the Mozart Easter Story

Heard a great sermon on XM Radio’s family talk channel. The preacher shared on Mozart, who was quoted in his life to say…The secret to life, is accepting death“. (my paraphrase)

The story goes, that Mozart attributed his amazing life of musical genius and prolific creativity to the understanding that he would die, could die at anytime and that he was completely surrendered to that. He was excited to squeeze the life out of every second of every day that he had, without fear or doubt. He had settled the issue of his passing long before it came up.

Recent controversy with Pastor Rob Bell’s book… “Love Wins” has riled up the talking heads and the blogosphere with accusations of heresy, name calling and polarizing posturing from many Christian camps. His book explores the reality of what the Bible says specifically about Hell, Heaven and life after we die. I’m not here to comment on that other than to say.. I’m more concerned for this blog, in how I live this life, right now.

His understanding of death, released Mozart to live a most remarkable life.

As a believer in Christ, I have theoretically the same belief, that my death will only lead to life. But do I live that waySpecifically…not in the great beyond, or in the great eternity of the unknown…but here and now. Today. Am I living with a clear understanding of the truth behind those words ?

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life…and have it to the fullest. I don’t believe that he was just commenting for us on an inconceivable endless heaven after earth reality. I believe it means life for us here, now. When we surrender our need to be in control of our destiny, we find life. When we let go of our preferences, our endless fears for our kids, the mortgage or the test results just in from the doctor…. we renew our days with something extra-ordinary, a “Jesus” kind of perspective to our day that has the intensity of true and vibrant life in it.

Our kids are watching us as we live, we can teach and preach and do devotions until we’re blue in the face. We can drag them to church every Sunday, youth groups, missions trips or summer camps…but in the end they are watching US to determine what they are going to really believe.

When we live from the reality that we have already”died” to ourselves and to our preferences, we can embrace whatever God directs us towards… determined to live  fearlessly in the face of whatever comes. I believe that kind of life speaks louder than any other effort we can intellectually make to win their trust and hope and belief in Jesus. Our day-to-day understanding of the precious and priceless gift of life that has been given to us in Jesus, provide us with a remarkable weapon of Hope and Healing and Help. We become life-givers to those who are literally and metaphorically dying… Son Rise Cross

So this Easterlet go, allow your own stuff to die. The baggage of worry, fear and frustration that keeps us bound from really living…Please, know that until you surrender the stubborn parts of you that insist on being “right”, or “getting your way”…you’re not really dead yet. So go ahead and die to all of you…So that your and your family can really enthusiastically LIVE.

Fellow Parents,…It’s worth the struggle, and it’s worth the freedom to push through this Easter and not settle for anything less than real life. It’s time to consider a Mozart Easter tradition to begin in your home.

A life of really living… a life with hope and renewed vibrancy…in the beauty of TODAY. After all, we have something and someone truly remarkable to be living for.

Peace out my friends, “Keeping it on the road and in between the lines of Life”

brad.

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Transplant Theology

The Christian faith has to be more than a list of what not’s. More than a set of higher ideals and noble pursuits… the faith of those who follow Christ must have a bit of the supernatural. The mystic and mysterious nature of God and man intermingling and re-engineering our very souls has to be way more than just a tradition or practice of piety.

galleryhip.com

galleryhip.com

Our basic beliefs hinge on some radical concepts... the violation of known physical and scientific law (Virgin Birth, Resurrection of a dead man, elemental control of the weather, gravity, etc..), as well as the most impossible evidence of all, the regular and repeated transformation of one’s desire’s.

As Christians we are supposed to serve a God of the impossible and improbable.

Why do we tend to retreat to the safe-zone of scientific reason and rational logic when defending our faith and beliefs? Is it to protect ourselves from public ridicule and the private smirk of cynics and realists, embarrassed to be counted as one of the radical Christian ‘fringe’?

Are we uncomfortable being lumped in as part of the emotionally unstable… a sensational and unpredictable ‘charismatic’ Christian, always claiming to see and experience dynamic movements of the Holy Spirit?

So what are we comfortable with?

justacatholic.blogspot.com

justacatholic.blogspot.com

Safe church services where we can easily predict what comes next? Do we enjoy the elevated discussions on theology, doctrine and bible semantics, careful consideration of the latest Christian best-sellers and media… maybe it’s the social predictability of seeing ‘normal’ and safe people with healthy personal boundaries and a familiar mindset. These can be quite reassuring, but are they what we need ?

Our most essential truth is the power of God expressed on a cross to raise the dead.

The very man who claimed to be “THE” son of God… an example of supernatural power and uncomfortable custom – breaking behaviors. He talked with prostitutes, drank in the local pubs, taught without a seminary degree, challenged the ‘heart ‘of the law and revealed the differences between hypocrisy and authentic faith.

