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Everything’s Political

Last week my wife and I loaded up the family cruiser to hit the holiday road. Like Clark W. Griswald we packed up the kids and headed to Washington D.C. Four kids between the ages of ten and two for 25 hours in a mini-van could certainly have been like National Lampoon’s Vacation, but it turns out we didn’t encounter Cousin Eddy, get robbed in the shady part of town or drag our dog down the highway by the leash attached to our bumper.

We did, however, have an unforgettable time.

I’ve been to Washington before. I was a kid. But this trip wasn’t quite like those. As we planned our vacation we were amazed at the number of people we know who live in D.C. now. We have a friend who serves at Arlington National Cemetery. He is responsible for so much more than this, but one of his responsibilities is to play bugle in the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. We have another friend who is currently stationed at the Pentagon. He works for the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Another friend currently serves in the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress. There are other friends we didn’t get to see because time didn’t allow.

It was great to catch up with friends. But these friendships also afforded us other opportunities. We saw the same amazing sites most tourist see when they go to Washington. We saw the monuments and memorials, toured the White House, the National Cathedral and the Library of Congress. But when it came time to see the Capital, the Pentagon & Arlington our tours were something different. We entered through the same doors as all the other tourists, but the tour itself was completely different.

  • At Arlington, we didn’t just see the changing of the guard. Our friend at Arlington took us into the barracks of the men who serve in the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
  • We didn’t just see the 9/11 Memorial on the outside of the Pentagon. We toured the inside of the Pentagon. We walked past the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We were invited into the office of the Air Force Chief of Staff. We ate lunch at the Subways in the food court at the Pentagon!
  • Our tour of the U.S Capital happened at night, after most tourists had left. It was led by a U.S Congressman who, earlier that evening had taken our children onto the floor of the House of Representatives during an active session of Congress!

It was an unforgettable trip filled with unbelievable experiences. I’m grateful for these friends and the kindness they showed us. But there’s more to the story.

January of this year marked our 10th Anniversary serving at First Baptist Owasso. The people of the church have been gracious. They gave us an extra week vacation and covered the expenses of this trip. That’s simply incredible!

As I think about our experiences last week – the gift from the church, the trip, the things we saw, the friends we got to spend time with – I’m reminded of something.

Everything is political, even Heaven. It’s who you know that gets you in. We were able to take this trip because of the generosity of the people of our church. It wouldn’t have happened otherwise. We could have gone to Washington and seen the same sights as everyone else, but our experience was supercharged because of the friendships we have.

Life is the same way. You and I will have many similar experiences. But will your life be supercharged by a relationship with Jesus? How will the quality of your life, or even the quality of your death, be affected by Him?

Knowing Jesus gives you the ultimate backstage pass and unrestricted access to all the resources of Heaven. He wants to use His authority on your behalf. He wants to walk with you as you experience the sights of this life. Will you walk with Him? I guarantee, as you do, life will be unforgettable.

“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6

 

Life Interrupted

Has your life gone ‘according to plan’? As kids, we dream about what we want to be when we grow up. It seems like the younger we are the more fantastical the dream. At 13 I was convinced I would one day be a Supreme Court Justice. At 10, it was astronaut. As a 5 year old, the Incredible Hulk. Of course, somewhere in between was rock star! Our evil plans on the road to world domination start young.

We live our lives, make our plans and work toward a goal. But what happens? How do dreams of fame, fortune and influence give way to 30 years of punching a clock in the hope you’ll someday get a nice retirement party and a cheap gold watch?

The answer is simple. Life gets in the way. Dreams give in to the daily grind. Plans get pushed aside for the promise of a pay check. People you trust make unexpected, unfortunate decisions. Accidents happen. Sickness redefines priorities. Suddenly you’re living a life interrupted.

Maybe this is your life. What will you do about it? Circumstances may trick you into believing you don’t have many choices. But look. Just beyond the edge of the mundane are possibilities unlimited. So, back to our question…what will you do about it?

No matter how you try to complicate it, there’s really only two choices.

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Do something.

The choice you make charts the course for your next season of life. Do nothing and the story tomorrow will be the same as today. Do something and your story will be different. The change may not be monumental. It may be a massive mistake, but what was it Thomas Edison said? “I have not failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb.”

Mistakes, rightly applied, become stepping stones on the road to success.

