Tag Archive: myopic


so i have recently have been surrounded by a number of conversations about community & our involvement/connection to the community.  God has placed something inside us, at the root of who we are, to desire connection with others.  and we know this is good for us.

within community we realize that we’re not alone in our struggle.  in community there is a shared love & support.  within community we have the opportunity to see new parts of God & what He has in mind for us.  by the way, this part about seeing God in community, this is true in communities that celebrate God and those that don’t.  togetherness is a Godly pursuit weather we recognize it or not.

[but that’s probably another discussion]

broken community

a couple of observations about what we want from community & what we’re willing to do for community

we want the community to mostly come to us

“well, why didn’t let me know about…”

“i don’t feel included.”

here’s a hard truth, & saying this carries with it some risk of you not liking this, even that you may stop reading.  but here it is:  it’s not my job to make sure you come to & are connected to a church that you say is your home church.  if the church isn’t communicating an upcoming event or dates & times are very last minute that’s on the church.  but if you don’t know about something simply because you haven’t been around; i’m sorry, but that’s on you.  if you’re connected to the community then you’re going to know what’s happening because you want to know what’s happening.

no church worth it’s salt is going to beg you to be a part of what it’s doing.

we don’t always want to exert effort within the community

let’s be honest.  it’s easy to walk into a place that has everything just hummin’.  when the programs are awesome, when the crowd is big enough that no one will notice when i’m not there.  when nothing is expected of me.  when we’re honest with ourselves we should be able to say, “yea, that’s easy.  slip in, slip out.  get my church-fix & move on with the week.”  on the other hand it’s hard to join a community that doesn’t have all its ducks in a row.  a group that’s in process on a number of fronts.

now let’s be additionally clear about something.  i know plenty of pastors that are leading big churches & the problems, issues & hang-ups are present as well.  so i’m not bangin’ on the big church at all.

the larger, more important truth to all of this is about us, it’s not really about the community itself; large or small.

we know that community & connection to a healthy group of believers is good for us.  there are times in our lives when, for a variety of reasons, we simply don’t engage in it like we should.

but let’s track back to the beginning of this writing:

we’re not alone in our struggle

this, i think is one of the biggest lies that satan tells us: that we’re alone in our struggle.  “surely no one would understand this about you.  if you talk about this kiss goodbye any influence & trust you have.  you’re alone in this, and that’s the way it should stay.”

we know this is a lie simply reading the dysfunctional, broken, jacked up stories in the bible.  men & women who are called by God but seem to choose to mess up the response the call at almost every turn.  go ahead, check it out, i can’t do your homework for you.

shared love & support

when community is right, and there’s not shortage of communities that aren’t doing it right.  but when it’s right there is a sense of shared experiences & joy, as well as hurts & walking together through tough times.  but the bond that’s forged in tough times is a bond that lasts.

seeing new parts of God

something my wife has said, & have stolen it & now say it: “being part of a church forces me to spend time with & get to know people that i may ordinarily never have known…and that’s a good thing.”  when i’m with people that i may not have chosen to be with lets me see God in new light.  i end up hearing the stories of God activity in different ways.

community is a part of our holy dna

several years ago a group of us were having one of those highly spiritual conversations; what would you do if zombies really attacked?  how would you survive?  would you try and get together with a group of people, try and create a civilization?  or take off into the woods & try to make it on your own?

the answer from someone whom i have loads of respect & love for surprised me.  they said, “i’m out!  gotta’ go off, just me & my spouse; try to get as far away from people as possible!”  now the truth is that i don’t know if this person, who is very funny, was making a comedic comment or not.  and it could have been just that; comedy, not to be taken seriously.

but it did get me thinking about how God created us to NOT be alone.  God put a desire for us to be together, to be stronger when we come together.

“a chord of 3 strands…”

“a son shall leave his father & mother…”

“do not forsake meeting together…”

and here’s the beautiful thing about community, it’s never too late to join, to re-connect.

so if you made it all the way to the end of this article, you didn’t stop and swear off reading anymore from this author, and you’ve recognized that your connection to a local church community is waning…it’s not too late.

God has things for you to do, but some of those things are tied to your connection to the community of God.  so get plugged. the community needs you in a similar way that you need the community.

Advertisements

50/50

friendshpin a recent conversation with my wife we were talking about a difficult situation where a leader had misused his power & influence; and had mistreated several people in the process.  the story goes that he & some of the people he leads had been overlooked in the midst of an accomplishment.  it was, from what i could tell, an honest mistake; but a mistake none-the-less.  this guys response was less than gracious & he really went after the people responsible.  what makes this worse is that some of those he went after were high school students.

this is all, of course, very disappointing.  but it spurred an interesting conversation with my wife & i.  and let me just say, she is very smart!  what she said, i think, we’ve talked about before but she immediately hit the nail on the head.

she said this:  “i’ve learned that it’s only about 1/2 of what you actually know [in your given field] & the expertise that you bring to the table that matters in how well you do your job.  the other 1/2 is how you treat people.

i know, brilliant!

i do believe this is absolutely true.  the measure of who we are as people is reflected in how well we treat others & the respect that’s given.  and here is the thing that takes it up a level:

the strength to consistently do this; give respect to those that we work with & give them space for mistakes to be made, this is found in a consistently deepening relationship with Christ.

if we’re going to try and do this; treating one another well, dignified & filled with grace we’re going to eventually tire & just scrap the effort.  because we will tire, we will grow weary, we will decide it’s all too hard, we will decide it’s not worth it.  the only way to battle that is finding that Jesus is the strength in our weakness.

