Category: Theology (page 1 of 20)

Work for the rest

At the box where I do Crossfit, we have this concept called “work for the rest.” We do workouts occasionally that are a prescribed amount of time, with a rest, then repeat. So that would look like this:
3 minutes of burpees
1 minute of rest
3 minutes of pull-ups
1 minute of rest
3 minutes of seated row
1 minute of rest

Photo cred: me Photo spot: CrossFitReform.com

Photo cred: me
Photo spot: CrossFitReform.com

So the idea is that you’d sprint the burpees, pull-ups, and the row because you get to rest immediately afterwards and because you’ve got to sprint again. Our coaches are harping on us the whole workout saying, “Work for the rest!” In other words, work so hard that you have to take the rest. Push yourself so hard that you have to stop at the prescribed time in order to rest. Work so hard that you’re gasping for air, barely able to stand up, not-able-to-talk tired. Don’t get to the 60 seconds of rest and think, “I could’ve done a little more.” You’re getting a rest for a reason! You should need it

  • because you’re tired, and you feel like your body is ready to collapse.
  • because you’re not done, and another round is coming in 60 seconds.

Spiritual lives

There are spiritual implications to this concept, too. Our bodies were created to work. And not just any work. We were created to do significant work. Work that matters here and echoes throughout eternity. Work that serves our families. Our communities. Work that gives back. That makes the world a better place.

But we were also called to rest. Rest replenishes our bodies. Helps us refresh. Allows our life rhythms to breathe. (ultimately, the “rest” that the Bible talks about finds its fulfillment in Jesus, who calls us to “rest” from our works: we don’t have to earn our relationship with God. That’s another post for another day.) It shows our dependence on God, as we rest instead of work, acknowledging He’s the one that is in control.

Did you know that we’re commanded to rest? It’s actually one of the 10 commandments:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. – Exodus 20:8-9

 

We tend to think of disobedience as breaking the law. Doing something “bad.” But the Bible would say we’re being disobedient if we don’t rest.

The bottom line

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to work and rest.

1. Work so hard you need the rest.

Work so hard and so well that your body, soul, and spirit are gasping for air because you’ve given all you’ve got. Work so hard that you can’t go on because you need that rest. And while you’re at it, make yourself indispensable. Become a linchpin.

The Apostle Paul says this:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men – Colossians 3:23

If you knew what you were doing was “for the Lord,” as in you were receiving a direct instruction from God himself, you’d work a little bit differently. You’d put a little more oomph into those “mundane” tasks. You may show up a little earlier. Stay a little later. Put more creativity in. Share more deeply. Lead more passionately. Give more generously.

Go! Go! Go! The rest is coming. [Tweet that]

2. Rest so well you need to work.

Work well, and take the rest. Let your body, soul, and spirit recover. Find those things that help your soul replenish. For me, that means a few things:

  • No email
  • Time with family
  • Sleep
  • Reading a good book
  • Walks around the lake in my city (“active recovery”)
  • Time with Jesus (reading Scripture, praying, etc.)
  • Coffee with friends
  • Running

Through rest, God breathes life back in to me. I need it, too. I give everything I have to my work. Every ounce of my experience, abilities, passion, and life. So I need a fresh wind every single week. I need Rest. Rest gives me energy, stamina, creativity, and the ability to get back up again. It also reminds me, each and every week, that  in my rest that I show my dependence on God. I could work. Or I could trust God to do the work He’s promised He will. I remind myself that my body’s not my own. The ministry’s not my own. My family’s not my own.

And after rest, I’m ready to go back out. I strive to rest so well that I’m ready to get back at it.

Just recently, a pastor friend of mine stepped down from his leadership role because he was burned out. He’d gone so hard for so long without taking rest for his soul. The scary part for pastors like us is that if we don’t rest well, we could lose the ministry we’re striving so hard to serve. [Tweet that]

When you don’t rest, you’re not ready for what’s coming. You end up producing less, being less available, and having less capacity. You can’t give your all to what’s coming because you’re still trying to run on empty.

