Come to Me

immigrant

Jesus invites people into a relationship with Him. He invites them in close. Jesus could smell the disease on the lepers and  was close enough to get spit at from possessed man. He wasn’t afraid to share an intimate space with those that the society of His time viewed as outcasts, villains, sinners and those who people forgot about.

We are coming to this point here in our world today. Where we can choose to bring people in, care for them, love them and point them towards Jesus; or we can choose to turn people away, shun them, treat them as villains and abandon them.

Matthew 11:28 came to mind as I reflected on the last few days. I have heard a man, speaking on behalf of a faith, alienating another group of people. Matthew 11:28 says “Come to Me, ALL who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Over and over again Jesus invites all people in. The Good Samaritan would’ve been despised by the man he saved, yet he had compassion. Romans, a people group not too friendly with the Jews, would come to Jesus. In fact, Jesus commends a centurion for his faith.

We are blurring the lines of faith and politics. Faith always trumps politics. They are not the same. Sometimes, they agree and sometimes they disagree, but they are not the same. We contradict our faith and our beliefs with how we act. Our actions then are what seems best to us at the time, not led by our relationship with Jesus. I think it fitting that a plaque on the Statue of Liberty, a sight millions of immigrants would see coming to America, says this “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Jesus would say the same thing. 

My wife said something the other day and I loved it. She said “I don’t want someone in the name of my Savior, of my faith, to give me favor, or blessing, and take  away freedom, opportunity, safety, compassion from someone else. That is not what a christian does. It’s not how Jesus would have it.”

Remember, Jesus invited everyone to come to Him. He invites us still. As Misfits we see this. We see that the lines are blurred and many are asking questions. In these moment, push into Jesus. Ask for understanding and for words in the midst of heated discussion. Use your influence and your talents to point all people towards Jesus. Demonstrate care, compassion and   humility. Open the doors for the weary, the oppressed, the burdened, the refugees and point them to Jesus.

Here is a link to some thoughts on how to treat refugees and immigrants from Relevant Magazine. 

Fresh

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We have officially left 2016 in the dust. It’s 2017.

There are a mixed bag of emotions when a new year starts. Looking at social media it seems many people have had a rough go of things this past year. For others it was filled with joyous occasions and laughter. We lost a lot of good people. A lot more were born this year too. Yet, for all we enter into 2017 with renewed vitality. There are new goals, aspirations, and recommitments to ourselves and loved ones. This past week I have had some great conversations, found some rest, and am looking forward to 2017. Here are somethings that will help me make the best of this amazing year.

Goals

The week between Christmas and New Years I take some time to set goals. These goals are range in a variety of topics. I set personal goals often about working out, reading books, writing and personal projects. There are goals about my finances. These goals help me to stay motivated for the year and work towards a target. These goals usually span the entire year so they are long-term. I work hard to make them SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-oriented). I can look at these goals throughout the year and check on progress.

Accountability

In the upcoming year I make sure to have people close to me to help hold me accountable. They hold me accountable to my goals but also to my faith and my personal struggles. Letting people into my world helps create authentic relationships. It is these relationships that have made 2016 an amazing year and I look forward to 2017. Accountability looks like making phone calls and meeting up with people. It is setting time aside to connect with another person and being honest and transparent with them. It is in these relationships that I look forward to an amazing 2017. 

Adventure

I love adventures. I drive my wife crazy because whenever we go somewhere I’m usually doing things I shouldn’t. Those areas beyond the “no visitors past this point” signs are usually where you can find me. In 2017 I hope to create some spontaneity and adventure to my life. This energizes me and I get to have fun. Adventure can be trips but it can also just be doing new things. Shake up your life in 2017. 

Loving others

My wife has created a monster. We have created a generosity fund that we use to love people. We both love to bless other people and see huge smiles on their faces. We set aside some of our paychecks in order to give to others. I believe that living a live that builds and encourages relationships with people is the sweet sauce of life. In 2017 I hope we can continue to love people and do some crazy things in faith with our finances. T

What do you look forward to this New Years? How can you make this the best year yet?

For The Outsiders and the Misfits

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Jesus was a Misfit.

He was an Outsider.

He was born to reconcile all of us back to Himself. That is why we celebrate Christmas.

Christmas time can be a tough time. Many people bring up the history of their hurts and struggles during this time. People are triggered and many face relapse. I was reminded this year that Jesus was for all of us. All of us Misfits and all of us who have seen brokenness, hurt and loss.

Jesus was born in a barn. Literally. He took the idea of what a King, a Savior, should be and flipped it on it’s head. Instead of being born in the Temple, or in a Throne room, He was born with sheep. His first visitors were like you and me, the Misfits of society.

