Do You Have Your Shoes On? (Thoughts on this Maundy Thursday)

This is a thought based on a reading of Exodus 12:1-14.

You should really read it…

The people in this story were to celebrate this Passover fully clothed prepared to leave to go to their new home. They would be chased, hunted but they were going to a place that would be theirs (albeit for a season due to their attitudes. Nevertheless…). God was setting them free to go home and protecting them through the blood of lambs.

For Jesus, today (Thursday) would be a horrible day. It’s the day before his death. He’s hours from betrayl, condemnation, ridicule, loneliness, and above all else, seperation from His father due to the magnatude of sin place upon him. And so he celebrates Passover with his closest friends preparing to go home. He’s ready. It sucks and it will hurt but he is ready. He’s also preparing a home for them. They can’t go yet but one day they will. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

…Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.  If God is glorified in him,God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” – John 13:31-36

Looking at both stories on this Maundy Thursday (Maundy is Latin for ‘commandment’. Just learn that. Kinda cool) wonder if we should live our lives this way today. For starters, this world is not our home. Yet when we serve God, we do so symbolically in our home clothes and slippers, as if we are comfortable right here IN this world. This world becomes our living room or family den. Serving God has no urgency. There’s no “I need to get out of here and bring people with me” attitude. The blood of the lamb has, for lack of better words, “done its job” and now we are free to lounge.

But what if we lived with an urgency? What if we live thinking that we need to be getting ready to leave? And we prepared ourselves knowing that the enemy will love nothing more than to keep us here and will run after us and hunt us to either bring us back OR destroy us? What if we live knowing that One had to die so that we’d be protected so that we COULD run? What if we lived EVERDAY in light of Good Friday and Easter Sunday because of thisTthursday? Because of this reminder…?

And what if we did like the Lord commanded the Israelitesto do and made sure that those in our church community and even maybe in our “community” community had enough to eat for the journey? What if, like Jesus commanded his closest friends on the night he was betrayed, we loved one another and others, so the world would have another reminder that Jesus is real?

I love how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New by the shed blood of Jesus. He is OUR Passover lamb. He’s the reason I should keep my shoes on because I need to get ready to go home.

He’s also the reason why I should invite someone else along for the journey.

(New addition) Just got back in from a walk…the significance of the next 24 hours is so big and so heavy. I just saw a tweet that wrote that while we sleep, Jesus would have been betrayed, illegally convicted, tried and beaten. And it’s true (pending time zones and whatnot). I pray that we don’t just focus on this because of this weekend but next Wednesday at your job/class/dinner/church/etc you remember that Christ took the worst and gave you the best by giving his life. If we only celebrate and think on this until Sunday, then his death was in vain.

Also, my friend Brendan Witton came up with a better name for this blogpost. So I changed it! Check out his own blog here!

May the cross and resurrection push us forward to be the church we ought to be IN LIGHT of what was given. And may that be the truth every day until we are finally home.

When I Grow Up…

Dreams start small

The other day, I was on Rainn Wilson’s site, Soul Pancake, where I saw this question:

Are you disappointed that you are not what you wanted to be when you were little?’

I remember being a kid and my mom telling me that I was going to be a doctor. And for a long time, I believed her. I didn’t really know why I did but I knew that’s what she wanted. Then there was the time that I wanted to be an entertainer/rapper/dancer. Stupid Kriss Kross dreams. Then I wanted to be a basketball player…then I realized that my skills were good but not great. But I never really knew what I wanted to be job-wise. I did know a couple of things though: I wanted to be a good family man. I wanted to make my family proud. That was it. The job thing was all over the place because I changed my mind all the time. I didn’t want to be a doctor after I sucked at science and math (more so I didn’t apply myself). I’m not THAT entertaining and at this point in my life, I don’t like having to be ON, if you know what I mean. Basketball? I can barely run down the stairs without feeling queezy.

