What does it all mean?

oscar

A Lenten Reflection on Luke 14:25-33

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost

This morning the news is filled with a recap of the Oscars. We have seen the awards given. We have seen Chris Rock’s response to #OscarsSoWhite. We have seen it all and yet I sit here wondering, what does it all mean?

You can spend all day analyzing Chris Rock’s speech. You can spend time today talking about Sylvester Stallone’s case for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. You can tweet and post to your content about Lady Gaga’s performance. But one single question remains for me, what does it all mean?

What does it mean when the Movie community is more bold about speaking out against Campus rape, LGBT issues, Race, economics, domestic violence, and other things than the church? Where is our voice? Are we afraid?

Am I afraid to be prophetic because of the ramifications? Are we afraid to be bold because we are comfortable? Are we just too disengaged because we have lost our focus?

I am not certain yet, but I think it is time to do some calculating. It is time to figure out what the costs are and whether we are willing to pay them. Are we ready to be prophetic again?

Maybe just maybe its time to #countthecost and #bethechurch.

 

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Stop Wasting it

timewasting I got up this morning  early to do some reading and some preparation for the day. Instead, I ended up reading about last night’s Golden State vs. OKC basketball game. The next thing I knew it was time to get moving and start my day officially. After all, I have church services this morning.

I would think that I am probably not along though. It is the one thing we all share in common. It is not parsed out based upon your age or race. You don’t get more if you are a man or a woman. We don’t get anymore in New Jersey than they do in Montreal.

Time.

I probably have wasted more time in my life than I would care to admit. “there is always more”, I foolishly tell myself. Yet, that is not always true. The parable in Luke 13 about the Fig Tree speaks to this. Eventually we all run out of time. There will be no more tomorrows.

Maybe today can be different. This can be the start of something great for me and for you. Let’s  do all those things we keep putting off. Reading the bible cover to cover. Spending deep time in prayer. Serving. Caring. Loving.

Right after I get my coffee that is.

There will be time….later

Stranger Danger

stranger We are told from the time that we are small to be careful of strangers. As we grow older, some of that fear seems to remain. We continue to be wary around those we do not know or those that are different than us. All we need do is to turn on the morning news and see this fear being trumpeted (no pun intended) and promoted in many ways.

Recently, the presidential debates have given me pause.  We see people pandering for votes by demeaning others. We watch as people shout and scream about how horrible the other candidates are. We witness the candidates demean groups of people and try to fill us with fear about what may happen to us if we don’t act.

I was reading in the Gospel of Luke this morning and was reminded of what happens when we keep our minds open. We can be surprised by the other. In Luke 17,  10 lepers get the attention of Jesus. Jesus sends them to the priests to show themselves and on the way they are healed. 10 of them are healed but only one comes back to give thanks.. A SAMARITAN.

No…it can’t be…. that would be like 10 people being given something from the church and only the Mexican immigrant coming back to say thanks. Or perhaps it would be like 10 people given job training at the church and only the homeless guy from the inner city coming back and giving thanks.

We are so fearful about people that look different than us and act different than us and perhaps sound different than us that we become easy marks for the politicians. They feed on that fear and continue to divide us by religions, politics, gender, race, etc. Enough is enough.

Let’s spend more time giving thanks for what God has given us and less time fearing the “other”. At the end of the day, Jesus is the Messiah for not only you but THEM as well.

Don’t let fear win.

Let your faith make you well.

 

 

Riding out the Storm

IMG_3759    Last night, the winds were whipping around and then all of a sudden there was a huge crash. We went to the deck and looked outside and saw that our grill had been knocked over. It was hard to believe what we were seeing. The grill seemingly had a low enough center of gravity for this not to have happened but yet it did. The mistake apparently was that we did not have the grill secured/tied against the deck.

This morning, I looked outside and it all appeared so calm. Yet, the aftermath of the storm is still laying tipped over on my deck.  The momentary surge of wind had left its mark. There will be plenty of cleaning, setting up, and checking in the near future.