Jesus transcended the history and influence of all holy men, prophets, and religious leaders who ever lived in 3 brief years. His message of new life still vibrant over two thousand years later. So what validated what He claimed was the truth?

Miracles validated Christ’s claims.

What is going to validate our faith to this generation…?

quietkinetic.wordpress.com

quietkinetic.wordpress.com

For me, it’s the miracle of a heart transplant. That I could give up my old broken heart for a new – pure true one. The spontaneous regeneration of my character, morality and compassion from the ravages of sin and compromise. God re-arranged me from the inside out. Every atom realigned to become something ‘different‘ than I had been. Like a flash of lightning, my life was turned inside out and from wrong to right.

A legitimate miracle.

Since that day… my life has been one transformational moment after another. First in me, then my family and now in the church I help lead.

The Holy Spirit untamed as ever, has pushed me from all things comfortable and familiar as I follow…. seeking to just keep up.

I believe we need more of the miraculous and less of the safe stuff we call Christianity. We need some transplant theology to radically revive our collective hearts and to show a watching world that God is still very much alive.

Peace out,  Pastor B.

 

 

Celebrating the “Heroes” in our Lives!

It’s easy to go through life stuck on survival mode, constantly looking for trouble, resolved to avoid any more unwanted entanglements and wary of those who would seek to deceive or mislead us. We stumble and we fall, often alone. Fearful of trusting, fearful of ever letting anyone else back into our hearts deep enough to matter, fearful of allowing them to have enough of our trust to make us vulnerable again.

We guard ourselves diligently from being too transparent, from being too honest with those we live around or with, we build a wall out of our fears and past betrayals. A wall that invisibly holds others at a safe distance and keeps us from ever being in danger of getting too close, becoming too weak, of having to rely on others for anything.

image courtesy of launchfish.com

What if we had the courage to get up off our proverbial cynical knees and stand on our own two feet again? What if we were willing but unsure of how to risk our hearts in friendship, in love and in trust? We would need a hero to show us the way, a Clark Kent in anonymous attire who becomes Superman at the last-minute when the world is about to collapse, and saves us all.

Heronoun, a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

The obvious parallel for Christians remains… Jesus the Christ is our ultimate hero. The God who became man to save us all, the humble and heroic mixed into one, a savior, a king and a carpenter. We can always look to Jesus as the “author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despised the shame...” (Hebrews 12:1-2) We can always look to Him as an inspiration of our ultimate faith in God’s character and in God’s strength to save man from himself. But what about everyday hero’s?

What about the lives of those God has redeemed, of the hearts that have been restored, and the families renewed because someone allowed God to be God in their lives. Because someone trusted one more time, believed one more time that maybe Jesus really was able to fix their mess, that maybe Jesus really could heal their wounded hearts and set them free from the chains of fear and anxiety and moral failures.

I have a friend like that…maybe you do too? Someone who has been wounded desperately inside their heart, so broken and battered by the past, so familiar with the chill of isolating pain, that no one would have faulted them for staying down. For not daring to stand back up. Someone who had every right to be bitter, defensive and cynical for the rest of their days, but decided to trust one more time in their faith and really truly trust that Jesus was able to be everything…again.

A person who would do that, might even be considered an everyday Hero. A Clark Kent kind of guy, someone we might find we work with and around everyday. I know a guy just like that…a man who as a busy dad has had no extra time for himself, but always makes the time for his wife and kids, yet never complains. A visionary who has risked his professional reputation to see an idea become a ministry and a concern become a movement for pre-teen kids to find purpose in their lives. A man who has failed as visibility as he succeeded, in work, in ministry and in marriage, yet he decided to get back up and continues to try again. (Proverbs 24:16)

He stays behind the scenes whenever possible, content to let others get the credit, happy to see the idea he planted become the catalyst for change in another’s name. A man who has learned to humble himself and wait on God for things, after learning first hand of the pain of pushing ahead. Open, honest and transparent, his life is a reflection of dramatic personal change, of transformation. A man who now walks with a “limp”, like a Jacob who wrestled with the angel… never to be the same again.

A man whose life is now a rich testament to the grace and power of God to change and renew and restore those of us who will dare to surrender. He’s a Hero. I’ve watched him from up close now for over three years, I’ve seen the good and the bad days come and go. I’ve watched the tragedies and the triumphs rise and fall, but inside the core of him… an extraordinary strength remains. Strength that comes from having Jesus as your anchor, from trusting in someone and something greater than yourself.

Robert Beeson - Everyday HERO !

Robert Beeson – Everyday HERO !

So, Happy birthday to my dear comrade, friend and amigo, Robert Beeson. If you didn’t know from the hints above, he’s the minor “Hero” of this story… A man of integrity, a faithful father, husband, and visionary heart of i-Shine  and above all… a genuine Man of God.

