So we found another show we can actually watch as a family (with 3 little girls under the age of 7 it seems that is a harder feat than you can imagine these days). We’re enjoying the new game show hosted by that “food guy” called “Minute to Win It”. The show has contestants playing old games (and some new ones and new twists to old games) I used to play with kids as a youth pastor. However with these games, lots of money is at stake – the contestants get a minute to win it by completing these interesting activities. The episode I watched this week had a guy stacking 3 golf balls up and making sure they balanced for 3 seconds. Another game required the contestant to continually blow two feathers up in the air making sure neither feather hit the ground or their body. Interesting.
So, I probably should have written this at least a week ago, but this coming Sunday (Easter) we are kicking off the new series: “Untangling the Mess” and I’d love some help. What are some of the most common “stessors” in your life and the lives of your friends? what causes stress? and what are some of the most common ways that stress is dealt with?
The more tailored our discussion can be to real life people who are a part of Grace (or will be Sunday and the weeks following) the better. I sure don’t want to be answering questions nobody is asking nor using examples no one can relate to… so will you help us??
What do you see? where do you focus the majority of your time and attention?
I’ve written often on the topic of perspective because I see more and more how that affects so much of our lives and obviously our attitudes. Today, let’s talk about our perspective on what God is doing.
Often times in our lives we tend to focus on what isn’t working, what is not going the way we think it should and this is often at the same time God may be working in our lives in significant ways (in other areas of our lives). This is baffling to me, until I realize I have a tendency to do the same thing. Why do we “miss” all the amazing things God is doing? Why don’t we learn to celebrate more? why do we conveniently turn a blind eye to the good and tend to focus on the bad? There is something about our human nature that sees what’s lacking or “not working” even in the midst of lots of good. I’ve heard that it you can give a person paragraphs of encouragement and praise and one phrase of negativity and they will dwell on the one phrase and miss all the praise.
I got to read a few of Phil’s comments on facebook and asked him if he might be willing to put them into a form of a blog post because I think we could all benefit from at least thinking through these issues and angles… take a read and feel free to comment on Phil’s thoughts right here on the blog. It’s cool that as a church we get to have guys like Phil around – what a blessing!!
Robert Frost’s talked about two roads that diverged – and he stated that what made the difference for him was taking the less traveled road. There really are only two paths that we can choose as followers of Christ. It comes down to a choice between: A.) Living to Please God or B.) Trusting God (the less traveled road – but the one that will make all the difference!)
So, the family and I hit up Disney World thank to the “Give a day, get a day” program where Lisa and I volunteered in Minneapolis for a few hours and got a free day at Disney.
But I have to say there is something about Disney. They just have it down. They know how to create an experience that is nothing short of “magical”. The kids love it and there is enough to see and experience and people just seem to be happier when they are there. I don’t want to take anything away from this really cool experience, so don’t read into this… but here’s what I got to wondering…
Disney does this amazing job of creating an “aura” without much substance. What I mean is the message of “believe in your dreams” and “you can be anything” are really just empty statements. They sound good and Disney makes them look good — there is this “aura” that is unmistakable — but what is the substance underneath it all? Not much — it’s pretty much just that: an experience.
It’s difficult for me to talk to people who may not know Jesus about my faith and their need for Jesus. There, I said it, it’s not an easy thing for me. But as I’ve grown, I’ve also realized that is not a sufficient excuse not to do it. In fact, if I and other Christians aren’t telling others, how will they know? It’s not like coming to faith in Jesus is an intuitive thing – discovered by sitting under a tree meditating. It requires someone to tell it.
So, as a pastor, I get the challenge. I understand the tension and I’m in it with you all. So one thing I’ve sought to do is partner. I’ve felt like it’s an easier thing when we know we’re not alone. How that plays out on a church level is providing environments and events that make it as “easy” as possible to invite someone to join you in them. It’s still not easy (especially if you’re not used to talking to people beyond the niceties) but maybe a little “easier”.
The question wasn’t “should” they give more, it was “do” they?
Depending on the study you read, some say there is a slight advantage among Christians over nonChristians. But most studies I’ve seen, the national average for Christians is 2-3% of their income is given to their church. And the average for non-Christians donating to charities is also very close to 2-3% of income. This fact states that most Christians probably tend to view giving to a church as a “donation”, like they would give to a charity. However, the biblical model is quite different than this. The Bible talks about the church as an interconnected/ interdependent community. So giving to a church is not so much a donation, but a partnership. At least that’s the intention. You see, the big difference in giving at a church you’re involved in is you also benefit from your gift. Now that being said, it’s not meant to be “dues” or “club fees”.
So we’re in this series called “It’s a God Thing” – we’re discussing things that are impossible without God. And ya know, as I study these things, I realize how much of church and the Christian life is something we do in our strength. I don’t like to admit it, but if I’m honest (and I would guess, if most of us were honest) we’d have to say we try to pull off a lot of what it means to be a Christian in our own strength. However the “ideal” and “dream” of God’s Word I believe IS possible, but not the way we typically approach biblical direction (ie. try harder). It’s a God thing, so it requires God.
Here’s another “snapshot” from a sermon a few weeks ago on the topic of caring for other Christians. Hope it’s a good reminder…
Here’s a clip from a few weeks ago on the topic of caring for other people in the church. Enjoy it.