Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Breakfast with Jesus

Somehow, every time the holiday season of the year rolls around, things end up getting crazy (that's unheard of, right?). Since the girlfriend is on break, she hops into town. Since my extended family sees the holidays as one of the only good excuses for getting together, they also drive in. Then there's the parties, the fact that my birthday is four days after Christmas, the gift-giving, and on and on.

One of the by-products of what goes on during this month is that I lose touch. A midst the hustle and bustle and stretched time demands, I somehow forget to do the things which are most integral to my life, like spending intimate time with my immediate family or investing into friendships in more than just the superficial conversations that take place at White Elephant gift exchanges.

The biggest deficit I experience, however, is the time missed spending with Jesus the Christ. One might think that this season would be the one where people dive into this, the most important of relationships, but for me, that usually ends up not being the case. 
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
Let's set this scene a little bit: the disciples have not been spending the time with Jesus that they've gotten used to in the past three years. Since His Resurrection, He's only showed up twice, and the disciples are probably feeling some kind of frustration with this disconnectedness, especially since the Holy Spirit had not showed up yet.

In the past, I've typically told people that I'm not a morning person. I don't know that this is entirely the truth. Even if I get up at an insanely early hour, I can function pretty normally if I've had enough sleep and I've dosed myself with some coffee. And some of the most life-changing moments in my walk with Christ have been in these early morning hours, and one thing I've realized is that I miss having breakfast with Jesus. Sometimes I feel some kind of frustration with this disconnectedness.

Friends, perhaps you've been feeling some kind of frustration with disconnectedness from this Jesus lately. Maybe it's time to have some breakfast with Jesus. Maybe it's time you let your knees reconnect with your bedroom floor.

After all, 'tis the season to be joyful.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Punchline, The Reveal, and The Disappointment

I consider myself an amateur magician. Then again, I consider everyone except for the David's (Blaine and Copperfield) to be amateur magicians, mainly for the reason that there are so few of us (hah - "us"). But I heard somewhere once that magic is very similar to comedy in some respects.

That might sound odd to you, but let's analyze this: there are many jokes that take the listener down a path where they think the outcome is something they can generally expect. (i.e. "Why was six afraid of seven?") Then, the listener is surprised with something they couldn't see coming (i.e. "Because seven was a well known six offender.") We might call this "the punchline."

Magic often operates in a similar way. The observer is taken down a path where they think the outcome is something they can generally expect. (i.e. The observer chooses a card and the card is lost in the rest of the deck.) Then, the observer is surprised with something they couldn't see coming (i.e. Their signed card appears underneath the sole on the inside of their shoe.) We might call this "the reveal."
"For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." (Isaiah 53)
I'm a big fan of counter-intuitive thinking. I think God is, too. He took the Jews down a path where they thought the outcome was something they could generally expect. (i.e. The Jews were being dominated by an oppressive regime and had hope for a conqueror-Messiah to come and free them.) Then, the Jews were surprised with something they couldn't see coming (i.e. The Jews were given a small Baby born to a nobody-family from a nowhere-town Who would be more concerned with the freedom of their hearts than the freedom of their circumstances.)

Make no mistake, the Jews were right in expecting a great Lion-Warrior-King, but they just didn't expect it at the right time. Jesus' First Coming was as the Suffering-Servant, and the logic-defying nature of His arrival upset a lot of people. We might call this "the disappointment." But hear me friends, this was news was not disappointing, but rather the greatest news to ever reach Earth's shores.

You just have to have the eyes to see it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Peaches, Homelessness, and a Place of Rest

So I make it a point to be friends with interesting people. One such person's name is Peaches - yes, Peaches. That is not his birth name, but I can't see myself calling him by his real name or anything else. I volunteer for an organization called Youth for Christ, and so does Peaches.

One night, I was having a meeting with my supervisor and she made a ridiculously appropriate comment about my buddy: Peaches creates home for people wherever they may be. Perhaps you don't quite fully understand what that means, so I'll explain myself.

Let's say that you were at a football game. Lots of things are happening around you. There's tons of noise. There's crowds up the wazoo. If Peaches steps into that atmosphere, his personality creates a very real sense of calm, as if you were resting at home in quiet. He doesn't lend himself to the craziness of the surrounding environment, but rather makes his home with you in that moment. It is a great feeling of peace.
"Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14)
What is home? Yes, it may be where your heart is, but why is your heart there in the first place? Is it not because that is the place where you feel most at rest? Is it not the place where you find the worries and concerns of your everyday life fading into the peace and calm of home? I contend that it should be, and I also contend that this is what Jesus does for someone who has been redeemed by the peace that He offers.

It is no small matter that the God of the universe saw it fitting to make Himself at home with the dirty, broken, and hopeless. It is a matter of great wonder to think that Christ would take up residence and create home for those who have long felt homeless and abandoned. For those who have felt restless and hopeless. For those who know not what it means to have peace. But the Almighty God saw it fitting that He should make His home with us, giving us all of the rest and peace that it entails.

Friend, if you've too long been homeless and restless, would you not allow Christ to make His home in you today?