So, there are times when I don’t know what to write and when that is the case, I turn to three options...First is the Bible. Obviously that’s got to be the first option for me, it is filled with wisdom and insight that has guided believers for thousands of years. Next, I turn to books I read. I actually have a folder on my phone that is just photos of pages from different books. As I’m reading, if something really speaks to me, I just snap a picture of it and store it in my phone. To be honest, those two options are the ones I go to when I’m looking to write something deep and insightful. Now, if I want to write something funny and creative, my go to source of inspiration is my wife. Usually, the best time to go to this deep well of resources is after she’s been out running errands or when I know that she’s frustrated with something and I need to cheer her up. The conversation goes a little something like this...
(As my wife comes home from the grocery store)
”Love, what should I write about?”
”I should write about stupid people?”
”Yes, I am so tired of going to the store and being surrounded by stupid people.”
So, today was another such outing to the store and let’s all be honest, in the days of Coronavirus, social distancing and self quarantine, a trip to the grocery store can be an adventure in frustration. As I heard Mackenzie come home, I couldn’t wait to ask her what I should write about. Knowing that on normal trips to the store there can be stupid people, a trip during this season should be epic!!!
”Love, what should I write about?”
”Yes! I am so tired of going to the store and have it look like it’s trashed. People need to calm down!”
This was followed by a tale of how clerks at the stores can no longer touch your bags; how you can’t put food on the conveyer belts and how the pasta sauce we normally get now costs $7! It was a classic rant that brought joy to my life and it gave us something to laugh about. Honestly, when I first started writing this I had no idea where it was going to go, but as I continued to write and think about my wife and how funny it is to see her frustrated (at something other than me), I started laughing because this is one of those things I love about my wife. In fact, when I know she’s got one of those frustrating thoughts in her head, I’ll be honest, I’ll go and poke the bear. I’ll ask her how her trip to the store was or how it was helping the kids with their school work and as she starts talking I’ll add in the occasional...”NO!!!” Or “I cant believe it!” Just to get her more revved up. Once she sees my laughing, all of a sudden, that frustration is turned into a funny story we laugh about for the rest of the night.
I share this today, because there is a lot going on right now that is frustrating. There are many people who are afraid and on edge and sometimes the best thing we can do in a stressful situation is find an opportunity to laugh together. So, if you find yourself in need of a good rant, just let it out. If you are tired of stupid people, hoarders or an alarming shortage of toilet paper in your house, tell someone about it. Be as over the top and you can be, I mean really put all you’ve got into the thing and when that rant moves from frustration to ridiculousness...have a good laugh together and celebrate that fact that God’s word says, He turns mourning into laughter.
Laugh away my friends!!!
Welcome to my mind…or maybe my heart…or maybe the two are so jumbled together, it’s hard to tell the difference!
I love to write. It doesn’t matter what it is, or what it’s about. That’s the great thing about writing, it can be serious, funny, imaginative or informative…sometimes all at once. Writing allows our souls to express what’s going on in the deepest parts of who we are. It’s like music for those of us who don’t play an instrument or can’t sing.
There was a long time that I didn’t feel like writing. Life has a tendency to get hard sometimes. The pain that we experience can crush us; crush our joy, crush our hopes, crush our souls. People, who we thought cared for us, can hurt us, abandon us and make us feel like it’s our fault.
Even as a pastor, I am not immune from this pain. Through it all, I have learned some valuable lessons: first, everyone has pain. Pain, hurt, brokenness are universal and the amazing thing is, it can either push us apart or bring us together. Secondly, sharing about our pain actually helps others (and ourselves) to heal. Finally, I’ve learned that God does not waste pain, He redeems it. God desires that we be healed, that we be restored and reconciled to Him and to each other.
So, as you read this blog, know that my desire is to share my journey, not for pity or sympathy, but so you might know that you aren’t alone. One lie we always believe when we are wounded is that no one understands, no one knows what we’re going through. If my stories can (even for a moment) let you know that you’re not alone, that there’s hope, that someone cares…then all my pain would have been worth it. Know this as well, not all of these stories are going to be serious. I love to laugh and when something strikes me as funny, I believe that needs to be shared as well.
I invite you to join me on this journey of healing. May we laugh together, cry together, share our burdens together and grow stronger together.
May God do what only God can do!!!
The greatest thing about following God is the mystery. The tension between the “I don’t know” and trusting in God’s promises. For those of you who know me, you know that I am a hopeless truster in the promises. I think to myself all the time, “If God’s Word says it, I should just take the plunge and believe it.” I don’t think I am like that because I’m “super holy”; I think it’s because I want to believe the “what if?” As I read the scripture I see God’s heart for this world, His love for this world and His promises for this world. God does not pull punches, this world is broken and hurting and under the direct influence of Satan himself. And yet, as I read, there is a hope for this world and it is the Good News of Jesus Christ that is proclaimed...get this...through the church.
I know, I laugh sometimes too. “The Church??? I know you don’t make mistakes God but that might not have been your best choice.” For many people, myself included, the Church has been a source of pain and hurt as much as (or more so), it has been a source of healing. Broken people ministering to broken people is a recipe for a mess.
