It’s been a crazy week. A couple of snow events and some white knuckle driving happened. Thankfully it’s over and March is just around the corner.
My kids were bored so we pulled out the Aggravation game the other night. Are you familiar with this game? I’ve been playing it all of my life, but I’m not sure about its recognition among others.
Aggravation is a game where each player has four marbles. You start out in home base. A roll of the dice, make that die, that ends in a six or a one and you get out. You go around the board trying to make it to safety. Once there, no one can get you out.
It struck me, as we played, how much the game of Aggravation is like life. You wait until you have your moment. You chase your dream. Others can affect your standing. You can win, fail, win and fail again.
Then there is the safety factor.
Once you make it into safety, no one can harm you. You can no longer lose out. You can’t be removed from the safety spot.
Some people won’t agree with me on this. Believe it or not, some folks’ theology doesn’t line up with mine.
I believe Christ is our safety spot. He is our goal. He is where we are, but also where we’re headed. If we have come to faith in Christ, of course.
Once we come to that faith, we can’t lose it. Nothing, no one, can remove us.
Sure, life can be an aggravation. It can be full of stress and ups and downs.
But Christ is our safety spot.
Do you know the game of Aggravation?
The original forecast for was for some brief and minor snow yesterday. It really wasn’t supposed to do much. However, the best laid plans of mice and men, you know.
So I woke up at my normal time of 4:30 a.m. Yes, that’s the time I wake up almost everyday, whether I like it or not.
School was out, so Jan decided to stay home. I headed out so that I could stop and get some gas. Just a couple of miles down the road, I got the word. Work was delayed until noon.
I turned around to go home. The roads were terrible and I thought it might get better as the day went on. As I came back home, I climbed the hill toward my home sideways, barely avoiding getting stuck. The snow continued until it got worse and worse instead of better and better.
I decided to stick it out at home and work from there. I was able to help those of my team who made it by logging in from home.
Now, I had the choice. I had a decision to make.
I could let the situation completely throw me off my game. I could let myself get down because my schedule was off kilter. I could complain about the snow and ice.
Or I could just praise the Lord. Not for anything in particular other than the Lord being good.
It really comes down to that in life. The Lord is good. In all of our circumstances. Good. Bad. Indifferent. The Lord is good. In all of the snow, while my truck was sideways, when I warmed up from coming in, the Lord was good.
I have to remind myself of that sometimes. I forget it, like so many others do. Like the Israelites would forget how the good the Lord was in bringing them out of Egypt, I forget.
So, yesterday was just another snow day, but not really just another snow day.
Do you ever forget how good the Lord is to you?
I reserved some movies from Redbox the other day. I went to get them, only to find that the kiosk was completely shut down. I was unable to get my movies, meaning that I would soon be charged even though I could not get them.
I quickly emailed Redbox. The reply was that they would refund my charge and give me a couple of credits for my inconvenience. All in all, a good customer service experience.
It makes me wonder if we should be customer service oriented in the church. Or if we are. And if not, what does that look like?
Some naysayers might say that we would take God and the Spirit out of the church if we do that. We might become so focused on the “consumer” that nothing spiritual is left. Those are certainly some concerns, but only if we take it too far.
For example, are our nurseries so exemplary that no one would hesitate to leave their baby in them? Parents are pretty particular about where they leave their children.
How about the bathrooms? Are they clean? Would anyone hesitate to actually use our facilities? Is our toiler paper a fine grade of sandpaper?
We could think about a million other ways that we could view customer service, but it really comes down to one word.
Within the church, love is the definition of customer service. Do we love Christ so much that we will put others before ourselves? Let’s face it, we have all experienced bad examples. We have all probably faced someone’s glare, or worse, when we took “their” pew. In fact, you’ve never seen the bad side of this until you’ve actually been asked to move out of someone’s seat.
So, no, focusing on others does not take the Spirit out of our gatherings. In fact, it may leave more room for the Lord than anything else we do. When we love others like we love ourselves, we display the best form of customer service possible.
Does your church have good customer service?
We watch a lot of movies in our house. One we had been interested in for a while was Gone Girl. It seemed interesting and had gotten a lot of good reviews, so we thought we would give it a try.
The basic story is that a man, Nick, comes home one day to find his wife, Amy, missing. He immediately calls the police who begin their investigation. Nick goes from sympathetic figure to main suspect as the movie unfolds. We find that Nick and Amy were not in a happy marriage. Both have serious issues that cause their marriage begin to fail. We find out that Amy began a plan to leave the marriage which leads to the main point of the story.
Neither Nick nor Amy are good people. They aren’t the kind of people who most of us would really like. They have serious issues that they need to deal with, but are never truly resolved in the movie. In the end, Nick and Amy are back together, but not in the way that would really suspect from the beginning.
