Monthly Archives: November 2009

Recovering Evangelical

Today marks the first day of the new Christian year, the first day of Advent. This has never been a big deal in my life since it was never taught in church or school. Christmas…it was the 25th with a candlelight service on the 24th. Done. Many times there might be a sermon series that would flow through December but there was never an Advent connection. In public school there was little talk from the few practicing Catholics about what was going on but it was always vague.

When speaking to many who have grown up in US Evangelicalism, I hear the very same story. We have no understanding of the Christian calendar or what it represents. This has led me to start learning about the organization of the calendar year and what the historical church has taught regarding how we worship God in the midst of the seasons. There are many babies that have been thrown out while dumping the water over the previous centuries and one of those has been the Christian calendar.

As for me and my house…I want this to change.

There is much to be learned from history. There is much to be learned from those who have gone before and who have been proven worthy of our respect and honor. I know that idea scares many of us but we need to look to these people who have gone before and look to them for wisdom. This wisdom is not of their own but from God and we do not worship Him when we do not honor them.

 I’m always having discussions with myself as to what Luther, Calvin and others would think of Christians of today. This is not to say that I wear a WWLutherD bracelet but I do wonder what he would say. Would he even recognize our gathered worship services? What would he say about our daily Scripture intake?

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Try following the Christian calendar for one year and see what happens. Today is the day to begin. Let us look forward to Christ.

-Cheers

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Living On Purpose

This is an article from Jonathan Dodson, pastor of Austin City Life in TX. I wanted to be able to see the words more than a link so that is why I have pasted it here. We can say a lot with our lips but are we actually willing to engage?

At Austin City Life Mission is our churchwide focus this quarter. We preached through a six sermon series on Mission: the point of the church. The first three sermons focused on motivation for mission; the second three sermons were on practicals for mission. Here’s how we trained our people on Sunday morning for everyday mission. We advocated doing “everyday things with gospel intentionality” (phrase from Total Church) by using some memorable phrases and attaching stories to them.

Don’t Eat Alone. Last time I checked we all eat at least three meals a day. Most Christians eat them alone or with other Christians. What would it look like for you to intentionally share meals with non-Christians. To get to know them over food? 21 meals a week, just start with one meal a week. I challenge you, 1 out of 21. Share it with non-Christians and be intentional. Don’t hide your faith but don’t force it either. Live with gospel intentionality in your meal eating.

Be a Regular. One family in our church are regulars at a coffeeshop where they have gotten to know the staff. As they got to know them, they invited the staff over for pizza and got to connect outside of work. This has continued. This couple hangs out with some of the staff regularly now. One girl drops by their house and just hangs out. Apparently she’s pretty down on the Church, but she’s willing to hang out with a family that shares, shows, and embodies the gospel. They even have spiritual conversations sometimes. Now, this would have never happened if they weren’t regulars. It wouldn’t have happened if they were normal regulars, treating the staff as workers, people who exist to serve the customer. Instead, they treat them as people who have worth outside of work, people who have fears and dreams that only the gospel can sufficiently address. They loved them; not just used them. It’s not just being a regular but a redemptive regular who bring grace into everyday life.

Hobby with the City. Ever notice how churches tend to create their own Christian version of hobbies in their city? If they like to cycle, then instead of joining one of the countless Austin cycling clubs, they create at Christian cycling club! Instead of joining a Run-Tex club, they form a Christian running club. Church League sports. It’s pathetic. Instead of joining a city league, churches create their own leagues so they can play one another! One guy in our church cycles regularly with city club. He participates with the city, shares a common hobby. He hasn’t joined a Christian cycling club; he just hopped into one that already exists. Over the miles they cycle together the talk about life. He gets to share, show, and embody the gospel with them. He’s had some of his cycling buddies over for dinner. Another example. There’s a group of women in our church who hobby with the city by throwing girly parties–Crafts, Bunko, Baby showers. It’s not a Christian party; it’s a good party. All the women bring food, hang out, play games, and share life, stay late. Lots of good conversations and social connections. These women are hobbying with the city.

