Thursday, February 25, 2010

Did you mean it?

On Vision Sunday (2 weeks ago), we closed by saying the above declaration togther. You could leave, take a copy home, frame it, make it into a paper airplane, whatever.

The question is, do mean it? It's a game-changer for your life if so.

So you know we borrowed the language from Rick Warren's declaration at the Radicalis conference who borrowed the language from this well-known declaration (often sourced to an African pastor).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Tiger’s story is not that different than mine"

I have been a huge fan of Tiger Woods for a long time. I enjoy watching his desire to be the best in the world at what he does. However, after the news came out about his personal life, I sat in disbelief reading about all the mistakes he had made and the double life he had been living. Unlike many people who only wanted to condemn Tiger, I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry for him that he seemed so unhappy having EVERYTHING you could want in life: success, popularity, a beautiful wife and children, being the best golfer to ever play the game. In all of that he was still left feeling unsatisfied and therefore turned to sex.
Someone referred to me an article written by Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Here is just a small part of it, but I would encourage you to read the rest of it here and then ask yourself the question Michael presents.
During this season of Lent, my church prays an ancient and beautiful prayer by St. Ephraim the Syrian (ca. 306–373). It says,
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. “But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to your servant.
“Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin and not to judge my brother, for You are blessed from all ages to all ages. Amen.”
I have been especially struck by the last sentence. Consequently, I am trying to avoid the sin of unforgiveness, especially during this season. Jesus stated plainly: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14, 15).
During the season of Lent, may you become a person of forgiveness and someone who sees there own sin and the need of a Savior.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Talk is Cheap

I love pizza!

I love Starbucks!

I love the Oklahoma Sooners!

I love my wife and my daughter!

I think we have used the word love for so many things we have forgotten the real meaning behind it. We have exchanged love for like. When this happens we lose sight of what it means to really love someone and therefore don't really know how to show it. We are quick to say, "I love you" but then our actions do not always support our words! John, one of the authors of the bible, says this,

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

I think what he is saying here is talk is cheap! Don't just say you love your wife, or your kids, or your neighbors, or your coworkers, or your teachers, etc., show it. What I really think John may be saying here is don't call yourself a follower of Jesus who claims to love him and love others, and then not change the way you treat people. So in a very practical way how can you love with action:

1. At home: Randomly clean the bathrooms for your parents without being asked, clean your teenagers room (ok that may be extreme, stay out of there), clean the dishes after dinner, be patient with your children, rub your wives feet, learn to forgive, etc.

2 At work or school: Give grace to your boss or teacher that you don't really care for or get along with, pay attention to the person others often avoid.

3. Your neighborhood, community and world: bake cookies for your neighbor, babysit for a single parent, volunteer at a local shelter or retirement home, tutor a child at a local elementary, deliver meals for meals on wheels, become a big brother or sister, donate shoes to solesforsouls, begin donating money to provide clean water to a community.

The Christian community for to long has been known only for what we are against. I long to be a part of a church, a group of people, who are passionate about living out what we are for! So, may we all stop just saying that we are about loving people and begin to actually love people.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Diagnosing your life with the 23rd Psalm

One of the reasons we don't grow is that we don't assess. We just kind of hope growth will happen. We don't know how we are doing, don't know our own barriers, don't know what we need to do next--because we don't assess.

A caveat: We don't make ourselves grow, but we do have a lot to do with removing the barriers to growth. We are our own lid.

So if you looked at Psalm 23, arguably one of the most famous passages in the entire Bible, as a tool for diagnosing your barriers to the growth God means for you, what would it tell you?

Verses 1-2: Are you going so fast there is no time to be led to still waters or green pastures so that your soul is restored?

Verse 3: Are you so fixed on your path that God couldn't offer a course correction to a new (or renewed) one filled with right living and relationships?

Verse 4: Are you so gripped with fear that you are overwhelmed by constant nagging thoughts about "the worst that could happen"?

Verse 5: Are your enemies (people, things, circumstances) so in front of you, so in your field of vision that you can't imagine any sort of restfulness in the middle of them? Are they a reason, for you, of a scarcity mentality that keeps you from seeing God's abundance?

Verse 6: Do you believe God's love, mercy and goodness are in such short supply that most of your life will need to be lived with neglect, striving and proof of your existence...and that experiences of love, mercy and goodness will be few and far between rather than the things that chase you every day?

