Tag Archives: church

Baby Steps?

My youngest has been singing ever since gathered worship this morning. Power, power, wonder working power; of course it’s the Sean Dutton version not your typical piano/organ combo. It makes me happy to know that she is paying attention but it also is quite scary. You see, I am pretty sure that it the first time we have sung that song since she has been staying out with us before Sunday school. This means that she learned something after one hearing.

What does this mean for me? How many times has she heard me apologize to her after acting selfishly toward her? How many times has she heard me pray for our family? How many times has she heard me tell L that I love her? How many time has she heard so many of the things that will teach her more about the Gospel than any of the different versions of Daniel and the lions den. What she hears from my mouth regarding God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Gospel…all these things matter much more than buying her the newest kids Bible, or sending her off to Bible class, or even when she gets older – shipping her off to Youth Group. We sometimes think in terms that would label this as baby steps but in actuality they are the very steps that will be with you for your entire life. If you ever get to a point that you do not need to do this, you have actually retarded your understanding as opposed to strengthened your understanding. Live the Gospel in front of your children.

Why does she need to hear this from me? I am her father. This comes with great responsibility as well as the opportunity for great blessing. If you can’t remember the last time you apologized either IN FRONT of your child or TO your child; consider that a reason to go do it right now.

Being a parent is not able being perfect, it’s about sharing God’s grace in your life with your children.

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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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Mission

This past weekend at Lead09 was quite a trip. I kept oscillating between happiness and sadness as I saw both who was there, and who wasn’t. Knowing what the Gospel can do in the life of God’s church, I was saddened at the faces that I did not see there. Some are faces I would not expect to be there; but are saddened none the less. However, as I looked at the crowd of people who had gathered in Auburn, Maine to rededicate their lives to Gospel, Community, and Mission; I was given Joy from the Giver of Life to see people striving to live on mission for God. Both Tim Chester (blog) and Jonathan Dodson ( creation projectchurch planting novice), while under the power of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed Jesus’ name and called us to a life of worship through putting off the old and putting on the new.

Most if not all in attendance have many years of church experience, but not much Church experience. We were asked to put off church as an event and put on church as Gospel played out in community for God’s mission. These aren’t brand new themes, however, the point of the Gospel is easy to miss when we are not focused on Jesus.

Some favorite quotes from the weekend are as follows:

The burden of mission is laid on God, while the blessing of mission is given to us.

Christ did not die for ad hoc individuals

The church will never outperform the movies and t.v.

Pot luck dinners are an institutional answer to a communal question

The answer is always squirrel 

The key is beer and nametags

I look forward to Lead10 or whatever they call it next year. Maybe Lead 1 aught or Lead 1 nil or even Lead 1 love…either way I am looking forward to next year.

-Cheers

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red jumpsuits and yellow halos

Well dang. I was looking for a picture of a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. I wanted to make the point that many of us have that idea of spiritual warfare. You have one in your left and one in your right and you are constantly picking between the two. I can’t see it that way anymore. Why do we read the Bible and ignore the part about all the crazy stuff that happens? How do we read about the church in Ephesus and not notice it? Missionaries come to town with their ‘nutty’ stories and we doubt…yes you do, don’t try to wiggle out of it…we doubt either that it happened exactly like that ORthat it could happen here in the USA. I am starting to wonder how much is going on right here in Maine. Right here in Southern Maine that would scare the hoopty out of Sir Mix-a-Lot. I’m serious…what makes us think that it all stopped? I know our theology might say that tongues have stopped…so demons have too. Is that the rationale? No sure…all I know is that I have been taught for years, by ignoring the teaching on demons and spiritualwarfare that it isn’t an issue and it doesn’t exist anymore. It is the church version of passive-aggressive. We won’t talk about it…and it won’t be important. People will know that, but we won’t have to come out and say it. Quite similar to the middle finger of grammar that Stuff Christians Like spoke about. If you haven’t read that post…what are you waiting for?

