Thursday, March 26, 2009

Watch what God does...

"This is ridiculous. I'm sick and tired of all this" Hearing the words come from my 7-year old gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. I wonder where she picked that up, I wonder, as my wife tells me that I say that a lot. I guess I thought when my kids were picking their nose and making tents out of blankets, it meant they didn't hear what I was saying. But I guess my kids are multi-taskers. I'm so proud they have the ability to pick up my bad habits while inventing some of their own.

This is different from the fun things I teach my kids to say. It only took my using the word hybrid 'ridonculous' for one morning before I had them using it. Or how I've taught them that the proper reaction to a heavenly baked good is to allow your eyes to roll back into your head while rubbing your tummy and saying mmmmm. But what about the stuff I'm inadvertently teaching them?

It got me thinking about what Paul says in Ephesians 5:1 "Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents." Perhaps Forrest Gump wasn't far off when he said that 'stupid is as stupid does'. I think that stupid does can quickly become stupid gets repeated.

But it also makes me wonder how often I stop what I am doing to watch what God is doing. It seems I am not quite the multi-tasker that my children are. I need to take more breaks from my activities to see what God is doing. After all, God is exemplifying proper behavior, if only I'll take pause and learn.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Day of Stalking?

So I ran across this article in my hometown paper about being chased by the paparazzi. I have to say that most of the time I hear about the paparazzi, it’s a negative connotation. It’s almost like they are the reporters who failed journalism. Instead of going after news, they find golden nuggets about Brad Pitt’s dog or the Pope’s newest fashion. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a celebrity talk about how awesome it is to be followed around. Yet somehow there are companies such as Celeb 4 a Day that will chase you around for a day. That’s right, for the low, low price of $729.99, you can be bothered by people with cameras as they chase you around. Yeah, this is what I want to do. My trip to the grocery store with 3 hyper-active children wasn’t exciting enough. I want more distractions. I need for misbehavior to be caught on film.

Seriously? Who is paying for this? Are we so insecure with our insignificance that we need the rush of being followed and wanted?

I guess I shouldn’t find this all so surprising. After all, how many of us name drop and talk about that one time we were within 50 feet of the car that was on its way to pick up Mel Gibson? For me, it was 5 feet and they were college basketball stars who had just won a National Championship. I’d say who they were, but that would defeat the point I’m trying to make here. (Ok, if you really want to know…nevermind.)

What is that makes us desire to be desired? If I tell you that God loves you, we smile and say that’s nice. But if I told you Halle Berry loved you, now you feel important? There’s something backwards about this thinking in us. We have our values all out of whack.

For us Christians, we say we love God and that His love is all we need. But we don’t really mean it. I suppose we want it to be true. But it’s not true. The fact is that we don’t really understand God’s love for us and what it means. We can’t. If we did, we wouldn’t seek to fill our lives with the stuff that can only be filled with God.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Days of March Madness

Today started my favorite 4 days of sports. It's the Big Dance and I'm working all of the next 4 days. Why am I here when where I really want to be is home watching 40-50 games? I suppose you could chalk it up to those pesky bills I have, but it got me thinking.

How often am I in one place wishing I was somewhere else? How many times do I wish I was doing one thing while stuck doing something else? I think this is an issue of contentment, of focus, but mostly of desire.

And desire really takes us places, doesn't it? I mean, you can read the Apostle Paul's thoughts as he struggles with sin, all the while not wanting to sin. I do that too. I can even tell myself I'm going to do one thing and then go and do the exact opposite.

But, aside from not being able to fit in 25 hours worth of stuff in 24 hour days, why do my desires pull in so many directions? It's not even always about sin vs not-sin. More often than not, it's just having too much on the to-do list.

Perhaps, instead of trying to fit it all in, what I really need is to be still. I'm told that if I put first things first (aka God) then all the rest will fall into place. I want to do that. Maybe once the current to-do list is checked off....

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bipolar Days

Shawn McDonald wrote a song called Have You Ever? Not only is the guitar incredible to listen to, the lyrics make me ponder. Here's one of my favorite lines.
Have you ever wanted to reach up and touch the sky?
Have you ever wanted to pack it up and say good-bye?