But what if? What if as a group of broken people we took seriously God’s promises that if we would only be obedient, His Spirit would work through us in miraculous ways. What if a group of broken people decided to fight for unity instead of fighting to be right? What if we looked to the needs of others instead of only to our own needs? What if we really saw Jesus as our example to emulate and learned to forgive, to reconcile and to love people right where they are at and then watch God transform them. That “what if” would turn into a place of miracles, a place of forgiveness, a place of restoration, a place where people could encounter God and be surrounded by others who aren’t perfect, but know what it’s like to be forgiven and if they can be forgiven, anyone can be forgiven.
That is a place where everyone would like to be. That is a place that, deep down, everyone wishes existed. That is what the Church has been called to be. The idea of obedience has been misunderstood for too long. In our society today, obedience means blindly following rules, taking all the “fun” out of life and nothing could be further from the truth. The joy of obedience comes when we understand that when we live the life that God has called us to, not only are we filled with purpose, freedom, grace, mercy, forgiveness and joy, we get to share that with a world that is begging for what God offers (even if they don’t know it).
If you are a believer, join me and let’s stop asking “what if”?” And start experiencing the reality, the freedom, the power and the joy of obedience.
I'm getting sentimental in my old age. I'm only 40 right now, by the time I'm 60, I'm going to a mess!!! As I read through the description of the terrible events that unfolded in Las Vegas, I kept thinking, "That was someone's son who died." "That was someone's little girl who was killed." My heart broke as I read about people sharing their stories of the chaos, fear, panic and death that surrounded them as a man opened fire on innocent people. As a parent, all I want to do in this world is protect my kids, which always brings to reality my human limitations...I can't always be there to protect them. A thought, especially in our day and age, that would cause me severe anxiety; if I didn't have the Bible.
God, in all of his wisdom, knows what it means to love as a parent (better than I ever could) and so he tells me, "Raise a child up in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
God, knowing my love and concern for my children, tells me to teach them. Teach them about Him, His love, His law, His grace, His commandments, His forgiveness; and that will guide them...He will guide them.
And when God teaches, He doesn't pull punches. The book of Proverbs is all about gaining wisdom. Many of them start out with, "Pay attention, my son," In Proverbs 5, that phrase is followed with this, "For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave."
I can't picture me walking with my 10 year old and saying, "Son, that's an adulteress. Stay away or your life will be ruined." But this is exactly how I'm supposed to raise my children, by calling out evil for what it is, evil!
We live in a world where children are being exposed to innocent people being shot, leaders (on both sides) constantly calling each other names, people ramming cars into crowds, bombings, stabbings and beheadings. I can't keep my children from being exposed to this and so I have to teach them,
"Son, that's evil. Stay away or your life will be ruined."
Like we see throughout Proverbs, wisdom begins in God's Truth, and God's Truth is clear that evil needs to be condemned as evil.
Why do I need to point out evil? So others, like my children, will know it when they see it. This is not how we treat people. Life is scared. All life is sacred. It doesn't matter how young or old you are. It doesn't matter where you are from or where you live. It doesn't matter what color your skin is. Everyone is created in the image of God and I must protect that, and I must teach others to protect that.
Lord, may we condemn evil wherever it shows itself. May you grant us wisdom to see it and courage to stand up to it. Help us to remember that evil cannot destroy evil, because many people are forgetting that fact. May we never stoop to the level of evil. May we stand tall for Your Truth, though we be mocked, persecuted or even killed. Help us as Your people, Your Church, to show the world that there is a better way and that way leads to You. Be with the people who came face to face with evil in Las Vegas and those who have faced it and are facing it around the world. Comfort them, be near to them and heal them.
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who mistreat you."
"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
Luke 6: 27-28, 35-36
Even as I wrote these words from Jesus, my mind kept thinking, "You don't know what people have done! You don't know how hard this is!"
But, I know God knows how hard it is. "He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked." The life of Jesus was an object lesson in living this out.
And now, if I want to follow Jesus, I have to follow Jesus...everywhere. He calls me to examine the deepest parts of who I am; those areas of my life where pride and arrogance continue to hold sway over my flesh. The mere fact that I try to make excuses, to plea my case that my situation is different and so I am justified in my anger and hatred, shows that I am not yet completely sactified.
There is work to be done and Jesus is the one doing it.
Here is the truth that we all need to hear (I'm bringing you into my conviction)...we have all been hurt; many of us by people who were the closest to us. If we do not love, do good and bless those who have hurt us, we have not yet submitted our entire lives to Christ. If you read these words of Jesus and say, "No! Never!" are we really following in our Master's footsteps? Are we willing to let Jesus do the hard work and choose the easy path ourselves?
Believe me, I am acknowledging the difficulty but I also testify to the indescribable joy and freedom found in following Jesus. Every step of faith I've taken; every one more difficult than the last, I have found strength, I have found grace, I have found Jesus ever faithful.
Never have I taken a difficult step of faith and said, "Well, that sure wasn't worth it." In fact, it is the exact opposite. I have always come through amazed and glorifying God and the reality is, the more difficult the step, the greater the presence of God.
WIth that in mind, may all of us choose to forgive. May all of us make the hard choice to follow our Lord wherever He calls us.
Crosspoint Friends Church meets at Morningside Presbyterian Church
1201 E. Dorothy Lane
Fullerton, CA 92834-6242
Sunday @ 9:00 am