Look at the birds

This morning I watched a beautiful Cardinal outside my back window scrounging around in the ground looking for some food for the day. There seemed to be a calmness as well as urgency to the task. It was the daily food finding mission. Everything turned out just fine.

Not so simple with us human, though, is it? Accompanying our daily routine is usually a generous dose of worry.

Why do we worry so much? We worry in this country to an unbelievable level.  Parenting magazines are sold based on worry. Pick up a parenting magazine and you?ll be convinced that everything in your fridge will kill your child, and every corner of your furniture is out to jab your kid in the eye and destroy his eyesight. We sell really expensive car seats based on worry. We sell almost everything in our culture based on worry. Have you ever thought about that?

It’s not just moms, it’s not just parents, its all of us. We all freak out, don’t we? To help us win over worry Jesus simply says, “Look at the birds.” “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt 6:26, 27)

Jesus says, just look at the birds. He did this kind of thing a lot. He would take something very simple in nature and use it as an illustration for his listeners. He says look at the birds. These words are part of His most famous teaching, The Sermon on the Mount. This sermon was delivered on a hillside, outdoors. There were probably birds he could point to. And he basically says, “Look they do just fine, they get enough.” In fact he says God feeds them. Others might say mother nature runs its course and all that. Jesus will have none of that. He says Father God feeds them. There is no worry in their lives, no attempt to pile up goods for an unforeseen and unforeseeable future, and yet their lives go on.

The point Jesus is making is not that birds do not work. It has been said that no one works harder than the average sparrow to make a living. The point He is driving home is, they do not worry. There is not found in them the over anxiety, insecurity and doubt that is found in human beings. He asks, “Are you not much more valuable than they?” of course you are. You are the crown of God’s creation. We bear in us the very image of God.

And then he adds this kicker- “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life.” Guess what? You can’t. Worrying about things does not make you live longer. It actually hurts you in the long term. If anything, worry will shorten your life. It will not add any inches to your height, take inches off your waist, take minutes off your running time or replenish a rapidly diminishing hair supply. What Jesus is saying is, “Worry is useless and accomplishes nothing.” It has never paid a bill, cleaned a house, put food on the table, solved a family problem or any other problem. There is not a worthwhile accomplishment in this world that can be attributed to worrying. Though there are no positive benefits to worry, there are plenty of negative ones.

Jesus is just pointing out the absolute absurdity of it. He says- This isn’t going to make you any better guys. It isn’t going to do anything for you that is helpful just a bunch of stuff that is harmful.

Worry is distrust in God. It is not caused by external circumstances. Put two different people in the same circumstances, one can be absolutely calm while the other is worried sick. Both worry and peace come not from circumstances but from the heart. And Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter. Where is your heart with God?

Worry is distrust. Why is it so strong when we have a God who can supply us with all the necessities of life and has promised to do so? It is lack of faith when we are over-anxious about the things of life. Aren’t you ready to be free?

Advertisements

Kevin Gibson is on the job

Kevin Gibson is on the job and getting everything moving in the right direction in his new role as Worship Minister at New Venture. February 14 was his first “official” day on the job. What a way to spend Valentine’s Day. This Sunday, February 20 will be his first week leading worship at NV.

Here’s a brief timeline of Kevin’s journey since High School.

  • Graduated from Meadowbrook High in June, 2003
  • First job was landscaping with “The Master’s Gardener” that summer
  • Went to Liberty University in Fall 2003
  • Worked for Brown’s Jaguar and Whitlow Chevrolet summer of 2004
  • Went back to Liberty 
  • Had the opportunity to lead worship with Southside Nazarene’s Ephesus service, and Trinity Nazarene
  • Was an interim youth and music pastor at Red Lane Baptist Church.
  • Served as an intern worship leader at Lynchburg Nazarene my senior year.
  • Worked as a framer for Hagner-Connelly construction his last semester to save up for a ring.
  • Engaged in March of 2007
  • Graduated from Liberty in May of 2007
  • Started his former place of ministry, “Webber Memorial Church” on June 1st, 2007.
  • Married on August 11th, 2007
  • February 14, 2011, Begins new ministry with New Venture Christian Church

When asked what he was passionate about he answered… 

  • I am very passionate about developing music that enhances people’s worship experience. I love that God can take something that I enjoy like music and use it to draw hearts to Him.
  • I am also passionate about leading a team of musicians who desire to give God their best. 
  • I love encouraging teams to pray together and for each other, and to spend time with Jesus together. 

 

An ideal night for Kevin is “Grabbing some great dinner downtown and going to a concert of a favorite band with my wife.” 

