What Took Us So Long to Get Here

For the better part of the summer, we have been having a pastoral conversation about what makes God happy. More specifically, as his children, how we can make making God happy our life’s defining mission and most passionate pursuit.

None of our nine happy places really are hard to understand and affirm. But my Lord, how often we fail and flail in the opposite direction. God likes his people to live in unity and community. It’s hard to argue that. We are taught to say thanks as toddlers, but often find gratitude choked out by contentment and coveting. God likes to be trusted and obeyed; we even have a hymn about that one. He gave us the ministry of reconciliation, yet poorly-handled conflict has often proven more damaging than the conflict itself. Learn what is good is good advice. We are called to be generous and faithful people in hopes of outliving our lives both on earth and in heaven.

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Finding Fulfillment Three Times Over

Every once in a while the longtime title of my weekly blog and its content share the billing. Yes, like all pastors I wrestle with what to say and how to say it when Money Talks talks money. Oddly, the Bible generally and Jesus specifically shares no such reticence. That happens when one’s views and practices regarding personal finance find their place within the broader mantles of Christ follower and child of God. It is self-evident that God, specifically as He is revealed in his son, is generous, caring, faithful, loving, giving, and self-sacrificing. When those of us who bear his name are at our best, we are too. That’s a tall, almost impossible order outside the faith we claim and proclaim, and the grace flowing from it. But through that identity, with God’s help, it is natural to think and act that way. Mutual faithfulness defines the lives of persons of faith in a way nothing else really can.

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What a Week

When you wake up on a Monday you never really know all you are going to see and experience before you do it again. But when you pay attention, each collection of days sing with its own tone and tenor, drawing your attention to certain well worth noting things. This week has been especially like that.

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A Seven-Mile Journey

Conflict. Disagreements. Differences of Opinion. Assumptions about people’s motives. Grudges. Turf wars.

Well, I’ve written one line and am thoroughly depressed, uncomfortable, anxious, afraid, and flummoxed. Only sort of, but you get the point. Truth is, that’s where most of us end up when the opinions are different, emotions are strong, and the stakes are high. It’s especially uncomfortable if you are a peaceable people pleaser, and I am guilty as charged.

Handling conflict in a way that is healthy and honors God starts with understanding that conflict is inevitable if you are in close proximity and moving. Kinda like the time Jordan had an encounter with a wakeboard wipeout that resulted in 19 staples and the loss of some football playing time. Had he been on the shore, nothing happens – but that’s kinda the point. Who wants to live a life where nothing happens? Fortunately, the Bible gives us a lot of instruction on what helps – and what clearly doesn’t – when conflict comes around. There is way more to say about that than one blog, sermon, or book for that matter can hold. But here is a picture of a seven-mile journey to handle these things well.

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Conflict Happens

Conflict happens. In relationships and rivalries, in places of work and worship, in venues as public as politics and as private as family, it is inevitable. Our human condition creates it. Competing agendas will call out for it. Living in shared space makes these collisions a staple of everyday life. Knowing and accepting this should absolve us of a lot of guilt, frustration, and anxiety. But it rarely does. Why? Because we get very little instruction on how to resolve conflict and even less encouragement to give it a shot. For most, deeply conflicted relationships seem inevitable, and sadly, for many it’s enjoyable.

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