Frantic Living

Here’s a quote that’s worth sitting and pondering. And if you don’t have time to sit and reflect on it, well maybe that tell’s you something…

Our frantic living does not produce life. Robert Farrar Capon

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Does Life Flourish Around Your Church?

Plattsville_Missionary_ChurchI had the unique opportunity with working with two different churches outside of my denomination, and normal connections in the past month. Both times working with the church was the first time I’d encountered or met them. But the two encounters couldn’t be more difficult.

The first was difficult, at times troubling, and it was draining. The second church was gracious, open, and quite life-giving.

What I noticed was this. Life around the second church seemed to flourish, whereas,  life seemed to wilt around the first.

And of course, there could be a whole host of reasons why at this particular time one church seemed more life-giving than the other. Bad days, imperfections, and mistakes happen to us all.

So I’m not judging either church, but instead thinking about how we should judge or evaluate churches.

Traditionally churches measure budgets, buildings, or numbers. What if instead we started measuring the flourishing of life around the church?

Isn’t that a better metric? A truer metric?

Jesus says he will bring life. So it seems to me that if Jesus is being followed deeply, truly, and freely – life should flourish.

I think it’s a good question to ask about the churches we lead, participate in, or are a part of. I also think it’s a great question for us to ask personally, as people who are the church. Is life flourishing around us? Do our neighbors feel like we are a drain, or a welcome part of their lives? Is Jesus so active in our lives, that life seems to spring around us?

The point is simple: life flourished around Jesus, and it should flourish around his followers as well. It’s not always easy, but it is something to strive for. Something I know I want to strive for in my life and in my church. What about you?

“God helps me get to the North Pole” : Theology from a 4 year Old

IMG_4512Today I’d like to share the work of my 4 year old.

Now I’m not sharing his work because he is an amazing artist, or because I want to sell his work or anything (although you’re welcome to buy it).

I share it because of something he had written at the bottom of the page.

God helps, “Get to the North Pole”

Now at first glance that is a very silly thing to say. It seems just like the type of thing a 4 year old would say. Except that this is actually a very deep theological statement, it’s just said in “Hudsonese”.

The past few weeks Hudson keeps talking about his grandpa, my dad, who died when he was just a few months old. He keeps talking about how he misses grandpa and wants to see him. So he asked where grandpa is, and I told him “Grandpa is in heaven”.

And because he’s 4 he had lots of follow up questions, “Is heaven far? Can we drive there and see Grandpa? Is it farther than Caleb’s house? Why can’t we see grandpa?”

And lastly, “How do we get there?”

We talked about this and the point he got was that God, because his love is so strong, can take us to heaven. And that heaven is far away, like the North Pole.

So when Hudson says God can help us get to the North Pole, it’s a comment on the power of God. That God is able to get us places we couldn’t get on our own. That the love of God is strong enough to draw us to heaven, and to bring heaven here. That God’s loving power is enough to do amazing things: like get us to heaven, bring reconciliation, cause resurrection, bring healing, bring hope, bring transformation, and of course, get us to the North Pole. 

While you might not see the phrase, “God helps me get to the North Pole” in any theology textbooks, it’s still a true statement. And may that statement give you hope today, just like it gives Hudson hope. That God’s love, power, and strength can change lives – and apparently get you to the North Pole.

Families aren’t born, but built.

10378542_10154825254920643_1753291384688482808_nIn the past two weeks, in my family we’ve had two deaths, and two funerals in a week. I lost my grandma, and my wife lost her grandfather.

I use that language in a specific way of “lost” in a specific sense. We, of course, haven’t actually “lost” them, as if we don’t know where they are. Both of them are with Jesus without a shadow of doubt. But their being with Jesus is a “loss” for us because we love and miss them.

And as I think about them both I’ve come to realize something important that they both lived out. Both my grandma, and Krista’s grandfather lived in a way that was unique. They both realized that family isn’t something you are born into, family is something you build.

Think about that for a moment, because it’s true, but it’s something we forget.

Families aren’t born, but built.

And both my grandma and Krista’s grandfather got this. They invested in their families, they welcomed new people into the family, and toiled at building a family that lasts and matters. And as I look upon their legacy, I’m reminded that they have a legacy because they built into their families. They didn’t just talk about love, or take family for granted, they invested in it, fostered in it, and created it. And I think this matters.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about my own life in relation to this. Am I building my family, or taking it for granted? Am I investing in my relationships, or coasting? Because building a family takes effort, it takes time, and it will last beyond a life-time if you do it well.

There are many things that push and pull for our attention: deadlines, obligations, and expectations. But what I’ve been reminded of these past few weeks is that what really matters is building family and friendships. Deadlines, work, and obligations will come and go, but family and friendships can last for lifetimes if we build them well.

So my challenge to all of you is simple: build family and friendships well. Because as grandpa always said, “listen to the wisdom of those older”. And some of the wisdom I’ve learned from both my grandma, and Krista’s grandpa is that family is built, not something you are just born into.

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.

Cliched or Not it’s True : We All Need Each Other

1103018_28726094This week at church we are going to look at a clichéd statement that is absolutely true. We are going to look at this statement, “We need each other”.

Unfortunately this is something that is said all over the place. It’s said in companies, in advertising, in banks, in schools, in communities, and it’s applied to almost every situation. I’m not bemoaning that fact but sometimes when something becomes ubiquitous it also becomes meaningless.

Well come Sunday we want to restore some of the depth to that statement, “We need each other”. Because the truth is that statement is incredibly Biblical. There are over 50 references to “one another” statements in the Bible. Statements that direct us to the fact that we need each other, that we need one another, that we cannot get through life alone.

And this is so true, and obvious, but it is something we often fail to actually live out. So often when we are in difficulty and we do need others, it’s the time we shut others out. So often we get so busy that our commitment to “each other” is to pray for them when we happen to think of it; rather than deeply committing to another person and to journey with them.

So that’s what we are looking at on Sunday, the story of Ruth, and the power of journeying with someone.

But before we get there why not spend some time reflecting. Who has journeyed in your life that changed you? Who committed to you and changed you because of that commitment? Why not thank them, and then ask God this radical question that we will explore on Sunday: who should you be committing to?

The Gospel Seeks the Flourishing of Life For All

NewParishBookCover4I don’t normally review books here. It’s not that I don’t read books, it’s just that most of the books I read I don’t really think most people would like. The reason I say this is because whenever Krista sees what I’m reading she says, “Andrew…why?” I figure her reaction is pretty much standard for most people.

But I recently read a book I really enjoyed, called The New Parish, by Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, and Dwight Friesen. And there  was one line or idea that I really appreciated (among others). It’s this:

The gospel bids us to the seek the flourishing of life for all.      The New Parish

I just think that line is beautiful. The Gospel bids us to seek the flourishing, extending, and growing of life for all – all around us. I think this is a beautiful mission statement for Christians. You are to help life flourish in your community, your neighbourhood, your family. You are to be not only a source of life, but a catalyst for life all around you.

And this idea is deeply rooted in Scripture, because Jesus came to give us life abundant (John 10:10). I don’t think that was just so we could experience life, that was so we could share life.

So my question for you is this: how can you seek the flourishing of life for your community? How can you be a catalyst of life to grow in your neighbourhood? How can you share life with your family?

And the beauty of those questions is that they don’t have to be hard things. They can be simple but life giving things. What about throwing a party so neighbours can actually get to know one another? What about cleaning up a park so kids can play? What about mowing a neighbour’s lawn? What about dropping off food for your sister? What about watching your brother’s kids?

These are simple, but they are life giving things. And as the authors of the New Parish remind us – the gospel is about giving life for all, and the flourishing of all.

Who are those who matter most to us?

I know I’ve often quoted Henri Nouwen in the past few months here on the blog, but the truth is he is worth quoting. So I’d like to do that again with a few questions at the end. He wrote this:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”

I think this is so true. So here are a few questions that for me flow out of that quote:

  • Who means the most to you? Have you told them that lately? Have you shared with them why they matter to you so deeply?
  • When you encounter someone who is hurting, is your first reaction to share words of advice, or share a touch of comfort?
  • Who around you needs help today? How can you share in their pain and give them hope?

Worth reflecting on. Worth acting on.