This is not a post about herb, blunts, Mary Jane (I’m dating myself I know), or cannabis. But follow me here…
“Just Staying Busy”… we have all said this in response to a question about what we have been up to, or how we are doing. “Good, just busy” was something I said all of the time. And it was true. Work, kids, school, church, and some other stuff sprinkled in between my already busy life. I’m busy now too, the truth is no matter how much time I have… normally I’m trying to figure out ways to spend it!
If time were a currency I would have ZERO in my savings account! How about you?
The Parable of the soil hits this nail on the head when Jesus says, “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.” (Matthew 13:22)
I hate weeds
I waited tables for a couple of years in college and I can remember the first time someone yelled out, “I need some help, I’m in the weeds”. In the restaurant business being “in the weeds” means you are so busy you can’t handle whats coming your way… maybe you were triple sat and with all 3 tables of 6 people each ordering drinks, appetizers, and food at the same time you spend the next hour or so running so hard you don’t know what table is what… and if that happens once and they all get up at the same time, guess what happens if the lobby is full of people waiting… you spend the entire night “in the weeds”. It seems like you would make more money that way, but if you’re so busy you can’t give quality service to your tables, you might work a lot harder and make less money because the people you’re trying to serve well are left with needs unmet, cold food, empty glasses, and their night was ultimately affected by your busyness.
Being on the clock with so little time for things that really matter is like living your life in the weeds.
If you’re too busy and in the weeds of life, you are neglecting things that really matter. You just had a flash of things and people who are affected by the busyness of life right? Relationships take the brunt of our busyness. In fact, you and your wife can both be busy together and still forget what being married and in-love feels like.
Busy is never a synonym for success.
As all relationships are affected by the weeds, if you desire a relationship with God and life gets too busy, Jesus will likely get put on the back burner. More than likely you pray to Him while you’re in the weeds because deep down you know you can’t go forever like this… but a quick prayer is not what it takes to get out of the weeds.
It takes time to get out of the weeds.
We only get 24 hours a day… a simple prayer won’t work. Change is needed… you will have to find time somewhere in your already busy day. It means you will have to get intentional about making time. Time is your friend, but it can also be your enemy if you let others dictate how you spend it.
If you find yourself in the weeds of life, I challenge you to find some time in your busy life to REST.
Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” If you want to know God and have a relationship with Him… you have to be still to get to know Him. Any relationship requires time, and a relationship with God is no different.
If you find yourself in the weeds…
And Know or Get to Know The God of all creation, Jesus.
You might just find that rest is what you needed all along and the weeds begin to clear up in your life.
At One Community Church this week we talked about hearing from God and how the soil of our lives can make all the difference in the world. We have discussed in this series that God is speaking and He primarily uses His word… but the truth is no matter how you think He speaks the soil of our lives determine the impact His words will have.
There are four soils in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. The first soil is called the footpath which represents people who are just not willing to hear. Maybe they are bitter at a situation or with God, angry for any number of reasons and God gets the blame, or just too prideful to let God in. Ultimately Jesus could speak to them directly and they would refuse to believe it because they are unwilling to hear. An unwilling heart gains nothing it needs to survive!
The second soil is the rocky soil. This is when you and I prefer to stay on the surface of a matter. Maybe we always stay on the surface and maybe its just with this one subject, but the fact remains we don’t want to go any deeper.
Deep means you gotta take it serious. You might dig something up that can’t be covered back up!
It represents the heart that has a shallow response to the gospel. Jesus changed everything with His life, death, and resurrection, and you’re glad He did… but unwilling to completely surrender to the life Jesus calls those who accept His offer of salvation. Did you know that less than 72 hours after reading this, you will forget all about it? Some of you have forgotten the first soil already! The only way to remember some of the things you and I need to remember is repetition. Repetition means you take it seriously! If you truly have a desire to dig deep into the word of God, learning from it and remembering it will be a much easier task than simply hearing a sermon and telling everyone it was great and forgetting all about it by lunch. When you hear the word of God spoken, sang, or read in a way that resonates with your soul I’m begging you to spent some time remembering… write it down, study it for yourself on Monday, and ask God to help you learn about Him through this impactful message. Hebrews 2:1 says, “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away”
The third kind of soil is the weeds. I labeled this the soil of a pre-occupied mind. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God”. When I read this last week it dawned on me.. we can’t truly know who God is when we are always on the go, reminding everyone how awesomely busy we are and continuing to add one distraction after another. Slow Down…
Weeds… weeds grow because we neglect the soil. If the soil God’s word falls on determines its effectiveness you can have a sincere heart but a really poor “work ethic” as it relates to your relationship with God and watch all that God is doing get choked out by the weeds in your life.
The good soil is the final soil Jesus tells us about. He implores us all throughout the gospels to be this good soil and we are going to talk about how to be good soil next week. Because we determined we can talk all day long about hearing from God and how He wishes to communicate with you, but if the soil isn’t prepped and ready it really doesn’t matter what God says… it will not produce what the seed was intended to produce.
