Pneumonia, Purposefulness, and Pausing

*For the sake of alliteration in the title please pronounce the P in Puh-new-mow-nee-ah.

A few weeks ago I got Pneumonia. It wasn't too horrible... as long as I was laying on the couch, not moving. I would think that I was doing better. "I'm still a little sick." I would think to myself. "But maybe I am doing well enough to go back to work tomorrow." Then I would try to move.

If I needed to get a drink or grab some food from the kitchen it turned into a major journey. Just sitting up on the couch would leave me more breathless than any game of Ultimate Frisbee I had ever played. I would have to stay seated and catch my breath. Standing up would necessitate catching my breath again. Even though the kitchen isn't far from the couch (maybe 16 feet couch to sink) I could only walk halfway before needing to take a break. I would lean on the wall for support and start to debate my reasons for getting up. How much do I really want whatever it was I had gotten up for? What if I just turned back now and went to the couch, maybe even the loveseat, it is closer. After catching my breath and renewing my resolve I would press on towards the kitchen. Once in the kitchen a quick stop to rest, grab whatever I needed and then start the equally arduous journey back to the couch, pausing again in the middle and practically collapsing on the couch.

My sick brain wasn't really working properly so it took longer than it should have for me to realize I that I really should try to maximize the effectiveness of these trips. Eventually before each trip I would think "How desperately do I really need that?" "If I am getting up what else should I get?" "Is it really worth it or should I stay on the couch?" "Should I just wait a little bit until I have to go to the bathroom?"

All too often we rush through life without thinking about what we are doing or why we are doing it. It took pneumonia to make me slow down and pause. I was forced into having one of the most purposeful weeks of my life. Every move, every decision, every option carefully and thoughtfully weighed. Sure, maybe my decisions about whether not to get snacks weren't as paramount or momentous as other decisions I have made in my life, but at the time they definitely felt like it.

Every decision we make has consequences, for good or for bad. Every time we say yes to something we are effectively saying no to something else. It's good every once in a while to take a step back and think about what have become the patterns in your life. Are they beneficial? Are they worth the time you are devoting to them? Are they crowding out other more important things?

I am certainly not suggesting you get pneumonia, but maybe try take some time this week to pause. Think about where you are spending your energy. Are you being purposeful about it.

Text in Worship 3 : Easter Sunday

Jesus is my strength. He carried me through the death of my husband.
This weekend we started the sermon series Best Day Ever. So often we think such trivial things make it the Best Day Ever, but the first Easter was truely the Best Day Ever. Christ rose from the grave and triumphed over death and sin. During our final worship set we asked the congregation to think about their best day ever and to text in what Jesus meant to them.

