Outside my church office is our kids playground. That playground is surrounded by a fence. We see fences lots of places; around gardens, schools, entire neighborhoods. We see fences around prisons.
Fences keep things that are on the inside in, and those things that are on the outside from getting in.
Just like the fence around our playground, most fences have a gate. If you control the gate, you control what can go in and out of your fenced area.
Jesus shared a story about a gate; a gate and two men. One man was rich. He lived in his house behind a gate. Everyday he sat at his table and ate an extravagant meal. The other man was a beggar who sat on the other side of the rich man's gate. The beggar woke up every morning to hunger. The gate between them was closed.
I think this gate symbolizes the rich man's heart. He could have helped the beggar at any time. But, like the gate, his heart was closed to helping others.
Take some time this week to think about the gates in your life. Is there someone to whom you need to offer forgiveness. Unlock the gate to your heart and let that forgiveness pour out. Is there someone or something in your life that needs to come in? Open up that gate and let it in.
I don't know what the situations in your life are but I do know this. You and only you control the gate to your heart. Isn't time to unlock some of those gates and enter into a life that God has prepared for you?
Happy Monday. It's been a long weekend and I had hoped to put together one video for Friday and Saturday and then a final video for my final Sunday with Bethany. But with so much going on, here's most of my adventure from Friday. Saturday and Sunday are coming soon.
It's Thursday of my final week at Bethany. I need chips and salsa.
| || |
Is a pastor cheating when he/she starts looking at other churches?
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and
eat with him, and he with me. ~ Jesus, in Revelation 3:20
The world is full of options. Just try to order food at a restaurant without hearing the words, “Do you want a side with that, we have several options…” Things are the same when it comes to finding purpose in your
personal life. There is no shortage of choices when it comes to finding meaning in life. As the Mad Pastor,
I want you to consider Jesus to be your last option.
Many people look for meaning in their families. I’ve known moms and dads who have found great comfort in raising their children. Kids make mistakes and shame their parents. They grow up and move out. When that happens, those parents struggle with living in an empty home. Purpose is lost.
Couples without kids may find happiness in their relationship with each other. But people fail us.
Relationships end. Husbands grow old and frail. We’ve all known a man or woman who has face great hardships after the loss of a loved one. When we lose another, we lose ourselves.
Money and power are tempting options. We all seem to envy those with big houses, nice cars. We’ve all dreamt of winning the lottery and what we’d do with our newfound riches. And yet, have you ever seen the documentaries on those who have won the lottery and found themselves devoid of any true relationship or even filing for bankruptcy?
Yes, the world provides a lot of options. I’ve touched on just a few. Many options are even good ones… for
a season. But all options run out at some point. There is an option beyond this world.
Often times, people go to Jesus Christ when all other options have run out. They’ve tried everything else, there’s nothing left so they turn to him. It’s then that they find true life, true purpose in living in Christ. Sometimes you’ll hear someone say that they would have saved a lot of time if they had gone to Jesus sooner.
If you’re looking for purpose in your life, if you want to find meaning you’ll find that there are an almost unlimited number of options waiting for you. Why don’t you respond to the option that is not just waiting for you but looking for you… even knocking on your door? Save yourself a lot of time and disappointment, open the door to Jesus and make him your last option. Once you found him, you won’t need anything
I’ve started noticing a new trend with Halloween. Last year, I went to a costume store to pick up some props for an event and I found myself in a very awkward moment. In the front of the store were little items like make up cases, vampire teeth, and I guess what you would call mummy accessories; fingers, fake, blood, etc. In the back of the store were the large, expensive items to place in your front yard; self opening caskets, screaming signs, and skulls that light up. But it was the middle of the store that scared me the most.
Aisles and aisles of costumes for women took up the center. There were witches, nurses, pirates, cops, and princesses. At first glance everything seemed normal. (Well, normal for a costume shop.) But as I took a closer look, I noticed something more… or less. There was something missing in these outfits… material. These costumes were provocative. I saw more material on the little kids' princess costume than I did on the adults'. When did this happen?
I felt like the women’s costume section needed to be separated from the rest of the store like those old video stores. Remember the old days of video rentals? There was always one section set apart from the rest of the store. Sometimes there was a curtain of beads in the doorway between the “family” section and the “adult” section. Anyone seen going into the adult section was considered to be kind of sleazy. And yet, here I was standing in the middle of what seemed like the adult section of the video store and it was smack dab in the middle of the room with kids running all around.
When did witches become sluts? I thought they were ugly hags. Why does Little Red Riding Hood have a tiny skirt that barely covers the buns she taking over to Grandma? Doesn’t it get cold in the woods?
Am I overreacting here? Let me know what you think.
Last night my church hosted its third annual Trunk or Treat. At the event we brought in a giant blow up slide. Before the gentleman who set it up could walk away, kids were lined up waiting for the exhilarating experience of sliding down. The Trunk or Treat was scheduled for two hours and every second saw a child going up or coming down.
Over and over, young ninjas, Spidermen, Batmen, princesses, and Disney characters formed an assembly line of sorts, running up the steps on one side and tumbling down the other. As soon as a kid hit the bottom, they ran right back to where they started and got in line to start the whole process over.
Makes you think about life doesn’t it?
As adults we spent a lot of time climbing the “ladder” only to come sliding back down don’t we? And when we hit bottom, we head right back to get in line. Are we like Sisyphus, the figure of Greek mythology, who was eternally punished by having to move a boulder up a mountainside only to have it forever slide back down again?
For many of us, the answer is yes.
