Steve Macchia Blog

Toddlers and Tiaras?!

I was shocked to discover some of the names of current “reality” television shows, including Toddlers and Tiaras (yes, very young girls being paraded in front of judges in beauty pageant glamour). Or, how about Extreme Couponing; Hoarding: Buried Alive; Real Housewives (of Orange County, New Jersey, or New York); 16 and Pregnant; My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding; 19 Kids and Counting; Bachelor; and Bachelorette; just to name a few. Anyone else out there flabbergasted or appalled by this phenomenon?

If these shows truly depict “reality” and viewers are flocking to them by the tens of thousands, then I’m not quite sure what the word “reality” has become in our day. Are these shows depicting your reality?

When I sit with leaders young and old I hear about their daily reality. Issues in real life encompassing topics such as relational challenges, physical limitations, vocational pursuits, spiritual desires, and financial needs. Each person or team is seeking answers to deep, lingering questions about the real God reaching into their real worlds and transforming them from the inside out. Reality for them is much more about the daily grind, the road less traveled, and the miles yet ahead of them on this journey we call life.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most relevant response to the realities we all face today. Whether your swimming in a turbulent sea of confusion or climbing a formidable mountainous challenge or enjoying the delightful winds of blessing, the Lord is desirous of entering smack dab into the center of your experience. He’s there to minister grace in times of conflict, peace in times of trouble, and joy in times of blessing. No matter what your reality is today, our great and awesome God is delighted to be listened to, called upon, and invited in. it’s in our reality where he longs to reign supreme and aid us in defining what Christ-centered reality looks like.

Let’s shift our attention from reality television and focus on the real issues of those who surround us today. Toddlers don’t need tiaras, they need childhood playfulness without the pressure to perform. Adults don’t need tiaras either, they need the hope of the gospel and the joy of knowing Jesus as central to every aspect of their lives. Define your reality around that which matters most, and not by what will rust, rot, or ruin life as it’s meant to be fulfilled….so that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter2:9).

Like Father Like Son

Father’s Day 2011 has come and gone. It was a great day in our household, with the family gathered together for good food and fun…one of our better ones, I might add!

As the day comes to a close, I’m reminiscent of my own father, who nearly a decade ago quietly entered eternal rest after nearly nine decades of abundant life. I’m grateful for my dad, who sacrificially provided for his family and raised us in many great ways. My siblings and I are close today, and often look back with fondness to our upbringing.

My father and I were/are very imperfect dads. We have many tangible and intangible gifts to offer our children, but also lots of flaws, idiosyncrasies, and deficiencies. However, we’ve given it our best shot as husbands and fathers in our households. I trust my children will remain thankful for the good and forgive me for the rest. It’s been an awesome ride so far!

I suppose a growing awareness of my own imperfections make me all the more grateful for my completely perfect Heavenly Father. My favorite image of Father God is as a Prodigal God, waiting on the porch of heaven for us to come to our senses and head back home. I absolutely love the image of the Father running compassionately in the direction of the Prodigal Son, fully prepared to welcome him home. He embraces his son, kisses him, puts a robe over his shoulders, a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet, skewers a fatted calf, throws a party in his behalf, and celebrates his son’s homecoming. Luke 15: 11-32 leaps off the pages of Holy Scripture and lands squarely in my heart each time I read it!

When others in the body of Christ are dismissing the significance of God as Father, I not only bristle at such a thought, but stand in defense of a Trinitarian understanding of God, FATHER, Son and Holy Spirit. As a child of God, the image of a loving, steadfast, true, gracious, forgiving, redeeming, almighty God is what I long to embody myself. How else will I grow to become more like Him unless the Father is Who I seek to emulate? Like Father Like Son (or Daughter)…that’s how I want to be known and remembered. How about you?

First and Best Gift

At Pentecost Jesus followed through on his promise: “If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:37-39). After Jesus is taken up into heaven, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2: 4). This was to fulfill what the prophet Joel spoke of long before, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people…” (Joel 2:28).

Jesus’ fulfilled promise to his disciples not to leave them as orphans (John 14) was his first and best gift after leaving them in fleshly attire…he satisfied his pledge by sending the Spirit. In one accord, they rang out praise, rejoicing in various tongues, and through the sound of a mighty wind the Spirit enveloped their presence. Amazed and perplexed, they were astonished by the power of God and united by the Spirit. The first century Church is born and as a result of this great gift God “makes known the path of life, filling his people with joy in his presence” (Acts2:28 taken from Psalm 16:8). They were now fully prepared to make the invisible Christ visible to the world around them.

So often we go through the motions on holy days like Pentecost Sunday and we forget the significance of the promise fulfilled and the gift granted by God himself. Through the spoken words and fulfilled promises of Jesus, the people of God are given the Spirit to guide, sustain, empower, and renew them from the inside out. We have been given the best gift of all – the Holy Spirit. His role in our lives is what transforms us into new creatures in Christ Jesus. The Spirit longs to be acknowledged by his children, invited to reign supreme in our hearts, and released to bear fruit through the gifts he has entrusted to our care.

What is your response to the first and best gift by the glorified Christ? May you receive the Holy Spirit with joy, bow in humble adoration, rejoice with thanksgiving, and live victoriously and abundantly in the Spirit – today and forever! Alleluia!

Great Meadows

One of my Sabbath activities today included an hour of walking through Great Meadows in Concord (MA). It’s one of my favorite destinations for exercise, reflection and prayer. Great Meadows is a National Wildlife Refuge, teeming with habitat…including a delightful diversity of birds, waterfowl (mallards and ducks), as well as deer, muskrats, red fox, raccoons, rabbits, beaver, squirrels, and a variety of other mammals, amphibians and reptiles. It’s a beautiful place for seasonal photography and bird-watching, with fabulous hiking around the water-drenched meadow adjacent to the Concord River.

Today as I entered the meadows I nearly stepped on a small, fist-sized turtle. Since I was moving at a clip I didn’t pay too much attention to his presence at the time. Instead, I kept walking, listening to my favorite Christian music on my iPod, and enjoying the sunshine of the afternoon as it glistened on every ounce of magnificence around me. Nearly an hour later, as I was on my way back to the car, I noticed that turtle in the same vicinity as before. This time I stopped to take a closer look at his color (dark black shell and red stripes along his neck and legs) and observe his sedentary place on the sandy walkway. I’m not sure how much he had moved since I first glanced his way, but certainly not too much…he must not have been in a rush.

I on the other hand had calculated my timing in the Meadow. I knew when I arrived how much time I had to walk, and be sure to get back to the car in time to get home and fulfill my family obligations for the remainder of the day.

Even though today was our Sabbath, I still found myself moving at a good pace, with several items to accomplish and activities to experience. Had my life been more like the turtle I’m confident I’d be much more content with fewer things on the list. Instead, I found myself all wrapped up in the muchness and moreness and manyness of life – even on a Sabbath afternoon. As a result, I missed attending to the richness of a quiet moment along the pathway, pondering the multiple gifts that surround me and the abundance of the spiritual life within.

I’m already looking forward to the next time I get over to Great Meadows. Perhaps I’ll take advantage of one of the lovely benches along the pathway…I’m sure they’re put there for a reason! Thanks, Mr. Turtle.