Monthly Archives: May 2017

What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

What Will You Be When You Grow Up?

Many of us remember being asked as kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It seemed so clear back then. Firemen, ballerinas, super heroes. Our active imaginations made the decision for us. But growing up leads us down another path of pondering – who am I and why am I here?

As Scott Schimmel pointed out on Sunday, “Disciples of Jesus thrive when they actively pursue their purpose.” Our identities as disciples of Christ are linked to that purpose. Find that purpose, and God’s mission won’t be far away. But many of us struggle to get there. How do you figure out your purpose?

As Scott pointed out, the process may take some time. But the steps are pretty clear.

Meditate. Think about where you’ve come from and sense God’s presence in your thoughts. Without solitude, we’re thrashed by the dictates of society.

Involve Others. Reach out to those you know best for feedback and reflection. How do they see you? You may discover talents you never knew you had.

Pray. Ask Jesus to help you identify your purpose by understanding what you’re designed for.

Discover your SHAPE. It’s a special tool on the LJCC website to help you identify why God created you. The results will show you how your unique talents fit in to God’s mission.

Take SHAPE

Attitude Is Everything

Attitude Is Everything

I have a coffee cup that says “Attitude Is Everything.” It was given to me by a friend as a birthday gift years ago. At first glance, I thought “Oh, that’s so corny.” But it did serve a purpose. I put it on my desk at work and used it as a pencil cup. And — much to my surprise — through the years the real meaning of that phrase has seeped in. Attitude IS everything.

In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Steve talked about how we as disciples of Christ thrive when we live generously. What empowers us to become generous? It’s our attitude.

When you really think about it, “attitude” is one of those words that encompasses a volume of meaning. Attitude means thought, action, behavior, belief. It touches every part of our day, really. Do you wake up grouchy in the morning? Maybe it’s your attitude. Do you feel like your workout is going to be a winner? That’s a positive attitude. Do you kiss your kids or your spouse goodbye in the morning? You’re showing a loving attitude.

From the moment we wake up in the morning to our last actions before we lay our heads down to sleep, our attitude shapes us. It shapes our reaction to things and it shapes how others perceive us.

How can you shape your attitude to become more generous? You can distribute your wealth, your time, and your energy more effectively to help others. Notice I didn’t say empty your pockets. It’s more about emptying yourself so that God can fill you with a generosity of spirit. Living rich in God is a state of mind. Our attitude can motivate us to be generous. And as Pastor Steve pointed out, our generosity is motivated by love.

“Silver or gold I do not have. But what I do have, I give you.” Acts 3:6

When Bridges Fail

When Bridges Fail

In his latest sermon on how to thrive as disciples of Christ, Pastor Steve talked about becoming metaphorical bridge builders, acting as peacemakers to those at odds with each other. But sometimes bridges fail, right? First let’s take a look at some examples of actual bridge failures:

  • The 2007 collapse of Minnesota’s I-35W bridge killed 13 people because of weak gusset plates that were part of a “non-redundant” design. This meant if any major component failed, the bridge was bound to collapse. As a result, multiple fail-safes were built so that no single part alone bears the weight.
  • In 1989, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge collapsed due to the Loma Prieta quake, shearing several connective bolts and killing one person. After that, engineers reexamined older bridges throughout the state and strengthened or rebuilt them.
  • In 1973, the West Side Highway in New York collapsed. It was falling apart due to lack of maintenance and 130,000 travelers each day. Now modern sensors measure roadway strain and send regular alerts.

Could these disasters have been averted? Yes, if someone had been paying attention. If we translate that metaphor to our daily lives, how can we nurture our relationship bridges that might be suffering from wear and tear?

  1. Take a look at your family bridge. Leave a love note for your spouse or praise your child for a job well done.
  2. Take a look at your neighborhood bridges. Reach out to a senior neighbor who may need your help.
  3. Take a look at your community bridges. Bolster a bridge you see crumbling from someone else’s actions.

Look inside to see where your own support beams may be giving way. Think about how you might fortify those beams with grace and love as a bridge-building disciple of Christ.

Practicing your Emotional Destination

Practicing your Emotional Destination

To comment on Steve’s sermon this week, let me advocate for three things in our emotional life.

Wasn’t that a great, “amen and amen” sermon by the way?

Thing One:

Be emotional. The process goes like this. God made you and me. “For we are created in Christ Jesus.” So we bear His identity. As Steve said so well, we are emotional. We are His, ergo being emotional is part of our identity and purpose.

Be sad. Be mad. Be grieved. Be scared. Be vulnerable. Be gentle and kind. Be who you were made to be. “Do the good work which God has prepared.” It’s right here.

Thing Two:

Be emotional in the right way – be emotional for the good purpose. Our emotionality is possibly the most wayward failure to launch part of life right now. We have fearfully developed/overfilled schedules, ambitions for our children from before they are born, financial plans extending out to our dying days, and often almost no compelling sense whatsoever of what our anger, fear, grief and anxiety are for. Our culture’s point of emotional culmination, happiness and self-glorification, is a rip-off, because so many of us are unhappy and nobody except maybe our mothers think we are glorious.

Now there is a stunning destination for emotional life – Jesus Christ. His emotional life was the most beautiful life we’ve ever had. His emotional life changed everything. His feeling is the blessing, blessing us all. If your anger is destructive, be reformed by His indignation at evil and commitment to justice. When your fear is crippling, come to the shade of the Father’s mighty wing the way He does. Whenever you haven’t seen your emotional life change, don’t stop moving into Christ until you do.

Thing Three:

Practice your emotional life. Practice is a maligned part of our faith, which is a bummer because it is the most predictable way in life to experience transformation. There is no such thing as a natural-born surgeon or teacher or pianist or financial advisor. And there is no such thing as a natural-born, really good emotional life either.

Good practice is one part knowing what’s going on – who you are – where you’re going – the telos – and what the next step is – our daily manna provision of grace and provision of identity and good work from the Lord. Take Steve’s encouragement:  He is the One “with all authority” to bring about life – emotional life of the kind we the creation are so eagerly waiting for.

Where’s My Prize?

Where’s My Prize?

As Christians, we’re called to be alive in Christ. But how do we do that? As guest pastor Bruce Baker said in his sermon on Sunday – the second sermon in the THRIVE series — our Christian ethics shouldn’t be about following a rule book, or deserving a prize for a job well done. But how many of us think this way? “I’m being a good Christian. So where’s my prize?“

Some of us may think the prize is money, or possessions, or respect or recognition. All good Christians are successful in these ways, right? Not so fast. Although the world holds these things in esteem, it’s not what Christ values as the way to live your life.

Being alive in Christ is all about doing. In Luke 10:37, after reciting the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.” As Pastor Bruce pointed out, doing is the real meaning of Christian ethics. When we let the water of Christ’s grace flow over us and in us, we become alive in Christ. When we show grace to the people around us, we are thriving. God promises to meet our needs if we live our lives by doing.

God wants us to turn away from our drive to attain money and climb the ladder in our careers. He wants us to do good works, show mercy and love to others, and the rest will fall into place. Being alive now is our prize. When we have Christ, we have everything.

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5

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