Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grow Up in Such a Way That Others Can Grow Up Too

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is a sheriff, and we were talking about neighbor disputes, because we have been having trouble with the parking in our condo complex. He told me that our problems are mild (some warnings and a couple of fines) compared to other disputes he has been called to. He told me sometimes people start damaging each other’s property because of parking disputes! I asked him what he said to them when he arrives on the scene, and he told me that he tells them to “Grow up!” “Really?” I asked. And he told me yes, that is what he says. J

The truth is that we all can be selfish at times; we all need to grow up. But we need to grow up in a way that reminds and encourages others to grow up as well. This can really only happen if we have a humble attitude, and seek to be aware of what actions need “growing up.” Are we overly selfish? Are we too critical? Do we allow others to make mistakes without judging them?

In the Bible, in Colossians 1:28 we are told by the apostle Paul: “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” It is only in Christ that we can truly become mature, because Christ is the One, by His crucifixion, that gives us the power to change and mature! Christ is the One who gives us the example of how we are to be when we mature.

When others see us maturing in Christ, they too will want to become more mature in this way. Why? Because they will see us caring for others, loving unconditionally, being a forgiving person, encouraging others, and on it goes. This kind of mature behavior draws others to you, and is seen as beneficial, because it is who God created us to be in the first place. Along with that, it is so different and above the behavior of so many around us whose behavior we don’t want to be around.

So, I say to you, in a good way: GROW UP!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wash Your Hands

This phrase first led me to the text in the Bible found in Matthew 27:24, which says: “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’” Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, and was giving the Jews an opportunity to fix their mistake and release Jesus. But the people were so angry with Jesus that they couldn’t think straight, and they wanted to crucify Jesus. So Pilate does what he was legally bound to do, and releases the criminal Barabbas instead of Jesus. To show that Pilate didn’t agree with their decision, he washed his hands. In essence trying to cleanse himself from this wrongdoing.

We, in essence, try and “wash our hands” every day when it comes to wrongdoing. We think that we can sin and not be held accountable for it by putting it out of our minds, or believing it when others say, ‘God wouldn’t hold that against you,’ or pretending that it isn’t wrong in the first place (relativism). The truth is, avoidance of sin doesn’t make the sin go away. Not even showering regularly will wash it away (although it is good and healthy and helpful for your friends and family for you to shower every day).

Romans 3:23 reminds us that “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” But the book of Romans also gives us good news in 6:23: “For the penalty of sin is death (eternal separation from God), but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In the end, Jesus being crucified is what allows us to “wash our hands” of our sin, because Jesus removes it and makes us clean!

So don’t forget to wash your hands and keep the germs away. Don’t forget to shower and keep your body clean. But even more, don’t forget to confess your sin to God, and know that through Jesus’ sacrifice, you will be clean! Blessings.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Reconizing Friends

I love the verse in the Bible, from Proverbs 17:17, which says: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” To me this epitomizes what a friend should be, along with the words from Jesus in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” In these two verses we are told that a ‘friend loves at all times,’ and that a friend lays down their life for those they consider to be a friend.

Yet, if you are like me, you have had people in your life that you think are friends, but in the end they do not prove themselves to be a friend. Maybe they only seemed to be a friend when they needed something from you. OR, maybe they were there for a while, but then you had a disagreement, and they bailed on you.

So how do you recognize a friend? I think part of the answer to this is determined by what kind of a friend you are looking for. There are different kinds of friends. Not every friend is going to be there for you in your adversity, or lay down their life for you. We will have some people in our lives that are more casual friends. We need to be careful in making the determination in regards to casual friends, somewhat good friends, and “good friends.”

It is difficult to have too many “good friends” in your life, because you can only be a good friend in return to so many. Developing friendships with those who will love at all times takes time. We might develop a friendship with someone because of common interests, or because our kids are friends. But only time will tell if this person is a real friend. Only time will tell if this person will lay down their life for you.

What will really help us to determine the good friends in our lives is when adversity comes. Maybe you are having hard times financially. Are they supporting you in some way or do they distance themselves from you? Maybe you had a disagreement. Do they seek to resolve it, or run away? Maybe you are going through health issues. Do they walk alongside you? It is the tough times of life that will help you to see who your friends truly are.

Even more important, Jesus calls us His friend. Going back to John 15, Jesus says in verses 14-15: “You are my friends if you do what I command. 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.” How wonderful to know that no matter what, we have Jesus as our friend. And we know He is a good friend, because He gave His life for us! Blessings.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

There You Go

When my son was born, 14 years ago, I was just starting as a minister at Ecumenical Church, in Pueblo West, Colorado. Consequently, my life was very busy as I sought to get to know the members and the church, as well as visiting new attenders, and getting new programs started. I was very busy. If my son could have talked in his first year of life, he would have regularly been saying: “There you go,” because I would come home from work for dinner, and then leave again for night meetings or visits.

Lately, Tami and I have been reflecting about how busy we are. We are constantly on the go to Tyler’s baseball, Tiffany’s girl scouts, Tiffany’s choir, church, family, and on and on it goes. It is interesting to see how busy our lives get. In fact, most of society is like this as well. And Christmas only makes it busier. What are we to do about constantly being on the go?

One suggestion is to plan better. What I mean by this is that we need to set priorities; one of which should be to not get too busy. Busyness only brings stress to our lives. Now I am not suggesting that you just sit home and do nothing all the time. I am suggesting that we try and limit the kind of lifestyle where we are just running from one thing to another; especially when kids are involved. Spending time with family at home, relaxing, playing games, watching a movie, can be a good way to build a strong family bond.

Another negative that comes from our lives being busy is that we don’t make time for God. In the gospel of John, chapter 15, verses 1-5 say: “‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’” When we don’t spend time with God, we will fail to flourish and bear fruit.

Don’t let your life be such that people are always saying, ‘There you go,’ but rather live your life so that you have time for yourself, your family, and most importantly for God.