Runners high…

I hope you have enjoyed a very happy Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We loaded up in the mini-van and drove to Minnesota…home of the Vikings, cold weather and Target :).

Along with my parents, my sister and her family, Leigh-Ann and I and the kids decided to participate in a walk/run event on the morning of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving run
We arrived at 8am, just in time to hear the National Anthem…and then we waited in blowing snow for 45 minutes for the race to start. It looked like there were only a few hundred people participating until about 10 minutes before the start time, the smart ones came pouring out of their heated vehicles to join those of us who were freezing near the starting line.

Nearly 3,000 of us bunched in together and pretty soon we were off. Some of us walking and some of us running. I decided to try my best to keep up with the older cousins in the 5k run. The first mile was pretty fun and after several minutes I could finally start to feel my face again.

Thanksgiving 4

Mile two was getting a bit tougher…definitely not cold anymore…breathing was getting labored and the numbness in my legs turned into some pain as we pounded out the race. As we neared the turn before the final stretch, I was glad we only had a few hundred yards to go.

For the record, all four older cousins ran it without walking and all four cousins beat the old man (that’s me in case you’re wondering :)).

Walkers and Runners all gathered past the finish line by the drinks and fruit…it felt amazing and everyone was in a good mood.

It seemed that everyone was laughing and smiling while we guzzled Gatorade and shared highlights of the run.

Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times when I was cold, out of breath, tired and even entertained thoughts of slowing down or stopping…but the suffering that we survived was nothing compared with the feeling of accomplishment that we enjoyed at the end.

This Sunday, I am excited to preach from Romans 8:18-25 on the topic of suffering compared to future glory. As Christians, if we merely focus on the moments of suffering, we will get overwhelmed…however, if we are able to zoom out a bit and compare our momentary suffering with the immense greatness of our future glory, we will be filled with hope and our faith will grow.

I hope you will not back away from the potential of suffering, but rather that you will step up to it…even if it means having to take a risk…more on that Sunday.

See you soon,
Troy

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A loud song…

I’m going to let you in on a family secret…I like to sing.

Loudly!

I also like to make up songs and I like to whistle.

Honestly, I love to get a reaction out of Leigh-Ann and the kids. Sometimes after I belt out a powerful line or two, I will ask them if I should try out for the Voice or America’s Got Talent.

My girls (all three of them) roll their eyes and then turn up the radio as their way of telling me that would not be a good choice.

There are times however that the boys can be convinced to accept me and my vocal chords. They catch on to my antics and may even sing with me. Or at least whistle…which for the youngest is a high pitched hum.

This morning I was feeling it while everyone was eating breakfast and I was able to get a reaction…which for me was Leigh-Ann reminding me of this verse, Proverbs 27:14 “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.”

Cat Proverb

As I consider our kids, I don’t really care if they learn to sing or not, however I do want for each of them to be heirs of a Christian heritage, happy home, quality life skills and a love for life.

Whether they become proficient singers is an afterthought….and by the way, if they learn to sing well, it will be from their mother…if they learn to sing loud and a bit off pitch, it will be from me.

This Sunday, James Cottier a recently elected elder at New Life will be preaching from Romans 8:12-17. The end of those verses promises that if we are “children of God” then we are also “heirs of God.”

No matter how you look at it, being an “heir of God” holds so much more promise than an heir of me…and it probably even means a better voice. You are warmly invited to join us at 10:45am…I anticipate a great service.

I hope you have a great weekend,

Troy

Announcement: In case you are interested in reading some of the stories /watching some of the videos from our ThanksGIVING campaign, you can see them here.

Musings on the #refugeecrisis

Refugee CampAs a pastor of New Life CityChurch, I feel very blessed to have deep relationships with people representing each generation, multiple races, diverse education and experiences and various socio-economic standards.

I want to do something to help people in need…whether they are wealthy or poor, orphans or children with healthy parents, homeless  or homeowners, refugees or citizens of the USA. I would say that nearly all of my Christian friends and many of my non-Christian friends would agree with my desire to do something.

However, a quick read of my facebook and twitter feed could make you doubt that. There is an obvious divide among my Christian friends on what to do…and some of the divide can be characterized by generation.

So this morning, my close friend, who is a Baby Boomer and I, a Gen X had a respectful  conversation about the #refugeecrisis. We each wanted to hear…and not just be heard.

When we finished, I liked Mike and Jesus even more…

We heard each other sharing our love for people …for all people…of all generations.

…for men and women representing “The Greatest Generation”, many who fought for the freedom I often take for granted…for men and women representing the “Baby Boomers”, many who have worked tirelessly to build wealth and opportunities that I often take for granted…for men and women representing “Generation X”, who are growing as world leaders in business and politics and are also busy and tired raising kids, saving for college and planning for the future…for the men and women representing the “Millenials”, many who have limited experience but represent the brightest minds and greatest leaders for our future who are deeply compassionate and are making a difference in our world…for the youngest people representing “Generation Z”, many who are still learning to read and write and will grow up into a world that is changing exponentially.

