Archives For Humility


© jansnaturalsonline.com

Last night we had our first ever activity planning where we organize the activities for the youth for the entire year! It was grueling, it was long but it was amazing. During the meeting there was a discussion about conducting a lock-in in April 2013 and typically I only do one lock-in a year because it is painful, exhausting and I hate them. Yet, truth be told, the students really enjoy them especially if the lock-in is planned well. As I was trying to convince the students and parents for us just to keep our yearly lock-in a parent humbled me with this comment:

“Robbie, what do we, as parents, need to do to make this happen?”

I was amazed at getting this response because this person was so serious about making this lock-in and she was willing to do whatever it took to help out. After the meeting I thought about our youth ministry and how vital our parents are. Doug Fields has a comment in his book Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry that has always stuck with me:

A Youth Ministry that excludes parents is about as effective as a Band-Aid on a hemorrhage. (p. 251)

Whether you promote a missional model or a program model in youth ministry, if parents are not at the core then you are failing. Make it happen with parents and allow them to partner along with you and steer the ship.

What a great way to start the fall!

Advertisements

Wrote this in my journal this morning:

God slapped me across the face this morning in my reading. Read through all of the allotments the tribes received from capturing the land in Joshua 16-20. Something I read and made a note on in my bible years ago was the allotment given to Joshua only after most of the tribes received theirs (Jos. 19:49-51). My note was simple, “Delayed Gratification.” Nothing fancy but very intentional. So often I minister with the immediate results in mind. Are results even important? How does one objectively quantify results anyways? I think we sow seed now to see the plan later. Now the plant may encounter weeds in the process but the plant still grows. Joshua made sure (maybe this was custom?) that his allotment came after everybody else. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, identifies Level 5 executives (Those leaders who are able to lead the company to the next level) as those who, “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will” (p. 20). For Joshua, it was about confronting the brutal facts (conquering the land, delegating the land) but it was also about working hard behind the scenes. A unique blend of humility with an insatiable desire to do what he was called to do. Powerful!

What if we approached youth ministry like this? Perhaps we would look like Joshua! Perhaps we would like Jesus.


We are continuing a series of how people perceive the church and using Proverbs 6:16-19 (7 Deadly Sins) as a framework for our discussion.

16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

The first phrase we will consider is “haughty eyes.”  What does that even mean?  The Hebrew word is rum (pronounced like “room”) and is used extensively in the Old Testament (used over 190 times!) and has a wide variety of meaning.  The word basically is used to denote literal height (something is high) and can be used metaphorically to exalt or negatively to be proud (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p. 2132).  In our context it is used with the noun “eyes” so it is referring to something negative as in looking down on someone with a sense of arrogance and pride.  What the proverb writer is saying is that the Lord hates those who think they are better than people by looking down on them.

A New Testament example of this is the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14.  The Pharisee looked down on the tax collector because he thought he was better than him.  “God I thank you that I am not like one of them.”  That is haughty eyes.  Dan Kimball in his book The Like Jesus but Not the Church shares Maya’s story:

Before my friend became a Christian, you could talk to him.  It was normal.  He became a Christian after he met a girl, and then through her got converted.  But after his conversion, you couldn’t talk to him anymore.  Every conversation was about condemning something about my lifestyle.  All he did was keep telling me things I was doing wrong.  I shouldn’t be smoking.  I shouldn’t be drinking.  He didn’t like the way I dressed or the music I listened to.  I was mad at the church for turning him into this kind of very negative person.  (p. 98).

Kimball didn’t say it (at least explicitly) but what she is experiencing is someone who has haughty eyes.  When we see someone who has tattoos, smells like cigarettes and beer and drops an F-bomb in conversation what is our typical response?  “This person is hopelessly lost!”   Our response should be one of compassion, mercy and tender care.  Instead of placing our judgment on them and their actions we should serve them which is a little like what Jesus would do (see John 13 and Phil. 2:5-11).

Instead of “haughty eyes” I advocate we put on “humble eyes.”  Haughty says “I am better than you” while humble says “I am a sinner like you.”  Haughty says, “You have to do this to come to church” while humble says, “we will take you as you come so we can learn about Christianity together.”  Haughty is a position of status while humility is an act of service.

I wonder if the perception people have on the church looks like we have haughty eyes.

Discussion Questions

  1. In what areas in our ministries do we need humility?
  2. Do you think it is fair what Maya said in Kimball’s book?  Why or why not?
  3. How have you had haughty eyes on people in the last few months?
  4. What would it look like for a church to really become agents of humility?
  5. What Scriptures speak to pride and humility?

On July 31, 2011 I celebrated my 7th full year of youth ministry at Main Street in Springfield, Tennessee.  Seven quick lessons about my/our journey:

  1. Learn to say “no” – All ministers struggle with this as we want to do so much for people in the name of God.  We take on projects, speaking engagements, weddings, committees,  meetings, and a host of other things while our spiritual formation, family and our personal lives turn to shamble.  I read somewhere that every time you say “yes” to something you are always saying “no” to something else.
  2. Try to look for the big picture – A lot can happen in a youth ministry in a short time but also nothing can happen for a long time.  There are different seasons in youth ministry so staying focused and having an idea of what the big picture is will keep you from being distracted by a lot of the little things.
  3. Don’t get too full of yourself – I have blogged about this several times but no matter how great the youth minister is there is going to be something he is not good at and that is going to be painfully obvious to you and everyone else.  Learn to laugh at yourself and do it often letting others in on your laughter.  Have a ton of fun.  Go to Waffle House at 3am.  Laugh when one of your youth group guys goes through a wall at a hotel.  Laugh when a youth group girl passes gas on the bus and blames it on you as everyone writhes in agony at the smell.  Laugh when a youth group guy pronounces from the pulpit the word “Yahweh” as “Yah-hee” and instead of “wiles of the devil” he says, “willies of the devil.”  Learn to laugh and laugh often.
  4. Delegate and Empower – I am horrible at this.  I would rather do things on my own and wear myself out than asking someone to help.  The result…it almost burned me out of ministry completely.  Have a team of people who are your core leaders in the youth ministry who could lead the activities if you were gone.  Speaking of being gone…
  5. Try a slice of humility – This goes along with number three above but we need more humble servants who are John 13 ministers.  In youth ministry we get stepped on (clean the bus, babysit my kids, do the impossible), we get made fun of (second class ministers), we have impossible expectations placed on us by men who have not the slightest clue about youth ministry or teenagers for that matter, we are underpaid, we are overworked, we are extremely talented (cleaning the bus, writing the bulletin, etc.) and we are criticized by 40-60 people who “know” more about youth ministry than we do.  All of that happens to most youth ministers and all I can think about is this verse from Acts 5:41: “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”  Some criticism needs to be addressed some people just need to be talked to in a reproved manner but sometimes we need to realize that we are simply humble agents of Christ suffering affliction to do something we love to do.
  6. Invest in people, not programs – It’s not uncommon for me to change programs in our ministry and I am currently in the process of completely revamping the youth group. One thing that I have not changed is getting to know people, investing in their lives and letting them know how much I love them.  I tell youth group kids that “I love them.”  Some of them are a little creeped-out about it but some of them respond with tears as if they have never heard someone tell them those three words and mean it.  I love them.  I love the parents and I let them know that I am here to come alongside of them.  This is important for when that youth group person is struggling with a situation at college or they have made by decisions in their life they come to me without reservation because they know, if anything else, I will at the very minimum love them.
  7. Don’t lose your soul – Youth ministry is tough.  It has been the most difficult seven years of my life.  I have watched people leave the church and never come back.  I have watched friends lose friends.  I have watched families become broken.  I have watched people who I thought would be soldiers of Christ become servants of idols.  But..I have watched visitors get baptized.  I have watched total reconstruction of lives based on Scripture.  I have watched youth group people find jobs based on their calling and I have seen many good things done in the name of Kingdom.  Friends, don’t lose your soul.  Keep your eyes focused, hang in there and love as you too have been loved.

Thank you Main Street for putting up with me and teaching me about ministry.  I dedicate this blog to seven sets of people in ascending order of importance:

