Why We Need Words and Actions

11136617_10206457512023468_6356891879295745781_nSo as we were driving to church one day, just Hudson and me, I said to him. “Hudson, Daddy loves you”. And Hudson had this funny little response, “He said Daaadddy (in that long drawn out way) you always say that!” And I said, “I know that buddy, I just don’t ever want you to forget that or doubt that.”

And he said, “Don’t worry Daddy, I know you love me because you wrestle with me, read with me, play Lego with me, we sit together and watch TV, you ride my bike with me, and play with me. I know you love me because we do all that together all the time”.

And that just made my day.

But I wanted to share it for a specific reason, what Hudson’s response reminded me of.  And it’s this: Actions confirm words.

And here’s what that means for me. It is important to say I love you, but it is so much more important to say it and show it.

For Hudson, he doesn’t doubt that he is loved, because he hears it and sees it. The consistency of Krista and I saying it and trying to show it as best we can, gives him security and confidence that he is loved.

And this is my larger point in writing this today. Are there people that you need to show love to today? Are there actions that you need to take to confirm what’s in your heart?

Hudson’s response actually made me think about those closest to me. Would Krista be able to rhyme off a list like that right away? What about Asher, or my neighbors, or my mom or whomever?

My point is: are there people that we love, that we need to confirm it with our actions? Because love isn’t love unless it’s acting, moving, and being put into practice. So today put love into practice and confirm at least for someone, that they are loved.

You Have Something to Offer The World

A gift for youToday I want to talk about a connection between leadership, Jesus, and life.

James Kouzes, and Barry Posner write this in their book The Truth about Leadership.

Everything you will ever do as a leader is based on one audacious assumption. It’s the assumption that you matter. Before you can lead others, you  have to lead yourself and believe that you can have a positive impact on others.

And this is so true. If you want to be a leader, you need to start to learn and believe that you can be. You need to believe that not only do you matter, but that you have something to offer.

And this type of belief in yourself isn’t either arrogance, or shameless self-promotion. It’s not a belief that you’re amazing and everyone should listen to you. Instead, it’s a belief that you have something to offer, something positive to give. And I think Kouzes and Posner are right.

What is interesting to me is that their statement seems a little like Jesus’ statement, “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”. Jesus’ point is that you can’t actually love your neighbour if you don’t love yourself. If you hate yourself, the hate will pour out all over and you wont’ be able to love your neighbour.

And here is the connection between both Jesus and the quote above: that to be able to lead, or love ~ you need to believe in yourself and that you have something to offer. You need to love yourself, and who you are to best love others. To lead others, you need to believe that you have something – big or small – to contribute to the world. This isn’t about listing all the reasons you are amazing, but instead thinking through:

  • What do I have to offer?
  • What has God gifted me with to gift to others?
  • What positive contribution can I give? What do I love about who I am, that I can share with others?

I think those are good questions to not only help us become better leaders, but better followers of God.

Three Words to Change Your Life ~ That aren’t “I Love You”

6a012876cf8591970c01543608ca6b970c-800wiOn Sunday, for Easter, we explored Jesus first words he says after his resurrection. For the past 6 week’s we’ve looked at what Jesus said before he died. Now we wanted to look at what he says when he lives.

The key thing to notice first off is that words have power. They can both heal, or tear down. They can give life, or create death. Words have a power, a weight, an energy to them. And Jesus’ words especially have a power to them.

So the disciples are sitting in fear. They are filled with fear and worry and anxiety. Shame is covering their hearts, and guilt is seeping through their souls. They are hiding in a room and Jesus shows up. And before we jump to Jesus words, we need to first recognize one clear thing: for the disciples Jesus showing up would not seem like a good thing.

And at first that statement might seem funny – you might have even re-read it – but its true.

We know that Jesus comes with grace, and forgiveness – but the disciples didn’t. Remember at this point they are God-betrayers, God-abandoners,  and God-deserters. That’s who they are. They are not in the “good and righteous God followers” column or category. And they would have grown up in a world that talked about the “Day of the Lord” (the coming of God) as a good day for the righteous but an awful terrible day for sinners, gentiles, and the unrighteous. The Old Testament says if you are sinner, a gentile, or unrighteous that when God shows up it’s a day to be feared, it’s a dark day full of vengeance and punishment.

