We don’t really need more technology, better educational
systems, or more promising politicians. Do you know what the world really
We need people who are called to a radical simplicity of
lifestyle, to remind the rest of us that we don’t need what we think we need.
We need people committed to celibacy, to tell us that sex is
neither a necessity nor a god.
We need people who are lavish in prayer and spiritual
disciplines, in order to remind those of us with harder spirits of where our
real help comes from.
We need communities of Christians willing to commit
themselves to support each other in risky, venturesome ways, to goad the rest
of us out of our autonomy.
We need Christians willing to resist the many ways in which
the dominant in our world crush the weak.
We need Christians who find a thousand joyful ways to take
the screwed-up values of this world and turn them upside-down.
“The greatest need for our time is for the Church to become
what it has seldom been: the body of Christ with its face to the world, loving
others regardless of religion or culture, pouring itself out in a life of
service, offering hope to a frightened world, and presenting itself as a real
alternative to the existing arrangement.”
(Excerpts from Van Gelder, Confident Witness, 139,
and Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus)
loves huge displays and dramatic moments. We are moved by stories of incredible
sacrifice or the image of one man staring down a line of tanks. We like the
we’re so moved by the “impressive” – sometimes we don’t recognize the power of
the little and the individual. Remember that Jesus stood at the temple and saw
the rich people with their 6-figure checks, but it was the poor widow and her
pennies that earned his praise. “She gave more than all those rich people,” he
said (Luke 21:1-4 ERV).
discount the power of the little!
No drop of rain believes it is to blame for the flood. But without each drop—there would be no flood!
Many husbands promise that they would die for their wives. In reality, they don’t really want us to die for them. They’d appreciate it if we’d do the dishes, though!
Little things add up.
Little things matter.
Never forget that one person can make a difference.
Never forget that one straw can “break the camel’s back.” One pebble in the shoe can cripple the strongest mountain climber.
sit on the sidelines because you can’t do much. Remember that little is much
when God is in it!
there was a beautiful bird who spent his life inside a luxurious cage.
another bird from outside flew in, when the bird’s owner had accidentally left
the cage opened.
second bird asked the first, “Why don’t you fly away with me to freedom?” But
the caged bird answered, “Each day I receive wonderful food from my master.
Each day my home is cleaned. I am safe and secure and happy. And when I see my
reflection in the mirror, I sing! I am free!”
are a prisoner!” said the second bird.
not!” said the caged bird. “How could I be a prisoner when I enjoy all of
the second bird flew away to freedom while the caged bird remained happy,
singing in his cage, unsuspecting his true condition.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The
slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the
Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)
world is full of birds, fat and happy, unaware of their cages. We come to
announce the good news of the liberating king!
Have you ever shot Silly String at someone? I have memories
of camps and birthday parties with silly string fights and the annoying cleanup
that always followed.
Silly String is one of those accidental products. The inventors
were trying to formulate a hardening foam that could be sprayed on a broken leg
to form a cast in the field. The medical product didn’t pan out, but the
researchers noticed how much fun it was to shoot—and so the product lives on as
a kid’s toy.
In 2006, a soldier named Todd Shriver wrote home asking his
parents to send him some Silly String. He didn’t want to ambush his friends,
though. He wanted to save their lives from ambush.
Shriver and his unit realized that silly string made the
prefect booby trap detector. When entering a suspicious place, the soldiers
could spray the silly string across the room. If there were any tripwires to
IEDs, the string would land on the invisible wire harmlessly and identify its
location. There’s no telling how many lives this silly invention has saved.
I wish there were a spiritual version of silly string that
could be sprayed across our lives. Real dangers surround us. Forces of evil are
at work in our world, and too often we walk around totally blind to their destructive
potential, until we trip the trap and it is too late.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil
prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
There’s a simple recipe. Place three Oreos in the middle of
a room with four 5-year olds. Tears will ensue.
Even as children, we default to selfishness. The things we
do initiatively are the things that are self-gratifying or self-preserving. We
don’t teach kids to be selfish. We teach them to share.
Youth is temporary. Immaturity can last a lifetime. There
are an awful lot of grownups who never got taught that the world does not
revolve around them. Too many adults throw temper tantrums and feel justified
in gratifying every impulse they have. If we assume that our kids will grow out
of impulsiveness and selfishness, we’re probably going to be disappointed. We
need to teach self-discipline and generosity.
That’s why the early church is so impressive to me. Listen
to how Luke described them:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and
the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon
every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were
selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all,
as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking
bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their
number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)
None of this is “natural” or “normal” human behavior. They
learned it from someone. I wonder who that might have been…
Did you know that the average American home is now more than
twice the size of a home from the 1950’s? But the average American family is smaller
than it was in those days.
