Being A Christian Won’t Make You Popular

I’m much happier when people like me.

I know…I know…I’m weird, but that’s the honest to goodness truth.

So even through that bit of sarcasm I’d venture to say you probably agree with me.

I mean, if given the choice of walking into a room full of people that loved you versus a room full of people that hated your guts you’d probably choose the room where you wouldn’t get assaulted.  Right?

No one wakes up in the morning desiring to make more enemies and frankly I’m not sure if any of us wake up with a To Do list task that says “Find 3 friends today”.  We simply want to go through our days peacefully hoping to encounter people we like rather than those we want to run and hide from.

Since all relationships have two sides to them we will fall into one of these categories too as the “other person”.

Sometimes we have positive perceptions of us because we’ve built up relational credibility, share common interests, have lived some life together, and other things that allow us to be a good person to be around.

Other times you or I may be the disgruntled employee they had to fire, the girl that cheated on her husband with, or the foul mouthed parent at the t-ball game that was kicked out for punching the umpire.  In these cases we become the relationship repellant and may need a good scrubbing with the spiritual SOS pad.

But there are times where great relationships and poor relationships alike encounter a common disconnect.  It’s far less tangible to “fix” or change to make the relationship right again.  That disconnect is your faith.

Our faith as Christians will often times be a real barrier between us and other people.

Sometimes it’s justified.  There are over zealous, idiot Christians that tell people more about how they are going to Hell instead of how much Christ loves them.  Other bonehead Christians will put the Jesus fish on their car, wear the WWJD bracelet, and continue to do pot and beat their wives.  We become innocent victims to their bad experience with church or with hypocritical people in the past that now is assigned to you as a Believer.

But even when we are living a loving, balanced, humble, Christ pursuing life there are still people that will bristle at the idea that we are a Christian.  The question we face in those moments becomes part of the litmus test of our Faith.

The Apostle Paul is an interesting character and one that knew his way around a beating and argument over his faith.  Listen to these words he pens to the Galatians.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

The litmus test of our faith is whether we will waiver and crumble so people will like us or will we stay strong and rooted in Christ despite what people say.

To paraphrase Paul a bit, it’s as if he’s saying “Listen if I was trying to win a popularity contest I would have chose to believe in something else.  If you haven’t noticed from my broken bones, jacked up face, empty pockets, and jail suits being a Christian hasn’t made me very successful.  But I believe in Christ not for the applause of men but for the embrace of Christ.  His opinion is the only one that matters to me.

As a Christian, our beliefs go against much of what the culture has adopted as ok.  This isn’t a new concept.  The world will always be in opposition with what God desires and it’s because sin is still present.  So to believe that we can have everyone like us is a guaranteed impossibility.  After all when you start messing with the “stuff” and idols in people’s lives you know that won’t be popular.

That’s why we need to have as many positive relationships as we can with people in our life. Creating good relationships with people, not popular ones but honest relationships with people will allow you the greatest chance to share the Truth of Christ to them.

Granted in the end they may turn their back and walk away.  They still may not like you and you could lose friends over your Faith.  But the words of Paul in Romans still ring in my spirit and encourage me to stay firm in the Truth of Christ.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:37-39

So stand tall in your faith in Christ and don’t be upset when you aren’t voted Most Popular.

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: I’m Immune To The Smell of Poo

All babies seem to have a unique way of digesting food that causes paint to peel off the walls of their nursery every time you change them.  It’s fascinating since all they drink is milk and nearly digested baby food so how that translates into a radioactive isotope I don’t know.

All that makes what happened the other day so odd.

I was changing one of Easton’s three daily diaper bombs when I realized something.  My gag reflex wasn’t on red alert and I was not even slightly dry heaving.  My breathing didn’t seem to be labored and the hallucinations were not nearly as vivid.  Those little actor babies on the diaper boxes get a little freaky when you’re bathing in the odiferous sewage known as a dirty diaper.

What I realized was…I shudder to say…but it’s true…I am used to the smell of poop.

Hard to believe but it’s true!

After nearly three years of pungent diapers I reached the stage of nostril nirvana.

Now only a parent would appreciate this new super power, because to the normal human the smell, sight, discussion, or allusion to a poopy diaper should at least make you create a stink face.

So how could this be?  How could I be immune to the poo?

The reason is called olfactory adaptation.  This is our body’s ability to become immune to bad smells due to repeated exposure to the stank.  It allows us to continue to smell other things around us instead of getting stuck on the stench.

That’s great except for one thing.

Just because we can’t smell it doesn’t mean it’s not still disgusting.

Do you ever ask yourself this question as you look at the world?

How could anyone do that?

I mean we look at the TV and see the rape, murder, cheating, shootings, corruption, and on and on and on we could go and we are perplexed.  How in the world could someone get to the point where “that” is possible?

But before we start looking at other people’s moral tree we should look at the fruit that we are growing too.

