Blog
Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43   Entries 196-200 of 215
March 11, 2013, 10:38 AM

Setting the Bar a Little Lower.


Good Day Reader. 

This week's sermon was a hard pill to swallow......for me.  As I was presenting the story of The Mediocre Samaritan, my brain was stuck on all those moments when I did exactly like I was instructing otherwise.  I am especially conscious of our time spent in Romans 12; specifically verse 9.  "Dont Just Pretend to Love Others. . ."

SIgh.  My mind wanders throughout the Old Testament to places where God is fed up with the people and their meaningless sacrifices.  Sure, they were offering sacrifices to God, but their hearts werent in it.  They were going through the motions.  The act was there, but the meaning behind it was lost.  I feel much of the same way about the story of the Good Samaritan.  Its a great story, one that makes for an excellent class, sermon, and lesson.  We can talk about how bad the Priest and Levite were... because they should know better.  We can talk all day about just how good the Samaritan was.  It is really an amazing story.  But do we hang on to the message?  Do we get to the end, hear Jesus' command of "Now go and do likewise", and just move on with our lives?  

I do.  

Its a hard pill to swallow because Jesus' words are for me.  I've allowed myself to walk casually around the trainwrecks of people's lives, all the while thinking I had much more important things to do.  I've allowed myself to show curiosity, even surface level interest in service and doing things above and beyond for people... only to move on after the minimal amount of commitment. 

Everytime I hear the story of the Good Samaritan, I want to put myself in the place of the Samaritan, the one who stops to help.  I really want to, but unfortunately reality sets in and I've already moved on.  The message forgotten, the bar of expectations set a little lower with each passing step.  

It takes conscious effort for me to come close to the Christ-like standard I am called to.  It takes time, sacrifice, and momunmental levels of concentration and prioritization......and its worth every bit of that investment.  

My call to you, the reader, is to be an intentional blessing on those people who are beaten up by life.  Left stripped bare and lying on the side of the highway of life.  Seek them out.  Give sacrificially.  Then look around for someone to share the message with (not in a self-righteous way).  Share the message of sacrifice, giving, loving, and compassion.  

Live this message:  Now go and do likewise.  

 

chris




March 4, 2013, 11:25 AM

A good tree? Or a dead tree?


Hello Reader! 

So I'm going to try and eloquently explain why I left yesterday's sermon (3/3/13) with the challenge to "not be warts or blisters on the body of Christ."  Yes, I understand there really is no other place to go to try and make warts and blisters eloquent... but I'm going to give it a shot.  

We must be a body of believers that is working; much like a tree, with all its roots, bark, branches, leaves, and even the nuts.  When a tree is working, all aspects of the body are engaged.  The branches are stretching and growing and offering new places for leaves to reach the Sun.  The roots are digging deeper and deeper, searching for springs and sources of life giving sustinance.  The bark strengthens and grows around the tree, protecting and shading the fragile interior.  Through the seasons of growth the nuts and seeds are developing so they can strike new ground when the time comes around for new growth.  

Where are you in this process?  What place can you be found in the lifecycle of the tree? Because if a tree isnt growing, its dying.  There is no halfway about it.  There are intricicies to the lifecycle of the church that cannot be relegated to my simple illustration of the tree, but the essence is the same.  We are either growing or we're not.  Think about it, how easy is it to identify a tree that isnt growing?  Its simple really, because there are no leaves, the branches are brittle, the bark is stripping off.  

As we take some time this week following through with the challenge to identify our place in the body, we must be aware of whether or not we are part of a living and growing body, or one that is stagnant.  As we represent Jesus to this world (we are called the Body of Christ afterall), what image are we offering?  Does our Jesus extend his arms in love from all corners of the congregation?  Does he run to the aid of the lonely and mourning?  Do the roots of the Church ground themselves in the power of God's Word or in the influence of our desires and wishes?  

Find your place in the body of Christ.  Be honest.  If you can only identify ways that you take from the body without offering anything in return, you have become a tumor.  Tumors take.  Tumors decay.  The church, the body of Christ has enough tumors.  We need branches that will reach.  We need leaves that bask in the light of the sun.  We need roots that dive deep into the Word.  We need some bark that shields the young, allowing them to nurture and grow.  We need our people to be active and involved.  Otherwise we're just lumber, ready to be cut down and thrown into a fireplace.  

 

yep, a tree is much more eloquent than warts and blisters.  

chris

 




February 25, 2013, 10:56 AM

Practically speaking, or practically ignoring?