Angels came to announce this birth to some shepherds in a field. The sheep these men tended would be used in ceremonies to wash sins away. Jesus was born in the same place as these very lambs. Yet, in keeping these sheep the shepherd themselves were deemed unclean. They were marginalized, outcasts, isolated, yet recipients of the grace of of Jesus.

This Christmas season we are reminded of how Jesus came to bring salvation, redemption and joy to all people. Those the world have deemed Outsiders, us Misfits, Jesus has called us Sons and Daughters of God. Walk in that.

Systems

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Systems do not create or hinder culture, they allow culture to flourish. There is a fear that systems create a rigidity in an organization. That a system does not allow for adaptability or the handling of unique situations. These systems then lead to a culture and organization that is too rigid. Systems are created to allow the culture of your organization to flourish. If systems are failing to do this for your organization it is time to get rid of them and start fresh.

In creating systems you need to first figure out the identity, and mission, of your organization. Some may call this your brand, I believe though that brand is just one part of the culture. Who you are and what you do creates the culture of your organization. If you are known for incorporating the arts, for outreach in the community, connecting people or for your innovative ideas, systems must be in place to allow those to be at the forefront of your organization. These systems help to prioritize the pieces of your organization you want to see flourish and streamline the messy parts for even greater success. Systems are routines and procedures that are created to help your organization do what it does best.

Whether your organization is just starting or is as old as I am there are always some problems that arise. Being proactive with these problems helps to maximize time doing what you love to do best. Spend some time up front thinking through problems and issues that have arisen in the past, in similar organizations, or that could arise in your organization. What would be devastating to you? What is the most common issue that arises? Then, begin to think through strategic solutions to these problems before they make life miserable. Always in a rut with volunteers? Think of ways to recruit year long, improve the volunteer culture you already have and look for ways to streamline the process. 

In creating systems it takes time up front to analyze your current situation. Be honest with the current state of your organization and think of different ways to make it better. Create systems to further the reach and influence of your organization. As your organization grows the systems you create will change and adapt to meet that growth. When productivity, growth, or your culture begins to go places you do not with it to, begin to look at the systems that allowed the divergence in the first place.

Your organizations culture will flourish and you will find more success when the systems that you create allow it to do so.

A Nearness

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Our proximity to people helps us to see the struggles they go through and the hurts they carry. Working with youth for a number of years has allowed me to walk with them through a world of hurt, questions and frustrations. Many times they don’t have answers or the words to explain what they are going through and feeling. Part of being a Misfit is to step into the gap for the hurting, to draw closer in to another person in a bad spot,  to create empathy and simply show up for someone else.

This takes time. There is an ebb and flow to dealing with people who have seen trauma and experienced deep hurts. There are relapses and backward steps. There are good days and bad days. Yet, our consistent presence in the lives of others, simply showing up for someone we care about, helps.

In the midst of the relapses and backwards steps you are going to want to give up. You will want to give up on yourself or the people you are walking alongside. It is important to give yourself and one another grace. To celebrate the smallest victories and find encouragement in the moments of defeat. We are called to help, aide and point people back to Jesus, back to sanity, and not hold another grudge when we feel slighted. 

Be energized to go into the fray once more. You are meant to be near the hurting, marginalized and the those trying to find their way. You are a Misfit.

Misfits

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Jesus is a Misfit. He took the expectations of religion and society and turned them upside down. He spent time with the least of these. The sick, the marginalized, the oppressed, the prostitutes, the widows and the orphans. He took, and continues to take, a bunch of ragamuffins and turns them into world-shakers. He breathes life into dead things. Jesus continually challenged the status quo of our society and engaged people where they were. Jesus met sinful people, in the midst of their sin, and showed up for them. He never asked for them to clean up first, to get it right first, and only then He would help. He rubbed shoulders with those society had forgotten and demonstrated genuine, authentic, love. Jesus challenged how we viewed God and how our beliefs shape us. He challenges us still.

How are we engaging the forgotten, the downtrodden and the lost in our lives? Do we interact only with people so that we could gain something? How does your proximity to people demonstrate authentic love and care? Do you stand for justice and seek to find solutions to the problems in our world? How is your life pointing others to Jesus?

A Misfit looks at the world differently. We stand boldly in our faith in Jesus to evaluate the world around us. We step in relationally to meet people where they are, in the midst of their hurts and struggles, to give support, pray and sometimes to just sit in silence. We are not afraid to challenge the way things have always been done in the hopes of something better. To be a Misfit is to step into the challenges that our world faces and point it all to Jesus.

Through this endeavor we hope to lead leaders, generate empathy, teach influencers and participate in engaging the lost, forgotten, hurting, oppressed and the outsiders. Let us be challenged to be more like Jesus; to meet people where they are, to grow relationally, to empathize with one another and influence the world.

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