My Privilege

Two thoughts challenged me, this morning, as I struggled to wake, built a fire, brewed coffee, and began to pray:

First, the recipient’s response to a gift is the surest sign of it’s perceived value.  We witnessed responses that ran the gamut this week: from the mildly amused, “that’s nice” to the emotional, heart-felt, “thank you!”  After preaching all Advent about the Gift to come, I’m now wondering about my response.  Am I barely interested or blown-away-grateful?

Second, worshipping Jesus is a privilege.  Sometimes I don’t feel like going to church.  Sometimes the weight of spiritual leadership feels extremely heavy.  But what I need (though I’m often slow to realize it) is to take my place in our community and to worship.  How fortunate am I?  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to me on whom his favor rests.”*

May I respond to the Gift I’ve received by embracing the privilege of worship.

*[Luke 2:14]

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Too Many Needs to Not Help

Sunday I asked our community why, even though we believe in living a life of compassion, we seldom actually engage in helping others in practical ways. 
And the one reason on which I focused was the misunderstanding that in order to help others, you, yourself, need to be all healed up. 
While I think that specific misunderstanding is common, it’s not the reason that most-often holds me back.  No, what usually keeps me from helping my neighbor is the nearly exhausting list of needs represented in my own home. 
I got lost in this daydream a few days ago: I was living in the country and my job was to care for my family.  Just my wife and three kids.  
In the daydream, this little community of 5 feels very manageable.  But then I  remember days and months and years when the needs within my own family were overwhelming. 
And then I start thinking of parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, and, of course, in-laws.  And, for me, this is a group of well-over 100 people.  That’s a whole lot of needs.  
Then, at least for me, there’s the church.  Several dozen families just like mine: full of needs. 
On one hand I think, “This is too much need.  I don’t have room for any more.  I can’t help.”
On the other hand I think, “That’s also a whole lot of support.  More than most will ever know.  How can I not help?”

Learn to Slow Time this Christmas

There probably isn’t a week in the year that’s more important to make time for God than the week before Christmas.  After all, this is the week we celebrate God coming to “be with us.” 
And yet there probably isn’t a week in the year that’s more difficult to find time for God. 
In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voscamp puts it this way, “God gives us time.  And who has time for God?  Which makes no sense.”
This Sunday I’ll teach our community how to have more time.  This is not a time management sermon, it’s a spirituality of time sermon.  I’ll talk about the element of time we cannot control (no matter how hard we try) and the one part we can.  I’ll share a Biblical view of the relationship between the significance of time and the significance of things.  And I’ll share several practical ideas for slowing down time in your life this week, one of which we’ll practice together.   
You need to be at Emmaus Church in Lincoln this Sunday.  In fact, you don’t have time to miss it.