Monday, May 17, 2010

Fake Being Real: Mark 10

Take 5 minutes and read Mark 10:17-22.

Jesus is setting out on this trip and right before he leaves this guy comes running up to him. I didn't realize until recently that in this time in history that culturally guys didn't run too often. It showed power if you were a guy and never needed to run. So unless it was some athletic event you tried to avoid running. This matches up with the kind of person I see Jesus being. Guys are willing to run even if it looks weak if it means that they get a chance to talk with Jesus.

When the guy gets to Jesus he falls to his knees to ask Jesus a questions. He is quickly seeming to me like one of those bleeding heart types who wears his heart on his sleeve. He wants to know what he needs to do to get into Heaven, and he thinks Jesus is the guy he should be asking. At this point the guy seems super genuine and very serious about his question.

Jesus plays around with him a bit and eventually tells him basically that he needs to live a perfect life to get into heaven. Whereas most of us would sadly walk away at this point because we know we have already ruined any chance of that, this guy does something unexpected. He lies to Jesus. He goes fake on him. His response to Jesus is, "I've done that since I was a kid."

We all hate people being fake. Nothing kills a friendship like fakeness. Jesus doesn't call him out on this or judge Him because of it either. Verse 21 says that Jesus' response was that he loved him. Before Jesus responded or did anything else the Bible tells us that he loved him. That's incredible.

Jesus goes on to tell him that he needs to give up everything he has to the poor and follow Jesus. This bums out the guy because he was really rich and didn't want to do that. Jesus wasn't telling us that we all need to take a vow of poverty. He knew this guy, and knew that he loved his wealth more than anything else. Jesus was saying to him and to all of us. If you want to follow me you need to commit to it completely. This isn't a part time thing.

That ended up being the deal breaker for this guy who showed so much potential at the beginning of the story. I hate it that the story ends with him being fake and walking away from Jesus sad. Nobody sings Jesus loves me and finishes it with, "Yes Jesus loves me, but I love money. Yes Jesus loves me, but I can't follow him." That's depressing, but a lot of us do it with a whole lot of things not just money.

It is overwhelming that Jesus' loves us even when we are fake. He loves us fake but wants us real. Completely.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blindside: the Sequel

This Summer in Theatres:

Yeah in case you haven't heard there is another Blindside movie coming out. Not really, but you need to hear this story. A 22yr old was going to a HS in Texas pretending to be a 16yr old. The article from NBC Miami states that this guy was a standout basketball player in his old HS back in South Florida. Apparently sometime last year he showed up in Texas to Permian High in Odessa, Texas claiming to be a homeless youth. The basketball coach took him in and gave him a place to stay. The whole community stepped up and embraced him too. What makes this story even crazier, is Permian HS is the same school that gave us the incredible story that became the movie FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. He got caught when one of his former coaches saw him at a tournament in Arkansas. Stories don't get much crazier than this.

Somewhere in Idaho, Uncle Rico is hatching a crazy plan to shave and re-enroll to a HS in a neighboring state where he can relive his dream of taking his football team to state. You know that ex-jocks everywhere are looking themselves in the mirror today wondering if they can get another year or two of eligibility out of their looks. Don't be surprised if Brett Favre calls another audible and instead of returning to the NFL for another year returns to Mississippi for one more shot to win State. To be honest, I might be placing a few calls to some local high schools to see if they need a Middle Infielder with 4 yrs of experience. It's worth a shot right?

Honestly it is a shame that someone would think to take advantage of a community like this 22 yr old man did. It would be so easy for a community to fall in love with a student who told such a tough luck story. Everybody would bend over backwards to help a 'kid' like that succeed. Its a sad thing that someone would try to pull something like this off. I remember a few years ago when an Ohio couple lied and said that their daughter had cancer and stole thousands of dollars from people who willingly donated to such a 'worth cause.' Stuff like this is nothing new, and I wish we didn't have to be cautious every time someone came forward with a sad story, or a big need.

