More Aware

mountains16

Last week, I woke up from a dream that I remember. (This rarely happens)

Right as I awoke, the computer monitor in the other room flashed. My brain shot into “fight” mode, because it was startled and thought someone is in the house.

So I got up and walked around, calculating what I would do should I encounter someone.

After checking ever good hiding spot, I laid back in bed.

WIRED with Adrenaline.

I could now hear every noise, smell the scent of my wife’s hair, and see everything.  I could even see that I was going to have a hard time getting back asleep.

There is a connection that is animalistic. We experience heighten senses when are in this “mode”. It’s evolutionary. It’s normal. It’s in all of us.

So, this got me thinking. Why are some people, in certain places, not experiencing God like they do in other parts of the world, country and even in my city?  I think it sometimes involves what we are doing (or not doing).

When my family goes underneath the bridges, into the homeless shelters, and into homes that have youth from fractured families, I find myself seeing, hearing, and feeling God more than I did in a church building. I find that I’m very aware. I’m full of adrenaline.

It’s not always from excitement.
Sometimes it’s from fear. (It’s not like we are always unafraid)

Either way, it comes from following Christ into places and relationships where we lose control and need Him to exert His.

The less I program God, the more I depend on Him.
The more I depend on Him, the more I look for Him.
The more I look for Him, the more I see Him.
The more I see Him, the farther I’ll follow Him.
The farther I’ll follow Him, the less I can program Him.

 

I think it comes back to question someone once asked me when I worked for a church:  “If God didn’t show up on Sunday morning, could y’all still pull everything off?”

I said “probably”.

He said something that I’ve wrestled with since… “then He won’t”.

WWE and a church service

randy-savage-hulk-hogan

*This doesn’t apply to all*

Have you ever watched “professional” wrestling?

Have you ever watched real wrestling?

 

There is a huge difference between the two.

One is polished and has great theatrics, the other is kind of awkward, messy, and raw.

One has costumes and performances, the other has on functional attire and is sort of improvised.

Simply put….one is a show (and we all know it), and the other is…. well…  a wrestle.

 

Most people, if honest, can tell if a church service is a performance or a wrestle.

… you can tell if musicians are performing instead of worshiping (even though they are good at performing like they are worshiping)

… you can tell when the stage is….well “staged”.

… you can tell when a teacher has been writing his/her message all week long and not living out the message all week long.

 

You can tell because it always goes smoothly and ends right on time (+/- an acceptable standard deviation).  You can tell because everything “fits”.  And sadly, you can tell because if God didn’t show up that Sunday morning, everything would still happen.

 

I’m just not sure if people prefer authenticity or entertainment sometimes, but as I’m reading through Isaiah, I’m reminded of God’s preference.

 

Sorry for all the times I played the game.

 

What are the Odds?

 

May-The-Odds-Be-Ever-In-Your-Favor-big

Well you could say one in a million…

 

Or maybe even zero…

 

Truth is:  odds are just odds but you can determine them to some extent.

 

What are the odds of me winning the lotto*?

Probably zero because I don’t play the lottery.

 

What are the odds of me flying from Phoenix to Salt Lake City and having a great two hour discussion with Frank S. from Orlando?  And what are the odds of me running into him again on the way back to talk about our trips?  And what are the odds that the lumber company he works for is looking to expand in Houston?  And what about the odds of us grabbing a beer when he comes into town?

Probably zero.

But maybe not.

Maybe because God has taught me the “art of being present” with all people the odds are a little higher than zero.

 

 

…if Frank comes to town we are going to hit up St. Arnold’s or Karbach.  Maybe your odds of meeting a “Frank” or anyone else for that matter just got a little greater.

 

peace.

Stop saving my son….

raising-hands2

 

For the love of God.

Seriously.

Kai raised his hand last week and invited Jesus into his heart….for the third time.

Spring Baptist didn’t know that and Kai isn’t really grasping what they are trying to do.

It isn’t that the church is doing something wrong, it’s just that this is happening time and time again (and I suspect it happening to more kids than just mine).   They will count it as a victory (and probably a statistic), but my son is still figuring things out.  Lindsay and I pray with our children every night, read Scripture to them, hangout with homeless with them, show them what “salt and light” looks like with them and on and on and on.

We are trying to show them want ministry looks like….FYI it’s very messy and not program-able.

I believe my son loves God, not because he raised his hand after singing some songs and making some crafts, but because Lindsay, my father and mother, Lindsay’s mom and dad, numerous other blood and non-blood family members, and myself raised our hands before he was born.

Again, I’m really not mad, but stop please**

 

Deuteronomy 6v4-9 and Proverbs 22v6

 

**Lindsay and I discussed this with him after it happened.  We explained that if he is already in love with Jesus, that he doesn’t have to raise his hand….he just needs to live a life that reflects that**

 

Hush Money pt.2

bribe

(I’ve written on this before HERE)

When working for the church, I had a lot of great experiences but I also had some that were….well…. not so great.

I remember the first day of VBS one year, our children’s director was handing out shirts and one of the “blue hairs” (old lady) came up and yelled at her.  I already had a certain opinion about “old yeller” before this incident, but what really got under my skin was what another elderly women (who I did respect) said.  She suggested that the children’s director apologize because the woman that “lost her cool” gives a lot to this church.

The other incident that stuck was one Sunday after I preached.  A man, with a similar personality to my own, came up and gave me one of those “long handshakes”….you know the shake and then  he holds on for an extended period of time because he needed me to “hear him”.  He pulled me aside to let me know he gives a lot to the church and that if I ever needed some (financial) support, to find him.  I worked there 2 more years after this encounter and never asked.

Both of these experiences taught me the same thing: if you give a lot of money, you get to be heard.  If you don’t give a lot, you listen.

The first women knows that if anyone says something to her, she will tell them to be quiet by using her “giving history”.

The second man knows that if I take his money, he’ll be sure to let someone else know about it.  He is the type of guy that would want his name on a building.

Hush Money isn’t just about silencing others, it’s also thinking you should have more volume on your mic based on your bank roll.

Hush Money pt.1

shhhh

 

If I painted a scenario of a man that made $100,000, that went to church and donated 10% ($10k) to his church…also on the side he donated another 2-4% to his alma mater and maybe another 2-4% to other various organizations (Compassion, Charity Water, etc.)

You would think that this man was generous.

What if I also told you he had a subscription to a porn site as well?

Does this change your impression of him?

Or maybe he just bought a $300,000 4 bedroom home, but lived by himself.

As we access people (whether this is right or wrong is for another time), we tend to look at some things and not others.

If someone gives money away, we tend to not care about what they do with the rest.  However, God cares about what you do with ALL of your money….not just some of it….. not just a percentage of it.

ALL.

  • Giving some money away doesn’t vindicate you to live above your needs.
  • Giving some money away doesn’t allow you to hide how you spend the rest.
  • Donations aren’t “hush money” for your preacher to not speak Truth about what God says about building bigger house, buying new cars, owning “toys”, etc.

Bill Gates donating $29 billion doesn’t justifying him spending more on a home…..

Neither does it for preachers like Steven Furtick, Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, and numerous others…

But if you stood up in a congregation and said “just because ________ gives a lot to _________ church and ________ ministry, doesn’t mean __________ is not selfish”…..the preacher would say “hush”…..if not “shut up”.

If you “need” a big house, nice cars, and “toys”, I’m not going to argue with you.  Honestly, l live above my needs and have to wrestle with my lifestyle while so many suffer.  To really know what you need versus what you want should be a constant wrestle with Scripture and the Spirit.

If you are living above your needs or spending money sinfully, don’t use your charity and generosity as a justification.  It might work on me, but not on God.

Jesus would carry a gun….

jesus-gunJesus would carry a gun….

Wait, that doesn’t sound quite right???

But he would if he lived in a time when there was fear of an oppressive government.  Right?

(see Mark 12v17 and Matthew 5v38-42)

I’m not making a political argument here.  I could care less about politics.  From my perspective, liberals and conservatives are the same.   Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart are the same guy.  Rev. Wright and Rush are interchangeable.  One group loves blue and the other loves red….which sounds like a gang to me.  One group consists of “donkeys” that ignore the “elephants” in the room.  The other group tries to throw their weights around and treats everyone that isn’t a part of their parade* like “asses”.

So if politics is your God, you have no reason to read further because you will find this foolishness (1 Cor v18)

I find the pro-gun and anti-gun fight interesting because both “sides” have points that make sense to me.   However, the call of Christians is to imitate Christ and not FoxNews or the Huffington Post.

 

Jesus isn’t pro-American and isn’t anti-American, He is pro-Kingdom of God.

It’s easy to follow Jesus and try to imitate Him when you don’t have to give up anything, but you can see the resistance in the heart when He asks you to give up your idols.

 

In the Kingdom of God, it isn’t “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”.

It is….

Lay down your life.  Pick up your cross.

Be free in every situation, even if you are shackled to a floor.

The Pursuit of God, even at the expense of your happiness.

 

If I’m pro-Gun, I should have guns.  If I’m not, then I shouldn’t.

 

If I’m pro-Jesus, then I should do what He did, does, and would do.

 

I can always tell where my faith is by what I’m quoting as authoritative.

 

**A group of elephants is called a “parade”**

A Daily Dose of Balanced Questions

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The questions you and I ask ourselves daily, to some degree, dictate where will be a year from now.

There is a paradox that exists where if you just think about the future, you’ll never arrive there**.   You will wake up 12 months from now with the same dreams (or new ones) but still missing a lot of what’s in front of you.  If you think too much in the moment then you will lack the foresight (and probably the discipline) to what hasn’t come to fruition.  And if you think too much about the past, you’ll become overly nostalgic or too victimized by what has come to pass.

