Friday, July 19, 2013

Why UPS Is Better Than Santa Claus

I love when I see a UPS truck making deliveries (or fedex etc.). Even if I know it isn't coming to deliver something to me, I still get warm fuzzy feelings. I get these feelings because I know that somebody somewhere, most likely a lot of people, are having a good day. They are getting their dreams delivered to them. That's right, the UPS truck delivers people's dreams.
I got thinking, the UPS delivery driver is a lot like Santa Claus. They are similar in many ways: both deliver packages; both wear uniforms. I'm sure they both like hot cocoa. But, I think the UPS driver is better. Here are my top reasons why the UPS driver is better than Santa:
  • The UPS driver doesn't eat your cookies
  • The UPS driver doesn't sneak around inside your house at night
  • For that matter, the UPS driver stays off your roof and out of your chimney
  • The UPS driver delivers all year round
  • The UPS driver brings you exactly what you want, every time.
  • Lastly, please guard your children's ears... the UPS delivery driver is real

Lately, I was thinking about how good God is to us. How He has always taken care of me, even when things are hard. Even when He doesn't give me what I want (unlike the UPS driver). He always gives me what I need. Looking back I can see that His plan, giving me what I need over what I want, has been better.
Matthew 7:7-11 tells us to pray and to keep asking God for things. It goes on to say that God is like a good parent who doesn't give his child a stone if the child asks for bread. It is so true that God is like that. He seeks to give good gifts to His children. He is our provider and does care for us.
In troubled times it can be difficult to see this truth. In some situations we may never, in this life, understand His ways or why He allows some of the things he allows. It can feel this way because He does give us what is best, from His all-knowing perspective, and not just want we want or what we can see as best. In these times we can seek after Him, depending on His character, and practice placing trust in what we believe to be true. We trust in what God has revealed to us about Himself. He is good and perfect. He desires that we have abundant life, and He will take care of us. Just as a good father takes good care of his children - only more so. Abundantly more so.

"Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." (James 1:17 NLT)
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Almost Awkward Bike Ride

My wife and I recently moved from Minnesota to the North West. We've been here for a little over two months now, and we like it a lot. One thing that I really love is driving through Portland. I've always really liked visiting big cities, mostly because of the architecture. Portland is really cool because of the massive bridges and the twisted mess of roads that are fun to explore, even though they can be difficult to navigate for someone like me, who grew up with the open highway of Montana (no plural on "highway" because we really only had one).
A couple of weeks ago I had to pick my wife up from the Portland airport. I had some extra time, so I decided to go down early and explore downtown Portland on my bike. Bike riding has become a hobby of mine and I hear Portland is super bike friendly, so I was excited.
I circled waterfront park a couple of times in my car, found a good parking spot, and headed out on my adventure. I wasn't out of my car 10 minutes before I was invited to participate in the next "naked bike ride". "It's what we do here", the portland native assured me.
This caught me well off guard but,
I managed to mumble something about how I wouldn't be interested, and that "I'm not even from here". I had a short nervous ride after that.

Apparently, the naked bike ride had taken place the night before. Which caused me to wonder,  what if I had come up a day earlier for my bike ride? I could have been riding my bike, minding my own business, turn a corner, and find myself engulfed in a herd of naked people on bikes. And there I would be in the middle of all that; red faced, confused, and fully clothed. Or, what would have happened if I was biking at a leisurely pace and they all road up behind me? (I would imagine naked people bike fast) This is a scenario that I'm sure could happen all too easily if one chooses the wrong day to go on a bike ride in Portland, Oregon.  
Well, all this is to say that the people of Portland intimidate me. And, I suppose one should check the local community calendar before visiting.
Looking back, I wish I would have said that I'd love to participate in the event, but I can't, because I wouldn't know what to wear.
People sure do some crazy things in order to throw off all restraint and "be free". I've been noticing lately how the old nature of my own heart often resists being controlled or submitting to authority. A mentor of mine told me once that we all have something inside of us that wants to scream, "I will not be controlled". However, true freedom comes with restraint.
Driving would be a mess without traffic laws. If people could drive on whatever side of the road they wished or pull out into intersections whenever they wanted, it would be difficult for anyone to get anywhere (especially in cities like Portland). But, with rules and order to govern the roads we are free to go anywhere our cars will take us.
Similarly, when we surrender to Jesus and follow him with undivided obedience, we are truly free. We are free to join in what God is doing and we suddenly become very useful to Him. What a blessing it is to be able to participate in the work God is doing. As our Lead Pastor at East Hills Alliance Church said in his message last weekend, "the person most surrendered to God's complete control is the most free".
Take a listen to that message by clicking here, if you'd like: