Monday, March 15, 2010

So far it isn't getting any easier

Last post on January 24 I said I was going to be talking about “making the complex more simple and the hard easier”.

For reasons noted below I haven’t made much progress

One thing for sure is trying to do even a weekly blog about changing the way this 65 year old brain operates isn't going to be either "easy" or "simple".

Since the last post my time for "cracking the cognitive egg" has been consumed by life happenings.

From January 24 through February 7 I was almost full-time working on the project of relocating my Dad from an apartment to a retirement home. If I'm experiencing difficulty in making real changes to the habits I've developed over the years -- try getting a 93 year old man to learn new routines! However, it was a successful transitions.

We then took a week to travel to visit with Sarah and Will who had come east for a visit with her parents and friends. We spent a great afternoon with them in Niagara Falls -- amazed at how much he had grown and changed in the 8 months since we had last seen him . We also visited with friends in the area and spent the weekend with Melissa and Alex in Toronto.

No sooner back from that trip with plans to take a longer time of R&R for 4 weeks in mid-March to mid-April when my brother -- in addition to ongoing heart problems had a minor stroke --

So I suppose I can't feel too guilty for failing to meet my weekly commitment to posting.

I did want to do something this week -- before we head off on our trip.

So far my efforts at “cracking the cognitive egg” have been more like fruitless efforts to unravel a ball of string. I see a little end here and there but I soon find it is entangled in the ball and I start again looking for a piece that will come off completely before moving to the next one.

I am looking for some type of framework to shape my thinking and ultimately influence my behavior. Last time I mentioned the need to examine pre-suppositions – and I have been thinking about that. One of my strongest presuppositions is my “assumption” that God exists – this I accept as an “article of faith” or as an “axiom” of life. Of course other start with different pre-suppositions but for me this one is foundational” self-evident” place that I start. Knowing God (Theology) then becomes a very central theme in my life and any changes I make need to be shaped by my theology.

For today I am posting portions of a sermon I presented describing God’s gifts of enable (us to lie as his children), equipping (us with gifts that allow us to do His good works of service) and encouraging (us through the presence of others who also seek to serve).

I have made some editorial changes to remove specific local references.

God Bless

Reading Matt. 25:14-30
My goal this morning is to provide some thoughts on how we can individually and collectively be “the best we can be” in our walk with Jesus.
(being the best we can be is based on Phil 4:16 which says in part
--- “let live up to what we have already attained.”

Is there anyone here who doesn’t know who these people are and why they are celebrating? I doubt it!!! ( Clockwise from top left - Alex Bilodeau, Joannie Rogette, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue , Sidney Crosby)

I am still excited by the many memorable events of these games and I know that is true for most Canadians and for many more around the world – the Paralympics will add to this story

--- a story that illustrates “the joy of victory and the agony of defeat”
--- and also illustrates the human capacity to achieve “impossible dreams”.

The Olympics was a huge undertaking. It didn’t happen by accident. It started with a dream by a few people and came about through the determination of many people to pursue the dream by setting goals and pursuing them.

It wasn’t enough for the organizing committee to commit to this dream and set goals –it took many different people -- engineers, construction workers to build the facilities and all kinds of people to run the events – for example security people

.. and it took individual athletes with their own dreams and goals to put in the time and effort to qualify and then compete, it took coaches, parents and other supporters -

Setting goals, having the commitment to make them happen, perseverance and hard work led to a record breaking 14 gold medals

Jesus has a dream that all “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). And He gave his life so that we might have this gift.

Do we share that dream as a church family? What purpose or goal are we determined to achieve? How do you and I as individuals within that family give of ourselves each day to allow Jesus dream to be a reality that we experience??

To accomplish great things, it is important for a group to have a common goal, purpose or mission

In the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics (and Paralympics) several of the Canadian sports organizations supported by government and other partners joined together to create the “ Own the Podium” initiative

Their mission (for the Olympic Games) was to be #1 in medals.
Now we can question whether this was a realistic mission and we can debate whether it was accomplished or even give the reasons why Canada failed to accomplish the mission
Or we can believe that setting a “big hairy audacious goal” spurred the athletes in their efforts to achieve and we can celebrate what was accomplished

One way of stating our mission as follower's of Jesus is ...
.. Going .. Growing … Gving

Of course our mission is set by God and at its simplest our mission is to “follow Jesus” (Mark 8:34)—

There is ONE important difference between our mission and the Olympics. In Jesus, because of God’s grace, IF we are in the race, we are all “gold medalists” –

As followers of Jesus we are called to “make every effort” to live this mission – to be “in the race” each & every day –whether at home, at work or at play.