Did you know that the average American income is higher than
it was in the 1950’s, even when you account for inflation? In 1950, the average
American had less than $2,000 in total personal debt. Today’s average is
$10,168, not includingmortgages.
Despite the fact that we enjoy the highest standard of
living on the planet, the best technology, and incredible access to
opportunities, “it has been over fifty years since Americans described
themselves to pollsters as very happy.” (See David Myers, The American
Hear me well: I’m not asking to go back to the good ol’
days. Solomon said not to ask that question (Ecclesiastes 7:10). Here’s what I
am asking: what has gone wrong? Why are we unsatisfied?
Perhaps, in our pursuit of happiness, we have traded the
things that bring us real meaning for things that are hollow. Only after we
bite into the promises of our culture do we find out that they are empty and
unsatisfying. The antidote is simple: focus on the simple things that matter
most. Invest in your faith, your family, and your friends. All the other stuff
is just stuff.
On this day in 1835, the New York Sun launched “The
Great Moon Hoax.”
In a series of articles, writers announced that a powerful
new telescope had allowed astronomers to see life on the moon. The article
described vegetation, oceans, animals, bat-like creatures and sapphire temples
in vivid detail. People believed it, left and right. The Sun’s
circulation skyrocketed during the times.
Fake news isn’t new. Dumb chain letters existed before email. Gossip and lies are as old as humanity.
Before you repeat it, repost it, or forward it, ask yourself
if what you are about to say is true. If it isn’t, it’s a lie. Take
responsibility for what you share.
Here’s how you might tell:
Who wrote it? Does this person or organization
have a known agenda or bias? Is it a satire or parody site? there an author’s
name attached? Is he or she crazy?
What evidence is there? Look for an opportunity
to go to the source. Read the original scripture, executive order, scientific
publication, or tweet. Don’t assume that the summary matches the headline.
When was it written? Is it out of date? Does it
claim that something will happen by a certain date, and it didn’t?
Who can help me? Can I reach out to someone who
has knowledge in this area to help me sort this out?
What’s my bias? Am I believing this because it
confirms what I already think?
And here’s the biggest question of all: does this show love
of God and love of neighbor? If it doesn’t meet that standard, don’t speak,
share, or post it. It’s that simple.
those new year’s resolutions holding up? You’re now 27 days into the year. Only
64% of them survive the first month according to one 2016 study. Another study
labeled January 12 as the “most deadly day” for resolutions.
what tends to happen: you start off strong, you do great—until you don’t. And
since you messed up yesterday, you might as well mess up today…and tomorrow…and
now you’re off the wagon.
battling addictions face the same struggle. Six months of sobriety end in a
we planned for the fact that we will fail?
skydiving instructor explained that it isn’t the initial impact with the ground
that kills you. If your chute totally fails, when you hit the ground, you’ll
break an awful lot of bones before something worse happens. You bounce – and
then land again, but this time, with a bunch of broken bones. It’s what happens
after the disaster that proves fatal.
have high expectations and lofty goals, but let’s plan for what happens after
we mess up. Let’s be prepared for the bounce.
sounds strange to you, remember that it doesn’t sound weird to God. “My little
children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” John set a
high goal: he didn’t want us to sin! But there’s a healthy dose of realism and
preparation that follows. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the
Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (Read more in 1 John 2:1-6)
you’ve already broken your new year’s resolution. Don’t let one failure become
the reason for a second. Instead, let it be your fuel for a better future.
has a certain way of giving us perspective. Perhaps that’s why the teacher
wrote, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of
feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to
heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days that we
may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Ware was a palliative care (hospice) nurse for many years. On average, she
spent the last 3-12 weeks of life with her patients. Many times, they would
spontaneously express regrets about how they had lived their lives. This
happened so many times that Ware wrote a book cataloguing the five most common
regrets of the dying:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to
live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Many people lived their entire
lives with a dream that they never even attempted to pursue.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so
hard. Ware heard
this so often that she intentionally simplified her lifestyle so she could
“need” less and work less.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to
express my feelings. Many
take guilt to the grave rather than risking an apology. Others never said what
was most important to the people that were most important.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch
with my friends. Don’t
we all see friends and talk about getting together—but never do it?
5. I wish that I had let myself
be happier. Worry
and dread and anxiety are parasites of joy. Happiness is a choice.
Christianity, we have an amazing opportunity to learn from the dead. Will you
make the decisions necessary to benefit from that knowledge?