Good Day Reader!  Time for another blog post recapping and adding some thoughts from Yesterday's sermony-type thoughts.  

Who wants to be loved in a mediocre fashion?  Who wants their spouse to half-heartedly commit to a life together?  Is there anyone out there seeking a friendship that hurts and bleeds them dry?  How many want to see world hunger kind of solved, but not totally?  

I dont think anyone would admit to any of these publically, or on record.  We are not built that way.  We are not built to accept the mediocre, even if we unfortunately fall into it over and over again. 

Imagine with me, if we could, apply the concept of "mediocre" to God's pursuit of us in some popular Bible stories.  

Imagine the mediocre actions of God in Egypt.  What would have happened if God had given up on his people at the first sign of complaining?  They'd be stuck at the edge of the Red Sea, see that in front of them and Pharaoh's army charging up behind...  Insert the complaing and griping here, and boom, God does nothing.  If God wasnt passionate in the pursuit of His people, he could have left them right there, stuck between the Sea and an Army waiting for them to shoosh their complaining.  

What if God didnt take the time to seek out Noah and protect him with the long term plan of the Ark?  What if God didnt stop Abraham's arm from completing its arc and actually sacrificing Isaac? What if David's first shot had missed its mark on Goliath?  What if God really had removed "the cup" from Jesus, and we had no cross or empty tomb?  

Church, there is no halfway to God's pursuit of us, God's desire to know us.  There is only God going all in because he really, really likes you on top of his eternal love for the earth.  

We can no longer allow ourselves to go halfway in our pursuit of a godly life, in pursuit of being Christ's Ambassadors.  There is no halfway.  I want to call on my inner geek and quote Yoda from Star Wars:  "Do or Do Not.  There is no Try."  

 

No more mediocre.  No more halfway.  

Post a Comment





February 18, 2013, 9:45 AM

Mediocre Relationships to the Rescue!!


Good Day Reader! 

I had the pleasure of officiating a wedding this past weekend.  It is always an honor to be asked to take part in the first steps of a couple's life together.  Its always exciting because, despite all the activity going on around them and the detail oriented people pushing this way and that, the wedding and marriage is all about passion and love for the couple.  I guess it may happen, but I dont think there are many weddings that are based on the mediocre desire to get married and a mediocre commitment to spend a lifetime together.  I'm betting the passion shown during a wedding hardly ever lies in the realm of mediocre.  

So... because I'm a preacher and I have to ask these questions:  Are you ok with a mediocre relationship with Christ and His Church?

NO, this is not a plea for better attendance and better giving.  That is better left to guilt trips and mediocre sermons.  This is a question that goes deeper than those surface level indicators of Spiritual Health.  I'm afraid too many Churches are topped off with folks content with mediocre passion, mediocre dedication, mediocre allegiance, and mediocre intentions to live intentionally.  Church, when will we ever call on mediocre ANYTHING to save ANYTHING? 

Moses was driven from Egypt (yes, a lot of that was based on his own impulsiveness and anger issues), set in the desert for a few decades with some sheep, then finally approached to be God's delivery man.  It took some convincing, with some bold arguments by Moses, but he bought in.  Moses went all in, taking the plan back to his Father-in-Law (can you imagine how that conversation went???   "Yeah, so....God talked to me......through a burning bush."  "No, it wasnt really a burning bush, it was a bush that was on fire but not burning..."  No, I dont know how he did that..."  "Wait, lets stay on task... GOD spoke to me, and he's sending me back to Egypt."  "Yes, the bush was fine afterward..."  SIGH.)

On the way to Egypt, with perhaps the biggest task ever placed on one man (outside of Jesus saving ALL OF US!!!), Moses stops for the night.  Turn to Exodus 4: 24 - 26.  God shows up........to KILL MOSES!!!  WHOA!!  Isnt this the guy that God just commissioned?  Isnt this the guy that God endorsed?  Yep.  And he was about to die.  

Why?  Because he went from "all in" to "mediocre."  Moses failed to obey one tiny command, and it very nearly cost him his life.  Thanks to Zipporah and her quick thinking, we still have Charlton Heston playing Moses and not Aaron in "The Ten Commandments."  

Now, I'm not calling you out saying God is on his way to kill anyone because of a mediocre obedience.  God's justice will be served in time, with a heavy dose of the Grace of Jesus thrown in.  What this story does for me is attack that part of me that wants to dismiss the little things that will make some of the biggest differences in my faith, belief, and obedience.  At no point does mediocre cut it.  Mediocre doesnt make me a  better husband, father, friend, brother, son, or preacher.  

