Briefly Noted: God's People Love Their Neighbor Like Jesus

A religious leader came up to Jesus. He had a question and called him teacher. But his invisible motives are made clear through Scripture's inspiration--he was coming to test Jesus. He asked, what's the greatest commandment? Jesus quoted part of Deuteronomy 6, saying to love God with our whole self is the first and greatest commandment. Then Jesus said "and" ... apparently the greatest commandment has an inherent implication. Jesus said, the second is like it, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself." 

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Jason Helveston
Familiar Yet Wondrous

Nearly every Sunday I walk ten minutes to a coffee shop. My route takes me through a cross-section of my neighborhood--passed as many newly constructed homes as vacant storefronts with nothing left to tell the story but former company names hanging over the front door. I sit at a table with my sermon notes, my Bible, and a cup of coffee. Usually I only have about an hour before I walk to the school where our church meets on Sunday mornings. It’s one of my favorite hours of my week. 

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Jason Helveston
Discipling Children on the Body, Shame, Sexuality, and the Good News of Jesus

Raising kids is always difficult. At a basic level, parenting is a conflict of wills--the will of a parent and the will of a child. This tension is enough to produce countless premature gray hairs, sleepless nights, and heated conversations. However parenting is more difficult still. After all we do not raise children in sterilized vacuums of culture, we raise them in a maze of cultures and social complexities. Therefore every day as moms and dads we are battling the genuineness of our own will, the development of our children's will, and the prevailing pressures of a surrounding world whose collective will rarely seems to make our jobs any easier.

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Jason Helveston
THE POWER OF GIVING UP POWER

When I was in high school my friends called me "white boy" ... a lot. On the east side of San Jose few areas were truly segregated. Filipinos, Mexicans, Vietnamese, African-American, White, and many more groups of people all made up our brilliantly diverse side of the city. To be sure there were certain pockets in which the ratios would change and other places where money carved deep scars in neighborhood maps, but growing up nestled up to the east foothills I found myself in predominantly multi-ethnic environments.

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Jason Helveston
THE MISSING MASTERPIECE

People were laying in the street, no one could drive through. Milwaukee Avenue is a main thoroughfare cutting diagonally through my neighborhood on the west side of Chicago (please remember I just called my neighborhood "the west side"). And it was on Milwaukee that dozens of people blocked traffic demonstrating with a message painted on a large canvas sign stretched from one end of the street to the other: "El Barrio No Se Vende". I don't think you need a single session of my seven-year-Spanish education to understand the message: "The Neighborhood Is Not for Sale". (For the record and to my shame, I'm not even close to fluent nor even appropriately conversational in Spanish.) And I don't think I need to further describe the tension this created when I tell you that due to the hundreds of cyclists that make their way downtown on Milwaukee everyday, this avenue is known as "hipster highway" to locals.

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Jason Helveston
THE GREAT WHITE ASSUMPTION

The school bell rang. A steady stream of Filipino students flooded the elementary school yard and flowed to the entrance where parents and grandparents were waiting to walk home. And in the middle of this daily exodus were two white dots—me and Jake, my older brother. Many of our friends had never seen a white kid. I hadn’t either (I’ll explain in a minute). So their curiosity compelled them to poke our pale skin and pull our blonde hair. 

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"What Worries You Masters You" (Remembering Dr. Haddon Robinson)

It's difficult to express the influence Haddon Robinson has had on my life and preaching. In fact, I'm sure I don't even know the depth of it. After all his preached words and ministerial ways have been instrumental in the shaping of a great majority of the ministry leaders and preachers who have influenced me and my generation--whether we know it or not. Countless books on homiletics use his theories and "big idea" construct as their foundation. So it's nearly impossible to comprehend let alone describe how Dr. Robinson has impacted me. 

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Jason Helveston
When Fads Become Foundations

I’ve embraced my share of fads. Most notably sporting multiple WWJD bracelets in the 90s, shaving a Nike Swoosh in my hair in junior high, and currently buttoning the top button of my collard shirts (sans a tie). Generally speaking a fad is a widely shared enthusiasm—person, place, or thing—that is usually short-lived and has little consideration for quality. In other words few fads aim for endurance but are simply pleased to be popular. And as I hope you will tell from my own admission (and yours!) fads are not merely an issue with prevailing pop-culture but more alarmingly within religious Church culture. 

