Monday, August 26, 2013

Crossroads Values - Simplcity

Life is complicated.  Or we make it complicated.  Our pursuits of the secondary things in life crowd out what is really important.  We don’t need the latest toys and fashions. 

We need family, friends and a relationship with God.

The more we declutter our lives, the better we can hear God’s voice and follow him.

Things are not complicated with God.  He loves us and sent his Son to give his life to restore fellowship between us and God.  He wants us to Center on Him, and Connect in Relationship, so we can Change our World.

It is the simple things that lead people into life-changing community in Christ.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Selfishness or Sensitivity?

Jase Robertson has some lessons in civility to teach us. 

He recently was escorted out of the Trump International Hotel in New York City.  The Robertson family was in NYC to promote the new season of their A & E TV series, “Duck Dynasty.”  As they were checking in, Jase asked a hotel staff member to help him find the restroom.  The hotel worker escorted him out to the street, pointed him down the road and said, “Good luck.”

Jase took the insult in stride, dismissing it as a case of “facial profiling.”  The hotel doesn’t typically find guests with long, full beards and camouflage pants.

Here’s what we can learn.  Jase was clearly insulted.  But he chose not to be offended.  He doesn’t even want the hotel staff member to get in trouble.

Meanwhile, others in our country are constantly searching for reasons to take offense.  They take offense, where no offense was ever intended.  They assert their “right” not to be offended.

Looking for offenses is really a form of selfishness.  If it’s all about me, and you fail to realize that, then you are at fault.  Everyone should change to keep from offending me.

Or we could live like Jase.  We can laugh it off, move on, and care about one another.  Wouldn't that change the climate in our culture?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Non-Spiritual Fasting

OK, with all the talk about fasting, I have to tell this story.  For a more serious post on fasting, click here. 

In my freshman year of college, my roommate, Cres, and I got into a competitive spirit about eating.  Who could eat the most?  As we bragged about our appetites, I added a new layer of challenge.  I could really out-do him in fasting.

So, we set up this challenge, to see who could go the longest without food.  I don’t remember how long we went; it must have been a couple of days.  And for all I know, he cheated.  How could we check up on each other?

I knew he could eat more than I could.  He was a couple of inched taller than I, and about 20 pounds heavier.  I was just skinny.  Maybe that’s why I threw down the challenge of fasting.  I thought I had a chance there.

As it turned out, we were both starving after a couple of days, so we agreed to break the fast together.  The fasting challenge would be a draw, and the eating contest would determine the winner.  What a stroke of genius!  Break a fast with an eating contest.  Of course the perfect spot for that is a pizza buffet.  On a Friday night we sat down at the Pizza Hut on University Parkway in Winston-Salem.

That pizza was so good!  We went slice-for-slice until I began to slow down, around slice 14.  I finally stuffed 17 slices into my empty stomach.  I went light on the beverages to allow more room for food, of course.  Unfortunately, my gluttony was no match for Cres’s.  He ate 23 slices, and had a little lasagna to go with it.  I had to concede defeat.  He had blown me away at the buffet.  

But I didn’t really lose.  Later that night we both experienced the pleasures associated with over-eating.  For the first time I understood the Alka-Seltzer commercial, when the guy says, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing…”  I felt bad, but Cres crouched like an old man and made no sudden movements.  His facial expression never changed:  part grin, part grimace.  Our suite-mates thought it was hysterical.

We both learned something.  I learned that winning isn’t everything, in some cases.  Cres learned that winning with only 18 slices would have felt a whole lot better.  When it stopped hurting so much, we laughed at ourselves.

We never again challenged each other to an eating contest.  I don’t think there was a real winner.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fasting: Food for Thought

As we seek God’s face together, our church will be fasting together on Wednesday, August 21.  We will be asking God to open our hearts and to move in our community.

If that date does not suit your schedule, pick another day.  Remember that if you miss two meals, you have roughly a 24-hour fast.  If you miss three meals you will have roughly a 36-hour fast.

The point of the fast is self-denial for the purpose of spiritual openness.  The time normally associated with meals can be devoted to time with the Lord, reading and meditating on scripture, praying, and listening.

Here are a few tips on fasting.

Don’t try to “stock up” before you begin your fast.  I can tell you from experience that it can make you uncomfortable as you begin your fast.  Scale back on your portions for a meal or two before the fast.  You may consider beginning your fast after a meal of fruits and vegetables.  Break your fast with a light meal as well.

I recommend reading the chapter on fasting in Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.  Excerpts can be found at this link  

For a traditional fast you should drink only water.  However, you may choose to drink fruit juices to ease your way into the discipline of fasting.  You can also squeeze some lemon juice in your water, if you need some flavor.  Avoid artificial flavors and sweeteners.  If you are accustomed to caffeine, so you could experience some headaches during the fast.  You could cut back on caffeine a few days before your fast.  And without the coffee  you may need more sleep.  This is a good time to get caught up!

If  health concerns prevent you from fasting, you may choose an alternative type of fast.  You could abstain from meat and dairy products, along the lines of the Daniel Fast.

Another type of fast is a media fast.  For some of us, this may be much harder than going without food.  For this fast variation, consider eliminating all video screens and audio feeds.  No cell phone use, no tablets, iPads, laptops, desktops, televisions, radios, Skype, Facetime, iPods or MP3 players, records, tapes, smart phones, Kindles, Nooks.  For some of us, work responsibilities make this impossible, but all of us can cut back on some media.  One hundred years ago, almost none of these devices had been invented.  We can scarcely imagine life without them.

The time we are unplugged from media we can turn to the Lord.

Fasting can open our hearts to hear from God.  But don’t be disappointed if you don’t find some grand revelation.  God also speaks to us in the small, simple things, such as resting in care.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Brain Dead

The direction of public discourse and public policy is disturbing.  Ravi Zacharias says that any stigma can beat a good dogma.  Good ideas are discredited on the basis of emotional anecdotes rather than facts.  No one seems to know that appeal to pity is a logical fallacy.  Does anyone notice logical fallacies anymore?

We are moving toward a society motivated by high-minded, unexamined ideals.  Most politicians are ignorant of history and fail to consider why traditions ever began.

Helping the poor is easy.  We give them money, with strings attached.  We raise minimum wage, so that every job has good pay.  That was easy.  How’s that working for us?

Managing health care is easy.  We let the government handle it.  Oh, it’s expensive?  No problem—the government owns the printing presses.  We can make money with ink and paper.

Mass murders are getting out of hand.  We can just take guns away from everybody—except the authorities, of course.  They are good and noble.  They are such a superior breed of humanity that they have no ulterior motives.

People feel discriminated against.  Make discrimination illegal.  Now it’s against the law to have the wrong opinions about certain people.  We try people for hate crimes and determine what’s going on in their souls.

We can redefine marriage, redefine family.  We have the technology to conquer nature, so that anyone can be a parent.  We only believe in back-to-nature when it serves the right agenda.

It used to be that grownups kept the kids from doing dangerous, destructive things.  Now the kids are in charge, and there is no check on behavior.