Good news. Figure out your barrier, and turn to the Lord who is a shepherd able to lead sheep like you and me through any seemingly insurmountable barrier. Or as the Psalmist said it:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. That's something to write on a life, not a tombstone.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

You are weak...and so am I

Brennan Manning explains in his book "Posers, Fakers, & Wannabees", that Lent is... "a symbol of admitting our failures and weaknesses and renewing our attempt at trusting God through thick and thin..."

It is often the hardest thing to admit that we are need of anything. We like to make everyone think we have it all together. However, until you understand that you (and I) need God, you will constantly be replacing that need with other things: money, sex, things, jobs, status, etc. It is a beautiful thing when we realize not only do we need God but God is available. That God isn't some out their deity, but a loving and personal father. Where in your life are you trying so hard to make something work, when what you may need to do is really trust God and see him as "daddy"? In this season of Lent may you begin to understand His grace and how it covers all our weaknesses and failures!

Friday, February 19, 2010

5 Ways to use Lent as fertilizer for your growth

1. Stop doing something you normally do. Use the space you would normally give to that thing (Facebook, drinking coffee, responding with sarcasm, etc) to 1) pray and 2) remember Jesus' sacrifice on your behalf. Do it for 40 days and you'll be overwhelmed at what Jesus did when you weigh against how difficult it is for you to stop that one thing.

2. Start doing something. Reframe Friday from TGIF! to a day of blessing. Bless someone intentionally. Hold the door open for them. Buy the order of the person in line behind you at the drive-thru. Take your neighbor's trash container back to their house. Your creativity is the limit.

3. Read Scripture. If you don't already have a plan, you can follow the daily Scripture to the right in the Scripture feed, get the Scripture sent to your phone each day by sending follow stltrinity to 40404 or picking up a Scripture card on Sunday or by clicking here to download a copy of the Scripture reading card.

4. Examine your heart. Pray and ask God for insight. To help with that, our series through Lent is a look at the Lord's Prayer called Prayer: The Heart's Home. Write out your goals for your life. What do you want to contribute? How committed are you to God's kingdom? To what degree do you understand the calling on your life? What do you want people to say about you at your funeral? What do you want your kids to say about you? It's never too late to become who you were meant to be.
5. Suffer. No one likes this. No one wants it. No one would welcome it. Honestly, it's the manure of life. And who wants to step in that? But there is something to be said for it. Ask a farmer or gardener and they'll tell you, 'manure is the best way to stimulate growth in a plant.'
The story of Joseph found in Genesis 37-47 (the scene of him meeting his brothers again after they've sold him into slavery--effectively leaving him for dead--chokes me up every time) is a prime example. Only after going through intense suffering is he able to say to his brothers, the one's who were the source of his suffering, "Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." Genesis 45:5

Thursday, February 18, 2010

For all the right reasons

"Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it." John Wesley

What Jesus Said About Fasting

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught a lesson about how and how not to fast:

"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:16-18).

We see that it is important to not brag or boast to others about fasting. The Jews of Jesus' day used fasting and giving to make everyone think that they were more spiritual than others. But Jesus tells us that fasting should be done in secret, so that it can't be used as a way of bringing glory to ourselves. Fasting should make us humble instead of proud. In the end, it is not our works but our hearts that matter to God. God promises to reward openly those who fast and pray in secret.

May this be a great 40 days of giving up something so you may gain something!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent, it's not in your belly-button

In some corners of the Church, Lent needs no description. It's woven into the fabric of how God's people lives their lives together in a given year. In other corners, we need a lot of help and explanation.

Here's a great explanation from Relevant Magazine if you come from the latter part of Church world (or don't come from any part of Church world).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Move On

Great article on ignoring sunk costs--the expenditures you've made that you can't get back.

Applies to so much of life.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What will you do for the future?

I'm no longer "the next generation" and I'm not "the last generation." I am in between. Honestly, it feels a bit like a parentheses (you know, that verbal pause between what was before and what's next). Its a unique time in life (and what time isn't?). But I've seen the future and I want to be in it and equip the next generation to incarnate it for Jesus and his fame.

I'd like the spirit of this man, a pastor from Nairobi who spoke at the recent Urbana '09 Mission Conference here in St Louis. Definitely worth 30 minutes of your time, regardless your generation.

Money and Power: Oscar Muriu from Urbana 09 on Vimeo.