Is Your Church a Pizza Church?

I was taking the kids somewhere the other day and we passed by a church on a road adjacent to ours.  We’d passed by this church probably hundreds of times over the past three years, but Mackenzie asked if it was “the pizza church”.  It wasn’t.  To her defense, we were coming at this particular church from a different angle, so she didn’t recognize it.  Now, you may be wondering- what in the world is a “pizza church”, anyway?  Good question!

We used to live far enough out of town that the pizza delivery folks wouldn’t come visit us at our house. We would have to leave our house, and go about 1.5 miles away to a church parking lot.  Actually, we still have to do that- just going to a school now! At any rate, the kids associate this church with pizza, hence the name.  I got to thinking after her statement that our churches are known for something in our communities.  Now, some churches may be known for a lot of things, and maybe even a lot of things to a lot of different people.  Surely, the pizza church isn’t a pizza delivery meeting spot for everyone in our neck of the woods.  It may be known as a caring community of believers that want to see people come to know Christ.  It may be seen as a church that reaches out to people in need.  It may be seen as “that church” where people always get upset with each other and leave to go somewhere else.

What is your church?  If it’s only a “pizza church” to everyone that passes by, then you’ve got some work to do, don’t you?  If churches are a part of the body of Christ, and you are the Dominoes uniform, that’s not exactly what Paul was referencing. (Romans 12:4-5)  Taking the body of Christ illustration another step further, if your church is the raised, furrowed brow- you need to take a look in the mirror.  That look?  Not so good when it’s supposed to be coupled with Acts 2:46-47… meeting together joyfully, worshiping, sharing with each other, joy, generosity, and praising God.

We all need to take a look at what our churches represent to the people that pass by them daily.  Are they places of spiritual and in some cases, physical or emotional healing?  It is my hope that instead of seeing anything as people look at our churches they will see Someone. They will see a reflection of Christ.

And if your church happens to be a meeting spot for the delivery guy/gal- keep on providing this culinary public service on the side! 😉

Until next time!

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The Yellow Jacket of Distraction

I was at a stoplight today and a yellow jacket landed on the driver’s side mirror.  Before you panic, I had the window rolled up… and I’m not allergic, although I don’t like to be stung by those little things.  He wouldn’t fly away, and right as the light changed, he crawled from the top of the mirror to the back- shielded from the wind that would knock him off.

I thought nasty thoughts about him.  I used my Jedi mind control powers on him saying, “This is not the car you’re looking for.”  I thought about rigging a MacGuyver-esque contraption to crack the window and shoo him off.  I looked over every 1.3 seconds to see if he’d lost interest or gotten motion sickness and fallen off.  In essence, I did just about everything except pay attention to driving my car.

I know my life is like this sometimes almost all the time.  I have one little thing that gets me sidetracked and I take my eyes off the things that are really important.  Is this how God wants us to live our lives?  I don’t think so.  I think He wants us to be clearheaded and not prone to worrying about little things.  Jesus uses these kinds of words about worrying- “These things (worries) dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you what you need.” (Matthew 6:32-33 NLT)

Ouch.  I was so worried about that little yellow jacket that I’m not even allergic to…with my window rolled up, that I forgot to focus on a pretty major thing.  Like driving.  I became one of the crazies that I always fuss about on US 220.  Another topic for another time.

But really, we worry all the time and get so distracted by things that don’t matter.  As the writer of Hebrews states it in 12:1-2, we can run the race (a Christian life and walk with the Lord) not because of unneeded things, but because we keep our eyes on Christ.  We let Him matter more than the distractions.

So, to finish things up.  I got into the church parking lot, yellow jacket still hanging on for dear life.  I focused on parking the car and, you probably guessed it: the yellow jacket flew away.

Until next time!

Yardwork and Spiritual Battles

OK, I admit.  I don’t have much time to do a lot of work in my yard.  I have about 8 blades of actual grass, and the rest of the .75 acres that I mow are weeds.  When it is really short it can give an illusion of looking nice, but maybe that’s another devotional thought altogether!  I am actually thinking of my backyard which part of my property is forest.  It’s not a large portion, .05 acres, but it is dense and takes a lot of time to control.  I’ve found that if I don’t actively control it and try to push it back some, it will creep into my yard and take it over.  If I had some awesome power tools, it would be one thing.  Alas, I have a machete.  One little blade against a rainforest.  Well, maybe a little hyperbole, but you get my drift.

Where’s the spiritual analogy?  I was reading today in Acts 6 and the part after the beginning of the deacons caught my attention.  The Apostle Stephen was proclaiming God’s Word and the gospel.  Obviously, there was some opposition.  It came from a group called the “Synagogue of the Freedmen”.  I found out that this group was comprised of former slaves (good) from areas heavily influenced by Hellenism (bad).

Hellenism could easily correspond to our secularization of society today.  In a nutshell, the two cultures are very “go with the flow” and “do what you want” in nature.  This mentality and worldview encroaches on the Christian worldview in much the same way as my backyard forest does to the rest of my lawn.  It tries to take over.  We read in Acts 6 that the Freedmen couldn’t out-do Stephen in his arguments, so they took the low road.  They started to spread lies, twisted truths, get the officials involved, and make a mess of the whole thing.

Isn’t that what those who are opposed to the faith do today?  Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t Christians who add fuel to the fire… but the secular worldview is that Christianity is just plain wrong, just because.  They can’t provide real evidence against it, so they try to twist it to their advantage.  The truth of God’s Word and the message of the cross is worth standing firm against the trickery of the world.  Even if you’re just armed with a little machete, you can help keep the forest at bay.

