Team Jesus

I didn’t play team sports as a kid. In fact, I didn’t play sports at all. I was a geek or a nerd. If Big Bang Theory had been popular when I was growing up I could have been a star.

I missed a lot of important lessons by not being familiar with team work.  I have a solo law practice and that’s no accident, but we can’t do everything alone.  So much we do as adults, we do in groups. The same is true of Christianity. Although we talk about a “personal” savior and we take up our individual crosses and face individual judgment, Jesus taught us to pray in plural: Give us this day… forgive us… we forgive. He also spoke extensively about the body and the importance of it’s individual parts. If we look around the church today, it’s pretty clear that I’m not the only one lacking in knowledge of team work.

There are benefits in working together. 

  • Problem solving: When we put our heads together we are more likely to come up with solutions to problems. 
  • Accomplish tasks faster: A single person taking on multiple tasks will not be able to perform at a same pace as a team can. When people work together they can complete tasks faster by dividing the work to people of different abilities and knowledge.
  • Healthy competition: A healthy competition in groups can be used to motivate individuals and help the team excel.
  • Developing Relationships: A team that continues to work together will eventually develop an increased level of bonding. This can help people avoid unnecessary conflicts since they have become well acquainted with each other through team work. 
  • Everyone has unique qualities: This may be the trickiest part of team work. Each part of the body has unique abilities and plays a unique role. We can succeed only when we focus on our roles and support others in their roles. 

In the church today it seems individuals struggle to find their place. When we don’t know where we belong, we don’t focus on what we should be doing, but instead become critical of what others are doing. When someone doesn’t recognize and execute their part, someone else has to step up and fill a role for which they may not be completely suited. 

Those charged with leadership or with roles we consider important are particular targets of those who haven’t found their place.  For example, anyone in children’s ministry knows how hard it is to get volunteers, but how easy it is to get advice about how that ministry should be done. 

Take the pulpit once or twice and find out how many sitting in the pews think they are preachers. 

We can’t get the job done, unless we do it together and we can’t do it together unless we are willing to learn our place,  focus on that, and support and encourage those with different roles.

Go team. There’s work to be done.


A Holy People

If you have ever travelled to Amish country in Pennsylvania, you will not likely forget it. The small fertile farms, the distinctly dressed Amish, their quaint modes of transportation, all seem to transport you to another time. These people seem oblivious to the bug eyed tourists who snap pictures of them and their homes day and night. 
You can understand the curiosity seekers. These people are certainly unique. On the one hand, you wonder how folks could live that way in the twenty-first century. On the other hand, you kind of envy their simple lifestyle and their clear identity.
Remember back in high school when you could tell what group someone belonged to by their dress? Some tried to dress like their peers. It just seemed to happen to others without trying. We are possessed of a strong desire to be identified for whom we are.
It seems as Christians, however, we struggle for identity. Have you had the experience that I have had, when someone who has known you for years suddenly says to you, “I didn’t know you were a Christian.” Wow. What condemnation. 
In these days when the government seems interested in  “fundamentalist” or “evangelical” Christians, it seems we ought to really do them a favor by dressing alike or having some other means of easy identification. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be missed when we are all hauled off to concentration camps as terrorist threats. 
What makes it worse for us is that there are many who call themselves Christians and who are often identified by the world as Christians. The problem is that these folks aren’t good advertisements for our kind. They are usually spotted saying something stupid or hateful. 
We really need to find a way to be noticed in a good and powerful way. We have something wonderful to offer, but no ones seems to notice or care. 
Lord, help us to be the called out for a purpose people that you want us to be. Let others look at us and see only you.
Pray that prayer with me and be blessed.

