Social Distancing

Social Distancing

Today my friend and i were in Natural Grocers, where we ran into a mutual friend. This friend is a hugger, and so we hugged it out in the produce section. Beside us was a woman with a bag over her hand as she selected her organic vegetables. Another woman in the store was pushing her cart around, gloved, and with a medical type mask on. As we stood with our friend near the apples and talked conspiracy theories and Scripture, i heard over the loudspeaker a plea for social distancing. “For the safety of all our customers, Natural Grocers is practicing social distancing. We ask all our customers to please observe these practices, stand 6 feet apart, and limit contact and touching.” i don’t know if that was said because of us or something that the store just announces ever so often to keep folks aware, but we continued talking. Although we weren’t in each other’s laps, we definitely weren’t practicing social distancing. We did wrap up our conversation a bit later and went about our shopping.

These are some crazy times that we live in! Just yesterday a pastor in Florida was arrested for holding services on Sunday. Today in Louisiana another pastor who held services on Sunday had a warrant issued for his arrest as well.  Both of these pastors ignored the government’s restrictions on large gatherings, based on the idea of social distancing. This applies to all large gatherings, the church is not being singled out. However, these pastors feel that their faith is enough to protect them, and in almost every other case, i would agree. However, here it seems they have ignored Romans 13:1-2 which simply states that we are to honor the government.

Given these two scenarios, my grocery store encounter and these pastors holding services, is either justifiable? To what degree is it proper to follow the directives of the government? Do we, as Christians, have an obligation to adhere to every edict the government has decreed? Given the absolute panic, some folks are faced with in these trying times are we as Christians too loose with our freedoms in Christ?

As we stood talking i could visibly see one of the checkers uncomfortable with our little gathering of 3 persons. Her uncomfortable look made me slightly uncomfortable as well, and so i stepped back a little and over towards an empty case as to make room for shoppers around us; was my freedom and fearlessness out of line at that moment, i wondered. Shortly after leaving the store, we went to another to get one other item before heading home. Here we saw an older gentleman with a mask that had a ventilator. Was he wearing it out of fear or caution?

i have a lot of unanswered questions and more questions every day. i do worry for my family. Am i doing all that i can to keep them safe? As the priest of my home am i leading them spiritually? Am i being enough of a comfort to them or am i adding to any of their anxieties? i don’t have all the answers in all of this . . . but i do know that as i ponder these thoughts i am drawn back to the words of Paul.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews, I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law, I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law, I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means, I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

We are living in unprecedented times. We can either be paralyzed by them or we can find ways to love others better in them. i choose the latter.

You are loved,

cj

Four Dimensions

Four Dimensions

What is our mission or goal in life? We hear all the time that we are to run the race to win it! That isn’t wrong. We hear that we are to strive to be the very best version of ourselves! That isn’t wrong either. We hear that we are to put others first, above ourselves, to be second. That isn’t wrong either. Yet, when we consider all of these things together, we get a pretty mixed impression of our mission or goal in life. So what is it, and how do we achieve it? Well, let us consider together for a moment the puzzle of these three statements.

Run the race to win it . . . based on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” ESV

Pretty clearly, one could understand, how, one might perceive, the need to be a cut-throat Christian.  However, this is only one perspective of the same cube.

Striving to be the very best version of ourselves . . . based on Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ESV

By this, one could easily conclude that we strive to be the best we can. Doing everything in our power to strain for that perfect version of ourselves.

Putting others first . . . based on Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” ESV

Here, one could easily conclude that a Christian is best described as a doormat. Always and forever, second place. Each of these obviously is true. But there is more! A fourth dimension, if you will.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 ESV

Alright, then here we have the four corners if you will. We as imitators of Christ are to run the race as to win! Train hard every single day, and beat our bodies, to mean our fleshly desires, into submission. To have self-control. We will make mistakes, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going, striving for that heavenly crown.

Meanwhile, when you see your brother stumble, stop and help them up! Our goal, although it is to run to win! It is also to cross the finish line with as many people as we can! And to do so without giving offense, you will not be able to do this 100% of the time. However, we are to sill try! We are to love all equally, yet declare the truth of God boldly.

So run to win. Do all that you can to better yourself, start by listening to the Holy Spirit. Put others before yourself, considering their needs above your own. And finally, do everything in love as to be imitators of Christ.