So rest. Rest well. Rest hard. That next 3 minute sprint is coming.

Tomorrow’s coming. That next season is coming. That next project is coming. That next ministry opportunity is coming.

Your family needs you. Your friends need you. Your community needs you. And if you’re a pastor, your church needs you.

Not the tired, burned out, rode-hard-and-hung-up-wet you. They need the fresh, Rested you.

 

7 ways to hold on to hope

Some of you are in a difficult season right now. Maybe it’s in your finances. Maybe your marriage. Maybe your health. Or maybe your job.

Hold on to hope. Or chips. Chips are good, too.

Hold on to hope. Or chips. Chips are good, too.

I’ve heard it said that you’re every person on the planet is in one of three places:

  • In the middle of a difficult season
  • Coming out of a difficult season
  • Getting ready to enter a difficult season

Hopefully you haven’t yet taken your shoes off.

What you need right now isn’t an immediate change. That may be what you want, but it’s not what is going to happen. You know that. God doesn’t just remove all things difficult when we ask Him to.

I don’t always do that for my kids. “Dad, I’m tired of cleaning my room!” doesn’t find me giving in to my kids’ request to stop. It’s good to push through what you think your capacity is. It builds character when frustration isn’t immediately resolved, and we’re required to dig deeper, hang on longer, and trust with more certainty. Paul the apostle says it like this:

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:4-6

Suffering –> Endurance –> Character –> Hope

So how do you hold on to hope?

  1. Go with friends.

    • Don’t try to navigate on your own. There are no healthy followers of Jesus that are lone rangers. Going alone, you will be broken. Going with others, you can grow and prosper. The wisest man to ever live, Solomon, said this:

      And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12

      Hope isn’t found simply through relief. It’s found when others walk through hopelessness with you. It’s found in community. Paul urges us:

      Bear one another’s burdens.” – Galatians 6:2

  2. Actively trust in the Lord.

    • This means we don’t simply wait lazily on our couches until God opens up the heavens. There’s this concept in Crossfit that we talk about called “active recovery.” It means that on your “off” days, do something that’s still active. You don’t get better by sitting on the couch. Actively trust in the Lord by doing and going, not just sitting and waiting. Be careful with your “open door theology.Hope is an action verb.
  3. Be honest.

  4. Know it’ll get better. Relief is coming!

    • It may not come when you want it to. It sure didn’t for the Israelites. They had to wait 40 years at one point. Then 70 years at another point! But relief is coming. Hold on to hope because God’s got a plan to pull you through.

      For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LordFor as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9

  5. Know it won’t get better.

    • “Wait, wait, wait,” you say. “You just told me that relief is coming!” And I did. But the larger reality is that we live in a fallen world where sin abounds. There is a thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Which means we should come to expect that this life will be fraught with pain and frustration. So instead of making an idol of an easy life, grow in the reality that things will never be fully “right” on this earth, but they will be in heaven. (this isn’t an invitation to fatalism, though: Jesus prayed that God’s perfect will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10))
  6. Know this will make you more like Jesus.

    • God’s not taking you through this pain because he’s sadistic. His plan is that through all things, you’d begin to look more like Jesus. We love Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” But it’s verse 29 where we find what the answer is for our situation:For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” The “good” that God wants for you is that you’d grow to look more and more like Jesus! Hold on to that hope!
  7. This can be your ministry.

    • Check this out:

      For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” – 2 Corinthians 1:5-6

      So God comforts us in our days of hopelessness so that we could extend that same love, mercy, grace and hope to others who have no idea where to turn. In other words, God creates most impactful ministry for you out of your deepest pain. Don’t hope simply for relief. Hope for a more lasting, eternal impact.

 

Why my kids take their shoes off in the car

I have a 2 year old daughter. She’s equal parts spunk and sass. She’s a spitfire, and I am crazy about her. Even at her young age, she’s got a mind of her own. She knows what she wants, and will stop at nothing to get it.

TLC August 2016 --32

But she does this thing. Every time we get in the car, after I buckle her into her carseat and start the car, she takes her shoes off. Every. Single. Time.

