So the perception they are getting of the church is from the media (which usually is negative as they report only that bad things that happen in churches).
But for me (and hopefully you) the bigger question is: What are we to do about this? How can we make church more accessible and attractive to people?
I think the first way is that we have to go out and encounter people where they are, taking the love of Jesus out. We can't expect people to come to the church to see what it is about. Second, we have to act more Christlike. Too many Christians are solemn and judgmental. Why are we not showing the love and sacrifice of Christ more? Third, we need to just be regular people. God did call us to not be like the world, but we can just be ourselves. We don't have to be superChristian. And fourth, when people do come to church, we need to accept them for who they are, and help them to connect with God and God's people.
I would love your ideas on this subject. Do you know people who love Jesus but not the church? Why is this? Please e-mail me your thoughts at email@example.com.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Michelangelo's Statue of Mary
Did you know that you are God’s masterpiece? That means that you are made special and unique and wonderful by the creator of the universe. This is quite a concept. And unfortunately, most people don’t believe this. When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, do you say: I am God’s masterpiece? Probably not. But do you even think it? Again, probably not.
The Bible tells us that we were created in the image of God; male and female He created us. The God of the whole universe has made you and me special and unique. He has made us into a masterpiece. After God created humans, He said: “It is good.”
So why don’t we feel like a masterpiece? When we look around, how come we don’t see more masterpieces? It is because of sin. Sin is what causes us to do bad things; hurtful things. And because of this we are kept from being the masterpieces we should be.
Another reason is because we feel like we have to live up to expectations; our own expectations and the expectations of others. And we sometimes even feel like we have to live up to the expectations of God. And because we don’t feel like we measure up, we don’t feel too masterpiece like.
So what are we to do about this? The answer is that we need to let God be the sculptor of our lives. We have to give God the permission to chip away those things that don’t fit into this masterpiece we are created to be. We have to let God chip away at the extra chunks of our being that doesn’t belong.
So what is it in your life that God needs to chip away? Maybe it is pride. Maybe it is lust. Maybe it is anger. Maybe it is unforgiveness. Maybe it is selfishness. The list could be great, but if you let God begin to chip away, then you and others will see this masterpiece that you are.
Let us make a commitment to give ourselves over to God in this way. And sit back and look at how you will take shape. Let me know what you think. Share your thoughts so that I and others can have a fuller concept of this. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monday, February 05, 2007
We all have people in our lives who don't make good decisions. And if you are like me, it hurts you to see them struggling. And as I watch their life, I know that one of the biggest reasons that they are struggling is that they don't have Jesus Christ in their lives. I know that sharing Christ with others is big in our society right now, but I believe that is much of what is wrong with our society; everybody is trying to take Jesus out of life.
In this blog, I want to encourage us to be determined to share out faith with those around us. First and foremost because they need Jesus to be saved. But secondly, because I believe that if people let Jesus be their Lord, they will make better decisions and they will live more joyful lives.
I want to share a formular I came across the other day: Formula: HP + CP + CC = MI. This formula comes from Mark Mittelberg's book "Becoming a Contagious Christian." The formual says this: HP (high potency) + CP (close proximity) + CC (clear communication) = MI (maximum impact). What this is saying is that since we are the person who knows the person we care about (close proximity), then if we can spend a good amount of time with them (high potency) and share our life with them (communitcation), then we can have an impact in their life.
The most profound way to impact someone's life, is to share with them the difference Jesus makes in your life. There is nothing more powerful than seeing someone who is real, and who has struggles, but who is making it through because of Jesus. When we share how knowing Jesus helps us to make better decisions, then maybe it will help others as well.
So what keeps you from sharing your faith with others? Let me know (email@example.com).
Friday, February 02, 2007
In my last blog, "Whom Do You Serve?" (January 30, 2007), I talked about the need to decide each day if you would serve God, or if you would serve your selfish desires. Today I want to talk about how important it is to give ourselves to God. The truth is, God has given Himself totally to us. When God took on flesh in Jesus Christ, He came to live among us so that we might see who He is (John 1:14). When Jesus went to the cross and died for our sins, He gave us the ultimate gift; Himself.
Now we need to ask ourselves the question: Do I want to give myself to God? I don't mean sometimes; I don't mean half-hearted. I mean really give ourselves to God. To do this, we have to make God a priority. Just like it is important to give of my time and energy to my kids and my wife, so I need to make my time, energy, efforts, and possessions God's. How I love others is a way to give myself to God. How I find ways to serve others is a way I give myself to God. Taking time to read the Bible or pray is how I give myself to God. The list could be endless, but each of us has to decide which of these ways (we can and should give ourselves to God) are the way God wants us to give ourselves to Him.
So the challenge is: today, will you make a commitment to give yourself to God? How will you do that? Let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org)