Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The plastic church isn’t ever going to reach the real world.

First let me say that I’m not fussing – I’m amused. Back in college I had a roommate that smoked like a freight train. Never in the room but everything he owned smelled like he had just chain smoked a pack of generic cigarettes. Because he probably had. Hey that’s his choice but I specifically requested a non-smoking room. Both of my parents smoked when I was a kid and I had pretty bad allergies, regular asthma attacks, recurring bronchitis, sinus infections, etc. They all cleared up when I moved out so I obviously had a sensitivity to smoke, hence my request. He was a nice guy but at the end of the semester I requested a different room. When he was notified he came to me to talk about it. I gave him my reasons and left it at that. His answer was that he didn’t want his parents to know that he smoked. So when they were filling out the admissions information he lied. Here’s my point. Dude you are a grown man, you need to act like one.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Has it really been that long?! As a pastor in a college town one of life’s little joys is when a college student brings their parents to church. Or should I say when parents take their college student to church. It’s the same scenario every time. The parents come up and introduce themselves and Johnny’s or Jane’s parents with their son or daughter in tow. I can always see it on their face. ‘PLEASE PASTOR DON’T SELL ME OUT! I’M BEGGING YOU.’  I usually pause just long enough to make it a bit awkward and then say something like, ‘It’s great to have you with us today!’ You can see the relief on the kid’s face as they finally take a breath. Although I’ve never seen their son or daughter in my life I know the deal. They’ve told mom and dad that they’ve been attending church since they moved off to college. But they haven’t. And they’re too afraid to tell the truth.

It’s been the same since the beginning.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” – Genesis 3:8-10 NIV


People are afraid of being exposed so they hide. Adam and Eve hid in the bushes. They tried their best to cover up their embarrassment with leaves. And we do the same thing with our lies. Let’s be honest. No really. Let’s be honest. Let’s own our decisions. If we’re not proud of our choices let’s repent and make different ones. Let’s be real about our struggles so we can get the help we need to overcome (James 5:16). Because these little games we play aren’t fooling anyone (except maybe parents of college students although I doubt it). Let’s embrace each other, as real people with real problem and tackle them together. The plastic church isn’t ever going to reach the real world. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Too Many Tomatoes!

I was talking with a good friend this past week about sowing and reaping.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:7-10 NIV

He began to ask me questions.

“What do you get if you plant tomatoes?“

“Tomatoes.”

“What do you get if you plant corn?“

“Corn.”

“What do you get if you plant a little tomatoes?“

“A little tomatoes.”

“What do you get if you so plant a lot of tomatoes?“

“A lot of tomatoes.”

“What do you get if you plant nothing?”

“Nothing.”

“WRONG. You get weeds!”

Let me share another passage of Scripture with you.

“Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.” – Matthew 13:24-28 NIV

You don’t have to do anything to grow weeds! And that applies to every area of our life. That is one of the things I really appreciate about what Paul said in Galatians. God’s law of sowing and reaping applies to natural things and spiritual things. It applies to relationships and money. It applies to this life and eternity.

Farmers plant every year so they can harvest every year.  And we need to keep sowing faithfully. We need to invest in our families, in our health, in God’s Kingdom, in friendships and in our walk with God. My friend also pointed out that we need to sow the most in our areas of need, not our areas of abundance. See if you have more tomatoes than you know what to do with maybe you should focus on something else like corn.

And that’s a sacrifice. When there is an area of need in your life it takes an act of faith to let it go. But faith is the real seed that moves God’s heart. When you plant that seed of love, of compassion, of forgiveness or of generosity you are putting it into God’s hands where it can truly begin to grow.

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” - 1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV


All God asks is that you trust Him with your seed. You will reap what you sow IF you don't give up! I used to see that as waiting patiently, but then I noticed the 'therefore'. Not giving up isn't sitting around, it's getting up and sowing some more, "as we have opportunity."

Are you ready for a LEAP of faith?

I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I was usually the first of my friends to see if we could clear a jump with our bikes, scal...