Archive for February, 2013

When I was at Texas A & M in 1961, freshmen in the corps of cadets were not allowed to walk or stand on the grass-strictly an upper classman privilege. But what if it was not allowed in your neighborhood or apartment complex? It wouldn’t make sense and your friends would probably move on. They certainly wouldn’t visit you in your neighborhood.

What do you think those who aren’t going to check out our church meetings have concluded about in their words “our religious clubs” that steal all of the joy out of life? Maybe it’s the dress code to get in, or the rules about what you can;t do on a certain day, or that you better not have a wine bottle in your fridge at home or some other rule that really doesn’t make sense to them (or to Jesus for that matter).

We can do a lot to ease the concerns of those not following Jesus by removing barriers to their exploring the truth that is not misrepresented as rules that must be obeyed or else. We could start by inviting them to the group that meets in our house for a meal and a beer if they would like one as well as a practical discussion of how following Jesus makes a difference at work, in the pickup basketball game  or how we raise kids. Help remove the conclusions those not following Jesus have about church by enjoying life with them both in your house and theirs. Remember  that Jesus never compromised anything and they called him their friend.

Further ideas can be seen in Matthew 15: 8 & 9, John 10:10 and Acts 15:28 & 29.

English: Bottle of wine.

English: Bottle of wine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What comes to your mind when you think of these words? Interesting, strange, trapped might be a few. What about alternative reality? Are these guys real and is there really a hotel like this? Without getting too “out there” with this just consider that most people live in a reality that defines life in a way from which there is no escape, is very repetitive, is hard to make sense of, and usually ends in depressing conclusions that frustrate the fire out of them.

What does this have to do with Jesus? In a word-everything. The deal is however, he has decided to let you and I live and reveal an alternative reality to people trapped in mindless trivia issues that never go anywhere. 

When we live lives where we genuinely care, extend grace without condition, raise curiosity by going the second mile, love them when we know they have differing views about gun issues than us…(you can add to this), they realize we live according to an alternative reality that really does offer freedom from everything that traps them every day. Anyway, they are really more concerned about life before death than after it.

Think through Matthew 5:38-48; 2 Corinthians 10:12; Colossians 4:5 & 6 and 1 Thess. 1:2-9 and see how you can communicate this life to them. By the way if they only see this in you, they might conclude you are just an exception. But if they see this in several of us, they are going to want it. This really is church.

Oh, No! It's Devo

Oh, No! It’s Devo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lamborghini Aventador was revealed at the ...

The Lamborghini Aventador was revealed at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show: http://www.autoviva.com/lamborghini_aventador_lp_700_4/version/30376 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We may not work at our job seven days a week, but in our fast paced culture we manage to almost completely fill up the rest of the days with projects that are stealing something more valuable from us than we can imagine.

Most of us don’t know how to slow down, and to stop is really way too our of the box for us. We can’t imagine taking several hours each week to just think, take a leisurely walk or drive, or put on scuba gear to examine a world we rarely experience. Out dictionary is getting smaller because amazement and overwhelming wonder are disappearing from our experience. We simply don’t have time to be challenged by God to consider what he has done in our world.

When we speed through life in Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 style why should we be surprised that we are ready to punt life several times each week. Our worship is dramatically affected when we don’t take time to experience God through what he spent at least six days putting together.

We might as well get some scissors and cut out Psalm 8:3-9 and 46:10. We simply don’t have time to deal with this.

Why not look for something every week that causes you to stop, stare and think or causes you to drop to your knees. Don’t take these words out of your dictionary.

Thomas and Sarah at The Ritz Hotel

Thomas and Sarah at The Ritz Hotel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One popular slang expression in the 1920’s was “putting on the Ritz” meaning to dress very fashionably and was inspired from the apparently very fine Ritz Hotel. We do like people to see us at our best, to think we are really some cool dude, or that we have it all together. But usually that is as deep as it goes. No way they are going to see what we just thought about while we were at that last party or the glance we just gave their spouse. We’re not taking off the Ritz!

