So… What have I been up to? What have I been doing? And what’s going on these days? Well, it has been an incredible summer. One that has been filled with family memories… Beach days, adventures, back yard baseball, and building with legos. And most recently we have seen a return of the rainbow loom… In a spirit of honesty, I must share with you; I’m not too thrilled about that. Those rubber bands are everywhere!
I have enjoyed some amazing spearfishing adventures. It is one of my favorite things to do. The water has been warm and clear this summer. We have been eating our fair share of fresh fish and mussels. I always walk away from a morning of spearing feeling rejuvenated and invigorated.
This summer has been a great summer over at our Church. Tiffany and I have really enjoyed diving in and becoming a part of our church community. We continue to be amazed at all that God is doing in our midst. There are many exciting things happening in Nutley!
I have some news I want to share with you!
I’m really excited to announce that for the past couple of months I have been spending my evenings writing and pulling together a new e-book that I will be launching soon. I am excited to announce that I have written an ebook called “Empowered”. I have been blogging less, because I wanted to take a look at what it means to engage in the mission of God in this world. I believe that God has put every single one of us in unique situations with unique opportunities. He has invited us to join Him in His mission here on earth. He has cleverly disguised some of you as doctors, police men, nurses, or friendly neighbors. He has you exactly where you are right now for a reason–to impact the world around you. And He has empowered you to do it!
Jesus shares about this mission in Matthew 28:16-20. Some of the last words that Jesus shares with His disciples are that they are to make disciples of all nations. They are to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are to also teach them to obey all that He has commanded. It is a simple, and straight forward plan. It has been the marching orders for the Church for the past 2000 years. Yet it is still amazing how often the Church chooses not to engage in this plan that God has laid out for us.
In “Empowered” I wanted to take a look at what it means to live this out in our daily lives. No matter what age you are or stage your in, there are unique opportunities for you to be making an impact in the world around you. With our heads up and our eyes open, I believe that God will use each of us in the world around us! As the Church, we know the end of the story; but the details between today and that day are still all in the making. I can’t wait to hear what part you play.
I hope that you will check it out, and share it with your friends when it launches. Stay tuned for more on that.
I can’t help but enjoy Avicii’s current hit song ‘Wake Me Up’, with it’s driving beat, catchy lyrics and all. Plus it helps that it’s on iTunes radio all the time! After having heard it multiple times, I had to go online and check out the music video. I found this video to be a beautiful picture of what the Church should be like.
Here’s 3 things we can learn from Avicii and his song Wake Me Up:
Judgement is a relationship killer. That is one of the fastest ways to make other people feel uncomfortable. So, if your goal is to push people away, and keep people from coming to your church, work hard at judging them. People are longing for a place to fit in and be welcomed. That is where the Church comes in. The Church should be the place where everyone no matter who they are, or what they’ve done should be accepted and loved. I love how in the video the woman rides her horse up onto the bridge and looks out over the modern city with a twinkle in her eye as if to say, “Ah… I think I have found home.” That’s what it should be like for people who walk into our churches for the first time on a Sunday morning. Make it so that they are not afraid to come in to your church. Do whatever it takes to break down that barrier.
People don’t stay in a place because they have cool lighting and an awesome sound system. People find themselves getting rooted in an environment because of their connection with other people. I love the scene where they pile into the back of the truck as they head off. There is something about the smiles and laughter of the few people together. They have a relationship there that is looking to meet the needs of this confused and searching traveler. They bring her right in, invite her to do whatever it is that they were already doing, and head off into the sunset together. How are you at connecting people with your small group of friends? That’s the power of relationships- connection.
Being a part of something, feels way better than watching something. (Unless it’s an MMA fight) When you get involved in an organization, church, or any other club your level of buy in goes way up! People feel a sense of ownership when they move from sitting on the sidelines to being an active participant. In this video, you see a whole sea of people who are actively engaged in what is happening on stage. There are not rows of velvet chairs neatly lined up as if you are in a movie theater observing something. No, these people are participating in the show, they are as much a part of the experience as the lights and sound waves booming from the stage. How are you at helping people get plugged in to be apart of your churches service projects, or serving teams? It’s vital!
