Culture, Discipleship

Putting Down the Pipe

A few weeks ago in a sermon I mentioned my grandfather and the smell of his tobacco pipe. I used it as an illustration of how you could tell you had been with Jesus, you smelled like him, just like you might if you were around my grandfather when he was smoking a pipe.

My mother reminded me afterward how my grandfather had given up his pipe out of care for his wife, my grandmother. She developed a morning cough and thinking it might be from the pipe my grandfather gave up smoking. He sacrificed something he enjoyed out of love, willingly giving up to protect someone else.

Since my mom recounted this fact to me I haven’t been able to get it out of mind and I think it is such a timely example. In fact during this moment in history we are want for those that would willingly sacrifice for others. We see it in medical professionals and other frontline workers, the ones fearlessly doing the work. But the voices we hear with increasing volume are those that are done with sacrifice and would like their lives back thank you very much.

I wonder if the church should play a bigger role here. Okay, I don’t wonder, that is me just trying to be more gentle. Christians should be the first to willingly sacrifice for others. Following governement orders to slow the spread of a disease. Caring for the elderly neighbor so they are not endangered. Generously sharing what gifts they have been given. Not prioritizing our own preference but living to be spent for others.

When we are done with the “me first” mentality of our western sensibilities we might live like we are called. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21(ESV)

Are we ready for this? Perhaps this is the moment conditions are right for it. And we will certainly have opportunity to set aside our rights for the care of others in the days ahead, even in our opinions. As Brett McCracken so poignantly stated, “little is more Christian than a posture of sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). We should embrace it with gladness.” 

What “pipe” is Jesus asking you to put down?

Uncategorized

Return to Waste

As we have be languishing (should we use that word) under the stay-at-home order, it has been fascinating to me to watch the number of items shared on social media and recounted in conversations that skew data or make questionable claims, all to back up our perspective that we need to get back to normal.

I want to have kids back in school. I want to be with people in public. I want to attends youth sporting events. I want to watch something live on ESPN again. I want to meet up with friends at the brewpub. I want to crowd our little church building again. I want to travel on planes to far-off destinations. I want to have to buy gas for my car again (wait did I just say that?!) I want… I want… I want…

You could probably build your own list of the things you want. Many good. To hug grandkids again. To go to a concert. To run in an organized marathon.

But as I think through my list I am struck with how selfish my desires for getting back to normal truly are. I am absolutely concerned about the economy. I deeply desire the flourishing of humanity. But I also want to eat a chesseburger without having to microwave it after I pick it up with a mask on.

And there it is. Most of the stuff I most want to get back to is honestly waste. Am I aching to get back to serving my neighbors? Was I doing that in the first place? Am I aching to get back to sharing the gospel with people at every opportunity? Was I doing that in the first place? Am I aching to get back to living with less so someone else has enough? Was I doing that in the first place?

Our “normal” was wrapped up in self, and I doubt you are all that different from me. So why long to “get back” to that? Why be so obsessed with the past that we miss what the future, even what the present holds?

As I ponder these things, I am thankful that Jesus doesn’t motivate with guilt, and my intention is not to guilt myself, or you, into change. But it is an opportunity for intentional reflection about what we are really meant to value in life and what we should spend our remaining days living for.

Let’s not return to waste.

Worthwhile

Worthwhile April 5, 2019

It is finally here, April 5. I have a book due back to the library but I am not finished with it and I can’t get an extension because someone else has it on hold. Awful. Since it is the Lenten season I am embracing waiting as I have reserved the ebook from the library and wait for it to become available.

Oh the things that can get us down!

It is to the archives we go today for some thought provocation and worshipful stirring. Start the weekend off right.


First up is a piece from Rosario Butterfield from February on loving our neighbors well through the tools we have in our hands. Think Nextdoor App and all the fun that happens there.

Butterfield gives a good model of evangelistic living but the questions it raises are worth it. Do we love our neighbors? Do we care about our city and the people around us? Maybe the Lord will stir us new efforts to impact where we are…


This week I sent a group of pastors an article as we were discussing how to measure success in ministry and the pastoral life. I have been significantly encouraged by Jared Wilson’s work in this arena and am digging his latest book were he builds on what the article points out.

Five metrics of grace to help us measure ministry fruitfulness and beyond measuring the church, these are important metrics for all Christ followers. So give it a look and see how you are doing!


Finally a bit of worship from Austin Stone.

I will not be anxious, Jesus, You are near
The Peace of God surrounding me, and casting out all fears
The hand that holds the heavens, is the mighty hand that saves
The voice that calms the stormy seas
Is calling me by name

I’m singing in the victory, the victory of the cross
I’m resting in the shadow, of Your redeeming love
I’m standing on the promise, the promise of new life
‘Cause I am Yours forever, and Jesus, You are mine
Oh Jesus, You are mine

When I have forgotten, the fullness of Your grace
Yes, I’ll remember Calvary, where You took my place

I’m singing in the victory, the victory of the cross
I’m resting in the shadow, of Your redeeming love
I’m standing on the promise, the promise of new life
‘Cause I am Yours forever, and Jesus, You are mine
Oh Jesus, You are mine
Oh Jesus, You are mineThere is no one like You, God
Love immeasurable and strong

There is no one like You, God
So lead this heart to sing in awe
There is no one like You, God, no-o
Love immeasurable and strong
There is no one like You, God
So lead this heart to sing in awe