A blog dedicated to starting conversations.
I am very excited to report that I just finished reading the new book “Weird – Because normal isn’t working” by Pastor Craig Groeschel, and being weird is actually a preferable character trait for Christians. This is a great book and I encourage all of you to read it. You can also listen to his related sermon series by Pastor Groeschel at: http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/weird/1 .
I agree that it may sound suspicious that I am encouraging you to become weird. However, do we really want to be normal? Have you noticed what normal people are doing lately? Normal people are living life at a frantic pace to try to keep up with what everyone else is doing. Normal people are acquiring so many possessions that they are going more and more into debt. Normal people are too busy to communicate with the people that are most important to them and as a result, their most important relationships are becoming very strained. Many normal people have lost touch of what the most important things in life really are.
In the book, Pastor Groeschel talks about the story of Martha and Mary told in Luke 10:38-40. As you probably recall, Martha and Mary are the sisters of Lazarus (who Jesus raised from the dead). Also, Mary is also the one who anoints Jesus with expensive perfume. In this story, Jesus visits Mary and Martha for dinner. According to the scripture, Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” while Mary was “hanging on every word Jesus said”. Reacting like most people would, Martha gets upset Mary is not doing her fair share of the work and complains. But Jesus replies “Martha, Martha, you are worried about upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. In today’s society, Martha is “normal” and Mary would be considered the “weird” one in this story. I have realized that I have spent a good part of my life acting like Martha when I should have been acting more like Mary instead.
In the Spring of 2002, I completed the Big Sur marathon in California. The course for this marathon runs along the Pacific Coast Highway from Big Sur to Carmel, and is perhaps the most beautiful marathon in the U.S. When I ran the marathon back in 2002, I was so focused on how fast I was running that I didn’t take the time to really take in the beautiful scenery that was surrounding me. If we go back to the Bible story I mentioned earlier, I think Mary would have approached the marathon just like I did – she would have run as fast as possible to try to set a personal record. Mary, on the other hand, would have run slowly and would have stopped several times just to take in the beautiful scenery. She probably would have even sat down to pray along the course because she would have felt God’s presence in many places. She may have taken an hour or so longer to finish the race, but she would have had a much better experience than I had.
Like my experience with the marathon, many of us are racing through life as fast as possible. As a result, we miss the beautiful life that God has created for us. We sometimes work long hours chasing a promotion, but forget to spend time with our kids as they grow up. Or, we become experts at how our favorite sports teams are doing, but we don’t take the time to truly communicate with the people that matter most to us. I suggest that you take breaks along the marathon of life to truly take in the beautiful life that is in front us. We should all try to be more “weird” like Mary and less “normal” like Martha.
I preached about investing the other week, and it really made me evaluate my own life and the things that I’ve invested in. And quite honestly, I’m feeling a little convicted. If someone were to look at my life from the outside, they’d think I was doing alright. I’m not trying to brag, just trying to realistically evaluate my life. I’m 27 years old, graduated with a Masters degree, doing what I love to do while at the same time making a good amount of money with my internet business. I’m married to a healthy, beautiful wife and have one amazing son with another one on the way. I just bought a house that is huge and beautiful, drive a car that is relatively new, have numerous great friends and a loving family. I can eat whatever and wherever I want, have bought some of the latest technology, and so on and so on.
But something about me isn’t satisfied. In fact, something inside me thinks that all of this stuff is worthless. I know there are people that are hurting out there but I’m much more content driving home and closing the garage, turning on one of my LCD TV’s that I own sitting in one of my La-Z-Boy’s that I own and just watching football.
You may think I’m being hard on myself. But the truth of it is, I’m ready for a change. None of the stuff God has given to me is wrong. But what has happened is that slowly, I’m being comforted by the things in my life and I’d rather go after one of them than pursue God. They have my heart rather than God. I’d rather watch football than spend some quality time with God. I’d rather look at Best Buy to see what’s new than explore God’s Word to see what’s something new I might learn about my Creator.
I don’t think I’m alone. I think there are people in our church who aren’t satisfied either. People who know they were created for something more. I want God to have my heart. If you want God to have your heart, what are you going to do about it? I’m anxious to hear from you. I personally am thinking about how I can be more giving and generous with what God has given to me. I don’t want the stuff that I have to own me and right now it does. If you are in the same boat as me, then try this from Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, “Jesus, I need to give myself up. I am not strong enough to love You and walk with You on my own. I can’t do it, and I need You. I need You deeply and desperately. I believe you are worth it, that You are better than anything else I could have in this life or the next. I want You. And when I don’t, I want to want You. Be all in me. Take all of me. Have Your way with me.”