There’s another myth here. Doing nothing isn’t really an option. Tomorrow may be just as mundane as today, but it’s a different day. Your choices, ever so slightly, will not be exactly the same and that will chart the course for what’s next. Be honest. Has your life really been interrupted or are you where you are today because of a long string of indecision, bad decisions or safe choices that pay the bills?

Read Galatians 1:1-24. Paul knew about a life interrupted. We’ll talk more about him tomorrow.

Today – consider where you’ve been; recognize where you are; imagine what’s next; move forward.

A Different Kind of Death

Galatians 2:20

I know. Macabre topic, but stick with me. Did you ever play the game, ‘Would you rather?

Seems like that game always follows the same trajectory. It starts silly, gets gross, then turns dark. Would you rather kiss this girl or that one? Would you rather eat a live stink bug or drink motor oil? When you die, would you rather burn or drown?

The last question is dark, but interesting. If history shows us anything it’s that there’s more ways to die than one could possibly imagine. History is also clear that death comes for us all. Welcome to Tuesday’s happy post. Aren’t you glad you tuned in!?

The whole game is absurd, really, but isn’t that the point? Who wants to choose the lesser of two horrible ways to die? Who wants to choose death at all?

That’s the irony of the Christian life. Christianity is the story of a death that leads to life. Jesus willingly lays down his life as payment for the penalty of your sin and mine. As this new life in Christ comes alive in us our old, self destructive habits are removed and replaced. It’s a different kind of death. Not the lesser of two bad choices, but a death that leads to life that leads to victory over that which is killing us in the first place, killing us from the inside out.

Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” What temptation weighs you down? What sin holds you back? What tragedy keeps you from moving forward? Today, choose a different kind of death and find life.

 

A Life Worth Living

Philippians 1:9-11

I believe my quality of life is measurably better because I try to live by the principles I find in Scripture.

You might think this boring, but I’ve never been addicted to anything. I’m not upside down deep in outrageous debt. I have a great relationship with my wife and kids. I have friends I enjoy and trust, a church I love and a life worth living.

I am blessed.

I can’t really take credit for it. I’ve made my share of mistakes. Stupidity runs genetically through me. But in spite of my own gaffes and guffaws, whether or not I’m popular, powerful or rich, my life is shaping up to be an exciting story worth living.

I’ll go back to my first statement. I believe my quality of life is measurably better because I try to live by the principles I find in Scripture.

Let me be clear. I don’t try to live by what someone told me the Bible said. I don’t try to jump through some kind of spiritual hoop in order to please a benevolent, but rigid dictatorial deity. That’s not who or what God is. I take the time to regularly read the Bible. I talk with friends about what they think it means. I pray about it. I ask God for wisdom and understanding. I meditate on the words and try to focus my attitudes and actions around following the principles I find. It’s not new age. It’s not strange.  It’s not mystical. It’s practical. It’s real.

And it works.

Philippians 1:9-11 says, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

This is my prayer for you today.

Where the Story Ends

Everyone loves a well told story. This weekend millions of people will spend even more millions of dollars at the movies. They’ll see comedies and tragedies, romance and thrillers. We’ll pay our $8, slip into the theater with a bucket of popcorn and an ocean of soda, sit back and relax as we’re introduced to characters who will face unimaginable circumstances and fight to overcome overwhelming odds. We’ll cheer for the hero and boo at the villain. We’ll cry with the heartbroken and laugh at the idiot. We do all this to be entertained. Sometimes, to be distracted. And often to be reminded that, as stressful as life may be, no one has shot at us lately. Nothing has exploded near us. We’ve not been stranded in a frozen wasteland, chased by undead monsters or forced to choose between our one true love and the family fortune. Real life may be stressful, but it’s not as tough as those poor saps we see on the big screen. I find that comforting. Well, comforting and maybe a little disappointing.

Every story follows a similar pattern. It’s a three act play.

  • Act 1 – Setup. We’re introduced to a new world and the characters that live in it.
  • Act 2 – Confrontation. Our hero falls into trouble that must be overcome.
  • Act 3 – Resolution. When all seems lost and against all odds, somehow our hero finds a way.

The setup allows us to identify with and like the main characters. The confrontation makes the story interesting and gives the characters a catalyst for growth. But the resolution…the resolution is why we watch in the first place. The resolution is how they fix things. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the villain going down in flames, getting his just rewards. It’s our hero’s happily-ever-after. We like to see how things turn out at the end and we like the end to turn out well.

