Jan 30, 2011

The Deal with the "New" Bike

My Honda Magna's been giving me fits lately. I've had - count em' - three flats on my tire since moving to Washington. That's three tires in less than a year! That's unacceptable.

Most recently, I've been having electrical problems. The bike runs great once it starts, but the only way to get the engine to turn over is by either jumping the battery or popping out the clutch on a hill or having someone give me a push.

That's all fine and dandy as long as there are either hills or people around, but when hills or people aren't around...well, I'm stuck.

So, for the past several months, I've been driving the Suburban around everywhere...and the proof is in the wallet. Every time I drive to church and back, it costs me about $9. And I go to church a lot!

So, Helen and I bit the bullet and decided to find a suitable replacement bike.

There you have it. That's how we ended up with the 2004 Yamaha Road Star beauty.

Jan 25, 2011

What's with the Blog?

Ok. Here's the deal-e-o about the lack of posts on the blogs lately.

For whatever reason, I seem to be going through a season of being burnt out on all social media. I haven't been tweeting as often I usually tweet, I haven't been posting updates on Facebook as regularly as I normally do, and I have not been blogging as often as I normally blog.

I am not sure what the culprit is. All I know is that I've needed some break from all the social media.

I am not sure when I'm going to engage again.

Just writing this makes me want to write some more.

I guess we all go through stages in life and this is one of those stages.

That's all for now.

Til' we meet again...

Jan 19, 2011

Cost of Leadership

If status quo was good enough, there wouldn’t ever be a need for leaders. 

Because if you are leading, by definition you are leading change. And if you are leading change, you will be misrepresented, you will be misaligned, and you will be misunderstood.

All these things will happen, just because you are leading.

And when those times come, your first gut reaction will be to run, to quit. Don’t do it. Leaders, please never quit.

You are right where God wants you to be. And remember, no matter what you are facing, no matter what you are going through, God is enough. He is more than enough.

It's precisely our context, our communities, our churches, our homes God had in mind when God placed you there so God can lead through you.

And this God who called you into your context of ministry is saying to you, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me…for I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Jan 15, 2011

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Invocation

Invocation I gave at the Lakewood Celebration of Dr. MLK Jr. 

O God, we gather this day with profound gratitude to remember the sacrifice of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

We remember the courage of not only the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, but the commitment of their families who stood their ground in the face of injustice. It is because of the example and the sacrifice of these men and women that we find ourselves closer to your justice today.

O God, on this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, we not only remember, but we also gather to repent.

We repent for we are not yet what you have created us to be.

While we give the semblance of justice and equality with our formal statements denouncing racism, we have done far too little to actually live into genuine equality and justice.

We repent for too often we have chosen the way of comfort rather than choosing the hard work of justice and truth.

We repent for we have chosen not to see the injustices and inequality that is so clearly before us.

We repent for it has been easier to ignore the wrongs than to pay the high cost of fighting for what we know to be right.

So God, we gather today to repent for we are not yet who we are meant to be.

Finally, God, we gather not only to remember and repent but also to be renewed. We gather to ask for the courage we will need to renew our commitment for the struggle for justice, the struggle for what is right.

For God, we long to be a community where all men and women are not only created equal, but where we actually live as equals.

Renew us, O God, for we long to be a nation where people are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

O God, renew this dream in your people once again.

Jan 13, 2011

Roaring Lambs?

Roaring lambs...

That's the title of a book written by Bob Briner.  

What in the world was the guy thinking when he wrote that? Roaring lambs? That’s nonsense! If his intent was to get people's attention with the title, it worked. 

Roaring lambs. That just doesn’t fit. It’s an oxymoron. Lambs don’t roar. Lambs bleat.  Baaaaa! 

It’s lions that roar. But roaring lambs?

And the more I kept repeating these two words, Roaring Lambs, the more it made such wonderful sense to me. That’s it! That’s exactly right. Roaring lambs, I love it!

The reason why I love the phrase “Roaring Lambs” is because that’s who we are. The Bible mentions us as sheep many times. One of the most beloved Psalms describes us as such – Psalm 23. Jesus said that He was the Good Shepherd and that we were His sheep.

