Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where's my cleats?

Reading through the book of Romans and got to chapter 11. And to be honest I was struggling to stay focused in this chapter except for this verse that I just couldn’t let go of this week.

6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:6 (Today's New International Version)

Those words, by grace then it can’t be works, if it were, grace wouldn’t be grace, just kept coming to me throughout my day. I couldn’t shake it really didn’t know why.

I know it seems like I blog and preach about grace pretty often but can it really ever be too much? It is what saves us after all! You know, without it we’d be dead…other than that it’s really insignificant.

So last night it was time for baseball practice. Tuesdays are usually a whirlwind with Cub Scouts and baseball and whatever else seems to happen, usually happens on Tuesday. I came in the house just in time to eat and see Wyatt, our youngest age 6, fully suited up in last years uniform ready for practice.

He shared with me how someone on the team called him a nerd for wearing last years uniform to practice but it didn’t seem to hurt his ego any more that it does to wear full cowboy attire including vest, chaps, spurs and 70’s Richard Petty meets Hoss Cartwright style 7 inch crown felt hat EVERY time we go to Santé Fe Steakhouse. You got RESPECT baby! He had all his baseball gear on for practice, except his cleats.

So to speed up the process I asked him to look for his cleats while I finished eating. This is where he informed me that with all the looking power a 6 year old has he had combed the depths of every closet and under every bed, but did not find his cleats. In parent terms this means, “I looked in one spot, they weren’t there, I’ll let Dad find them for me while I play with the dog.”

Being a former experienced childhood shoe, boot and cleat searcher (FECSBCS) myself I advised him to try his room again. But this time try looking under the Everest sized toy mound in the middle.
Wyatt again told me, “Dad I’ve looked EVERYWHEREEEEEE”, in his best whiney exhausted voice.

Since I was a highly skilled FECSBCS before I turned parent, I knew good and well he had not looked anywhere!

So I got up, walked to his room, took two steps in the door, stopping for fear of my own health, safety and welfare to go further, looked down and to the right to see, ah, CLEATS!

He didn’t look, he didn’t try and still his Father bailed him out because he was his son and because he loved him.

…then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Wyatt could have looked for 3 hours or never looked at all like I suspect and my love for him would be no more or no less. Just like if the harder you work for God you think you’ll get more grace…grace would no longer be grace.

When I really think of the things that God knows about me, all the stuff that only He and I know about me...and I’m still loved by Him and covered by His grace. I can’t even begin to know and can’t wrap my brain around how big his grace is and it would only do God an injustice to even try. My goodness it’s the greatest free gift going, yet the hardest one for us to accept!

I had gotten out of a Sunday school class on grace one time and was talking to a friend about it. I had really heard God speak through a powerful message and further class discussion. I made the comment, “All God wants us to do is try.” My friend replied back, “You know Tyson; the amazing thing about grace is He covers us even when we don’t.”

Makes sense, cause if He didn’t, grace wouldn’t be grace.

Got to go now! I hear God calling; I think he just found my cleats.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Raise your hands!!

Took this picture with my phone during the Rock and Worship Roadshow last Thursday night. The body of Christ in the thousands, mostly youth, filling up a venue like the Ford Center in Oklahoma City to praise God through Christian music.

Is this what the Psalmists had in mind when they said…

Psalm 63 (NIV)
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 134 (NIV)
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the LORD.

Psalm 141 (Message)
1-2 God, come close. Come quickly!
Open your ears—it's my voice you're hearing!
Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising;
my raised hands are my evening prayers.

Psalm 150 (Message)
1-6 Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!

P.S. Jesus music rocks baby!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hold the black olives please.

Most of you know that pastoring Fellowship of Believers is not my only job, I also hold down a 40 hour per week job doing environmental and safety work for a manufacturing plant. This is the job that pays our bills and insurance.

So while in a meeting at my 40 hours job this morning I heard this phrase, “We’ve got enough going on without getting sidetracked by the pizza.” This made me almost laugh out loud, to think with everything we have going on to operate a multimillion dollar operation, we do from time to time, have to deal with things like a dispute over pizza. But in our work environment it has to be done because we have 400 people working together 5-6 days a week, and disputes like this are bound to happen. You know how it goes, free pizza comes in, not enough for everyone, some get some, some don’t, someone gets mad, someone says something they shouldn’t, people’s feelings get hurt, things start to escalate and before you know it we’ve totally lost track of why we woke up and came to work today. We’ve totally lost track of the task at hand.

When the “sidetracked by pizza” comment came out, my reaction was to laugh, my second was how it reminded me of something that happened to me just last week.

Someone delivered pizza to the comment section of this blog. Yes, I have finally arrived! I received my first official negative response to one of my posts.

I am not saying that just because someone doesn’t agree with me necessarily means it’s a negative comment.

What made it negative was that this person, who chose to remain anonymous no less (imagine that), also chose to get hung up on something absolutely insignificant and missed the entire point.

As I’m trying to give God the glory for the work He was doing through an awesome group of people and lives He has changed as a result, “Anonymous Negative Commenter Man” spent his time trying to pick one word from my post apart in the name religion.

That’s like wanting to spend time debating over whether or not the water Jesus turned to wine was alcoholic or not…if that's what you choose to debate then YOU’VE MISSED THE POINT OF THE STORY.

When this becomes the case, “we’ve become sidetracked by pizza.”

How many times a day do we get sidetracked by the pizza of life? People getting bent out of shape at little league games. Our kids and their Junior High drama, “He said, she said.” Us adults in our office drama, “He said, she said.”

Our everyday lives are so full of “pizza” and it’s spilled over into our churches and personal walk with the Lord as well. We forget that the Christmas play is about Him and not about who gets to sing the solo. We forget that serving the food to the needy is about Him and isn’t about who gets to be seen doing the actual serving. We forget that communion is about Him and not about whether we do it with one prayer or two. We forget that the song we sing is for Him and not about whether or not I like the slow ones. THE MINUTE WE LOSE SIGHT OF HIM IT BECOMES NOTHING MORE THAN RELIGION.

This is how Jesus commented to his critics in Matthew 12:6 when they questioned Him and his disciples about breaking Sabbath rules (Jewish day of rest)
6-8"There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this Scripture meant—'I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual'—you wouldn't be nitpicking like this…" (The Message translation)

Friends, I plead with you to pray that God will help us to see through the junk in our walk and focus more on Him. Lord allow my eyes to see through the religion. Lord you’ve given me important work to do, don’t allow me to become sidetracked by pizza.

As for my anonymous friend the following is for you, enjoy, today’s post it quite possibly the most recognition you will ever receive on here again.

1) I love you though I don’t know who you are or what your name is.
2) I won’t post your comment, not because I don’t want my readers to see what you have to say, but simply because it won’t grow God’s kingdom by a single person.
3) Don’t waste your time making more pizza because I’m full.
4) I’m praying that you too will see through the religion that surrounds you and the religion that binds you. I’m praying that you will truly see Jesus and not just the thought of Him.
5) I love you man.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Stop that van!

Air police, city police, county police, highway police, store police, fashion police…where will it end? I guess after this one…pray police. Last night I became the pray police.

I was in the backyard spraying weeds and the boys were on the trampoline asking a thousand questions about, what I was spraying , why they couldn’t just walk through the grass if they had their socks on, and Wyatt wanted to know the difference between poison and poison ivy. (Wow that’s a long sentence and I’m sure grammatically incorrect)

Then off in the distance they hear the echoing through the hills of Ada...the ice cream truck! “Dad can we have a dollar, hurry?!” Now if you know me those two words don’t go together in a sentence, as in, “dollar” and “hurry”.

So I thought about it for a second and decided okay here’s four dollars. And left them with a token parental, “…and don’t let your little brother run into the street” as they whizzed through the back gate.

But they weren’t fast enough. The multicolored polka dotted 1982 Chevy EconoVan cruised right by and down hill just seconds before they could get there. And by the way is the 1982 Chevy EconoVan standard issue in the mobile neighborhood ice-cream industry or just the preferred vehicle? That’s another post for another day.

The boys were gone for a little while so as I went to check on them. There I found Winston, disappointed, but patiently waiting at the curb leaning up against the trash cans I hadn’t brought back to the house since the morning trash pickup. I asked what he was doing and he said he was waiting for the ice cream truck to come back up the hill. I stood there with him a minute and couldn’t hear the music, which normally can be heard from 6 city blocks away. I finally said, “Buddy, I don’t think he’s coming back tonight.” Winston looked up at me and said, “But Daddy I prayed to God for him to come back and everything.”

Now being the expert on prayer, raised in a Christian home, and having a Batphone connection with God, and a pastor which has to put me on a much higher level, living in the Bible belt, and because I read my Bible daily I BECAME THE PRAYER POLICE and at that moment instantly my first thought was, “Well son that’s probably not something we should pray for.” Even half the thought transformed into words and came out of my mouth before I caught myself in all my arrogance.

You know, the “right” things we pray for are world peace, the end of hunger, a cure for cancer, “all those who can’t be with us today bring them back at the next appointed time”…NOT for the ice cream truck to come back. I AM THE PRAY POLICE AND I FIND 8 YEAR OLD WINSTON BROWN IN VIOLATION OF A LEGITATE PRAYER!

What does this kid know? I mean are you going to tell me he was truly listening to his parents when they said you can ask God for ANYTHING?

Come on!

Can you convince me he really believes Matthew 21:22 (TNIV)If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Or 1 John 5:14-20 (The Message) “And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he's listening…”

Huh! Who believes that? At the Pray Police Academy they teach us that those are just memory verses and somewhere in those verses there must be an exclusion for ice cream trucks and 8 year olds who don’t know any better.

Really?? Who is an expert prayer? A pastor? A parent? Someone who has enough wind to go on for 5 plus minutes? A perfect attendance church goer?

A prayer is not something to be memorized or contain phrases that become so routine they lose their meaning. It’s not something for show. No, prayer is our direct line to God. Prayer is our chance to sit on His lap like a child and tell him our thoughts, praises, feeling, hurts, joys, and fears. Phillip Yancy in his book “Prayer” says “When it comes to prayer we are all beginner.”

The literal true beginners, as in kids being beginners in this world, get it so much better than us “mature adult Christians”. In fact, they hear messages and hear scripture and they believe it! Actually, they go beyond that and here’s what separates them from us…they don’t just believe it…THEY LIVE IT! They pray for ice cream trucks, they pray for dead cats, they pray for the Crocodile Hunter, they pray for whatever they can’t handle but know God can. WOW! And that’s just the out-of-control stuff. Don’t get them get started on what they are thankful for! Candy, dogs and cats that haven’t died, candy, swings, trampolines…

As for the ice cream truck prayer in question, well, after careful review we traced the source of the prayer to Winston Brown’s heart. With that being the case we have no choice but to drop all charges! If God is listening and has time for an ice cream truck prayer then the Prayer Police don’t have a problem with it either.

And, effective immediately I’ll be stepping down from my post as the Prayer Police. I’m finding out that though I’m color blind and my wife dresses me in the mornings I’d have a better shot at Fashion Police. “Hey you! Yeah you! Are those socks you have on navy or black…”