New Life Sunday – Laughing at the kid in the high chair

Everyone likes attention…at the right time of course. I think it relates to the fact that we want to feel valued and appreciated.
Last night while we were sitting at the dinner table, “Z” got our attention. He started to stand up in his high chair.
All eyes were on him…
Suddenly, he somehow lost his balance before he was totally upright and fell to the side…it was a bit awkward and something about it made us all laugh (um…yeah, stop judging).
“Z” got a huge grin on his face and as he made eye contact with everyone at the table, he could see we all enjoyed his demise.
So, guess what?
He did it again…and again…and again…
He reminded me of myself. There are times when I will do things to draw attention to myself, hoping that someone will notice and in some way affirm me.
That affirmation is fleeting and pretty soon, I either have to do it again…and again…and again…or give up and find my affirmation somewhere else.
As we continue through the book of Revelation this week, we will look closely at the trajectory of certain individuals who are alive during the Tribulation. For awhile they will resist bowing their knee to God and will attempt to find their meaning and fulfillment their own way.
Unfortunately for those of us who have tried that path (which is everyone…), it never works…soon enough the people through whom we have been receiving affirmation get bored, the things we thought would satisfy will wear out, the prestige will lose its impact and we will be left with an empty life.
Revelation 11 continues the parenthesis from chapter 10 where we left off last week. It follows the path of people who had resisted God and then ultimately humbled themselves. In the end, they glorify God in the midst of tragedy. Instead of looking for affirmation from people, things and activities around them, they glorify God and share in His triumph.
We can take heart from these Tribulation saints. As believers, we can draw our fulfillment from the future triumph that God has promised for eternity.
And don’t worry, we’ll try not to let “Z” fall and I’ll try not to follow his example.
I hope to see you Sunday!
Brag on God Topic: Share stories of how God has changed your life!
Announcement: Super Bowl Party at New Life – Next Sunday we will have a pot-luck Super Bowl party on the 4th floor starting at 5:00pm. Everyone is welcome, just sign up to bring something to share.


New Life Sunday – High Five…

 love “HIGH FIVE” moments!
These are the times when we have more excitement than we can contain in our bodies so we look for the closest person and hope that they feel the same excitement. I won’t even begin to speak for women, but most guys seem to get a silly grin on their face, grunt something unintelligible for the most part and then turn our attention to making square contact with the other hand.
Since this does not always work out as intended, I have compiled my own list of high five failures:

  • High and Dry – The high five is denied and the person with whom you were hoping to share the excitement doesn’t even notice. So you are left hanging…this is almost always awkward.
  • High One or maybe Two – This is when the other person (‘cause it’s never our fault) misses the majority of our hand…very anti-climatic and often embarrassing.
  • High – are you kidding me? – This is when someone crosses the line and hits you so hard it actually hurts. It is at this time that you automatically forget what you were excited about and become consumed with the question, “why on earth would someone do that?”
  • High…pause…Five – This is what happens when someone has the confidence to leave their hand up in the midst of ignorance. It is an attitude that says, “I am excited and I will wait until you notice.”

The High Five is a universal sign of triumph.
I love triumph!
This Sunday, we move back into the book of Revelation. We will study Revelation 10:1-11:14 which is a parenthetical section between the 6th and 7th Trumpet judgments. In this passage we will look closely a might angel, a little book (that is eaten), two witnesses, the first appearance of the Anti-Christ, plagues, murder, earthquakes and ultimately TRIUMPH.
It seems like a long path to get to the triumph, but it is definitely worth it. You may even be in the mood for a High Five at the end.


New Life Sunday -The brunt…

Just a few hours ago I was driving to Subway for a lunch appointment. I had to enter I-70 from an on ramp and then move over three lanes of traffic to head north.
So I have a few disclaimers: I was not on the phone, I was not preoccupied with something on the radio and I was not on the phone (yes I know that I wrote that 2x =)).
As I entered I-70, a car was going the same speed as me so I decided that since this was a church related meeting, I would slow down instead of attempting to ram the car off the highway (please note the sarcasm).
As I slowed down (yes I slowed down and yes I feel pretty spiritual telling you that) and looked to my left the driver gave me the “hands (fortunately not fingers) in the air, what are you doing, who gave you a drivers license gesture.”
I was confused!
The man was angry with me because he needed to be in my lane and I needed to be in his lane and since I read his mind wrong, I became the brunt of his anger for the moment.
As he raced ahead of me and I pulled into his recently vacated lane, I thought of how frustrating it can be when we are expected to read someone else’s mind.
Time and again throughout any given day we are expected to make split second decisions that affect any number of people. When we make the wrong decision as interpreted by someone else, we immediately become a target for the brunt.
The brunt can come in the form of yelling, silence, raised appendages, sarcasm and even force.
Seldom if ever does anyone volunteer for the brunt, but often we experience it. And when we do….watch out…because seldom, if ever, do we deserve it…at least from our vantage point.
Churches like any community can become a holding tank for brunt. This is not good. This is also not a reflection on Jesus but on sinful people within the church.
Brunt is something we will need to work through for the rest of our lives. Individually we each have room for improvement. As a church we have room for improvement as well. The Elder team is working to clearly communicate a strategic plan for 2012 and beyond. It is our prayer that this will help to diffuse frustration and provide a platform for unity and teamwork.
Next Sunday, January 22nd we will be sharing the specifics of the strategic plan. This Sunday, New Life is privileged to have Dave Robinson (see link: share a bit of his testimony and passion. He will be preaching from Romans 1:14-17 and his title is, “Indebted, eager and unashamed.” While he is with the New Life body, I will be sharing the sermon at Covenant Chapel where he is the pastor.
The Digging Deeper Bible class with Gary McClintock will resume this week in the coffee shop at 10:00am.
I hope that over the next few days you will be able to spend some time praying for God to open your heart to the upcoming sermon.
In the meantime, watch out for drivers like me on the on ramps…
God Bless!
Brag on God Topic: Trials that God has brought you through and the lesson you learned from that trial. 

