contagious

I made it until I was about 11 until I had chicken pox. Itchy, splotchy and nasty. I contracted it through my extremely contagious little brother, who conveniently had it at a young age since he is 9 years younger than me. Thanks, bro. (sarcasm intended)

We learn about contagious things from our childhood. Wash your hands. Use sanitizer. Don’t cough on me. Don’t wipe that there. Don’t touch that. No, you can’t share my drink…I don’t want to catch what you have!

With all of those negative commands about things that are contagious, and the order to stay away from them, what happens when we want someone to catch what we have? When we want our passion to be contagious for a mission? A ministry? A country? For our Savior…

It’s no secret that I am a Paul junkie…if I’d lived in Bible times, there’s no doubt I would have been one of his groupies. Of course, only after I got over the fact he wasn’t killing Christians anymore. But you see, that’s the story. The contagious part. He was a transformed man on that road to Damascus, and his words came out of that transformation.

Then they couldn’t get him to shut up.

Saul spent a few days getting acquainted with the Damascus disciples, but then went right to work, wasting no time, preaching in the meeting places that this Jesus was the Son of God. They were caught off guard by this and, not at all sure they could trust him, they kept saying, “Isn’t this the man who wreaked havoc in Jerusalem among the believers? And didn’t he come here to do the same thing—arrest us and drag us off to jail in Jerusalem for sentencing by the high priests?” But their suspicions didn’t slow Saul down for even a minute. His momentum was up now and he plowed straight into the opposition, disarming the Damascus Jews and trying to show them that this Jesus was the Messiah. [Acts 9:19-22 MSG]

Now somewhere there is an old-school, cynical believer who would think, “That’s how it always happens with ‘new believers’ they catch that Gospel fire and won’t ever let up. It fades eventually.”

I remember getting told that when I was a new believer. And it pissed me off.

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As I sit here writing this…I find myself confronted by that young woman who was so passionate about her Savior that she made some radical choices to follow him. She definitely made some choices that didn’t sit well with people in her life. And the sad part? I think she’d sit across this desk from me and say, ‘What the hell is wrong with you? Do I need to come give you a kick in the ass? What the hell are you fighting for? We have more fight than this…’

Then the 14-years-older version of me says, ‘You are going to get worn out. Eventually too many people get into your head…and then you start giving credence to some of those voices that you probably shouldn’t.”

When the only voice you should be listening to is that of the One who created you. The One who calls you. The One who you answer to.

The same Paul they couldn’t get to shut up wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:13, “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak.”

Here are the contagious truths I am choosing to believe and speak…

God’s word should be contagious. Be in it. If your Bible has a layer of dust, there’s a problem. Get started now, and no one will notice you had a layer of dust.

God’s story should be contagious. Tell it. If you don’t know how to talk about God’s story, start practicing. His message was spread by the disciples only because they were passionate about telling what they had LEARNED from Jesus and what they had SEEN in him. Tell those around you how your story merges with God’s story. If you don’t know, figure it out, because I guarantee it merges.

God’s community should be contagious. I once heard Michael Frost talk about movie trailers and Christianity. How in the theatre, before the actual movie starts there are these teasers. By the reaction of those around you to the trailer you know immediately if they ‘HAVE TO GO SEE THAT MOVIE’ or ‘wouldn’t be caught dead seeing that.’ Which version of Christian community do others see in you, your family & the people you are with?

God’s people should be contagious. This is where we all need to channel a bit of that new believer enthusiasm, and not be afraid of it. Do you love others with that newborn Spirit-filled love? Does your voice inflection channel wonder and excitement for who God is? Do your words speak to the heart of God, or do they berate, belittle and judge those around you? People are not drawn to  judgers…but they do want to be around those handing out God’s unconditional love, mercy and grace.

People are drawn to the purest form of the Gospel…we just tend to dilute it and unintentionally make it ugly through our own sin. Shame on us.

Every single one of these makes God something that others want to catch and be infected with. And before you know it…you are spreading the Gospel in ways that you never imagined. Go be contagious…in a good, non-hand sanitizer way.

