Sunday, June 1, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Yesterday, he wanted me to be “all done“ with my phone.
I can’t really blame him. I myself have come to realize in the last couple of weeks that I have become somewhat addicted to my iPhone.
The evidence is overwhelming against me:
1. On my nightstand there rests a bible, a book by Max Lucado, and my iPhone. Which do you think I put down last before bed? My iPhone. The other two are lucky if they get picked up at all.
2. While my eyes are still barely open in the morning, the first thing I do is reach over, grab my phone, and check my email.
Check my email? First thing.
3. I will check my email on my phone while I am driving (even if I am 5 blocks from my house).
4. Throughout the day I will continually check for texts, emails or any other random blog update.
Needless to say, this is becoming a problem. Is this the way I want my son to remember me? On Thursday night, a friend was telling a group of us how awesome her mom is because she has always read her bible.
What will Noah say someday?
“Yeah I remember my mom was always on her phone doing something”
If I could script it, I would prefer he say,
“Yeah, my mom was always in the Word, she was such a godly woman with a sweet spirit, always praying”
Doesn’t that sound much better?
But his memories are happening right now. I will never get any moment back that has already passed and I have no time to lose. It’s not too late to show my son that there are more important things than being connected to everyone and everything at every moment. I want him to know that it is important to connect with our Father in heaven, to check in with HIM throughout the day. I want him to learn that when a crisis arises we should talk to Jesus about it first, not the top five people in our family plan. I want him to understand that time with those you love is far more valuable than time with a computer or other piece of technology.
Years ago I heard a pastor talk about not answering the phone during dinner with the family or time out with a friend. He said we shouldn't sacrifice time with the person who is present with us in exchange for a conversation with someone who isn't there. We should be present wherever we are. This has stuck with me and I generally don't answer the phone during dinner. However, now that cell phones are so prevalent, I answer my phone every other time of the day. Perhaps not when spending quality time with a friend, but how about when I'm spending quality time with Noah? Am I sacrificing the present with him for the urgency of a ringing phone or a dinging of an incoming text?
My husband and I decided long ago that we wouldn't 1) have a TV in our bedroom and 2) use our laptops together while sitting on the couches in the family room. Those just seemed like dangerous ways to promote being in the same room but not really connecting with each other. It has gone along swimmingly... until I recently noticed that now we will both be on our iPhones while sitting in the family room. That's not much different is it?
How have we become so controlled by technology? We *THINK* that every step forward gives us control... but the reality is, it's the other way around.
I have been convicted and challenged these last few weeks. I think the way I have been living is wrong and I am going to change it.
From now on:
- If my day starts with my iPhone, it will be because I am playing worship on it.
- The last thing my eyes will see at night will be the Word of God.
- I will break my habit of email checking by not checking it unless I'm home.
- I will pray out loud daily and read scriptures so Noah learns by my example what is truly important.
I know that I am not the only one who has this addiction. I hope everyone who reads this feels challenged in some way to re-prioritize their "connections". Is your child, your marriage, or your God telling you "Alldone hello"? Maybe for you it's "Alldone computer" or "Alldone Playstation". Every day, we are given ample opportunities to sacrifice the magnificent for the mundane...
Let's take some ground back today and put the magnificent back in it's rightful place - at the top of our priority list.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
"That is very unrealistic to think that all of the other characters are fine with EVERYTHING being about Mickey! The clubhouse is his, the grounds surrounding it are filled with things shaped like his head, and every episode involves everyone helping him help someone else. In real life, there would be issues with the fact that the lake is shaped like his head and the park is named after him and that literally EVERYTHING... is about Mickey." Even Goofy's bubble invention had the patented Head Logo on it!
I realize this is a pretty strange thought while watching a cartoon because, really, hasn't one already suspended reality enough to even watch a cartoon about mice, ducks, dogs and cows all hanging out in a clubhouse? But it entered my mind nonetheless. Real life doesn't function this way. People are too self-absorbed to ever allow one character to wholeheartedly shine. They would be grumbling "what about me?", "what about a mountain the shape of my big goofy head?" or "how come it can't be Daisy Park?"
