31 December 2010

Driving Lessons with Dad (Part 1)

I think learning to drive is a rite of passage. And even if it doesn't become much of an experience for the young driver its definitely exciting for the parent. So there I was, well past the time when others got their license, learning to drive with my dad. I had this problem where I would overcompensate when I saw myself drifting toward the edge or middle of the road. Because I was focused no further than the front of the car I had a hard time staying in the middle of the road. The result was that we were swerving everywhere we went. I would drift toward the yellow line then I would adjust the wheel the other way--white line, yellow line, white line, yellow line. My dad bore this all with great patience before finally giving me some advice, "Look further down the road and you'll even out."

I tried it and it worked.

Sure, my dad helped me overcome the awkwardness of those first halting stops and overdone accelerations.

But I also walked away with so much more than the ability to drive.

I learned to look further down the road.

Is there instability in your life right now? Do you find yourself swerving to avoid one issue only to jerk the wheel back to narrowly miss another? Can I give you a bit of advice? Look further down the road and you'll even out. Are your parents driving you nuts? One day you'll really miss having them around. Are your kids pushing the limits of your patience? Try to imagine life without them. Does your job seem impossible to bear? Remember your retirement plan in Heaven.

Notice that gaining perspective doesn't fix the problem--it fixes your reaction to it. The baby still cries in the middle of the night, the bills still come when you have the least saved up and you can still lose your job without warning. But when you're not swerving you're steady. The more you look at the road of life together with God the better your responses to the twists and turns you face. You start to learn to trust His map, His moment by moment and turn by turn instructions and even what He has planned for the unpleasant surprises around the bend.  

This New Years it seems that looking back might help some; but looking forward helps so much more. Happy Driving in 2011!

28 December 2010

Gospel Goof Ups

Every new enterprise starts with great potential and the Christian life starts with the greatest potential. But as with any endeavor the enthusiasm fades, the journey becomes difficult and what was once clear becomes fuzzy. That's why I appreciate, and frequent, blogs like the one below. They help me stay focused and continue in clarity.

Here are some helpful insights to keep us from goofing up the gospel in our lives:

"As I said a few months ago in one of my sermons, there are outside-the-church idols and there are inside-the-church idols. It’s the idols inside the church that ought to concern Christians most. It’s easier for Christians to identify worldly idols such as money, power, selfish ambition, sex, and so on. It’s the idols inside the church that we have a harder time identifying.

For instance, we know it’s wrong to bow to the god of power—but it’s also wrong to bow to the god of preferences. We know it’s wrong to worship immorality—but it’s also wrong to worship morality. We know it’s wrong to seek freedom by breaking the rules—but it’s also wrong to seek freedom by keeping them. We know God hates unrighteousness—but he also hates self-righteousness. We know crime is a sin—but so is control. If people outside the church try to save themselves by being bad; people inside the church try to save themselves by being good."

- From Tullian Tchividjian blog On Earth as it is in Heaven

For a helpful list of ways we goof up the gospel check out the full post here

26 December 2010

Jesus Christ is Our Home

 "Through the incarnation, Jesus (fully God and fully man in his one Person) became not merely the means but the place—the locale—where communion with and obedience to God happens in all its unimaginable fullness."

- From Dan Cruver in Reclaiming Adoption

The full quote here or order the book here

23 December 2010

I Don't Hate Santa Claus

This time of year Jesus gets a lot of press—both good and bad.
Christian artists get ‘Christian’ hate mail for tweets including “X-Mass” (no matter the appropriate historical significance of the “X”). Regular headlines focus on “Merry Christmas” against “Happy Holidays” and the email forwards make their rounds inciting varying levels of ire against those insidious enough to try to take “Christ out of Christmas”! The atheists boycott Christmas and the Christians are supposed to renounce Santa Claus?
I have a confession to make: I don’t hate Santa Claus.
I find his origins to be surprising Christ-inspired. And the mega-commercialism that Santa has come to represent? I’m not surprised. That’s exactly what the world does. Does it surprise you?
So don’t let the world draw battle lines where the Bible doesn’t. Our war isn’t against atheists—it’s for them. That’s why Jesus came. Our battle isn’t against the expected consumerism of our culture (unless it’s consuming us too) it’s for the hearts and souls of those who know nothing else.
At Christmas the glory of Jesus Christ is at risk of being diminished behind Christmas lights and lists and exhausting Christmas gatherings. But what time of year doesn’t pose a threat to our focus?
It is a genuine tragedy to overlook our Lord on the day we remember His birthday. But it’s a bigger crime to misrepresent Christ through the rest of the seasons of our lives. The key to a Christ-centered Christmas is a life that is already Christ-centered.
So what can a Christian do to resolve the tension between making Christmas about Christ and not about the other things that threaten to diminish His place?
Christians have tried different things at different times.
·       Some have opted, in lieu of the sadly commercial juggernaut, not to celebrate a Christmas. The idea is that they would rather not “do Christmas” if it will rob Christ of His place. But just because some do it badly does that mean we shouldn’t do it all?
·      Others have been careful to observe Advent with yearly regularity. Starting to focus on Christ as far as a month in advance and letting each week build in special significance and momentum to the crowning moment of His coming.
·       Others have adopted a more organic approach. Over time, from year to year, these families have tried, borrowed and implemented different ideas at different times to keep the season fresh and focused.
My advice? Take a little from all three. Let there be some things you will not do because it truly robs Christ His place in your family and let there be other things you gladly choose to do to celebrate the advent of our salvation. You can fold the natural emphasis of the season into your efforts to glorify Christ at this time of year. Once the seasonal emphasis fades move forward in other ways. Below are a few suggestions for the journey.

Some Ideas I’ve Come Across for Glorifying Christ this Christmas:
·       Talk to your kids or reflect on the most incredible gift—a gift from a Father and a King to His enemies—Jesus Christ (John 3.16).
·       Reflect on what God the Father is like. Talk about how much you enjoy finding the best gifts for your children and how much our loving Father loves to give us perfect gifts, and does (James 1.17).
·       Invite your kids into the giving side of Christmas (not just the getting side, i.e. making lists). By enlisting their aid in picking out, buying and wrapping a spouse or relative’s gift. Show them the joy of giving.
·       Buy or make an advent calendar and make it a family affair. Have a verse and trinket sprinkled throughout the days leading up to Jesus’ birthday. Chat about the significance that each item represents in terms the whole family can appreciate (e.g. the manger ornament reminds us that Jesus gave up His comfortable home in Heaven with the Father for us).
·       Involve the family in an existing outreach project. Every year organizations make concerted efforts to share both the love and message of Christ through simple gifts. Angel Tree and Operation Christmas Child are two great ways to help your family focus throughout the holiday season on the reality that the greater joy is always in the giving—not the getting. Just think of the impact it would have to pause in the full tilt run toward the presents and spend time praying for the child whose parent is in prison or the child who has never received a present in their lives and ask God to save them.
·       Sing Christmas carols to shut-ins or those at a nursing home.
·       Bake cookies to give away (and eat at home too)!
·       Invite your neighbors to a special Christmas Eve service and have them over for hot chocolate too.
What ideas or traditions have you experienced that help you and your family bring Him the most glory this time of year?