Thursday, December 23, 2010

Patience Updated

If you don't know why I'm updating you on patience you might want to read THIS post first.
            The last weekend of October, I broke my I-Phone screen. My warranty on the phone was expired and so I was on my own to fix or replace my phone. I decided to brave the uncertainty of trying to fix it. What followed was a very boring, slow moving, and honestly quit frustrating story that taught me a whole new aspect of patience.
            As mentioned before USPS lost the first replacement screen I bought online. I didn't get the replacement part I needed until mid-November. Ironically the screen that was lost in shipping arrived the day after the second one they sent me did. I decided  that it was best to laugh about that one. 
            I replaced the glass screen and touch screen, but the LCD screen still needed to be replaced. The LCD replacement screen I purchased ended up being an offbrand knock-off that wouldn't work with my phone.  I returned it and was stuck with a faded and distorted screen. I would have to tilt my phone to all sorts of weird angles to read text messages. Friends would call me and ask me to explain my text messages. They would then tell me that what I thought had been a normal text message had ended up being a garbled bunch of nonsensical words because I could see my keyboard but couldn't see what I was typing.
            I found another company online that boasted only original manufacturer parts. I purchased an LCD screen from them and started to wait again. It arrived shortly after Thanksgiving. I nervously took my phone apart for what seemed like the 20th time and switched screens. I turned on my phone, and nothing happened. I tried a few different things and nothing worked. I switched the screens again and packed up all my tools and parts.
             I resigned myself that I probably wouldn't get my I-Phone fixed again. My mom saw that I had switched to another phone when Alicia and I were visiting. She asked me when my other phone would be fixed. I told that it probably wasn't going to be fixed. I followed that up by saying that I had learned that patience doesn't always have a finish line.
            Sometimes you wait patiently for something and it never happens. Moses waited for the Promise Land, but he never got to go in to it. Paul repeatedly mentioned in his letters to different churches that he wished to visit them, but wasn't able to for several reasons. John the Baptist sent his followers to Jesus to ask them if John was going to get released from prison, and he didn't get the answer he was expecting. He never was released from prison either. 
            Patience is waiting for something through whatever frustrations or problems may arise, and not getting upset or complaining. The truth of life is sometimes we wait, and what we are waiting for never happens. Everyone knows life does not go the way we always want it. Patience is being ok with the possibility that you might not ever get what you want. I think that leads to contentment too. 
            As I became more and more content with my phone situation I found myself not having to be patient anymore, because I was already OK with my present situation.  That was good.
            Last week, I had lunch with my friend. I saw he had the new I-Phone, so I asked him what happened to his old phone. He told me the buttons had stopped working so he replaced it. I asked what he did with his old phone. As it turned out he still had it and it was collecting dust in his basement. When he heard my story, he had no problem letting me see if his old screen would work in my phone. It did.
            So for the past 7 days I have had the wonderful surprise of owning a working I-Phone and all the wonderful capabilities that come with it. I hope my phone doesn't break again, but the lesson I learned during the adventure of my broken I-phone was definitely worth the wait.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Righteousness vs. Rightness

I have heard it said that early on in his political career, certain groups of Christians made Abraham Lincoln very uncomfortable. PBS's recent special God in America went into Lincoln's personal notes when discussing his uneasiness with the church. As the North and South became increasingly polarized it worried him that on both sides of the divide was the church. The North and the South were both made up of sincere and devout followers of God who both felt like the Bible agreed with them and their beliefs. The thing that scared Lincoln the most about Christians was their rightness

There is a difference, a huge one in fact, from righteousness and rightness. When Jesus gave his life for us all on the cross, he made available for us all the gift of grace. When we unwrap that gift we find that grace forgives our sin and makes us righteous in God's sight. Our criminal records have been expunged. We are upstanding citizens in God's Kingdom. What we won't find inside that gift of grace is rightness. The gift of grace doesn't come with all the answers or make all your answers the right one. 

Lincoln would later more fully embrace the Christian community after the death of his son. He saw how Christians had a peace and trust in God even in such turbulent times as losing a child. He would view the steps he took in the Civil War to abolish slavery as him playing a part in God's plan to bring justice on earth. Still, even after he came to that realization, he didn't think that the righteousness he received from God gave him rightness in any situation. He saw the difference and the danger of thinking that believing in God made you right in all situations.

