Papa John’s Pizza and Jesus

My family and I don’t live in a gated community.

We don’t live in a remote village.

I’m pretty sure Google Earth will locate our townhouse with great ease.

All of these factors add into the puzzle that is pizza delivery to our townhouse.

It never fails that when we place a delivery order for a pizza the person gets lost.  I repeat it NEVER FAILS.  And this is not like back in the day when if the pizza didn’t get there in 30 minutes it was free.  Now a days people don’t care anymore and once they finally do get to our house we get the lukewarm, soggy crust, not even worth eating it but charge me full price anyway pizza.

The other night Papa John’s took the cake.

For context, Cherie and I love Papa John’s because we used to get it all the time in college.  It was  just one of our things.  I know there is waaaaayyyy better pizza in Chicago, but we still like to grab a little P-Johns from time to time to reminisce.

So anyway we called in a delivery order and what Cherie and I have tried to do in an attempt to help is to tell the people on the phone how to get to our house.  We give them the closest major intersection and even tell them that my black truck will be in front of the house.

The other night after Cherie ordered the pizza she went through our routine of helping to land the pizza plane on our runway.  All of sudden she looked at the phone like she got disconnected and said “They just hung up on me!”

Turns out that while Cherie was telling them how to get to our house, the person on the other line said “We got it!” and hung up on her.

(dramatic pause)

Now my wife is an even tempered woman but I thought her naturally curly brown hair was going to straighten itself she was so mad.  Her words were clear, correct, and coarse, “They better get that pizza here on time and not call us or we are done.

He got lost…we got a call…they lost a customer.

Sadly, we may never eat another Papa John’s pizza again because we’ve had it with poor customer service and people that just won’t listen.

Thank the sweet Lord for THE Palermo’s Pizza on Rt. 30 in Frankfort because they are the bomb.  Love you Paulie!

Anyway….

What struck me is that this is how we treat God ALL the time.

God will give us directions to redirect our life from pain, suffering, or to find true joy.  But in the middle of Him talking we will say “I got it!” and storm off.  We think that the Cliff Notes are good enough because after all the full version just takes too long to read.

This normally results in us going part of the way towards God’s plan, but then getting lost, confused, or burned out so we give up.  All the while God is on the other end of the phone saying, “I wasn’t through yet.  I have more to say!”

Here are just 2 examples:

Marriage

God says, “A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24

We hang up, and forget to remember that love, respect, submission, protection, cherishing, and a litany of other things are needed beyond just putting on fancy clothes, swapping rings, and listening to poorly written best man speeches.  Yet we think that’s all that we need and we wonder why 1 out of 2 Christian marriages fail.  They fail because we fail to listen and to obey.

 

Love Your Neighbor

God says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:39

We hang up and thrust ourself into social issues, feeding the poor, protecting the environment, and anything else that may look like our “neighbor” in need.  Yet we find ourselves still longing for something.  The problem is that we’ve neglected to remember that the first part of the command is to actually “Love the LORD your God with all heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  We replace our neighbor for God as #1 in our life and we find ourselves spiritual spent and wondering why.

 

We have to be careful as Christians that we don’t take the parts of God’s word we like and do those and neglect the others.  We should be cautious to think that “I know how this ends” and walk away to start doing instead of continuing to listen longer.  If we don’t, we will have a half-baked Faith that may look done on the outside, but still needs some work on the inside.

Don’t let your faith be like the pizza guy that said he “got it” and ended up losing the whole point of his business as a result.  Heed the words of Solomon when he says

“To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.”

Proverbs 18:13  

Spend your time pursuing the fullness of Christ and not your own version of Christ.  If you do that you will discover the a texture of holiness you never knew was possible.  The good stuff is often found in the details tucked away in the areas we’ve skipped past.

Good Rule of Thumb:  Stay on the line until God hangs up.

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: I Don’t Remember What Sleep Is

I am now the proud parent of two kids.  Our oldest is Aniston who is 3 years old right now and our youngest Easton who is 6 months.

When Easton was born my wife and I had been enjoying approximately 2.5 years of uninterrupted sleep.  That’s right, since my daughter was 3 months old she was sleeping twelve beautiful hours every night.  We could drive a dump truck filled with fireworks over whoopee cushions through the living room and she would sleep through it.  It was awesome….I repeat AWESOME!

