Saints or Sinners?

Saints or Sinners

When you walk into church on a Sunday morning, who do you see around you?  What are those people like?  Are they people who have it all together?  Do they struggle?  Do they doubt?  What do you think and feel?

I know that walking through the front doors of a church can be incredibly overwhelming for some people.  Some people are afraid that if they come to church their skin is going to burn from the holy light that is in that space like some sort of exorcist movie.  They believe that they have done so many horrible things that they won’t ever be accepted in a place like this.  Maybe that is how you feel, or used to feel.  Interestingly enough, the way that we view others affects the way that we engage with others.

It comes down to this?  Do you see church as a collection of saints, or a collection of sinners?

One of the primary reasons that people don’t spend more time engaging in confession and accountability is because they are afraid of being judged by you and me.  Too often we think that the church is a collection of saints and that we are the one sinner that slipped into that community.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, we are all sinners, we are all people who at one point in time or another were separated from God.  Too often we believe the lie that I can never measure up, or I’ll never change.  We loose hope and we start to just throw in the towel.

Don’t buy the lie.

That’s the amazing thing about Jesus.  Anyone can come to Him and find that there is still hope no matter how dark their world may seem.  It is because of Jesus’ death on the cross that each one of us with our bruises, scars, and warts can come before God and be seen as beautiful and clean by Him.

The church is not filled with better people, just people who are better off because of it.

So what do you think?  In an honest moment here, do you lean more on the side of seeing people as saints, or sinners?  Let’s take a poll.

~Peter

4 Ways to Reboot Your Spiritual Life

StillnessHave you ever felt like life is just flying by you?  Work is cranking out endless tasks and responsibilities… The kids have countless events that they need chauffeuring to…  There are multiple required social events on your calendar filling up your weekends… And some how you need to find time to just simply go to the bathroom in all that mess of a schedule.

This happened to me the other day.  I was in a rush to get as many things into one 24 hour day as possible.  I was running from one event to another and found that it was making me grouchy, irritable, and just down right testy.

I had to hit pause.

For about 40 minutes I simply sat still and watched life around me.  Instead of watching life go by I did my best to be fully present in the midst of it.  I sat and journaled and prayed and listened to some music.  In those 40 minutes I felt more refreshed and rejuvenated than before.

When life is flying by you and feeling out of control try these four things…

1. Pause

As difficult as this may be, there are times when you need to simply just unplug.  This might mean the dishes in the sink pile up for a little bit.  Or the lawn doesn’t get mowed today.  These things need to get done, but not necessarily right now.   Your pause could be 30 minutes, 2 hours, or even a full day.  It all depends on what you are willing to carve out of your schedule.

2.  Reflect

Our minds are moving a million miles an hour, thinking about thousands of different things.  It is a gift to stop and process what has been happening in your life the past few days, or weeks.  It could be as simple as answering two questions: Where have I seen God lately, and What has God been showing me through these past few days or weeks?

3. Pray

Prayer is our intimate connection with our Creator, our Heavenly Father, and our God.  Prayer is an act of depending on God in all things.  When I am running my life and going a million miles an hour, my greatest temptation is to believe that I can do it all on my own.  Prayer reminds me that I can’t.  I am desperately in need of God’s help and presence in my life.

4. Journal

There is something life giving about writing in a journal.  It has been a habit that I have added to my life for the past 8 years.  I have filled a few moleskin’s with the thoughts, prayers, and tears of what’s going on around me.  Writing is slow.  It causes you to think, and process.  Writing things out quite possibly can also help you figure things out.

What would you add to the list?  Leave a comment below.

~Peter

Quit Playing the Comparison Game

Romans 12:2Have you ever felt like you just weren’t enough?  I’ll be honest, there are times when I struggle feeling like I am enough.  I wonder am I good enough, am I strong enough, am I smart enough, am I thin enough, am I ______________ enough.  You fill in the adjective, I’ve wondered about it.  Jon Acuff said recently, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”  That’s tough for me.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.  How true is that?

I was reading through Romans 12 the other morning when I came across verse 2 and it struck me in a whole new way.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 (the Message)

What a great reminder!  When I begin to play the comparison game and wonder where I am not measuring up I need to remember these few things…

1. Be Unique

Our world loves to put people into little boxes and categories.  If you dress a certain way, that means you are hipster, nerdy, sporty, or chic.  If you like to recycle you are a green tree hugger.  If you are a hunter you clearly don’t love animals.  Come on!  There are so many different pressures that we face.  The media, our peers, and the world around us want to desperately form us into their mold.  You don’t have to fit in that mold.

2. Be Flexible

God wants to transform you into a different person.  You don’t have to be like everyone else because God is in the business of making you, you.  The old me is exactly that- old.  It’s time to bring on the new.  This will happen over time and it will happen because He begins to change your thought process.  There are times when you need to be willing to not always be right, or change the way that you think about things.

