Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pub Talk

My roommate and I frequent a certain bar in Fells and catch up on life. Last night was one such night. After dinner and talking we decided to walk down to the bar and have a drink...we got there and sat at the main bar with our drinks and started up a conversation that we had left off from earlier. Within a half hour of being there two men came up and sat at the bar beside us saying that we were the only two "normal" looking people to talk to in the whole bar (likely story). Oh how wrong they were...the first question that they asked us was what we did for a living. When we answered they knew immediately that we were anything BUT normal. Working for a church when you're 20-something isn't exactly normal...but the question that they asked is normally a very safe question for 20-somethings. The guys looked at us a little stumped because they didn't quite know where to go from there with the conversation. Now, all the bartenders at this bar know us and know what we do, so it's always really amusing for them to observe the men who approach us and how quickly they tend to retreat. But not these guys, they were determined to see this conversation through. After some really awkward questions about faith and politics I began to realize that this is what being a Christian should really be like all the time. That this is where ministry takes place...at the bar! That we are witnessing everywhere we go...not just at church but at bars, grocery stores, at the gym. The term "they will know that we are Christians by our love" is corny but true. There should not be a time when we aren't witnessing to our faith...but the cool thing is that we can still be normal and do that. I can have a conversation with someone in a bar over a drink.
It is always funny that the first question after people find out what we do is "are you allowed to drink?" People have such a warped conception of who Christ is and what religion is. So many people only see religion as a means of controlling people and oppressing freedom...but Christ said it perfectly, "I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly." He is not a God who oppresses His children...rather He is a God who allows us to live in freedom and love...His love! I think that G.K. Chesterton said it perfectly “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” We need to rise up and show the world that the Christian Ideals that we hold to as truth are worth the struggle that will end in victory with Christ. Maybe that starts with a conversation in a pub!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

If not now...when?

Toby Mac just came out with a song recently called a City on Our Knees and the lyrics are awesome! I was reflecting on these lyrics and how the song asks:
If you gotta start somewhere why not here
If you gotta start sometime why not now
If we gotta start somewhere I say here
If we gotta start sometime I say now
I think sometimes we get very caught up in saving the world that we miss the mission right in front of us. On the home front, if you will, we are called to do something HERE and NOW. There is so much that needs to be done in our own communities. But we can't start until we start on ourselves. Remember the passage about not pulling the splinter out of your friends eye while there is a plank in your own? Did you ever stop to think that on an airplane they advise you to first put on your own air mask before assisting the person next to you? There is a reason that we need to take care of our own spirituality first sometimes. It helps us to minister (yes, we're all called to minister in someway) when we are being ministered to! As Toby Mac says, we gotta start here and now. That's just my thought for the day. Check out Toby Mac's song. Peace!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"God's greatest attribute...

is His mercy."
I had a professor in college (a favorite) who always said that if we put that quote on the front of our test books he would never fail us. He said that if God was merciful enough to offer us life in His kingdom that he could be merciful enough to not fail us. Everyone in his class always remembered to put that on the front of the booklet. But all of us, also, studied very hard for his tests regardless of the fact that we knew we wouldn't flunk. I think it was because we respected the man so much that we wanted to do well for him. The thing I loved about his teaching was that he taught what he lived, he didn't live what he taught. I think there is a huge distinction in that. There are people who will live what is taught to them, but then there are people who live a certain way and teach by that example. As Christians, we are all called to live that way. St. Francis of Assisi said that we should preach the gospel at all times and only use words when necessary. That is living our life in a way that teaches others how to live too!
But no matter what we do...there will never be a time when we don't need God's mercy! We can never do anything to "earn" heaven. There are not enough good deeds in this world that would allow us to merit heaven...Only God can bring us into eternal life. I think sometimes we get caught up in doing good deeds but it is God who sees our hearts and loves us through everything! One of my very favorite passages in the Bible is in the book of Psalms chapter 18:19-20 which says "He [Christ] saved me because He loved me." I did nothing to deserve it (salvation), I've done everything to have lost it, but that doesn't change the fact that He loves me! What a gift! God's greatest attribute is His mercy! How thankful I am for that gift of mercy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Lord's Day

I recently upgraded my phone and much to my dismay I had to have a middle school kid show me how to put the phone on silent! Crazy...this world is moving so fast I can't keep up! But yesterday helped me to slow down. After numerous times of having to go back to my office because I forgot this or that for youth group, I found myself starting to get irritated with the people around me driving slow or walking slow...I had to literally stop and remind myself that even if I was working it was still the Lord's Day. How often do we get caught up in what we're doing and we don't even stop to think that there is something bigger going on in this world? On the Lord's day we are commanded to slow down. That is actually a COMMANDMENT! Weird eh? I think that God really knew what He was doing. He didn't command us to work...we do that out of necessity. But He knew that we'd get caught up in that...and so He commanded that we take one day that is just for reflecting on Him.
There are so many ways that we do that. But we get caught up in sports and practice, homework and yardwork, and we forget that all of these things are pointless in a grand scheme of things. Jesus reminded us in this Sunday's gospel that it is hard for a rich man to get into heaven...even if he observes the commandments. God alone knows the soul. The rich man went away sad because he had many possessions. He was invited to follow Jesus and he turned away. We all have that invitation, how often do we walk away? It's sometimes easy to walk away because we have the INTENTION to follow Christ later and before we know it...time has flown by. Just like I was saying about how quickly technology changes in this world...so to does time past just as quickly. There is a verse that says the pathway to hell is paved by good intentions...how true.
The Lord's Day is an opportunity to stop and make time to reflect on Christ's invitation to follow Him. Yesterday I forgot that...I didn't take enough time to reflect on my invitation to follow Christ. But the great thing about Christ is He invited me again today to follow Him. Take time for the Lord today...take time to reflect on His invitation to you!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Spirit Week

It's that time again...homecoming! I remember when I was in high school and things were so crazy the week of homecoming. Spirit week was the biggest time of the year for us in high school...now that I am a few years removed from high school and I find myself working right near a high school I am getting caught up in that excitement once again. Isn't it funny how sometime things just throw us back to a time in our lives that are either good or not so good as far as memories go? Remember those times? Were they a long time ago, or just last week?

That's not really what I wanted to talk about though. I wanted to talk about something different...it still has to do with spirit...but I feel like this week is totally spirit filled for a different meaning altogether. This week the Church celebrated a lot of feasts, one being today, which is the feast of the Little Flower, or St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. This past week we also celebrated the feast of the Archangels on the 29th and then tomorrow we celebrate the feast of the guardian angels, and there are many others that are coming up! God gives us so many opportunities to experience the Spirit and His Grace...we need only to be open to it. Let it rain down on you this week! Praise God for His infinite mercy!

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