Be a Good Neighbor. Another person in our church has been very deliberate about getting out of their house. They walk the neighborhood. Walk to the mailbox instead of drive over. Play with their kids in front yard instead of the back, and engage their neighbors in conversation. Over time, the neighbors have warmed to hearing the gospel because they were loved and accepted first. One guy, a committed postmodern, theist, homosexual recently had a crisis. Partner left, his health is in decline, some pretty big issues. Who did he call? That neighbor. Why? Because that neighbor consistently loved him and listened to him. He got to show, share, and embody the gospel over and over again. This neighbor hangs with his family and has come to the Parish. Why? Because he had a good neighbor. Be a good neighbor.

Serve Your City. We brought someone up to share about a recent missional project with a non-profit. The answered these questions as they told the story and shared pictures with the church.

  • What is Safeplace/non-profit? Who do they serve, details?
  • What did we do? Where was the need?
  • What kind of people did it take?
  • How did is demonstrate the gospel?
  • How were people affected?
  • How you can do this by being a part of a City Group?

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It’s Not Over

I am sad. Sad because of what I am seeing. Facebook and twitter are lit up. Blogs everywhere, and especially in Maine, are dripping with hate. Words are used. Attitudes are held. Fists are tightened. Lines are drawn.

I wish I knew which way Jesus would have voted on Tuesday. As I stood there at the Hollis fire barn with pen in hand, I prayed. I prayed that I would be true to my conscience which ultimately is the Holy Spirit. I prayed that God would give me one last measure of wisdom before I connected the arrow. I was literally shaking as I left the booth. Did I vote in honor of Jesus or not?

I know that most if not all of you are sure that there was only one way that honored God. And I have close friends who either would have, or did, vote both ways. Yes or no. No or Yes. There were a lot of issues that pressed on my decision. How the law in question was passed, how the Church is treated in that law, whether it mattered one way or the other…does this law change my role as a follower of Jesus Christ?

What I am seeing now is cause for concern. When facebook and twitter glow with praise that ‘our side won’ I immediately thought of the people dancing in the street on 9/11. I know it is much different, I am not trying make a connection other than that is where my mind went. “Down with those who do not believe as we do!” I’m having a hard time finding where it is our job to create a nation politically, in order to save people. I realize it is our job as Christians to vote…but in the words of Ron Sargent…”Change lives not laws.” And before the other guys get all excited…could you please give us a status or a blog without swearing or accusing of hate and bigotry? Is that all you have? The hate that spews/flows/gushes…can’t think of a strong enough word here…is astounding. I’m sure no one will remember this the next time it comes up for voting…which I am sure it will soon. Speaking of the next time. I wonder if the wording will be as kind to churches next time it is written and passed? Makes me wonder if it was as bad as people thought…will it be worse next time? No ‘clause’ protecting churches?

May the grace of Christ cover us all.

-Cheers

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Filed under Current Events, Current Thoughts, Societal Impact

November Is Here

In case you hadn’t noticed the previous posts; November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. This month I hope you will take some time to do something extra in order to support the people whose lives have been changed by this disease as well as those who work to end it.

Here are 10 things that you can do to take action in November. Make sure you notice #3 as a simple way to help and make your voice known and heard.

I know sometimes it is hard to focus on anything other than the 54 shopping days until Christmas as of today. I know that Target for one had Christmas stuff/junk/decorations right next to the Halloween decorations. I can only assume that Thanksgiving will get less space than Halloween received. While it is hard, I would encourage us all to focus on what we have…or don’t have. We have an opportunity to do something this month that we normally wouldn’t have done.

This is the time I start writing a tear jerking paragraph about how we need to be thankful and thinking of others…blah blah blah. You have heard that before. You know what should be written. Instead of reading and feeling sappy and teary…let’s go do something. Use purple frosting and be ready when people ask you why you did it, buy a purple tie and wear it every week, give money…do something. I will be adding some specific ideas as the month goes on and I hope to reach all kinds of people with the ideas. Feel free to leave some for all of us in the comments section.

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