Archive for the ‘Connection’ Category

What does Jackson like to do on Saturdays? Tell me about his strengths and weaknesses. Who is his favorite author? What ticks him off? Would you be able to answer any of these questions?

Hosea 6:6 in The Message puts it in part like this: “…I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.” Is your relationship with God personal enough that you could describe Him to someone who only hears about God from a fan, after a referee’s poor call at an athletic event?

In a movie I watched recently, the words Jesus and Christ were used in two sentences as adjectives to describe a person’s irritation with something. Really?

In connecting with another, there are significant issues we must deal with. Will we be truthful or hide? Will we let fear of being known limit what we share about ourselves?

WHAT THIS MEANS: Are you willing to get real with God and deal with the cost involved to really know Him? Or are you ready to talk about your weaknesses and faults with  another? Can they ask you any question? Are you willing to honestly answer it?

Success

Success (Photo credit: aloshbennett)

I imagine you have said it yourself or your kids have said it one too many times. You are only 30 minutes in the trip that is going to take several hours and you or they ask “are we there yet?” Our questions and thinking always reflect what we believe is important or how we are putting the pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

A church (which is made up of a bunch of people) is successful not when you can’t find a seat, or the new building is now completed or the number of programs has exceeded the number of days in a typical month. The criteria for evaluating success should not be how many but rather what kind. Are people learning how to be real (honest) with each other, involved in consistently sharing life together, and is their life arousing curiosity from those who intersect their life?

People all over the world are looking for people who will be up front with them, genuinely care about spending time with them and who are figuring out how to eliminate the attractive and myriad distractions that choke the life out of them.

The Thessalonians were impacting people all over the place. They had become the daily headlines in the newspapers. If it were today, word of their changed lives would have gone viral on the internet. Twitter wouldn’t have had enough room to list all of the tweets about how they were focused on what really mattered. Check out 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

Get some coffee or a beer with someone this week and talk about this.

Given the choice, most of us would prefer to drive a car with heated seats, is

Inconvenience

Inconvenience (Photo credit: futureshape)

extremely comfortable, never needs repairs…you get the idea. Why would we choose one that has a window that does not quite roll all the way up, whose heater occasionally works and has no air conditioning? That one can stay on the used car lot even if it was offered to us free.

When are we really a neighbor? If we move into neighborhoods that are protected by American Home Shield, it is likely we might meet those living around us because they are probably safe. I mean, when they moved in we didn’t see them unloading various knives or weapons we can’t pronounce. We could easily invite them over for a BBQ.

But a neighbor is one who gets excited about who just moved in next door or who they just met at the gas station because now they have the opportunity to show them just how much God really loves them. It doesn’t matter they wear a black leather jacket, don’t wear shoes most of the time, have hair the length of your sister’s or have a very interesting tattoo visible all of the time. And what if they just moved in from Somalia?

If we have concluded that God brought this person into our life to learn that Jesus is more than an exclamation mark in a conversation, then we can be the real neighbor.

Check out Luke 10:29-37. Given the choice, most people are never going to live in neighborhoods where they have to be inconvenienced by other’s needs. The possibility of an assault happening does not check one of their boxes. But the real neighbor is ready to love people that God intersects their life with anywhere and anytime. God knows who these people are and is thrilled to give them the opportunity to accurately define  neighbor.

community

community (Photo credit: planeta)

“I have the right t to do what I want to do, be who I want to be and have what I want to have.”  (1 John 2:15 & 16) Almost every American would agree with this because of our culture’s focus on individualism. Jesus hits hard at this prevalent attitude among people regardless of their religious or political persuasion. He constantly defines commitment in terms that offend our pursuit of what we want or think we need or deserve. His focus on people in need or who are marginalized is so constant it is scary.

The early church knew what Jesus was after, especially when it came to caring for one another. Community was more than a contemporary word thrown around in our innovative new church plants. It meant more than doing a Bible study with a few people once a week. There was real life stuff happening every day or throughout the week that was shared with one another. Needs presented by someone were met without hesitation by others.

Was that really like it was? If so, can we recapture it in our drive by mentality where we drop into one another’s life like picking up an order of fries at McDonalds drive through? Something is truth when it is not defined by culture but by God. It defies the busyness, self-centeredness or anything else that seeks to justify a lifestyle contrary to what the Bible defines as church.

Acts 4:32-35 introduces us to a deeper meaning of ownership and meaningful commitment to one another. There is no place for superficiality here. These people recognized that we are at war with an enemy who seeks to not only create disunity but also to cause us to think and live apart from one another. He doesn’t mind our occasional bumping into one another but he knows the power of people on mission together. There is unleashed power in our life being connected to the Holy Spirit but it is multiplied as we live in community.

A good turkish coffee

A good turkish coffee (Photo credit: Maria Rosaria Sannino/images and words)

You may have never thought much about jumping out of a plane of any kind, at any elevation or at any time, but we all have a need that for the most part is unmet throughout our lifetime. Adventure, expedition and intimate friendships are a part of the fabric essential for making sense out of life and church. 