I do hope everyday though, that I’m a good hubby and dad (though I KNOW i STILL need more work) and that my fam is proud of me and what I’ve accomplished with my years. That’s a cool feeling. Could I have been a doctor? Maybe, but I think that what I’m doing now would have still happened. It would have still came about somehow. It’s funny how even with our own plans, there is One who has the who chess game figured out. And when you get to the spot that was destined for you, you’re never ever disappointed. You may be frustrated at times, lonely at others but you’re never disappointed. To me, disappointment is a complete letdown, like a movie that looked ‘preview good’ but then ended up being a waste of time. I’ve never felt that with what I do. It’s exactly what I am and who I am and while at times it can be predictable, it’s far from disappointing. It’s easy to get disappoinTED in things (wasted potential in others, financial difficulties, lack of visible ‘successes’, etc.) but if you love what you do and know that you were made for it, even those things aren’t really disappoinTING. They’re more reminders that life isn’t always fair or easy, like  the days when you were dreaming about what you’d be when you grew up while in your footie pjs. Life is work but I think that when you find what works, it becomes an adventure. An adventure that I dare not trade for anything. Would be it cool to be a ball player or rapper or doctor? I’m sure it would be (I’d have no student loans that’s for sure!) but I wouldn’t have my family and that trumps every jump shot, music vid and surgery. I’m thankful that there is One who knows what’s best:)

Crazy…I wonder how many jobs Eliana will dream but before she walks into her OWN destiny…?

What about you? Are you disappointed that you’re not who you thought you’d be as a kid? Is where you are now at stop on the tour or does it feel like the end destination? What did you want to be when you were little? Is it still possible? Think on it.

We all need someone sometimes…

I hate asking for help.

Call me prideful or shy or dumb or whatever but when I am in a jam I hate admitting my need for someone else. Most people are like that. No one likes to put all their dependance on someone else who. We all have a desire to take care of things ourselves…and if you say that you’re not that type, then I think you’re a liar:)

This week has been one of those weeks where I had to swallow my pride and reach out to others. Crazy thing happened when I did: People wanted to help. In fact, they went way beyond what I thought they’d be willing to do. Should I explain? Okay, I will.

So in Toronto this past Tuesday, it finally snowed. EXCEPT that it wasn’t that nice ‘Silver Bells/White Christmas/Stick your tongue out to catch a flake-type snow fall, where you stay home and look our your back window with a sigh of ‘This is beautiful’ while holding your spouse in one arm and your hot cocoa in the other hand. No. This snow looked like crap. It was slushy, wet and tough to drive through. While I was driving, my alternator belt (or something to that effect. I know that if you put key in ignition, car moves…that’s about it.) broke and my car broke down 10 mins from the church. I tried to turn my car over but then our alarm system kicked in…and I didn’t have my remote with me. So much fun. I cry for 10 seconds (I let the fear and sadness in for only that long…I am SO Jack Shepherd from LOST season 1.) and then get out and walk to a tow truck and pay 50 bucks to get the car towed for three blocks to the church. Sad.

Here’s where the kindness comes in. I get to the church, not really saying much (As loud and as talkative as I am, I try not to say too much if that makes sense) about what happened but people being to come to my office to offer their help. Now there are two types of people in the world and you’re either one or the other: 1) You say you’ll help but you’re hoping the person in need won’t call your bluff (‘dude, call me if you need anything…please don’t call) and then 2) there are people who genuinely will help no matter what. I met a lot of 2s! People offering their cars (one of our APC pastors cars in sitting in my driveway until mine is ready…), rides for food, to the garage, etc. Even my boss called his own personal mechanic to have him look at my car so that I wouldn’t get screwed over at a Canadian Tire-type deal. It was so nice. I remember sitting in my office thinking…I have no choice…I gotta ask around. And I’m thankful I did. If not, I don’t know how I would have gotten home, explained to my wife why I had to sleep at work…all downhill stuff:(

Then yesterday I got my car towed to the mechanic (another stupid 60 bucks) and spent 10 mins driving with a guy who decided to tell me his entire life’s story. He had been twice married, get compensation cheques from the government due to a back injury he received on the job in 1981, couldn’t walk for 3 years due to said back injury, had a falling out with his business partner, used to own a bunch of trucks and pay drivers to tow but fired them and kept his own and he hates his job. He told me all that in 10 mins. And he didn’t talk fast. I guess he likes talking or maybe, just maybe, he needed someone to talk to for a while…he needed to know that someone was willing to listen to his story and for those 10 mins, i was.

I guess this blog entry has two points (and I’m not one of those teaching blog people…this will not happen often):

1) I can’t be afraid of admitting I need assistance at times and if you’re like me, neither can you. The value of letting someone in is huge. Not just for receiving help but also to learn more about someone and to see real care. And while there are limits to asking, if you need help, just ask.

2) Be willing to help someone else…who knows how their day is brightened because of your desire to be a ‘blessing’ of sorts. I was glad to help that guy out by simply listening…at least I hope I was. If not, then that was a long ride and I want my 60 bucks back.

Come and See How Good I Look…

Last night on my way home from picking up wings, I was reminded of a line from my favorite comedy ‘Anchorman’. It’s right at the beginning of the opening credits (before the ‘unique new york’ and human torch stuff) when he says these lines:

‘Oh, I look guuuuuudddd…Everybody! Come and see how good I look!’

The line is funny in retrospect because the character is solely dependent on his looks and status because he isn’t that talented. I mean, he’s really not, which makes the movie insanely funny!
The reason I thought of the scene was because people do this all the time. It may not be because they are or aren’t talented in a common field BUT the majority of people care greatly about what they look like to others as opposed to simply being comfortable in their own skin.

You’ve seen it. There’s the teen who acts like they’ve never done wrong in front of their parents but who are really sucky people when they aren’t around.

The spouse who quickly takes their partners hand in church or another public place to show the ‘joys of loves’ but spends more time at work or on the computer (or golf course).

The person who is broke but buys new clothes to remain IN the group.

The pastor who preaching from memory of scriptures gone by but and shares rules and ideas that they don’t even live out.

The business associate who buys so much to look like a major player but who really isn’t.
That’s my favorite…they use weird language and pull out their blackberry at odd times just to remind themselves ‘this is what we do to look cool.’ Just this morning before leaving the house I saw on facebook one of my former students openly use choice language towards another but when they come home from university this Christmas, they will act like they just met with Jesus on the train (stop judging, Chase, you say. To you I say stop reading;)).

My ‘look’ is the over-competent dad when I’m at my church. Now I know I’m a good dad. A really good one. But when I’m at the church, I feel like I gotta put it on. Which is funny because I’m not like that for worship or prayer times when I know I’m being watched. So I often take Eliana to the nursery to be changed, brag about her accomplishments (she just started standing on her own, saying ‘mama’ and more and she just turned 8 months, since you asked) and show that I’m a man who can do all that stuff. I know I shouldn’t but I do. And not all the time, but sometimes:)

Sadly, there are people who judge others based on how they look, which pushes people to work hard and fixing their outer shell. Becca and I were talking last night about how people may not get the respect they deserve in certain jobs or platforms because they don’t look the part in the eyes of others. Which sucks because there are many great people who are talented and ‘don’t look the part’ or whatever the crap that means (I mean seriously, what’s ‘the PART’). I think that’s why God uses the foolish things of the world to spin the way we do things on its head. I mean for the good looking David character, there’s bald Elisha, possible stocky Paul and more.

It’s easy to say ‘who cares about appearance’ but if I said that, I’d be a hypocrite (I am currently at a Starbucks with a giant hat on because I am ashamed of my bad black guy hair that needs to be cut). I’m not saying don’t look good ever. But instead, do it for you, not for people who may or may not even care about your genuine well-being. Besides, those same people who you’ve set on a pedestal are stuck having to impress you forever, so when they fall, they fall hard and break your heart and confidence along with their own (that’s why we take it so hard when our favorite celebrity/pastor falls).
Funny. As you’re trying to impress them, they are trying just as hard to impress you or someone over them…
And it hits all of us, so be careful. That’s why we change our clothes four to five times before leaving, buy certain cds and movies, etc. To fit in. We all do it. Now how do we undo it…

While I was typing this, an employee here at starbucks told me a story that fits in here. While at a wedding with her family, there was an expensive brunch the next day in which they were invited. While others jumped at the invite, her family was more hesitant based on the cost and their own financial spot. Yet her father shrugged and brought them despite the cost saying these words: ‘Well, we gotta keep up appearances…’

We all do it, right? Any stories to relate? How do you work at simply being you? Do you have people you work hard to impress? Do you look for people to impress you?

Let’s work hard and being honest, knowing who we are and our limitations and living within those walls, while inviting people around us who will accept us for who we are while challenging us to be better for God, ourselves and those we care for.

Scary. I just realized I have to do this too. And my daughter will one day learn this herself.

Dang.

More worship stuff

So today, a friend sent me this funny video regarding worship…I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.  If you’ve seen it before, join in and see it again!

Things to note: How much of this stuff that the ‘narrator’ sarcastically mentions is actually ‘taught’ in various settings? Is this what is it like in most ‘suburban’ (a.k.a. predominantly caucasian) churches with regards to dance? How do you feel about the comments on sincerity and facial expressions?

Here it is…

Look for a full on blog later this weekend.

Results and Findings

The video sets up my  long, jumbled, probably ‘full of contridictions’ thoughts

…a lot of people say, ‘who says I can’t do______?’ A lot of others say, “God says you can’t do_______’. What many of them seem to mean is (in my opinion), ‘I say you can’t do_________ because God says so….’

