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Tag Archives: Jesus

As I sit here writing this blog, I wonder if instead of providing a solution, I am contributing to the problem. What problem? The problem of too many words.

I went to a bookstore today and realized there were so many books that I was planning to read that I have not yet. Then I saw others that screamed at me “READ ME.” So I left thinking I have a lot of reading to get to from the books here at the bookstore.

Later on this evening I visited my local library and saw a bunch of books I want/need to read. I borrowed two of them. I left much more there that I need to borrow and read another time.

When I got home, I saw two books at home I started reading but didn’t complete….got to get back to them. I also remembered I have a book on my desk at the office that I need to finish (along with a bunch on my shelf).

Add to that, the stuff in those wonderful magazines that are piling up in that place my wife hates that I leave them. Got to read them some day.

And if that’s not enough, every day I see more articles online that I want to read. There just seems to be too many words! Will it ever stop so I can catch up?

Well this is not a blog with an answer…just my random thoughts to add to the word overload in this world…

Glad that there’s only one WORD that became flesh and came near and among us….I can handle that or better yet He can handle me.

One of the challenges of human life is taking responsibilty when we are at fault. Too many times we want to excuse, rationalize and avoid owning up to what we have done wrong. Other times we find someone else to blame…(wonder where we got that from – see Genesis 3)

However I think beyond the need for us to own up and take responsibility when we are at fault (which is our duty) the call of God causes us to take responsibility even when we are not at fault.

We have been taught to overlook needs just because it’s not my fault so it should not be my responsibility. And around the human table we play the game of pass the buck because many times we can’t figure out who’s at fault.

What a difference we would make in this world if we lived by the adage, “not my fault, but still my responsibility.”

Jesus did…see the disciples all with dirty feet sitting before the basin and towel thinking “the dirt on the other disciples feet is not my fault so not my responsibility.” Watch the Master kneel down and gently watch all their crusty feet. Not His fault but He made it His responsibility.

Then watch Him go to the cross and die for our sins – not His fault but He made it His responsibility.

What is God calling you to take responsibility for now? Remember it doesn’t have to be your fault.

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

Matthew 6:31-33

Yesterday I took my family to a baseball game. It’s becoming a bit of an annual tradition to go to one game each summer. I’m an unapologetic Yankee fan and we live in Kansas City. I support the Royals because I have no choice.

I go to the games to see the athletic skill, to hopefully see a few home runs and some Sports Center highlight reel plays. My family on the other hand enjoys another part of the experience. They have fun, not watching the game, admiring the fielding, being blown away by the velocity of the pitching nor the power of the hitting. They enjoy what happens between innings and during stoppages in play. They love to do the claps, to get up and dance and to see if Ketchup will defeat Mustard and Relish.

They don’t enjoy the game, they enjoy what goes on as bonus features. The reason for this is they really don’t understand the game. In the game yesterday Ichiro Suzuki hit a home run and made an amazing catch to end the game. Neither of these things fazed them because they don’t know who he is (perennial All-Star and future Hall of famer) and didn’t really pay attention to either feat. I guess we get caught up in the bonus stuff when we don’t understand the game.

That is like the folk who watch the Superbowl only for the commercials. It’s entertainment value isn’t based on what the two titans of the gridiron do on the field but what Budweiser, GoDaddy and Monster.com come up with during their 30 seconds and what happens during half time. They don’t understand the game so they are wrapped up in the bonus features as if they were the main attraction.

I realize it’s like that with us and life. If life were a game, then many of us would be living for and getting excited about the bonus features: the weekend, getting a new car, finding the dress we like in our size, climbing the career ladder, catching the eye of that person we’ve had our eye on. We live our lives with an almost single-minded pursuit after these things.

Well the one who invented the game and mastered it, Jesus, says that all that stuff is just bonus (it get’s added on). He says the real deal is seeking first God’s Kingdom. Put His agenda first. Run after that. Chase after things like lifting up humanity, worshiping and serving God and dying daily to ourselves. Keep your eyes on that. Don’t miss that in your pursuit of the bonus stuff. In fact take your mind off the bonus stuff….He’ll throw it in for free.

I need to teach my kids and wife the game of baseball so that they’ll want to sit and watch during the game and get up during the breaks rather than the other way around. Jesus wants to teach us the way to win the game of life…Let Him do it.

Let me start off this post with a confession:

I had fun at summer camp and I don’t feel guilty about it. I know some of you are questioning my Christianity since there’s a commandment in there somewhere that says “Thou shalt not have fun.”

Alright, this is tongue in cheek, but sometimes we act like that at church. I’ve heard the comment too many times, “all the kids are doing is having fun.” In the past I would defend the program and try to point out deep theological and spiritual lessons that were being taught. Now I simply say, “so what?”

I’ve changed my mind. Having fun at church, in a church program, does not need to be defended. It needs to be applauded.

These past summers while I worked at camp, I’ve realized that children and youth today have experienced too much brokenness and sadness for an adult life time. The loss of parents, the breaking up of homes, terrible home situations and more. Their childhoods have almost been taken away. I’ve seen some who are uncomfortable smiling, laughing or even playing.

As we’ve played silly games like “who sold out”, “walk around”, “feed the baby”, “bullfrog”, I’ve seen faces crack a smile. I’ve seen some fall into the sweet release of laughter. I’ve seen some even learn how to play and for those moments the innocence of youth returns.

What if church were a place where a kid can be a kid? What if we were the people who taught children that they can lay down their burdens and have fun with us?
What if like Jesus we bid them come: find hope, find joy, find laughter, find fun?

What if we didn’t apologize for having fun but we celebrated having fun?

A few months ago I found a new short cut to our house by accident. I was so excited about it and with things I’m excited about I can’t wait to share them with my wife. The next time we were in the car driving together, I proceeded to drive that route. All of a sudden we ran into a road block. That road was closed and access was denied to us.

I’ve been recently reading a book about justice and the need for us as Christians to move beyond just providing service but moving toward being agents of justice in this world. Micah 6:8 tells us that God expects us to do justly and love mercy.

Briefly the difference is service is providing meals to those who are hungry, justice is removing the barriers so that they have access to get their own food and empowering them. We shouldn’t do either or but both and.

Well I began wondering did Jesus go beyond service and do anything that can be characterized as doing justice. Sure He fed the five thousand but did He remove barriers that allowed them to feed themselves?

Then I read Matthew 21:12-14 for my devotion this morning. Jesus gets upset and turns things over. This isn’t the gentle Jesus, meek and mild here. He is angry.

I often wondered what made Jesus get angry and throw things over. Here is what the Lord showed me today. In the system of the day, if you didn’t have anything to sacrifice you couldn’t enter the temple. And in order to get a sacrifice you had to buy it. These money changers were charging prices that the poor could not pay. No sacrifice meant access denied. So here it is a place that was to be a house of prayer for all people is turning people away because they didn’t have enough money.

But Jesus turns these tables over and allows the blind and lame to come to Him in the temple. The thing that was blocking their access to worship of God and to His house had been removed and now these overlooked people had “Access Granted.”

This looks like justice to me: Jesus did not want people being denied access to something as important as the worship of God so much so that He gets violent in His pursuit of justice.

All should be given access to food, clean water, education, housing and more importantly all should be given access to God! Let’s be agents to tell people “Access Granted!”

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. – Jesus, Matthew 5:10-12

I think one of the things we seek for is a normal life – as defined by popular culture and those around us. When many of us go through tough times we start crying out, “why can’t I have a normal home, church life, neighborhood, relationship etc.” This is understandable. No one craves trials, pressures, stress and strain.

But the life and message of Jesus challenges us to pursue a life that’s not normal. It calls us to run away from the comfortable, safe and calm. It invites us to embrace trouble, rejoice in rejection, and find joy in pain.

How is that? Well Jesus says be happy when you are rejected for my sake. When you identify with Christ by lifestyle you automatically renounce the normal life and step into another kind of life. We step into a life of self-denial (not doing what we want to do but what He wants us to do) and a life of self-sacrifice (pouring out our lives in service to God and man). Will we get high fives and accolades for it – sometimes. But Jesus tells us more times than not we’ll be called weird, corny or abnormal.

Well I guess if the life of following Christ is abnormal, I want that. I think normal is overrated. I choose Christ’s abnormal life – let’s just call it an abundant life! Worshiping God, enjoying His forgiveness and grace, using our talents to serve others, growing daily into being like Him and even giving it all up for the one who gave it all up for us…sounds great to me!

Normal is overrated. I’ll take abundant any day. How about you?

I think we can all agree that most people don’t have a problem falling in love with Jesus. Come on – when you understand who He is, what He’s done and His love, you can’t help but love Him. I’m convinced that young people in church love Jesus. When I go to youth rallies and I see them lift up their hands and praise the Lord and scream for Jesus, I know they love Jesus. When I see them come forward at a youth day crying to give their lives to the Lord, I know they love Jesus.

Although Jesus is popular today, His church is not. Many people have negative feelings about the church and it’s members.  Young people for a large part seem to have problems with the church as well. I had a conversation with a really intelligent teenager recently and she helped me understand some of it. She expressed that what young people see the church to be is a group of adults fighting for positions, engaging in politics, gossiping and not really doing anything meaningful. I have to be honest – I agree with her for the most part.

With that said, I still love the church and I think young people can as well. Why you ask – because I love the picture of the church that Jesus gave us – a caring community and an unstoppable force to make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting. Imagine if we became known for how much we loved each other and how much we help others. Well I think my dream can be a reality (and is in some places). I love that.

Here’s what I believe – young people can help us reclaim the church that looks like the one Jesus talked and showed us. They are hungry for community and seek caring relationships. They want to and believe they can make a difference in this world. You see sometimes adults talk about serving, teach about serving, pray about serving others but don’t serve. Youth just go out and serve. Imagine if the church became known for being the people who were always out helping others no matter the cost.

Wouldn’t that be great….I love that church!