Have you ever fertilized your lawn with manure? I haven’t, but I have certainly smelled it when a few of my neighbors have tried it. I hear that manure really greens your lawn and is excellent for strong roots and growth. That got me thinking about today’s topic—things that make our spiritual maturity GROW, and the “faith grower” I picked today is a lot like manure.
1. This method of spiritual growth stinks really really badly—especially at the time!
2. But most of the time it produces big results!
Failure as Fertilizer!
I don’t know about you, but I am an expert at failing. No, seriously, I think one of my spiritual gifts is the gift of failure. The trick with failing is to fail in the right direction.
Sometimes when I have failed at things I have fallen backwards to even worse failures. How about you?
Sometimes when I have failed at things I simply repeat the SAME failure over and over again—expecting different results. Sound familiar?
However, most of my failures have eventually lead me to a place of learning from my mistakes, growth and maturity. Here are a few important things to remember about failing in the right direction.
1. Failure is not a person it’s an event. If you have failed at something, and we all have, the mistake is believing that YOU are the failure. You are not a failure but maybe you have failed at certain things you have tried. Learning from our mistakes is one of the most important parts of being human.
2. Failure in the right direction all depends on your attitude. One of the great stories surrounding Thomas Edison’s invention of the light-bulb is that he failed more than 1,000 times at getting his invention to work. When asked about the failures, as the story goes, he allegedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”
3. Failure is pushes us to admit we need help from friends, family and God.
4. Failure helps you to be humble and to not take yourself too seriously.
Listen, failure at times can have serious implications. If you use too much manure, or the wrong kind, on your lawn it will burn your lawn and possibly kill your grass. I am in no way trying to minimize the reality that our decisions carry consequences to them. However, I want to tell you today that God is bigger than your failures and wants to use them to bring you closer to Him.
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Let me ask you a question. Which do you like better? Do you like the days building up to Christmas, like my wife Rachel, or do you enjoy the days following Christmas day more? Personally, I love the more relaxing “days of Christmas” after all the hustle and bustle are over. How about you? Tell me which you like more and why!
Here are a couple of Christmas videos that should encourage you today, this third day of Christmas. We are traveling up to PA today, and your prayers are coveted and appreciated!
Merry Christmas from my family to yours! I hope your day is filled with joy, laughter, and the peace the surpasses all understanding.
Here is an excerpt from Max Lucado’s It Began in a Manger, and to download the entire free PDF of It Began in a Manger click Here. A special thanks to Max Lucado. (take a minute to check out his page.)
…God had entered the world as a baby.
Yet, were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold.
The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pun- gently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor.
A more lowly place of birth could not exist.
Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.
Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event still puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes, he remembers the name the angel told him to use . . . Jesus. “We will call him Jesus.”
Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel, “His kingdom will never end.”
He looks anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.
Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.
She touches the face of the infant-God. How long was your journey!
Max and Santa
We took the kids to see Santa on Wednesday and none of us were sure how Max, our 1 year old, was going to react to the jolly old man. Well, here it is. So let’s have some Christmas fun! The person who comes up with the best caption to the picture of Max and Santa will win an Ordained Barista T-shirt!
Caption Please: Write the best caption for this photo in the comments section!
Do You Deliver?
Have you seen the video of this Fed Ex guy delivering a computer monitor to a house in southern California? This hidden video footage is approaching 5,000,000 hits on You Tube and is pretty amazing—amazingly bad is what I mean.
What do you deliver?
As a youth pastor I am often asked to deliver the story of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus to groups and individuals who have questions about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And, as Christmas quickly approaches, opportunities usually present themselves to share this message of grace with a friend or family member. However, I have seen many people, over the years, deliver this message of hope, grace and God’s unmerited favor with the tact and gentleness of this Fed Ex driver. Here are a few things that I try to remember if I am ever asked questions about my faith in Jesus.
1. I freely admit that I don’t have all the answers, but offer to tell, anyone that asks, the amazing story of what God has done in my life.
2. I try to present the message in love, gentleness, and respect.
3. I remember that it’s not up to me to change a person’s heart, that’s between them and God. My job is to share the TRUTH in LOVE. (see #2)
4. We should ALL be prepared to give an account of the hope we have in Jesus. I hear people all the time say that they aren’t pastors so telling people about Jesus is not their “gift’—so it’s not their “job.” Wrong! As a matter of fact, for many reasons, I think listening to the faith journey of a friend or family member, who is not a “religious professional,” is in many ways more powerful than listening to a pastor.
1 Peter 3:15 is one of my favorite verses because it combines our responsibility to communicate the hope we have in Jesus, but also incorporates the attitude that we are to deliver this hope with—gentleness and respect!
1 Peter 3:15
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,