Stop Pushing Me!

Today, I heard a boy yell at his younger sister, “I have a right to push you because you’re not moving,”

… a right to push you.

… because you’re not moving.

I’m sure upon hearing this some would quickly join suit and overtly blurt out an emphatic preach it. There would be others in the crowd who would defensively disagree citing that each person has a right to do whatever they want to do and shouldn’t be pushed by another.

What side would you fall?

What I didn’t tell you about the story was the context. The girl was actually behind her mom, who was behind another person, who was behind a long line of people waiting patiently to exit the airplane parked with closed doors at the airport terminal.

Flawed Logic
To be fair, this boy might not have been able to see the stagnant line in front of his sister. However, his reasoning was flawed—he pushed his sister because she was not moving. He never even bothered to consider why. He just tried to make what he thought should be happening happen.

I’m sure he was uncomfortable after the 1 hour 20 minute flight from Dallas to Kansas City . . . weren’t we all?!? I’m sure he didn’t like being behind his younger sister . . . who would?!? However, was pushing his sister going to help him get off the plane any faster . . . no.

Pushy People
I am not a big fan of the pusher. Pushers don’t take the time to think through the perspectives of others. They don’t care if there are obstacles in the way. All they see is the fact that those around them aren’t going where they want them to go, and try to assert their will. This doesn’t often turn out well and causes many negative feelings and resentments down the road.

A Better Way
Maybe a better way of helping someone take that next step is to INVITE them, not push them. When you invite someone to move, it means you’re moving too—and most often already a step ahead. Inviting takes control out of the equation and merely gives others an opportunity to take the next step. The choice is theirs. Most people appreciate an invitation to something worthwhile.

Think about someone proposing marriage. The suitor takes a knee and invites his dream girl to a lifelong journey in marriage together. If he pushes, or does this in front of a family reunion or live T.V., he could have a mess on his hands. However, an invitation shows respect, love, and genuine care from the beginning no matter how the other person answers.

Eternal Invitations
Jesus was a perfect example in this area. He invited the disciples with the simple phrase, “Come, and follow me.” The disciples had a choice. They put down their nets and followed. The rich young ruler also had a choice, but even as he walked away the scripture tells us that Jesus didn’t chase him, but rather loved him.

Jesus loved him while letting him walk away.

Today, if you find yourself pushing, why not take the first step yourself. If you are already ahead, then simply invite others to join you. They may say no. That’s okay because controlling someone isn’t the same as loving someone, and pushing someone doesn’t necessarily help them move forward.


Love Wins, Except When It’s Hidden

Much controversy has stirred recently surrounding Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins which releases today. Some Christians label Bell a universalist for his views, while others defend him—appalled by the mere fact that certain Christians would call out other Christians on their theology. Obviously we should never be mean-spirited in our dialog with any one, especially our own, but is staying silent and allowing what appears to be theological error really what the Bible calls love?

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. ~Proverbs 27:5

The purpose of this post is not to comment on the book—I think Kevin DeYoung already responded gracefully enough in a recent review (read here). What I AM thinking about is how often we define LOVE as some pithy and “let others be who they are” sort of mentality. We live in an individualistic society where a common belief is that everyone’s beliefs are right and to tell someone they are wrong is just… wrong. But this isn’t what the Bible calls love and love like that doesn’t win.

True love is making hard decisions. It’s dying to your selfishness for the betterment of others. Love is not easy, and it certainly isn’t for the weak. Love is passionate. Love is tough and love is humble. Love put Jesus on a cross and held Him there. Love raised Him from the grave. Love runs into burning buildings to save a life. Love tells a child not to touch a hot stove or run into the street. This kind of love makes children cry as they wonder why they can’t get what they want. Love doesn’t hide the consequences and say everything will be okay as someone self destructs.

Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry? Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die? Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand? Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you damned? ~Leonard Ravenhill

Some people think telling others about hell isn’t a loving thing to do because it involves fear, but maybe it’s fear that really keeps us silent on the subject of hell in the guise of love.

We are called to love others. We share the gospel became we love people. And we don’t share the gospel because we don’t love people. Instead, we wrongly fear them. We don’t want to cause awkwardness. We want their respect, and after all, we figure, if we try to share the gospel with them, we’ll look foolish! And so we are quiet. We protect our pride at the cost of their souls. In the name of not wanting to look weird, we are content to be complicit in their being lost. ~Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, Crossway, 2007, p. 27

Love speaks.
If love remains silent… it loses.

When people bark | part 2

Sometimes people can bark. Among the many experiences I have had with such people—one stands shoulders above the rest.

I was working as supervisor at a coffeehouse in Kansas City when Rufus (whose name has obviously been changed) walks in and orders a frozen yogurt in a cup.

“Sure thing!” I replied as I walked over to the frozen yogurt machine, grabbed a cup and proceeded to swirl the yogurt into it twisted ever so stylishly. I then slid the plastic spoon into the treat and handed the cup of frozen perfection to Rufus.

His expression changed at that moment from great anticipation to obvious disgust. With scary fixed gaze locked on me alone, he meandered slowly to the trash and dropped the whole cup of yogurt in with a loud THUD.

I experienced in that moment what I like to call “hot nerves” running up and down my 6’1” frame as I felt somewhat offended and caught off guard. Something was obviously not quite right here.

So once again Rufus repeated the order he spouted just an eternal minute earlier. Didn’t I just do that? Is this guy psycho?

“I just made that for you… was there something wrong?” I managed to sputter out of my shocked expression.

With utter disdain, much like Seinfeld addressed Newman, he said, “You placed the spoon in the yogurt.”

I did. Did you not want a spoon?”

