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Friday, November 8, 2013

Be Honest

Over the past year, the idea of "story" has really be a part of my life and my thought process.  While I sometimes forget the importance of our story in God's story, every once in a while something comes across my path that not only reminds me of where I need to be.  Today I came across a secular video that really speaks to the importance of being honest, being real.

It doesn't mention God.  It's a photography video from a photographer that finally got a break in life. Listening to his story and listening to how he learned he had to be honest, I find that I can identify with him to a certain extent.  My life my not really reflect his nor am I as good of a photographer as he is, however he shares the importance of being real with people.

The idea of being real with people is often scary.  It means we have to be vulnerable.  We have to expose ourselves to other peoples lives and allow them to see us in a different light than they have in the past. God wants us to be real with people.  He wants us to have our lives intertwined with each other.  Hiding our story from others only causes us to stay isolated from reality and from what God wants for us.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but the video is somewhat long.  If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, start at 17:50 where he shares a video blog from a while ago.  Think outside of the photography reference and see if you can see God in the story.  Maybe it's just me, but then again.....maybe not.




Monday, October 7, 2013

Heart vs Action

I've had several discussions lately with a few different people about God and the whole idea of heart vs actions.  I have found that while many people believe that God looks at the heart a lot of people still live their lives as though they have to earn they way.  I'll admit at times I fall into that same mind set.

The more I try to understand the dilemma of heart vs action the more I come to the realization that the heart being right is foremost but that actions coming from that heart are also important. 

When I listen to people talk of church is recent past many share about a church that was so motivated about doing the right things, that they negated the heart and often pushed people away from the church because they were committing a select group of sins.  The sad part is that while doing so, many of these people doing the pushing were also committing a different set of sins, but didn't deem them as such or were unwilling to acknowledge that they had struggles.

Since that church, there has also been a movement of people saying that your actions don't matter as long as your heart is right.  While I see where they are coming from and I can certainly see how they can come to this conclusion, I think it leaves room for people to want to be different, but not truly be repentant.

As I was trying to figure out the best way to illustrate my thought, I had to go back to using an illustration of me and my kids.

A few years ago I was a youth pastor and found myself extremely busy.  I was working a full time job, being a youth pastor, doing the necessary school work to remain a licensed pastor, and be a husband/father.  I thought I was doing all the right things.  I was providing for my family, doing what God had asked me to do, but I was negating my families greater needs.

I wanted to be a good dad.  I wanted to be a good husband.  I wanted to provide for my family  I wanted to serve God.  I wanted to do what He had called me to do. 

It took some time, but I came to the realization that my first calling in life, behind loving God, is to lead and provide for my family.  When I was able to do that, then anything else God may have asked me to do, would fall into place. 

While my heart may have been in the right place while I was working 80+ hours a week, my actions didn't follow.  My family suffered.  My kids suffered. My wife suffered.

I believe God does look at the heart.  I too however believe that God looks to see if we act upon our heart.  While He does offer us grace, I believe He also wants to use accept that grace and live a life that reflects that rather than a life that says "let me keep doing what I was doing so God's grace can be shown more."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Worship

I have heard it said several times recently that one does not simply stop worshiping.  Our lives are very much about worship.  Our thoughts, our actions, our desires are all reflective of our worship.

The more I think about that idea, the more I can easily see it in my life and in the lives of others.  Whatever you focus on, whatever causes you to worry, whatever consumes your thoughts, actions, and desires reflects the God that you serve. 

For many the god they serve started out as something that was good. family is good, working is good, food is good, knowledge is good, but when those things replace the relationship designed for God and man or when those things get in teh way of what God has asked you to do, they have become your God.

As a friend of mine put it, "our God is our bellies," and for many that is true.  Our lives are consumed by thinking about the next meal we are going to eat or the next snack that we get to enjoy.  While food in and of itself is not bad by any means and hunger is natural the fact that we get consumed with feeding ourselves.

As I  think about all the times I have been worrying lately; where my thoughts are generally throughout the day; what motivates me to do the things I do I can very much see areas in my life where I don't let God be God and that my focus is far from being on Him.

Maybe I am the only one that deals with this, but I doubt it.  Maybe you need to examine where you spend your time, your money, your efforts, etc.  Maybe something or someone other than God is playing god in your life.

Just a thought.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Prosperity vs Poverty

At some point I want to speak more to this and a few misconceptions the "church" has been teaching for quite some time.  Until I can find the right words to say, here is a short video on a couple camps that many people have fallen victim to.



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Idolize

This past Sunday, Mark Driscoll shared a thought in his sermon that I found very interesting.

"If you idolize, you will demonize. The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards articulated this, if you idolize your job, eventually you’ll demonize your job, you’ll hate it. If you idolize your spouse, eventually you will demonize your spouse and hate them."

As I was thinking about that concept last night as I was putting my kids to bed and began to wonder if we as parents often teach our kids to idolize things....maybe even us.

I've heard story after story after story about people who are deeply hurt by their parents and spend a large piece of their life learning how to heal.  I know there are all sorts of reasons for this, but could one be that children often idolize their parents and when their parents fail and make mistakes instead of teaching the kids that parents fail and make mistakes too, we often continue life like we didn't.  I don't really know if that has a whole lot of bearing on their view of us, but I do know a lot of kids and even adults that spend their lives trying to please their parents and that their parents have become their idol (god).

In a similar since, I wonder how many of us as parents show our kids how to worship idols rather than the one true God.  I know my kids pay close attention to what I do (and don't do) and as I look at my life and things that can easily be an idol in my life (money, self, etc...), I know they notice that as well.

I don't know how many times over the years God has had to teach me about not letting money become an idol for me.  I wouldn't necessarily say that I worship money, but I certainly worry about not having any from time to time.  My thoughts move from seeing where God is providing to seeing what I feel like I am lacking.  I am now longer worshiping God, because I am too distracted by a lack of money.  Kids are so aware, I know they pick up on that.  Not only that, but they don't see me worshiping God.

When I think about the idea of idolizing things and not worshiping God, I realize how hard it can really be to be a good reflection of Christ.  I think it is important for us as parents to realize this and be aware of how our lives are being reflected to the lives of our children.  Let your kid know you are not "god," but that you too are trying to worship the one true God and you will fail. When you fail, apologize, point them to God, and worship the creator together.





Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Though you slay me...

In the book of Job, Job says "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him."  How many of us can really truly say that.  That regardless of what happens in our lives we still can find out hope in Jesus?

Our church has been going through a small group series on the importance of our story.  The culmination of the series was that our stories are all part of God's story and that there are pieces of our lives that are painful, but are important to our story and to God's story and what He is trying to do in peoples lives.  

As I was listening to a newer song by Shane and Shane, I came across this video that very much speaks to that idea.  I think it is when we come to say, "Though you slay me God, my hope is still in you," we can truly be free from so many chains that bind us from truth and can truly begin to live the life God has called us to.




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's a challenge

I've been dealing with an inner struggle for quite some time now. There have been times when it has been quite crippling to my relationship with God and other times when I feel like I have managed it well.  However, while in this particular instance it is my struggle, I think we all face something similar at one time or another.

The struggle I am speaking of is one in which we deal with someone in leadership who doesn't seem fit for the position.  For many of you reading, it could be as easy to identify as looking at a president and saying I like this one and not that one or vice-versa.  There are many many other places in our lives where this can also be true, but I can only imagine we all do deal with it from time to time.

As I have been on this journey for answers, I came across a sermon yesterday from a favorite pastor/speaker of mine Francis Chan. He was actually speaking to being slow to speak and slow to anger and how that can relate to our "stress" and anxiety.  As he was speaking to the concept of not worrying about things and remembering God is in control he ventured over to the story of David and pulled a few pieces of David's story out that very much struck me as an opportunity to try and figure out what God is wanting to teach me.

