I took this picture while up hiking a couple of weeks ago and thought it was pretty cool. It’s a small tree growing from a rock formation that we stopped by while in the mountains. I was thinking today about this coming year and all the challenges that are ahead. This small tree is flourishing in an environment that would not be considered ideal for growing strong and healthy. It is hard for me, even as a pastor, to always see the importance of making the most of every situation in life because our flesh wants to always be focused on being in control and that includes our surroundings. When this little seed landed between the crack in the rock it found soil, or something sustainable for its life, and began to grow. Maybe that small seed is you at the start of this 2013. You don’t feel like you are in “proper” soil to grow and be the person you want to be. Maybe you need to just look around at what can sustain you and let God bring the growth. As I mentioned in my New Years Day thoughts about giving God control of your life this year in the face of the unknown, really think about what you are doing to give yourself a fighting chance at happiness this year. When i was sick, I was tempted (and actually did for a while) walk the path of anger at God for the things I thought He was needlessly allowing in my life. But in reality, I see what he was doing in the difficulty to help me understand the importance of giving complete trust in all parts of my life to Him. Let 2013 be a year of growth for you but not because of the perfect soil and growing conditions that the world and its marketing will tell you exists. Life is about ups and downs but the one thing that can stay consistent is a relationship with Jesus. let growth come out of the hard or stony times of your life by trusting that God can bring the increase in any and all circumstances and situations.
My wife and I are on vacation this week and I was teasing her that I was going to practice Farkle rolls. We have recently taken up the game of Farkle which is similar to Yatzee in that’s basically based on chance. So I was basically teasing her that I was going to practice rolls of chance which is really not possible. I was then thinking about this coming new year and things I can and cannot control. many times, life can feel like Farkle; just rolls of chance and hoping to “get the best score and win.” With the medical things I have been through in my life I have not always understood why things have happened to me. I can only put my life in God’s hands and trust that He knows what is best for me. This new year, focus your life on the things you can control and not on things you cannot. The most important decision you can make for 2013 is putting God in charge of your life. It is a great way to start the new year and to keep the events of your life in perspective. I know that when I focus on God then I don’t have time to worry about why something happens and I can let God show me WHAT he is trying to teach me by allowing events in life that I don’t fully understand. Have a great New Year!
This was from an email that was forwarded to me this morning and I thought it was excellent considering the tragedy in Newtown and the perspective of a father from the Columbine shootings here in Colorado. I couldn’t agree more.
On Thursday, Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful.
They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness.
The following is a portion of the transcript:
“Since the dawn of creation there has been both good and evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers. ”The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart. ”In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best.
Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question “Why?”
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need! ”
Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts. ”As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA — I give to you a sincere challenge.. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!” - Darrell Scott
I find it fascinating how people who have no concept of God or evil are trying to make sense of the shootings in Newtown. There are many elements at work here (as there normally are in a tragedy like this one) but the evil and the Spiritual motivations behind it is all the same. The Bible is very clear about the intentions of the devil and his desire for the people of this earth. His objective is to “steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) He doesn’t just want to steal from us in this life nor does just he want to even kill us. He wants to destroy us. Now destroy to me is different than the other two because it has to do with not just harming the target but including repercussions that will affect everyone around. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but there is not a quick solution to where we are as a society. The current government wants to make people feel temporarily better by suggesting that portions of the 2nd amendment be taken away from law abiding citizens but not many are talking about the importance of putting mental health and violent movies and video games into the mix. It has been floated as ideas but all the talk is about “get the evil guns.” The answer to all these problems can be found in a devil that wants to “steal, kill and destroy.” As a pastor, these are wonderful times to take inventory and see if I am doing everything I can to reach out to those “different” people in our world that fit the profile of all the killers in recent memory. I always like to think that I am a friendly person but if I am not offering Jesus as much as my humor to a hurting person then I am just becoming part of the noise in that persons life. If you are a follower of Christ you need to temper everything you are hearing on the news and on the Internet with the compassion of Christ. Flesh will never be able to explain the fruit of the spiritual especially in a situation like the one unfolding in front of us. Prayer is the only solution to what ails America and thoughtful conversation, not knee jerk guns laws and stirring people’s emotions for a political agenda. I don’t know about you, but i have NEVER made a good decision about ANYTHING while thinking with my emotions. Everyone in this conversation needs to step back and have a thoughtful conversation about what is best for the country but all people who know Jesus and know how to pray need to be interceding on behalf of the families of this tragedy and the lawmakers who are making decisions that will affect us all. If you are not praying for this situation in our country as much as your are “preparing for the worst” then stop calling yourself a follower of Christ. I have learned in life that I can’t complain and be worried as well as praying and focusing on Christ. It’s just the way God has wired us all. God bless America and God bless the families affected by this tragedy.