New Life Sunday – Repenting for an empty tank

A few days ago I noticed that I was running low on gas. Now…there are many places to find gas in Kansas City but only one that I really like…a place on 34th and Main that has cheap gas and a $3 car wash.
When my warning dinged I had about 40 miles to empty and several stops before going completely out of my way to fill my tank and get my car washed. I calculated in my head that the total distance was about 40 miles and knew that I would be cutting it close.
At my last stop before heading to the car wash I had 13 miles till empty and exactly 13.4 miles to get to the car wash.

This kind of challenge excites me…
As you can imagine, I was paying close attention to my miles to empty gauge. I must admit, I began to plan out who I would call if in fact I did run out of gas. I also found myself frustrated with people who did not go through stoplights and had every intention of blaming them for running out of gas if in fact I didn’t make it.
I hit a few key lights on green and coasted into the gas station with three miles to empty.
It felt so good to have made it. The closer I came to running out of gas the greater the tension in my mind.
Making it to the gas station was a relief that released the tension…however if I had run out of gas, I would have added to the tension that I was feeling.
I am nearly positive that if I had run out of gas, I would have begun to make excuses to relieve a bit of the tension. The excuses would be:
       –If those people at the lights would have turned left, I would have made it through the light…
       –Ford’s gas gauge must be off….
       –I had really good intentions (saving money, clean car, etc), so it was valiant of me to have made the attempt…
       –I can think of a lot of other people who would do the same thing…
By now, most of you are ready to shout…”why don’t you just admit that you made a mistake?” From your perspective that is clearly the only option…from my perspective, I feel that I need to justify my decisions or you will respect me less.
Bottom line: Though it is difficult to own up to a poor choice, it is absolutely necessary. For me, it is much better to learn from my experience, plan ahead and get my gas and car wash before I risk running out of gas.
This Sunday, we are heading back to the series in Revelation and will be in chapter nine. The content of this chapter is mostly about judgment during the tribulation. The message from the chapter is that when faced with our sin/poor choices/mistakes/etc we need to own our faults, repent of them and accept forgiveness and grace.
So, whether it is running out of gas or something else, when we fail we should own it and repent.
I hope you have a great week!
Brag on God Topic: Share ways that you have experienced the unconditional love of God in your life recently.

New Life Sunday – Perspectives on life from a frozen lake…

A few days ago we were in Minnesota visiting with my parents. Since the weather has been so nice we decided that we would like to go ice skating with the cousins at Lake George.

This is the lake in the middle of the city that we walk around in the summer and skate on in the winter.

It was a blast!

We stayed on the lake for nearly two hours skating, falling, sledding, crawling and laughing a lot.

Once Dallas learned that I could skate fast while holding him from behind, he would run his legs as we glided across the ice. Any time we would stop it only took a moment for him to yell, “I want to tate” (we’re still working on that ‘Sk’ sound). The girls even learned how to hold a hockey stick and hit the puck.

As we drove back to KC yesterday, Leigh-Ann and I were reflecting on the fun that we had in the middle of winter in Minnesota. It occurred to us that winter is not always a favorite season for people. It sure gives us much to complain about with cold weather, icy roads and sidewalks and high heating bills.

At the same time, it can provide unique opportunities to experience life.

Like ice skating…  Today, I learned that the first ice skates were discovered at the bottom of a lake in Switzerland in about 3,000 BC. The skates were made from the leg bones of large animals, holes were bored at each end of the bone and leather straps were used to tie the skates on. I imagine that some optimistic person decided to make the best out of a frozen lake and as a result has provided more smiles and laughs than we’ll ever know.

Instead of complaining about cold weather and slippery conditions, industrious people have learned to make the best out of the season of winter.

Life, like the weather, has seasons as well. There are times when things are going great and all we can count are blessings. There are other times that the seasons of life change and it seems that all we can count are problems.

Whether your present season is “counting blessings” or “counting problems” you can experience passion and contentment. As a result, you may find that your happiest times occur during your coldest days.

This Sunday, we are going to look closely at the book of Philippians in order to gauge our goals and evaluate our heart, so that no matter what season of life we find ourselves, we will be successful contributors to the Kingdom.

In a nutshell, we can either wish we were in a better season or we can make the best of the season we are in…

Wishing you the God’s best this next year!


Brag on God Topic: Share how God has been faithful to you over this past year.