I would say there needs to be a healthy balance of daily questions that one asks oneself to remember the past, to be present and to be the future.

I haven’t nailed down this “art” but I’ve start to test out this idea.

Here are a few questions that I try to daily ask myself:

  1.  What experience/wisdom have I obtained to equip me for the obstacles/interactions that I’ll face today?
  2.  What do I need to quit today (or say no to) because I’m saying “yes” to something else?
  3.  What “good works” has God saved me for today?
  4.  What dreams and goals do I have for my future?  If they don’t come true, what would be the cause of that and how could I prevent it?
  5.  What do I have today (both material and relational) that I was wanting in the past?

 

 

 

 

**The future always come to pass… it just may not be the future you dreamed about**

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“On the Hook”

hook

 

There is an episode of How I Met Your Mother titled “Hooked”.  It is a typical HIMYM episode, but in this episode there is a girl that Ted (the main character) is “on the hook” with.

The basic concept is he is pursuing a girl that has no intentions of every being with him, but gives him the idea/feeling/sense that he does.  Later in the episode you find out that this girl he is after is on someone else’s “hook”.  More ironically, Ted gets exposed for leading another girl on as well.

There is the vicious cycle of people that keep leading others to believe there is hope where there really isn’t any.  Ted isn’t initially aware that he is leading on someone else, but then after becoming aware, he stops leading on a girl because he realizes how cruel it is.

It is cruel.  To lead someone on with an idea that depends on you…. but you have zero intentions from the onset.

It could be relationally like in a sitcom (or real life).  It could be permission.  Or it could be an idea.

  1. Don’t lead people to believe “you’ve got a shot with me” when they don’t.
  2. Don’t tell people “you can be anything you want to be” when you don’t believe it yourself (or you don’t plan on being in the trenches with them).
  3. Don’t preach to people “it’s the priesthood of all believers” while believing only some can participate in  ‘priestly practices’.
  4. Don’t suggest to someone that “it’s going to get better” when you don’t believe it is.

Don’t tell people, or lead them believe, something that you don’t think is going to happen.  It’s cruel.  It’s mental and emotional slavery.

Trying to keep people happy is sentencing them to bondage.

Trying to give people Truth is offering them liberation.

Why some groups will refuse to change…Just a Theory.

Tribe(this theory applies to all tribes)

 

So I have a theory.   I have many theories, so some are bound to be “crap”.  After testing and application, many of my thoughts prove to be false or inconclusive.  I have, many times, gone back to the “drawing board” to re-exam my ideas.

However, sometimes, an idea gets reinforced the more I test it.

 

This is an idea about “tribes” or groups of people:

If a group of people are “together”, there has to be some homogeneous attribute.  It’s the connective tissue that binds them together.  It’s the “glue”.  It could be a bloodline (family), an alma mater (Whoop!), an ethnicity, or a purpose.  Really what connects people can be simple and obvious, or it can be extremely intricate and complex.  It can be anything.  I’ve seen people rally around the dumbest things (Quidditch, Edward/Jacob, the Cowboys, etc).  Heck, when I use to tend bar in Arlington, I took care of two doctors that came in every Tuesday that had been playing 1 game of D&D since 1978 (it was 2004).

 

The point is:  to belong, or be in a tribe, you have to have something that’s the same…. some “glue” to hold things together.

 

So I believe that this is true for all groups.  The unique thing I find is the location of the homogeneity.

 

For some groups it’s external:

  • ethnicity
  • socioeconomic
  • rules
  • codes
  • education requirements
  • language
  • attire

For other groups it’s internal:

  • values
  • struggles
  • fears
  • passions
  • experiences
  • wisdom
  • beliefs

 

Here’s the practical.

 

If a group’s main “glue” is external, it will resist doing much.  Movement and action expose the internal.  I’ve been watching the Methodist church struggle with this for years.  They look a lot alike on the outside, but not inside.  When there is major pushes for reform and change, the internal differences become exposed, and division is created.  So major change is voted down and the status quo is adjusted for harmony sake.  It isn’t always a bad thing, just makes changing and harmony at odds with each other.

 

The latter group, the one with internal homogeneity, can’t stop.  These groups of people have an internal “glue” that gets exposed from “doing”.  If this group stops changing/moving/going and looks at each other, they might not see the “glue” and division will rise.  This is why people that are very different externally can come together to help after 9/11, feed in a soup kitchen, or show up to a football game.  Just imagine all the Dallas Cowboys fans showing up to a game (they are rooting for the same cause).  Now imagine all the same fans showing up to the same stadium without a game to watch (and the fighting that would break out).

 

So as the quote goes “You are perfectly designed to achieve the results you are getting”.

 

Groups that aren’t changing and growing are static because they need to maintain the “glue”.

Groups that are constantly growing and changing are dynamic because they need to maintain the “glue”.

 

In accepting the suggestion of Paul (romans12v1-2), I’d rather run with the second type of tribe.

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