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Archive for the ‘Great Expectations’ Category

The Right Goal

You made some goals for this year, but did you make the right goals?  Every once in awhile I get that deadly combination of being hungry and lazy.  I am hungry and I know I need to eat something.  However, I am lazy and do not want to fix anything.  On the top shelf of the pantry sit a bag of chips.  Even worse, a box of cookies rest next to them.  They tempt with their salty and chocolate goodness.  They speak gently and say, “I require nothing but an accompanying glass of root-beer”.  The hunger is soon satisfied, but my body isn’t.  A goal was set.  Feed the hunger.  But the need was not met. Fuel the body.  I didn’t need a snack, I needed a meal.

We compartmentalize our life so much that we make the assumption that one part of our life has nothing to do with the other.  We assume that our eating habits have nothing to do with our work habits and our work habits have nothing to do with our home habits and our spiritual habits have nothing to do with anything.  This is one reason we struggle to meet the goals we make or are surprised when the goal met doesn’t fully satisfy.  We fill up on snacks when our life requires a meal.

While reading Philippians 3, I came across verse 8.  Paul writes, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Paul was writing here about the danger of basing our relationship with God on how religious we are.  Essentially, he warns that if our life is centered around religion and not Christ, we will miss out.  We snack instead of feast.  But the warning, though directed toward the religiously zealous, is not limited to them.  Is this warning not true with all of life?  Is everything considered loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ?  If so, then what does that mean?

Once again, we fall into the danger of thinking our lives are compartmentalized.  We would like to take these words of Paul seriously, but either we chuck them out because we think it too radical, or embrace them with lack of understanding and become fanatical.  The words of scripture are never to be removed from life.  God didn’t just create humans with a soul, but with a digestive system too.  What I mean by this is that our spiritual life is directly related to our living, breathing, playing, working, and eating life.  If that is the case, then “considering all loss” in comparison with knowing Christ is not to dismiss everything else, but to place it in context.

Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 6, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  And all these things will be added unto you.”  Seeking the kingdom, seeking Christ, is not about being devoid of life, but about entering into it fully.  It is about setting the right goal.  I can be determined to eat healthier this year, but it might not require me to be a nicer person.  However, when I seek Christ first and when I set my life upon knowing Jesus, if taken seriously, will help me loose weight, work better, play better, etc.  The reason is that I have determined to take the words “my life” seriously.  My life is not limited to one portion of what I do.  My life is not simply spirituality removed from the physical aspects of living.  My life is not segmented into multiple parts disconnected from one another.  My life is centered in and hinges on my direct relationship with Christ.  Therefore, how I spend my money, how I eat my food, how I delegate my time, is directly related to how I know Christ.

What might your life look like if you asked yourself how knowing Christ effects the various goals you have set in your life.  And if you have not set goals for yourself, how does knowing Christ fit into that as well.  Jesus isn’t just junk food religion that desires to feed a temporary hunger fix.  He is the real thing that desires to fuel your entire life.  What you and I will discover in making a life that seeks to know Christ, is a God who desires to give life and fulfill our deepest and truest desires.  Let us not just settle for snack food living, but let us feast on the meal only Christ can provide.

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Growing up I found there was a fine line between Friends and Jerks.  In reflection, I don’t think the difference was always in actions or attention.  The line drawn, at least in my case, was intention.  Junior high was that great time of discovery for me.  It wasn’t necessarily great because I liked it.  Who really likes Junior High anyway?  It’s awkward.  Boys are facing their first major ideology  shift by asking their first major philosophical question; what is a girl to me? The question of what is humor changes;  If blowing bubbles in my milk is no longer funny, is milk out the nose during a laugh still funny? (the answer is yes, it always will be).  Girls, on the other hand, are no longer the tallest and have to deal with Guys actually knowing how to solve math problems.  Talk about a shock to the system!  Even more so, now they have to deal with the guys noticing them and wondering if they are nice does it mean they are nice and if they are jerks, does that no longer mean nice?

