True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: I Will Be On The Next Wal-Mart E-mail Forward

Aniston continues her pursuit of training her potty, but on this day her brain and bladder were recreating the NFL Lockout and were not talking.

As a result, we had a breach of the “dam” and the pee-pee was a flowing.

Normally it wouldn’t be a big deal, but on this occasion she had come with me to a meeting…in a school…far from home and to compound things further I had unknowingly left the house without back up.  So with no outfit back up I was reduced to a daughter with only a diaper and shirt to clothe her.

Now, there are a lot of recurring nightmares that I suffer from.

  • There’s the one where I am back playing baseball and every time I try to run I am in sand to my waist so I never can get a base hit.
  • There’s the one where I am back in elementary school and instead of putting kids in the garbage cans I am the kid in the can.
  • Then there’s the one where Cherie says ”no” to my marriage proposal and I go on to collect cats and holiday sweaters while spiraling down into my own personal depression.  Too much?

But by far the one that makes me wake up in cold sweats with shakes is the one where I am one of “those people” you see on the Wal-Mart e-mail forwards.

You know what I’m talking about.

The ones with the picture of the person wearing fish net stockings covered up by a pair of cut off sweatpants short shorts.  Their shirt is combination of a white mesh tube top that shows off their pink bra.  Completed with an 80’s perm and high heals.  And that’s the guys!

Normally I can wake up from these night terrors and Cherie will rock me back to sleep, but last Saturday.  My nightmare came true.

With my near naked child, I was stuck.  I didn’t have time to go home and I didn’t have anyone close that I could sheepishly ask to borrow clothes from.  There was only one option.

Wal-Mart.

So I took my little diaper toting, no shoe wearing, hair frazzled Beeger with me to Wal-Mart and went as fast as I could to the kids clothing.  To top off the day, Aniston was exhausted and was not her happy self.  So as we came back through the store to go pay she was crying and saying “I love my mommy so much!”

So now, not only do I look like one of the Wal-Mart Top Ten crazy people, but to ice the cake I now look like a kidnapper!  Super.

I have a total new respect for those people I see on the e-mails.  Who knows what kind of day they had when those shots were snapped.

On this day, I got slapped in the face with the cover of the book I judged to quickly.

It’s so easy to jump to a conclusion or fill in the blanks on someone’s life just by looking at them isn’t it?

I mean all I need is the label on their clothes, the type of car they drive, the color of their skin, and maybe a pay stub to tell you pretty much who they are and how they got where they’re at in life.

But my experience with Aniston and her diaper butted shopping spree reminded me that is a total garbage way of thinking.

Jesus didn’t care about the resume or social status of those that He hung around.  In fact He seemed to seek out the B-side of society and only listened to the deep tracks of the “artists” He hung out with.

I don’t know about you, but I need to check my pride and arrogance at the door more often to make sure I’m not looking down on the ones that God has called me to reach out to.    I pray I don’t forget that at one time God didn’t look past me in my sinful life, but instead extended the perfect hand of Grace through Jesus to clean up my messed up world.

I need to be willing to do that same thing to those around me and not be so quick to add them to the Wal-Mart highlight reel.

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This Church Is Outta HERE!

I get excited about a lot of things that have happened and are happening at the Lockport Campus, but Sunday July 24th has the potential to be my favorite memory to date.

On Sunday you will find the church parking lot empty here at the Lockport Campus because we are leaving the church and heading just 5 minutes down the road to a local school.  Not to have service, but to serve.

Over 200 people have signed up to wash, scrub, mow, weed, paint, and do whatever we can to be a blessing to the Fairmont District School.  An underprivileged school and neighborhood minutes form our campus.  A neighborhood we hope to show the love of Christ to for an extended period of times.

For all of us as Christians it is vital if not essential to our walk with Christ to put our Faith into action.  I believe James the brother of Jesus would agree.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?”James 2:14. 

