December 14, 2009

Who Said Anything About Fair?

This afternoon I was headed back to the office from a lunch with a new friend from church. I stopped at an intersection near my house (heading West) and a police officer arrived at the stop sign at the same time (heading North). After I stopped...I turned and went. He followed. And then the fun began. The lights came on. I was being pulled over - BUSTED! I quickly reconciled that I was finally going to get punished for my out-of-date Kansas plate. Surely that was it. Right?

The officer approached my car and informed me, "I pulled you over b/c you failed to come to a complete stop at Gillespie and Balch." Instantly I thought, "WHAT? Are you crazy? Were you actually THERE?" Notice at the beginning of my story I said I "stopped" at the intersection. I've gotten pulled over before. I've had tickets for speeding. Most of which I simply paid b/c I knew I was wrong and that was that. But this was absurd. I know what it means to stop and I was stopped! What kind of insane world are we living in anyways?

Allow me to vent. I think it should be explained that there's a difference in NOT STOPPING and NOT WAITING YOUR TURN! I'm not sure if the officer was mad or upset b/c I cut in line and it was his turn, but my understanding is that if you arrive at a Stop sign simultaneously you yield to the person on the RIGHT - thus the term "RIGHT of way". And even if he was there before me, I waited for him to go and he just sat there. I turned. But before any of this yielding, turning, cutting - whatever you want to call it took place - I STOPPED! This is just plain flat unfair!

This is the point where a question entered my mind: Who ever said anything about being FAIR? 

I know I wanted personal justice here - I wanted this duty-inspired Deputy to acknowledge that I hadn't done anything wrong. But my justice was being handed back to me in a counterfeit IOU. It wasn't coming! And as I drove away I started thinking about this story of a man in a garden in the dead of night. His friends were about to abandon, betray and deny him. He was overwhelmed with the grief and burden of knowing that he was about to be arrested, beaten, whipped, mocked, spit on, stabbed, and nailed to a cross to be crucified...all for things that he had never done. He didn't run the Stop sign! The crimes weren't his! He was paying a debt for the crimes, passions, rebellion, and sin of everyone who would ever live. Except himself. Not guilty - yet bearing the burden of ALL guilt. And I began to wonder, "Did it ever cross his mind to think, 'This is simply not FAIR!'"

Who said anything about being FAIR?

I emphatically without a doubt did NOT run this Stop sign today. But I've run one before. Probably more than once. And never got pulled over. So this is where I close my mouth - breathe in very deep - and allow the overwhelming grace, mercy, and unconditional love of my Savior to wash over me and remind me that my life is not about fair. Because if things were fair and God gave me what I deserved...I would be desperately begging for a whole new meaning of fairness. 

Sometimes you should just pay the ticket - close your mouth - and look and listen for what the Lord is trying to tell you!

2 Corinthians 5:21
1 Peter 2:18-25

December 7, 2009

The Pastor Who Spoiled Christmas

Well, so far I haven't received any hate mail for calling Santa out yesterday. (It's early in the week, though) As we began the Advent Conspiracy, we talked yesterday about the struggle to keep our lives, hearts, and families bowed at the feet of the King (as the Wise Men did) while trying to play along with the rest of the world waiting for Santa to come down the chimney. Whether we like it or not, we have made Christmas about what we WANT! (It's not called a "Wish List" for nothing!) And I'm just wondering, when's the game finally going to end?

First off let me say that parents have to be the ones to decide when & how they're going to have this conversation with their kids. What may be simple and direct for some parents may be long, drawn out and complicated for others. (Libby asked - we told her the truth. On to the next subject. That was when she was 3!) That being said, it still leaves me wondering: PARENTS - When are you going to stop playing the game?

Are you really thinking & praying over the long-term effects of Santa, his "lists", and Christmas being about our materialistic wants & wishes?

Have you asked yourself how you'd feel if the day we should be celebrating YOUR birth we were all running around like mad buying crap for each other?

Do we have ANY objectivity in this mess anymore? Seriously?

While I'm glad that I haven't been called the "Pastor who spoiled Christmas" yet, there's part of me that hopes - if you're still letting Christmas be about anything other than the birth of the King of Kings and the hope that it brings - that I'm a rotten egg in your Christmas!

If you want to see Jesus this Christmas....SEEK HIM!

Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.....

December 1, 2009

Where's Your Sword?

This past Sunday we wrapped up our series "Weapons". There was no better way to close this series than to look at the weapons we have at our disposal to fight this fight against our Enemy - you know, the one who would love nothing more than to "devour us". If you're unfamiliar with the Armor of God - especially if you're a Christ-follower - you need to get quickly and deeply acquainted with the resources at your disposal. Check out what God has given you in Ephesians 6:10-18.

I wanted to highlight - or maybe a better word is obsess over - one of these weapons, the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God". I think that a quick read often leaves people mistaken, thinking that the Holy Spirit is the sword. Not true. The Spirit of God empowers and equips us to USE this sword when it's in our hand. The sword is THE WORD OF GOD! The big question for you is, are you holding it in your grip? Is it strapped around you, ready to be drawn at any given moment to do battle with the Enemy? Where is your sword right now? Polished and ready....or rusting and collecting dust? Think about it. Contemplate the question in plain English: WHERE IS YOUR BIBLE?

Hebrews 4:12 takes Paul's description of this "sword" a step further and explains that "the Word of God is full of living power...sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are." This weapon is not simply for fending off the Enemy - it has business to take care of with US as well. This sword cuts deep into my heart and exposes me for who and what I really am. It opens my eyes and pulls back the veil and shows me where the Spirit of God needs to clean house and refine me. It's not only the weapon I need to fight the battle, it's the weapon the Lord uses to prepare, equip, and ready me for the fight. I cannot stand without it! And maybe this is why we find ourselves at times empty-handed, with our sword resting neatly on a shelf: we don't want to be exposed. Maybe it's not that we're unaware or ignorant to the Enemy, maybe it's US that we're not wanting to do battle with. Maybe we're just not ready to do the business we know the Lord has in store for us to actually ready us to stand up and fight. Is that you? Have you become your own worst enemy? If so, it's time to make a decision. Are you going to stay in the foxhole...or are you going to climb out and take a stand?

I believe that as you examine the Armor of God you will discover that if you are constantly carrying and handling this sword, the other pieces of armor will come naturally. They will simply fit. Period. So, what are you waiting for? Pick it up! It will change your life!

Dig Deeper:
Isaiah 40:7-8
Psalm 119:9-11
Matthew 4:4
1 Peter 5:8-9