5 Ways to Help Our Family…Will You Pick 2?

we-are-n

The letter ‘N’, or the Arabic symbol pictured here, is used by ISIS to mark the homes of the Christians they are murdering, capturing, and driving from Iraq. The Islamic terrorist group chose this letter because it stands for the Nazarene,that is Jesus of Nazareth. It represents the One the Iraqi Christians claim as their Lord, and the One that makes us family.

Hundreds of thousands of people  around the world have adopted the letter and joined the #WeAreN campaign to show solidarity with Iraqi Christians. And we should too. I have half a mind to go and paint the letter on the outside of my apartment right now.

This is just one, simple way we can begin to answer  the question I posed in my previous blog: what can we do to help our family? But we need to do more.

I’m writing today to ask for your help.

Continue reading

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My Family is Being Murdered. What do I do?

If my family in Texas was being driven from their home, starved, and murdered, there is no question what I would do.

I would board the next flight to DFW, run to the aid of my family, and fight to the death to protect everyone with the last name Greer.

The truth is, I would board that flight and run to their defense for much less than eviction and murder. Much, much less.

Iraq Girl - James Gordon CC

Image Credit: James Gordon via CC

 

So what do I do when my family in Iraq is being chased into the dessert, starved, beaten and possibly shot or beheaded because they are Christians? 

What do we do? 

Continue reading

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How To Know God’s Will (Thank you Mother Mary!)

Konstantinos Mavroudis via CC

Image Credit: Konstantinos Mavroudis via CC

 

I am reading through the Christmas narrative in my Bible as I work on a Christmas writing project. It feels kind of weird to do it in August. But hey, if my little brother Andrew can record a Christmas album in August, I can write a Christmas book. (Andrew-Greer.com – How about that for a shameless Greer family plug?!).

As I read Mary’s journey with fresh eyes, I’ve thought long and hard about just how crazy of an experience it must have been.

Imagine being told by an angel that you would play a major role in God’s plan for the world; while you were still a teenager. And imagine that plan including an out-of-wedlock pregnancy in a society that stoned women for unmarried sexual activity.

With just those two things in mind, would you have believed that an angel actually appeared to you? Continue reading

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Super Jesus

Super Jesus - Emily Carlin

Photo Credit: Emily Carlin (CreativeCommons)

 

In the late 1930’s Superman made his comic book debut, and for the last seven decades readers and moviegoers of all ages have been thrilled by his use of super-human capabilities to rid the world of evil.

The idea of Superman resonates deeply with the American psyche. Though a fictional superhero, the man from Krypton embodies the independent, self-sufficient, nobody-to-somebody kind of story we love. He’s a loner. An island. “Supe” is the kind of guy boys dream of being and the kind that men actually try to be. Superman is the one guy everyone turns to and the one guy who never needs to turn to anyone else. And we admire that about him.

Sometimes we admire the same thing about Jesus.

Jesus is the one man who changed the world forever. He stepped to earth from another place, humbly rose to epic fame, and conquered evil all by himself. But unlike the fictional Superman, we believe the Bible tells the true story of how this no-name carpenter rose to the occasion to single-handedly defeat death itself.

It’s a good story. But it is not the whole story. Continue reading

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Extreme Hospitality (The Third Thing I Learned in Egypt about being a Christian)

Johnny Wilson CC

 Image courtesy of Johnny Wilson at CC

 

I attend and work at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, and part of the church’s mission is to exhibit extreme hospitality. The church does it well. In fact, it was this genuine hospitality that brought my wife and me to the church in the first place and part of why we chose to stay.

But as welcoming as our church is, I’ve never encountered hospitality like I did in Egypt last month. I was there to help my friend explore new mission opportunities, and from the moment our hosts met us at the airport until they dropped us off again, we were treated like royalty.