All of that added to my own late blooming self, was the fact that my dad was my principle and I new all of the teachers and I went to school with students in a completely different social class than I had know the past 11 years of my life.  When you are in Junior High, you still have not learned that every incident is

not about you, so you translate that into the emotional equivalent of “I have a target on my back”.  You feel as if every thing you do is evaluated, when in reality… well, it is but only in relationship to everyone else thinking the same thing.  If there was ever evidence for Darwin’s the strongest survive, it is Junior High… quite possibly evidence of the missing link as well.  All of this to say, Friends and Jerks were generally deciphered through that rare intuition 13 year olds have.

The jerks, in my day, usually would make fun of your foibles, real or not.  If you were rejected by a girl, a team, a grade, it was pointed out.  Were you different? You knew, or they would let you know.  If you were male, it could get physical.  Not always a fight.  But there were wedgies, hertz donuts (you know, hurts don’t it), possibly a charlie horse to the thigh.  My friends however, well, they did the same things!? But there was a difference.

At school, the ones who perpetrated this nonsense, meant it out of cruelty.  I found myself very shy at the time.  I finally became brave enough to go to the youth group at my church.  I was quiet there for awhile.  I watched.  I noticed something different.  People gave each other a hard time, but there was

laughter.  Even, if not especially by the one on the receiving end.  I began to experience something else as well.  I was encouraged to participate.  I was invited in to the games.  The older kids picked on me, but not like the jerks.  Like older brothers.  They would wrestle me and toss me about.  There wasn’t much to me, so it was probably fun for them.  It was fun for me.  Yes, I had my share of misplaced underwear, bruises on the arms and legs, but there was never any cruelty.  There was the same amount of encouragement and uplifting.  The difference was intention.

These same people that I watched give each other a hard time, were also the first people to pick one another up.  They taught the words and actions of Christ

by living the words and actions of Christ.  Do I think Jesus ever dead legged Peter?  It’s possible.  He did nickname him little Rock and he called the twins Sons of Thunder.  These older youth and counselors were great influences on me.  They were and are saints.

This Sunday is All Saints Day.  It is a day that we remember those people whose faith in God impacted our lives and the lives of others.  I think it should also

be a day we recognize those saints in our life that are still living as well as our own sainthood.  When we hear ‘Saint’ we start thinking of people perfect in the faith, or people we think are perfect in the faith.  We think in order to be a saint we must live like Mother Teresa.  But the truth of the matter is that we are all saints when we find ourselves in Christ.  It is the grace of God that makes us a Saint.  The question is, will we live in response to that grace.  Will we live out our saintliness.  It is not a matter of perfection, but being willing to keep our eyes on Christ and move in the direction.

My friends were not and are not perfect.  They made me mad plenty of times.  I made them mad too.  But what has influenced me is the answer they gave to the Beatles song, With a Little Help From My Friends, “What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?”  They answered no.  We will walk along side of you, would you walk along side of me.  The song goes on, “Lend me your ear and I’ll sing you a song, and I’ll try not to sing out of key?”  That is the Saint way.  Pushing forward.  Not a promise of perfection, but a promise of friendship.

If it were not for the help of the friends throughout my life, and the ones that paved the way for them, I would not be who I am now.  By the way, I am a big fan of me.  I give thanks for the Sunday school teachers who guided me love and truth, for the youth counselors who paid attention and cared enough to teach so

that we would care enough about one another.  I give thanks for the ones I did not know that influenced them and carried the message of Christ from generation to generation.  I give thanks to those friends and mentors now who help me continue to live in God’s grace, that I may be to others how they have been to me.

Who are you thankful for?  Who has influenced you over time?  How are you living your life so that you might be an influence to others?

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This month NPR is having, yet again, another fund drive.  They are also celebrating 40 years in broadcast.  I found one of their promotional clips very interesting.  It was a series of different broadcasters reporting on different major events that covered in that time period.  Quite impressive.  Quite nostalgic, both good and bad.  But what caught my attention was the emphasis on “we were there”.  There is a bit of self importance we put on our act of being somewhere at the right moment.  A bit of importance of capturing news that happens, to other people.  There is a perceived and actual insight that happens when we witness something significant.  There is a credibility and shared experience in the act of watching.

I don’t say this to down play it.  There is a big difference in watching the Giants get 11 runs in the first game of the World Series when it was supposed to be a low scoring game, and reading about it in the AP news the next day.  We might get some credit if we saw it on the “make you feel like a man” channel called ESPN, but it’s still not the same as watching it on TV or, even better, live.    However, I do bring it up because there is something better than our world of voyeuristic living.  There is actual living.  Playing the Game.