If you know David's story you should be able to follow along pretty well.  If not, grab a Bible and check it out.  It is quite interesting.

At one point in David's life, he spent a great deal of time hiding from king Saul.  At least twice, God allowed him to get into the position where David or his men could have easily killed Saul and ended the suffering and hiding and yet both times David prevented his men from harming Saul. Not only that, but in both instances he made it clear to Saul that he could have killed him, but didn't. Both times, Saul thanked David for sparing his life and spoke of how much more righteous David was than he.  The reason David didn't harm him is because David said that God had anointed Saul and made him king, and it was not his job to remove him even though David had been anointed as was going to be the next king. 

David respected Saul's position even though he knew Saul was not following God.  He understood that God had placed him in that position and could easily remove him if He so willed.  The part that really got to me was how often we really don't see things that way.  We see things from a standpoint that if someone isn't qualified, God must not want them there while it could easily be that God does want them there and wants to teach His people something they need to understand. 

It's a hard place to be and I don't know how David did it.  I know it is a constant struggle for me, but I have to learn to find peace in the fact that God is in control and that God knows what He is doing even if I can't understand.  It's not an easy lesson to learn and certainly not an easy lesson to practice. 

Maybe there is an area in your life where you struggle with someone that is in leadership or authority.  How easy is it for you to trust God knows what He is doing?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Real - Story

I've shared this video before, but in light of many things going on lately I thought I would share it again.  As a church and as small groups at our church, we have been talking about our story and how important it is in the overall story of God.  I think this song really speaks to how a lot of people feel, even if they aren't ready yet.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chapter 11 - I need you, Daddy

Lilly has always been a "mommy's girl."  Everything is mommy this, mommy that.  In the last week or so she has began to interact with me even more and last night I heard the words. "I need you, Daddy!"

She was in the bath and from my best guess, just wanted me to come check on her.  As I walked in she jabbered a few things that I couldn't understand, but in the end she was just happy that I came.

This isn't the first time that she had said said she needed me, but it sparked a thought in me.  When I hear her say, "I need you, Daddy," it stirs something in me.  It is as if she understands she can't do something without me.  In that moment, I was required for what she wanted.

As I think about that interaction and think about how we view God, I wonder how it makes God feel when we say, "I need you, Daddy!"  I feel like people over the years we have been taught that God is not a cosmic vending machine (which He is not), but it has almost been taken to the point of we have a hard time being honest with God and telling Him we need Him.

While He is not our cosmic vending machine, I think God has a certain sense of joy when we come to the point of saying, "I need you."  I think when we reach that point is when we too realize we cannot live without Him and that we can't do what we need to without Him.

It is easy to go about life and try to do things in life on our own.  We try and try and try to do everything and we forget that God doesn't want to be a last resort, but rather wants to walk with us and be there with us every step of the way.

Maybe it's just me, but those words, "I need you, Daddy," were beautiful and since I can delight in my child saying that to me, I can only imagine the joy it brings to God when His children say it to Him.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Women as homebuilders

I will admit, I haven't always been a huge fan of Mark Driscoll, however, I have found myself agreeing with his thoughts more and more.  I happened to come across a recoding of him today talking about women as homebuilders and it fell right in line with my thoughts and shares very well an image of who my wife is and why I know her being our homebuilder is the right decision.

I know it is a little long, but if you can find time, check it out.



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Conflict with God

 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”  Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.  - Genesis 2:18-20

Have you ever read this passage before? I know I have numerous times, but I never really stopped to READ it.  Read it again.  Think about it.

I specifically left out the piece that most of us see as coming right after God created man.  Most of us where taught some where along the lines that Adam was created then the next day Eve was created.  That is not what the Bible says though.  It says that God realized it was not good for Adam to be alone and then gave Adam something to do.

As I think back again to Sunday School I remember how quickly we passed over the fact that Adam named all the animals.  Sure we talked about it a little bit, but I don't remember anyone ever talking about how long it could have taken.  How long do you think it would take you to name that many?  It certainly wouldn't have been something Adam could have done in a few days.  If you look at how many species we have today add back in the ones that have become extinct and possibly subtract the ones some consider to be "cross-breads," there still would be millions of animals that Adam would have to name.  It's not an easy task. It would have taken a VERY long time.

If you think about it, that means God believed something that He created was missing something, but made that creation wait and work.  As I think about it, I remember James 1:2-4. 

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The interesting piece to me about this idea is that it very well could be that God wanted to mature and complete Adam.  Not only that, but God allowed Adam to go through years of conflict.  Adam, even though He had God and a greater relationship than many of us could even understand, still had to go through conflict and was lacking until God created Eve.  

I mention this today because I think there are so many of us who think Jesus is an answer to all of our conflicts.  We believe that He removes conflict from our lives.  Not only that, but we believe that if we try hard enough and do everything we can God will make us complete.  In reality, God created others to help us become complete.  God created others and conflict so that we can become more like Him.  It is when we embrace both that we can really begin to live our lives as a reflection of Him.



I don't want to take credit for all the ideas posed in today's blog.  Some of the concepts have been taken from a talk Donald Miller gave, and I adapted those thoughts and added them to some other thoughts I have been wrestling with lately.

 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Catching up...

I must admit, the last several weeks for me have been hard.  I had something happen about a month and a half ago that really effected me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  After spending the past month and a half working through it, talking with close friends, and working on turning it over to God I have come to a place where I can move on from that point and look towards God's bigger picture.

I share this bit of information because it really put me in a place that I didn't like to be.  I had a hard time seeing God, processing day to day happenings, and finding joy in the situations I was in. 

Over the last two days I have heard this common theme of conflict an how you will have conflict in your life.  If you don't, your not really living.  I think back to a sermon I heard several years ago from a pastor who said that you need to understand that you have to be willing to acknowledge that everyday will be filled with some sort of conflict.  It is how you respond to them that determines the outcome.

I have found that there are two ways of handling conflict.  You can either run from it or embrace it and look for what God wants to teach you.  As I listened to Donald Miller this morning, he made a point about how all too often we believe that when we accept Jesus, He will take all our conflicts away.  That is just not the case.  I can see where at one time where I could have thought that, but the more I grow in Him, the more I realize God has made me who I am through the challenges that have been presented before me.

This weekend as I was working with some leaders of our new small group ministry, I began to see where God has been working over the past year and it was a great reminder.  It is so easy to miss God and where He is working when things get hard.  I am so thankful for being able to see Him again and see how He is working in ways that we don't even know and how He reveals Himself in His timing and in His way.  We just have to make sure we are aware and looking for Him.




Monday, August 5, 2013

10 Things I Love More Than God

As I was sitting down to write my blog for the day, I came across this video.  I had actually considered writing about a few of these in the past few weeks so when I saw it, I thought it might be a good starting point. 

Watch the video and let me know what you think!



Friday, August 2, 2013

Chapter 10 - What we want

As I was getting ready to head out the door this morning, Taylor said "yay, Daddy is getting ready to leave." When I asked him why he said yay and he said, "because when you leave, we can do what we want."  I talked to them a little more about it and talked to them about making good choices while I was gone.  Ultimately, all they wanted to do was watch a movie, but felt like they couldn't turn one on until I left.

As I headed to work, I thought about the interaction.  The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how often we are like that with God. We want God to "leave" or "turn His back for a minute" so that we can do what we want to do. 

The more I have got to know God, the more I understand that God is not out to keep us from doing what we want to do, but rather He is out to protect us and is trying to help us keep from destroying ourselves. I also know that sometimes some of our wants are not bad in and of themselves, rather we have attached some sort of negativity to them based on what we have been taught or perceived. 