Read on if you like….

Last week on my Twitter & Facebook, I asked a couple of questions surrounding the topic of Christianity and social drinking. I did so to have some opinions to help me prepare for my small group night at Resonate, APC’s post-high group which I lead. I thought, ‘hmm, this is harmless and most people don’t really care.

Boy was I wrong.

People really care. There were numbers of comments left on my wall from young adults, old adults and older adults, each with a different opinion. Some were for it in moderation, some felt that drinking opened the floodgates to every sin imaginable, some thought that the topic itself should be reserved for high school students and that I was a dummy for putting it up. Some people used bible verses, some used cultural references, some used personal examples of family members & friends who started with one drink and then ended up in Vegas stripping (okay, the Vegas part was an exaggeration but it was going there). What I assumed as a short Q & A, built over a few days into a deep discussion about personal convictions. Which is good. We each have personal convictions based on our relationship with God and our own experiences that pull us to or from one side to the next, which isn’t a bad thing. The bad thing is when we try to argue someone to our ideology or belief.

We do it with our faith. We argue with someone of a different faith OR someone with no faith until they say, ‘well, i guess you win so, I’ma become a Christian now.’ Then we jump up and down, singing the praises of the King and how he led them to himself. We fail to realize that for some (and not all…), if you can ‘argue’ them in then someone can argue them out. The media is great at that.

Buy this. NO. Buy that. Pepsi. Coke. Starbucks. Timmy’s. Toyota. Honda. Taylor. Gaga. Man U. Chelsea. Jacob. Edward. CSI. CSI NY. CSI Miami. Obama. NOT Obama. Etc. Etc. What up wit that??!

We are the kings and queens of changing our minds depending on the argument and idea. And if someone has their own idea, we feel it is our job to stop them dead in their tracks.

I worry about that because I have high school students who I’ve lead and I wonder now, “have I helped them make godly decisions for themselves or have I given them rules to follow, without compromise?” Are we helping people hear the voice of God and know the conviction of the Holy Spirit or are we creating guilt-ridden people, who when faced with a ‘wrong’, will turn away from it only to turn back because they feel bad? Now, I’m not slinking away from my responsibilities to teach and admonish people through the Word of God. What I am saying is that out of my or anyone’s teaching, the Holy Spirit plays a role in speaking to and changing a heart. That’s not my job. It can’t be. I’m not God. And I’m not that persuasive.

A buddy of mine looks at things like this and says,” the question isn’t about right or wrong but about purity. Can you do this and still be pure?” Tough question, because we as people rationalize purity to fit our standard of living…and we look for lines to justify what we can and can’t do. But a good question, none the less. The thing is, I know people who drink socially and I would never question their heart for God, intentions or effectiveness.  Never. And those same people are wise to know where and when and who. Meanwhile, I know people who don’t do anything ‘wrong’ by Christian standards but things could be ‘questioned’.

Are there things that are wrong in the eyes of God? Yes and if you’re a believer, you know what they are based on the Word. Are their things that are grey? Of course or I wouldn’t have wasted a blog to share my broken thoughts (which someone will read and then try to argue with me about…sad yet predictable). It’s those grey areas that we need to talk through and learn through. And in learning about them, we learn about each other and how unique we all are and how we’re each attaining for God. Romans 14 reminds us to avoid judging and condemning those who aren’t where ‘we are’ but it also says at the end that if we normally wouldn’t do something and then we suddenly do, (i.e. drinking for example), then we are sinning…that’s a good chapter for groups to chat about in their own context.

Our post high small group was great because our chat wasn’t about right and wrong but about how can we respond to certain scenarios when they are brought to us. How can we be Christ to someone who does things we don’t agree with. How do we navigate through universities and work places when people do things we don’t agree with? How can we be effective while still being accepting? Those are the main questions, friends and readers. Our society doesn’t look at things the way we do. Common-law families are the norm (even in churches…lol), drinking is normal (even in churches…), clubbing is the norm (even in churches…for outreach…). So if it’s normal for them, do we stand on a soapbox, like the old Holiness movement days and condemn? Do we simply live and hope they see our example and not think of us as monks and nuns? Do we invite them to presentations via mail?

So many questions…yet it seems we’d rather spend time drawing up lines for us to live by.

Sadly, I’ve lost my ruler.

Side note: We care SO much about the right and wrong about alcohol but we don’t care about gluttony or laziness or small white lies…funny what we choose to crusade against.