What a mess!

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This morning in chapel at St. John I thought it would be fun to take all the palm branches left over from Palm Sunday and strewn them all down the aisles.  It was a huge mess.  I would say it might have been the biggest mess you can make in Church.  In fact I was pretty sure after chapel the janitor would no longer be speaking to me with kind words.  Kids walked in and were shocked by the mess on the floors. It was a glories mess. (By the way as a youth leader making a mess is what I do)

I had them read with me Mark 11:1-11. It is my favorite version of the story of Jesus being called king.  In this text, Jesus rides his donkey into Jerusalem and the people were excited that this might be the next king to rule. They are excited because they thought he would come and kick out the romans and rule the world again.  Jesus walks into the temple and does nothing.  He just walks back out.  I would say all the people who are holding those palm branches just dropped them on the floor.  He wasn’t the king they expected, but He is a king and he would show them how he would clean up their mess they had in their lives.

I proceeded to share with the kids and staff about the mess we all live with. My family can make some big messes.  Please don’t ever plan on just dropping in because if you do you will see a mess.  If you give me some time I can clean up some and make it look like my house is clean.  In fact I say to my wife and kids.  The trick is make it look good but not too good so they don’t know we worked for a couple hours making it look clean. You see I think many of us have a mess in our lives we pretend isn’t really there, or we spend a lot of time making clean ups look like we have it all together.  But here is the thing we are a mess.

This week is Holy week.  It is the week Jesus shares with us that he isn’t here as some great king to conquer the world but here to clean up our mess.  He shows us his love Thursday through being a servant, then he continues that service on Friday to make the ultimate sacrifice on the cross to clean up our mess.  He rose again Sunday to keep His promise of new life in Him.

If you haven’t been in worship in awhile I would encourage you to join the Church any Church these next four days.  Come and see all He did for us. It wasn’t necessarily what we expected and certainly is more than just a quick cleaning.  Jesus has come and rose again to bring new life and clean up the mess that is our life.

Thank you Jesus for your love and grace.

(By the way we did clean up the sanctuary today, and the janitor is still speaking to me…)

 

 

Stop freaking out you are scaring the children.

img_20161011_074743Today I am sitting in my office and thinking thank you Jesus it is Friday and Sunday is coming.  As I go through facebook, twitter and news sites I am disheartened. I am tired of it all. I am tired of the media stuff I see all around me. I am tires of the memes and misleading articles about this candidate and that candidate.  I am tired of all the anger and hate. I am tired of people looking back at past this person wronged me and now I need to hate them forever.   I am tired of all the damage in our world and I am tired of all the sin. I am tired from my own sin, I am tired of hearing about the brokenness all around me. As I was sitting in my office today all I could think is how can I lead my kids through this?  How can I lead my children from fear to hope?

As parents and adults we are scaring our children.  We are teaching them to live in fear.  I have been at a number of meetings lately with adults who are bemoaning the Church is dying, the country is going to fall apart, what are we going to do?  Her is my response stop it.  Stop it right now.  Stop spending every waking hour worrying about who is going to be elected, stop worrying that our church is missing kids, stop worrying about everything. No matter who is elected in a month the World is not going to end.  The government isn’t going to collapse and the Church isn’t going to blow up.  Above all remember who is in control.

Jesus is in control.  He in control of the Church, the government, and the world.  He is doing amazing things everyday if we just take the time to look around.  I have spent the last 2 weeks meeting with 10 baptismal families.  These are families with young children who are focusing on how they can help their children be a part of the Church so they can be connected to Jesus. It is amazing.

Lets just stop freaking out.  Let stop and be in prayer for our leaders. Lets stop and be in prayer for our friends and enemies.  Lets stop and be in prayer for our Church.  Jesus in control and leading the way.  Lets turn that fear into hope.

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Revelation 4:4-6

Being a Family of Forgiveness

20151125_063036So here is the thing.  I am not a perfect parent.  In fact I probably do more wrong than I do right. I fail to have patience. I fail to look up from my computer screen.  I fail to say the right things at the right times.  I miss the mark on so many occasions.  In fact today I was talking with another Dad and we both commented on how this parenting thing doesn’t have a manual to follow more of a play book.  You run certain plays and sometimes it works and more than often it fails.  My goal isn’t to be a perfect parent.  In fact I would say may goal has nothing to do with even being a good parent.

My goal is very simple.  I want my kids to know Jesus and his forgiveness.  In ministry my goal isn’t perfect kids. My goal in my family is not to have perfect kids either.  (Mostly this is because it isn’t possible) My goal is to show them forgiveness.  To show them when they screw up like I do Grace can come.  Sure we have consequences.  Sure we have struggles because of sin.  Grace is bigger than that.  Forgiveness is bigger than that.  My goal is for my kids to know forgiveness.  Whether it is from me or from each other we are a family of forgiveness.

This week as we gather together as families around a dinner table I would ask you to remember these words. To remember we are to be people of forgiveness.  Family time can be a challenge because we have failed each other.  We have hurt each other.  However we have a God who is bigger than that.  He is a God of forgiveness.  He forgave us, so let us also forgive one another.  May you experience that peace that comes through forgiveness Jesus has won for us. May God help you forgive as you have bee forgiven this week.

 

13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

Speaking the truth in love. Being right and wrong at the same time.

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Life and ministry are messy. When your sitting in a class in college it all seems so easy. Everything is black and white, you can always look in a book for answers. I sometimes long for the day when I could sit in a class room and just think about ministry instead of having to get in the trenches and speak truth into peoples lives. Alas, that is not possible. We can’t stay in the classroom forever we are all called by God to get in the trenches. Whether it is ministry or any walk of life you eventually have to get into the real world. That is where it gets messy.

Speaking the truth in love is a very difficult thing. First and formost speaking truth in someone’s life is a struggle because sometimes we can stand up and think we are speaking “The truth” but in reality we are just speaking our truth. You can’t always know the difference, but I would tell you humility and prayer is where you should start. In any conversation about difficult issues you may end up offending someone or hurting someone because what you learned in class is all well and good, but this is someones real life and it can hurt. You need to be careful.

So how do you speak the truth in love? I often tell people that you can be right and wrong all at the same time. You can be speaking the truth but doing it as such a jerk that you get it wrong. You can do great damage and never get that truth to them because you speak in such a poor way. Speaking the truth in love is one of the hardest things in life to do. The second most important part of speaking the truth in love happens before you speak. Before you speak listen, listen, listen. You can’t speak the truth to someone without listening to them. Understand their story so you can speak truth into it. Lastly understand that you can speak all the truth and all the love you want to a person and sometimes they just won’t hear you. Sometimes their heart is hard, or sometimes you aren’t the one who gets to see their lives changed. Truth change happens when

This is hard part about speaking the truth in love. You do it to people, and people are messy. As you and I speak the truth to people. Let us remember to speak it in love.

Do you hear me?

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Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12-17

It happens all the time… I am sitting in the room with a bunch of teenagers and everyone of them is on their phone, iPod, or other device.  One of them might be talking to the group but in general students today are constantly on a device either with twitter, txt messaging, snap chat or some other electronic from of communication.

The problem isn’t just teenagers. We younger adults and increasingly older adults are getting into the habit.  In fact if I am honest, I am just as bad if not worse than most of the teenagers I work with.  My kids have looked at me with those oh so beautiful eyes and said “Dad will you stop playing on your phone and play with me.” My heart breaks a little every time they say it.

Maybe you can relate, maybe you aren’t there yet, but we all need to struggle with the damage we are doing to our relationships when we don’t communicate in person.  We are so busy trying to communicate with every person on the planet instead of the person sitting across the room.

For all of us in youth ministry but more importantly for all of use as fellow Christians.  We need to be better at this communication thing.  The problem with electronic communication is it is so easy to miss read people and or not hear and see the pain and struggle they may be going through.  It is so much easier to speak ill of people when it is in electronic form instead of speaking to them in person.  These forms of communication are causing many of us to be very mean and hurtful. It is damaging our Christian community and everyday lives.

So what can we do…

We could take our computers, smart phones, iPods, etc. and chuck them out the window into the snow.  I know your heart just skipped a beat. It really isn’t very realistic anyway.  These forms of communication do have a great benefit.  The problem is that if we only use this form we never really know people. When we miss that face to face talking with someone we cannot possibly know them or understand them.  (ask the kid from Notre Dame.)

So who is it in your life you are ignoring or hurting?  Who are you only speaking to on twitter, facebook or txt? How can you show them love and compassion by actually being with them. How can you bring reconciliation to a situation by being in the situation.  I know it is a challenge for all of us myself included but it is a challenge we must all take seriously if we are to forgive and bear each other burdens. To help bring hope to our relationships and lives together.

Still trying to figure out this Christian life, while living in Christ’s grace.

Steve Wilson