Saturday, December 21, 2013

Why Santa Loves Jesus
"Keep the merry. Dump the myth." Last year an organization put this phrase in Times Square with a picture of Santa with the words "Keep the merry" and a picture of Jesus with the words "Dump the myth." I haven't seen any similar advertising this year, but I'm sure it's there.

The funny thing is St. Nicholas, the man who we model Santa after, based his life off of this so called myth. He professed that Jesus was his model. In light of this, wouldn't it be accurate to say Santa's generosity is a result of love for Jesus? :) Read his story HERE.

The creators of the advertisement separated, even put at odds, two figures who are actually much closer than they are far apart. Besides not being well thought out, the advertisement was a poor way to bring merry into the season. Come on people. Where is the love?

St. Nicholas -- a beautiful man who gave his time, energy, resources, even his life, for countless children out of his love for Jesus -- inspired this jolly, good-willed man we know as Santa and now in bed-time stories, films and the imaginations of many children around the world continues to give generously.

So next time you see Santa consider the story of St. Nicholas and the many children who have yet to find such a kind person in their lives. And consider the originating author of such a giving heart towards those in need.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Little Jesus

I read this the other day and thought to myself, "Why didn't I post this?!?!" So here it is. This was written January 18th this year.
There seem to be many “Christians” who don’t know what a Christian is. Maybe they say they're a Christian, but deep down they feel that there is more to it than what they have, something that is difficult to put to words. The original definition has changed from when it was originally used, and there are many who believe Jesus and who are trying to figure out what they should call themselves.

Some people think “Because I’m a Christian, I am going to conserve energy and take care of the planet.” Others think, “I’m going to go to church, read my Bible and pray”. There are many thoughts. “I’m a Christian, so I should do…” and the premise is that doing these things are what makes them a Christian.

I do my best to care for what God has given me, to read the Bible and communicate with God, and to get involved in the church wherever I go, BUT that is not what makes me a Christian. What makes me a Christian is when I act on what Jesus said, in essence, I become like Jesus.

At the moment I am teaching Bible classes. I’m leading worship for a couple churches on occasion. I’m discipling a worship team and even the leadership team of a church here. I’m helping repair bikes for people who can’t afford a bike. I’m spending time meditating on the Bible and I’m spending time seeking God in times of prayer. I’m trying to recycle and to eat healthy. BUT none of those things make me a Christian.

What makes me a Christian is not what I do, but how I do it and why I do it. Christian basically means “little Jesus” or "like Jesus". So while I may be “saved,” I am not a Christian until I am acting like Jesus (living by his teachings). This is the standard we should set for ourselves as “Christians”. We cannot accept complacency in our faith. If we lack the faith, if we do not have the heart to tell others about Jesus when we wake up in the morning, we need to go to God and beg him for that burden.

I sincerely want to be a Christian wherever I go, a REAL on-earth Jesus. Yes, the beginning is believing Jesus is who he said he was, but it isn't complete until we act on what he taught. I am beginning to realize how important it is that I dedicate myself to learning Jesus’ teachings and instructions, and to take his teachings to heart, praying that they would give me a humble and pure motive in all I do and show through my hands and feet among my church, my neighbors, my work colleagues. So that I can be a Christian.

It doesn’t automatically make me a Christian when I "believe" in Jesus. It’s when I am like Jesus. I guess you could say actions equate authentic belief. It’s an impossible endeavor I am challenged to pursue with the help of the Spirit of God, my Helper and Teacher.

As Jesus said to the disciples before he left them “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). They couldn’t do the impossible task laid out for them on their own, and neither can I.

Before the Spirit came on the disciples, they were afraid. They were hiding from the authorities. I see this within me and as the norm in the church. Many are afraid. Many are hiding, unsure of sharing about Jesus, the best news EVER. Maybe all we need to do is go into rooms and pray together that the Spirit would come, that he would give us what he gave the disciples…and then wait, and hope and pray.

Communing with other Believers is AWESOME, but Christians are meant for more than 'church'. The example Jesus gave us was going to the world, and that is what we should do -- in prayer and with the help of the Spirit.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Late Train

The train was an hour late.

I ended up going just outside of the station and playing my guitar…in the rain. There was a precipice giving me a few feet of relative dryness, but it felt really nice to be outside.

After a few songs someone joined me, sitting about twenty feet away, and gave me a few dollars. I kept playing for about half and hour. After I had finished I made my way back towards the waiting area of the station, passing by the man who had given me the tip. 

As I passed he thanked me for playing and told me it was what he needed. He had cried. I shook his hand and asked him if he was a Believer. He said “Yes” and began to tell me some of his story. He was in a lot of pain over leaving Montana. I sat next to him and listened, the rain still falling a few inches from our feet. As he spoke I thanked God for leading me and blessing this man through me. His name was Ray.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Best Party EVER!

A though I had this past week: "I would rather be broken before God than partying without him."

