Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What's Next?

As many of you know, there are five boys in our family, ranging in age from 18 years to 6 months.

It has been quite a ride and, especially in the case of the first two, has involved a lot of sports.

My two oldest played everything except for baseball along the way, with #1 being a state champion in football and #2 playing high level competitive soccer today as a high school sophomore.

Suffice it to say I have been to a lot of practices and games, ranging from the earliest soccer games (an amoeba-like formation of toddlers clustered around a ball) to watching my oldest win a state championship his junior year.

For a year there, I would watch #2 play a varsity soccer game and then during halftime walk across a parking lot and watch #1 practice football (from a distance because when they are tiny they love for you to be at their practices but when they get older, nothing could be worse!).

Until I met Miranda, I thought my days of practices and games, making sure to take water bottles and taking my turn to bring the youth soccer team's halftime snacks were over.

Not so much.

#4 just completed his first year of soccer. They didn't actually play games (he's not even quite three years old) but they kicked the ball around, played silly games, ran around and, yes, drank from water bottles.

Same as it ever was.

Hydration is as important as ever. I suspect that my kids will put "He told us to drink more water" on my tombstone.

This picture is from last night. But it could just as easily have been taken 15 years ago from #1's first season.

#4 has no idea what's in front of him, whether soccer will be his sport or not, whether or not he will even like sports.

He's got a lot of time ahead of him.

Only, he doesn't.

Our days go by in a blur. It's a truism, I know, but the darn kids just grow up so fast.

And so do we.

When asked what was his greatest surprise in his years on earth, the legendary evangelist Billy Graham said "The brevity of life".

So, what's next?

Whatever it is, make sure you are intentional about it, that it reflects your values and passions, that it is rooted in the true you you were made to be.

Take the best of what was and what is and make it your 'What's next".

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuesday Teaching: What's Freedom From?

Our church is in a teaching series about the concept of freedom now. With plenty of reason - it is a dominant theme in the Bible, perhaps never more clearly than in Galatians 5:1:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set you free..."

Check out the double emphasis - Christ (through his life, death, and resurrection) has set us free...for the very purpose of freedom.

Which raises the question - what are we intended to be free FROM?

These things, at least.

Freedom from religion.
Yep, I said it. Religion - when it is humanly created - leads to either self-righteousness or self-condemnation. It leads to the nearly universal human impulse to believe that it is up to me to find my way to God, to give him a good track record so he will accept me. Nothing could be further from the truth of the Christian faith, which says that God has found his way to us and that he has given us credit for Christ's track record, since ours could never measure up.

Freedom from fear.
The worst human fear is death. Christ defeated death on the cross. So we don't have to fear death anymore. Follow the logic...if we don't have to fear the worst thing that could happen, why should we fear anything else?

Picture this....a father hides his little son behind him and wards off the array of ninja assassins who invade their house one night. One by one, the killers drop dead, harmless.

Suddenly, the boy spies a spider scampering across the floor. Does it stand to reason to doubt that his dad can take care of that for him?

This doesn't mean that fearful and even terrible things won't happen. But it does mean that death can't do its worst to us.

Freedom from failure
I'm preaching on this topic in a few weeks and so I am thinking about it a lot. Not going to give away the punch line, but suffice it to say that its truth is rooted in the fact that Jesus failed.

That's right. Jesus failed.

Never had much of a following beyond a ragtag bunch of liars, dreamers, and misfits. Continually got himself in hot water. Left his family baffled and disapproving in some cases. Could have had powerful allies but managed to alienate them all (he was a terrible networker). Got arrested and chose to represent himself in court - everything he said during the proceedings worked against his own interests. Got himself killed at a relatively early age after being publicly mocked and beaten up.



He rose from the dead. And is, by far, the most influential person in the history of the world, worshipped by untold millions, fascinating to even those who hate him.

So, what do you think he can do with YOUR failures?

Turn them into roaring triumphs, that's what.

So, what are you afraid of?