Are You Foolin’ Around With God?

Are You Foolin’ Around With God?

I love April 1st. It usually means that spring weather is finally here in the Chicago suburbs. It means that the Chicago Cubs are about to start a new season (this really is the year!). Often it’s close to when Spring Break falls in the calendar. And…you get to play some practical jokes on people. I’m not a huge jokester, but I love a good laugh and occasional prank. I won’t get into the details of some of the Judson pranks back in my day, but, let’s just say, I still can’t believe maintenance got all of those chapel pews turned around by Senior Chapel!

One of the areas of my life that I am learning to not mess around with is my relationship with God. I have to admit that there were some times during my Judson tenure when I was a pretty bold face hypocrite. I was one person in Bible class, in chapel and, at times, another person in other segments of my life. I’d like to think that as a dad, husband and pastor those times are all behind me, but I can’t. Why? Because I am sinful just like you. However, I can say that by God’s grace those times of hypocrisy in my life are minimal compared to my past.

What about you? Who do you claim to be? If there was a jury of your people network, who would you get convicted of being? Being in the church world for almost 30 years now, I still am amazed (in a frustrating sense) of how way too many Christ-followers live. They come to church, maybe even read their Bibles a little, maybe serve a little and then live the majority of their lives no differently than their unbelieving friends. Gossip? No problem. Excessive drinking? No problem. Having the mouth of a sailor? No problem. Sleeping with a boyfriend, girlfriend or having an affair? No problem. Looking at porn? No problem. Getting completely caught up in materialism? No problem. While the sins themselves are a problem, the bigger problem is that people don’t see those actions as sins or as a problem in and of themselves.

Here’s what Jesus said about foolin’ around with Him and your faith in Revelation 3, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” Friends, that’s my prayer for you as well. If you’re hot for Christ – keep going – way to go! Keep working out your faith with fear and trembling and minimizing the foolishness day by day. If you’re cold, realize that the next part of Revelation 3 is when Jesus says He’s going to spit you out of His mouth. We don’t need to get into the theology of what that means right now. Just know that it’s not good. He wants all of us – every part – all of the time!

Use this season of April foolishness to drive us to the season of spring – new life and new beginnings!

-Eric Rojas, Class of 1990, Executive Pastor at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL

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Life Lessons I Learned as a Volleyball Dad

Life Lessons I Learned as a Volleyball Dad

We recently returned from our last trip with our daughter to the AAU National Girls Volleyball Championships in Florida. 126 courts of volleyball girls all screaming while referee whistles are blowing continuously. Sounds like a little bit of heaven, doesn’t it? Well, we did have a blast with her and the team even if it did mean Excedrin had to come to the rescue on more than one occasion.

While I was watching games for several days, it dawned on me that there truly were some life analogies and lessons to be learned for me through this experience. Here’s what I picked up that I pass along to you for your consideration:

  1. Don’t shy away from or be afraid of new experiences. I don’t think I ever attended a volleyball game while I was at Judson. I did a lot of things and really tried to make the most out of my experience, but I don’t recall doing that. When my daughter initially wanted to play volleyball, after two boys that played baseball – something that I knew, I was a little apprehensive. I had heard horror stories of school and travel volleyball and just didn’t know the sport. I could have persuaded her to something else, but I didn’t because this is what she wanted to do. Well, it turned into a fantastic experience for her and for us. Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it?” Always pray and seek God’s guidance, but when He leads you to something new embrace it!
  1. Don’t yell at the ref. I admit it, my teaching gift comes out quite frequently when I’m driving or at a game. I feel this deep desire to let the driver next to me know the rules of the road such as slow drivers are to drive in the right lane! At games, I feel a deep longing to let the ref know that I think he is wrong at times or that he doesn’t know the rules. Yeah, I’m wrong. I know it. I confess right now. It won’t happen again…as much…I hope. But, my point is this – we sometimes don’t like God’s rules either and yell at Him. We don’t like Him convicting us or pointing out our sin or shortcomings. We stop reading the Bible because it convicts us. Something bad happens in our lives and we shake our fists at God. We need to just stop that and play the hand and the game that’s been given to us to play. Yelling doesn’t help in a game and it doesn’t help with God.
  1. There is a season to laugh and to cry. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a season for everything under the sun. In sports, there are great days and tough days. We learned to celebrate the victories and good days very well and we learned to learn from the defeats and tough days and just recognize them for what they are. “You’ll get ‘em next time” really doesn’t work after a tough loss. We learned to say, “yep, that was a tough loss.” We also learned to take in the moment of a victory. In life, most of us need to celebrate more – we really do. It’s so easy to just want to move on to the next thing. Take each moment for what it is – in celebration and in difficulty.
  1. Respect the game, the coach, the ref, yourself and the fans. We’ve had some good and bad coaches through the years. The best ones taught my kids to be respectful at all times. That’s a great life lesson. We overheard a mom from the other team at a baseball game this week yelling at a player on our team, “Way to not be respectful you little blankety-blank.” But, she didn’t say “blankety-blank.” Do you hear the irony in that? We need to live lives that respect ourselves, our family, our community, our God and His Word. R-E-S-P-E-C-T is that your life’s default mode? Is that what you are known for?

There are many other lessons that I could have or should have learned, but there are a few for grins and giggles. Next time you’re at a ball game, see if you can come up with and apply some to your lives as well.

-Eric Rojas, Class of 1990, Executive Pastor at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL