Something Stinks

If I ever have to snake another drain it will be too soon.

The kitchen drain in my parents house got clogged and I offered to help snake the drain under the sink. As soon as I opened the cap to the access point, the smell was unbearable. After fighting to keep my breakfast down a couple of times, I got back focused on the goal. As I got so distracted by the task at hand, I realized the smell didn’t bother me much anymore. Trust me, it was still there, I just stopped noticing it.

In my second week at Kailua Intermediate School, I am similarly growing numb to the smells of sweaty teens and preteens. Walking the halls and visiting classrooms could make a blind man well aware of his location by the sweat and B.O. wafting through the air. When you walk past the locker rooms you will experience a leak in the gas chamber of AXE Body Spray. It’s less noticeable now.

When you are constantly exposed to the an odor you begin to notice it less. This is true with good odors as well,  like perfume. The constant exposure is nose numbing.

Emily has always commented that I have a sensitive nose and I think that is true in the figurative sense as well. All my life I have questioned things (seems my son has developed this gene). Call me a skeptic, but I have always considered the workings of things, work, school, church, society, government, etc. All too many times I’ve come across things that flat out stink!

People will talk about things for a while. Something is fishy. Things don’t seem quite right, but eventually they forget that it smells. It becomes a part of daily life. We learn to live with the smells. Soon the only ones who raise concern about the stench are labeled conspiracy theorist. People stop noticing.

Something stinks. The smell is permitting in our society and in our families and it’s not good. I may not notice the B.O., but I refuse to stop noticing the B.S. Take notice, take action. Let’s do something about it. -jason

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Desperate Measures

In the last couple of weeks I have spoken at two memorial services and debriefed with many about the false missile alert. These were events that brought a sense of despair. They are feelings of finality. Complete loss. When our loved ones pass we can hold on to memories, yet we still must grieve the finality of the loss. During the 38 minute missile scare, I’ve heard stories of many calling loved ones to say final goodbyes. One man even had a heart attack from the stress he experienced. In these moments we might enter desperate times. Desperate times often evoke desperate measures.

A friend told me once, “I feel like church is full of desperate people.” At the time, over a decade ago, I tried to refute that. Over the years of studying scripture, experiencing the work of the Spirit in my life, and pursuing Jesus in my daily life, my answer would change.

The place that I have come to in my understanding of the Christian faith acknowledges a need for desperation. The more I grow in my understanding of God’s grace and love through the experience of God’s Word in my life, the more I become desperate for Jesus. The gospel is based on an outpouring of God’s grace through the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb, Jesus Christ. This grace is given because we need it, not as some kind of extra bonus. The grace of God fills an eternally fatal void in our lives. When we recognize the void we become desperate and we recognize the need.

Are churches filled with desperate people? I hope so.

The thing about recognizing your desperation and need for Jesus, is the hope that comes from His eternal grace. In my message to those who lost a loved one recently I attempted to give hope. People need hope.

Unfortunately for much of the world, and sadly even in our churches, a life completely surrendered to a divine Creator is insane, it’s a desperate act. The narrative that is often heard amongst the “educated” majority is of foolishness and ignorance for people that follow this ancient fairy tale. Even so-called Christians will scoff at people who take their faith “too seriously”. In many ways a life devoted to Jesus is a desperate measure. It’s a lifestyle most will not embrace. Why should they, they are not desperate for a Savior?

Desperate times call for desperate measures. When you know how desperate we all really are for a Savior, you take desperate measures. When you do and you experience the hope in the grace and love of Jesus, it doesn’t seem so desperate, because an eternity with the Great Creator is filled with immense hope.  -jason

Pushing Boundaries

We adopted Henry a couple of years ago. When we brought him home he was already housebroken and was great with the kids. He didn’t bark too much and loves being around people. Still, he is a dog and gets into trouble. Any chance he gets he runs away to explore the neighborhood. He is always on the lookout for table food that he can get his paws on. On occasion he does his “business” where he is not supposed to, and I’m certain it was out of spite. I had to put a gate up to keep him from the rest of the house.

I put up an old baby gate that blocks off the hallway from the living room to the rest of the house. It just naturally swung in one direction so all I had to do was put a stopper. Unfortunately it pushed open away from the living room into the rest of the house. Surprisingly for two years Henry never pushed through. Even when we threw a toy or we were on the other side he never pushed through and just waited on his side.

Aubrey got a bunny for Christmas. On New Years Eve we decided to bring Squish in and put her in the laundry room. Henry really, really wanted that bunny. His fixation on this bunny opened a whole new world, he pushed the gate right open. Even after the bunny went back outside, Henry now knows he can push the gate open. He got into the office and did his business twice. After two years, I finally needed to put up a latch.

Morality has a gate. Many of us know where that is. Some of us have tighter boundaries than others or less permeable walls, but we all have a gate that swings right open. All it takes is a push.

In the field of counseling and ministry, I have heard way too many stories of infidelity. The stories are often the same. They see the gate, they know they can’t pass. Then something so tempting, so irresistable is on the other side. Next thing you know you’ve pushed through. You realize how easy it was, so you do it again and again.

