Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Gospel of Yes

True to form, here I am taking advantage of the latest technology from 10 years ago. This will be my first vlog. That's video-blog for any of you newbies out there. But before you go looking at me for about 90 seconds, let me make a few observations.


  • It will be easy to get lost staring into my eyes and not hear a word I'm saying. Fight that urge. 
  • Yes, I introduced myself as an 'Associate Pastor.' That's because explaining my actual job title would have taken 90 seconds, leaving me no time to talk about the book. That seemed like a bad idea. 
  • Before you say it, yes, I am naturally that beautiful. I thought I covered that in the first bullet point.
  • Oh, and the video may be shaky and I may have a few awkward pauses. They said to make the video as natural as possible. Welcome to my world...shaky and awkward. 
Alright, enjoy my first, and possibly last, vlog. 

video



The book is The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn. I received it for free from my good friends at Waterbrook Multnomah, so I could review it for you. Now my friends are your friends. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's Not Fair


"It's not fair!"


My kids say that. A lot! But since I throw them under the proverbial bus many times, let me quickly add that I would probably say it a lot too if I hadn't been programmed by society to know that life is not fair.


But I did hear my kids use the 'fair' card in regards to the weather. That threw me for a second. I understand fair when talking about scoops of ice cream or who gets to sleep to current hits versus sleeping to Neil Diamond. I get it when it seems that the blame can be placed on a person. But the weather?

Not even the weatherman seems to be able to get the weather. For instance, the other day my wife and I turned the A/C off because the weather channel said the evening would drop into the 60's. Once we did, the breeze stopped and the temperature spiked back up to 130 degrees. Yeah, beautiful sleeping weather, especially if you like to stick to your sheets.


So how can fairness be a concern with the weather? Now there is Someone who has a claim to cry foul. Its God. And He did cry foul through many of His prophets. But today I'm thinking of Malachi. You can have your major prophets. When I want snarky and to the point, I'll go right to Malachi, who uses a question-answer style to make the Israelites sound really ignorant.

9 You are under a curse —your whole nation—because you are robbing me.10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe, ” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty. ~Malachi 3:9-12


Just look and see how God takes the focus and point it right back where it belongs. When the focus returns the fun will begin. It will happen by God because it's all about God. Oh, we get our nod, but don't lose sight of where it all begins.


What do you find unfair?




Friday, May 25, 2012

An Insignificant Wish

No Answer
I used to look at the biggest outcasts in my school and wonder. No, I wasn't looking in a mirror, but there were times when I wondered, and wished that I were. After all, it would have been nice to be the best at something. Have you ever wondered what it would take to be, hands-down, the biggest outcast in your school?

I have, but just when I think I may be able to master it, the trends change and everything gets turned upside down. So I am caught in some place in the middle where neither cool nor outcast reside. Mocking me from both sides is my place of honor.

There is something worse than feeling like God is always punishing you. It's feeling like God doesn't think of you at all. The insignificant wish that God thought of them at all, even if it is just to be treated poorly. At least then they knew they mattered in some way.

I have often wondered if this wasn't what caused Job the most pain. He could man up and battle against the physical pain. He could even do an adequate job of expressing his feelings and emotionally purge. But through most of his trial, he endured it with a silence that drove him crazy. He felt as though he were ignored by the One Person who could make a difference.

Job 19:4-12
4 Even if I have sinned,
    that is my concern, not yours.
5 You think you’re better than I am,
    using my humiliation as evidence of my sin.
6 But it is God who has wronged me,
    capturing me in his net.[a]
7 “I cry out, ‘Help!’ but no one answers me.
    I protest, but there is no justice.
8 God has blocked my way so I cannot move.
    He has plunged my path into darkness.
9 He has stripped me of my honor
    and removed the crown from my head.
10 He has demolished me on every side, and I am finished.
    He has uprooted my hope like a fallen tree.
11 His fury burns against me;
    he counts me as an enemy.
12 His troops advance.
    They build up roads to attack me.
    They camp all around my tent.



It's making a call in your time of need and getting only that reassuring recording, letting you know your message will be received. But will it be returned? One can only hope.

I thought about ending this post with the previous paragraph. But then I was concerned that my friends might assume I had gone emo ten years after being emo was in. While the timing would be totally me, showing up tragically late for a party, instead of fashionably so, that is not the direction I am headed. 