After more than an hour, multiple tensions came into focus:

  • Different generations have different perspectives…this is a good tension as long as we don’t digress to attacking the worth of a person based on their ideology or generation
  • There is a tension between my role as a citizen and my role as a Christian…when my faith in Jesus and my security as a citizen become co-dependent, each is at the risk of the other
  • There is a tension between my own gratitude for the sacrifices of others and obligation to make similar sacrifice…many who are older than me have already risked their life for mine, while some younger than me are prepared to risk their own lives

So how do these tensions relate to my view of the Syrian Refugee crisis? Over the past several years Leigh-Ann and I have built friendships with several refugees from the Middle East. Some with children with similar ages to our children, the only difference is that our children were born in Kansas City while their children were born in Baghdad with constant bombings. Others spent time on the payroll for Saddam Hussein and were even trained in his army. Oh, and they also hold to the Muslim faith. These relationships make it difficult for me to want to shut them out or be fearful…I actually like them…and they cook incredible food :). Leigh-Ann and I would love for them to know the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus of social media. One thing we do know is that we may be the only Jesus they ever see…and that is sobering.

When it comes to the current crisis, there is no easy next step. But if you’re interested, here are a few suggestions:

  • Learn more about Jesus (even if you have gone to church for a long time), love Jesus and live for the honor and glory of Jesus.
  • Listen…then listen more…resist forming opinions about individuals until you give them the benefit of listening to them.
  • Look for the faces behind the rhetoric…faces of people who are searching for happiness and fulfillment, just like you and me.
  • Love your family, your friends and a very wise Person once said to even love your enemies.
  • Pray…a lot.

Jesus said it best in John 13:34–35, ” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Racism and Reconciliation…

This morning I offered to work from home with our two youngest, Isaiah and Ian while Leigh-Ann chaperoned a school field trip.
Boys 2
While gathering my thoughts, I noticed some social media interaction regarding the unrest at the University of Missouri. I liked a blog post on facebook (An open letter to the white #Mizzou student who wrote the open letter to black student activists) and have been pensive ever since.

WHY?

WHY SUCH EMOTION?

One of my conclusions is that we were made by God with an innate need to belong.

When I am ostracized for any reason, I get snarky and bothered. My justice meter moves me into action.

I am watching my boys…they are like many other little boys…

Boys 1

  • They like popcorn while watching a moobie 🙂
  • They have vivid imaginations and dreams
  • They still try to sneak Halloween candy and find ways to bicker with each other
  • They love to be a part and to feel wanted

I love them so much…they are my sons. I would take a bullet for them…and I will defend them if someone attempts to convince them that shouldn’t belong. The fact that they are black and I am white is A ZERO FACTOR in the fact that I accept them and love them.

I have met people who do allow race to be a factor in their decision to accept people…and it has tempted me to feel like I don’t belong. The feeling that I don’t belong hurts enough that I would never want my three and five year old boys to feel it.

But they have and they will…rarely from adults and virtually never from kids…but occasionally, they will be faced with racism such as:

  • The white woman who saw me with the boys in the store and said, “who are those kids?” (would you have even spoken if I was holding the hands of my white daughters?)
  • The black people who are adamant that “white people” don’t know how to care for “black kids” and have told us so

I get it…hurt people, hurt people.

But what kind of person would say something derogatory about the race of a child?

A broken, marginalized person with an inferiority complex…I’ve been here…maybe not racist about children, but I have said some incredibly mean things to other people…things that I regret. Things that marginalize others.

The only way to solve the problem of racism and tragically broken relationships is to understand and accept the Gospel.

The good news is that Jesus as God in human form, spent time on earth, was marginalized to a cross and then after three days was resurrected in order to heal the brokenness that had compounded over thousands of years of civilization.

And it doesn’t stop there…Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to live within Christians. One incredible value of the indwelling Spirit is that as Christians, you and I now belong.

We are not marginalized.

This Sunday at 10:45 I hope you can attend New Life CityChurch, I am excited to share from Romans 8:9-11 about the power of the Spirit to reconcile and invite us to belong.

If you have a relationship that has been broken or have felt marginalized…you will be filled with hope.

Have a great weekend and “Go Tigers,”
Troy

Thankful for the Royals

This past Tuesday, Kansas City had 800,000 people come together to congratulate the Royals during their World Series Victory Parade.

World-Series-celebration

The city pretty much shut down…it was craaazy!

What would be a strong enough attraction for 800,000 people to take off work and school and come together to stand for hours just to get a glimpse of the players?

Gratitude!

KC is thankful for the inspiration provided by our boys in blue. They brought us together as families, friends and a city. They gave us the gift of belonging and provided us hours of thrills and entertainment.

For Leigh-Ann and I and the kids, we were glad to spend our day cheering on the Royals one last time in 2015. It was an opportunity to let them know how much they are appreciated.

This Sunday at New Life we are going to kick of our ThanksGIVING capital campaign. Convincing people to give can be like trying to get 800,000 people to battle crowds and stand for hours with low blood sugar.

Why would you want to give of your time and money?

The only reason I can think of is gratitude.

Gratitude for all that God has done for you, your family, your friends and your church.

If you are new to this idea of generosity, it may seem strange, but it is actually fun to give.

Consider this video Link Here and see how fun it is for me to give the police officer the football at the parade…LOL.

I hope you are able to join us for the service this Sunday, I am sure you will be encouraged and reminded of how much we have for which to be thankful.