The New Reality… or is it?

There are moments in life where we are “pressed” and in those moments people in general turn to a number of different outlets, sources, and reliefs. These moments are those times where we may think we have found ourselves facing a “new reality”, the pressing moments of life that are generally the result of big changes, stresses, or disappointments.  There is a thing that brings great hope in these moments for me, that make me step back and breathe for a moment. It’s a truth we have heard and I think sometimes we can glaze over if we are not thinking clearly…  I mean in general we are a society that hits hardship with two gears, and often we can get stuck in one of them.

First gear: Reactive… 

There are a number of different things you can call this gear, the “why me?” gear, the point of struggle, the “what on earth will I do now?” gear. Whatever label you might want to give it, it’s a normal and natural reaction to being pressed. It’s the moment of sorrow, fear, anger, doubt, or other feelings that leave us almost immobilized. Really it’s part of the process, we have to have this. However, we can’t stop or get stuck here. I’m not saying to rush through it, or that there is some formulaic approach as to how long this period should last, but that it should only be a period.

Second gear: Attack

Again, you can label the gear however you like, it’s not about the label, it’s about the phase. This is the motion phase, the “I’m going to do something” gear. This is where we attempt to hit the challenge head on, formulate plans, work hard, get in gear, and put our noses to the grindstone (my mom would be so proud I just used that statement). This is also a normal reaction to being pressed. This reaction can make us feel resolute, motivated and can drive out surface level fear, because, after all, we are handling our business. This phase is the phase that can bring about resolution, but often it doesn’t really get at the core of things.

There may be another option, in fact, I’m certain there is. The struggle will come if we linger too long in the reaction gear without looking toward shifting to the attack gear, but an equally greater problem will occur if we skip the reaction gear and processing of the emotion, fear, etc. These things are both essential to the process of moving through the process of being pressed.

Therein lies the problem, we aren’t just supposed to “move” through the process. God is interested in our growth through the process. If we lie to long lingering in the first gear, we may miss opportunities for this growth, but the same result happens if we charge into the second gear, making the work our own. In both places we lack, because we may not be in a place to hear what God has to say. The so called “new reality” of our lives is part of the plan, change will forever be a part of our growth and sanctification. It can be a struggle, it can be anything from maddening to disheartening, bringing fury and sorrow. It’s all o.k., as long as we can remember what I think is a profound and simple truth about our God:

Psalm 46:1 ” God is our refuge and strength, a VERY present help in trouble” ESV (the NIV uses the words “EVER-present help in trouble”)

Either way you slice this, it’s just plain good. It simply means God is there when there is trouble, turmoil, change, strife, when you are being pressed, and this should bring us hope. I’m not saying we should be devoid of the stuff we need to process in the first gear, but that we should know that God is present in that processing, that it matters to Him, that WE matter to Him. It also doesn’t mean that we don’t take any of the action as seen in the second gear, but it means we can lean on Him and know that He is there to guide us if we will prayerfully put it in His hands.

Remember.. the “new reality”, isn’t new to God.

(In reviewing this I don’t want to change anything because I think it communicates the truth I’m looking for, but I feel really rusty in my blog-skills… which are like nun-chuck skills.. if you don’t use them you could get really sore hands)

 

 

Jesus & TOMs…. would He?

SO… it’s been a while since I’ve tread into the blog-o-verse but there is some stuff on my mind this morning. Well really it’s been on my heart and mind for quite some time (it’s actually in the original list of blog-able topics that I wrote on my iPhone) and today is just the kind of day to get it out there. Big question for us to wrestle with…

WOULD JESUS WEAR TOMS?

Ok… that might be a little to divisive and politically incorrect to ask so maybe a better question is this:

ARE WE LETTING SOCIAL JUSTICE (or actually mere social awareness) REPLACE THE GOSPEL?

To be honest, frank, and maybe a little brutal here for a second… TOMS (which is not the guy’s name, it stands for TOMorrow’s Shoes) really really bother me. It’s like the most self aggrandizing way of helping someone. It’s the way to be hip and trendy, yet… make a statement that says “I’m aware that people around the world are going without shoes”.  They go against the very idea that helping others is supposed to be a selfless act.  Now I’m not ignorant to the fact that it does give some shoeless person somewhere a pair of shoes, and that’s awesome (sort of) and I realize that some people are now reading this very angrily, but before you come to my office with pitchforks and torches… please allow me to further illuminate my point.

The real heart of the matter is that in the American church, we seem to have grown into this idea that it doesn’t matter the motives for good things, as long as good things are happening we should support it with all we can, whether or not the Gospel goes forward or not.  WHAT!?!?!?!?!

This seems completely crazy to me. If we believe that Jesus is the hope of the world, we should in turn believe the most incredible message of His life, death,substitution,  resurrection, atonement, and victory are a pretty important thing to spread around. Even more important than shoes! Now… if it goes hand in hand with some shoes, great, if it goes hand in hand with whatever you do to serve those who are hurting awesome!!! But at what point did we decide that we should just omit the Gospel from those actions? or that we as Christ followers should jump on whatever trendy bandwagon there is out there whether that organization promotes the cause of Christ or not?

Thus the issue with TOMS…  the company itself doesn’t allow for any sharing of religious beliefs (proselytization) while taking part in their shoe distributions. Which bug, because that seems to point to hope being in shoes… or hope being in humanity. That is a different lens than the average Christian is taught about, not to mention that the vast majority of folks wearing TOMS are probably less than aware, or don’t really give a rip that someone got a pair of shoes, to many it’s just another hip fashion statement.