However, I am attempting to understand the feelings of insignificance from every direction, both healthy and unhealthy. Because it is my contention that understanding how the mind works, along with the pushing and pulling of society, will lead us to recognize where our true significance lies, not with us, but in the One who made us. 

That is my insignificant wish. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The 9 Best Practices for Youth Ministry


This is not a book about baseball. I don't know if you would have ever wondered that it might be, but Kurt Johnston and Tim Levert remind us over and over again of that fact. It's probably because there are 9 practices and they use a baseball team metaphor throughout The 9 Best Practices for Youth Ministry.

I don't want to give away what these guys have worked real hard on. I used this book as an opportunity to review some of what I have been doing in youth ministry. Each chapter tackles a different area of youth ministry, something based off of research done by Exemplary Youth Ministries and their studies.

Each chapter was well thought out and written in tandem by these two gurus of youth ministry. Once you have covered all 9 topics, you'll be ready to get back in the game, although this is not a book about baseball. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Need to Know

There has been a parenting technique my wife and I have learned that has revolutionized our family. If I thought I could write an entire book on the topic, plus do a book tour and somehow turn it all into a movie where I would be played by Matt Damon, I would. Quite simply, the movie would be awesome.
Damn skippy.
However, this technique has probably been written about by too many authors, none of them convinced about the movie project that could be. And the technique doesn't sound all that flashy either.

Communication.

I know, you've heard this before. But this is like a wonder drug that cures all...almost. My family, like all families, has experienced those meltdown moments when the kids are sweaty and whiny and, shockingly, don't want to be shopping at Wal-mart. Amidst the crying, I'll hear, 'We didn't know we were going to be shopping all afternoon.'

Ah, communication. So now we warn them when we see a shopping trip looming. Do they like the shopping anymore when they are warned? No, but at least they know and can brace themselves for what is coming. They've been told and warned and at least know what's coming.

I think most people are like this. We can handle a lot. We can prepare for adversity if we see it coming. We can adjust to suffering if we know it is in the plans.

But adventures do not always announce themselves. We're not always told why certain events in life happen. In fact, it is very often the opposite. Oftentimes we are left in the dark. And we see this in history as well. In fact, we see this with often maligned group of whiners known as God's chosen nation, the Israelites.

In Exodus 14:15-31 we find them trapped at the Red Sea. The Egyptians are coming and the Israelites didn't pack their boats. God instructs them to cross on dry ground. God then says He will harden the hearts of the Egyptians and they will follow. But God doesn't give any more detail than that. He doesn't say how rescue will come. It's only after a long night of crossing the Red Sea that God reveals the rest of the plan.

They should have had plenty of questions. How is the Red Sea going to be dry ground? If it is dry ground, will it be soon enough for us to get away from Pharaoh? If there is dry ground, what's keeping the enemy from chasing us?

They don't get any answers. They are told to move on. But no explanation is given until after they have crossed over and the Egyptians are still on the chase.

But they obey, a pattern that never quite became a habit for them. A pattern that we would be wise to consider. If we live life ona  need-to-know basis, then we should understand that God is the only One who needs to know.

God took care of those Egyptians, leaving them drowning in the Red Sea. You can be sure that, sooner or later, God will take care of our problems as well.

Monday, May 21, 2012

God First, For Good Reason

I know many people will point to David the Goliath slayer and admire his sensitive side as he wrote many a song. I've got nothing against David's poetic side, but I think my man Heman the Ezrahite should not be overlooked. The man could write some tunes. And let's not forget his trademarked toys of the 80's. I'm sure the Master of the Universe was copied after Heman the Ezrahite.

That's not all that was copied. The Sons of Korah, probably the first Jewish boy band, decided to write their own song based on the tune that Heman wrote.

I'm glad they did, because here is a sample.

Do you show your wonders to the dead?
Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
Is your love declared in the grave,
your faithfulness in Destruction?
Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? ~Psalm 88:10-12

Ok, in the first part of this song, they bring the common themes of 'we're in trouble / please God save us'. But then they mix it up in the section above.

Because they don't beg for their lives. They don't make promises that no one believes they'll follow through on. Nope. They appeal to God on a level that gets His attention. It's almost as if they're saying;


Listen, God, we know we're asking a favor, but Your miracles don't impress dead people. (Admittedly, they had not met Lazarus.) Even more importantly, if we're dead, we won't be singing your praises. We can't talk about You if we're not here...to talk about You.


Yeah, God comes first. But it's not so He can do stuff for us. It's because He comes first.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spoiler Alert

I'll admit it. I'm a purist. I want to experience books and movies the way the artists intended, without having someone ruin it by telling me the ending. But that seems to be increasingly difficult in this age of connection.

I understand that I am sometimes a bit slower to current trends than others. For instance, have you heard of this new upstart social networking site that's becoming more popular than MySpace, Face-something? I kid, although I would still post to Xanga if there was anyone around to read it.

I think we need to be understanding about people who may have had something else to do besides go see all the latest big movies, read the latest best sellers and watch every show on TV. After all, people do have to work....and sleep....and perhaps talk with a real person every once in a while.

So I believe we need rules for this sort of thing. For instance, putting spoiler alert in your post or article and then making the very next line TWO WORDS WHICH REVEAL HOW A MAJOR CHARACTER FROM A BESTSELLER WILL DIE, all while I AM STILL READING THE BOOK! Yeah, that's not okay.

Spoiler Alerts should be notified at the beginning and then hidden somewhere in the middle. If everyone would do this, we could all happily move on from post to post without concerning ourselves that we didn't take sick days to finish a book before ever returning to the internet.

You'll never see this happen in church. We do Easter plays every year in churches, but no one sees Mary weeping during the crucifixion scene and blurts out, 'Hey, it's ok! He'll be back on Sunday!' Even on normal Sundays, no one jumps ahead of the pastor, who holds on to his notes like they are military classified.

I once did a series on the book of Revelation in the Bible. When I announced what I was doing, one teen grabbed his ears and starting screaming that he hadn't finished the book yet and he didn't want to hear the ending yet. I suppose there should be a statute of limitations on certain books and movies. For instance, it's probably alright to mention that the Titanic sinks in the movie, just like it did in real life.

If I just ruined that for you, sorry, but I did name the post Spoiler Alert.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Torn



Jud Wilhite lays out the format from the very introduction in Torn: Trusting God When Life Leaves You in Pieces. He shares just briefly about some difficult periods in his life which led to him asking questions. But he was not content to simply ask why suffering happens. The important questions, in his mind, are who and how. Specifically, who do we turn to when difficulties come our way and how will we move forward.

That is exactly how the rest of the book is laid out. Wilhite spends the first half of the book looking at the story of Job and answering the Who beyond our suffering. Notice I didn't write the Who behind our suffering, as if God were to be blamed. God is beyond this, and thus, the Who we can turn to in the midst of our troubles.

The problems Job faced were squarely on the shoulders of satan, a being so inferior to God that Wilhite compares them to a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Sponge Bob Square Pants. Yeah, it's ridiculous. But because God is so far superior, the promise God offers can be our steady hope.

That's great and all for the next life, but what about this one? Part two dives into the practical and Wilhite starts right where I think we all should. Once we've placed our trust in God, we need to find strength in community. Having just read another book where the author struggled and then left the church, it is refreshing to see that many still value what the Church has to offer, a place to be ourselves even while we struggle.

Using personal and found stories, I found Wilhite to write very practically and quite optimistically. That is a much needed combination when dealing with pain and suffering.

You can find this book for yourself here.

I received this book for free from my good friends at Waterbrook Multnomah. You ca find out more about this book and its author at the following links.

#waterbrookmultnomah


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Joys of Celebration

mother's day graphics 001
I'm not sure if my dad ever felt this pressure, but wanting Mother's Day to go well is not a day that should be left to the children. After all, who better than the husband to discern the emotional needs of his wife? Can such important and daunting tasks be left to the same little ones who barely know how to keep their rooms clean?

Besides, celebrating someone else is always something I want a part of. Why? Simply put, it gets you closer to the party. I've recently mentioned why a good party is worth attending, but let's chat about how celebrating others can be a real treat.

For starters, there are the treats! Back to the aforementioned Mother's Day, I got the kids together and we planned the day out. Wouldn't Mommy like a yummy breakfast. Of course she would! Cinnamon rolls it is! Assuring my youngest that we would not simply make a couple of cinnamon rolls for Mom, we made enough to put us all in a sugary tizzy for the day.

Then there is the showering of gifts. This is where the heart counts as much as the gift itself. Especially when the shopping for said gifts takes 2 hours on a Saturday, when stores are filled with other desperate men and children, eager to not mess up Mom's Day. Ideas were scattered and some gifts were not possible (does Mom really want a brand new deck, complete with lawn furniture and ornaments?)

But the giving and celebrating and remembering of why we love Mom is something of which I want to be a part. Just like our worship of God. Worshiping God on a weekly basis in community, or remembering God on a daily basis, are good ideas.

So why do some find this tedious?

Worshiping God, in all forms and functions, bring us into His joy, making it ours as well. We share in the celebration, we share in the joy and ultimately, we share in the blessings. Those blessing are even better than a cinnamon roll.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Don't Become the News

It's a rule in the news business that you report the news, you don't become the news. At least at one time it was. I'm not arguing for either side in this age of flash and big names when it comes to the news.

However...

When it comes to Christianity, I wonder if some pastors are better at selling themselves than they are at proclaiming the Good News. Don't be alarmed, I'm not going to name names. I don't think it's important who we think is the best salesman when it comes to sharing Jesus.

This is also not an issue unique to mega-size churches. Any stage is one that could be stood on and chosen to shine from. In fact, I'll go further and say this is not merely a pastor problem. It's a people problem.

And how?

Have you ever depended more on your delivery than the content to convince someone of their need for God? That's presentation, my friend. To be careful here, I'm not saying we should be rude in our conversations in order to see how much God can overcome with His Good News. But let's not confuse ourselves and assume that our sharing the Good News is what saves people. God saves people.

Believe me, I wish it were different. As someone who writes from a blog claiming to search for insignificance, you might assume it's easy for me to deflect. But I push for a larger audience just like any blogger might. And I do it only because I know how this message can help the hundreds searching for things they don't need. I know what I write can help.

Well, yes, but let's not assume we're all perfect in motive around here. This is why we search. This is why I remind myself, among all, that God comes first. Man comes second. It's better that way. God is what everything is about. So I will strive to share Him and not get in the way.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Does It Look Like I'm Doing?

retro rocket
The other night my family was at my daughter's elementary school track meet. We're trying to hold off calling her 'the Red Rocket' until she proves worthy of the title, but she's pretty fast. And even though watching little children run and jump while braving the windy spring-like Indiana weather is not my top choice of evening activities, it's fun to see my 10-year old compete.

But before she gets a chance to run, they do the field events. Watching these elementary kids do the high jump, my 8-year old son asks why they're trying to knock down the pole. When I stop laughing, I explain to my son that they are not trying to knock down the pole. They are trying to jump over it.

It did make me wonder what other things appear to have a different purpose than the one we think we're trying to achieve. I have seen the trend where well-meaning people talk about leaving the church in order to find Jesus. While I understand that painful circumstances are sometimes caused by the very group of people supposedly all about love, this trend makes no sense to me.

The purpose of the Church is love God and love man. Granted, the Church as a whole has messed this up and we will likely continue to mess it up. But that does not mean we should leave the Church to fulfill this purpose outside these walls. (Please notice I'm using Church with a capital-C. I care not about the buildings except for how they can help us meet our goal.)

I believe we are too quick to change the definitions of words when those words appear to have lost their meaning because of how people perceive those words. Take 'Christian' for example. People are talking about leaving Christianity to find Jesus, all the while ignoring the fact that 'Christian' means little Christ.

Leaving an organization because you don't think they are doing a good job meeting their goal may make sense in a business where the company wants to go in a different direction. But in the Church, where the mission hasn't changed for 2,000 years, leaving only hurts the Cause, for all parties involved. And it makes all of us look like we're trying to knock the pole down instead of jump over it.

What words do you see being redefined? What activities appear to have the opposite of the intended purpose?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Start Something That Matters


It's part biography, part motivational speech and all how-to. Just by telling his story in Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, motivates you to want to do something big.

If you know what you want to do, Blake will give you plenty of brotherly advice on how to get started, change your work environment and succeed.

If you have no idea what you want to do, he just might be able to point out some places you could get involved and help make a difference. The point is, everyone can make a difference. All it takes is wanting to, a willingness to work hard, some creativity and perhaps a little bit of luck.

I am not sure I want to start something entirely new. It may not be the time for that just yet, but there are certainly projects, both personal and professional, that Blake has given me some renewed energy to dream about and work towards. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Speak Truth, Accept Truth

Speak Truth Banner
I don't know about you, but I tend to accept certain realities more readily based on their source. While I certainly understand, and readily agree, that truth is not based on location, I am cognizant of my own reality. Perhaps you are the same.

We can agree that truth is truth no matter, but certainly you've experienced a situation where you accepted a long stated truth when someone was able to word it differently. For instance, your parents have told you for years that taking care of yourself would be a good idea. Then a girl comes along and tells you she finds it attractive when guys comb their hair and -PRESTO- you invest in hair products.

Or perhaps your pastor has told you for years about God's love, but it doesn't seem real to you until you spend a week at a summer camp. Your life perspective changes quickly while those who have been telling you the same thing go bang their head against a wall.

But there is at least one person who I did not think I would question. While others may have, I assumed I would adhere without any pause. Yet, since I am no better than others who have gone before me, I have to question my assumptions.

In Malachi 1, we find the introductory message of a mysterious messenger, a guy by the name of Malachi. His name means messenger, making the name choice un-creative on the part of his parents. It's like naming your son Boy. Although, it would make commands like 'Come here, Boy' seem less disrespectful.

Malachi starts out by proclaiming God's love for the people. And since Malachi is just a messenger for God, it's really God proclaiming His message of love for the people. But without hesitation, the people turn around and say, 'Prove it.'

Again, while I would like to think that I would be smart enough not to say that to God, I can't pretend to imagine myself better than the people Malachi was messaging. It seems foolish to question the validity of a statement coming from the person who embodies truth, yet that is what we are guilty of in this case. The Author of Love is left to prove what has already been proven.

All the while we sit back and forget what kind of relationship we are in.

Monday, May 7, 2012

God First, Mysterious Messenger Second

There are many moments in the Bible which I would have loved to have been a part of. There are many great leaders and heroes that I would love to meet. Moses with his arms raised as the waters of the Red Sea split apart. Or Elijah as he lay the smackdown on the prophets of Baal. Or even the young David as he slings a stone into the forehead of that giant oaf, Goliath.

There were prophets and priests and kings, oh my!

But it would almost seem as if God's bag of tricks had run empty by the end of the Old Testament. Things were quiet. Beaten down Jews were returning to their land, but God's presence seemed to be incognito. The glory days are gone and the promise of a Messiah seems long in coming.

From this rises a messenger named Malachi, which ironically means...'messenger'. A guy whose message was to remind people that God loved them. He didn't draw attention to himself. He didn't appear to be a flashy guy. He starts and ends with a simple message.

God loves you. He always has. This is why, appropriately so, we end the Old Testament with a prophet that we don't know much about. The significance does not lie with Malachi. The significance is in the message.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Party!

Kevin BaconI don’t want to go all Kevin Bacon circa 1984 on you, when he starred in Footloose and read from Ecclesiastes 3 and single-handedly revitalized a town by reminding them that there is, indeed, a time to dance. Of course, Solomon wrote about several other things that need a time and space as well. But Kevin Bacon can only star in so many iconic roles.

Yet there are times and reasons to celebrate. And it’s not just Solomon and Mr. Bacon that think so. David wrote of generation telling generation of God’s mighty acts and celebrating God’s goodness (Psalm 147:4-7). David is clearly a man after God’s own heart on this issue, because the Old Testament Law records at least one month each year of celebrating that the Israelites were to participate in for God’s glory.

So what are the reasons not to frown on a good party?

First, it takes us out of the mundane, allowing us to refocus on what is important. In the case of the Israelites and the Old Testament Law, that was focusing on how God was the giver of all good gifts. If you want to know just how important this was to God, check out Leviticus 25, where God lays down the law about Sabbath years and the Year of Jubilee. They were more than just year-long parties, but reminders of how God was actually providing everything they needed.

Maybe taking a year off is out of the realm of possibility for you, but how about this for a reason? A second reason is letting everyone around us know that we have something (and Someone) to celebrate. The disciples of Jesus were seen in stark contrast to the students of the Pharisees because they weren’t practicing fasting. But as Jesus pointed out, you don’t fast when you’re at a wedding (Matthew 9:14-15). 

I don't know about you, but when God seems to be all about a party, I don't think we should go hating on the idea. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Being Jesus in Nashville


With understanding that I am only mostly through this book, let me share with you a few thoughts on Being Jesus in Nashville by Jim Palmer. It appears to be a book about how Jim wrote a book. It was this book, in fact. Jim wrote a book and people, publishers to be specific, didn't like the book. So Jim continued writing this book, but wrote a book within this book about how and why other people didn't like this book, leaving him feeling compelled to write this book all the more.

Is that clear as mud?

Good, because that's about how I felt going through this book. Although, I must admit, Jim warns us that reading this book without reading his first two books would be like walking on a movie halfway through. You'll catch on, but you'll have to catch up.

Okay, that could be a ploy to sell what's left of the first two books still on shelves, but since he's a pretty good storyteller, I doubt it. This book builds on experiences that he has already explored. He does a good job of catching readers up without saying, 'Hey, remember when I wrote about this in my last book?'

So, having said that, let's jump into some review. Jim's purpose, at least one of them, is to write of his experiences in trying to be Jesus in Nashville. If that sounds innocuous, beware. I think Jim means the literal Jesus, which could be why the publishers have a problem. Now I don't want to dissect this entirely, partly because space would not allow me to do justice for his argument. But Jim appears to go too far in his assessment of just how God is living in us versus God being us. Yeah, I could be interpreting Jim wrong, or I could be basing this on context, something I've been teaching my kids about.

My real issue is when Jim, early on, so easily dismisses church in his search for Jesus, as if the two are mutually exclusive. Ok, he may have found his way to Jesus. I won't even begin to judge what he's found. Let's take that at face value, since that is all we can do with anybody. He may have been able to find Jesus outside the church, but what about the millions who won't?

What about the many who don't see a difference between Jesus and His bride? What about them? And while we're thinking about it, what about the many inside the church who could use critical thinkers who will help reveal the truth amidst all the fog?

With each surpassing chapter, just when one has gotten somewhat adjusted to the previous idea, another springs on you. For example, in chapter seven when he decides that man is good and perhaps not in need of salvation. I'm all for questioning the basics if it will help grow our faith, but perhaps if Jim had not left his community of believers behind, what he simply calls religion, then maybe someone could have pointed out to him that his new solutions don't seem to add up to answering the old problems of humanity, namely sin and suffering. If we are okay, then something else is very wrong.

I could go on, but I feel I may have lost you already. As I go to finish this book, I may come back and course correct here, as the purposes and topics for this book are multi-layered. It's interesting, but be prepared to disagree with a lotta bit here and there. I received this book for free from my good friends at SpeakEasy.



Video snapshots of Being Jesus in Nashvillehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcsJs641e2s

#SpeakeasyBeingJesus

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Your Suffering Is Not About You

Sunday night I was talking to my teens about suffering and persecution, making sure they realized it wasn't about them. It can be easy to make statements in our 'classroom', while safe from the outside world.

Then Monday morning hits. Bam! Pow!

Surely there's nothing inherently evil about Monday mornings, but it sure felt that way when a day without obligation for myself turned into a day lying in pain on the couch after throwing out my back. Get this, it happened as I was putting exercise equipment away after having used it. Shouldn't exercise make my already rock-hard core even stronger? I digress.

Clearly that is an attempt at sympathy and not a real example of persecution, but I did ask why, while writhing for a position that would be bring semi-relief. But what do Jesus and His man, The Rock, have to say about persecution.

Well, Jesus said that persecutions make us blessed (Matthew 5:10-12). He said that His followers should expect persecution (Mark 8:31-38). Oh, and anyone who leaves what they know behind should expect to get it all back hundred-fold, along with persecutions (Mark 10:29-31).

Peter, Jesus' right-hand man, had quite a bit to say about persecution and suffering in his first letter. Perhaps because he knew a thing or two about what it actually meant. Or maybe because he didn't want Christians being soft. Peter said we should be certain that our persecution is for the right reason and not something we deserved (1 Peter 2:18-22). Furthermore, it's a badge of honor since those who suffer are done with the sin-game and are actually shocking unbelievers because of their disinterest in joining in sinful practices (1 Peter 4:1-5). Then he goes further to instruct that suffering should lead us to praise God (1 Peter 4:12-19).

And don't forget that Jimmy said we should consider it joy when we face trials (James 1:2-8).

In the end, suffering for any reason isn't about you. If the suffering is in the name of Jesus, then we should put two and two together and realize it's about Jesus. His name, His deal. Or, it's like Jud Wilhite wrote in his introduction to Torn... There are more important questions, namely who will we turn to in our time of need and how will we move forward.

See, suffering isn't that bad. Not mine, not yours. Like most everything else, the suffering we endure is insignificant compared to the good God has in store for us.