Month: August 2010

The Pizza Level

This may sound a bit awkward, but one of the great loves in my life is pizza.  As a middle schooler I could routinely consume entire large pizzas in one sitting along with a beverage and room for dessert.

Also, I’m pretty sure someone never got the green light with this business idea:

Anyway, pizza is my food Achille’s heel.  The dough.  The sauce.  The more meat the better.  I even eat cheese on pizza which confounds everyone who closely knows me.  You see, I hate cheese.  I abhor it.  On every level.  Every type of cheese is detestable to me save one…mozzarella.  Even then it MUST be on a pizza for me to consume it.  If I see some mozzarella off by itself, like at the mall or at the movies and it comes up to me I’m all like “Get off me, Mozzarella.  I ain’t all about you.”  But when it’s on pizza…mmmm.  We’re homeboys.  We roll together.  Mozzarella’s got my back.  We play ball.  We jam together.  We’re tight.

How pizza made it’s way into youth ministry culture I’ll never know.  Maybe it’s because pizza attracts young people like Lebron James attracts TV cameras…and entire networks.  (I’m lookin’ at you, ESPN).  Maybe it’s because it’s a cheap and filling way to feed high metabolism laden young folk.  Remember this phrase when you were young…”Don’t forget to bring pizza money!”  Whether it was a church or school event, pizza is where the party is and it’s what attracted youth.

Or at least it used to be…

A recent USA Today article discussed the fact that kids are not even coming for the pizza anymore.  The number of youth attending summer camps fell 22% in 2009, which was a telling sign of youth involvement in churches across the board.  When all the carbs have burned off many churches have found that, SURPRISE, the pizza wasn’t gratifying enough.  It takes more than dough and pepperoni to reach students and have them connect with each other.  That’s why the “pizza fellowship” is not true fellowship.  Yes we can get together and eat but it’s what happens as we eat and spend time together that matters.

The question is “Are we guilty of being genuinely concerned about our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?”  We must be willing and ready to cling to our spiritual family, uplift them, accept them and love them.  Holding each other accountable and encouraging each other.  This is true fellowship.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household”.  Ephesians 2:19

If we are members of God’s household let’s treat each other like they are members of that same fold.  We can’t accept just the pizza level.  Take it further.  Take the next step.  Let’s really get to know each other.  Our struggles, our passions, our real selves.  Remember we are the body of Christ.  We should be united!  We should be concerned with each other on a level deeper than “How’s it goin’?”

It seems as if the most we know about each other is whether we like pepperoni or sausage.  The pizza level.

jb

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The Abnormal

No one likes to think of themselves as normal.  If we are truly emulating Christ should we be labeled by others as “normal”?  Do you see yourself as a normal person?  Do I?

Christians as a people should be as normal as a eating, breathing, walking corpse.  That’s what we are.

Absolutely nothing in the Christian life is normal or routine.  To live that way is pretty much looking at the acomplishment of Jesus on the cross and saying…”That’s ok.  That’s normal.  No biggie.”

It wasn’t normal.  It was miraculous.  Earth-shattering.  Unexplainable.  Life-changing.  Eternity altering.  Life-giving.  It was big.  Abnormal.

The degree of appreciation we have for what Jesus did on the cross is in direct  relation to the degree of abnormality in our lives.

What sets us apart?  How abnormal are we?

Apart from Christ we are dull, dried up, wretched, wicked and hopeless.  Cling to the Life-Giver.  Only in Him can we experience everything above and beyond the norm. 

The way.  The truth.  The life.  Jesus.

Be abnormal today. 

jb

Lawnmower Nostalgia

(*Pictured above is my favorite type of grass. Dead grass. Because me and dead grass get along great. Because I don’t have to mow it. And it’s ok with that. Dead grass is my jam.)

While running in the summertime you can’t help but smell those yards that have just been freshly cut.  The aroma speaks of Dixie Youth baseball games from long ago when I was second baseman for the A’s and Tigers.  It’s almost like being transported to that time when I was young and care free.  I love the saying “Youth is wasted on the young.”  If we only knew then what we know now!  I remember my biggest concern being having enough red legos to complete my super secret lair and enough Big League Chew to make it through the weekend.

It’s been said that the sense of smell is the sense closest tied to our memories.  Think about it.  Ever walk into your old elementary or high school?  Just the whiff of terpentine, chlorox, pheremones and lunchroom bring back a rush of memories:  places, people, papers due and math problems unsolved.

Fresh cut grass does it to me every time.  It may even bring tears to your eyes.  From allergies, of course.

Sometimes we trick ourselves into believing that just because we aren’t in good ol’ days anymore that there are no good NEW days ahead.  We are very quick to pounce on memories of the past with reminiscence and not be anxious or excited about what lies ahead.

I have news for your, fellow believer.  Our best days are ahead.  You’re best life is not now but later.  As we long for and anticipate the Day of the Lord let’s not live like we’re dying.  Let’s live like we’re dead.  Dying daily.  Living in Christ with urgency.  Nostalgia won’t get you through today but living in the power of the gospel of Jesus will.  God may have come through for you in a huge way in the past but we need him to come through for us right now.  Wherever you are in your walk you need God himself to come through in a miraculous way.  He holds us together.

John Piper has written “have gratitude for the past and faith for the future”.

How are you living?  Running on the fumes of the past or pressing on towards the prize, the high calling of Christ? Forget your own plans.  Be bold and confident in His.  Lean not on your own understanding.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:21.

jb