I have no opinion on if you should read this

Recently I have gone to Bible studies and been in other conversations where there are strong opinions. Whether the conversation has been about what restaurant to go to for dinner, what kind of camera/tablet/phone to buy, or specific views of theology I realized one thing, I have no opinion. Not in a bad way or anything, but honestly I have no opinion about a lot of things because I don’t see how it matters in the long run.

For me it doesn’t matter what restaurant I go to or what features new technology has or finding the answers to those deep theological questions that will probably never be answered.

Why do we need to waste time trying to “discover” the answers to deep theological questions when we know we are human and can’t grasp the concepts anyway?

I would like to say that the reason I don’t have an opinion on things is because I am concentrating on things that truly matter and not wasting time, but in all honesty that is not the case.

What if it was though and not just for me?

What if we stopped debating the little things in life and started to concentrate on what really matters?

What if we took the time to care for others as much as we take trying to figure things out?

Reward the Clydesdales! – A Message to Race Organizers

I love running races. I am not particularly fast, but that doesn’t matter to me. I love the sense of accomplishment that I feel when I cross the finish line, whether that is at the end of a 5k or marathon. I have run somewhere between 20-30 races in my 3.5 years of running including three half-marathons and one marathon. I would run more, but it is slightly disappointing when I go to do a run and finish with a good time for me and the winners in my age group finished more than twice as fast as me. I am a large runner and it is hard to “compete” against the stereotypical runner.

Besides the fact that most races are designed to raise charity or a profit for the organizers, it should also be to help motivate people to get out and get moving, to help with the obesity epidemic. Most races I have been a part of do that just fine, but I think if they started offering awards to the horribly named “Clydesdale” division then you could get more people motivated to not just finish, but compete too. I know I would enter more races if I actually had a chance to win some prizes while losing weight in the process and I think others would too.

If you are a race organizer and you would consider adding a non-age group division for larger runners I would love to know about it. Just don’t call us the Clydesdales please.

I skip reading bible verses on Facebook……and so do you

At any given time that I check facebook or twitter there is a Bible verse or two as a status update, shared picture or post. The posts are probably well-meaning and could definitely help me hide God’s word in my heart so that to help me stray from sin as the Psalmist so eloquently wrote in Psalm 119:11. The verse also probably meant a lot to whoever shared it, so much so that they want to share it with everyone which is a noble undertaking and facebook and twitter helps make that effort so much easier.

So what happens when I come across those verses on facebook, twitter or blog post? Most of the time I skip over it. It is said to say that I am more curious to read what the rest of the article says than the Bible seeing as I completely agree that it the infallible Word of God, but sometimes I think I do, at least subconsciously. The sad part is, you probably do too.

I wanted to analyze just why I was doing that so I came up with a list of a few reasons I don’t feel the need to read them. I’m going to be completely honest with you all as I would expect nothing less from you.

1. I have read the Bible all of the way through (not bragging because I don’t remember most of it).
2. It is so frequent in the things I read online (blogs, status updates, tweets, etc) that I get annoyed.
3. I want new insight into things I have already read before.

It is my intention to not skip over all of the verses any more. I probably won’t read them all that pop up on facebook, but it could definitely be helpful in my attempt to be more Christ-like.

Do you find yourself skipping the verses?

Spiritually Dead

So, a long while ago I saved a link to a blog by Pastor Mark Driscoll, the lead pastor of Mars Hill church in Seattle and I meant to write something about it a long time ago, but never did. So, here I am today finally doing just that. Here is his blog and I recommend you read it because it is a well written blog and I am only going to comment on it briefly.

Pastor Mark refers to the book of Revelations where Jesus is addressing the issues of the church in Sardis. Through the letter to Sardis Jesus talks about some issues that are applicable to both the church and individuals to see where you heart truly lies. Pastor Mark pulled out five signs that you or your church are spiritually dead. This was a gut check to me so I wanted to share it all with you.

Here are the signs, check out his blog for more information on each one. If you or your church is struggling with any of these issues, then now is the time to do something about it.

1. You treat your faith like a routine, not a ritual.

2. You’re not passionate about Jesus.

3. You treat your faith like a have-to and not a get-to.

4. You’ve closed your eyes to Jesus’ mission.

5. You’d rather see your church die then grow and change.

 

It’s a short blog so please go check it out.

Feed My Starving Children fed my starving heart

This past weekend I had the privilege of doing something I had never heard of before and never knew I needed. I spent seven hours on Friday and another hour on Saturday helping out Northpoint Church in Toledo and Feed My Starving Children package meals for starving children throughout the world. Over the two days of the event we package enough food to feed 298 children for a full year (almost 109,000 meals!). For the math lovers out there that means in 14 hours we helped feed over 21 children for a full year every hour. Yeah, that’s incredible!

Feed My Starving Children’s vision is “With God’s help Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) will strive to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world by helping to instill compassion in people to hear and respond to the cries of those in need.” 

