Thursday, December 23, 2010

Advent: Poem


Coffee turns to tea,
no time for sympathy.

Walking to wandering,
finding something inside of me.

Driving to empty spaces,
looking for open faces.

Broken bottles and broken glass,
things that look clear don't always last.

Picking up the missing parts,
together finding what can spark.

Belong is never gone,
hope is ever long.

Dancing snow & mistletoe,
aroma of the familiar and the found.

Love that lasts,
what melts is whole again.

Sacrifice in the shadows,
Majesty in the meadows.

Grace on the ground,
and a home that is found.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent: Thankful

I am not a wealthy man...




...but I am rich.

I was at a cool department store where you expect more and spend less and I saw a lot of people buying a lot of stuff. I just had a lot of baby stuff (food) in my cart.

To be honest I can be a cart-peeker, is that weird? (don't answer that) I like to see what people are buying.

You know you do it too (don't answer that).

That is thing with shopping, we are measured by what is in our carts.

It may not be true, but I can definitely feel like it is at times, especially this time of year.

Sometimes Christmas can be about stuff instead about Someone.

More than just reading Luke chapter two at a church and lighting some candles and believing that we made Christmas about Jesus.

We make Christmas about Jesus when we act like him.

Everyday.

Now.

Not just on 24 and 25.

There are a lot of "Jesus People" in my life to be thankful for who get what I'm talking about.

I started naming family and friends, pastors and mentors, and even some cool tweeps but had to stop because it was going to be very long list.

No body likes long thank you speeches and I definitely didnt want my blog to get "Franked" ...right Conan.

With that being said, thank you to those who have poured into my life this year.

If you read this and think that you could be one of those people, you probably are.

I am not always an easy person to love, but I thank you for making me feel that I am.

In this economy it is hard to feel that you ever have enough, but I thankful to those who have given me all that I need...

I am thankful for giving me you, and being like Him.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, December 20, 2010

Advent: Seasons

"This too shall pass..."








Abe Lincoln used this phrase in a speech he gave at Wisconsin State. He shared that the origin of the phrase came from an Eastern Monarch's call for wise men to create a phrase that is useful in all situations.

It is simple.

It is complex.

King Solomon is said to have coined the phrase as well...

There is not a chapter and verse that says those words exactly, but he does talk about a season.

"For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven." (ecc 3.1 nlt)

We love seasons.

We love when summer turns to fall.

We love when we winter turns to spring.

We love Christmas, but Christmas is not winter.

It's hard to press on thru the cold moments of our soul. When light seems to fade too quickly. When hands are to numb to feel. Ice-olation is not just a pun but a state of mind.

Winter feels more like wilderness.

There is a preparation that takes place during the wilderness, it is not easy in the moment but looking back there always seems to be a reason in the season. (cheesy Christmas slogan but it kinda fits)

Speaking of Jesus, he had moments like this, and that warms my soul.

Jesus went thru the wilderness before the miracles.

Jesus went thru seasons in a land where weather never really changes.

Times when everyone followed him and
times when everyone wanted to kill him.

Jesus understood seasons.

"You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don't tell me you can't tell a change in the season, the God-season we're in right now." (luke 12.54 msg)

The point is not to understand why seasons change but to know that they do.

We can always wish for warmer weather for things to get better.

If we always wish for what's next we will miss what is already right here.

This to shall pass.

Don't miss it before it does.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent: Peace

Give it a chance.








Why is something so simple so hard?

I like to consider myself a peaceful guy.
I try to see things from the other persons perspective.
I want to be cool under pressure.

Sometimes I am not.

I am a Christian and I have a hard time loving other Christians.

The judgmental.
The legalistic.
The intolerant.

That's not who I am, that's not what I read in the bible what a Christian is known by.

I was recently at a Starbucks, they know I am a pastor, and saw a sign that said that they are open on Christmas Eve.

I said oh, you guys are open Christmas Eve?

The manager went on to say that it's not a holiday (which it is not Christmas is, but I did have to work on Christmas Eve when I was youth pastor) and she said there are other religions that don't celebrate Christmas.

There was almost a sense that she was anticipating me saying something about how they should be off, how it's a Christian holiday. (I bet she was looking for my "I don't say Happy Holidays I say Merry Christmas button).

There was tension in the conversation, I wish there wasn't. Actually, I was kind of glad they were open, nothing like a holiday or Xmas (maybe I shouldn't say that either) Sbux run.

The next day I saw a newspaper with the Westboro Baptist Church on the cover.
Then I read anther article on the same page of a Christian family being investigated for not taking their two year old to the hospital who later died for lack of medical attention. They were believing in a faith healing. It didn't happen.

I was ticked.

I was sad.

I was frustrated.

Why do these "Christians" get the front page?
Why do not other Christians who give back and love their neighbor get press?

Upon my frustration I tweeted (because that's what we do now when we are ticked we tweet).

A friend sent me a message.

He challenged (mentioned me on twitter) me that those "Christians" need love too and will probably be in my church one day.