I don't think God wants to be perceived as someone who stands in the way of our desires. I think He wants to be perceived as someone who can see beyond what we see and has a bigger plan and knows what is best for us.  I certainly don't want my kids to be excited for me to leave so that they can do what they want, but rather to understand that if I don't want them doing something it is actually for their own good and because I can see something better for them.


It still amazes me how much my kids help me learn and understand about God. 


Monday, July 29, 2013

QVC

So, I thought about writing a post about this song, but rather than doing that, I thought I would just let you listen to it and see what you thought.  He claims its just about QVC, but you make your own decision. 



I found the song rather challenging and makes you really think.

To hear more from Kevin, check out kevinschlereth.com

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Perfect People

I've been a huge fan of Donald Miller for quite some time.  I thought his post today was spot on and just had to share.

A novelist I respect named James Scott Bell gave some writing advice I think applies to more than just fiction. In his book Conflict and Suspense he says, “Perfect people are not interesting to us. We need to see flaws in the characters as well as strengths.”

He’s talking about building conflict into a story, of course, but I think there’s something true about this idea in life, too.

Read the rest of Don's Blog Here


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Just to be with you

I was listening to one of my favorite worship artists yesterday and I came across this song.  I have heard it a bunch, but I forgot about it.  It just really spoke to me again.



Paul has such a way of sharing his heart with people.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Relationships and Communication

As I think about the whole concept of Small Groups, I have found that they can be a great tool for teaching people how to have relationships with one another.  Maybe it is just me, but I have found a lot of people choose to go about life without really developing or learning how to develop relationships with one another. 

As I contemplate the concept, I wonder if the two main reasons people don't know how to build relationships is because one, they are scared to be real with someone or two, they believe a good relationship should be free of conflict.

I can't speak for other cultures, but I find there are a lot of people within the church that are scared to be real with people.  Many try to come in, make it to their seats, enjoy the show/sermon and leave without having to really have a conversation with anyone.  And we have allowed it.  As a good friend put it, "we have boiled down the church to a concert and a lecture."  I think that is sad.   What happened to the church that was the center of the community?  What happened to the church that brought people together to share a meal and enjoy life together?  What happened to the church that really made a difference in the life of those around it?  We have let people become spectators in a life that is full contact. 

I know there are people who look for churches that allow them to just do their thing.  I can get that.  I also have found though, that very seldom do you come across someone who won't talk to you when you ask them questions about themselves.  People have stories.  People want to share their stories.  Sometimes however, they are scared because they can tell you don't really care to hear their story.  Through Small Groups, I have found that it creates an atmosphere where people realize they can share their story, they can develop relationships, they can be free to be who they are, and hopefully benefit from the freedom God offers us when we are real.

The second reason I found is that people believe relationships need to be conflict free and if they are not, then you remove yourself from that relationship.  I certainly know I have a great relationship with my wife and it certainly isn't conflict free.  One thing I have learned through my marriage is that it is often through those conflicts that we can learn something new about ourselves and we are presented with the opportunity for growth. I think it is our responsibility to accept that opportunity and not run from it. 

I can guarantee there will be conflict within Small Groups.  They may not always be large conflicts, but it is through the conflicts, differences of opinion and different views that we are able to look at something a little different and can examine ourselves.  I don't know how many times recently I have been presented with a bit of information that conflicted with what I was taught or what I had "known" to be true.  I could certainly have just ignored them or tried to argue my side, but sometimes examining the new information would shed light on a subject that I had misunderstood.

I think that if we can find a way to help people be real with one another and realize that conflict is not bad then we can move forward with helping people develop relationships that are meaningful and overall will help people see more of who God is and what He has given to us.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Bible Study vs Small Group

As I take a journey into heading up the Small Group ministry at our church, I find it interesting how many equate Small Groups with Bible Studies.  While they are somewhat similar, personally I find a big difference in the two.

Maybe it's just me, but I seldom have really gotten anything out of a Bible Study.  It's not that the Bible doesn't have anything to offer nor that the there isn't content to learn, but I find that most Bible Studies come out of a book that is so focused on the Bible that it lacks any deep applicable material. 

I know there are some studies out there that have changed peoples lives.  I also know there are some really great Bible Study materials out there that do help facilitate a deeper relationship with God.  On the other hand, most of the ones I have participated in have come across very shallow and have left me with very little to think about.

My experience with Small Groups could easily be different from that of many others.  I have had several positive experiences and have seen them become a great tool in connection people to each other and connecting people to God.

One of the main differences, I believe, between a Small Group and a Bible Study is that the meetings don't always have to consist of a "study."  Sometimes people just need to be people have learn to develop relationships with one another. 

One of the biggest connection points in several of the small groups I have been in, is a basic "ice breaker," we do a lot of weeks that asks people to share a good thing and something not so good in their lives that has happened since the last meeting.  It may sound simple, but allowing people to share something about themselves really allows people the opportunity to be open. 

Another aspect of small groups that varies from a lot of Bible Studies is that they are very relationally based.  When a small group is going well, the people in the group connect with each other on different levels through the week and friendships are created, many of which may not have been established otherwise.  Those relationships allow people to have discussions about their lives, but also opens people up to discussing God and who He is.

Two other pieces, somewhat go hand in hand, that I believe are important and vary from Bible Studies, is the aspect of serving others together and being there for the other people in the group.  I can look back at my life and see several instances where without our small group, life would have been significantly more challenging.  When a group serves together they grow in a way that can seem impossible from the outside. Serving others puts us in a position to reflect Christ to other people.  Sometimes, those that you are serving will be within the group.  It is during those times people will know you truly care.  I can only imagine how many needs are not met by a church, simply because no one knows about them.  When you develop relationships with each other as a group, needs can be made known and needs can be met. 

Honestly, there is so much more to a Small Group than what I listed.  It's not about doing a once a week Bible Study together, but rather it's about doing life together.



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hope

As I have driven to work the past few days I've heard Chuck Swindoll give a series of sermons on hope. The more I have listened the the more I began to realize the importance of hope and how it really impacts our lives.  When I started thinking about the concept of hope I began to reflect and observe, throughout my day, on it.  Looking at recent events in my life and things that seem like obstacles, I can easily see how the hope that we have really shapes the life that we live.

I think different areas of my life right now where it would be easy to lose hope or areas where it seems there is no hope.  Some of these areas it is easier to trust God and know that there is hope, while others you almost have to just sit back and wait as there seems very little chance that things will ever change. I can only imagine what life is like for those who don't believe they have a hope in God and that God will guide them down the path to where He wants them to go.  The lack of hope can be devastating.

I've had several different situations recently where God has shown His face and provided a light for me to see the hope that I have in Him. On the other side, I have also had a few situations where the hope I had seems to be all but lost.  I am not saying that I have lost my hope in God by any means, rather I wonder if sometimes we mistakenly put our hope in people and things rather than God.  We hope that having something will change our lives; we hope that people will change; we hope that money will make our lives easier.  I know God can do each of these things, but maybe our focus is in the wrong place to begin with.

I don't really know if this makes sense or not, but it is worth taking the time to examine our lives to find where we are placing hope and if maybe we have falsely placed hope in the wrong places rather than just realizing our hope is in God.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When Death Dies

I know this isn't on topic with yesterdays post by any means, but I have fell in love with this song and their amazing musicianship.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.




Monday, July 1, 2013

Ritual

For the last couple years I have really struggled with a lot of the ritualistic things people do in churches.  I am very much an advocate for keeping meaning behind what we do in a church service and have found many churches to grab hold of many of these religious rituals and negate the meaning behind them.  The idea of keeping these rituals in the service became quite an issue for me.  I very much had an issue being a part of any service in which the church routinely participated in the same ritual, especially when it seemed to lack any real importance in the lives of those who were participating.