Jesus’ mission statement [if we could call it that] can be found in john 10:10,

“i’ve come to give you life to the full.”

if we look at the whole of Jesus’ ministry we can see that this is the way that He lived.  He consistently gave dignity to people that had none in the social circles.  gave grace to those in the greatest need.  offered freedom to those that felt trapped.

so as we roll through this season, and really year around, are you offering life to those you’re in contact with?  a life connected to Christ, showing that He is the reason you act & live they way you act & live?

do you demonstrate that your skill-set; in whatever it is that you do, is only 1/2 of the things that matter in your life?

do you show that the people around you matter more than simply completing the job?

if not, make sure that changes today.

4478910885_2f984019fa_zin our day & age to be reminded, or maybe notified, that our time here on earth is very short in the grand scheme of human history.  it’s even smaller when we consider the eternal existence of God.  in our life-times it’s easy to believe the hype that we know all we need to know, that our judgement is darn near perfect, & our decision-making, and that our understanding of the circumstances is well in-hand.  and to boot, when situations don’t turn out in our favor or the way we would have chosen we are tempted to rail our fists at the heavens & say, “hey God, what were You thinking allowing that to
happen?!”
 
this is what we see with habakkuk the prophet when he complains to God.

“why do You force me to look at evil,

stare trouble in the face day after day?

anarchy and violence break out,

quarrels and fights all over the place.

law and order fall to pieces.

justice is a joke.

the wicked have the righteous hamstrung

and stand justice on its head.” [hab.1:3 & 4, msgB]

seems like i’ve said those words to God before.  but God is gentle with habakkuk here & simply says, “i’m not passive or bro.  i’m going to do something about all of this.” [my paraphrase].  in the story of job God also receives a complaint about the conditions of life and here God responds a bit more direct.  God monologues for 4 chapters on how little job [and we] know about the universe.  and then God says this:

“surely you know, for you were already born!

you have lived so many years!”  [God from job 38:21]

i just love the way God speaks to one of his sons here.  what he’s doing is reminding us who He is, and simultaneously reminding us who we are.

the real question is this; are you, am i, willing to trust God even when i don’t understand how He’s rolling things out?  the things that go on in my life, the things that happen in my country, in the world at large.

it’s easy to point the finger at all that’s wrong & suggest ways to fix it & make it right.

just an aside, i think it’s important that as followers of Christ we do long for the redemption of ALL His people.

but God also gave us the freedom to choose.  and in the midst of that things will be broken, lives will be wrecked.  the scope of what i see is limited to right now.  even as i look backward my vision is cloudy & i don’t see things as clearly as i think i do.

so this past sunday, as the Advent Conspiracy continues, we worked around what it means to “give more”; that is, giving presence, your time, your humanity.  and no, we didn’t talk about a piece of the traditional “Christmas story”; instead we focused on an experience & a story from Jesus while at a banquet [luke14].

Jesus correctly reveals that party He’s attending is really a “privileged” party.  it’s for those that can afford to be there, that truly appreciate the finest of things & can invite you to their own “high society” party.  Jesus says this is no way to do things.  then Jesus tells a story of a man hosting a banquet & those that had received invitations simply were too busy to attend.  then those that were not on “the” list were invited & the party raged on.

what’s interesting & note-worthy here is the relational quality of the entire interaction.  He points out the depth of their relationships with one another & says it’s only about how you look to your friends & that’s no way to live.  part of the purpose of your life here on earth is the relationship you have with others & the way you point them toward Jesus.  so He’s inviting them to invest in the lives of others, not just in their own life.

AC_Give_ICON

that’s a hard thing to do during this season especially.  sure we have little trouble giving our spare change to the the bell ringers, and making sure that families that have enough for the season.  but what are we really doing?  are we truly investing in their lives?  or are these things a way to ease our minds with “well, at least i’m doing something.”

i do believe part of the challenge of this time of year is not to just “do a little more”.  i really think the challenge is to become the kind of people that God had created & called us to be.  to step into a place that we can truly give more.  to find new & better ways to give ourselves away.  and not just to our families.  there is a bit of an expectation to giving to our families.  but to give to those that aren’t expecting it.  to give to the ones that are easily overlooked.  give to those that don’t seem to “deserve it” – whatever that means.

so how ’bout it?  can we give more of ourselves away this year?  can we find ways to exemplify the life of Christ but giving more?

AC_Give_WORDmaybe, we’ll see when the bills show up in january.

