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April 24, 2017, 9:27 AM

Stealing is Bad


There's a no-brainer statement for you.  We've been brought up knowing "Do Not Steal."  Its right up there with "Do Not Murder." 

We're not going to spend time on petty theft, or even grand larceny in this blog entry... Instead, we're going to hit on something much, much worse than the theft of something physical.  Our topic is the theft of "Joy." 

Now, I'm pretty sure you're thinking: "I don't even know what he's talking about... Joy Theft?" Yes, I'm talking about stealing another's Joy. So now I hope you're thinking: "I don't even know HOW to steal Joy."  Yes, you do.  We ALL do. 

Complain.  Criticize.  Judge.  

Use those as a weapon or tool to get your way or tell someone else exactly how you feel and you are guilty in the first degree. Am I saying that we should put a fake smile on our face and say "Fine" every time someone asks us how we're doing and we're not "Fine" but falling apart inside?  Nope. 

Am I saying that there are better ways to communicate to someone a displeasure or something we're not content with? Yep. 

Too often (WAAAAYYYY too often) we fall into a routine of just blurting out what we don't like and throwing that weight on someone else's shoulders. We may think we're being helpful, even improving a situation by letting someone know we're not happy. At no point does sharing the weight of complaint, criticism, or judgment on another person lighten ANYONE's burden.  NEVER. EVER. 

Complaining, Criticizing, and Judgment doubles the burden.  

Instead of making yourself feel better, the burden is still yours to carry AND someone else's. So what am I proposing? Do something to change the situation BEFORE it's too late. Don't sit back passively waiting for something to go wrong, jump on the opportunity to discuss options in advance.  If something happens that you don't like, work towards making a change. Crossing one's arms and telling anyone within earshot that you didn't like something helps no one, especially yourself. 

The environment I'm writing this from is (ideally) the one place in which ALL other options are tried before complaints are levied. In fact, we operate in the one place in which judgment should be withheld because we all know exactly where we stand in the grand scheme of things: for ALL have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23).  

Today, make it your goal to lighten someone's burden... Don't double down on the weight they are already carrying. 

Philippians 2: 12b - 16   Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.13For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. 14Do everything without complaining and arguing,15so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.16Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.

 




April 17, 2017, 8:57 AM

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes...


Change is only hard when it leads to growth.  Everything changes around us with little to no input from us. We don't get to have a say in the weather, the headlines, the traffic signals, etc...  Life moves ahead whether we're ready or not... and we adapt. 

Sometimes we adapt by changing our routine.  Don't like the traffic on one route? Try another. But sometimes we're powerless to affect any real change and we must either then resign or carry on. Rain can dampen most plans, even just walking to or from your car, but an umbrella helps us adapt. 

All that being said: when is the last time our faith caused us to change......anything? We've got our Sunday morning routine which we hold tightly to. No change there. Is that the limit of the effect of our belief system?  One or two hours a week? That is hardly worth writing home about. 

The Resurrection, which most of the Christian world celebrated yesterday with Easter, has to have a bigger effect on us than just another Sunday within the 52 total Sundays we go to church in a year. 52 days... Actually, 52 - 104 HOURS within those 52 days. There are 8760 minutes in one year (365 days).  When 104 hours is spent in faith-filled pursuits... that's just over 1% of the hours we are given each year.  

He has risen... and it changes Everything.  Everything.  Not just 1% of everything.  Everything.  How we wake up.  How we go to sleep.  And every moment in between. 

He has risen.  He has risen indeed.  What has it changed in you? 

John 20: 19 - 23 19That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.20As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!21Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”22Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.23If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”




April 2, 2017, 1:13 PM

Camping... blech


I have memories of camping from my younger years.  They're not good memories, so we'll just leave them there.  But I want to talk about the idea of camping... more so the idea of preparing to go camping. 

If you haven't gone camping, good for you... let's just leave it at that.  If you have gone camping, you probably will understand what I'm talking about.  Camping requires WORK! A LOT of work.  And that's BEFORE you even get in the car.  Because when you go camping you have to prepare for every contingency and every possible event happening.  If you don't prepare and take it with you, you either go without or find yourself fashioning a windbreak/rain cover from dead branches and beetle carcasses. Then there are the basic human necessities of life.  If you don't prepare for those before camping... well, we won't talk about that. 

And THEN you have to figure out how to get all that stuff in the car along with the family, the dog, and the bikes.  All that so you can be a "Happy Camper."  

No thanks. 