Our son must have not gotten the memo about this feature on a child when the chromosomes were hooking up.  I say that because ever since he’s been born he has never slept through the night.  Not even close.  Approximately 3:00 AM every day he will start to cry.  This begins the dance between Easton’s pacifier and us every fifteen minutes until 7:00 AM.

Four hours of a zombie-like dance that would cause a grown man to cry.  Yes, the man writing this has cried in the wee hours of the morning as he looks at a baby he loves more than his own life but would give any sum of money for it just be quiet!

At this point I don’t know if either my wife or I remember what true REM sleep is.  On top of that it’s amazing what whacked out dreams you can have in 15 minutes, but that is another blog all together.

The idea of sleep or rest is one of the most basics of bodily functions.  You don’t have to be taught or trained how to sleep.  Granted quantity of sleep is an acquired taste, the act of sleeping is a standard feature on all models of human beings.  We all do it and we all need it.

Sleep allows our bodies to reset, recharge, heal, power down, and recover from the day that was and prepare for the day to come.  It is a gift from God that even allows us to meditate and connect with Him in our REM cycles.

Throughout Scripture we see our heroes resting.  From Elisha to Jesus time after time we see retreat to recharge the batteries.  So not only does this show that they were human and

We all need time to get away to recharge, retreat, and refocus our self back to God without distraction.

My friend Dr. Casey Tygrett has great insight into this in his book The Jesus Rhythm which you can get for free by clicking here.  In it Dr. Tygrett looks at the life of Jesus and the rhythm that He ascribed himself too.  Time and time again we see heavy seasons of ministry followed by retreat and rest with the Father.

I hate to pull on the theology of the wristband of the 80’s, but WWJD seems to be answered well throughout Scripture.  Jesus would take time to rest and we need to find ways to do that too.  He even went so far as to offer to be the source of spiritual rest for us!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”             – Matthew 11:28

Jesus offers us a rest that beyond understanding, but to grasp I think we need to be rested ourselves so we can think clearly about what that means.

Granted I know this looks different for every person.  As the father of a small uncooperative baby boy my time of rest may not be seen until March when my wife and I go on vacation, but I do know that I can find other ways to disconnect so I can reconnect with God.  I just need to make the choice to do it.

I pray you find retreat, recharging, and refocus this week so you can understand more how much God truly loves you.

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I Almost Preached Without God

It was Saturday afternoon and I was at church getting ready to preach the 5:00 pm service.  We are in the middle of a series called “The Story” as we travel through God’s Story to find our story within it.

This particular week I was asked to preach on the life of Hannah Samuel, and Saul which in and of itself is a daunting task.  Weeks of preparation had distilled down to a mad dash to the finish as I still needed some final tweaking and proofing before it was ready for people to hear.

As I sat at my desk I started to read through the message to make sure I was making sense when I first wrote it and all of a sudden I got a knock at the door.

“Pastor Brian, I just wanted you to know that the refrigerator in the kitchen is not working.”

How do you know?” I inquired of our volunteer.

“Well I’m no expert, but the smell is pretty much a dead giveaway.”

Enough said.

I hit save on my computer and then went to the kitchen to take a look and smell for myself.  Sure enough the fridge was on the fritz and there was nothing we could do until Monday.  A few quick texts to my electrician friends and some thanks to the volunteer that was now throwing away the “science food experiment “ in the fridge and I started walking back to my office to finish the message.

As I was walking something caught my eye.

The trash in the Kids Director’s office was full.

Funny,” I thought.  “They must have missed that one.

However, as I continued on my route I noticed that every trash can I came across had the same Facebook status line: Full.

Yet another quick text message sent out revealed that an employee that normally cleans the building abruptly quit and our building had been forgotten in the scrambling fray of events that had ensued.

So taking an about face, I grabbed the cleaning cart, put on some gloves, and began cleaning toilets, scrubbing counters, vacuuming floors, and emptying trash.  To say I was a bit distracted by having to do this was an understatement, but in the middle of cleaning the middle stall in the women’s bathroom I got a spiritual punch in the gut.

It was in this moment of clarity that I realized that I had put so much emphasis on me and my sermon and my preparation and my desire to do a good job that I had lost sight of who actually was doing the preaching this weekend.

God.

It was God that was to be lifted up and not me.  It was God that draws people to Himself.  It’s God’s Word that I am given the privilege of teaching not my feeble attempts at creative turn of phrase.  It is God that saves through His grace and mercy.

I have zero to do with any of that.

