Three Taverns Church

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Lose Your Favorite Hat

Saturday I drove to Tampa to spend time with a friend at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. I was looking for a distraction from the terrible vision of death I’d had the day before and I certainly found what I was looking for on the casino floor. But I want to share with you something that happened on my drive to Tampa that I found much more enlightening.

I was driving my Miata with the top down, celebrating the summer sun even as thunderstorms threatened the horizon with flashes of lightning and gray sheets of thick rain. I felt free from work, free from responsibility, and very much alive. As my radio was blasting over the wind in the open cabin I was dancing in my seat, entertaining a school bus full of children in front of me who were pantomiming gestures through the rear windows. As I repeated their gestures I could see them laughing hysterically at the crazy guy in the little car behind them. I was in a fine mood and loving life. Within minutes traffic separated us and I waved goodbye with a smile so big it felt foreign and unfamiliar.

Moments later I adjusted myself in my seat and turned my body just a bit to get more comfortable…and my favorite hat, a Florida Gators ball cap I’ve had for years, caught the rushing wind and blew off my head into traffic behind me. Maybe if I’d pulled over immediately I could’ve rescued my hat, a bit worse for wear but nonetheless returned to my rightful possession. But as the distance grew between my moving car and my now certainly-mangled hat, it struck me how oddly I was behaving!

Here I am pursuing spiritual depth and enlightenment, having had a vision of death just the day before, and I am suddenly mourning the loss of a piece of headwear! I thought to myself, “If I struggle with losing a hat, it’s no wonder the idea of death terrifies me!”

Jesus words returned to me, “Do not store up treasures where moths and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal.”

You might rightly consider me silly for being so attached to a hat, but as I continued along my way I spent a good ten minutes thinking about it, about my hesitation to pull over and retrieve it, about how I was clearly so attached to such a mundane object. The Buddha said that suffering comes from “clinging of mind”, and boy was my mind clinging to that hat!

I learned a valuable lesson that I’d like to pass along to you: We can become attached to our possessions quite easily, and often we are blind to the “little things” we cling to because we are so busy congratulating ourselves for not clinging to the “big things”!

I want you to think of a favorite little thing of yours. Maybe it’s a hat, a purse, or a pair of shoes. Maybe it’s a small painting or framed picture. Whatever it is, I’m sure by now your subconscious mind has provided you with an object. When you’re done reading this, I challenge you to seek out that object and place it promptly in the trunk of your car, whereupon you will deliver it to a thrift store or a homeless person as quickly as possible. If it’s not worth giving away, throw it away.

Lose your favorite hat. It’ll do you good!

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In Search Of Hidden Treasure & Fine Pearls

Most people I know seem fairly content. Personal conversations and Facebook posts reveal frustrations with day-to-day issues, and occasionally bigger-than-life problems pop up, but for the most part people seem content to live out their lives.

I’ve never been satisfied living that way. I wish I could; it would be far easier and less painful. But I’ve always felt like I was missing something hidden just behind the veil of day-to-day life.

Though I’m nothing like Saint Francis, Buddha, or Jesus Christ, I suspect these men felt the same way at some point in their lives. Saint Francis of Assisi was the son of a wealthy merchant; he should have inherited his father’s business and become a wealthy man in his own right. Instead he gave up his inheritance, left his father’s household, and became a pauper in search of that elusive “something”. Like Saint Francis, Buddha was an Indian prince who gave up his crown to become a pauper. He searched his whole life for that “something” which eludes most men. Jesus Christ should have been a carpenter like his father in the small town of Nazareth. He was never rich but he could have been relatively content to live out his days like everyone around him. Instead he gave up his father’s trade, became a homeless itinerant preacher, and ended up being crucified for his teachings. Jesus’ reason for his radical life change: Seeking to do the will of God. Those who lived alongside Jesus thought they already were doing the will of God in living out their day-to-day lives. No one else seems to have had the feeling that something else was going on and needed to be discovered…until he started to speak.

There is something hidden in this life, just out of the corner of our eyes. It’s not hidden in the pursuit of wealth, status, or power, so quit wasting your time with those things. Do you think it’s coincidence that the greatest spiritual leaders in the history of the world came to their discoveries only after giving up everything they had? Didn’t these men urge everyone to do as they had done? Jesus taught the principle this way: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46, ESV)

hey sold all they had to get it. They didn’t sell part of their possessions and they didn’t try to go on living a “normal” life; they threw everything away to gain what they found.

Do you feel like there’s something else out there for you to find, but everyone around you seems content to go to work, come home, watch TV, go to sleep, then do it all over again every day for the rest of their lives? Do you feel like you’re the only person you know who is searching for that “hidden treasure” in a field? I often feel this way as well, and it may be that you and I have the wrong friends and family; we may be hanging out with the wrong people. Jesus said that biological relationships are irrelevant, that true family are those who seek to do the will of God.

Unfortunately I can’t simply refer you to a church to find people who are searching for more. The “church” as we know it stopped being the true church the day Constantine made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire: We are free from persecution; we enjoy political protection and power; our tithes and offerings are tax deductible.  Many people in your church are just trying to get by; “church” has become part of their daily grind. Some of the people there want to be ministered to, and some are searching for money, prestige, or power. You may find others like you searching for “hidden treasure” in your church but you will have to look hard.

And don’t search only in your church. Remember what Jesus said: Your true family are those who seek to do the will of the Father. He didn’t say your true family are those who seek to be spiritual or religious. So look outside the church, even (gasp!) at people who aren’t Christians. Do you see people at work or the grocery store who are doing the will of God, even if they don’t know they’re doing it? These are the people you need to adopt as family.

Please don’t give up your search for God’s hidden treasure. I’m counting on you more than you know; some days I want to quit because I feel hopeless and lost. But when I see others searching for God, even just a few of you, I know my doubts and fears aren’t real but are simply a product of Satan’s work and my ego’s response to its own death.

So keep searching, and keep sharing the treasures you find.