Sunday, September 26, 2010

Misconceptions, Jesus & Santa Claus

I got to give a preach in church on Sunday, which was awesome. I love getting the opportunity to share within this community. I talked about some of the misconceptions we have about how God views us. Here’s my sermon in two parts…

You probably didn’t know this about me, but I believed in Santa Claus until I was pretty old. Older then most kids. Why was this? When I was about 6 or 7 I remember one Christmas Eve night looking out my window and seeing Santa Claus (or what I thought was the man in red) In reality the city I lived in thought it would be cute to fly a helicopter with special lights over the city while playing recorded sleigh bell sounds (with a few ho-ho-ho’s sprinkled in) through a PA system. When I looked out my window that night, my young mind was convinced that I had seen Santa. Most people stop believing in Mr.Claus because an older brother or sister spoils the fun, or because some big mouthed kid at school tells. When a girl in my class tried to share the news with everyone, I was not convinced. After all, I had actually seen Santa with my own eyes. Eventually my mom had to sit me down and have a conversation with me about what I’d seen. I think I was 12!

The point is things weren’t exactly what they seemed. But I saw what I thought was truth, and believing it had a major affect on me.

I think we sometimes look at God and see things about him that aren’t true. Those things then have an affect on how we look at him, and how we look at ourselves in relationship with him.

Watch this video…In a funny way it shows how we sometimes view Jesus and how he feels about us.

Misconceptions from the video:

1. We can never make God happy.

2. God is angry with us.

3. All God wants to do is point out all of the things we’ve done wrong

4. There is no hope for us,

5. We need to be perfect, or at our best for God to really love us

6. We’re so messed up, that not even Jesus can help us.

If we’re being honest, all of us have felt one of those things at some point in our spiritual journey. But what does the bible have to say about these misconceptions?

Psalm 103: 7-12

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

I just want to point out a few things about these awesome verses.

1. God is slow to get angry. He’s not up in heaven on his throne fists clenched just waiting for us to screw up so he can punish us. He’s slow to anger and as the next words say he’s FILLED with love.

2. God does not constantly accuse us…AMEN! (if he did he would be so busy with me, he would have not time for anyone else!)

3. God doesn’t give us what we deserve. That’s basically the definition of Grace. We get love and mercy, when we don’t deserve it.

4. …As far as the east is from the west. God has taken our mistakes and cast them as far away from us as he can. It’s like he’s telling us to forget about them, get up and move on. We’re the ones who have a hard time letting go.

I’ll post the part two to this tomorrow, but I have a question for discussion. Please feel free to put your answer in a comment.

Why do we have these misconceptions? Where do they come from?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

to love and serve...

It’s been an amazing summer for me so far. Night after night, I’ve continued to be amazed as I’ve seen God lead me to the people he wants me to talk to or help. Monday night, I was out in the West End with Ed. We got a call about a guy lying in a bush, so we went out in search of him. Let’s call this guy Sam. Ed and I head out, and we find Sam in a bush really close to a main road near the West End. Seriously if he had rolled over, he would have been lying in the middle of the road in busy traffic. We managed to find him before that could happen. We spent the next two hours with Sam, trying to figure out where he was staying, and then working to get him sober enough so he could take a taxi back to his hotel. It’s amazing the things you can learn about someone in two hours. He was pretty drunk, and out of it for most of our time together, so we didn’t really get to have a deep theological chat with him. We chatted about football, movies, his job and family. And then after about an hour and 57 minutes he just snapped out of it. It was almost like the clouds cleared and he was coherent. He gave us a genuinely grateful thank you, and then he was in a taxi on his way back to his hotel.

Once Ed and I got back to the prayer room, I just started thinking about how much God really trusts us with his children. I really believe that God sent Ed and I to spend two hours with Sam, because he wanted to make sure he was going to be okay. And so that through the unexpected kindness of a few strangers Sam might stop and turn his eyes to the divine for just a moment, and consider…that maybe there is someone out there watching, and waiting…

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

gutter love...

Since I've been here, I've had MANY interesting nights in the West End. Before we go out at night, we meet up in our center in the chapel for some worship and prayer time. After about 30 minutes half of us go out in pairs while the other half of us stays in the chapel to pray. After an hour we switch, and we continue that pattern of breathing in and breathing out, until about 4:00 or 5:00 am.

When I head out into the West End, I like to just walk and pray, and ask God to lead me to whoever he wants me to talk to or help. It's amazing how many times people will just walk up to me. Sometimes they want to say thank you because someone from 24-7 Ibiza has helped them out. Or they may have heard about what we do, and they're curious. Whatever the reason, suddenly I find myself in the midst of a conversation, and before I know it I'm being asked why I do what I do. I love that question. It's probably the number one thing I get asked out here. My answer is pretty simple. I'm here because I want to show people that God loves them no matter where they're at. Even if you're drunk and passed out in the gutter, God is still reaching out to them. When most people are in that state, they're a embarrassed, and they think they're the furthest thing from God's mind. It really is quite a mental picture if you stop and think about it. God (through me) is reaching down to pull them out of their mess. One night in the prayer room I was praying and was just reminded that God doesn't wait for us to get cleaned up. He comes to find us when we're still in the middle of our mess. He finds us where we're at, and the most wonderful thing is that no matter what state we're in, he sees beauty in you really get that?! Even when we've messed up and we look around and find ourselves in a situation that is the complete opposite of what God would desire for us...God looks down and sees the possibility and potential. He hasn't given up on us, He still loves us, and desires to know us, and for us to know him... How cool is that?!