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March 18, 2013, 9:06 AM

what color am I supposed to wear today?

Good "Day After St. Pat's" Day Readers! 

I am always impressed by the sheer volume of green that arises out of people's closets on odd holidays like St Patrick's day.  I mean, do we really hold on to that green (and I mean GREEN) shirt just for this one day?  Probably.  I'm stunned by how many St Pat's themed KU shirts I saw for sale and on display on people this weekend as well.  I mean, are you going to wear that any OTHER day but March 17th?  Probably not.  

What is encouraging about it though is this:  everyone agrees that green is the color of choice that day.  You could see it in Church yesterday, as there was more green than any color present.  Some even went so far as to accessorize with green goodies.  I remember the crazy volume of ugly Christmas sweaters that seemed to occupy my high school teacher's closets...  Those had to take up a good 1/8th of the closet, just for one week or two of the year, but thats a whole different post.  

My message is simple, and yes, it relates to the odd habit of wearing green on St. Pat's.  Why cant we coordinate ourselves to show other aspects of our lives as well as we do our ownership of green clothing once a year?  There was no denying what day it was yesterday.  Between the green dye and the shamrock headbands, leprauchaun socks, etc... there could be no confusion.  We were all advertising the fact that it was March 17th, and we're proud of it.  

What else can we advertise so clearly as the Body of Christ?  I'd like to see things like compassion and acceptance worn as proudly as a green tie on March 17th.  I'd love to see us wear acts of grace and forgiveness as willingly as we wear ugly Christmas sweaters to that office party a week before Christmas.  Can we show the world that we love them wholly and completely despite the baggage and guilt as well as we accessorize to match obscure holidays?  

This is not a guilt message.  I like that there is enthusiasm and joy associated with special days.  Dont lose that wonder and happiness.  But be aware of the message we're sending on the days in between!  

Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

This goes beyond wardrobe choices.  Obviously.  Clothing yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience cannot be summed up in one T-shirt, regardless of who's face is on it.  It can be summed up, though, with a life lived following Christ.  Wear these types of clothes to work, school, home, and everywhere in between.  

Be as proud of your compassion, kindness, etc... as you are that green shirt with the shamrocks and that really ugly Christmas sweater.  



March 11, 2013, 10:38 AM

Setting the Bar a Little Lower.

Good Day Reader. 

This week's sermon was a hard pill to swallow......for me.  As I was presenting the story of The Mediocre Samaritan, my brain was stuck on all those moments when I did exactly like I was instructing otherwise.  I am especially conscious of our time spent in Romans 12; specifically verse 9.  "Dont Just Pretend to Love Others. . ."

SIgh.  My mind wanders throughout the Old Testament to places where God is fed up with the people and their meaningless sacrifices.  Sure, they were offering sacrifices to God, but their hearts werent in it.  They were going through the motions.  The act was there, but the meaning behind it was lost.  I feel much of the same way about the story of the Good Samaritan.  Its a great story, one that makes for an excellent class, sermon, and lesson.  We can talk about how bad the Priest and Levite were... because they should know better.  We can talk all day about just how good the Samaritan was.  It is really an amazing story.  But do we hang on to the message?  Do we get to the end, hear Jesus' command of "Now go and do likewise", and just move on with our lives?  

I do.  

Its a hard pill to swallow because Jesus' words are for me.  I've allowed myself to walk casually around the trainwrecks of people's lives, all the while thinking I had much more important things to do.  I've allowed myself to show curiosity, even surface level interest in service and doing things above and beyond for people... only to move on after the minimal amount of commitment. 

Everytime I hear the story of the Good Samaritan, I want to put myself in the place of the Samaritan, the one who stops to help.  I really want to, but unfortunately reality sets in and I've already moved on.  The message forgotten, the bar of expectations set a little lower with each passing step.  

It takes conscious effort for me to come close to the Christ-like standard I am called to.  It takes time, sacrifice, and momunmental levels of concentration and prioritization......and its worth every bit of that investment.  

