Add a Little Crazy to Your Life

This past Sunday at Mt Vernon I told the church to “add a little crazy to your life.” Looking at John 2when Jesus cleared the temple, I talked about how Jesus was so fanatical about his Father’s name and his Father’s honor that when he saw his Father’s house being desecrated, he went off.

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:13-17

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To the world he looked a little crazy, but a true fanatic will always look crazy to the world.

As Jesus fanatics, we’re always going to look a little crazy to the world. It’s unavoidable. And that’s okay. Rather than trying to conform and fit in, I think we should be intentional about “adding a little crazy” to our lives. Let the world know how much we love Jesus. Make our devotion to Jesus blatantly obvious to all we encounter.

I asked the question at the end: how specifically can you “add a little crazy” to your life? Through the YouVersion Bible app, our members were able to answer the question personally and submit their answers anonymously. Here are a few of their responses. Here’s how my folks from my church can “add a little crazy” to their lives:

  • Get up with my wife at 5am to study the Word together.
  • Stop drinking and partying and spend more time in the book.
  • Go on a mission trip out of the country. Start a private protective recovery home for girls and women rescued out of the sex trafficking trade.

That’s my kind of crazy!

QUESTION: How can you “add a little crazy” to your life?

My Greatest Teacher in Life

I’ve had a lot of teachers in my life. I remember Mrs. Godbier in 3rd grade, Mrs. Mastroiani in 11th grade, and Dr. Jackson in seminary. They all taught me valuable lessons in life. But if I were honest, I have one constant teacher that helps me learn more than anything I could ever dream of in the classroom. My greatest teacher is failure.

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I hope and pray that my current church members never meet up with church members of my previous churches. It might shatter the illusion for my current church members that I actually know what I’m doing. Looking back on life, I’ve made so many mistakes: professionally, relationally, and personally. I could write a book on how not to run a youth ministry. I’ve burned bridges, dropped the ball, let things fall through the cracks. I’ve failed people, overestimated my own ability, grown too independent of God and paid the price. I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes in life.

And yet, for every mistake, I learned something. Mostly what not to do, but I learned something. The difference between successful people and failures in life isn’t that the successful people don’t make mistakes. Failure is unavoidable. The difference is that the successful people learn from their mistakes. Learning from your mistakes takes gut-wrenching honestly, painful humility, and a willingness to adapt and change. None of these are easy.

But if you’re willing to honestly reflect, willing to admit your mistakes, and willing to grow from them, you have access to the best lessons in the world. They’re painful lessons. They’re costly lessons. But failure can be the best teacher available to us all.

The question is, are we willing to learn?

QUESTION: What life lessons have you learned from failure?

“Why Did Someone Give Me Away?”

Try answering that question for your seven-year-old adopted son. By all other accounts it was a normal conversation and a normal trip to school. Zeke had just met one of his reading goals at school and I was building him up, really trying to encourage him in his reading. And then Zeke asked the question that is always bubbling below the surface for an adopted child, “Why did someone give me away?” To him it was a normal question. So I appeared normal and answered in the same tone of voice I’d answered his previous twenty questions about reading and frogs and ninja turtles. On the inside though, I was crumbling. My heart broke for the simple reason that my son will always have to wrestle with that question, “Why did someone give me away?”

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Robin and I made the decision early on that our adopted children would know the truth from the beginning that they used to live in another mom’s belly. There’s no way to keep adoption secret for life, and if a child is a teenager or older when they find out, we’ve seen it have traumatic effects. But this is the downside, having to answer questions like this, not taking it personally, hurting for Zeke as he wrestles with his identity in this.

Here’s how I answered him this time (I’ll have many more opportunities to talk with him about it in future conversations). I told him that his birth mom didn’t give him away, she wanted to make sure that he had the best home possible. She wanted him to have a home with a mommy and a daddy, so he became a part of our family. She did what she did because she loved him and wanted the best for him. And his mommy and I thank God every day that we get to be his parents.

And then it was time for school. Watching the sprouting seven-year-old get out of the car and walk into school like he owned the place, all I could think of was a chunky, square-headed baby named Zeke the first time I met him, trying not to get emotional in the process. In the end I’ll take these occasional uncomfortable conversations. They’re a small price to pay for the honor of raising him as my son.

 

The Best Thing About Mondays

I posted this blog at 7:00 am, but there’s a good chance you won’t read it before 10:00. It’s Monday. That day. The day of dread. You dragged into work this morning exhausted (or hungover) from another weekend. Now it’s five more days of work before you can enjoy yourself again.

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Most folks would avoid Mondays if at all possible. You’re physically and mentally tired, and your heart’s just not in your work. You back into Mondays. You lounge longer than you need to around the coffee maker. You spend the first hour and a half catching up on the weekend with others. Once you finally sit at your desk, you spend another hour looking at every (legitimate) website you can because you’re just not ready to work yet. By the time you look up, it’s getting close to lunch, too little time to get a project started. Better wait until the afternoon (or at least until the post-lunch coma is over). Before you know it, Monday is gone, lost in a sea of inaction and unproductively. Maybe Tuesday will be better.