The practice of extreme hospitality was the third lesson I learned from Kasr al Dobara Evangelical Church (KDEC) about being a Christian. Continue reading

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We’re Not Very Good at Being the Church (The Second Thing I Learned in Egypt about Being a Christian)

Last week I posted the first lesson I learned about being a Christian while I was in Egypt. Believe it or not, it was this: Political Unrest is Good for the Church. (click here to read what I mean)  The second lesson I recently learned in Egypt about being a Christian is…

Lesson #2 – We’re not very good about being the Church

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Photo by Benjamin Staudinger at CC

 It might seem a bit rude to say we, American Christians, are not very good at being the Church. But in some ways, it’s true – and I would much rather say (and hear) what is true than what sounds good.

In one of my classes last quarter I spent a lot of time reading, learning, and thinking about the differences between a missional church and an attractional church (I wrote a post about this for Trochia.org – read it here!), but while in Egypt this past month, I actually experienced the difference. Continue reading

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Political Unrest is Good for the Church (What Egypt Taught Me about being a Christian)

I was recently in the Middle East for a vacation in Iraq.

Kidding. I was indeed in the Middle East, but it wasn’t Iraq, and nobody goes to the Middle East for vacation these days.

The truth is two weeks ago I traveled to Egypt with a friend who has been involved in mission work there since 2007. We served the poor in tiny, poverty-stricken villages in the Egyptian desert, and we discussed partnership opportunities with church leaders and in Cairo.

Like my first trip there years ago, it was an eye-opening and soul-convicting trip. Over the next few blog posts, I will share what I learned from that inspiring church in Egypt. What they taught me about the Christian life (without ever trying to) impacted my heart as much as the sights and sounds of a revolution-torn country impacted my senses. My hope is their lessons will stick with you as much as they have stuck with me.

Lesson #1 – Political Unrest is Good for the Church 

Tahrir Square - SierraGoddess

photo credit: SierraGoddess at CC

The first thing I learned from the church we visited in Egypt is that political unrest is good for the church. Continue reading

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My Nine Year Old Mentor

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Brad, the 50 year old leader of our group looked me in the eye and sternly said, “If I tell you to get on the bus, get on the bus.”

Ten minutes later his voice rose above the noise as he said, “Get all the Americans inside right now.” And the somewhat agitated crowd of locals were told to leave.

His instructions brought an end to the conversation a few travel-mates and I were trying to have outside. Our incomplete Arabic and the villager’s broken English made our exchanges difficult, and I’m certain they were offended by our refusal to follow them home for tea, but my desire to retreat to safety trumped my desire to honor their hospitality.

We were ushered inside the tiny ramshackle church turned makeshift vision and dental clinic as Brad repeated his command – “All Americans inside. Now.”

I was starting to get nervous. Continue reading

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The House that Obedience Built

Lightning road

Photo Credit: tpsdave at CC

If you look at the road ahead, what do you see? When projects snapshots about life in the next five or ten or twenty years, what do they look like?

Let me tell you about a few of the signposts I picture in my future. I see happy and healthy years with my wife, quiet and beautiful children sleeping soundly within the comfort of a new home, and a fulfilling career as a writer and a pastor who helps others know Jesus better.

What are the important mile markers in your journey ahead? Take a few moments to imagine them.

Now, what’s missing? What is conveniently absent from your life in the years to come?

Joy? Nope – it’s there. Peace? It’s there too. Health? Success? Safety and security? They are all there. If you look close, you’ll see them around every corner enveloping every significant moment.

What is missing are the storms. The scenes we all omit from the movie trailer of our future are the stormy ones. But our omission of them now does not mean we will bypass them later.

As one of my pastors, Bryan Eckelman, thoughtfully pointed out in a recent sermon, no matter who you are or what kind of life you live, storms will come. For some of us, the storm is already here, banging on the door like an angry criminal hell bent on snatching the last bit of happiness we hold.

So the question is not Will the storms come? The question is How do we survive when they do?

