stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

legacy

What is a legacy? It can mean something old, outdated, or classic. It could be a throw back style, like legacy jerseys or Jordans or whatever. It can be someone who had a better deal than the current deal and has been grandfathered in.  But it can also mean, “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”

A parent can pass down more than wealth. They can also pass down work ethic, good habits, bad habits, parenting styles, and more. My sense of humor is a legacy passed down to me by my dad. I’m so much like him in that way, it’s scary. Or it can be annoying, if you’re my mom or my wife. It’s a little over the top when we get together for a holiday, and you have my dad, my two brothers, me, and my two nephews who all have the same sense of humor and similar personality. It all goes back to my dad. He passed it down.

So what do you want to be your legacy? What do you want to be known for? We will all be remembered for something, and for the most part, we can control what that is. You can write your own legacy.

In 1888 a man named Alfred lost his brother Ludvig died.  A French publication errantly published Alfred’s obituary, though. The paper wasn’t too kind, admonishing him for his invention of dynamite.  The obituary said, “Le marchand de la mort est mort,” which means, “The merchant of death is dead.” It continued, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” Alfred was distraught with what he read and wasn’t happy with how he would be remembered, so he decided to change his life, so as to be remembered differently.

Do you know Alfred?  On 27 November 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside most of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes.  Nobel’s will allocated 94% of his total assets, 31,225,000 Swedish kronor, to establish the five Nobel Prizes.

Did any of you know anything about Dr. Nobel other than the fact that he established the Nobel prizes? I didn’t. So his legacy is that of peace and altruism, despite what it would have been had he died when his brother did. His legacy is what he has left behind. What do you want to leave behind? Do you want to be remembered for what you’ve already done or something else? For your mistakes or your successes? What do you want?

I need quiet

Loud, purposeless noises bother me.  If I’m trying to concentrate, even noises with a purpose really frustrate me.  I have trouble hearing what I’m trying to listen to or concentrating on the task at hand when there is a lot of noise going on around me.  For example, even if the TV is more than loud enough to be heard, and Sarah can hear it just fine, I might not be able to discern what is being said, because other noises in the house are preventing me from processing it.  It’s annoying to me, because I miss a lot; and it’s annoying to Sarah, because the only ways for me to understand are to turn the TV way up and turn the captions on (neither of which she is a fan of).  I can basically only hear the loudest thing in the room well, and everything else is just static noise in the background.

There are other kinds of noise in my life that drive me crazy: seeing a lot of junk email when I open my email in the morning, hearing or seeing constant complaining, most TV commercials, which are still louder than the show you’re watching no matter what the FCA has decreed, and even an overbooked schedule.  These things bother me, and I just want to escape.  They keep me from seeing, hearing, and focusing on what I want to be taking in.  So I’ve started eliminating them.  I’ve probably unsubscribed from 20 email lists recently that I was on for one reason or another.  If someone only ever complains on Facebook, I won’t unfriend them, but I will hide their posts.  I’ve taken to seeking more quiet in my life and then allowing God to fill that quiet, as opposed to allowing it to be filled with nonsense.

Jesus did this, and when I read Luke 5, I realized it was something He was demonstrating that I should have been following.  In that chapter, Jesus heals some people, so everyone goes looking for Him to have Him heal them or their loved ones.  But in verse 16, it says, “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”  There were important things to say and be done, but He withdrew to quiet, solitary places, and He spent time with God the Father.  He sought quiet and then filled the quiet with listening to God.  I’m trying to do that now.  I used to listen to the radio or my iPod to and from work.  Lately, I’ve been using at least one of those trips to listen to my Bible.  I’m planning to go through the entire Bible this year.  I read some of it, and I listen to some of it in the car.  Now instead of being filled with sports, nonsense, and commercials every time I’m in the car, several car rides have been spent listening to Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Psalms, and Proverbs, because that’s where I have been in my reading.

I’m shutting things out.  Sometimes I’m shutting people out.  I need to, because I need quiet.  I used to feel too guilty to ever not check my email and respond right away, but not anymore.  I noticed that Jesus disconnected from people who wanted to hear Him teach and be healed, so He could be quiet and pray.  I think I can unplug from email, talk radio, and Facebook from time to time, too.

What do you need to disconnect from, so you can seek God in the quiet?

why I got baptized

We have a baptism and baby dedication service coming up on February 1.  It’s a service to celebration and public commitment to the things God wants in our lives.  Sometimes people ask me, Pastor Dave, and probably other people, “Why should I be baptized?”  It could just be answered as simply as, “Well, the Bible says we should,” because that is true.  But I would rather tell you why I got baptized, which includes some of what the Bible says.