I can't speak for you, but it scares me when people feel like God's gift of grace means that not only are they righteous, but they are also right about whatever they are talking about. There are some pretty adamant people out there who totally believe in what they are doing and think that God is 100% behind them. The only people it's not clear how wrong they are is themselves. (Do I even need to mention Westboro Baptist Church)?

Still, I don't think that most people struggle with that overall sense of rightness. Maybe I'm wrong about that. I know a lot of people who don't like being wrong, myself included, but I know most of us really have huge questions about life. We would love to know the answers even if we were wrong on some stuff.  The pitfall that I fall into with righteousness vs. rightness is that I forget about the amazing gift of grace I have received. 

Great gifts are meant to be shared. God's grace has changed my life and done incredible things in the lives of so many people around me. I make the mistake sometimes of not sharing God's gift of grace with other people because I know that I don't have all the answers. Even though I don't have all the answers I do have the most important answer and that is where the gift of grace comes from.  God has given us the most incredible gift; the hope of salvation. That gift doesn't give us free reign or make us right in every argument. It does however change our eternal situation and it is worth being incredibly passionate about. So be passionate about being made righteous by God's grace, but be a little less passionate about always being right.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Attempt to Brighten Your Thursday

Zoolander Eat Your Heart Out!

Possibly the Weirdest References to Cincinnati in a Movie Ever!
(From Keanu Reeves and Drew Barrymore too)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spending Time with Students

In the summer of 2006, I had an awesome opportunity to do a 3 month internship with Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas. The entire experience was a wonderful one. I learned so much from their staff and from all the students I got to meet as well. In fact, it has been incredible how I've gotten to see the Junior High Students that I invested in that summer, grow up, graduate and do some pretty cool things.

There are a lot of great, funny, and interesting stories I could share with everyone. Just ask PJ, Josh, or Jordan about having to change a tire. My first day at Canyon Ridge was jam packed too. It started with me taking a Red Eye Flight from Dayton to Las Vegas, and it ended with me throwing up in my summer host's house (Sorry Kerry) from a combination of jet lag and bad chicken from Red Robin (Yummmm?). Don't worry this isn't going to be a Vomit Play by Play Post.

The first thing that I did at Canyon Ridge after meeting some of their great staff and getting a tour of everything, was I made some phone calls. The Student Ministry had a summer party party coming up and so they wanted me to make some calls and remind students they should come. I felt like a telemarketer. I was making cold calls and hoping no one said, "Matt from Canyon Ridge? I know Duncan, and I know Peak, but who are you?" (See Acts 19:15-16) Thankfully that didn't happen, but something even more intimidating did. I called a number and asked if the student's name I had listed was at home. I got an answer I didn't expect, "Sir, how did you get this number? The teen you named has been moved recently by Children's Services. The case is still ongoing."

After a silence that seemed to last a lifetime. I fumbled around trying to let the person know that I didn't know how I got this number, and that I was only an intern at my first day of work. I think the person on the other end could tell I was flummoxed, because they graciously let me say goodbye. I was petrified. I honestly couldn't tell you about any of the other calls I made the rest of that afternoon. Looking back on that story now a huge lesson pops out to me.

It is easy when you work with Teens in Student Ministry, or as a Teacher to forget all the things that go on in student's everyday lives. As dumb as it sounds its really easy to get sucked into this virtual reality where we think that really the only thing going on in our students' lives are the things they tell us about or do with us. We forget that they have Grandparents in the hospital, college applications that are being completed and filled out, games to play in, and homework to do.  We will make a phone call or visit a family and be floored to find out something crazy has happened. Really though, students spend around 2 hours with us each week, what about the other 166 hours? We can't honestly think that students go home and twiddle their thumbs until the next Student Ministry event. A lot of us tend to run our ministry/lives that way.

One of the hardest things for me in my Life Group of friends and other couples that meet every week is for me to remember to check in with them during the week and spend time with them during the week. They are really good friends who I really care about. I'll even make plans to call, text, or hang out with them, but before I know it, its been a week and I haven't talked to them at all.

It is just easy to forget that students have as much going on as we do. Sometimes we are surprised to find out the pain they are going through or the struggles they have going on week to week. It is hard to keep that in the forefront of our mind. Maybe we need to spend more time listening, so we get a chance to hear about all that they have going on from week to week. I'll have to tell you the story of me yakking some other time.