God, have your way with our church, and help us not find our safety, comfort, and security in the things of this world, but only in You and Your grace!
I like to listen. There is always a lot to learn. Whether it is books on CD (from the library...frugal or just cheap?), sermons or podcasts, I like listening to things. One of my favorite podcasts is This American Life.
It was really quiet in my house this morning, Margaret is in Iowa on business. I broke the silence with my ipod. This episode was entitled, "Unconditional Love." I have heard it said that pet owners get the closest to experiencing unconditional love. After this podcast, I was humbled by the acts of love by the two sets of parents that they interviewed. Sitting alone at home, I found myself enveloped by a feeling of thankfulness for my family and friends. Then I found myself with a new resolve to allow God to use me to express His unconditional love to whomever I meet today. You can listen to it here.
I had a voice mail today when I arrived from a family that have been worshiping with us for about a year. Her husband was killed in a boating accident this week. We're doing the funeral this Thursday. I pray they experience the unconditional love of God.
I had a lot of firsts this summer. First time having an
electrical bill over $300. First time burying a pet. First trip to
Paul shared with me an e-mail he received an e-mail from a
I realize that most people are uncomfortable walking up to someone they do not know, ranked right after getting a root canal and Add to that the fear of greeting someone as a guest who is a long time member and the task can become crippling. Since we have a God who welcomes us, perhaps we can cast aside our fears and be stretched to extend the same courtesy to those around us. After all, the next person you see on Sunday might not be connected to a church community. Why not be first?
On a related note, a new L-team season is starting on August 15. One of the new teams is a guest team that will connect with guests, the ones that write down their names in the blue folder (a good indication they want to be contacted). Perhaps that will become your team.
(We lifted this post from Pastor Ben's DowntownCredo.com blog, cuz we're tight like that.)
So in college I read this sociology book. It was somewhat long and complex but one thing it said was that they tried capitalism in Europe, before America was discovered, and it didn’t really catch on. Something like, people weren’t incentivized by more money. I mean they couldn’t get them to work longer by paying them based on what they produced. The guys on the farms would work just long enough to get what they needed than go home early.
Did you hear that? They weren’t interested in making more money, “Just enough to pay my bills, then I’ll go home and enjoy what I have. Thanks.” What!?
I remembered that when I saw an author on the news this morning talking about his new book: Happy. Pretty ridiculous title if you ask me. But the guy had a phd. so I listened. He had decided that true happiness took three things: pleasure, meaningfulness and…(I must have stopped listening after meaningfulness because I can’t remember the third thing). He said happiness is deep. Pleasure by itself is easy to get, but also easy to lose. It needs to be attached to something larger and more meaningful. Maybe it’s not hard to guess, I like that idea.
It left me wondering about when we became incentivized by money. That sociology book from college had an answer, but I’m guessing the answer is less important than what we do now. We’ve got to discover how to connect pleasure to meaningfulness in life. I know people who have: a friend who sells insurance doesn’t do it to pursue the momentary pleasure of making more money, instead he knows he’s helping people prepare for the future and protect what they have. His job becomes fulfilling.
It’s got me thinking this morning about what in my life is a grasping for momentary pleasure, and what is building for lasting happiness.
Saturday started out so wonderful why did I let it turn in a different direction? Margaret brought me breakfast in bed, a nice treat after staying up late watching the Detroit Red Wings win game two of their Stanley Cup playoff match up. After getting cleaned up, she made a simple request, can you help clean the house today, just vacuum the rugs. That's where the day turned. If I would have been thinking clearly, or at all, I would have said, "sure." But I went into my litany of things that needed to be done, mow the lawn, meeting, VBS calls, work on curriculum for Children's Ministry, prepare for a confirmation meeting, blah, blah...Saturday is a work day for me!
We then digressed into who puts in more time into chores, each of us making a good defense. I then suggested we purchase a time card machine and log our hours. (I was partly kidding.) As I was mowing, I went over my closing statement in my mind, perfecting it like I was on Law & Order. Then it occurred to me that I totally blew it. The issue wasn't really the issue as my professor used to remind us. The issue is that we both felt overwhelmed and under-appreciated.
