You Can’t Have Multiple Best Friends

freindsA week or so ago my little boy was up very early…like way too early. He runs into our room, and says “Daddy wake up, wake up!”

And just as I was about to tell him to go back to bed he said, “I have a secret for you”

Now we often do this and I whisper secrets like, “I love you, you’re special, you’re a good boy” to him.

So he leaned over and said to me, “Daddy you’re my best friend.”

Pretty hard to be upset with him early in the morning after that right? And, in fact, this was a new one because I don’t tell Hudson that because – well we have two kids. So I don’t say “you’re my favorite, or best son”. But I loved every minute of him snuggling up with me saying, “You’re my best friend”

Then later on that morning as we’re about to leave, Hudson leans over to my wife and says, “Mommy you’re my best friend”. We go to my mom’s and he says to my mom, “Grandma you’re my best friend”

Apparently my son doesn’t get the idea of “best” because he has multiple best friends. But I got to thinking about it and wondered if honestly this isn’t a good thing. Hudson doesn’t feel like his friends need to be ranked, that one person’s affection diminishes another person’s, or that his relationships are in competition. Instead he sees something special in all of them and calls them his “best friend”.

I actually wonder if this little truth isn’t a lot like God. I wonder if God wouldn’t call each and every one of us, his personal best friend being fully invested in each relationship?

And the beautiful thing about it is that I’m happy that Hudson calls me, his mom, grandma and so many other people his best friend. I want him to have those strong relationships, and it doesn’t take anything away from my relationship with my little boy.

I wonder if we all couldn’t learn something from that. Rather than competing in relationships why not be grateful for them? Rather than ranking relationships why not simply rest in the relationships you have? So I’m trying to learn a little something from Hudson. That I now have multiple best friends: Hudson, Asher, Krista, and many more. What about you?

Irresponsibility Kills Roots

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On Sunday we explored a key to all our relationships: responsibility. The truth is that if we want to have deep relationships, if we want to have solid friendships, if we want to have healthy roots in our families, we need to learn to be responsible. Irresponsibility kills roots and kills relationships.

My guess is that in your family and friends the people who bug you the most are in some way irresponsible. They aren’t owning and being accountable for their own stuff. Because the reality is, that whenever someone is irresponsible, someone else has to pick up the slack. So on Sunday we explored this theme of irresponsibility and looked at the first family in Adam and Eve.

What we discovered is that irresponsibility is really easy to see in someone else, but really hard to see in ourselves. So we asked ourselves, “Are we being responsible in our relationships?” Through the story of Adam and Eve we discovered some signs of irresponsibility. The first is blame. Whenever we start blaming, we are trying to shift responsibility. Adam blames Eve for eating the fruit, Eve blames the serpent, and people have been blaming ever since. But if we want healthy relationships we need to stop blaming and start owning our issues. The second sign of irresponsibility is when people start hiding. Whenever you start hiding conversations, maybe your spending, or where you are spending your time there is a responsibility problem. Adam and Eve, right after they eat the fruit, hide so that they don’t need to take responsibility. We need though to stand up and stop hiding and start owning our mistakes, failures, and become accountable. The last sign of irresponsibility was if we are creating new rules. Rules are created to curb irresponsibility, although they never really work. After Adam and Eve’s failure the story of the Bible is really a story of creation of many new rules to curb bad behavior. Finally, with Jesus the rules get thrown out (the Law) and he gives us the task of being responsible (loving God and others). So the point is that if we are needing to create lots of new rules in our families, friendships, or even businesses there is a responsibility problem that needs to be dealt with.

So we ended off asking people to honestly think through this question: “Am I being responsible” Because being responsible in relationships leads to deep roots. And I think that’s what we want. Relationships that last, thrive, and are healthy and whole. But that only happens when we start taking responsibility.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Responsibility leads to deep roots

Take Aways…

  • Irresponsibility always leads to more rules
  • Irresponsibility is easy to see in someone else and hard to see in yourself
  • Am I honestly being responsible in my relationships
  • When people are responsible rules aren’t needed
  • Whenever rules are broken consequences soon follow
  • Signs of Irresponsibility in a Relationship
    • Blaming
    • Hiding
    • Creating New Rules
  • Rules never create responsibility
  • Responsibility leads to deep roots
  • Ways to build responsibility:
    • Stop hiding and start dealing with things
    • Stop blaming and start owning things
    • Stop creating new rules and start taking responsibility

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? Were there any stories or examples Andrew used that you could relate too? As you look in your own life are there any areas where you blame, or hide? Are there things you are being irresponsible with? How can you stand up and start taking responsibility for them?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment and talk with your kids about rules and responsibility. Ask them if they’d like to live without rules. Tell them that if they’d like less rules, they need to take more responsibility. Talk to them about how being responsible (doing what is right) builds trust and you need less rules. Use some recent examples either good or bad from your own family life about how to illustrate this. Talk to them about giving them more freedom as they show more responsibility.

Challenge for this Week:

Take responsibility in your relationships

Healthy Families Start Where?

On Sunday we are starting a brand new series looking at Roots. We are looking at how to have healthy roots in our families, friendships, and relationships. The reality is that if we want to have healthy connections with people we need deep foundations. So we are going to be looking at a few ways to develop that in our relationships all around us.

But before we get there it’s good to think through on our own: what makes relationships healthy? What are some of the keys to having healthy and strong foundations?

I know the answer is Jesus and love. Those are true. But why not press a bit deeper. How do you ensure that your family foundation is strong? How do you practice having whole and healthy friendships? What is the difference between relationships that last and survive difficulty and ones that don’t?

On Sunday we are going to be looking at the first family, Adam and Eve, to see what caused issues in their relationship and how we can learn from their mistakes. But we have all been a part of families and relationships for good or bad.

What have you learned that makes them work? What have you learned that doesn’t make them work?

Roots

Sleeping Sickness and Staying Wide Awake

On Sunday we looked at the letter to the church in Sardis. Sardis was a well known city for being wealthy and powerful. In fact, Sunrise on Fieldsthey were thought to be unconquerable. They were thought to be almost invincible. And some of us have felt that way about some of the relationships around us. But Sardis fell asleep…literally. Twice in their history they were conquered by invading armies because of stupid mistakes, falling asleep, and becoming complacent. Once a soldier went down a secret path to gather a dropped helmet…leading an army in to conquer an unprepared city. And then unthinkably it happened again. A city that was wealthy, powerful, and had all the potential to excel was conquered and devastated.
Maybe you’ve seen the same thing around you. Maybe you’ve seen relationships that we’re so full of potential, and promise but they fell apart. How do these things happen? Slowly and subtly. People fall asleep, they stop making an effort, they forget that all relationships require effort and faithfulness. So Jesus tells the church in Sardis wake up and be faithful. Wake up and be faithful. Don’t fall asleep, don’t become complacent, don’t think you have it all going on and forget to follow. This is the temptation in any church, marriage, or relationship…we become complacent. We start to take our calling, our spouse, or our friends for granted. And whenever this happens…soon things fall apart.
Jesus gives us this advice though. He says wake up and start again. Go back to the beginning and start to try to love again. Love afresh, put effort in, don’t let what was is good slip away because of forgetfulness. And yes it is hard. That is why in the letter to Sardis Jesus reminds them that some have been faithful. Some are doing it. Yes it is hard but it can be done, and if you wake up and are faithful you will win life.
So the main point is this: faithfulness and effort are needed for relationships to last. So are there any relationships where you need to wake up? Where you haven’t been faithful, where you have been forgetful, where you haven’t put forth effort? This is the perfect time during Lent to be reminded and to reflect on our relationships. But more than that it is the perfect time to act and even repent. Repenting means turning around and starting again. So in your marriage start again, give love like you used to. In your friendship start again, listen like you did in the start. In your church start again, remember your calling to care and act on it. Because whenever we fall asleep in our relationships death isn’t far away, but whenever we are faithful in them life is there to stay…

Sermon Notes

Big Idea: Wake up!

Take Aways…

  • Have we fallen asleep in our Christian walk?
  • What do our actions show we believe?
  • If you stay true, you will be victorious
  • Relationships fall apart slowly and subtly
  • Practical Points:
    • Realize if you are sleeping
    • Wake up and Take Action
    • Stay Awake by being Faithful

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? When have you asked the question – “How did this happen?” How have you seen things fall a part slowly and subtly? Where in your life do you need to “wake up”? Are there any relationships in danger? How can you stay faithful and walk forward with Jesus? Where is he asking you to remain faithful?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Spend some time talking with your kids that important things mean putting effort into them. Tell them how family is important so you will be putting effort into it so that it won’t fall a part. Ask them how they’d like you put in effort – what they’d like you to do. Maybe it will be to play with them more, or to go to their hockey games, or other ideas. Listen and then put it into practice.

Challenge for this Week:

Recognize where your sleeping, wake up and take action, stay awake by being faithful…

 

 

How Did This Happen?

1236829_46998155There is a question that everyone asks at some point in life. It’s this: “How did this happen?”

You might ask this question when you see a marriage that was strong…shatter. You might ask this question when you see a family fall a part, or when you see a church split. Often in the aftermath of deep loss and tragic fractures we ask “How did this happen?” Things looked to be going well and all of a sudden there was a divorce, a break, a fracture, or a split.

This is the question we’ll be looking at on Sunday. How do these things happen? How do relationships fall a part? Why do churches falter and fail? Why do some marriages that seem healthy end in so much hurt?

And most importantly, while we’ll be talking about how these things happen, we want to ask a second question. We want to ask an even more important question, “How do we keep these things from happening”. So on Sunday we’ll discover what Jesus has to say about this.

But before we get there what do you think? How do you keep a relationship whole? How do you keep a relationship fresh? How do you ensure that difficulties don’t turn into fractures and breaks? What is it that you do with in your marriage and friendships to prevent decay and difficulty?

Because I think the reality is that making relationships work is harder than we often think. It’s easy for things to slip and break. But on Sunday we’ll discover how keeping things together has a lot to do with staying awake…

Verbal Sparring Partners

Henri Nouwen, a favorite writer of mine, writes this: It seems that I am perpetually involved in long dialogues with absent partners, anticipating their questions and preparing my responses. I am amazed at the emotional energy that goes into these inner ruminations and murmurings.

Does anyone else struggle with this too? Replaying in your mind pretend conversations about how things could have gone? Creating new situations in your thoughts where you get verbal revenge, with a great response?

What I love about Nouwen’s quote is that he gets it right. When I look back on my life I’m amazed at the amount of emotional energy and time I give to these fake situations. I’m amazed at how much thought space these pretend situations, that flow out of real people, take up.

After realizing that, I’ve decided to give up the fight. I no longer want to have pretend verbal sparring with the difficult people in my life. I no longer want to replay how conversations could have happened or should have happened. I no longer want to give up that time and energy.

The question is how?

Because my guess is that if you’re like me you get stuck there. So the question is how do you let go? How do you give up the mental fight? How do you let your verbal sparring partners go?

The answer is easy but hard to live out.

It’s simple: start to bless them and pray for them.

Jesus teaches us that we should pray for our enemies. What he is teaching is not just about our posture towards others but where our time and thoughts should go. So now every time my mind starts to pick up that conversation, preparing answers, playing out situations, I stop and pray. I say,” God bless this person. God be with that organization. God give grace to that committee, group, or family member”. I start to change my thoughts for sparring to blessing.

And that one little change, changes everything…

So why not try it today. Seek to bless rather than rehearse verbal dialogues..

Don’t Pick Up the Jawbone

On Sunday we talked a bit about forgiveness. You can download it here. We looked at Samson and saw how violence, anger, and hurt can just escalate and grow if we don’t deal with it. That, unless we actually learn to deal with our hurt, it can end up driving us, depressing us, and distancing us from our loved ones. We looked at Judges 15 and how when you pursue revenge you never get even, you simply get worse. The story begins with a man, a goat, and a troubled marriage and it ends with hundreds dead, an economy wrecked, and a man hated by both his people and his enemies.

We ended our time thinking about the last scene with Samson where he picks up a jawbone to go another round with the Philistines. This can happen so easily in any relationship where we get hurt and so we want to hurt back. We take a swing with a “jawbone” through words, actions, and thoughts. We lash out saying “they made us do this” (Judges 15:3), trying to get even (15:7), and paying them back for what they did to us (15:11).

The problem is that’s not how Jesus acts or treats us. Jesus gives us a different example where we don’t respond to hate with hate, or hurt with hurt. Jesus shows us a different path where forgivness leads to life. Jesus reminds us that avoiding forgiving simply leads to prolonged hurt. C.S. Lewis’ says “Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” I agree forgiveness isn’t easy, but it is right…

So we ended with this challenge for this week: don’t pick up the jawbone. This week when you are tempted to lash out, to say something snarky, or to get even, break the cycle of hurt by stepping up and forgiving. And next Sunday we’ll be looking at how to practically forgive…

Questions for Discussion

  • Adult Discussion Questions
  • How have you seen violence or hate “cycle” in your life?
  • Why is so hard to break the cycle of revenge, hate, or violence?
  • Is there any cycles in your own life that you need break? To take the first step and “drop the jawbone”?
  • Questions for Young Families
  • Ask your kids what they want to do when soemoen hurts them. Get them to share about the feelings. Ask them what the right thing is to do when someone hurts them. Share with them how if we try to “get even” it always “get’s worse”.
  • Weekly Challenge: Don’t pick up the jawbone – practice forgiveness

The Art of Asking Great Questions

A little while back, sitting in a hot tub with friends, I was asked a great question.

We were getting to know new friends a bit better and at one point they asked me. What’s the best memories you have of your dad? What were the best things about him?

That is a beautiful question. Deep, open, vulnerable, and welcomed. So I got to talk about my dad for a bit. It was beautiful.

Those are the types of great questions that take relationships deeper. Ones that open up not only conversation, but someone’s soul and heart.

Why not make a practice of asking deeper questions – beyond “How was the week”. Why not ask what did you learn this week? Where did you find joy?

So what are some of the great questions you’ve been asked?

Share some good questions here. But more importantly, share them with friends and family…

How Do You Connect With God?…

On Sunday were going to be focusing on one key part of following Jesus: our relationship with him. If we are going to follow Jesus we need to have a strong, deep, and vibrant life with him. The question is, how do we do that? How do we ensure our relationship with him stays strong? How do we stop drifting apart?

In essence, on Sunday I want to share how to keep a strong connection with God.

Which leads me to my post for today. Take a moment and think and reflect in your own life: how do you connect with God?

What is it that’s apart of your life that helps you to stay grounded with him? What practices, rhythms, or acitivites do you do to connect with him? All of us are diverse; our personalities, preferences, and particulars differ. So the ways in which we connect with God as also diverse.

So my challenge for today is simply to do this. Take time and reflect on your life and how you intentionally connect with him.

  • What strengthens your relationship?
  • What gives it new depth and meaning?
  • What have you found helpful in keeping your connection strong?

And then if you can, comment, email me, or facebook me about how you connect with God.

Because your way of connecting maybe just the encouragement or inspiration for someone else…

Where I Saw Jesus This Week…

So this week I saw Jesus in something I rarely see Jesus in…in Facebook.

This week earlier I posted on how relationships can create influence and change and that we should appreciate that. Because of that post, a young lady who was once involved in my former youth group messaged me about the influence I had on her life. Now, I haven’t seen this fun girl in a while, as she has grown up, and gone on to university, but I always look forward to seeing her when she’s back home. She was very vulnerable, open, and honest. She shared with me the impact that I had on her, even though I didn’t know or realize it.

And I saw Jesus in that message.

Because isn’t that something Jesus would do? Share openly and honestly about the good things he sees in you. About how your life is having an impact even if you didn’t know it. And here’s the thing through her sharing about her change, she changed me.

Her willingness to openly show love, gratitude, and grace changed me. It made my day more real, alive, and joyful. It reminded me that following Jesus is worthwhile. It reminded me that relationships are important and do leave an impact.

In short it reminded me of Jesus…