I wrote this one for XXX church (www.xxxchurch.com) for which I am a weekly contributing blogger as well as for Every mans battle (www.everymansbattle.com)
Thought I'd share it for those who do not frequent those sights.
How much more can we possibly be oversexed as a society? Recently Jack in the Box did a commercial with about a billion sexual references and risqué themes. Paris Hilton did a tantalizing commercial a couple years back for a burger joint, geez even Buick threw in the “when you turn your car on, does it do the same for you?” lines in their product. Seriously? Is it me, or does anyone not realize IT’S FOOD? Food was meant to be consumed, NOT SEXY. I don’t need sexy food, I need food that tastes good, and doesn’t make me fat. How often do you look at your friends and go “I’m just in the mood for some really sexy food”? Something that really turns me on when I eat it? I need a car that starts, runs and get’s me to where I need to be. I don’t need a sexy car! I don’t need that “sexual feeling” going 75 on the interstate. I need to not have to take it to a mechanic. Avoiding a mechanic? Now THAT’S sexy. Maybe the car companies should do a commercial like that?
Enough rambling. Fact is companies continually make a pledge to OVERSEX their product. Sex sells right? Maybe. But even more LUST sells, imagination sells, and daydreaming sells. This is why it’s so important to fight for sexually purity. We have to rest on the proverb that says “the preparation of the heart belongs to man”. To not allow ourselves to be OVERSEXED we first have to take ownership of our minds, our hearts and sometimes more importantly our EYES. We have to then GIVE that ownership over to GOD. If the eyes are the gateway to the soul, why do we allow them to go to a fro (not intentionally rhyming there, just comes naturally)? We have to be pro-active to keep purity a priority (there I go again as MC Jimmy). I encourage you to keep the remote in your hands at all times. Change the channel. Research your movies, and monitor your music. To be sexually pure is work, and it SHOULD BE. It’s something that beautiful that is absolutely worth defending. Don’t allow society, products, or entertainment to be in control. Look, not so sexy food tastes good too!
So tomorrow another school year begins. This will be my 3rd year as a daddy, and sending of a child to full time school. This year is especially rough on me. I'll be sending 2 kids off. I've written, preached, taught, and counseled people on the importance of realizing how short time is, and prioritizing the things you do, believe, and give yourself to. Nothing to me speaks more true then being a father. As the hourglass ran today, the realization that summer 09 was running its course. It will never be again. My Bella will be a 2Nd grader, my Ari will be in pre-K, and Josiah will poop his pants greater then he has in his entire 7 month existence. The fact is, my babies are growing up too fast. It's something I've never been good at dealing with. No matter how much I do, it feels I can do/be so much more. Sitting on my front stoop, tears running (or flowing) knowing this season is finished is heart breaking. Why? Because I'm a sap? Maybe, I'll give you that! Because I'm a sentimental DB? Probably. But here's what I've watched far too long. I've seen children running after their daddy's, and daddy's falling into the category of great father. I've seen wives support their husbands to the point where it actually looks like he may be a good husband. But at times (not all) I've seen a disconnected man, who has an amazing family in spite of him. This is sin!
I speak with people, and when I'm transparent about how I hate to see my kids grow up so fast, they tell me "Get over it, they will be teens and hate you soon, and it will be easier". See here's the thing....I DON'T WANT TO BE YOU! I want to be me, sappy, emotional, and at the end of the day my wife and my children will never feel the sin of disconnect from their father/husband. They will know daddy loved them with an unbridled emotion. I ask my kids often "please stop growing up". They assure me if they could they would.....
Bella just came down saying she can't fall asleep....Not gonna lie....I'm kinda glad.
This past week I was able to spend a week serving the great city of NY. I took about 19 young adults and high school students with me. We decided to briefly move into the Bowery mission which has been serving NYC since 1879 (primarily the homeless community). We lived, broke bread, shared stories, laughed and served with some amazing people who God was in the process of restoring. I prayed for divine connection for the students to connect with God in a powerful way by most importantly serving Him. As we got there I read to them out of Luke where Jesus is talking about the heart of servant hood, and how the wise servant is the one who is always in the mindset of serving the master (Luke 12:35-47). I encouraged them that these too were God's children, that God loved us no more or less then He loved them. I told them something quite bold as well. The main reason I love working with younger generations is they are daring, bold and courageous. I told them they were on a trip most adults (including most parents) would never dream of going on. There's nothing magical sounding about "lets go live in homeless communities". But there is something beautiful in the experience. I do believe we all received just as much as we gave on this trip. This group was beautiful. Nothing fazed them. When you "move in" with a broken community, the beauty is what you can add to it. It's like if you've ever seen a black and white photo, with just a dab of red in it. At times it was draining hearing so many heartbreaking stories, yet being able to minister to the hurts, the pains, and to be able to encourage people that society would rather forget, to me, is exactly on target to who Jesus was. I felt alive. I felt like I was honored and privileged to wake up INTO ministry everyday, as opposed to having to try to create ministry. It was an amazing time, and I'm honored to have been apart, and can't wait to return...
