Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hey Jealousy

Have you ever wondered why we fall victim to jealousy so easily? I mean if there is something that has absolutely no positive aspect to anything it is pursuing jealousy.

Jealousy leads to anger, and anger to hatred...and it's a slippery slope, that's for sure.

I've found myself thinking the most selfish thoughts as I've let my heart and mind be filled with jealousy and anger towards others. I've even caught myself engaging in activities that encourage my jealousy to flourish instead of diminish.

So why is that? Why can't we simply celebrate the successes of others instead of longing for our own moments of glory and recognition? The sad reality is that we even do this in church. We become jealous of another faith community because of what is happening in and through this part of the body of Christ; wishing all the while the part we may be connected to would be experiencing similar or greater growth.

So what do we do in the face of jealousy? We end up seeking to sabotage the people, the group or the movement of which we have become jealous. Jealousy drove the Pharisees to try and discredit Jesus. Jealousy will motivate you and I to do similar things.

Jealousy doesn't belong in any sort of healthy relationship. I honestly believe that the only way to rid ourselves and the world of jealousy is to practice love as described in 1 Corinthians 13, while learning to fix our eyes on the bigger picture of life instead of becoming bogged down with the details that only our human eyes can see.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Still Captivating

I had the chance to connect with my Oma today as she just so happened to be in town. She lives in Saskatchewan, so we rarely have the chance to connect face to face. This was also her first time getting to meet Cannon face to face as well, so it was a special day.

My Oma always likes to shoot the breeze about a variety of subjects, and being the good grandson that I am (cough, cough), I tried my best to oblige her today. We began our usual chat and then she began to share with me about her spiritual journey with Christ. As an 83 year old, my Oma has walked with Christ for over 70 years. That's a long time!! The best part of my conversation with her today was how full of life she became as she talked about what God was teaching her. Dedicating the majority of her life to the study of God's word, I listened to my Oma share with me about how God's story still captivates her heart. She spoke about how each time she opens the Bible she learns something new about God and how much He loves her and others.

Can you imagine still be captivated by God's story after 70 years? As I sat and listened, and interjected here and there, I couldn't help but be humbled by my Oma's desire to continue to learn. She also spoke about how our lives need to speak of God's love, and our actions need to become louder than our words.

Love for God and love for others needs to be demonstrated. It's in the demonstration of love that love is truly proclaimed in a way that those who do not yet know Christ are able to understand.

I guess there is still a lot that I can learn from my Oma and the Jesus alive in her!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A love kick

I'm working on some projects today, so I decided to strap on my ipod for the "ride" that is papework!!

This one song on my playlist stuck out to me unlike before. The song is You Wanted More by Tonic. These lyrics in particuarly hit me in the face today.

Love is color
Love is love
Love is never saying you're too proud
Love is trusting
Love is honest
Love is not a hand that holds you down

There is no separation in the sacred and secular...Christ can be found in the midst of the chaos. I don't know about the spiritual health of this band, but I know that these few lyrics depict the struggle of pursuing and living out love in the way God intended.

I hope the love I am pursuing reflects the qualities painted by this lyrical collage of emotion and experience.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gotta love to laugh

I totally believe that Jesus loved to laugh. Humor is such a big part of working on a team. I think that a team that laughs together learns to work together more effectively and efficiently. Think about it like this...if you never laughed with your friends, don't you think you'd be missing a component in your relationship with them?

What's got me busting my gut lately is trying to learn to dance...something that would make my Grama shudder I'm sure!! Growing up I was always taught that dancing was sinful....yet another reason to make sure that we actually teach biblical principles and don't simply hand down human made traditions.

Anyways, back to my reason for writing. I'm attempting to groove with a handful of peers, and it's got me literally rolling on the floor with laughter. Laughter eases tension, it brings joy to the heart and soul, and it also reminds us to not take ourselves too seriously.

Genuine laughter is absolutely essential in regards to learning to live a joy-filled life. Remember that we are created in the image of Christ, and our humor is a gift from God. Enjoy life...enjoy laughing and enjoy the rich joy that comes from connecting with God and with others in the wonderful gift of pure joy!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

At the End of My Rope

I don't know what it is, but most of the titles I use for my blog entries are ripped off from song titles...point in case this latest blog, brought to you by a little known band called Seventh Day Slumber. Oh the memories... :)

Why is it that sometimes we need to run into brick walls before we realize they are there? I don't know about you, but it seems like I've been hitting my fair share today. Shortly after I got to work my car was broken into. The culprits stole a letter that I needed to mail, but nothing other than that. $250, some frustrated moments, some words I'd like to take back and a headache later I found myself evaluating whether or not I can run through walls.

