still hangin’ on

“I’m hangin’ on… you’re all that’s left to hold on to.” – Bono in Red Hill Mining Town

Yesterday I had two conversations about relationships. You know, the romantic kind. Aren’t they exciting? I mean, isn’t the thrill of discovering that someone else is thinking about you just priceless? It’s a little more than obvious that the human race is consumed with obtaining this feeling. I just saw an ad for yet another online dating company, mate1: intimate dating. What a joke! Intimate? Online?

Both of my conversations yesterday touched on the undeniable pain and misery of ‘breaking up.’ We talked about how all of your hopes and dreams come crashing down in mere seconds when this happens.

The common thread in my two discussions yesterday was this: both people I talked to shared with me the belief that we should never put our ‘hopes and dreams’ in anyone other than Jesus. All three of us were speaking from much experience as well. The thing about humans is that it’s not a question of if they will let you down, it’s a matter of when!

In a song called “Wedding Dress,” Christian songwriter Derek Webb refers to ‘lovers less wild’ that draw us away from Jesus, the One who loved us (as another of his songs points out) ‘to death.’ He is the One who died for sinners. He is the One who won’t take back His love. He is the One who will never cheat on you. He is the One who will patiently put up with your junk.

May you be able to say to Jesus, “I’m hangin’ on… You’re all that’s left to hold on to.”

-Dale

crashing

Last night, I saw the movie “Crash” with a group.

It basically told several inter-weaving stories of people dealing poorly with people. The themes included rage, impatience, vengeance, racism, power-trips and more. We weren’t left with a very hopeful solution for humanity, but I could appreciate the realism with which the topics were addressed. Kinda nice to know that we are nothing like the people in this movie, huh?

Not really. Truth is, those same emotions are in all of us. Yeah, you. We’re all guilty of some serious over-reaction to various annoying things.

The sub-heading for the movie was something like this: “When you’re moving at the speed of life, you’re bound to collide.”
That is actually quite profound. Why does this happen?

Perhaps we really ARE shockingly disconnected from one another.
Perhaps we really ARE disgustingly comfortable.
Perhaps we really ARE lethargic to do anything to change this.
Perhaps we really ARE terribly self-centered.

As long as we insist that the problem is with someone ELSE, we are going to continue to be frustrated.
As long as we insist on placing high expectations on others, they will continue NOT to meet them.
As long as we insist on finding fault with others, we will continue to NOT see (or rationalise or lessen) our own faults.

Slow down, think, be honest with yourself. Why are you so frustrated with him/her? Why are you allowing their opinion of you to control you? Etc., etc.

“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret – it only causes harm.” – Psalm 37:8

-Dale

are you sure you want love?

We need to ask ourselves this question again.

Is it really love we are seeking? Have we forgotten again what real love is? Just about anyone will admit to the universal desire to love and be loved in return, but we are seriously going to hurt and be hurt if we fail to not only realise what true love is, but act accordingly.

Our picture of love is very incomplete. We have images of companionship, smiles, hugs, kisses and a host of other wonderful things. What we love to forget is that alongside those nice images, there need to be a few more. Sometimes love is stern, grim and menacing. Sometimes silence, rebuke and conflict is a more than necessary part of love.

The difference between love and true love is that true love is rooted in Truth. It must be. It has to be.

We are all guilty of what I like to call ‘keeping people at arms length.’ We like companionship, smiles and hugs, but when someone gets close enough to us to see faults, we take a few steps back. Often times, the people that care the most are the ones that care enough to say a few things we don’t want to hear. THAT is why seeking comfort is so harmful to growth! We stay a safe distance from those that will ‘sharpen’ us, and spend oodles of less meaningful time with others who we simply ‘get on’ with.

“Mockers don’t love those who rebuke them, so they stay away from the wise.” – Proverbs 15:12

So let me ask you one more time…

Are you SURE you want love?

-dale

a comfortable amount of discomfort

In the Christian life, one mistake we can make would be to think that we have no further need to grow. How ridiculous is that? Thankfully, I don’t know many people who think that. However, a much easier mistake to make is to fail to recognise how growth happens or fail to allow growth to happen in my life.

If we don’t understand how growth happens, we are likely to either falsely perceive growth that isn’t really there, or falsely believe that it can’t or won’t happen. Still yet, even if we do understand how growth happens, we are likely to resist the process.

We want growth to happen, sure enough, but we can’t get past the biggest obstacle: our desire for comfort.

Growth requires discomfort. That fact is unavoidable. It’s as true as the reality that water flows downhill.

If we are ever going to grow as Christians, it means that we are going to have to give up level upon level of comfort in our lives. Read this next sentence carefully.

If you want to be more loving, you will HAVE to learn to put up with un-lovable people.

(Might wanna read that one again.)

Truth triumphs over feelings. We can’t rely on feelings. Frankly, I don’t FEEL like loving people that aren’t like I want them to be. But when my mind is renewed with the TRUTH that I am no better than they are, I am enabled to love them, whether I FEEL like it or not.

May we recklessly love one another in a true, self-less, Christlike way.

Grace and Love,
Dale

i love you because…

Find True Love Now…
What’s More Fun Than Love?
Live. Love. Learn.

Perhaps you’ve seen the following tag-lines for one of the latest online dating services, called True. The success of such services says something about the way we think about love.

We seem to want it really bad.
We seem to hope we “find” it someday.
Also, we seem to be extremely afraid of getting hurt by it.

Thoughts matter. The Bible says, “as a man thinks, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) Our thoughts determine our actions. So, what is wrong with our thinking about love? It’s not just about romantic love, either. May I make a few suggestions that will hopefully apply to all of us?