Recently, as I was listening to a gentleman speak, it clicked with me.  For some people, these rituals are part of their worship and connection with other believers.  For years, music has been a vital role in my communal worship with others, while I know for others music isn't as significant a part.  What I have come to realize is that many people find their communal worship in different parts of the service. For some it comes in the music, the sermon, in serving, fellowship, rituals, or may I even say the announcements. 

Understanding that people worship in different parts of the service widens the spectrum of view of worship.  While rituals may be a hang up for me, for others these rituals may be a reminder and remembrance of when they really connected with God in their past and a point of connection with Him each week.  In the same fashion, serving, listening to the word, or singing may be a way someone else feels connected with God and are able to be set free from the distractions of the world. 

I've got a lot on my mind lately and I hope to delve more into the idea of communal worship and it's role in connecting believers to one another, but we shall see.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ecclesiastes 9:9

Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 9:9

I don't know that I have ever REALLY read this verse before. I'm sure I have read it, but not really considered its meaning.  It's not necessarily a joyous verse nor is it a book that many look to for guidance in situations.  Never-the-less, as I think about it, I consider myself blessed to have a wife that I am able to enjoy being with in a life that sometimes does just seem like toil and labor.

There are and have been times in my life when things just don't seem to go as planned.  For one reason or another, life gets complicated.  It is how you live in those complicated times that is important.

I think too often in our lives we forget to enjoy our wives because we let our situations and our lives get in the way.  We see problems, issues, and struggles and forget that Go has actually blessed us and allowed us to have a grounding point in the midst of all that seems to be challenging.

I am ever so thankful for my wife as so many times she has been my grounding point.  I can get so focused on solving a problem and the struggle it will take to fix situations that I forget that God called us to live in the moment and that we can find joy in every situation even if the joy only comes from knowing that we have to trust Him.

As I mentioned a couple times recently, I think we need to be continually be focused on the now and trust that God controls our future.  It is in being able to focus on the now that we can see the blessings He has given us and how rather than taking out our frustrations on our spouse we can truly see them as a blessing from God.

I count myself as blessed.  I have a beautiful wife, who loves God.  She helps me see Him in new ways and is often used by God to ground me and bring me back to where He wants me to be.  I love my wife and appreciate her for allowing God to use her in my life and in the lives of others.  She is truly a reward in my life.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Daily Ration

I shared a video a last week about "green pastures" and how that term has been misunderstood for quite some time.  If you didn't get a chance to watch it, take a couple minutes to watch it, here.

What I want to share today is a few instances of this in my life where I know God has been faithful and how that relates to my life today.

A few years ago, my wife and I were living in a growing community where the median household income is well above $75000 a year and we were living on less that $35,000 with two kids. It was a great community and we were both growing a lot, but the cost of living was always something we couldn't quite catch up with. 

We were good at setting down and writing a budget to try and stay on top of our bills and to try and keep from going deep into debt.  When it was all said and done, our income was always about $300 short of what we knew our bills were going to be.  It was hard, but we had learned how to live on less, but without getting yet another job and being gone all the time, it didn't seem possible to keep up with. 

What we learned during that time was how to really trust in God when it came to our finances.  Every month that gap between our income and our bills was closed as I would be allowed to work just enough over time, I would pick up an additional guitar student, or would be able to sell something on craigslist.  Sometimes I had items listed on craigslist for months and then, the day we were going to need the money, it would sell.

God gave us our daily ration.

I share this, because I am again in a similar spot, where I find myself forgetting that God will provide and that He will give us our daily ration.  It is so easy to want to take control and try to "store up" what I think I will need, but today was another day when I had to say "God, I know you have this.  I am thankful for my daily ration." 

I'm not saying our budget is near like it used to be, by I know within the next few months I am going to need to purchase a new vehicle to transport my growing family.  I want to do all that I can now to make sure that I am saving, finding ways to make extra money, and doing my part in being ready, but I feel like God is saying, "trust me, you will have it when you need it." 

Now I am sure some of you who read this might be thinking that God blesses people and gives more than our daily ration.  While that is true, I believe there is a reason for that. 

There have been countless times in my life where people have helped my family out.  The blessing God gave someone else, turned in to my daily ration.  In the same fashion, there have been times in my life when I knew that the blessings God gave me were to be given to someone else to be their daily rations.

I know there are a lot of people in this world with very little and their daily rations seem so much less than ours.  The spectrum is wide.  Some have just enough and some don't even seem to have that.  What if we looked at our blessings as someone else's and realized we were not meant to keep it. 

I'm not going to say having stuff is wrong, but as a musician friend, Kevin Schlereth, once wrote, "All these possessions are not sufficient for a good life.   All these possessions may even keep you from a good life."  Those words are hard to swallow, but grabbing hold of them sure can make it easier to let go of things you desire when we live in a world that tells us you need more stuff.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Focus

Do you ever wonder if sometimes our focus is in the wrong place?

I remember growing up and various church teachers always teaching about how we need to "do" certain things so that someday we make it to heaven and we need to "not do" other certain things so that we don't go to hell.  From that, as I know so many do, an idea is created that we have to make sure and do the right things now and not do the wrong things so that in the future we will end up in the right place.  It quickly becomes about what I can do that results in where I go.

To make matters worse, we then share these thoughts and beliefs with other people and before long our whole religion is revolving around where "I" end up and if "you" don't fix what "you" are doing wrong, then "you" are going to hell.  We get so focused on where "I" am going and where "you" are going that we forget we are actually on a journey now.

I know there is a passage in the Bible that speaks of focusing on "Heaven" or as other translations put it, "where Christ is now," but I wonder if it has more to with keeping on focus on Christ that it does where He is actually at.

I know there have been several people out there that have written about being a disciple and I have from time to time even.  The more I understand what a disciple is, the less I feel like I can call myself one.  A disciple is someone who wants more than just to "know" what the rabbi is teaching, but rather wants to be who the rabbi is.  A disciple of Christ is someone who wants to see the world as Christ sees it; someone who wants to have a relationship with God like Son has; someone who wants to understand reality the same way Jesus did.  So many of us get so wrapped up in trying to understand and "know," that we negate to be.

When our focus becomes on where we are going it is no longer on Christ, but rather on "our reward."  The best illustration I can think of for this is Romans 9:1-5 where Paul says, 

 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.  For I could pray that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,  who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,  whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Paul was more focused on the here and now and wanting people to realize the importance of it, than he was on where he would "end up."  He was willing to sacrifice his connection to Christ so that others could see and have that same connection.  He was truly being like Christ.  

So I wonder, where in our lives is our focus on "where we are going" effecting the way we live and keeping us from living in the here and now that God gave us to utilize for His glory.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Creativity

I've recently been introduced to a couple of teachers that I haven't ever spent much (if any) time listening to or reading books from.  One of these teachers I shared a video from yesterday.  Today I wanted to share a thought from N.T. Wright.

I was listening to him via youtube this morning and he said something that really made sense to me.  He said that since the age of enlightenment we have put much less focus on the use of our right brain and so as a collective we have lost many of the benefits we get from the arts. (My own paraphrase)  One of said benefits is a certain aspect of God that we speak of, but rarely actually consider as a trait to work on. The trait I am speaking of is creativity.

As a collective the church believes God created.  As a collective we believe that we are created in God's image.  Yet, many of us have ventured to say "I'm just not creative, that's not how God made me."  What if God did make us all creative, we have just learned to stuff it down and limit ourselves based on what we know or THINK we know.

Let me give you a couple examples.

