How Honest are you with God?

1382059_15481225I was reading the Psalms and something struck me – the raw honesty of the prayers to God.

It’s really quite shocking actually. In some places the Psalmist asks God to approve and see how deep his hate goes towards his enemies. In other places it talks with vivid openness about the doubt, and difficulty the Psalmist has in belief in God.

In essence, the Psalmists are absolutely and radically open to God.

I wonder if we are missing some of this in our culture and in our day and age?

I wonder if we play around the edges of prayer, with false piety not really telling God what we are feeling. Do we say, “God we’re frustrated”, rather than downright furious? Do we say, “God your will be done”, when we don’t want God’s will but change in our situation. Do we say, “God bless them”, when deep down like the Psalmist we feel deep hate towards someone?

I’m not condoning hate, anger, or anything like that. What I am condoning, recommending, and even encouraging is that we become absolutely honest with God. If you are struggling and doubting God, say it and call him out on his actions. If you don’t want to forgive, follow God, or do what he says – express it and get it out. If the Psalms teach us anything, they teach us we can be honest with God. We don’t need to hide behind false piety, we can be honest with our God.

The irony is that it’s only through being radically honest, that we embrace the reality of where we are at, and simultaneously the possibility of transformation. God will not get rid of our hate if we keep denying it’s there. God cannot change our doubt if we refuse to acknowledge it.

So this week be honest to God. Bring to him the good, the bad, and the ugly and see what he might do with it. Offer it to him, and be like the Psalmist radically open with God. Because when we are radically open and honest, this is the start of radical transformation.

Number Your Minutes

1398764_97627202Last week I had an early meeting 10 minutes from my house. So rather than drive 15 minutes to the office, to work for 30 minutes, and drive 20 minutes back to my meeting I decided to work from home for an hour.

I was working away and things were going good when my little man ran upstairs and asked, “Daddy can play me?” That’s how he asks if you can play with him. I said “sorry buddy daddy is working.”  He said “oh…well maybe soon you play me.” And he scampered off.

Then 10 minutes before I had to leave, Hudson ran up again and he said, “Daddy its soon. You play me?” He looked at me with really hopeful eyes, and said again “Daddy play me”. And in that moment I had a choice for how to spend the next ten minutes of my day.

I could have spent 10 more minutes creating the PowerPoint presentation I was working on. I could have spent 10 more minutes answering emails or checking Facebook. Or I could spend 10 minutes and play with my son.

The thing I realized is that not every 10 minutes is the same, because spending some 10 minutes differently can leave a bigger impact. I could spend time on PowerPoint, emails, or other admin. but doing that wouldn’t change my day at all. But spending 10 minutes with my son would totally change his day. He would know that he is important. He would know that he is loved. He would know that while dad does work, and loves his job, he loves his family even more.

The time spent would be the same, but the impact would be different.

So I took 10 minutes and played trucks with my son and then left to work.

The point is simple: not every 10 minutes is the same. Some time spent leaves a greater impact, and a greater legacy. So my question for you is simple: how are you spending your time? Are you putting time into the places where it has the greatest impact? Are you focused on “just getting stuff done” or leaving an impact? Is all your time taken up with “stuff”, leaving no time left for relationships? Moses says to “number our days” Psalm 90:12, basically reminding us to spend our time wisely with purpose. Today I learned to “number my minutes” making sure each moment is spent well because in the end what will matter isn’t PowerPoint but the love I show to my son.

In case you’re wondering, yes of course I did get my PowerPoint done. I was able to spend an extra 10 minutes at work and respond to all my emails. But more importantly, I was able to spend 10 minutes with my son and remind him of something very important. That any 10 minutes spent with him is never wasted. While there is always lots of other things to get done, there won’t always be opportunities to play trucks with my son.

So today, get your work done for sure. That’s important. But don’t forget to put time into what matters most. The relationships around you and the people who would love for you to take ten minutes and hang out with them. Or as my son says, “want to play with me?

Hearing Psalm 121

Over the summer we’ve been looking at different Psalms. To download the sermons in this series click here.

On Sunday we are going to be looking at Psalm 121. It is by far one of my favorite Psalms. In fact it became my favorite through an unlikely source…a hasidic Jewish reggae rapper named Matisyahu. Yes, I know an odd combination, but he sang about it and reminded me something about these Psalms. They are to be sung. They are to be heard. They are to be experienced. There is something powerful through speaking these promises aloud.

So before we even get to Sunday why not take a moment, relax and read out Psalm 121 aloud. See what you notice. Read it a few times. Let it settle into your soul. And then come Sunday we are going to not only read it, but also experience it through communion together. We are going to God and experience how our help only comes from the Lord. So to begin today – read it slowly, read it aloud, and let God speak to you through Psalm 121:

Psalm 121

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

Following our Shepherd ~ Psalm 23 (God is With You)

This Sunday we are going to be looking at the most familiar of all the Psalms. We’re looking at Psalm 23. Hegel, a famous philosopher, once said that the familiar is unknown because it is familiar. And often when something is familiar we breeze past it, we overlook it, and we assume we understand it. This Sunday we’re going to not assume anything but look at this passage as it was meant to be understood: as if we were sheep.

Yep that’s right, we’re going to be talking a lot about sheep, because David in this Psalm is talking a lot about what he knows: shepherding and sheep.

So on Sunday come ready to discover not only about ourselves but even more importantly about the Lord who is a shepherd. This Psalm is about discovering a God who cares for us, provides for us, protects us, welcomes us, and directs us. And isn’t that what we need? A God who walks with us. A God who isn’t distant but, like a good shepherd, is right next to you guiding you as you walk, leading you to rest, and ready to give you life.

So today maybe reflect and rest on that for a moment. Slow down and realize no matter what you are going through God is with you. Even if it’s dark and the valley of death seems to overshadow everything, God is with you. If you’re drowning and don’t have enough time, finances, or energy, God is with. If you’re surrounded on all sides and lost, God is with you. God is with you in all that’s ahead of you today.

So as your day continues look for God, because he is the Good Shepherd that never leaves his sheep.

Finding God in a Soup Catastrophe

My son Hudson is wonderful. He is fun, smart, funny, and gets excited easily. Hudson also loves soup. So I made homemade soup for him. And he got so excited…that…this happened:

He got this huge smile while eating the soup, was so excited that he took the bowl and raised it above his head. But the bowl tipped and went all over him, where he yelled out – “Oh no!”

So how did I see God in this?

Well in a simple but beautiful way. For Hudson so much of life is filled with wonder, excitement, and is a gift. Soup is a gift. Soup is exciting. Soup is wonder-full. Hudson seems to be able to appreciate so much of his life. And that’s where I see God. When you can appreciate that life is a gift, life is exciting, and life is full of wonder then you find God.

This is what the Psalmist I believe sees when he talks about God creating the skies, the stars, and creation. That God is found when you stop in wonder. God is found when you appreciate the gift of life you’ve been given.

God can even be found in soup…

You find God hidden in everyday moments when you appreciate the little gifts you are given, the wonder of friendship, and beauty of life. For Hudson this means finding God in cheeseburger soup. For me I see God in Hudson. Covered with soup or not, he is a gift, makes me stop in wonder, and appreciate life. The Psalmist ends Psalm 8 with, “Oh God, our God, you are a part of the whole world”. He’s even a part of soup catastrophes.

So I saw Jesus in soup, my son, and everyday living.

Where did you see him this week?

Finding God in a Blanket Fort…

Today I did something amazing. I made a blanket fort with my almost 2 year old son Hudson. He loved the fort, we sat in it forever. He would run in and out, bring in books, his ball popper, and anything else he could fit in there. He would snuggle in towards me and we’d read together.

It was probably one of the best days of my life.

It got me to thinking of a odd verse in the Bible, where it says, God will “cover you with his feathers; he will shelter you with his wings”.

But in all honesty I don’t know much about birds, wings, or feathers. I do know though an awful lot about blanket forts. So in my version of the Bible that verse would read: “And God will cover you with best blanket fort ever made, where you can feel safe, secure, and protected. Under those pillows and blankets you will find youself cared for, and close to the one who loves you”.

It might not be as poetic, but for me it might be just as meaningful.

So today I found God in a blanket fort. And I have a feeling that if Jesus were here in the flesh with me. He’d want to make a blanket fort with me for Hudson…