Everyone Is Redeemable

Everyone’s life possesses a redeemable quality. It it were not so, God would have given up on us years ago and never sent his son to die for us. We must not see people the way they present themselves today since the sin that rules in us has the effectiveness to define us. However, if we looked upon each other the way God looks upon us, then we would see these redeemable qualities within one another and love others they way they should be loved; with a God-qualifying love.

You and I are no different than those who present their once silent shame now redeemed in a cardboard testimony. I wonder, what would be on your cardboard?

Christianity Is Simple

I love reading Amish Fiction. Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter, and Suzanne Woods Fisher are a few of my favorite authors. One thing I’ve come to realize in myself and others is the allure of living simple or “plain” as they call it. In today’s culture, we are bombarded with so much media, so many activities, and so much stuff that some, including myself, look hard for a reprieve and we find it in the Amish way of life.

There are some who even take a step of faith and plow themselves into the Amish culture thinking that they can just turn a switch and leave all the trappings of this world to others and take on a simple life. Ironically it’s not that simple and more than 90% turn back to the old way of living feeling they can’t do without such amenities such as electricity, cars, internet, cell phones and other gravitational customs of the English lifestyle.

Yet we’re still drawn to the simplistic lifestyle so we start cutting out all the excess fat that weighs down our life. We work through the house throwing all out all the unneeded baggage. We cut out all the extra activities in our life in order to save money and resources. We find ways to repurpose the stuff we previously called junk. All this for the goal of reaching something we desired but couldn’t fully commit to.

The Amish, for some, have created an unattainable dream, one the ensnares us to consider change so that we may reflect it in some degree.

Yet, I can’t find that same aspiration for the Christian lifestyle. Those who long for an Amish way of living do not do so for religious ambition but a less dramatic one. Yet, we Christians wonder why no one wants to be a Christian. Unlike the Amish, we open our church doors and wonder why they are not being flooded. We invite others into our culture and become sensitive when others turn a blind eye.  We tend to believe we have the answer for life yet the answer we provide does not answer the questions being asked. So we stress because people aren’t running to our culture that provides a yoke that is light and not burdensome. It’s, I dare say, simple. But we, Christians, make it complicated.

We put regulations and drawbacks on what Jesus considered fair for all. No one wants the Christian simplicity. It doesn’t provide what others are looking for because we have manipulated it to be more than what God intended. There must be an attendance to the meeting. There must be a strict adherence to law. There must be one way of living. There must be a life of poverty and weakness. There must be rules.

But the only rule I find is to Love God and love others. Yet the church said it’s too simple. We must make it more than that. We can’t have such simplicity in the faith. People want simplicity in a world that is overcome with abstract. Christians have the answer to that desire. Yet we are trying to answer the wrong questions.

The right answer is simply “Follow me!” How do we propagate the Christian culture? By alluding to the life giving and life leading simplicity of Christ.

Christianity really is that simple.

This Is Discipleship

“This video is designed to inspire epiphanies about the purpose of church. We are commissioned to make disciples; this video shows how discipleship can be simple. It also shows how we sometimes can be distracted and overwhelmed by things that aren’t necessary for discipleship.”

How To Fit Mission Into Your Schedule

I’m Gonna Start A Church. That’s Just Plain Crazy!

The more I think about starting a church, the more I get freaked out. I mean who am I to think I could be a lead pastor. Who am I to think someone wants to hear what I have to say about Jesus? Who am I to bring people together to form a community? Who am I to pray for people when I myself am pretty jacked up? Why does God favor me to do such a thing? I confounds me. It blows my mind. It makes me nervous. It’s a crazy thought; pastor a church, lead a community, start an ekklesia.

Everyday that I draw closer to starting a new christian community, I wonder can I do it. Do I have the experience? Am I capable? Why in the world do I think this is possible?

Let’s for a moment throw out the God factor. We all know we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. I don’t discount the God mobility factor.

But tangibly, physically leading a church sounds overwhelming. It feels impossible. As days pass, I think I’m one step closer to starting a church. That’s a brain full when I think I’ve just always not been that guy.

As I type this, I’m just shaking my head. Really God, who am I? I’m just crazy enough to think I have enough experience to begin but do I have the experience to sustain.

Then the thought crosses my mind.

You’ll always only be prepared enough to think you can do it and never prepared enough to sustain it. Go ahead and jump in.

ok!

