Sharing Your Faith

I met a friend of mine at the Well for coffee this afternoon. In the midst of our conversation, he mentioned that his PC virus scan picked up some spyware that was slowing down his computer.

Without even meaning to, I went into full-on proselytizing mode for Macs. I talked about how my MacBook Pro didn’t have all those annoying popups that most PCs seem to have after time, how I never got viruses, how much faster it was, etc.

On my way home, a question dawned on me– why couldn’t I be as passionate and articulate about my faith? Why am I so often silent when it comes to sharing my faith and what I believe?

I honestly believe that people automatically talk about what excites and motivates them. It could be sports, politics, music, philosophy, or any number of other topics and interests.

Maybe the reason I haven’t been passionate about sharing my own faith is that its become more of a checklist than a Love Affair. It’s become more of a religion (in the sense of man-made traditions and rules) than a relationship with my Creator and Redeemer.

I’m not trying to beat myself up or throw the ultimate self-pity party. I’m just being honest in hope that someone else out there recognizes what I’m feeling and knows they aren’t alone in this.

You really don’t have to be taught evangelism because you will share what you’re excited about. You will talk about what you obsess and dream about the most. So what does that say about how I prioritize my faith? What does that say about how much I really believe how much the God of the Universe loves me and cares for me?

Again the key isn’t beating yourself up but recognizing when you get off track, repenting, and giving yourself grace for not being perfect. It’s about realizing that you’re not who you were yesterday or who you will become tomorrow.

 

Feeling SUPER

“For God’s Word is solid to the core; everything he makes is sound inside and out. He loves it when everything fits, when his world is in plumb-line true. Earth is drenched in God’s affectionate satisfaction” (Psalm 33:4-5 MSG).

I have mixed emotions about the outcome of Super Bowl LI. I was rooting for the Atlanta Falcons and hoping they could hold on and pull out the victory, but I was also very impressed by the poise and experience displayed by the New England Patriots in engineering the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

It’s probably a good thing I’m not a betting man. I’d have lost big time.

For me, the real victory is knowing that God is with me, for me, and in me.

He’s with me because He has told me that He would never leave me nor forsake me. That’s written down where I can read it and be reminded of it every day.

He’s for me. He promised He would finish the good work He started in me. That’s also written down for me for when I get forgetful and discouraged.

He’s in me. John 14:23 says that whoever loves God and keeps His commandments will be indwelled by all three members of the trinity. It’s not my own strength that will carry me through, but God’s power dwelling in me that enables me to live right and love well.

I’m happy for Tom Brady on winning his fifth Super Bowl. I also hope that he finds the ultimate victory when he comes to know and trust Jesus as his Lord and Savior (if he hasn’t already).

PS The best part about any Super Bowl party for me is always the snacks, and they were stellar. I probably need to go on a water and celery diet after to make up for all the calories I consumed, but they were delicious.

 

 

Just a Reminder: November 2016 Edition

I wanted to pass out a quick reminder before I pass out for the night: err on the side of grace, especially now during this intense (and ridiculous) election season.

No matter who they voted for, show grace. Even if they voted for the “enemy”, show grace.

Remember that you were once the enemy that God so loved and that Jesus died for so that you who were far away and without hope could be brought near and shown mercy.

For good or ill, the election ends in 6 days. We still have to live with each other. Even politics is no excuse for disobedience to Jesus in terms of loving each other.

If you’re a sports team and your team wins, show grace. If your team loses, show grace. People remember what you said and how you acted long after the games and scores have been forgotten.

So in case you missed the main point, here it is again: err on the side of grace.

That’s it. Short and to the point.

Good night out there. May God’s grace keep and sustain you in these coming days.

 

Busted Brackets

I did my civic duty tonight. No, I didn’t vote. I filled out my NCAA basketball tournament brackets (nine in all).

Some of them I played straight. I picked all the #1 seeds to win. On some others, I just went plain crazy. I picked just about every game to be an upset.

It hit me as I was filling in these brackets. As you know, no 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Ever.

There have been a few #15 seeds upset the #2 seeds and a few more #14 seeds pull a shocker over their 3 seed counterpart, but no 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams back in the 80’s.

What hit me was this: what God did for me in saving me was the equivalent of a #16 seed winning the whole enchilada. Or if you will, the 64th best team (think Austin Peay) winning the national championship.

I’m definitely not saying that God’s the underdog in this story. I am. On my own, I had absolutely no shot of making it out of the first round. I was the equivalent of a team of corpses.

But God made me alive in Christ. He raised me up with supernatural power. in Jesus, I have become more than a conqueror. My salvation story is akin to that Austin Peay team reaching the finals and beating those mighty Kansas Jayhawks in the national championship game.

A pipe dream? Maybe. But I know that in God what seems impossible to me and you is possible for God. In fact, it’s not even remotely difficult for God (thanks again to Pete Wilson for that one).

I have a feeling that most of my brackets will be busted and broken by the Sweet Sixteen. I know that spiritually speaking, my life in God will never ever be busted and broken because I serve a God who knows the way out of hell and the grave.

The end.

 

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.

 

Baseball in July

  
I went with my brother-in-law and sister and their clan to a Nashville Sounds baseball game at the new stadium.