I grew up with Legos.  I very much enjoy Legos to this day.  I remember a time in my life, much like my kids are today, that when I played with Legos I would look for pieces to make what I thought looked like whatever it was in my mind I wanted to look like.  I would build cars, boats, houses, you name it.  The only thing I paid much attention to, is that pieces had to fit my idea of what it should look like.  Color didn't matter; size didn't matter too much; shape mattered a little.  As I got older, each of these things began to matter more.  I could only build a wall if I could use all of the same color or if I could build it in layers.  It could no longer be whatever block happened to work.  My cars had to have 4 tires of the same size. Planes actually had to have wings.  I lost part of my ability to be creative in my mind and began to focus on what I saw as reality.

As I have grown older, I have seen this in both my music and my photography.  Both take creativity, but for me the more I learn about each, the more I become consumed with doing things the "right" way and what is technically correct rather than allowing creativity to expressed.  I've been noting it for a long time now and can see how when I strive to get better at something I want to learn the technical aspects of it.   While this is important, I easily transition into that frame of thinking and push the creativity asside.

When I think about how creative God is and how we are created in His image I have to believe that He created us to be creative beings.  He wanted us to experience and participate in things that are more than what we can know or understand.

I wonder sometimes if that is part of the meaning behind satan being "the deceiver."  He has used knowledge as a way to deceive us and cause us to stumble.  I know that many of the times when I feel closest to God are those times when I am creating.  Not creating out of technical skill, but creating out of inspiration.  Could creativity be something that we have missed in our relationship with God?  Could it be that we have been so focused on "knowing what God knows" that we forget to learn and see things the way God sees them.

God sees chaos and thinks, I can make something out of this.  We see chaos and think, there is no way God can be in this.   Maybe its time to allow ourselves to be creative and break away from the box that we have trapped ourselves in.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Just Enough

Want to change the way you look at things?  Take a look at this.  I had a friend share this thought with me last night and it really makes you wonder how many other things in our lives we have completely misunderstood about what the Bible is saying.  If you go beyond that, it can make you question how you live your life, based on what you have been believing.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Communication

Communication is key in any relationship.  I've been thinking a lot about it here recently.  Before I go on and speak to the subject though, I wanted to start off with a little video that I thought would prepare you for what is to come.   Enjoy


Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Basics

Sometimes we just have to get back to the basics.

I saw this today and thought I would share.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Marketing Jesus

As many of you know, I now work in marketing.  I spend several hours a week learning and listening to others as they come up with ideas and ways to aid in the selling process.  It's quite interesting, actually, to hear about all the things we, as consumers, never really think about but effect us in so many ways.

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I remembered someone once telling me how the church likes to market Jesus. He elaborated on it a bit and I thought I understood pretty well then, but in light of my new job, I find it more and more interesting how we believe we have to sell Jesus (or the church) to people.

As I think about who Jesus is, I don't really see Him as someone who needs a marketing team.  He did a pretty good job of marketing Himself and even those who were able to see first hand many of the miraculous things He did, didn't necessarily believe right away.   I don't think Jesus really wanted to be marketed.  He wasn't a product to be sold or bought into.  He didn't even come to make our lives here easy, which if you know anything about commercials, anything can make your life easier if you pay for it. 

Why do we feel we have to shape Jesus into someone we can sell. We like to change who He is; make Him fit in our box, our culture. Could it be Jesus would rather us just follow Him, and let His light shine through us so that others can see?  Could it be that we need to quit calling it "My Story," and call it something like "The Story of What God Has Done in Me?"

On the other hand, maybe we do need to do a good job of marketing the church.  Maybe marketing is the wrong word, but at least a little PR work. Unfortunately for many churches they get wrapped up in the rules and making everyone look good, that they forget to let people know we are all people. We all make mistakes.  We all have a past.  I think the church needs to let people see Jesus for who He is and what He can do in our lives in spite of our past.  Let people see that we are a work in progress and not a shinning perfect example of perfection. 

This doesn't give the church the opportunity to be sloppy and lazy though.  The church has to be on its game when it comes to organization and leadership.  Sure mistakes will happen from time to time, but Jesus was a great leader.  He always had a plan and everything He did fell into that plan.  I think there is a fine line to walk when it comes to the church because we want people to know they can come as they are, just as we come as we are.  On the other hand, we want to let people know we are serious about our service to God and that it's not just something we do, but that it is what we do.

Anyway, I think it is time to evaluate our lives and see if we are busy trying to market Jesus to others or if we are sitting at His feet trying to learn from Him.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chapter 9 - Right there

Yesterday, my family went to the park to celebrate Taylor's birthday.  As we were getting ready to leave, Lilly started getting a little fussy and as usual wanted to be little-miss-independent.  As I allowed her to walk back to the car, I offered her my hand several times to hold onto as the ground was sloped, there were holes, and other obstacles that could easily get in the way of her being able to walk well.  Every time I offered to help, she pulled back her hand and said "no."  She wanted to do it on her own. 

Lilly certainly couldn't see what was coming ahead of her.  She couldn't see the things that could and would cause her issues.  She even decided at one point to take a long route back to the car and went in the wrong direction for a minute or so.

As I thought about that whole situation, I began to wonder how often we act that way towards God and how often we God is just there waiting to help.

Many of us have spent a lot of time reading the Bible and trying to understand who God is.  Most of us have had experiences in our lives that have shaped the way we view God and our surrounding.  Yet, even now, I can say that I don't know what is coming; I don't know all of who God is and what He wants to do in my life.

I know God is always with us, but I wonder how many times in our lives He can see what is coming ahead and know all that will cause us struggle, and yet we refuse to take His hand as He offers it.  Maybe sometimes He does want us to try a harder path or something new, and yet we think we know our own way and end up either getting off course or hurrying so fast that we trip and get hurt.

Walking with Lilly yesterday, just reminded me of how often God is there just wanting to assist us in getting where He wants us to go and we make it so much harder all because we want to be independent and think we can do it on our own.

As a dad, it would have been easier to pick Lilly up and carry her to the car, in-fact, it was hard not to.  I wanted to get her there quickly and I wanted her not to fall.  Yet, as with God, I wanted her to be able to learn that no matter what I will be there to help her when she is ready.  If she falls, I will be there to comfort her.  If she goes off the path, I will be right there for her to come back to so she knows where the path is.  We will make it, it just may be harder, longer,  and possibly more harmful than it needs to be.



Having kids has certainly enabled me to see things about God that I never even considered before.  If you haven't read my blog much in the past, each of the "Chapter" blogs are based on lessons that my kids have taught me about God.  They sure are a blessing and tools in which God teaches me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Creation

I don't know why I began to think about it again yesterday, but a while back I heard an interesting thought about creation.  If you take a look at Genesis 2 you will find a line that we often put out of place.  In the midst of creating God says "It is not good for man to be alone."  He then proceeds to form animals and has Adam name them. Then after all of that is done, He creates woman from Adams side.

The thought I found so interesting is that God knew it wasn't good for man to be alone yet took the time to form animals, have Adam name them, and then created woman.  I don't know if you have ever stopped to think about it, but it would have taken him a very long time to name all of them.  I heard one gentleman say it could have easily taken 100 years.  So that means Adam was with animals and God for possibly 100 years without Eve.

When discussing it last night, a friend of mine suggested that it could be God's way of teaching Adam what is was like without a companion and letting him see the need for one.  As I look at the way God operates in my life, I would have to agree this is a very good probability.

All too often I think we get stuck on the fact that God knows what is best for us and will give it to us. While that is true, I think God sometimes wants us to realize our needs before He provides.  God wants us to realize that He is our provider.

Another interesting thought is that God says it is good after each "day" in Chapter 1, but then He says "It is not good for man to be alone."  I too find this interesting, because it shows that even from Creation God intended us to live with one another and not on our own. 

