Monday, August 12, 2013

Like a Ripple in a Pond

"A family is a lot like a pond. If something happens to one of us, it's like dropping a stone in that pond. It makes ripples. And no matter what you did or didn't mean to do, those ripples extend outward and touch other people." -Annie Camden, 7th Heaven
"The inherent connection between all human beings guarantees that someone will get hurt. Because we are, whether we like it or not, one family. The human family. And what happens to one of us, one way or another, happens to us all." -Eric Camden, 7th Heaven

A church family is so interesting, it is very dynamic. Sometimes those dynamics allow the church to grow and touch many people in a positive way. However sometimes we let those differences get in the way of our mission on Earth. And when that happens we still touch many people, but in a negative way. With this understanding we experience a phrase that we are probably all familiar with: actions have consequences.

We often give the word consequence a negative connotation, but really its a neutral term. It can be positive or negative. Our actions have consequences positive and negative; seen and unseen. They don't just affect ourselves, the affect those around us. They affect everyone we are connected to in one way or another.

The culture around us is constantly casting stones into the pond of our national church family. These stones create ripples. How we react to these ripples is more important than the cause of the ripple. Actions speak louder than words. The way we react to the ripples within our church culture reflect our true beliefs. Very often these are not the beliefs we want to be associated with. This is how we become known as hypocrites, homophobics, and bigots.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

This sounds easy, but is actually an incredibly hard command. I struggle with this everyday that I am at work. I come across so  many people that I can't find any reason to love, but loving your neighbor is more than liking them; it's taking care of them when they are in need, praying for them, and treating them as if they were Jesus.

Many people do not treat fast food workers well. Based on my experience Christians do this more than atheists. Its hard to love Christians from this perspective. Our actions have consequences. All the time. Not just when we are out serving God. ALWAYS.

This command is more than just loving each other, its loving each other as Christ has loved us. A love that is hard to completely understand. Its a love that is unconditional, never ending, always forgiving. Motivated by nothing other than our inherent connection to each other through humanity.

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." The Christian legacy is dependent on how we, as Christians, treat each other. The ripples that we react to and the ripples that we cause. Christians had a great legacy in the first few centuries after Christ's death. As times changed and the truth's of Christ were masked by the sins of man the message of Christ got muddled, and as the message got muddled, so did the actions of Christians and it became a cycle. Like ripples in a pond.

Christians do great things everyday through service, yet the Christian legacy today is not so great. Why is that? Serving is only part of our lives. Too often when we stop serving we think people stop looking, but that isn't true. Every aspect of our lives must reflect Jesus. Its never too late to change our legacy. Like a ripple in a pond.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Box Or Our Hearts

I know everyone talks about putting God in a box, but I want to throw in my two cents on the matter. I remember my reaction the first time I heard this statement, it didn't really make sense to me. I guess this is one of those things I view as black and white; either God is apart of your life, or he isn't. If He isn't then going to church on Sunday and ignoring His existence the rest of the week won't really make you a follower of Christ.

In the same way going to church, bible study, and doing volunteer work throughout the week doesn't make you a "Christian" either. So what does? The all famous phrase "Christianity isn't a religion its a __________." I'll let you think about that one for a second... Alright, if you answered anything other then "relationship" please leave a comment with what you put, I'll get with you later. (In fact, I wish people would leave comments on my posts period.) You need to have Jesus in your heart.

Any good relationship is a two way street. You wouldn't spend time with your spouse, children, siblings, or good friends on the weekend then forget they exist on Monday morning, would you? Why not? The same is true for God, He is our Heavenly Father and we should remember Him in all our actions throughout the week; keeping Him in our hearts. As we do this our relationship with the Creator will grow deeper and fonder.

So where do you keep Him the most? In a box? Or in your heart?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Meaning of Life

At night the only light we have is the moon; the light of the moon is not the moon's own light, but the light of the Sun reflected off the moon's surface. In the same way the light that we are called to shine is not our own light, but the light of our savior who has sent us into the world to bring about guidance during the dark hours of night. We must be a reflection of Jesus who is no longer on Earth. We cannot hide our light and keep it for ourselves for it is not ours to hide. We need to go out into the darkness and shine our light for all the world to see; not to bring recognition to us, but to Jesus.

This is the core of our existence as Christians. This is why we are here. This is why God has put us not only in the world, but in our respective countries, states, cities, and even neighborhoods and churches. We are where we are for a reason and that reason is to show Jesus to those in our vicinity who do not know Him. To influence those around us. To help others learn about His love. This is the meaning of life for anyone who follows The Way.

As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
                                                              - John 9:4-5

14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
                                                                 -Matthew 5:14-16

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Winterfest- Worship, Lessons, and Snow

Winterfest is an annual worship conference for teens. It starts Friday night, has two sessions on saturday, and closes out Sunday with an excellent worship service. I learned this weekend that it actually started as a winter retreat for my church, Farragut Church of Christ.

The teens get a lot out of the lessons which is great, I love to see them learn and grow! Unfortunately it doesn't do much for me, but that's intentional. The target audience is high school students. However, its nice to step back and look at things from a different age perspective.

The worship is amazing, its definitely my favorite part of Winterfest. The group "Offering Worship" led the singing; mostly songs from their CD "Awake My Soul". Most of these songs were new to our group, but I loved them. I really appreciated that Winterfest put this information on their website late last year as I was able to get the CD and familiarize myself with the songs.

We got lucky this weekend and it snowed a lot on Saturday. Gatlinburg and snow just go hand in hand. Most of my Gatlinburg memories growing up involve it snowing. So a Gatlinburg experience doesn't seem complete without it.

I'm thankful for the oppurtunity to go on this trip with the youth group and I look forward to many more Winterfests.

Also, Kaleigh wanted me to say that she is my favorite. (Truth undisclosed)

Monday, February 11, 2013


In my last post I talked about how some things have become distractions that keep us from growing spiritually, such as tv. This leads us right into Lent. 

We typically connect Lent with giving things up or in other words, self-denial. 99% of American households own at least one tv. On average every American spends 5 hours and 11 minutes watching television each day. That's about 36 hours and 15 minutes a week; nearly a full time job.

Would you like to guess the average time bible readers spend immersed in God's word each day? Seven minutes.

 I am going to take part in Lent for the first time this year. And I am going to give up tv shows and movies. The time that I would normally spend watching those I will spend on reading the bible, listening to sermons, or listening to podcasts about youth ministry.

I challenge you to do the same. Or if you can honestly say tv isn't a problem for you, then I challenge you to give up whatever it is that distracts you from God and growing closer to him. Spend that extra time you will have deepening that relationship.

P.S  Lent starts on Ash Wednesday which is February 13 this year. That's this Wednesday.

Spiritual Nourishment

In this day and age we have access to God's word so easily, so readily in so many different forms. Hundreds of translations, various methods of telling the stories, thousands of sermons available online at the click of a button and all typically for free. Yet, for some reason we seem to be the most spiritually malnourished generation since Jesus' time on Earth.

Along with this easy access to God's word comes easy access to so many other forms of entertainment, distractions that is. We are so concerned with what's going on in the news, or our favorite TV shows of the year that time with God gets pushed back more and more and more. We say things like "I'll read my Bible tomorrow." But tomorrow is always tomorrow.

Until we change our attitudes, until we change how we think and look at the world, tomorrow will just be tomorrow. It's time for tomorrow to be today; time for later to be now. We can't just sit around waiting for change. If we want change, especially in ourselves, WE have to start it.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
-Mahatma Gandhi
God has given us the nourishment we desire, we just have to seek it, and spend our time in it.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
-Isaiah 55:1-3

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Radio Waves

 Radio waves are all around us, we use them all the time for cell phones, radios, some remotes, etc. despite them being so present in our lives, we cannot see or hear them without the help of some sort of receiver. As we adjust the receiver to different frequencies we will hear the different things flying through the air over these radio waves.

The same is true of God, he is everywhere. He is always with us, present in everything we do, but we cannot see or hear him without a properly tuned receiver. In this case our spirits are the receivers, and it is our responsibility to adjust our spirits to be in tune with God

How do we do this? The same way you have probably been told all your life, read the Bible. The Bible is more or less God's instruction manual to life, and part of this involves developing a deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. Beyond reading the Bible a great way at developing your relationship is by serving! Jesus came to Earth to serve us, as such we must serve one another. By doing this we have the ability to  reflect Jesus, bring others to Jesus, and develop our own relationship with Jesus.

Kudos to the senior pastor at Two Rivers for the basic concept used in the beginning of this post.