10.5.14 Worship Rewind

Worship Rewind 2013

  • Unchanged – Chris Tomlin
  • Lord of All – Kristian Stanfill
  • In Christ Alone – Stuart Townend

Another great day at GraceLife.  I alway look forward to hanging out with my church family. Truth be told there are days I don’t want to get out of bed. Especially when it’s raining or the weather has turned cold but I know that hanging out with my church family as we worship God together has the tendency to restore my soul and refresh me for the week.

As I write this, I am aware that I may not have many Worship Rewinds left as they traditionally have been. I have been writing these for years about the songs we sing and how the song service went but my transition from worship pastor to teaching pastor will soon come and the direction and layout will turn from songs to scripture. I look forward to the change but I also will miss the blessing of looking back through the years to see what songs were sung, the notes I have made on mishaps and musings as well as simply having a history of leading songs. That will soon come to pass and a new direction will take hold where I can then look back and see new work my family and I have begun.

With that being said, today was simply awesome. We sang a few songs, had communion and Pastor Carlo started a new series called Sola that simply rocked. I took away a few nuggets from today’s message.

I started the morning off with Unchanged. Nothing new or weird about this song. It sounded great. The worship team was really on key today and everyone sounded amazing.

After welcome, Tony led us in Lord of All. We “ping-ponged” the vocals. He sang the verses and chorus and I sang the pre-chorus and bridge. It was really cool and sounded great.

After Lord of All, the band sat down and I led the church in Communion. I really enjoying doing this. I remember the first time I got to lead the church in communion and I was scared to death. Now, it’s easy and not so nerve wrecking and I look forward to every opportunity.

After communion, we sang one more song. I led solo on guitar In Christ Alone. Our message today was Solus Christus, Christ Alone. I thought it was fitting to sing this song even though we have never done so before at GraceLife. Again, it was a fabulous day. After church, one of my friends took my wife, my son and I out for lunch. We decided to extend National Taco Day to today and continue the celebration.

Why You Shouldn’t Care About Other’s Opinion

I have a client who is also a friend. We have been working together just over a year now and we have been through so much. When I met him, he was homeless and hopeless. He had spent the last five years on the streets living under a local church’s carport. He went to the local shelter to wash his clothes, take a shower and eat breakfast and lunch. Before that, he spent fifteen years in jail because his niece got mad at him, concocted a lie and turned him in for touching her. He spent 20 years in Hell because of a lie. I could say that we all spend time in Hell because of the lie that we can’t be loved by God but that’s for another post.

Fast forward to today and after a year’s worth of working with him, he finally has insurance, disability and works 20 hours a week at a local business. He hurts a lot because he has a lot of physical pan. He is emotionally scarred. He has trouble trusting anyone and has trouble sleeping in part because of PTSD. He is depressed most days because he’s a shell of who he used to be and he can’t come to grips that he’s not who he used to be. He sheds a lot of tears because even though he is making strides to live a better life, he’s still pretty jacked up.

What compounds these efforts of succeeding in life is having folks tell him that he will never be good enough. He tells me that he has folks telling him to get a real job. Not only does he beat himself up, he has others giving him the club or using the club themselves to knock him down. Looking up is hard to do because he feels every time he does, he gets crap thrown in his eyes from those higher on the success ladder.

I talked with him yesterday. He was feeling down but he assured me that no matter the depths he falls into he knows Jesus still loves and cares for him. This was so good to hear that he hasn’t given up on at least the one person who will never give up on him.

I told him to hang in there and keep one thing in  mind. God’s opinion of him is the only opinion he should be concerned with. I told him I live by a motto: I would care more if I valued your opinion more. I told him not to value the opinions of those who don’t know him. God knows him and calls him by name. He knows every hair (what little there is now) on his head. God knows so much about him but these others who tear him down have no clue what he’s been through.

We shouldn’t value the opinion of those who don’t know what we are going though or what we have been through. We could easily let their voices ruin us, tear us down, rip us apart and render us useless in life. If we want to succeed in life, we need to listen to those who are in our life, know our hearts and have been given authority to speak.

I had a friend once that would tell me when I said something he disagreed with that he didn’t accept that and if he did agree, he accepted that word into his life. Why? Because words are powerful. We have the choice to let them build us up or tear us down. It just depends on how much weight we give to them.

So for those who have not been given authority to speak in your life, do not give value to their opinion. You will have less stress in your life. Give weight to opinions of those who matter to you and your life. I would advise to first, give weight to God’s words then those you love most. But if you continue giving weight to those who are only out to tear you down, you will never succeed.

Being controlled by the opinions of others is a guaranteed way to miss God’s purpose for your life! -Rick Warren

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