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Archive for April, 2014

There is so much going on at the church, it has been difficult for me to sit still long enough to devote much time to my ramblings here.  We celebrated a wonderful Easter season and then moved right into some much needed facility renovations that have consumed much of my time.  But progress is a wonderful thing and the changes that are coming about to our facility are going to make a huge difference for years and years to come.

Taking walls down and changing the look of the facility has caused me to pause and think about the last 60 or so years in the life of the church.  The facility looks much the same today as it did when it was constructed in the early 1950’s.  It has served our family and our community well.  Countless lives have been impacted by the ministry of our church and the facilities have played a major role in that impact.

But times change.  Culture changes.  What was relevant many years ago, does not carry the same weight today.  So things must change – ministry needs require adaptation.  We still have wonderful facilities but in order for them to be used effectively, we need to shift a bit and make a few changes here and there in order to utilize what God has given us to the best of our ability.

As I have thought about the renovations, I have thought about how each of us face decisions regarding adaptation.  We are called to make disciples.  But the tools we used 20 years ago, may not be effective today.  We have to be willing to strive to remain relevant – and that is a challenge.  We like things to stay the same.  We like to hold on to things.  We often resist change – particularly if it effects us personally.

Jesus did not die on the cross to save me for a life of comfort.  He died to call me out of my sin and into a life of service and devotion to him.  That service is a life of sharing the good news of his mercy and hope with others.  It is not a calling that we grow out of or that has a time limit.  If we are still drawing breath, we are still called to impact other for Christ.

Are there areas of your life that need to adapt in order to make a greater impact for Christ possible?

Think about it.

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I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the aftermath of Easter.  We spent weeks moving up to that glorious day.  We spent days during Holy Week stopping at the foot of the cross and looking straight into the face of Jesus as he suffered and died.  And then Resurrection day finally came and we celebrated the fact that there is an empty tomb – Jesus is alive – he is alive indeed.

But now we find ourselves back in the routine.  Life as normal has replaced intense focus on Jesus.

So my question is “Were we serious about Jesus last week or was it just holiday hype?”

I ran across a quote yesterday from Jim Denison.  He made the statement that “Easter is not intended to be an event but a lifestyle.”   What a great way to state it.  We have life today because of the resurrection.  We have hope today because death couldn’t hold him.  We can’t hold these truths of our faith hostage to a holiday that happens once per year.  We have to live as if we believe it every single day.

Live your life today as if Jesus is alive.

Because he is!

 

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Can you hear the laughter?  Can you see the excitement on their faces?  The guys just watched him run those money hungry worship distorters from the courts of the temple.  They can sense that it is happening (of course, they don’t really know what “it” is).  Finally, after three years, Jesus is going to usher in his rule – his kingdom.  All their sacrifice, all their time spent learning from this great man is about to pay off.

Now he tells them to get ready for the big celebration meal.  He gives instructions for what they need and sends a few of them off to get started.  In a few hours they will gather in the vacant room and celebrate together.

Listen to the excitement in their voices.  It’s happening – it’s finally happening.

But what comes next sets them back.

Walk with them today and try and feel what they felt.

It will be a very long day!

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If God Were Human

If God were human, would God . . .

age?

feel pain?

feel joy?

feel sorrow?

get frustrated?

get hungry?

get tired?

die?

The answer to each of these questions is YES!  I know this because God did become human.  Jesus – God’s one and only son – took on flesh and walked this earth as a man.  He experienced every emotion and temptation we face – but did it without falter and with no sin.

Jesus felt frustrated, even anger at times.  He felt joy and fatigue.  But the one emotion we need to focus on at this time of year is that Jesus felt sorrow.

Jesus knew the cross was God’s plan.  He knew that to fulfill his mission on earth, he had to endure the shame, humiliation and pain that came with such an agonizing death.  But he had a choice.  At any point, he could have decided humanity was just not worth it.

But through that emotional agony and deep sorrow, he focused on the joy of what fulfilling his mission would bring.

As we approach Easter and look forward to the celebration of an empty tomb, don’t rush too quickly past the pain and suffering that Christ endured for you and for me on his way to that empty tomb.

Be blessed!

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Today, I am asking for you feedback.  Yesterday, I discussed the state of the church today and left the post with the haunting question of whether or not what we call church today is what God intended it to be.  In yesterday’s post, I quoted Jim Denison’s statement that “Rather than measuring success by how many people go to church, let’s measure success by how effectively the church goes to people.”

I am continuing to wrestle with this idea.  So today, I am asking for you input.  Comment here or email me your thoughts on what this would look like.

If we were to try and measure the effectiveness of the church going to people, what would success look like?

I look forward to your thoughts.

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Yesterday, I was reading a daily blog post from Jim Denison.  You can link to it here.  Jim writes each weekday with relevant and timely postings dealing with our faith, our world and how the two interact.

Yesterday, his post caught my attention and has had my thoughts on house arrest since.  The title of the post was, “51% of U.S. Adults Say Church Is Not Important.”  For a pastor, the title alone caught my eye.  I wish I could say it was new information.  I have read these statistics before and even worse, I see it in my own community and church.

The information in his article comes primarily from the Barna Group which is known for statistical research within the faith community.  There are stats dealing with age characteristics that say that the older generations are more tied to the church than the younger – again, not necessarily new news.  But one comment opened my eyes a bit.  There is a new perception among Americans about what constitutes “regular church attendance.”  Regular church attendance used to be defined as attending 3 or 4 times per month.  Now, the new perception of what constitutes “regular” is attending church once in 4 to 6 weeks.  While this is shocking to see it in print, the reality is, we see it every week in our churches – we just haven’t quantified it.

The old school can sit back, cross arms and look down noses with pious attitudes toward the derelict society but that does nothing to encourage church attendance – in fact, it has the opposite effect.

Jim makes a very audacious suggestion at the end of the post.  He says, “Rather than measuring success by how many people go to church, let’s measure success by how effectively the church goes to people . . . Our Lord launched a movement, not an institution.  His church is an army attacking the gates of hell, not an ark built to weather the storm.”

For years, I have seen the church as a huge machine that humanity has built that now must be maintained.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the church.  I believe the church is God’s plan A to redeem mankind.  But I have to wonder if what we call church today is what God intended.

Something to ponder . . .

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