Where Does Your Church Fit?

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True story, I had to click the “Forgot your password?” link to log in and post this.  It’s been a while.  There are 4 people that will notice (2 of those are my parents).  That being said, I had something I needed to flesh out, even for myself.  I had nowhere else to turn, so to the empty blog I went!  Below is just a random idea I’m trying to articulate.  It is probably incoherent, but it comes from a burden I have.  Too often, I see Facebook or Twitter or Instagram filled with content from people who claim Christ, but have no desire to be transformed by Him.  Here are my thoughts…

 

A few days ago, I was having lunch with a guy who’s mentored me over the past year or so and something came up in conversation that struck a cord with me.  It wasn’t a quote, or even a topic of conversation, but an idea.  A fraction of a sentence.  The thought floated out there and gripped and convicted me.  He mentioned, just in passing, the idea that some churches hold their members to a certain standard, and others have no expectations on them.

I started to wonder, does my church, does my ministry, does my community hold me to certain expectations, or are they content with me claiming the name of Christ alone?  Hear me say this, I’m not negating the gospel or the total depravity of people.  There’s no “standard” we could attain.  

I am saying that I think as a church (whether from a corporate level or an organic/community level) shouldn’t be content to have people claim Jesus and not be concerned with how their living their lives.  Take a look at 2 Corinthians 3:18!  Or check out Colossians 3:1-17 below (ESV., emphasis added):

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

I think too often, Christians take Colossians 3:14 and twist it into a perverted version of tolerance where we tell each other, “I’m a believer, you’re a believer, but who are you to call out how I live my life?  If I want to embrace a certain path/decision/lifestyle/behavior, God loves me no matter what!  He loves me and he’s okay with it, so you should be too!”  Hopefully, you notice the breakdown in logic.  We assume that because God loves us (and he does), that he is content in leaving us where we are.

God is not content to leave you where you are.  A father who sees his son covered in his own poop would not say to his son, “Son…I love you.  And you know what, that looks like it’s pleasing to you, you like that poop don’t you?  Cool, you can just chill with the poop all over.  Good deal bud.”  No, a loving father cleans the child and says, “I love you, no matter how much poop is in your ear canal.  I love you, but I’m not content to let you wallow in your filth.  I love you, and you may not like not playing in your poop, but trust me.”  

So all of that to say, would you say that your church or your community of believers is content to let you stay there?  The sin in me wants a community who won’t call me out, have the hard conversations, and hold me accountable in my life.  But I know for me to continue to be made into the image of Christ, I need those people who will spur me on and challenge me in my faith.  May we never lead churches that are content to leave people in their filth.  May our churches be those that embrace people no matter where they are, but disciple them and walk with them as they too walk through life with Christ, allowing him to remove the poop.  

If you would say your church or community would fit more on the side of the “Let you have fun in your poop” spectrum, my encouragement is not to go find new community or a new church.  Instead, what can you do to be used by God as a change agent in your community.  Are you part of the problem?

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ECHO RECAP // ONE MONTH TO LIVE WEEK 4

Second to last week in our One Month to Live series, and we talked about having an eternal focus!  Often in our culture, we’re told to be a doctor for the money, big house, nice cars, and social status.  We want to have the North Faces and the nice jeans so people know we’re important!  At ECHO, we asked the big question of, “Can we be a doctor, can we have a North Face, can we do any of that and still follow Christ?”  The conclusion?  Of course.  It’s about your priorities and your perspective. We have to shift our focus from the internal to the eternal.

Here was our main text:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:19-21

Here are the three things we discussed, a key thought, and some passages we used to go along with it!

1. RESIST MATERIALISM

  • Materialism defined as a preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.
  • Luke 12:16-21
  • “You can’t take it with you”

2. RELEASE OUR GRASP

  • A shift in priorities, reversing materialism.
  • Matthew 13:44
  • You can’t both EMBRACE materialism and RELEASE your grasp on the stuff of your life.
  • Want to be a doctor?  Great.  What if you were told you’d only get paid 60% of what a school teacher was paid?  Would your response remain, “I believe this is what I’m gifted at, it’s what I’m passionate about, and it’s what God’s called me to”? or would you respond, “…maybe it’s not for me after all.”

3. RESET OUR FOCUS

  • It’s about how we set our priorities.
  • Philippians 3:4-8
  • You can focus on “churchy” stuff, and still be wrong.
  • 1 John 2:17

Final thought: Our life isn’t about what we have, but about Who has us. 

iPhone Quote Background

Yesterday at Fellowship Cabot, we saw Mark Henry preach on Philippians, and he said something that really hit home for me.  He said, “If you were to go off to Oklahoma City or somewhere for a month, what kingdom work would go undone?”  I’m paraphrasing the quote, but that’s the general idea of it.  I think that’s an excellent “gut check” for any believer.  Are you serving?  Are you giving of yourself?  Are you so involved in serving that if you were to disappear, there would be a noticable void?

I decided to do a quick iPhone background for myself, so I can have a constant reminder.  I’m not the graphic designer.  That’s my wife.  She’s AMAZING at design!!  (Hint, hint. If you need freelance design or branding, that’s her bread and butter).  BUT, it’s good enough to be a daily reminder to serve, and I thought I’d share for anyone that wants it!

INSTRUCTIONS for iPHONE

  1. Click the image to open it in a new window.
  2. Hold down on the image.
  3. Save Image
  4. Go to PHOTO’S app.
  5. Click the box with an arrow going out.
  6. “Set as Wallpaper”

ECHO RECAP // ONE MONTH TO LIVE WEEK 3

We continued our ONE MONTH TO LIVE series last night in ECHO.  We had a guest speaker, Scott Fitzgerald, come and talk about what we do with our doubts.  He used the story of John the Baptizer (a little homage to my professor Dr. Duvall) to illustrate how we should react and respond when we are confronted with doubts about our faith.  If anyone in the world should have been doubt free, it should have been John.  His role was to announce the identity and coming of Christ to the world.  Yet he still doubted.  If he doubted, is it okay that we do, and what do we do with it?

Here’s a list Scott used last night on 5 things to do, and below, you’ll find the video of his talk.  Huge thanks to Scott.  I’m inspired by his love for Scripture and his honor for and knowledge of God’s word.

5 Keys to Persevering and Finishing Well in the midst of uncertainty

1.    Confession:  Like John, bring doubt to Jesus Mt. 11.2-3; Confess sin of hopelessness; Confess Jesus as God and that He knows far better than we do about what He is doing.
2.    Trust:  We must move forward into uncertainty for God is certain.  Proverbs 3.5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
3.    Dependence:  Lean Into Truth; John 14.6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me.”  Jesus is truth.
4.    Faith:  Faith is a firm foundation despite our doubts, for Christ Himself is our righteousness:  Hebrews 11.36-40; 1 Peter 6.-9; Philippians 3.7-11
5.    Resurrection:  We do not fight for victory; we fight from it.  We toil and do not understand now, but the resurrection that is coming is far better.

Shock and Awe

I don’t want to draw any conclusions or parallels that aren’t there, I just had a thought after watching bits and pieces of the Grammy’s last night.

It seems that performers are doing anything they can to gain attention.  Wearing meat suits, coming in eggs, bringing a sceptor, staging an exorcism, having a double singing part of your song only to have everything black out and you’re on a platform looking like you’re wearing a smurf weave, riding onto a football field with a mess of Roman soldiers escorting you, getting everyone in choir robes, flipping the bird, who knows what.

Twitter blew up with how creepy, strange, unnecessary, and untalented Nicki Minaj’s performance of Roman Holiday was, and after watching it online today, I have to agree.

Compare that to Adele.  Adele stood in place on stage, sporting a black dress, and sang beautifully.  The entire audience rose to their feet in applause.

By the end of the night, what was the final score last I checked?
Nicki Minaj + Katy Perry + Madonna + Lady Gaga + MIA – 0 Grammy’s.
Adele – 6 Grammys.  

I’m not saying Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Madonna, Lady Gaga, and MIA aren’t talented, or at least marketable.  I’m just saying that I found it interesting that the performer who did NOT try and create some buzz of chaos about her was the artist who walked away, entire audience in hand.

How does this apply to student ministry?

Again, I don’t want to draw any parallels that aren’t  there, but I can’t help but think that sometimes we try and do all the high-buzz events, when the pure gospel will attract enough of a following.  I think there’s a place for doing something eye-catching to an extent (even though I would rather wear a flank-steak dress in public than do a lock-in), but where is the focus?  Are we trying to employ shock and awe, or are we trying to lead people to the truth of the Gospel?

SHWC 2012 : Sunday Morning Session

It’s our final session!  Don’t forget, be sure to arrange some time eating out or a good meal to download and debrief with your student.  Hopefully these videos have given you a little peak into the direction of the weekend!  See you soon!

SHWC 2012 : Saturday Night Session

Next video goes up tomorrow morning! Thank you so much for joining with us in praying for Winterchill!

SHWC 2012 : Saturday Morning Session

Next video?  Glad you asked!  Check back after dinner tonight!

SHWC 2012 : Friday Night Session

Check back in the morning for the next update!

SHWC 2012 : Please Pray for Us

Check back later this evening for another update!