Monday, April 28, 2014

On The Same Team

I was asked a question last week about how I felt about other churches close to where I live and serve.

A little bit of background, there are two very large churches within twenty miles of my church. They are both doing very well and have decided to create new campuses for their respective churches, each in my town not far from my church. My friend was wondering what our church thinks about this.

For most people the knee-jerk reaction is "competition". Someone else trying to do the same thing we are in our area, how dare they. But for me, great! Why? Because we're all on the same team. If we start seeing other churches as competition, we've missed it. We should all be working together anyway. As Paul wrote:

Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose. ~ Philippians 2:1-2 (LB)

I know the churches who are coming in, I even know a few of their ministers personally. And I also know one other thing. 80% of my community does not attend church on Sunday morning. I can either view the other churches as competition, or we can all work together to make that number smaller and help them know there is a loving God who wants to restore them to a place of relationship with Him.

Maybe we should all try working together...


Monday, April 21, 2014

The Day After Easter

So here we are. We've spent the day at church, family parties, mowing the lawn, whatever it is we did to celebrate Easter. And we're back to the way things were.

Which is completely the wrong way to look at Easter.

For too many people, Easter is an end. It's a completion. Jesus said "it is finished" on the cross, and now it's done. He's back, grace is here, we went to church. We're done.

But if Easter was meant to be the end, Jesus would have made it the end. He would have rose from the dead with a grandiose gesture and made sure everyone saw what He had done. Then He would have said, "It's done. Thanks. See ya!" and rose to heaven right away. He didn't do that. He spent the next 50 days walking around, talking with people, giving hope and instruction.

Easter was not the end.

Easter is the beginning.

Easter is where new life is supposed to begin. All the teaching Christ gave before Easter was to prepare us for life after His triumph over the grave, without that the teaching meant nothing. Instead of celebrating Easter as an end, grace has won, we're done, it's supposed to be the start of a new life. We being anew in grace, we have a gospel to share, a life to invite people to start living, one that we start living into ourselves. If anything, today, the day after Easter, is the first day of our new lives.

So as we reflect on the weekend, don't let it be the end. Don't let it be a past celebration. Let it be the start of a new life in Christ. And let it be one we share with everyone around us.

Since you became alive again, so to speak, when Christ arose from the dead, now set your sights on the rich treasures and joys of heaven where he sits beside God in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here. You should have as little desire for this world as a dead person does. Your real life is in heaven with Christ and God.  ~ Colossians 3:1-3 (LB)


Monday, April 14, 2014

Passover Dinner

Last night sr. high students from Fire & Water celebrated a Passover dinner. It wasn't quite as solemn as I expected, but that's the fun of working with teenagers.

I think the big impact for me was the recognition of tradition. This is a meal that has been celebrated by billions of people over the course of 3500 years. Moses ate this dinner. King David ate this dinner. On the night that He was betrayed, Jesus ate this dinner with His disciples. It's this idea that people still eat this same meal down to what is served and what is said all to remember an amazing and mighty act of God.

What if every time God did something amazing in our lives, we created a personal celebration to remember it? What if every Sunday morning we approached worship with a sense of understanding that what we are doing has been in some form or another celebrated for thousands of years every single week by a huge population of our planet? What if every time we took communion we remembered that Jesus Himself started this tradition?

If you get a chance to this week, join a Passover dinner. You may be surprised at what you learn about God and about yourself.


Monday, April 07, 2014


Thursday we had the pleasure of waking up to a downpour and thunderstorm (when I say "waking up to", I really mean "woken up by around 5:45am"). In addition to that I was lucky enough to see the water start to gather in my backyard as well as on the sides of the house.

I have the pleasure of living in a part of town that floods quite often. There's a park near my house at the bottom of the hill, it's now a lake. The roads had water gathering on them and I'm guessing some will be closed by the time I have to go home. That's part of the fun of where I live, there is limestone just a few feet under the earth so any water that falls has no place to go. It will just sit and rise.

There are many floods mentioned in the Bible (one that is now a major motion picture, and from what I hear, the flood is the only part of the story they got right), and the word is almost always used in a scary way. Once in a while a translation will say a room was flooded with light. Other than that, flooding always means death and destruction. One of the most popular flood mentioned is the Nile river, which floods every year. Sometimes it's even mentioned as an example of an army attacking, like the Nile flooding over the land.

But there's one verse that's different:

And the waters of the Nile will fail to rise and flood the fields; the ditches will be parched and dry, their channels fouled with rotting reeds. All green things along the riverbank will wither and blow away. All crops will perish; everything will die. The fishermen will weep for lack of work; those who fish with hooks and those who use the nets will all be unemployed. The weavers will have no flax or cotton, for the crops will fail. Great men and small—all will be crushed and broken. ~ Isaiah 19:5-10 (LB)

Sometimes flooding is necessary. I have been to an area of the Mississippi that floods every year, and that flood deposits moisture rich silt and nutrients for miles and miles allowing crops to grow. The destruction that comes in the spring is crucial to the food and crops in the fall. Without devastating floods, many peoples of the world would starve.

Next time life seems like it's flooding all around you and you're to the brink of drowning, realize this may be necessary to fertilize something amazing in your future. It's horrible to be in the flood, but what the flood produces later could be amazing and bountiful.