So when Jesus shows up we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that for the disciples this was instantly good. They were filled with fear, and shame and most likely didn’t think of themselves as “righteous and good”. They would be wondering if Jesus is here to settle accounts, to bring rightly deserved punishment, to bring vengeance and sentence.

And its into this highly charged, tense filled silence – where the disciples worst fears are playing with their imaginations – where shame is leading their souls further from God – that Jesus speaks some of the most beautiful words ever: peace be with you.

Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Peace to your sins. Peace to your shame. Peace to your betrayal. Peace to your disappointment. Peace to your fear.

Jesus shows up and gives out radical peace and forgiveness to a group of men who didn’t deserve it. Jesus first words are about peace, not  judgment. This is a beautiful radical thing that we need to get. Jesus here is not just saying a short hello, or a salutation – Jesus is revealing the heart of God as about peace. Jesus is giving the trajectory of his kingdom that it will be about peace and not punishment and vengeance. God’s heart is about peace.

This is a radically freeing three words. Because then God isn’t to be feared, God is to be embraced.

Some of us believe that when Jesus shows up it will be to punish us for sins. But that’s not what this passage reveals. Jesus wants to free us from sin, not to punish us for sin. He has already taken all the punishment. And he wants to free us by offering us his peace.

So that’s where we landed on Sunday – with the Prince of Peace saying – Peace be with you. We closed with inviting everyone to simply picture Jesus saying to each of them – peace be with you. Peace to your fears, peace to your shame, peace to your guilt, peace to your brokenness, peace to your imperfection…peace…peace…peace

And that’s a good way to end, and to begin – with the peace Jesus wants to give us all.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Peace be with you 

Teaching Points:

  • Words are powerful things
  • Shame is the heart disease of every era. People are dying from it – some quickly, others slowly. Shame deceptively but convincingly leads us to believe that we deserve to be shackled to it for the rest of our lives. We believe we don’t deserve to be free of shame. Silence always leads to more pain and guilt and shame festering inside. Pete Wilson
  • The disciples are not sure Jesus showing up is a good thing.
  • Jesus is saving the world, and creating the world in this moment through peace.
  • God at his heart is about peace
  • God is not someone to be feared, God is someone to be embraced
  • Jesus wants to free us from sin, not to punish us for sin
  • Fear and shame have no part of God’s Kingdom.
  • Peace rules in God’s Kingdom.
  • Resurrection means that sin is ended
  • Resurrection means that evil is ended
  • Resurrection means that shame is ended
  • Peace be with you, because I am with you – Jesus.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Have you ever thought about how the disciples would have been feeling? Do you think they might have been fearful of Jesus? Have you ever been fearful of God? Why are Jesus words “peace be with you” meaningful for you? Who should you share Jesus words with? Who needs to hear them?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Why not actually practice this passage today with your kids. Ask them if they have any worry, any fear, any shame or guilt or hurt. Talk to them, and then talk to them about Jesus gives us peace. Share his words with them, and have them repeat them with you. Share the peace of Jesus with your kids – that’s a good way to start.

Challenge for the Week: Hear Jesus say, “Peace be with you”

When Fear Comes Calling in the Middle of the Night ~ Fear As the Opposite of Faith

Spooky old photoEarlier this week I was listening to a song that had a line that really caught my attention. It was this:

“In the middle of the night, when fear comes calling / Singin’ it all dies, awfully scared, alone / I’m looking into your eyes and feel your calm / Pretty thing that catches me so strong when I fall”

This lyric just put words, and emotions to something I know I feel deep down: that fear steals life. 

Isn’t that true? Fear steals life, it steals life while it’s happening proclaiming in the middle of the night that all dies, awful, and alone. Fear plays to our worst parts of ourselves, and calls them true. That’s why I really believe fear is the opposite of faith.

Whereas fear tells us that the worst is true, faith tells us that the best is yet to come. Fear tells us that life is over, faith tells us that life can begin again. Fear plays to death, faith plays to life.

The Apostle John after arguing that God is love, says that perfect love casts out fear. Or that God’s perfect presence banishes fear. In God’s presence, captivated by faith, fear is flushed away.

And while that song isn’t singing about God, for me those lines are true in relation to God. That when fear comes in the middle of the night, calling, luring, and lying to me, I look into the eyes of Jesus and feel his calm; his gaze catches me so strongly when I fall and reminds me of one thing: That in his love there is no need for fear.

Loving Your Neighbours and Why No One Can Tell You How

583245_74851881No expert can tell you how to best love your neighbour…Only the Spirit can guide you into faithful presence, which is the love of Christ. Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, and Dwight Friesen

I think that this quote is just so – challenging and true. We know as Christians we are called to move out into our neighbourhoods, and love our neighbours. If we aren’t loving our neighbours well, we aren’t following Jesus well. That’s just true.

But the difficulty is in how to do this. We often at least in Christian circles, look to experts to tell us this. And if you don’t believe me, just look at how popular conferences and seminars on “How to Be Missional” are. They are everywhere (and I’ve led some…).

The point though is that no expert can adequately tell you how to love your neighbour. And to love our neighbours well, we don’t need more experts, we need a change in focus. We need to focus on Jesus and his Spirit.

It is only Jesus that can truly lead us into loving our neighbours well. It is only through listening to his Spirit that we can discern the right ways and the right times to show love in practical action. In all honesty what we probably need is less experts in our lives, and more dependence on Jesus. This isn’t a knock against practitioners, experts, and people who are inspiring us to live like Jesus. But that’s just the point, they can only inspire us to live like Jesus. It is only Jesus Christ himself who can direct us to live like him, who can transform us into his likeness.

So loving our neighbours is crucially important. And experts and practitioners are important too. But what is most important is learning to listen and follow Jesus and his Spirit well – because that’s the true first step in learning to love our neighbours well.

The Dynamics of Holding the Truth: Gritted Teeth, Judgement, or Love

201764_5120The other day I was reading through Ephesians, and one verse just jumped out at me.

It always seems weird to me how sometimes you’re reading the Bible and a verse just leaps off the page, and you wonder, “Has that always been there”. I don’t know how many times I’ve read Ephesians, but I can tell you that this for sure isn’t the first time. But here is the verse that just caught my attention:

“Instead, we will hold to the truth in love” Ephesians 4:15

And that verse just sounded so beautiful to me. Because isn’t that what we should be doing? Isn’t that what our world needs? For us as Christians to hold to the truth in love?

Because I don’t think we, as Christians, are so good at holding truth in love. We’ve got the hold the truth in self-righteousness down pat. We really know how to hold the truth in judgment over someone. We know how to hold truth in anger and aggressive verse quoting. But do we really know how to hold the truth in love?

I just think that this is something so worth striving for. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if when people talked about you or I they said, “They sure know what they believe, but they are so gracious with their beliefs” or “Even though we disagree, their love shines through.”

For me that verse just so clearly gave me a goal – for love to permeate all of my interactions. That I might hold the truth in love, share the truth in love, and live the truth in love.

I’m sure I must have read that verse before, but for today it just seemed brand-new, and needed more than ever.

What about you? What do you think of it?

Where the Wild Things Run

480535_14231113The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it has established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild. G.K. Chesterton

I love this quote by Chesterton, who was brilliant in many ways. Because so often we think of Christianity as a staid, rigid, and giant institution opposed to change, creativity, and wildness. But I think Chesterton is right, Jesus did not come to just bring rule and order but to let some good things run wild.

Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit being wind that is wild blowing where it will (John 3). Jesus seems intent on letting loose disciples to change the world through love and grace. Jesus seems intent on letting God’s love run wild throughout the world without constraints or restrictions.

So Chesterton is right, Christianity has established rule and order. There is nothing wrong with that, that is good as well. But its chief aim was give room for good things to run wild: God’s love, justice, hope, mercy, and grace.

I think that’s a beautiful thought and something the world needs more of. A little more of God’s love running wild, God’s hope, God’s mercy, and most of all, God’s grace.

Who are those who matter most to us?

I know I’ve often quoted Henri Nouwen in the past few months here on the blog, but the truth is he is worth quoting. So I’d like to do that again with a few questions at the end. He wrote this:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”

I think this is so true. So here are a few questions that for me flow out of that quote:

  • Who means the most to you? Have you told them that lately? Have you shared with them why they matter to you so deeply?
  • When you encounter someone who is hurting, is your first reaction to share words of advice, or share a touch of comfort?
  • Who around you needs help today? How can you share in their pain and give them hope?

Worth reflecting on. Worth acting on.