We have been preaching from Ephesians all month in our, yet again, stewardship campaign.  The difference that I see in our campaign and NPR, other than Car Talk, is the emphasis on living life.  Paul writes in Ephesians 3, “assuming you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.  When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ…” Paul is not gloating about his pastoral powers here, but he is bringing attention to the very difference I have been talking about.  Personal insight into the mystery of God.  Paul sees himself as a steward of God’s grace.  He sees this not because he thinks he is the only one who has received God’s grace, but because he has received he feels compelled to share.

What caught my eye in this passage is the word ‘insight’ and the word ‘mystery’.  Let’s face it, God is mysterious.  Bono of U2, writes (I think) about the Holy Spirit in a song called Mysterious Ways.  One line writes, “if you want to kiss the sky you gotta learn how to kneel”.  The way into the mysterious nature of God comes through humility and insight comes from experience.  We are called to witnesses to God’s love, but it is not a witness that we can report on from the outside.  You can admire the love of a poet, but you will never know the poetry of love until you experience it.  The Christian way that Paul speaks about is about insight only gathered from experience, immersion into the Grace of God.  God is not a mystery we discover, We are discovered by the mystery of God.

NPR shares well.  They may even experience well from time to time.  But they’re witness should never be a substitute for your own insight, your own living.  The great thing about Christ and being found in him, when we give witness it is not as an outsider, but as one with insight to His Mystery.  This insight is not determined by theological education, but theological encounter; an encounter with God.  How have you encounter the almighty? Are you just a spectator, or are you playing the game?

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One Presence

My daughter is 2 years old.  We are entering the “Terrific Twos”.  It’s a time when she is learning independence, separation, individuality.  If she wasn’t a little obstinate and fickle, I’d be worried.  I call it terrific and not terrible, not because she is compliant (she’s as strong willed as her mommy and daddy), I call them terrific because she is becoming.  She is learning what she likes.  She is observing and processing and imitating.  She is using her imagination to turn balloons into kites, shoes into boats, daddy into a trampoline. She is using her vocabulary to declare that “yes I can”.  What I love about this age is the honesty and the vision.  To have the eyes of a child.

Sydney’s room and the guest room are across the hall from each other.  Sometimes she likes to sleep in her bed, sometimes the guest bed.  Sometimes both in one night.  Each night I ask her, which bed she would like to sleep in tonight.  Her answer, every time, “Snuggle My Mommy!”  With all her preferences of which stuffed animal lines up where, what books to read, what music to put on, her focus of bedtime is always Mommy.  How did you sleep?  I snuggled Mommy.  When she wakes up; where is Mommy?  She adores her Mommy.  Colors are brighter when Mommy is home.  Food taste better when Mommy is home.  If we want Israel and Pakistan to get along… send in Mommy.  It’s not an unhealthy obsession.  She does not weep and gnash teeth in her absence or on her leaving.  Sydney, with extraordinary simplicity, loves her Mommy.

To have that devotion to God, what a life we might live.

A friend of mine and fellow blogger, J.D. Walt, blogs often on worship.  Recently he had a great statement that has quite honestly wrecked me.  Here is his closing paragraph.

Are we designing worship services to cultivate our deepest desire, or are we stringing songs together in a way that fosters  ”sentimental” feelings toward  God. I hear far more talk about “great” worship than I do about a “great” God. Again, are we designing worship to cultivate and aim the deepest desires of the human heart or are we settling for services designed to enhance our life, strengthen our commitment, or worse, control our behavior in Jesus name?  (full blog here.)

He says, “I hear far more talk about “great” worship than I do about a “great” God.”  When we go home after worshipping God together, what are we focused on?  For that matter, what are we focused on as head off to church?  What are we bringing into church?  What do we expect to happen?  How do we find ourselves declaring the greatness of God above our delight of a “great” worship service?

The Gospel according to Sydney, if you will, finds the answer in our focus.  Sydney, finds delight and wonder beyond the toys, beyond the choice of bed.  She can find delight in an uncooked piece of spaghetti, if she is in the presence of Mommy. “How did you sleep last night Sydney?” “Mommy!”  How was worship today? God is Great!

Ephesians really highlights the stewardship of our life focus.  Ephesians 4 highlights the crucial importance of the oneness of our calling in Christ.  “There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

In Christ we are One, united together through the Holy Spirit who graces us with many gifts that we might use those gifts to equip one another so that we might be built up into the full image of Christ.  The singular focus is on Christ Jesus our Lord.  Our transformation will only come through our ability to surrender to his grace, submit to one another and worship as one with the hope of being united in Christ.  The worship is not limited to a service on Sunday morning, but in every aspect of our lives.  Our Sunday corporate worship is a culmination of us declaring together, “yes, i lived this week because I see you Jesus” or, “I died this week because I lost your face in the crowd of my self focus, but I see you now Jesus”.  But to do this takes humility.  We must step away from our preference and delight in His Presence.

But it takes something else as well.  Worshipping to the point where we say “What a great God” means we must worship together as participants.  The unity of the body in Christ is not unanimously nodding amen to the pastor and relying solely on a few people to lead worship.  Nor is it the pastor designing every moment of corporate worship.  Worshipping as one body to the point of seeing a Great God requires the work and testimony of the church seen and heard.

On Sunday I will share what this can look like and I hope together we can equip one another to grow in Christ.  May we find ourselves like little Sydney, delighting not in the quality of the game, location, or toy, but in the quality of Presence.  May we look and see how God is present in our life today that we might declare his Greatness together on Sunday, together.

 

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goals

Last Friday before I went into the office I met Amanda and Sydney at the playground with the lovely name of “Moccasin Slough”.  By the way, who names a children’s play area after a pit viper?  I expected to find a pre-school around the corner called, “Rusty Razor Blade Recreation”. Whatever its name, we ignored it and moved on to the slides and swings.  It was hot. It wasn’t even 10 AM.  I started getting nervous.  Next week I run my first triathlon.  It is an Olympic distance which is a 1 swim, 24 mile bike and a 6 mile run. I got nervous because I realized that by the time I got to the running portion of the race it would be between 10 and 11AM in Florida. Ugh.

I can’t back out.  I’ve paid my money.  I’m cheap and I have my pride.  The reality is that I’m invested in this race which is setting me up for the real race at the end of September; the 70.3 Half Iron Man.  1.2 Mile Swim, 56 Mile Bike, and a 13.1 Mile Run.   These races only make me nervous because I am invested and because I want to finish.  I am not nervous because I am afraid of the pain (although, not a big fan).  I am nervous with anticipation, because this is a journey I set began several months ago inspired by a desire to get in better shape, to push my own limits, and to be challenged.  The reward is not the finish line alone, but has been in each milestone I have made, the the fellowship with other triathletes, the pride of accomplishment and the joy of transformation.

I set a goal for myself and I am anxious to achieve it.  But goals often have the potential to be empty.  There is nothing so defeating as a goal that misses the point.  I think about how many goals we set for ourselves that lack any kind of meaning and are full of the consumption of a goal alone.  That usually leads to an attitude of the ends justifying the means.  If we are not careful we can easily end up living a life in which our goals do not serve us, but we end up serving our goals.

This is where the “why” question comes in handy.  A great test to see what you are really after when you set your goals is to try and explain them to a 4 year old.  Now, Sydney is only 2, so her questions is “what is”.  She won’t help, but if you have ever been around a four year old (I used to teach day care for this age, always funny), then you know that question of “why”.  What are your goals?  Is it to make money?  Why? To give your family nice things? Why? Because you love them? Are you able to love them if you can’t give them nice things? How? Is it possible the affection you show when you replace nice things with nice actions are better? What if you had a smaller home, but were home more often with your family?  What are your goals?

Paul talks about goals when he writes to the Philippians.  He challenges them as to why they first came to Christ and are they still living out the life to which God has called them.  What or who is the goal in their faith?  The goal of God is to make himself known to us and he has done so through Christ.  Why?  Is it to establish more rules, a certain government, why?  God makes himself known because in him is life and he wants us to have life.  Think again about what lies at the core of your goals.  My guess is that even some of the worst of our goals has at its center a notion or a desire to be connected and free.  This is only fully accomplished in and through Christ, not as a barrier to freedom, but as an invitation.

Paul is striving to live as Christ and through this all his life goals are formed.  He is becoming the man is feels called to become, he overcomes obstacles that most people would give into, he risks life and freedom so that others might know life and freedom.  The goal to follow Christ, to live as Christ, is not an easy goal.  It is a goal that requires us to take on things of substance. As much as we understand this intellectually, in practice it is always a challenge.  I know that fruits and vegetables are good for me.  I even make sure that Sydney gets her share.  I know that cookies are, as Cookie Monster sings, a “sometime food”.  And that is why I eat my cookies in secret and not in front of Sydney.  Let’s face it, cookies and cake are much more enjoyable than foods that are good for us.  The point is, in order for us to stay healthy, we must be persistent.  Being persistent requires us to be focused, which means we should be aware of what our goals are.

Paul writes the following in Philippians 3.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

As Christians we have embraced the revelation that Jesus Christ is who he says he is.  We are claiming that there is a way that leads to life, today.  Will we hold true to this in all aspects of our life?  Paul has not had the easiest journey, he has been imprisoned, lie threatened, and lost at sea.  For him the sacrifices he made did not compare to the life journey he was on with Christ.  I am sure there were times when he thought about giving up, but he held on to what he knew was true knowing the victory of life was already guaranteed.

I began writing this Friday morning with the knowledge that I was supposed to run 8 miles last night.  I did not want to run 8 miles.  I have never run 8 miles in my life.  Last week I ran 7 miles for the first time.  I decided that I would press on.  I am committed to finishing this race.  I am invested in this race.  If I want to experience the joy of completion I must participate fully in the day to day journey.  I ran last night and ran my 8 miles in same time it took me to run 7 miles last week.  That’s what I want my walk with Christ to look like, that’s my goal in life.

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Why is it when people refer to the “real world” it is always a place of suffering and heartache?  The assumption made is that the person saying this is the only one with real experience and the person it is being said to is clueless and obviously not living in the “real world”.  The NOT real world is generally made out to be some pleasant utopia made out of candy can street lamps and chocolate houses.  The odd thing, is that the person making this claim is proud that they are part of the “real world” and that they are tough enough to live there.

Remember the Matrix?  Morpheus, played by Lawrence Fishburne, seeks out Neo (Keaunu Reeves) and tells him that the world he knows is not reality, it is a fabrication of a world created to keep people away from the truth.  What is the reality?  A very dark place in which people are struggling for their lives, but they’re free.  Now, I’m not knocking the concept, but I still laugh a little that whenever we talk about the “real world” it is a darker place than the world people think they are in.

My question is what makes your reality more real than my reality?  Why does reality have to be so glum and gloomy?  Why should your pain diminish my joy? Why not the other way around?  Maybe your world is not the real world?

The answer given to those of us who claim to have joy, is that we are simply foolish Idealist.  The Christian who truly believes Christ is the way and what he teaches is the way is called an idealist?  Why?  Because in order to truly live that way we would have to step out of one real world and into another.  We would have to actually acknowledge that perhaps the real world we have grown accustomed to is not working all that well for us.  There are many reasons that can be given, but most are not “really” adequate, however understandable.

I believe one reason people (even Christians) have a hard time understanding that God is the real world, is that we see God as an Alien, a foreigner. We don’t see this creation as belonging to him, but instead we see a benevolent being who has come to give advice.  But, if the Gospel of John is right, then all things are created through Christ.  In short this means that all things belong to Christ.  If all things belong to Christ, then perhaps the answer to living well is found in Christ.  Maybe the reason we struggle so much in this life is rooted in the fact that we spend more time trying to break away from real life  (the Christ life) instead of entering into it.  Maybe it is so painful outside of Christ because it is separate from what makes us real in the first place.  Perhaps the fault found in Christians is not that we are too much of an idealist, but maybe we lack living as realist; a realism found by trusting Christ in all he is.

We don’t have to live in darkness.  There is a light to live and it is real.

This Sunday we will explore this further.  As you prepare for worship, seek out in your life the ways you separate your identity in Christ.  Are there things that you avoid because they don’t seem possible in the real world?  Is you life any better having avoided them?  Is you life any better having dived full into Christ?