How’s your soil doing today? Tend to it!
Christians who make the rest of us look like idiots!!!!
Right now every media outlet is talking about this “group” of Christians upset about a red cup. The Today Show, The Ny Times, you name it and they are talking about it… oh wait they are actually laughing about it!!!!
If you don’t know what the buzz is all about an “evangelist” Joshua Feuerstein went on his popular social media pages and ranted about the fact that Starbucks cups are simply red this year and contain no mention of Christmas. Complaining that they are taking Christ out of Christmas by not including the word on their cups… His only problem to the argument is that Starbucks has NEVER had “Merry Christmas” on their cups! They have had snow flakes, lights, and other non religious symbols on their cups because they are NOT a religious company! For the life of my I can’t imagine why this guy is upset and making christianity and Jesus followers look like idiots.
Look, if you rely on Starbucks to feed your soul with a specific word on a cup, you have bigger problems than not hearing Merry Christmas when you walk in the door. If you think the way to fix the cultural problem in America is by land blasting a company that is secular to the core for their choice of cups that never had a reference to Christ before, you don’t understand the culture or Jesus. This was not his approach, not should it be ours.
And Lastly, tricking others into saying a phrase and or believing what you believe has got to be one of the most arrogant and non gospel driven things you could do. I’m all about speaking truth, it’s what I do all day everyday to the best of my Jesus centered ability… but this Red Cup Christian movement is just another reason why people will like what Jesus stood for , but hate the church and his followers.
Jesus was full of grace and truth… this “so-called” movement is full of neither!
If you are a Christian, please understand follower of Jesus… you are called to be salt and light. The right amount of salt is preserving and flavorful… but TOO MUCH salt kills what you put it on faster and makes it unpalatable, inedible, and ruins ANY chance of someone tasting what once was tasty goodness.
If you are on the outside of the faith and looking in, Please understand that not everyone who has a voice speaks the truth 100% of the time. The sad part of this story is this guy has a lot of good things to say, but on this subject he is missing the mark BIG-TIME. Please don’t let his ignorance on the subject and arrogance because of his many followers block the truth of good news that Jesus could care less if you drink from a blank red cup or a cup shaped like a cross… what He cares about is your soul and how that soul spends eternity. He cares about transforming our hearts into a heart more like His… and He cares about how that new heart of yours and mine effects the world around you with grace and truth, how your new heart and life cares for the poor and broken in this world, and if that new heart is able to plop down in the middle of a place like Starbucks that may not share your values and engage them with the truth in such a way that compels them to follow the truth you speak.
Here’s to hoping the red cup revolution dies a quick death and the people of God love the world like Jesus instead of manipulating the world like some Christians seek to do.
On a side note… I will not be drinking from a plain red cup because I don’t like the burnt brown stuff Starbucks puts in their cups : )-
We talked about worry and anxiety and how Jesus simply said not to do it. At the same time we were honest in dealing with the fact that worry and anxiety attack us all, and sometimes the attack can be overwhelming. “Shrug it off” is not always possible to pull off… sometimes the situation seems so hopeless we can’t see a way out.
But there is most definitely a way out.
Jesus is the simple, easy answer. Many people would even get mad at me for saying, “Jesus is ALWAYS the answer”, but the truth is… I believe HE is THE answer.
Do you trust Jesus for your salvation? Do you trust that Jesus died on a cross for your sins and rose again 3 days later and will be there to welcome you into eternity whenever “your time” comes? If so, why is THAT not an “easy” answer? Seems “Jesus is the answer” is good enough for your eternal well being, but not for your stress?
Now if you come to the end of that statement and say, “yes, that’s how it seems. I trust Jesus died for me and eternity is settled, but it’s hard for me to give the same easy answer to my stress” I have good news for you… You are not alone!
One of the things I failed at this Sunday was to spend adequate time on what we do when we are stressed out. What we do when anxiety is turning into depression, and that depression is killing you.
If your stressed, worried, anxious, depressed… the chances are you are way too focused on the wrong things.
Shift your focus!
We read in Luke 12 how Jesus said not to worry and to put our attention on “The Kingdom of God and His righteousness” and all the things we are worrying about will be added to us… essentially Jesus said they will be taken care of eventually. So how do you shift our focus in times of stress and anxiety.
Some people choose to cover it up, ignore it away, drink it away, drug it away, etc. My question, if that is you… how is that going for you?
I spent my time years ago trying to drink away my problems, ignoring that my life was falling apart in every direction. I even ran to Alabama to get a “fresh start” and found that all of my problems and worries followed me there. It wasn’t until Jesus came into my life, showed me a better way, and helped me focus on things worth my attention that I began to see a difference in my life as it related to worry and anxiety.