Jesus is my final destination
Jesus is my hearts desire
Jesus is awesome:)
Jesus is worth sacrificing my life for
Jesus is my constant companion
Jesus is my rock and my love
Jesus is the beginning and the end of my day.
Jesus is my Captain
Jesus is the One who gives my life meaning in the midst of the chaos of this world.
Jesus is the one who saved me.
Jesus is the light that leads me
Jesus is every decision.
Jesus is my healer
Jesus is my security and eternal hope!
Jesus is the one who loves me at my worst, forgives me, gives me hope and passion for life!
Jesus is grace and forgiveness!
Jesus is more than anything able to fit in this text box
Jesus is my only hope for a brighter future!
Jesus is the best birthday gift I could ever ask for!!
Jesus is the One who is all in, no matter what.
Jesus is the end all be all
Jesus is my King; my Love
Jesus is the model and the goal
Jesus is my counselor, my adviser, my friend, MY BEST FRIEND !!!
Jesus is my Savior
Jesus is my delight, my strength, my hope!
Jesus is is my savior
Jesus is enough
Jesus is the one who gives me grace and saves me everyday
Jesus is my Support
Jesus is always with me during out current family trials
Jesus is my redeemer.
Jesus is the one who gives me strength
Jesus is my Rock!
Jesus is my EVERYTHING!
Jesus is my joy
Jesus is my provider.
Jesus is the one I look to when I don't know what to do
Jesus is my compass in life!
Jesus is heroic
Jesus is my guide when I tend to stray
Jesus is the one who healed me!
Jesus is my peace in the midst of uncertainty
Jesus is true love, with no strings attached.
Jesus is my comfort.
Jesus is my coming bridegroom.
Jesus is my shelter
Jesus is my freedom
Jesus is my best friend
Jesus is the unconditional love the world can not fulfill
Jesus is my rock
Jesus is the only way to true life
Jesus is always with me. I've never walked alone through the hard times
Jesus is my comfort after my young brothers passing.
Jesus is my hope for an abundant life!
Jesus is The Good Shepherd
Jesus is my security
Jesus is my rock and salivation, my inner peace in the storms of life.
Jesus is the one who who keeps me going. The one who brings me home, when I'm lost. He is my Savior.
Jesus is my savior
Jesus is always with me
Jesus is the lover of my soul
Jesus is - HOME!!!
Jesus is the one who has always been with me
Jesus is my prince of peace
Jesus is the rescuer who took me as I am; a sinner #BestDayEver
Jesus is my boss.
Jesus is the only one who never left my side no matter what I did
Jesus is my kalipay ug akong kinabuhi.
Jesus is my Everything.
Jesus is my new beginning!
Jesus is My Best Day Ever!
Jesus is a miracle worker and saved my life. Believe it because its true! Trust him!
Jesus is my foundation of hope and grace!
Jesus is My All
Jesus is my companion
Jesus is the one who showed me what it means to truly live
Jesus is messiah
JESUS IS always there for me
Jesus is is my joy and guiding force.
Jesus is victory!!!
Jesus is my rock
Jesus is my all
Jesus is my anchor.
Jesus is my strength :)
Jesus is our savior and redeemer
Jesus is my hope
JESUS IS Alive #bestdayever
Jesus is my everything
Jesus is the One who takes my utterly broken life and makes it beautiful and worth living.
Jesus is My King forever I'll worship.
Jesus is the one who saved me from myself
Jesus is my happy place
Jesus is my comfort
Jesus is my safe refuge
Jesus is my shield and joy. The author of my faith.
Jesus is my awakening
Jesus is my savior
Jesus is my healer and savior in my hard times
Jesus is real
Jesus is my Lord and Savior
Jesus is the one who saved me from myself...
Jesus is amazing and holy
Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened to me!!
Jesus is perfect love
Jesus is truly life changing!
Jesus is the greatest promise.
Jesus is my strength and peace.
Jesus is beyond
Jesus is my motivation to never give up
Jesus is my best friend and will never give up on us in the hardest time of our life!! He is risen!
Jesus is my hope, my rock, the foundation of all i am and do!
Jesus is my guide
Jesus is my rock and my salvation
Jesus is the head of my home.
Jesus is the one who took my sins and forgave men
Jesus is is my strength. He carried my thru the death of my husband.
Jesus is my undeserved redemption
Jesus is my strength and guide.
Jesus is my savior and he is my family!
Jesus is my shelter in a time of storm!!!
Jesus is the provider
Jesus is constant
Jesus is the reason I can live
Jesus is the artist of creation
Jesus is the one who gave me the strength to leave an abusive relationship.
Jesus Is there when no one else is.
Jesus is my hope.
Jesus is my hope and my guide
Jesus is my strength
Jesus is the one who took my place in the grave
Jesus is the one who rescued me
Jesus is everything I ever needed

Spoiler Alert: He is risen!

Spoilers are the worst!1 I think the reason that spoilers are so offensive is they cannot be undone; once something has been spoiled it can't be unspoiled. You can't unlearn something. You can't unruin a surprise. Spoilers take away an element of surprise, of drama, of wonder. They have the potential to transform moments from overwhelmingly emotional experiences and reduce them to trivial tidbits of information.

Remember the first time you learned who Luke's father was2, that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, and it really was Earth the whole time. Even watching one of these movies the second time isn't the same. The experience is so much different when you don't know the outcome. Every moment is filled with wonder, uncertainty, and vulnerability. This is how real life works. We don't know the ending, we can't skip ahead and see the outcome.

It is easy for the glory of Easter to overshadow the passion of Good Friday. While Easter is the most powerful day in history Good Friday is the most poignant day in history. Christ died for us, "the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God."3 God has the power to conquer sin and death, to rescue us from eternal suffering, but to do so without Christ's death on the cross would go against his own nature. Christ's death on the cross not only shows God's love for us but also his righteousness, justice, and glory.4 

I often wonder what it must have been like to experience the very first Good Friday.5 When we think of Good Friday now it is impossible to separate it from the glory that is Easter Sunday. Good Friday has been spoiled for us. It isn't a surprise, we know the twist ending, we can turn the page and see what happens next. What was going through the minds of people who were there?

