Moved with Compassion

It was a few years back in another city. I was sitting at a stop light, waiting for the light to turn green, and noticed a commotion at the bus stop ahead. I first saw a few students huddling in a pack, pointing and laughing as they walked past the bus stop. As this little group avoided the area, with snickers and looks back, a car sped by and honked at someone or something at the bus stop and another car did the same. I was curious at what was causing the honking and jeering. Then another car came racing around the corner, parked with jerk just past the bus stop, and a woman rushed out of the driver’s seat. As well, two men came running across the street, descending on the bus stop. The light turned green, and as we all crept by, we saw the three people helping a man in a powered wheelchair that had fallen on its side. I decided to stop and help too, but they had mostly gotten him back up as I got there. He had evidently been yelling at those kids for some reason and did not notice he was heading off the curb. He was ok…still angry at the kids, but more embarrassed that we were making such a fuss. We all made sure he was ok as he asked us to ‘let him alone.’

 

This story came back to mind as I thought about how we tend to act towards each other. Sometimes we laugh at other’s misfortune, sometimes we sarcastically honk our comments and move on, sometimes we don’t even notice or just watch as we drive on, and other times we are moved with compassion to do something. What causes us to respond as we do?

 

If you are like most people, there is a desire to be a bit more compassionate. We all tend to want to be more empathetic and feel with someone in their difficult condition or circumstances. In that empathy, we want to help. We want to alleviate suffering in some way. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. Why do you suppose we act the way we do?

 

I know in Jesus’ case, His love for people caused Him to be moved with compassion. We could learn a lot from Jesus about being moved with compassion.

Matthew 9:36 When He (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 14:14 When He (Jesus) went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Jesus saw people’s needs. His love for others moved His eyes outward. Jesus also did something about it. He took action. Do you love people enough to see them and be empathetic?

Mark 1:40-42   40 And a leper came to Him, imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”  41 Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.”  42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

Jesus’ love for people moved beyond the social stigmas (touching lepers was a social taboo) and cared about the people in the margins of life. Who are the margins in your community? They have a story. They have a name. Maybe they could use some compassion.

Matthew 20:30-34   30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”  31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”  32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”  33 They said to Him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”  34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him.

Jesus’ love for all people, including those with disabilities, caused Him to stop, even be interrupted and take a pause, to let His compassion move Him to help. I know we can’t help everybody and there are times we can’t stop, but shouldn’t there be times we do?

 

Our world, our communities, our homes could use some compassionate moves. Maybe from you?!? What if no one had stopped to help that guy in the motorized wheel chair?

 

Church can be a place where compassion is encouraged. If you do not have a church you regularly attend, please feel invited to our church. Our website has information about our various campuses and online sermons: www.cypresschurch.net . We would love to have you connect with us.

 

Seeking to make some compassionate moves along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be Intentional

I have heard an interesting and challenging word over the past few months. It has been used as a descriptive word of someone’s character or personality. It also has been a word to challenge someone to reach for their full potential and be an enhancement to life. The word is ‘intentional.’ I heard this word at a wedding where the couple was described as both being intentional with their love toward each other and in life. “I am going to be more intentional this year,” was the challenge I heard as someone was telling me one of their life goals. I also heard it of it from an employer looking for someone for their company who held the trait of intentionality.

 

At first, it would seem that this trait of being intentional should be a given. Couples are supposed to be deliberate in their love for each other. Employees are to be conscious of the tasks required of them and work with intent to complete those tasks. Going to school with the purpose of completing a degree, parenting with the purpose of raising kids to be responsible/purposeful people, and having plans we willfully seek to accomplish in life seems natural. Yet, all too often we can find ourselves just drifting, responding more to the currents of life than purposefully swimming toward a goal. We get caught up in the stresses of life and just exist rather than achieve life goals and life purposes.

 

Now sure, settling in for a time, floating down that lazy river is great, and sometimes needed, but so is a life of intentionality. There are amazing and phenomenal opportunities and experiences waiting for those who intentionally go after them. People learn to play the guitar, run a marathon, speak a new language, start a new business, have a new relationship, love deeper, run faster, and even lose weight, all by being intentional. Intentionality is good thing.

 

God is intentional! God was intentional in creating us, knitting us together in our mother’s womb as Psalm 139 says.

Psalm 139:13-14   13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

We are not a mistake or accident or unimportant. God intentionally created you, and you not only have value, but a purpose.

 

God is intentional in loving us. The whole Bible speaks of His great love.

Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

God’s ‘steadfast love’ is a loyal, intentional love (see Romans 8:35-39). We are not abandoned or orphaned. We have a God who is present and would love for us to be intentional with knowing and relating to Him.