And so many organizations out there romance the young hip believer to really buy in to the fact that they are helping so that must count… right?

Why not get involved with organizations that promote not only clothing, feeding, sheltering, or educating people around the world, but also promote the idea that the greatest hope humanity has is not in itself, but in Jesus Christ?

Instead of buying trendy shoes that make a statement, take it a step further and take that money and invest it in a micro-lending organization like World Vision, or why not use it to put money toward a mission trip you could go on? Volunteer, serve, go, do something!! The possibilities are endless.

So to answer the question.. would Jesus wear TOMS… probably not. He would probably buy them and give them to someone he knew was in need of shoes around Him, then share the heart of His Father with them, and then there would be two people in need getting shoes, and at least one getting a real picture of hope.

Think about it… you could even comment about it….

j-

The Traditional Valentine’s Day Manifesto!

So every year I have a tradition of posting this document which I once wrote for a church news letter (previous church, not Bridgeway) So… in the time honored tradition, even though it’s not technically “Retro Blog Day”, here it is:

Annual Valentine’s Tirade… but not what you think.

AHHHHH… Valentine’s day… the old tradition of flowers, candy, AND POTENTIAL DISASTER!!!
What I am about to write mostly pertains to men, so ladies please feel free to read and encourage the men in your life…. or if this all backfires… write me and tell me what a twit I am. Hopefully this will somehow be a small blessing in your relationships (present or future).
Now any man reading this can probably recount some time in his life where he has made a valentinian blunder, and can identify with what I am about to write. This is why I have become a Valentine’s Day cynic; this “holiday” just does not sit well with me. Now before you ladies get a rope and plan to lynch me … just keep reading. What I am writing about is a love that makes no mistakes, no blunders, and is wonderfully sufficient.
In February, as we look in the local flower shops, peruse the See’s candy store, or (if you need to make a big splash) the local Jewelry store, let’s make sure our thoughts are turned toward the One who has given us the incredible ability to love another person and has blessed us with the gift of other people that love us as well. Our relationships with one another are a huge part of this walk we call Christianity, and those relationships are only held together by the relationship we have with Jesus.
This month you will be inundated with commercials, articles and jingles that all revolve around this premise of “true love”… I’m sorry but when did true love become something bought off of a store shelf. We are blessed to know the reality of a love that is truer and more complete than can ever be coined by some Jared Jewelers commercial. I urge you not to forget this fact during the frenzied rush to show your “true love” to your significant other, crush, or recent hook up.
See… I have a challenge for you men…. ALL OF YOU!!… Stop buying the lie. Stop being sold on this idea that this one day of the year is more important than all others to tell the people you love that you love them. Especially if that person is your wife!!! There is no way one day a year will make up for the other 364 that you ignore that opportunity. I absolutely spit on the idea that roses on valentine’s day are more special than the random bouquet of flowers brought home for no reason at all. I GUARANTEE YOU… if you love the women in your life correctly… we could stamp out valentine’s day all together… if we could love our wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25) we wouldn’t be subject to the guilt laden valentine’s myth.
If we would rise up together men and love our women as we should… Valentine’s day wouldn’t matter anymore… it would be a distant memory. But for now it remains a guilt ridden, marketing feeding frenzy that prays on men who know that they have spent too much time at work, too little time appreciating their wives and families, and now they are fed this line of crap about how this one “special day” a year will make it all up.
So men…. get it right… love consistently… and stamp out the valentine’s lie!!!
that’s right….

I said it.

down with valentine’s day….

Why “rubbish”?

And certainly the follow up question would have to be… and why loads of it?... and you shall cover loads of rubbish! It all started with this sign.  Months ago I performed a wedding in Forest Hill and on the ride up to the rehearsal I spotted this sign. In my quick witted, self-amusing, desiring to be dry like a Brit, humor I thought to myself “Whew… and I thought they would only be covering a little bit of rubbish today.” I know it seems a bit ridiculous, but hey, it’s honest.

So that interaction has been brewing in my head for months, and that brings us to this moment, this morning. With laptop open, coffee steaming beside it, and the rampant thoughts of a husband, father, pastor, friend, guy who feels the deep obligation to cover loads of rubbish. Which now leads me to answer the original question “why rubbish?”. OK… sign aside, the reality of a blog is to cover a lot of thoughts (a friend and avid blogger calls his “ramblings”) that are born from the heart of the writer. The reality is that they are just my thoughts, they are not bedrocks of truth and salvation. That wonderful and powerful role has already been filled by the Gospel of Jesus Christ… and now the segue…

Philippians 3:8-9 ” What is more I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

And that truly sums it up. There are no writings here that are so great in comparison to what the Bible has to offer (although you may eventually find some commentary on the Bible in here), and none that surpass the desire to know Jesus more fully as I grow in life, in marriage, in being a dad, and certainly in being a pastor. So… welcome? I guess.  It’s not my first blog, but I see this as a new start, and though I may grab some stuff from the old blog, this fresh beginning is an intentional thing, to share, to vent, and to join us together in our growth and desire to “gain Christ and be found in Him” that we would consider all the things we lose for His sake, rubbish, and as we lose them, we take heart and share them. So as for my journey and the things being lost, or surrender, or wrestled from me, be prepared reader…

Loads of “rubbish” shall be covered!