Now imagine  if we ended the story early. Cinderella leaves her glass slipper. The magic fades. She returns to be a slave to her wicked step-mother, but the prince never comes. Luke Skywalker meets Obi Wan and decides he’d rather be a farmer than learn the ways of the force and fight with the Rebellion. I don’t think we’d remember the Titans if the players didn’t overcome their differences to win the championship game.

It reminds me of a simple truth. Happily-ever-after is about where the story ends.

Where are you in your story?

God is writing a masterpiece in you. It’s filled with tragedy, triumph, comedy and drama. It’s a story designed to grow your faith, shape your character, and draw you close to Him. It’s a story to be continued.

What chapter do you find yourself in right now? Don’t give up. This isn’t where the story ends.


“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14

Finding Your Way

It’s entirely possible GPS was invented for me. I’m quick to confess, I’m geographically challenged. I’m not one of those masculine wonders who can tell you which direction is north while standing in the bottom of a cave. I’m lucky to get it right if I’m next to I-35 & I-40 in Oklahoma City – they follow the compass rose.

While geolocation may not come naturally for me I’m not prone to get lost either. When driving I’ve made it my habit to follow a car that looks like it knows where it’s going. I may not always end up where I intend to be, but I almost always end up where I need to be. Finding my way is always an adventure.

Finding direction is one of three big frustrations people manage every day. Should I take/leave that job, date/dump that person, join/leave that group, Buy/sell that thing? People are lost and almost every decision they make reflects a desperate struggle to find their way.

We all make the best decisions we can based on the information we have available at the time. Good information usually leads to good decisions. Bad information usually leads to bad decisions. The way is easier to find when you know the truth. That’s why GPS is helpful. That random car I follow may not be so clever after all. The GPS knows precisely where the next turn is and guides me to it straight away.

John 14:6 says Jesus is, “…the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.”

According to this verse, look at what Jesus is NOT:

  • He’s not a guide with good direction – He is the way.
  • He’s not a teller of truth – He is the truth.
  • He’s not a way of living – He is the life.

Jesus didn’t come to set up a new system of belief or to organize a new religion. He came to build a relationship with you. The reason His wisdom is sound, His counsel is good and His direction always right isn’t simply because He knows – it’s because He is. When you interact with Jesus you experience direction, truth and life.

“What would Jesus do,” is an inadequate cliche. When faced with another decision, don’t settle for trying to puzzle out what He would do. Instead, interact with who Jesus is.

  • When you lack direction. Jesus is the way.
  • When you’re surrounded by lies. Jesus is the truth.
  • When your way of living seems to be crashing down all around you. Jesus is the life.

Know the truth, follow the way, find life – This is Jesus.

The Tootsie Pop Chronicles – Pt. Quatro

Romans 12:1 – 2 represent the sweet spot God has in mind for you. Take a look…

“Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies to God a living and holy sacrifice which is your spiritual act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1 – 2

You’re living in your sweet spot when yours is a LIFE TRANSFORMED. The verse says, “Do not be conformed, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word CONFORMED there in the original Greek is ‘suschematizo’ – it’s where we get the English Word SCHEMATICS. When a builder builds a house he has to follow the architect’s schematics. If he doesn’t then the house gets built all wrong. Did you catch that?

Build the house according to plan or the house gets built all wrong.

The same is true for your life and mine. God has a plan for you. He’s given you a set of schematics in His Word. Build your life according to His plan or your life will be built all wrong. This verse says something else I think we forget.

It says, “Do not be conformed to this world.” Not only does God have a plan for your life, but Satan does too. I wonder whose plan you’ll follow. We try to trick ourselves into thinking we can make our own plan, but that’s really just vanity. If we’re not following God’s plan for our lives we’re following Satan’s. It’s that simple. We can call it our plan, we can think it came from us, but it’s really just rebellion against God. And that fits right in with the plan Satan has for you and me.

So here’s your truth for today. God’s plan is easy to find. It’s written in His Word. Know God’s Word you’ll know God’s thoughts. Know His thought’s you’ll begin to develop His attitudes. Develop his attitude in your life and it won’t be long till you’re living His actions. You’ll be following His plans! That’s what it means to have a life transformed, to follow the plan of the Father. Whose plan do you follow today?

God Bless,
Chad