Anyone need a slightly used time clock?
There is a wonderful couple that lives close to our house. They walk together regularly and have gotten to be pretty good friends with my dog Isaiah who loves to spend his time sitting outside, watching people go by. They stop and give him a treat. Isaiah loves them. He is the reason that I met them. The problem is that he thinks my name is Bob. That's what he calls me. So do I make him feel uncomfortable and correct him or do I just live with Bob? (Suggestions welcome).
That got me thinking about relationships. My dad, a wonderful man who (hard to believe) died almost 15 years ago, was a man who kept personal things personal. I don't ever remember hearing war stories from WWII or how he felt or seeing him get emotional about anything. (Although friends told me they saw him cry at my ordination.) Dad wasn't a very emotional person. At least comparatively speaking, I am pretty emotional and passionate. But I do have the tendency, like my dad, to keep personal things personal. To keep my cards close to my chest. I am thankful for my wonderful wife and a select group of friends with whom I have learned to let down my guard. They are a treasure. I wonder if my dad had such a close group of people around him? Do you? Do they know your name? My name is Bob.
This morning I did that thing where you’re thinking, “I should call that person” then you’re like, “Shoot, I’ll just call them right now.” So I did. I called a friend of mine from school.
He lives in Wisconsin (I don’t know why. I told him it was cold and flat, but people don’t listen to me). They live in a house they bought almost two years ago. He said that would be the longest they’ve lived in the same place in almost 10 years. He was marveling and the relative permanence of his life.
Megan and I had a similar experience recently. I mean we’ve lived places for two years, but whenever we moved we would save the boxes. We knew we’d be moving again and didn’t want to have to look for boxes. For six years, three states, and six moves we’ve carried these same boxes. Six weeks ago, as we packed up our house in Sanford, we realized this is the last time for these disintegrating cardboard containers. As we unpacked in Orlando, each one was stacked in the carport, and then out to the trash. It was a cathartic experience. We got to throw out the boxes.
As I said that, “we threw out the boxes” he chimed in, “hey I still have boxes stacked in the garage…I should throw out the boxes.”
It was exciting to get to throw out the boxes, but we are realizing the reality now of our relative permanence. It means committing yourself to a place, investing in people and engaging in their lives, not just your own.
I wonder if you’ve ever thrown out the boxes. I mean committed yourself to a place. Put forth the energy and emotion it takes to make some roots. If Jesus is a role model for you, then making roots will include serving the town you live in and the people you share life with. It would mean connecting meaningfully with other followers and loving your neighbors. It takes work but hey, we’re not going anywhere we might as well throw out the boxes.
- What’s Your Resolution? - by Pastor Zach
- Nigeria Mission Trip Review - by Pastor Zach
- The Lydia Question - by Pastor Zach
- All In! - by Pastor Zach
- The Weight of Sin - by Pastor Zach
- Common and Ordinary Guys Making a Difference - by Pastor Zach
- Different Doors - by Pastor Zach
- Nouwen is no Dummy - by Pastor Ben
- woulda, shoulda, coulda - by Pastor Ben
- That's so Rich - by Pastor Ben
- a God who can (1)
- addicted to running (1)
- authentic relationships (20)
- Basket Weaving (1)
- Books (3)
- Brett Blackadar (1)
- Children (3)
- College (1)
- Daniel (13)
- Daniel, music (1)
- Daniel, sin vs. the Spirit (1)
- Divine Love (2)
- faith (3)
- giving! (9)
- High School (1)
- hot topics (10)
- How Deep the Father's Love for Us (1)
- Israel (2)
- Jon (25)
- money (1)
- music (1)
- parents (2)
- Pastor Ben (78)
- Pastor Jon (31)
- Pastor Paul (12)
- Pastor Zach (13)
- prayer (2)
- prayer of simplicity (1)
- right where you need to be (1)
- sharing your faith (7)
- Spirit (1)
- students (4)
- suffering (1)
- SWEET! (1)
- teens (1)
- The ALL (1)
- the Genesis (1)
- The Highest Life (1)
- thinking to God (3)
- videos (2)
- welcome (1)
- worry (1)
- worship (1)
- youth (2)
Copyright 2011 Holy Cross Lutheran Ministries