Category: the next new


Snowflake Box detailrecently there’s been this thought that’s been swirling around in my head…it’s really been a continual stream of wondering:

how does the “sending nature” of the gospel show up in your life?

maybe we need to define some things first;

i think, without question, that the gospel of Jesus Christ has, at it’s root, a sending quality to it. consider the season we’re launching into right now.

Jesus comes to earth.  He leaves heaven to join us here.  He’s sent here to do what we cannot –

SAVE US.

so in simple terms; do we believe that we are engaging that “called out” &” sending” thing that happens in the bible repeatedly?

most of us, as Christ-followers would immediately say “well, yes. i do believe that we’ve called into that kind of life.”

but here are, i think, the most important questions:

do we live like that?
do we raise our families like that?
do we work at our jobs with this in mind?
do we attend churches that speak this kind of language?

if we look at these questions & there is a little bit of guilt or heaviness that shows up,

if we want to run from this page,

if God is waking some things up inside you,

may that same God, the one who sent His Son, the One we celebrate & try hard not to forget & bypass;

may that God speak into this season & your celebrations.  may He remind you of the call He has for your life & the places He is inviting you to go.

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Been-There-Done-Thatwhen new things are presented one of the first things our brains want to try and answer is this; “have i seen this before?”  our brains are categorizing machines.  neatly organized files of experiences, emotions, things done & places been.  so when something new comes on the scene & we have the option to enter/engage our brain immediately tries to make sense of it with little to no information.   such a dangerous practice…

we are, by the nature of our current culture, highly impatient people.  we feel like we have to decide right now if we’re moving forward to going to retreat into what we know & have seen before.

in the midst of this there’s a lie that we want to believe…

“do what’s familiar”

after all, the familiar is…well, familiar.  “i know how to handle stuff that i’ve already seen.  i know what to expect & how to react.”  the new is unknown & it might just be a lot of work.

as we talk about reshaping church & the expectations that exist within church; and realizing that we’re reshaping the culture of church, we know that there aren’t just one or two things that need to be addressed; there’s a truck-load of things & expectations that need to be dealt with.  and quite honestly that’s hard work.  there’s a lot of self-examination that must take place, a lot of questions that need to be asked & honesty that must be employed.

if we realize that Christ comes to offer us something that we cannot attain on our own & do something that we’ve never seen before [and that’s a big IF]; then we stand a chance in seeing something that we’ve never seen before, to be a part of a move of God’s people like we’ve never witnessed in our life-times.

Jesus says in john 10:10 [msgB]

 "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."

hmm, “more and better life…”

yea, what if we just said “no” to the familiar, & decided to embrace what Jesus comes to offer; a different kind of life.  a life that’s difficult…but then again, life in general is difficult.  so instead of choosing the familiar & easy path what would happen to your life & mine if we chose a path with Christ that seemed harder but would lead to a more full life?

recently a friend was telling me about a conversation they were having with a family member.  it revolved around their connection to a little church that didn’t have the best programs, especially for kids; but they were working on it.  and it was said, “i just wish that part was a little better, then we’re in.”

and the response was, “well, sometimes it takes the commitment of some parents to say we’re here to get this thing off the ground & make it great.”  since that conversation those parents have decided to fully engage in that little church.

i think sometimes we want to walk into a setting that’s already hummin’ & it’s just the best thing; and you’re surrounded by people that are just like you & it’s not uncomfortable at all.  and the truth is that’s pretty great when it meets your needs right now, where you stand.  but i think there are a lot more times when Jesus calls us to give all we have in places that are difficult & undone.  that “more and better life” part of what Jesus offers is a hard road.  but it still leads to the kind of life that has Jesus at the forefront.

Why We Go to the Met Every Sunday and Have for 60 Years | Living on GOOD.

good article from GOOD on seeking out continual inspiration & new insights from familiar sights & sounds.

looking-for-something1-305x305interesting bit of learning lately…

in romans 10:1 paul says that he’s praying to God for the salvation of the israelites.  this is interesting on a couple of fronts…

one > that word “praying” can be understood as beg

when was the last time you begged God for the salvation of anyone?

i mean you really put some “beg” into it?  that you were so hard up for someone to find Jesus that you pestered God to the point He might just hit you with that proverbial lightening bolt we sometimes think He’s carrying around?  that you couldn’t leave Him alone about it?

yea, me too.  i think our prayers don’t involve a lot of begging.  at times, yes.

healing, free from cancer, free from painful/difficult/abusive situations.

but begging God for salvation?  maybe it’s been a while.

so maybe that’s something that needs to happen in our churches, that we need to start begging God to bring people that don’t know Him into the churches where they can be discipled & mentored along the way.  beg God that He would create a problem of too many disciples & not enough disciple’rs…and that He would then do something about that problem too!

second thing of interest > paul is begging God for the israelites….yea, go ahead & think about that for a minute.

aren’t the israelites supposed to already know God?  aren’t they the “chosen ones”?  don’t they already know the words to all the songs & know how this religious thing is supposed to work?

and there it is, the thing paul wants us to pay attention to:

you and can be around all kind of “God” stuff your whole life, and still miss Jesus

just go ahead & substitute “israelites” with “church-folk” & we understand that paul is talking to us.  he’s praying – begging – God for our salvation.  because he knows that there are lots of people in synagogues [churches] that have been doing the “church thing” for most/all of their lives & they don’t know Jesus from an electrical outlet.

and here’s what i’m afraid of….

…that it’s all true.

the reason i’m afraid is that the church is loaded with people that have a relationship with their local church but lack a passionate love for Jesus,

and that’s what He’s really after.

so the question is this; do i just have a relationship, connection, bond with my local church?  that is to say, do i show up when they meet & do stuff when they ask & give when the need is high?

[which are all good things]

but in the midst of all that i don’t have any outside-the-church connection to Jesus?

if so, what needs to change?  how does that get corrected?  do we really want to correct it?

if you & i do really want to correct this pattern i offer no quick-fix solutions & “done in an hour” remedies.

what i do offer is simply this; commit yourself fully to giving more of you to Christ each day.  spend time in His word.  if you have a smart phone this couldn’t get any easier.  there are loads of bible apps to download to your phone with reading plans with settings & reminders that pop up for you.  the only thing you have to do is read it.  God is deeply desiring to connect to us through His word, so get into it.

thing 2 – find out what needs to be done @ your local church & do it.  but don’t just do it just because.  understand what whatever you do with your hands, mind, heart is to be done with the intent/understanding that you’re doing it to/for/with the image of God.  and if your church can’t come up with anything that great for you to do find out what’s lacking in your city/town/berg/village & do that in the same manner…in fact, that might be the place to begin.  serve your town as if you’re serving God Himself.

don’t simply dive into church stuff & miss Jesus.  don’t spend your time immersed in busy-work or church-life or even family life & miss Jesus.

He has loads to show us & beauty to uncover & challenges to guide us through & pain to over-come and, and, and…

 

we cannot do both.  if we try to do both it drives us nuts & it’ll end badly.

eph.3:20

“now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…”

if we really believe this to be true of us as individuals & as a church [that’s all of us belonging to different churches under the banner of Christ] do we act like this?

we want to, desperately, answer this question with an absolute “YES!!”  and i think we answer the question believing in our hearts that the answer is truly “yes.”  this verse has the invitation to thrive in this life & not just focus on the life to come.  the truth of how we answer can show up in our practices & ways of operation.

something that i’m observing lately is the impossibility of thriving & surviving both at the same time.

here’s what i mean…

if we’re going to to all, exceedingly more through Christs we have to be willing to let go of our “we’re just barely making it” mentality.  for some of us this mentality is where we’ve lived for so long we don’t know any other way to be.

“we’re broke, don’t spend anything”

“we’ve never done it that way before”

“what if this doesn’t work”

“what if they don’t show up”

and there’s something significant that happens…

calcification of new ideas [creative arthritis]

when this happens other dominoes start to fall.  and as a result we are no longer seeking to thrive & grow & become this thing that God is trying to reveal in us.  at some point we decided the best thing to do was to cut our losses & just try to ride out the storm.

maybe this will be a helpful picture…

i’m not a horse rider, & have been on a horse a few time in my life.  but what i have noticed is the relationship to holding the reins & the horse moving.  i may need to check my facts on this, but i don’t think you can spur the horse on to move/run/jump/navigate the trail & at the same time hold the reins back.

while it’s true that there are times for survival & a tightening the reins. a ‘we’ve just got to get through this.” mentality.  but at some point the rebuilding needs to begin.  a re-structuring takes place.  recovery must happen.  we cannot afford to loose sight of what it was like to thrive & be & do something significant.  and if we’ve forgotten about those days, it’s time to connect with someone who does.  and if no one is around who remembers it’s time to re-cast a vision for tomorrow.

important point: remembering the significant things of the past do not entail a return to those things.  it’s just important to remember when survival wasn’t the only thing that mattered.

here’s another thought that’s just occurring to me.  history will record what happened; it always has & always will.  so you and i & our time here will be recorded.  i don’t want the things that i did & participated in to be thought of as missed opportunity & potential wasted; a missing of God’s call.

are we willing to let God do whatever He wants, whenever He wants to, with whomever He chooses?

this is a big question because he may, in fact probably will use some unlikely characters in HIS story.  and that’s an important point!  HIS story.

so much of our culture; 21century, western is built around us as individuals.  what commercials aren’t catering to the idea that the world isn’t about you?  what part of life do you  not  ask “how does this thing that i’m about to buy, do, participate in, go to make my life better?”  that’s the culture/era we live in.  it’s something that’s been handed to us & we’ve just willingly taken it on, as if this is the way it’s supposed to be.

SO, when the story doesn’t go our way & it seems a bit too difficult & weighty [even as Christ-followers] we are tempted to think that God has abandoned us.  or it’s confirmation that God doesn’t exist.

but the story is God’s to tell & His story line is different than ours.

something that i’m going to try & learn in the coming year is the difference between taking responsibility & taking control.  this is something that i recently heard donald miller talk about.  he, in so many words, defined it like this; though the life of joseph [yea, from the bible].

taking responsibility would be living through the circumstances of life, but not in spite of them.  meaning we wouldn’t just grit our teeth & fight through to the end.  we would see this part of the story as a chance for God to do something great.

taking control intimates that we’re going to change the circumstances for our benefit.  the idea being “we don’t have to sit here & take this!”

joseph simply lives thought the story line and allows God to move the characters.  he leaves a gap for God, he’s not passive, he responds to doors that God opens up.

God provides courage though the difficult, negative turns that come in our lives.  we need to be ready to allow God to use unlikely story lines, unusual situations & unlikely heroes in His story.  we must remember, He is the story-teller.

i’m starting to think of this new year as “a year of preparation & hope”.

that sounds poetic & such [maybe it doesn’t], but the reason i’m thinking in these terms is this: God isn’t letting me alone on some things & those things directly affect the church, God’s church.  and in this year i just know that He’s going to prompt some things to happen & we have to decide what to do with that.

i also know that the stuff that He’s asking me to think about not easy & they are messy.

so as i wrestle with the days to come & toss out the ideas @ hand there is a question that i’ve been handed by gary haugen from the international justice mission.

here’s the question:  are we going to be safe or are we going to be brave?

we can’t do both…

either we’re going to step into that thing God is prompting & asking, with lots of unknowns, lack of funding, difficult people to try and lead or help.  or we’re only going to do the things that we can control & manage.  only do what is measurable & profitable.  only do what nets us fame & respectability.

we cannot do both…

will we be safe?  or will we be brave?