My call to you, the reader, is to be an intentional blessing on those people who are beaten up by life.  Left stripped bare and lying on the side of the highway of life.  Seek them out.  Give sacrificially.  Then look around for someone to share the message with (not in a self-righteous way).  Share the message of sacrifice, giving, loving, and compassion.  

Live this message:  Now go and do likewise.  



March 4, 2013, 11:25 AM

A good tree? Or a dead tree?

Hello Reader! 

So I'm going to try and eloquently explain why I left yesterday's sermon (3/3/13) with the challenge to "not be warts or blisters on the body of Christ."  Yes, I understand there really is no other place to go to try and make warts and blisters eloquent... but I'm going to give it a shot.  

We must be a body of believers that is working; much like a tree, with all its roots, bark, branches, leaves, and even the nuts.  When a tree is working, all aspects of the body are engaged.  The branches are stretching and growing and offering new places for leaves to reach the Sun.  The roots are digging deeper and deeper, searching for springs and sources of life giving sustinance.  The bark strengthens and grows around the tree, protecting and shading the fragile interior.  Through the seasons of growth the nuts and seeds are developing so they can strike new ground when the time comes around for new growth.  

Where are you in this process?  What place can you be found in the lifecycle of the tree? Because if a tree isnt growing, its dying.  There is no halfway about it.  There are intricicies to the lifecycle of the church that cannot be relegated to my simple illustration of the tree, but the essence is the same.  We are either growing or we're not.  Think about it, how easy is it to identify a tree that isnt growing?  Its simple really, because there are no leaves, the branches are brittle, the bark is stripping off.  

As we take some time this week following through with the challenge to identify our place in the body, we must be aware of whether or not we are part of a living and growing body, or one that is stagnant.  As we represent Jesus to this world (we are called the Body of Christ afterall), what image are we offering?  Does our Jesus extend his arms in love from all corners of the congregation?  Does he run to the aid of the lonely and mourning?  Do the roots of the Church ground themselves in the power of God's Word or in the influence of our desires and wishes?  

Find your place in the body of Christ.  Be honest.  If you can only identify ways that you take from the body without offering anything in return, you have become a tumor.  Tumors take.  Tumors decay.  The church, the body of Christ has enough tumors.  We need branches that will reach.  We need leaves that bask in the light of the sun.  We need roots that dive deep into the Word.  We need some bark that shields the young, allowing them to nurture and grow.  We need our people to be active and involved.  Otherwise we're just lumber, ready to be cut down and thrown into a fireplace.  


yep, a tree is much more eloquent than warts and blisters.  



February 25, 2013, 10:56 AM

Practically speaking, or practically ignoring?

Good Day Reader!  Time for another blog post recapping and adding some thoughts from Yesterday's sermony-type thoughts.  

Who wants to be loved in a mediocre fashion?  Who wants their spouse to half-heartedly commit to a life together?  Is there anyone out there seeking a friendship that hurts and bleeds them dry?  How many want to see world hunger kind of solved, but not totally?  

I dont think anyone would admit to any of these publically, or on record.  We are not built that way.  We are not built to accept the mediocre, even if we unfortunately fall into it over and over again. 

Imagine with me, if we could, apply the concept of "mediocre" to God's pursuit of us in some popular Bible stories.  

Imagine the mediocre actions of God in Egypt.  What would have happened if God had given up on his people at the first sign of complaining?  They'd be stuck at the edge of the Red Sea, see that in front of them and Pharaoh's army charging up behind...  Insert the complaing and griping here, and boom, God does nothing.  If God wasnt passionate in the pursuit of His people, he could have left them right there, stuck between the Sea and an Army waiting for them to shoosh their complaining.  

What if God didnt take the time to seek out Noah and protect him with the long term plan of the Ark?  What if God didnt stop Abraham's arm from completing its arc and actually sacrificing Isaac? What if David's first shot had missed its mark on Goliath?  What if God really had removed "the cup" from Jesus, and we had no cross or empty tomb?  

