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Material Illness

Were you thinking Mental Illness? That’s not a typo in the title. I have a few stories to tell today, and they just might open your eyes to a better life.

When I was a kid I desired attention, maybe you did too? I loved it when my parents would play with me, or take the time to encourage me at sports or art or Cub Scouts. It meant a lot. You too may have fond memories.1003-best-buddies-forever

If you were lucky enough to go on vacations as a young person, then I bet you’ve tried to recreate these experiences later in life, maybe with your own family. Maybe you yearn for some of these experiences that you remember.

In my adult years I seem to watch a lot of TV. Over the years I’ve seen my fair share of daytime shows like Dr. Phil where a family is in turmoil, or a child is disturbed. I’ve seen this show play out in lives surrounding my own and I bet you have too. Maybe we all just need a vacation, eh?

Let me tell you what I really see. I see relationships. I see good examples and bad examples, but in the end it’s the relationships that matter. Dr. Phil points out what needs to change…the kid cries and opens up…the parents are shocked to realize the solution wasn’t so difficult. What do we take from these “happy” outcomes?

Here’s the rub. The big issue. Too many of us have never come to the point of realizing there is a problem, but if we look in the mirror, if we strain our eyes just a little bit, I think we’ll see it.

In a country where we seemingly “have it all”, we have so little. What?! What are you talking about?! It’s quite simple. What do you remember from your childhood, from school, from your life? What do you really long for? I bet if you are honest with yourself you will bring to mind relationships. Who was your best buddy growing up? What adventures did you have? Any friends in school or college that you formed lasting memories with over the years? How about family engagements? Games nights? Good conversation? Going to lunch with co-workers and learning about their lives? These are the memories that most of us recall and cherish. This fact is why we have a problem.

The problem is that too many of us have changed. We have somehow decided that buying stuff is where the memories are at now. We buy a new car, then after a year it’s not good enough. We collect stuff and can never have enough. We buy stuff and NEVER open it, now that’s crazy. Let’s think about this. I remember some of my toys and stuff from my childhood, it was fun. But it was TRULY the relationships that I yearn to remember and have again AND have in abundance.

Dr. Phil points out how there are relationship problems at the core of many of his shows. It’s never about not having the right stuff! It’s never about how you should have been buying this or that; it’s that you shouldn’t have been focused on the wrong things. You should have been focused on the relationships.

You know this also applies to your faith. Your “relationship” with Jesus is key! Why would it be any different? If church is a building and you go to “get” something, then it’s not a relationship, it’s a thing; it’s stuff. Salvation is not something to buy, it’s a gift and gifts come from a relationship. If you don’t “know” Jesus, then maybe you haven’t been looking for a relationship with him. Make sense?

Remember the fact that you have some pretty good memories from good relationships in your past and present. Seek to build on these or start new ones. Memories are gifts. Cherish them, build on them and get over your material illness!


Church, Apples & Ideas

Get off your butt!  Get off your lazy butt!  What in the world are you doing?  I can hear these words being directed at me and at you.  I won’t sit by idly and ignore the prompting to call both you and me out.  What elegant pew sitters we have become!  Oh, the ways we justify our actions!

I give money to the church.  I know they are doing good things with it.  Therefore, I am off the hook!  … I worked in the church for ten years and now I am resting.  I did my part! … There is nothing for me to do!  Every ministry at my church is fully staffed! … WRONG!  ALL WRONG!

Let’s put it this way…show me in the Bible all the verses that support your thinking.  I’m waiting.  Still waiting.  I’ll be waiting a very long time.  We are to GO!  We are to DO!  We are to BE!

GO and make disciples of all nations

DO good deeds and works in the name of Jesus Christ

BE the Church

The Church is NOT a building.  The Church is a body of believers…THE body of believers.  The Church is NOT lazy, NOT full of excuses, NOT done working, NOT in need of rest & certainly NOT doing things solo.

There’s a great parable Jesus introduces about a tree that bears fruit.  The tree reflects our life.  Read DEEPLY my next statements.  SOAK them in.

Your life is like that sapling, that sprout, that new seed just starting to grow.  At first, there is NO fruit.  Heck, it couldn’t bear any fruit at such a young age, at such an immature time in your life!  God has prepared you to hold bushels of fruit!  As you have grown in your faith why do you only bear a few choice pieces of “available” fruit?  I say available because you ARE holding fruit…lots of it.  It’s just not appealing at all.  It’s rotten, worm infested or inscribed with your own initials.  Yes, much of your fruit is only available to yourself.  Are you following me?  You are selfish.  My fruit looks much the same.  Why?

We have this wonderful opportunity.  We have many branches of life.  We can reach out to many, many people.  Why do you quit on God?  Why do you even suggest that you CAN’T do it?  You can’t hold more apples?  Oh, so you feel you need to get rid of some choice fruit in order to bear more, huh?  So, you are saying that you have stopped growing?!?  How sad!  God tosses those wilted, unproductive branches into the fire.

Do you still have excuses?  Can I still sit back and watch hours of TV and then say I don’t have time to work for God?  Pitiful.  Truly pitiful.  My God is much bigger than my excuses, than my failures, than my own ideas.

I want my mind to be that of Christ.  I want my ideas to be godly.  You should want this too.  What is stopping you?  Put the DS down, the video game system in the trash, the romance novels, the TV shows, the innumerable kids activities, the “personal, selfish things that don’t matter, materialistic ways of this world” aside!  Yes, read that again, it’s a long sentence.

Here’s my idea…figuratively blow up the church so that The Church will be thrown out into the world where it’s supposed to be.  Prune that tree you call life and let it produce some fruit worthy of picking.  Bear some fruit that a lost person may want to pick.  Make God’s ideas, your ideas.  I think that’s a good place for me to start.  Are you in?


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