Taking a trip with Jesus as the tour guide would have been electric. For him however, it was normal. Traveling to another country with others for a few days and sharing life, while trying to introduce Jesus into conversations over Turkish coffee in a street cafe is thrilling. But it pales in comparison to hanging with other Jesus followers at a local Java cafe and developing meaningful conversations with strangers or acquaintances. Working with other Christians to teach English to Iraqi refugees and having meals together in your apartment can be as significant as traveling 6000 miles from home to do it.

The point is that we need to do these kinds of things together as church and then life becomes something you set your alarm clock for so you don’t miss it. We need to ask ourselves if church for us contains this adventure and connection with others.

The brochure Jesus has used for years to recruit followers stirs something in us that can’t be found anywhere else. It simply says “Come…and you will see.” John 1:39

Let’s do it together.

There is a TV showHouse Hunters International.” We usually tape it because we like the various countries in which they preview houses that a real estate agent might never take you to. I remember a country and one town in that country I actually spent about 7 weeks in that would not be on that show. Along with 7 others, we stayed in a hotel that would have been condemned in the states. Albania in 1992 was the country and we stayed where everyone else lived in that town. There were no gated communities to check out. The guy at the door of this hotel told us one day he could blow up that hotel anytime he wanted to with the dynamite he had. Oh, did I mention Turkish toilets shared by men and women, water only 2 times a day from a sink for 2 hours, no showers, no hot water in the town…you might be getting the picture.

We had to live there because it was in the middle of where everyone lived. We were there to build a road to a maternity hospital and share JesusLiving close to those you want to influence is critical. You must move into their neighborhood. Think with me about Mark 14:3-5. Jesus was comfortable having dinner with a guy who would not be on the invitation list of the mayor. Sounds like he may be marginal at best but it was where Jesus was hanging out that night. Where else would Jesus meet him except in his neighborhood? This is church at its best.

This guy was open to listen to Jesus because the meal was on his own turf. This may have been the best evidence to him that Jesus really cared about him.

Do you find it easier to occasionally drop into a “bad” part of town or does it ever cross your mind to move into that neighborhood? It depends if you want to really connect with the people there.

Everyone enjoys eating out. No preparation in the kitchen, no agonizing over cooking the fish just right and of course no cleanup required. Jesus enjoyed eating out-in fact he did this almost every day. But one day he surprised his men and caused the religious types to show their real character.

Check out Matthew 9:9-12. Jesus had an important thing for his men to learn here. He knew those with unfounded religious rules would have a fit but then, that was part of his plan. The religious club needed to remove some things from their priority list. We must learn to engage our culture without compromise. Engaging means association with but does not mean shallow conversations. We should ask meaningful questions to help people think through their conclusions about life. And, we need to really listen to people even when we absolutely disagree with them.

1 Corinthians 9:22 in the Living version says in part “…trying to find common ground with non-Christians so as to tell them about Jesus and let Jesus save them.” 2 Corinthians 10:2-5 adds a dimension that is often overlooked.

Extra credit: John 2:1-11. We need to help people when we can. People have a lot of water but maybe not much wine. It is easy to live rather plain lives void of adventure. We may be able to help people with that. Also, 1 John 2:15,16 should help us not cross boundaries that would diminish our effectiveness with our culture. We do not have the right to do what we want to do, be who we want to be or have what we want to have if we are following Jesus.

Where are you having dinner tonight? How do you need to work on the compromising aspect?

Over the years and especially for the last few I have come to several conclusions that are critical to keeping me from jumping out of a car at 60 mph. One such conclusion is that I am in a battle for my life but there are not many helping me in that fight. Thankfully there are a few willing to ask hard questions that keep me on the right track. There are many Christian groups/churches that seem to have interesting speeches and talks but they don’t often hit me where I live. How about you? Do you have someone or a group that is willing to risk it all or who is willing for you to put all your stuff on the table?

1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that our enemy does not want to curl up with us in bed but rather wants to devour us. Many strategies-same end in mind. He wants to ruin and destroy us. We need someone to watch our back, someone who will help us prepare for the race with the right training, someone who will encourage us to keep going when we are at mile 4 in the 10K.

We are challenged by Paul to be that person for others and make sure we have someone in our life who is dead set on seeing us finish the race. Check Romans 12:10 and 16:3,4 as well as Philippians 2:4 and 19-22. Where or from whom do you get training for what life throws at us?

One Hand Clapping

Posted: October 13, 2012 in Church, Community, Connection, Lifestyle

Medically people are often put in isolation to prevent something from spreading to others. Sometimes people are isolated due to crazy or wrong behavior. Treatment is offered in order to get people out of the isolation they have created or been placed in. Some people choose to live apart from others-they may not move to Montana and live in a cabin because they can do it in an apartment complex in Denver just as easily.

What about Christians choosing to separate from other Christians due to whatever? It is just as easy to show up to a church service with 1500 others and be just as isolated as someone who never shows up. Isolation has satan’s imprint all over it.

To follow Jesus we must be connected to others who are not playing the isolation game. Isolation grows when we are not real, don’t accept challenges from others and when our busy lifestyles keep us from frequent contact with other followers throughout the week. All of these are our choices. It’s like clapping with one hand-basically pointless.

Look at Acts 2:42-46 and Hebrews 3:13 and 10:25. Think of a step you can take to become more connected with others.