You are loved,

cj

Visiting Memory Lane

Visiting Memory Lane

**This blog was originally posted on December 6, 2011, at 3:15 pm Alaska Time as part of my “Coffee? Yes, Please!” Blog. Since i can’t sit in a coffee shop at the moment with the nation’s response to the covid19 virus, i thought i would get all retro and nostalgic, with this blast from the past, memory lane, post! i hope you enjoy a look at my coffee shop life.**

i think it’s funny how anytime i want to go someplace downtown i will say, “Hi Galaxy” (that’s my phone). She reply’s, “At your service cj,” i laugh every time. i will then say, “Navigate to ____________” and she will proceed to give me directions and they usually always go like this, “continue down dewberry and turn right onto 88th, stay on 88th and continue onto Northwood, turn right onto Raspberry and take the Minnesota North on-ramp. Turn right onto Todor, turn left onto C st. It’s at this point in the trip that it changes, today i turned right onto Benson.  i like to think about our “navigation” to heaven. There are a few steps that are for everyone, and it never changes; however, there is a point in the journey that it becomes very individual as each person’s personal relationship is different. Of course, the destination is the same, but for some our journey may cross other bridges and go down other roads as we each struggle with different issues and God works in us in His timing and as long as we continue to listen to the GPS (God’s Providing Spirit).

If i make a wrong turn on my journey, my phone says, “recalculating,” and then from that point gets me back on track, if i follow its instruction. Sometimes i have made such a wrong turn that it simply says, “Turn around when possible.” God is that way too, sometimes i mess up, and from that point, He simply recalculates (in away), taking my errors into account and redirects me redeeming the error for His glory. Other times He simply says, “Turn around,” which is code for “repent,” which means to turn from sin, literally to turn around from the error of my ways.

i walked into Cafe Felix this afternoon and was greeted at the door by statues, Hindu, Buddhist, and others, each one staring at me.  i caught myself staring back, and then from behind the counter, the clerk said, “Can i help you?” i wondered if he could, was I in the wrong place? i thought. Catching my thoughts, i saw from the corner the cafe part of this establishment. i said, “Nope, i see it now, thank you, though,” and with a smile, i turned into Cafe Felix.

i walked up to the counter, the barista greeting me with a warm smile asked if she could help me (i must really have looked lost).  i asked for a menu, ordered an americano and a grilled cheese, the sandwich came with feta, cheddar, tomato, and bacon, and was super yummy! Served with tortilla chips and salsa…tortilla chips seem to be the chip of choice for Cafes in Anchorage. The coffee was exceptional, an organic Brazilian blend, smooth and not bitter in the least bit with an earthy flavor.  The room is arranged like a thrift store exploded with different tables and chairs and table cloths. In the center of the room, four chairs around a gas wood stove and in the corner a small stage for open mic night or like events.

The internet was down, so i tried yet another feature of my galaxy phone, wifi hotspot. Excellent! As i sat and watched people come and go, there is a large verity of clientele, but i had a feeling that they each shared a common understanding of where they were as opposed to me. Still a bit confused, was it the eclectic blend of music playing? Literally from Bluegrass, Country, Frank Sinatra, Top 40, and Christmas music…what? My ears didn’t know what to think. Or was my confusion the result of the potpourri explosion that occurred? Or incense or maybe the scented candles? Either way, the smells mixed with coffee and grilled cheese confused me, i am sure. As the place cleared out and i really began to think i was reminded of my GPS.

God’s Providing Spirit. This place, as i thought about it, would be an excellent location for a coffee with Jesus meeting. As i prepare to launch several options during the week, this place has won (at least for the moment) a spot on the circuit. I don’t think it was an accident that i found this place but rather on purpose. When Paul saw the many altars in Athens, he didn’t run away, he went into the heart of it and proclaimed the Truth. Everyone’s journey must start with, believing Jesus died for them, ask for forgiveness, accepting the gift of salvation, repenting of their sin and begin to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. Jesus said,  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything i have commanded you. And surely i am with you always, to the very end of the age.” So why not take the message into the heart of a place that has many altars to other gods? Yes, i think i will.

**For those wondering, Cafe Felix in Anchorage AK, received 4 out of 5 coffee mugs. ☕️☕️☕️☕️**

You are loved,

cj

me and my bike

me and my bike

When i was eight years old, i remember for my birthday that year getting the greatest ever gift! A bike! It was a beautiful chrome Mongoose BMX bike! i absolutely loved that thing, and together we went on many an adventure. That same year for my birthday my sister and brother also received bikes . . . the now-classic beach cruisers. i didn’t care that we all received bikes on my birthday i was just happy to have the greatest ever gift in the entire world!

The three of us rode those bikes to Glendale Galleria, at the time it seemed like the biggest shopping mall on the planet! i was eight. We rode those bikes to Los Angeles Zoo and the old Los Angeles Zoo, where many a film was made. We would watch the production crews and the such from a distance but as close as we could get! We rode those bikes to Griffith Park and then would take a ride on the miniature trains. A few years later, when my parents trusted me to go on adventures with my friends, we would ride our bikes to Universal Studios and the back lot of Burbank Studios. That bike helped me deliver thousands of newspapers as a “newsie” on my paper-routes.

Oh, the adventures i remember taking on that bike! i even got hit by a car on my bike. Neither of us suffered anything more than a bruise or two. i could go on and on about my adventures, those were the days! Simple days, no cares or worries, of course, i was only eight. But the world was so much bigger then, and i lived in just a small part of it. The bubble of my universe was my three best friends, the girl i had my eyes on, and my bike. Now, the world is so small, and if i allowed myself, it would be full of worry.

Yet, we are told not to worry. For we serve a God who is able! Even if we are to suffer in the moment . . . joy comes in the morning. Be encouraged friends that no matter what may come our way, our God is BIGGER!

Fear NOT, for I AM with you; be NOT dismayed, for I AM your God; I WILL strengthen you, I WILL help you, I WILL uphold you with MY righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV (emphasis added)

It’s Time.

It’s Time.

It is time to grow up. Move on from the elementary lessons and on to the meat of the matter. We don’t want that, though, because it requires something of us. Yet, we must begin a new, and greater process of letting go of our selves. A journey in which we die to our selves daily, that we might take up our cross to follow the only one who knows the way, The Way. Paul writes this to the Corinthians:

“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

This isn’t the only passage that calls us to maturity. There are countless others. Each one rings true to the fact that we must grow-up! To remain toddlers or babies in Christ is to live a meaningless life that will be rift with crisis after crisis, swaying you and blowing you about in an endless torrent of catastrophe. The writer to the Hebrews writes:

“About this, we have much to say, and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:11-14

How does one begin to move from the elementary to the secondary, from the milk to the meat? It is done daily. It is done intentionally. It is done moment by moment and decision by decision. It requires death. Death to your old self and a putting on of the new self in Christ Jesus. It requires prayer, and meditation, meditate on the Word, day and night. It requires us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly. It is a choice, and only you can make it. Be encouraged by Paul’s words to the Philippians:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

You are loved,

cj

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 5 of 5)

I Don’t Wanna Go (Part 5 of 5)

The final verse of the song by Chris Renzema is, for me, the most powerful. (If you haven’t yet you can find a link to the song at the bottom of Part 1) Here is the lyric:

Like Jesus in the garden
Will you take this cup from me
Like Jesus in the garden
You don’t call where you won’t lead
I wanna love like you love
I wanna bleed like you bleed

The struggle is real, my friends. i love how Chris writes this first part, “Like Jesus in the garden, Will you take this cup from me.” It is based on Jesus’ request recorded this way in the Gospel of Luke 22:

41And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.”

The anguish in those words is unmistakable. Yet Jesus’ resolve is in the very next part of verse 42, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done.” It isn’t about our will; it is, however, completely about the Will of the Father. And like Jesus in the garden, the Father won’t lead us where He doesn’t’ first call us. His love for us is genuine, and therefore, our love must mirror His.

“I wanna love like you love,  I wanna bleed like you bleed.” What breaks the heart of the Lord should also break our hearts. What stirs the Lord to move must also stir us to action! Are you living a life that loves like that and bleeds like that? i desire to live in this way, i hope that you do too!

Seek the Lord, and boldly declare, “i don’t wanna go if you’re not going with me!” And “i wanna go where You go and stay where You stay!” i want to be where You are Lord, lead me, and i will follow.

You are loved,

cj