Jesus of Nazareth told a powerful story about life and storms. In Matthew 7:24-29 he makes pointed comments about the lives of a wise homebuilder and a foolish one. The wise one builds his house on the rock, the foolish builds on the sand. You may remember this story. If not, it doesn’t take an English major to decipher the imagery Jesus employs. The rock is a solid foundation and the sand is not. When the storms come, the wise man’s foundation proves solid. The foolish man is not so fortunate.

But despite the details about the builder’s differences, Jesus’ story has one constant: the storm.

Unfortunately, our response to this reality is not to take Jesus’ advice in the face of the inevitable. Instead, we all work very hard to avoid the unavoidable.

We build stronger buildings, drive safer cars, and move from the inner city to gated communities. We take preventive medicine and stock pile retirement funds. We scrub our hands with anti-bacterial wipes after touching a doorknob and before getting behind the wheel of a grocery cart.

We’re so addicted to the idea of storm-free life that we have tried to inoculate ourselves with pure delusion.

But face it brother and sister, the storm’s a comin’. We may not know when or what kind, but she’s a comin’. So I repeat the question: how do we survive when they do?

Jesus’ answer is clear: “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house solid rock….But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.” (Matt 7:24, 27)

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it.

This is not a statement about intellect. Our recognition of Jesus and knowledge of Scripture are not the things that makes us buoyant in a rising flood.

“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this.” (James 2:19)

Rather, Jesus says, the foundation to a life that withstands the storm is obedience.

For my life, and for most of our churches, I worry not about our belief that Jesus was a special guy. I’ve got that one down pat. You probably do too.

What I worry about is that my life will suffer far more damage from unstoppable squalls because I willingly choose not to make peace, give to the needy, keep my word, love my enemies, pray real prayers, or stop objectifying women and judging men.

Hear me here: I’m not worried that God’s unrivalled love and grace in Jesus Christ will make me right before God. I’m worried my failure to act in response to that love will add one more shack to the shanty town of the disobedient, and when the storm comes, I’ll be blown away like the rest of them.

So I turn again to John 16:33 and read Jesus’ words to his disciples as they faced a giant storm: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

And I remember that God moved through the disciple’s obedience, not simply their belief. By him they weathered a kind of storm few of us have ever faced, and because of it we are here today with an opportunity to build our house on the same Rock they did.

Are you one who listens and obeys? And how’s your house holding up?

 

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The Servants Know

 

Servants

Image courtesy of cc

 

Hello friends,

The Christian discipleship website, Trochia.org, recently posted this blog. I removed it from Christopher-Greer.com to honor my publishing agreement with Trochia.

But, there is good news! You can check it out here – The Servants Know – or search for it at www.Trochia.org

Enjoy and return to Christopher-Greer.com for more blogs soon!

Bringing the Light

sun behind earth

Image courtesy of cc

 

Hey friends,

Trochia.org just picked up this blog – so I took off my site to honor my publishing agreement with Trochia.

But, you can check it out at www.Trochia.org!

More to come soon….

Doubts: Yours and Mine

Yesterday I was working my way through some blog posts I needed to catch up on, and I ran across an intriguing invitation at PositiveWriter.com. It was a writing contest called “Overcoming Writer’s Doubt” and it challenged writers to open up about a moment when they overcame doubt.

But as I filed through my memory bank I struggled to find a story in the past as compelling as the one I’m experiencing in the present.

So, instead of telling you how once-upon-a-time I pushed through my doubts, I’m going reveal the doubts I have today and see if my struggle resonates with yours.

But I am not content to just kvetch. I want to invite you to partner with me in fearlessly pushing through our season of doubt together. You up for it?? If so, here we go…

This past spring I finally completed Easter is Coming, a writing project that was two years in the making. And by “completed” I mean I summoned the courage to release it to the world, regardless of whether I thought it was truly finished or not. It was a big step, and I’m proud of my work and the accomplishment of publishing it.

And here’s the kicker: I got some very positive feedback on that book. Some of the folks who read it offered glowing reviews, excitedly praised my writing, and even expressed thankfulness for it. One reviewer promised to buy the next book I write. (If that isn’t motivation to write another book, I don’t know what is!)

Yet here I sit, frozen by what author and blogger Bryan Hutchison calls “writer’s doubt.”

As I look forward to my next project, my mind and heart are filled with just as many doubts as bright new ideas. And right now, the doubts are eating the bright new ideas for lunch.

Frozen.

Ironically, part of what paralyzes me is the positive response I garnered from my first book. While the response should motivate me to press on, I catch myself thinking I won’t live up to expectations I’ve created. Like a Rookie of the Year winner who inevitably falls into a sophomore slump, I doubt my second project will be as successful as the first.

What about you? Have you been here? Has the success of a project soured into doubt instead of turning into motivation? I’m sure you have and I’m sure it has.

But maybe for you it’s not writing. Maybe it’s a business, a relationship, education, or parenting. Maybe it’s your faith, your family, or your future. Regardless, you’re as stuck as I am, and your doubts are winning the day.

Well friends, I’m offering the remainder of this blog as an attempt to inspire both of us.

I’m a writer. It’s in me. I want to, and I need to, write. So the way I’m going to unfreeze this bout of writer’s doubt is to write. I know. It’s a novel idea, right? (Pun intended.) But seriously. I’m going to do the thing I’m so doubtful about doing.

Easter is Coming was a fun, fulfilling, and well received accomplishment. But instead of letting the positive feedback pour gas on my fire of doubt, I’m going to turn it into fuel for my creative machine. I will thankfully use that completed project as a springboard for the projects to come.

And here’s how I’m going to do it.

I commit to releasing a follow up project this fall called Christmas is Coming – a project that will be similar enough to its predecessor that I can confidently build on what I do well, but different enough to be its own project and accomplishment.

And I commit to writing 2000 words of new material (four 500-word sessions) a week to help hone my craft and to build on the projects I have in mind.

Finally, I commit to using these two commitments as the ax and saw that will cut down this growing writer’s doubt and turn it into the raw materials for building my next book (and the one after that, and the one after that). Writer’s doubt be warned and next book be ready, ‘cause I’m comin’ for ya.

How about you? What do you need to do, and how are you going to do it?

What two commitments are you going to use to chop down your doubt and build what you are called to build?

Leave them in the comments below and let’s do them together.

Onward!

Trochia!

Something cool happens when you continue to move – the journey takes you to some unexpected and exciting places.

You may have noticed I haven’t posted here in a while. That’s because I’ve joined the team at Trochia.org and I’m spending my writing time helping them help others follow Jesus at full stride.  

Visit www.Trochia.org to read my original blogs and sign up for the Narrow Way Daily Devotional to get Scripture and devotionals delivered (I write one a week!) to your inbox each day.

See you there….

And here are direct links to a couple of my favorites!

Why It Matters: The Trinity

Grace for Us

Why It Matters: Jesus’ Humanity

 

Grief and Hope, Hope and Grief

Nicholas Wolterstorff in the book The Incomplete One makes a profound statement about grief and hope in the face of death. He writes, “Though grief does not smother hope, neither does hope smother grief.”

Death is a reality everyone must face, and it presents a distinct and important challenge for the Christian. St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, wrote , “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” And yet, in another letter the apostle wrote “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Wolterstorff, St. Paul, and all of us who have lost a loved one who is a follower of Christ wrestle with the same dichotomy.

For the living, the death of a loved one is a tragic and painful loss. The pain is acute and lasting, and the reality that death is not how life should end comes into sharp focus. We mourn, we cry, we live in sorrow.

For the deceased in Christ, death is a release, a passage, an opening. The joy is acute and lasting, and the reality that life with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is life in its most grand fulfillment is brought into sharp focus. They worship, they rest, they live in peace and wonder.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember that one does not rid our lives of the other.

“Though grief does not smother hope, neither does hope smother grief.”

I watched my grandfather live out this truth in beautiful ways. He lost his precious bride, Everma Jo Girard, when she passed away on October 15th, 2002 after 58 years of marriage. My grandfather grieved deeply. He experienced a sadness and loss I cannot even hope to understand as a husband of only three months. My grandmother Jo was his best friend, his faithful wife, and the love of his life.

And as much as his last 10 years have been marked with grief, they have been equally marked with hope. My Grandfather knew Jesus and faithfully rested in the hope that he too, one day, would go home. On that day he would meet his Savior and would experience him just as his wife was. This truth filled him with hope.

Grief and hope. Hope and grief.

This Saturday my family will bury my grandfather, Cecil Meshew Girard. “Granddad.” A faithful, quiet, loving, strong, hopeful, convicted, loyal, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and follower of Christ.

And because we love him dearly – we grieve. Deeply. Today we miss him and want him back.

And because we trust Christ – we hope. Deeply. One day we will join him and won’t ever look back.

Our hope will not be overwhelmed by our grief, and neither will our grief be overwhelmed by our hope.

– – – – – – – – – – –

I thank God for Granddad. He followed God. He pursued what was right. He respected all people. He loved deeply. He lived well.

Today he is Home – and in my grief I celebrate for him.

Cecil Meshew Girard
April 17, 1923 – February 3, 2013

Grandad

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That Feels Right

The other day I was standing in line at the Orange County Courthouse and Hall of Records with my new bride. We were waiting to pick up an official copy of our marriage certificate. After making a small mistake on our original application, it took the government a long time to correct it. So in the eyes of the Church we were hitched on November 3rd, but the state took 2 months to recognize us as husband and wife. I would make a joke here about “living in sin”, but that’s something else the State of California doesn’t readily recognize.

I digress.

As we stood in line, a TV on the wall was tuned to a cable news network. They were covering the president and congress as they work on some new legislation. After reading a summary of the law over the air, the lead anchor looked up at the camera and said, “Yeah. That feels right.”

I don’t know if it was my fledgling understanding of the intricacies of married life or my consistent displeasure with our society’s over emphasis on “feelings”, but the words of the newsman struck a chord. “That feels right”??

He was commenting on new legislation, not a back massage. He was reading a new law. Feelings have nothing to do with it. A law is either right or wrong. Either it’s going to be best for the American people, or it’s not. It doesn’t matter how it feels. If it did, then what if someone wanted to break the new law – presumably because they felt like it?

If my wife and I based our nuptials completely on our feelings, we would have been divorced before California recognized us as married. We must base our marriage on commitment to Christ and to each other, enjoying the good feelings all along, so that when the feelings aren’t good, we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

As I’ve studied some of God’s commands this week (maybe that’s the reason why the news anchor’s phrase stuck out to me!), I think there is a truth here we struggle with in regards to God’s clear instructions for us.

God has given us commands. Laws, if you will. And many times – just like with marriage and our country’s laws – we don’t like the way they feel. And if we don’t like the way they feel, then we think they must not be right. But the most helpful thing to remember when we don’t feel good about a command God has given us is to remember this: God’s commands are for our joy. 

If God were a painter, the colors would be his commands and the finished painting would be our joy. One stroke at a time, God is painting a picture we do not yet see, but when it is complete, our joy and his glory will be the product.

Jesus, after teaching his disciples that remaining in his love was possible through obedience to his commandments, Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11 NLT) If we really loved God and neighbor as Jesus commands, we’d have no need for any of the other commandments. We would give love and we would feel love.

God cares about our feelings. In fact, according to John 15, he gives us instruction so that our feelings of joy will overflow. But unlike society, God says that doing right is the gateway to feeling right. Our culture says just the opposite. But if that were the case – if feeling right was the guide to doing right – then how do you think laws and marriages would work out? Mmm hmm. Not so great, huh.

Just something to think about the next time you get a little miffed by one of God’s commandments.

Remember – he’s looking out for you. He loves you. His commandments are not against you, they’re for you. God is not interested in giving you a joyless, dull, and restricted life. He’s only interested in giving you the best and the fullest. (John 10:10) So he gives you commands to do just that.

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