  • Elders – thank you for sticking with me and for supporting me spiritually, mentally, and fiscally.  You have given me raises, bonuses, a van, health coverage, freedom to make good and bad decisions but most of all your encouragment.  Thank you.
  • Parents and Friends – I love all of you.  I know I am not perfect and I know I have done things wrong from time-to-time but you have supported me.  I love you all.
  • Joe and Linda – you are my “daily bread” when a minister does not want to go to the office you make it enjoyable.  Thanks for being a great team.
  • Youth Group Members Past and Present – Words cannot describe how thankful I am for you.  You have made the journey worth it.  Thanks for taking Jesus seriously and for doing radical things.  I love you all more than you know.
  • Kaleb, Amelia, Madelyn and Samuel – Kids you make me so proud.  You are my most important youth group and I want to thank you for making daddy laugh on those tough days and for keeping me going when I didn’t want to go anymore.  I love you so much and as long as I have air to breathe I will serve you with a passion unrivaled in this world.
  • Heather – What can I say?  You are perfect in every way.  Not only am I married to a hot wife but you are also so intelligent and understanding.  Your care for me exceeds the proverb wife in Proverbs 31.  You are a servant and the fuel to my fire.  I love you.
  • God – You have allowed a wretched, hypocritical, inconsistent, unorganized, lazy and unlovable person like me to be called a follower of Christ.  Thank you for your grace, for your daily assurance, for your providence, for your discipline, for your correction. for your providence and for your glorious return.  I love you!

The Graduation Speech

May 16, 2011 — 1 Comment

[DISCLAIMER: It is 3,299 words so pack a lunch and read it then.]

The Graduation Speech

By Robbie Mackenzie (Preached at the Main Street church of Christ May 15, 2011)

            I have done many things since I have been alive.  I have been to South America and Africa.  I have attended numerous World Series games.  I hiked down the Grand Canyon and back up in one day.  I have watched four beautiful kids come into this world.  But there are many things in this world I have not experienced.  I have never jumped out of an airplane.  I have never, unfortunately, found gold on the other side of a rainbow.  I have never been to the North Pole and I have never, ever participated in synchronized swimming.  Something else I have never done is speak at a graduation.  I have probably sat through some thirty graduations and even leaving one in the middle only to arrive at another in the middle.  I have heard every quote imaginable like, “This is the first day of the rest of your life,” and “If it’s to be it’s up to me.”  I have heard many people misquote enough Scripture for me to pull my hair out and by the looks of my hair I have heard a lot of misquoted Scripture.  Nobody remembers a graduation speech because they are all the same.  This is why I am offering you a different graduation speech but in the end it will be forgettable and pretty soon it will be—well—just another graduation speech.

            If I were to graduate again (which may happen) I would want to hear this type of speech at my graduation.  I would want to have someone tell me what really might happen as opposed to God’s plans to “prosper us and not to harm us” (Jer. 29:11; taken out of context of course :)).  Those who have battled drugs, alcohol, divorce, financial heartache and difficult circumstances usually are not the ones invited to speak at graduations.  Why?  People want to hear the wealthy, famous, successful and “problem-free” at graduations yet those people are in the minority.  Most of us fit into the second category of simple, problem-full, but content with our lives.  That’s boring and nobody wants to hear about it.  So this is my attempt to put pen to paper and give flesh to words that I would say if it were the last words I would say to a graduate.  The speech is more about what you really may experience but it is a little uncertain.  So here we go.

            First of all, you’re going to grow apart from your friends.  There are certain people in your graduating class you will never ever see or talk to again.  Even your BFFs, whom you swore, pinkie-promised, and vowed to stay in touch via text, phone, SKYPE, or even just a visit on weekends, will grow apart from you.  It’s going to be awkward when you come home and go back to a high-school football game and see your old buddies.  You will realize they have changed and so have you and it will be a cool feeling knowing you are the college kid.  Pretty soon you will just feel old and then you will stop going back to high-school functions.  The saddest part about going different ways is watching some of your friends who cannot accept the fact that they are no longer in high-school.  They still talk like high-schoolers, hang out with high-schoolers, and their maturity level stays that way for years.  If they could just grow up and move on life would be better but they can’t.  That may be you by the way.  What they don’t tell you after you graduate is that life happens and things get in the way and we just become too busy.  You might even lose a friend tragically in a car accident, overdose, or a physical ailment like cancer or something else.  It’s going to hurt and you will cry.

            You’re going to realize that the boyfriend or girlfriend you thought you would spend the rest of your life with will not work out.  Nor will the next three or four.  You will realize that there are some seriously messed-up people out there who are looking for nothing more to score with you and that is going to hurt.  Perhaps you’re on the other spectrum and you will just wait, and wait, and wait while everyone around you is getting a significant other without trying yet you pray, ask someone out and still nobody will date you.  Then you’re going to go home and it’s going to sting every time someone asks you, “Are you seeing anybody yet?” and then the awkward look you get when you say, “No!”  To make matters worse they will offer you a monologue about them having two kids by the time they were your age.  That doesn’t help either.  Life does not consist in a relationship but it sure beats being lonely sometimes.

