It’s Hip To Be Scared

I’m not sure if you’re up on your current events, but there’s a lot of fear-mongering going on; what I’d call “alarmism” is rampant in the media these days.

And I don’t think its totally unwarranted, but I’m beginning to believe that just as the tried-and-true advertising adage goes, “Sex sells”, the world of mass media just might be coming on strong with their own mantra: “Fear sells”. Pirates, pandemics, and policy. Not too much to get warm and cozy with there. And these are the things that are the flavors of the day lately.

And fear doesn’t lead anywhere good. But unless you choose to go underground, you’re susceptible to those sinking thoughts and a sinking stomach when you give too much heed to the loud, blasting siren of our society’s alarmist blare.

Its been said that fear is the most primal of human emotions. I’d disagree. I think its more frequent, but not most primal. And as a follower of Jesus, how do I take my surroundings in stride and not lose my mind to the crippling power of fear? Here are just a few quick thoughts:

1. Remember that fear and good judgment aren’t friends.
Now this one has nothing to do with spiritual matters. This one is just basic human behavior. When we’re scared, we typically don’t act rationally.

2. Fear and the anxiety it brings about is a broken, unproductive way to live.
Consider your emotions as employees in your company. Fear has been harassing all the other employees, throwing wrenches in the cogs, and slowing down healthy production for way too long. I’ve never seen anxiety work. I’ve never heard anyone ever say, “Man am I glad I got stressed out over that. That was well worth the energy I spent getting nowhere.”

3. Fear is offensive to God.
Imagine God’s perspective. How weak do you think He is? The amount of fear in your life is the answer to that question.

4. Fear saps power.
As a young boy, I remember laying in my bed at night afraid to go to sleep. I had been having a recurring dream that a witch was chasing me. Yep, a witch. Long pointy hat, long pointy nose, the whole nine yards. Silly to think about it now, but as a kid there was a short time when I didn’t want to sleep. Until one night before falling asleep, I decided that if I had that dream again, I was going to stand up to the witch and tell her to leave me alone. Imagine that, I had a plan for how to handle a witch before I even fell asleep. Crazy, huh? And you know what? I fell asleep, the witch came, and I stopped running, turned to her, and said loudly, “Leave me alone!” That witch turned and walked away and she hasn’t been heard from since.

What part does fear play in your life? In your walk with Jesus? In your workplace? In your marriage? In your friendships?

Comments on my blog are few and far between, but I’d like to know your thoughts (whoever you are) on fear and anxiety. All opinions welcome.

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Blogging suits me fine.

I can’t talk. My voice is just about gone. I think its a combination of allergies and just plain wearin’ it out this past weekend. So, with every conversation leading me to more frustration over not being heard, my keyboard is quite the solace. And thankfully, my lack of volume just led me into a funny situation.

Let me tell you about it.

Now, to my knowledge, this is only the second blog I’ve ever written based on an experience I had in a bathroom. Want to read the other one? Click here.

If bathroom-based blogs are not your thing, then feel free to stop here. But don’t.

Just a few minutes ago, I felt it time to pay a visit to the little boy’s room. Since I am in a church building, the bathroom is made for more than one person and so when I walked in a saw a boy who was undoubtedly elementary school aged. We stood side-by-side, taking care of business and I sensed he was a bit stand-offish. It was just the two of us, and he didn’t know me from Adam, so I suppose that’s natural. In a well-meaning effort to alleve his discomfort, as we were standing at the sinks washing our hands, I thought I’d say “How you doin’?” but remember, my voice is shot. So now I’ve got this poor kid standing next to a perfect stranger who seems to be growling at him. He looked at me in the mirror and didn’t say a word, though his eyes seemed to say, “AAHHHHHH!!!!” I felt bad for that, so I tried to be a bit clearer: “How’s your day goin’?” But to him, it was just another, slightly louder growl from the psycho bathroom man.

I quickly decided that trying to communicate with this kid was a lost cause that was doing more harm than good and I realized just how much I scared him when I was drying my hands at the air dryer and he left the room, hands dripping wet, skipping the air dryer all together.

Poor kid.

A walk to remember

This past Friday I had most of the day to myself since my wife was working and my kids were in school. For a few weeks now, I’ve been wanting to go to the River and take a walk. The James River isn’t the prettiest river I’ve ever seen, but I do enjoy the sound of the water and the overall vibe of being in nature, albeit juxtaposed against the none-too-lovely backdrop of the city of Richmond.

And when I arrived I suppose I was most surprised by the sheer amount of people that were there. Runners, walkers, bikers, sitters, eaters–you name it, they were at the river it seemed. And thankfully I took my trusty camera with me and snapped a few shots, trying not to look TOO touristy (clicking each will enlarge it):

This one was over the canal, on a small footbridge.

Look under the bridge, and you can see the footbridge I was headed for.

And here’s the view once I got onto that long footbridge to Belle Isle.
It was definitely a walk I’ll remember, and having these photos will help. And as I walked I thought about stuff. Don’t ask me to list all the thoughts I had, but there were some that I can say were worth sharing.
Oops, just looked at the clock and I gotta run–check back later for part 2.

Who’s digging deep?

I was talking with Steve the other day (like I do everyday, actually) and he had mentioned that at the Mixx on Sunday (he was at Courthouse campus), he had asked if anyone knew “The Great Commandment”. He broke the whole place into groups to discuss it. After a few minutes he asked everyone if anyone knew it.

One person did.
One person.
Just one.

Now, Steve had just been talking about the “Great Commission” which is found in Matt. 28:19. You can read that here if you don’t know it. Lots of people knew that one.

