Tag Archive: do more


men-holding-ladder-funny-picturesthis idea is something that’s been rolling around in me for a while now.  probably because of the things that are going on around me.

no, this isn’t a call to do things that are just plain stupid or risky to personal health.  and it’s not a  reminiscing of younger days when i didn’t seem to care about life or limb.  but instead, this is an acknowledgement of the calling & pursuit of the things that God has placed in your heart.

so this is probably going to be an on-going series for this blog. it’ll pop up every now-and-then as i’m working out some of the details of what it means to “do the dumb things” God asks of us.

so some definition of the “dumb things”

the definition of these dumb things shows up in the activity i have found myself in; specifically in the activity of church-life.

right now i’m working with two small church, in what’s referred to as a duel charge; trying to help two struggling congregations see & pursue a new future that is missional in mind-set & bent on pursuing God instead of what’s been comfortable for far too long.

in the process of landing with these two churches, and the pursuit of missional thinking & activity, one of the churches landed on an outreach meal as a way of revitalizing our connection to the community, specifically to the neighborhood in which the church is situated.

now keep in mind that part of the reason i’m working with these two churches at the same time is financial.  neither church has the budget to support a pastor full time.  to put it simply, there’s no money.

as we investigated the possibility of hosting a meal at the church, realizing that we had a fully functional, licensed kitchen, and with the financial requirement that it would take to host a free meal once a month it was obvious…if we really felt like God was asking us to pursue this endeavor He would be the one that provides the way to make it happen.

so upon applying for & receiving our first grant we launched supperCLUB.  since that first meal in sept.2012 we’ve served over 5000 meals, moving to twice a month with the meals.

now here’s the dumb thing of doing this:  there is no logical reason for a church of 40-50 people, who haven’t made their small budget in many, many years, who cannot even afford to pastor to be around full time should try and maintain feeding 60-80 people twice a month.  so i found myself saying, “this is a really dumb idea, us doing this thing of trying to feed people in need.  this is such a dumb idea.”

but when not a dime of church funds has been tapped to help make supperCLUB run…

and when each time we have needed a new freezer or refrigerator is needed…

and when the supperCLUB fund has run low…

each time there is a need, God shows up…

a grant coming through to provide funds…

a private individual coming & giving a check for supplies…

…a group that we didn’t even know about, noticing what we’re doing & offering a financial gift…

and here’s the qualifier for “dumb things”:

the are only dumb things

through the eyes of the world

that doesn’t understand how God works

these are dumb things when we try to calculate the loss & expense without looking at the lives that are drawn closer to Him, who can ultimately save their souls & provide a new life here on earth.

we are called to follow a God who created the universe & created us;

have relationship with a perfect God, who wants us even when we’re not perfect;

a God who stays close to us even when we stray from Him;

a God who came to save us before we asked Him to, who told us He would do just that, and then we killed Him;

and even after He was dead, defeats death & instead of turning away from us, still wants us in the same fashion as before…

that all sounds ridiculous, in fact it sounds like a dumb idea; but it’s still true.

so here we are, in the pursuit of the dumb thing that glorifies God.

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so i have recently have been surrounded by a number of conversations about community & our involvement/connection to the community.  God has placed something inside us, at the root of who we are, to desire connection with others.  and we know this is good for us.

within community we realize that we’re not alone in our struggle.  in community there is a shared love & support.  within community we have the opportunity to see new parts of God & what He has in mind for us.  by the way, this part about seeing God in community, this is true in communities that celebrate God and those that don’t.  togetherness is a Godly pursuit weather we recognize it or not.

[but that’s probably another discussion]

broken community

a couple of observations about what we want from community & what we’re willing to do for community

we want the community to mostly come to us

“well, why didn’t let me know about…”

“i don’t feel included.”

here’s a hard truth, & saying this carries with it some risk of you not liking this, even that you may stop reading.  but here it is:  it’s not my job to make sure you come to & are connected to a church that you say is your home church.  if the church isn’t communicating an upcoming event or dates & times are very last minute that’s on the church.  but if you don’t know about something simply because you haven’t been around; i’m sorry, but that’s on you.  if you’re connected to the community then you’re going to know what’s happening because you want to know what’s happening.

no church worth it’s salt is going to beg you to be a part of what it’s doing.

we don’t always want to exert effort within the community

let’s be honest.  it’s easy to walk into a place that has everything just hummin’.  when the programs are awesome, when the crowd is big enough that no one will notice when i’m not there.  when nothing is expected of me.  when we’re honest with ourselves we should be able to say, “yea, that’s easy.  slip in, slip out.  get my church-fix & move on with the week.”  on the other hand it’s hard to join a community that doesn’t have all its ducks in a row.  a group that’s in process on a number of fronts.

now let’s be additionally clear about something.  i know plenty of pastors that are leading big churches & the problems, issues & hang-ups are present as well.  so i’m not bangin’ on the big church at all.

the larger, more important truth to all of this is about us, it’s not really about the community itself; large or small.

we know that community & connection to a healthy group of believers is good for us.  there are times in our lives when, for a variety of reasons, we simply don’t engage in it like we should.

but let’s track back to the beginning of this writing:

we’re not alone in our struggle

this, i think is one of the biggest lies that satan tells us: that we’re alone in our struggle.  “surely no one would understand this about you.  if you talk about this kiss goodbye any influence & trust you have.  you’re alone in this, and that’s the way it should stay.”

we know this is a lie simply reading the dysfunctional, broken, jacked up stories in the bible.  men & women who are called by God but seem to choose to mess up the response the call at almost every turn.  go ahead, check it out, i can’t do your homework for you.