 

God was intentional in saving us from sin as 1 John 4:7-8 says. We are not a lost cause, but saved so we can live intentionally, with purpose. As well, God is intentional in guiding us if we trust in Him as Proverbs 3:5-7 says. So we are not stranded in life, left to wander.

 

So let’s be intentional with life. Let’s make things happen and be purposeful. Let’s be intentional in knowing God, soaking in His love, and discovering the purpose He created us for. Let’s also be intentional in being kind, seeking to bring out the best in others, laughing, smiling, participating, volunteering, giving people the benefit of the doubt, helping, being inquisitive, being curious, and seeking hope instead of fear. Let’s be intentional.

 

Another intentional move would be to attend church. Church is a great place to be deliberate in knowing God. If you do not have a church you regularly attend, let us be intentional and invite you to our church. Our website has information about our various campuses and online sermons: www.cypresschurch.net . We would love to connect with you.

 

Seeking to be intentional along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Listening?

The ‘American Idol’ reality TV show walked would-be vocalist through auditions and weekly competitions for the TV audience to vote for the next “American Idol.”  One of the most entertaining aspects of the show was not the back stories of these unassuming amazing talents and their rise to fame, nor the phenomenal performances each week; what people loved was the initial auditions. It was amazing to wonder, as viewers put themselves in the judges’ seats, who would move on and who would be let go. In this dream-giving or dream-crushing choice, there always seemed to be one particular awkward interaction. A contestant, who walked in with confidence, expressing how immense of a talent they were, building all our hopes and the judges expectations, opened their mouth to sing…and it was awful. Embarrassingly terrible. The judges, with looks up and down the table, wondering who would stop this noise, finally stopped the audition.

 

With hopeful eyes the contestant leaned in for the accolades and the golden ticket to Hollywood. However, the sullen faces of the judges brought confusion. Then the judges, who were most of the time very kind, yet sometimes, brutally honest, let this person know they were not ready for this type of stage and not what they were looking for. Unfortunately, some of these contestants stood shocked, rattled by this revelation. They had never heard anyone not compliment, praise, or gush over their Grammy-worthy performances. This is where it got very awkward as the not-so-talented contestant just would not listen to the judges, and it was evident they could not really hear themselves. One time Simon Cowell even asked, “Are you listening? We, experts in this field, are being truthful and honest with you.” Some would throw a tantrum and storm out saying, “I’ll show you!” They were so caught up in themselves they were not listening to the truth.

 

It’s easy to not to listen to good advice, even when it’s difficult to hear. The Bible encourages us…

Proverbs 19:20  Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Proverbs 22:17-18   17 Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge,  18 for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.

Only hearing what we want to hear or just our own insights can get us into trouble. The Bible again challenges us…

Proverbs 3:7-8  7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

To fear the Lord is have such a reverent respect of God, we choose to listen to Him. For God has some great truths and secrets to life if we would be willing to listen.

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Jeremiah 33:2-3  2 “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it – the LORD is His name:  3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

What it takes to get this good advice is to set some hope on God and seek Him out

Jeremiah 29:11-13   11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  13 You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,

So…

Psalm 37:4-5   4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.

 

None of us really want to be ‘that guy’ who awkwardly has to be told he is not listening. Open up to others, and to God, and get good advice and input. It could be just what you need.

 

A great place to listen to God is at church. If you do not have a church you regularly attend, please feel invited to our church. Our website has information about our various campuses: www.cypresschurch.net .

 

Seeking to be a fellow listener along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank You for Being ‘My Person’

I think it was the TV drama “Grey’s Anatomy” that introduced the term ‘my person.’ One of the doctors on the show needed a best-friend, yet was not so good at the friend thing being she was so driven, yet needed to choose a person to basically be and do the things a best-friend does. So, she began calling this other doctor, ‘my person,’ and the term has been picked up and amplified as relationships have been formed and fostered. This definition of human interaction has morphed into being that person you tend to think of or go to for just about everything. They are the person you enjoy being with and love to share life with. They tend to be the first person you want to call, text, or contact when something amazing just happened or the worst thing imaginable. They are also the person you can get so quickly annoyed at, yet can’t stay mad at. This person could be a spouse, a sibling, a best-friend, a boy-friend, a girl-friend, someone who you are safe being crazy with, laughing until it hurts with, and crying that ugly-cry that only your person has seen.

 

Having a person is a choice to go beyond the connection of shared experiences like growing up together or sharing a similar life stage. Calling someone ‘my person’ is a commitment to love so deeply you truly open up the core of who you are being gut-level honest, open, and authentic with them. This commitment sticks through thick and thin regardless of how weird or socially embarrassing (at times) they may be. In those times you throw your arms around them and explain to the on-lookers, ”they’re ‘my person” and move on like this is normal life.

