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December 11, 2017, 8:38 AM

-O Come Let us Casually Observe Him - Part 2


Part 1 can be found here. 

Christmas is a unique time. A majority of the world, whether they acknowledge it or not, are turned towards the coming of the Christ. Intermixed with the pop songs of the season are the traditional hymns declaring Jesus' arrival. No matter if someone demands you to say "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas," there is at the very least a familiarity with the source of our joy this time of year. 

Which leads us to our big point in this two part blog: Just like with violence or sinfulness, we've become dulled to it all. We rush about to get our shopping completed and make sure everything is decorated just so and make sure all the snow-themed treats are baked. Christmas has become just as commercialized within Christianity as it has in our stores and malls. 

We casually observe the Messiah lying in his manger, wrapped in clean cloth, and wondering what that smell is. (Hint: its the ox and lamb). The heavenly host's message to the shepherds is treated as a chorus to a song we sing for about 4 weeks then shelve for another 11 months. Even those amazing tv shows we loved as kids are no longer a highlight because we can stream them whenever we want. (Seriously, do you remember waiting for the commercial that advertised when Rudolph and a Charlie Brown Christmas were going to air!?). 

We have begun to treat this season like a trip to the zoo. Casually observing creatures, that if allowed to, would wreak havoc in our lives if it were not for the moat and protective glass. 

Preachers are just as guilty, having become zoo keepers, those that curate the Messiah into easily digested viewing sessions. We answer questions and bring interesting facts to the table every week. And then end the casually observation at an appropriate time before stomachs start to growl noticeably. 

“O, Come let us Adore Him.” 

Adore. Worship. Dive into the Kingdom he established. Christmas is so vital to our faith and existence that we cannot overlook it. The manger is a vessel of immense power. The shepherds  are earthly examples of heralds akin to the messengers who sang Glory and Hallelujah in the skies that night. 

Adore Him.  Bring gifts worthy of a King. Bring everything we’ve got. 




December 4, 2017, 8:39 AM

O Come Let us Casually Observe Him


Part 1: 

Christmas is a different sort of animal isn't it? 
Some people (you know who you are) gear up for it months and months in advance. There are decorations and an entire industry of these decorations that take in billions of dollars each year. 
Christmas is a big deal.  Now, it is interesting in our group that Christmas has not been such a big deal, which is ok. We’re not tackling that issue right now. But here’s the issue I do want to address: “O, Come Let Us Adore Him.” 

Adore. Worship. Bring the best gifts, celebrate and whoop and holler through the streets in the middle of the night. Adore. 
Because Christ the King is born, here on earth, to redeem all mankind. 

I propose a change of lyrics to suit the Western Church Model: “O, Come let us casually observe him… At regularly scheduled intervals… assuming those times do not interfere with everything else we do around the holidays.” 

Kansas City has a really great zoo. It is especially neato if you live in a couple MO counties, as you get a killer discount. I happen to live in said county, and get a discount. And therefore, we visit the zoo often. We have our favorite animals that we love to stop and see every time we visit. Some of those animals are cute and cuddly and I imagine holding them would be like holding a house pet.  

On the other side of that notion are those animals that are absolutely terrifying and have huge claws or teeth with which to eat tasty morsels like myself.  I am happy to observe those creatures through very thick glass or protected by a literal moat. 

If a crocodile were to get loose near me, you better bet I would be impacted by that development. If I were to be thrust into the midst of the lion’s enclosure, you bet I would be impacted by that.  Which is why I approve of such protective measures to keep me from encountering such life altering situations. 

Maybe you see where I’m going with this. Christmas, and Christ in particular are treated much like we do the dangerous animals at the zoo. We like to visit, maybe even often, and observe his workings and miracles and blessings in the New Testament. We enjoy seeing how awesome his power is and the potential he has to shift the lives of those he encounters. And then we go home having casually observed the workings of God. 

Remove the protective glass between yourself and Jesus and then see what happens. Discover the power he has over YOUR life specifically instead of being content with what was written about him on the conveniently located information plaque on the enclosure in which he is kept. 




November 27, 2017, 8:44 AM

What Kind of Answers?


God, what is your will for Red Bridge and what do we need to do and become? 

Continue to pray this daily, seeking God's will for our congregation. As we pray seeking answers we need to expect answers. I've asked that those answers be written down and submitted to the office for Stage 2 of our prayer initiative. 

Here's a little further clarification: As we pray and as we begin to receive answers we need to be ready to hear and receive. That may come in the form of an attitude -- Love. Meaning, whatever we do must be done in love. The answer received may be a people group or demographic in our community that needs our focus. Perhaps the answer you will receive is a ministry that the Church needs to undertake. 

When you receive that prompting, answer, nudging and movement of the Holy Spirit... Whatever is continually coming to mind and heart before, during, and after you pray: write that down. 

When we pray for rain, bring an umbrella. When we pray for answers and direction, expect answers and direction. 

 




November 20, 2017, 9:33 AM

Forever Requires Unity


It could be said that yesterday's theme was the word: Forever. (11/19/17). The sermons I preached were both focused on Psalm 136 which has the repeated phrase: "His Love Endures Forever." Sunday morning's sermons hit on the four themes of the Psalm: God's Person, God's Power, God's Provision, and God's Purpose. Sunday evening held a slightly different approach to the Psalm, focusing instead on one word: Forever. 

What makes that word unique is how big it really is. Forever is eternal, before our beginning and long after our end. Trying to fathom forever will only create a headache. It is that very nature of the idea of forever that I want to repeat today in this blog. If we really believe God's love endures forever then we have to adjust how we act/respond to some temporary things. 

In light of the sheer hugeness of forever all the little things that seem so bothersome in our every day travels start to pale and diminish. In light of forever what we think is important becomes trivial. When we live with a forever mindset, the will of God becomes greater and our will becomes less. I thought about this concept of God's eternal love when I shaped the second sermon I preached... at the Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service. This was an hour of worship that included four very different Christian traditions and denominations. In the every day, normal routine of things we go about our business as four very separate groups of people. 

And yet.... when we take into consideration FOREVER our perspective and ideas of division must change and adjust. Forever, at least for one hour on a Sunday night in November 2017, meant that we could focus on what unites us as believers: Christ and him crucified. When we have a forever mindset we can seek the best in each other. And we discover just how much we have in common. Even if the way we do things looks and sounds different (I've never heard a prayer or hymn in Egyptian before last night!). 

Discover a Forever mindset, especially when this world pushes us to focus on the trivial problems of today. Seek Forever relationships and endeavors that keep us focused on what really matters: Christ and him crucified. 

 




November 13, 2017, 8:35 AM

I Can't Believe the News Today


Here's how the song Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2 begins: "I can't believe the news today. I can't close my eyes and make it go away. How long? How long must we sing this song?" 

This song was written concerning a massacre and violence in Northern Ireland, the song itself released in 1983. And yet every time I hear this song I cant help but think that it was written about today, yesterday, tomorrow... Because the news tells us again and again that this world is falling apart. That is the main message that the "News" has for us. "Get a helmet folks, you're going to need it." 

What amazes me is not the tragedies that happen on a weekly basis. I'm amazed by the message of hopelessness that is barraging us. Get on social media and every bit of bad news is echoed by everyone with a keyboard. Nothing is safe: politics, economics, gender battles, legal issues. It'a ALL there. 

"I can't believe the news today. I can't close my eyes and make it go away." 

What we can do is love. That doesnt make the bad news go away... but it begins healing the scars that form. 

Want some good news? Love. Love shifts. Love moves. Love builds. 

Love. 

1 Corinthians 13: 1 - 3 1If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t clove others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.2If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.


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