a chance easily missed

This space is heavy with things to do.

It’s a lot of ideas and actions to integrate and try in your life.

Your busy, already full life.

Rest isn’t something that’s valued in the West. We value drive. But rest is such a Godly thing.

Don’t miss it.

Don’t miss the need to stop. Don’t miss the need to connect with God. Don’t miss the need to be silent and listen. Don’t miss the chance to let God speak. Don’t miss the chance to just be quiet.

Commit to rest. Don’t let the busyness of life and doing good work push rest out of your life.

And if you’re not the type who has ever rested, today is a great day to start. I know a prayer you could say.

come and see my brokenness

Did the prayer of brokenness resonate with you?

Are you aware how broken you are?

We talked yesterday about what Jesus has actually called us to. What we often say we want to be about. I really believe that for there to be a connection between the people we say we want to be, the one Jesus talks about, and the person we are takes hard self-reflection.

Sometimes we really need a prayer like that when we start to reflect.

Honest, full of real pain and worry. One where we don’t lie to ourselves or God. From the heart. The head has been told God is coming, but the heart worries. He may never come. This persistent darkness may be just that, persistent. One where God doesn’t just show up and fix the world at the end. No “I know you hear me and all will be ok.” Because if you’ve ever been there like I have you don’t know that.

God may not come.

But we still praise God.

Not because He fixes us but because He is worthy.

I think this honest reflection on our pain, brokenness, and doubt is important. Its important when we reach out to community. It’s important in our own lives. How can we expect to connect when we answer everything with “don’t worry God’s going to fix it” when there is a distinct possibility that what the person is praying for, broken because of, or pain they are feeling won’t just go away.

Life is too complicated for insincere or simple answers.

It’s all a part of Gods plan.

God is in control don’t worry.

You just need to trust more

Maybe you need to have a little more faith.

Placing God as some kind of fix all solution cheapens who God is and starts people down a path that can often lead to hatred and resentment of God. If you’re told that if you believe in God he will fix everything. And then you go to church and sings songs every week that reinforce how God is in control and see nothing but people who appear to be super happy and full of joy that makes a very clear statement that if you know God you should be happy and whole.

But your real struggles continue, what do you do with that?

You can start to think what you’re doing wrong. You go to church, you sing the songs, participate in home church, read your bible, pray, you do everything your told you should to make God come and fix your pain, brokenness, doubt.

And a year, 2 years, 35 years later it’s all still there and you just start to wonder.

Maybe God doesn’t love me.

Maybe God isn’t real.

Maybe it’s all been a lie.

That’s why we have to be honest when we’re sharing our experience, good and bad.

We hide our doubt despite the fact that it’s part or humanity. It resonates with those who haven’t found God yet because everyone has it.

But we hide it making it seem like we are different, better than they are. Fixed and whole.

We are different but different because we have seen our brokenness and said God I need you. It’s our honest response to brokenness that is different not the experience of having it.

And it’s that response, Jesus that we need to share.

prayers, songs and hollow words

Did you think about these at all?

We say so much without thinking. We sing a song because it’s on a screen. We repeat a prayer because we’re asked to by the pastor. So much of this Christian experience has us doing and saying things we often never stop to think about.

This week we’re going to look at each of the prayers from last week. See what they are really saying and how that relates to our life of compassion.

First, a prayer of compassion.

Did you think about the words at all? Do you have any idea what you’re saying when you say you want to love like Jesus? How about your actions being your worship not your thoughts or ideas?

Those are not small statements. Those are huge life altering statements.

But so often we don’t see them like that. Of course I want to love like Jesus, I’m a Christian, that’s what I’m supposed to do. And we even know that it’s harder than it sounds and that Jesus loved those forgotten and abused by society. And we still say we want to do that.

But it often doesn’t translate. We don’t then go and love. The words ring hollow. Loving like Jesus loved is something you say and think about how hard it is, few go and do it.

Or how about letting your actions be your worship. If you’ve spent any time in church you’ve heard how our worship is more than the songs we sing. But most don’t even believe what they sing!

We trust God.

We love Him with everything.

God is all we need.

Then we go back to our homes, full fridges and savings accounts to worry about how we can afford to pay for whatever we want to buy next.

I know it’s overgeneralized and you may be the exception. But are you really the exception or do you just not want to face that it’s all more talk than anything else? That you sing those songs because they are on screen not because you really believe it.

How many time have you heard/read the call to a different life and known for sure that’s what Jesus has called you to and done nothing about it? The prayer, this post, just another in a long list of times you said you’re in and then stopped short of change.

A house isn’t wrong, saving isn’t wrong but so often we talk all this great talk about living the life Jesus called us to. We even talk about how hard it should be.

But we keep going back to a life that’s not that hard. Not full of sacrifice and love and grace for others. Just full of more reasons why we can’t and quiet hopes that Jesus wouldn’t really ask you to give this up.

He wouldn’t really ask for everything, it’s just something we say right?

Like the prayers we just say, He didn’t really mean it right?

He did.

My point isn’t to shame or guilt you into change. I hope that’s not what you see here. My point is for you to reflect. To be honest with where you’re at when it comes to the life Jesus called you to. Maybe you’re not ready, maybe you’re not sure this is really where you want to go. That’s fine. Maybe this is the time you finally make the change. That’s great too.

It’s about being honest with where you’re at and honest with God. Honest with how far you’re willing to go at this point. Honest about what’s really Gods. Honest about how much you really want to give up and what small step you’re ready for.

And maybe you’ll be a little more careful next time you sing a declaration or repeat back a prayer that you have no intention of fulfilling.

Because you’re not just lying to yourself are you?  I’m not just lying to myself am I?

I don’t want to do that

This one ended up being more polarizing than I anticipated.

You could just see it in people’s faces when they heard what it was.

“Oh……that’s a neat idea, within reason.”

What if some knows?

What if someone takes advantage of me?

What if I don’t want to?

What if I can’t afford to?

Yup!

The idea this week is to choose a time block, the morning, 4pm-6pm, every day this week and say yes to every request that comes.

You can see why the within reason statement comes in now.

I’ve listed a bunch of what ifs that can run through your mind. But I think it ultimately boils down to one.

What if God wants me to do something I don’t want to do?

And now you know why I picked this activity.

fair, earned and the choice of generosity

It wasn’t going to be fair.

Well I suppose it had the potential to not be fair.

I was out with my volleyball team after our game. We had gone out the week prior and got the split of the bill wrong. Nothing big, I needed to have left another $3 or $4. Instead of giving over the money this week I just covered the beer of the guy I owed the money too.

If you don’t drink you may not be aware that $3 does not get you a beer.

He said, like most would “Thanks, I got it next time.”

Perfect!

It all worked out. I was short her covered. I pay more this week and next time he’ll make up the difference.

But what if it doesn’t happen?

Or if next week he gets drinks, then I get drinks, then he gets drinks, then I get drinks, then our season is over. When will I get back the drinks I’m owed?

Because my mind does crazy things like that process I just described I need to be intentional. This week I suggested you be generous once a day. I suggested you try to pick someone who hasn’t earned it. This case isn’t’ a great example because I actually owed him money.

But it shows why I need intentionality.

Without it my mind wanders in to fairness.

Without a decision to just be generous I start to think about how fair or unfair what I’m doing might be. I start to worry that he may not follow through next week or that I’ll end up on the short end of the deal at the end.

I start to think about me.

Maybe you’re not the same. Maybe you’re really good a just keeping others first.

I find it so easy to just slip back to me getting what I need. Me getting what I think I have earned or deserve.

So what do I do?

I should probably just buy again next time. I should just stop thinking about me getting what I deserve and being the generous person I keep telling you I want to be.

But the idea is the easy part. The hard part comes when I need to put down more money next week while my mind tells me I’m actually owed something.

generous with your generosity

I hope you’re trying to put some of these weekly challenges into your everyday life. They are a terrific way to get your mind and you actions in line with this life of compassion. It just forces you to see the world a little different and that’s a good thing.

This week I’m asking you to be generous once a day.

Originally I wanted to say “be generous one a day to someone who you think doesn’t deserve it” but there were some problems with that.

What if someone you know was generous with you? Does that mean they think you don’t deserve it? How do you know if someone does or doesn’t’ deserve generosity?

It got a little messy.

There was however a reason I started with it worded that way.

Sometimes we hold back our generosity or are generosity is based on merit.

That person is trying so hard we should give them a hand.

Well I’m not going to help someone who isn’t even trying to help themselves.

They have lots, they don’t need me.

That person is so desperate I need to help them.

We test the validity of the request. We want to make sure they are deserving of our help. That they have earned our generosity somehow.

I didn’t want you to do that. I want you to be obedient to God’s call to be generous with all we have.

So once a day when the opportunity is presented we are just generous. It’s not about someone earning it or deserving it, it’s about grace. The chance to be generous is there and we just take it. We don’t hold back our generosity but we are generous with our generosity.

I know it’s strange to ask you to generous with your generosity but it’s true. We can be really strange about our generosity. Who can and can’t get it. Who does and doesn’t’ deserve it.

This week is simple.

Just be generous. No strings, no earning, no deserving, just generosity.

they need time to soak

I had another not so spectacular week.

I did better than last week. I didn’t find myself looking for ways out of conversations or rationalizing why a certain instance didn’t count like I did last week. I like to talk so it wasn’t hard for me to keep talking.

A few times I was about to stop a conversation but didn’t.

But like last week it wasn’t like God showed up in some unmistakable way.

I didn’t get the chance to be a part of someone’s life changing. No one broke down in tears bearing their heart because I gave them time. Just a lot of really nice conversations.

And that’s not good enough is it?

Not in this world where we need to constantly achieve and a healthy church is measured by the number of people who attend or how big the building is.

Nope we need to see change we can stick on a marketing pamphlet. We need lives to be changed and if that chance doesn’t present itself we need to force it to happen.

These projects aren’t just going to change themselves. We can’t miss an opportunity to work on the projects in our lives.

Nope we can’t just have really nice conversations with people in our lives. If all we do is have nice conversations;

How will we know when our project is done?

How will we know if we’re a good Christian or not?

How will we let other people know how good of a Christian we are?

How did we get here?

In some way or another all of those crossed my mind this week.

I was worried about what I would write on Friday as more and more conversations were just conversations.

I was worried about why God wasn’t using me.

I was worried that I wasn’t being pushy or direct enough.

I was worried that no one was closer to God this week because I tried to invest in them.

Maybe old habits die hard. Maybe I’ve been a part of church for so long I can’t help but think back to some of the ways church has been done or the way I thought church was done.

It’s not a maybe at all that I need to grow a lot more yet. I need to remember that so much of compassion is relationship. Honest, real relationships motivated by love not some ulterior motive. And if I’m able to be loving to someone. If I’m able to share love with someone, then God was there.

God showed up and was in our conversation every time I’m able to love someone. A nice conversation is more than enough, if love is what makes it nice.

So when I talk about video games, or budgets, or family it can be entirely soaked in God. As long as I choose to soak that conversation in love. And giving every conversation the time it needed is a really good way to put a little love in every conversation.