I’d Rather Have Moments Not Hours or Days

10527813_10154423790180643_4129971613227994834_nI was listening to music the other day, and I heard this one line that really spoke to me. It just stopped me as so true. I’ve listened to this song multiple times, but for the first time I heard it. The line was this:

Give me moments, just give me moments, not hours or days.

And here is what I think that line means and why it matters. Life is not made up of hours or days lived, but moments experienced. Moments and memories give life depth, not just hours and days. And we have many little clichéd sayings that pick up on this theme (i.e. life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by every moment that takes your breath away) The problem with clichés is that they are actually true, but are so true and familiar that they’ve lost their meaning. We forget they are true, we skip over them even though we know they matter.

We all know a deep moment with your spouse, your kid, or with God matters deeply.  But we often settle for hours and days spent in the same space with our spouse, kids, or God rather than moments actually with them.

So here is my challenge for you just today, have a moment today.

– Have a moment with your kids.

– Have a moment with your spouse.

– Have a moment with God

– Have a moment with friends

Why not focus on finding a moment that matters today. Because that line is true, we need moments not just hours or days. Moments that matter and last.

I found this picture from the summer of me and Hudson. That’s a moment I’ll remember for a long time. So why not focus on making some of those memories and  moments today, because in the end that’s what matters and lasts.

Delivering Movies and Doing It Right

10562975_10154540150185643_1634620271199633372_nMy kids aren’t perfect…by any means. Just come spend a day with us, and you’ll see. Actually, just come spend an hour and you’ll probably see that. We’re not perfect parents by any means. We love our kids, and do our best – but sometimes it doesn’t seem to work. Asher and Hudson fight, Asher refuses to eat and screams, Hudson refuses to share and throws his toys, or like any parents the kids have a meltdown in a grocery store.

I have a theory that if our kids are going to meltdown and lose it…there is always someone else around to see it.

But all that aside, sometimes my boys get it right. And when they do it absolutely makes all the timeouts, all the talks, all the time spent with them just so worth it.

The other day our neighbor was sick, like really sick with a fever so he couldn’t play with Hudson. So we went back home, and Hudson disappeared for 30-45 minutes. He was quiet up in his room…too quiet. This is normally when we’d go and and discover that he painted his room, or he painted his brother or something.

But instead, what we discovered was he was making cards, getting his favorite toys together, and his favorite movies into a bag. And he came and said that all of this was for his neighbor friend. I asked him why he did this and he said, “Because Daddy, when people are sick we help them. That’s what you said right? Did I do it right daddy?”

And of course your heart breaks a little bit with happiness, and you say “Of course you did it right – let’s go give it to him”

So I write all this to say one thing. No ones perfect, and there are moments when we fail and screw up as parents. But there are also beautiful moments where they grow, get it, and so surprise you that it just makes it all worth it.

Jesus Has the Final Word On Everything

1356537_26838575This Sunday we are looking at one of my favorite passages. It’s a passage that reminds us of why we can have hope no matter what we are facing. It’s a passage that grounds our lives in Jesus Christ.

So today for my post I don’t want to give you a lot of thoughts. I’d like to let Scripture speak to you. So the following is Ephesians 1:19-22. Here’s what I’d ask you do.

Slow down.

Read it quietly or aloud.

Read it a few times.

And let God speak to you through it.

We believe that Scripture can reveal God’s word and direction for us. So why not do that with this piece of Scripture.

“I ask God to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, endless energy, boundless strength! All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.

The beauty is that Scripture is true. Jesus does have the final word on everything, which means anything you are facing is not the end of your story. God has more for you, and he has the final word on everything.

Journeying Together is Healing

1254520_81286112On Sunday we looked at the story of Ruth, and the power of committing to someone’s journey. The book of Ruth begins with Naomi her mother-in-law in a deeply dark place. She moves to a foreign country, and her husband and her two sons die. This leaves her alone in a foreign land, without support, without care, and with two foreign daughters-in-law.

She is hurt, spiteful towards God, and bitterness oozes out from her. She decides to journey back home. She is so bitter that when she arrives home and people say, “Is that Naomi” (which means pleasant in Hebrew)? She responds with, “No, call me Mara now” (which means bitter). So she has gone from being pleasant to bitter. She now totally identifies with loss, bitterness, and hurt as her companions. She says God sent her away full and brought her back empty.

