Sideways Energy

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I’ve been involved in the church for almost 20 years. I’ve seen a lot. In those years I’ve seen so many people take great steps in their faith. I have seen hundreds of people accept Jesus Christ into their heart, many go public with their faith and be baptized, and many serve in many different capacities. 

I’ve also seen people come into our building with more of a ‘what’s in it for me?’ attitude. I get it, it’s how we enter most buildings – movie theaters, restaurants and stores. We want to leave satisfied and happy with the way everything went – for us. The thing is, church was not created for ‘me’, it was created for ‘you’. The more ME you bring into church, the less you understand what the church was supposed to be. Yes, it’s a place to be ‘fed’ and to learn more about Christ. That’s the consumerism in it. But it’s not conditional feeding. We can’t go into a church each Sunday in hopes of them talking about what we want to talk about (most people like to talk about the stuff they’re not struggling with). It’s a big crowd and everyone is in a different place. The remarkable thing that God continually does each Sunday is to ignite people to take next steps. I cannot tell you how often so many people on Sunday swear the Pastor was talking directly to them! God does that. 

Here is my ask for all of you who read this and attend a church. These are some great ways to help the cause and build the church…..the church that Jesus died for:

1.    Come with an open mind and open heart. Leave the ‘junk’ at the door. Don’t allow anything to distract you from what God wants you to leave with.

2.    Go each week. Don’t allow the world to keep you from growing in your faith. Don’t allow children’s coaches to have a say in your child’s faith. Don’t allow that extra hour of sleep to keep you from the much needed one hour of God. Make it a habit. You won’t regret it.

3.    Get to know others at your church. Don’t wonder why no one is introducing themselves to you, you introduce yourself to them. There are great people in churches today (there are also some that are a bit different) Love them all. Stop taking the easy road by hanging out with the same ‘clique’ each Sunday. When first time guests come into a church full of pockets of people so consumed by their conversations, enough not to even look up, chances are they’ll go elsewhere looking for churches less ‘cliquey’. 

4.    What works for you may not work for others. The message you loved may not have had as much of an impact on someone else. The song that brought someone to tears may have no effect on you. What wasn’t meaningful to you may have been profoundly meaningful to others. God is doing things each week, trust that.

5.    When you feel as though you’ve shown enough grace, show more. People are broken. We’re all some sort of messed up. Let’s stop knocking each other down. Let’s start assuming the best in others instead of assuming the worst. Let’s understand that until we walk in other’s shoes, we really have no clue. People are a certain way because of a certain upbringing, their surroundings, their previous hurts, and all that’s happened along the way. Our role is to help them. We, as a church, welcome everyone here in hopes they get introduced to the ONE, Jesus Christ, who can take care of all the baggage they’re carrying, all the hurt and pain they’ve been through and all the mistakes and sins they’ve made along the way. 

I see a bright future for the church. I’ve seen all it has done for so many. In fact, there really is nothing like a church family. So how about you?

  •  Are you coming with an open mind and heart?

  • Are you coming each week? If not, what is the reason and is it something you’re ok with. (I get it, some of you work on Sundays, some kids sports ‘promised’ no Sundays, etc) 

  • Are you getting to know different people at church or are you a bit guilty of staying in your comfort crowd? 

  • Showing an abnormal amount grace?

On A Dime

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We were driving the other day and suddenly a guy on his phone swerves into our lane and was inches from smashing into the passenger side. The funny thing is he still isn’t aware he did it. This must’ve been a very important phone call, text or social media post! These incidents constantly remind me of the fact that death can happen in a second.

I’ve learned that everything today changes ‘on a dime.’ I’ve done some funerals lately and see the brevity of life. I’ve seen how quickly it all happened with so many families. It breaks my heart. When one is diagnosed with cancer, on to hospice care, then it’s over……on a dime. It may have felt slow in hospice but looking back it was fast. I’ve seen it with my own mom and several other loved ones. My mom was diagnosed with cancer, went into a very short remission and then it’s over. Cancer may just be the biggest play on emotions ever. Hope to hopeless, hope to hopeless, and so on and so on.

But there is the hope. There is something else I see each time we have to process through this. I see life at a standstill. I believe this is God designed. We all sit at a funeral or a family or friend’s house afterwards trying to digest what just happened. It’s in those moments where we laugh, cry and reminisce. We embrace a bit longer and we leave with an intentionality to get together more often.

The world we live in today gradually speeds up and only you can slow it down. It shouldn’t take death and tragedy to help us pause. We need to schedule the ‘lull’. We need to create the margin. Otherwise we regret. We regret not scheduling time with loved ones. We regret allowing our jobs to take precedent over our families. We regret looking at Facebook before we spend time with God. We regret allowing our hectic schedules to come before the One (Jesus) who allowed us to live these hectic schedules.

Today, let’s slow things down. In fact, I appreciate the fact that you slowed down enough to read this. Today, lets see life as temporary (James 4:14) and take advantage of every minute we have to do the things we’ll never regret. Let’s do things that make us forget to check our phone.

Where's the Line?

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Most of us have a moral compass of sorts, or at least I hope so. What’s ‘crossing the line’ with you may not be ‘crossing the line’ for others. I have found that the more I had ‘crossed the line’ in my life, the less I saw it anymore. 

What is this line? Well, to me it’s a decision you make that deep down, you know better. It’s the movie that you watched where you felt rotten afterwards. It’s the flirty comment you made to a co-worker even though you’re married. It’s talking about your friend to another friend and acting as though it’s not gossip. It’s telling your boss you’ll “work” from home as you catch up on laundry, mowing the lawn and to-do lists instead. We all have a ‘line’ and most of us at some point have crossed it. 

Although as Romans 3:23 says,everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard’, I do believe there is hope. I’ve learned along the way as I pursued God more and more and studied His Word (the Bible) that there are many ways to combat this. I’ve learned that in order to avoid crossing these ‘lines’, we need to set some boundariesor as Andy Stanley, a Pastor down in Atlanta called it, a guardrail. Yes, a guardrail is damaging to a vehicle but it keeps the vehicle from worse or even catastrophic consequences. 

Here are some examples of boundaries or guardrails:

  • One who has a tendency to drink too much should not be in an atmosphere where they specialize in serving drinks (a bar or liquor store)
  • One who has a tendency to look at inappropriate images (a porn problem) should never have access to a computer behind closed doors. A computer in the most occupied room works. There are also programs like Covenant Eyes that can help here. 
  • One who tends to talk about others (gossip) should have a close friend in their life who calls them out on this and helps them along.

All of these guardrails or boundaries work best with an accountability partner. One who you can talk openly to and one who will pray for you consistently. James 5:15 says “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”Some of us who follow Christ see Him as an ‘invisible god’ who we feel is not really paying attention to our failures or lapses in judgment. This is why it is so beneficial to have an an actual accountability personin our life that will check on us and ask the tougher questions. 

Here’s the thing, all of this is not easy. Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, who was absolutely sold out for Christ, and who knew more than most struggled with sin. Paul says in Romans 7:18-21And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.  But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” 

We are all born into sin. If you have any children, you see this right from the start. “Mine, mine…!” We didn’t teach them that…they were born with that. Our job is to help them get away from that! That is what scripture is all about. There is this wonderful Book, The Bible, that is full of practical ways of living a life more fulfilling, more relational, more purposeful, and more loving. This book has changed my life. I know who I once was and I know what Christ has done to me through His Word and I’m so thankful. Yes, I have a lot to work on but as I lean into Him daily, He’s lessening the load.

I encourage you all today to draw the line. Become aware of that line. Commit to not crossing it, and I promise you, it will change your life.