Friday, April 20, 2007

Observing Rudeness

I remember when I was a child and even into early marriage, people in general seemed to be more friendly than they are now. When I was growing up, Everyone always waved and smiled when you passed them. It didn't matter if they knew you personally or not. If a car let you pass you waved. If someone was walking near you as you were going in or coming out of a door you held the door for them. You smiled at people as you made eye contact with them.

I learned that from my parents and we have hopefully passed that on to our own children. But I have noticed more and more in the last few years that you just don't see that kind of courteousness any more like we should. I first started noticing it in youth age children. The attitude seemed to be; you owe ME, so why would I do something nice for you. They would even just walk right off the curb and out in front of your car without even so much as a glance to acknowledge you are there. Then it got to where I noticed it just as much in people who were around my grandparent's age. Not the, you owe me attitude, but just the attitude of rudeness and not being friendly. I have had just as many older people walk right passed me when I have an armful trying to get out of the door as I have had younger people. When my children were young, people would walk right passed me while I was trying to hold open a door while getting two kids and a stroller through the door.

While I was out the other day I decided to make a mental note of the people around me and their reactions and responses. As I walked around through 3 or 4 different stores, I would try and make eye contact with people and smile at them. I always smile at people as I pass them, but I was more aware of it on this day. What I found out on that particular day was, only 3 or 4 people smiled back. And everyone one of those was a person who worked for the store in which I was in. Not one other person returned the smile.

It just amazes me that we seem to be, I guess so busy with ourselves, that we can't even offer common courtesies anymore. We can't offer or even return a smile. I'm sure some of it is because our world has changed. You could be a psycho for all they know these days. What's even more amazing to me, really the word is sad (even heartbreaking), is that I'm finding out that more and more of these rude people are probably Christians.

I have heard several people comment lately how Christians on a Sunday morning are the rudest customers, how Christians at a Sunday lunch are the worst tippers (or no tippers!), etc. I have personally been in some situations with Christians who I didn't know very well, but knew they were Christians, in which they were extremely rude to people around them. It's embarrassing.

So does this mean that there are probably more Christians in the world and we just don't realize it because they are being so rude to people? I pray that's not the case. Jesus was full of love and compassion for everyone! He touched those that no one else would touch. He smiled at people and made them feel loved. As His children, that's the type of Christian those around us should see. There's an old song that says, "They will know we are Christians by our love". Do people really know that we are Christians by our love? By the love and concern we show for others? By the smile we give strangers who pass by? By the simple courteousness of opening doors to help someone out?

I pray that we have not become so busy and so calloused that we forget WHOSE we are. And as HIS, we should always act more like Him. Especially when those around us are not. Because as His, we should be sanctified, set apart from the world. Blessings!

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:14-15

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know god, because God is Love. 1 John 4:7-8

Friday, April 13, 2007

Commercials Catching My Attention...

There are two Dr. Pepper commercials that have caught my attention lately. One of them is the 23 flavor commercial of regular Dr. Pepper. The "I want it all and I want it now" slogan. I have seen that one a million times. But the other day I started thinking, what if we "wanted it all and wanted it now" when it came to Jesus?

I was watching that commercial thinking there is so much more to life than Dr. Pepper. But do I have that passion about the things that are important in my life, especially my spiritual life. While I do have that passion for my family and God, it really made me think. Does my walk with God really reflect that "I want it all and I want it now" mentality? Because in God I do have it all, and I have it now!

We have been talking in class on Wednesday nights about the spiritual wheel in our lives and the things that we need to work on. For a lot of us we are good with the prayer, bible time, compassion for others, etc. But we are lacking in the "telling the world" part of our wheel. If we were living the "I have it all and I have it now" slogan, maybe that part of our wheel wouldn't be so lopsided.

The other night I noticed the Diet Dr. Pepper commercial. I have just recently started seeing it more and though I have seen it several times, I noticed something for the first time... the reflection of the can in different scenes. They are shown enjoying a "diet" drink, but in the reflection it shows an ice cream cone, or a sundae, or something else yummy! I had never noticed that part before.