He’s the everyday Hero I choose to Celebrate today. How about you?

HBD Robert, we love you and hope your day is full of adventure and joy !

Brad.

PS – I chose not to display any personal pictures which might embarrass you 🙂 at least for this year…

Are you a happy parent?

“Are you happy ?”

If you’re struggling on this one… just to be sure… ask your family.

If the answer is “NO”, then it may be time to seriously & honestly reflect. It may be time to make some changes in your life…. Work Less, Play More / or Work More and Play Less…?

Sometimes it’s more subtle than that.

Sometimes its internal change we really need. A shift in our understanding of life and the role we’re actually playing in it. We can feel adrift…lost and out of control, or we can choose to trust there is a guiding hand along the way. That’s a change in our attitude and it can make a HUGE difference in our Happiness.

Choices need to be made. Decisions arrived at and courage called upon to make those changes. Otherwise, you and I will be exactly the same next year as we are right now. Guaranteed.

grmays.com

grmays.com

Be careful though…. happiness can’t simply be created by swapping out for a new spouse, better job or thicker bank account. Happiness comes from within… never from without. Don’t buy into the ageless lie… “if only _________, then I would be happy”.

Remember that we alone have the power to be happy or not.

Our kids are watching… waiting, hoping to find some happiness in their parents. If they can’t find it in our homes or in us, where the heck do you think they’re going to go in search of it?

Something to think about.

Something to act on.

Something to leave behind.

Happiness and Hope. They give our lives richness… and beautiful context for faith to flourish. Without it, we’re dry bones.

Jesus as described in scripture; wasn’t always happy.

He was always purposeful, filled with hope and confident in His father’s plan for his life. He’s offering ALL of that to ANYONE who sincerely places their trust in Him. That’s supposed to be us… cropped-castle-mountain.jpg

Don’t over-think your faith.

Don’t under-estimate your role in the grand master plan of life.

Live on parents… Live on!

Pastor B.

PS – and a Road trip is a great way to break a slump. Fresh air, fragrant beauty and awe-inspiring views can revive even the driest soul. Trust me… I KNOW 🙂

Ebb and Flow…

From time to time our lives get insane with activity… stuff we can’t get out of, things we MUST do. Life rages around us and carries us along, driving us forward as if we’re a twig sucked into a class IV rapid. We feel the helplessness of being “caught” in something so enormous and so powerful that our only hope is to survive.

wardgossip.blogspot.com

wardgossip.blogspot.com

and then sometimes we find ourselves gently bobbing along in some back-water eddy, calm and serene… peaceful and restive. The ebb and flow of our lives can be crazy – un-predictable and sudden, full and empty…  crazy!

How do we maintain any form of stability in the middle of our un-controllable lives ? Are we even supposed to?

Does our Christian faith provide us a way to live our lives without exhaustion… Do we have the option to live life only at peace and in contentment, or are we just as “out of control” as any other soul, swept along the powerful waves of life’s ocean ?

Couple of thoughts…

Jesus didn’t avoid the ebb and flow of his life on earth… He rolled with them. In a storm or in moments of serenity Jesus was completely aware and yet un-affected by his surroundings. From crossing a stormy sea fast asleep to walking directly into an upper room for his last supper, Jesus lived a life that never drifted away from his calling, from his purpose.

It gives us “hint’s” as to the reality Christian believers can walk in… believe in and overcome.

I say “hint’s” because the truth is… if we’re honest, we rarely feel like we’re living like Jesus did. Life seems to hit us hard and low, knocking the air out of us and then kicking us in the guts as we writhe in agony in the gutter, flattened from the latest tragic moment or personal betrayal we’ve encountered.

Jesus is supposed to be in us. He’s supposed to be God and able to deliver us from death, our souls from sin… and our hearts from despair.

But how?

Surrender…. I believe is the “magic” ingredient so many of us miss or forget. We’re so caught up with “FIXING” our lives, or “FIXING” everyone else… we forget that God is GOD, we’re not. Our lives are going to ebb and flow, get crazy and calm down… the one thing that never changes is GOD.

Our faith in Christ anchors us to so much more than what we can handle or figure out. Our trust is deep and eternal, fixing us to the ONE person who ever lived out life the way we’re supposed to. With Love and Joy and Courage and purpose and eternal destiny. As a Christian we are able to tap into His strength and draw on that power during our darkest day or brightest dawn. Steel-Serenity- lakeside pic

We’re not alone and we have a savior… not just a reprieve from death and hell and fear, but from a life of hopelessness and anger and frustration.

His presence frees us from living life at redline & provides us with the power of peace in any circumstance, a living source of love and patience and understanding.

That’s a powerful solution to a life that ebbs and flows beyond our control.

Peace out Pastor B.