Switching illustrations quickly before I wrap things up:  I've watched an excellently made, two part series about one of the best rock bands around this past weekend.  Its a chronicle of their beginnings before joining the band, their eventual break-up, then the wildly successful reunion 14 years later.  What caught my attention from the get-go was the sheer passion and fire they had to be the absolute best.  The hours of rehearsal, the months of perfecting a sound before it was even considered good enough to be added to a record.  Mediocre didnt cut it.  And if mediocre was allowed, we would not have a single song, record, or tune we know so well from this band.  

Take some time and look for the mediocre you've allowed.  Yep, that includes those things like your giving habits and attendance... but it also includes prayer, study, trust, forgiveness, peacemaking, compassion, and service.  Its a long road ahead of us, but when we get together out of passion and a fire to succeed, it will be a profitable day for the kingdom! 

 

chris

Post a Comment





February 11, 2013, 11:28 AM

Where do we begin again?


Good Day Reader! 

Congratulations are in order for regular attenders at Red Bridge.  We've finished the Nehemiah series, built a wall, completing a major task! Think about what that felt like to the people of Jerusalem.  100 years of rubble, mess, and open defenses.  No gates, nothing to stop the arrows, chariots, spears, and feet of any army willing to throw something their way.  This had to build, at the very least, their confidence.  As I stated yesterday, we could very well end the story here... Watch Nehemiah walk away into the sunset.  Hollywood would have left it here, maybe shown families hugging each other on top of the wall, with no clue as to what comes next. 

Unfortunately, Nehemiah chapters 7 - 13 exist.  Attention is turned from the completion of the wall to the rubble that exists inside the city.  We've built the shell, now we have to take care of whats on the inside.  The wall could keep people out, and keep people who are inside safe, but where do those people on the inside sleep, eat, and gather?  

I think this story is backwards.  Unfortunately, my input was not taken into consideration when compiling and coordinating the building process.  Of course, I have no real concept of what an ancient city without a wall to protect itself is like, or susceptible to.  I think the inside needs to change before anything can really happen on the outside.  At least thats true when it comes to us.  

There is this mantra out there that you can "Fake it Til You Make it."  Apparently, if your heart isnt into something, you can act like it is until everyone either accepts it or your heart has a change of tune.  Thats a dangerous road to take in the realm of Faith and Belief.  I think a lot of Christians these days have that type of model in use.  Sunday morning looks all pretty, put together, and "holy."  While the rest of the week is indiscernable from the rest of society.  

Church, if we're going to move forward we have to know where change and growth begins.  It does not come from a program, it does not come from a self-help book, it does not come from perfect attendance.  It comes from the heart of the believers.  It begins when the hearts of those who make up the Body of Christ are living intentionally Christ-like, intentionally sacrificial, without having to "fake it."  

When we live that way we can gather and understand that we dont have it all together.  And thats ok.  We're here to support and love.  

As we work ahead on our Vision (being a Church that Loves and Serves), understand that we cant build ANYTHING until our hearts are aligned with the cross. 

chris



Comments

02-15-2013 at 4:39 PM
Jeff Hunzinger
I think you talked about fear last week. Sometimes we are paralyzed by the fear of change. What if I am vocal about my beliefs at work (pro-life, anti drug & alcohol, monagamy, working hard for our employer even if the company seems to be poorly run, commitment to family, no off color jokes, etc)? Will I be accepted? Will I be the butt of their jokes and conversation? Will I still have my job? Though it is hard, we do need to make small changes in how we profess our beliefs at work. Piece by piece you adopt these values publicly. Then people will be influenced by your actions. It may be dangerous to profess all your beliefs at once and risk being ostracized as a radical. But gradually, you can be known as a person who is different and has high standards (even if they don't agree with you). Ultimately, your contemporaries will respect you and follow you. If this technique is the "fake it until you make it" process, then I am OK with that. We must have a personal plan in life for effecting others. It is not enough just to be good people if we truly want to "reach out and save the lost". We have to be active and deliberate. But we also don't have to be like a locomotive and run everyone over. But as you state, it all must come from the heart. We have to know enough (from study) and be committed to this Christian life. We can be as excited about our faith as we can be about the KC Chiefs when they finally win and have 80,000 screaming fans yelling for them. Let's do it!! :)
Post a Comment



Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43   Entries 196-200 of 215
Contents © 2017 Red Bridge Church of Christ | Church Website Provided by mychurchwebsite.net | Privacy Policy