Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Righteous Response

I used to wait tables.  My co-workers and I would argue a lot.  It made for a pretty tough work environment.

I can remember the hostility spreading like a virus.  A manager would yell at a server, that server would give a cook a dirty look, the cook would make a sideways comment to a host, and on, and on.  After a half hour, every employee in the restaurant was irritated.

One day, one of the Christian servers resisted the virus.  The manager yelled at the server and the server quickly responded: “Can I help you with anything?  I have some free time and would be happy to help with whatever you need.”  Responding to aggression with kindness stopped the hostility dead in its tracks.  The manager didn’t know what to do and quit yelling.  The server didn’t pass the aggression onto the next co-worker and the altercation was over.

Christians are encouraged to behave in similar ways throughout the Bible.  Paul writes to the church in Rome, saying, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.”  In other words, being mistreated does not give Jesus’ people the right to mistreat others.  We are called to respond to evil behavior with righteous behavior.  The great thing is, righteousness often undermines evil behavior (as I witnessed first hand in the restaurant).

As you go through the coming week, look for opportunities to respond to bad behavior in righteousness ways.  If a co-worker yells at you, offer to help them with their work.  If a person gossips about you, take him or her to lunch and ask him or her what is on his or her mind.  Responding to bad actions with God honoring ones will take the bite out of the offense, stop the angry virus in its tracks, and, most importantly, honor Jesus in the process.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sin Spin

A new type of coffee bean is making headlines.  Black Ivory Coffee is selling coffee beans that are freshly picked from elephant dung.  Here is the process: elephants are fed pure Arabica coffee beans, the beans are digested, and then harvested from Elephant dung the following day.  Some say these beans brew the world’s smoothest cup of coffee.  They sell for $500 per pound.

Our world works hard to mask unpleasant things.  We spin and market and pedal the negatives as qualities.  In extreme cases, we sell dung as a delicacy. 

This takes place in our spiritual lives too.  The world describes the negative effects of sin as a positive.  Materialism is “distinguishing taste.”  The exploitation of others is “shrewd business.”  Narcissism is merely “self confidence and ambition.”  Regardless of the marketing, no matter how you slice it, it still stinks.  Sin is sin.

Jesus cuts through all the spin and empowers His people to do the same.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His followers, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  In other words, Jesus and His teachings help us see things truthfully.  Then, we find freedom in that truth.

As you go through the coming week, seek Christ so that He can cut through all the spin.  See things as they are and be free.  You do not have to be a part of the lies.  You can recognize what is really good, whole, pure, and true to the fullest.  Besides, with the truth, you don’t have to start your day with a cup of really expensive elephant dung.              

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Speaking in Other Tongues

Watch a great video that pokes fun at how Evangelical Christians talk by clicking HERE.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Proactive Forgiveness

About a year ago, ESPN fired one of its writers for writing an insensitive headline about NBA star Jeremy Lin.  The writer, Anthony Federico, said the headline was a mistake and he never intended to insult the famous basketball player.  He lost his job none-the-less.

Hearing about Federico’s troubles, Lin’s family contacted the writer.  Lin wanted to meet Federico and buy him lunch.  It took a while to fit into the star’s schedule, but the two met and all was forgiven.

Federico described the meeting in saying, “The fact that he reached out to me…The fact that he took the time to meet with me in his insanely busy schedule. . . . He didn't have to do that.  We talked more about matters of faith [and] reconciliation.  We talked about our shared Christian values and what we're both trying do with this situation . . .We didn't talk about the headline for more than three minutes."

It is odd that Lin went out of his way to buy lunch for the guy who insulted him.  That isn’t how apologies usually work.  Most would think that Federico should have offered to take the star out as a way to pay for damages.  But, Jeremy Lin sees things differently.  His Christian values don’t give him the right to wait around for wrong doers to make things right.

Lin’s Christian values come from the teachings of Jesus Himself.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples, “If your brother or sister sins against you, go to them…”  According to Jesus, those who have been wronged share the responsibility of reconciliation.  Jesus’ people seek out their wrong doers with the intention of making things right and with an eagerness to forgive.

As you go through the coming week, be eager to forgive.  When someone wrongs you, let them know and then let it go.  Approach all you do with an intentional lifestyle of forgiveness.  As you do, those around you may be shocked to the point that it changes headlines.            

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hidden Treasure

It is important to not hide your treasure.  Earlier this month, a man from Bend learned that lesson first hand.  According to the Bend Bulletin, Dale Parkinson hid a large part of his life savings in the secret compartment of a safe.  He had pulled over $50,000 out of the bank in 2007 for fear that it would be lost in the choppy stock market.  He hid his fortune away, thinking it would fair better in the secret compartment.

Years later, Parkinson sold the safe to a local locksmith in Bend named Bryan Donnell.  It had been so long since Parkinson hid his treasure, he forgot the small fortune in the secret compartment.  When Donnell took possession of the safe, he took the treasure with it.  After a closer look, Donnell was shocked to find the money.  Wanting to do the right thing, Donnell returned the money and all ended well.

Parkinson’s error is a great illustration of an error many of us make in our spiritual lives.  We receive incredible treasure in our relationship with Christ and the promise of salvation.  Because we appreciate the treasures of the faith, we lock it up in a secret compartment.  Being in that secret compartment, that faith has little to do with the lives we live every day.  With time, we forget it is even there.

Jesus warned against that type of spiritual hoarding.  In Luke 19 Jesus tells a story about a servant who hides money away.  The servant is scolded for not putting the treasure he has been entrusted with to good use.  The lesson: the treasures of the Christian faith are given to us in order to bless the world around us.

As you begin the New Year, put the treasures of life with Christ to work.  If Christ has made a difference in your life, tell someone about it.  If Christ has been generous with you, be generous with others.  Let the treasures of the Christian life inspire a different way of life.  That way, no one will be shocked by your faith because they witness its riches at work every day.