Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bad Mechanic

I have a friend who was having car trouble. He was hearing a 'tap, tap, tap' noise and could smell that it was running hot.

So, he took it to a mechanic that he had heard good things about. The mechanic was extremely busy, but he took a quick look at my friend's car. He told him that it was not really that serious. The car was low on oil and water. All my friend had to do was put in oil and water and the problem would be solved.

A few days later, my friend went back to the mechanic with the same problem. He could hear a tapping noise and smell that the car was overheating. The mechanic asked, "Did you put in oil and water like I said?".  My friend replied that he had not yet done it, but was planning on doing it today or tomorrow. "Well, you need to do it pretty quickly.", replied the mechanic.

A week later he was back at the mechanic complaining of the same problem. They had the same conversation. My friend had not put in any water or oil. The mechanic assured my friend that this was all he had to do, and that if he did it then his problem would be solved.

I saw my friend last week at the store. He was driving a different car. I asked him about it and he said that the engine in the old car was too far gone to do anything about and it finally just froze up and was beyond repair. He said that he had to get a new car. Then he said this:

"We tried everything to keep the old car going, we even took it to a mechanic."

This parable is unfortunately an accurate description of what I have experienced many times in the past thirty years of ministry. Couples will come to me for advice because their marriage is in trouble. The warning signs are everywhere. They know that if they do not do something then their marriage will end.

I listen to what is going on, and then using the Bible to find solutions I give them advice on how to apply certain passages to their lives. Passages such as how to forgive, what love is, the role of in-laws, how to handle money,  and the importance of communication. I hear what is going on and tell them what to do.

The next week, they are back in my office with the same problem. I ask if they have done what I said, and the answer is, 95% of the time, "No, but we are planning on it."

The scene plays out a few more times. They stop coming. They get a trial separation and then a divorce. Then they say this:

"We tried everything to keep our marriage going, we even tried counseling."

Did they?

This also happens daily, at least weekly, to almost everyone reading this blog.

Think about it.

We go to church with lives that need some type of change. It may not be radical, but let us be honest, we are not perfect and we can all become more like Jesus. We hear God's word taught. We listen to what is said. We nod our heads in agreement and may even mumble "Amen" as we write down our notes.

Then...we change nothing.

The next week the scene is repeated.
Decades later we are still listening to everything and changing nothing.

Honest Question: When is the last time that you CHANGED something in your life after going to church and hearing the Word?

Read that question again. I did not ask you when was the last time that you LEARNED something. When is the last time that you actually, practically, really CHANGED something in your life because of what you heard?

I once read, and after decades in the ministry agree, that the average adult Christian does not lead anyone to Christ or make any meaningful changes in their doctrinal beliefs three years after their conversion. The same book (I cannot remember it's title) pointed out that the average Christian makes no changes in their ethics or morality after the same amount of time.

So, for year after year we go to church or read our Bible and agree with what we hear...and change nothing.

If your life is not full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, forgiveness, humility, wisdom, righteousness, compassion, truth, and passion, is it the 'mechanic's fault'?

Have you tried everything, even going to church?

Maybe it is time to apply what we hear...that could actually solve our problem.

Just a thought.

Leia Mais…

Monday, February 13, 2017

Travel Pants

I like travel pants. Wear them all the time. I love the pockets. I have a travel vest that has, this is no exaggeration, 24 pockets. When Denise and I went to Italy last year, my vest was my carry-on luggage. I have traveled to a missions conference before, and I had my change of clothes, my 19" MacBook, and my iPad all in my vest. No luggage, no carry-on, just my travel pants and my travel vest.

The pants have pickpocket proof pockets with double latching. There is a pocket that is passport size with a velcro flap. In the thighs there are actually hidden pockets that blend right in where you can extra cash and even if you are robbed no one will know you have it. Of course you can do what you want with the pockets, but they come with a pocket guide that tells you where things are designed to be put that way you don't even have to try to figure it out yourself.

Travel pants are a cool way to travel. Unfortunately, they are also the model for how we try to live our lives. In a word: Compartmentalize.

We compartmentalize everything. We even try to draw charts and make little fun acronyms like J.O.Y., Jesus, Others, Yourself. We try to arrange our time around work and family.

We do our church thing on Sunday.
We do our work thing Monday - Friday.
We do our family thing some evenings and Saturday.

We have these nice little pockets that have been labeled for us to put things in. Our God-pocket is in a hard to reach spot since we don't need it very much. Our politics pocket is the quickest draw, easiest to access one since we use it all the time. Our work pocket is the big pocket so a lot of stuff can be crammed into it. Our family pocket is the one over our heart. It is small and not used, but we like to think it is more important than the other pocket, with the exception of course of the small little pickpocket proof God pocket.

The problem is, this doesn't work. Life is not a travel jacket. God is too big for our small box (pocket). Saying that your family is important is nothing like actually showing that your family is important by.....doing something really weird like....being with them and enjoying it.

Life is holistic. You cannot be a follower of Christ on Sunday, a follower of money the rest of the week while being an evangelist for your political party and giving your children a gentle nod of attention for an hour. Either you are a follower of Christ EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME, or you are not ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.

Jesus is not a part-time God.

Either your family is important to you in this moment...or they are not.

Let me give you an illustration I used at church one time. I had a dish box with the divider inside so that there were 24 compartments. Each compartment had a label. I then took out the divider to make it one big the label is:

God and my worship.
God and my wife.
God and my children.
God and my friends.
God and my church.
God and my money.
God and my career.
God and my entertainment.
God and my time.
God and my personal development.
God and my evangelism.
God and my discipleship.
God and my politics.

God doesn't fit into your little travel pants. He doesn't fit into your little box. He doesn't allow people to compartmentalize Him.

He is to be your life. You don't balance your life giving Him part of it. You balance your life by letting Him be the center of it and everything else is a spoke branching off of the center. If God is not the center, then you life is not in balance.

Just a thought.

Leia Mais…