Staying In The Moment

In The MomentThere are times when it feels like my mind is everywhere but the one place it needs to be.  Blame it on technology, the pace of life, lack of sleep, urbanization, being ADD or whatever else you want.  I think we all find it hard to live in the moment.  We’re constantly bombarded by our phones and our fears.  I know there are moments in my life (just last night!) when I’m with people I love but checking tweets from people I don’t even know.

Don’t make the mistake of putting all the blame on your smartphone either.  Part of this is just good old fashioned sinfulness.  If you dwell in the past or are relentlessly obsessed with the future, you owe it to yourself to figure out why.  I know many who are so bound up by guilt and shame over the sin of their past that they can’t enjoy the new mercies of today.  I also know some who are so choked with anxiety over the future that they’re paralyzed today.  When tomorrow’s uncertain, worry becomes so tempting.  Others I know are relentlessly, but irrationally, optimistic that tomorrow’s going to be the big day when everything miraculously falls in place and everything finally goes right.  You frequently find these people buying lotto tickets.  Yes, God can do anything but I don’t think He’s going to pay off $30,000 in credit card debt without you changing your lifestyle one bit.

The gospel teaches us to learn from our past and anticipate the future.  If you’re in Christ, your past is an incredible story of grace – Jesus showing up and doing for us what we could never do for ourselves.  Don’t ignore the past!  Learn from it.  The past becomes a source of wisdom that shapes our present.  At the same time, the gospel teaches us to anticipate the future.  God is constantly working for our good and His glory.  He’s restoring us and making us more like Jesus.  Our best days really are ahead; in this life and in the one to come.  The hope of the future gives us the strength to endure today’s trials.

But the challenge is being present in the moment. Aware. Engaged. Seeing. Feeling. Loving. Present. Here. Now. With Jesus.

Luke 10:38-42 shows us a brilliant example of living in the moment.  You may know the story well:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Mary’s in the moment.  The Son of God has come to her home and she knows that’s going to be the headline for the day.  You and I have the same privilege through the gospel – to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His voice leading and guiding our days.

If we follow Him, we’ll stay in the moment, building on our past and anticipating our future while living where God has called us for the day.  And we’ll do it all with Jesus there with us every step of the way.

The God Who Restores

There are few people in life more discouraged than Christians stuck in their own past.  But it’s so common.  I have so many friends who trudge through life weighted down by the guilt, shame and secrecy of their past.  In some ways, we’re astonished by just how far we can fall.  In other ways, we can’t get over the devastation caused by our sin.  We’ve left a wake of hurt, of pain, of regret and brokenness and we feel like we’re meant to spend the rest of our lives looking back and letting Satan rub our noses in our failures.

Some of us define ourselves by our past.  You’re the person who had an abortion.  You’re the guy who had an affair.  You’re the girl who was enslaved to pornography.  You’re the guy who stole from family to get out of debt.  You’re the girl who lied.  You’re the guy who cheated at work.  You’re the girl who slept with the boss to get ahead.  You’re the guy who sold the drugs that led to the car wreck.  It’s just who you are.

The crazy thing is we still see ourselves that way even when we know God has forgiven us for our sins.  The forgiveness of sins is the core of the gospel.  We’re broken, we’re sinful, we need a Savior.  Jesus is holy, He’s perfect and He is the Savior.  He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died.  Our life is found in His death.  The wrath of God has been satisfied.  Sin has been paid for on the cross.  Life Himself died that dead men could be made alive.  We’re forgiven and we’re free.

God sees you as son, daughter, friend, redeemed one, adopted family member, part of His body, member of the household, ambassador, light, salt, beloved.  He doesn’t see the shame of your past.  Only the glory of His Son.

What’s more, He promises to restore everything that sin destroyed.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Joel 2:25, I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,” God takes back the years eaten by the locusts of sin.  What sin destroys, God rebuilds.  It’s how the sexually broken find intimacy.  It’s how the lonely find community.  It’s how the fearful are made strong.  It’s how the self centered become loving.  God doesn’t just forgive.  He restores.

Maybe your life has a long chapter of devastation.  Maybe the locusts of sin chewed up all of college.  Maybe you look back at your 20’s and all you see is devastation.  Could I suggest it’s time to stop looking to devastation of the past and start looking to the restoration of today?  The God who makes all things new is for you.  He will restore those years.  He’ll do it in this life and He’ll finish it in the life to come.

You aren’t defined by your past.  You’re defined by Jesus, Christian.

Breathe – Starting This Sunday At Restoration City

Breathe 1

I absolutely can’t wait to start our new series, Breathe, at Restoration City this Sunday.  We’re talking about the three things that seem to create the most anxiety in our lives – time, money and the future.  I’m trusting God to use these three weeks in massive ways in the life of our church.  We’re doing this series for two reasons:

1.  We Need It As A Church.

I feel like there are a lot of us burning the candle at both ends, running on empty and not experiencing the fullness of joy Christ promises because we’re spending so much time worrying and filling up our lives with things that don’t really matter.  My biggest prayer for this series is that we would all have room in our lives to say “yes” to the things God is putting in front of us in 2015.  This series is a chance for all of us to make sure we don’t miss out on everything God wants to do in our lives this year.

2.  Your Friends Need It.

This series is designed to make it as easy as possible for you to invite people to church.  Yes, we want every Sunday to be welcoming and accessible for people who are new to church and Jesus.  But there are a couple of times every year when we want to be especially intentional about that – new years is one of them!  So, don’t just plan to be at church this Sunday.  Pray about who should be there with you…and then invite them!  Would love for this to be a month of us welcoming new friends into the Restoration City family.

If we all rally around this series, it could be a game changer for our church.  Don’t miss out on Breathe!