No, this is a dog-eat-dog world and people like to feel important and be noticed. In Mickey's world, everyone from Minnie Mouse to Pete (the one quasi-sinister fellow), seem perfectly content with the arrangement.
They don't mind one bit that their friend is THE Mickey Mouse. They seem happy just to take part in his world.
Two weeks ago I was reading a passage out of John and I couldn't help but make a connection... (finding the magnificent in the mundane, no?)
An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him."
To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
He must become greater; I must become less".
John the Baptist was awesome. From the time he leapt in his mother's womb at the sound of Mary's voice (Luke 1:41) to the time of his death, he knew that his life would be spent pointing to another man's life. In this passage you don't hear John grumbling back to his disciples "get my publicity on this - tell everyone out there that my baptisms are more effective... yeah, that should get the numbers up". He didn't mope into the desert, frustrated that his ministry to the people was in transition and many were leaving. He wasn't concerned about his reputation or his followers. No, he compared himself to a best man at a wedding. An important role indeed, but not THE role of the event. The job of the best man is to support the groom, and to help him to prepare for his wedding day. People are pleased when they see the best man at the front of the church, but only because it is clear this man was important to the groom. The groom, however, is the one that everyone has come to see (and the bride, of course!). John knew that he was there as a support and friend to Jesus, and he knew that the glory of that day did not belong to him, but to Jesus.
He didn't mind one bit that his friend was THE Jesus. He just seemed happy to take part in His world.
We can learn a lot from John's humble example. We have no problem pointing to Jesus and deferring all praise and accolades to Him - that is a no-brainer. However, I think we tend to be more competitive. Many of us (especially extroverts) would rather BE the spotlight than the worker simply pointing it. When I was in ministry there were times where I actually got my feelings hurt if someone told me of some great preacher they enjoyed. "What about me?" I would think, "hasn't my preaching ruined you for all other preachers? Don't they sound dull and rambling compared to my eloquent and challenging style?"
Hello, reality check!
When others around us seem to accelerate beyond us: Instead of being jealous, let us rejoice. Instead of feeling slighted, let us offer congratulations. Instead of moping, let us move on into the great things God has for US.
John the baptist knew who he was and who he followed. Beyond that he didn't care much for what people thought or where they were at in their lives. He only cared what the Lord thought. Let us take that to heart. Know who you are and the One who loves you. That's it. Follow what He has for you and let Him worry about the details of everyone else.
I guarantee you'll be happier because of it.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Let's Remove Mask of Hypocrisy From Christianity - Napoleon Kaufman (from InsideBayArea.com)
AS OF LATE, God has been re-emphasizing to me that Christianity is not just about what I do for Him, it is about who I become in Him. Christianity is about becoming, not just doing.
I believe because this truth isn't being taught enough that many have become hypocrites. Jesus said, "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:28)."
These are very strong words. But I believe they are needed in this hour. Hypocrisy has to do with putting on a mask or pretending to be something that we're not. It is having an outward form without the inward reality.
True Christianity is about being changed from the inside out. Jesus exposed the Pharisees' and Sadducees' true condition. These men had the robes and the language. They prayed, fasted and spent long hours at the temple.
Jesus said, "They appeared righteous to men." This is what hypocrisy is about, an outward appearance.
When Jesus came on the scene, it amazed people because he practiced what he preached.
Whether it was love, righteousness, faithfulness, mercy or truth, Jesus embodied the message. There were no contradictions in His life and that is why His message carried such weight.
When a person chooses to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, He comes in to transform them.
The Bible says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18)."
The word "transformed" in the Greek is "metamorphoo." It is where we get the word metamorphosis. True Christians are becoming something, in fact they are becoming like Him from the inside out.
The Bible says, "Therefore we do not lose heart, even though our outward man is perishing, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16)."
Jesus is concerned about our hearts. Is our thought life pure? Do we really have the love of God? When we pray, are we sincere? When no one is around, what do we watch on television? When we preach something, are we living it? I know it is a process and it takes time to grow as a Christian. My concern is that many have faked it so long that like the Pharisees and Sadducees they believe they are just fine. I have come to say that there is another level of commitment.