In addition it was God’s strength that I needed to get through the weekend, not my own.  It was God’s love that I needed to proclaim.  It was God’s patience I needed to have grow in my life.

With every swish of the toilet brush I realized I had almost gotten on stage and left God on the ground.  I had almost preached without God.

Needless to say, I put down the brush and got down on my knees in repentance of my pride, arrogance, and weakness.  I prayed that God would make me less so that He was more and that I might be in awe of what He would do this weekend.

I know I learned a very valuable lesson that day and one I’m sure I will have to relearn again before I die.  The lesson was “Don’t think of yourself greater than you are because God has a way of humbling those that do”.

Proverbs 3:34 “He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”

Matthew 23:12 “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Maybe this was just a post for me or maybe you can relate to this somehow in your life.  It could be that in your life you have been relying far too much on you and not enough on Him.  There possibly could be a person that is thinking that things are so good right now that why even worry about God at all?

I believe only you can answer that for you, but as for me I know I am glad I had to grab a toilet brush this weekend so that God could be lifted high.

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Believe Me…You Don’t Want That

In preparation for my sermon this weekend on 1 Samuel I was drawn to a section of text that jumped out at me.

It’s found in 1 Samuel Chapter 8 and its here we find the people of Israel yet again disgruntled about their situation.  They once again find them selves discontented with what God has provided for them and want a change.  Except this time it is a drastic request.

Up until this point the people of Israel of have been led exclusively by God and His laws.  There were no kings or leaders that ruled over the people instead judges, priests, and prophets were used as God’s mouth piece to direct them.

This method of order keeping was incomparably successful.  God had freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, guided them to the Promise Land in Canaan, defeated any and all enemies that apposed them, and provided them unthinkable peace during their times of obedience.

Yet despite that track record of success the Israelites were not satisfied and wanted something more.  They were tired of having just God and they wanted a king.  They saw the nations around them rising up with powerful kings and they thought God was out of touch.  He must have missed the memo that kings were in and judges were “so yesterday” (insert Valley Girl voice here).

They approach their current leader a priest by the name of Samuel and demand that he tell God to give them a king.

“But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”1 Samuel 8:6-9

God reminds Samuel not to take this personal because they are really not rejecting him, but they are rejecting Him.  They were rejecting God and with that carried consequences.

But in God’s mercy, He told Samuel to explain what having a king would really mean for them as a people.  He didn’t sugar coat the fact that it won’t be puppies and ponies with a king at the wheel.  In fact life will be down right difficult, corrupt, and filled with pain.  In other words God says, “Believe me…you don’t want that.”

But this didn’t sway their decision.

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.”1 Samuel 8:19

Despite God’s warning the people said, “No. We want what we want.

Which brings us to one of the most haunting lines in Scripture.

“When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.1 Samuel 8:21-22

That’s right.  No lighting bolts blowing up people who disagree with Him.  No Heavenly tongue lashing.  No flood to get rid of all the unbelievers again.  None of that.

Instead, God gave them exactly what they wanted.  He let their free will be used just as He had designed it to be.  Freely.

They had the freedom to choose His way or their way and they made their choice.

I think we all know this is still true today.

We are not forced to follow God’s will in our life.  We can still choose drugs, sex, relationships, success, divorce, pride, anger, jealousy, and anything else we want over Him and He will let us.

But just as guaranteed as the free will from God is so are the consequences from our choices.  God does not shield us from the weight and effects of our decisions.

The Israelites were oppressed by their kings from that moment on and we’ve felt the full weight of our decisions too.

Those decisions are ours to bare when we decide to go with  our way and not Yahweh in our life.

However, there is a King that is greater than the decisions we make and those consequences.  Jesus Christ is the Ultimate King that rules and reigns over all and will do that for you and I if we choose Him to lead our life.

By giving Jesus his rightful place on the throne of our life we relinquish the illusion of control we have and give it to the One who wanted it all along.  Our past decisions to choose sin over the Son will be wiped away by the Grace of Jesus.

This free choice is one we will never second guess and will never look back on and wish we hadn’t made.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have many of those in my life right now, but I’m glad I have at least One.

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Google Me God

Google is one of the most popular search engines on the internet.

Anything you want to know about pretty much anything you can find by just typing it in the simple search engine box.

What to know the length of an aardvark’s tail?                                               Google it.

Need to know how many pennies can fit in a Porto Potty?                        Google it.