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Jason Helveston
Diving In ... to CPS (GUEST POST, Laura Helveston)

Three years ago my husband, Jason, and I moved our young family from San Jose, CA to Chicago, IL. Jason and I are dreamers and community contributors so change is energizing for both of us (most of the time). We are deeply passionate about life as city dwellers, as you may have noticed, so as fresh Chicagoans we were hopeful about the life we would begin in our new favorite city. 

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Jason Helveston
A New Blogging Season

A single issue has remained familiar to me in the years I've been writing--inconsistency. As husband, father, pastor, writer, preacher, friend, human, and (real talk) general motivation--nothing vastly unique or significantly more than anyone else--I've failed to maintain a faithful habit of writing. To be candid, having written a book and currently working on a second, I feel pressure to produce. Please understand, this is not merely a negative pressure; I find great joy in creating, shaping, and sharing ideas through the written word. Something fills in me while making and producing ... perhaps you can relate. I love writing! So I've been longing to find an approach that creates a healthy rhythm of production and rest, while doing my best not to leave readers hanging.

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Washed Clean

Kimberly is devastatingly sweet. Her likability may only be outdone by her fashion sensibility. Without fail she exemplifies her profession every time I see her—she is a stage designer. She became good friends with my wife, Laura and they regularly enjoyed conversations and walks down the street between our apartments. Their friendship opened up Kimberly to not only share her joy, but also her pain. Though her husband, Sean used to be a pastor they only sporadically attended our church. Actually, Sean came once. Soon we discovered the weight of his “shameful actions” were too much for church leadership to help them carry, so they were asked to leave. Kimberly’s woundedness was complicated by her community’s unwillingness to extend grace and understanding. Our friend felt dirty and damaged. 

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Rest Takes Work

Fridays are my day off. Within Christian circles we might call it a Sabbath or day of rest. Mine is on Friday; I know, not Sunday. We pastors have an ironic relationship with Sundays—“the official day of rest” is perhaps our most tiring of the week. Though this is quickly changing, historically Sundays have been set aside for rest—inside and outside the church. Shops used to be closed. Deliveries took a break. And people generally paused too. However with a decreasing inclination to allow religious principles (whatever those are) dictate social norms, Sundays are becoming just another day. And so we may still have “the weekend” but few have rhythmic rest. But if we’re honest the real issue is not a society full of non-religious norms, rather our ailment lies much deep. And if I can be honest, we pastors are often the chief of sinners.

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Jason HelvestonComment
Four Promises for Eastertime

Promises are powerful. Whether a parent promises to come their kid's baseball game or I promise my wife I will love her and be true to her "until death do us part” … promises are powerful. With words we regularly attempt to assure those around us of our character or behavior, particularly as it relates to the future. So making promises is a primary way our love and invisible qualities are revealed. But every promise involves risk. We risk words not become reality. And so when promises are made we decide whether we will organize our lives differently as a result. Either way—whether or not promises are kept—when we change our expectations or behaviors or plans our relationships are effected deeply. The more promises are made, trusted, and kept the stronger a relationship becomes. The opposite is also true. When promises are made and not kept our relationships grow weaker. This is our primary motivation for making and refrain from making or trusting in promises—we either want to strengthen our relationships or we are fearful to commit and risk harming them. Promises are powerful. 

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Jason HelvestonComment
Life is Hard, But God is Good

Life is hard. No matter who we are, we all experience difficulty. To be sure, the degree of life’s severity differs from person to person. As I write this, many around the world are experiencing heartbreaking realities (I am thinking most immediately of those affected by war in Aleppo and Mosul and the thousands of refugees seeking asylum around the world). 

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Jason HelvestonComment
Learning to Commit and Die

We had only known each other six months. But on the shore of Lake Michigan, I asked Laura to marry me and she said “yes.” Without a hitch, the popular passion of engagement hit me immediately. We called everyone and relived each moment with all of our friends and family from start to finish. However, something else hit me almost as quickly. As much as I was absolutely taken by this woman, within a few days I felt my feelings sink. That’s right, on the other side of proposing I was feeling my feelings change. 

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Jason HelvestonComment
Teaching Our Kids to Sing to Jesus

Before my wife and I put our children to sleep, we sing a song and pray. Recently, they started picking up our routine. My daughter sings along. My son mumbles noises shaped like the melody. They slightly bow their heads and say amen. I’m fully aware they are mostly unaware of the details and depth of the Christian faith woven through the song and prayer. But they are picking up on something.

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Jason HelvestonComment