3. Be Teachable

When you step back and see what God has been doing in you, the ways that He has been molding and shaping you, all of the experiences that you have had, and all of the pain that you have gone through, it is a little easier to see what God may want to do through you.  The last part of that verse says that you will begin to see what God wants to do through you, in you, and with you.  It will require you to be teachable.

I can easily get caught up in the comparison trap.  It is not a fun place to be.  I’m thankful that God doesn’t want us to stay there and provides a way out of it!

~Peter

Being ‘More’ Together

connectedLet’s just call something out.  You are incredibly privileged.  Based upon the fact that you were able to push a button and connect to the information super highway you are among the world’s wealthiest.  The simple fact that you are connected online to so many hundreds of other people through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram mean that you have privilege and means.  I know that I do.  There are times when I wonder am I using my privilege and my means enough to support and take care of those who do not have as much.

It’s funny, the more connected we are digitally, it seems like the more disconnected we are physically.

When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment in the law is, He responds in Matthew 22:37-40 by saying,

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend the whole law and the Prophets.

When Jesus uttered those words I don’t think that He meant that we should just click ‘like’ on someone’s Facebook rant about the injustices in the world.

I don’t think that Jesus meant that we should stir our hearts to the point of passion, but not enough passion to actually do anything about it.

It’s funny… We are able to explain away so easily what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves.  It amazes me how simple it is for me to ignore my neighbors and not give a rip about what is happening in their world.  We live in the most connected world ever.  What will it take for us to reorient ourselves and look to the needs of all of those people on your news feeds, and timelines.

I love how Jen Hatmaker puts it,

Love your neighbor as yourself.  In other words, what standard is acceptable for my own life?  My own family?  This is the benchmark for everyone else.

What if we applied the same benchmark that we have for ourselves towards others?  I imagine that we would give more, listen more, hug more, laugh more, pray more, help more, be more, and see more.

Here’s to being ‘more’.   Let’s be ‘more’ together.

~Peter

3 Tips for a Better Dating Relationship

The lyrics from Jimmy Soul’s song, If You Want To Be Happy, always haunted me as a teenager.  Was it true?  Did I need to follow his advice in order to be happy for the rest of my life?  Check out his advice for all you single men.

If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So from my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you

What is up with that guy?  I can tell you that in order to be happy you don’t need to look under the ugly tree.  Dating can be one of the most difficult times of your life, or it can be one of the most exciting times!  Here are a few tips to help intentionally date him or her.

1.  Foster Friendship

When you start the relationship out from the basis of having already been friends, communication comes easier.  Friends tell other friends that there is something in their teeth.  There isn’t a hesitation to share with the other person.  This isn’t to say that if you started dating someone who wasn’t your friend at first that it will fail, it just means that you need to work harder to foster your friendship. Work as hard to foster your friendship as your romantic attraction towards one another.  Romance is awesome, but friendship is life giving.  Tiffany and I were very intentional about creating an authentic friendship by letting go of the pressure to be the person we thought the other one wanted to date.  It allowed us to get to know the real person and fall in love with them.

2.  Experience Life Together

Life is the sum of so many events and activities.  Unfortunately I talk to too many dating couples who only go to the same few places together.  It’s so predictable, Dinner, a Movie, and then maybe drinks afterwards.  Life is more than dinner and movies.  Go experience all of what life has to offer.  You don’t need to live together, or play house in order to do this.  Tiffany and I would do all sorts of things together.  If one of us needed to go somewhere, the other usually tagged along.  We ran together, studied together, played ultimate frisbee together, went to church together and served there together as well.  We were able to see each other’s strength’s, passions, and honestly one another’s weakness’ as well.  There is more to a relationship than dinner and a movie!

3.  Bare Your Soul

Bare your soul, not your body–that will come later.  Before you worry about getting naked, worry about getting intimate.  Intimacy is much more than sex.  Intimacy is being willing to be open and honest about your failures, and fears.  Intimacy is being transparent with another person and not feeling like you need to maintain an image.  When you bear your soul to the other person, there is no fear of them finding something out–you’ve already told them!  Is it scary?  You bet.  Is it worth it?  More than you could imagine.  Seriously though, when you are transparent and honest, you get to just be yourself.  After all, that’s the only person you have to offer if and when you get to that altar.    Before Tiffany and I were even dating, one of the very first nights that we hung out we sat on a bench and began to open up to one another about who we really were.  I knew that there was something worth pursuing there because I could see that there was an incredible depth of character.  She was a real person not just a facade.

Dating can be extraordinarily fun.  Especially when you are intentional about what you are up to.  There’s a ton of jokesters out there.  I think these three things help sniff em out so you can move past them!

~Peter

Here’s a throwback to our dating days!  I can’t believe that she said yes even though I wore chunky hemp necklaces and rocked the George Clooney haircut!

Beautiful Couple