Jesus died to make us the light and salt of the earth. People must see hope in Christians. They must see people who have become like Jesus. I realize that I can't change myself, but I can yield to His process with an expectation that He who has begun a good work in me will complete it. If you are like me, you know there is more. So let's remove the mask and go after it.
Napoleon Kaufman is senior pastor of The Well Christian Community Church in Dublin. For more information, call 925-479-1414 or visit http://www.thewellchurch.net/.
Friday, March 14, 2008
And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.
The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
"Falling asleep" is a metaphor for death. These saints were dead. There was no pulse. Hopes for recovery were long gone. Families had grieved and accepted and moved on.
Death is final. Right?
Not this time.
This time, the power of the cross reached across all natural, scientifically imposed boundaries and did something SUPER-natural. It raised the dead.
Sometimes we forget that the Holy Spirit doesn't just heal. He resurrects. Yes, we've read about it with Lazarus and with the widow's son - but this is different. Jesus didn't even touch them, or call to them.
Matthew was trying to tell us something. There was great power released in the death of Jesus. Power to save. Power to heal. Power to resurrect. The death of Jesus ushered in an opportunity for a resurrected and renewed mind, body and soul!
The death of Jesus breaks the power of death itself.
Does that mean literal resurrection still happens today? I have heard that it does, and I believe it.
I also believe that there are many other ways we can be surrounded by death: A dead marriage; a cold-to-the-touch, numb conscience; a black and hard heart; a dead and buried dream; a dead-end life.
There is power in the death and resurrection of Jesus to bring life to our dead places.
People who had been dead for who knows how long got up and walked into town.
Now that's POWER.
More importantly than that power, is the LOVE behind that power.
Those two things together are enough to wake up any area in your life that has "fallen asleep".
Look to the power and love that was demonstrated in the death and miraculous resurrection of Jesus. Look to Him for the supernatural power needed for resurrection in your life. Look to Him and find the HOPE that you have been thirsting for.
Scholars debate many parts of this passage, not the least of which is the question of where the saints were in between the earthquake at Jesus' death and the celebration of His resurrection.
Maybe there were practicing their choreography.
For your enjoyment, here is another kind of wedding party inspired by Thriller.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Fast forward 8 years and I am working at another company. As if the players are the same and the roles are simply cast, a similar group of people leave work and come back with the familiar smudges. No one seemed particularly thoughtful about the experience or talked about the intense truth of what it represented. I've heard testimonies of Lent experiences littered with curse words and crass statements, and have encountered more Christians that joke about Lent than those that genuinely honor it.
For this reason I have always seen Lent as somewhat serious and somewhat of a joke. Which may explain why I gave up Target for lent, then spent $80 there last week, and then actually felt convicted about it!
I am truly a conflicted soul.
I decided that instead of living in ambiguity, I would research it just a bit and share my findings with you, the discerning reader. That way, we will no longer be able to plead ignorance in our treatment of this season. And in the end, we will be required to make a decision.
To honor and respect, or to dismiss.
(wikipedia used here)
Lent, in most Christian denominations, is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where He endured temptation by Satan.
The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial — for the commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus during Holy Week. Holy Week recalls the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent is a time to prepare our hearts as we remember and honor the greatest event this world has ever seen... The greatest Savior this world has ever needed.
Penitence is "feeling or expressing humble or regretful pain or sorrow for sins or offenses" and is synonymous with repentance which adds the implication of a resolve to change.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let's review: If I choose to honor Lent, I should be committed to prayer, penitence, giving and fasting. I should be thoroughly taking a look inside my heart and life and bringing it before God to be approved by Him. Anything revealed that grieves Him should be put away.
Those who work with liturgy in parishes know that some of the largest crowds in the year will show up to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. Though this is not a holy day of obligation in our tradition, many people would not think of letting Ash Wednesday go by without a trip to church to be marked with an ashen cross on their foreheads. Even people who seldom come to Church for the rest of the year may make a concerted effort to come for ashes.
The first clearly datable catholic liturgy for Ash Wednesday isn't seen until somewhere around 960 AD. By the 11th century it was customary for all to participate on Ash Wednesday, though it wasn't actually called that until later. The Ash represents penitence, calling to mind several OT scriptures. In Job 42, he repents "in dust and ashes" after he gets a true glimpse of God in His glory. In Jonah 3, the King of Nineveh removes his robes ans sits in ashes as a sign of his repentance. Repenting in ashes is also seen in the New Testament.