For most of us who never grew up around a farm, we have this romanticized picture of a cuddly innocent looking sheep. But just ask anyone who has ever been around sheep. They may be innocent looking, but they are also smelly, dumb, needy, and did I mention stinky? 

Here’s the thing about sheep. When God created all the animals, the sheep got gipped. They have no horns, no claws, no fangs. They are not very fast, they have terrible hearing, they are pretty much blind, and to top it off they are stupid. You couldn’t design a more helpless pathetic creature than sheep. 

Some animals roar, or screech, but lambs, they get to bleat. Baaaa! How threatening is that.  Oh, no the big bad wolf is after me, Baaaaa!

Do you get it? That’s why we are called sheep. But we don’t need the Bible to tell us how weak and helpless we are against the methods of the devil. How easily we fall into temptation. I amaze my self by how easily I can get tripped up by sin. 

We can have hundreds and thousands of positive interactions with someone and when they commit one injury against us, we forget all the hundreds and thousands of positive interactions and all of a sudden he’s a jerk because of that one comment or that one incident. It’s amazing how one thought or one image can trip me up so that, when I am not alert to the enemy’s schemes, that image or thought so quickly leads to lust and fantasizing. 

We are completely helpless against the methods of the enemy. We are meek, lowly, and easily dismissed creatures that are far from a threat to the enemy or the status quo. 

Oh, we like to think of ourselves strong and tough. And we get so enamored with physical strength. But the enemy doesn’t fight us like that. The weapons of the enemy are such that we have no defense or offense against it. 
  • Just look at all the strong and tough guys who get tripped up by drugs.  
  • Just look at all the strong and tough minded who can’t resist gossiping. 

So when we look at the enemy’s methods we think, we’ve got to be strong! We’ve got to stay in shape because the enemy is formidable! The enemy is coming and he is real and he is relentless! We need to be strong!

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The strength of the enemy is true, but we’re still just sheep.

We’re just sheep!  But wait until those sheep put on the armor of God. Then these sheep ROAR! Because we are going in the strength of His might.

Read all about it in Ephesians 6:10-18.

Jan 7, 2011

Is Your Life a Joke?

Sodom and Gomorrah - the angels visitation to Lot, the mob of angry horny men who wanted to rape the angels, Lot offering up his two daughters to the mob, sulphur and ice falling from heaven destroying everything, Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt.

What are we supposed to do with all that?

But here's the passage that I find most disheartening. The angels reveal to Lot God's plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. The angels warn Lot to get out of the city. They also tell Lot to warn all his relatives and those who belong to him.

There should have been an entire clan of people who escaped destruction that day. But only Lot, his wife (who turns into a pillar of salt for looking back at the city when instructed not to), and two daughters make it out of the city.

What happened?

Lot went to warn his sons-in-law and when Lot told them about what God was about to do, "his sons-in-law thought he was joking."

No one took Lot seriously. This was a matter of life and death, and they just blew Lot off. Lot was a joke.

What a tragic sentence. How did it get that way?

Perhaps it's because they had seen their father-in-law make too many rash, crazy, irresponsible decisions like offering up his daughters to the raging, horny, murderous mob.

Whatever it was, one thing is clear: Lot's life discredited his life saving message.

Lot was a joke.

Church-attending, Jesus-professing, Bible-carrying Christians, we have the life saving message. His name is Jesus Christ.

Our lives, our life-styles, our reputations in our community should give credence to the life saving message of Jesus Christ.

Are our lives a joke?

For our sake, for the sake of those who don't know Jesus, I pray our lives gives faithful witness to the message we bear.

Jan 6, 2011

Church, What Connects Us - Jesus Christ Ought to be Greater than What Separates Us - Our Difference

This is a blog entry I feel really uncomfortable about.

I am doing my daily devotional reading and everything's going perfectly fine. And then, BAM! God just disrupts and disturbs my day.

You all know the story of Jesus healing on the Sabbath in Luke 6. The story begins with the Pharisees getting upset with Jesus because his disciples are rubbing grain and eating the kernels on the Sabbath day. Then the Pharisees are looking for a reason to speak badly of Jesus. As Jesus is teaching, there was a man who shows up with shriveled hands. Of course, it's the Sabbath. And the Pharisees are watching Jesus like hawks to see if Jesus will heal this man.

