You Can’t Have Multiple Best Friends

freindsA week or so ago my little boy was up very early…like way too early. He runs into our room, and says “Daddy wake up, wake up!”

And just as I was about to tell him to go back to bed he said, “I have a secret for you”

Now we often do this and I whisper secrets like, “I love you, you’re special, you’re a good boy” to him.

So he leaned over and said to me, “Daddy you’re my best friend.”

Pretty hard to be upset with him early in the morning after that right? And, in fact, this was a new one because I don’t tell Hudson that because – well we have two kids. So I don’t say “you’re my favorite, or best son”. But I loved every minute of him snuggling up with me saying, “You’re my best friend”

Then later on that morning as we’re about to leave, Hudson leans over to my wife and says, “Mommy you’re my best friend”. We go to my mom’s and he says to my mom, “Grandma you’re my best friend”

Apparently my son doesn’t get the idea of “best” because he has multiple best friends. But I got to thinking about it and wondered if honestly this isn’t a good thing. Hudson doesn’t feel like his friends need to be ranked, that one person’s affection diminishes another person’s, or that his relationships are in competition. Instead he sees something special in all of them and calls them his “best friend”.

I actually wonder if this little truth isn’t a lot like God. I wonder if God wouldn’t call each and every one of us, his personal best friend being fully invested in each relationship?

And the beautiful thing about it is that I’m happy that Hudson calls me, his mom, grandma and so many other people his best friend. I want him to have those strong relationships, and it doesn’t take anything away from my relationship with my little boy.

I wonder if we all couldn’t learn something from that. Rather than competing in relationships why not be grateful for them? Rather than ranking relationships why not simply rest in the relationships you have? So I’m trying to learn a little something from Hudson. That I now have multiple best friends: Hudson, Asher, Krista, and many more. What about you?

Are You Doing a Great Work?

Two Sunday’s ago I preached on the verse, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down”. You can download it here.

The main point was that I encouraged the church to ask God what their great work was. I really believe that God has something for each of us, old or young. What you and I may be called to can be quite different, but whatever God calls us to is important and a “great work”. So I invited the church to write down on a small card what “My Great Work Is…” Then as a way of committing to it I gave the church a chance to bring their cards forward during the service. My promise to them was that anyone who brought a card forward, I would pray for them, for their calling, and believe in them. We believe that prayer changes lives. And I truly believe that through prayer we can help to change others’ lives and to support them in their “Great work”

What I didn’t realize would be how much my life would be changed by reading these short little cards. Over the last week and a bit as I’ve read dozens and dozens of them I’ve been overwhelmed by what God wants to do in this little place. People are committing to make their  marriages the best ever. People are committing to lead others to Jesus. People are committing to launching a new ministry, a new business, or launch their kids well. I thought I would be able to help change their lives by praying for them; but now I’ve realized that my life has been changed by reading these little cards. These cards represent just some of what God wants to do in and through us and for us. It’s exciting, it’s amazing, and it’s overwhelming in a wonderful way.

So I thought I’d give you the same invitation I gave to the church on that Sunday. To take a moment and think about what your great work is. If you had a card saying “My Great Work Is…” what would you write down?

I believe God wants us to do great things with him. The question is, “what is he asking you to do”? And if you know and want me to pray over your great work too, just let me know and I’ll pray.

So over the next few months I’ll be praying about God doing “great work” in and through us. I know that people will be changed because he’s already used these little cards to change me…

Where I Saw Jesus This Week…

A little while ago I was at a party and I discovered Jesus was already there.

One of the biggest guiding beliefs in my life is that Jesus is active in the world already. He is a person, he is risen, and he is already active in places before I get there. So my goal is to find out where Jesus is active and to partner with him there. I just want to join in with what he is doing and where he is.

This happened at a party I was at. I shouldn’t have been surprised that Jesus was already working there because some of his best work happens in parties in the New Testament. But as I mingled and listened, I realized how Jesus was working in people’s lives and I just sought to affirm what he was doing in their lives.

One conversation started with this, “I’m not really religious, and I don’t know if you believe in God or anything. But here is what God did in my life…” We went on to talk about how this person found a prayer answered. After a while of talking they stopped and said “enough about me, what do you do?”  I said “I’m a pastor.”  They responded with “So you probably do believe in God then eh?” Great stuff right. God was already active in their life, I just got to affirm Jesus’ part of their lives and encourage them to keep on seeking God.

A second conversation began with simple confession, that a few followers of Jesus restored this person’s hope in humanity. A few different Christians had given them grace through practical expressions of love. They shared with me that these small gifts restored their hope in humanity, and an opening to God. That’s Jesus actively working in their hearts.