A good time was had by all. It really was.

It reminded me of a time eons ago when I came to a Nashville Sounds-Memphis Chicks game in the old Greer Stadium with my family and one of my cousins. I was probably the same age that my oldest nephew is now. Talk about full circle.

The new stadium was a bit underwhelming based on my expectations and what I had heard. Being from Memphis, I might sound a bit biased when I say that AutoZone Park is way better, but it is.

If I had to guess, I’d say that it’s a recreation of the old Sulphur Dell ballpark that was home to the old Nashville Vols back in the day. They even wore the old uniforms, this being Throwback Thursday. That was probably my favorite part of the evening.

The weather started off very uncooperative but ended up being picture perfect for a night of baseball. At 6:30, I was 90% sure that the game would be called off on account of rain. At 7:30, the game got a delayed start, but it started nonetheless. 

If you had told me 1) I’d go to a baseball game in July in Nashville and 2) that the temperature wouldn’t top 75, I would’ve thought 3) the cheese had slid off your cracker.

As much fun as it is to watch baseball on TV, it comes nowhere close to actually being there, even if there is Triple-A minor league baseball. Being a part of the crowd, smelling the freshly cut grass, and hearing the crack of the bat can never be replicated by even the most advanced HD TV on the market.

I guess at some point I’ll have to watch all those old baseball movies like Pride of the Yankees, Field of Dreams, and A League of Their Own. Maybe even Bull Durham.

There’s just something about the baseball experience that’s different from any sporting event. I can’t really explain it other than to say that you just have to go to understand.

 

 

 

 

 

That Mr. Irrelevant Again

I watched some of the NFL draft today. It’s interesting to see who gets picked where and when and by whom. Plus, you get the joy of seeing the experts’ predictions blown up. You see people who stay up late at night worrying about these kinds of things prognosticating on how these players will either be a great pick or a bust.

As always, the very last pick, around number 256, of the very last round of the draft is called Mr. Irrelevant. Usually, players who don’t get picked up until that point don’t make the final roster of the NFL team that picked them.

I love the fact that no one is Mr. (or Mrs.) Irrelevant to God. God loves each person as if he or she were the only person in the whole world to love. And yet He loves every single person that way. I can’t fathom that, yet I’m nowhere close to being infinite. I can’t even love the very few (in comparison) people in my life with anything close to complete and unconditional love.

At times, other people may make you feel irrelevant. It may or may not be intentional, but the hurt is the same either way. You may feel that what you do and who you are don’t matter to anyone and that maybe the world would be better off without you in it. The feelings may not be true, but that doesn’t stop them from feeling real.

Try this. Read John 3:16. Where it says “the world,” insert your name. For me, it would go something like this, “For God so loved Greg, that He gave His one and only Son, that if Greg believes in Him, He shall not perish.”

Remember that Jesus thought you were to die for. You matter to Him immensely. That’s something to remember on those nights when you feel alone and unwanted.

 

March Madness Yet Again??

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I have to confess that I’m not quite the sports fan that I used to be. Maybe it’s the absurd salaries and extreme lack of loyalty to anything other than the almighty dollar. Who knows?

I do know that when March rolls around, the sports fan in me awakens from hibernation and comes alive. Why? March Madness, i. e. The NCAA Basketball Tournament.

I’ll fill out my brackets and wait. Usually by the second round, my brackets have crashed and burned. Then I start rooting for the underdogs.

It seems like every year there’s a team that makes it further in the field than they should. A team that overachieves and who gets billed as the next Cinderella, the next David to knock off a Goliath.

I love those stories because I remember that I, too, was once an underdog with no hopes and no chance at all of winning. That’s my take on Ephesians 2.

But God who is rich in mercy (how I love that phrase) found me and rescued me and put me on His winning team.

Maybe one day one of those long-shot mid-major teams will finally win it all. I hope so. But I’m thankful to be reminded on a daily basis that in Christ, I’ve already won. I’m more than a conqueror.

So bring on those brackets this year. I’m ready.

Takeaways from the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies

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My favorite part of the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics by far was seeing the athletes march in by countries.

There were a few countries I had never heard of. Some countries have less people than some of the towns I’ve lived in.

Many countries only had one athlete representing them. But every country, no matter how big or small, had its chance to be represented and to showcase their very best.

I imagine Heaven will be like that. The Book of Revelation says that at the throne of the Lamb there will be people from every tribe, tongue, and nation present. I doubt that they’ll be separated by nationality. In Heaven, they will be one people finally united in Christ.

I can however imagine a similar entrance to the one I saw tonight. Maybe it will start off with those first century believers, with the twelve apostles leading the way. Then believers from the following 20 centuries will follow, with this century’s believers being the last in the parade.

That is purely my own imagination at work. But I do know for certain that heaven will be a grand spectacle that will be bigger and better than the most lavish production or ceremony down here.

And it will go on throughout eternity. Like C. S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle, Heaven will be like a great novel where the story never ends and each succeeding chapter is better than the one before. It will be like that book you just couldn’t put down.

Best of all, Jesus will be there. More than all the streets of gold and gates with precious stones and mansions, Heaven will be Heaven because Jesus is there.

And maybe Mr. Tumnus will be there, too. You never know.