Be in prayer for one another.

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There comes a point in running when everything is burning.  Lungs. Legs. Feet. But if you just push on another mile, then the pain is simply everywhere.  I am training for a 1/2 Iron Man with a few men in our church.  This is a triathlon.  1.2 Mile Swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.  Just recently I ran the longest I have ever run; 5 miles.  I have tried to get into running in the past and it is usually around 2 miles that I ask myself, “why?  wouldn’t it be easier to just stop eating?”  Turns out the answer to that question is, no.  Seriously, I like cookies.  I like ice cream.  If there is a “carb” in it, please, pass it down.  I will eat it.  Is there anything wrong with that?  No.

However, there is something else I like.  I like breathing when I tie my shoe.  I like really fitting into size 34 jeans.  I like my belly to turn with me when I turn and stop turning when I stop.  I like the idea of throwing my daughter up in the air and knowing that I can still catch her when she comes back down even when she asks to do it again daddy, again daddy, again daddy, again daddy… So my predicament: me like food, me like breathing.

My first thought, maybe I should cut down on carbs.  I don’t like this option, but maybe a few less cookies…  One day I see Mac, the only man I know who has run the full Iron Man.  Mac runs triathlons so much that his head is a swim cap and he has bike clips naturally growing out of his feet.  I say Mac, do you diet or watch carbs or anything like that.  He says to me, “Honestly, when I train, I can’t eat enough carbs”.

Now,  a normal person would say to their self, “This man trains for Iron Mans, maybe I should ask someone with a resting heart beat that is above 20.”  I, however, hear, “I can’t eat enough carbs”.  I work for the pleasure of things.  This whole thinking of, why did you climb the mountain because it was there nonsense, is not for me.  If I climb something it is because a. I want to brag. b. there is a great view. c. there is a prize.

This is how I got started… thinking about it.  My wife and pride pushed me into thinking I could do it (I think that is a compliment to her).  What keeps me going now is a little combination of pride, commitment, desire, and survival.  I have mentioned before the line from Chariots of Fire, “When I run I feel God’s pleasure”.  Well, when I run I feel God’s wrath.  Maybe its those little angels and devils that take up shop on our shoulders.  The Angel saying, go for it (I think it’s the angel) you can do it.  Look at what you can accomplish.  Your pants fit better.  You can eat 5 Oreos tonight.  The little devil on the other shoulder is saying, “why you running?  Nobody’s chasing you.  Nobody’s watching you, except that guy who seems to be laughing at you.  You sound like Darth Vader and you’re not even out of your driveway yet.”  I’m thinking, just get off my shoulders, both of you, you’re too heavy even if you are imaginary.  The other thing I’m thinking of is “where is this runners high everybody keeps talking about… bunch of lying runners.  They’re just like the guy who jumps in cold water and tells everybody ‘come on in, the waters fine'”.

What hits me in between my desperation for oxygen, is that I really am running for something.  That something is mine to hold on to at this moment, but it really is something.  A line from a song by Chris Lizotte went through my head.  “I don’t want to feel the breath of God on the back of my neck anymore.  I wanna feel it on my face.”  I joke about feeling ‘God’s Wrath’ when I run, but I wonder how many of us really feel that way in life.  Our faith and our religion get sized down to doing something just for the sake of doing something.  Ultimately I put myself through difficult things in order to enjoy life and do the things I feel I am called to do.  How much do we limit our faith, our walk with God because we see God simply as something to check off, or simply as a way to cope, to get by until one day things will get better.  I don’t want to wait for one day, I want to start living a whole life now.

Our prayers often stop at “Lord Help me survive”.  We want a hand up and that is all.  No wonder people think that our Christian faith is a ‘crutch’, because to many of us that is all it is.  This Sunday, we are going to talk about how our faith is really a calling, not just to have our hand held, but how to have wings in order to move in this world as a force for life changing good.  Are we willing to step into that kingdom of God today and put in the work to help us not just survive this world, but to live it well.  Running and long bike rides may not feel good now, but I do them so that I can live the kind of life that truly helps me live out my calling to live well.  What do you pray for?  How are you living?

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