Thursday, May 29, 2008

Approval of People

Imposters are preoccupied with acceptance and approval. Because of their suffocating need to please others, they cannot say no with the same confidence with which they say yes. And so they overextend themselves in people, projects, and causes, motivated not by personal commitment but by the fear of not living up to others' expectations.

I am reading through Abba's Child by Manning right now (mainly because my dad recommended it to me). I was struck by this part of the book today. It read similarily to the questions Paul asked himself in his letter to the church at Galatia. Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. I have to admit that I struggle with the concept of trying to gain the approval of men. Ever since last year's Leadership Summitt with Ortberg's message on "shadow missions" I have been very aware of my shadow mission. In other words, there is a specific mission for my life, but the fake or shadow mission is the one I more often follow after. My shadow mission is quite simple: Trying to please people. I am a people pleaser. I need approval. I need acceptance. I like Manning's description of the condition being suffocating because that is truly what it feels like. Just recently I had to miss a friend's party he was having for his birthday. I was sick and not feeling well (read: terrible diarrhea) and so I decided to stay home. The entire time I felt guilty and bad about not being at the party. And now when he teases me about not being there I feel awful. Why? Because I want his approval. I also struggle in saying no - I waffle around it. I won't say no but I don't say yes because I know I cannot follow through. So I stick in "no man's land". The problem is that it is not my mission in life to please people. God did not create me and say "please people." No my mission is to be completely focused on pleasing and serving God. As Paul said, I cannot be a servant of Christ if my focus is on pleasing people and gaining their approval. Therefore, I am stuck. Based upon that quote from Evan Almighty, I worry about praying for this because I know God will put me into situations where I will need to choose, I fear failing in those situations. All this to say...I know I struggle with this. Identifying the struggle is easy. Fixing it will be the hard part.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Genesis 6:14

I finally watched the movie Evan Almighty last night. I had never seen it, and so I rented it from redbox and watched it. Though I was disappointed in the lack of overall humor compared to Bruce Almighty, I enjoyed two things very much. The first is how the movie portrayed Evan as a crazy person that everyone thought was a nut. When I really think about it that must have been how Noah truly felt. He was warned about something "not yet seen" and then goes about building a massive ark and fills it with all of these animals. Imagine how the world must have thought he was crazy! The faith Noah had to have to give up doing everything else and concentrate on doing a task for God that seemed illogical and stupid. It makes me question if I would give up every sensible and logical human thing I do to take on a task that made no sense for God. Do I have that kind of faith? I so often align myself with what everyone else around me is doing. The other thing I really liked, was the quote that Morgan Freeman as God gave Evan's wife: Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other? I think this quote was incredible. It makes me re-examine my prayer life and God's answering of the prayers in my life. I cannot get that quote out of my mind. I guess I have always known that in some regards, its just when I stop and think about it, I realize how amazing that truly is. God is constantly trying to refine my character. And when I open the door by praying for things like "patience, humility, love, grace, etc" - the best way for those to be molded into me is by God giving me opportunities to exercise them in my life. How could Noah have better faith? By building an ark and collecting animals - doing something completely nuts with no logical sense behind it but trusting God all the way through it. Overall the movie wasn't as good as I thought it could have been (totally under utilized Steve Carrell's funny abilities) I still enjoyed it because it provoked my thinking.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cold. Wet. Proud.

Last night I had the opportunity to go watch my high school seniors graduate (well at least the one's from Mountain View High School). The thing about it was that it was absolutely miserable being at Toro Stadium. It rained pretty much all day yesterday. Because the parking lot was packed at the school I had to park pretty far away. Thus by the time I reached the stadium I was already wet. The temperature was in the low 50's and with the rain coming down and the wind blowing it was exactly pleasant. I sat in the stands with Danny & Shelley Dodson - but on this night let's refer to them as Shea's parents. Anyways, the real point of the whole night was watching all these seniors sit together as one large group and graduate. I was so proud seeing all of my kids walk up to that podium as their name was called and receive their diplomas. Welcome to adulthood! In many ways it is sad for me to see them graduate. I will miss having them around the church. Seeing their smiling faces. Having fun with them. Joking around with them. And getting the opportunity to hopefully have at least a small impact on their lives. I am not sure how much, if at all, I had an impact on their lives. But nevertheless I count myself blessed to have been a part of their lives for the last 3 years. They are all wonderful men and women I wish the very best for their future's. Guys & Gals of the MVHS graduating 08 class - be proud of yourselves. Take some time to have fun and enjoy the moment. Look back with fondness over the time you had in high school. Don't forget to be a kid still once in a while. Take your future into your own hands with zealous fervor. But mostly...don't forget that Christ has lead you this far, keep trusting Him to lead you for the next segment of your life. I was most certainly cold and wet last night...but I wouldn't have missed it for a second. I am proud of you '08 Class - you will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stolen Bases