So my challenge for you this week is simple. Watch for Jesus and expect that he is working in people’s lives already. And when you see him active, encourage, affirm, and bless. Partner with Jesus in the lives around you and my guess is that you’ll start seeing some beautiful change and transformation…

Where I Saw Jesus this Week…

This week at church we had an amazing Sunday. We celebrated the anniversary of our church, and celebrated the volunteers in our church. Really they aren’t volunteers in the church; they are the church – demonstrating it by how they give. And so as we took time to recognize and thank them I saw Jesus in the little things on Sunday…

  • We had so many people stand to be recognized by how they give in both small, and great ways here at church. They give through their time,and effort, and don’t ask for a reward in return. We gave them a Wunder bar because of how “wunderful” they are. They even laughed at our pun. This is Jesus.
  • We have an amazing administrator here who gave so much and took no credit for a great Sunday. She organized it, got it together, picked up supplies, called people, cleaned up and did it all with a smile. This is Jesus.
  • I was given a hug on Sunday by someone who said this is for you simply because you deserve it. This is Jesus.
  • I have a mom who on Sunday’s when I am busy, and seeking to connect with people comes to me and asks, “Andrew can I watch Hudson for you for a bit?” That’s Jesus.
  • There we people who stayed behind to wash dishes with me laughing and trying to figure out the dishwasher. They served, gave of their time, and their friendship. This is Jesus.

So where did I find Jesus this week? I found him in people, his church. I found him in you. This is a beautiful thing.

So this week if you’re looking for Jesus you don’t have to look far. Look to the people who are walking with you. Pay attention and I bet you’ll find him…Because he isn’t hiding…He’s just so close to you sometimes he’s hard to see…

Chasing Bubbles ~ Developing Wonder

I’m just going to state the obvious. My son has more fun than me at any given moment. Seriously. My life compared to his is dull, dreary, and lacks luster. Any parent knows immediately this truth: kids love to play with bubbles proportionally more than we really like to do anything. Bubbles bring out this amazing sense of play, awe and excitement in my son that happens so naturally and easily.

This is important to note because Jesus says in Luke 18:16, “The Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” And as I ponder this verse in connection with my son I’ve realized something. He has more wonder than me.

I think this is part of what Jesus is saying in this verse and that if we are to become childlike I believe it means, in some sense, to regain our sense of wonder. Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “The whole earth is full of his glory, but we do not perceive it; it is within our reach but beyond our grasp”. He continued to write of the importance of wonder, awe, and astonishment. I believe children grasp what we do not perceive as adults: that there is wonder, awe, and God’s presence all around us. If we want to grow closer to God we need to allow a spirit of wonder to capture us. Heschel says, “The insights of wonder must be constantly kept alive. Since there is a need for daily wonder, there is a need for daily worship”.

This is what I am learning to do through Hudson. I now stand in awe of bubbles as they move, sway, and swirl through the sun. We stare at the stars in amazement as he yells “that one, that one, that one”, as he personally seeks to discover each star in the sky. We slow down and watch butterflies dance across the sky holding our breath in excitement.  And as I do this with him he is teaching me wonder, and teaching me to find God…

So today do something that is truly “wonder-full” and seek to discover God as a child would, with wonder, awe, innocence and joy. Then share where you found wonder or who it was with. For me obviously the best “wonder-hunter” in the world is Hudson. So today we’re going to explore this world together and find God in the midst of it…go have fun!

What Type of a “Place” are You?

Back in Jesus’ day you knew where God was. He was in the temple, he was in Jerusalem, he was surrounded by four walls. This was the place where God was found.

Jesus changed all of that. God was now fully found in a person. This was the place where God was found. The amazing thing about Jesus is that he walked around, talked, and connected with others. He became a place where God was found – all over the place.

I got to thinking about these things because today I am sitting in a coffee shop working on vision, planning, and the future I hope to see. While doing that I am surrounded by different people, values, and stories. It’s then that I read a tweet from Ian Morgan Cron who asked this, “Are you a place where God happens for somebody else?”

That is a beautiful question. It is a deep and important question. Are you a place where God happens? Are you a place where God is experienced? Are you a place where God is made real?

As I look into the future, and look around at the present, that’s what I hope to be. As I look forward a few years I hope that I will be a place where God is found. As I am sitting here typing away, I am still hoping that in my conversations, actions, and beliefs, I will be a place where God happens. In essence, I’m hoping to be like Jesus. He became the place where God was fully found, and experienced. So the question is:

What type of place are you? Are you a place where God happens for somebody else?