What did Peter feel when he was asked if he followed Jesus and chose to deny him?
What must it have been like for Barabbas, condemned to suffering and death, to be set free and have his punishment placed on Jesus?
What did the crowd feel as they stood around Jesus, while he hung on the cross, and mocked him?

How similar are my daily actions to their actions on that day?
How do we respond in light of the cross and all that it reflects: the love, power, righteousness, and glory of God?

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." 6

1 This is a hyperbole. There are plenty of things that are worse than spoilers.
2 Spoiler

3 1 Peter 3:18 ESV
4 Romans 3:25-26 ESV
5 "It Is Finished - Good Friday"
6 Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV
Image from Stephen Proctor

Text In Worship 2

This weekend at Grace Church Roseville we had another time of Text In Worship. It's a chance for anyone to text in their response to the sermon. Mark Allen shared the story of Abraham and how he waited on God in faith. During the final worship set the responses were shown on the center screen.

You can listen to the sermon here and check out the responses below.

In faith, I can wait patiently because God fulfills His promises.

In faith, I can wait patiently because... 
every time He has come through!
You have given me the greatest love I've ever known!
I see the blessing in it.
God promises that he knows what is best for us, even in the most difficult times. That he is always making us into who he means us to be.
You sent JESUS!
You first loved me.
You are awesome!
You are good and holy.
in doing so, I am putting my complete trust in Him!
I know God is faithful.
my God fulfills His promises
God keeps his promises to me!
everything is in God's time.
He waited for me!
I believe You are who You say You are!
His ways are higher than my ways.
GOD has the best plan for me.
I believe.
He who started this work will be faithful to complete it!
His plans are bigger than my own.
God cares for all of us.
God is always doing a work in me.
of Gods perfect love.
God sees the whole picture and is in control.
I don't know his plans!
God promises never to leave me.
He will come through.
God is perfect in his timing.
God is always faithful.
God loves my friend more than I do.
He's never failed me!

Habits, Streaks, and Resolutions

I don't really do New Year's resolutions. I never really have. They have always just seemed a little too vague to me. According to a recent study1 the top three resolutions for 2014 (and I would bet most recent years) are lose weight, get organized, spend less and save more. We see all too often just how many people can't keep their resolution. Only 75% of New Year's resolutions even make it to January 7th. Even though there are far too many ways to fail a resolution there is rarely a clear win. Lose weight, how much? Get organized, how do you measure that?

I don't do resolutions but I do have habits. We all have habits, some we know about and others that we don't even realize affect us. Along with my habits I have streaks. They really aren't all that different; streaks are just habits that can be quantified. Habit: I listen to Adventures in Odyssey when I go to bed. Streak: I have listened to Adventures in Odyssey more than 2,700 nights in a row. Habit: I go to the Nook for the Burger-of-the-Month. Streak: I have had the BotM every month for the last 71 months.

The thing about streaks and habits is that they are much harder to break than a resolution. Streak: an uninterrupted series2. Habit: a thing done often and hence, usually, done easily; a pattern of action that is acquired and has become so automatic that it is difficult to break3. By definition they are either so ingrained that they are second nature or so important that is you can't miss even once. Jerry Seinfeld had a productivity tip. First decide what you want your streak to be, for Seinfeld it was writing jokes. Then everyday that you work on your streak you put a giant red X through that day on the calendar. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."4

This is what you do for intentional streaks, productive habits, and positive traits. You protect them, you nurture them, you look after them. But what do you do with the habits you have that aren't so helpful? Our default is not positive, our traits are nefarious, our nature is evil. There are some streaks that rather than protecting you have to work at crushing. Bad habits aren't simply bad because of their own negative consequences but because they crowd out good habits. We need to exchange our bad habits for good. We have to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles"5 and "put on the new self."

I know I said I don't really do resolutions but if you are looking to start a streak January 1 is a great time for it. (It sure makes keeping track a lot easier.)

What streaks are things that I need to start today?
What are the habits I have that need to be crushed?
What chains do I need to break?
What chains do I need to forge?