Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Need a Lift"

I drive my kids to school. One school is about 3 miles to the west. The other is ¼ of a mile to the East. Many mornings, my daughter is a little slower in getting ready. She’s already becoming quite the diva when it comes to getting ready. Combine that with her inherited disdain for the A.M., and it can take some time! So, I’ll drive my son to school first and then swing back by the house to get her. When we 1st started this routine, she thought it was so cool and funny to go stand at the end of our driveway when I drove back home. As soon as my car came into sight, she’d jump and wave and smile that polar cap melting smile of hers and start waving her thumb. I pulled up and said “need a lift”. She thought it was so funny for me to pick her up this way! She was so excited. We laughed all the way to her school that morning.
Today was no different. As I drove up, there she was at the end of the driveway, all toothless smiles and waves and hitching thumbs’. When I rolled the window down and asked if she “needed a lift”, she threw her little head back and cracked up. Then with full eagerness, she jumped in and kissed me. I can’t think of a better way to start the day!!
What struck me about all of this is the fervor and energy she still puts into this silly routine. She acts it out each day as if it’s the 1st time! She hasn’t lost any passion for it. It hasn’t become old hat. She doesn’t find it boring or the least bit goofy. There is no apathy. In her mind, she is a beautiful hitchhiker being picked up by her daddy! (I imagine though that I look a little more like a Prince and my yellow Aveo looks more like a horse drawn golden carriage ☺) She still loves it! And because of that, I do to! It is truly beautiful when you think about it.
Why don’t we act this same way in our relationship with our savior? Do you remember when it all began? DO you remember your salvation? Do you remember the feeling after being baptized? I do! I was SO excited! I was on fire. I smiled, sang, danced and was full of joy! There was nothing less than 100%.
So what happened? Why is it that now, often times we are dull, passionless, and generally apathetic when we approach the Lord? I have a theory. Want to hear it? Here it is: LIFE HAPPENED. Many things cause us to lose fervor: sickness, death, financial pressures, jobs, relationships etc. At times, it’s not easy to feel that excited any more.
But the truth is this:….we should still be as excited today as we were in the beginning! In all truth, maybe even more excited! NOTHING has changed! Jesus still died for our sins, He still loves us in spite of ourselves, and He still meets us every morning, right where we are with our thumbs up, waiting for Him…never failing to show up!
I think of the verse in Revelation 2:4 that says “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Jesus was reminding the church in Ephesus that they may still have the right motions but they’d lost the right emotions! He was calling them back to the days when their love for Jesus was an all-consuming passion!
May we all be reminded of the same thing today. May we all learn to fall in love with Jesus again!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

fun. Faith

I just returned from leading a group to Mexico during spring break to build homes for the desperately needy. It was a great week. Part of the trip involved hours and hours and hours and hours and hours of driving. To fill that time, much music was played. We had a van full of folks with varying tastes in music (mine being supreme of course), so a virtual jukebox emanated from the van as we cruised through the CA highways. I’ve always had a much more lax policy on tunes than many youth pastors. I allow kids to pretty much listen to whatever music they are into. (There are obvious exceptions, as Slayer may not be youth group appropriate). I think it is easier to get a kid to be real and get to know them by making them relax in their own environments. So for the most part, we rock out, and besides how much Newsboys can one man handle? 
Each year, a song rises up from the blend of notes and harmonies of our collective Ipods and becomes our unofficial “theme” of the week. We find ourselves playing and singing it over and over. Past winners of this prestigious title have been Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”, Justin Bieber’s “Baby” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”. Obviously, it has to be a special little ditty. This year, as the trip began, we had several possibilities start to move to the head of the competition. A Skrillex and Gotye tune made a strong run, but ultimately fell shorter than Adam Levine’s new hairdo to “We Are Young” by the band fun. Before the week’s end we were screaming it at the top of our lungs every time we drove anywhere.
If you haven’t heard it, you need to spotify it right away. It has a grand, epic theatrical feel to it. The general “emotion” of it comes off as moving and inspirational. You’ll definitely not be able to get it out of your head.
The tune begins with a vague, fumbling apology in a bar. The singer is very lazily trying to atone for some past mistake he made against someone, but, when he can’t seem to find the best words, he breaks into a soaring chorus instead, basically urging them to forget the past and just live in the moment. Pianos and drums and bass roar as they boldly sing “Tonight, we are young , so let's set the world on fire' …. Trust me, it rocks 
The more I listened to the song, the more fired up I felt. The chorus was all I could focus on. This idea that we are always as young as we want to be, we always have energy if we want it, we always can set this world on fire truly resonated with me.
What if we took on this sort of mindset in our faith? What if we truly believed that we could do whatever we set our minds to? How would our churches look and act differently? What if we adopted some sort of “We are Young” theology? Too many times I hear older Christians say things like “I’ve done that long enough, so it’s time to let someone else step in”. This drives me NUTS! From what I can see, nowhere does God tell us that our faith and actions are under a limited contract!
I urge us all to catch fire. Even when we are weary, remember the promises of God that we can soar on wings of eagles! Remember that we are empowered by a force greater than any! We are as young as we want to be. We can set this world on fire, and we can burn brighter…because we have the only true light.
So all who are weary in faith…I will carry you home tonight, but tomorrow is a new day. Joy comes in the morning and tomorrow….we will set the world on fire!