Until next time!

Going to the Shed

In my life as a musician, which I suppose was at least 100 years ago, I had to “shed” a lot.  Shedding (more so for jazz musicians than our classical counterparts) is a term that means practicing.  Jazz is, in my opinion, a pretty hip music, hence the hip terminology to describe an otherwise bland thing like practicing.  I’ve started playing again- just a bit here and there.  With the playing will definitely come some shedding… if I don’t then I won’t sound that good!

How, you may ask, does this have anything to do with the Christian life?  I’m glad you asked.  I… well, I’ll just go ahead and say it.  I am NOT perfect. Shocking, I know. So, even though I am a follower of Jesus Christ I still mess up sometimes.  Sometimes is a broad term.  Maybe to narrow it down, I could say I mess up anywhere from daily on down to every 5 minutes!  In our lives we will have to face the obvious fact that we are human beings and that we do still sin.  I think this idea of getting into a practice routine, “shedding”, working out the kinks in our lives is what Jesus was trying to say.  In Luke 9:23 we read, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.” (NLT)

This whole concept of intentionally taking up/shouldering our cross, making a concerted effort to deny ourselves and push our desires back while pushing Christ’s to the forefront is tough.  But it is necessary.  If, like I have done for a few years now, I were to lay off the trumpet then I’d sound like… well, like it had been several years since I’d really played my horn!  What about in our lives as followers of Christ?  If it appears that it’s been a while since we’ve done anything that resembles a Christ-led life, maybe we need to “shed” a little.

Until next time!

Serving For A Conviction

This is going to be a controversial post.  (Ooh, I can just feel the traffic coming to my blog- Bwaa Haa Haaaaa!)  No, I’m going to unveil the spiritual content now, give my little illustration, then get back into the application.  It’s different than most of my posts, so my readership will have to get out of the routine.  This won’t be too earth-shattering, since it’s like, one person!  I’m going to talk about how the Holy Spirit has the power to convict us of things and how we respond- even when it’s an unpopular thing to do or when it’s one of those, “Well, I guess it’s not ALL bad, but not ALL good,” kinds of things.  You know, the percieved gray areas?

OK, burning a CD without paying for it is against the law.  I’m not talking about you bought an album on iTunes so you make a CD copy for yourself.  I’m talking about, “Hey, so-and-so has the new Flibberty Giblets CD… I’m so going to burn that.”  It seems like no one, youth or adult agrees with me that this is stealing.  I didn’t think so either for a long time.  I had literally hundreds of burned jazz, classical, blues, rock, bluegrass and other CDs in my collection.  It wasn’t until I came across a forum for youth pastors where I first felt a little tug from the Holy Spirit telling me that burning CDs that I didn’t own and then calling them mine was… wrong.  If you don’t like it, then imagine what I was feeling at the time!  I, the youth pastor, had even burned a few Christian artists’ CDs.  I got rid of them, either through the trash or by deleting them from my iTunes.  It stunk at first, but then I realized I had done the right thing.  That was about three years ago.  I just did the same thing this week when I realized I’d let myself get complacent with it again.

So, it begs some of the following questions:  What is conviction?  What about things that are commonly accepted in the world around us?  How do I respond to conviction?  It is a tough thing to deal with.

I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul was addressing the food sacrificed to idols.  It, since the idols weren’t real, was just food.  But there were some people that could get spiritually tripped up by this and sin.  So, he tells us, that if we partake of it, we could cause them to sin.  I think of my conviction by the Holy Spirit (whom Jesus calls “Counselor” in John 14:26) as a way of letting me see that there are things that I need to avoid.  Maybe it’s to abstain from an appearance of wrongdoing.  Maybe it’s to let me see that I can trust in Him through trials- and dumping a lot of great music is a trial for me!  I don’t totally understand this topic, but have to be willing to let the Counselor counsel.

What are some ways that you have been under conviction and had to respond?

Until next time!

Shedding Light

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what I should attempt to do with this blog.  Hopefully you’ve noticed some things have changed as you entered the site just now.  Yeah, that’s the whole “attempting to do” aspect!  I’ve called it “Dave’s Blog” for a while now.  While it may be true that it is my blog, I wanted to do something to make it something a little better than that.  I know, it was a lame title– I’m sensing that you are relieved because I came to this realization and you didn’t have to tell me!

When I started thinking about what I’ve been using the blog to do over the last several months, it became apparent to me that I needed to make it some tie in to the devotional quality I’ve aimed for.  The “light” of course is the light of Christ, who is the light of the world. (John 8:12)  But it’s also a play on words in that, hopefully, the posts are shedding some light.  See what I did there?  I also thought the graphic at the top of the page with the sunshine was snazzy as it was juxtaposed with the darkness below.  This is symbolic of our world walking around in the dark without Jesus.  I take no credit for the theme of the blog– I just found it and applied it.  But it’s cool, though.  Tell me it’s cool.  Or at least it’s better than the awe-inspiring “Dave’s Blog”!

I’m 100% on the devotionals being the focus of the blog.  They may or may not remain titled “Dave-otionals” as they have been.  I like the name because it’s pretty slick, but I want to make very sure that 0% of the glory is for me so I’m in prayer over that at the moment with that name.  I’m open to some suggestions, all of you loyal readers.  As far as other posts, I’m going to limit the content to that which points towards Christ.  My personal life is boring.  It definitely doesn’t merit entire blog posts.  I think Facebook and Twitter might be the better mediums for personal stuff.  I’ve still retained the links to those places, and the Twitter feed is still up on the blog.

Hope you enjoy the new look!  (And let me hear some feedback!)