Had to get your attention. So I do not think the world will end on the 21st of this month but it does give us some interesting social interaction in America and around the world. If I had not become a pastor so many years ago I would have been a sociologist. I am fascinated with the interaction of people and people groups. The internet is replete with “doomsday” projections and people moving to small towns in distant countries based on who knows what. As a follower of Christ, it makes me think about my personal belief system that promises a return of Christ someday to earth in what is called the rapture. I think the church has done a lot of straying from preaching the return of Christ in the place of “living right” messages. I am not against helping people understand the importance of living right lives, but if I don’t help people focus on their eternal existence as much as their temporal activity on earth then I am doing them a huge disservice. If you are a believer in Christ and you knew the world would end (like people who think 12.21.12 is the end) then what would you be doing differently than you are now? Would you be loving your family more? Telling more people about Jesus? Moving to some obscure country town to “wait it out”? I remember when I was really sick with my eye and was thinking about what the end of my life would look like. I definitely acted different back then. Now that I am “out of the woods” with my health I don’t think some of the same things which is not necessarily a good thing. Jesus says in Mark 13:35 to “keep watch because you do not know when the master of the house (Jesus) is going to return”. Do we really live each day in a place of expectation? The funny and weird thing is that a “doomsday prophecy” needs to be a personal inventory about how we are each living our lives and if they are focused on the right things and not the wrong ones like status, pride, looks, money and basically everything that Hollywood and the world’s marketing system tells us we need. I know that my focus needs to be less on me and more on the world around me looking for answers to tough questions that need more than an emotional validation but true healing. So THANK YOU doomsday Mayan calendar. You have helped me remember what is important in my life and give me a desire to act better in the world I live in.
If you are reading this blog then you really like me more than just to follow me on Facebook or Twitter. That is because I have taken a break from social media in general for the rest of the month to quiet my life down. I felt like I was investing too much of my emotional and physical energy observing the digital lives of my friends online. Now i am a social person anyways so social media for me was just an extension of my natural personality of enjoying the company of others. But I noticed myself becoming addicted to Facebook and checking my “likes, comments and messages” on a non-normal frequency. I feel like the break has been good for me in that I deleted the app off of my phone, logged out on all my computers so I would not click into it in a time of casual web surfing and generally unplugged. It has only been 10 days, but it feels like I have been off of it for a longer time than that timeframe. I never want my physical interaction with people to be superseded by my digital life online. One thing I have reflected on while being away from Facebook and Twitter is knowing that I need to stay more disciplined in not trying to get into online disagreements when I know I am not going to convince someone of my point of view. I want to focus on things that will help people consider where they are in life and to make changes, even if they are incremental, to begin to see good change in their lives. If we would all see our importance to the world wide web, even if it’s small, we would act differently and probably look to make investments in the lives of others. All of this to say that I think its good for people to take breaks from social media so you don’t lose yourself and think about the investment or withdrawal you are making in the digital world. This Christmas season, be thinking of ways to take breaks from things that are becoming habits and recalibrate your life before the end of the year. Even when Jesus was on this earth it says in scripture that “He went away to a quiet place to pray.” Don’t wait to make a “new years resolution” to start changes in your life. You can get a jump start on everyone else by making healthy choices now!
This morning I was really struck with the power and importance of Jesus and his example he showed during the crucifixion process of not talking to his accusers and directing all his comments to God his father. Now anyone who knows me knows that quietness is not one of my hallmarks or traits as a Christian and, in fact, it has gotten me into more trouble through the years than soliciting laughs. All through my school career as a kid my teachers would all say, “Brian is such a wonderful boy, but he just has a problem with talking…” Even to this day, my mind works so fast that when anyone says anything I normally have four to five quick witted things I could say at any given moment. I say this because God was really pushing me this am to not be “reactionary with my words” and to really think before I speak or not to speak at all especially when someone around me is getting mad at me for some reason. Jesus was such a perfect example of quietness to us as believers when we feel like we are being accused or taken advantage of. Even though everything they were saying about Jesus was false, He still continued to be quiet. I really want to work on this trait as a follower of Christ. To me, quietness is proof that your justification is not in defending your position but it is truly in Christ and the work He is doing in you and through you. Let Jesus and the work he has done in you be enough to silence your critics when you are being accused and just mentally rest in God and the peace only he can give. Literally, a peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7) Have a great week.