            You’re going to have to say goodbye to your parents.  Whether you work at home or go off to college you will have to say goodbye to them somehow.  You’re going to have to convince your parents that them moving in with you in your dorm room is actually a horrible idea.  They are going to call you, once, twice maybe three times a day just to hear your voice.  Some of you will want to run from your parents so bad and so fast that you are going to blaze a trail along the way but some of you are not going to want to leave your parents because you will be afraid.  You will get homesick because you’re going to miss the family meals, nights at the park, and games of uno, vacation and long conversations on the way to school.  The phone calls from mom will get really annoying but deep down inside her voice will be like water in the driest African desert.

            You’re going to be broke.  Growing up your mom and dad were like a free-flowing ATM but now that day is long gone and you actually might have to work which, by the way, you don’t have time for.  You may get into credit card trouble thinking you can pay the balance sometime later if you just meet the minimum payment and it’s going to come back to bite you in a very personal way.  Worst of all, you might actually get that date with that someone only to be so broke you have to spend your romantic night at the dining hall or McDonald’s because you can’t afford anything else.  By the way, your mom is calling you and you probably should pick the phone up.

            You’re going to change physically.  It’s a strange thing that actually eating 8-10 Krystals used to be fun and proper nourishment but now all of that eating during freshman year has become a part of your backside that you, literally, carry with you wherever you go.  The concept of “freshman 15” no longer is a myth as you’re just trying to avoid freshman forty as you huff and puff up the stairs to your room.  On top of that, guys you might start to notice that you lose hair at this time and girls you might start getting wrinkles.  Your chaotic schedule and stressful demands does not make your physical issues any better.  You may also get the world’s worst case of Athlete’s Foot because apparently your roommate does not have the human dignity to wear shower shoes or at least cut his feet off.  The sad part of this is that you’re going to realize quickly that the physical issues, from this point on, only get worse.

            You’re going to struggle attending worship services because mom and dad are not there to wake you up.  Wait—is that mom calling me again?  You are going to wonder what’s the point of attending services.  You’re going to look at the people in the church and say it is filled with hypocrites and, you may be right.  You’re going to struggle immensely at fitting-in and you are going to wish you could come back and participate in youth group again but your jerk of a youth minister will not let you.  You’re going to wrestle with what the church is versus what it was in Scripture (welcome to the club).  You’re going to wonder why churches invest so much time, resources and money with programs like the youth, older members, missions, building funds and yet not much time, resources and money (if any) are invested in college students.  For you, church is going to be difficult.

            You’re going to do some things you’re going to regret.  Some of them may be minor but some of them are going to be major.  You’re going to wish you could take it all back but you won’t be able to.  You’re going to remember what your parents said about the dangers and now you’re going to have to tell them what you just did.  It’s going to break their heart.  The saddest part of it all is that you’re too stubborn to learn your lesson and so you’re going to do it all over again.  You’re going to sit there late at night looking up at the ceiling wondering what you are going to do with your life.  You may want to end it all.

            You’re going to struggle with God.  Who is this divine being that was taught so heavily to you?  God has not been helpful to you and by the looks at what’s happening in the world God really doesn’t seem to care anymore.  You’re going to have people cast doubt on your faith with different beliefs, ideologies and philosophical inquiries which some seem possible to believe.  You’re going to try to help your faith by doing what your parents, youth minister or preacher suggested.  It’s going to be tough and in my experience, when the going gets tough sometimes…well…the tough gets tougher.  There are going to be moments when all you can think about God is anger, frustration and confusion.  Like David, you are going to say, “How long, O Lord?  How long?” (Psalm 13).

But…

However…

Nevertheless…

            You’re going to make new friends.  The kind of friends who do not have strings attached to them.  The kind of friends whom you will laugh with, cry with and the kind of friends who will be, like the Proverb writer said, “closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).  The friends you make will be in your weddings,Teen girls on college campus at the hospital when you have a baby and next to you when you lose someone you love.  The kind of friend who will utterly depend on you and years down the road these friends will need you most when their own world is turned upside down.  You’re going to go to baseball games with these friends, have cookouts, go on mission trips with them and you might even have the opportunity lead a few of those friends to Christ.

            You’re going to meet someone…it may take years…and you know what…it may not happen.  You’re going to look at that sweet lady who keeps asking you if you’re married yet because she had two children by your age and you’re going to smile and say, “that’s not what God wants me to do right now.”  God will make it happen if it needs to happen and you’re going to be just fine with that.  You just might have four kids before you are thirty though and people, by the way, will make fun of you and call you crazy and psycho but you will realize that you will be 47 by the time your last one graduates high-school which will be the age your buddy will be when his first one starts middle school.  But it’s also ok if you wait that long.  You follow what God wants you to do not someone else.  It’s ok to be crazy so don’t change that for a second.  In the words of the musician Tom Cochrane, “Life is a highway and I want to ride it all night long.”  You’re going to be able to look at the person you will spend the rest of your life with and vow to be with them in sickness, and in health until death due you part.  You’re going to get that same passion every time you go to someone else’s wedding and you’re going to wake up each day feeling unworthy to wake up beside the most beautiful person in the world…not your youngest child who crawled in the bed…but your spouse.  You’re going to really feel blessed to be next to that beautiful person especially when you make it to the mirror in the mornings.

              You’re going to regret trying to run away from your mom and dad so quickly.  You’re going to want to pick up the phone and call them as much as possible.  You’re going to remember their lectures, words of “wisdom”, and caution and know that they were actually right.   If God blesses you with a child you’re going to name the child after your parents because of the influence that had on your life.  However, if home was a nightmare filled with abuse then you’re going to prove mom and dad wrong.  You’re going to make a difference and with God’s help you will show them what you can do even when they told you it couldn’t be done.

            You will eventually make money but still, somehow, be broke for a while.  It will be tough at first (remember the credit cards and loans?) but God will provide and mom and dad will help you out.  I promise.  If you don’t go to college then no worries because no matter what anyone says it’s ok for you not to go to college because, get this, college is not for everyone.  You will show them that you can still provide and work hard and do what God wants you to do.  The church will step in and provide for you in times when you could not provide for yourself.  You will have to fight the evils of consumerism and you will eventually give much of your income to the church.  People will think of you as crazy, stupid and a little off kilter but you will consider that suffering for the kingdom’s sake and little bit like emptying yourself which is what Jesus did for you.  You will have ups and downs financially and there will be days you will have to eat beans and rice and rice and beans but you will make it because all you need is a roof over your head and food on the table.

            You will learn to live with your body.  It’s ok that your body is not in pristine shape or that it’s shape looks like a hamburger rather than an hour glass.  It’s ok.  God just wants you to be healthy.  You will eventually enjoy eating things like salads, grapefruits, tree bark and you will especially enjoy drinking lots and lots of water.  Balding only gets worse and so do the wrinkles and your physical deterioration will be a daily reminder thanks to your kids and sometimes teenagers who decide to take a stab.  Laugh at this and consider it a way God humbles you.  Look at your body as a gift from God and each day is another opportunity that someone else did not get.

            You will eventually grow to love and adore the church.  Yes there are hypocrites in church but your experience in life will show you that there are hypocrites everywhere inside and outside the church.  The church never claimed to be perfect anyways besides there are so many people in the church who have changed their lives drastically because of the work of the church through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  The church will need you to teach a class, lead a song, direct a program, visit the sick or teach a bible class.  You will have a renewed commitment to the church and it will drive you and you will soon find out that it is not you that is driving you but it is the Spirit of God inside of you.  You’re going to find out that the church is filled with plenty of people as messed-up as you!  That will put a smile on your face and the face of thousands of angels watching.

            You’re going to think about the regrets from time-to-time and they will enter your thoughts at weird moments.  The regrets will be like a bruise that won’t go away or rainstorm that will not depart.  You may have to call people to apologize for what you did and you may have to tell them you have changed.  You may have to earn someone’s trust back because of what you did but it’s going to be worth it.  You’re going to show God and others that you are a radical disciple who has radically changed.  “I’m not that way anymore” will come out of your mouth as effortless as air discharged from your lungs and you will say it with a smile.  Like Paul, your past will not break you rather it will shape you.  Your story will become a testimony for so many people to hear.