If you know anything about putting shoes on kids, you know that this isn’t the easiest task in the world. Kids tend to be a bit squirmy. And if you know anything about the way little kids take their shoes off, you know that they don’t just place them neatly beside each other. They place/launch them into two totally different places.

So when she takes her shoes off in the car, they’re not placed on the edge of her car seat. One is under the passenger’s seat, and the other has somehow been lodged under the floor mat of the trunk. Don’t ask me how that happens.

It’s so frustrating, because every time we get out of the car, I have to go on a hunt for her shoes, then deal with her little feet that want to go any direction except towards the front of her shoes.

But I realized something just the other day that motivates her taking her shoes off.

She has no clue how far we are going.

Confession: I take my shoes off on long trips when I’m driving. It’s more comfortable that way. I can relax a little more when my shoes are off than when they’re on. The difference between me and my daughter, though, is that I know how long the trip is going to take. I don’t take my shoes off if I’m driving 5 minutes to the grocery store.

My daughter does. And that’s because she doesn’t know if the trip we’re on is across the country or across the street. If it were a trip across the country, then of course taking her shoes off would be appropriate. All she thinks is, “One time, we took this long trip, and I took my shoes off and it was great, so…”

Taking our spiritual shoes off

The same thing can be true with our spiritual lives, too. We hit difficult seasons in life. Everybody does. We hit a tough road at work, at home, with our friends, or with our families. We hit tough financial times, strained marriages, and sicknesses. Pain, frustrations, and chaos seem to hit all at the same time. I know, because I’ve been there.

In these moments, it’s easy to give up on God. Easy to “take our shoes off” because it’ more comfortable, and easy, to give up than to persevere.

We give up too soon. We quit too early. Because we don’t know when the end, the payoff, is coming.

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

What a hope-filled verse. This is an easy one to quote to someone that’s living in the middle of a confusing, painful life situation.

But most people forget the verse before:

For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

70 years!! The promise for the hope God has would come after 70 years of living in exile. But hope was coming.

Our question for God is, “Is this a 7 minute situation? Or a 70 year situation?” And do you know what God answers with?

“I got this.”

Maybe your “shoes” aren’t a painful time of “suffering” you’re walking through, but they’re a dream you’ve yet to see realized. You desperately want ______, and God hasn’t granted it yet.  If we knew the answer to when our suffering would be over, there would take no faith. We wouldn’t need to trust God, because we’d know with certainty when we’d get what we were wanting.

So I tell my daughter now, “Leave those shoes on. We’ve got some walking to do here in just a sec. I’ll tell you when you can take them off.”

Maybe in our car rides through life, God’s telling us the same thing. He’s got a plan, and a timing, but we’ve got to trust. He knows what He’s doing, so we need to leave our shoes on. Relief is coming, but it’s coming through an avenue we couldn’t have imagined. (Ephesians 3:19-21)

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:5-6

Relief is coming sooner than you think! It may not be exactly when you want, but it’s better than you could dream of.

What is it that you desperately want, but God hasn’t given you?

 

 

Stereotyping For the Loss

I’m a man. A husband. A father. A pastor. A Millennial. A Jesus follower. A Crossfitter. A coffee guy. A wanna-be tech enthusiast. A Tennessean-born-and-raised-Californian.

IMG_3351

Any one of those could be a stereotype. Every one of them is.

Please don’t categorize me. It may help you to process things more quickly, make decisions and move ‘forward.’ But I’m not simply the caricature of any of them. Don’t short circuit me into a stereotype so that you feel more comfortable.

The whole is the sum of its parts. Not the sum of its caricatured stereotypes.

Husbands are dumb. Fathers are absent. Millennials are entitled. Jesus followers are judgmental. Coffee guys are irresponsible with their money. Pastors are narrow minded bigots. Cross fitters have cult like intensity. Men are chauvinists. Californians are skin-deep. Tennesseans are rednecks.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m going to destroy your mold for who you think I am. Because God has created me unique. I’m not a category. I’m not a group. I’m me. With all of my idiosyncrasies, my tendencies toward sin, my quirks, and my gifts. My experiences, both good and bad, have deeply shaped who I am, how I lead, and how I interact with you.