People may look at our lives and ask similar questions.

  • How could someone claiming to be a Christian still cheat on their wife?
  • How could a professed Christian use such perverse language?
  • Why would a honest Christian lie on their expense report at work?

The answer?

Soul-factory adaptation.

I believe our souls were originally wired to be one with God, but in our lives we decided to go on our own journeys.  These selfish travels naturally took us away from God and into the sewage of sin.

At first our Soul-factory System flared up and we saw the lying, cheating, and sin for the rancid smell it was, but after repeated exposure we got used to it.  Our soul adapted, but not in the good way.  In the way that kills a little bit more of who we were designed to be each day.  We no longer smell the stink because we’ve grown used to it.

God’s design for our Soul-factory system is far different.  Once we allow Jesus to reign and rule in our lives we must crave different scents.  Our senses must be flushed with what He desires more than what we desire.

Our nostrils must sting in the presence of sin and seek the sweet aroma of holiness.

I pray that we can live our lives with the words of Job on our Spirit.

“as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils,”Job 27:3

Breathe deep God’s sweet Truth into your spirit, and re-embrace the beauty of your gag reflex to sin.

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Would You Go On A Date With God?

Man holding a note that reads 'call me'

 

 

 

If you had a chance to go on a date with God would you?

 

 

 

I mean, what if you could have a one-on-one, by yourself, no distractions date with God.  You could ask Him anything, talk about anything, or even just sit and eat with Him, but it was your time with Him and only Him.

Would you do it? 

The only requirement is that you were fully there with Him.  This would mean you couldn’t have your TV, cellphone, laptop, music, kids, spouse, or any other attention grabber so you He could have your full attention.  You and your Creator, no barriers, no pressure, and no where else to be except in the moment.

Would you do it?

Now a seemingly cosmic date with the Almighty may make you feel like you were stranded on a deserted island talking to a volleyball crazy, but in reality it is the heart desire of God for this to happen.  He desperately wants time with us just one-on-one and the time you do spend with Him will be the best return on investment you’ve ever had.

A time of retreat with God is an important part of my spiritual life.  Beyond my daily quiet times, I try to get 2-3 24-hour retreats away from the world.  The cell phone gets closed, the Bible gets opened, my TV goes missing, my music is ringing, my car gets parked, and my legs are my vehicle.  It’s a sacrifice and a commitment both for me and my family, but it’s become vital to my spiritual balance.

So what do I when I go?  Do I sit Indian style on a log in the middle of woods and wait for animals to come and sing with me?  Perhaps I drink decaf coffee and memorize Lamentations?

The reality is I come with no agenda, but try to do 5 things.

Rest – I come to find rest not just in the physical “I need a nap” sense, but also in the spiritual sense.  I allow my spirit to relax and find comfort in being with God and not trying to be anything other than plain old Brian the one God created.  I allow my spiritual shoulders to release the tension the world has placed on them.

Bible - I spend time simply reading God’s word and allowing the words to convict, challenge, heal, and inspire me.  I may come with a Book of the Bible I feel God needs me to read or I may just land in the Psalms and Proverbs to let the wisdom and poetic truths teach me.  When I read I don’t try to push back on what I’m reading I simply let it soak into my spirit.

Song – I love to sing so I find myself just singing or writing songs.  I find that allowing a moment of musical worship in these times of retreat really connect me to God in a very personal way.  For me, the guitar and a blank sheet of paper allows me to see God handwriting on my life in action.

Walk - I enjoy finding places of retreat where I can be in God’s creation.  Walking trails with water by them are my favorite.  I often find myself getting overwhelmed with the majesty of God’s creation when I take the time to take in all that is around me.  There’s something breathing clean air that just awakens my spirit.

Pray -  Finally the most important part of my time away is in prayer.  I will usually combine my walks with prayer to allow for my need to multitask to be fulfilled, but I spend time asking and listening, thanking and listening, seeking and listening, and then just listening more.  It’s in the silences of prayer that I find God speaks the loudest.

To be clear.  That’s my retreat.  This may not look anything like your retreat with God at all, but I do pray you have a time of retreat.  God is truly seeking that time with you.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  The part we so often miss in this passage is the action word “come”.  Finding rest in God requires an action by us to want it, to desire it, to come to Him.  Only then will we receive the rest we desire.

I pray you take the opportunity to go on a date with God often.  You may have to sacrifice to make it happen, but in the end He’s already paid the Ultimate Bill.

And believe me, that’s no cheap date.

So…will you do it?

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True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: My Living Room Is An Octagon

My son, Easton, turned 9 months old and when it happened it was as if all of his motor neurons began firing at the same time because he is now a power crawling, belly scooting, table pulling up on, stair climbing freak show.  Gone are the days of being shackled by gravity and uncoordinated appendages because things are clicking and he’s “getting it” fast.