shared love & support

when community is right, and there’s not shortage of communities that aren’t doing it right.  but when it’s right there is a sense of shared experiences & joy, as well as hurts & walking together through tough times.  but the bond that’s forged in tough times is a bond that lasts.

seeing new parts of God

something my wife has said, & have stolen it & now say it: “being part of a church forces me to spend time with & get to know people that i may ordinarily never have known…and that’s a good thing.”  when i’m with people that i may not have chosen to be with lets me see God in new light.  i end up hearing the stories of God activity in different ways.

community is a part of our holy dna

several years ago a group of us were having one of those highly spiritual conversations; what would you do if zombies really attacked?  how would you survive?  would you try and get together with a group of people, try and create a civilization?  or take off into the woods & try to make it on your own?

the answer from someone whom i have loads of respect & love for surprised me.  they said, “i’m out!  gotta’ go off, just me & my spouse; try to get as far away from people as possible!”  now the truth is that i don’t know if this person, who is very funny, was making a comedic comment or not.  and it could have been just that; comedy, not to be taken seriously.

but it did get me thinking about how God created us to NOT be alone.  God put a desire for us to be together, to be stronger when we come together.

“a chord of 3 strands…”

“a son shall leave his father & mother…”

“do not forsake meeting together…”

and here’s the beautiful thing about community, it’s never too late to join, to re-connect.

so if you made it all the way to the end of this article, you didn’t stop and swear off reading anymore from this author, and you’ve recognized that your connection to a local church community is waning…it’s not too late.

God has things for you to do, but some of those things are tied to your connection to the community of God.  so get plugged. the community needs you in a similar way that you need the community.

good, short conversation from jon acuff & his wife.

Quit trying to turn lead into gold. – Jon Acuff.

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.

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…

 

Holiday-Christmas-Gifts-Redknee-deep in the Christmas season, plans coming together, gifts being purchased & shipped; Christmas songs seemingly in every store.  i was in a store just the other day & there were 2 versions of songs i thought i knew but the tempo was all wrong & much too cheery for those particular songs.

oh wait, did i just say that something new was not so good, and i preferred the old??

…oh no!

SUBJECT CHANGE:

this season, i am again reminded about the 1st century conditions & climate of the world Jesus is born into; dirty, corrupt, loads of people in need, the gap between the “have’s & have-not’s” growing…anything sound familiar?

just the other night someone said, as we were having this very conversation about gifts & giving, that we tend to walk around with our yard stick &  measure up the lives or gifts of others based on our thoughts & presuppositions [our yard stick].  this is fraught with all kinds of problems from how much we spend [gifts] all the way down to how much we think we need a savior.

there is a growing trend, movement of people that are doing their best, in their corner of the world to return Christmas to Christ.  everything from give relational gifts, to reach into dark places & being Christ to some people.  just a brilliant approach to what we do with this season.

there can be a struggle in figuring out how to do this.  we’ve been so steeped in what Christmas has looked like that we’ve all drunk the kool-aid & simply don’t see a way out.

advent conspiracy has some wonderful ways to make the season memorable without going further into debt or simply over-spending.  on the right @ the bottom of their home page is the [AC calendar].  download the PDF & there you’ll find QR codes for every day of december.

sidebar…i don’t think it’s ok to say, “well, if i have it, isn’t it ok to spend it?”  the answer is “NO!, it’s not ok.”  i don’t believe that Jesus was sent so that we could, through our hard work & self-driven effort, have a great life.

the download from advent conspiracy, with QR codes, is about raising our awareness as Christ-followers.  i truly believe that the way the world changes is connected to our sense of compassion for those in need & the way God uses that compassion to move us into action.

so come on, download the PDF, print the poster, hang it in your house/office, and use your smart phone for something more than facebook & pintrest.  [not that those things are bad]

in the words of advent conspiracy: let’s find ways to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all

secrets forgotten

today i re-opened a book that i had started, put down, & then forgot about.  the forgotten ways by alan hirsch.  good stuff related to the return of the church, or really the NEED for the church to return to it’s roots in the way Jesus related to, connected with, ate, walked & did life with the kinds of people that are on the edges of life, the fringe folk.

one of the premises of this book is that this ability to serve, give of ourselves; the mode of becoming missional, is really wired deep inside us.  but over the course of years of “neglect & dis-use” we [the church] have lost contact with it; though it be in our system.  good stuff, no doubt.

one of the things that the author brings up is that this kind of discussion disrupts the very fabric of “how it’s all done” – that is to say how church is done.  it disrupts the fabric because in order to truly reach out & become “missional” – to care more for others than yourself means putting down the things that you like & love & really, really want to have…the things that make me comfortable.  there, i said it.

as i’m reading i’m reminded of a conversation i had with someone a few years ago.  i was meeting this individual in my office and on my desk is another book, the secret message of Jesus by brian mcLaren.  as this person is walking into my office he says something along the lines, “well, it’s not really a secret at all.  it’s right in front of us, all we have to do is grab onto it.”  ok, that’s true, but i would say that many, many people; including those that have known Jesus almost as long as they’ve been alive, have trouble recognizing what Jesus did while He was on earth & applying it to their lives.  therefore, it’s a secret.  it’s a secret, not because it’s hard to find, but because we’ve lost touch with it.  it’s a secret because we’ve been, for too long, “doing church” and making sure the right people are there and the offering gets collected & the budget is maintained.  let’s be real clear; Jesus never talked about any of that!

here’s some of the stuff that Jesus did do:

ate with the people He wasn’t supposed to

hung out with folks that the religious elite thought were out of bounds

empowered women [a huge issue then & now]

challenged the religious systems that were in place [notice we don’t see Jesus challenging political systems]

only does what the Father tells Him to do [jn.519 & jn.14:31]