His words hit me.

Made me think (and that's a good thing).

And when I think I usually check out scripture.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” Mark 9.50 NIV

Jesus wants me to love my enemies...

but also be at peace with Christians.

It's understood that we need to have grace and peace with those who do not believe, may we also remember to be peace with those who do believe as well.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent: Pride

The most proud American I know.





He is 92 years old.
He is a Master Sargent.
He is a Pearl Harbor Survivor.

He is my wife's Grandfather, Frank Navagato.

I call him Opa.

In this day and age being proud to be an American is rare.

Sometimes I am not proud. Sometimes I am ashamed to be American.

I don't think I am alone, but I think that needs to change.

Opa makes me want to change.

During this past World Series Lyle Lovett sang the National Anthem, and Opa began to sing along in a quite strong voice, and then soon after his wife of over 60 years (um wow) began to sing too.

I watched speechless.

People don't just do this, we make fun of those who sing the National Anthem, we don't join in.

I motioned for my wife to come into the living room and watch what was going on. We stood there as our Grandparents sang, together, and as our flag was still there, Opa saluted.

It was my favorite moment of the World Series (after all my beloved Phillies were not in it).

Every now and then I can get him to tell me stories about his days in the Army, sometimes even Pearl Harbor.

It is not like a Ben Affleck movie, it's better.

There is a sense of humility and duty in his stories; they are great stories.

He rescued a German refugee.

He would send clothes.
He would share food.
He would share his heart.

This refugee was named Suzie.
This refugee would become his wife.

Opa loves his wife as much as he loves his country.

He calls her Shatzy, German for sweetheart (I think that's how you spell it).
He kisses her goodnight every evening before he goes to bed.

It's cute and I think I need to start doing that with my Shatzy.

There is so much more that I can tell about this amazing couple, this proud American.

Stories of escaping down the German country side to a safe houses.
Stories of how he lived in more countries than I have been in different states.
Stories of how he loved to serve others from Meals on Wheels to selling Fruit Cakes for church fund raisers (yes fruit cakes and he sold boxes of them).

Jesus shared this with his disciples "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all." Mark 9:35

In a culture today were people strive to be first but never really are, this man lived his life in such a way that he is, but never realized that he was.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent: Joy

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
-Mother Teresa





My son Keane always smiles.

To say that he is a happy baby is an understatement.

He can turn a bad day into a brilliant day.

Life gets busy, the ministry can be discouraging, and people can let you down, but he doesn't care about that. He just loves me and wants me to love him too.

You might say he is too young to understand the concept of love, I don't believe that is so.

I think love is the first thing babies learn (after all the first time he smiled is when I held him in the NICU and asked him if he knew I loved him, he smiled).

He doesn't care about how much money is in my bank account.
He doesn't care about what I look like (especially when my hair is a fro).

He wants me.
To be in the moment.
And notice him.

The biggest curse that is upon America is the curse of being busy.

When you are busy you miss the moments.
When you miss the moments you lose your joy.

Jesus understood the importance of the moment...

"9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15.9-11 NIV

Did you notice that Jesus says remain three times.
Actually he uses the phrases "remain in my love" three times...then you will have joy, complete joy.

People smile when they are not busy, they remain in the moment.

Jesus is always in the moment, we are the ones that miss it.

Jesus is never to busy for me, he has all the time in the world. He smiles.

And so does Keane.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent: Grace

I don't always get it right.








I like to think that I am work in progress.

I was never consistent in school (although I did always manage to get C's).

Think about it, I am trying to blog everyday for Advent and the day after I blog about discipline I miss an entry. So why not blog about grace today (hehe)?

My grades in school fluctuated from A's to well...um...D's and ya maybe an F here and there. So from that you get C's...or I got C's. Hopefully you did better than me.

Nowadays, that philosophy can come back to haunt me.

As you do well in something there can be a tendency to ride that wave, but all that happens is that you return back to the shore.

You never go farther when you just coast.

To go farther you need to fight against the stream.

It's tiring to always fight upstream (I don't know how salmon do and still taste so good).

The biggest current of discouragement would be in relationships.

I want people to have a lot of grace with me, and yet I have a hard time showing grace to others. To go even deeper it's easy to act like I am cool with someone while at the same time thinking about how they hurt me.

Sometimes I just need to get over it.

And honestly, since I'm going there, I can be a bit sensitive. (but I'm not a mama's boy)

I need to have grace with others.
I need to be patient.
I need to be ok with not getting my way.

I like how Jesus talks about the rhythms of grace.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of GRACE." Matthew 11.28 MSG

The key word there is learn.
People are not just gracious as a personality trait.

Grace is a learned behavior, there is a rhythm to it.

Great dancers make it look easy but they practice a lot.

It doesn't just happen.

Grace doesn't just happen

It's a process...

After all this white boy can't learn how to dance over night.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent: Discipline

I have a hard time saying no.








Food is good.

We love food.

