The Less You Know…

This weekend I start my side career as a lacrosse official. Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States. Once viewed a merely an activity of elite Northeastern colleges, this year lacrosse will be a sanctioned sport in the state of Illinois, played by dozen of high schools in our area.
So what qualifies me to be an official for a game I’ve never played? That was my question and my fear as I sat through the mandated 8 hour clinic last month. I never played, and shoot – I’ve never watched a game! I honestly don’t even understand the most elementary concepts. I voiced this concern to our instructor as we each introduced ourselves to the clinic.
His response was insightful:
The best officials are people who never played and didn’t grow up around the game. In fact the less you think you know the better. Those who know they know nothing will approach the game with the seriousness it deserves, immerse themselves in the rule book, and seek out help in the face of even the smallest confusion. In three years they will be our top officials. The hardest officials to train are those who think they know the game, grew up around the game, and simply lean on childhood knowledge. They think they know everything, when in fact they know the least.
Truthfully, I’ve seen this in officiating, and I’ve seen this in the church. Those new to faith are often the fastest moving towards progress. They can’t consume the truth of God fast enough. They have a hunger to learn and willingness to seek wisdom from others who they quickly acknowledge are further along. When habits like inviting, tithing and mission are taught, they sink in deeply. Yet, the inverse is often also true. Trust me, I’m a life-long church person, and I know this is true. Those of us who think we know the truth of God, the story of the Gospel, and the mission of the church will often allow our inherited knowledge from being dragged to Sunday School by grandma substitute for a vital, Spirit-led, submissive relationship with our God of power and grace.
My hope for you in 2016, whether you’ve been in church for three weeks or for your entire life, is that you would seek God with a renewed passion. I pray that God will light a holy fire within you to seek Him in all things. My desire for you is that habits of consistent worship, giving sacrificially, and inviting others to come and see would define your faith. I know how easy it is for us who’ve been in church for a while to think we “already know” the faith. Let us break the mold in this together. Together we will become a church that shares Jesus in an irresistible way with a lost and hurting community in need of the Gospel and the meaning-rich, abundant life only Jesus offers.

Where is the Temple

Location. Location. Location.
In the Jewish faith no location was as important as the Temple. The Temple was where people gathered for worship, offered sacrifices, and heard the reading of the Law. It was also the hub of their religion centered society. There are entire books of the Old Testament dedicated to the long process of building and caring for the Temple as well as all the proper religious customs to be observed at the Temple in Jerusalem. However… look at the location of Christmas.
Mary and Joseph welcomed Jesus into the world in a borrowed barn. They laid their new born into a manager, which is a fancy word for feeding trough. The angels shared the good news of the both of Jesus to homeless men – sheep herders – working the night shift. Wise men – alone in their interpretation – followed a star and found Jesus with Mary and Joseph. God made the greatest announcement in human history outside the walls of worship at the Temple and in a most humble alternative. Christmas shows up in the least likely of places.
What does it mean for us that Christmas takes place on the outskirts?
Christmas will be here before you know it – we are in to the final countdown. And then it will be over. But for a few more days, Christmas is happening all around us. Each time you choose faith, generosity and invitation, Christmas becomes real in a way that is more than on the calendar. God-is-with-us faith can break out at work, at home, and in the neighborhood. Wherever unlikely people gather, God is ready to share Himself – Christmas -THROUGH YOU!
It may not look like what you expect, but being ready to say “yes” to God’s nudge to pray for someone, to encourage someone, to give your stuff away, or to be a peace maker in a difficult situation. YOU can share Jesus with a world desperate for something more.

Turn Signals and the Life of Faith

Ever do some good ol’ fashioned road raging?
One of the weird things about having a new 16 year old driver in Chicago land is that I have to see my own driving habits through the eyes of someone who is learning how things “should” be done.
I have never been so frequently corrected on my use of turn signals, full stopping, and following distance… let alone lane usage, speed, and all the other harrowing habits that I have taken up – that blend right in to the other cars around me on the road.
Suffice to say, I don’t want my son driving the way I do, and that has made me think about more than just road habits.
Do you find yourself sucked into the negativity around you? Do you set out with good intentions, only to end up engaging in the behaviors of cutting down, arguing and hostility, and negativity that saturate your interactions throughout your day? It’s probably not what we hope for ourselves as an example of someone pursuing Jesus.
The call to live as a Christ follower is a high and counter-cultural bar. This week we are going to talk about the Advent value of peace – and the Christ mandate to be a “peace maker.” We don’t have to escape, leave, or reroute our lives to find and spread peace, but we do have make some changes in the habit and practice of inviting God’s peace into ourselves. And God’s peace will change everything around us.
See you Sunday at 10 to worship and seek God together! Invite a friend – you may never know the difference God can make in their life!