In my opinion, there will never be a better game than baseball. I absolutely love the sport. Too bad I was never any good at playing it. That being said, I could watch the sport all day long. I love that the season is 162 games. The only thing that makes summer bearable here in the desert is getting to watch the D-Backs (and the Twins when they're on) play. I have already been to five games this summer and hope to hit up at least that many more over the rest of the season. Anyway, the reason for the post is an article I read by Jerry Crasnick on One of the greatest parts to any baseball game is the stolen base. I love watching a real burner get on base and then slowly lead off more and more and BAM - he's off in a flash. The catcher gets the ball and rockets a throw to second. The best of moments are when it is a picture-perfect throw but the base runner slides into the bag a split second before the tag. Absolutely beautiful. Anyway, the article is pretty good - though I feel like Carlos Gomez should be higher on the list. When he learns how to get that OBP higher, he'll rise up the list. The real question, though, is if we'll ever see a guy like Rickey again. Who knows, but as for me, I am hoping for the return of beloved small-ball.

God's will?

I am beginning to hate the phrase "God's will." I have been hearing it a lot lately, and it is just driving me nuts! It seems like every single Christian I encounter drops that phrase. What disgusts me is not the concept of God's will. I do believe that God has a will and wants His will to be fulfilled in our lives. However, I think we hide behind that phrase to justify doing whatever it is we feel like doing. "It is God's will that I quit my job." "It is God's will that I buy this car." "It is God's will that I raise my kids this way." "It is God's will..." I wonder how many times we actually have found His will. Do we really know what it is to have truly found the will of God? Many times in my own life I have made decisions for myself or my family based upon the notion that I was doing it for God's will. The reality is I was simply following what felt best for me. I may or may not have gotten God's will right, but that had more to do with His grace than my actual following. We are selfish people with selfish desires and personal agendas. God's will simply becomes a fluffy way of justifying our decision making. I wonder what would happen if we truly sought after God's will in each and every thing we did? Its hard to tell because I just do not see that happening. Does this mean we are hopeless? Maybe. But perhaps we can do things a different way. Instead of justifying our decisions with the preface of "it was God's will" - it would be better to just admit that we want things our way. If you don't like where you are living - move and admit that you are moving because you want to live elsewhere. You don't like what you are doing - quit and admit that you wanted a job you liked better. You want to buy a car, gadget, whatever - buy it and admit you were splurging on yourself. Could this lead to poor decisions? Sure! But at least it is authentic. Pretending to be following after the will of God while in reality doing something based upon your own selfish desires is far worse in my book. I guess I am just frustrated by myself and those around me. I do want to do what God wants me to do with my life. But I readily admit that I am still addicted to my own selfish-sinful desires at times. What I don't want is for myself to bring the name of Almighty God down to my level just because I don't have the guts to admit I am making a decision based upon me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

To the church in Ephesus

To the church in Ephesus 1"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

I do not think there can be harsher words leveled against a church than these. Now I am not a Biblical scholar by any means, but I understand a true gut-wrenching call out when I see one. I was talking with a friend recently and his perspective on the church was this. That we as a church have become so focused on performance, excellence, and standard that we have lost sight of our love for Jesus Christ. It pained me to hear that his experience with the church was this. Now it is his perspective (thus not necessarily the gospel truth) but it still saddens me to know that he has been driven away because he did not think the church was about loving God and loving people. Are all of our hard work and good deeds useless because we have missed out on simply loving God? It is a gut-check question that I must ask of not only the church but of myself. To know Christ is to love Christ and if we are not loving Christ than I must ask do we truly know Him? I don't know if there are any easy answers to this. However, I do know that it is something that must be asked. I have to know that above all else, I am deeply in love with Jesus Christ and it is only in and through that love that I do anything I do in my life. I also must know that the church I work at, serve at, worship at, grow at, and experience community at is completely focused upon loving Christ first and hard-work/good deeds second. Performance and excellence must never replace loving Jesus. Is my friend mistaken about the church? I think so. I honestly think he is. But I will do whatever it takes to make sure I can confidently say he is wrong. Not because I want to be "right" but because I want myself and my church to be exactly where Christ wants us to be.