It makes me think back to my little league days when we played all those traveling teams that had so many giants on their roster. You know what I am talking about. Those 13 and 14 year old kids who were shaving or growing full beards. Maybe they were pulling the wool over everyone's eyes too. I mean if you think about it. We had to be playing against a lot of 20-30yr old teams in all reality...right?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Enquirer Article: Keeping the Faith with Children

On May 6th, Cincinnati Enquirer Columnist, Krista Ramsey wrote an article entitled Keeping the Faith with Children. The article focused on community organization call the Council of Christian Communions and its executive director Joellen Grady. It focused on the struggle to get churches to partner with Grady. As I read the article I was struck by two aspects of it. The first aspect being that Community Organizations and Churches struggle to work together. The second thing I noted was how true it is that the Church needs to be more active in the community. The church should always be working to strengthen families and give students a chance to experience Jesus in a life-changing way. Still those two groups don't currently work together well.

Just last week, Parkside Christian Church, the church that I am so blessed to work at announced a partnership with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative in an effort to mentor Mt Washington and Riverview East Academy Students. I am so excited to say that already over 50 people have stepped up to be mentors. That confirms to me that at least in Parkside's case the church is more than willing to be involved in the community. Especially when they see a need. I believe that followers of Christ are willing to help when they see a clear need. That is what the Gospel is all about, but still for some reason it is hard for Community Groups and Churches to work together. Where is the disconnect if everyone involved cares about the same thing?

In the past 2 weeks I have had conversations with 5 different Christian based community organizations. All of them have great dreams and passions for how Jesus can take their talents and abilities to make a difference in students' lives. I look at some of them and see that a few of them are more effective than others. I also notice that some of them are trying to adapt as the culture changes. Most organizations that I talk to though want to partner with the church and most describe themselves as a tool that can be effectively used by the church. I definitely see the truth in what they say, and I love their passion, but their is still a disconnect. There just isn't enough time or energy to partner with all of them.

I saw a Bill Cosby quote the other day that I thought was interesting. Cosby said, "I don't know the secret to success, but I do know how to fail, and that is to try to please everyone." That's a hard truth to embrace. I have had to say no or not now to some really great people that I admire, because I know that it would just cause our Student Ministry to be involved in too many things and spread our volunteers and leaders too thin. That's hard for me to do.

I believe in a Kingdom of God that is bigger than Parkside Christian Church, and I believe that God has called me to be a worker in that Kingdom. I love what I am able to do. Mentoring students into young men and women who are passionate about Jesus is such a blessing. Everytime though I talk to a Faith Based Community Organization it stirs up some inner turmoil for me.

This is the question I get caught up in: Why does everyone need to have their own initiative or own program? People need a common goal to be unified. They need to know what they are striving for if they are going to be committed to it. Community service and involvement is SUCH a popular thing these days, but everybody seems to have their own ideas on how it should be done. People will develop a passion for something and instead of just getting involved in it, they try to reinvent it or start a new organization.

Maybe what we need to do is go green with our Faith Based Community Groups. It would be hard to do, but what would happen if we reduced/recycled groups that we felt had outlived their effectiveness? Or what would happen if organizations with common goals just merged into one instead of simply collaborating? That would be gutsy and probably messy, but couldn't also become something incredible? What if people who wanted to make a difference simply started finding places in their community that needed leaders? Why can't we just support the community by being coaches, substitute teachers, tutors, and role models? We may have a common goal, but I am beginning to think that we have so many different methods on achieving it that we have forgotten the why in our pursuit of the how. I am committed to the Why of what I am doing, but I am still trying to simplify the How of partnering with Faith Based Organizations.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I can still remember the day that Ace Ventura: Pet Detective came out. I wasn't allowed to see it because I wasn't 13 yet, but my Disney Adventures Magazine had an interview with Jim Carrey about the movie. It also had a step by step guide on how to do your hair exactly like Ace Ventura in the movie. You better believe I put all sorts of gel in my hair and walked around quoting the movie.At different points in our lives different people have an influence on us. One of the biggest influencers in anybody's life is their parents. Whether the parent is super involved, or completely absent they still play a huge part in shaping who their children will become. We are also influenced by our friends and people we look up to or respect.

My question for you today is who are you influenced by and who are you influencing. If you can't figure it out, ask yourself these questions:
  • Who do I go to for advice?
  • Who will I change my plans to be able to spend time with?
  • Who comes to me to see what I think about something?
  • Who asks me for advice about big decisions in their life?
After you have decided who influences you and who you influence I want you to think about one last thing. What kind of influence are they making on you and vice versa?

Being a disciple who makes disciples means that you are helping mentor other people and coming alongside them as they grow to be more like Christ. Are the people that you allow to influence you helping you to grow to be more like Christ? Are you helping others go deeper in their discipleship journey?