David said "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made".
Jesus said we are "the light of the world"
God himself calls us HIS people..
Yet it is so funny to me how uncomfortable people are in they're own skin. There's a particular individual I love. It's the person who could care less what others think of them. It's the person who people sometimes can't stand, but are too dumb to realize that life would be dull without them. This type of person has a gift. This is they type of person I always try to be, but in my heart always fall short of. Being in ministry causes you (or at least if done the Jesus way) to be completely vulnerable. Constantly you are opening yourself up to be challenged, criticized, and targeted. Now, you also have the opportunity to meet incredible people. People who no matter what will love you for all that you are, and realize your perfection is a work in progress. There are also those who you have the chance to be something in their lives, and be apart of Gods great transformation in their lives. This is why I stay in ministry. But to deal with so different peoples and circumstances, you have to be comfortable in your own skin. You have to be comfortable with WHO you are, more then WHO EVERYONE wants you to be.
For instance. I hate when people live in the past. Even if I was part of the past, I kill for present and future. I believe what we do in the present and future, gives a tip of the hat, and a head nod to the past. But we were not meant to live in it. When people want me to live in their past, it feels as if at times they are wanting me to be something I'm not. Something I cant be! That never sits well with me. I believe God has called us all to be something unique,and original. For you here's the question.
At the core of you, are you comfortable in your own skin?
Are you the person you have always dreamed of being, or a cheap imitation of someone else?
Signs you are NOT comfortable in your own skin:
Inability to let go
Can't trust anyone
Always wound tight, and can never let loose
You have to be the center of EVERYTHING, all the time
You haven't had a good laugh in forever (at least not when someone ELSE was funny)
Your unable to laugh at yourself
Inside that head of yours, not matter what situation arises, you feel you know more then anyone....about anything...
Signs your completely comfortable in your own skin:
When others attack, you maintain (as hard as that may be)
Your always looking for a smile with someone
Your not someone who says WHAT everyone wants to hear, but more of what they need to hear, or whats truly on your heart.
You look to laugh with others always
You laugh at yourself with ease.
You don't have to be the center of attention that often
You are able to let go
You realize your never really the smartest guy in the room (even if you are)
You easily give credit
Needless to say, we are all God's wonderful creation. We need to be comfortable in who HE has called us to be, and the skin HE has given us residence in....
I'll admit it. I'm a junkie for a good read. I mostly read to learn, rarely for pleasure. I also have a learning disorder. I'm dyslexic and in high school was diagnosed with STMD (short term memory deficit). Basically all my life retention has been a major issue. So I must keep on my game. Constantly (RE) learning things, and (RE) discovering paths I've been down before. This is good and bad. Good on the sense it has forced me to be a life long student, always wanting to learn from others. The good has also been that my creativity is off the charts. I'm usually only limited to my surroundings and people I'm around (the "we can't do that, it will cost too much, that's not who we are types. ). The bad is I'm like a funnel. Information I need to memorize at times just runs right through me, and at times I need it most, it's the furthest from me.
So I dive and again (RE) dive into books. But what I'm realizing the last several months is that in these book, conversations, meetings with leaders, and just theological thinkers and dwellers is that we are quickly becoming over think(ER)'s. The thing I love about my disability is that I have to keep everything pretty simple. When it comes to our faith journey this aggravates the ones who love the in house (church) debates on theology. But for me I love it because it demands me to build a strong foundation on the simple teachings (Jesus' stories) and direct commands of Christ. It forces me to not be able to pull out my arsenal of liturgical readings, and theological studies, and demands I keep it all simple and sweet. Now I surround myself with people who are on the other end. The literary, the brilliant minds (I'm really blessed because I married one). But in the end, the simple gives me the biggest advantage I could want as a pastor. It keeps me closer to the needy. It keeps me relate able to the unwanted, and it keeps me in the center of the people I have the most heart for. The despondent.
