An evening in the Apple store

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Currently I am in the middle of what appears like it’s going to be a long wait at the Apple store. If you‘ve ever been in one of these, you know it’s a crowded, bustling place about the size of half a gymnasium. There are three rows of long tables that stretch from one end of the store to the other. The tables close to the front of the store contain new products; the tables in the back are for people like me who are waiting for a technician or currently getting help from one. At the very back of the store is a long table that runs perpendicular to the others. This is what is called the “Genius Bar.” Behind that table sit the Apple geniuses, who are ready to share their expertise with you, if you have an appointment.

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Finding pasture

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I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. John 10:9

My correction to those of you who attended church last night. I totally messed up the biblical reference for this verse. I had the chapter right but I had the wrong book (Matthew) and the wrong verse (:30). I guess one out of three isn’t bad. In baseball, it’s terrific; you’re hitting .333. But in trying to find a scripture reference, it isn’t good at all. You need to bat 1.000 to find the right verse. So here it is: John 10:9. Sorry if I led you on a wild goose chase.

So now that you have the right verse, let’s talk about it again. The unique thing about this verse is its mention of the freedom to move in and out at will. In and out of what? The sheep fold; the pen where they keep sheep when they are not out in the pasture. Jesus is the gate, which would indicate He is the way into this safe place, which could mean the church, the Body of Christ, or even the kingdom of God. It could be all of these things. It could be the kingdom of heaven which Jesus talked a lot about. It’s a place where Christians are gathered together and it implies a safe place.

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Sometimes it’s that simple

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The recent shooting incident at a Trader Joe’s market in Silver Lake, California, has an incredible inside story that is just now coming to light. You’ve got a man inside with a gun who has been wounded in the arm by an exchange of gunfire with police as he ran for cover into the store, with everyone inside suddenly becoming hostages. As fortune would have it, however, one of those hostages was a woman who was trained and qualified for moments like this. She moved quickly into action, speaking kindly to the man and enlisting help from other hostages to treat his wound. A trust was already developing. At one point she put her hand on the suspect’s heart. “When you put your hand on someone’s heart,” she said later in an interview, “it grounds them. I was trying to ground him, and manipulate him, yes, in the best way.”

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Living with disa*ility

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So I’m forced to borrow my wife’s computer and I discover the letter “*” doesn’t work (the one between “a” and “c”). Except I just noticed that twice the letter worked fine in the last sentence. Hmmm. It seems to work when I’m unconsciously typing, *ut if a “*” comes up and I consciously think, “Uh oh, here it comes,” then I’m in trouble. See what I mean?

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A fully human life

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“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” (Matthew 11:17) In other words, you didn’t fully experience life. You didn’t enter into the moment. You didn’t live with expression. You didn’t let the full extent of the human experience touch you. Oh, you felt a flutter when you heard the flute, and a certain sadness when you heard the dirge, but you didn’t let it become yours. You didn’t enter in. You held back. You kept life at arm’s length.

Jesus sanctioned celebration. He also sanctioned mourning. He Himself wept at the tomb of Lazarus, even when He knew He was going to raise him from the dead. He entered into the sadness of the people; He felt their desperation at the loss of life — their utter helplessness at the door of death. Those were the tears of empathy, but in order to do that — in order to share that emotion with the people there — He had to enter into it Himself, and He could do that because He was fully human.

Jesus wants us to live life to the fullest. He does not want us to be ruled  by our emotions — that’s not healthy for anyone — but He does want us to experience the full extent of our emotions. He wants us to be fully human. He was. He was fully God and fully man.

There are at least two reasons for this. One, He wants us to live life as it was intended, and two, we need to be in the ebb and flow of life in order to identify and connect with those around us. If we don’t dance with the flute or mourn with the dirge, how can we ever expect to connect with those who are? We would be aloof, distant, not even human — more like a machine. Since we are here to receive God’s grace and give it out to others, it is necessary that we do this as people who are touched by the same things that touch everyone.

On another occasion, Jesus said, “I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:9-10). There you have it: a rich and satisfying life, or as you may have learned it — an abundant life.

The picture here is generous, expressive — larger than life. Once we are in the kingdom of God through the proper gate, which is Jesus, we are free to come and go and find nourishment (because the kingdom of God is everywhere) and we can live a rich and satisfying life, that is, a fully human life. That is what Jesus wants for us. Why would we settle for anything less?

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Worried about you

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When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive with your prayers and encouragement in regards to Arnold’s life, death and memorial service. His story has touched many, and also given many hope that there are no “closed” cases out there when it comes to faith. If God can cause light to shine out of darkness, He can speak faith into anyone’s heart at any time, so that no one is beyond hope (2 Corinthians 4:6).

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‘I’m worried about you’

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I’ve had a lot of great moments speaking in my career to audiences totaling well into the hundreds of thousands of people, but at no time have I felt more like I was the right person at the right time than I did on Saturday when I brought the message to the memorial service for Arnold Forde. There were approximately 250 in attendance, roughly two-thirds of whom were probably not believers or wouldn’t let on that they were. The audience was dominated by politicians in that Arnold’s career was spent making many of them successful. Had he died closer to the height of his career there would have undoubtedly been people like Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger there because of his role in their political accomplishments.

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More about that lady pourin’ coffee

 

And the lady pourin’ coffee

She knows the regulars by name

And if she doesn’t know you

She calls you “Honey” just the same

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This is a picture of Branka Katic, Serbian actress, in one of her scenes playing a waitress in what has to be a Johnny’s Cafe. I love this picture, though, because of what it captures on her face. She’s in a conversation with someone at the counter, and she is listening intently, as if what was just said was something that fascinated her. It’s incredible what a good actor can capture with just a look.

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