Materialism- [the small pox of today]

MaterialismIt’s hard for me to look at a Range Rover and not want one. Their lines are smooth, they look Uber comfortable, and I  feel like I can take on a mountain with it and win. The other morning a Range Rover cut me off on my way to a meeting with a good buddy of mine. I felt everything inside of me tense up. Maybe that was because I was running 10 minutes late to my meeting or maybe it was because he had something that I wanted. It was hunter green, and it was new. The windows were tinted out, and the rims were classy. The only thing that my car and his car have in common is the color of the paint. My rims are not so classy, my windows are not so tinted, and I most certainly could not take on a mountain and win.

Welcome to my internal struggle with materialism. Materialism is the virus that grows inside of you convincing your mind that you need more and more and more.  Materialism not only affects your mind, It affects your eyes too.  They begin looking around at the things that you already have and it causes you to see them as old and out dated.  It’s like a set of contact lenses that magnifies every ding, imperfection, tear, or sign that your stuff hasen’t been unwrapped from their cellophane covering in a long time.  

I’m pretty convinced that materialism has been fed to us by the mass market like small pox blankets were to the Native American’s.  The more we watch and believe the commercials, the more we itch with the need to buy the latest and the greatest.  Be careful my friends!  You don’t need to drive what turns you on.  You need to drive what gets you there.  There is a big difference between need and want.  We get those two things mixed up very easily.  That’s part of the game of the materialism virus- it makes it harder to keep your head on straight.  

Richard Foster writes about the materialism virus.  He says this,

This psychosis permeates even our mythology.  The modern hero is the poor boy who purposefully becomes rich rather than the rich boy who voluntarily becomes poor.  Covetousness we call ambition.  Hoarding we call prudence.  Greed we call industry.

It is time to set possessions in their proper place.  It is time to find joy in the abundant gifts that God has given us.  After all Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  The writer of Hebrews says, “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you'” (Heb. 13:5)

I’m praying that God shows me that it is more about the people around me than the possessions in my home.  I bet I’m not alone in this struggle… Where are you at with it? 

~Peter

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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

Automatic Toilet’s and the Holy Spirit

Holy SpiritDo you remember the first time that you walked up to a toilet and looked for the handle to flush it and it wasn’t there?  The individual that created this little device is a genius, and deserves a pat on the back.  As a pastor I shake tons of peoples hands on a Sunday morning.  I have made it my routine to go wash my hands after each service.  You people are carrying some serious amounts of germs on those hands.  So, it’s even better when I go into the bathroom and not have to touch that nasty little lever coated in sickness.

In our office each of the toilets there have automatic sensors on them.  Which totally enhances the experience.  However, one particular toilet flushes when you walk in the stall.  You know, it’s just a preemptive flush.  The first time that this happened to me, I was completely taken by surprise.  I mean you expect that at the end, not in the beginning.

One of the things that I have always thought about and shared with others is that we should see life through the lens of a parable.  What I mean is, what could God be showing you or teaching you through life’s everyday ordinary objects?  When Jesus taught the people He often told parables, or short stories that were embedded with images and pictures that people were familiar with.  It was a teaching strategy.

Right now you can ask yourself 3 questions to help understand your life’s parable.

  1. Where have you seen God lately?

  2. What is He trying to say to you?

  3. What is He prompting you to do?

Back to the automatic flusher…  Every time this happens I am reminded that I am never alone.  Even when I think that I am going to be alone, I am not.  Let’s be honest, sometimes as parents we retreat to the bathroom because that is generally a place where there is still a little bit of privacy.  But as followers of Christ we are never alone.  Do you remember what  Jesus told His disciples?  In John 14:16 He said, “I will ask the Father to give you another helper, and He will be with you forever.”

As I view life through the lens of a parable, a malfunctioning automatic toilet flusher reminds me that the Holy Spirit is with me, ALWAYS!  This means that when I am tempted, I am not alone.  When I am afraid, I am not alone.  When I am weak, I am not alone.  When I am hurt, I am not alone.  There is no where I can run, no place that I can hide from God.  And I love that the toilet sensor reminds me of that.

So, where have you seen God lately?  Keep your eyes open, you never know what may pop up in your life that reminds you of what God is doing in the world around us!

~Peter

Good news! You don’t have to be pinterest’y

the real youWho are you?  I mean, who are you really?  Now let me ask a much safer question, who do people see you as?  Maybe people see you as the incredible business man who has it all put together with the perfect job, the incredible salary, the 401k, and the quarterly bonus.  Or maybe people see you as the super-hero mom.  You know, the mom whose Facebook page says, look at me all you other moms.  Take notes, cause I’m gonna kick your butts.  My kids will write books about how great their summers were when they grow older.  Pinterest was created because of my house.  Or maybe people see you as the college student who is going somewhere fast.  You get good grades, and you hold down a job while balancing sports and extra curricular activities.  But who are you really?

I was at Ikea the other day waiting in a ridiculously long return line when it hit me, who am I really?  This wasn’t a pity party, or way of  patting my own back.  If anything it was a reality check.  (to be honest, it helped pass the time too…)  I was wondering, who am I really, and where do I find my identity?

Henri Nouwen wrote in his book, In the Name of Jesus,

I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.  That is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love.  The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God’s word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.

That challenges me!  It strips away any proud thoughts that I am something amazing or uniquely special.  I am unique and special, but it is only because I am a child of God who was created in His image.  As followers of Jesus we have the incredible privilege to share with others the good news that Jesus died for them and that God loves them with a never ending, never giving up, unbreakable love.  Here’s the really good news.  You can just be you.  No pressure to be anyone other than who God made you to be.  It isn’t through any kind of crafty language, or cunning illustrations that people are going to connect with Jesus.  In fact, it is with you just being you.  Simple, right?  It may even be as simple as asking someone to come over for a backyard bbq.

Quit trying to look like you are someone incredibly special.  You already are, you’re a child of God.  You don’t need to pretend like you are something more than that.  Relax.

~Peter

What kind of a mist are you?

The other day Pete Wilson, pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville TN, blogged over on his site about a mist worth celebrating.  Here is an excerpt from his post.

This morning I was reading in James 4 and was reminded of this important truth.

James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

It’s true. We are but a “mist”. In other words, life is short. We’re here and then we’re gone. I could see how, at first glance, this verse might be a bit depressing. But for me it’s motivating.

James 4:14

My dad and I at Old Westbury Gardens

I couldn’t agree with Pete more.  I think about some of the people in my life who have been incredibly life changing to me.  I wrote about my dad here, and I spoke about him here.  My dad had an enormous impact on my life.  I am who I am today because of the way that he loved Jesus and the way that he loved me.  I think about some of the people in my life who have been in and out of it only for a few short years.  Friends like Chris, & Bob who have mentored me and helped shape my life.  There are so many others.

It is easy to think about all of the people who have had an eternal impact on your life.  What may be a bit more difficult to think about is what kind of a mist are you becoming?  Or what I mean is, who are you becoming, and how are you impacting the lives of others?  Do you have someone in your life who you are building into, encouraging, and loving on?  If not, you should find someone.  Do it fast, because as James says, our lives are like a mist, here and then gone.

Let’s make the most of the time that we have!

~Peter