I’m not the dad that used to live in this house. I’m not the husband you saw growing up. I’m not the pastor you watched once on TV. I’m not the Crossfitter who will yell at you because you’re not doing your burpee to standard. And I’m not the bumbling man you see on TV. I’m not a typical Californian…but I do have a little redneck in me. 🙂

I am a husband that loves his wife and a dad that loves his kids. I am a Crossfitter that cares deeply about my own physical health. I love serving other people coffee nearly as much as I enjoy consuming it. I love Jesus with everything I am, but if you’re not also a Jesus follower we can still be friends. I’m not going to boycott you.

When you get to know someone, and their story, perceptions change. Nobody is the sum of their caricatures.

If you want to be able to lead people, learn their story.
If you want to be able to speak hope to people, learn their story.
If you want to be able to love people, learn their story.
If you want to be able to change culture, learn people’s stories.

If you’re a Jesus follower, you’re called to love. In fact, that’s how the world knows that we follow Jesus.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

You cannot truly love someone you do not know.

 

7 leadership lessons I learned from an injury

Just the other day, while doing box jumps at the gym I’m a part of, I injured myself.

A box jump is a simple move…it’s just jumping from the ground on top of a wooden box, then back to the ground. I had a box that was 30 inches high, and in the middle of the workout when I was a bit fatigued, I lost focus, clipped my foot on the way up, bumped the box a bit, and on the way down, scraped my shin.
Well, to be a little more specific, I filleted the skin right off the bone. To the tune of 7 stitches.
As you can probably guess, it hurt like mad.
I hit my shin so hard that I dented the box, so naturally, I signed it. Didn’t want the box to forget who jacked it up.Evernote Camera Roll 20150401 074603
Through this injury, I learned a few lessons on leadership. I’ve had my fair share of failed ideas, botched executions, and flat-out mistakes. I’ve bombed on presentations, let people down, and not followed through when I should have. I’ve had times when I’ve said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong person. I’ve brought the wrong people on the team, hurt my friends, hurt my family, and fallen on my face.
If you’re in any level of leadership, I bet you have flubbed up here and there, too.

7 Leadership Lessons an Injury Taught Me

1. When you’re tired and exhausted, focus is even more important.
The only reason I missed the box is because I got tired, and lazy.

Focus doesn’t come naturally when you’re fatigued. This is especially true in leadership. Be careful what you say when you patience is wearing thin. Those are often words you’ll regret.

Be careful making big decisions when you’re at the end of your mental, or physical rope. [Tweet that]

Mistakes happen when you’re not at your best. When you’re exhausted, learn to rest. We fight against pride when we remind ourselves, through resting, that we can’t do it all.

2. Even small mistakes can be costly.
I just missed the box by 1/4 of an inch. And it cost me dearly.

In leadership, small mistakes can really add up. Leadership is about people, and when we mess up, we have the potential to mess people up. [Tweet that] And when it comes to leadership in the Church, eternity is at stake.

Every. Detail. Matters.

3. When you mess up, take a breather.
I was forced to prop my leg up and change my routine for a few days, in order for my leg to heal. Healing only happened when I elevated my leg. And it forced me to sit down.

Your mistake may not force you to sit down, but to blow past it as if nothing significant happened is to miss an incredible opportunity to grow.

4. Sometimes you need to see a doctor.
I needed a doctor to sew me up. And I felt no shame in asking for help.

You need an outside observer. A coach. A consultant. A mentor. Or just a friend. You need someone to speak in to your failure and help you learn and grow from it.

Because it’s ok to mess up. But it’s not ok to stay the same. [Tweet that]

5. Learn from your mistakes.
Now, when I do box jumps, I wrap my leg with a neoprene shin guard. I’m learning.

It hurts to have a failed idea, doesn’t it? It’s painful to blow it in leadership. To know you have failed to live up to expectations, that you’ve wasted people’s time, money, and resources really stings.

If you don’t learn something from the times when you mess up, you’re a fool. [Tweet that]

6. Look at your scars.
Our scars remind us of the pain we’ve walked through. They’re a permanent, yet healed, place on our body. They’re not open, gaping wounds. They show us that there is redemption in pain.

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. Paul, the apostle, reminds us that God comforts us through our pain so that we can comfort others with the same comfort, and hope, God’s extended us.

Your failures aren’t just about you. They’re really about how you’re going to help someone else grow through their pain.

Scars are visible reminders that healing has happened. [Tweet that]

7. Get back at it.
I’m not quitting Crossfit. I’m already back at it. I took a few days off, but was right back in the gym.

Get back in the game of leadership! Don’t let a hiccup keep you from doing what God has called you to do and being who God has called you to be. That’s exactly what Satan would love to do…keep you sidelined over a mole hill.

I love that the Bible doesn’t sugarcoat the men and women that God used. It could’ve easily masked over their weaknesses and failures. Instead, it highlights them to show that it’s God power at work through us. I love what Paul, the apostle, says later in 2 Corinthians:
But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Have you ever messed up in leadership? Care to be honest?
 

God of the beginning and the end

My friend Jason Dyba (JasonDyba.com) just released a song on Chris Tomlin’s new album.

It’s called “In the End,” and I remember the season in which he wrote it. I lived the season with him. And in fact, I’m still living the season. He wrote it in the wake of finding out (my pastor at the time) David Landrith had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In a time of not-knowing, confusion, of watching this larger-than-life man who was seeking God with all of his heart announce to us that his body was being overtaken by cancer, Jason found hope in the God who creates…and who ends. In the God who’s just as much in control of making things new as He is in closing things down. In the God who gives hope by offering eternity.

You can pick up the song and listen for yourself. But make sure you watch this video that Jason put together explaining the song.

 

In The End: story behind the song from Jason Dyba on Vimeo.

 

The Mulligan

In golf, there’s a shot called the Mulligan. It happens when you hit a terrible shot, and want a do-over. It’s a free re-tee. A concession from the rest of the people playing with you that that shot didn’t happen.

image credit: photo-dictionary.com

image credit: photo-dictionary.com

And they’re glorious. Before the last shot, you were embarrassed. Frustrated. Angry. Confused. Lost in the woods. Ready to quit.

Now? There’s great potential. You have the whole fairway in front of you. The green is wide open. You’re still on your first shot. Still on the tee box, at least as far as the group, and more importantly, your scorecard, is concerned.

Mulligans put you back at *zero.* They erase the mistake.

Mulligans in life

Don’t you wish you could take a mulligan in life?

There’s something you did that you regret. Someone you hurt. Somewhere you went. Someone you trusted.

You dropped your savings on something. You were hurt by someone.

Maybe your mistakes were made public, your life on display as a spectacle for others. Maybe someone else’s stupid decisions affected you. And you’d like your mulligan to cancel out her choices, too.

And you want a mulligan. You’d like to wipe the slate clean.

You’d like to move on as if that never happened. As if he never did ______. She never said ______. You never did ______.

That’s exactly the kind of shot that God gives us. Check this out:

‘He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.’ – David, Psalm 103:12

Do you know how far the east is from the west? Infinite. Because the east and the west never touch. Ever. East is never west, and west is never east. “As far as the east is from the west” means that God has completely removed your sin from you. It can’t be further from you. It’s even better than a mulligan, because it’s like God says, “Go ahead. Take a free shot. But…oh wait, I’ll tee it up for you. And I’ll hit it for you. And I’ll forget you ever even had a bad shot.”

David goes on to say of God:

‘The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.’ – Psalm 103:13

A father doesn’t hate his child that needs a re-do. He has compassion for them. “He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.” (Psalm 103:9) We may hold on to our hurt, our despair, and our frustrations. We may cling to our past failures. But God offers “steadfast love” to us. He redeems us from the pit.” (Psalm 103:4) In fact, the moment we turn to God we find Him running to us! (Luke 15:20) He’s not standing ready to condemn us all over again. He’s removed our sins from us.

You need a re-do today. A God-sized mulligan. Go ahead. Re-tee that ball.

We serve a God of second chances.

 

9 unintended benefits of small group life

We all have an opinion on small group life. Some of us lean towards “small groups are amazing.” Some of lean towards “small groups are just plain difficult. And awkward.” Rarely is someone neutral when it comes to intentionally building spiritually-formative relationships with others.

I’ve been a part of life-giving small groups that I long to gather with week in and week out. Ones where I leave with more of Jesus than when I came. I’ve also been a part of groups that seem to suck the life right out of me. Ones where I give, but get nothing in return. (I think that has to do most prominently with small group dominators, but that’s another post for another day)

iStockPhoto, user: Noriko Cooper

iStockPhoto, user: Noriko Cooper

Healthy small groups teach us more than they often set out to teach. We are molded and changed in so many ways, because God uses others in mighty ways to make us more like Jesus. In fact, you can’t be like Jesus without others. It’s impossible. You can’t serve others, love others, be generous with one another, or accomplish any of the “one another” commands in Scripture by yourself.

9 unintended benefits of small group life

1. Not everybody thinks like you do, and that’s ok. (Tweet that)

Sometimes, our pride needs a swift body check. We need to run after a fly ball in center field and crash into the wall. We think we’re the only ones with a corner on the “right” answers, and we need subtle, and not-so-subtle, reminders that there are other ways to think.

2. Not everybody thinks like you do, and you can still love them them. 

Loving those who can, and will, love us back is barely love. Loving those who think and act differently than we do is more challenging, and takes more faith. It’s more risky and more difficult. Just because someone thinks differently doesn’t mean you can’t go out of your way to love them. Hanging around people that think like you do is more dangerous than living life with different people that stretch you.

3. Jesus followers can have fun. (Tweet that)

Maybe this post was written just so you’d read this benefit. If you’re a Jesus follower, please don’t check your humor and love of laughter, fun, and general frivolity at the door. After all, a cheerful heart is good medicine. (Proverbs 17:22)

4. People desperately need you.

You have gifts. You have a story. You have experiences. You have a living, breathing, active relationship with Jesus. And other people need you. God has created us to work interdependently, and though you may not have been valued for your contribution to the Church in the past, small group highlights the value you bring to the table. (1 Corinthians 4:12-31)

5. You desperately need people.

You may have gifts, but you don’t have them all. It becomes quickly and readily apparent in group life that others are wired and strengthened differently than you. Which is beautiful! No longer do you have to be all things to all people. You can be the you God created you to be, and lean in on others as they’re being who God created them to be.

6. Prayer works

Don’t believe me? Try it. Try asking for prayer. Try praying for someone else. God uses the prayers of the righteous to accomplish His work. (James 5:16)

7. The bible is living and active.

As you’re discussing the Scriptures week in and week out, you’ll find God speaking right into your story, as if the Bible were written just for you, where you’re at in life. He’ll speak through others in your group, using the Scriptures as the Truth you need to think, and live, differently. (Hebrews 4:12)

8. Confession brings healing. (Tweet that)

The more comfortable you grow with your group, the more you’ll be willing to be open and honest with your faults. As you confess, you’ll find healing. (James 5:16)

9. Dirty hands clean your heart. (Tweet that)

The more you love people, the dirtier your hands get. The more deeply you love others, the more likely it is you’ll get burned. Serving people well necessitates getting messy. Because people are messy. And the more you love, serve, and give generously of yourself, the more you begin to look like Jesus.

Are you in a group? Any other unintended benefits you’ve found?

 

A tale of 2 pastors

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity… – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I rode in the front seat while he leaned forward in the back of a cab one night in Dallas on our way back to the hotel. We were speaking at a conference together. I was leading a tiny breakout. He was a main-stage ‘rock star’ preacher.

As we talked, he expressed a genuine interest in the ministry I was a part of. About my family. He was concerned for what concerned me. Genuinely interested in being a small part of the solution. Genuinely interested in encouraging me. In listening, learning, and growing.

Someone at some point in some city at some conference told him he was awesome. Gifted. That he was a once-in-a-generation leader. In that moment, and in a thousand moments since, he reminded himself of his utter dependency on God.

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Passing him in the hallway of the church he led, I stole a moment to say hey, and build a relationship.

He was insistent that I know how many speaking gigs he had coming up. About his blog. His book. His endorsers. His mentors. The mega churches he has influenced. The conferences he’s led. The people he’s gathered. The miles he’s traveled. The way I could help him.

Someone at some point in some city at some conference told him he was awesome. Gifted. That he was a once-in-a-generation leader. In that moment, and in a thousand moments since, he reminded himself…that they were right.

Which one do you want to be?

 

Love isn’t afraid to get a little vomity

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 8.51.16 AM

image credit: CreationSwap user David Sunnock

I’d finished getting ready for work one early morning, ready to walk out the door, when I heard a little cry from my newborn. So I set my bag down and walked back into the room to make sure she was okay. She seemed fine, so I gave her one last hug and kiss. I was ready to put her back in her crib when it happened.

Vomit.

Not just a little dribble of a spit-up. I mean full-on, projectile vomit all over me. Which, if you were wondering, is a great way to start your day. It’s delightful, really.

Then the whole situation get even better.

Because she didn’t just throw up on me. She threw up on herself.

She started wailing, crying big ole alligator tears while simultaneously pushing out her bottom lip, which started shaking in frustration and sadness and discomfort. You’d have felt sorry for her, like I did. I’m sure of it.

As I was working to clean her up, her crying woke up the rest of the house. Lovely.

I finally got her cleaned up, snuggled back in her sleeper, and nestled back in her crib.

At which point I realized that the vomit all over me was unnaturally cold.

I love my baby girl, but that was disgusting. Warm vomit is bad enough. But to have it on you so long that it actually gets cold? That’s another level gross. If you haven’t experienced it, just trust me. I won’t wish it on you.

Love may be found in the happy, pleasant moments. But I believe it’s realized in the vomit.

The hook

We are the vomit-y little newborn. Our lives are a mess. We have broken marriages, broken relationships, and a streak of pride we’re embarrassed to admit because we’re too prideful.

We’ve got a past we want to hide. A present we try to sensationalize. And a future we’re entirely uncertain of.

We’re addicted to attention. To positive reinforcement. To the “perfect” image of ourselves we think we have to live up to.

We are too lazy. Too disciplined. Too hidden. Too open.

We eat too much. Too little.

We enjoy life too much. Or not enough.

Even on our good days, our righteousness is sprinkled with, “What’s in this for me?” or “I wonder what others will think of me?” or “Will I get paid for this?” or “These people need me because I’m so awesome.”

Our generosity has an edge of hesitating, momentary greed at best. At worst it’s mixed with a self-serving, looking-down-your-nose pride.

We’re not perfect. Not at all.

And Love acknowledges that. It doesn’t look at the vomit and say, “Mmmm…yummy.” Love acknowledges our nastiness and loves anyway.

Love recognizes the nasty and dives in.

Love doesn’t act like you’re perfect. It acknowledges how gross you are, yet loves you still.

Love doesn’t act like it’s not hurt. Like it doesn’t smell the stink. It sees the vomit on you. On it. On the floor. And in the fibers of the carpet.

And whispers hope as it wipes our dirty face.

God is Love. (1 John 4:8)

We look at our lives and wonder why, if God truly does see all of our junk, He’d still love us. We’re sitting in our own filth. Helpless. Hopeless. And afraid. It’s as if God looks at us in that moment and says,

Go to work now? And miss out on an opportunity to show you love once again? To let you see your dirt, and show you that I still love you? Miss out on an opportunity to wipe your face clean, put new clothes on you, and tuck you back in? Not. A. Chance. I’m your dad, and I love you no matter what.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – The Apostle Paul, Romans 5:6-8

Love may be found in the happy, pleasant moments. But I believe it’s also found in the vomit.

 
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