As a result we no longer have a living room fit for entertaining guests because it has been transformed into a UFC Octagon.   You know what I mean.  It’s the fighting ring the MMA guys use for two grown men to step into a ring in their underwear and punch each other in the face until one of them taps out or an arm breaks then hug it out when it’s all over.

That’s what my living room has become.  Our couches, end tables, and every possible dining room chair we have is used to create a barrier to keep my son from climbing or tumbling into a trip to the emergency room.  You would think we were raising a small puma and not a human baby because inside the ring are rubber toys and the occasional rice puff to entertain Easton for a few minutes.  It’s silly sauce.

As goofy as this may seem I would dare to say you would probably look at me equally as crazy if I didn’t do any of that.  I mean, what if I just let Lil’ E grab, climb, touch, throw, or ingest anything he wanted to?  Wouldn’t THAT be nuts?

No one says anything about protecting a small baby from danger by restricting where he can go and what he can touch but when God puts perimeters on our spiritual lives we lose our minds.

  • What do you mean I can’t sleep with whoever I want?  It’s my body and I can do what I want!
  • Don’t tell me I need to forgive my father.  You don’t know what it was like to live with him and he isn’t worth forgiving.
  • You want me to give up my time and serve at church?  Listen, it’s my time and the fact that I’m going to church is good enough.

We never balk at the Grace that wipes our sins away, but we bristle at the thought of God expecting us to change our ways.

God’s design for our life is not made to be a hindrance in our life but a deliverance from it. Yet to receive the fullness of that deliverance from our sinful life we need perimeters, guardrails, and directions in our life to follow.

Solomon says it well,

Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.

I guide you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.

When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble. 

Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.

-Proverbs 4:11-13

As a parent, sometimes we need to set up guardrails to keep our kids from harm and this is no different than our Heavenly Father.  His love for us is so great that He sent his son Jesus to create the ultimate guardrail to prevent an eternity apart from him.

Only when we see Him face to face will we comprehend how important that barrier truly was.  The earthly perimeters He asks us to place on our lives are simply there to keep us from unnecessary scars and bruises which will hamper us from the total joy found in a life following Him.

So maybe take a fresh look at the living room of your life and see where some “sin proofing” is in order.  The only person that will look foolish is you if you don’t.  When you end up at the bottom of the stairs wondering what happened, it won’t be because God didn’t give you guardrails to prevent it.

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You Missed A Spot

Don’t you just “love it” when you are in the middle of a project and someone walks by and says with a sarcastic giggle “Hey!  You missed a spot!”

Now if I were going to take off my pastor hat for a second I’d love to say “Oh yeah buddy?  Say it again and I’ll give you a spot you won’t miss!”

But I don’t.

I smile…grit my teeth…and think about how far I can throw a tile spade in the air hoping it will work like a Roman spear.

Now, as much as we hate to hear some idiot tell us about the mistake we made, 9 times out of 10 we still will look to see if they’re right.  It’s in our DNA to want to see if there is a spot we missed.  It’s why that sophomoric game of “Made You Look” works nearly every time.  The game where you make a circle with your index finger and thumb and if you get someone to look at it you get to punch them as hard as you want.

Ok…that may be a dumb guy thing, but it does happen.  Ask any guy regardless of age.

We all want to know if there is something we need to fix, wipe off, or clean up when it comes to our appearance.  You want that person to tell you that you have toilet paper on your shoe.  You want to know you have a hanger coming out of your nose.  You want someone to tell you that you should not wear Spandex.  Ok maybe not that one, but the rest of the civilized world would like you to know that.

The point is that we want to know these things so we aren’t embarrassed and we can make things right.

So why doesn’t that work with our spiritual life?

Why don’t we like it when someone tells us that we missed a spot in our spiritual walk with God?  I don’t mean in a sarcastic, judging, or mean way, but in a genuine way that shows they care for and love you.

It’s that friend that notices your actions during the week that are not what they see on Sunday.  It’s the close brother that has permission to ask about what you are looking at on the internet.  It’s the girlfriend that notices you are a little too friendly with that guy at work and can call you on it.

Yet we don’t like that do we?  We’d rather walk around with a spiritual booger on our shirt than deal with it.  The moral toilet paper that we drag around is worth it if we can keep doing what we are doing.

The reality is that being a Christian requires that we live a constant “You missed a spot” life.  As we follow Christ more and more we realize that there are more spots we need to work on.  There are more things in our life that we need to repent of and seek forgiveness for.

But that isn’t a punishment, it’s a promotion!

A promotion into a better, spot free life that only Jesus can offer.

So don’t be so resistant to someone pointing out the spots in your life.  If you trust them and they are Godly men and women, give them the time of day and take a look.

I”d rather be embarrassed for a moment with a little gunk on my face than a crazy person with a fossilized bugger on my face that I just didn’t want to deal with.  It’s time to deal with the spots.

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