Here’s the best thing about Mondays: it’s an opportunity to jump ahead in your work. When the default mode for many seems to be to slack off as much as possible and work only when necessary, Monday becomes the third day of the weekend, which crams five days of legitimate work into three (Fridays are gone too since you spend all day planning out your weekend or just fantasizing about not being at work). Stress levels get higher, the quality of work sometimes suffers, no one wins.

Here’s a crazy thought: put in a full day’s work today. Your body would like another day off. Decide to not give it one. Put your mind to work. Refuse to embrace the laziness that’s calling your name. Work hard today. You’ll find yourself way ahead for the week, leaving you nothing but good options for the next few days. Your work matters. The way you work matters to God. Jump ahead in your work today.

Five for Friday (9.12.14)

5Happy Friday! Before you rush head long into the weekend, take a minute and check out these great articles by other writers.

Truett Cathy and a Life Lived Well – great article about a great man.

10 Ways to Pray for Your Husband – read this ladies!

The Church and Violence Against Women – important words regarding the reality of domestic violence.

8 Ways Your Church Can Be More Welcoming to Guests – I wish everyone in our church would read this. Great stuff!

The Osteen Predicament – Strong words by Al Mohler on the Victoria Osteen controversy.

Why the NFL Messed Up So Badly on Ray Rice

If you’re even a hint of a sports fan, then you’ve seen the headlines filled with the Ray Rice scandal in the NFL. Here’s the quick recap: casino footage leaked months ago of superstar Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging (very ungraciously) his unconscious fiancee (now wife) out of an elevator. The implication from the video and the ensuing police report that it was a domestic dispute that turned violent, leaving Rice’s fiancee knocked out cold. The NFL responded by suspending Ray Rice for two games, which was instantly declared by the fans and media at large as being much too lenient for a very serious crime. Sports blogs and talk shows lit into the NFL for the paltry message it sent about the seriousness of domestic violence. In a rare about face, the commissioner admitted he got it wrong and changed the domestic violence penalties to be much stiffer in the future. Everyone congratulated the commissioner on his transparency in the issue. Matter settled. Ray Rice was welcomed back into Baltimore. Let’s play some football.

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And then TMZ played the other half of the video, the as yet unseen portion, showing the world what a world class athlete can do with a left hook to a woman he’s having a dispute with. It’s disturbing to say the least. The Baltimore Ravens and the NFL do yet another about face. After welcoming Ray Rice back, they cut him from the team and the NFL indefinitely suspends him. Matter settled, let’s get back to football. Wrong.

All day yesterday I listened to sports commentators ripping into the Ravens organization and the NFL at large. Why? Because they both claimed there was no way to get that other footage, the one that a celebrity gossip website apparently had no problem getting. Because the footage was so heinous that Ray Rice should have been cut immediately, not six months and multiple fan outrages later. Because the NFL knew what was on that footage through interviews, and they didn’t suspend Rice because of what he did. They suspended him because of the fan outrage of what he did. That’s not leadership, that’s just being reactionary.

The narrative coming up from the talking heads (which may or may not be proved accurate in the days to come) is that the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens had one overarching goal in this whole thing: the bottom line. Ray Rice was a superstar. Ray Rice was a pillar of the community in Baltimore. Ray Rice sold a lot of jerseys and a lot of tickets. They were hoping the whole thing would just go away. The way this whole thing played out leads many to suspect that the safety of Rice’s fiancee and the ultimate integrity of the game were secondary to the desire to continue to maximize profits. That’s why the NFL messed up so badly on Ray Rice.

QUESTION: What do you think about the whole Ray Rice situation?

Are You a Fan or a Fanatic?

As football season roars back to dominate American life for the foreseeable future, fans come out of the woodwork to cheer on their favorite team. The word ‘fan’ is derived from ‘fanatic,’ which makes sense when you consider this quote attributed to Winston Churchill, “A fanatic is someone who can’t change their mind and won’t change the subject.” Many sports ‘fans’ are actually sports ‘fanatics.’

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What you may not know is that ‘fanatic’ is originally a religious word. Coming from the Latin word fanaticus, the term ‘fanatic’ rose up in the Middle Ages in Europe. Back then, the entire continent was Christian, or at least that’s how it appeared. A king would declare his entire nation to be Christian, and everyone was forced to convert. So you had millions of people who were Christian in name only. Into this world a new word was developed to differentiate the true followers from everyone else. They were fanaticus. They were the ones who believed in Christianity enough that it actually dictated how they lived. They were the crazy ones. The ones who lived it out.

I think we see the same thing in America today. We are a ‘Christian’ nation. The majority of Americans believe in God. The majority of Americans would consider themselves religious. We have a lot of ‘fans’ of Jesus. But how many true ‘fanatics’ are there? That’s what we’re discussing on Sunday mornings at Mt Vernon in our new sermon series Fanatics. Come join us!