As Jesus followers we are called into the Kingdom Life. This blog will help us converse and learn what that means. It will contain thoughts on Scripture, Sermon Reflection, Leadership Training and interesting reads. -Pastor Jeff

Monday, September 28, 2015

The “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” Personality

Philippians 2:1-11

As a young parent, one of my favorite times of the day was bedtime (and no it wasn’t cause I was finally getting the kids to sleep – well not always).  No, I loved the bedtime because that was story time.  We had a shelf of favorite books.  We’d grab one and in our best character voices, we’d read and laugh with our little ones.  It was quality time.  One of my favorite books to read to my children was If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  It’s just a cute book, right?  Wrong…it’s a life lesson.

What I didn’t realize when I was reading that book is how closely it mirrors life.  The whole premise of the book is very simple, “If you give a mouse a cookie, they will want a glass of milk.  If you give the mouse a glass of milk, they will want a straw.  If you give the mouse a straw they will want a napkin…and on and on and on.”  This book speaks to the truth that for some of us, the cookie is never enough.  There is always something more we want, we demand!  We have an unrelenting, insatiable demand for something more. 

Now, before I go pointing fingers, please understand…this is sometimes ME!  (Especially with God!!)  Often I will ask God for something, he will give it.  But when he gives it…immediately I try to inform Him of what He left out.  My list of demands seems to grow with every blessing He grants me.  Funny how that works right?  Perhaps I ought to try gratitude which leads to contentment a bit more often.  Yikes.  So there…there’s the plank in my eye.

Can we talk about your speck now?  Some of us have the kind of personalities where we are never content with the cookie that someone in our lives gives us.  We are takers.  We don’t want to admit that, but we are.  We want cookie, milk, straw, napkin, toothbrush…and on and on.  Trouble is…when we don’t get it, we get disappointed and bitter.  We feel short-changed even as we are sucking down that cookie.  People in our lives run around trying to make sure they’ve met all our demands, asking for forgiveness every time they’ve run out of milk.  There is just no pleasing a mouse…or a taker.  They always want more. 

Do you fall into that category?  Be honest…are you hard to please?  Do you ever stop and take time to consider all the cookies you’ve been given, content yourself with that and just give thanks?  Do you ever stop and look to those around you and offer to give them some of your cookies?  Do you wear people out demanding they meet another need you have or think you have?  Do you live bitter constantly because everyone else around you seems to have enough milk, another napkin…and all you have is the cookie? 

Tough questions…right?  But necessary.  God has called us in Christ Jesus away from being a “taker.”  According to Phil. 2, it says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”  Can I also tell you that gratitude is the best weapon against being “taker.”  Gratitude leads to contentment. 

If you have a cookie monster mouse in your life, it may be time to start drawing loving boundaries instead of feeding into their unrelenting, insatiable demand for more.  When is the last time you simple said, “No!”?  Drawing healthy boundaries avoids the co-dependency of trying to please the mouse in your life.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Hope is Dangerous

The hopeful person is a dangerous person.  To hope is to creatively imagine a future different than the present.  It is to imagine a world freed from the constraints of present power structures, unhitched from the chains of social, economic, and racial distinctions.  To speak a hopeful word is to speak a disruptive word to the protectors of the status quo, those who through privilege, good fortune, social capital and influence, wealth and power, seek to preserve and defend the “way things are” because they reap the blessings of the current establishment.  

The hopeful person is a citizen of humankind and not merely a member of a narrowly defined clique or subculture, but one who has drunk deeply from the myriad of human experiences, who has looked deeply into the mosaic of human faces, whose heart has been wounded by the suffering and injustices of intolerance, abuse, violence, and exploitation.  But, having taken in the despairing realities of many, refuses despair as an option, instead mustering every bit of God-given strength, courage, and creativity to inspire the dream of difference.  The hopeful person is one who believes that in God’s wiring of humanity that the flame of human solidarity still flickers in the hearts of many.  Certainly there are those that seek to extinguish that flame, dousing that fire with the putrid waters of greed, arrogance, and selfishness.  But the hopeful person believes that all that fire needs is a bit of wind, a bit of breath blown on the embers to ignite it to a raging, all-consuming fire, one that consumes our lethargy, complacency and indifference.  The hopeful person prays…”Lord breathe on the embers so that the fire might again rage.”  

The hopeful person expends themselves, giving themselves away for a cause much greater than themselves, who refuses personal comfort and security as the end-all-be-all of human striving.  No, the hopeful person lives in pursuit of change, affecting and promoting change on the behalf of others, giving voice to the desperation of those whose voices have been quieted.  The hopeful person has no towel in their hands, for there is no giving up or throwing to the mat that towel.  Oh, they will draw the vitriolic condemnations of those in power, those threatened by promise of creative change.  They will be distrusted and abused, discredited and accused.  But they will prevail.  They will cling to the belief that God’s writing a redemptive story in this world and we are the pens he holds in his hand.  Though some may smear our ink, God continues to write for He will not be denied the final word.  

Hope is rooted in God’s promise of a world redeemed.  Hope is anchored in the example of Jesus.  Hope is made possible through the faithfulness of God’s Spirit traversing this earth awakening people to dream.  Hopeful people are dangerous because they announce to the world that things will not remain as they are.  God is at work.  Hopeful people are dangerous because they dare to dream!

Be a #hopetimist today!  One who believes that though the world is not as it should be, God is busy, at work, making it as it ought to be.