Friday, August 31, 2012

GUARDIAN

~This week Alanis Morissette released her new album Havoc/Bright Lights this one song deeply moved me Please enjoy before YouTube pulls it~

As a kid who grew up in a tough neighborhood, I seemed to get in fights continually. I can honestly say that I have no idea how many fights I have won or lost. The one thing my Dad taught me was to NEVER show vulnerability. The reason being, if someone you are fighting knows you are hurt - they will zero in on your pain. That may or may not have been good advise to a teenager who was perpetually getting into conflicts -- but for a normal person it was and is horrible advice. As one who grew up in the 50's and 60's boys and men were to emulate John Wayne. You never showed weakness, vulnerability or pain -- above all you never cried.
     As a result, many of us grew up with detached and unemotional fathers. Anger was the only emotion they seemed willing to share.
     Unfortunately, this tendency to hide our pain has continued into the 21st Century. Oh, it is not as violent as my teenage years, but it is there all the same. When asked how we are doing? People say, "Fine", "Great" or Canadians, "Not too bad". We have learned through years of this conditioning to bury our pain and our struggles. We are surrounded by people who are completely overwhelmed on the inside, while all the time seem to have it all together.
     Christians get up on Sunday and put on their Sunday Go to Meeting Cloths. Never intending to share their struggles and honestly not wanting hear anyone else's. It is no wonder that our kids and young adults see this as hypocrisy. They hear the conversations about lack of money, jobs at risk, looming foreclosures and marital discord -- Yet everything is "Fine", "Great" and "Wonderful".
     Everyone need a safe place. A place where we can be who we are, warts and all. For many it is a close friend, sibling or spouse. For others it is a group of people who can be trusted. But more than anything it is a place where people actually care. My son and I were talking about how people love to watch others fail - I believe many NASCAR fans watch it for the wrecks. I told Nathan how Paul in Romans 12 said we are to "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep." It appears Nathan has hit the nail on the head for much of our culture -- we rejoice when people weep and weep when people rejoice.
     All I am asking for in this short message is to ask you to find and surround yourself with people that care about you. More than that, I ask that you actually care about the people God puts on your path. Share the joys and sorrows of your life and those of those around you.
Peace
~Al

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

FOLLOWERS AND LEADERS

I apologize for not posting for over a month. My doctor found what he called "an acute blood clot" - (I didn't find it cute) - in my mid-thigh. Needless to say, I have been on industrial strength Drain-o blood thinners. They left me extremely weak. Thankfully I am balancing out on Cumadin and the clot appears to be gone.
I would also like to thank those who have viewed my blog, which is at its first anniversary - 24,350 views so far.
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~Please Watch This Video by my Friend Curt Cloninger~

video

Leadership! I hear a great deal about how we need more leaders in the church. We have Leadership Training Courses, Seminars, Retreats and even para-church organizations dedicated to training leaders. I think Curt is right - we need better followers. As human beings we have a tendency to elevate people in our expectations. More often than not, they prove to be just as frail and weak as the rest of us. We have seen ministers of gigantic churches fail morally and have witnessed the devastation left in the wake.

In Mark 10:35-37, 41-45 listen to what Jesus had to say about followers and leaders:
" James and John, Zebedee's sons, came up to him.
'Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.'
'What is it? I'll see what I can do.'
'Arrange it,' they said,
'so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory
-- one of us at the right, the other at you left.'"
....
"When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John.
Jesus got them together to settle things down.
'You've observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,'
he said,
'and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads.
It's not going to be that way with you.
Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.
Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.
That is what the Son of Man has done:
He came to serve, not to be served -- and then to 
give his life in exchange for many who are held hostage."
(The Message)

If I were asked, "What is the largest problem facing the church?" I would say, "We no longer follow Jesus." We have divided his Body the Church over utter nonsense. We have split churches over dogmatic issues that have nothing to do with following Jesus. We have ostracized and shunned the very people Jesus surrounded himself with. We now have Mega-Churches and Mega-Preachers, yet to simply follow Jesus is woefully overlooked.

Jesus saw his followers as being the type of followers that when they had 100 sheep in a field and one went missing, would leave the 99 in search of the 1. The church is NOT a political power broker. It does NOT have the corner on the truth -- no matter which preacher is your favorite. It is NOT a place to get dressed up and meet once a week in a multi-million dollar building. THE CHURCH IS TO BE THE REPRESENTATION OF JESUS ON THIS EARTH!

We have been called to follow him, follow his example and touch people the way he did. The Kingdom of God is radical. It is not American, European, Asian, African or anything of this world. It is simply the method God has chosen to touch and heal a broken world.

Please spend some time in the Gospels. See if you can learn how Jesus thought and felt about people - then go and do likewise.

Peace
~Al