Monday, March 29, 2010

Be careful who you sleep with

My wife's cousin has a friend who had a very large boa constrictor as a pet. This gal loved her pet very much. She loved it so much that she liked to sleep with it in her bed. Things were going along fine until for some reason the snake stopped eating. Try as she might she could not entice this reptile with any morsels for lunch. This went on for a few days until she took the snake to the vet for a check up. When she explained the situation to the vet she learned the snake was not ill. It was starving itself in preparation to eat HER. True story and it gives me the willy's like I can't describe. It got me thinking though. What items or patterns of behavior or sin do I have in my life, that started harmlessly or innocently enough, but because of poor boundaries crossed the line, and now I'm too comfortable with them. Having a pet snake isn't bad, sleeping in the same bed is bad. She crossed a boundary. We may think we're okay, and enjoy the feeling of sharing a bed with something, but what we don't know is it is waiting to eat us. We don't like to talk about boundaries, but with out boundaries we don't know where the line is. Chad has a Cross Training Horsemanship presentation on how, "Good fences make good neighbors." Satan is all about blurring boundaries. Many items appear harmless at first but are really a tool in his hands for destruction. In 1 Peter 5:8 we see that Satan is, "a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour". Satan is described as the old serpent in Rev 12:9. So what are your boundaries? Where do you get them from? Are you compromising them in any area of your life? Be very careful because your pet snake just might eat you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

This is a little scary

As a soon to be first time father, and a type A driven person, I'm watching this video with a little trepidation.
What do you think? Do you or your kids feel similarly? What causes this dynamic? What can Grace do to help your kids feel like, "they can just go outside and run around".
More on this in a few days.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Imitating the Trainer is Living a Life that Matters

Often when we hear the word imitation we have a negative impression. It must be fake or less quality we say. Yet, being an imitator isn’t always bad. My daughter Caitlin at the age of 7 has a desire to be a horse trainer. She wants to imitate her father in becoming one. As long as I am worth imitating, that can be a great way for her to start learning about horse training. On March 14, 2010 Caitlin and I did a Cross Training at the Michigan Horse Council’s Stallion Expo held at Michigan State University. I took Caitlin through three steps in imitating me as a horse trainer. First, I demonstrated how I need to be focused on the horse not myself by teaching the horse basic body maneuvers and then put those moves together for the horse to be able to spin in a circle by pivoting on a hind leg. Second, I had Caitlin sit in the saddle with me as I verbally walked through the cues and she did them with me. She did a great job. Yet, she obviously isn’t ready to be a horse trainer on her own. She has to also make those training principles her own by moving from just being a rider who takes from the horse to a trainer who gives to the horse. Therefore, the third thing she did was she started to teach the same cues to her own horse while I coached her. It wasn’t easy for her, and she didn’t do as well as I did but within 15 minutes she was making progress with the horse and the cues she was using started to become her ownThat is exactly what Paul tells us to do in Ephesians 5. “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children…”Ephesians 5:1. In this chapter Paul tells us to first live a life of love. That is God transforms our hearts and minds from being takers of the world to givers just as Christ gave himself for us. Second, he tells us to live a life of light. That is the transformation God has done in our life should shine forth to those around us. Finally, Paul tells us to live a life of wisdom. That is to make the most of every day to be used by God to transform others into His image. As a parents, it isn’t enough just to show our kids how we are imitators of God. We need to make the most of every opportunity to teach them also how to be imitators of God. It is only when the Truth becomes their truth that they too will shine forth in a dark world. Being an imitator of the Trainer is the only way to live a life that matters.

Ministered to by Tractor Supply Company

Ever since I got my misdemeanor for "Livestock at Large" (no I'm not joking) I've been planning on how I can build the strongest, tallest, most electrified fence you can imagine. More out of revenge against my two horses than actual necessity, but I did need to rebuild it any ways.
So the last two weeks I've been in and out of hardware stores, and online, looking, and pricing, and calculating. I finally settled on Tractor Supply Company as the place, mainly because they're the only store in Michigan apparently that sells round wooden fence posts.
This leads me to Denny. I talked to Denny a number of times in person and over the phone because I was looking to buy a whole pallet of posts. Denny has worked for TSC or Farm and Fleet for 25 years and figured he had 25 years left to go. Denny was the most customer service oriented person I've ever had work with me at any place of business. At one point he spent 15 minutes on the phone with five different people trying to figure out how many staples were in a 5# box. He gave me yesterdays sale price on the post, and sold me a light duty gate, and then realized he was out so he gave me a medium duty instead at no additional charge.
Denny spent well over an hour and a half with me and was constantly pleasing to be around, knowledgeable, and driven to find answers. I've never felt so good about spending that much money. Denny gets an A+.
What if we as Christians could spend an hour and a half with a stranger, and have them walk away feeling completely engaged in what we were about? How do you do it?
  1. I think you have to be people focused, Denny was so much so that sometimes he tried to serve multiple people at once and got side tracked.
  2. You have to be knowledgeable. Denny knew the SKU numbers, and serial codes for so many things, but further he knew what you wanted for what job, and why. He was a walking catalog and farming for dummies book put together. We have too many Christians that don't know enough about what they believe. Or they know it but can not articulate it. We're called to give an answer for the hope we have, however we must give an accurate, truthful, and relevant answer as well.
  3. Finally Denny was driven to serve me. We can talk all we want but until we're willing to get our hands dirty and go sit along side some one in the figurative dumpster they're living in, they normally won't hear what we're saying. Jesus does this time and time again. He sacrifices his comfort, security, and sometimes safety, in order to physically minister to some one at their point of need.
Denny I don't know if you're a Christian or not, but you sure ministered to me!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Christianity is like the Oscars

Last night I was watching the awards show. I was really hoping to watch undercover boss, which is amazing, but alas it was a re-run. So when you have two channels to choose from that left one option.
I found myself watching this show feeling very much like, what is the point? I'll admit I have not seen any of the movies, however it was very weird to me how serious they were, all the pageantry, and how self serving it was.
They talked a lot about people I don't know, they all seemed so caught up in the moment that it was a little surreal. I felt completely like an outsider looking in, and their personas, pageantry, and ultimately their culture made me feel like I didn't want to be a part of it.
I sat there thinking, is this what it feels like to not be a Christian? Does one get turned off by this seperate culture we've created? We have our own rituals, we get dressed up for our own pageants, we talk about our own people, and use our own language. I became more and more aware of what it must feel like to enter or be on the outside of Christian culture.
I'm not saying we stop getting dressed up for church, or observing sacraments, or using certain words. However I think we all need to have a real awareness of the feelings people have when they think or interact with us as Christians. I think we should appear different. We're called to be "set apart". However it shouldn't be our culture that sets us apart, our WWJD bracelets, bumper stickers, and more. It should be our Holiness. We should be so different in our spirit, behavior, and grace that people can't help but be interested in us.
If we stand apart from the world let it be because we have something so wonderful, so amazing, so transforming that we can't help but appear different. The way we do that is;
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:13-16)
Let's be infectious with Holiness and love. Don't give the world a chance to be put off by our culture because they're so enamored by Holy Spirit in us. As the old hymn goes,
"They will know we are Christians by our love" not our culture.