When your community hurts…

…build a longer table, not a higher fence.

If you are like me, you can’t shake Sunday (or any of the last few weeks) from your mind. The brokenness of our world is being magnified for us through terrible acts in our own community. In MY community. In YOUR community.

And today- you still feel grief. I am with you. But my grief is shifting. I am filling up with hope. And I am asking you to join me. Why?

When God brings dead things back to life or when He brings broken things back to full repair- WATCH OUT! Something BIG is about to happen. And His church needs to be attentive, ready and active.

I believe that our community is coming awake. I believe our community will be strengthened. I believe God has our attention.

We all know- something needs to change. And it starts with the church.

It is time to dig deep into the Word of God and to share loudly the truth and hope and love that lies within.

It is time to pray- without ever stopping- for the salvation of our city.

It is time to make it a priority to fill our churches and exalt the One who actually deserves to be exalted- repeatedly and regularly. It is time to invite the people into our community to fix their eyes on Jesus WITH US.

It is time to get back to loving our neighbor more than we love ourselves.  When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.  We could all see that too many fences were being built. Now it is time to make a table & invite someone to dine with you. Use every resource given to you by God to bless someone. And I don’t mean only the people that look or act like you- But the person in the coffee shop you wouldn’t normally speak to. The person in your office that you have little in common with. Set your phone down when in the waiting room and have a conversation with someone next to you. It is time we see ALL PEOPLE as image bearers of God our Creator and start living as if we believe that He loves every single one. He loves Republicans and Democrats and black people and white people and Latino people and Asian people and on and on. Why won’t we? Jesus ripped down fences for love. So should we. We can’t love someone on the other side of the fence. It’s time you invite someone else to your table.

If you say you love Jesus- then consider this perspective this week (and every week). What if we stopped looking at difficulties as experiences to escape and more like opportunities to let that which lies at the core of who we are shine through as an example and blessing to others? What a time to show where our lives are rooted. Will we stand firm in our weakness, rooted in the strength of Christ or will we succumb to a life built on the fragility of our fallen nature? When the storms of life come your way what will shine through you?

Darkness will flee & life is returning. Cold hearts are bursting into flames. It is SO on!
God is good and He is fighting for us. And He will win. And He will use the church to accomplish it. Be that church.

pray for br

Just Enough Is Not Enough

The ethic taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount is not easy.  (Check out Matthew 5:21-48.)  It calls us to reconcile with those who wrong us before we worship the Lord.  Jesus commands us to not lust instead of simply not cheating.  He says that remarriage can be adultery instead of approved with a piece of paper.  He says oaths dishonor him because honesty should not need an oath. He tells us to not refuse the one who does evil and to go two miles when we are only required to go one.  Jesus teaches us to not only love people, but to love our very enemies.

In about 30 Scriptures worth of teaching, Jesus turned the world upside down.

Just enough is never enough.

If you are a follower of Christ, just enough is never enough.  You will never honor the Lord if all you desire to give is “just enough.”  The “just enough” mentality is why relationships are broken and communities are divided

The problem is not that the world is filled only with “evil” people who desire harm toward others, but we live in a world filled with people who think that “just enough” is enough.

I am guilty.  Way too often in life I give just enough.  If we are going to be used by the Lord in these days of fear, anger, racial tension, distrust of authorities, and confusion we must decide that just enough is never enough.

Not hating is not the same thing as loving.
Jesus did not call us to “not hate,” he called us to love.  The race relations in our culture are not going to be cured by people who give “just enough.”  How are you loving someone that is different in appearance and even opinion than you today?  It is not enough that you held your tongue when they posted something you considered ridiculous on facebook this week.  How are you loving them?  Not hating them is not enough.

Not going 1 mile in the wrong direction is not the same thing as going 2 miles in the right direction.
Who are you going along with in all of this?  Walking with someone is not the same thing as agreeing with them.  You can disagree and still walk beside someone.  In this situation, this person has no legal authority to command of you to go with them 1 mile, but perhaps it is obvious that they really need someone to go along with them.  The anger and fear they have spewed this week is a cry for help.  Go 2 miles with them.

Not saying untrue things is not the same thing as saying true things.
Just because your opinion cannot be proven as untrue does not make it true.  Often the best way to make sure that your mouth and your life line up correctly is to open up your life but close your mouth.  Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.  No one needs you to share every controversial quote and article you find this week.  Just because something cannot be proven wrong does not mean it was right to say.

When the shoe does not fit wear your own, but don’t walk alone.
I had a great conversation with a young African-American minister this week.  He asked to meet with me after I reached out to him.  We talked.  I listened more than I talked.  I admitted to him I do not know what it is like to walk in his shoes.  He admitted to me he does not know what it is like to walk in the shoes of a white law enforcement officer (neither do I).  With these simple admissions, we were able to start walking alongside each other in a way that helps.  I am learning from him what it is like to be him, but I will never fully understand.  I do not need to be an expert about his life, I need to be his friend.  So we are walking along together.  I am wearing my shoes.  He is wearing his shoes.  And our shoes don’t fit each other.  Our experiences are not the same.  So he is walking with me and I am walking with him and I will walk with him as far as he needs me to, not as far as I feel I need to.  Truth is, I need him to walk with me more than I think he needs me to walk with him.

Pretending you know what you do not know is not helping.  You will never know another person’s experience, but you can know the other person.  You can’t do that while you are pretending you understand what it means to walk in their shoes, so walk in your own, but don’t walk alone.

Sometimes we are asked to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.  I have come to this reality.  I cannot walk a mile in your shoes (No matter how hard I try, they don’t fit), but I can walk 2 miles with you.  It’s Biblical.  When asked to go 1 mile go 2.  Why?  The first mile the law requires…the second mile love requires.

Jesus follows these truths with instructions on how give to the needy, pray (and forgive), and fast.  I implore you, as followers of Christ, do these 3 things.  (Matthew 6:1-18)  Practice your faith.  Do what you know is right.  Walk with the Lord and he will help you walk out your faith in dark times and in dark places.

I encourage you to always pray more than you speak…give more than you ask…forgive others before you ask them to forgive you…and fast more than you feast.  Living in this way will allow you to know Christ in such a way that you can live out this high calling found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Give your all, not your enough.

Kevin Durant and Impractical fans

illo-kevin-durant-warriors-ftr-111715_vvc3jvn6tmis1hbhoy14qrj1bWord is out for NBA fans! Kevin Durant is taking his talents to Oakland California to play with the Golden State Warriors, and no one is safe! Alright that’s a little dramatic but the NBA universe is shocked by this move. Kevin Durant has been a faithful NBA  player to the Oklahoma City Thunder since they transferred from being the Seattle Super-Sonics in 2008. He has given them 8 great years, and has won an MVP leading them alongside his partner Russel Westbrook. And now  Kevin Durant is leaving and guess what… he doesn’t owe them anything!

I am a huge NBA fan, so naturally I get annoyed with other huge NBA fans. But there are two kinds of fans: Realist fans and impractical fans. Realist fans do indeed have they’re favorite teams, players, and even sometimes biased presumptions. However realist fans call it like it is. They are OK saying their team lost, it wasn’t the refs fault and “My team isn’t the best.” I personally like the realist fan. Impractical fans are devoted to their team, who they will always say is the best (even when they are obviously not), devoted to one player (he is better than Michael Jordan) and will cry and complain never agreeing that they’re team lost (excuse making). Now, here is another tick about the impractical fan: They will turn on a player (even burn their jerseys) the moment they believe their team is offended or if they are personally hurt because of that players “betrayal.”

Ultimately within any sport these fans exist. There is nothing wrong with loving a team or even carrying pride for them. However it gets a little ridiculous when emotional turmoil boils within us as fans when something so little (in comparison to a lot of things) happens on the field, off the court, or behind the dug out, whether this be a trade, free agency, corruption, or money talks. I bring up Kevin Durant because he is the most recent shock factor. I like Kevin Durant and I honestly respect his decision to move to a new team, though I wish he would have stayed with OKC. For fans who have either lost their minds or burned jerseys or who’s personal world has collapsed because of it, needs to look inward at their human heart, and perhaps which fan they need to be, a realist or an impractical one. Kevin Durant is a grown man, a professional athlete, and can make his own decisions that shouldn’t affect any fan’s well-being. His decision should not wear me down as a fan nor should it cause me to “hate” the player.

Especially as Christians, I believe we need to set the tone for how we help people view athletes. We were all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) yet sometimes when it comes to athletes we act like they are talented caged people meant for our enjoyment and “they better not disappoint!” I want to challenge a heart issue, as well as a fan issue we can sometimes face when we allow our emotions to get so wrapped up in one player or one team.

Reasons we need to get over our impracticality

  1. Athletes are people not puppets : We wish we could willed their power like puppets. But we can’t so when we “try” we get disappointed really easy. Athletes have hearts and souls and we should honestly pray for their well-being more than we pray for them to carry our team to be the next big thing.
  2. Athletes make money, like you: Athletes get pay checks! They even get raises! Even if that raise means they go to another team for more money, they make money just like you and deserve raises when their bosses give them one! These athletes make a millions more than most of us will ever see in our life time, but that does not mean we should get mad at them because they are “in it for the money.” Imagine being a young professional athlete and getting a check slipped to you on a desk, and you open that check and discover guaranteed millions of dollars. Stop judging and empathize with athletes for a moment.
  3. Athletes have to make decisions they think is best for them and their families, not their fans: Sometimes when an athlete does an interview or they tweet or blog out their intentions behind leaving a team, we become skeptical almost instantly. “They aren’t doing it for their family, they just want money.” Yea you’re right! They want money to support their families. They may need the money to get out of debt (and yes professional athletes do go into debt). Athletes do have their families to think about, and other reasons that are quite frankly none of our business as fans.
  4. Athletes are not that concerned with what you think and what you say to your TV screen: How many times have you often yelled at the TV screen “Durant! That was stupid! Don’t pass it! Shoot it!” How does that work for you? He has thousands of fans screaming live every night on the stage with bright lights in his eyes as he takes the floor, and you really think he’s thinking about screaming fans at home? Would you actually say that to him or any professional athlete you like in person? I highly doubt it. This does not mean that superstars don’t love their fans, it just means you can’t and don’t dictate their decisions. So stop “trying!” That’s what fantasy football is for!

Perhaps our anger at our favorite player or sports team for any decision or decisions they make is a reflection of how twisted we are sometimes in our thinking. I challenge you to be a realist, not an impractical fan. Go ahead and take off the pressure of calling a team “yours” and saying “us” when they win, because if you don’t get paid to play with them, you can’t say “us” because you don’t play! Take the pressure off yourself by not letting your blood boil because of the “betrayal” you’re experiencing. Don’t allow your mind to live vicariously through a professional athlete because you never made it. Once again, Kevin Durant (or fill in the blank with one of your favorite players) is a big boy, with a great future and he has to make a choice that’s best for him. This should not cause me anxiety!

Life can be easier when we don’t stress about small matters and though sports are a big deal in our country, compared to eternity and a lot of things we experience in this life, being a fan of sports is a small matter. Be a a realist!