I got baptized a long time ago.  I had already placed my faith in Jesus, so according to Romans 10:9-13, I was already saved.  Baptism didn’t make me more saved, and choosing not to get baptized wouldn’t have made me less saved or not saved, though it would have made me less obedient to God.  The first reason I wanted to be baptized: I wanted to obey God, because I love Him.  John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” The last thing Jesus said before ascending into Heaven was “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” (Matthew 28:19-20).  It was His instruction that people be baptized after coming to believe in Him.  I didn’t want to begin my relationship with God by choosing to disobey Him.  It didn’t speak to the love and gratefulness I have for Him.  It didn’t make sense to me to say, “I love you, but I’m not going to do what you ask,” which is exactly how I saw/see it.

The second reason I got baptized was because I wanted to publicly show that I loved God.  Jesus says in Matthew 10:32 that if anyone acknowledges Him before men would be acknowledged by Him before the Father.  I wanted to publicly acknowledge Him with my being baptized.  I wanted others to see that I love Him and was committed to following Him.  It’s similar to my wedding and ring.  I love Sarah, and I loved her before I told anyone else I loved her.  She knew I loved her, and no one else needed to know that for it to be true.  People were at my wedding, though.  I publicly declared my love and commitment to Sarah before God and witnesses, as the script goes, and I was proud to do so.  I wear my wedding ring everyday, not to make me married, but as a visible symbol to everyone else that I am married.  Baptism can be much the same way.  I love God, and He knows I love Him, but I wanted to publicly declare my love for Him.  I wanted a visible symbol to others of the relationship I have with Him.

That’s it.  I wasn’t baptized because I had to.  My parents allowed me to choose.  I didn’t get baptized, so I could be a member of the church, because as a child, I didn’t care about that, anyway.  I just love God, wanted to obey Him, and wanted others to know that I love Him.  I don’t need more compelling reasons than that, because there are no reasons more compelling than that for me.

theology vs. me-ology

Theology may be an odd word to you.  I understand that it is not a word that is used in everyday conversation by most people, even pastors.  Pastor Dave and I do not sit in the office daily or even weekly and talk theology.  Alas, there are other things we have to get done that would prevent it even if we wanted to do that.  But whether we use the word regularly or discuss theology with others regularly, theology is important, and shouldn’t be confused with what I would call “me-ology.”

Theology comes from Greek words meaning “the study of God.”  The Bible recommends, commands, and alludes to the necessity of studying the Bible many times.  Joshua was told in Joshua 1:8 to meditate on the Law day and night and seek to do all that was written in it.  The entirety of Psalm 119 exalts the words of God, His laws, and the need for seeking and remembering them.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to give ourselves over to studying, so that we can truly understand the Word and will of God.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that all Scripture is breathed by God and is good for teaching, reproof, correcting our actions, and telling us how to live for God.  It is from the pages of Scripture, His evidence in creation (Psalm 19), and through our communion with the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) that we truly know God.  This is theology.

Unfortunately, there is a growing trend amongst Christians to rely more on me-ology to define, not understand God.  When others do not follow our preferences and convictions, though they fall outside the teaching of the Word of God, we prescribe it as sin in their lives.  When our desires conflict with the Bible, a passage because culturally irrelevant to today, and God must have changed His mind.  When something makes us feel good, whether an action or pithy saying, but it is not aligned with what the Bible teaches, we still hold to it, because it feels right.  When your thoughts, feelings, and experiences trump God’s Word and definition of Himself, you have moved from theology to me-ology.

Theology is a good thing. Me-ology is not.

Theology comes from Greek words meaning “the study of God.”  Me-ology is the translation of thoughts and feelings into supposed truth.

Theology understands that man was made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26).  Me-ology re-creates God into my own image.

I say all that say this: it is my desire that KCC (and the church as a whole around the world) would be full of people who seek to understand God by studying His Word. It’s my own desire that that can be said of me specifically.  It is my desire that I (and we) embrace our role as clay in the Potter’s hands (Jeremiah 18) and be willfully formed into the vessel that God would have us to be.  Just as clay does not attempt to mold or define its potter, let us not attempt to define or mold God.  Rather let us be molded in quiet reverence, studying God in His Word so that we know what it is He seeks to do with us.

I used to be a very self-conscious person.  Sometimes I still am, just not over the same things. I still worry about what people will think about me when I do certain things.  Like when I preach, I go back-and-forth over saying certain things.  I ask Sarah if it’s okay.  I ask Dave and Joyce what they think.  It’s always something that’s true, but I’m worried that the way I say it may be too gruff or it’s just not the right timing to be saying it.  And then when I do go forward and say something I had worried about, I always wait for the shoe of criticism to drop.

I think it’s very easy to be concerned with what others think.  Our culture has made it very clear that what others think of you matter, so you had better buy this, eat here, wear that, and workout over here.  Anything less would be unacceptable.  And of course, you had better think like other people do, or you could be shouted down via angry internet comments.  That last one’s a tough one.  It silences a lot of Christians on important issues.  We want to be liked, not hated, so we don’t venture to say what we believe based on the Bible, because it won’t be applauded and welcomed.

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be.  We’re supposed to be living, walking, and talking for the approval of God.  Bebo Norman said it best when he said, “it is the applause of the nail scarred hands that matter most.”  That’s it.  God’s view of what we say and what we do ought to be louder in our hearts than any other opinion.  This is how Jesus lived.  In Mark 12:14, Jesus’ disciples admired this way about Him.  They said, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men but truly teach the way of God.”  Jesus wasn’t worried about opinions or popularity. He just taught the truth of God.  That’s how we’re supposed to live.  We’re not supposed to be consumed with what people think, and we definitely shouldn’t be pursuing being liked by everyone.  Jesus warned against that in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

Worry about what God thinks.  Say what God says. Sometimes people will not like it, but God’s approval matters more than man’s.

time is a gift

Have you ever been given a gift that you didn’t use?  Or maybe you were excited to have it at first, so you started making good use of it, but then you just stopped?  I have.  I remember getting this thing called  Popsadent for Christmas from Sarah, because I had a dent in my car.  I was very excited to use it.  Then I noticed that it had to be plugged in, but we lived in an apartment way in the back of the building.  So I said I’d use it later.  Three years went by, and I sold that car.  It still had the dent.  The Popsadent was in the closet. At this point, I don’t even know if we have it anymore.  It just sat on a shelf and never got used.

Time is like a gift.  We cannot earn it.  It’s just there, given to us by God.  We have as much as He gives us, but we never know how much that is.  Sometimes we realize this, and we use it well.  But often times, we don’t make good use of the time God has given us like we should.  As a Christians, we’re supposed to be using our time to share our faith, but we don’t typically use a lot of time for that.  As parents, the time with our kids is fleeting, but we still don’t make intentional time to spend with them.  Soon they’ll be gone, and we won’t get their childhood years back (and neither will they).  At work, we have so much time to get a good job done, working as though we are working for God, not men (as Colossians 3:23 says).  And yet we sit and surf the internet, chat with friends, whatever it is that constitutes wasting time at your job.

Time is fleeting.  We never know how much time we have. We only have so much time to make a difference in the lives of our kids, in our neighborhoods and communities, at work, and in this world.  Let’s not waste the gift.

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I’m going to a rap concert tonight.  I’m not going to Winter Jam, where a rapper might get 10-15 minutes of time to rap.  I’m going to a specifically rap concert, featuring Lecrae and Andy Mineo.  This may surprise you, but I used to be huge into rap.  I’ve seen Lecrae before, when he was an opening act for the Cross Movement concert I went to in Florida.  I was defensive about Christian rap, because I thought people didn’t give it its just due, so I wrote a post 6 years ago about that.  It has grown in popularity recently, and I’m happy for a lot of the artists that are doing well, but my passion for it had dwindled. But I’m excited to go tonight, because Jakob is excited to go tonight.  He has counted down the days on a white board at home for the last 18 sleeps.  When I was waking him up this morning, the first thing he said to me – before he could even muster up the energy to open his eyes – was that there were no more sleeps.  He would see Andy Mineo today.  I’m taking him and a teenager from youth group who earned the tickets by bringing her friends to youth group in October (S/O to Alex Madison!  Great job!), and I couldn’t be more excited to go, even if my love for rap had gone away.

Rap was no longer my thing, but Jakob’s happiness is, so now rap is once again.  I listen to it a lot, mostly when he is in the car with me.  I’ve learned the songs, and if no one other than Jakob is watching or listening, I even rap along with them.  I care about what my sons care about.  For Jakob, that means I care about the Incredible Hulk and rap music.  For Jaxon, that means I care about making the same silly noises over and over while he smiles, making bottles, and being spit up upon.  Although I am tired many times, and I would selfishly rather sit in my recliner and say and do nothing, I ultimately care more about what my kids want and need than what I want and need, sometimes at Sarah’s request.  She has to urge me to engage when my brain is tired, and so I do.

Do I wish all of their main interests were the lined up with everything I already liked?  Yeah, that would be great, and sometimes it is.  Star Wars is king in our house, even if Sarah has no interest.  I’m glad Jakob loves it like I do.  But Jakob and Jaxon are individuals.  Jakob likes what he likes, and Jaxon will soon have interests of his own.  I don’t need them to be exactly like me.  I don’t need them to give up what interests them to be into what interests me.  I think it’s more fitting for me to put aside what I like for what they like, because I love them, and I want to lead them as a servant.  Plus, I’ll still get to do what I like.  After all, I can always just watch sports or whatever else after they go to bed.  And I can eat ice cream for breakfast.  Because I am an adult, and you can’t stop me.

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