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life

Life is precious. Life is beautiful. Life is also undeserved, and most of us throw away the gift of life that was given.

Today is a day you have a new opportunity to grab life by the horns. Refocus. Renew. Center around a new purpose.

I saw so many faces at church today that blessed me. Some admitted they had been absent for too long. Others just reflected the same joy in seeing familiar faces.

It was a community coming together under the roof of their house.

But also let me add that its not about just coming to the community ‘home’ on a certain time every week…its about using that community to support you as you live out what God is teaching you through your community.

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My Chaco clad feet merged with a Haitian orphan.

I wish that I could better convey to people the joy, excitement, hope, grace, peace and adventure they could claim if they centered their life around Christ. But instead so many of us add him on to the busyness this world gives us, and hope that it all works out ok.

I can no more make that choice for them that God can. Because, Lord knows, he wants all to choose his life. We just let this world cloud our Kingdom vision.

What God has given each one of ua is our life story to share. Or struggles and pain. Our heart and what God has been teaching us. Similar circumstance that might draw someone’s heart closer to the Healer.

Are you sharing your life story? Are you living the life that your resurrected and eternal Savior has gifted you?

Today we are reminded that we are a resurrected people. The true question is…will you live your life with the hope and promise Christ has given you through his sacrifice?

water

Today is March 13…trivial to most of the world and life-changing for me. This day still makes water leak out of my eyes, as I discovered earlier today.

There are times in my life that I hate having a good memory. It’s more scarring that anything, because in an instant my memory can bring perfect crisp 3D color to very painful moments. Joyful moments, too, but today…very raw, painful ones.

Fourteen years ago today is one of those days that I wish my memory had conveniently lost. I was in my dorm room in Des Moines and got a phone call from Kansas City that a close high school friend had been in a car wreck. After the news came that he hadn’t made it, I found myself in a vortex of disbelief as reality sunk in that a vibrant, supportive and loyal personality was no longer walking in this world. I was desperately grasping at straws to survive the emotional turmoil.

I was in a horrendous place for over a year. Drowning in significant depression, and eventually told by my dad, ‘Everyone has people that die in their life. You just move on and get over it. There is no use in dwelling in it. That’s what you need to do – get over it!’ He had no way of knowing that I was at the point that could not physically or mentally do that on my own, but with his words I then felt I couldn’t show him what was really happening to me on the inside.

I would hold it all together…because it was what was expected…then I would have panic attacks and fall apart. It was scary. It was painful, and only a few people knew it was happening.

The only way for me to come through it was to completely submit myself to Christ. It was weird, because before college, the only thing I knew about Jesus was he had two holidays…and I wasn’t even really sure why he had them. It’s hard to believe in a guy who has holidays just for himself…until you realize what that guy said when he walked this earth and the Spirit that came for all the believers on the heels of his departure.

When I say I know I cannot live without the Holy Spirit sustaining me…it comes from personal experience. It comes from a place of relief. It comes from a place of extreme gratitude. It comes from feeling the sweet freedom of real life. It comes from a place where my past, present & future collide into a beautiful symphony of God’s provision and calling.

SAMSUNGToday. (Deep breath.) Today, I went to the gravesite for the first time in over a decade. I left some crazy daisies for a friend who was completely crazy, and walked through some crappy stuff with me in high school. Who believed in me and supported me in ways I never fully appreciated until I began to see the world as God see it… communities of people living life together. The full clarity came when I found myself in communities who did supported each other in radical ways. First in college with friends who never left my side, and now in a fantastic community of friends, who laugh with me, cry with me and are my enthusiasm when I have none.

Today, I reflect on that day. I grasp on to Christ as my memory slides me back into those desperate moments. And I remember who I was, who I am…and ready for who God is still creating me to be.

Now when water leaks from my eyes on March 13…I’m still not sure what percent is selfish sadness over the world losing a teenager, and what percent is profound thanks for the choices I made because of that loss. Either way…the water flows freely.