Why do all this? Why go to the trouble of helping people through this three step process? Because you’ll find that there are people who will echo exactly what the woman said at the end of the video:
Get up! Pack your things…
Where are we going?
Somewhere we belong…
I love hearing people say, AH… I’ve finally found my church home. Every person has a story, and every story matters to God! Let’s work hard to help people find home.
When you walk into church on a Sunday morning, who do you see around you? What are those people like? Are they people who have it all together? Do they struggle? Do they doubt? What do you think and feel?
I know that walking through the front doors of a church can be incredibly overwhelming for some people. Some people are afraid that if they come to church their skin is going to burn from the holy light that is in that space like some sort of exorcist movie. They believe that they have done so many horrible things that they won’t ever be accepted in a place like this. Maybe that is how you feel, or used to feel. Interestingly enough, the way that we view others affects the way that we engage with others.
It comes down to this? Do you see church as a collection of saints, or a collection of sinners?
One of the primary reasons that people don’t spend more time engaging in confession and accountability is because they are afraid of being judged by you and me. Too often we think that the church is a collection of saints and that we are the one sinner that slipped into that community. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, we are all sinners, we are all people who at one point in time or another were separated from God. Too often we believe the lie that I can never measure up, or I’ll never change. We loose hope and we start to just throw in the towel.
Don’t buy the lie.
That’s the amazing thing about Jesus. Anyone can come to Him and find that there is still hope no matter how dark their world may seem. It is because of Jesus’ death on the cross that each one of us with our bruises, scars, and warts can come before God and be seen as beautiful and clean by Him.
The church is not filled with better people, just people who are better off because of it.
So what do you think? In an honest moment here, do you lean more on the side of seeing people as saints, or sinners? Let’s take a poll.
The other day Noah and I were building with blocks and I began to question him what it was exactly that we were building. A lot of times we just build for building’s sake. Good times had by all. This time he was persistent to get it just right. We put up the four walls and then added two slanted pieces to simulate a roof line. The walls were tall, towering, and void of windows. Their was one way in, no way out. Their was a parking lot and a prefered parking space near the door for the wealthiest individual. All of the people were sitting in a straight row in the very back of the facility. Then there were 4 people on the opposite wall, they were all standing.
I got really curious and asked him what we were building and who all of these people were. He responded with this is a church. These are the people, and this is the worship team. (I had to help him with the term worship team, that wasn’t natural, but they were clearly defined in his mind.)
I watched as he carefully and intentionally positioned people, and blocks. He was sure that he was building the church. In reality he is. This looks a lot like our churches, right? What if we looked at the book of Acts and the early church? Would we come to the same architectural structure? What about the placement of people, would that be the same too? I doubt it.
However, by the time Noah turned five he has a pretty good idea of what the church in the west looks like. I hope that when I am building blocks with Noah’s children that maybe the face of the church would look a little different, a little more like a group of people huddled together rather than neatly lined up in a row. Maybe it would be in a facility of some sort, just not so predictable. Can you imagine church being any different than it is now? Should it look a little different than it does now? What do you think?
Oh by the way, Woody and Army Man stopped by because they heard the wonderful music inside. They said they weren’t really into the whole God thing, so they sat in the balcony that day.
Can you spot all of the things that are messed up with Noah’s form of church? Tell me what you see.
I just started a new book last night, and I am loving it already. I knew it was going to be good when I was already underlining in the Foreword! I have started Killing Cockroaches by Tony Morgan. I made it all the way to page 7 when I had to stop and think about this one for a little bit… This was too good not to share!
“Action speak louder than advertising”
WOW! That is spot on. We need to be defined by who we are and how we serve those outside of the church rather than the image of our building or who the current hot shot pastor is in town.
James 2:15-17 “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accomplished by action, is dead.”
Morgan writes, “You can’t buy the media coverage you’ll receive if you remain faithful to God’s design for the church and stay active in people’s lives by addressing their physical and emotional needs.”
I think that this is right on the money… What do you think?