His hobbies include: Mountain biking, building things, working on his car, snow skiing and yard work

We welcome Kevin to the worship ministry leadership of NVCC

the fatal question

Some people seem to make it through life without ever having to wrestle with the fatal question. They seem to move through life with ease—making a living, enjoying the fruit of their labor, taking what seems to be an easy or at least a rather clearly marked path to security and success—while others seem to be called to make commitments that require us to do strange things and orient our lives toward realities that others do not even see. It is hard to be that kind of person—to have a fire burning within us that we can’t “shut up in our bones” without doing damage to the soul. It’s hard to keep answering a calling that continually takes us out to the edge of our faith and our human limitations. Sometimes we are tempted to feel resentful.

But a true leader is one who has heard the fatal question. This is a person who has seen a vision of what could be and who continues to take steps in that direction against all odds. We might argue with God a bit. We might put forth every excuse that comes to mind. But God always wins this argument, because every time we go deep inside to listen, we know that what God is calling us to do is ours to do and that the path before us is ours to walk. We know it is the meaning of our life. And so we say yes. For better and for worse, we say yes to meaning. We say yes to God. 
                                                                                 Ruth Haley Barton in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership

daddy

Jesus began the “Lord’s Prayer” with the words, “Our father in heaven.” The word for Father here that Jesus uses is the word Abba. Abba!  Not the Swedish dance group from the seventies. Abba is a word that actually means “daddy.” It?s an intimate, personal word. Abba-Daddy.

You need to understand how absolutely shocking it is that Jesus would use this word here to refer to God. He addresses God basically as “daddy.” Not, “Oh most gracious and holy sovereign Lord” or something like that. He goes with abba, daddy. In all of literature you will not find this type of familiar language for God. Jesus alone uses it. And what is he teaching us here? Follow closely because this is key. Jesus is teaching us that our prayers are more like a relationship with a father, than a speech given to a deity. Jesus is taking God, whom we place outside of the circle of our relationships, in the abstract, religious, “spiritual” realm, and he is moving Him right into the center of your circle.

When we pray we are having a conversation with the one who knows us better than anyone. We are having a dialogue, a talk with our creator, with the one is in the center of the circle of trust. We are not making a well prepared speech for an audience. You don?t do that in any relationship that is intimate, do you? At the end of my day, I don?t talk to my wife in bed and say “Sharon, who art in my bed, thou art wonderful and special to me.” No, I don?t do that. And Jesus is saying, “Look, you have a relationship here with God, a personal one, and so when you pray, treat it as such.”

Tragically in the church over the centuries we have taken what was supposed to be a relationship with God and made it into a religion about God. I meet people who say that they don?t like, or that they distrust organized religion. And I get that. I?m there too. Organized religion just takes God out of relationship and puts him into that separate world of the spiritual. Organized religion just gives you the formula. Just pray this prayer and God will do what you want. Just rub the lamp and the genie will come out and dance for you.

What Jesus calls us to is not a religion. Do you see that? He calls us into a relationship to the Father through Him. And what has happened over the centuries, is that people come wanting to know God and we give them a religion not a relationship. We say, “Pray this prayer this way,  jump through these hoops and then you will know God.” That makes sense if you are just out to sign people up for the Christian religion. But we aren?t here to do that. From the very beginning of launching this church we were not out to get people to sign up for the Christian religion. That isn?t our purpose. We are trying to get people to know Jesus, that?s it, get in a relationship with Him. That means if you are Muslim, or some secular atheist, or whatever beliefs you hold, we’re not trying to recruit you to some religion. We’re trying to get you to follow Jesus. And let me tell you, there are plenty of Christians out there as well that need to meet Jesus in a big way.

The Good About the Good Ole Days

This picture is of me, my parents and all my brothers and sister. It was taken when I was about four on the steps of my grandparent’s house in Chester PA. We lived about three hours away down on the Delmarva Pennsula in a little town called Frankford DE. Frankford had a population of about 900. There my family lived for all my childhood years and beyond. In fact, they lived in the same house all my “at home” life except for the first year. That year we lived in the house next door. Then we made the big move across the ditch to the new place. We actually moved off the farm into a house my dad built because he decided farming just wasn’t for him. Our family lived there for decades. It wasn’t until some forty years later that my parents sold the home place and moved to Florida.

In some ways you could say those were the good ole days. In other ways they were anything but good. For example, my mother had five kids in a span of six years. By the time she was twenty- five she was the mother of five children, all under the age of six. You think you have it bad. Can you imagine the chaos that reigned? We stacked them up in the bed rooms. We always had bunk beds and at one time all four of us boys bunked in one room, that’s two sets of bunk beds in one room. That bordered on child abuse. Then my dad and my grandfather set to work and added a couple rooms on the east end of the home place and we only had one set of bunk beds in each room.

And what about the car? We had one car, and that was dad’s company car. Those were pre-minivan days. Station wagons were coming onto the scene but we could never get his company to provide one of those. So whenever we went anywhere as a family it was four kids on the back seat and two adults and one kid on the front. Can you imagine the fighting that went on to get the front seat first?

