What are they saying about me?

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About ten years ago, I was visiting a person at the hospital.  It was an important surgery, so I came and prayed, and then waited in the waiting room with their adult sister who had come into town.  Also present was a member of the congregational care team, on call that week to care for people.

The three of us talked for a while, and after about an hour the conversation lulled, and eyes were drifting over to the TV where The Price Is Right was on.  So I said my goodbyes and headed towards the elevator, glad that my church member was sticking around.

As I stood in the elevator, doors closing, I distinctly heard my parishioner say to the woman, “He’s painfully shy”, and then the doors closed.

That was a long 3 flights down.

You ever overhear somebody talking about you like that?  It’s disconcerting.  For one thing, I had on my “attentive pastor” persona that day, alert and responsive. Had I really acted that shy?  It wasn’t said meanly, which somehow made it worse.  They were making excuses for me!

The end result was a few days of paranoia on my part.  What are they saying about me? And not just at the church, either.  When my family talks on the phone, are they talking about how annoying I am? 

What about my bosses–my District Superintendent and my Bishop.  What are they saying about me?  Are they questioning my effectiveness?  Are they talking about me?  Or maybe worse…maybe they never think to talk about me at all?

Ever feel like this?  Like you aren’t your own accurate gauge of who you are and how effective you are in your interactions?  Well…you’re not alone.

Remember this passage?

 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  –Mark 8:27

No, I don’t think Jesus was overcome with a sudden bout of low confidence or paranoia. And he certainly wouldn’t advocate us being bullied by other people’s words.  But yes, I think he cared what people thought of him.  He wanted to know how effective he was being.  He wanted to see if his message was getting across.

And so he asked his friends.  People he trusted, who might have some information he hadn’t been privy to.  And sure enough, they had a sense of people’s perceptions which were…close, but not right on the money.  They were viewing him from a less than focused lens.

You remember how this goes, right?  It was the people closest to him, namely Peter, who had the clearest vision when it came to who Jesus was.  That was probably Peter’s proudest moment, when he correctly identified Jesus as “The Messiah, the Son of God who is coming into the world.”

(Of course, 2 minutes later Jesus was berating him, so you win some, you lose some.)

Here’s my point.  Of course people have things to say about you.  You’re a human being with complicated relationships and jobs and friendships, etc.  I’m betting most of the things people say are good, but there could be some criticisms or harsh observations in there too. We have to be careful what feedback is helpful and what should be shaken off.

If you’re worried about what folks are saying, remember that we’re all growing through this thing called life together.  Along the way,  be glad for the friends who love you for who you are…

and be patient with all the others who are still learning.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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(surely) Jesus laughed.

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Jesus Wept.

We know that, not just because of John 11:35, but also from stories of Jesus weeping in the Garden, and weeping over Jerusalem.

That makes sense.  The Gospel stories are intense, and what Jesus goes through is very emotional.

But what about Jesus laughing?

There isn’t a single reference to Jesus laughing.  No laughing? I find it hard to believe that our Savior was on a life-long personal downer.

I’m invested in this topic because I use humor everyday, even in sermons. One of my favorite movies is Airplane!, for Heaven’s sake.

I couldn’t make it through a day without laughter.

I figure the Gospel writers were busy with other objectives than pointing out every divine chuckle, and so, I’ve been digging…

Here are six passages where I could picture Jesus having a good ole’ laugh.  Take a read through them, and you’ll notice where I’ve inserted [JESUS LAUGHED] into the text.

I may or may not be right, but see if you can picture a little holy laughter for yourself:

1. Peter Walks On Water

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” [JESUS LAUGHED], “why did you doubt?”      Matthew 14:29-31

2. Zacchaeus Climbs a Tree

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-figtree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, [JESUS LAUGHED], looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”  Luke 19:1-10

3. A Gentile Woman

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then [JESUS LAUGHED], “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.  Matthew 15:26-28

4.  The Children

16 But [JESUS LAUGHED] and called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Luke 18:16-17

5.  The Boy

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 [JESUS LAUGHED] and said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).

6. The Plank

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, [JESUS LAUGHED], first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:3-5

What do you think?  Can you picture Jesus laughing in any of these stories?

If so, it would appear that Jesus has a special fondness for people who stretch and grow in their faith.

Hey, maybe I’m on to something, or maybe we’ll just never know.

Jesus’ sense of humor could have ranged from non-existent to really absurd.

For me, I’m gonna hold on to these examples that..

surely, Jesus laughed.

(But don’t call Jesus Shirley.)

Have a great week,
Mitch
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Can you pass the key chain test?

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Okay.

This one goes to my car.
This one goes to the back door.
This one goes to the outside door at the church.
This one goes to my office.
think this one goes to my old mailbox.
And…these other two?

No clue.

Go on, try for yourself:

Pull out your keychain and see if you can identify what every key goes to.

I did this with four other people the other night.  3 of us failed.  (The other two weren’t carrying their keys with them.)

What about you?  Do you know what every key is for?

It’s so strange to think about it.

If, like me, you failed the key chain test, then you are one of millions and millions of people who carry around a tiny jagged strip of metal nearly everywhere you go, but have no idea what for!

Isn’t that bizarre?

At one time we must have thought it was important enough to put on our key ring, right?

Or someone else told us it was important.

And we carry it because we wouldn’t want to find ourselves suddenly without it, even though we’re not necessarily sure what it’s for.

Hmm.  Kind of reminds me of Jesus and Peter.  Remember in Matthew 16:19, when Jesus gives a key to Peter?

Peter has just correctly identified Jesus as the “Messiah, the Son of God, who is coming into the world”.  Jesus likes that answer, and calls Simon Peter, the Rock upon which the church would be built.

And then Jesus says, “I will give you the key to the Kingdom of heaven…”

Wow!  That’s an important key all right.

I wonder…if you and I believe that Jesus is the Messiah like Peter did, will we be given a key to the Kingdom too?

I wonder if maybe…

it’s already happened.

Maybe THAT’S what that extra key on your key chain is for!

Maybe we have already been given the key to the Kingdom, full access to the glory of God’s love and power!

What if millions and millions of us are walking around with that key in our possession, but we’ve forgotten what it’s for.

We remember it was important.  Someone gave it to us, so we’ve held on to it…

But along the way, we’ve forgotten what it opens.

Let’s change that.  Let’s dedicate ourselves to using all the keys we’ve been given!

Yes.

Today I’m going to participate in the Kingdom with all I have and all I am.

Today I’m going to celebrate that Christ gives me access to God’s Amazing Love.

Today I’m going to hold my key chain high  and make some Joyful Noise.

CAN I GET A JINGLE????

 

Have a great week,

 

Mitch

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