The Joy of a Ziggle

What is a ziggle you may ask? Only the most amazing toy ever. Hudson has one of these at daycare, and just loves it. So I found it online, got it shipped, and Hudson had one of the best days of his life. Here is a video of him on it:

 

He loves the speed, he loves “ziggling”, and scootering around. He loves spinning faster and faster. He just has such a sense of joy with it.

Here is what struck me with Hudson. Do I get that amount of joy out of anything? I mean Hudson gets pure joy out of the ziggle? Is there anything that gives me that much joy in life?

I don’t ask that question in a downer way or depressing way. I would say I’m a pretty happy, and optimistic person. I ask that question out of a “depth or capacity” concern.

What I mean by that is this: have I through the process of living lost some of my ability to deeply feel joy?

Has my ability to fully experience joy been lessened by living life? Have I lost some capacity for joy, life, and love? Because Jesus is clear – he has come to give life abundant, full life, and joyous life (John 10:10). But have I lost some of that?

And if I’m honest, in some ways the answer to those questions are…yes. In some ways I don’t seem to enter into life as fully as Hudson.  I’m not as prepared as he is to shout with joy.  I’m not maybe as ready to experience joy as deep as he does. And for me this isn’t a guilty thing. This is just a real thing that I hope to change.

And here is how I’m going to change it in three steps.

  1. I’m going to pray and ask God for more joy. I don’t think I’ve ever really done this. But it seems like a good place to start. If you read the Psalms (like 51:8, 12) the writers are often asking for joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, so it’s something that we can be given more of.  Just like we can pray and ask for more patience and self-control. So why not ask for more joy? Seems like a good thing to get to me!
  2. I’m going to spend more time with my boys. I think if you find a source of joy, stick with it. And Jesus says that the Kingdom of God belongs to the childlike. So I’m going to learn from them how to enter the moment.
  3. Last but not least, I’m going to try to have more margin in my life. I’ve noticed the busier I am, the less joyful I feel. So I’m going to try to change this and really enter into the moment.

So those are some of the things I’ve been learning from Hudson, and I think it’s worth thinking about. Oh and there is one more step to finding joy…seeing if anyone makes an adult sized ziggle 🙂

A Reminder I’d Rather Not Have…The Anniversary of My Dad’s Death

My dad died 4 years ago today. This is a day that I mark in my life but I wish this is a day that would never have happened. It reminds me and brings me back to a very difficult time in my life.

This is a day that comes around once a year that reminds me of something I know each and everyday – that someone is missing.

Someone is missing at my son’s soccer games. Someone is missing after I preach a good sermon to talk it through with. Someone is missing to give me advice and counsel when I desperately need it. Someone is missing in my life.

Some days its felt more than others, but its always felt. And today is one of those days.

So what do you do on days like today? Where things are hard, loss seems so present, and hurt so close by?

Well here is my answer – but I promise you it’s not a good one, or really one you’d expect a pastor to say. But it is an honest answer. You give in for a day. You give in for a day.

I know people say be strong, say get through it, say don’t ever give up. I know people say that, but sometimes I just think people are wrong or maybe others are just stronger than me. But I know when days like today come around once a year, the answer isn’t to try to tough it out, the answer isn’t to try to forget the hurt, the answer isn’t to busy yourself past it, but to enter into it.

So that’s what I’m doing today. I’m giving in for a day.

There is a line in a song I love by Florence and the Machine that says this, “I’m not giving up, I’m just giving in” And that’s how I feel today. I’m not giving up. Tomorrow I will get up and go to work. Tomorrow I will wake up and cook breakfast for my boys like I do every day. Tomorrow I will check emails, read Facebook, and check soccer scores. Tomorrow I will get back to my regular rhythm of life. But that’s tomorrow, today I won’t. Today I’ll give in, and remember that the rhythm of my life has forever been changed because someone is missing. So I will give in, I will be sad, I will sit, I will think, I will pray, and then decide I don’t want to pray, and I’ll talk about my dad. And I’ll repeat those actions a hundred times today.

You might disagree that this is healthy. That’s fine, do whatever is healthy for you. Tough it out if you can. But I know I’ve just never been that tough. So today “I’m not giving up. I’m just giving in.” And if you’ve ever been through loss, difficulty, or death it’s okay to give in for a day.

One Question to Change Your Life

 

1419184_44660695On Sunday we are jumping into the book of Proverbs and we are going to discover one question that will change your life

 

I know we say that a lot – that something will change your life. Everything from an new exercise machine, to a new type of taco. But I truly believe this one question will change your life. It will prevent heartache, it will lessen regret, it will change the direction of your life and move you closer towards God.

 

So obviously I didn’t come up with the question, Solomon did. As the wisest man, we are going to learn from him how to be wise.

But before we get there why not spend sometime today reading Proverbs. The very fact that we are still reading something written 3000 years ago – means that it must be good to have lasted. I doubt anyone will read anything I write in 3000 years, but Solomon’s wisdom was so deep it is still shaping people today.

 

So before Sunday why not read through some of Proverbs. They are short, easy, and some will strike you as dead on true. So here is one of my favorites that we’ll talk about on Sunday.

 

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. Proverbs 26:11

 

What’s your favourite verse?

 

The Temptation When Your Tired

897022_75787639I’m tired. And when I’m tired I get tempted, by probably the biggest temptation I face on a daily basis.

I get tempted to forget that God is good.

When I get tired, when I get busy, when I’m in the nitty gritty of life and ministry there is a temptation to forget that God is good. To forget that God is faithful. To forget that God will come through.

When we get busy, tired, or in a dark or difficult place the temptation is to start to believe our doubts, or even to just let the doubts linger too long. That things won’t get better, that things won’t work out, that this time we fail beyond recovery, that this time we won’t find a way out. We start to forget that God is faithful, good, and full of grace. We forget that God is with us. We forget that God will never leave us. We forget that even when we feel tired, worn out, and unsure – God is steady, strong, and there for us.

But we need to remember and rest in the truth of the gospel: that God is good. That God is true. That God is here for us. We must fight the temptation to disbelieve and doubt in the goodness of God. No matter how our lives seem to conspire sometimes to cloud the fact that God is good, we need to continually come back to this fact.

And this isn’t about just positive thinking, it’s about resting in reality. And reality, as the Bible shapes it is this: God is good, God is faithful, and God is there.

 

So no matter where you are today know this God is good. And he never ever lets go. And that hopefully should give us enough to keep going today.

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

 

Robbing Greed of its Grip

1361620_16941172On Sunday we looked at this topic of greed – something that is prevalent everywhere. We looked at how Greed plays with our emotions and makes us feel poorer and worse than we always are. We end up comparing our lives with those a few notches above us, without realizing how blessed we are compared to the world. Greed so easily catches our emotions, plays with them, and then cajoles us into habits that aren’t healthy. And Greed can do this with anyone rich or poor. Greed feeds the idea that what will make us happy, secure, and important is money. But this simply isn’t true and has been shown again and again not to be true. The problem is that it feels true. It feels as if more money will make us more happy. It feels as if more money will make us more secure. It feels as if more money will make us more important. But it never does.

Paul says chasing after money in 1 Timothy 6 leads to being trapped, snared, destruction, and difficulty. And this is true, chasing after money always ends badly but we keep doing it.

So on Sunday we tried to break the power of Greed over us by recognizing two things. First, Greed robs us of life.  Paul reminds us that Greed is fickle, unreliable, and controlling. But that God is a giver of abundance. He says in 1 Timothy 6: 17-18 that if we live with generosity, being rich in good deeds, trusting in God, we will experience true life. And I think this is true. The depth of life that God has for us is experienced when we care for others, when we do good deeds, and trust in him. As we serve, live, and work well – as we give generously meeting other’s needs – as we grow deeper with God – we experience the depth of life that God has for us.

So to break Greed we looked at three simple steps. The first is to focus our trust in God. Greed steals trust from God. Greed tells us that no one else can provide for us but it. But we need to give that trust back to God who is our provider, protector, and caring Father.

The second thing we need to do is to be generous. Generosity breaks greed every time. This is why it’s so important to get into the habit of giving. And Paul actually gives us some great advice in 1 Tim. 6:17 he says “be ready to share with others”. Some of us to really break Greed and be free from it need to get our debt, budgets, and balance sheets in order. We need to do the hard work of getting back on track so that we can be ready to share with others. So that when needs come, we aren’t wracked with guilt from Greed, but can overflow in generosity from trust in God.

And lastly, Paul reminds us to be rich in good deeds. We need to continue to serve others, and reach out. A lifestyle of outward focus makes giving easier, and being greedy harder.

So this is where we landed on Sunday but it’s something we need to look at again and again. Because Greed is hard to break. But as we trust, give, and serve I believe not only can we break Greed, but be free from Greed. And that is a good place to be.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Greed robs us of life.

Take Aways…

  • We think that money will make us happy, secure, and important.
  • Greed doesn’t bring life
  • The more greed captures my heart, the less I like myself.
  • Relativation Deprivation: comparing ourselves to those around us unequally
  • Greed plays on our feelings
  • Greed robs us of life.
  • Greed breaks its promises to us every…single…time.
  • We need to transfer our trust from Greed to God
  • God help me to trust in you, and not my bank account
  • Generosity breaks greed.
  • “Be ready to share”
  • Be rich in good deeds.
  • What can you do to deepen your trust in God?
  • Who can I give to this week?
  • And how can I get ready to give?
  • What good deed can I do this week”

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? When has Greed had a grip on you before? How did it feel? What was it like? Would you agree that many people think money will bring them happiness, security, and importance? What do you think about that? How have you personally seen Greed rob someone of true life? How have you seen Greed break its promises to people? Which of the three steps: trusting, giving, or doing good is easiest for you? Which one is hardest? How come? Which one is God asking you to focus on? How can you “be ready to share”? What are some next steps to take? Who can you share your card from Sunday with for support?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about the sin of greed. Why not take a moment and go through some of their toys and show them online how many kids have nothing. Take a look online and show them the type of houses many kids live in. Talk to them about kids who don’t have any toys. Then maybe consider giving away some of their toys together to a worthy place or doing a little garage sale and giving the money to worthy cause.

Challenge for this Week: Give up on greed by: trusting, giving, and doing good.

 

 

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.

Lent and the Seven Deadly Sins

 

 

 

 

On Sunday we are opening up a brand new series, looking at the Seven Deadly Sins for Lent. Yep that’s right a perfect series to invite your friends to…

 

 

Well actually I do think it will be really important and really helpful and here is why. So often when sin is discussed, especially in church, it’s accompanied with judgment, shame, and guilt. So because of this we don’t talk about it. And instead then we end up coping with sin, struggling with sin, and hiding sin. What if instead of talking about sin in this way – we approached it through grace, life, and freedom? What if rather than hiding and struggling with our sin – we could actually be free from it?

 

That’s the perspective of this series to discover how through Jesus’ transformation we might be freed from some stuff in our lives we’ve been carrying along far too long.

 

What if we approach sin not from a guilt or shame perspective – but from a healing and freedom perspective?

 

I think to be honest this is the only way to deal with this important, but misunderstood topic. In the gospels we see tax collectors, prostitutes, and broken people flocking to Jesus. These are “notorious sinners” as the Pharisees point out. But this was because Jesus didn’t condone sin or condemn those struggling with sin – he freed them from it.

 

What if over the next seven weeks we could have the same experience from Jesus? Where we go to him with our baggage and sin – our pride, envy, greed, and anger and find freedom?

 

That’s the whole point and goal of this series. To, for Lent, do some personal introspection and experience Jesus’ transformation as we come to him.

 

So even though it may sound funny – I’m excited about this series because I’m always excited when people find freedom and transformation from baggage they’ve been holding for years. And that’s what this series is all about, so maybe it is something worth being excited about…

Seven Deadly Sins

“Jesus Didn’t Ring the Doorbell”

1546071_10153722534615643_359237485_nEarlier this week at breakfast Hudson was sitting at our counter and we were talking. He looked so very sad and he said to me, “Daddy, Jesus didn’t come”. I asked him what he meant.

He said this, “Daddy, Jesus didn’t come and ring the doorbell. He didn’t come for his birthday. He missed his birthday.”

He had been thinking about this because his birthday is coming up, and he’s been talking about it all the time (he wants an Angry Birds, Cars, and Tree-Rex themed party). And I guess from all this thinking he was actually watching and waiting for Jesus to show up on Christmas day.

I sat down and talked to him about how Jesus was here over Christmas and how he is here with us now. I tried to explain to him how Jesus is a part of our lives. And he just kept coming back to – “But Daddy, I want him to ring the doorbell and come in”.

And to be honest I was a little stuck. How do you help a 3 year old become aware of God’s presence all around? How do you help him enter into the awe and wonder of encountering Jesus? How do you explain to them that Jesus is real, and present but probably won’t ring the doorbell for his birthday?

And if I’m honest with you – I don’t have a lot of great answers. I tried talking some things through but they all fell flat. I guess that’s the joy of parenting, you get to figure it out as you go, and I’m sure I’ll get another shot at explaining it.

So if you’ve maybe walked through with your kids, nieces, or grandchildren I’d love your thoughts. How do you help children experience and develop an awareness of the presence of God? I think that’s an important question to ask, think about, and try to figure out because I want Hudson to grow up knowing the full presence of God in all he does.

So I’m still working that out, and I have a lot of ways to grow as a parent. But one thing made me extremely happy even while I struggle to explain and try to help Hudson encounter Jesus. And it’s this: he was waiting and looking for Jesus and that’s a great start.

Fighting the Darkness Around Us – Theology of Spiritual Warfare

On Sunday we are exploring a new series, looking at a new topic often called “spiritual warfare”. While many people have many different thoughts and opinions on what spiritual warfare is, a simple definition for me that works is how we are called to challenge the darkness and evil that is around us.

I think this is simple yet easy to understand. The reality is that in our world we do see evil and darkness around us. Often we don’t have to look very far, we turn on our TV’s or look around in our neighborhoods. And what we might see is greed, hate, loneliness, anger, war, racism, injustice, sin, and pain. These are all simple examples of the darkness that is around us. And as Christians we are to be part of challenging that darkness, and changing it to light.

Jesus was clear that he is the light of the world (John 8:12), to bring light, life, and hope to anyone and everyone. Jesus came not simply to save us from our individual sin, but to overthrow the powers of darkness and evil around us. He came to show us a different way to live, and a different Kingdom to follow. So for the next few weeks we’re going to be looking at what that all means, how it happens, and how we can be part of it.

I know surrounding this whole topic of “spiritual warfare” the spectrum of what people believe is huge. The point for me isn’t what other people believe, but what do you believe? And more importantly, how can you start to change the darkness that’s around us? I don’t think a lot of people debate that there is hurt, pain, sin, anger, and hate around. The question is then how do we transform those anti-Kingdom things into Kingdom things of life, love, grace, hope, and mercy. So that’s what we hope to discover, but why wait? This week if you see something that’s running counter to God’s Kingdom, why not try to bring a little of God’s Kingdom and love to that situation, place, or conversation.

the darkness games