Here's my point, which I hope is a lot simpler than my description of camping:  Being prayerful and worshipful requires work and effort to make happen.  You need to prepare accordingly, because if you forget or get too busy or don't prepare you will find yourself either overwhelmed by what the world throws at you, or you'll be so unprepared that you give up within minutes of trying to counter whatever it is that has distracted you.  When Jesus speaks of a life lived in accordance with his words and teachings, he likens it to building a house.  I've not built my own house, but I've seen them built. It doesn't happen in a day, or even a week.  Building a lifestyle of prayer and worship takes time.  But it is time you MUST invest or you will be washed away when the storms come.  And they will come.  

Be prepared.  Practice a lifestyle of prayer and worship... And make sure you pack bug spray. 




March 27, 2017, 8:42 AM

Nouns and Verbs


The English language is confusing.  There-Their-They're.  Four-For-Fore.  Two-To-Too.  You get the point. Amidst all the messiness of figuring language out however, there is one concept we should have no problem with: Nouns vs. Verbs. 

A Noun = a person, place, thing, or idea. 
A Verb = Action!  

If you need to go back to Schoolhouse Rock, do so now.  (Verb, that's what's happening!). 

We start with that groovy language lesson because it is essential we remember the difference between the two concepts. And even more importantly, that we PRACTICE the difference between the two.  I believe dcTalk said it best when they told us: "Luv is a verb."  (YAY! for bonus links and 80's videos).  

Worship, our topic yesterday in the Believe series (03/26/17), needs redefinition and classification.  Do you treat it as a Noun or a Verb? I am guilty of doing both, but I fear a leaning towards the Noun.  "We're headed to Worship today."  Now that can be both, but we are most likely dictating that it means a specific place and time in that sentence.  Think about this: Do you use that sentence on ANY other day than Sunday?  Doubtful.  Therefore, it has become a noun. 

Worship, while grounded in music and song, is not a scheduled event or something that fits in our busy schedules.  It is a lifestyle, much in the way we're instructed to make prayer a living part of our being.  (1 Thessalonians 5: 16 - 17).  So which will it be?  Noun or Verb? 

Lets figure out a way to make this sentence: "We're going to Worship today" something that fits EVERY day, not just Sunday. 

Psalm 95: 1 - 7 1Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. 3For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. 4He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. 5The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. 6Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, 7for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.




March 13, 2017, 8:53 AM

Boil it All Down


I watched an interesting and disturbing video this week about what happens when you boil Coca-Cola down so that all that remains is the sugar.  The video wanted to show the comparison of sugar content between regular Coke and Coke Zero.  Yikes (the picture attached is the end result with Coke on the left, Coke Zero on the right). 

In the time-lapse video a 20 oz bottle of Coke was heated so that all the water evaporated, what was left was a thick sludge of caramel-colored sugar.  That was what remained when all the extra was cooked off.  Sugar.  Lots and Lots of sugar.  The whole point of the video was to enlighten us why drinking sugary beverages is BAD.  Point taken.  

Here's a thought that we can pull from a science-y video like that:  what will remain of us if all the extra was taken away?  What would be left to show the world after the layers and layers of disguises, hobbies, pursuits, and titles are stripped away?  The heart of Jesus' teaching is for us to strip away those layers and expose our very soul to the world.  Think about the bullet points from the Sermon on the Mount: Don't even be angry with someone; Don't even have lust in your heart; Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.  Jesus is boiling layers away, layers that we use to disguise the sludge we keep inside.  

Who are the blessed ones in the Beatitudes?  Those who are stripped down to the bare bones of grief, dependence, persecution, humility, and contentment.  What will expose this world to the light of Christ?  Our very lives when the baskets are pulled off, creating a light for everyone to see.  

What remains when the mask is removed?  Is it love?  Faith?  Hope?  Paul speaks of those elements that last for eternity, while everything else fades with the passing of time.  Take a look at the Cross this week.  In those final moments, Jesus was stripped of everything this earth could offer him.  Clothes were ripped off and gambled over; Skin flayed from bone; Dignity destroyed by false accusations and mocking captors.  And in those moments of exposure, he offered compassion.  He forgives us for our betrayal.  He welcomes a thief into paradise because of a kind word. He seeks to protect his mother and friends.  What everything boiled down to was love. 

Are we being transformed into his likeness?  Can we allow our earthly pursuits and passions to be boiled away into the insignificant vapors they are? Don't grasp too carefully to something that will evaporate in the heat of judgment.  

Matt 6: 31 - 34   31“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


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