Sight Unseen 

I had over 20 years experience in full time ministry plus a fairly good stint in part time ministry under my belt and the idea of full time church planter seemed “doable”.   It still does.  But now I see how much I didn’t see.   I know now what I don’t know.   

You could easily put in 80 hour weeks.   I have already. 

You can easily lose track of family and your own well being.   I have been close.   

Faith means moving ahead without knowing where it is going.   It isn’t a blind walk.   It is a walk firmly rooted in what is known.  God loves me.   My family loves me.  Success is giving it the best effort with all priorities in order.   

Not buildings or budgets or butts in the pew.   Staying right with God means success.    

How do you define success?  

Summons

Leaning against my computer is an envelope from the county.

Jury Summons / Dated Material Enclosed summons

Great…..

Actually I have mixed emotions.   I really don’t have the time, yet I am intrigued.  I love mysteries.  I love courtroom drama literature, TV and movies

So while I could do without the hassle — I kinda want to see how this all plays out.

Guilty or not?   Could be interesting.

Part of the excitement and drama is not knowing till the last moment which way it will go.   Should we take a deal early on?   Take our chances on the jury’s opinion?  Plead guilty and avoid the whole trial?

With our faith we remove the drama.   For the one who is disciple of Jesus and in a grace relationship with him there is no drama — no question.

When the case is heard the verdict is predetermined.   NOT GUILTY.  NO PENALTY.

Now there’s some good news!

Pictures (fill in blank) wishes would go away…

A good title can  suck in even the best of us.

I recently noted one of those “sidebar links” that plaque the social media sites with the title

“Pictures Hillary Wishes Would Go Away”

Couldn’t resist.  Actually most weren’t that harmful and a few were actually funny.

go awayBut isn’t that how many of us are as we go through life?  There are pictures and moments that we really wish would simply go away.

But, unfortunately, like the internet — once it’s out there….

God’s forgiveness and grace doesn’t erase the picture.  It doesn’t make the event go away.  In some cases the consequences of the event (picture) will last a long time — perhaps a lifetime.

Grace does mean that the guilt is erased.  Grace means that while we may have to suffer some of the physical, social or emotional results of our actions — we can be assured that the spiritual consequences are nailed to the cross.

That’s huge. 

I recently revisited the movie Ragamuffin about the life of Rich Mullins.  During his struggle with the offer and glamour of Nashville and the simplicity of being part of a small band traveling around singing in local churches he came to a conclusion, depicted in the movie as a reaction to a very legalistic sermon, that regardless of which choice he made — one fact remained.

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.

That’s huge. 

Even when I realize that I have just had a photo op that will haunt me for awhile — one thing remains true.

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.

That’s huge. 

Why Community?

Ever wonder why God designed Christian faith which is very personal and individual oriented to be best lived out and developed in the context of community?

No one can be saved for us, or accept Christ for us, nor can they exercise our gifts.    Personal and individualized.

Yet faith grows cold and dies outside community.  Isolation paralyzes and frustrates spiritual growth.  The best crucible for faith and discipleship to grow is withing the context of the local church.

It is because we all experience salvation and life in Christ individually and uniquely that we must grow in the context of others.

We need their input.  We need the friction of living life with others to show us the rough spots.  We need to love of others to soften the blows when we are hurt by the friction.

Community is where we learn love, forgiveness, forbearance, and the like.

Church is after all a team sport…..learn from others

How To Ruin A Community

Below are some thoughts that a friend of mine recently shared.  It applies to a civic community (which he and I both are concerned about) but there is also application when it comes to Faith Communities.

Tuesday Rambling 8.9.16 – How To Ruin A Community

community

Could I unintentionally contribute to the ruin of my community? I hope not, but I think the following things should make anyone think about where they live and how they conduct themselves.

Time to ramble about how to ruin a community.

  • Talk negatively about it without pointing out positive things going on. (Negative will always overshadow positive.)
  • Oppose change overtly or subtly by staying stuck in the “good old days”.
  • Show a general sense of mistrust for anyone new or with new ideas, especially if those you mistrust come from a different generation than you do.
  • Gossip about your neighbors, community organizations, fellow believers in Christ, and/or leadership.
  • Never do anything or attempt to accomplish any goal with those outside your “bubble”.
  • Criticize everything without showing the initiative to get involved. This applies to schools, events, initiatives, sports programs, etc.
  • Avoid the weak, marginalized, powerless, or poor. Do nothing to help improve their condition.
  • Rarely associate with anyone outside of your racial, political, socio-economic, or generational bubble.
  • What would you add to the list? Where else should we exercise caution in doing life together?

Missed

missedI missed.  Totally let it get passed.  Never even made an effort.

Missed.

Forgot.

Should have. Didn’t.

Lots of excuses why.  Some actually fairly good.

We post — Mondays / Wednesdays/ Fridays.

Missed Monday.   The funny thing is — for the most part it is probably something no one other than myself noticed.  I am probably the only one it bothered.

It may sound strange for a preacher to say this, but we too often beat ourselves up way too much if we miss our morning devotions, or a prayer appointment, or even a Sunday service.

They are important.  But reality is — not the most vital.  If we know Jesus loves us and fully accept that then rules and rituals are less vital.   Important, but not vital.   A few misses won’t send us to hell.

 

Connie and I have been married for 40+ years.  If we don’t get each other a gift exactly on a birthday — or if an anniversary is celebrated late it isn’t earth shattering.

We know the love and commitment is there so the “rituals” are less vital.   Important, but less vital.

Being free in Christ means that a morning devotional or a prayer time that is missed due to various “life happens” situations are missed but not condemning.

That isn’t to say you can use that as an excuse to ignore these things.  it is far different to be a day or too late with a birthday gift due to life happens than to just blow off the birthday as unimportant.

Just deciding that worship, devotions or prayer are unimportant is far more condemning than just missing in the shuffle.

Monday is gone.  I cannot go back and post in that place.  But I do have an obligation to look ahead and plan for how I will keep from “missing” Mondays in the future.

 

 

 

Called, Changed & Committed: Mark 4:19

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