Church, there is no halfway to God's pursuit of us, God's desire to know us.  There is only God going all in because he really, really likes you on top of his eternal love for the earth.  

We can no longer allow ourselves to go halfway in our pursuit of a godly life, in pursuit of being Christ's Ambassadors.  There is no halfway.  I want to call on my inner geek and quote Yoda from Star Wars:  "Do or Do Not.  There is no Try."  


No more mediocre.  No more halfway.  

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February 18, 2013, 9:45 AM

Mediocre Relationships to the Rescue!!

Good Day Reader! 

I had the pleasure of officiating a wedding this past weekend.  It is always an honor to be asked to take part in the first steps of a couple's life together.  Its always exciting because, despite all the activity going on around them and the detail oriented people pushing this way and that, the wedding and marriage is all about passion and love for the couple.  I guess it may happen, but I dont think there are many weddings that are based on the mediocre desire to get married and a mediocre commitment to spend a lifetime together.  I'm betting the passion shown during a wedding hardly ever lies in the realm of mediocre.  

So... because I'm a preacher and I have to ask these questions:  Are you ok with a mediocre relationship with Christ and His Church?

NO, this is not a plea for better attendance and better giving.  That is better left to guilt trips and mediocre sermons.  This is a question that goes deeper than those surface level indicators of Spiritual Health.  I'm afraid too many Churches are topped off with folks content with mediocre passion, mediocre dedication, mediocre allegiance, and mediocre intentions to live intentionally.  Church, when will we ever call on mediocre ANYTHING to save ANYTHING? 

Moses was driven from Egypt (yes, a lot of that was based on his own impulsiveness and anger issues), set in the desert for a few decades with some sheep, then finally approached to be God's delivery man.  It took some convincing, with some bold arguments by Moses, but he bought in.  Moses went all in, taking the plan back to his Father-in-Law (can you imagine how that conversation went???   "Yeah, so....God talked to me......through a burning bush."  "No, it wasnt really a burning bush, it was a bush that was on fire but not burning..."  No, I dont know how he did that..."  "Wait, lets stay on task... GOD spoke to me, and he's sending me back to Egypt."  "Yes, the bush was fine afterward..."  SIGH.)

On the way to Egypt, with perhaps the biggest task ever placed on one man (outside of Jesus saving ALL OF US!!!), Moses stops for the night.  Turn to Exodus 4: 24 - 26.  God shows KILL MOSES!!!  WHOA!!  Isnt this the guy that God just commissioned?  Isnt this the guy that God endorsed?  Yep.  And he was about to die.  

Why?  Because he went from "all in" to "mediocre."  Moses failed to obey one tiny command, and it very nearly cost him his life.  Thanks to Zipporah and her quick thinking, we still have Charlton Heston playing Moses and not Aaron in "The Ten Commandments."  

Now, I'm not calling you out saying God is on his way to kill anyone because of a mediocre obedience.  God's justice will be served in time, with a heavy dose of the Grace of Jesus thrown in.  What this story does for me is attack that part of me that wants to dismiss the little things that will make some of the biggest differences in my faith, belief, and obedience.  At no point does mediocre cut it.  Mediocre doesnt make me a  better husband, father, friend, brother, son, or preacher.  

Switching illustrations quickly before I wrap things up:  I've watched an excellently made, two part series about one of the best rock bands around this past weekend.  Its a chronicle of their beginnings before joining the band, their eventual break-up, then the wildly successful reunion 14 years later.  What caught my attention from the get-go was the sheer passion and fire they had to be the absolute best.  The hours of rehearsal, the months of perfecting a sound before it was even considered good enough to be added to a record.  Mediocre didnt cut it.  And if mediocre was allowed, we would not have a single song, record, or tune we know so well from this band.  

Take some time and look for the mediocre you've allowed.  Yep, that includes those things like your giving habits and attendance... but it also includes prayer, study, trust, forgiveness, peacemaking, compassion, and service.  Its a long road ahead of us, but when we get together out of passion and a fire to succeed, it will be a profitable day for the kingdom! 



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