This is the hard place that she is in. Yet in the midst of this difficult, and this Plan B, things change for her. Things change for Naomi because of her daughter-in-law Ruth.

Ruth commits to being with Naomi no matter what. Naomi seeks to push Ruth away, to say she can’t be helped, to say there is nothing that can be done (Ruth 1:11-13). But Ruth refuses to give up on Naomi. She commits to her that she will be with her no matter what. She says “Where you go, I’ll go, where you live I’ll live, your God will be my God. We will be together”.

And it is this commitment to journeying together that begins to change not only Naomi but also Ruth. Through a series of amazing events, God begins to restore to Naomi some of what she has lost. God begins to heal her. And this only happens though because Ruth committed to journeying with Naomi for the long haul.

The story ends with Naomi being happy and full of joy as she cuddles with Ruth’s new baby, her grandson. Her life moves from Plan B back to God’s promises.

From this story we landed on the main idea that we need each other. Not in the clichéd, hallmark, or sentimental way. But in a real – deep life – can’t get through life without one another. I need you, you need me, we need each other.

So we ended with a challenge. That for some of us we need to go be a “Ruth” to someone else. We need to commit to journey with them, to care for them, and to love them like Ruth did. And while we can’t be a Ruth to everyone in need, that is not an excuse not to be there for someone in need. That was our challenge.

We also challenged those of us who are in Naomi’s place to reach out to a “Ruth”. To not refuse the help that a “Ruth” can bring. To not push away that relationship.

Because the truth is the only way we get through life is with one another. This is the beautiful thing about the church ~ Naomi’s and Ruth’s commit to journeying together and both find a new hope in the process.

 

 

Teaching Notes

Big Idea: We need each other; we need to journey together.

Teaching Points:

  • Here’s the truth and this one is thoroughly biblical: throughout life you will face one situation after another that will be completely beyond what you can handle. Pete Wilson
  • We need one another to get through Plan B times.
  • Naomi means “Pleasant” in Hebrew; Mara means “Bitter”.
  • No longer are these emotions that afflict us, they are emotions that define us.
  • Ruth commits to journeying with Naomi.
  • People who are in a deep place of hurt often push away the only people who can help
  • When you are in Plan B, you need community more than ever. Yet because of the pain that comes along with Plan B, it’s easy to miss the God-given gift of community.  Pete Wilson
  • We need one another.
  • “I will go where you go. I will live where you live.”  Ruth
  • Just because you can’t help everyone does not give you an excuse to not help someone
  • We can’t benefit from the power of community until we dare to face who we are.  Pete Wilson

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Have you ever been like Naomi, so consumed by hurt, that it defines you? How did it happen? How did you move out of it? Have you ever had someone “be a Ruth to you”? What was that like? How did they commit to journeying with you? Why do you think it’s hard to be a “Ruth” to someone? Why do you think it’s hard to allow others to be a “Ruth” to us? Who is God calling you to jouney with? Is God asking you to allow someone to journey with you?

Discussion Question for Families:

Talk to your kids about the importance of caring for one another. Talk to them about how Ruth helped Naomi by being there for her. Ask your kids if there is anyone they know that needs someone to be there for them. Ask them about ideas for helping them, and then use their ideas.

Challenge for the Week: Be a Ruth to Someone; Invite a Ruth to Journey with You

A Prayer from the Boss

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Some of you know I really like Bruce Springsteen. I’ve quoted a few songs a few times. But today I was listening to a song of his that just reminded me so much of what part of the essence of following Jesus is about. I don’t think that’s what he was singing about, but that doesn’t matter to me much. What he sang taught me about Jesus anyway. He sings this:

  • May your strength give us strength
  • May your faith give us faith
  • May your hope give us hope
  • May your love bring us love / May your love bring us love

(Into the Fire, Bruce Springsteen)

That’s a pretty good prayer if I’ve ever heard one. And it’s one I’m praying today.

Learning to Deal with Anger

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On Sunday we are looking at a topic we’ve looked at before here, but one that needs to be addressed often. We are looking at anger.

And this is a really important topic because as Jesus teaches us anger is like murder (Matthew 5). And what Jesus is trying to get at in that teaching is that anger, just like  murder, can actually kill relationships. Anger can fracture friendships. Anger can wreck families.

And I think we know this and have experienced this before.

But the other side of the coin is this, anger is a feeling we have when our wills get stopped. We get angry when what we want doesn’t happen. In this way then anger is a natural response to the world around us. Paul says in Ephesians 4 in your anger do not sin. Meaning that anger isn’t a sin, our response to anger can determine whether we sin or not.

The point is that if we respond poorly to anger, it will lead to a severing of relationships like Jesus said. If we indulge and cultivate anger it will lead to a fracturing of families like Jesus said.

So on Sunday we want to look at how to deal with anger, how do we respond to anger, and what advice does the Bible give on how to do this. That’s where we are going and I think it’s an important topic. Because if you want to have healthy relationships we need to learn to deal with anger and conflict. So that’s this Sunday and if you want to read ahead – why not start with Ephesians 4. There is some real wisdom in there we’ll be drawing from.

Resurrection Changes Everything

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Sunday was Easter. The biggest day of the year for Christians. Because on this day 2000 years ago all of life was changed. On this day 2000 years ago death was beaten. On this day 2000 years ago darkness was beaten. On this day 2000 years ago sin was beaten.

In short, Jesus won and life overcame the darkness. 

And this is radical, momentous, and something I can’t even put into words. Yet the significance of this day is something that seems to get overshadowed by bunnies, Easter eggs, and a familiarity with this death-shattering day. Our familiarity with Easter causes it to lose some of its power.

So on Sunday I talked about resurrection. Because Paul makes a radical and life-changing statement: “that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you”

Do you understand how utterly life-altering that one statement is?

The power that broke death…is in you.

The power that trampled evil…is in you.

The power that conquered all darkness, sin, difficulty, and disease…is in you.

Paul’s point is that resurrection isn’t just something that happened 2000 years ago, resurrection is something that is happening now. The same power that raised Jesus, that resurrected him, is in you.

So on Sunday we asked the radical question: what does God want to resurrect in us? Because Easter isn’t just that some guy was raised from the dead. Easter is about the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, was raised from the dead and  now that power dwells in us.

Jonathon Martin writes this,

Resurrection changes everything. If that man could get back up, anybody could get up. If hope died and came back to life, then hope can rise again for the whole world. If even God can die but come back to life, then anyone can come back to life.

That was our main point on Sunday: resurrection changes everything.

Resurrection changes everything. We live in a world strangled by the language and reality of death. We see dreams die, relationships fracture, hopes crushed, and lives defeated. Yet resurrection says – new life is possible, new hope is possible, a new reality is not only possible but here. Because resurrection changes everything.

So on Sunday we asked one simple but life changing question: what do you want to resurrect in our lives Jesus? If resurrection isn’t something that just happened, but can happen today – what does that look like in our lives?

And while I don’t know what that might specifically look like  in your life I know some things about it. Areas in your life where death reigns, where darkness covers hope, where defeat directs your life, where fear rules, where sin shames – do not need to stay that way. Resurrection happened and resurrection is happening.

So today if yesterday just slipped by like any other day, why go one more day without resurrection in your life? Go to Jesus, he is alive, he is risen, and he has resurrection power he wants to give to you. Why not go to him and see what he might do in your life? Because 2000 years ago life burst from a death-filled ground, and it changes everything…

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea:Resurrection changes everything…

Take Aways…

+  Resurrection means that new life can begin, even out of death.

+  Jesus, what do you want to resurrect today?

+  Entropy is a law of nature in which everything slowly goes into disorder.

+  Another important point is that Jesus’ death was a political death. If you ask one of the crucial theological questions – why was Jesus killed? – the answer isn’t “Because God want us to love one another.” Why in the world would anyone kill Jesus for that? That’s stupid. Its not even interesting. Why did Jesus get killed? Because he challenged the powers that be – Stanley Hauerwas

+  Fear’s a powerful thing / It can turn your heart black, that you can trust / It’ll take your God-filled soul / And fill it with devil’s and dust. – Bruce Springsteen

+  “What we have then in the apostolic circle, is a group of disillusioned, frightened, guilty, mournful, semi-traitors” – James Allison

+  “Resurrection changes everything. If that man could get back up, anybody could get up. If hope died and came back to life, then hope can rise again for the whole world. If even God can die but come back to life, then anyone can come back to life. Jonathon Martin

+  Resurrection changes everything…

+  Death can do its worst, and Jesus will do his thing

+  What is it you need resurrected in your life? And are you ready to receive it today?

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? In what ways is your life under the “shadow of death”? Can you relate to the disciples feeling full of fear? Talk about the quote from Jonathon Martin. How does resurrection change everything? How has resurrection changed your life? How might God want to change your life today? What do you need Jesus’ resurrection power to touch in your life today?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to you kids about what Easter is. Share with them that Easter means that when things seem darkest and most difficult – Jesus can show up and change everything. Talk to them about how fear holds us back, but God wants to take away our fear. Ask them if there is anything in their life they need Jesus to help them with – and then believe and pray about it. Jesus resurrection power isn’t just for adults, its for everyone. 

Challenge for this Week: Live in Jesus’ resurrection power

 

Being a Leader ~ Finding a New Grip for Shaky Hands

248245_9652I was reading through some of Hebrews today, and I came across this verse that spoke to me so clearly. I felt like God was reminding me of what my calling is as a leader. I think in many ways this is the essence of leadership. It’s found in Hebrews 12:12-13:

“So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame will not stumble and fall but will become strong”.

The reason that this spoke to me is that so often as a leader, I do have tired hands and shaky legs. Sometimes uncertainty grabs me. Sometimes disbelief haunts me. Sometimes I wonder if I am strong enough to follow the call that God has placed on my life. I don’t often question the call, I question whether I’m able to pursue it.

But that’s why I love these verses. These verses don’t pretend that leadership is easy. These verses don’t pretend that we don’t struggle, worry, doubt, or have tired hands or shaky legs. These verses know that in purusing God and his calling, there will be moments of difficult, doubt, and decision. And the decision that this verse calls for us to have is to take a new grip, to stand firm even on shaky legs.

This verse reminds me that God is with me, like he is with you, so take a new grip. Don’t give up. Stand up on those shaky legs, get up again, move forward again, trust again, and don’t give up. And that as we refuse to give up, as we take a new grip (even though our hands are tired) as we stand firm (even though our legs are weak) and move forward we will help others find strength and follow God.

I guess what this verse really reminds me of is this: being a leader doesn’t mean your hands don’t get tired. Being a leader means you don’t give up, and you find a new grip with tired hands. Being a leader means sometimes God needs to remind you, that regardless of whether your hands are tired and legs are shaky, there is a calling still to pursue. And it’s worth pursuing.

So take a new grip today, a new stance today, and let others find strength as you follow.

Breaking the Grip of Greed

1390009_45620103On Sunday we are looking at the Deadly Sin of Greed. This may be the biggest temptation that Christians face in the west. It’s also certainly the most mentioned sin in the Bible, we just don’t read it. The sin of Greed is the sin of Idolatry which drives so much hurt in the world. As Paul says, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

But here is the problem with greed. We all know that greed wrecks relationships, businesses, and lives deeper and faster than most other things. We all know how toxic greed can be. How it can drive people to become workaholics, trap people in spirals of debt, and bring about deep insecurity in others.

We know this. We’ve seen the effects of greed. We’ve seen good people make awful decisions because of it. We’ve seen relationships suffer from it.

What I don’t think we know is how to break it.

Greed happens so easily and quickly, and we don’t know how to break it. Or even more importantly to stay free from it.

We have a nice house, and go to someone else’s nicer house and like ours less. And all of a sudden greed catches us. We watch TV, see a lovely vacation spot and start dreaming about how happy we would be with more money, and greed catches us. We save, go out to a great restaurant, have a great meal, and then see regulars there and wish we could be them. And again greed catches us.

It is so easy to get caught up in greed, so on Sunday we are going to look at how to break it. Because I think that’s worth finding out.

Seven Deadly Sins: Lust and Living with Love

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On Sunday we looked at the first of our “deadly sins”, the sin of lust. But before we got there we set up some ground rules. That first, this whole series will be preached from a posture of grace not guilt. God convicts this is true, but God doesn’t send guilt and shame. Conviction says, “I did something bad”. Guilt and shame say, “I am bad”. And that’s a huge difference. Conviction is about change; guilt and shame are about hurt and pain. So that’s ground rule #1.

Ground rule #2 was that this is about personal introspection. So that means sending my sermon online to your mother-in-law to help with her “anger” is not the point. It’s about us looking within, not around for who else needs to hear it.

And lastly, ground rule #3 was that this was about being safe and transformed. That’s the perspective that this is a safe place to talk, and experience God’s transformation. If we can’t acknowledge what we’re struggling with – how will we ever see God’s healing?

Michael Mangis writes:

Every sin confessed is an invitation for God to work miracles though his grace. If I truly grasped this truth, I would stop obsessively working to round up all my sin marbles and keep them under control. Instead, I would go out in search of marbles that are lost or forgotten in the corners of my heart. I might actually become bored with the areas of my life that are tidy and presentable. I would search out new places in me that haven’t seen the full light of God’s transformation. I might even think, It has been a while since God performed a miracle in me. Let me find a forgotten pocket of sin somewhere where I can set God’s power free to turn water into wine and blindness into sight.

And I think that’s true and why we are doing this series. We want to see miracles in people’s lives.

So with that we moved to discussing lust. Lust is such a difficult topic to discuss. The reason for this is because this sin is most deeply tied to our identity and image being made in male and female. So it has the tendency to also be tied most deeply to guilt, shame, and feelings of being unworthy. So we took a look at Jesus’ teaching on it in Matthew 5.

Jesus, in Matthew 5, is really being clear, that yes lust is wrong, but temptation is not. Jesus is not talking about having a fleeting thought, or something pop into your mind that you try to push away. Jesus says that lust is like adultery, when it settles in your heart, when you engage it, and enter into it. His point is that this needs to go.

He even advocates extreme action to rid yourself of lust. He says, “If your eye causes you to lust gouge it out and throw it away”. Now he’s not being literal here because I bet you could lust with your eyes closed if you wanted to. The point is that lust is so damaging it’s worth taking deep action to get rid of it.

That’s where we focused the majority of our time. On how to find transformation from this area. And we began by reminding those who struggle with this something that they probably don’t tell themselves: God is about forgiveness, there is grace, and God is not ashamed of you. This sin more than maybe any other isolates, and creates spirals of shame. This is why we need to talk about it, so God’s transformation can change it. And it is the good and grace of God that leads to change. So we started there by centering ourselves in God’s grace.

We lastly gave two simple practical tips. The first was to make a covenant with your eyes. Jesus says, “Do not look”, realizing that what we see and focus on settles in our hearts. And while Jesus is specifically talking about lust and sex, the Greek word more basically translated means desire. So this means for any wrong desire for power, money, position, whatever – we are not to look and focus on it. Job writes that he made a covenant with his eyes in chapter 31:1. And I think that’s a good place to start. Going to God, praying, and covenanting asking for his help for us to focus on what’s good, pure, and loving.

And with that I think we need to change our gaze. We don’t get rid of lust by focusing on lust. We get rid of lust by focusing on love and putting it into practice. Loving God, loving others, loving even ourselves. The point is that if we want to get rid of lust we need to change our focus to seeking creative ways to love those closest to us. We need to change our focus and put God in the centre. This is how we find transformation.

And that’s where we ended – looking at something that is donea part of our world, but that hopefully isn’t a part of our hearts.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Lust breaks relationship, love fills relationships

Take Aways…

  • Ground Rules #1: Posture of Grace not Guilt
  • God convicts, God doesn’t guilt
  • Ground Rules #2: Personal Introspection
  • Sin leads to unhealthy lives
  • Ground Rules #3: Safe and Transformational
  • Rather than rooting out our sins, we try to keep them under control. Micahel Mangis
  • Sin died at Easter
  • Every sin confessed is an invitation for God to work miracles though his grace. Micahel Mangis
  • Seven Deadly sins are the root, or chief sins that cause the most damage and hurt.
  • Temptation is not a sin
  • Lust is self-centered, and misplaced desire.
  • difference between lust and love is the difference between selfish desire and other-centered desire
  • The gains of lust are trivial compared with the loss it brings.” Bonhoeffer
  • God forgives you and there is grace.
  • Covenant with your eyes (Job 31:1)
  • Overcoming sin isn’t about trying harder, but getting closer to Jesus
  • Commit to love, and changing our focus

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Did you have any fear or worry looking at the “seven deadly sins”? How come, or why not? How important is it – to keep those ground rules in our minds when talking about these things? What are some of the dangers of approaching sin from judgement and shame? What might it be like to be freed from sin? Do you think that’s worth chasing after? How come? What did you take away from the lust teaching? How might this help you, or help others?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about lust. This is a big deal for parents, especially as kids grow older. So why not just open up a conversation with them. If they are older they probably have questions, and it’s a good time to talk them through it. Also maybe now is a good time to explain the difference between temptation and sin.

Challenge for this Week: Focus on Doing Loving Actions