As I think about both of these concepts, it reminds me of how many times we think we know the truth, but the Truth isn't revealed until later.  We buy into what the world offers as truth and sometimes go a long time living that way before we realized that there is Truth beyond on and beyond what we can see. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Judge me

I have come to the realization over the past month or so that I am rather fond of judgement.  Not judgement in a way that we normally think of judgment (which is often very close if not actually condemnation), but judgment in the sense of truth revealing.

Often we as believers are busy judging people based on whatever "truth" we may see.  Unfortunately, that "truth" is often far from real truth.  I could get in and discuss that, but that is not really why I am writing.

I am writing because I believe I need to be judged.  I need people who know me to look at my life and show me the areas that I might be missing the truth or struggling to do what God wants.  Take note, I said people that know me.

I can use my wife as a perfect example of this.  I don't know how many times we have been in the middle of a conversation and she has said something out of love that let me know her view on the subject while revealing the truth of the situation.  She knows me, she has a relationship with me, she has permission to judge me so that I might become a better follower of Christ and be a stronger reflection of him. 

I think back a few months ago and remember an email I sent to a couple friends.  They didn't fully understand the situation that I presented them with, but took the time to listen to at least my side of the story.  I begged them to tell me I was wrong in the situation.  I was very upset and needed someone who knew the heart of God and could see His truth to reveal my shortcomings.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I was begging to be judged.  Better yet, after they had judged me and revealed to me in love, that I still had something things to consider in the situation, more of God's truth was revealed.  They didn't condemn me, rather they judged me the way God wants us to judge each other.

We are designed to help each other see the truth.  No one man (or woman) can know all of who God is.  We are called to a life long relationship with God and to get to know more of Him.  If we gather together and get to know one another then our ability to understand who God is, becomes so much greater.

I often wish I could get a glimpse of what the early church really looked like.  So many of us think we know, but in our culture I believe we have very little understanding of how important the brothers and sisters in Christ were to each other.  They were each others family.

I would challenge you to find someone that you trust and you know has a strong relationship with God and allow them into your life to walk along side you and provide you with the judgment that you need.

Judgment often gets a bad rap, but I believe that God intended it for good, while satan intends to use it for evil.  It's just one more way he ties to divide those who long to know God.

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Kids


I can't really recall the last time I wrote about my kids, but I know I needed to write about how much I really love and care about them.  I'm not quite sure what it is, but over the past sixth months or more, I feel like I have been seeing more and more reasons why/how I love them more.

I know as parents we all love our kids.  Our love is based on the fact that they are our kids and it has nothing to do with how they behave or how they treat us.  We will love them regardless.

I think one of the beauties of having kids is that we get a little glimpse into how God views us.  Only I think God can give us a little more love for a kids each day, even when we think we can't love them any more.  I believe God has a perfect love for us and, as much as I would I hope I have that same love for my kids, I know my love isn't perfect like His.

Like many things in life, God wants to teach us along the way.  He knows we can't handle all that He has for us and that it has to come in His timing.  The beauty for me is that I can feel, experience, and understand how my love for kids is greater today than it was yesterday.

I have found myself more often this past 6 months looking forward to getting home to my kids, just to see the smile on their face.  I love being greeted by my kids and hearing that they look forward to the days when I have off work so I can be around them.  I remember very much days when my kids didn't even act like they cared if I was home or not.  I don't blame it on them, because I was gone a lot.  I worked so many hours that what little time I was home I was disconnected from them either planning for the next thing or trying to recoup from the previous.

I was showing love to them in a way I knew how.  However, since then I have worked towards showing them love in other ways and making time for them. I enjoy the time I get to spend with them.

I am writing all of this because I recently came upon this video that really got me to think. It represents one aspect of life that I hope to never have to experience with my kids.  I was so moved by it, that I had to share.


I hope that if I am ever faced with this situation I have the strength to carry on and am able to allow God to use the situation for His glory and to share His love with so many.  I know I have not been left unaffected by the movement of paying it forward.  Who knows, what trickled down to me may have originated from this act of love.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Catching up

For some reason, I haven't been able to come up with any topics worth writing on lately.  I don't want to be controversial or only hit on those subjects.  I want to hit on the subjects that have shaped the way my view has changed. In an effort to do this, I want just list off a few instances that I think are note worthy.

Differences with people
Do you have people that you have differences with or that seem to rub you the wrong way at times?  I know its not a huge revelation or anything, but I have found the more I am in contact with people and the more time I spend talking, emailing, or just plain communicating with the easier it is to see good in the situation.  I have found it becomes much easier to deal with the differences and let some of the differences go when good communication and relationships are developed.  I have also learned the opposite is true.  The longer you spend away from those people that you have differences with the easier it is to let those differences become walls of seperation.

Playing my guitar
Now I don't know that I would actually qualify this as a new revelation as much as it has been a reminder of what once was.  This past week I have spent more time playing my guitar, singing, and singing with my wife than I have in the past year or more.  I can only think of a couple times that would even come close in that amount of time.  It reminds me of why I loved it so much and how it is through music that I often feel closest to God.  I don't know what it is, but I believe God loves music  and uses it as a tool of healing.   I've heard and seen it used for many practical healing methods and how it does help with physical symptoms. I have also experienced how it can heal and strengthen ones soul as well.  Maybe, just maybe, when God said David was a man after His own heart, that a piece of that statement was referencing David's love of music.

Friends
I hate to admit it, but a while back a friend loaned me a CD and while I did like the music I didn't fall in love with it.  It was a bit too "different" for me.  Then last week I met the artist and really listened to the music and the lyrics and fell in love with it.  It pains me to think that I went so long without really understanding what was in front of me.  I don't know if it was just getting to know the artist and see the beauty in what he does, but the music became so much more alive.  I find myself waking up with the songs stuck in my head and the lyrics resonating with me so much that I see how they apply in my every day life.  I guess it somewhat goes back to the whole "differences with people," but the more time you spend getting to know someone and see their heart, the more beauty you can find and cling too.

Habanera Jelly
So I just have to tell someone about this.  My wife recently purchased some habanera jelly for me, and the stuff is great.  I've been a fan of hot foods for quite some time and this one really does rank right up there with the best.

God
While this really isn't a new revelation either, I can look back at the few things I have listed so far and draw a few points.  God is The Creator.  He has created some amazing things for us to enjoy and I believe He enjoys it when we are creative as well.  The second thing is that if we truly look, we can see God in relationships and why He calls us to relationships with others just as He calls us to relationship with Him.  I almost have gotten to a point now where I don't like to use the word "relationship" because it has been so pounded in our heads because the "church" easily gets away from it and has, for many of us, most of our lives.  The fact still remains the same however, the more we are connected to others the more we are connected to God and the same is also true that the more we are connected to God the more we will be connected to others.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Friends

Making new friends, can be very challenging....or on the other hand, can be very interesting.  Since Marcey and I have been married, we have had a couple experiences where we really didn't know very many people that we would call our "friends." 

Our first experience in developing family friends, came shortly after we got married and began attending a church that neither of us had any connections to.  We really enjoyed the church, but most of the people our age weren't married, and those that were a bit older than us and were married, had kids.  Fortunately for us we were able to become friends with a few older couples and eventually we began to meet people our age that were married. 

I find the whole process interesting, because we met people and began relationships with people who would help us through many rough times and a few relationships are stronger than I ever thought possible.

As you can imagine and as I have shared many times before, we moved away from many of those friends and have had to develop some new relationships.

As Marcey and I ventured on a journey of establishing a small group, I could begin to see ways God was working before I even knew.  He created various connections with people that in normal circumstances I wouldn't have had a lot of interaction with.  We again had started building new friendships.

What I find interesting about friendships and relationships is that the more I pursue them and develop them, the stronger I feel connected to Him.  I see things and experience things that had I allowed myself to stay isolated I would have missed out on the gifts, experiences, and lessons God is trying to teach me. 

I find it curious that God designed us to be in relationship with Him and others and slowly but surely our society has been growing to where we are more "connected" than ever before yet we are so isolated from each other.

I find it interesting the circumstances that I have been in and gone through over the last few years and how I can see many of them as key pieces of connection in many of my most recent relationships.

I find it amazing how much God works in our lives and many times we don't even realize or think about how He has been working and believe our life is completely a result of own personal actions.  While our actions do play a part, I know God plays a responsive role to each of them and " God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Offensive

I know the last blog I titled, I'm offended, but today's somewhat goes along with it, and I couldn't think of a better title.

Yesterday, I got to have a 30 minute conversation with a gentleman from work about God.  He mentioned he noticed that I carried my Bible with me to work and was curious as to why and what I was studying.  In the course of conversation he mentioned that he was a Seventh Day Adventist.  He also mentioned that he found it interesting that I would bring my Bible to work, because you don't see many people taking them to church, let alone to the work place.

It was a great conversation.  I didn't know a whole lot about the denomination, and still don't, so I was a little hesitant at times to share my thoughts and beliefs because I didn't want to offend him.  He is an older gentleman, always super nice,  and I don't know how easily he is offended.  However, the thought continually came across my mind.

The more I have thought about it, I begin to wonder if I had offended him with sharing any of my beliefs.  We both shared different thoughts, and seemed to agree on most topics.  Yet, the thought kept coming to my mind.

Then today, I realized I don't have to worry about if I offended him, if I am speaking the truth.  I was speaking in judgement or condemning, but rather just sharing thoughts and views about God and how they compared to what each other believed.  I'm not saying that I should have thrown all caution to the wind, but I should be able to have an open conversation about who God is.

I often wonder how God feels about the fact that we have so many denominations and are split by our views of Him.  Shouldn't followers of Christ be able to co-exist with each other and have open conversations about Him.

Maybe I am just one of those people who have been around enough Christians that say either you believe the same way they do or your going to hell.  To a certain extent, I was one of those people at one time.  On the other hand, as I spend time with my kids, I have had to realize that I have to be a little different with each of them.  They each respond to situations differently.

If God is our Heavenly Father, couldn't it be true that He has to do the same with us?  He knows how He has to interact with us, what is good for us and what isn't, and what we need to thrive.  Who are we to say all Christian's have to believe the exact same thing on every topic.

I am not saying that there is no white and black, but only grey when it comes to God.  I do believe He has certain guidelines that separate life and death.  There are differences that a good friend of mind called "salvation issues."

What if we began looking for the commonalities in what we believe and are open to discussion with our fellow brothers and sisters and work towards rebuilding Christ's church and focused less on "the color of the carpet and how it can cause people to sin."

Anyway, it's just my three cents for the day.  Like I said, it was a great conversation, I just wish I could work through the worry of offending and just enjoy the fellowship.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Accidental Racist

It appears as if this song, Accidental Racist, by Brad Paisley is getting a lot of discussion lately.  While I don't like to always jump on what everyone else is talking about, I thought there were some interesting conversations to be had over the song.

I find it interesting that so many are saying it is a terrible song.  When I listen to it, I can hear a very similar song being sung by so many Christians and often get a similar response from others.  To me, it reminds me of how much we have to apologize for that "Christians" did in the name of Christ and how much we have done as "Christians" in the name of Christ that has really caused more damage than good.  It also reminds me of how important it is to try to line our actions up with what Christ taught now, so that we don't pose hindrances for those in years to come.

I'm sure there is a lot more I could say about it, but I will let you hear it for yourself.

Take time to listen, let me know what you think.  *** Alright the video I originally posted has been removed.  You can find the lryics here.  


Friday, April 5, 2013

Busy-ness the drug

I came across this blog post today and I really enjoyed it.  Partially because it went along with what I was talking about yesterday. 

Is Busy-ness a Drug - Shauna Niequist

Busy is both my drug and my defense. By that I mean that I use busy-ness to make me feel numb and safe, the way you use a drug, and I use busy-ness as a way of explaining all the things I dropped, didn’t do well, couldn’t pull together, as a defense.

And I’m telling you this because I want to stop. I want to drop the drug and the defense, one from each hand, letting them fall with heavy thunks, and I want to live a new way.

Continue Reading here


Thursday, April 4, 2013

When is life too busy?

When is life too busy?  This is often a question I have to ask myself.  Not because I necessarily want to know the answer, but because I remember the ramifications in my life of when I know for a fact I was too busy.

People have different schedules and they are filled in many different ways.  I know one person who works all day and has something going on most nights.  He is lucky if he gets one day a week off.  On the other hand I know another person who works 5 days a week, but does very little outside that.  Personally, I work a 5 day week,  have other things going on 2 nights a week plus various events including church each weekend, all while trying to find quality time with my family. 

When I think about life and how busy we have become as a society, I wonder how much of life we are actually missing, even if we are "busy for the Lord."  I wonder if God desires for us to live a life that is slower paced to where we can enjoy His creations.

Even with not being nearly as busy as I used to be, there are times when I feel like I am missing out on the rest of what God has for us.  We get so busy "doing" that we forget to see Jesus for who He really is. 

A good friend of mine used to bring up the story of Mary, Martha, and Jesus on occasion.  It was always a reminder for me that we can get so busy doing that we miss out on the blessings of Jesus Himself. Take time to read it, it can be an encouragement just to sit before God. 

I read a book a while back called "Simple Church."  It very much intrigued me, because it so much resounded with who I am.  (It also reminded me of Google and Macintosh, so simple it makes sense.)  It spoke of how often our churches get so filled with trying to "do" so many things that not only do people get stretched thin (remember 10% of the church do 90% of the work), but many of the things we do, aren't done well. 

As I think about that concept, I wonder if the same implications are true for ourselves and our families.  Do we try to do so much that we run ourselves thinner than God intended?  Does the quality of what we do suffer because we try to do too much?  Do we continually miss out on the things God has for us, because we are too busy?

I think God would rather each of us do a few things well and become skilled at it, than for us to keep trying to do so many things that we are okay at.  That however, is another post for the future.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How do you decide?

How does one go about deciding what is important and what is not?  I've spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. I still don't have the answers I want. 

I know that God is supposed to be first and foremost in our lives. I know that we are supposed to live our lives as if everything we have belongs to God. I know we are to be good stewards.  I know we are supposed to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I know we are supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves.

 I know the Christ said the last two were the most important of the laws, but what about when it's not so black and white? 

I think about the things in my life that I am very passionate about; music, small groups, my family, etc. I think about how important they are to me and how much time and energy I am willing to invest in them.  On the other hand, I know some who spend very little time investing in their family; don't really care about small groups; and if they happen to be into music don't believe practice is even important.

How does one decide what is important when it comes down to what God has laid on your heart and yet it directly rubs against the grain of someone else.  I know God puts "sand paper" people in our lives to help us to become more of what He wants us to be, but sometimes you can be getting rubbed with very coarse paper rather than the fine.   The coarse keeps wearing you down while the fine would smooth you out.

I trust God and I know He has his plans. I know there will be conflict in life and I know conflict makes us better if we can let God show us how. 

So here is the question again. How does one decide what is important when it feels like God says one thing and life and people around you say something different? 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I miss it


I have heard many phrases like "the grasses is always greener on the other side, but that's because its AstroTurf" and "you never know what you have until it's gone." I have always fully believed it.  I still do.

For quite some time now, I have limited myself to how much I play guitar.  It's not that I don't like to play, nor is it that I don't want to play, its almost that it hurts to play very much.

A few years ago, I was regularly playing with a group of guys that really taught me how to love worship music. Yes, I know worship music isn't the be-all-end-all of music by any means, but the experience of playing with a group and being able to get lost in the emotion and experience of the situation is something I will never forget.