 

The truth is, we all could use a person in our life; someone to let us know when we have bad breath, someone to call when we just want to talk, someone to just sit with us when we don’t want to say anything, someone to celebrate or commiserate with, someone to be both brutally honest and truthfully affirming. Do you have a person like that? Are you a person like that?

 

I was in a local coffee shop waiting for my drink and noticed some men out for some coffee. One slapped the other on the back and said, “How are you?” The other man, who had just been laughing at a joke the back-slapping guy had shared, suddenly changed his smiling expression as his eye brows furrowed, his look went blank. His smile went into a concerned line. The hand of the other man moved from the back slap to his friend’s shoulder and he bent down so their eyes could connect. “Did the results come in?” The answer was a nod. “And?…,” came the question. The nod turned into a head shake meaning no or not good. “I am so sorry. Come on. Let’s get out of here.” The guy gripped the man’s arm as his look spoke pain, bewilderment, and words only these two knew. “We got this…” was what came out as they walked out. I was so glad this guy has a person.

 

The Bible encourages us to step into that level of relationships.

1 Peter 4:8-9   8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Ephesians 4:32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Romans 12:9-10  9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

There is another great story of being someone’s person in the Bible book of Mark 2:1-12. Check it out as these ‘persons’ help someone in great need. Sure it takes some vulnerability, time, energy, effort and a self-less focus, but it is well worth it. I wonder how different our world would be if more people had a person.

 

Church can be a good environment both to find a person and learn how to be that kind of person. If you do not have a church you regularly attend, I would like to invite you to ours. Our website has information about our various campuses: www.cypresschurch.net .

 

Being thankful for ‘my person’ along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You a Fragrance of a Bit Stinky?

I was out by myself running some errands and needed to grab a quick bit to eat. I usually don’t go much of anywhere without someone. Being my extroverted self, I really don’t like eating alone. Though I tried to see if someone could meet me for lunch, I gave in to the discomfort of my solo lunch. As I stood in line there was an older man a few people in front of me. He seemed somewhat perturbed that the line was taking so long as he sighed and mumbled a few times under his breath, “Can’t you hurry up!” When the guy a few places ahead of him pulled out a list for either his office or friends, the old man let out a loud enough exhale that a good number of us could hear him threw up a hand and said, “Oh GREAT!” and glared at the girl taking the orders. The line moved on and the man got to the register. He started off with, “It’s about time,” as the girl smiled back and said thank you for your patience. The man did not acknowledge the comment. He went on with his complicated order being kind of demanding as to how he wanted his burger cooked and fries salted. The girl repeated the order and must have missed something and the guy was not very nice as cut back with a harsh tone, “What’s the matter with you, can’t you hear, can’t you understand, I said NO pickles and LIGHT mayo.” The girl apologized and I could see her face flush with embarrassment as she struggled to keep from crying. They guy threw down his money and grabbed the change from her hand and went on.

 

The girl’s next customer approached her with a smile, looked her in the eyes and said I’m sorry. She smiled and said it was her first day and got a flustered. They talked as the order was made and something was said where they both laughed and girl’s eyes brighten and she smiled big.

 

I did not think much of this little slice of human nature until I was walking to my car after lunch and a fragrant aroma of fresh baked bread wafted over me. It was so enjoyable that though I was full from lunch, I could have eaten a piece of that bread. But just as I was lost in the pleasure of the aroma, I was slapped in the face with a stench of rotting garbage. I almost wretched. Fanning the odor away I got to my car and drove on. Then it hit me. The first guy was a bit stinky with his curmudgeon-negative attitude and yet the second guy was a pleasant positive-affirming fragrance. It made me think of what impression I leave with people.

 

God challenges us to be that pleasant fragrance of kindness to others.

Ephesians 4:32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The verse before challenges us to not be so stinky in our attitudes and actions.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  

Our actions and attitudes waft out a scent that can be either pleasant or not. Both actions and attitudes speak louder than words!

Colossians 3:12-14   12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

 

So are you a nice fragrance of kindness and love or that stinky repelling odor of self-focused bitterness and anger? A great truth is we get to choose. What will you choose?

 

Church can be a place where we learn to be a better fragrance. If you do not have a church you regularly attend, I would like to invite you to ours. Our website has information about our various campuses. We would love to connect with you and explore how we can be more loving like Jesus to those we encounter in our world. Here is our website, www.cypresschurch.net .

