Thoughts on you and the Church

I’m working on a message coming up and the topic I chose is the Church.  It seemed to be a simple enough concept but honestly, I’m realizing how deep this topic can be.  To be honest, I was not surprised but still how deep does the rabbit hole go?

I know that there are things that people have said all through the years about what the Church is and what it should be.  But my take on it is that it is more about subtracting all the things Church is not than it is about all the things it is.

In today’s age, the Church has become so many different things.  It has become a social club.  An event.  A political agenda based party.  A check off item on your to do list.  A way to force others to think the same.  A way for you to have friends and keep them in check.  A way for some to manipulate the masses.  A group that holds the same views as you.  For some, it is way to play their type of music and have a little bit of power.  For some, it is the place to meet a nice girl or guy.  It has also been used as a way to look wholesome.  To some, it is a platform to promote their book or ministry so that they can go out into the world.  And to some, it is simply a tool to raise funds for their Christian vacations (mission trips that serve those sent more than those they were sent to).

You ask 100 people at one church why they are there and you could get 100 answers.  So what is the ultimate reason for the Church?  These are thoughts I’ve been thinking through.  And before you get to the end of this post, I want you to know that I don’t tell you below.  Mainly because I’m not done yet and I didn’t want to provide those answers here but honestly it is because I want you to think about it.  I want you to come up with your own conclusions.  Think of it as a choose your own adventure.

But…..

I will say this:

I was talking with someone recently about a group he’s in (not a church group) and he said that his group was the ultimate group for promoting individuality.  He even said that all other groups were really about molding people into what they thought was right and not about celebrating who a person is.  But his group was for you to become the best version of yourself.

What a tragedy if that were true in principle and not just function?

This idea has been on my mind ever since we had that discussion because honestly, that’s what I think the Church should be.  Simply the idea of a place that gets you back to who God made you to be.

God created you for who you are and not so that you turn into who other people are.  Yes, we are all called to be like Jesus.  In fact, Christian is a term that means “little Christ.”  But you’ll likely look a whole lot like you when He is done with you.

I feel that my friend is right but also a little wrong. Right in the sense that that is the way people tend to approach groups.  You become like us and we will accept you.  But he’s wrong in the sense that that is not what the Church is supposed to be.

Jesus told us to take up His cross and follow Him.  That’s a summary of His command.  And then He leaves everything else up to us (no I’m not denying the Holy Spirit just stay with me).  We get as close to Him as we’d like to.  There is no set amount of money we have to give to move up in Thetan status (joke for the Scientology nerds out there).  There is no check list we have to complete to get close to Him.  All He tells us to do is pick Him up in our lives and follow Him.  Seek first His kingdom and all these other things will be added onto you.

Or more simply, be the best versions of ourselves.  He wants us to be His representation to the world.  Some could be musicians.  Some could be writers or speakers.  Others could be plumbers.  Or doctors. Teachers.  Students.  Nurses.  Dentists.  Cops.  Librarians.  Sound technicians.  AT&T workers (but God prefers Verizon).  Blockbuster workers (sorry flashback to 5 years ago).  Pastors.  English as a second language teachers.  Truck drivers.  Firefighters.  Krispy Kreme Doughnut workers (the holy calling if you ask me!!!).  Managers.  Graphic designers.  IT workers. And a whole lot more.

But God doesn’t want you to be someone else.  Yes, He wants to make you like someone else (Jesus and only Him) but it’ll look more like you than you ever thought was possible.

So be the Church.  Just be you in the Church.  And if you don’t have a church you’re a part of, ask me and I’ll help you find one.

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Heartbreak

We all suffer through tragic events at one time or another.  From one end of the spectrum to another.  It could be that your team suffered a buzzer beater loss.  Or it could be something like the struggle of paying your bills and then the car won’t start.  Getting laid off.  Having a miscarriage.  Seeing the doctor and being told you have inoperable cancer.  Or maybe it is that you will never be able to see your son or daughter again because of a custody loss or a harsh sentence by a judge.

Some things break us.   In fact, a heartbreaking moment can strike at any time.  You could be one day away from tragedy and not even know it.  But how do you get through it?  In what do you place your trust?  What sustains you through the heartache?

This time of year is tough for some people.  Honestly, there is not a time of year where it isn’t hard for some people so be on the lookout to help a friend in need.

I have a father-in-law who is now in heaven who passed on to cancer a few years back and it still sucks that he is gone.  I miss him but it is not the same heartbreak as his daughters, son, and wife, experience deeply every day.  I knew him for a few years but they knew him their whole lives.  Last night, I talked with a close friend who said that a year ago to the day, I was singing a song at his mom’s funeral.  Tragedy strikes everyone but not equally.  So what do you hold onto as the ship is sinking?

This is a tough conversation and I feel that if your faith is only strong when things are going your way, then you have not faith.  You have something else entirely.  You may have a theory or a philosophy or even just a thought but I would not call it faith or trust if at the first sign of trouble, you run away from it.

I surely hope that Harrison continues to trust me as he is riding his back when he falls off.  And I know that this is a trivial matter but sometimes, I see his fear of the hill up ahead and know that a time of testing is coming.  Will he hold on to me through this trial or will he flee?

One of my favorite authors once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen:  not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  This quote is not just clever wordplay but it is the ultimate truth for me.  If I were to say this quote and apply it a little differently, I would say that I believe in Jesus not only because I see Him, but because by Him, I see or view everything else.

He is the lens to which my eyes operate.  And it is my hope that in everything I do, I look through His eyes.  That when tragedy strikes, I know just where to look.

There was a quote in the new Star Wars movie that really stuck out to me.  Maz Kanata, the short Yoda-type figure of the movie, said this: “I have lived long enough to see the same eyes in different people. I see your eyes…”

There is truth there because many people see things the same way and yet, we still struggle for hope throughout the pain.  You can know that many have gone through what you are going through and those same people can help you through this time.  But I believe that it takes you being vulnerable and opening yourself to them.

And I believe that it is those who trust in Jesus who have the most hope.  They ultimately have something worth placing their hope and trust in.  Granted, you may get comfort from something else but how fleetingly and sustaining is it?  I know many devout people who can gain comfort in the worst of tragedies and those people are so unbelievably strong that it is admirable.

I even know “Christians” who would say that they believe in Jesus but they do not have hope in their pain.  They throw their faith to the wind and cast it aside when, in those moments of suffering, Jesus wants us to draw near to him.  He wants us to embrace Him in the heartbreaking or heart shattering moments.

So as you struggle, or as heartbreak strikes, whom will you trust?  And who can you go to during those times?  Please know that they will come. They are a part of life and I do not want you to be unprepared for when they strike.

 

Nerd

nerd

I think the above quote speaks a lot.  I want to be more of a nerd because of it.

I know that in our day and age, this word can be seen as a negative thing and I know many who were called it or threatened with being called it.  In middle and high school, you’d do everything in the world to not be called this feared word but nowadays it is a trendy name.

There are shows built around it and it has become the new thing.  You can think Big Bang Theory but you can also think Top Gear (car buffs), Kitchen Nightmares (chefs), MythBusters (scientific nerds), as well as Louie (comedy nerds), etc….

There are many who are nerds and who are now proud of it.  In fact, one of my favorite podcasts is called the Nerdist Podcast (If you haven’t heard it before, stop reading and go listen now because they get some great guests and it is hilarious but there is some language so if that’s not your thing, find something else to enjoy).

I think it greatly matters what you are focusing on but I value people who are passionate about something.  I tend to be interested in too many things at once and I struggle to focus but I’d take it over having no passion any day of the week.  But let’s take this quote and break it down because it can truly become your mantra if you let it.

One
You.  Start with you and don’t worry about what others will think.  Spend some time finding out this for you.  Then encourage others to do the same.  You then them.  

whose unbridled passion 
What are you interested in?  What keeps you up at night?  What gets you up in the morning?  What do you get excited about?  What do people know you for doing?

for something
I know it is for something but what is it?  Jot down a few ideas and make a list of things you are interested in and then try to narrow it down.  Try and laser focus here.

or things,
It’s okay if you can’t narrow it down (I can’t) but start small.  Don’t say that you want to be a firefighter and the president.  Narrow it down.  For me, writing is a huge passion but ultimately it is the whole idea of communication so I can focus on speaking, writing, conversing, whatever.  These are the things that come out of my primary passion.

defines who they are as a person,
This is where it gets great because certain things can lead you down a destructive path and we don’t want that and you don’t need that.  Find the things that you want to be defined by.  They will be good things.  Not necessarily great things because that comes later but find wholesome things to do.  Find things that you can look back on in 50 years and be proud of.
But also find the things that you’ve been doing all along.  There is a tape recording of me singing at like 3 years old.  Music is in my blood.  But also, I was a very curious and creative kid and made up stories and adventures all the time and constantly asked why.  So it has become my mission to find out who I’ve been all along and let that continue and let it shape me for years to come.

without fear of
This is where you will struggle.  Just being honest.  Don’t let fear overtake you.  Embrace it and harness it because it will keep creeping up.  Why do you think God said “be courageous” so often in the Bible?  Because they were freaking sacred of everything.  Why do you think we value those who are brave more than any other?  Because we are all terrified of something.  You’ll be that way.  And that’s okay.  Keep moving.  Whatever you fear, because it will come in many forms, keep going.  Don’t take a pause.  Keep pushing and hustling.

other people’s judgment.”
This is tough because people will try and squash your ideas.  Some will make an active effort but most will just make subtle comments that you construe in a bad way or they will just discourage you with it for no reason.  Some will actively work against you.  Avoid these people. Some will passively work against you.  Avoid these people as well.
Find those who love you and support you no matter what.  Make sure that they are telling you the truth at every turn but make sure they love through it.

So ready to sign up with me and be a nerd?  I hope so.  This world needs passionate nerds focused on what they can do to make it a better place.  I hope that this quote (and some of my thoughts on it) has inspired you.