Not Complicated

Finding a solution to the problems in your life is not challenging. There are numerous ways to diagnose your relationship issues, personal problems, health struggles, and spiritual battles. There are therapists, counselors, online tools, pastors, books, and friends to help you find a solution to the difficulty you are walking through right now. 

Usually, those answers are not complicated. They are easy to understand what we need to do and why we need to do it.

Executing a game plan is demanding. There can be this huge gap between what we know we need to do and actually doing it. Something that is not complicated to understand may feel nearly impossible for us to implement. 

My guess is that you do not need any more explanation; you need more consistent effort.

Not complicated does not mean it will be easy. 

What’s Wrong With You?

Nothing.

You were created in the image of God. You are unlike any animal or creature in all of creation. Your intellect, emotions, and soul demonstrate your infinite value and worth. 

You were knit together in your mother’s womb. God made you unique and wonderful among all the people who bear his image. Your eyes, ears, and even your fingertips point to you as a one-of-a-kind human.

God sent his son to redeem you. Even if your life has been filled with mistakes, God loved you while you were a sinner. His love knows no limits through the work of his son.

You are God’s child. When you came to Jesus, he adopted you into his family and put his stamp upon you as his own. You are part of the body of Christ, a nation of believers, and the family of God.

What is wrong with you? The same thing that is wrong with me:  Absolutely nothing.

One Complaint

A thousand compliments can be forgotten with a single complaint. 

We must be cautious about letting one negative voice speak louder than all the positive ones. 

Often, we will convince ourselves that the complaint is more honest. We conclude it takes more courage to say something negative. We somehow think that everyone who gives a positive response is faking it to make us happy. And this person dared to speak the truth. 

That is simply not true. It is only a belief concocted in our heads, forcing us to focus on that one negative person. 

In reality, that person may have deep-seated issues. They may have family of origin problems, have been experiencing a bad day, or seek attention through negative means. There are a thousand possibilities that have nothing to do with your work.

Hundreds of voices are speaking into your life. You get to choose the ones to which you will listen.

Something to Someone

We live in a world obsessed with becoming famous. People seek followers, likes, and shares. It is exciting to us when people notice something we created. 

This is nothing new; it existed long before the internet. There are best-seller lists for books, top 40 charts for music, and galleries for art. People give awards and special recognition for various achievements. We have always found ways to create famous people and a format to offer praise. 

If we are brutally honest, each one of us craves the same thing. For most of us, it is on a far smaller scale. We want our co-workers to praise our achievements. We long for friends to admire our skills. We desire our family to say nice things about whatever we do. 

The question is, how many people do you want to like you?

Are you seeking the accolades of millions, thousands, hundreds, or a handful?

I want to suggest that the bigger the audience you aim to make happy, the more unhappy you will become. I believe you are better off making your life matter to just a few or possibly even one or two.

Instead of being popular with a crowd, what if you sought to be something special to someone? Live to make your spouse say incredible things about you. Love to make your children praise you to their friends. Connect so that a couple of friends will do anything for you. Serve God so he will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Life at its best is lived for just a few. If other people like it too, it’s a bonus for you. If not, who cares? The people close to your life will bring you more joy than a million people at a distance.   

Golf Balls and Materialism

Walking through some woods recently, I found a golf ball lying on the ground in nearly new condition. I picked it up and took it home. Eventually, I will give it to my children, who enjoy golfing as they age. 

This is not the first time this has happened. Everywhere I go, I seem to find golf balls and pass them on to my children. One time I asked them if they had ever used these balls, and they assured me that they did. Then they went on to tell me that they lose golf balls all the time while on the course.

So when I picked up this ball not too long ago, I had this simple thought. I don’t think anyone really owns a golf ball. It comes to them, and they use it for a while until it is lost and someone else finds it. They are only temporarily used until they are passed on to another golfer. 

In Christianity, we call that concept stewardship. God gives us money or possessions, and we use them for a little while. The goal is not to hoard up as much as possible because one day, we will die, and everything we possess will be passed on to someone else. The goal is to use all our treasures for a short time and pass them on to bless another person.

No one owns a golf ball, but then again, no one really owns anything. We are all just temporary users. 

Cunningham’s Law

It states, “the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.” The concept is named after Howard G. “Ward” Cunningham, the inventor of wiki software.

