Categories
Good News

A House of Good News

What if everyone on my block knew who I was? What if other people on my block knew each other because I introduced them? What if I knew what the needs of my neighbors were and were in a position to activate others to help? And what if I had an eye to initiate or come alongside a program to serve my neighborhood as quickly as I come alongside my church?

That would be good news in my neighborhood, wouldn’t it?

That would look a lot like Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:39, wouldn’t it? 

Love your neighbor as yourself.

It’s one of those obvious things we don’t do. If you are like me you think, “Gosh, that would be cool. But I’m not _____.” [Insert your excuse, mine is too busy already.]

But think of the possibility of this dream. What if my neighborhood were good news for residents? What if, compelled by a love for Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, neighbors got to know one another, learned to love one another, and helped to meet one another’s practical needs. What if people thought about the place that they live as a source of life instead of just a place to live?

Is that possible?

Of course it is. We believe Jesus at His word on so many other levels, why not the most basic one? Love your neighbor as yourself. He didn’t say, love your family as yourself or love your church as yourself or love your TV as yourself or love the idea of a neighbor as you love yourself.

You and I are the change agents who can make this happen. Ephesians 2:10 is clear, we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. So let’s get on that horse and do some good works!

You just have to push away the voices inside of you that tells you it isn’t your job. Or that being involved at _____ is enough. Or that you are too busy, your neighbors are annoying, they don’t want to know one another. On and on. Don’t let the voice of doubt win.

5 First Steps You Can Do This Week

  1. Learn 5 names you don’t already know on your block.
  2. Create a simple drawing for your fridge. Make a box for every house and put names in every box.
  3. Take a slow walk every day this week on your block with the intention of saying learning names. “Hi, I’m ___. What’s your name?” You can do that. This works well after work when people are out and about. It also works great in the morning if you have a dog. (The dog will love this!)
  4. Pick the newest person on your block and intentionally introduce yourself. Welcome them to the neighborhood.
  5. Tell 1 person your dream for the block, that it would be a place where neighbors are not strangers.

You’ve got this. You can do it! 

Categories
Christian Living

Why are YOU here?

Next.

I walked up to the counter and handed the woman my passport and paperwork. She examined in closely, scanned my passport, and looked over my paperwork.

30 seconds go by.

60 seconds go by. She is still clicking on things on her computer. Tension builds.

“Tell me why you coming to Canada.”

“I’m speaking at an event.” She types that into her computer.

“OK… what type of event.” 

“It’s a retreat for Lutheran church leaders. I’m just here for a couple of days.” 

“OK… but why are YOU here? Why did they invite YOU to speak?” 

This went back and forth for about 5 minutes. She would type on her computer and occasionally ask a vague question. I stood there waiting for her to give me my passport back.

I’ve visited about 30 countries and gone through tons of passport checks. I know that the longer you stand there the worse it is. The first stage is standing at the counter answering questions. Then, if they aren’t satisfied with your answers, they take you and your passport into a side room and ask more questions. And if that doesn’t go well you officially get detained. Time is not your friend. You want this process to go quickly and on this night it wasn’t going quickly.

In the back of my mind I was trying to figure out why this wasn’t going well. After all, I’m an American and I’m going to Canada for 3 days to speak at a small gathering of Lutheran youth workers. Our countries are friendly. Lots of people travel back and forth for a wide variety of reasons each day. But the longer I stand there the more introspective I get. I’m wondering if my newly renewed passport has an error. I’m kicking myself for checking the “business” box on my declaration. I’m wondering if I have an unpaid parking ticket or something. And I’m wondering if her computer told her that my dad was recently deported from Canada when he made a wrong turn and illegally entered Ontario on his way to a coffee shop. Why DID this group invite me to speak? Yeah, what made ME an expert on those topics? Why didn’t they bring a Canadian to do this?

Finally, I put on my smile and asked her, “What haven’t I told you that you need to know?

She smiled, (always a good sign) and said “I’m trying to figure out if you need a work permit. Is this event open to the public?

I described the event to her, that is was just for denominational pastors and wasn’t open to the general public, and 30 seconds later she handed my passport back to me and loudly said, “Next.”

Why are YOU here?

Her emphasis has stuck with me. It’s a great question. And a question we all need to wrestle with, no matter what God has called you to do.

Why are YOU here? Why you? Why not someone else?

He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Ephesians 2:10 The Message

Categories
Christian Living

In defense of blunt

Some writers have explained the English constitution thus; the king, say they, is one, the people another; the peers are an house in behalf of the king; the commons in behalf of the people; but hath all the distinctions of the people; but this hath all the distinctions of an house divided against itself; and though the expressions be pleasantly arranged, yet when examined they appear idle and ambiguous; and it will always happen, that the nicest construction that words are capable of, when applied to the description of some thing which either cannot exist, or is too incomprehensible to be within the compass of description, will be words or sound only, and though they may amuse the ear, they cannot inform the mind,for this explanation includes a previous question, viz. HOW CAN THE KING BY A POWER WHICH THE PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO TRUST, AND ALWAYS ABLIGED TO CHECK?

Thomas Paine, Common Sense – January 1776

Thomas Paine, and his best-selling pamphlet, united ill feelings towards King George and solidified the people into a full-fledged declaration of independence from England and the war which followed.

Words, written bluntly, did that.

Paine didn’t dance around things or talk about them in a way so as not to offend. He went for the jugular with his pen and twisted when he found a vein so as to cause maximum damage. He went for the kill and got it.

As I’ve been reading Common Sense it reveals to me over and over again a simple truth: We have gone soft.

Something was wrong in his world. And he knew that others felt the same way. So he published his words with the hopes of putting his frustrations into action.

If he were to say those things today about our country? We’d call him a terrorist. (Or another label… even if we agreed with him, we’d have to disarm his words with a label.)

The pen is still mightier than the sword

Political-correctness is very effective. It leads to stalemates and exchanges of niceties. But being nice never leads to action. Compromise is the best you can do.

Meanwhile, the world is in desperate need of truths to be told, lies to be exposed, and convictions to be stood upon.

Millions will die in the coming decade because we are nice.

As believers in Jesus, we acknowledge that millions will go to hell because we are too nice (or want to protect our job) to do anything about our churches reaching 5%-10% of the general population of our country.

I’m 34 years old. I don’t have time to waste being nice.

This is what I tell people when they ask me, “If you know things you write will make people mad why do you still do it?

Have you ever met someone in their 70s full of regret? Looking back on their life they tearfully tell you the things they wish they had done, said, or the person they wished they could have been?

I have. And those conversations drive me to do and say things based on my convictions today. I’m not going to sit back and play nice as it only leads to compromise and regrets.

You are who you are on purpose

I’m stupid enough to believe what the Bible teaches me. And I hope you are, too.

God doesn’t have you where you are at by accident. You don’t live where you live accidentally. You don’t work where you work accidentally. It’s no accident who your co-workers are. Or your friends. Or the board you sit on nor the role you play at your church.

You were created for this moment to have the thoughts you have today and to say them. Fear God alone, not the consequences of putting to action the things God has laid on your heart.

Knowing that, have no fear. Just say it. Do it. And live it.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

No regrets.