Looking for answers…

Listening to Rush Limbaugh on Fox News on the drive to work this am… He was pragmatically reviewing how messed up our world is  with the show host and said something like this; “I’ve been on radio for over 25 years now….and I’m starting to discuss the same exact problems for the second time in my career… it’s all meaningless to debate this stuff. It keeps happening over and over and stays the same. It’s really pointless.” (Fox Morning News – 7-02-13)

WOW, His comments reminded me almost verbatim of the words of Solomon; King of Israel over three thousand years ago. In the book of Ecclesiastes he wrote these words…

 ” All things are wearisome,more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.

(Ecclesiastes 1: 8-10 NIV)

It reminded me of the temptation to exhaust ourselves trying to “fix” or solve the flaws in our world, we can comprehensively study, prepare and diligently implement brilliant cutting edge solutions to age old issues and in the end it seems we will find ourselves right back where we began.

sci.gallaudet.edu - source

sci.gallaudet.edu – source

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve our world, our lives or help our neighbors in need… but it does mean we should be careful to understand those efforts only “relieve” the problems, they don’t solve them.

It would take a GOD to fix the enormous mess that we are making of our world .

Yes… Exactly.

Cliche’ – I admit, but as I age and live and learn… it’s that simple statement that makes EVERY difference for me. When I invite “Jesus” into my life, my family… my world, things change. Not just superficially – but from the core to the exterior, made different, made new.

I’m trusting that one day God will return to our broken planet… and re-set our world back into a proper balance, restoring life to it’s intended state, existence as it was meant to be for the entire world, but until that time… I’ll focus on remembering to invite the ultimate solution of Jesus  into my life’s difficulties whenever I can.

Until the day that Jesus is re-instated as the rightful ruler of my heart, my home and our planet… things are not really going to change much, but the Christian believes that day will come and all our questions will be answered.

ALL of them.

Peace out and Happy “Freedom” Week from RTP !

What’s the big deal about Advent?

Advent time! Seems it comes every year, oh Goodie! Light the candles, get out a funny colored candle wreath and put out some candy…yada yahdah yadda. What’s the big deal about Advent? advent and shopping pic

We’re parents, practical and realistic. Advent really just means more work for us. Kids have to wear their “nicest” clothes, and we HAVE TO get out of bed for four weeks in a row to make the Sunday morning church services that comprise Advent.  Extra shopping, extra cleaning, ironing and less private time for you. Advent season really can be such a huge bother.

True.

On the other hand, it’s an enduring tradition that actually goes back as far as Christmas itself, in fact further. It seems that prophets and holy ones as far back as Ruth,Micah and Isaiah all described the coming of a “Christ” or a savior for mankind, the “Messiah”.

saviorsite.com

saviorsite.com

Their prophetic words, written in ancient text’s thousands of years before the actual birth of the one we call Jesus, shows the historic scope and awe around Advent. For thousands of years, millions of people were anxiously awaiting His coming…hopeful for true change.

Not so much today.

We get used to the marketing pageantry and “over-the-top” Christmas services and LED light displays. Advent is well… a bit stale these days…overshadowed by the things we do instead of the reason we do them for.

Advent is as big and meaningful as you want it to be. If life is pretty safe for us right now…well Advent may get kinda pushed back a bit. If life is scaring the bejeepers out of us, Advent might be growing in its importance. How much do we think we need to be visited by the Messiah, that is the Advent question.

Advent really can renew our Hopes if we let it.

Hope that things in our lives can change. And maybe… the promises of Jesus can really come true for us. The promise to forgive us of our failures and to revive our almost dead-end-lives. To give us a future with purpose and a safe path to walk in.  

What’s Advent going to mean to you this year?

Is it as simple as taking one more chance to reconcile with your estranged and hormonally imbalanced teenager or lighting up that cooling passion you once used to call your marriage?  Is it risking the effort to reconnect with someone who really offended us and has maybe been forced out of our lives prematurely?

Advent - Hope

Advent – Hope

How about actually talking with that super annoying person at Church? Maybe taking the extra moment to wave back as you pass by your nosy neighbor. What about forgiving the judgmental-snobby and oh so hypocritical click of popular moms who always seem to see you at your worst and whisper behind your back?

Advent means…Jesus kept his promise. He came. Advent reminds us that not only did He come once, but He promises to keep coming back for each of us. He promises to keep forgiving, to keep loving and to keep saving us from ourselves…

What if we risked more this Christmas. Stretching out just a bit beyond our comfort zone to find ways to touch those who really do need to receive our forgiveness.

To take the risk of loving those who are “unlovely” in our lives and allowing people we hardly know to inconvenience us with their needs. That’s pretty simple and practical stuff,  and its a whole lot more meaningful than a maxed out Kohl’s charge card and a month of daily migraines.

Advent is here, let’s think about how we can celebrate it brand new, this year.

Merry Christmas!!!

Pastor Brad.