Getting Dirty

I really don't think it's easy to get dirty.

My kids might disagree.  Like all kids, they attract dirt like a magnet.  They love getting dirty.  Even  our daughter, Elise.  She can be a total princess.  But she can also dig in the dirt, chase after toads, and get into mega-messes like all the boys.  Ask any of the kids, and they'll tell you:  It ain't hard to get dirty!  And it's a whole lotta fun!

But then that's not the kind of "dirty" I'm talking about -- the dirt, slime, grease, muck kinds of dirty.  I'm talking about getting down into the messiness of other people's lives.  That's not easy.  In fact, most of us avoid it at every cost.  It's really not easy to talk to someone who just lost his job and who's nearly in tears wondering how he's going to provide for his family.  It's really not easy to sit and listen and encourage the young mom whose baby is dying.  It's really not easy letting a coworker cry on your shoulder because she just learned her husband was cheating on her ... or to care for the couple who are grieving because their grandson was just put in jail.

Our first tendency is either to AVOID ... or to FIX.  I once talked to a mom whose 20-year-old daughter, serving as a missionary in Africa, was killed in a car accident half a world away.  A couple months after the accident, I asked her to tell me how she was feeling.  She told me:  one of the hardest things to deal with was friends -- even church friends -- who avoided talking to her.  She said:  "They don't know what to say to me, I think.  They're afraid of saying the wrong thing.  So they don't say anything.  What they don't realize is that it hurts more to say nothing than to say something wrong or stupid."  This was a mom who just needed someone else to STEP INTO HER WORLD ... and HURT WITH HER.

I've also seen people walk up to give someone a hug.  And their first impulse is to pat this person who's grieving on the back and say:  "It's okay.  Don't cry."  We avoid or we fix.  But sometimes, more than anything, we JUST NEED TO GET DIRTY.  Get into the mess of it all.  Cry with them.  Hurt with them.  Suffer ... with them.

This is where I am struck by the spirit of Jesus, true Son of God ... who left the comfort of heaven ... to dwell in the darkness and cold and among those who were suffering and fearful and alone and outcast.  INCARNATION.  That's what we call it -- the Son of God taking on human flesh.  "Incarnation."  "In the flesh."  And IN THE FLESH Jesus Christ had COMPASSION on the brokenhearted.

That's one of my all-time favorite words:  COMPASSION.  That English word is a combination of two ideas from the Latin:  com (= with) ... and passion (= to suffer).  Literally, to SUFFER WITH someone.  In the Greek (the language of the New Testament) the word is splanchna (with a real gutteral, sorta German-esque 'chk.'  Splanchna is technically your guts, bowels, the inner part of your core.  The idea being that if you have "compassion" for someone, you are literally HURTING WITH THEM IN YOUR GUT.  Your gut hurts along with theirs!  Compassion.

Often we avoid hurting with someone ... because ...... well, duh! ... IT HURTS!!  You have to feel their pain.  And most of us avoid pain.  So whether consciously or subconsciously ... TOO OFTEN, WE LEAVE HURTING PEOPLE ON THEIR OWN ... rather than getting dirty.  Because getting dirty is hard.  It requires letting go of our desire to fix it all.  In fact, it requires that we surrender to the reality that we CAN'T fix it all.

Instead, Jesus calls us to imitate Him -- to stoop down into the muckiness, the hurtfulness, the uncertainty of others' lives ... and bringing love, encouragement, understanding, sympathy ... and most importantly, BEING CHRIST FOR THEM -- bringing the gentle, compassionate presence of Jesus with you.  We are not Jesus.  But we embody Him for others ... when we stoop down ... and get dirty.

So what do you think??  How have you seen this played out in your life?  Either on the giving end or the receiving end.  How have you seen Christ at work through the compassion of people?

Impact! Video

In case you missed this video, here's a recap of some of the work our church did on "Impact! Sunday" in May 2011.  I LOVE the heart of our people -- going wherever God calls to serve people in need!  Where can YOU make an impact for someone else today?  Is it at work?  At home?  In your neighborhood?  In the community?

What stories do YOU have to tell of changed lives -- when God used you to make a difference?  Share by commenting below.

Daddy Time

My youngest, Blake, and I had a little extra daddy time today. It wasn't supposed to be that way.  He was supposed to be participating in Vacation Bible School.  But he really hates being left in Sunday School or the nursery ... or anywhere else without mom and dad.  So -- no surprise -- he and VBS didn't mix well this week.  So ...... I took some extra time away from work to be with my little guy this morning.  (Thank God for a flexible schedule!)  What a great treat!  For me and for him.  We spent most of the time driving and shopping -- some things I needed to get done.  But it was one-on-one "daddy time."

I'm pretty sure I need to do this more often ... with all four of the kids.  Have one-on-one time, I mean.  I think I do a pretty good job of balancing home life and work life.  I'm by no means perfect.  And I have times of imbalance for short periods.  But I think I do okay.  But one-on-one doesn't happen often enough.

Why one-on-one??  I can easily point to three times when I've spent time with each of our three older kids.  A Colts game with Evan, a special "date" with Elise, a baseball game with Bryce.  And every one of those stands out as a VIVID memory ... for me, and more importantly, for THEM.  Two years later, Bryce is still talking about "the baseball game" -- buying a bag of peanuts ... in the shells! ... and catching a ball thrown into the crowd by one of the players.  That night is emblazened in his memory!  I think this is why:  the fact that I took time to commit to HIM (undistracted by siblings, work, etc.) communicated to him that his dad loves and adores him.  I am convinced every child wants and NEEDS to hear that message.