Wondering what happened to Kimmy Gibbler from Full House?           Google it.

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Take a second and try it.  www.google.com

Find anything cool?  Didn’t think so, me either.

I’m currently number three in a “Brian Hunt” Google search after a guy that got his degree in Biology at Northern Colorado and some professor with more degrees than Fahrenheit.  This little blog is sitting at #3 so with a little help from my friends out there we can take over number 1 and conquer the World Wide Web.  Ok that’s a bit much, but I digress.

You know God has a Google search engine right?

At the end of our life when we stand before God He will type in our name and push enter.  When the results come up there will be only one result.

Our name.

He will click on it ad our entire life will pop up leaving no detail undocumented.  The good, the bad, and the stuff we didn’t think anyone knew about will be laid out in front of God.  He will scroll through it all one at a time chewing on every detail of our life.  After the last entry that reads “…and then their life ended” He will look up and we will have to answer for this life.

The writer of Hebrews talks about this God Googling that will take place.

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” – Hebrews 9:27 

Now our tendency will be start pointing out all of the good things that we did and try to speak loud enough on those things that the bad stuff is muffled in the background.  However, God hears the muffles louder than anything else.  Those things we are trying to hide are what have caused us to never be worthy enough to even stand in front of a Holy God.

Our sin is what we try to hide from God, but sin is what hides us from God.

However, there is only one life entry that can change our fate.  If in amongst the good, bad, and ugly moments a time occurs where Jesus Christ shines through the darkness in our life and we accept him as our Lord and Savior our search result changes.  In fact the entire entry is deleted and made clean as though it never happened.

Now when God the Father looks up at us He doesn’t see our sin He see’s His Son.

Jesus now stands in our place to take the penalty we deserved for our sin and we inherit an eternity with God we don’t deserved.

Perhaps I should let the writer of Hebrews finish his thought.

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” – Hebrews 9:27-28

So what would God see if He Googled you right now?

Would it be filled with a bunch of good, bad, and ugly moments or would it be stamped with “This Life Is Under The Operation Of Jesus Christ”?

Jesus is waiting to wipe your entry clean so when your time to be Googled happens you won’t have to worry about what pops up.

Make sure Jesus is in your life history before you are history.

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My But Needs Some Work

I’ve noticed my but is getting big.

I mean it is getting almost out of control.

Now, for those of you that are a little bent out of shape right now, make sure you go back and count the number of T’s in the “but” that I used.   I’m not talking about my gluteus maximumI’m talking about that little word that gets tagged onto most ever sentence we speak now a days.

This little conjunction in the middle of conversations may seem innocent at first glance, when in reality it is a huge problem.

Our buts truly get in the way of a whole lot of things in our lives because they are usually a red flag that a justification, excuse, or counterpoint is coming next.

Let me give you some examples:

  • I know that I shouldn’t move in with her before we’re married, BUT it’s too expensive to live apart.
  • I know that I should forgive him, BUT he was the one that started it!
  • I know I should look for a job, BUT I don’t want to just take any job!
  • I know I should go to church, BUT I need a day where I can just do what I want to do.
  • I know I could do more with the money I make, BUT I work hard for it and I should be able spend it how I want to.

Have you been able to identify where all that but swelling is coming from?

It’s our pride.

Pride that feels that we deserve something God isn’t providing.  Pride that makes our position superior to everyone else.  Pride that naively places us in control of our universe.  Prides that screams for our happiness over our holiness.

Pride that sucks God out of our life and replaces it with us.

Proverbs talks about pride’s effects.

“Pride goes before destruction,
    

a haughty spirit before a fall.

Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed
    

than to share plunder with the proud.”

Proverbs 16:18-19

Pride always leads to destruction even if you look like you are successful.  The reason is that the carnage that is left in the wake of your success shows you are actually a failure.

Relationships are destroyed, time is wasted, money is squandered, and life is devalued on the road called pride.  The only way you can maintain your proud facade is to fill your life with enough “buts” that you fool yourself and don’t have to look in the mirror.

What we need is some humble Pilates to work those buts down to size.

The best cure for a proud spirit is to humble our self before God and repent of our selfishness.   Allow God’s spirit to fill us with the peace that surpasses all understanding and rest contently in Him not who we think we should be.

I know I need to work my but off a lot and I still screw it up, but I also know the pursuit of a but-less life is always drawing me closer to God and who He wants me to be.

So get out there and work your but off!!!!

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