Friday, January 25, 2013

That Odd Story About Pigs...

Posted by Michael

“And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.”               -Matthew 8:34

Some experiences with Jesus can be overwhelming, and the Gadarene people seem to have had just such an experience. As Jesus was entering the town, two demon possessed people emerged out of  tombs and confronted Him. They asked if He had come to torment them before the appointed time. An odd statement to say the least, but the oddity only increased as they asked Jesus a second question.  “If you are going to cast us out of these men, would you please cast us into that nearby herd of pigs.”  Jesus grants the odd request. The demons entered the pigs, and the pigs ran off a cliff and plunged to their death. Just another normal day with Jesus, but that’s a pretty strange scene for a small town before breakfast.  The people of the town came out to meet Jesus, and as might have been expected, asked him to kindly leave. There’s a lot going on in this story, but a simple take away would be this: when Jesus arrives on the scene, things change. Some people are freed from their captivity. Others lose a herd of pigs. The Bible doesn’t comment on what prompted the people to ask Jesus to leave. We can only speculate at their motivations. What we can learn however, is that when Jesus engages us we should be prepared for the unusual, the unpredictable. We should not be surprised when things don’t make immediate sense. It’s a bit presumptuous to assume that we can make sense of things as quickly as the Creator of the Universe. I have to admit my love for logic makes this hard. I often shy away from things that don’t make immediate sense, choosing instead to spend time in places I can understand and often control. But a life that is spent following Jesus doesn’t always get to choose the predictable path. As our leader, Jesus picks the path. He also chooses when the path will begin to make sense to us. Angling to be in control is tempting, but knowing that God is in control is comforting, and will eventually allow us the courage to follow wherever He leads.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The World Champion of Hot Dogs

Posted by Michael

At long last it has arrived….the world’s perfect hot dog.  Behold the Bacon Maple Slaw Dog! Start with real bacon (avoid packaged bacon bits at all cost).  For the truly committed, you can cook the hot dog in the leftover bacon grease (Paula Deen would be proud).  Once you’ve topped your hot dog of choice with the slightly crispy bacon, drizzle real maple syrup over the top. Order is important here, the maple syrup really needs to be soaking into the bacon. The final touch is mounds of cole slaw. I recommend making your own if possible. Buying slaw is like wearing another person’s socks, it shouldn’t be done unless you have no other choice. I have a deep and abiding love for this new hot dog creation and plan to eat one on the morning of my heart surgery which I’m sure will now be coming in the next couple of years. If you have a hot dog creation of your own, please share.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Failure Is An Option

Posted by Michael

I’ve asked my small group to come up with the one thing they know now, that they really wished someone had told them when they were fifteen years old.  The plan is to turn each lesson into a small group topic for discussion.  My lesson would be that failure is an option, and sometimes a very important one.  For years, I have obsessed, overworked, and at times avoided opportunities  in order to manage failure. I’ve always thought failure was the enemy,  that failure on my part would prove to the world just how incompetent I am and how little I know. With the Super Bowl looming in the near future, I am reminded that 31 of the 32 teams will fail this year in their quest to win it all. Many of the players from whichever team wins the big game will go home to failing marriages, failing financial plans, or failing friendships. Failure is inevitable, and as hard as it is to say, I’m grateful for that. Failure propels me into the grace of God. It reminds me that I was never created to do life alone. It reawakens my need for God’s forgiveness, His mercy, and His love. Failure isn’t fun, but our character development would stall without it. I would love feedback on what one thing you wish someone would have told you when you were fifteen!