What I told God this morning

God, first let me thank you for this new day You have given to me. From where I sit, I can see blue sky and the sun shining. What a gift! A new day to live and move and breathe. I couldn't ask for much more. Thank You!

I'm also incredibly grateful for forgiveness. Without Your forgiveness, God, I would have no idea how to forgive others. Oh, and I'm really thankful for grace. Without Your grace, I would be a big mess. God, Your grace is amazing!

You know God, there is a lot of junk going on in our world, stuff that weighs heavy on my heart. It seems like different groups of people just keep on hating each other and there seems to be no room for dialogue or resolution. Father God, forgive me for getting caught up in hate during my life, for viewing other people through the lens of fear and mistrust instead of seeing them as in desperate need of Your love and grace. I know that I can't change people, but You can. You give Your love and grace freely to me; how can I withhold it from others, even when they don't "deserve" it? So God, show everyone how awesome you are and how amazing Jesus is.

Lord, it's great to be alive. My goal for today is not so much to make the most of every moment or complete a check list. No, today I want my life to ooze Jesus. When people see me coming, I want them to see a guy who loves Jesus with every fiber of his being and it shows. I know I am far from perfect, but You want to use me anyway. Use me for Your glory, not my own.

I want to be a great husband and father, a faithful friend, a committed servant leader, and a lover of people. God, Your love for me has made that a desire in my heart. If I'm gonna pull this off, I need all of the strength and direction that You can muster for me. 

With that being said, let me finish by telling You how much I need You, God. Help me to be less dependent upon myself and much more dependent upon You. I've done the whole "I-can-do-this-on-my-own" song and dance routine enough to know that it never really works out that well for me. That's because I wasn't created for me. I was created for You.

Thanks for hearing me today, God. You are good, all the time. I love You and consider it an honor to be loved by You. Talk to You again soon.

Your child,
Sterling


Jesus was a Deadhead?

This weekend was a community — a real, true community — coming together in celebration of life. In celebration of music, of friendship, of happiness, of dance — of spirit, peace, and love. With a deep respect for all that came before, a profound acceptance for what’s happening now, and a shared optimism that everything will be okay.
When you read that above paragraph, did you think you were perhaps reading about a weekend worship retreat or an incredible youth camp experience from a spiritually moved teenager? If you did, then you are wrong. Dead wrong.

That paragraph is actually an excerpt of a blog post written by a Grateful Dead fan and it captures her experience at the Dead's farewell concert series in Chicago July 3-6. Let me go ahead and say that while I appreciate the Grateful Dead's music, I would hardly consider myself much of a fan, let alone a celebrated Deadhead. But reading the entire post by this fan got me thinking: How come Christians aren't this excited and captivated by their experience with Jesus?

After all, Jesus' teachings were filled with the themes of loving your neighbor, community, and peace. If you read the book of Acts you will find that the early Christian church was all about looking out for each other and loving their community. A close look at today's Christians and the churches we attend looks more like a heated county commissioner's meeting than it does the body of Christ.

I have lots of friends who don't go to church and have no desire to do so. Over the years as I've carried on conversations with them, only a few have actually expressed a problem with God or Jesus. Instead, their distaste for the Christian faith has everything to do with those people who claim to be followers of Christ but live contrary to His teachings. Makes me wonder how many believers actually take the teachings of Jesus in the Bible to heart or if they even know what Jesus taught.

I realize that it's dangerous to make blanket statements about people and the last thing I want anyone to think is that I'm Throwing Stones at my brothers and sisters. I'm also not saying that Jesus wore Birkenstock's and tie dye shirts. The Grateful Dead music scene hardly points one to salvation through faith in Christ. And while Dead fans do espouse an ethic of love, peace, being nice, and doing the right thing, I've yet to hear any Deadhead explain clearly to me the finer points of Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solus Christus, or Soli Deo gloria.

Yet in a weird, groovy kind of way the Grateful Dead and their fans sort of get it. And many Christians, myself included, often seem to be left in a Dark Hollow when it comes to the expression of true love and community that is supposed to under gird our faith in Jesus. Imagine the Ripple that Christians could leave in this world if what we said we believed about Jesus was actually evident in our daily lives.

Underwear is meant to be comfortable. Life, not so much.

I am serving as camp pastor at a placed called Laurel Ridge in the NC moutains this week, so today I decided to go hiking on some trails in ...