We get caught in a rut of doing the same thing over and over. Not just in our jobs, but in life. We excel in making the same mistakes. And once we’ve hit bottom and swear never to do it again, we get right back in line only to repeat our same behavior. And that truly is tragic.
For others, we’re trapped. We work hard and yet, can’t seem to get out of this rut we’re in. We get behind in our bills, our sleep, our relationships. The more we try, the more we find ourselves in a vicious cycle of unfulfilled work and little to no reward. And that too, is heartbreaking.
For all of us, the escape is the same.
We need to find meaning beyond the immediate. We need to know that there is something beyond this existence of ours. Something that is bigger than our problems, bigger than life.
Bigger than the slide.
When we can see beyond the things of our life, see beyond the borders of this world, we will begin to comprehend that there is more than what this existence has to offer. When that happens hope grows within us. And when we have hope, we are no longer held captive by the boundaries of our lives. The world grows to unimaginable proportions, without limits or understanding, full of possibilities beyond our mere comprehension. And then something truly magical happens.
We become children of creation and the slide becomes fun.
Jesus said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! ~ Luke 12:22-24
Come get in line with me.
My city is doing some road construction. In the process, they’ve shut down a busy on ramp to a major street. Their way of redirecting traffic is a bit unusual. They’ve placed a sign on the road about a mile before the detour. That is not so out of the ordinary. What is unique is the message:
Ramp to N 2nd St Closed
Go another way.
Is that second sentence so necessary? It’s not really helpful. It’s pretty much implied in the first sentence anyway isn’t it?
Have you ever come across a “road closed” sign with no direction on how to get around? The advice to “Go another way” isn’t helpful. When the bridge is out, you know you need to go another way. But what way?
Are you on one side of town and need to get the other? Are you living your life on one side of a chasm but need to cross over? What do you do when you’re traveling down the road of life and the bridge is out? You find another way. But how?
Can government show you another way? (I think their road sign gives us the answer.) Can a good job show us the way? It helps but then again, why are so many people with money unhappy? Can drugs show us the way? I think many of us have learned that they can show us a good time but lead to a dead end. The world offers lots of “ways.” But where do they lead?
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
He didn’t say I am “a way.” He said I am “the way.”
Will you be at your destination when you find Jesus? – No. Will all your problems be solved when you discover Jesus? – No. Will life become happy and blissful when you find Jesus? – No.
Ok Mad Pastor, what are you saying?
Jesus is the way. He is the way to truth. He is the way to life.
Jesus is not the detour. He is the way.
If you find Jesus, you will find the direction you need to go in order to get to the destination he has in store for you.
Or if you like, you can just follow one sign’s advice and “Go another way.”
Do you believe in Cheesus? Turns out a lot of people do. I heard about food looking like Jesus and thought I'd do a quick search online. I found three different stories about Jesus showing up in a bag of Cheetos. Three times! I found another story of him showing up in a cheese sandwich.
It seems that Jesus prefers to show up in food made of cheese. That made me think about a few things.
1. Does Jesus really show up in food?
2. Should I be careful the next time I eat something with cheese?
3. Why cheese Jesus? Why not a bowl of oatmeal? Or one of those giant suckers with all the swirls?
4. Does Jesus eat a lot of cheese?
5. Does Jesus have a lot of Cheetos dust on him like we all do after we eat a bag of Cheetos?
6. I don't think I could lick a sucker that looked like Jesus.
7. If I hug Jesus will I be covered in cheese dust?
8. Why am I thinking about nachos right now?
9. I feel weird when I bite the head off a chocolate bunny, how could I ever eat a Cheesus?
10. Does Jesus find this amusing?
11. If Cheesus showed up in a pizza would the edge be called Cheesus Crust?
12. I'm still feeling a little weird about the Jesus sucker. I wish I could let that go.
13.Does God like to be called the Big Cheese?
14. Will I get in trouble for this list?
15. Will bags of Cheetos show up at my church office?
16. Will angry people show up at my church office?
17. Will they be angry about the cheese or the sucker?
18. Nah, they will probably be angry about the music selection.
19. I once had a cat named Cheezy. (True story!) He's with Jesus now.
20. Do cats go to heaven?
21. What was I talking about?
Oh yeah... Have you ever seen Jesus in your food? If you did, what would you do with it?
Waco Texas has a new hamburger joint. It’s called Fat Ho Burgers. On its menu are items such as the Supa Fly Ho with cheese, the Supa Dupa Fly Ho with cheese or the Sloppy Ho Brisket.
The name is clearly a gimmick to draw customers. And it’s working. In fact in its opening week, one day customers stood in line over 30 minutes and then the restaurant ran out of cash and their supply of beef.
Fox News did a story. And to be fair, a lot of media sources did a story with the same angle. Fox 4 news reporter Dionne Anglin went down the street and around the corner to the Gospel Café and Bookstore, a volunteer run religious café and asked them what they thought of the name Fat Ho Burgers. According to Anglin, “Folks here at the volunteer run, religious café wish the burger joint were a little more ho-ly.” Get it, she made a funny.
This drives me a little mad. Not the name of the restaurant. (Although if I opened a hamburger joint I probably wouldn’t use that name. I’d call it something classier like Eat This.)
What drives me mad is that everyone is looking to aggrandize the story by asking the closest Christian institution what they think of Fat Ho Burgers. A controversial name goes up on a business sign and the news runs down a block and around the corner to ask what the Christians think about it. This type of reporting makes the church out to be a group of people who are uptight and repressed. And it’s using the Church to leverage a story.
Am I just going mad? What do you think?