I'm not saying there is something super spiritual about my car getting busted into or anything like that, but I do believe there is something to say about pursuing balance in life. Pursuing God means learning to live life according to His design and rhythm. The foundation of this design is rest. All throughout scripture God asks His followers to wait for Him; to rest in Him. Jesus Himself talks about an easy yoke and light burden for the weary. Yet when push comes to shove, we seem more intent on living life the way we've always dreamed; or at least in the way we think it should be. We begin living out of our own strength and then become frustrated with how little energy and "life" we have.

Some wise spiritual guru once said that he desired to live according to God's grace and didn't want to move without God's grace giving him the strength to do so. Seems like a ludacris idea until we've hit one too many brick walls, doesn't it?

I'm all for moving, but how about moving and living according to God's pace instead of our own? How about being driven by His word instead of our schedules, tasks or to-do lists?

Today I was at the end of my rope, learning once again what it means to find rest in Christ and freedom in His grace.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm a Yes Man...I hope

Jim Carrey stars in a flick entitled Yes Man. The basic premise of the movie is to begin saying yes to a variety of opporunities in order to live life, instead of having it pass you by. As you can imagine, saying yes to everything can definitely lead to some interesting situations.

Today I read through an article entited "Found in Darfur" from Relevant Magazine. If there is one magazine I would reccommend anyone getting, it would be this one. I have not seen a better un-biased piece of journalism from a Christian perspective.

This article contains the story of a woman who does relief work in Darfur. If you know anything about Darfur, you know that it's one of the most deadly places on earth. Conflict has engulfed the region for quite some time. Fights break out over almost everything. Islam is the dominant faith in the area, so being a Christian in this kind of space can be challenging, as you may well imagine. There were two comments this woman made that inspired me. The first was "My personal witness hinges on the way I live out my faith." Everything inside me leaps when I read this. It is absolutely essential to have our faith inform how we live. There cannot be a continental divide between the two. If these two do not meet up...then is there actual evidence of faith in a person's life? I don't know. All I know is that I can have faith that my chair will not collapse, but if I never sit in it, will I know if my faith means anything?

The second statement was "I know the most important things is to say 'yes' to God when He asks you to do something." Living life according to God's rhythm and design is the only way to really live. Can you imagine saying no to everything? We'd miss out on so much. Obedience to Christ is the only true way to live. Yes isn't always easy, but it's the best option.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Entertaining Angels

Flashback...the Newsboys put out a song with this very same title on the Step Up to the Microphone album...ah, nostalgia, gotta love it!!

Today was a day chalked full of different experiences. I had planned on doing some work around the house (tiling and fence repair), but had no idea what God would have in store for me. I was finishing up odds and ends in regards to my to-do list when something unique happened. Bonny & I recycle (as should you all!!). I haven't had the chance to take our bottles and cans in for some time now, so I mentioned to Bonny the other day that I would really like to bless someone who digs in the garbage for cans with our lot in the basement.

I was just coming into the house when I heard the unmistakeable sounds of someone riding on their bike with cans in bags. I quickly ran down into the basement and threw our recycling into bags hoping to catch up with this person. I made my way outside to see this individual stopped beside our garbage bin. I walked up to him and gave him our cans, muttering some clever line like "Lookie what I got!!" Then something awesome happened. Gary, the man I had aimed to bless, began to tell me his story. He lives in the area by us, but has recently fell on hard times with the recession and all. He just lost his job and was out scrummaging for recyclables in order to keep food on his table. He told me that he doesn't normally go looking for cans in dumpsters, but that someone told him to sit down by our garbage bin. Trying to satisfy my curiousity I asked who. Gary said that God told him to sit down and wait.

I didn't know what to say. I stood there with some sort of dumb-founded look on my face and Gary got up to leave. He said that he didn't need to be here any more and it was time for him to go. Hopping on his bike he gave me a big grin and said, "May God be with you." I had the wherewithall to at least utter, "and you too!!"

In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about serving the less fortunate. Summarizing His words, Jesus basically says that whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me. My goal was to bless Gary with cans, and instead I found myself blessed by Gary. I wonder who was the least of these in this situation...Gary or me?

Friday, September 4, 2009


I'm reading the book "Prodigal God" by Timothy Keller right now, so many of these thoughts in this blog are borrowed from his ideas.

