2020 is finally coming to an end

If we needed a reminder that our world is broken, 2020 reminded us like a slap in the face.

We all entered 2020 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, then we were quickly reminded we were not ready for the onslaught of was 2020.

Just about everyone experienced loss in some sort of way. Whether it was a loss of life, loss of closeness with others, loss of time, loss of opportunities, loss of hopes and dreams. It seems we all have something to grieve and I grieve with you.

It seems that our world is spinning out of control. As we receive a piece of good news, it seems two pieces of bad news take its place. Every little thing that happens seems like it’s all piling on.

It reminds me of that Simpsons where Homer is posing as Krusty and beats up someone he thinks is stealing. Homer was so relentless that a child starting crying saying “Stop! Stop! He’s already dead!”

But like Homer, 2020 doesn’t seem to stop, as the year winds down there are people who jokingly ask what the season finale will be as it’s hard to believe it’s coming to an end. But is it really. 2020 is just a year, a way for us to count our trips around the sun. 2020 is not a TV show, once it’s over the world will continue to be the broken place it always has been.

But there is hope to look to. Joy can be found. Maybe not of this world, but they can be found in Jesus. Hope and joy found in Jesus is sustainable, but we have to be open to receive it.

Not to get into details, but most of the second half of this year I have only been sustained by the hope and joy provided by Jesus. Hope and joy that is deeply rooted in someone greater and stronger than I. If it wasn’t for Jesus, I don’t know what kind of shape my heart would be in… and because of that, I weep for all the people who don’t know Him. I am overwhelmed by the fact that there are billions of people who are trying to make it through the brokenness of this world without His joy, without His hope.

As we look forward to 2021, let’s remember that the world is broken. Let’s be mindful that 2021 could be even worse than 2020. So that only thing that I am sure of is that no matter what happens, no matter what the world tries to throw at us, no matter how much Satan tries to influence us all, Jesus is still on His throne.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

In 2021, instead of hoping to be able to take a vacation, or get that promotion, or find a spouse, let’s resolve to put our hope in Jesus. Let’s resolve to allow Him to be our joy because if He is the source of our hope and joy, we will overflow with life.

How will you serve?

Several years ago, I had some friends who felt called to go serve in Haiti. They had an idea of what they wanted to do there, they were going to teach at a local school. But ultimately didn’t know what God had in store for them during their time

Within the first week, the big Haitian earthquake hit. All of sudden it became clear what their ministry was going to be. They ended up spending several years loving and serving in the Port-au-Prince area.

Now, I am in Europe, and Coronavirus is hitting the continent pretty hard. The ramifications of this will not last near as long as the devastating earthquake in Haiti, but definitely for a season part of my ministry will change.

I’m not a medical professional, so I will probably not be able get into the trenches of treating patients, but as I look at the early church, the church in Rome, I see that that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do anything. I can always do something.

What that is, God is still revealing the full scope what he can do, but He has already convicted me that I can’t just sit around and wait it out, I need to serve. We as a Church need to show the world, we are followers of the greatest servant leader in history, and we intend to follow his lead.

Instead of reacting in fear or remaining passive and waiting for this to pass, get out into your community and serve the people the best you can. Even little acts of service can leave long lasting effects. Even small acts of love will penetrate even the hardest of hearts.

The early church used to love and serve others during plagues and rampant diseases. Jesus went and served lepers! And here’s the thing, there is so much you can do to serve others while still respecting social distancing and being wise about not spreading the virus.

Picking up TP or food for those who are quarantined. Calling or texting those you know to not only check in but to genuinely connect so while they are quarantined, they are not isolated. Just to name a few.

So in the midst of this global pandemic, how will you serve?

Tate Modern

This past week, I took a holiday into London. It is my favorite city in the world, and if it wasn’t for the cost of living, I would probably be serving there instead of Birmingham (But that’s neither here nor there, everything worked out for the best).

One place I always seem to go when I visit London is the Tate Modern, a modern art museum on the south bank east of Westminster. It is all kinds of weird. Every time I go I see something new that blows my mind and makes me realize I don’t know what modern art is because what I just saw made no sense. For some of the pieces, if they told me they found it on another planet and it is our first glimpse into alien art, I would believe it. It can be that different.

But I think that is why I find myself going back, time after time.

When I go, I get to glimpse into the mind of someone who thinks very different from me. I get to see how a different perspective on life and a different way of thinking can create something that is radically different.

Even though it is all created by humans, it can seem alien. It drives home the idea that God made us uniquely different and we can contribute to the world in uniquely different ways. And this is a good thing!

While I am great at finding new ways to do things or finding opportunities to improve, I struggle with abstract thinking. True outside the box thinking eludes me most of the time. But not for these people.

So while I may think that the Tate Modern is a weird place with some really weird art, I love going there because it reminds me the value of people who think differently from me. It reminds me that not everyone sees the world the same way I do. And maybe I need more people like that in my life…

Kayne West and Jesus is King

Last week when Kanye West’s new album, Jesus is King, came out. There was a lot of buzz. Not just in the music world, but in the Christian world as well.

There were arguments and debates over the validity of his conversion. I don’t consider myself an authority at all, but if I had any influence over the 400 plus followers I have on Twitter (or anyone else who stumbled upon my page), I felt I needed to say something. So I kept it short and sweet.

But as the weekend past and we are marching late into the next week, people are still talking about Kanye and trying to decide whether or not he is a Christian or not.

First, that is not our place to decide.

And second, ss I said in the tweet, I don’t know Kanye, most of us don’t. We can’t tell from the articles we’ve read or the videos we’ve seen anything about his real life and whether or not he is bearing fruit.

But let’s just say for argument’s sake he hasn’t truly converted. I am reminded of what Paul said in Philippians 1, starting in verse 15:

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Let me reiterate that last verse again:

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

We can argue all we want on whether Kanye is a Christian or not. But when I listen to his new album, when I see him on TV marketing his new album, and he’s proclaiming the name of Jesus. I rejoice! Amen.

Maybe we should stop wasting our time arguing over whether a person is saved or not, and instead rejoice and take advantage of the fact that millions of people are hearing the Gospel.

Introverts vs Extroverts

As I have reflected on courage and boldness recently, a nugget of truth came to mind as I thought about how it looks different in introverts and extroverts.

Both courage and boldness take intentionality.

Don’t let being an introvert give you an excuse to be a recluse or hermit.
Don’t let being an extrovert give you an excuse to be obnoxious and boorish.

It takes boldness and courage to step out of your comfort zone and actually engage with others.

Hiding in your room doesn’t let you engage with others. Dominating a conversation doesn’t let you engage with others.

In both cases, it takes intentionality to be bold and courageous.

So step out of your comfort zone.
Be intentional.
Be bold.
Be courageous.

Why I like to Travel

I’m probably not very different from my generation and the generation that follows me in that I love to travel. I love going to new places and seeing new things. The world is so big and has so much in it, I just want to go and see it.

But it’s more than just ticking a box or crossing off another item off the bucket list, travel inspires me. When I explore a new city, when I go someplace different, it’s almost like I’m discovering a new part of me.

My perspective gets stretched, my worldview expands. Every new place I see, every new person I met, I see the world a little bit different. It makes me a bit more empathetic. It helps me see a bigger picture. It causes me to grow.

When this happens I can’t go back to the old way of thinking, the old way of living. It’s like when blue mixes with yellow it becomes green, and try to add as much blue back as you want, but you’re never going to be the same color again. You are changed. While this may scare some people, it excites me.

It is that reason why I would rather live in a tiny, empty house and experience the world. I would rather have too many possessions and never see what the rest of the world has to offer.

That is why I like travel.

Story-formed

We all have a story to tell. Everyone.

We sometimes forget that. We don’t mean to, it’s just in our nature to be self-centred. When you walk into a coffee shop or restaurant, all those people are not just extras, background for your story. They each have a story to tell.

But as a Christian, there is another belief about stories I hold: That everyone’s story intersects with God’s story. God can speak into everyone’s story. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your story is.

As we live out the rhythms of our lives, we need to realise that everyone lives in the light of a larger story. We are not the centre of the universe, the world is not just the setting and background to our story. Our story is just one that is a part of the story God is trying to tell.