Read Phil 4:6-9
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Essentially some people will tell you to pray about everything and that will make it better. While this is full of truth and I believe prayer is one of the best ways to shift your focus and think on the right things as this verse says, I believe verse 9 is the key for long-term relief from stress and anxiety… we must PUT INTO PRACTICE what we are learning from our time in prayer and with Jesus to realize the God of peace is walking with us even in the middle of stressful situations.
See, we can pray about the things that have us worried, but all to often those things don’t go away. They might get better, stop getting worse, etc… but the entire situation is not likely to turn around in a 180 the second you pray. It could… but if it doesn’t then you and I have to find ways to be at peace in the midst of the storm. When all is not right with the world, can we stand strong even though stress and worry are calling our name?
So we pray about everything, practice what we know to be true, and shift our perspective!
Change your perspective. Change your focus. We all have things to stress about, and we all have things to rejoice about. Which will you focus on? That my friends is up to you and me! Do we focus on what crushes us, or will we focus on the things that lift us up? Focus on all thats wrong with today, or find the things that are right with today and feed that thought to our souls?
What do you read? What are you listening to? What are you watching? Philippians 4 is asking us what are we thinking of?
What has earned the right to rent space in your head? If it’s not something you want there… its time to send and eviction notice and kick that punk out of your head! You get to decide what lives and dies in your head! So what’s it going to be?
It’s your move!
Make it count!
Every communicator has things they wanted to say and didn’t or things they only touched on but should have spent more time clearly stating their point. Sometimes they forget, they run out of time, they go off on rabbit trails (as if that ever happens to me!), etc. Phone conversations end and you think… dang it I didn’t even say what I called to tell them! E-mails and text messages can go 3 or 4 threads deep because you remember later that you forgot to say something you planned on saying all along. Well, sermons are no different. Most weeks I walk away thinking of all the things I didn’t say, which forces me to the posture of trusting God is sufficient to work with the limited material He was given : )
This is my attempt to pick up some of the pieces from Sunday’s and possibly continue the conversation about what was communicated.
I’m not sure if this is what other pastors and communicators feel, but often what I think is going to be the most important part of the talk becomes ONE of the important things in the talk. This week we talked about how Jesus told us all Not to Worry (Luke 12). Worry is something that we all struggle with. 2000 years ago the worries may have been different to a certain degree, but clearly worry was on the face of many Jesus encountered. I thought the main focus of the talk was going to be that worry keeps our focus off of what Jesus intends. He says to those of us who worry in Luke 12 verse 31, “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” He tells them to shift their focus off of their worry which only leads to anxiety and depression to the greater things of the Kingdom of God. Shifting our focus was going to be my main point throughout the talk, but then as I talked I realized that shifting our focus is good, but hating the worry, anxiety, and depression was more important and possibly first and foremost in the hierarchy of how to deal with worry.
So, I asked how we should see worry, and I pointed out that Jesus sees worry as our enemy. In just about every case where he deals with worry and anxiety he follows up with something about the enemy, the one you might call, Satan. As far as Jesus was concerned worry and anxiety are enemies to our souls. We see in the parable of the sower Jesus said that worry and the enemy steal the first three seeds that do not produce a harvest (Matthew 13:18-23)
This is where I should have camped out longer in the talk. If you and I are going to be faithful followers of Jesus who produce fruit, we can’t entertain worry, stress, and anxiety.
They are enemies to your soul!
1 Peter 5:6-8 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” You may have heard that you are to cast your cares onto Jesus, but Peter understood that anxiety and worry must be cast onto Jesus BECAUSE the enemy is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom is holding onto those seeds or worry and anxiety… Seems to me Peter is saying you are pray for the enemy when you let seeds of worry and anxiety live in your heart and mind. It’s like going camping, pitching your tent next to the warning sign about bears, and then cooking a good steak in the tent…
As I said yesterday, this is not to say that people don’t have real things to worry about, real things to be anxious over, real things that have happened to them causing them to have trouble in casting their cares on Jesus. But, if we see worry and anxiety as our enemy trying to break into our house and devour us… maybe just maybe it’s possible to slay this enemy once and for all! I know if my enemy wanted to come into my house and steal, kill, and destroy me and my family I’m going down in a blaze of glory! It’s either me or him, one of us will not make it out of that fight alive. The beauty of this metaphor is that we are not fighting alone. Jesus is with us. Jesus is willing to fight with us and for us! In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus doesn’t shy away from the fact that trouble and sorrow will find us, but He reminds us that He has overcome all of it for us, and if we walk with Him through it, we are over-comers! I’m living proof that you can walk through some of the most difficult territory and come out on the other side when Jesus is walking with you.
If you struggle with worry and anxiety, see to it that you call it what it is… it’s your enemy! It seeks to harm you and if something or someone seeks to harm you maybe it’s time to kick it out of your house!