Along with infidelity this can come in the form of substance abuse, pornography, gambling, lying, physical abuse, sexual harassment, bullying, etc.

We all know instinctively the boundaries of moral living. For various reasons, we push those boundaries. When we know we can just walk through the gate, it becomes easier and easier. We repeat our behaviors till our destructive behaviors are exposed.

If you are pushing boundaries, stop. Find someone who will help be the latch to your gate. If you are considering crossing those boundaries, think again. Eventually it’ll all catch up to you. Legalism will guilt you into staying on your side of the gate, but gratitude will help you appreciate what you have. Be grateful for what you have and blessings on your side of the gate. -jason

An Officer and a Gentle Man

My first drill weekend with that Hawaii Army National Guard is done!

The military is a whole new world. Coming in with ZERO military experience, I was overwhelmed. The military truly is a different culture with it’s own languages, clothing, traditions and practices. All weekend I just felt like I was over my head.

As overwhelming as it was, I am grateful for the support I received from everyone there. From the soldier that pulled me aside to let me know I needed to tuck my laces in, to the Battalion Commander who took time to answer questions and show me around. While the military has very strict and formal rules about ranks and respect shown to those above you, it’s important to know the men and women behind the uniform. Don’t be mistaken respect is commanded, but there’s a person behind that rank.

Made me think of my friend and colleague Dr. Tim Morita. He was the senior pastor of Olivet Baptist Church that hired me. Pastor Tim was a high ranking officer in the Navy where he served as a chaplain. He made his rounds in different branches of the military and worked his way up. Certainly he commanded respect with his rank and authority. He must have functioned appropriately and effectively in his position  and leadership to get where he got. I don’t know much about that side of him. The man I know is the one who loves serving in the ministry. I got to know the guy behind the rank.

My kids would visit me at work and I’m not sure if they were more excited to see me or Pastor Tim. Though he is two years retired, the people of Olivet love and still speak very fondly of him. Pastor Tim has a warm and compassionate heart. His love for all people is evident. His love for the ministry is inspiring to me. Most of all, His love and humility in his relationship with Jesus is an example for all believers. Truly Dr. Tim Morita was a decorated officer in the military, and behind that is a gentle man.

I’m told a lot of times people in the military get caught up in their rank. Their rank becomes the person. I’m sure this is true in various fields of vocation. My hope is that I am always the person that I am, regardless of how I need to function in my jobs.

Never let titles, ranks, position or employment status make the person you are. Function well and effectively in the responsibilities you have been given, but know that is not who you are. I think when you do that, you will begin to see that who you truly are positively impacts the way you execute your job. Being a pastor, this can work both ways. Sometimes we are in roles that make us seem compassionate or caring or gentle on the outside and then outside of our jobs our true selves come out. As a pastor I always tried to function in my role effectively while being very transparent that I am severely flawed in many areas. I am a work in progress.

You have to function in your role, in your responsibilities. You may have to fire people, make hard decisions, discipline, etc. When you do those things with full confidence of who you are, I believe you will be more effective and live freely in your integrity. Maintain your identity despite your job title. Don’t let what you do shape who you are, let who you are shape what you do. It is possible to be both an authoritative officer and a gentle man/woman.  -jason

 

Instant Replay

The technology of instant replay is not a new one. Many sports incorporate instant replay in their games and have had it for years. Like most technology it is growing and developing every year. Also like most technology, there are pros and cons.

In the National Football League, instant replay was developed in 1976 and tested in 1978. Deemed too expensive and ineffective, it was shelved. Later in the mid 80’s new technology emerged and a new system was implemented. From 1986 – 1992 The NFL used instant reply during games. Still with the imperfection of the process it was voted against by team owners and once again the sport was without instant replay. Today we see instant reply that was revived in 1999 and voted to be permanent in 2007. With all the advances of technology, the process is still not perfect.

For the last couple of weeks there has been conversation about a Pittsburgh Steelers game that had a touchdown reversed because instant reply revealed that the receiver lost control of the ball when he hit the ground. It was so close even with instant reply the commentators were celebrating a touchdown. Only after several replays and careful inspection of the play did they see uncertainty. That frame-by-frame, slow motion replay of the catch created a stir and some controversy over this play.

Mabe similar can be said about our lives. Technology has created the ability for instant reply. Sometimes in a good way, like when Facebook flashes memories of five years ago, but maybe sometimes in a bad way, like archived tweets or Instagram pictures that never should have been sent out.

More than that, it’s the replay in our minds. It stirs controversy within us. “If I had only done XYZ”, “I can’t believe that happened to me!” We replay the tape over and over again. We analyze and dissect and every play-by-play of an event and we question the outcome.

Revisiting memories can be great and even beneficial. Replays of sports on ESPN is my main source of viewing. Sometimes some memories need to be left in the past. A decision was made, whether it was just or not. Right or wrong, life moved on. There are things you cannot change by dwelling on it. Turn off instant replay and let the game continue.

In this new year, may you treasure the wonderful memories of the past and move forward from the hurts, perceived injustices, regrets and uncertainties that are out of your control. No more instant replay, the game must go on. -jason