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Posts Tagged ‘Community’

This past week, a friend asked me a very difficult but insightful question, “What is the biggest issue or crisis the church faces today?”  I did not have to think too long about my response.  Not because it is an easy question but because I have been wrestling with it for quite some time.

There are so many issues facing the church today – immigration, abortion, homosexuality, denominational bias and in-fighting.  But over the past few months, I have come to believe the greatest crisis we face today is perceived irrelevance.  The world does not see a need for the church – the body of Christ serves little or no purpose in the world in a growing percentage of minds around the globe.

Is it possible that post-modernity ushered in post-christianity?  When culture accepts the lie that there is no absolute truth, where does that leave the church?  The answer – – it leaves the church in a state of perceived irrelevance.  A culture that does not value truth sees no need for a system of organized beliefs.

We should not be surprised by the state in which we find ourselves as evangelical Christ followers.  What troubles me though is putting my finger on how we got here.  And more importantly, where do we go from here?

These are mammoth issues with no easy answers but I think complacency has something to do with how we got into this mess.  We have become too comfortable over the years.  All the years that church involvement was the social norm lulled us to sleep.  We did not have to work at reaching people and sharing the hope of Jesus – they were coming to us.  But regardless of whether you agree with my thoughts, the real issue is what do we do about it?

I believe that the first thing we should do in any situation where we face struggles is to seek God fully.  2 Chronicles 20 tells of a king named Jehoshaphat who, when faced with opposing armies coming at them from all directions, gathered the people together and in the presence of all gathered prayed to God.  And here is key point to his prayer: “We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on you.”  Maybe, when we find ourselves facing situations, we should whisper this prayer.

The church is not irrelevant.  It is God’s plan for communicating the hope of salvation to a world with no hope.  The church must continually be finding ways to share God’s truth in relevant ways.  The truth never changes but the way we share it must remain relevant.

As overwhelming as all this sounds, I have to be honest – it invigorates me.  God calls us to partner with him to reach our world and we have been gifted with talents and passions that, when used for the Kingdom, bring life and hope.  We can make a difference in our world.  We can affect change in the situation in which we find ourselves – – but not by our power and skill.  We are able to have impact because the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

God is still in control.

Will we be faithful?

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Do the Simple Things First

It is official.  We have moved past Thanksgiving and are now in the midst of the Christmas season.  Many have been in Christmas mode for weeks but I am one of those that does not want to short-change Thanksgiving by rushing past it too quickly.  So I am just now letting my thoughts move to Christmas.

As we begin this season together, let me offer one observation that I believe will make a huge difference in the season for us.  Do the simple things first.

We tend to rush to party planning, gift purchasing, sale catching and calendar juggling right off the bat.  Our minds (and the rest of us) get pulled into a completely different state and it is very easy to lose our focus on the reality that God became human in order to reach out to us and offer us deliverance.  We fall into the rat race and before we look up, we have survived another Christmas and its time to figure out how to pay for it.

Let me offer an age old tip to preventing this kind of Christmas season – do the simple things first.

  • Slow down
  • Spend time with God
  • Read scripture
  • Pray

Jesus said that when we do the simple things first – when we truly seek God and his righteousness – the rest of life will take care of itself.  When our focus is on Jesus as the light of the world and the savior of our lives, all the things that would normally overwhelm us take on new meaning or we realize they make no difference at all – either way, we will approach those things with the right attitude.

This Christmas season, don’t survive it – really live it.  And do that by doing the simple things first.

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Yesterday was Palm Sunday.  A day we remember as the day Jesus entered Jerusalem with his face set toward the cross.  The people who lined the streets on that Sunday had no idea of what was coming.  In fact, they were welcoming a king – the savior of the world who would restore Israel to its rightful place and banish Rome forever.

They cheered and sang praises.  They laid their coats down in the road as a sign of submission and praise.  It was a day electric with excitement and anticipation.

BUT . . .

Those same people, just a few days from then would be the same people yelling “Crucify him!”

This week we will be thinking about what Jesus endured that last week of his life here on earth.  Yes, Easter is coming.  The day of the resurrection is coming but between now and then we have to pass through some of the ugliest territory ever known to mankind.  We have to pass an open doorway and overhear plots to kill Jesus.  We have to look into the face of Judas as he decides to betray his friend and master.

We have to stand in the crowd as Jesus is tried and hear the screams of the people as they call for his execution.  Then we will witness that horrific event on Friday, when Jesus was beaten and murdered.

Yes, Sunday is coming, but we must not rush past this week.  True, it is not for the faint of heart, but it is necessary for us to linger here just a bit – pausing to remember.  Stopping long enough to feel the gratitude we must feel for what Jesus willingly did for each of us!

Stay with me!

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