Because, healing is apparently work, like rubbing the grains for food was work, and everyone knows you're not supposed to work on the Sabbath.

Of course, Jesus heals the man and because Jesus knows what the Pharisees were thinking, Jesus asks them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?"

The reason why this passage is so disconcerting is because there is Phariseeism in me.

I cannot help but wonder how many times I have, in trying to honor God by keeping his commands I have instead neglected the good - to be merciful, to be gracious, to be welcoming, to save a life and not destroy it.

The way some evangelicals talk, I cannot help but wonder if we are not the Pharisees. Instead of seasoning our talk, our views, our understanding, and our relating with those with whom we disagree with love, grace, mercy, and mutual respect, too often what comes across is anger, bitterness, and disrespect.

And I can't help but think there's got to be a better way to articulate our views on how we honor and love God by how we love and honor others.

Jesus is not saying that we ought to disregard the Fourth Commandment and not honor and keep the Sabbath. The point is not that the Sabbath is not important, but love and mercy trumps the Sabbath.

Love and mercy trumps the Sabbath commandment - not in the sense that love and mercy cancels out the Sabbath commandment, but that love and mercy is perhaps the best examples of how we keep the Sabbath commandment.

It's not only the literal refrain from work that is important, but that we honor the spirit and the purpose of why God gave us the commandments to begin with.

And to be fair, there is anger, bitterness, and disrespect from those who are on the other side of the homosexuality debate.

There is a bit of Phariseeism in all of us.

I don't want to be in a church that relates to one another in this way anymore.

I want to be a church that starts with love, mutual respect, mercy, and grace.

Perhaps, when we start there, we just might be able to make some headway in "being" the church.

We don't have to agree on everything. But what connects us - Jesus Christ - ought to be greater than what divides us - our disagreements.

Jan 4, 2011

Making the Hopes of 2011 a Reality

This is always such an exciting time of the year. The new year always brings with it the hope for change. 
  • We hope to be healthier
  • We hope to build healthier relationships
  • We hope to read more
  • We hope to spend more time with our family and friends
  • We hope to be more disciplined 
And the wonderful thing about the new year is that all this is possible. We can make it happen.

But we've gone through enough new years to know that what we hope for and desire is one thing, and what actually happens in the course of the year is another. Unfortunately, for too many of us, the new year will only be much of the same stuff we've been experiencing in the previous years.

What if there was a way to make this new year different? Interested?

In order for 2011 to be different than the previous years, we're going to have to start doing some things differently this year than we did last year. If don't do things differently this year, nothing will change with this new year.

Here's what this means: there are somethings you're going to have to start doing, and there are somethings you're going to have to stop doing if you're going to experience different results for 2011.

I hope you will take the time to discern the things you will need to start and stop doing in the coming year for 2011 to be different.

Here are a few things I encouraged my congregation to consider for 2011.

First - Turn off the television more

Don’t just sit there wasting your time watching that tv set. Nothing good will come out of that. I am not suggesting that you get rid of tv, but if that’s all you do day in and day out, you’re just wasting your God given life.

The sad reality is that if American Christians would spend just a portion of the time we spend in front of the tv everyday in God's word, every American Christian would be reading through the Bible at least one time a year. If you read 3 chapters a day out of the Bible, you could read the entire Bible in one year. An average reader can read 3 chapters of the Bible in 10-15 minutes. 

So turn off the tv more and spend that time with people and with God.

Second, read the Bible more. 

Whatever it is that God is going to do in your life in 2011, it won't happen apart from God's word. So read God's word. God has wonderful things in store for each and every one of us. Find out what God has in store by reading his word everyday. 

If you read just 3 chapters a day, you will read through the entire Bible this year. Set aside 10-15 minutes a day to read God's word. And don’t tell me that you don’t have that kind of time.  That’s just the time for the commercials of one thirty minute sitcom. Make it your goal to make it through the Bible in 2011. God will bless you for it.

Third, read more books.

Make it a goal to read a book a month. In fact, make it your goal to read at least 12 Christian books this year. Most books have about twenty chapters. Most chapters of a book can be read in about 15 minutes. That means if you read just 15 minutes a day, you will have read over 20 Christian books. Do you think that might improve your life next year if you read 20 books on Christian living?

This is your year! Make 2011 the year God begins to do awesome things through your life!