Snowflake Box detailrecently there’s been this thought that’s been swirling around in my head…it’s really been a continual stream of wondering:

how does the “sending nature” of the gospel show up in your life?

maybe we need to define some things first;

i think, without question, that the gospel of Jesus Christ has, at it’s root, a sending quality to it. consider the season we’re launching into right now.

Jesus comes to earth.  He leaves heaven to join us here.  He’s sent here to do what we cannot –

SAVE US.

so in simple terms; do we believe that we are engaging that “called out” &” sending” thing that happens in the bible repeatedly?

most of us, as Christ-followers would immediately say “well, yes. i do believe that we’ve called into that kind of life.”

but here are, i think, the most important questions:

do we live like that?
do we raise our families like that?
do we work at our jobs with this in mind?
do we attend churches that speak this kind of language?

if we look at these questions & there is a little bit of guilt or heaviness that shows up,

if we want to run from this page,

if God is waking some things up inside you,

may that same God, the one who sent His Son, the One we celebrate & try hard not to forget & bypass;

may that God speak into this season & your celebrations.  may He remind you of the call He has for your life & the places He is inviting you to go.

recently i’ve been drawn back to something that was handed me several months ago.  it was a lengthy excerpt from an article posted on a web site.  the article, in great length, draws out the idea that sin isn’t a problem for the experienced/veteran Christian.  sin is something that someone willfully does that’s in violation of God’s laws.  willfully being the key there.  the article then talks about the “mistakes or errors” of the Christian that “are a result of human weakness, faulty judgement…”

the problem with  this approach is huge!

if it’s true that when once we’re a Christian, we’ve given our lives over to Christ, that we no longer sin, one domino simply knocks another.

if we don’t sin, we simply make mistakes or stumble, when does confession enter the family?  of course other than the heathen, outright sinner who has not given his/her life to God?  when do we confess?

if we don’t sin how does humility become a part of the body?

if we all we do is stumble does mercy & grace become irrelevant to the already saved?

does then the attitude of judgementalism &  a lack of forgiveness become epic?

what happens to pauls words in romans 7:14-25?  “what i want to do i don’t do…i know that nothing good lives in me…”

those are present tense verbs, that’s the here & now.

what about the very big & toxic sin of pride becoming so large that we can’t see anything except our own greatness – false as it is?!

______________

each day, through the YouVersion of the bible [availble on-line through a smart phone – brilliant tool!!] there’s a daily verse that pops up & today i was taken to ps.51:1 & was reminded to be aware of my sin/transgression.

so, can i be aware of myself enough to admit that i do, in fact sin?

do i belong to a community of Christ that engages all of scripture?  not just the parts that prop us up in the hopes of attaining something that we build on our own?

one of the problems that emerges is the gospel of salvation that ends up taking a back seat to this idea: “i don’t have to worry about sin once i’m saved.”  that kind of message has trouble all day long!

a vision issue

so every year there are things that i talk about that i truly believe will propel the church into uncharted territory [or at least into territory that it hasn’t occupied in quite a while].  the area of unbridled care for those around us, unfettered enthusiasm for others above ourselves.
many years my hopes for a true sea change in our approach to others falls short, my own life included here as well.

then today, while reading a blog by jon acuff suddenly much became clear.  we have difficulty seeing…

in the article linked above the question was asked if churches around the nation were cancelling sun. service due to Christmas falling on a sun.  interesting conversation, one that i had with leadership teams this year.  the comments were, by and large, in support of churches that would cancel service.  and there were some comments that opposed any cancellation of worship times for any reason.  the root of this objection is a vision issue.

back to unbounded giving & generosity…

each year that i talk about using Christmas as a time to make sure that we give of ourselves & our $$ to those who don’t have [this is not just an issue for those that live near us] it is usually met with modest support, “yes, we should do something like that.”  but that soon give way to “the list” of stuff we have to buy for friends & family and so on.  before we get too carried away, every time i talk about this subject i’m accused of trying to “steal” Christmas.  i’m not sure who i’m stealing it from with is conversation, but i digress…

here’s the long & short of it:  this conversation & others like it are short-lived because of our vision.  we tend to have myopic vision.  essentially, this is nearsightedness.  we can see clearly things up-close, but when trying to view things at a distance the pictures get fuzzy.

THIS IS US!!

when things/issues/wars/etc. begin to affect the things we love/do/participate in; when what we want out of life gets disrupted or the “normal” is jostled we don’t like it.

so, when we talk about things like “you’re not cancelling worship services on Christmas day are you?!”  or considering changing some of your Christmas day purchases to benefit someone in a foreign country.  something like purchasing a goat or cow for a family in a 3rd world country so they’ll have a sustainable income [something they didn’t have before] we object.  “you want me to give my kids a picture of a flock of chickens in somewhere africa?  that sounds like lots of fun on Christmas day!”

this is myopic thinking & acting.

we MUST get beyond the things that make us most happy & comfortable.  consider others more important than ourselves.  this is a hard shift to make & i’m realizing that it’s probably cost me some close relationships & maybe even a job.  but this is the kind of conversation i think Jesus has with those He’s calling.