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Carrying The Cross

My family makes fun of me because I frequently drive on auto-pilot. I get going and because I normally only drive a handful of places I get there. Problems come up when we deviate from the normal schedule. Jenny anticipates it now, she’ll say, “Don’t forget, we’re going to run by Target first.” It doesn’t even bother me, because in fact I had already forgot. We zone out. We mindlessly go from task to task based on our routine. This isn’t a rhythm that brings us life, it’s a rut that traps us. This is no way to live. The way to get out of it is to be knocked out of it. Jesus has to knock the disciples out of auto-pilot. They are on auto-pilot imagining their corner offices in Jerusalem. Jesus knowing that they are expecting grandeur calls them back to reality. Mark 8:34-36 (NIV) Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it,
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Demo Day

Tearing things down is easy, unless we're talking about our hearts, minds, or souls. In the physical world, it's easier to tear something down rather than build it up. It's easier because no skill is required and gravity works with you. A hammer, some brute force, and you’re done! Given enough time most of us could completely tear down a house, but few would have the skill to rebuild. "Demo Day" might be our favorite when it comes to working around the house, but it's something we avoid in our personal lives. A bad habit is easy to fall into, but hard to break. The idea of giving up for good something like smoking, overeating, drinking, or pornography seems like an impossible task. It's easier to leave the ugliness in than tear it out once and for all. We might not be able to tear it out completely, but most people find they can take a break from their vices. Maybe this is why for centuries the church has encouraged people to make a sacrifice for lent. Giv

The Cup of Service

Greatness! That word in our mind evokes images of standing on top of an Olympic podium, the winning team cutting the net down after a tournament basketball game. Greatness is a Nobel Prize winner. Greatness is military general or a president in a motorcade. Periodically people will talk about someone who has achieved greatness, but I suspect few of us would claim to personally know someone who has achieved it - much less claim it for ourselves. This word “greatness” simply refers to the state of being great. The word “great” seems to be different in our minds. We all know great people, we say it all the time. He’s a great guy…she’s a great gal. Who are these great guys and gals we know? They’re the people that volunteer their time to coach your kids’ little league teams. They’re the teacher or professor that goes the extra mile to make sure you get it. A great husband loves his wife even when she doesn’t remember his name. A great neighbor mows your lawn because they know you’ve been b

The Cup of Forgiveness

Forgiveness alters the laws of relationships the way Superman defies the laws of physics. Forgiveness doesn’t make sense. Perhaps that is why throughout the centuries the church has declared as part of its central faith tenet,  “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”  That’s a powerful statement, let it sink in…if you really believe it then you believe that debts can be cancelled, laws bent, and scoreboards erased.   Give a cup of cold water to your friend? Sure! A stranger? Perhaps. An enemy? No.  We want to do to others as they have done to us or before they can do to us. This is our default, which is why we struggle with Jesus' command to, "Love your enemies." (Matthew 5:44) This command is so difficult that Paul in his letter to the Roman church reminds us of it, as if to say, "Take Jesus seriously." (Romans 12:14-21) Forgiveness is a cup of cold water that we give to our enemies - after we have swallowed our own pride.   Forgiveness is easy to understand -

Every Cup Is Sacred

Sunday we talked about how we can chose to make every moment sacred. That's a challenge, but it's made easier when we truly understand the nature of people. Every person we meet is sacred - created in the image of God. The only people you meet are children of God, made in his image, and loved by Jesus. C.S. Lewis seemed to understand this when he wrote in his book The Weight of Glory... It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal...It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit...Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. We all take a little extra care when we pass around communion (aka the "Blessed Sacrament"). We certainly don't want to be t

Don’t Go Back

USA Today reported that January 17th is the day most new year resolutions fail. Research for why we fail reveals everything from unclear goals to not having an adequate plan for change. The real problem is that making change in our lives is tough. It’s hard work. We want the product but not the process. If we could all just spend a day and learn that foreign language, drop those pounds, or become a Bible scholar we would. But if it takes longer than a day, we’re not sure it’s worth the work.  We’re not alone. The original audience of the book of Hebrews was struggling with finishing strong, with staying the course.  Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down

Becoming a Spiritual Visionary

Watching Hamilton  and celebrating the 4th of July this weekend made me ask, "How did this happen?" How did our founding fathers/mothers create this great experiment in democracy? America isn’t perfect, but it has in it’s DNA permission to speak-up, change, and improve. It has that because they believed we could live free and could govern ourselves. We might call this vision, but it’s really faith. Our founding forefathers and mothers saw what could be, believed in it, and worked to make it a reality.  Faith believes in what is possible. It is the ability to see what can be, but isn’t yet. Faith moves us forward. Hebrews 11:1-2 (NIV) "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." This passage references creation, which is best understood as the belief that