Gone Girl reminds me of the kind of movie that Alfred Hitchcock would make if he was around today. Many of the plot twists would make Hitchcock proud. The movie has adult language and adult situations, so definitely don’t watch it with children. I give it a 3 out of 4 Hollers.
Have you seen Gone Girl or do you plan to see it?
Have you ever been burned out?
If I had to guess, you have. In fact, if we were all honest with ourselves, we would all admit to times of burnout. Of course, as the great American philosopher, Neil Young, wrote “it’s better to burn out than fade away.”
Burnout is a time of exhaustion and disinterest in work. There seem to be a lot factors, both coming directly from one’s work and one’s personal life playing a part in whether one is suffering from burn out.
It’s a sad situation to be burned out. It’s even sadder to suffer from burnout within one’s faith. I’ve seen a few people suffer from it. I’ve even been a victim of it. I’ve also come to a conclusion or two.
It’s totally unnecessary.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the one of Isaiah’s call in Isaiah 6. In that chapter, Isaiah sees the seraphim flying around looking praising God on His throne. These creatures are incredible. They are on fire as they circle our Lord.
They neither burn up or burn out. Why? They are in service to the Lord. They receive their power to worship and serve the Lord from the Lord. That’s incredible, isn’t it?
Too many of us try to serve the Lord in our own power. We think we can handle it. We believe we’re strong and have what it takes to get the job done on our own.
What if we flipped the script? What if we truly were dependent on God for the power to serve? What if we followed the Father in the same way that Christ did? What if we walked in the Spirit through every day of our lives?
None of us would ever suffer from the burnout that too many of us allow to creep into our lives. We would accomplish more for the kingdom precisely because we weren’t trying to accomplish more for the kingdom.
Have you ever suffered from burnout in the Church?
Over the past couple of years I’ve been making my way through the Game of Thrones novels. Or to better put it, A Song of Ice and Fire. These novels are not for the faint of heart. They are full of gore, death and more adult themes.
One of the catchphrases that is used throughout the novels is that they are playing “a game of thrones.” There is plenty of political intrigue from the first novel through the fifth on.
Another catchphrase is that “winter is coming.” From the north, beyond the Wall. It’s getting colder in Westeros.
Well, winter finally showed up here in this part of the country this week. We’ve had an ice storm. We expect snow tomorrow. Frigid temperatures near zero are imminent.
Winter represents what the people of Westeros fear more than anything. They want Spring, or better yet, Summer.
symbolically, Winter is the worst of what life has to offer in these books. It is the most pessimistic of times. It’s dark, cold and lonely. There is no hope.
Yet, there is a final novel planned that is tentatively entitled A Dream of Spring. I don’t know what that one will be about, but it’s hopeful, isn’t it?
That is what our lives are like.
We can be going through any number of winters. We may have cycles and cycles of winters. But…..
There is a dream of Spring.
Christ gives us that hope.
No matter how cold it gets. No matter how dark it gets. If you don’t have friends.
Christ gives us warmth. He brings us light. He is our friend.
Let’s dream of Spring.
Do you have the hope of Christ?
Whew, the last few days have been busy.
If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve missed the last couple of days. No Deuceology this past Friday or yesterday, Monday. (Rob, I’m surprised you didn’t message me.)
Work was pretty busy last week capped off with a big meeting on Friday. Then on Saturday we moved my sister-in-law out of her house into my in-laws home. Sunday, well, we were so worn out that we did what we rarely do. We missed church services. Today we had an ice/sleet/snow event that threw our entire region into turmoil.
What I’ve found out through these last few days is that I like routine. I’m not sure if I knew that before, but I definitely do now. My days have been out of whack, causing me to miss all of my normal routines.
No getting up at the same time. No running/walking 20,000 steps each day. You name a routine and I’m out of sorts right now.
This has caused me to think about what I like about routines.
Routines bring a certain comfort. My life is chaotic enough. I must have some rocks to cling to. Something that is solid.
Routines give me the lines that I need to create within. They give me boundaries to play in. They give me rocks to build my foundation with.
However, there is one thing they cannot replace.
Routines can be rocks, but they cannot replace the Rock, the one true foundation of our lives.
You see, I let Him get out of my routine for these last few days too.
I lost focus on Him. I lost sight of Him. Jesus didn’t play much of a part of my life for a few days.
We can have routines. I recommend them. However, these routines cannot replace the Routine that Christ needs to be in our lives.
So, I confess it. To all of you who are my friends here at Deucology. Pray for me as I continue my journey toward the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Do you ever get out of whack with Jesus?