It looks good.
It tastes good.
It makes us feel good.

We even watch food...after all who doesn't love the Food Network. (Are you ready for a throwdown...ok maybe not)

Lets face it, eating is what Americans do best.

Seriously are any of you out there still chowing down on Thanksgiving left overs?

And Christmas is just around the corner. I would bet people gain the most weight from November and December than from any other time of the year. (I do anyways)

That being said, I probably think about my weight too much.

I used to be fat in middle school (or as my mom would say husky) and middle school is not the time of your life to be overweight.

I got teased and my friend always got the girl.

One summer I just lost the weight and things changed. (it's amazing how different people treat you when you lose a little weight.) Turning thirty this year my fears are coming back. Pizza Hut definitely goes to your gut.

I have come to the place in my life where I have to be disciplined in how I eat.

Its not easy saying no.

Especially when I am on the road a lot and finding a healthy lunch spot is tough to do. (the mcrib is always a tasty temptation)

The funny thing about discipline is that it carries over into other areas of your life.

If you don't eat on impulse you wont spend on impulse.

If you watch what you say you will watch what you eat.

During this Christmas season I want to practice the subtle art of Discipline.. Because there is a subltle humility and grace to it... I like how The Message phrases Jesus' words on discipline.

"When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint." Mark 6.16-18

A small time celebrity would be cool (definitely not a reality tv star).

Sometimes it may mean putting down the donut.

It may just mean I need to put a hold the lattes.

I might get better at being me and loving Him.

It may sound cheesy, but who doesn't love cheese.


-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent: Love

Jesus is love.

All you need is love.

Christmas has an aroma of love.

You can feel it.
You can see it.
You can drink it. (mmm starbucks peppermint mocha anyone?)

You can miss it.

The same with love.

It can be all around you and miss it. (a pic from a recent blog post)

I miss Jesus.
I miss my wife.

I want to miss less and love more.

I think that's why we love Christmas and Valentine's Day, (its funny how both those days are the same) these holidays help us get it.

We love our neighbors a little bit better.
We love our families a little bit better.
We love better.

Recently I was driving the morning commute with my wife and son, and the Christmas Song came on the radio, (Nat King Cole's version, the best version.) and I just started to cry.

It just hit me. (not a car, the song, the moment...you know.)

I am blessed.

I wish things could be better.
We all have fears, I have fears.
Fill in the blank for whatever fear is on your mind of late.

We all have fears... but we are all blessed.

I am... blessed.

My wife is an amazing mom and doesn't even really realize it, I don't think many moms do.

(Maybe thats why there are dads to remind the moms how awesome they are, and how us dads are trying to do a good job as they do.)

Marisa does everything at 100% and does it well.

She is an administrative assistant at a high school and does more than whats required of her and helps everyone around her.

There are even students who hang out in the office just to talk with her. (Thats a big deal, think about it, the bad ones are the students who are usually in the office.)

She has always helped me in the ministry and because of her, she always takes it to the next level of awesomeness.


Thats right, my wife blogs.

Its a fashion blog with some personal tidbits thrown in there too.

This past week she hit a huge milestone of reaching over a 100 followers. (Thats more than me, and I think that rocks.)

She said I can talk/(blog) about it if she ever hit a 100.

Her blog is brilliant, I love it.

It's something we do together. I take the pictures and she takes care of the rest.
It helps us slow down and connect, and she has been able to connect with others as well.

At times she has given advice to the other gals in the blog world. (not just fashion advice but some personal helpful stuff).

I guess thats the thing about blogs, holidays, Christmas.

They helps us to slow down and connect, to love.

One of my favorite verses lately is a verse that weaves together my two loves, Jesus and Marisa. (trust me the father and son blog is coming soon)

"I am my beloved’s,
And my beloved is mine." Songs of Solomon 6.3

Is this a verse about Jesus?
Is this a verse about Love?

Yup.

Is Christmas about Jesus?
Is Christmas about Love?

Yup.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent: Intro

It has begun.






The countdown to Christmas.

The Advent of the birth of Jesus Christ.

I love this time of the year. The Christmas music playing on the radio (really the only time I listen to radio during the year as I turn off my iPod and Pandora). Watching those memorable holiday movies that play every night during the month of December, brings back the feeling of being a kid. (love rudolf)

Even the smell is great, yeah, this time of the year has a smell, (or maybe its just the fact that I have a big nose).

Its a great time of the year, maybe the most wonderful time of the year.
You generally feel good.

Busy, but good.

After all, busy is what American's do best.

But is busy...good?

George Costanza is busy, well...not really busy he just looks busy, and remember a George divided itself cannot stand (ok enough of the Seinfeld references).

This month I am going to try and practice the art and disciple of the Advent.

This December I will blog every day something about the nature character and overall coolness of Jesus Christ. Yes Jesus had coolness. Seriously anyone that can get under the skin of the religious pundits of the day is cool in my book; the walking on water wasn't bad either.

So today is the intro and tomorrow it begins.