Archive for the ‘Community Front Porch’ Category
Sorry folks. Been to Alaska fishing and refreshing myself with rain and cooler temperatures — not much of either of those are found in West Texas this time of year. Of course Alaska was incredible again this year. The whales, puffins, dolphins, and other creatures were spectacular. The ever-changing views in this unbelievably beautiful place were beyond capturing on film. However, it was the two hour communion service with 3 other dear brothers in Christ on Sunday night was the highlight of the trip for me. (Thanks Dan, Bill, and Grant!)
Of all the gifts that God has lavished upon us, the most precious is the gift of community. A family, a church, and a close circle of friends are all precious gifts of God’s grace found in community. No matter how you define the three faces of our Almighty God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — the plural nature of the One true and living God, His “us-ness” is what I call it in cornbread English(cf. Genesis 1:26 “Let us make …”), is given to us in genuine community. When it is right, when it is good, when it is glorious, holy community is a touch of heaven and an intended reflection of the glory of the Most High.
I’m back amid the heat, the dry-ness, and the rush of ministry and the start of school. I’m thankful to have had a break for all of that. I can now return with a bit more freshness and a deeper appreciation of the gift of God’s community ‐ something that is so easy to overlook, neglect, abuse, or distort. I am hopeful to keep the freshness I feel and share it with those I love.
The Lord will give me a chance right off the bat with my sermon this Sunday and a funeral on Saturday. I’ll also try to pull out some of my favorite quotes from Bonhoeffer’s Life Together to drop in on the blog in the next day or two so I can keep the community vibe of my heart in tune with God’s grace.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of community. Help me never to neglect it or underestimate it as a gracious gift from you. In Jesus, who has made all community possible, I offer this thanks. Amen.
Several recent studies have suggested that we have a loneliness epidemic in America. Clearly, many of our churches are not helping to combat this epidemic and Christians don’t seem to be doing too well on an individual basis, either. In my article “Where to Find the Help of a Friend?” I asked for input on what we can do personally or as churches to address this concern.
Your ideas are genuinely welcome … not just by me, but by other folks who are interested as well!
When I look at us, the modern church, I often don’t see much that reminds of Jesus. Sure, there’s lots of talk about Jesus and Jesus stuff. There is a call to live a holy life free of sin like Jesus lived. But his association with the least, the last, and the lost seems to have somehow gotten lost.
In my article on Monday, entitled “Dead Tires and Road Trash,” I ask what you think that you need to do to move us closer to the ministry of Jesus in your personal life and in your church. We’re not going to bash other people or dumb down Jesus’ call for holiness. Instead, let’s make some commitments to be more like Jesus and then share what those things are.
I’ve spent the last several days fighting very difficult travel issues. However, I want to thank the Lord for several groups of people who often get overlooked and sometimes, even abused.
First, I’d like to thank God for those who are in the travel business who work so hard to make traveling bearable and do so with courteous and attentive help. I am so thankful for the kind folks who helped me this week, even though many of them had received verbal abuse while trying to handle impossible problems over which they had no control.
Second, I thank God for all those who do the hard, manual labor jobs. Without them, our lives would be harder, more dangerous, and definitely more frustrating. In the debate over immigration issues in the U.S., we often forget that nearly all of us were immigrants at one time. We also forget that immigrants, both “illegal” and legal immigrants, often do the hard, sweaty, and dangerous work that many of us would never do.
My father taught me long ago that the real heart of a person is revealed by how they treat folks that society says they don’t have to treat with respect or whom social rules place beneath them. I want to value these people and let them know how much I appreciate them and their hardwork!
How do you treat those whom the world says are “beneath you”?
How can we be more of a blessing to those who have blessed us?
In my Heartlight Article, “Worship and the Ballpark?” I share the following statement:
I’m convinced that much of our sense of worship is well-intentioned wrong-headedness. We’ve confined worship to what we do in our daily quiet times, in our church building sanctuaries, and our small group Bible studies. In other words, worship takes place away from the everyday world where we live, the jobs where we work, the leisure activities we enjoy, and the activities where our children play. In other words, worship is what occurs at the margins, fringes, and short moments of time where we are isolated from “real life.”
My point was that we must get back to seeing all of life as worship and when we do, then we will have a greater impact on the world than simply just holing up in our churches and hanging around with just church people. We need to see our worship occurring in everyday life.
What do you think about that? How can we have a greater positive impact on the world around us and get away from our sense of “us against them” and get back to living to love the world for whom Christ died? I hope you’ll post a comment below and let me know!
Yesterday morning, I met with our vision team synthesis leaders — Vann Conwell, Mark Viertel, & myself — and two very bright and godly young men, Kevin Christian and Matt Boisvert. We talked about ways to effectively roll out the visionwe believe the Lord has placed before us as His mission for our church family. This has been the year-long work of 19 folks who have sought to follow the Lord’s guidance and also listened to input from people in our congregation.
As we discussed the vision rollout, Matt asked the question, “So how do we launch this idea virus?”
What a powerful image. A virus replicates by attaching to a host organism. It has no life of its own, but has to attach itself to a living organism to be passed on to other hosts. An idea replicates much the same way. It has to be absorbed, attached, affirmed, and shared. However, in a Kingdom context, we believe that a “God idea” or a God-shaped sense of mission, is more than just a parasitic element attached to a living organism as its source of mobility and sustenance. Kingdom idea viruses have the power of the Holy Spirit to help spread their infectious impact for God and for good. They can ride on the wind of the Spirit and reach many more people.
I don’t know where you and your congregation are in responding to God’s “idea viruses,” but I’m praying that all of us will be more open to the moving of God in our time and in our own communities. I can’t think of a greater need for our time than for us to move beyond the box — more than thinking out of the box or beyond the box, we need to leave the box behind! (John 4:23) We’ve got to find ways to do the work of God in relevant, meaningful, and faithful ways in our world in our time. This is one viral outbreak I’m praying to explode across our world.
For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? (Isaiah 43:19 NLT)
FYI, I’ll be at the Pepperdine Lectures next week sharing one of those “idea viruses” called m6trix communication. I’ll share some of that with you along the way. In addition, I’m excited about one of those “idea viruses” that has begun to catch hold at Southern Hills because it’s not just an idea anymore, it’s a commitment to a certain style of ministry. Stayed tuned, who knows where all of this is going to go!