I think much of the attitude is the idea that Christians can not be possessed by demons…so…we don’t need to care. Posses can mean own, dominate, or influence. Satan can not own us…there are too many Biblical promises for that. Influence…of course. Dominate…ugh. Well, can they or can’t they? Satan tried it with Jesus…so what wouldn’t he try it with us?

What is happening where we can’t see? Maybe Transformers aren’t the only things that are more than meets the eye.

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What Makes My Mind Work?

It Just Does
It Just Does

Ok seriously. As soon as I saw this picture I thought, this is a picture of my life as a Christian up until this point. Hairy, ugly, and lazy. Why you ask?…It just does.

What the heck are you talking about Coldwell? Well, I don’t know. I know what the Bible says. Why don’t I do what it says?…because like Matt Chandler says…I have learned truths faster than I have been able to apply them. So I was like a caveman sitting in a jacuzzi.
I was able to ‘make it’ in church. I had arrived. I got to the place in church where I had the respect of the leaders as an ‘up-and-comer’ ready to minister to the masses. I had the Bible degree and the training and it was a matter of time before things got big. Unfortunately I had no idea that my teeth were crooked, I needed a shave…BAD, and…I was a caveman! I was clueless to my actual condition. I had surrounded myself with yes-men who never called me out and said…”Hey, you smell and you need a shave!” I was educated beyond my ability to apply.
I had no idea what the grace of God meant or how the Gospel of Jesus Christ should/could impact my life. This book by D.A. Carson is blowing me up. It is showing me how much the Bible ultimately exposes sin and shows God’s grace by what Jesus did. It is time that I start shaving, get out of the jacuzzi, and relying on Jesus to apply His truths to my life.
I am about to do some study on Ephesians and the insane amount of spiritual warfare that Paul deals with in that book. When you read Acts 19 to see what happened there before you read the book, it blows up your understanding of the spiritual realm. We do not live in a dualistic earth. Our earthly bodies have a spiritual element that too many people/churches have ignored for too long. How much of what we suffer from is spiritual?…ok no preaching here just something that has been pressing my heart and it all came to life today after talking to a good friend. God is doing some things with me and I am scared/excited to see what is next.
I also wonder if I like this blog theme…I think I like the black better…
Cheers-

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CHRISTian

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. – Colossians 2:8

So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. – Matthew 15:6

It has been bugging me all season. I can’t keep it in any longer. Super-Christians are driving me crazy! You know the type. Just after Thanksgiving they start in. “This will be the year we focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas!” “We’re not going to let the ‘world’ take over Christmas.” Here’s the one that tops them all. “We’re going to put CHRIST back in CHRISTmas!” Ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little. Seriously, I know I have said it in the past when I was under the influence of religion, however I do believe that I was slipped a micky for the last one. The reason I get so upset is that when looking back on this holiday we see nothing but the manger. I do believe it is a great time to reflect as the calendar gives us a great opportunity to do so, but to say that this is OUR holiday as if we didn’t steal it first? History lesson…winter solstice has been a huge party in almost every civilization. Centuries ago in Britain this holiday was like Mardi Grasand Halloween combined…x30. What is now called carolling…was once a drunken mob that would sing songs that would make you blush while going from house to house looting. The Greeks used to hold a week long celebration of self-indulgence. The church decided that we needed to holi-fy this time so we came up with Jesus’ birthday. Conveniently placed on the one season that most definitely would NOT have been when Jesus was born. Don’t even get me started about how Santa Claus was a response BY the church!

So, how then do we respond? Christmas is what it is. I am not advocating a reformation of Christmas. I enjoy Advent, Christmas and even Epiphany this year…however, it’s all tradition. Tradition I tell you! Our Christmas traditions are like whate washed tombs…nice on the outside but inside they are filled with dead men’s bones! Who are we to demand that ‘they’ put Christ back in Christmas? “We need more ‘real’ Christmas songs”, I heard someone declare the other day. Oh?…REAL Christmas songs? Would those be the drunken bar tunes people would sing at they demanded food?…or do you mean the ones that make you feel better than other people as you sing about baby Jesus in golden fleece diapers?

