Monday, February 1, 2016

Church is not a Pew

Church is not a Pew

When you hear the word church, what do you think of? A small white building with a steeple? Or a large stained glass cathedral? Maybe a sanctuary filled with people singing Amazing Grace, or a man up front preaching on verses. Quiet men and women with bowed heads sitting in pews. 

That seems to be what we see on television. But that's just the surface. Take my little church for example. We're a family. We work hard together, share, eat, and play together. Currently we are helping a member to buy life or death medicine. We have a standing unofficial group of Living Hope movers. That includes anyone with mobility, time, and desire to help friends move in or out of the their abode. We give car service to those needing rides to doctor appointments. Food for when people are laid up, or a new born in the home. We also reach out to the neighborhood and across the world.

If you've never realized churches can be a body, a community, an organism rather then a big organization, I'm here to tell you they can. Not perfect. Not without fault, but a community of people that are striving to live like Jesus, love like Jesus. We want to "be" the church, not once a week pew warmers. 

And with our God's help, we will!  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Atonement


Atonement
Ever wondered about this word? Atonement? What it really means for us? Well, in my Sermon Sketch I used the word to visually show how through the sacrifice of Jesus our sin is washed away. But below is a terrific video from The Bible Project that does an even better job of explaining. Please take a look. 


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dating your Church

Dating your Church
Are you dating your church? Do you come expecting to have all your needs met while you sleep in the pew? Or maybe you think you will be taken to great heights of spiritual triumph, and are disappointed when nothing happens. 

This sermon was on discipleship. Something that as Christians we are responsible to be doing. But it made me think of people who attend a church wanting to have every need met. Expecting to be fed but not bothering to pick up a spoon themselves. Then they blame the pastor, or the leaders if the food is not tasty enough.

And in like a dating relationship if your date chews his meat funny, or doesn't pay enough attention to you, or says something in an unkind way, what do we do? We break up with them.We look for another church. 

The problems might be that the music doesn't suit you. Or the pastor said something to hurt your feelings. Maybe you don't like the way the finances are being run. Did your child have a problem fitting in with the Sunday School program one year? I've got an idea, let's teach them to simply find another church if this one is not perfect enough. 

Maybe it's time to be in a committed relationship with your church and stop dating it. There comes a time when you need to take some responsibility for your own Christian walk. The church isn't there to date you. It is not there to meet all your spiritual needs. No, really it isn't. You are expected to become a disciple of Jesus. Work together with your church family to give each other accountability, encouragement, and love. 

How often do you disown your mother, uncle, or grandpa when you disagree with them. How often do you disown you spouse? In a committed relationship you fight to be there. You forgive. Be accountable for your own growth. You overlook wrongs. 

Yes, I've disagreed with things in my church. I've been hurt at times. In one case, in a church from long ago, a child died because the leaders wouldn't listen to me.

But I stayed, and we worked it out.

Take a look at my drawing to see ways to become a  working disciple. Being hospitable, reaching others, fellowshiping, pulling people up when they fall, studying the Bible.  

And what if our churches stopped being revolving doors? Don't you wonder how much more could be done for the kingdom? I do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Church is...

The Church is...
If you are on the outside looking into the church you may see it as just another big organization. One making rules for it's members and requiring them to all walk in lock step. But from inside many churches, including mine, you find more of a family unit. 

In a recent sermon series Pastor Greg pointed out how churches need to be in order to truly serve God and love others. As you can see in my drawing we are in a circle praying together. The words and scriptures around speak of working together, praying, loving and listening. But I made sure to have someone reaching out to others to come join us. 

Not perfect people mind you. We are learning all the time ways to be a better family.  So, thanks to the people in my church who are my moms, dads, cousins, aunts. and uncles. They have stepped up beside me to encourage, serve and pray with me. 

I love you all! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fisher's of men

Fishers of Men
I love this story. Where Jesus answers the fisherman's needs, then calls them to leave it all behind. After fishing all night and catching nothing, these men were tired and fed up. Jesus came and told them to cast the nets into the water. Obeying Jesus, they cast the net and there were so many fish they could barley get them in the boat. Then what does our Lord ask?

"Okay, now that you've seen what I can do, leave it all and follow me to become fisher of men."

They dropped their nets, left the valuable fish that was caught, and went off with Jesus. That could have been the bigger miracle. So, God wants us to "catch" people. To bring them into His boat. What nets should we use? Debating about presidents? Refusing help to anyone that disagrees with us? Standing up for our rights, at the destruction of others? Maybe parsing words about which lives matter. Maybe making sure first they understand what side of the political isle to be on.

This is what I hope my net is made of: love, no judging, willing to listen, seeing potential, starting small but starting, priority is the person, bring comfort, shine the light that the darkness cannot overcome. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Meet Me at the Well

Women at the Well
"How can you a Jewish man speak to me, a Samaritan woman?" When Jesus asked for a drink from this woman she was floored. Not only did men not chat with strange woman, but never a Jew to a Samaritan. In particular this woman who had a hard time getting friends for her children among her own people. The so called good and righteous ones had cloistered themselves into a click that she could never have broken into. Yet she was the one most in need of love.

Our church and christian clicks are still strong to this day. We huddle together in Bible Studies, and church pews. Events that use to be for anyone often have the added "Christian" label slapped to it. After all we want our children to have good influences, right? 

We have to step away from the comfort of what we know, step out of our holy huddles, and spend some time at the water well. Make friends, share your story, love, listen and care the way Jesus did.. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Start or Start Over

Start or Start Over
When I hear the story of the prodigal son, I see this picture in my mind. I realize there is much more to the story, but I know the love a parent experiences for their child,  A child lost to the world comes home, not to judgement or condemnation but to the overwhelming love of his father. No ridicule, only a hugs and celebration. 

Every year Pastor Greg takes on a Sunday to emphasize our church mission statement. To start or start over. He does try to change the sermons up, but I have gone here for 20 years, You can imagine I have heard them all. But this time he brought out the Prodigal Son story and my heart caught this image. Our church tries to be a place where one can begin their walk with Christ or start it over again. We've found many people have been hurt by the church and need a place to heal. Sometimes we are the church that has hurt and that makes us very sad. 

If you have left the church or God, please know He is watching the road for your return. He will welcome you home with hugs and tears. All is forgiven, come home.