February 28, 2011

3 Months of Fatherhood

My son turned 12 weeks old last week, which I think is the same as saying 3 months?? (I'm still learning the whole weeks vs. months age thing) So, I thought I would share a couple things I have learned after 3 months of fatherhood.

One of them deals with love. It is unexplainable why I love this little boy so much. He has not done a single thing to earn, let alone deserve the amount of love I have for him and yet, I would do anything for him. This got me thinking...I have read, studied and talked about the love of God for years but it has not been until recently that I have gained a better understanding of what it means to be loved as a child of God. When I think about it like this, it seems to make a lot of sense; God loves us as His children despite the fact that we have not and cannot earn His love. He just simply loves us a lot!

Another one deals with patience. I’ve realized how important it is to have patience. In those moments when he is upset and seemingly inconsolable, somehow, someway, patience shows up. I know we can all think of times when we failed to show someone patience; maybe it was a child, a friend or a co-worker, but for whatever reason, we missed the opportunity. I am thankful for the many times that others have been patient with me, especially the patience God shows me on a daily basis.

The last one I'll share right now has to do with saying 'no.' I am quickly realizing the need to say 'no' to things that keep me away from home. Meetings, events, working late...NO! It has already happened too often that I have come home to have my son already down for the night. Getting home late combined with leaving before he gets up in the morning makes for an entire day without me seeing him or him me. I am not ok with this as a "normal" thing. I can tell it's a slippery slope and am determined not to fall down it.

I didn't even get into things like taking a ton of pictures, starting to use cloth diapers or skyping with grandparents. I'll save those for another time.

February 25, 2011

Messy Spirituality || When Jesus Meets Our Mess

Sorry it's been so long. Here is part 2 of my sermon series inspired by the book of the same name, "Messy Spirituality" by Mike Yaconelli. As always, I enjoy your feedback.

Remember from part 1 that life is messy and sometimes we make the mess and other times we don't. We try desperately to clean-up the mess but it just doesn't seem to work. We can't get it figured out on our own despite the fact that we're all a bit messy (Romans 3:10, 23).

Our messiness causes us to play all sorts of different games with ourselves and each other. I'm going to highlight three:

The Games We Play
-At some point we have to say enough with the pretending
-Authenticity is synonymous with spirituality

-We compare what we know about ourselves with what we don’t know about others
-So often we think no one else is struggling like we are or that there isn't anyone as messy as us. We must realize that Messy Spirituality is for the rest of us who thought there wasn’t a “rest of us"

-We deny the presence and power of God’s unconditional love & grace in our lives
-We end up paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, insecurity, self-doubt, insignificance and guilt
-When we play the denial game, we miss the rest of the passage…Romans 3:24
-2 Corinthians 12:9a

Working through some of the different games we play leads us to wonder what happens When Jesus Meets Our Mess:

He shows up!
-The mess does not disqualify you from knowing Jesus
-“Jesus is not repelled by us, no matter how messy we are, regardless of how incomplete we are. When we recognize that Jesus is not discouraged by our humanity, is not turned off by our messiness, and simply pursues us in the face of it all, what else can we do but give in to his outrageous, indiscriminate love?” (Messy Spirituality pg 17)

It isn’t about being “finished,” it’s about trusting God in our "unfinishedness"

It’s not as if Jesus is waiting for you to get your stuff in order, He wants to help put it back together

We must admit we're messy…that each of us is a “work in progress” as we try to follow Jesus

February 8, 2011

Wesleyan Perspective on Justification

My twitter friend Jay Miklovic (@jmiklovic) is doing a 4-part series on justification from 4 different perspectives: Confessional Lutheran, Reformed, Wesleyan, and "Outlaw Preacher" on his blog. He asked me to write the Wesleyan perspective, which I invite you to check out and the 3 other perspectives and share your thoughts, either here or there. Let us know what you think.

February 5, 2011

Messy Spirituality || The Messiness of Life

This is part 1 of my sermon series from the month of January inspired by the book of the same name, "Messy Spirituality" by Mike Yaconelli. As always, I enjoy your feedback.

Regardless of what anyone says, life is messy and we all have messes in our lives. Anyone that tells you otherwise is in denial and/or a liar. Sometimes the mess is one of our own making through something we did or didn't do, said or didn't say. Other times we are thrust into the mess by the actions or inaction of someone else. Either way we find ourselves faced with the messiness of life and how to deal with it.

More often than not we try to manage the mess ourselves and at times fail miserably, making it even worse. We attempt to pickup pieces that have been scattered on the floor and put them back together but can't seem to make them fit. Many of us struggle with being too busy. We lose our focus on the things that matter by allowing ourselves to be distracted by things that matter less and the next thing we know, we find ourselves with a mess. Broken relationships, failures at work, a spiritual life that seems non-existent...just a few of the messes we might be experiencing.

The good news is the messiness of life does not disqualify you from being spiritual. It's not as much about perfection as it is about connection. Jesus gives us the example of perfection knowing that we fall short of it on a daily basis and still invites us into relationship with Him. Think for a second about the people Jesus hung out with, it seems as though the implications of Jesus' ministry is that anyone can be spiritual, regardless of their mess.

Is it possible the first step to an authentic spiritual life is admitting the mess? What if the messiness of life is the place where this authentic spirituality is shaped and practiced? Could it be that following Jesus is messy?