Interestingly enough, Cunningham denies ownership of the law, but according to Steven McGeady, Cunningham advised him of this on a whim in the early 1980s, and McGeady dubbed this Cunningham’s Law.

The central idea of this law is proven repeatedly on the internet. You can test it out for yourself, but as a blog writer, I assure you it is true. I am notified of any mistakes quickly and, usually, repeatedly.    

Whether online or in person, remember that people are usually not looking for a correction. Instead, they are looking for people to support them. So, while you may have the correct answer, and the information should be shared, be sure it is done in a loving and supportive way. 

Just Ask

When you have a concern or need help, just ask.

Sure other people have needs too. But that does not make yours any less valuable. 

If I can help or pray with you as a pastor, just ask. If you would like the entire congregation to join in praying for your needs, just ask. If you need help or support, just ask. 

I want to be a part of a community of people who love, pray and care for one another. But we can only offer that to you if you share your needs.

We are all busy, but I assure you that we have time for you. So don’t hesitate to just ask. 

Sonder

John Koenig initially used this new word in 2012 in his project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. His work aims to develop new terms for emotions that currently lack words. The German word for sorrow reportedly inspires his newly coined term.    

The complete definition in his dictionary is “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness – an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”

Other dictionaries give it this simplified definition. “The realization that there aren’t any main characters in the world, and everyone has a complex life, thoughts, crushes, relatives, dreams, and mind just as your own.”

The primary idea is that every single person has a story. So while you may be the main character in your story, you also understand that you are a background player in someone else’s story.

As a believer, we understand that God can use our scene in their story to impact its outcome. Everyone we meet has their own tale, but we have the opportunity to interject love, grace, kindness, and hope where it has been lacking.

Sonder is a good feeling, but that does not make you less important. On the contrary, it gives you the chance to impact other people’s stories for good.  

The Expectant Preacher

As he finished his sermon, he walked down from the stage to the front of the auditorium. He then offered what we call in Churches: an invitation. He told people that they could accept Jesus as their savior today or change their lives based on what God was speaking to them, primarily through his sermon. 

The appeal lasted a couple of minutes while the worship team walked to the stage and picked up their instruments. Then, at the preacher’s cue, they began to play and launched into a slower song that we used to call an invitation hymn. It was not a traditional hymn but a modern praise song about commitment to Jesus. 

While the band played the song, the preacher stood at the front, waiting for anyone in the Church to come forward. Finally, after a few moments, he raised his hand, and the band kept playing while he announced that you could come forward if you need prayer or just needed someone to talk to about something in your life. 

Again, the band played and sang while the preacher waited expectantly for anyone to come forward. Alas, no one went to the front of the Church in need of prayer or to make any decisions that day. As a pastor myself, I could see the disappointment in his eyes. He had spent a week praying and preparing a message hoping that the sermon would spur someone further along on their faith journey. He had hoped and asked God to move in the hearts and lives of the people there that day. His morning was filled with the expectation that God was going to do something in the life of someone. 

I know what that preacher was thinking and feeling because I feel the same way every week. We don’t sing an invitation hymn, but I stand at the front after the sermon for anyone who needs to talk. And every single week, I expect that God is doing something. 

Another Sunday is coming, and I am prepared. I have spent the week reading, writing, and praying. I am hoping God will move, and I am expecting to see results. All I need now is some people who have open hearts and minds to His leading. I expect something to happen, and I pray you do too.  

Reclaiming the Table

In Jesus’ day, the table was the center of social interaction. We refer to their practice as “table fellowship.”  Who you ate with was important. It showed acceptance of another person and meant you were treating them like family. One of the biggest criticisms of Jesus is that he ate with tax collectors and sinners. This is also why the early Church is described as eating together with glad and sincere hearts.

We have made the table all about the food in our culture. On my social media stream, I have seen several people posting pictures of the meal they prepared or the food they purchased at some restaurant. We have shows, channels, magazines, and books that are dedicated to nothing but food. They show how it is prepared and tell you where to get the best tasting whatever.

I think that Christians should reclaim the table for Jesus. Instead of focusing on the food you are making or eating, emphasize who is sharing your table. I would love to see pictures of people eating with new people at Church, recent converts, leaders, and unbelievers as an act of Christian love.

In a few weeks, no one will care about the dish you made or the meal you bought, but the people who walked through your life may be so thankful that you shared your table. I know you will be a different person if you use your table to the glory of God, and perhaps you can change someone’s life in the process.