We are all familiar with how abused the word love is, right? I love ice cream… I love God… I love my brother… etc. It appears that we often think that love is simply what it means to like something so much that your affection for the thing moves outside the realm of ‘like’ and into the green pasture of ‘love.’ While this is partially true, I think we’re missing one of the most essential aspects of love.

Un-conditionality.

As humans, we are just selfish. This is the easiest truth to demonstrate. We love ice cream because it does something for our taste buds, or we might love email, because it makes it easier for US to stay in touch. When we apply this logic to inter-personal relationships, we end up ‘loving’ people because they do something we like, make us feel a certain way, etc. As long as they maintain this appealing quality, we continue to ‘love’ them.

Stop thinking like that. (Romans 12:2)

If we continue to love one another like that, we are destined for failure. The minute someone lets us down or doesn’t meet our expectations, we withdraw from what we thought was love. Imagine if God loved us like that! We would have NO hope. Perhaps that’s what Paul was getting at when in 1 Corinthians 13 he talks about this long-suffering, not self-seeking, patient kind of love. Perhaps that’s what Jesus was getting at when he challenged the disciples to love their enemies, for “if you only love those that love you, what reward is there in that?” After all, Christ died for us “while we were yet sinners.”

You might be starting to realise just how HARD it is to love people that are… well… HARD to love.

Next week, we’ll look at what Galatians 5 has to say about HOW to love like that.

In His Grace,

Dale

not the doctor

Howdy,

Last week we addressed how poor usage of time can and will keep our churches and lives from being ‘hospitals.’ Hopefully, we all took a much needed look at just how busy we are.

This week, let me share some more thoughts, taking the hospital analogy just a bit further…

How DARE we act like WE are the doctor!!! What am I talking about? Am I contradicting myself? Let me explain…

We are NOT the doctor. Nope. Not in the ‘hospital’ of the Church. We can be assistants, nurses, janitors, and even patients, but we must never call ourselves the doctor. The Great Physician, Jesus, is the One who mends, heals and saves. We are His apprentices, and yes, sometimes His patients.

As apprentices, we need to KNOW the Physician more and more. As we do, we will get better and better at the work He wants to do through us. We must not try to improve on His methods or timing, but trust that He knows what He is doing. Are you trying to be the Doctor in someone’s life? Are you trying to ‘fix’ them? Or are you leaving room for God to grow that person, using His methods and in His time?

As patients, we need to TRUST the Physician. He allows us to get hurt but has a purpose for it and wants to use it to grow you. Later in life, you can be there for someone going through what you’re going through now! Are you upset that God is letting you go through a certain situation? He is NOT there to keep every bad thing from happening to you (though many Christians act, believe and pray this way). He IS there to be TRUSTED. Let the Physician work. Are you resisting the authority of the Doctor? Are you trying to ‘fix’ yourself? Hello? YOU CAN’T!

He will allow you to struggle and struggle to ‘fix’ yourself and succeed for a while and then fail. You know the cycle? Up, down, up, down. You have to take your hands off the wound for the Physician to get in there and heal it. Yes, taking your hands off of it might mean others will see it, but it’s the only way for REAL healing.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” -Jesus

In His Grace,

Dale

what all did you do today?

Alright,

Last week we looked at an analogy between churches and hospitals. Makes sense enough, right? Well, there is one thing that will KILL our ability to turn our churches into ‘hospitals of grace’…

Being busy.

Want to know one force that NOBODY has ever been able to stop or even slow down??? The force of time. It just keeps on going. That’s why it is so precious!!! Many, many attempts are made at helping us ‘make the most’ of our time. The race is on to see how much ‘stuff’ we can get done in the least amount of time.

Much more could be said, but suffice it to say that our busy lives are killing us. We are tired, worn out and lethargic. This has a lethal effect on our ministry. We show up for ‘church’ once and twice a week, and wonder why it often seems so meaningless, so irrelevant, so…. dead.

We need to make more time for church in our lives. No, not more of what we do on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights (or whenever), but time for the growing of relationships. Ironically, the church ‘building’ isn’t usually the best place for ‘church-building’.

(that sentence might deserve a re-read)

Please, I beg you, take a look at your schedule. Write it all out if you need to. Cut out the bad stuff, cut out some good stuff, then leave time open for the best stuff. STOP patting people (or yourself) on the back for being busy! It’s cancer to individuals and the church!!! And we’re all prone to get it!!!

“for my yoke is EASY, and my burden is LIGHT” – Jesus

Love and Grace,

Dale

excuse me, nurse?

Howdy,

This week, I want to focus on ‘realness’ in our Christian lives. Let’s be honest, most of the time, Christianity is a dog-and-pony show where the ‘most spiritual’ award goes to the one with the least sin, and the biggest smile on Sunday morning. Is that the goal? Is that even reality? Is that what Jesus had in mind for the church? I think not.

We need to be open and honest with each other. I look at a church (not the building or the time spent in the building, but people) as a HOSPITAL. Hospitals are full of people that are hurting. Hospitals are places where people go to have their wounds healed. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be if an injured person went to a hospital and the doctors and nurses were appalled and disgusted by the wounds they had?

“I’m sorry, miss, but we don’t allow bleeding here, can you please cover that wound? It’s making many of the others uncomfortable.”

Is this not what we do in our churches? Sure, we give much lip service to the idea of being a place of healing, but secretly, we wish for good, clean, sin-less, happy, European, comfortable church members that are more ‘like us.’ I desire to be the kind of Christian that people know they can come to when they are hurting.

This week, ask the Holy Spirit two questions…
1. Am I the kind of person people can confess sins to? Can people be ‘real’ with me?
2. Am I confessing my sins (specific) to anyone? Am I being ‘real’ with others?

May our lives and our churches be hospitals of mercy and clinics of grace…

In His Grace,

Dale