            Then there is God.  He always was and always is and always will be.  You’re going to find him because you’re going to long for him.  Like a fire in the midst of a blizzard you will long for his warmth and light.  He will show up in your life not as a boxed-in, compartmentalized God but as the living, active God.  He is going to lead you to places in life you never thought were possible but pretty soon you will realize that God is in the making-the-impossible-possible business.  You are going to realize that truly Jesus came so, like John told you, “we may have life, and life to the fullest” (John 10:10).  You will long for something John and Isaiah described as the New Heavens and New Earth.  You will feel God’s presence in your life with the utmost assurance that nothing can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ (Rom. 8:31-39).  You will feel God in your bones and in your core and it will be most satisfying.  There will still be valleys where the questions of theodicy (making God just) come back but you will know, deep down in your core, that eventually God will reign over all and all will be made right.

            This is my graduation speech and it is filled with paradoxes, difficulties, some contradictions and uncertainties.  But such is life right?  Life is never a linear process but often we find it as a cyclical pattern that repeats itself but rests on the grace of God.  So may you find the friends you need.  May you discover the spouse who is yours or may you rest in the state you are in.  May you love every minute your family is alive.  May you live fiscally sound so you can give until it hurts.  May you rejoice in the body God gave you but may you treat it well.  May you love the church and realize it truly is, like the preacher said, a hospital for the sick.  May you use your regrets to empower and inform your future.  And may you run to God, wrap your arms around him and never, ever let go.

            So, Dr. Seuss was right…a little…“be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!”


One would think you could not see NYC in a weekend and I would say you are right my friend.  From the moment my plane touched down in La Guardia to the moment I returned in Nashville we were on the go.  The purpose of the trip was for me, my dad, my uncle and my cousin (who lives in NYC) to go to the Braves-Mets series at CITI Field.  However, we wanted to work in some tourist sites between games so we did as much as we could.  This post is simply a walk-through of what we did in NYC…the pictures are low-quality because it was with my phone.

First, this is the view from our hotel at Manhattan.  You can see the runway was packed with planes, 14 or so were in line.

Shortly after the hotel we left to go to CITI Field which is where the New York Mets play.  Below are some picture of our seats and the field itself.  It is really an amazing park which is a shame because the Mets are so terrible.

 After the game we decided to go to Time’s Square but that meant riding the MTA Subway.  It was an experience for sure and below are a couple of pictures that gives you the feel for the subway. 

On tthe nyc subway! Awesome

From the Subway we went to Time’s Square which was eye-opening in that there is so many different lights and billboard displays.  Whole buildings were digital displays and it was absolutely amazing. 

Time Square!!!!!

After walking around for a bit we went to a place called John’s Pizzeriawhich makes some of the most amazing pizza ever.  Visit the website for a full tour but below is a picture I took of the ceiling. 

John's Pizza in Times Square...what a ceiling

We went back to the hotel and the next day we set out to see some sites.  We saw the Rockefeller (the Rock) and walked to Central Park.  Below are some pictures of that excursion. 

Top of the Rock with a view of Central Park

After that we went to eat but before we got there I saw a lady from our church just be sheer happenstance waiting in line for Carnegie’s Deli who was up there the same time I was.  Who would have thought I would run into them in a city of 10-12 million people?  Amazing.  Anyways, we went to a deli just down from Carnegie on 7th called Stage Deli.  I had the best pastrami sandwich ever but it was a bonsai of a sandwich.  It was massive.  I learned a lot this weekend about life in the big Apple.  People are always busy and the city never sleeps.  I felt honored to graze in the same concrete fields as renown men of history like John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and others.  Speaking of happenstance, while I was in Central Park I ran into the famous actor Ethan Hawke who was with his current wife and two children.  I knew who he was and he knew that I recognized him so I just talked to him and asked him how he was doing.  No autographs, no pictures, just a brief hello.  It was neat.  I would love to return someday and see more of the sites and even visit some churches on the way.  I hope you enjoyed following me as I sent pictures on Facebook and Twitter.  Have a good day and week friends!


 

No one said parenting was an easy task and today was one of those difficult days in Heather and I’s parenting career.  Our oldest son Kaleb attended pre-k at Krisle Elementary today and it was one of the most difficult things I have had to do as a parent.  Kaleb has been such a sweet child and has always been so respectful, kindhearted and compassionate and I will miss going home at lunch and seeing him.  When I woke him up this morning I told him, “It’s time to go to school,” and he was so excited and ready.  Heather fixed his breakfast (see picture above) and then we got him ready for school.  He got in the truck and I turned off the radio and gave him some last-minute instructions for class: be respectful, listen to Mrs. Jill, help others and be a good boy.  We pulled up close to Krisle and Kaleb shouted, “That’s my school!”  We got out and he started walking and was not paying attention and went smack into a side-view mirror with his head.  He started bawling and I got on my knees (like I always do) and held him close…and I laughed a little bit and thought how appropriate it is for my son to start school this way. 

We walked down the hall to his classroom and I walked in and saw (Mrs.) Jill and her presence comforted me knowing my son is with the best teacher in Robertson County.  I didn’t hug him (I wanted to) and I didn’t give him a kiss (had to resist) as I wanted him to do this on his own.  He is brave and a leader in his own right so I snapped this picture below of my last opportunity with Kaleb…

That is Kaleb going to his desk.  I turned around and walked out of his classroom, down the hall, and thanked God for His protection, for Heather’s amazing parenting, for Jill Reeves but mostly I thanked God for Kaleb.  This world is better with him in it…

And I cried. 

There is nothing in the human psyche that prepares you for letting go.  Whether it is tragedy in a sudden loss, dropping your kid off for elementary school, retiring or kissing your 18-year-old good-bye as he or she enters their dorm at college.  There is no way to prepare for what must be done and as I share these feelings I understand why my parents acted the way they did and said what they said.  It is in these moments where we must let go and let love enter our hearts.  We must love even more because there is nothing else we can do.  We must put our trust in the capable providence of God who knows our children better than we. 

The Goo Goo Dolls in their song, “Let Love In,” bring comfort to me:

There’s nothing we can do about
The things we have to do without
The only way to feel again
Is let love in

Protect Kaleb Lord and all of those who are hurting from letting go and being let go.  Pour out your love onto us and give us strength and courage to face the realities set before us.  In your divine providence things make sense but for we who are confused we struggle with it.  Time does heal some wounds but time is not what we have right now so I am letting your love in as I let Kaleb go.  Thank you Lord for Jesus.  Amen. 

Dear Obama…

June 23, 2010 — 1 Comment

If I could have a conversation or if I could have one letter to the president this is what I would say.

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Robbie Mackenzie and I was originally born (1981) in Toronto, Canada but have lived in the U.S. since 1982.  My family and I have enjoyed what America has offered us and because of the economy and the way things are set up we have prospered far beyond the world’s median income.  We believe in America’s core values and support what she is trying to do in keeping people “free” and removed from terrorism and tyranny.  I believe this was what my great-grandfather Cecil Climo was trying to do when he fought for the Canadian Army in WWI serving as a gunner against Kaiser and the Germany infantry.  I believe this was also what my great-grandfather Mackenzie was doing when he served as a doctor for the Canadian Army.  But I wonder what we are doing now when we are “preserving our freedoms.”  What does it really mean to be free and does that imply that we submit to no authority at all?  Are we really free?  You must have a difficult job being Commander-in-Chief of an entire nation with everyone scrutinizing your every move and with a window of only four years (but a maximum of eight) to accomplish policies which you and your party believes as crucial to American democracy.  I think this to be a most difficult task and so my prayers are with you each and every day you are in office.  I hear talks about how the worst thing to happen to this country was to have you in office and I also hear talks that you swearing-in to accept office was the best moment in this nation’s history.  I find it impeccably ironic that one moment for this country is split down the middle as to it being either great or immensely dim. 

I have a confession for you Mr. President.  I have been apathetic for the past three years I did not even vote when elections came.  I am not sure I can explain what is wrong with this country but somewhere along the lines we have lost our gusto and our wherewithal to be a people who is set apart for something spectacular or even noble.  We are consumed with republican/democracy, red/blue, rich/poor, north/south and on and on.  Our greatest achievements in wealth and power might be our greatest fall.  My request to you is not bi-partisanship, communism, social reform, economic stimulus or even a return to the United States Constitution.  What about Jesus?  Jesus is painted as broad as a prophet to a sinner, a savior to a psycho and all the while we are scared to consider his ways as a possibility for a nation who needs something.   Mr. President, is it so bad to think about man, woman, Jew, Gentile, black and white actually doing unto each as they want done unto them?  Mr. President, is it so bad to think about a people who, “so far as it depends on them to be at peace with all men”?  Mr. President, what is wrong with the idea og “going the extra mile” for folks or practicing the “Christian graces” found in 2 Peter 1:5-8? 

Scary?  Of course!  What about the mis-interpretations and the all-out chaos that comes from people who take things out of context?  That is why we must surround ourselves with people who take Jesus and His word seriously.  Accountability.  Trust.  The ability to recognize a higher power without trying to do so in order to get constituents to vote for us.  Trust is the ability to look into our future and be scared but to realize that  I know the One who can help us and I trust Him! 

Mr. President…these are my words and I beg you…no…I plead with you to listen as somewhere along the way we are missing our chance to be different from the world and to do the right thing.  Who cares about votes, policy, a strength in the Supreme Court or a balance of power?  What happened to doing the right thing for the sake of it being the right thing to do?  I believe in the United States but I trust in Jesus.  Shouldn’t we try?  Why have we stopped believing in things?  We have educated ourselves into a total reliance on sheer intellect and not someone (Someone) else.  We have raised up a generation of people who simply do not trust anymore and the only thrill in life is the next drink, the next hit from the joint or the next car we can buy.  Mr. President, shouldn’t we try?  Shouldn’t we try?  The choice is up to you and we need people who believe in things not to make it sound good in an oration or cabinent speech but we need people who hold true to the one thing that created everything.  God.  So we trust you to do the right thing and to believe in something for once.  

Sincerely, 

Robbie Mackenzie


Do you get the feeling that sometimes area churches compete against each other?  This may just be a perception but often I see different churches going against each other talking about “we have this program” or “we have this function” yet the “we” is not all-inclusive.  When Main Street has success and is converting souls to Christ I hope the “we” that is discussed is about the whole Church and not just Main Street.  For example, when Mt. Juliet church of Christ had the Equip conference to help ministers enable churches to be more involved that is not something Mt. Juliet does to brag about as if to say, “Look at what we are doing!”  It is a time for churches all around to look at something like that and say, “Praise God!”

In Robertson County there are about 15 churches of Christ  and aside from attending each other’s gospel meetings we rarely do things together.  What would it look like to unite these churches and do things all the time together in the name of Jesus Christ?  I understand many churches in the world do this but in America this is rare.  Who cares if another church gets more members than you do?  It is for God’s glory!  Who cares if this event is held in their building and not yours?  It is for God’s glory! 

Church, we need to stop competing against each other and start cooperating with each other.  Sounds kind of like restoration theology doesn’t it?  Didn’t folks in the New Testament cooperate?  Have a good day!     

Delayed Gratification

February 17, 2010 — Leave a comment

Have you ever seen something on television that you thought you absolutely must have?  Or maybe after Christmas when you saw your friends with all of their gifts you noticed that so-and-so had the latest gadget and you just had to have it.  Did it consume your mind?  If you are like me, if you get something in your mind you can’t get it out unless you purchase it or wait until something new comes out.   

The problem I struggle with is endemic of my generation but specifically with any generation powered by technology.  With new things coming out every year (I mean a CPU is outdated after 6 months) there is the pressure for consumers to purchase the latest and the greatest.  I am guilty.   

This has not always been the case.  Perhaps you heard your grandfather talk about how he did not have his first shiny car until he was 55 years old.  Perhaps you have heard of him tell you about how he had to work 7am-5pm for 30 years and never did he get more than two weeks vacation or even so much as a bonus.  College students come out of universities now with a sense of pride asking for 3-4 weeks vacation and salaries equal to a person who has 10 years under their belt.  The issue?  Entitlement and an absence of delayed gratification and a pressing need for little to no accountability.   

Caleb is one of my most favorite biblical characters (I named my first son after him) who probably served the Lord better than I will ever be able to!  You remember the story in Numbers 13 where he and Joshua spied the land and gave an excellent report telling the people that they surely could possess the land.  Caleb was 40 years old at the time!  How do I know this?  Fast-forward to the book of Joshua where the people of Israel have gone from battle to battle traveling and fighting and now the land is resting from war and so it is time to a lot the land to different people.  Joshua 14 marks Caleb’s turn to receive land.  Read these verses carefully:  

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’ “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. (Joshua 14:7-13)  

Did you catch that?  Caleb waited 45 years to get something the Lord had promised!  45 YEARS!!!  Many of us get upset with the Lord when we don’t get that promotion or the loan did not come through on the house or perhaps we did not get that job we thought we would get!  We live in times where we feel we have to get blessed right now!  NEWS FLASH:  you are already blessed even if you get nothing else for the rest of your life!  Can you live with that?  We may have to wait to get a blessing from the Lord but the wait is worth it.  But even if we don’t get “it” God is still faithful and God has still blessed us.  If you are frustrated with God, please wait, it may come much later.