Forget about Christmas…I want to put Christ back in CHRISTian! That is where I struggle, that is where my sin sits. When I read Romans I don’t see  our position before God having anything to do with redeeming holidays. I don’t read Colossians 2:20-23 and see our lust for an old-fashioned Christmas as anything but self made religion. As I sat here in my seat a few weeks ago I caught myself thinking about what I could do this year to make this a meaningful Christmas. It finally hit me today while speaking to Barry. Repent. I can make this a meaningful Christmas by acknowledging my need for repentance and seeing that baby as the One who was born to die. Everything I do , say, or think is just like filthy rags.

He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30

I want to leave you with some words from Jesus Saves by Travis Cottrell and David Moffitt.

He will live, our sorrow sharing, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves. He will die our burden bearing, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves. “It is done!” Will shout the cross, Christ has paid redemption’s cost, While the empty tomb’s declaring, Jesus Saves!…Freedom’s calling, chains are falling, hope is dawning bright and true. Day is breaking, night is quaking, God is making all things new. Jesus Saves!

Oh to grace, how great a debtor, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves. Are the saints who shout together, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves…

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Romans

So it has been quite some time now since I first realized my sin. As a child I knew that God was God and I was not, however, the sin did not eat at me. I did not have guilt before God, I only had guilt before man. I was upset that I had let someone else down. Later in my life, that sin that ‘so easily entangled’, was for the first time seen as between God and myself. I needed help. Jesus is the help I needed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a guy, I can handle it. I grew up in an evangelical church that taught us the good way to live life in such a way that no one knows you are hurting. As M. Chandler says, “My friends all came up from being baptized quoting Romans while I just said…that was weird.” I didn’t however say anything about it since it was obviously my problem. People in leadership wore a cape…I wore a diaper. It wasn’t/isn’t about the heart, it is about knowledge and actions. We don’t talk about the heart much here in church. North or South it doesn’t matter. We don’t talk about the heart much. Jesus is calling us to a relationship with Himself and we continue to make it about what we can do for Him.

I was good at it. No rated R movies, no swearing, no TV past 9pm, no drinking the devil juice…I’ve even read Knowing God by JI Packer! I could do it all, and I still try to do it all, for the sake of pride. Romans 4-8 does not leave any room for pride.

Pride looks different from person to person. Pride takes on many faces depending on the situation and the company you keep. When the Pharisees would pray and thank God that they were not like the gentiles who surrounded them…they were merely using their context to act like us. Why do we call them lost, UN saved, UN churched, NON christian? With those very titles we are thanking God that we are not…lost etc. We look to them in the negative. Un, Non…

Romans 4-8 tells us that we all exist as one thing. Under God’s grace. The fact that people can breath God’s air, live on the earth God created, enjoy the sex God created…is grace. They can not enjoy any of these things however AS God intended, but they CAN enjoy them. Grace, what a powerful word.

I am convinced that it is because of a lack of transparency in my life that I am not closer to Jesus. I can fool everyone else, but I can’t fool God. Psalm 32:1-5 speaks volumes. Unconfessed sin decays the bones and kills your soul. Is this some sort of cleansing? No, you will not see me all of a sudden confess to killing a guy or bombing a bank. What I hope you see is some one who is starting to get it and who wants to find that place where it is ok not to get it but doesn’t let you stay there.

In his book Organic Church, Neil Cole makes a good case for bringing everything down. He takes many of his ideas a little too far, but the premise is solid. We need to get into a place where we meet with 2 or 3 people (same sex) and open our hearts. No more of this ‘small group’ stuff where we get together and do mini-church. We need life changing ministry form each other. We need to realize the power of the gospel, the power of Jesus, the power that the Holy Spirit can have on us and our relationships. The church needs to grow organically. We need to confess our sin (looking for another s word) in order to fertilize it.

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