Four Days Left in 2015

Note: if you still have unfulfilled resolutions that you haven’t given up on for 2015, now’s the time to get crackin’. You have four days left. That’s all.

Four days.

It seems like it wasn’t that long ago I was bidding a fond farewell to 2014 and wondering what 2015 would look like.

Speedy. 2015 has looked and felt and gone by speedily. Much more so than 2014.

So what are you planning to do in 2016 to improve your life? What are your resolutions and goals for the new year?

After hearing Aaron Bryant’s sermon, I think my goal is the same as the prophetess Anna from Luke 2– to do whatever it takes to get to where I see the Redeemer in my life and that He becomes the focus of my single-minded devotion.

Also, I’d like to see the Tennessee Titans not look like the Bad News Bears of the NFL. It’s gotten embarrassing to watch the games.

I’d like to see people who profess the name of Jesus in Nashville being more visible (and I put myself in that category). A friend of mine posted on Facebook that 95% of the churches in Nashville are declining.

So much for Nashville being the belt buckle of the Bible belt. We have a lot of church buildings, but not nearly as many vibrant, biblical churches that are actively engaging in a Acts 2-type lifestyle of missional living and intentional community.

As I’ve mentioned before, maybe it’s time for most of us (me included) to stop merely going to church and start being the church. The difference is one hour on Sunday and one hour on Wednesday versus 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

So there we are. That’s what I hope to see in 2016. Maybe those Titans might even start being competitive if they can get decent front office leadership and ownership that actually cares about winning.

But that’s another blog for another day.

 

Christmas and Cold Weather

I confess. I’d really like to see a white Christmas. I mean I’d REALLY, REALLY like to see a WHITE CHRISTMAS. But I live in Tennessee, so the chances of that happening are about the same as those Tennessee Titans of mine actually making a run at the playoffs. In other words, not quite nil but very close.

It doesn’t seem like Christmas when it’s short-sleeves weather. It’s hard for me to get into the spirit of the season when I’m turning on the AC in my car on the way home from work.

Ultimately, what makes Christmas Christmas isn’t snow or freezing temps. It’s Christ. If it ends up being north of 80 degrees this Christmas Day and Jesus is present, I’ll be so much more than okay with that.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to take my eyes off even that during these frantic, fast-paced days. I lose sight of what I’m celebrating and get bogged down in slow traffic and bad drivers (obviously not me– no sarcasm there). Too many will only see the darker side of humanity and miss the fact that that’s why Jesus came– to rescue us from ourselves. If we were such kind and generous people all the time, we probably wouldn’t need rescuing.

I know I still need rescuing from time to time. That’s why I love Christmas. It reminds me that when I couldn’t get to God, He came to me. He became my Savior. My Redeemer. My Rescuer.

So I’m still holding out hope for snow on Christmas Eve. Even if it only flurries for a bit and doesn’t stick, I’d be good. At this point, it’d take a miracle.

The good news is that Christmas is all about miracles and the impossible becoming reality. It’s God doing what people said could never be done. Just look at Jesus.

 

 

Easter Season Liturgy Part I

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Tonight at Kairos we had a liturgical Easter service but with a Kairos-style twist. It was a very cool blend of modern and ancient forms of worship. I was particularly moved by the responsive reading we did at the start:

“Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us a little child 
one of us,
flesh and blood to share in our humanity
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as carpenter
and yet in whose creative hands a world was fashioned
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as fisherman
and yet pointed to a harvest that was yet to come
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as teacher
and opened eyes to truths that only 
the poor could understand
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as healer
and opened hearts to the reality of wholeness
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as prophet, priest and king
and yet humbled himself 
to take our place upon the cross
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus who came to us as servant
and revealed to us the extent of his Father’s love 
for human kind
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

Blest are you, Lord Jesus, who rose 
from the ignominy of a sinner’s death
to the triumph of a Saviour’s resurrection
For God so loved the world
ALL: That all might have eternal life.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son
for the sake of me
and you
and other sinners too
God so loved the world
Blest are you Lord Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer.
ALL: Thanks be to the God of Love. Amen”

I think it’s good to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to worship. For me, that meant going to a Roman Catholic Ash Wednesday service last year. Whatever it is for you, it’s good to get out of your own faith tradition and see things from different points of view sometimes. It helps you to know what you believe and– better still– why you believe what you believe.

More on that to come tomorrow.

 

I Wonder as I Wander

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I came home from a Christmas Eve service a little bummed. Not for any specific reason. Just that I was tired and thinking once again about all I didn’t have instead of what I do.

Then I saw it. I saw the setting sun reflected off the still waters of a shallow pond. It was almost as if God gave me that moment to remind me that what I DO have matters so much more than what I DON’T.

I started wondering a few things:

I wonder if Mary mourned the loss of all she gave up when God called her. I know it seems strange, almost sacreligious, to think such a thing.

But Mary was a teenager who must have had her own dreams and her own fantasies of how her life would turn out. None of them involved an unexplainable (in human terms) pregnancy or giving birth to a Son whom she would witness being unfairly tried, tortured, and publicly executed.

God’s dreams often require that we give up not just bad things, but even some good and even very good things if they’re not God’s best for us. Letting go of those things can feel like a death knell to our hearts even if we know something better is coming.

Mary could have had a normal marriage with normal children and been well-respected in her community and taken no flack. But no one would ever have remembered her name.

God has a dream for you in His heart that sometimes won’t make sense. At times, it will feel too much like a letting go and giving up of much that we hold dear. It will be painful at times, like losing a part of your heart.

The payoff is so much more than worth it. Mary got to see the Messiah, hold Him in her arms, see Him grow up, and watch Him prove that not even that horrific death could hold Him down.

She got to see with her own eyes the salvation of the world. Her own salvation.

I call that more than worth it.

I See You

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I am your friend and I see you.

I see you when you think no one else does. I see you at your worst moments when you’ve made poor decisions and chosen based on fear and greed rather than from faith and love.

I see you when you broke another promise to a friend, to a parent, to yourself, to me.

I see you when you feel most alone and abandoned by everyone you thought cared the most for you.

I see you when all you can see is heartache and pain and all the broken pieces of your wrecked life.

I see your future when you can see only a past filled with regrets and a present with no end in sight.

I see you whole and healed and radiant and beautiful and desired and wanted and chosen.

For I am The Lord your God. I am your Maker, your Redeemer, your Father, your Lover, your Friend, your All.

I have been a Witness to every moment of your life. You have never ever been alone or forsaken. You have never been out of my sight or out of my arms or out of my heart.

My love for you is the same as it was yesterday and as it will be tomorrow. It is complete, perfect, passionate, healing, and life.

You are forever mine and I am forever yours.

You are my beloved son, my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.

i will sing and dance with joy over you every night and hold you in my strong embrace every day. You belong to me.