During the ceremony, the priest or minister says one of the following when applying the ashes:
Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.
— Genesis 3:19
Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
— Mark 1:15
Repent, and hear the good news.
— Mark 1:15
I have decided that the season of Lent is a beautiful opportunity to connect with God at our rawest, most human level. We are invited to approach Him in all of our ugliness and offer it to Him with a sober heart. We are encouraged to turn away from the things that don't please Him, or don't reflect Him. We are challenged to fast (ideally) or to give up something that matters to us as we pursue intimacy with Him.
And we are embraced in our brokenness and strengthened from the inside out. All of this is because of what we celebrate at the end of the season.
He LIVES today.
I don't dislike Lent. In fact, my husband reminded me that a few years ago our Pastor spoke on it and I gave up chocolate and he gave up meat. He told me that he remembered it being a particularly meaningful experience. Honestly, I remember being somewhat curious about the whole thing, and I was pretty annoyed when I got invited to a chocolate making factory with my department at work. No joke. They even handed out plates of it for all to partake (and no, I didn't).
I think I just haven't seen it lived out often enough.
I do have a friend now who is fasting one day a week during this season, and she's praying, and she's sincerely pursuing God. That has encouraged me.
So here is the challenge:
If you are going to acknowledge Lent - then honor the spirit of what it represents and be in prayer and repentance before your God.
If not, then I say forego the smudge and grab a frappuccino instead.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
There are jeans more expensive than a good-sized bottle of STC, so I would have little problem justifying such a purchase. There are many days where I feel I could use them, many in a row over the last week, actually.
You see, my husband had very bad bronchitis. The kind where he ached all over every time he coughed and his coughs could be heard down at the local supermarket. In addition to that, my 2 year old son had an advanced and very painful sinus infection, leaving him coughing, but also wailing in pain and touching his face and head. Looking at this sad lot you would think this was a post about how bad it was for them.... but no, it's about how hard it was for ME. Yes, I am human, and imperfect, and flawed - so sometimes the first person I worry about when my son or husband starts to get sick - is myself. That's reality.
So this was a hard week. By the end I felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and on edge. I needed strength to get through it. I needed to take the maximum dosage allowed of some STC pills.
But those don't exist, do they? So what was I to do at 3:45 am while I was rocking my son through a rough night? How was I expected to get through another day of caring for a sick child by myself, and trying not to feel guilty for not being able to care for my husband the way I wanted to? I needed strength and I needed it pronto.
Fortunately, I have a God whose name brings to mind words like strength, might, power, faithfulness, mercy and grace. I called out to HIM in the middle of the night when I knew morning would come too soon and I would not feel ready. I cried out to HIM when my son cried in pain and there was nothing I could do. I reached out to HIM to give me the physical, mental, and emotional strength I needed to get through the stress and care for my family.
I didn't even need to remove a childproof cap or down a glass of water.
There are things in life that stress us out and push us to our limits. There are days in life that feel like they will last forever. The day you are told you are laid off from your job. The day you find out your best friend has cancer. The day you hold a newborn baby that will only live for one hour. The day you wonder if you can get through the day at all.
Be encouraged. There is a God who will be your strength. He will sustain you. He will uphold you. When you feel like you are at your limit, He will give you the strength you need to press on.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him.
In 2 Corinthians 12, our God says that His power is made perfect in weakness. The word perfect in the Greek is 'teleios', which actually means mature and complete. The idea is, when something is perfect, it is doing what it was created to do. When we feel weak, the power of God within us through the Holy Spirit does what it was created to do and steps in to empower us. HIS power and might are in our reserve tank. That's why Paul says he will boast in his weakness. He knows that when he is weak, the strength of God is at his disposal.
The strength of God is at OUR disposal. When you feel weak, overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted or just DONE - look to Him for strength and you will find it.
I lift my eyes up to the mountains;
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the maker of heaven and earth.
**every time you see LORD in your bible, it is actually the word YHWH that was there. It is our God, the great I AM. YHWH.