Allergy Season at its Best

I have a confession. I have seasonal allergies.

Ok, if you have been around me at all during the Springtime then you know that wasn’t much of a confession.

The Spring and Fall have caused me to be a mouth breather for about as long as I can remember. (However, on the plus side, as I have gotten older the Fall side of things hasn’t been quite as bad as it was when I was a kid…so yay?)

A little less than a year ago I went to an Allergist to check what exactly I was allergic to and also to find out what I could do about it. The doctor confirmed that I actually wasn’t allergic to much, but that what I was allergic to I was really allergic to. He also confirmed that the few things that I had reacted to manifested themselves most during the Spring and Fall.

I remember saying, “Ok, I kind of knew that already. So, what can I do about it? How can we cure this?” I was looking for some sort of pill, shot, or miracle.

His answer was annoying, profound, and completely spot on.

“The best, and only real, way to be cured is to stay away from the things that make you sick.”

That statement, while easier said than done, is still some of the best advice I have heard.

The doctor then explained to me what causes allergies. He went on to use a bunch of fancy words that I can’t remember, but I was still able to get the sense of it.

It wasn’t necessarily the ragweed itself that caused my symptoms, it was how my body responded to the allergen. My immune system sees certain “triggers” as threats and works extra hard to expel them from my body. The results are sniffling and sneezing. To quote Switchfoot, “The sickness is myself.”

I have been thinking a lot about that conversation with the doctor lately. And while I can’t avoid Spring, I do think that his words are still some of the wisest I’ve heard.

“The best, and only real, way to be cured is to stay away from the things that make you sick.” It doesn’t just apply to allergies.

There are many things in life that make us sick. There are many things in our lives that are harmful to us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. While I know that we cannot just simply gate ourselves off and avoid them all, that’s not typically how life works, I do think that we should make efforts to avoid our “triggers.”

1 Thessalonians 5:22 says to abstain, or flee, from every kind of evil.

2 Timothy 2:22-23 instructs us to flee from youthful passions and lusts and to “have nothing to do with” foolish debates that cause quarrels. Instead, Paul says, to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.”

And Philippians 4:8 says, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

The best way to avoid the consequences of sin is to avoid sin.

We become emotionally and spiritually congested when we try to work life out on our own strength and in our own way. The awesome thing is, that God knows that we are sick. He knows what harms us and He has given us the cure. Jesus sacrificed Himself so that we can be healed from all that ails us. We must put our trust in Him.

But even after we trust in Jesus we still have a tendency to run back to our “allergens.” We still tend to grasp at the very things that make us sick. We need to avoid them.

But we can only truly avoid them with God’s help.

He can and will give you the strength to make it through your “allergy season.” But you need to talk with Him. Agree with Him that you are in need of rescuing, admit that you cannot do it on your own, thank Him that Jesus made a way for you, trust Him to guide you, and actually listen to and follow Him.

As the writer of Hebrews puts it- “let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…and cling to Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith.”

Ok, time to blow my nose for the 10,000 time today.

Airport Coffee

Airports are weird.

I have been in a whole lot of airports in my relatively short lifetime, and they are all the same…and yet all so vastly different.

There are people, lots of people. And those people are all either waiting around and wasting time or running frantically. I so enjoy watching the spectrum of people. There are the business travelers who view flying as just another frustrating commute. There are the adventurers; these are usually the people wearing Chaco’s, use a backpack the size of a middle schooler, and openly talk about the week that has passed since their last shower. There are also the family vacationers. These families usually consist of overly excited and wide-eyed kids, an angsty and embarrassed teenager, a tired mom, and a stressed-out dad who is silently rethinking the trip.

But, no matter what airport I go to, I sometimes, ok usually…. Alright, always get a coffee. There are two reasons for this. The first, I like coffee. The second, I like “airport coffee.”

The funny thing about airport coffee is that it never tastes the same. Even if I go to a “chain” café that I am used to, it still tastes different. I could walk out of the airport and grab a cup of coffee across the street from the same chain and it would, a) be about $20 cheaper, and b) taste completely different. Airport coffee is always different, never boring, and always a well-needed refresher in the midst of my travels.

During my last trip, I was thinking about what is so different and special about airport coffee. (I know, it’s a very odd thing to think about for any length of time, but try to remember I was in an airport and very bored.) One delayed flight later I think I solved the coffee puzzle. While I’m sure there are real reasons (different water, mass productions, faster turnaround, etc.) I prefer to stick with my own reasoning.

My perspective is different.

I am looking forward to the place that I will be traveling to, whether it is a vacation or a mission trip, I am focused on where I am going. My mood tends to be one extreme or another, either stressed and anxious or relaxed and lost in thought.

Because of that, the coffee that I drink is always a nice reminder of where I am. Since it’s not a good idea to drink hot coffee fast, trust me I’ve learned that lesson, the pause causes me to slow down and refocus on my current physical location.

A few days ago, we, along with millions of other people around the globe, celebrated Easter Sunday. We celebrated Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Think about that for a second, He was really truly 100% dead…then He told His heart to start beating again.

If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine then I’m not sure anything will.

As I think about Jesus’ resurrection I can’t help but think about airport coffee. (Stick with me on this for a minute.) As we reflect on this incredible triumph that Jesus had over death it should cause us to pause, reflect, and refocus. As we think about Jesus’ resurrection we should remember that what He did was completely different from anything ever done before in history. And a life with Jesus is never boring.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”

I thank God that His mercies are new every morning. I thank God that He never gets boring. And, oh boy, do I thank God that His steadfast love for me never ceases.

