Wednesday, September 23, 2015

empty and pour

Caz’s sermon this morning was so important. In the series on happiness, Caz is talking about how if we seek happiness we will not find it. But if we search for meaning, we will find joy. I believe a couple of weeks ago he said that research showed that the parenting years left parents with a low level of happiness but a greater sense of meaning. This is clearly true for parenting, and also probably similar caring roles: teaching, nursing, ministry.
            Caz focused on the first few verses in Philippians 2, which was an invocation to be humble. I found it interesting what Caz shared about the Roman culture, and how it was focused on shame versus honor.   The focus was on how people were viewed by others. So for Paul to tell the Philippians to humble themselves was really drastic. Maybe today he would tell us to post unflattering pictures of ourselves on Facebook. I think an important distinction between shame and humility is that shame is often something others place upon us, and is often based on actions. Humility is a choice. Jesus and Paul chose to humble themselves. We choose to humble ourselves or not.
            Caz closed with the invocation from Philippians: Don’t seek empty glory. Empty yourself to be filled with God’s glory. Joy is found in emptying ourselves. Caz asked “What would it look like to empty ourselves to serve others?” The idea of emptying ourselves can be hard to grasp. But I think a good place to start is to think of pouring into others. For me it would be making my husband coffee, or doing any of the many chores that fall into his domain (good thing he doesn’t read the blog!). Any form of serving others is an act of humility. It says to the person served you are valuable, and I am putting your needs before my own. How much would our lives changed if we chose to humble ourselves and pour into others? What are we waiting for?
Beth Kropf


Monday, September 21, 2015


This series on happiness touches on a lot of areas in our lives-- most importantly, I think, what's worth going after?   What life goals are really satisfying?

For a lot of people, happiness involves getting things.  ("He with the most toys, wins.")   We probably know, theoretically, that it's not true.  But we often live as if it is true.   I know I did, for a long time.   Happiness for me was getting something I wanted-- and I wanted a lot!  And if I wanted it,  I needed it...  Can anyone relate?

Do any of you remember when Chrysler came out with the 2001 PT Cruiser?  It was different.  It was weird.  It was retro.  It was cool!   And hard to get (which made it even more cool.)  You had to order them and then wait months to get it.  Well, I was one of the first ones to get one.  It was so cool.  People would stop me at gas stations and in parking lots and ask me about my car.  One woman came up to me and said, "I'm so jealous!  I love your car!  I want one so bad!"  I loved getting those reactions.  I was happy!   When I took my son my son to school and we'd cruise into the circle drive of the elementary school, I'd hear his classmates say, "Mom!  A PT Cruiser!  They're so cool!  Can we get one?"   That made me happy.   I was cool and my son was cool.  

But of course, they didn't stay cool and unique forever.  Eventually they were everywhere.  I still loved my car but it wasn't... as cool.  The happiness factor diminished.  I knew it was over when I got out of my car in a parking lot and a 10-year-old boy almost sneered at me, "My grandma has a car like that."   That was the end of my cool driving days.

Happiness is always temporary.  No matter how much we want something, after we get it, the newness wears off and we need a new toy.  Joy, on the other hand, lasts much longer- because it's not dependent on circumstance.  And joy often comes, as Caz has said, when instead of searching for it we search for meaning, which leads to joy.  For me, the greatest joy I've found is in being here for my family and doing things for them.  It also makes me happy!  But it's not a happy that fades like the glory of a new car. It's the deep, warm feeling of satisfaction that comes when you realize you're utilizing the best part of yourself to serve someone else.  You are being the person God created you to be.  There is no greater joy on this earth than that.

Pastor Rick