If I OVER thought things, it would probably take me away from them. I think readings, studies, leadership conferences are all VERY NEEDED and VERY HELPFUL. But its our job to digest the info and apply the action. I love in acts when the disciples are having to chose Judas' replacement. They have to choose between Matthias, and Joseph. This was HUGE. This was prophesied that they HAD to replace Judas. So how do they do it. They draw lots (think rock paper scissors, but not as animated). No OVER thinking there. They left room for God. They showed themselves approved, and didn't OVER complicate the process. Jesus says in LUKE 21 when warning about the end times. That "others will come in my name saying I AM HE" and warns of "earthquakes" and how they will "lay hands on us and persecute you" but that it would be a time for "testimony". and this is the best in verse 14 it says "Settle it in your hearts NOT to meditate beforehand on what you will answer". HA HAAAA seriously? vs 15: I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist".
Don't OVER THINK. Show yourself a wise student, apply what God and His spirit leads.
take a adorable journey with me IF YOU DARE (lame attempt at an over dramatic statement) OR IS IT? (there I go again).
I want you to try to think the last time you were caught being completely predictable. When that loved one caught YOU being YOU, or that co-worker repeated your "catch phrase" as you said it. How did it make you feel? I know for me mine happened 5 seconds ago. I ran into my local bagel shop to place my order. The 3 fresh faced people behind the counter gave me the usual blank stare as I approached and gave my order. "BLT on a everything bagel please"?......THEN IT HAPPENED!!!!! (OK i gotta stop) the young girl looked back at her "counter"(get it..counter, bagel shop....hello?) parts smiled and went right to work. They of course giving her the glance of WOW AMAZING! See what had happened was she called her shot. What do I mean. Check this.
I'm a sports nut. I'm all things CHICAGO (bulls, bears, blackhawks, and of course cubs). Needless to say I haven't experienced a ton of winning. But there was "THE DYNASTY" where as for 6 out of 8 years I hung my head high as Michael Jordan ran the world. From October the June MY TEAM was elite, and I let everyone know about it. I remember watching games (vs the Knicks...hollaaaaa) where we would be down by 987 points with 7 seconds left, and yet I just knew we were coming back. I remember watching Jordan take over a game against the Pacers one night, and having to wait to see if he made the shot. Not because it was off. But because the shot he just put up was so perfect it barely touched the net in it's travel. It went up and down completely perfect. It was positive predictability, or consistency. You knew MJ was taking over, and at the end of the day he'd find a way to hit the 989 point shot. He just would...he was MJ. Now back to my bagel beauty. I asked her "Am I that predictable?" and she said the worst words I could hear. "YES". Then she burnt my bacon.
Depending on your view, predictability can be good or bad. Consistency can be good or bad. For me, the predictable consistency of MJ dominating the Knicks and a BLT sandwich is good, it's actually fantastic. For the Knicks and obviously deli girl, it's hell. The key here is balance.
There are many Christians, many church's, many ministries that have become so predictable communities know what we are going to do even before we do it. But then there are church's who are so good at what they do when they do it, it shows an amazing art of consistency. Again BALANCE!
I believe God is beautiful and marvelous and majestic because he has the ability to do what we as people sometimes cannot. He can be consistently consistent while
Eleanor Roosevelt said:
“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor”
Like bacon flavored? You better believed I've ordered my last BLT for a while. Or have I?
There's an old saying that something "is worth it's weight in gold". Of course gold has a worth no matter the amount or weight, but the increase in the weight in itself, determines the overall value, (stay with me here, the lameness get's unlame momentarily).
One of the "themes" in my life, that if you cut me to the core, I would "bleed" a desire to see people free from bondage (i.e. depression, loneliness, fear, anxiety, etc). I also love more then anything being a valuable asset to someone going through a trial of sorts. I've got to admit to you, I've walked hand in hand with some pretty awesome people through their trials, and needless to say I think we have it all wrong. See here's what I think (for what it's worth)
The weight (or heaviness) of said particular trial, completely determines the value of your purposee
See the weight of the trial doesn't have to be looked upon as a negative, but embraced as a positive. Another thought is this:
You never know what you have to go through, to be the person you are SUPPOSED to be.
We cannot say we understand completely WHY God allows us to go through trial, and tests. But we can rest assure that the weight will all be proportionate to the value.
See the weight of your trials as a catapult to your purpose. Seek God during these trials, as
Proverbs 3 says:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct[a] your paths.