This morning, I was reading Psalm 71 and was struck by the 3rd verse that paints a picture of God as a rock. God as the rock of fortress and habitation. What a wonderful image to have of God. In the midst of storms and troubles there is a place of safety. In the turmoil of our day there is a place of rest. In the middle of the storm there is a firm foundation. Our Redeemer.

Last night in bible study we looked through the Book of Job and marveled at Job’s reaction to the pain and calamity that had overtaken him. In the depths of it all, Job is able to see his Redeemer. Job sees God standing tall through it all. His rock has presented himself and will never waver.

So today, I will go outside and stand up the grill and look to the heavens and say a prayer of praise and thanks. For in the midst of it all, I know this one thing.. My Redeemer lives and for that I say

AMEN!!!!

 

Grumblin’ and Mumblin’

zack

I am going to give you a choice and it is a fairly simple one. In a room before you there are two groups of people. The one group is very quiet and seems to be doing a lot of whispering. They seem to be a little agitated. The second group is markedly different. They are a louder and really seem to be enjoying themselves. At first glace it is a pretty simple choice, correct?

Yet, the reality is more often than not, I believe many people would end up gravitating to the group that looks a little agitated. We seem to be a little mistrusting of people that seem joyful and hopeful. For many of us, our natural inclination is to assume the worst in people or of situations. I know it may seem harsh but how else do you explain what we are witnessing in our country?

The political process is running full steam and poll after poll suggests that our country is not one filled with hope and change but instead on filled with fear and mistrust. We are a people that are apparently willing to keep a certain group of people out of our country based on race or religion. In essence, we have given corporations the designation of people but certain groups of actual living and breathing humans we are okay classifying as “less than”.

There is “good news” of a sort though. The good news is that this does not seem to be a new thing. I was reading the 19th chapter of the Gospel of Luke this morning and was reminded of the story of Zaccheus. We all know the story but here is a link in case you need a refresher:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+19&version=NASB

I was taken aback at the end of the story by the crowd’s reaction to what they had just witnessed. Instead of being filled with joy and excitement they were that group on the one side of the room that looked agitating. They began to grumble at the good fortune of Zaccheus. They didn’t like what they were witnessing. There reaction was all about keeping people out and at a distance. They had a choice to react with joy at the sudden transformation that they had seen but instead reacted from fear and doubt.

How often have we done that? How many times have we chosen to grumble instead of participating in someone else’s joy? How often have we grumbled ABOUT instead of rejoiced WITH others?

 

Dear Lord, bring us a moment of clarity this morning. Help us see live with joy anf hope instead of doubt and fear. Amen.

Calvin and Hobbes, John & John

calvin

I never considered myself a tattoo guy, I really didn’t. Yet, over 20 years ago, I found myself grimacing in pain and getting my first tattoo. I sat in the chair wondering what I had gotten myself into. Yet, I pushed forward. After all, I was not just getting any tattoo. The one that was going on my calf was a tribute. It was the exact same one that my brother John had on his calf. John had died and I so desperately wanted some thing or some way to hold onto him.

The guy doing the tattoo? He was quite an imposing figure but he was a big guy with a twinkle in his eye. He was trying to reassure me that I could handle it, he chose to use the aged old tactic of mocking me. Somehow it worked. I made it through that experience and never forgot a moment of it. The gentle giant that did my tattoo was my soon to be brother-in-law John.

Today, the tattoo and that experience serve a dual purpose. They will forever remind me of my brother and my brother-in-law. Two men who left this world way too soon. Yet, really don’t so many of us leave this world “too soon”?

Too Soon – to do all we want to 

   Too Soon – to tell people how we really feel

Too Soon – to understand what really is important in this world

So, before it becomes “too soon”  go do what you have always wanted to do and tell people what you want to tell them and understand THIS:

“Big” John’s life mattered. He loved big and lived big. He made choices perhaps we all couldn’t understand but did what he thought was best and made the most of what he had. There is a great lesson for us all…

Life is precious. Enjoy it.

Life is tough. Overcome it.

Life is whatever you make out of it. So go make a masterpiece.

Perhaps your masterpiece will look like Calvin and Hobbes and perhaps not.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what it looks like. The masterpiece is yours, just like it was John’s.

So go out there with a twinkle in your eye and shine brightly my friend…just like John.