The basic premise of the book is examing in detail the parable of the man who had two sons in Luke 15. We often refer to this parable as the prodigal son, but in doing so we miss the impact of the elder son's role in this story as well. I encourage you to re-read this story before reading any further.

One son chooses to walk away from his father, while the other chooses to play it safe and do everything "right." But what is impacting me the most in regards to these two sons is that they were both after the same thing...control over their father's resources. One chose to demand his inheritance up front, while the other kept 'slaving away' in order to ensure he achieved the 'good son' label. The end of the story sees the father welcome back his younger son into his home with a huge party. The elder son receives the same invitation to be a part of this celebration, yet chooses not to.

This inspired me to think about what this means in my own life. There is a stark difference between playing church and living church. Playing church refers to doing all the right things, while living church focuses on the motivation and intent behind one's actions. It is so easy to fall into the habit of doing something for someone in order to get something in return. As followers of Christ, we can easily become engulfed in blind ambition as we seek to earn a greater reward. In doing so, I think we merely personify the character of the elder son from this parable. We do all the right things, but not for the right reasons.

I can only imagine if I approached my marriage to Bonny in this fashion...oh boy would I be in for it!! Over time, she would be able to see through my motivations and notice the lack of authenticity in my behavior. And what would I be accomplishing in this pursuit? Ultimately, the destruction of the most important human to human relationship I have.

Instead, my actions in my marriage must be rooted in authenticity. I do because I love, not because I have to or need to...but because I choose to.

Let me pose this question to you. What are you doing for God that can be categorized in the same fashion as the life of the elder son from this parable? Remember that the expectations of God vastly outweigh the expectations of other people. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. No matter how good of an actor or actress you are, you're not fooling anyone, let alone God almighty.

Authenticity is a dangerous word...but it's really truly the only way to live.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just Singing About Jesus

There are so many moments about being a dad that I hope I never forget...the first time I held Saydie after she was born and whispered her name to her after planting a big kiss on her lips. The first time I held my son Cannon and whispered to him that he was home. The first words, the first steps, the first roll, the first laugh...all of these are etched in my heart and in my mind.

Tonight was yet another moment I hope I don't quickly forget. Following bath time we were gathered as a family in Saydie's room while Bonny was wrestling with her to get her dressed for bed time. Saydie was jumping on her bad and singing and babbling to herself when Bonny asked her what she was singing about. Saydie replied, "I'm just singing about Jesus." Now I'm not a softy by any stretch of the imagination...I'm able to feel things, but I don't usually become overwhelmed with emotion. But listening to my little girl sing about her Jesus, even as a one year old in a language only God (and maybe her mom!!) could translate, I was beeming with pride as a dad and humility as a follower of Christ. How many times has someone caught me jumping on my bed so excited to sing about my Jesus, so to speak?

The words of Jesus began to echo in my head when He spoke about needing to become like little children in order to inherit the kingdom of God. My little Saydie was giving me a glimpse, through the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit at work in me, about what it meant to be like a child in God's kingdom. As a doer I sometimes get caught up in getting things done and tasks completed while forgetting to simply slow down, enjoy and celebrate being a part of God's family. I need not worry about what another person might think of me, I need to be consumed by the presence of God and respond to this consumption with utter joy!! I need to let loose and sing about my Jesus in my words, my actions, my time, my resources and my everything else. How about you, do you find yourself pondering this same conclusion in this moment?

Who knew jumping on a bed would teach me so much...

Getting Hungry

My stomach is like clock work. Every day when I wake up in the morning, the grumbling in my belly signals that it is time to 'feed the beast.' I scarf down whatever my hands come across (excluding pineapple or anything else too fruity!!), and I am satisfied only until this same sequence begins again.

Thinking about this today, with being hungry and all, I began to think of what my life would be like if I craved God's presence and God's word on a consistent basis. There are times when life gets so busy that we begin to squeeze out our time connecting with God or with others.

I think part of living like Jesus means learning to grow in our hunger for Christ, His presnce, the Word and our time spent with Him. I know that last night before I went to sleep I just needed to pray with Bonny in a spirit of thankfulness for who God is. I expressed my fleeting desire to move only in His rhythm and grace, knowing that there will be moments in each and every day where I begin to claim to do things in my own strength once again. Maybe it's time that I learn more from my hunger. Sure it signifies that I need to eat, but I think it can and should also represent my need to feast at my Master's table.