 

Seeking to be that enjoyable fragrance of kindness along with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Amazing Power of Generosity

As I walked away I was encouraged. I also felt uplifted, joyful and affirmed, along with a great sense of belonging and support. All that came from someone I had just met. They did not know me nor had we shared any experiences but their simple act of generosity unleashed a great power of blessing upon me. Generosity is an amazing power; not just to for those who receive the generous act, but for the one being generous. As that someone blessed me, I noticed a great sense of quiet joy come across his face in a slight grin. A twinkle appeared in his eye as he made the choice to release this impactful force of generosity. He even expressed an appreciation to have such an opportunity, saying it was his pleasure!
Generosity has amazing power. I’m sure you have experienced the receiving, or giving, or observing of the powerful acts of people being generous; a random act of kindness, a thoughtful gift, an anonymous need met, a friend’s sacrifice of time, a parent’s selfless love, a stranger’s kind words. We as people are at our best when we are generous. Generosity also has the ability to help us not be so materialistic or move down that dark path entitlement. The Bible encourages us to be generous.

Luke 6:30-31   30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.  31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Psalm 112:5  It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.

Proverbs 11:24-25   24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.  25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

 

Generosity has amazing power! Our call as people is to seek to be generous like God.

1 Timothy 6:17-19  17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,  19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

 

Now this all sounds great to the rich or those who have extra, but what about the rest of us who are just getting by? Well, the reality is our generous God has given us so much. He has given us freedom from sin.

Romans 6:6  We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

That is amazing. Read Romans 6:6-11 to further soak in the generous way God has provided for us salvation from sin. God also generously given us belonging.

Ephesians 1:5 He (God) predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will,

God generously chose us to be part of His forever family. See Ephesians 1:4-10 to be even further blown away at God’s generosity.  Oh, and there is so much more that God has generously lavished upon us! Why would we not what to be generous?

 

Why not add to your New Year’s resolution to be generous this year. You could release an amazing power that will be life changing for you and others!

 

Church is a great place to learn and grow in understanding of God’s generosity. If you do not have a church you regularly attend, I would like to invite you to ours. Our website has information about our various campuses. We would love to connect with you and explore generous living with you. Here is our website, www.cypresschurch.net .

 

Seeking to tap into the great power of generosity with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s No Bad Weather, Just Bad Clothing!

Kristi (my wife) and I were visiting her brother and his wife in their quaint little town called Old Saybrook in the state of Connecticut. It is a beautiful town with a fascinating history, incredible homes, and was even the residence of the late actress, Katharine Hepburn. As we were heading out on this trip, a few people asked why we would leave the pleasant, warm climate of Southern California for the crazy-cold and harsh winter climate of a northern East coast city? Now Krieg and Sandy (Kristi’s brother and sister-in-law) moved there from San Diego County, and for them the weather was quite an adjustment, yet they are now really enjoying each change in the weather. I asked Sandy, as we were on a hike with frozen ponds, biting cold winds, and below freezing weather, what it was that helped them acclimate to such a drastic weather change. As she went on, talking about the positives of each climate change, (Sandy is such a positive and affirming person) she shared that someone once told to her in regards to the changing weather conditions that ‘there is no bad weather, just bad clothing’. I not only agreed, having lived in cold places such as Alaska, but saw a great life application in the statement, especially as we look forward to this New Year.

 

Life has with it rain storms of health issues and yet rays of sunshine of no aches or pains, strong winds of relational conflicts and yet calm waters of close friends, frosty snow flurries of unexpected accidents and yet warm Santa Ana winds of new accomplishments; and then there are those freezing temperatures with even colder wind-chill factors of financial failures and those baking heat waves with the scorching noon-time sun of a car or house repairs. The truth is, life has with it lots of circumstances. In an interesting book in the Bible written by one of wisest men of all time, Solomon, as he considered the changing weather of life, said this…

Ecclesiastes 7:14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

In other words, we may have no idea what the weather will be like, yet the clothing we should be covered with is to consider God. God who knows all and sees all can help us through whatever weather of life we encounter.

Psalm 46:1-3  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,  3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

The reality is we don’t know what weather will hit us, and we can’t go through life thinking it will be all warm breezes and calm waters, so it makes sense to consider The Lord through knowing Him more and trusting in Him for help and guidance. Jesus said…

Matthew 11:28-30   28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

King David, whose life was a constant changing climate of severe storms and pleasant oasis, said this about God…

Psalm 138:3  On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.

 

This New Year will be a year full of seasons. One season is not necessarily bad over another, it just is. However, if we choose to be clothed with the wisdom that comes from knowing God and living life His way, we will be appropriately dressed for all occasions, all climates of life. This insight is something worth considering. Who are you trusting as you dress for the varying climates of life? I know it helped me and my wife to trust our hosts, Kreig and Sandy, to dress appropriately for the cold Connecticut winter.

 

One of the great places to learn of who God is and how He wants us to live is at church. If you are looking for a church, I would like to invite you to ours. Our website has information about our various campuses. We would love to journey together with you through all the climates of life. Here is our website, www.cypresschurch.net .

 

Seeking to wear the appropriate clothing through life with you,

 

Mike

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment