Work that Matters

I invite you to join me in a short journey of recent memories.

Experience #1

Sitting together one evening, my dad and I “swapped stories” of emails we had received about certain things we’d each mentioned while preaching. While neither of the emails we mentioned were sent with any type of ill-will, we reflected on the challenge of our jobs when you give your opinion and perspective to thousands of people who have their own opinions and perspectives. Most people don’t realize it also means you find yourself explaining your arguments to others in email after the fact.

Experience #2

I had the opportunity to preach at a friend’s church last weekend. I talked about Jesus’ statement that He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21). One lady came up to me afterward and told me that she recites Psalm 23 every morning (the one that talks about “The Lord is my shepherd…”) and how I had forever changed her time with God each day. Another woman talked with me afterward and told me that as she listened to an illustration I used (about a negative view of God), she mentioned to her daughter that she found that to be an absurd stereotype. Her daughter replied by telling her mom that the illustration perfectly captured her view of God. Her mom was stunned and extremely grateful to me for the chance to have that dialogue with her daughter.

Conclusion

If I only think about experience #1 I can easily idealize some other career path. I know I’m not alone in this. Think back to the last time you felt totally drained and discouraged doing something you feel passionate about. If I only think about experience #2 I can easily expect a dream job which I’ll never quite get to last. Again, I’m sure you’ve had to work through something like this in your own life. But when I, and you the reader, combine both of these types of experiences we find a balanced way of sustaining ourselves to do work that matters. It won’t be all roses, and the moments of tension (especially if they come at you in a rush) can feel overwhelming at times. But this is the entrance fee for doing something of value. It also keeps us from having our heads in the clouds and constantly chasing after some dream which cannot be sustained. How many people opt out of meaningful efforts because the challenge with it was too much or because the adrenaline rush didn’t last?

You can spend today on work that matters. Find what it really looks like and willing give yourself to it and to the challenges it brings.

The King Who Had it All

Real wisdom is following the instructions, not knowing them.

Exploring deeper theology—especially ideas which are new to you—is like taking the roof off your bedroom. You begin to see the night sky and the stars in all their brilliance. But you also experience a new vulnerability from the rain when it storms. The question for each of us is whether we are willing to trade the one for the other.

The Weight of Words

This post originally appeared in the East Valley Tribune.

As a person who speaks in front of crowds on a regular basis, I often get into funny conversations with people I meet. We have five campuses across the Valley so most people in our church hear me preach at a distance. When all you know is what you see from afar, or on video, real life has a way — evidently — of surprising you. I’ve been told that I’m shorter than they thought and even that I have more gray hair than they’d expect. I’ve been told all manner of observations that catch me completely by surprise. People tend to turn off their regular social filters in moments like these. Normal etiquette falls by the wayside as blunt truth takes over.

As I’ve experienced this strange occurrence over the years, I’ve realized that this happens in an even greater capacity in a different context. Specifically, when we talk with someone who is hurting. Oftentimes when we don’t understand a person’s pain, we tend to say incredibly insensitive things to them. While my conversations with people can be comical, conversations with a hurting person often add to their pain.

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My Egypt Trip in Pictures

EbolaThe last few weeks I spent over in Egypt with a crew from our church staff. Our purpose was to capture videos and images to raise our global awareness at Central. It was my second time there (last was four years ago) and I thought I’d give you some of the highlights through pictures. Click on any of the images to enlarge. One of the strangest things was how often Michelle or I were asked about whether we were nervous about me getting Ebola because I was in Africa. Michelle started showing this map to help put things in perspective for people.

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A Conversation About ISIS

Last weekend I preached a message that touched on the way we view our enemies (you can watch it here). I then receieved an email from a lady in our church who began to wrestle with these ideas and explore them further. I’m reposting my correspondence with her (with permission) in hopes that it might address questions you have as well. Or even better, get you to a place where you start asking these types of questions. I have edited it slightly for grammar or for better readability.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m physically sickened when I hear or see what ISIS is doing. My heart aches as I know does the heart of God. Arriving at some of these tougher answers is not by ignoring the darkness we see in the world, but rather by looking for the light of Christ in the midst of that darkness.

Here’s her initial email:

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