Archive for November, 2013

School Bus 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

I asked my Pre-K bus riders what they were thankful for yesterday.  I had a couple different replies.  One said his pawpaw and the other two went with cake and cupcakes.

I thought to myself, at least one of them knew what I was talking about.  Thanksgiving is about being thankful for the big stuff like family, a house, food on the table, and jobs.

I had laughed off the cake and cupcakes as genuine things to be thankful for.

However, after dropping all of my riders off I have about a 15 minute drive back to the school.  I thought about why those two would even say cake and cupcakes.

I came to this profound and earth shattering conclusion: because they were truly thankful for cake and cupcakes.

Adults and youth make thanksgiving complicated.  Thanksgiving means cooking for a whole day or two (maybe more) for one meal…and leftovers, cleaning the house for company, and gathering a plan of attack for the massive day of pandemonium that is Black Friday.  It means sitting down and watching a couple of football games.  Gail, my wife, recently asked her 2nd grade class to tell her about Thanksgiving.  Their reply was all about the food: “There will be turkey, and family comes over, and sometimes ham.”

Thanksgiving has taken on the meaning of being too busy to be thankful.

A tradition that my wife and I both had in our homes growing up was right before or during the Thanksgiving meal, we would go around the table and say something we were thankful for.  Growing up I thought everyone did this.  As I have experienced the world, it surprises me to find that many have never even heard of doing such a thing.  As we went around the table, I usually knew what I would say; something about family, a house, or food.  I mean, I had to be thankful for the big stuff…the good stuff.  I couldn’t let my sister outdo me and say something she was thankful for that trumped mine. (Yes, I realize now this was a bad attitude to have.)

I really would try and outdo others in my thankfulness.  How dumb is that?  How ungrateful is that?

Mathew 18:3 “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ESV

We are told to have childlike faith.  A faith that believes the seemingly unbelievable.  But what if this Thanksgiving, we had the thankfulness like a child?  What if when we went around the table to say what we were thankful for, we did so out of a grateful heart, not a prideful or arrogant heart?  What if we were thankful for the fact that we did not “earn” what we have but were given what we do not deserve?

2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” ESV

I am thankful for grace.  A grace that covers me even when I am outdoing others in my thankfulness.  A grace that covers all sin.  A grace that came only through Jesus Christ.

If you do not go around the table, I encourage you to try a new tradition this year.  Help keep the thankfulness in Thanksgiving.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”ESV

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School Bus 6

As part of my job, I have the opportunity to drive the Pre-Kindergarten school kids home every day.  Since they only stay for a half-day, I take about 4-5 of them home after they finish lunch.  This route takes about an hour and during it I learn some truths that, as I have grown older and “more mature,” I have forgotten.

You always hear that children keep things simple.  And that is certainly true.  Here is one lesson I have learned so far.

Best friends don’t last forever.  And in some cases, change by the minute.

I have a pair of boys that ride the bus every day; we will call them Peanut Butter and Jelly.  Usually Peanut Butter gets dropped off at Jelly’s house since they live next door to each other and Peanut Butter’s  parents aren’t home.  These two boys see each other all the time.  At school, after school, and on the weekend.

They are also the last two to get dropped off.  This proves to be interesting because Jelly is an extremely loyal friend to Peanut Butter, while Peanut Butter looks to be everyone’s best friend.  When the other students are on the bus, Peanut Butter will quite literally ignore Jelly and talk and play with the other Pre-K students.  Jelly often tries to voice his opinions, but rarely are they heard.

This relationship changes when the other students get dropped off and Peanut Butter and Jelly are the only ones left.  After an awkward, and refreshing, 45 seconds of silence, Peanut Butter and Jelly go back to being best friends.  They joke, laugh, and talk about what they will do when they get to the house.

But how is this related to “grown-ups?”

Think back to your childhood best friend.  It is a rare thing to still be able to call them best friend.  I only know of a handful of people that will say they are still constantly in touch with their childhood best friend.  And even then it is not at the same level it once was.

Why is that?

Well it’s quite simple; we grow apart.  Someone moves away, one friend begins to play soccer while the other sticks with football, or it may simply be that other friends are formed.

This growing apart usually means growing toward something else.