For most of us, being close only equals showing up for the church group meeting or the small group. We might even contribute an idea that causes people to think we’re special. That really is what being real and authentic is about, right? Our intellect is on display for them but not our heart. If we only talk about how great our week went, we tend to be in competition with each other. But when we share how we really blew it last night, we have a chance to become part of a family.

James 5:16 in the Message starts off “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other…” It results in living together in considerably deeper water. Being real opens the door; consistently being real allows people to sit together on the couch  sharing things that really matter.

Are you sitting on the couch or standing by the door?  Is courage in your vocabulary?

Church Building

Church Building (Photo credit: joseph a)

A man and woman are checking on a new house to purchase. The wife rejects several houses in the $400000 category because she does not like the color of the counter tops or in some cases they are not granite, while the husband rejects others because there is no space for him to eat his ribs and watch the game alone or with his buddies in his man cave. There are some essentials the house must have while most are really optional.

What are the essentials and what is optional when it comes to church? Does the answer depend on if you live in the USA or somewhere outside of the USA where the majority of followers of Jesus live? One of the most significant times of doing church I participated in was in a stairwell in a dilapidated building in Albania. There were about 12 of us present, about half Christians and the rest not Christians who mostly spoke Albanian. We had no musical instrument and sat on the floor and stairs.

There are several essentials but I mention only one here-we are to make disciples who make disciples. We may have grand “church buildings” but we have dismissed one of Jesus’ most significant statements of why we are remaining on the planet if this essential is not happening. Check Matthew 28:18-20. We  must carefully define “disciples” or as GK Chesterton says “we continue to play children’s games.”

There are many optional aspects of doing church but one would be location. It may meet in a building with a church name on it, or in a rented school, or a city park or…

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

You’ve tried over and over to get it to work but it just isn’t adding up. You go over your problem again, but nothing seems to be getting through. “Maybe I should consider majoring in General Studies rather than Math” you think. What makes something not add up anyway? Could be not having all the right information, or maybe having limited information or maybe the formula is wrong. Maybe the guy who wrote this book woke up after being out with friends till 4 AM and then started working on it.

We hear many wrong solutions regarding making life work as God intended. They often come from people who really do care, but for whatever reason they just don’t connect with where we live most  of our lives. The information sounds good but really it’s quickly forgotten after the meeting is done. But you think “I will go back again and maybe next week it will make sense.” But you begin to conclude that Christianity sounds great but it just doesn’t work for you.

The emphasis in our meetings should be about learning rather than teaching. We need teaching but how do we learn? A friend somewhere in my life told me “telling isn’t teaching any more than listening is learning.” One way we can learn is to have what is taught modeled. Dawson Trotman (Navigator founder) said  “tell them why, show them how, get them started, keep them going and check up on them. This is a lost art of discipling and learning. It is the essence of love-caring enough about someone that we can help them learn. If all we do is teach, at the best we probably are pouring our life down a rat hole but at the worst, do we really love them?

Check out John 13:1-17 especially verse 17 and James 1:22-25

A 16mm jacket dupe microfiche

A 16mm jacket dupe microfiche (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might have to microfiche for this headline but its importance can’t be overstated. It was a typical Sabbath day, the people were there probably not expecting too much to happen but there was one factor they had not counted on-Jesus was in the house! The meeting started well but by the time it was over, the people were trying to kill Jesus. What the spank was going on? Look at Luke 4:14-30 and especially verses 18-21.

Jesus identified his purpose but the people thought he was pushing it too far. But think about verses 18 and 19. Why is this good news? What is good news to those who don’t know Jesus or who get up every morning to go to work and come home to crash for the rest of their life?  Is the good news inviting them to meetings, challenging them to only eat certain food, washing their hands for all kinds of things or is it much more? We must know what would be good news to those not following Jesus.

This in part requires listening to our friends. People trying to make life work without Jesus are locked up in jails of all kinds. They can’t see how to escape the many traps of life and they are hammered, crushed and broken down by countless inventions of men that just tie the knots tighter. Freedom, Sight and Release are what Jesus is talking about. Do our friends not following Jesus get this? Do they see this message in us? Can you give someone a little hope today?