The guys I played with were great musicians in their own right, but when you put them together something was just right.  For me, I felt like a brand new guitar player getting to play with world class musicians.  They could make just about anyone sound good.  God blessed them.  God used them.  He still does.

However, a couple years ago that all ended for me.  I moved away.  I found a few other musicians to work with, to play with, to create an experience with.  They too were great musicians.  They weren't as experienced in worship music, but there was hope.  That too came to an end with another move.

I have spent well over a year trying to figure out what to do. I miss playing with those guys.  I miss the experience. I miss feeling like I am in the midst of God's presence in music.

I've been told over and over again that if you have the heart of worship you should be able to worship God regardless of the quality, style, or setting.  For some reason, even though I feel like I have a heart for worship I can't.  There is just something about being connected with people in worship that makes it that much more real to me.

Sure I can worship on my own, by myself at my house, but it is still not the same.  God designed us to be in relationship with one another.  I can't imagine that it is any different when it comes to worshiping Him in music.  I think He delights when a group is so in love with Him that they want to do the best they can to express that love through music.

If you were reading my blog last year, you may remember me touching on the subject of playing my guitar and how music was a major part of my life in the past.  However, I have let it go for some time and haven't really said a whole lot about it.  It was almost as if I was distancing myself from it.

Recently, I began to really realize I know a few people that are great musicians.  They love their craft and are dedicated to it.

One of my biggest hesitations with getting back into playing regularly is that I know it takes commitment.  At the first church I mentioned, we had weekly practices, the members were committed and we grew as a group.  After that first move, I became a youth pastor and the musicians I worked with respected me and were eager to play together.  They would practice, try anything, and we grew.  Now, few people even know my love and passion for true worship.

I have a hard time, sometimes, with playing together to just be playing together.  I long for the days when both the relationship and music were important enough to invest time into .  I miss the overwhelming sense of God's presence.  Maybe I am just naive about what worship really is.  Maybe I am longing for something that I will never have again.

I just know I miss it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Selfish Adults...

According to Doug Mainwaring the whole idea of legalizing same sex marriage is all about Selfish Adults.

I don't know that I had ever looked at it this way before, at least not until my wife showed me the articled.  After I read it, I began to wonder how many other ideas in our life could be looked at in a similar fashion.

The articled reads:
In our sometimes misguided efforts to expand our freedom, selfish adults have systematically dismantled that which is most precious to children as they grow and develop. That’s why I am now speaking out against same-sex marriage.

By the way, I am gay.

A few days ago I testified against pending same-sex marriage legislation in Minnesota’s Senate Judiciary and House Civil Law Committees.

The atmosphere at these events (I’ve also testified elsewhere) seems tinged with unreality—almost a carnival-like surrealism. Natural law, tradition, religion, intellectual curiosity, and free inquiry no longer play a role in deliberations. Same-sex marriage legislation is defended solely on grounds of moral relativism and emotions.

Pure sophistry is pitted against reason. Reason is losing.

Continue Reading Here



What are your thoughts? 


How much does He love you...

Alright so after I wrote my blog yesterday, I came across this.

Makes perfect sense to me...

Jesus Loves My Arrogant Self 

- By Donald Miller

Oh, I know. You’re thinking that if I say Jesus loves my arrogance, I’m enabling arrogance. I’m not. You shouldn’t be arrogant, and neither should I. But I am. And Jesus likes me more than you like me and we are all going to have to get used to that.

(continue reading here)


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dehumanization and Equality

Yesterday, I wrote about the two lies that most of us have bought into.  Today, I want to consider what really happens when we buy into those lies.

A while back I was listening to someone speak on the dehumanization of people in our society and how often it really occurs. I hadn't ever thought about the topic much, so it rather intrigued me.  Then with all that has been going on recently the word "dehumanizing" has really stuck with me for some reason. 

As I think about Easter coming up in the next few days I can't help but wonder how often we take what Christ did for granted and forget that He did for everyone, not just those who choose to "obey His rules."

As I saw all of the red equal signs being displayed on facebook recently, I couldn't help myself from trying to find God in the situation.  With so many ways to respond and so many arguments that don't need to be had, I wondered how Christ would have responded. 

That is when it hit me, the cross is how He did respond.  He responded in a way that put everyone on an equal playing field.  He died so that we might all be equals and that we all could have the hope that is found only in Him. 

People beg, plead, argue, fight, and (whatever you want to define it as) for equality when it has already been given.  I get the fact that life doesn't seem fair.  Things are harder for some than for others.  God didn't promise a life of fairness, but rather He promised a life of equality in Him.  There will always be arguments about equal rights for people. 

When I heard what Lecrae said yesterday, it made perfect sense to me.  "Religion aside. What are we basing equality on? The right to be with whoever you love? What if I love my sister? A 13 year old? An animal? Does the basis for equality still work? I'm Not spewing hate, I'm asking honestly about consistency? Again I'm leaving religion out of this,"

Someone is always going to be fighting for equality in one way or another.  It just so happens that right now it is for marriage equality.  Who am I to think I need to be equal with those who the world deems "better" or "more right."  What if I said I wanted equal rights to start a large business and therefor I should be given large loans just the same as those who have millions of dollars.  The only difference, would be that I would end up enslaved to my debtor for years on end where as someone who has millions to begin with is just using the resources God has given them.

When we give into sin whether it be, homosexuality, lust, lying, stealing, drunkenness, etc. we become trapped in that bondage that Christ has paid for our release from. One sin is not greater than another, and we all have sin, and we all struggle with it.   The goal is to grow closer to Christ each day so that we can live a life free from bondage.

I am for people being free from bondage.  I am for people having life to the full.  I am for "re"humanizing people and sharing God's love with whomever it may be regardless of the the bondage they may be in.  It's not easy, but God never said following Him would be easy. 

I am on a journey to know Christ. I want to know Him more so that I may understand more how to love people the way He would love them.  I want to see people as equals and see people as people.  I want to be able to share Christ with all people so that they are able to be set free from the bondage of sin and live the life God desires for them.  That may not be through words, but rather through action. 

 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Two Lies

I recently read a quote by Rick Warren that read,
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” 

The more I think about it, the more I realize how true that quote is. 

I don't know where that mentality really started, but I know these lies are often perpetuated by the media, our government, and now social media. As I reflect on this past week and the whole Rob Bell statement and now the court case on similar subject matter, I can see many times where people have bought into these lies.  Unfortunately, I think satan is having a hay-day with it, because it is dividing Christian's left and right. 

In the midst of every lie, there has to be some truth.  Satan knows this.   He used it when he tempted Jesus in the desert.  Unfortunately, many people forget it and believe the whole lie because they recognize the little truth that is it in.

A while back, I came across an idea of living based on what we are for rather than what we are against. I can't say that I have been the best at following that thought in my daily life, but it is a grounding point that I can fall back to when I start to wonder about what God would have me to do or say in a situation.

I think a great example of this, is one I shared a while back was by Shane L. Windmeyer.  It is a story about Dan Cathy and Mr. Windmeyer.  I won't go into all the details, but as many of you remember Dan Cathy stated a while back that Chick-fil-A was for traditional marriage.  It created quite a heated debate, and I can remember Christians being on both sides.  This is a story that didn't get as much publicity.  Mr. Cathy develops a friendship with Mr. Windmeyer, who's organization protested against Chick-fil-A.  

As I read the story, I couldn't help but think "this is a guy who gets it."  Mr. Cathy didn't focus on what he was against, rather he focused on what God has called us to, loving people.  

The beauty of it all, is that God gave us each today.  If He hadn't, you wouldn't be reading this.  Today is a new day and a day where we can start living for God, and loving people.  We don't have to agree, condone, or support everyone, but we do need to love them just the same.  

"You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate."