Monday, February 29, 2016

The Nerve of Some People

Have you ever come across someone who was really bold, but not necessarily in the good way? It's the person you agreed to give a ride to, and along the way they ask you if they can make a second stop. It's someone asking for money and then you watch them spend it on something they didn't need. It could be the child who comes to the dinner table and announces why they don't like what you cooked. Maybe it is the people who refuse to help, yet criticize the work being done.

The nerve of some people, right?

It's the guy being crucified next to God. This guy being crucified for being a thief. Yeah, the guy who, according to Roman rule, deserved to be there. We're given no indication that this guy, this thief, had anyone there who was about to miss him. That guy. He turns to Jesus and asks if he can get into Heaven. 

Do you believe that?

The only thing more incredible than his request is the answer he receives from Jesus. 

Yes. Yes? 

Are you kidding me? I feel bad asking God for a day without any garbage. That request comes from me when I feel like I'm in some sort of place to ask it. You know, like after I've attended church, read my Bible and said something encouraging to someone. (Don't even get me started on how messed up that kind of thinking is.)

This guy on the cross next to Jesus has some boldness. If I was the kind of guy who had some sponsors, this might be a perfect place for some product placement, maybe a chip company who believes they offer bold flavor. But I digress. This request takes guts.

What makes the request even more unbelievable is that this guy on the cross understands his predicament. He is just finishing his reprimand of the third guy on the cross, someone who clearly didn't believe Jesus had what it took to answer any questions, much less requests about the after life. This is what he says;

'We're up here because we belong here. But Jesus did nothing wrong. Hey Jesus! I just got an idea. Could I come with you into Heaven?'

Seriously? Bold. You can almost imagine Jesus looking over at the guy and responding with, "Are you serious? I'm dying over here." But, of course, He doesn't. Because He's Jesus. The thief asks a bold question and Jesus gives a bold answer. 'I tell you the truth. Today you will be with me in paradise.'

Incredible.

The nerve of asking this question, at that moment, almost feels like a sin. Perhaps the greater sin is that I, in all my understanding of a God of grace, choose not to make such bold requests. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Love is Not Rude

About once a month I go into our preschool and teach a lesson to a group of 2-5 year olds. There are about 60 of them, so question and answer time can be pretty fun. This year I am taking them through 1 Corinthians 13 and we're learning about love.

Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not brag or boast.                          ~1 Corinthians 13

The next part of the verse we’re learning is ‘love is not rude.’

I asked them what it meant to be rude. One kid said when you blow someone up with a tank. Yes, I suppose that would qualify as rude. 

Another way to say it would be that love does not dishonor. This means that we should treat people with respect and show them, by what we say and do, that we value them.

I asked a volunteer to squeeze a tube of toothpaste for me until the tube was empty. I picked a sweet young girl, who squeezed until the tube was empty. Then I said, "Now I need you to put all the toothpaste back in." And I just looked at her, as if waiting for her to try.  

She looked back at me as if I was the biggest idiot in the room. Who knows; it could be true. When she spoke the obvious and said it couldn't e put back in, another kid offered that we could use duct tape. Someone's been working with their dad.

I acknowledged that the tube of toothpaste could not be reused and the toothpaste would not go back in. Then I explained;

It’s too late, isn’t it? This is just like when we are rude to someone. When we say something that isn’t kind, we can’t put those words back in our mouths. Even when we apologize, people will still remember that we said it.

I think Jesus wants us to show we love people by being careful about what we say, so we’re not rude or mean to people.

Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not brag or boast. It is not rude.    ~1 Corinthians 13



Prayer

Monday, February 8, 2016

What's The Cost?

This is what I shared with my youth group just before the halftime spectacle of Super Bowl 50.

Coldplay and friends will have 11 minutes to perform. Does that sound ridiculously short to you? It does to me. We have this big game that everyone wants to be a part of. The NFL teams work all year to make it to this point. Broadcasters and analysts desire to be a part of this game. Companies pay millions of dollars to show a 30 second commercial at this event. People plan ahead to be a part of a party to watch it all. And bands are honored to be selected as the half-time show.

11 minutes.

That’s all the time they have. No wonder too, because there are commercials to show, game analysis to talk about, interviews to be done, field prep and stage set-up….and don’t forget about that game needing to be played.

The planners of this game squeeze it all in because they want to grab our attention. The companies want us to notice and purchase their product. The band wants us to like and purchase their music. The analysts want us to esteem their opinion…to buy in to what they say. The NFL wants us to like their product (football) and purchase all that comes with it (clothing, tickets, accessories, etc.)

So they squeeze all they can into one unforgettable night. But don’t forget there is a God who is also vying for your attention. The NFL wants you to buy their stuff. But God wants you to know the purchase has already been made.

The Bible declares that “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy the show. Let’s just remember there are two forces at work here. One wants us to buy in. The other has already bought us. One paid with dollars and production time. But God paid with His only Son.