My problem is that I sometimes answer yes to both of those questions in the same day. I mean, one makes me think I can do it all. The other makes me feel like giving it all up. Why is this? I don't think I'm bipolar. Maybe I am. No, I'm definitely not. I suppose I could go back and forth on that one.

I talked with a friend today about how we deal with our limitations. He sounded a lot like the Apostle Paul when he said that he wanted to break free from sin and yet, he still succumbed to it. I know how he feels. I think we all do to an extent. But then he added that his struggles might not seem so bad if he could be sure there was some great point to it all. If he understood that his suffering was going to produce something worthwhile, then he would just suck it up and deal with it.

I didn't know what to say at that point. After all, I feel the same way a lot. If I were curing cancer or leading millions, then my tight schedule and demands from peers would seem like part of the process. But I'm not curing cancer. I'm avoiding it. And I lead dozens...when they are agreeable to following. But if I had the conversation back, I would answer with this.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5.

Today, I want to reach the sky. Tomorrow, who knows? But here's hoping, because that's all I've got.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Teen & Toddler Day

Have you ever thought of the similarities between teens and toddlers? I have. Someday I might write a book about it. This is just a partial list;

- Toddlers often cry for no reason. So do teens.
- Toddlers often tell on their sibling or friend for something they just did. So do teens.
- Toddlers often have a weird smell emanating from their body. It's not always poo. Alas, teens share this trait.
- Toddlers have an innate sense of independence. They think they are ready to do it all. Teens will argue this point, saying they are ready. This only confirms how very much like toddlers they are.
- Toddlers don't want to comb their hair. I'm just assuming on this point that this is the reason teenager's hair looks the way it does.
- Toddlers have moments when they simply can't be reasoned with. Teens? No doubt!

Give it some thought and get back to me. What other similarities can you find?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Worth the Day

I listen to a lot of sports talk radio. Recently I heard a story about a player that was throwing a fit about being in trade talks. I guess he felt that was a bad idea. I’ve never been a professional athlete, but I suppose I can understand. If my church started trade talks with other churches and I was listed as tradable, I would be a bit concerned. I’d like to think that, as a youth pastor, I was worth at least two children’s pastors, but I’d probably go for future draft picks and some cash.

The MVP-status of my mind aside, this could be a scary prospect. After all, I have a family and a home. The thought of moving does not entice me. I don’t like to travel all that much anyway. So to have to take all my stuff with me only makes the travelling worse. I can imagine that professional athletes sometimes feel the same way. There is a fear attached when we feel lack of control.

But somehow I did not get the idea that fear was associated with this particular athlete. It seemed like it was more about pride. He didn’t say it in so many words, but the message that came across was that he was worth more to his team than possible trades would make it appear. I think it hurt his ego.

We’ve all been there. Trying to weigh just how much worth we have in our company, our school, our sports team, or even our group of friends. When our boss is pleased with a project we’ve completed, our stock goes up. When all our friends laugh at something we just said (and we meant to be funny), our stock goes up. Even in church we want to be seen as valuable for our input, our volunteering, and our time spent.

It’s sad that such a worldly attitude has infected the church, yet it is alive and well in so many churches. We can choose to ignore it, but when people leave over disagreements or when conflicts start over ministry schedules and music choices, it is our pride at stake.

We fight this way because our self-worth becomes one with our identity. But that’s not the way God intended our view of ourselves to be. Sin has infected us to the point that we struggle just to see where normal was. Let’s take a look at just how God made us.

Genesis 1 – God made man and woman and declared us to be good.
When we stumbled and sinned, God picked us back up (Redemption)
When Jesus paid the ultimate price on the cross, God was placing a value on us. He said that our lives were worth His.
The Holy Spirit gives us gifts. These gifts, though different, do not make us better or worse than anyone else. (1 Corinthains 12-14)

You’re not worthless. Quite the opposite. God has made you and crafted you to be very special. While you may never be seen as significant in the world’s view, you can rest assured that the Creator of the Universe is looking at you with loving eyes, longing for you to be content with who He has made you to be.