I often lean into Blake's ear when he's sitting on my lap and say:  "Guess what?!"  "What," he says.  "You are my most favoritest 3-year-old on the planet." Then he gets a giant grin and hugs me hard enough to squeeze my head off.  I think kids need to have that reassurance that NOTHING is more important than they are!

I'm pretty sure that's part of living the godly life -- making the most of my calling as a dad by making sure my kids see God in me.  After all, isn't this God's message:  there is not a thing in the universe as important as YOU.  If you were the only one, I would still have given Jesus for you.  YOU are precious to God.  I want my kids to know that truth more than anything else.  So ... I let them see just a tiny glimpse of God's love in me.

Dads, moms:  let your children see God in YOU.  It is for THAT PURPOSE that God gave you children!


Some have argued that Americans cannot be content.  And I think it may be true.

Think about it:  we are bombarded every day -- thousands of times every day -- with advertisements.  TV, radio, internet, billboards, newspapers, magazines.  Everywhere you look from the sidebar on Facebook to the side panels of cars and trucks on the road ... our culture is built on companies vying for your attention.  And every single ad has as its goal to CREATE DISCONTENTMENT in your mind.  Something is missing in your life.  You NEED our product or service to be more complete.  I can't even begin to count the amount of stuff I've bought ... not because I NEEDED it ... but because I wasn't content enough, so I THOUGHT I needed it.

This is some of what I pointed to in my last post -- that we try to fill the void in our souls with stuff that is totally incapable of filling the void.  Advertisers know that we all naturally lack contentment because we're always searching for more.  So the whole system is built on convincing you that THEIR product will fill the void.

Now, this is not a slam on companies and advertisers.  It's simply a statement about our broken human nature.  Our souls are always going to crave more ...... unless they are filled by the only One who can fill them:  Jesus Christ.

I love the book of Philippians in the Bible.  I love the example of Paul, who wrote Philippians.  At a time WHEN HE WAS IN PRISON, having been falsely arrested, stripped of his freedom and all possessions ... at a time when he didn't know if he would get out alive ... Paul wrote this:  "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS.  I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4).  "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through HIM who gives me strength."

If you want to REVOLUTIONIZE the health of your SOUL, SEEK CHRIST.  Listen to HIS VOICE, not the voice of the advertisers.  HE knows what you need.  And He is FAITHFUL.  He will supply your needs.  "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these other things will be given to you as well" (Jesus, in Matthew 6:33).


Soul Revolution

It's time for a SOUL REVOLUTION.

Tomorrow evening (June 3rd) celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver will appear on ABC for the third episode of his second season of FOOD REVOLUTION.  If you haven't seen the show, don't feel bad.  I haven't either.  Apparently, it's not the greatest success as a TV series.  But ... BUT ... the CONCEPT really got my attention last year and has had me thinking ever since.

Here's the idea:  Jamie believes we are killing ourselves and our kids with WHAT WE FEED OURSELVES.  We are eating JUNK!  No surprise, I guess.  But he's absolutely right.  I'm guilty too, but we put serious GARBAGE into our bodies!  So ... Jamie Oliver is promoting the "FOOD REVOLUTION" -- a call on America to change ... to REVOLUTIONIZE what we eat.  More natural produce; less processed, fatty, chemical-laced trash.  Jamie says:  "Our kids are growing up overweight and malnourished from a diet of processed foods, and today's children will be the first generation ever to live shorter lives than their parents. It's time for change. It's time for a Food Revolution.  This Food Revolution is about saving America's health by changing the way people eat.  It's not just a TV show; it's a movement for you, your family and your community."

Okay, so here's what I'm thinking:  having concern for our physical health is great.  It's commendable.  But I'm even MORE CONCERNED about our SPIRITUAL HEALTH!  And quite frankly, we continually feed our souls loads of GARBAGE!  We think that we'll be fulfilled by having success and having some accomplishments to show off (all type-A's, take note!).  But success and achievements are not real SOUL FOOD.  Neither are friendships.  Or alcohol.  Or having a nice house or kids that behave ... or whatever else we try to fill ourselves up with.  You're not going to be filled up because your favorite team wins the championship.  Ask Tom Brady.  He won the Super Bowl three times in four years with the New England Patriots.  But he still hungered for more.  AND HE WAS THE QUATERBACK OF THE TEAM!

What I'm saying is that you won't find the answer to that deep longing in your soul by finding just the right guy/girl ... by getting just enough money in the bank account ... by getting noticed because you said the right thing, did the right thing, or whatever.  The secret is not getting your spouse to change or finding a better job.  The secret is not in shedding more pounds or in pushing your kids to accomplish more than you did.

A famous Christian leader of the late-4th century, Augustine, once wrote of God:  "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you."  Perhaps with that in mind, the 17th-century philosopher Pascal wrote:  "What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him ... though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself."

What Jamie Oliver says about FOOD, I say about SOUL FOOD:  we've got to stop feeding ourselves TRASH!  Our spirits are malnourished because we try to fill up on success, stuff, sex, and all other things that can never fully satisfy.  We need to fill up with Jesus!

Paul to the Philippians:  "I consider everything a loss ... RUBBISH, that I may gain Christ and be found in him" (3:8-9).  Jesus:  "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

It's time for a SOUL REVOLUTION!  A change from junk food to REAL, HEALTHY, FULFILLING FOOD for the SOUL.  It's time we fill up with God -- more specifically, the LOVE God offers in Jesus Christ.  We will never rest until we are filled with Jesus.  Find Him in the WORD today.  Open your Bible.  Get to know it.  Take it in.  Let your spirit digest every word of hope and promise!  And you'll be part of the REVOLUTION.

What do you think?!  Comment below.