It made me wonder, what is our reflection as Christians like? I know a lot of people have only had minimal experience with church and Christians. And for some, minimal is all they want because of the rigidity, the lack of compassion and sometimes downright meanness they have experienced. The reflection they've seen coming from church and Christians is more of a dragon or something with horns. What if the reflection they always saw from us was one that made them feel like they were having that ice cream cone or that sundae? One that made them feel loved and accepted, like they were always getting the dessert in life rather than the brussel sprouts. What if the reflection they always saw in us was the reflection of Christ, full of mercy and compassion and never ending love?

Satan doesn't want that reflection showing and if we aren't careful he will turn our reflection into something we don't even recognize. I pray that in my life I will always show the reflection of Christ.

Blessings! Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 09, 2007

A Blessed Easter

I love Easter and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. He is indeed Risen! What a wonderful Easter this has been.

We started our Easter this year with something we have never done before. This past Thursday, our small group participated in a Passover Celebration Meal together. It was an incredible experience. While we of course believe that Jesus has already risen, we shared a meal reflecting on the first passover... on the sanctification, the deliverance, redemption and the praise that Jesus has already come and how we look to every moment for the Messiah to return again and take us home.

Our meal consisted of Matzah (unleavened bread), Parsley (bitter herbs), Horseradish, Hard Boiled Egg, Cheroset (apple mixture) and Salt Water (representing tears). It was a very moving experience reflecting on that first passover night and their deliverance. We are planning to have a Passover Celebration Meal as an entire church next year once we are back the auditorium and out of the fellowship room. That should also be a wonderful experience.

Sunday morning at Highland Oaks we had 4 services beginning at 7:00 a.m. and the last one beginning at 11:30 a.m. Normally we have 2 services on Easter but to the remodeling and having services in the Fellowship Room, we had to expand it to 4 this year. We invited the community and also had brunch going on from 7:00 a.m. to 11:30. We had 2 Easter Hunts, one at 10:00 and one at 11:30 that the community was also invited to. As a congregation we brought 8,000 plastic Easter eggs filled with candy! There were children everywhere with Easter baskets full of eggs!

We ended the day with lunch with my family. Here is a picture of Ashley and Jeremy. I can't believe how mature they are looking. I'm not old enough to have kids that look that old! :)

Well, it was indeed a blessed day. May we continue to remember each day the power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! He IS Risen... Lord Come Quickly!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sanjaya Anthem

Ok, I'm ready to stop watching American Idol! But I won't...I'm too hooked! I was so disappointed to see Gina voted off last night. She wasn't the "best" of all the singers and wouldn't have won, but she was one of my favorites. I am soooo tired of Sanjaya coming back every week after the worst performance and some weeks not even being in the bottom three. I also heard yesterday that Howard Stern is asking his listeners to vote for Sanjaya just to screw up American Idol. It's ridiculous... and it's working!

Well, for those of you who are just as ready to see Sanjaya go as I am, here is a little Sanjaya humor for your weekend!

Blessings! And Happy Easter! Jesus is Risen!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Preparing in Layers

The weather the last few days has been great for motorcycle riding! But being prepared for the weather on a motorcycle is tricky. If the weather forecast is calling for great impending rain, I don't ride. I don't want to get caught out in the rain. But riding in the 70ish degree weather is awesome. The only thing is, it's very different than just being outside in the 70ish degree weather.

While the weather appears very warm while standing outside, riding on a motorcycle the air can become very cool when it's in the 70's. So when riding a motorcycle, you have to dress in layers to be prepared for the cool and able to peel off layers as the air warms up.

Walking out for the day in our Christian walk is much the same way when you think about it. If you aren't prepared, you can be in for some nasty "weather" even in your spiritual walk. Dressing in layers spiritually could mean a variety of things. Beginning your day with prayer, staying in the word, being ready to greet others with a smile, the list goes on and on.

In Ephesians 6, scripture tells us, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Are we going out prepared and dressed in layers? Are we ready so that when Satan sends his arrows we have enough layers to keep him at bay? When someone needs our help and it's not the most convenient time for us, when someone cuts us off in traffic, when someone says something extremely hurtful to us, when we are just simply not having the best of days. Are we layered and prepared enough so that as Satan sends his arrows and peels us back, layer by layer, that we are still layered and prepared enough to stand?

We have the full armor of God for our layers of protection. But they only benefit us if we are intentional about making sure we are putting them on.

Have a great week! I'll be praying for you!