I pray that God gives us a continually fresh perspective when it comes to thinking about Jesus and His resurrection. The truth of the Gospel should be as new, fresh, exciting, and wonderful as when we first heard and received it.

Airport coffee is awesome, but Jesus is awesomeerer! 

 

Transforming Society

Chances are that this last week, whether on the news or in a casual conversation, you heard the questions; Why did this happen? and What can we do?

The answers to those questions are both very complicated and yet plainly simple.

This, along with every other mind-numbing tragedy, happened because of sin. And what can we do? A lot.

Before you read on I would challenge you to stop for a moment and pray. Pray for all of those who have been impacted personally by the horrific events of last week. I would also encourage you to pray for the transformation of our society of which has become numb to death and destruction.

It is saddening to see “shares” on social media of numbers of deaths caused by guns vs. drunk drivers vs. knives vs. etc. Giving into those arguments only continues to make us numb. I fear that we have gotten to a place where we forget that there are real people behind each of those numbers represented. Human life is worth more than that.

Laws are important, but I do not want to get into any sort of debate here. The reason is that neither the right nor the left have the remedy for what ails us. That remedy only comes in one form and one form only. His name is Jesus.

Jesus is the centerpiece of the Bible and He carries with Him the message and the mission of the Bible: redemption. In simpler terms, God heals what is broken.

Our society is broken. Our neighbors, co-workers, families, and friends are all broken. We are broken. Jesus can fix that.

2 Corinthians 5:17 promises that if anyone belongs to Jesus they have been made new.

Ephesians 2 tells us that we can be transformed from death to life because of God’s great love.

Romans 5:6-8 reminds us that Jesus welcomes us in our weakest, ugliest, and worst states.

So, what are we, those who have been transformed by the love of Jesus, to do in the midst of times such as these? We do what Jesus always intended for us, the church, to do.

We transform society. (Matthew 5:13-16)

We shine so that others may see. (Matt 5:16)

We don’t conform but rather allow the Holy Spirit to transform us. (Romans 12:2)

We remember where we come from. (John 17:16)

We stand up against what is wrong. (Daniel 1 & 3)

We remember what our mission is. (John 17:15 &23)

We remember who is with us on this mission. (Matthew 28:18-20)

We tell others what Jesus came to do. (Luke 19:10)

We walk what we talk. (James 1:19-27)

We trust God to make beauty from ashes. (Genesis 50:20)

One of my favorite Missions organizations (Send me a message if you’re interested in finding out which one and I will tell you all about them!) has an incredible missions statement. Here are my favorite parts of it.  “A movement of God…that finds its home in the local church and transforms society.”

I love that statement so much because a movement of God that is fueled by local churches and transforms society can and should happen anywhere. Whether we are here or there, God can and will use us, His church, to impact the world around us. Imagine what could happen if believers everywhere began to focus all their time, effort, and energy on transforming society. We transform society by telling people about Jesus and by living our own lives like He did.

We can’t afford to not tell people about Jesus. We can’t afford to not live for and like Jesus. The people around us can’t afford it either.

Revelations 21:3-6

Come soon Lord Jesus.

Love Love Love

I love pizza. I love The Bulls. I love winter. I love my wife. I love donuts.

One of these things is not like the others.

We talk about love a lot, or at least we say the word “love” a lot. We talk about the things that we love, the places we love, the characters on our favorite T.V. show that are now “in love.” But I fear that in our love-soaked speech we have actually missed, or at least heavily diluted the true meaning of love. We have overused the word without actually understanding what it means, or who it should be connected to.

So, with that in mind, here are a few verses that will help remind us of the true meaning and true reality of love.

John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus did just that, He died for us showing greater love to us than we deserve, which leads into the verse below.

Romans 5:8 – “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

At just the right time, while we were His enemies, while we were weak, while we were completely unlovable…Jesus loved us in the most powerful of ways.

1 John 4:7-8 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.”

If we have been impacted by God’s love, then it ought to be evident in our lives.

1 John 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us.”

We can only understand what true love is because God first showed us that true love.

Today, I had the privilege of preaching the good news of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus’ love, at Pacific Garden Mission. It’s a wonderful ministry that serves men, women, and children who find themselves in the midst of some of life’s hardest circumstances. (If you would like to know more about this rescue mission click here.)

Today, as I shared the good news I, of course, focused on the word love. It’s fitting since Valentine’s day is right around the corner. (Hint-hint, guys it’s tomorrow and yes, you’re welcome for the reminder.) The encouraging thing is that God doesn’t need a special day out of the year to profess His love for us, and He certainly doesn’t need a reminder.

Anyway, while I was down at the mission I was reminded of this incredible truth; that no matter who you are, no matter what your background, God loves you. God loves people who are struggling with homelessness just as much as those who are sitting in mansions. God loves us and none of us, myself included, deserve it.

We cannot afford to think about love without thinking about God. We are foolish if we talk about love without talking about the cross. And we cannot understand love without understanding what Jesus did for us.

So, I hope that this little blog of mine impacts the way that you think about love. I hope that we can even rethink the ways in which we use the word. It’s not just a word that we should use flippantly, nor is it something that we should take for granted. Love is a gift from God. Love is what Jesus did on the cross. God is love.

Romans 8:38-39

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Also, to be clear, I love my wife waaaaaay more than I “love” donuts. 😉