Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Musical Chairs


I've never been particularly found of the game Musical Chairs.  It brings out a side of me that is best kept under control—at all times

I will admit that occasionally there is a competitive spirit that rises up within me and when this happens, I must quickly bring it back into submission to the Lord.  

The game Musical Chairs is wrong on so many levels.  We march around knowing that one person will be left wanting, but when the music stops, we push and shove to get a seat for ourselves by displacing another.  The whole point of the game is to repeat this over and over until there is only one person left in the winner's seat. 

When you hear Musical Chairs described like this, you may wonder why we ever thought this was fun or willingly participated in such a mean-spirited game.  But, we were kids, and it's was just a game.  We'd never act like that now.  I mean, we're adults.   
Right?  

Or is it possible that my whole Christian life has been nothing more than a two-person game of Musical Chairs?  Me and Jesus going head to head for the honor of sitting in the winner's seat.  Only, Jesus isn't playing the game right.  He won't fight for the chair.  He doesn’t grab it while I’m trying to sit down and laugh when I tumble to the floor.  Nope! Whenever the music stops, He willingly lets me have it.  There's no pushing, no scrabble for control, if I want the seat, He surrenders it to me.  

“So does that mean I win?” Asked competitive Beverly.

The Message Bible is great at getting right to the heart of it.  Here's what Mark 8:35-37 says... 

 

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how...What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?"


In the spiritual game of 2-person Musical Chairs, if I don't take the seat, that makes me the winner.  


Come to think of it, that's how I feel about all games of Musical Chairs.




Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Take Turns


For many years, there was a poster attached to the wall above the drinking fountain at church.  There was a row of penguins lined up at the edge of a cliff and one by one they were jumping into the icy cold water.

That poster served as a reminder to everyone at the drinking fountain to take turns.  Don't push ahead to the front of the line.  Don't swarm the drinking fountain in a pack.  I'd often point at the poster as a reminder to the children and say, "Look, the penguins are all waiting their turn and we should wait our turn also.  Be patient, your turn is coming."

Another drinking fountain rule I establish was counting to 10 while children were getting their drinks.  I had to enforce this rule because we all know that preschoolers are part camel.  As soon as it was a child's turn at the water fountain, they stepped up and embraced the "possession is 9/10's of law" rule.   

Once a child placed their hands against the cool, stainless steel of the drinking fountain, they were not willingly going to surrender that place of power.  When I had a child that refused to stop drinking or step away, I would gently tap them on the shoulder to remind them that their turn was over.  It's time for someone else to step up. 

This drinking fountain story has a spiritual comparisons that relates to taking turns.  In the church today, music has caused many conversations and stirred up generational differences due to song selection and music style.  I wish I could say that I have never been one of the complainers, but I have.  I've complained about the repeating of a phase over and over...and over again, the loudness of the drums and the hard to follow song melodies.  I wonder why my favorite songs--the ones I know all the words to--aren't sung anymore.  

Maybe you too have harbored some of these same issues.

I was in a church service a few months ago and another new song was thrust upon me as I struggled to find the right notes to sing.  The music would go up when I thought it should go down and I tried to make sense of the mismatched words while I sang.  

Then my focus moved from the words on the screen to the group of young people on the platform.  They stood with their eyes pinched tight, hands lifted high and I swear I felt a tap on my shoulder.  A gentle reminder that I needed to take turns.  

This is what Isaiah 43:18-21(GW) says about taking turns

Forget what happened in the past,
and do not dwell on events from long ago.
I am going to do something new.
It is already happening. 
Don’t you recognize it?
I will clear a way in the desert.
I will make rivers on dry land…
I have formed these people for myself.
They will praise me.

Maybe you, along with me, have been holding tightly to the drinking fountain while God has been gently tapping us on the shoulder.  If you listen closely, maybe your heart will also clearly hear His voice say, "Take Turns."



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

So This Is Love

Once every seven years Valentine's Day falls on a Wednesday, so naturally, today we must talk about LOVE!

There's a song from a timeless Disney movie that immediately comes to mind when I think of love.  The song is sung by Prince Charming and Cinderella as they dance around the palace ballroom.  The title of the song is, So This Is Love.

In true Disney fashion, the tune and the lyrics are beautiful, but I do take issue with the idea that love is born in a matter of minutes while taking a spin on the dance floor.  Yet, it is the stuff that fairy tales are made of.  But is this really love?

I think not.

Books, movies and music make up a million dollar industry that endeavors to persuade us...So This Is Love.  We are pressed from every side with worldly opinions of what love is and what it means to be loved.  Television and movies often depict love as cheap and expendable.  A worldly view of love is—here today and gone tomorrow.  If love doesn't work out this time around, no worries someone else will come along--So This Is Love?

What better day than today to set the record straight and answer this question; So This Is Love?   Actually, the answer isn't a huge secret.  It was super easy to find.  God's word shows us over and over again what Love really is.  His love is the truest love we'll ever know.  It's not a parental love, a marital love, a sibling love, or even the love a child has for a parent.

In the New Testament, the disciple who identifies himself as The Beloved, recalls these words spoken by Jesus.  (John 3:16 NET)

For this is the way God loved the world:  
He gave his one and only son, 
so that everyone who believes in him 
will not perish but have eternal life. 

And true enough, Jesus showed His love to all mankind by willingly laying down His life...


So This Is Love.



Wednesday, February 7, 2018

I want it!

I play a game with my grandkids where we hide a small toy. Then the first one to find it gets to hide the toy the next time.  Once the toy is hidden again, we hear the call to come, whoever is playing the game just about tramples over each other to return to the hunt.  

It's just a simple little toy, but the pursuit to find it is strangely powerful.  There is an urgency on the faces of my young grandchildren as they search the area for the prize.    

This little game brings to mind a verse in Proverbs 21:21. (The Message Bible)


“Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself--glorious life!"  


No one could or would debate that beautiful rewards will be found in the lives of those who choose to passionately pursue what is right and kind. 

I think, when looking at this scripture, where many fall short is in the actual hunt or pursuit.  The hunt may require us to set aside our own agenda, even our personal biases and points of view as we pursue what is right and kind.  Maybe our hunt will require us to keep our opinion to ourselves or let our actions push past our own hurts to show kindness to another who may be hurting too.  

Hunting for what is right and kind, seem incomparable to the silly game I play with my grandkids, but when I see the determination on the faces of these little people while they are in pursuit of that hidden toy, I have to be honest with you, they want it.  They REALLY want it.  

It makes me wonder, how badly do I want to purse righteousness and love?  What am I willing to do to capture the prize?    

When you choose to pursue something passionately, you must be impressed with it's worth.  

Am I impressed with it's worth?


“Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself--glorious life!" 

I want it!  I REALLY want it!  

Do you?


How much did that cost?

I know it's rude to ask how much something costs, but it's a curiosity that we all have.   Most of us have the decorum to h...