Because if we are truly following Jesus, living in and through him, God should happen in our places…

Where I Saw Jesus This Week…

This week I was sitting in my office writing a sermon.I heard a faint knock on my door and in walked a youth from our church. She had made this for me.

She gave it to me as a gift to say thank you for being her pastor. We chatted briefly and she left. As I was reflecting on this small and simple gift ~ it struck me how profound it was. Here was someone thanking me for being their pastor. But all  I could think of is how thankful I am that I get to be her pastor.

So this week I found Jesus in a small and simple act. But those are the acts that are often the most meaningful. Mother Theresa said famously “Do small things with great love”. And this is what this youth did. A small act, but an incredibly meaningful and encouraging act.

So this week don’t focus on doing something huge for someone. Do something small, meaningful, but make it full of great love and demonstrate Jesus to others.

This picture is now hanging in my office. Luckily I have a huge empty space on my wall where I could put it up. And this picture makes that space feel a bit fuller. And the amazing thing is that it did the same for me in my life. It made my life feel a lot fuller…

Giving from the Grave

This week I got a gift from my grandpa and grandma, who we call “Nanny and Poppy”. The odd thing is that both of them passed many years ago.

So how did they give me a gift? Well it happened in a round about way, but also because giving lasts.

Hudson came downstairs with my favorite book as a little boy. It’s “Little Squirt the Fire Engine”. This was a book that I loved growing up. Inside the book was a card given to me from my Nanny and Poppy for my 1st birthday. Inside of that card was a crisp $2 bill and a $5 bill that I had never seen before. We don’t know why it was there, but it was a fun surprise because what was a gift for me, became a gift for their great-grandson.

So even though they never met their great-grandson they did impact him. Krista and I used the money for something special that my Nanny and Poppy would have loved. We took our little boy skating for the very first time. We donated the $5, strapped on some bob skates, and took him out on the ice for an hour. He loved it, and I know in heaven Nanny and Poppy love it too. My Poppy loved hockey, loved skating, and even tied the skates for the leafs way back in the day. So here he was passing along his love to his great-grandson years after he had passed. Here was my Nanny passing along her love for me, to her grandson. They both somehow, 27 years ago, gave a simple gift of a book, a card, and $7 that lasted.

That’s the amazing thing about gifts – they have the potential to change not only people but generations. Gifts can last and linger long after they have been given. My Nanny and Poppy never thought their $7 gift would change a great-grandson, but it did. They had no idea how long their gift would last, or how far the impact would reach. But that is the beauty of giving ~ we never know how far or how long the impact will last.

So today why don’t you think of someone special and give to them. Who knows who it might impact, and how the gift might last and change someone. I surely didn’t expect this gift from my Nanny and Poppy. But aren’t those the best gifts? The unexpected ones that shape you. So do that for someone else today, give a meaningful gift that lasts.

And in case you’re wondering…we kept the $2 bill to give to Hudson when he’s older, so my Nanny and Poppy’s gift continues to last and linger just like them…

Where I Saw Jesus This Week

This week a friend of mine took me out for breakfast.

This in and of itself may not be a big deal. But it was a big deal for us and our friendship.

Many months ago we started meeting for breakfast. And things in his life weren’t great to say the least. He was stuck in a cycle of addiction, unhealthy relationships, debt, difficulty, and not wanting to go on.

But I believe people can change. Jesus believes people can change. Jesus believes that what defines us is not our past, but the future he has for us.

So around coffee, eggs, and polish sausage I found Jesus. Because my friend has taken the incredibly hard steps to change. He’s overcoming addiction, finishing off school, stopped unhealthy relationships, and took me out for breakfast. He’s living change. And that reminded me of Jesus.

So this week don’t stop believing that people can change. It might seem like a long time coming, but when it does, why not celebrate and go out for breakfast…

Where I Saw Jesus This Week…

Yesterday driving home I was thinking about how much I didn’t want to shovel the driveway.

Normally I enjoy it. But I wasn’t in the right mood. I wanted to go get Hudson so we could play, and hang out before I had to go out later that evening. So I was really almost dreading shovelling the driveway.

And then I get there and get ready to pull in – and someone has already done it!

A neighbor, a friend, or someone else shovelled my driveway and made my day. I haven’t found out who yet, but for me they were a lot a like Jesus. Blessing me when I wasn’t expecting it…changing my mood and attitude when I needed it…giving me more time with my family…and showing love and caring in a practical and real way.

So that’s where I saw Jesus this week…what about you where did you find him?