What prevents us from getting “on board” with this mission?
And make no mistake, being “on board” means much more than having “put on Christ in baptism” – as important as that is-- and it means much more than attending services and bible studies -- even though these things too are important.
No .. committing to “going, growing and giving” as your mission means so much more than these. It means surrendering your life 24/7 - every day - each day.

You may think this mission is too big? or I don’t know what I am able to do? Or I don’t have the knowledge or ability to do anything that will help? Or I’ve tried and it didn’t work or I’m tired and discouraged – I can’t keep going?

One of the ways to do what may seem as impossible is to break the mission into more tangible and specific goals

For example, Canada’s Olympic dream began way back before 1998 when Vancouver was picked (instead of Quebec City or Calgary) to be the city to submit the Canadian bid. Then after a lot more work was done the IOC selected Canada (Vancouver’s) bid in July 2003.

And then the real work began – there were all kinds of building projects, athletes vying to be selected for the games, etc. etc. It cost over $6 billion dollars and took countless thousands of people – and in the end we celebrated Sydney Crosby ‘s overtime goal and claimed Canada’s 14th Gold medal. (I should acknowledge for our US neighbors that even though Canada beat the US in hockey -- and a few other sports -- the US "owned the podium" with 37 medals overall)

I’m sure there were many back in 1998 that said this was crazy – impossible – but it was accomplished.

So let’s believe that following Jesus is possible – and let’s also understand that it requires effort –
When we try to follow in someone’s footsteps, we may wonder how our footprint measures up?
One thing for sure our footprints aren’t going to be the same as Jesus - his footprints are simply too big us to fill. (Notice "my" little foot in Jesus "big foot")

However, we can be following and we can be growing as we follow. (Eph 2:10-11, I Pet 1 3-11, Gal 5:23-25)

We may not be able to fill His “shoes” but we can grow “triple E” feet – This means we are
1)enabled – we are able to take on some task
2) equipped with knowledge, tools and skills to do our task.
3) encouraged and encouragers – to help us persevere in spite of the adversities and trails we experience in this life.

And we are promised these things in ever-increasing measure (unless we do as the one-talent servant and bury our feet instead of growing them.
(If needed I can give the biblical evidence that we are promised these abilities (gifts))

(Note: feet can grow in 2 ways - length and breadth -- in this metaphor length represents adding additional gifts and abilities as we grow -- breadth -- "triple E" is growth that let's us be the best we can be with whatever gifts and abilities we already have).

Putting on the Olympics required places to compete and places for the athletes and fans to stay and ways to feed them and move them around. It also needed competent (enabled), equipped athletes who were encouraged as they pursued their dreams of gold.

But it took more - It took many different kinds of “talents” (planners, builders, organizers, marketers, fundraisers, coaches, trainers, supporters, and volunteers ),

In the same way followers of Jesus are not identical “clones” who all do everything the same and are all equally capable of doing all things. No we are (to switch metaphors) a body that has hands, feet, mouths, eyes – each with a specific job and to function well each one needs to do its part (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Not only does it require different abilities but each one has different levels of capability.
There may be some who are more visible and who stand up and take the “medals” when God grants a good result from our efforts but the reality is nothing good happens without each one doing their part – even if it is just “being a fan” by praying and encouraging others who are more visibly involved.

There’s no shame in being a “1 talent worker”. The shame is NOT stepping up and being the best we can be for Jesus –

And don’t let anyone make you think that “one size fits all” when it comes to what need to be doing to “follow Jesus”. – each one is uniquely created to serve God.

So let’s be sure we are using whatever our talents are by growing triple E feet.

We have a mission as a family – each one can do something as part of that mission – sometimes as a part of organized ministry efforts
-- and always and most importantly as we go about our daily lives .. at work, at home, at play.

Prayer: Father help each of us use the gifts you have given us to grow and use our “Triple E” feet so that we will receive “Heaven’s gold medal” – and that by our walk in faith, hope and love we will bring others with us. And especially Father help us to “follow Jesus” each day so that we can experience the joy, peace and love that is promised in this life