“Not in my yogurt. That spoon touched the counter.”

Actually, sir, I placed it on a napkin.”

“Same difference. I want a new one.”

Lightbulb—This man suffers from OCD! That changes everything!

As the hot nerves subsided, I carefully made the next frozen yogurt and handed the spoon wrapped cautiously in a tissue directly to Rufus. He was happy.

My understanding of the matter had dramatically altered my reaction as well as my attitude.

You see, from that moment on, instead of fearing the mean, demanding, quirky guy I chose to go out of my way to serve him the best I could without allowing his rough edges to bother me. I think after awhile he came to appreciate my attitude (despite his bark), for he would specifically ask others if I could be the one to serve him.

And when he thought I wasn’t looking, he began to quietly drop a few coins in the tip jar.

When people bark | Part 1

Whenever I walk by the fence that borders my drive and the neighbors yard, their little Chihuahua sneaks up on me and begins to bark like crazy—swirling in circles and trying to look all tough. For about a year the little rodent made me jump and get what I call “hot nerves” because he always seemed to come out of nowhere and startle me. He really knew how to tick me off.

However, about two months ago something strange happened. Pulling into the drive, I noticed the lil’ noisemaker crouched in the corner of the neighbors yard. Slowly I turned the car off and watched as he stalked closer and closer like a cougar ready to pounce on its’ prey. Cautiously I stepped out from the car and without notice he charged and began his notorious bark-swirls.

Oddly enough, that was the moment I realized that this dog actually likes me.

Sometimes in similar fashion people come at us all the wrong way. For whatever reason, they bark, swirl and continuously catch us off guard. They might try to intimidate us or cause us to react in a negative way. It’s almost as if they find enjoyment in this like the small dog that can make a grown man jump.

The dilemma for us arises when we interpret their “bark” as an attack and defensively react in a negative way. Reacting in a negative way or out of emotion is never a good thing. But how can we react positively if someone is constantly coming at us?

The answer lies in our perspective of the situation.

What we might not realize is that most of the time these people are just lonely and trying to seek attention in all the wrong ways. It’s almost as if causing a reaction from someone (even negative) brings some sort of significance to their life. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that this is right or acceptable behavior, but as the recipient of such behavior we must learn to deal with negatives in a positive way as to maintain our own good character.

In the case of lil’ Cujo, I chose to see the barking, swirling and intimidation as his way of playing a game with me. As he tries to scare me, I bring enjoyment to his day. This perspective changed our daily meeting in a dramatic way. No longer do I dread the noisy barks from this taco bell dog, but rather look forward to seeing him because I know deep down, in a twisted way, he loves our time together. If he catches me off guard and makes me jump—he wins. If I spot him sneaking up on me—I win. This perspective might not be based in reality, but it helps me to love the little monster. Sounds weird, I know, but it helps my attitude anyway.

The fact is our perspective matters and makes all the difference! As we challenge ourselves to look for something positive in negative situations or people, we will inevitably change how we react to their barks and swirls. By lightening up and reacting in a more positive way, we can reduce stress and enjoy the interactions with others that we previously dreaded the most.

Proverbs 25:21-22, “If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you.” (The Message)

If someone barks at you today, maybe just smile and compliment them some way in return. I would love to hear your experiences and/or feedback on this. Part 2 of this post will deal with some specific examples of how I changed my perspective in real life situations. Stay tuned….

Let’s Get It Started…

I am so pumped right now at what God is doing at Judah’s House. Last Sunday night we kicked off a new series in Bible study. Being a young church plant, I can’t think of any other book I would rather be studying with a group of visionaries than the book of Acts. Thought I would make lesson one available here if you want to wet your spiritual thirst!

Faith. Action. Boldness. Miracles. Martyrs. Sacrifice. Journeys. Salvations. Heroes.

I am so thankful for all the people that God has brought to our church plant that want to be a part of this… you guys rock! Thanks for having vision for where God wants to take us. It’s gonna be a wild ride. “Let’s Get It Started, Ha”

Follow Me: Part 2 "The fish are coming with me!"

John 21:20-22, “Peter turned and saw that the follower Jesus loved was walking behind them. (This was the follower who had leaned against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who will turn against you?”) When Peter saw him behind them, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to live until I come back, that is not your business. You follow me.” (NCV)

As the scene unfolds, I sense that maybe John gave one of those, “Sorry dude, I’m the one that Jesus really loves,” looks with a smile of contentment and a shrug of the shoulders. It’s almost as if they are competing with one another.

Pastors have a way of trying to keep up with the spiritual Joneses at times. Church attendance, worship style, Christian bling, new methods, fads, fashions, etc… I for one am guilty of looking at other churches and thinking “if I had their resources, of course I would have those results.”

Whenever I feel this way, the Lord slaps me out of my visions of envy and reminds me that I am on a path to death. “That’s none of your business,” Jesus says, “Follow me.”

God calls us each to walk our own journey. “Peter, get your eyes off John and look at me!” If we are to follow Jesus passionately, we must take our eyes off everyone else. When we are looking at others, we become self-centered. Following Jesus should mean we become less concerned with “my blessing” and much more concerned with “how can I bless others.” We should be much more interested in helping people fulfill their destiny, than trying to get ahead of them.

Isn’t this what church and discipleship are all about? We are called to build people, not an institution. As we can concentrate on building people, Jesus builds the church because the church is really people. Northwind Church may not be like every other church in town (and there is a lot of them), but we know we are following Jesus as we reach out to people and help them find purpose in Christ.

“I’ll make you fishers of men,” Jesus said, “Come. Follow me.”

So in the infamous words of Jerry Maguire I declare, “The fish are coming with me.”