 

When we got to the event we were all introduced to the need that exists in the world for children to receive food because they have very little on a regular basis. Then we were shown how to put together the food packs and we got to work. My job was to make sure every group had what they needed when or before they needed it. At the end we were told a story about one of the children that was helped with the food packs that FMSC distributes. Then we were told our numbers, how many meals we put together and how many children they would feed for a year. In a few weeks we will find out exactly where our food packs went and I know I am not the only one who is excited to find out.

Probably the most incredible thing from this whole event is how people who had never done this before banded together and worked hard to get as much done as possible so we could truly make a large impact in the fight against hunger. What happened to me though was a pleasant bonus. I was energized so much by the people and the cause. I was moving around the room trying to make sure each group could get as much done as possible. I wanted to help reach the goal of 100,000 meals that the church had set, I wanted to help feed children in need. This event wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about FMSC or Northpoint church, it was about God’s children who have so little being helped by people who have been provided more food then we know what to do with. If anyone did this event and left not affected, I would be surprised. It was incredible and I was so happy to have been a part of it.

If you get a chance to do this kind of event, do it!

Thank you Northpoint for allowing me to do this and thank you FMSC for dedicating yourselves to helping those in need.

Storyline update – Trying to love conflict

A little while back I wrote a blog about Storyline, a book by Donald Miller. The subtitle is “Finding your subplot in God’s story” and that is exactly what it does. It has taken me a while to get through the book partially because it is a process that I do not want to take lightly, but also partially because I tend to not read it for a while for no good reason.

In the third section it talks about conflict, something that no one really wants to talk about including myself. This section helped me see things a little differently. Don’t get me wrong, I still am not a big fan of conflict, but I understand now that there is value in conflict and it is a necessary thing in order to change and from what I know about people, everyone wants to change. No one is satisfied with every aspect of their lives.

Donald Miller is a gifted writer so I want to highlight some of the things that he talked about in his book that made a lot of sense to me. Some of these excerpts are his words, but some are not.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

Viktor Frankl (Neurologist and Psychiatrist) says it this way: “Pathology does not only result from stress but also from a relief from stress which ends in emptiness. Lack of tension as it is created by the loss of meaning is as dangerous a threat in terms of mental health as is too high a tension.”

The world’s leading story expert, Robert McKee says the only way you can turn a jerk into a nice guy is through conflict. Conflict is the only way to make a weak man strong, a frightened woman brave, an arrogant person humble and a selfish person altruistic.

Characters do not change when they are content. It’s true in story and it’s true in life.

We value more that which we have to work to attain, and we devalue almost anything that comes easy.

Conflict changes us so when we understand that it becomes less harsh. I want to leave you with two quotes from Storyline that are probably the most troubling and thought-provoking statements in the book so far, at least for me.

As I said before Frankl also proposed suffering ceases to be suffering when we understand it from a redemptive perspective.

But that doesn’t make conflict fun. It’s not fun. It’s just good.

Are You Living A Pancake or Waffle Life?

 

Last Sunday at Bible study my friend made an analogy that totally rocked my world. We were discussing 1 Peter 2:12 which says:

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

While talking about what it means to “live such good lives” we started talking about the separation that happens so often between our church lives and work lives. We discussed how it is almost normal to have work friends who never interact with our church friends. Our work friends may know we are a Christian, but we still won’t combine these two areas of our lives. Maybe I am the only one who is guilty of this, but I doubt it.

My friend said something to the point of, “It’s like the difference between pancakes and waffles.” At the mention of food, my ears perked up and I asked him to explain what he meant. He said it like it was a common expression, but I had a hunger (pun intended) to learn more about this analogy. He said that with waffles you can decide what each little area of the waffle will contain. If you are in the mood for a little chocolate, but not too much then you can put chocolate chips in just a few of the squares while the others you can use butter, jelly, honey, syrup or anything else that excites you that morning. If you ordered a pancake and tried the same thing, you might just end up with a giant conglomeration of mixed flavors. Could you imagine a chocolate, strawberry jelly, butter, syrup and honey waffle, maybe with a little peanut butter too? Yeah, that’s pretty gross, even for me and I think peanut butter can cover a multitude of cooking sins.

I have heard many talks and sermons about compartmentalizing your life and how Christians should act the same at all times, so that the non-Christians in our lives can see the light of Jesus shine through us, but until Sunday I had never thought about it this way. Back in college we had a Belgian waffle bar and I always loved making a waffle with each 1/4th of the waffle with a slight variation. I never knew that I make my waffles like I live my life.

While living in Maryland I tried my hardest to keep my work life separate from my church life and actually got upset when the two merged. I didn’t want to have to justify my actions to either set of people. I was worried people would view me as a hypocrite. What I didn’t realize is that, like my pastor said this past Sunday, I am a hypocrite and I need to confess that. I am constantly saying what I should be doing according to scripture but I don’t always live that way.

What if we lived a pancake life, where no differences could be found?

What if we lived a pancake life according to the Bible?

How would your life be different?

How would other’s lives be different?

Lets all go out and make a conscious effort to live a pancake life with God as our center and see what difference it makes for us and those around us.