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” - James 2:18

It’s important to stop and remind us all that our Faith in Christ is not determined by what we do.  It is determined by what Jesus did and our complete and utter surrender to Him as our Lord and Savior.  There is not enough “stuff” that we could do, say, or give to make up for the sin that separated us from God.  Only the work of Jesus on the cross could pay the price for that debt.  So our Faith…our hope…our salvation is found in Christ and Christ alone.

However, the way we demonstrate the redemptive power of Jesus in our lives is by our actions.  How we live, act, steward, and care for those things and people around us in response to the way Christ has called us to live.  Demonstrating our Faith in our deeds.

The Church leaving the building is an example of showing our faith, gratitude, and devotion to Christ by our deeds.  By tangibly becoming the hands and feet of Christ we are putting into action all that we hear on Sunday for at least an afternoon.  The hope is that this will begin to not only ripple the love of Christ into the community we are impacting, but also ripple out in other areas of our lives.

Of course there is always the more “popular” option of not doing anything with your Faith.  Its’ the option most of us choose by hiding our Faith deep down in the “private life” compartment of ourselves.  The compartments that we never talk about and aggressively protect, but will one-day dust off and sheepishly present to God in its atrophied state as we stand before Him.

This may be the saddest part of the Christian’s existence, because by hiding our Faith we never really live.   When we do this, the Spirit you have been given by Christ when you accept Him as Lord and Savior is being stifled in your soul like a genie in a bottle.  Except this stifled Spirit does more than grant you 3 wishes or a magic carpet ride.  This Spirit was given to you to experience the true fullness of life that God intended.

“As the body without spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”  - James 2:26

This event for our Campus is not about “Hey look at how great we are as Christians!”, but rather humbly serving and saying “Hey look how awesome God is and because of that we can’t help but want to give back to Him out of love.”  It’s about a Campus that can’t help but serve because of how much God has given us.

My prayer for you wherever you may be reading this, is that you start experiencing the life God has intended for you all along.  To do this, we all need to take start taking what we hear on Sunday’s and put into action on Monday.  This is truly how the Church will leave the building every week as it’s lived out in our lives on a daily basis!

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: Everyone Knows When I Go Potty

We are in a full court press for potty training as I type this blog.

We have pull-ups, a padded potty chair, a step stool to get to the stool (odd), M&Ms for successful “deposits”, princess prizes for totally dry pants days, and the complete loss of privacy for when my wife and I use the bathroom in public.

Yep, you read that last line correctly.

It really is harmless because we simply just get caught up in our own little world. A world where talking about puke, poop, pee-pee, and toots is common and seems completely normal.

It dawned on me the other day that to the outside world this isn’t necessarily normal.

In fact, it hit me as I as walking to the bathroom at Oberweis Ice Cream Shoppe the other night and I overheard my wife tell Aniston that “Daddy is going to go Pee Pee” loud enough that I could make out every word some 40 feet away. So unless the remainder of the customers just got off the ACME School for the Deaf bus they all heard it.

Let’s face it…we do weird stuff when we are parents, but to us it seem so normal.

Now, don’t kid yourself, people think what we do as Christians is weird too. Craig Groeschell wrote an entire book oddly enough called “WEIRD” about this exact thing. Our church will be doing a series on it soon, but I just think about the weird things we believe for a second.

  • We believe that all that we have and are is because of God and not because of how hard we work or who we know. WEIRD
  • We believe that sex should be saved for one man and one woman after marriage forever. WEIRD
  • We believe that we should love and pray for our enemies. WEIRD
  • We believe this life is not about us, but about serving other people. WEIRD

It can be downright hard to live the way Christ calls us to because, as Christians our new reality, after meeting Christ and letting Him radically overhauling us, becomes one of WERIDNESS not normalcy.

We become aliens in our own world.

Consider how the writer of Hebrews describes those listed in the “Hall of Faith” when held next to this world.

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners (WEIRD) and strangers on earth.” – Hebrews 11:13 (emphasis mine)

Let me ask you something.

What changed when you became a Christian?

I mean how can someone tell that you are a follower of Jesus Christ?

A lot of people will say “Hey, that’s personal! I don’t need to go flaunting my faith like one of those street preachers to have faith in Christ.” and I would agree with you.

But.

I also would say that, something has to change…something of your old self has to be different…something has to become weird in your life or I’d have to wonder if you really know Jesus.

Because what the world calls us to and what Jesus calls us to are like oil and water in most cases. You can’t truly be a follower of Christ and yet still be a follower of the world.

The truth is that a follower of Christ is weird and it shows in the way we live. As we follow Christ more, the world that used to seem so comfortable beings to give us hives. It starts to rub us the wrong way compared to what Jesus calls us to.

But what I find encouraging out of this passage in Hebrews is that this WEIRDNESS isn’t just reserved for the rockstars of the Christian faith.

All of us as Christians should be weird and we should encourage one another to keep being weird until we are face to face with Christ. Then we are no longer strangers in this world, but home…with all the other Weird people.

 

Uh, oh! Gotta go (get it?) J

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Housekeeping, you want pillow?

I found this one in an old folder and thought I'd repost it.  Love looking back a little. 

What comes to your mind when I say "wake-up call"?

I'm sure many things popped into your cranium just now such as:

  • THAT noise.  You know the ONE. The noise that you chose out of all the sounds to wakes you up everyday.  Yep, THAT one.
  • Perhaps it is the "click-click-click" of a large greyhound dog walking on your hardwood floors at 4:30 am. 
  • Maybe you are still living at home and you think of your mom nudging your arm.  If you are a teenager, enjoy it.  If you are a grown man perhaps between the age of "old enough to have an apartment" and "this is just embarrassing", it is time to get a J-O-B and your own alarm clock.

What I think of these days is my daughter.  Yep, all 5.5 months of her.  One of my favorite..check that…my favorite time of the day is at 7:00 am every morning.  This is when my little girl wakes up for her morning bottle and when the cutest thing happens. 

We are parents who "swaddle" our daughter.  For those rookies out there, swaddling is basically taking a blanket and wrapping it around your child with the end goal of having your child resemble a Chipotle burrito.  The basic function of the swaddle is that it keeps the "Talladega Nights-esque" hands in-check so she can sleep her 6-12 hours each night. It rocks…trust me.

The cool part happens when you undo the swaddle in the morning. Once the pressure is released from the swaddle, her hands pop out, she stretches to the sky, and slowly she opens her eyes one at a time.  However, unlike most people's wake-up calls where a phone may or may not be thrown against a wall as the hotel receptionist's name is taken in vain, Aniston wakes up with the biggest, sweetest, cutest smile ever. It is like each day is something new to see and she is just excited to take in her new world.

Do you wake up each day like that or do you wish you could breathe deep above the waterline of life?

Does it feel like you're running the marathon of life in quick sand, but dream about sprinting on the open road?

Now, what if I told you that you could have been living free this whole time?  What if I went a little farther and told you that you have chosen this life and that you are suffocating yourself?

Check out what my man Paul tells us in Romans 6.

"For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin,once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Consider this your wake-up call.  You have a free life waiting for you.  Christ paid for it and gives it to you freely.  So pick your head up, accept this Truth, and start cutting the ties of sin that bind you. 

Start stretching out and smile big because your life is just beginning. 

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My Jesus Hobby

I was talking with a very good friend the other night and he was telling me about what God was challenging him with.  It really boiled down to this…"What exactly am I doing in life?".  You see, he found himself doing all kinds of stuff, but feeling like he really wasn't doing anything.

Now, to know my friend you must realize that he is an amazing guy with a huge heart and the ability to go from 0-Passionate in like 1.2 seconds.  He and I are very much alike.  Whether it is sports, causes, MMA,  golfing, or (in his case only :) ) gaming when we get excited about something we go hog wild over it!  We practice, read blogs, watch interviews, and talk to friends about it constantly with the end goal of trying to master it.  After all, we all love to be good at our hobbies.