And there was bath time. You are really going to think this was child abuse but we shared bath water. By that I mean, we filled the tub up once and we all took a bath in the same water, not all at the same time. We took turns. Sometimes the boys got in together. So whoever got ready first and in line first got the cleanest water. That was one way to get us moving toward the scrub zone. Showers, they came along in later years.

Sure, those were the good ole days, right. In a lot of ways they were so much more difficult than life today. We didn’t have all the modern conveniences of today. There was no fast food, drive thrus, cell phones, yard services, super stores, or even Saturday mail service. Al Gore hadn’t even invented the internet yet. Computers, in their beginning stages, were the size of houses. No way to put one on your desk top or lap. Highway departments didn’t rush to clear roads when hit by surprise winter storms. We just drove on the white stuff, packed it solid and slipped and slid on hard pack roads most of the winter. In a lot of ways those were the tough ole days.

But there were some things about those days that were good. In fact they were so good things would be much better today if we returned to some of them. For example, LIFE WAS SIMPLER. We didn’t have lives so full that there was no time to enjoy life, family or friends. Part of that was because there were not as many options to fill our lives with. The other part was that we knew more about what was important and we devoted more time to the important than the urgent.

I would argue that one of the best things we could do with our life today is make a determined effort to simplify. And I’m not saying this sarcastically, but many of us can’t because we’ve been sucked into the cultural vortex of busyness.  And we’re so busy, busy, busy, busy.  Some of you because you’re working so much to maintain your habit of buying things that you don’t need with money that you don’t have  to impress people you don’t even like, but that’s a whole another deal.  Or some of you, you’ve bought into the whole deal that, your kids should be pro athletes at the age of two, and you put them in…I don’t mean to meddle, but I already have, so I might as well keep going.  You put your two-year-old in a league and go all over for tournaments.  You know, you keep all the kids in so many activities and there’s no reason.  It’s obvious there’s no margin. 

So what do you do? You learn how to say “No.” Let me say it again, learn how to say “No.” We live marginless lives. And we will never discover life’s best until we decide that we cannot live without some margin in our life. Until then we will run ourselves ragged chasing all the things that we think make life worth living while all the time missing the best life has to offer.

Another thing that made the good ole days so good was that CONTENTMENT WAS ENJOYED MORE. There was not this obsession for more. There was not this unquenchable thirst to have the latest and best and coolest stuff out there. You had what you had and you enjoyed it and you used it until it could be used no more and you were content with it.

Today we pursue more stuff and stuff and stuff and stuff, and we do it in the name of loving our family.  “I want to provide this for my wife.  I want to provide this for my kids, and I want to give my kids more than I had as a kid,” and so many of us are providing all of this stuff, and our kids don’t even know us.  They don’t even know you, and you think, “If I had more, we’d have a happier marriage,” and you’re about to lose your marriage.

Here’s what you do.  You don’t get sucked in to what everybody else thinks you need, because you don’t need what everybody else says you need to really be fulfilled.  You don’t need it.  I mean, in the world we live in, if you don’t have this size house and this kind of SUV and this kind of TV, you can’t be happy.  What’s funny is that many of the things you think you need to be happy and many things that are consuming our lives are the very things that not only didn’t exist in the good ole days, they didn’t even exist five years ago. Seriously, the things you think you need, many of them did not even exist five years ago.  And yet, you can’t be happy without them. We need to learn the lesson of contentment.

One more thing about the good ole days was that CHURCH WAS MORE URGENT. In our house there was never a discussion on Saturday night as to whether or not we were going to church on Sunday morning. It was understood. End of discussion. And we loaded into that two-seater car, all seven of us, and drove twelve miles to church and were the first ones there.

There was never a discussion as to whether or not we were going to go to “youth meetings” on Sunday night. It was standard operating procedure. If we wanted to do something else on Sunday night it was after “youth meeting” was over.

Church was the center of the family life and God was far more than a swear word that was flippantly tossed around. Today our schedules are out of control. Schedules have pushed church and God to a position of leftovers. You think, “Well, I’d love to do more, but you know, I am so overwhelmed.  I’ve got so much going on.”  I mean, truthfully, some of you can only make it to church like once a month, because your life is so crazy and you’re working and the kids are everywhere and you think, “I’d like to do more, but I just don’t have any time.  I want to, but I don’t know how.  How can I do this?” Again, how about learning how to say “No” a little more and rearranging your life around the spiritual instead of the temporal. That means establishing church and God standards for your life and family and then forcing everything else to stand in line behind them. If you don’t you will become just another victim who has been sucked into the cultural vortex of business while yours and your family’s soul dries up and your desire for God gradually diminishes away.

The good ole days were tough in a lot of ways but they also contained some approaches to life that I believe we would be better off if we just decide to return to, which is not really possible. So meanwhile, why don’t we at least decide to intentionally incorporate a few of these values into our modern family? Then thirty years or so from now your family will be able to look back on this time in life and call it “the good ole days.”