When we are children we do not place our friendship on anything.  We are friends because we are friends.  We do not need a common interest to be friends.  It is when those things enter that we begin to narrow the friendship scope.  In essence it is when we begin to become more worldly involved.  It is when we focus more on the materialistic, the tangible, that we loose sight of real friendship.  A friendship with grace.

James 4:4 “…Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Friendship with the world.  A close relationship where we rely on things of the world to get us through the tough times, to celebrate with us, to encourage us.  This friendship is certainly like childhood friendships.  It can turn quickly.

The world will abandon you for someone or something else that is more exciting, fresher, newer.

You will be alone…unless.

Unless you turn to the everlasting, ever faithful, ever loving, ever encouraging God.

Just two verses down in James 4:6 it says, “But he gives more grace…”

A friendship with God will always contain more grace than is needed.  In this friendship, you cannot move too far away, you cannot find other interests or friends because there is nothing that compares.

You cannot do enough wrong that grace cannot cover.

Matthew 28:20 “…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Best Friends…For Now…And All Eternity

In Christ’s Love,
Josh

 

why worship

 

 

 

Why do you worship God?  For many Christians, including myself, this can be a daunting question.  Some may even fear being asked this question by non-Christians.  Is it not a simple, yet profound question?

 

Why do you worship God?  Does there have to be a reason?  Yes, there does.

Louie Giglio defines worship as “Our response, both personal and corporate, to God for who He is, and what he has done; expressed through our thought, attitudes, words, and actions.”

 

If worship is a response, there must be a reason.  A response, much like and effect, must have a cause.  There is something that makes us respond in a worshipful manner.

 

In the book of Revelation, John is being shown the majestic nature of all Christians’ eternal future.  He is being guided by an angel through the throne room of God.  At the end, after he has been shown all these things, he responds this way: Revelation 22:8-9 “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.  And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that!  I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers, the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book.  Worship God.”

 

After experiencing heaven, John could do nothing except worship.  It was a response to his experience.  He lost so much control that he bowed before the angel, but was quickly corrected profoundly and simply to, Worship God.

 

Another instance where worship is shown to be a response is through the mighty warrior Gideon.  After losing the majority of his troops, thanks to God wanting all the glory, he begins to have some doubts and concerns.  Therefore God instructs him to spy on the Midianite camp.  When he does so, he hears two Midianite soldiers talking about a dream one of them had of a loaf of barley rolling down the hill and destroying the camp.  The other quickly noted that it must be the Hebrew army and their God.  Then… Judges 7:15 “As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped.  And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, ‘Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.”

 

To John and Gideon and many more in the Bible the only response they could have was to worship God.  Gideon had an experience, a reason to worship God.  It was so strong that before he could make it back to their camp, he had to worship.  Right there, hiding in the bush, he worshiped.

 

Countless times in Psalms David praises the Lord, even commanding his soul to do so, but always giving reason to his praise.  Always being sure to give evidence that God truly is worthy of worship and ultimately bringing to light that God is not simply worthy of worship he is the ONLY ONE worthy of worship.

 

So what’s your reason?  Do you have one?  Do you need one?

 

If you struggle with a reason, it might be beneficial to review Job 38:4-40:5.  God makes sure that Job understands who Job is talking to.  Here is a brief section: Job 38:4-7 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements-surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

 

Find a reason to worship.  If you don’t have a reason, is it truly worship?  Or are you just playing the role?

 

What I ask of you is this: to think about an experience you’ve had where God has shown himself to be the only one worthy of worship.  It may just be the fact that he is the Creator.  It may be that he sent his Son to die on the cross so that you can be blameless and innocent before God.  Or it could be a time where you were in some kind of trouble and God saved you from the situation.

 

For me, he has proven himself faithful.  I know he can and will take care of me.  He is the only one worthy of praise.  I have seen him at work in multiple countries.  He is alive and active.

 

I asked this question to the youth that I serve and these are some of the reasons they worship God:

 

                                God showed up in my family

 

                                God healed an illness or cancer

 

                                God answered a prayer

 

                                God brought Salvation

 

Why do you worship God?  Take a few minutes to respond to this and share the reasons or experience behind your worship.

 

In Christ’s Love,
Josh