who is my neighbour?

This is it.

It’s finally here.

This is the first week I’m asking you to dip into your normal everyday life. To not change the way you interact with people in your life but to actively seek out a new interaction.

I want you to have dinner.

Or coffee, wine, cookies, hotdogs, whatever you want.

I want you to connect, probably over food and drink because it’s easier, with your neighbour.

Invite them over if you don’t know them well or accept their invitation to coffee you’ve been avoiding.

Connect with your neighbour this week.  And this not some sort of deep theological question around ‘who is my neighbour’? it’s the person who lives near you, in geographical proximity.

Go knock on somones door and say “Hi, I’m your neighbour. I was wondering if you’d want to come by for dinner/drink/cookies sometime. We’ve been neighbours for _______ and I thought it’d be nice to know who’s around us.”

No agenda.

No ulterior motives.

Just get to know your neighbour for who they are, as they are right now.

to late

Sometimes we miss things.

A moment, a chance, an opportunity. Once they’re gone they’re gone.

And sometimes they aren’t.

Sometimes a moment is there, over and over and over and we just won’t take it.

Like the old saying, better late than never, sometimes a chance is just waiting for us to finally take that step. I think this can play out in a whole bunch of ways but today I want to talk about forgiveness.

Have you ever been scarred? Not just hurt but deeply and in a sense fundamentally wounded?

I’m not talking about the time I had terrible service and then refused to go back to a local restaurant for years. I was frustrated and upset by how my friends and I were treated. But that’s something different.

I’m talking about something that touches you in the deepest most inner parts of who you are. The kind of scarring that rattles you loose of your grounding and causes you to start to question life. This is about betrayal.

Is that ever a hard place to forgive. Bitterness is just so much easier.

And maybe for you it’s never been that deep. Maybe for you it is something far less dramatic. But did you forgive?

Perhaps more interesting, did you do anything to help the other person forgive when it was you who caused the scar?

I’m reminded of a very specific instance in my life. I was scarred and wounded on such a deep level not only did I not want to forgive I knew I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I had known these folks for YEARS.

But things were said and action taken that I swore I would never let go. I could not and I would not forgive. They had made their choices and so this was the outcome. And God worked on my heart to soften it.

So I tried to forgive.

And much like I thought, I couldn’t. I wanted to let it all go but every time the topic came up my pulse quickened, I got harsh and difficult, and I relived that pain over and over.

But I kept trying.

More than a year passed and I was approached.

“I’m sorry Phil.”

And I was released.

We don’t know all the people we’ve hurt and all the scars we’ve caused, but we do know some. Sometimes what people really need is to know that you are honestly and truly sorry. Help give them the tools and the space to be gracious and forgiving, even if it’s too late.

heaven here and now

Monday wasn’t super practical.

It’s a cool idea with some really important implications but what does it look like when we share heaven with people? What is life like if we are choosing the relentless pursuit of heaven in every moment? What are the actions of one with that as their goal?

Tough question, but I hope some of my idea here will resonate with you. There are few elements that need to be present for this to really work. You need relationship. You need grace. You need love.

I think back to the time I back into a friend’s car. My insides were wrenching as I go back inside to tell them. They had all the right in the world to be mad. But it was grace they choose instead and without thought, “No worries bud, it’s an old car. Have good night.”

It’s the time I was pulled over for a rolling stop and the officer said “just stop next time” and then let me go.

It’s the time I left our back door open at home for an entire weekend we were away and Sarah simply asked that I check the house for animals. No anger, just grace.

It’s in those moment people created heaven for me when all I deserved was hell. That’s what it looks like when someone chooses heaven. When someone chooses grace in a relationship not entitlement and rights.

It’s the time I sat in the hospital waiting for my dad to die and a friend stopped by with a bag of energy drinks.

It’s the time when Sarah and I were first married and I got home sick. I’d never lived away from home and I was struggling to adjust. She went out and bought me pizza and rented a TV series I loved because we didn’t have cable and she wanted to make our new home feel a little like home my old home.

It’s the time after my dad died that a good friend printed a ridiculous fake news story from the internet about fantasy baseball (one of my favourite pass times) and wrote “Saw this and thought of you. I’m praying for you.”

It’s in the moments when hell is closing in around you and someone steps in with love. That’s what it looks like when someone chooses heaven. When they come and as opposed to telling you it’s all ok, sit and enter into the moment with you. It’s love in action, not looking to get anything back.

Heaven in the here and now.

imagine there is no heaven

I was thinking about what to write about this week leading up to Easter. Pondering how Easter and compassion connect. What does Jesus’ death have to do with compassion?

To me the two have  to be linked. There must be really important connections.

Imagine there is no heaven

Easter is coming up this weekend and it got me thinking about heaven, salvation and what that all means to us right now.

So often our Christian walk is about the end. Getting to heaven and maybe even more than that, avoiding hell.

But what if it all wasn’t there.

Imagine there is no heaven, at least not like we’ve been taught.

Imagine there were no pearly gates and no streets of gold. Heaven is not a place we can go.

Imagine the only heave we can ever see is right here on earth.

It’s in the lives we live right now.

Would that change the way you live? Would that affect every aspect of your life?

Would you strive after it the way you long and desire for the eternal heaven? What would you do if the only way you could ever experience heave was to do so on earth?

If the only way was for you bring heaven into your life right now by sharing God’s love and grace. Would you not make that a focus?

We so often look to the end and wait for heaven to come. We almost consider this life a trial we have to pass to get to God and in doing so we miss so much of why Jesus came and what His life and His call on us is about.

For me, I think that a life of compassion is the relentless pursuit of heaven in every moment of our lives. It’s not the pursuit of some end goal but the attempt to see heave in everything we do. It’s the attempt to share as much love and grace with the people we come in contact with so that when we’re with them they get to see and experience who God is and what heaven will be like.

This is the life God made us for. This is life to the fullest. This is about dragging heaven into the present and sharing the redemption of Easter with every moment.

The redemption that allows for faults and brokenness. The redemption that uses our darkness to share light. The redemption that says you are loved and wonderful as you are right now.

Do we live compassionate lives for us to avoid hell or because we’ve learned that this is what we were made to do and are so driven to share our revelation of love with others?

Honestly, why do you do it?

Or maybe better put why don’t you? Is it because heaven is out there and all you need to do is wait for this mess to end?

Heaven is here to be shared today, in every moment. It’s there for us to see and be a part of sharing with every relationship we have.

Isn’t that the Easter story? Redemption came to us and is here today, heaven is here today.

You make a choice every day in every relationship. Do you want to bring heaven or do you choose to bring hell?