Archive for April, 2013


so it finally happened…an athlete in a major sport [football, basketball, baseball, hockey] broke his silence & said that he is gay.  first time in this country this has happened.  all of this broke mon., april29 with a sport illustrated article [here is a link to one such article].  what happens now, for the Christ-follower & the church, is highly important.  the things that we say now & how we behave has a great opportunity to reach into places we’ve often stayed away from…and stayed away at our own doing & choice. the issue of tolerance is often brought up when these kinds of conversations are had.  “you have to be tolerant of others beliefs & even their reaching-outbehaviors, otherwise you’re being judgmental!” important point: we need to be sure we understand what tolerance means.

tol·er·ance defined

1.  a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, racereligion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

2.  fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

tolerance does not mean that i have to agree with whatever you want to do or say.  tolerance DOES mean that i respect you as a person & that you have value, even if i don’t agree with how you live your life.  this is also how we recognize what love is all about.

so, with all of that said, this is a grand time to make sure that as a Christ-follower i am reaching out to those that feel as though they may have had to hide a part of their lives.  this was a prominent part of the article about jason collins & admitting his sexuality. recently i was having a conversation with a friend of mine & our conversation ended up being about how we talk with people that believe different than us.  how do we show love, but at the same time talk with them is such a way that they know where we stand?  what we ended up saying is that our best bet is to always get back to Jesus.  always get it back to Jesus.

so in light of these recent events, we look to Jesus…

Jesus is consistently seen with the kind of people that the local church leaders did not have much patience or time for.  He’s found at their parties, not obeying the rituals of the day, ignoring the societal standards of separation.  and it ticked them off to the point of orchestrating His death. but an interesting thing emerges; those people that the church-folk didn’t like, liked Jesus; even though the church-folk were more like Him, but Jesus didn’t seem to like the church-folk very much… meaning this: Jesus seemed to want to be with those that were outside the church more than those inside the church.  i’m not why this is, but here is a possibility.  it is natural for us to become highly comfortable with people that are most like us & Jesus seemed to want to break that down.  acknowledging that His greatest desire is for us…ALL of us.  and His desire for us is shared through those that already know Him.  so i must make sure that the way i talk about this issue, & how i even feel toward those that have this life-style, is covered in the love of Christ.

may you do the same…

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hitting strideso the other day a friend of mine was telling a story of someone in his church who asked, “do you feel like you’ve finally hit your stride?”  an honest question, because when we feel like we’ve hit our stride there is a relaxed, comfortable tenor to our step.

this phrase “hitting your stride” comes out of the athletic world, not just akin to runners; but that’s where it starts.  when distance runners get to a spot in the race when the running feels almost effort-less & their body doesn’t feel taxed at all.

so this friend of mine, in response to the question “have you hit your stride?” said, “i hope i don’t ever hit my stride.”  he then went on to tell the group of us listening to this story that he’s felt in recent years of his ministry that when he hits “his stride” he’s begun to rely on his own ability, talent, etc.

in some regard he seems to be saying the work should be a little hard; it  should be a challenge, times when it’s down-right difficult & daunting.

man does that resonate with me!

not long ago i had a sense that what i was doing was well within my hands.  that i could handle what needed to be done & was fairly well-equipped to get “it” done.  and that’s when God said,

“it’s time for something new.”

whats interesting with God is that He will never let my ability overshadow Him & what He wants to do.  there is a feeling among us that God is here to make much of us.  that He’s glad to have us on His team.  He’s going to do whatever He wants.  that’s the nature of God!  the fact that He invites me to join Him i that “whatever He wants” business…well that’s just dandy.  but it’s not because i deserve it.  it’s not because i’m awesome.  it’s not for any other reason than He said, come on, join me.

so when He invites something new in my life it’s because He is wanting His glory to take center stage through something i don’t know how to do.  a thing that i’m unsure of, a task that i don’t entirely know how to complete, a job that i’m ill-equipped to accomplish.  and that’s just how He works…

...and i'm learning to love that about Him. 

Been-There-Done-Thatwhen new things are presented one of the first things our brains want to try and answer is this; “have i seen this before?”  our brains are categorizing machines.  neatly organized files of experiences, emotions, things done & places been.  so when something new comes on the scene & we have the option to enter/engage our brain immediately tries to make sense of it with little to no information.   such a dangerous practice…

we are, by the nature of our current culture, highly impatient people.  we feel like we have to decide right now if we’re moving forward to going to retreat into what we know & have seen before.

in the midst of this there’s a lie that we want to believe…

“do what’s familiar”

after all, the familiar is…well, familiar.  “i know how to handle stuff that i’ve already seen.  i know what to expect & how to react.”  the new is unknown & it might just be a lot of work.

as we talk about reshaping church & the expectations that exist within church; and realizing that we’re reshaping the culture of church, we know that there aren’t just one or two things that need to be addressed; there’s a truck-load of things & expectations that need to be dealt with.  and quite honestly that’s hard work.  there’s a lot of self-examination that must take place, a lot of questions that need to be asked & honesty that must be employed.

if we realize that Christ comes to offer us something that we cannot attain on our own & do something that we’ve never seen before [and that’s a big IF]; then we stand a chance in seeing something that we’ve never seen before, to be a part of a move of God’s people like we’ve never witnessed in our life-times.

Jesus says in john 10:10 [msgB]

 "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."

hmm, “more and better life…”

yea, what if we just said “no” to the familiar, & decided to embrace what Jesus comes to offer; a different kind of life.  a life that’s difficult…but then again, life in general is difficult.  so instead of choosing the familiar & easy path what would happen to your life & mine if we chose a path with Christ that seemed harder but would lead to a more full life?

recently a friend was telling me about a conversation they were having with a family member.  it revolved around their connection to a little church that didn’t have the best programs, especially for kids; but they were working on it.  and it was said, “i just wish that part was a little better, then we’re in.”

and the response was, “well, sometimes it takes the commitment of some parents to say we’re here to get this thing off the ground & make it great.”  since that conversation those parents have decided to fully engage in that little church.

i think sometimes we want to walk into a setting that’s already hummin’ & it’s just the best thing; and you’re surrounded by people that are just like you & it’s not uncomfortable at all.  and the truth is that’s pretty great when it meets your needs right now, where you stand.  but i think there are a lot more times when Jesus calls us to give all we have in places that are difficult & undone.  that “more and better life” part of what Jesus offers is a hard road.  but it still leads to the kind of life that has Jesus at the forefront.