Month: June 2015

SCOTUS, Jesus, and Us

Posted on Updated on

Screenshot 2015-06-27 at 12.09.23 PM

Much has changed.

You could not get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the social networks without reading and seeing comments about the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Much has, indeed, changed.

For a few moments, I would like to focus on things that haven’t changed.

Who needs Jesus?

  • straight sinners, gay sinners
  • young sinners, old sinners
  • white sinners, black sinners, brown sinners, red sinners, yellow sinners
  • republican sinners, democratic sinners, independent sinners, communist sinners
  • rich sinners, middle-class sinners, poor sinners

Who needs Jesus? Every single person who’s ever lived on planet earth needs what God offers in his Son, Jesus Christ.

This was true last week. This is true today. This will be true till Christ returns.

God’s love hasn’t changed. God’s truth hasn’t changed. God’s word hasn’t changed. God’s welcome hasn’t changed.

Given this reality, I and The Little Church on the Prairie will continue to pursue Christ’s mission for the church to love and proclaim to all sinners that we are welcome and that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus Christ.

Leadership and Life Suckers

Posted on Updated on

Screenshot 2015-06-23 at 3.50.44 PMThere are people in life who are suckers….they suck the life out of you. They suck energy. They suck passion.

The day could be going really well and then you receive a phone call or an email and all that was positive gets sucked out…Suckers.

If you lead, you will encounter suckers.

That comes with the leadership territory. Suckers are unavoidable. The biggest question is what should you do when encountering suckers?

  • Love them. Hear them out. Most people don’t need to get their way all the time. What everyone needs is to be heard. Hear people out.
  • When you hear suckers speak, you’re going to feel defensive. Stay calm. Keep your focus. Defensiveness will disable you from your best thinking and best leadership.
  • When you lead change there are bound to be people who don’t like where you’re leading because they are perfectly happy with the way things are. So when you’re leading change, expect suckers.
  • Recognize that you are both trying to do what’s best for the church, organization, etc. Recognize that you are on the same team. Remind one another that we don’t always get our way.
  • Finally, know that to some people in your church or organization, you are the sucker. So the next time you get that sucking feeling, cut them some slack and demonstrate grace.

Finally, here’s the thing about suckers…well, most suckers…they don’t know that they suck. They really do believe that they are doing what’s best for the church, the organization, for you. They believe that what they are doing is helping. Very few people go around intentionally wanting to suck. And here’s the thing, sometimes they are right. But if you’re angry and defensive, you’ll never know that. Keep your focus. Keep the vision in mind. Keep leading.

You are there to lead. Keep your focus. Keep the vision at the forefront.

What I Think I Think About Chambers Bay and the US Open

Posted on Updated on

Screenshot 2015-06-22 at 11.44.36 AMIt’s the Monday morning after the completion of the 2015 US Open at Chamber’s Bay.

Things I loved:

I live about a mile away from the course. My neighbors and I were all convinced that the traffic was going to be a nightmare during the week of the tournament. And to our absolute delight and surprise, the traffic was a non-issue. The US Open had buses running constantly throughout the tournament to shuttle people back and forth. I saw buses from Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington. I saw Greyhound buses, school buses, church buses. The US Open must have contracted with anyone with buses in Washington and its surrounding states. Cudos! Well done. Duly impressed!!!

The setting of Chambers Bay. Is there anywhere more beautiful and picturesque than the Pacific North West on a nice sunny summer day? You could not have asked for a more scenic setting than the Puget Sound in the summer time.

The US Open Experience. Both Chambers Bay and the USGA did a superb job of making the tournament experience exciting. The fan experience at the pavilions, to the shops, and the concessions was done very well.

Finally, I love that the tournament was held in our back yard! It was great to get the exposure to the South Sound. When I travel around the world and even the US, I end up telling people I am from Seattle because most people don’t know where Tacoma/University Place/Lakewood is.

Things I Hated Loved Not So Much 

Hate is a pretty strong word. So I changed it to “Loved Not So Much” but my real feelings are closer to hate.

Screenshot 2015-06-22 at 11.42.44 AMNotice I haven’t said a thing about golf in the above section? That’s the thing. I think the USGA ruined the golf experience for the players and the fans.

The picture on the right is what Chambers Bay normally looks like. It’s beautiful. The greens are…well, would you look at that!!!…greens are green! The fairways are green! 

The USGA ruined the course. The USGA and Mike Davis intentionally browned the course. For almost two weeks they intentionally starved the course of water in order to brown it, to make it faster, the course harder (not necessarily tougher, literally the surface harder). The end result was the moon-like terrain, and broccoli like greens.

Not only was the course visually ugly, it made the golf ridiculous. I hate that good golf shots were not being rewarded. I hate that bad shots could end up being great because of a lucky bounce. This happens all the time when one is playing golf, but the USGA set Chambers Bay to play like that. Why did you do that USGA? Why did you make our course look and play so horrendously?

Finally, the thing I hated was the spectator experience. There was no way to follow the action. The only way to see the tournament was to park one’s rear end on one of the grand stands or along the course and wait for the players to come by. Had I paid to fly in, pay for lodging, and tickets for the tournament, I would have been incredibly disappointed. We ended up watching most of the golf action at home on TV. Given, this is true for most sporting events. But no sporting event or golf tournaments I’ve been to had a worse set up for spectators than the US Open at Chambers Bay.

If they ever bring the tournament back to Chambers Bay, they need to fix this.

Conclusion

I am glad the Pacific Northwest, the state of Washington, Seattle, and particularly the South Sound got major exposure. This was a fantastic way to show the rest of the world how wonderful our corner of the world is.

Note to folks from rest of the world – you are very welcome to come and visit anytime.

I would love for Chambers Bay to host another US Open…but USGA leave our course alone. Don’t ruin it for the players and the spectators please.

Reflections About Charleston and God

Posted on Updated on

Screenshot 2015-06-21 at 9.32.54 PM
The opening from today’s sermon.
I normally begin my sermons with a joke for a funny story. But I’m not going to do that today. It doesn’t seem right.
In light of another horrific expression of hatred in the massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston as people gathered in God’s house to pray, jokes or funny stories seem totally out of place.
As God’s people gather to worship, as people look to God for answers, for guidance, for any inkling of hope – we who have gathered here know deep inside that unless God is these things (the answer, our guide, our hope) unless God is these things, all that we believe, all that we do, all that the church of Jesus Christ stands for…this, this is a joke.
Unless what we do here every week, and unless what we believe to the core of our being, that Jesus is risen from the dead, and because of the resurrection of Christ that the Kingdom of God is real, that the Kingdom of light is pushing back the darkness. And because of Jesus, evil and hatred are being obliterated by the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Unless that’s what is happening…we are a joke.
Friends, what we are doing right now, what churches all across this country and this world are doing on this day, is not just providing people with nice thoughts or nice ideas about God.
What we are doing right now is participating in the activity of God to push back the darkness with the light of Christ. What we are doing by praising God and his light, his love, his grace, and his kingdom, is to be actively engaged in destroying the work of hatred and darkness.
The most compelling hope for a world that is fractured by violence, hatred, greed, and prejudice is a community who willingly submits to the ways of God so that God might transform hate-filled, anger-filled, tired sinners into a people where justice and love flow like living waters.
That is the church of Jesus Christ. That’s you and me. That’s the church.