But sometimes what we don’t realize is that the “Great Commission” is best lived out through the “Great Commandment”. If you want to read the Great Commandment for yourself, then click here.

Jesus came to save the world. Not judge it, not condemn it, and not even fix it. He came to love and save every person. And ever since His ascension back to heaven, He has given His followers–you and I–the greatest responsibility and privilege: to be Him. We are His love poured out on the world, we are His mind, we are His hands, we are His feet, we are His words, we are His arms, we are His compassion, we are His grace; in that we carry all these things to every person we see. That’s our great commandment. Fulfilling this will fulfill the Great Commission.

It’s not the easiest life to live. It’s not the most popular. It’s not the most lucritive. It’s not the most comfortable. But you know what I’ve found? It’s often those who are most uncomfortable who do the most good.

In what ways does your faith make you uncomfortable in this world? Use the comment section to answer.

Waking Up

For no discernable reason whatsoever, the last few days have started in a peculiar way. I’ve been awakened with an alert sense of God’s presence.

Maybe its the skylight directly over my bed; I wake up everyday looking into the sky.
Maybe it was something I ate.

Now, I don’t mean to say that I am usually without that knowledge of His presence. On the contrary: I know well that God will never ever leave me and I am always as close to Him as I want to be. But as a pastor, you might suspect that it is a daily occurrence that I awaken with praise on my lips, a song in my heart, and a prayer effortlessly cascading from my spirit heavenward.

Usually, I just want coffee.

But in the last couple of days, my first thought when I wake up is “Lord, I love you. And I want to be exactly where and what you want me to be today.” It’s as if God is bedside, nudging me while I sleep, trying to wake me up so that He and I can get the day going. And when my eyes do finally open, I have a keen awareness that He’s raring to go.

My guess is that some who read this might blow it off as a little too…..something. I don’t know–freaky-deaky, Kum-Ba-Yah, a little too “out there”. I mean consider it: God rousing you awake and allowing you the tranquility of having your first thought be on Him and all He is. Weird, right? I thought so.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “The prayer of the morning determines the day.” And Bonhoeffer was one who would know exactly what living a life dedicated to God was all about. You might dismiss his socio-political involvement as radical, but he lived a life with his eyes on God and eternity. This knowledge of the Divine presence of God in his life caused him to live everyday as if it were his last. And when his last day did come when he was hanged at age 39, he is reported to have said on his way to the gallows “This is the end–but for me, the beginning of life.”

A mind fixed on God is a mind that is all-at-once at peaceful rest and restless passion. It is an unlikely combination of being content in the suffiiciency of God and yet being discontent with my own shortcomings in dedication to Him. It is a keen awareness that with God, all is in Hand, and yet I am His hand. It’s strange, and yet the most glorious place to be and to live.

This is one of those blogs that don’t have a conclusion.

But just for fun, here’s a guy playing Kum Ba Yah on a tuba. Enjoy.

There’s an App for that.

For the last day of my “staycation”, my kids were back in school and my wife and I had the day to do whatever. We decided to spend at least part of the rainy day at an outdoor mall–go figure. We headed up to Short Pump Town Center and actually most of the walkways were covered from the rain. Because of the weather we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

That is until we got to the Apple store–the one that sells the iPods, the iPhones, the iMacs, the iBooks and the iHaventShoweredLately. Honestly (and I’m not trying to slam anyone here), its as if you have to fit (or have) some mold to work there. And that’s not a problem with me at all. It’s Apple’s right (or at least the manager of that store) to pick and choose whatever type of person he/she deems will push the product the best. And while the vast majority of the mall was a veritable ghost town, the iStore was hopping. They were even calling numbers like some kind of cybergeek deli. It was crazy. And best of all, entertaining.

So, like the dutiful American male that I am, I sauntered through whilst my bride was in a store next door looking at things that don’t plug in. I wandered the isles of white-encased electric wonder with eyes-wide-open and just a hint of drool. After all, Macs are quite incredible.

And the minds behind the Macs are quite intellegent, too. Among other things, they have convinced the public at large that there’s an “app” for anything. That is, they have the answer for any problem you can come up with. Their mantra: “There’s an app for that.”

Now, I’m not trying to drag Jesus into everything. I’m pretty sure He’s already there. I just like it when I see Him in unexpected places, like the Apple store.

The life that Jesus lived on earth and how He exists today in heaven is thoroughly practical, if nothing else. As He moved about on this earth, even at a young age He was constantly making a difference. And to those who were of sincere heart and searching faith, He was the “App” they’d been looking for. He was the solution to the problem. He was the answer to the questions. He was the conclusion to the wandering.

This life of “application” that Jesus lived was found clearly in His various “I am” statements. Read the Gospels and you’ll find Jesus saying of Himself, “I am light”, “I am bread”, “I am living water”, and even the proposterous “I am The Way”. It seemed that no matter what the need, Jesus was the “app”.

So, while it may be a stroke of marketing genius for Mac to declare, “There’s an app for that”, it was Jesus who first lived that message. And upon His ascension, has given His followers the glorious privilege of living of life that truly makes a difference, answers the questions, and presents the solution. No matter the past, no matter the trial, no matter the confusion, no matter the hurt, no matter the unspeakable pain, no matter the failures, no matter the need, no matter the sin….”there’s an app for that.”

Son of God

I had just finished posting the previous post and went into the kitchen to put some dishes away. This song was the first one coming from my ipod. I was reminded just how much I love this song. It’s probably my favorite song. Hope you enjoy it.