Friday, April 25, 2014

Taking The High Road

A friend this week commended me regarding a situation where he had observed me “taking the high road.” We typically consider “the high road” to be the one more difficult to take. It’s the path less traveled by because it doesn’t really get glory or realize personal satisfaction. It’s usually the one that puts you in the second seat and others ahead of you. And to be quite candid - it’s a road that is usually more difficult to take. In fact, I would say that I’m not accustomed to the scenery of the high road because I feel that I take it too infrequently.

This week we started a new series in our high school ministry called “Entourage.” We talked about the friends around us, the kinds of friends they are, and the kinds of friends we are to them. We looked at the story of David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18, 19). Jonathan was a completely biased friend to David, but he was biased in DAVID’S favor! He moved out of the way to put David ahead of him, and only got “in the way” when it was time to protect David.

As adults, our relationships are not much different than those of students we love. We have to navigate situations all the time that define the nature of the friendships we claim to cherish. Our behavior in those crucial times will reveal our true hearts about those people, though, and show who we really love more - ourselves or others.

Jesus said in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Then He modeled this love by dying on the cross for us. 

What kind of friends do you have? What kind of friend are you to others? Is your mindset “me,” or is your mindset “we?”

Let me know what I can pray about for your family.

- Michael

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Different Kind of Freedom

In a few months we’ll be gearing up to celebrate our nation’s birthday. Independence Day is not just about back yard burgers with the neighbors or an excuse to set off mini explosives attached to popsicle sticks - it really is a time where we can pause to celebrate that we live in the greatest nation on the planet.

It is also a time to give thanks for those who provide that freedom for us. Those who take up a weapon. Who stand a post. Who step into harm’s way. And some who even give what we call: The Ultimate Sacrifice. I believe it is appropriate to give thanks both for the nation in which we live and to the scores of young men and women who ensure the freedoms we enjoy as a result.

There is a different kind of freedom that we enjoy, though, that doesn’t always receive the same degree of pomp and circumstance as the land of the free and the home of the brave. It’s the freedom that we enjoy as citizens of the Kingdom of God. And that freedom, too, came with a sacrifice - The Ultimate Sacrifice. And the stakes were much higher than the temporal freedom of one nation; the eternal fate of humanity was in the balance.

When Christ staggered up Calvary, His footsteps were not unsteady solely due to the weight of the cross He was carrying - the weight of your sin and mine was infinitely heavier than those wooden beams. And as He completed His task of bearing our sin and shame, there were no medals to be given or parades in His honor. Rather, the One who sent Him on the mission to begin with actually turned His back on Him just as He needed Him most.

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. It’s the day we remember Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He came into the city on a donkey and the crowd paved the street before Him with palm branches. And it seems almost impossible when reading those words that some of the same people who shouted, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”  in those moments would just a few days later be shouting, “Let Him be crucified!!”

On Palm Sunday at the Glade Church you will have an opportunity to hear clear teaching on The Ultimate Sacrifice that Christ made. You will have the opportunity to sing praises to Him. You will have the opportunity to receive communion. But most of all, you will have the opportunity to honor the One who gives life…and gives it abundantly. You can give thanks for a different kind of freedom.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I Doubt You'll Read This

I doubt it. 

No doubt about it.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt.

We’ve all likely used these phrases at some point in our lives. But when we start thinking about doubt as it relates to our faith, it can feel “wrong” to many of us. I think that’s because although we know the basic tenets of our faith, it can be challenging for us to be “okay” with questioning the foundation on which they are built. It’s almost like questioning our faith lessens our belief. 

I experienced this the other day in my truck while listening (on YouVersion) to the book of Romans. In chapter four there is a reference to Abraham and the law. Well, I got to thinking about Abraham and his wife having a child, a promised child, so late in life. Then I got to thinking about how long he lived (175 years). That made me think of how long other people in the Bible lived. Adam - 930 years. Noah - 950 years. Methuselah - 969 years. Somewhere along this bunny trail I was chasing my faith collided with my sense of reason.

Could these men have REALLY lived that long? Was a “day” in Genesis the same as a 24 hour day today? If they did live that long, what was different then? Could the impact of sin be SO profound that it lessened the length of human life? If sin had not entered the world, was human life EVER supposed to end in the first place? 

As I asked these questions to myself mentally, they came with a certain degree of guilt. Yet as I reviewed them over and over, they seemed (to me) to be completely FAIR questions…questions that actually drive my faith AND my sense of reason to a common ground. They are helpful questions that deepen my understanding of those tenets of faith I mentioned earlier.

As a minister to students, I want teenagers to have a sense of awe and a sense of wonder when interpreting God’s love letter to us, the Bible. To do so, I want them to feel free to ask tough questions. I want them to have a healthy doubt that drives them to ask critical faith questions. Why? Because I believe there are answers to be given. I believe we serve a God who doesn’t fear these questions. In fact, I think He knows those questions can drive a closer relationship with Him. He knows that these questions reveal a grace and love that can come from no other source but Him. So, yeah…I think He’s good with that.

I hope you will be open to sharing your doubts with your teenagers. I hope they can feel permission to share theirs with you. And I hope you will be able to explore the answers to your faith questions together. 

Please let me know what I can pray about for you or your family.

- Michael