I'm willing to go out on a limb here and say you can relate.  No?  Do any of these strike a chord?

  • Fantasy Football
  • I-Phone Apps
  • Fashion
  • Parenting
  • Softball
  • Practicing guitar
  • Scrapbooking
  • Facebook (guilty as charged)
  • Should I keep going?

The fact is we all do it.  We all have areas of interest that get us excited and give us enjoyment.  Please hear me out…there is nothing wrong with hobbies except when you are challenged with this thought. 

"What if Jesus was your hobby?"

Now for those over-thinkers out there I'm sure you are already shooting holes in this analogy, but just "Simma-down-now" for a second and consider the possibilities.

  • What if for one week you put as much energy into reading your Bible as you did checking the stats on your Fantasy Football team? 
  • What if for just one weekend, you took the time you spent in the mall looking for the next best pair of jeans and spent it serving at the church? 
  • What if you took all the time you spent updating your Twitter account and went to lunch with a friend to see how they were really doing and ask how you could be praying for them?  
  • What if you took the time you spent watching the UFC Pay-Per-View fights and volunteered at a local homeless shelter?
  • What if for one day you took all the time you spend worrying (yes, that is a hobby) about everything and spent that time praying or inviting a friend to church?

What if following Jesus became your hobby?

I know it is sounds crazy and I'm sure you would be quick to defend yourself in your best Sunday School voice that "Jesus is so much more than a hobby to me!", but if I could account for all your time would Jesus' column have more time allotted to it then your Suduku puzzles? 

Enough from me, take it away Paul…

1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

2 Corinthians 4:18 "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Philippians 2:21 "For everyone looks our for his own interest, not those of Jesus Christ."

Maybe, just maybe it's time to get a new Hobby?

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Preaching the Sovereignty of God is Easy…Living it is Hard

It’s been awhile…I know…I’m sorry, but God has been rocking my world.

When I left off, I was in the heat of writing a sermon on the Sovereignty of God. It was a tremendously rewarding, taxing, soul searching, and faith building opportunity as I dove into the life of Job. Looking at how he stayed faithful to the call of God even through the “One Day’s” of his life.

I enjoyed every minute of preaching and loved being able to articulate the Truth that God is powerful, strong, mighty, and good even when we don’t see His whole plan. I left that weekend floating on a rush of God and it felt great.

Then Monday hit and I was thrown back down to the reality of God’s sovereignty.

It’s one thing to preach it on Sunday, but another to live it on Monday with a family.

Something happens to the intensity of your belief in God when you sit in a hospital room. When you hear doctors give bad news. When you see children crying over their sick mother. When you see a husband say good-bye to his best friend and the love of his life. When you pray so much that your eyes hurt.

The Sovereignty of God becomes much realer in those moments.

But once again thank God for Jesus.

Without Him these moments would be impossible to recover from and void of hope, but with Him there is much more than a silver lining. There is a promise. There are promises of reunions, of answered questions, of an eternity with Jesus, and of the true awakening to our new Life.

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13:11

“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

I’ve come to realize over these past few days that we truly are asleep to the true plan God has for us. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:12, For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully…”

I always narrowly placed that verse in the “One Day I’ll Get My Answers” category, but I realize that is too limited. Because it also speaks to the Salvation Jesus promises us by His Sovereign will. Until our eyes are truly opened and the worldly sleep is removed from our eyes, only then will we see the full plan of God. The full Sovereignty of God.

As Revelation 21:4 promises us “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

We are living in the old order of things right now so tears will flow and questions will persist, but it won’t last forever. The new order is coming.

Sure, the new order may include the answers to our “Why?” questions, but it will also include the answer to “Why would Jesus love me so much?”

Thank God for the Sovereignty of God that looked at our sin and sent Jesus to pay the price, to wipe the tears, to make the old go away, and for preparing a place for us in heaven with Him.

Thank you Jesus.

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