I’ve been a church-going Christian for over three decades. For over two of those decades, I was a pastor on staff at a church – first as a youth pastor, then as a worship pastor, then as a children’s pastor. During those years, I could give you some good reasons why you should choose go to church, but for me and for the other staff pastors, there was really no “choice.” It’s not like we could wake up on Sunday morning and say, “Eh…I really don’t feel like going to church today.”
Now things are different for me. Earlier this year, my baton was passed to an amazing and dynamic new kids pastor, and since then, after decades of having no “choice” of going to church (if I wanted to keep my job), now I get to choose whether or not I’m going to church each Sunday.
And I choose YES!
Back in kindergarten, this naughty boy taunted me on the playground, “Bird Brain! Bird Brain! You’re nothing but a Bird Brain!!”
That mean mockingbird.
I wanted to cry at the time, because even though I hadn’t taken any science classes yet to know the actual size and capability of a bird’s brain compared to that of a human, at age five I was confident that anyone who likes to eat worms couldn’t be that smart.
But these days, I sometimes wish I had more of a bird brain. Listen to me chirp for a moment.
Did you catch the solar eclipse yesterday? I had a lot of fun viewing it with my sweet neighbor and her grandsons.
All the talk and expectation leading up to this eclipse got me to thinking about waiting for things, and even more so, about waiting upon God. I’m so glad it did, as I learned just a little more about what it means to “wait” on the Lord in the context of one of my favorite verses—Isaiah 40:31.
I amaze myself sometimes.
I wish I could say it’s my singing abilities that amaze me. But that would be my friend Jessica. Not me. I’m just a bit above average. My dad might argue, as he’s convinced I could beat anyone on The Voice. Sometimes it’s charming to have a lifetime fan who’s always looked at me through rose-colored glasses (or listened to me sing with rose-colored hearing aids), but that’s another post for another day, and I’m (squirrel!!) already getting off-topic.
What I really wish I could say is that I’m amazed by my ability to consistently do, think, and feel the same things Jesus would do, think, and feel if He were walking in my shoes today.
Lesson learned. Happy camping (and living) requires a lot of planning and preparation.
This was one of the life lessons that spoke even louder than the coyotes’ howl-a-thon I heard from our tent in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest last week. After not tent-camping for over five years, it seemed like a first-time experience.
It makes sense that I would derive this “planning and preparation” lesson from camping at this time. It seems I’m more intensely evaluating every part of my life these days. I’m thinking about how my planning and preparation (or lack thereof in some areas) in my 20s and 30s got me to where I am today. I’m also thinking more about how I can – if Jesus doesn’t return or take me home in the the next 20-30 years – plan well and work hard to be prosperous and generous instead of regretful or suffering consequences that could’ve been avoided.
Is this a mid-life crisis? No. I’m too young for that, 😉 but I am old enough to have a few regrets. I’ve dabbled with the blame game and the excuse party from time to time in efforts to calm the regrets, but deep down, I think we all know when we’ve made unwise choices – choices that often come from a lack of planning, preparation, and hard work.
My parents only live six minutes away from me, and I love to stop in and visit as much as possible. Every time I do, they are faced with a choice. With my hands hidden behind my back, I walk right in and say with my best game show hostess voice possible, “Do you want what’s in my right hand, or my left hand?”
Ninety-nine percent of the time, my dad chooses first, and chooses correctly. I don’t know how he does it. The prizes are often both good ones, like a chocolate chip cookie in one hand and a candy bar in the other, but sometimes there’s only one good prize and the other’s a real dud. Dad rarely ever chooses the dud.
If only all of life’s choices were so simple, huh?
James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (NIV)
Have you ever been at an elegant social event for hours, talking with all kinds of people, and you step into the restroom, glance into the mirror and see that big dark green glob of who knows what stuck in your front teeth? Would you ever in a million years decide to leave it there and do nothing about it?
I doubt it. (Just like I would never in a million years film a video with messy hair and no makeup – unless I thought it might help me draw attention to a life-giving truth.)
The lakefront homes across the street from my house are pretty much all vacation homes. Last weekend was the 4th of July celebration; cars were everywhere, and fireworks were boldly exploding for five days straight. Today, just a week later, the driveways are empty, the boats are in hiding, and there’s not a firecracker to be heard. What happened to all the celebrating?
These past few days, while listening to fireworks go off all around me, I feel like I’ve been hanging out with Lady Liberty. No, not the tall one in New York Harbor—the shorter one in Luke chapter 7. She’s impressed me like never before with her bold kind of freedom.
I invite you to watch the video to hear the story, or go to Luke 7:36-50 and read it for yourself. Here’s what this incredible woman of freedom accomplished in less than 14 verses:
Insecurity. Why do so many of us struggle with it so often? I can think of three reasons, and the first one goes way back to the Garden of Eden.
When the serpent set out in the garden to bring Eve down and to separate her from God, he used a specific strategy. He caused her to doubt what God had said. He said to her, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Eve shared her apple and her doubt in God’s word with Adam, and the world was forever changed.