It saddens me when I think of people I know who don't realize how much more beautiful and hopeful God is than anything we can get from Western culture (or anywhere on earth for that matter).

It's hard to think of what people forfeit...for something that is so temporary.

I can't wait to party at God's table with his wine and his food enjoying him and every other person who is beautifully dressed in his forgiveness and his grace. Doesn't that sound awesome!?!? Forever and ever! And ever. Oh yeah...and ever. No worries. No fears. No sadness. No hang overs. No, "Oh no, what did I do last night?" Just Perfect Love : )

Come to think of it, I experienced something very close to this last week. I am so excited to pass through death into life. Thank you Jesus.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wanting What's Heavenly

"Thanks for the encouragement. I was excited to talk about the Holy Spirit, but I also felt really unqualified. I am always learning every day to listen to God. Some days are better than others. I totally have to rely on God's grace."

What is written above is from an e-mail I sent to a friend who encouraged me after listening to a teaching I gave in April this year called, "Now What? - Holy Spirit".

Whenever I write an e-mail or letter that is more spiritually focused I think of Paul's letters, and I sometimes wish to myself that I could write with such conviction and authority. How was Paul able to do all that he was called to do? Was he just that much more dedicated to seeking God and learning about the Spirit? What did he have to work with? He didn't have the New Testament! Well, ok, I guess he was chosen by God to write half of it, so he kind of was the New Testament walking around!

Paul learned from the disciples' accounts, directly from them, and then he dedicated himself to those eye-witness accounts. But it wasn't just that. His calling was to take the gospel to the non-Jews of the time.

Does God choose people based on something he sees in them to accomplish his task? Or does he choose them and then provide what they need? I guess he does both. What were Paul's prayers like? What was his prayer life like? What did he tell people in the churches to do?

I have to admit. I get excited about reading the New Testament. Then I read it, and I struggle applying it to my life. How am I supposed to do this without help?

Jesus says that he sends a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who will dwell in us and lead and guide us. Why is it so hard for me to listen to him? I feel like I do some of what he says, but only every once in a while, enough for me to believe that he is there. Then there are times I don't even realize he's talking to me and I brush the thoughts aside, even if they keep coming again and again, until I finally realize days or months later that it was the Spirit of Jesus.

Most of the time I'm doing my own thing. But then there are times I ask for his help, and I don't feel anything...except my weaknesses. And I wonder, "Am I just playing games with God? Am I the guy James talks about who asks for wisdom and doubts, so I shouldn't expect to receive anything?"

How can I do this without the Spirit? And what do I have to do to get the Spirit to help me? What should I do, PERIOD.

Today I'm tired. I'm wanting more. I remember times I was walking in the Spirit daily. I remember how I would meditate and stop and rest and sit before God without any agenda...ever. And when it was time to get up, I would. Today...I feel a restlessness. I sit for thirty seconds and I'm done. I don't understand what's going on inside of me.

I think on the outside I want to look like I want heavenly things, but deep down there is a craving for earthly things. And I want that desire for heavenly things to move from the outside to the inside, but I don't know how. God, help me kill my selfishness. Help me to want you more than anything else. Help me to submit myself to you.


It's been a few days since I wrote the above. Since then God has revealed to me that deeper than anything that is in me, at the very core, is a desire for heavenly things that He has planted in me. Thank you Jesus.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"How much do you want Me?" 

I recently had a good friend of mine ask me, "What is God teaching you?" This has got to be one of the best questions, and perhaps one of the most important. I believe that God intended all believers to be both learners and teachers. Children and adults, doctors and students, hippies and gang-bangers, codgers and 20-somethings, musicians and mechanics. We can all learn from each other when we ask each other this question. When God is teaching us something, I believe he wants us to multiply it through the way we live and through dialogue.

When I ask someone "What is God teaching you?" I have a couple agendas. First off, I am asking that person to teach me. I love to learn, and I am oftentimes encouraged when I hear of what other believers are learning from God. I am also hoping to encourage that person to process and wonder at what God is teaching them (because I know how easy it is to just keep moving and not take time to pause and consider what God is teaching us).

So...What is God teaching me? The question that was posed to me this week was, "How much do you want Me?" Honestly. It's hard to want a Person who is so hard to comprehend, and it's all too easy for me to want other things more (vague, I know...but true). A friend of mine told me about how she has been praying that God would give her a strong desire to be with him, to love him more than anything else. And he answered that prayer this week for her when she woke up on Friday morning. I think I'm going to start asking God to give me that kind of desire for him, to help me desire him with everything. It's so easy to get focused on myself and what I want. I'm asking for him to put my heart in line with his heart for my life, to desire the things that he desires, and to trust that he plans to give me everything good that I desire in his timing.

What is God teaching you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Life in a Day

I created this short film to share a basic picture with people of what my life is like here in Wisconsin on a weekday. The time of filming is January.