Encouragement and Direction

This time last month Rose and I were in New Orleans. We had gone off to be alone to celebrate our anniversary. Turns out we aren’t very sneaky because several people found us. That was okay. It was basically two groups of people whom we love and who were having real problems.
I find that when people are troubled they are usually discouraged and lost. Being the wise man that I am I try to offer encouragement and direction.
Encouragement. I find that it’s not very helpful to tell folks in these circumstances things like: “It’s going to be okay.” “It’s always dark before the dawn.” “Things aren’t as bad as you think.” These kinds of statements aren’ve very helpful and really aren’t encouraging. People are discouraged because they lack courage. The absence of courage is fear. I tell folks. Jesus hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s still there. He’s the source of our courage and the one who can chase away our fears. Nothing is more encouraging than to know even though we can’t see or feel Him, that He is still around. Just telling them this isn’t quite enough. You have to be Jesus to them. You have to love on them quite a bit. That’s really the blessings part. It’s a blessing for them and for you.
Direction. Problem is when you love on someone, you get tempted to tell them what to do.  I find it’s not very useful to try to figure out what someone else should do. I guess I’m really not that smart. I often don’t really understand what the problem is. Even if I do understand, the lost person isn’t likely to recognize that I know the way out for them. So I tell people. Go to Jesus. He’s got the answers and, more importantly, He has the power to execute what needs to be done to fix the problem.
In short then, I tell folks: “Jesus is still there so run to Him.” It’s simple but not simplistic. In the cases of my two groups of those I love, the directions worked. In both cases things are much better today.
The problem. It turned out that in both cases the problem was a group of people. People usually are the problem. People in our lives will distract us, turn us from our path and confuse us about Jesus. In both these cases, that’s what had happened. In both cases, the folks I love have separated themselves from the people causing the problem, at least for a while and, at least for now, things are much better.
I can guarantee you that there are folks you know who are discouraged and lost. Give the advice that I gave and you may become known as a harbor in the storm, a light and some salt. That’s a good thing. 
In fact, it’s what we are called to do.
Encourage and direct and 
Be blessed.

National Donut Day

It’s National Donut Day. I have to admit I haven’t properly prepared. In fact, I didn’t realize that it was National Donut Day until I woke up this morning and saw it on Facebook. And you think that there is no benefit to social media. 
In fact, I never celebrated National Donut Day before. But as part of my new whirlwind lifestyle (see yesterday’s blog for details), I think I will celebrate it today.
As I look around it seems to me that way too many folks are trying so hard to live a long life that they are missing out on having a good life. I know lots of people that might eat one donut today but they will be so overcome with guilt thinking about the calories involved that they won’t really enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to exercise and watch what we eat and take care of our teeth and get regular checkups and all that. It’s not so great to be so consumed with it all that we never have any fun.
If we are honest about it, when we find ourselves acting that way, it’s because we are afraid. We are afraid of catching some horrible disease. We are afraid of not living out all the years we should have. Ultimately we are afraid of dying. 
Christians should never have such fears, but we know that some of us do. Getting old doesn’t look like a lot of fun. We stay away from nursing homes and hospitals. We don’t visit the elderly unless we really  have to. Face it we are afraid. 
Just remember. Don’t fear tomorrow. Jesus is already there. He wants us to have a full life today. We can be fulfilled by doing what we have been call out to do. It’s really okay to have a little fun along the way.
Have a donut. Have two. There small.
Be blessed.

Set Apart for a Purpose

Paul, an apostleC)’> in Ephesus, the faithfulA)’> of Christ Jesus by the will of God,To God’s holy peopleE)’> in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What does the ideal Christian church look like? How should Christians behave?
These important questions are answered in the book of Ephesians. This instructional letter is packed with practical advice, all given in an encouraging tone. Ephesians also contains two of the most memorable passages in the New Testament: the doctrine that salvation comes by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ, and the metaphor of the Full Armor of God.
Today, 2,000 years later, Christians are still debating a controversial passage in Ephesians commanding wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:22-33).
The Apostle Paul is credited as the author. Ephesians was written about 62 A.D. This epistle is addressed to the saints at the church in Ephesus, a prosperous port city in the Roman province of Asia Minor. Ephesus boasted international trade, a thriving silversmith guild, and a theater that seated 20,000 people.

Paul wrote Ephesians while under house arrest as a prisoner in Rome. The other prison epistles are the books of Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. Some scholars believe Ephesians was a circular letter distributed to several early Christian churches, which may explain why the reference to Ephesus is missing from copies of some manuscripts.

Christ has reconciled the whole of creation to himself and to God the Father.
People of all nations are united to Christ and to one another in the church, through the working of the Trinity. Paul uses several word pictures to describe the church: body, temple, mystery, new man, bride, and soldier.
Christians should lead holy lives that give honor to God. Paul issues specific guidelines for right living.
Why am I giving  you these tidbits about Ephesians? Because I am trying to “hook” you into joining us tonight at 7 p.m. for an in depth study of the book at Amana in Maurice. There will be activities for the kids so no excuse not to come. 
There is a temptation to take a vacation from the things of God in the summer. Don’t do that. Be blessed and encouraged with us.
See  you tonight.