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December 3, 2012, 9:39 AM

But I like to Slouch......


Hello again! 

As I sit here typing, looking back up at the title that I just gave this entry, I cant help but notice that I am hunkered down in my chair with stooped shoulders and a good curve to my back.  I do not have good posture when I'm sitting at my computer.  In fact, lt me go through all of the areas where I think I need to improve my posture:  walking, running, sitting, standing, eating, sleeping, and maybe even leaning.  If I dont make myself aware of my posture, I'm going to slouch.  So, I'd like you to take a second and stretch out and then sit back down with a nice straight back.  Doesnt that feel better?  (yeah, I'm still in the same typing position... do as I say, not as I type).  

Now that you're sitting upright and breathing easier, we need to remind ourselves of the other kind of posture.  The one that communicates much more than "I dont stand up straight."  Remember this illustration from yesterday:  Men, which should you believe when approaching this situation:  A woman you love is standing tall, arms firmly crossed.  Her eyebrows are furled and there is only a line visible for a mouth.  When you naturally ask "Whats wrong, Honey?"  She replies: "NOTHING!"   Should you believe the words or the posture?  

If you guessed the words... you're probably single.  Of course you need to read the message she is sending you in her posture.  The body language is communicating that you are in trouble and you need to get to apologizing for everything you've done wrong... ever.  

Church, our body language communicates in a very similar way.  We have all the right words:  "WELCOME!!" or "JESUS LOVES YOU!!" or even "GOD BLESS YOU!"  Does our posture communicate the same message?  Do we have arms outstretched?  Do we offer helping hands?  Are we willing to get on their level in order to bring them into a closer relationship with Jesus?  If we use these words of welcome and greeting but then completely disengage from them to sit with our friends, what does that communicate?  When someone shares a prayer request or a need, do we acknowledge it with one of our "churchy" responses (oh, I'll pray for you) then walk away unphased and disengaged?  

I'm not trying to lay on the guilt, but this is too good of an opportunity to not use as an example.  At the Thanksgiving banquet on November 18th, I came down as one of the last people to join the meal after the morning services.  The fellowship hall was FULL!!  People were genuinely enjoying themselves and the atmosphere was truly thankful and festive.  However, at one table there was, sitting alone, a visitor.  She wasnt looking around, she was quietly concentrating on her plate of food.  Church, what were we communicating to her at that very moment?  Yes, our posture made us cold and unwelcoming while we were using words of thanksgiving and gratitude.  

Take some time to read John 8: 1 - 10 and Luke 19: 1 - 11 this morning, afternoon, or evening.  Dont just read it casually though, use your eyes.  SEE what Jesus did, SEE how Jesus used his posture to protect, heal, and show compassion.  After his posture communicated his intent, he was able to use words that cut to the core.  

Its time for the Body of Christ to use its body language to send a message of compassion, welcome, and love.  That requires us to stoop a little more, bend our backs in service a little more, and get our hands dirty as we grow the Kingdom.   

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November 26, 2012, 9:19 AM

Has Thanksgiving changed anything?


Good Week After Thanksgiving, Church Family!!!

As I reflect on the events of the past week, I have to wonder aloud: "Why did I eat so much?"  Its truly astounding how we dont catch the fact that we're full until we've devoured our third helping of everything on the main table and taken a turn at the dessert table!  But dont get me wrong, I'm THANKFUL!!!  There is nothing quite like eating that first piece of Pumpkin Pie (lathered with Cool Whip, of course) after craving it for a solid three months prior!!  

I hope your Thanksgiving break was about more than food though.  Its an exceptional day when even the talking heads and personalities on television are sharing that which with they are thankful. Amidst the parades, football, and expectations for grand dinners there is an air of family, and gratitude.  Its a lot like the peaceful vibes we get around Christmas.  And just like Christmas, the Thanksgiving season comes to an end.  

What comes next?  Where do we go from here?  

I hate to say this, but I'm sick of turkey.  Yes, I'm turkeyed out.  So I dont want to step back into another Thanksgivingly season anytime soon, unless we move to Pizza as our honorary meal.  So option number 1 of having an official Thanksgiving celebration every week is out.  What does that leave us with?  I guess what comes after Thanksgiving is up to us.  

Take some time to run back through Luke 17: 11 - 19 this week.  This was our sermon text this past Sunday.  Its a very Sunday School friendly lesson in being thankful.  But Church, this lesson goes way beyond Sunday School.  For too many, our worship and gratitude stops at simply saying "Thank You Jesus... You know, for all the great things you did for us..."  And then we move on. The gratitude doesnt change us, it doesnt  have a lingering affect on our attitudes, it doesnt seem to matter beyond those two words.  

Church, what comes after Thanksgiving is ACTION, SERVICE, and WORSHIP.  Being grateful is step number one in a lifelong journey lived at the feet of Jesus.  Just like the one leperous Samaritan who came back, our gratitude must lead us in the opposite direction of our selfish initiatives and back to the feet of the one we want to serve and emulate.  

 

What comes after Thanksgiving? Thats up to you.  

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November 19, 2012, 9:53 AM

I'd rather be stuck in Egypt...


Good Monday Church Family!

Thank You for an excellent morning of worship yesterday, and much thanks for the outstanding dinner afterward!  I'm still recovering from the onslaught of Thanksgivingly sustinance.  Remember though, that being outwardly grateful and thankful extends far beyond the month of November!!!

I was reminded yesterday that the sermon topic fell in line with one of the major story threads of the O.T. (Thanks Mike!!!), and I want to expound on that a little here.  Church, you just have to love the Israelites ("Bless Their Hearts").  They give us so much hope and present such a convicting story line.  Unfortunately, most of the hope they provide is the fact that we probably cant do things as backwards and goofy as they do.  I mean, honestly, they had God showing up in plain sight (pillar of cloud by day, pillar of fire by night, smoke and thunder on a mountaintop to name a few) and they still managed to gripe, complain, and whine themselves into 40 years of the best desert lifestyle.  This is on top of the display of God's power and majesty through the 10 plagues thrown upon the nation of Egypt that allowed them to walk, yes walk, out of Egypt after generations of captivity and slavery. 

Through it all, God understood the difficulty ahead; He understood how drastic a change it was going to be; and He knew the people were going to be in for a rough road.  Check out Exodus 13: 17 - 18. God made their path not the shortest, but the one of lesser resistance because he didnt want them whining immediately to go back to Egypt.  God's foresight here is truly profound (as it always is).  He understood the anxiety level the people were going through moving from slaves to freedom to the ultimate claiming of the Promised Land.  Its what they wanted and were crying out for for generations, but when it comes to the reality of freedom, independance, facing the "unknown", they proved themselves unprepared!  

So God saves them from battle right away and leads them to the edge of the Red Sea.  Read Exodus 14:10 - 12.  What God tried to avoid happening, happens.  "Why did you take us out of Egypt?  There were more than enough graves to bury us all there!!"    This thread continues throughout Isreal's travels, practically right up to the moment Jesus arrives (then afterward too).  They cry for deliverance, receive their freedom, then whine themselves back into trouble. 

Church, we fall into the same trap dont we?!  We cry for freedom in Christ... "FORGIVE US!!" "Deliver us from this world's grip!" And then we fall captive again to the lifestyle of sin, temptation, and indulgence.

God has heard our cries, he has paved the way to forgiveness, deliverance, and salvation.  And we get pulled back again and again by our reluctance to embrace our freedom in Christ and the lifestyle it creates in us.  

Does freedom in Christ mean that everything turns rosey and happy?  Nope.  Cancer is still cancer.  Divorce is still divorce.  Financial trouble is still financial trouble.  How we respond to what the world throws at us is what changes.  Or is what should change.  When we rid ourselves of the anxiety of separating ourselves from this world's desires, we allow ourselves to see things for what they really are: a temporary blip on our way to something greater!  This world is not our home... This battle you're facing is not the end... The hardships, while genuinely difficult to bear, are only going last a little while...  Something better is coming, the Promised Land is near.  

We have been freed from sin, freed from the world's greed. Does your life, do your words, do you reactions, do you friendships all reflect that?  Do we have that glazed over look on our faces that comes from being focused on things outside the pull of this world?  

I'm thinking Heaven sounds a lot more appealing than Egypt.  

 

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November 12, 2012, 10:18 AM

Did Jesus really NOT say that?!


Good Monday Readers!

Yesterday morning we walked through some of the changes and growth that we see develop in everyone's favorite Gospel friend, Peter.  From the very beginning of his calling Peter displays both raw dedication and the ability to believe Jesus' words at their most basic of levels (and the uncanny ability to overrule all of that in a fit of emotion!!).  

When Jesus calls him from the most amazing catch of fish he had ever seen, he interpreted "Follow Me" as "Follow Me".  I'm pretty sure you and I would hold fast in our shoes these days and have a list of questions to ask Jesus concerning all of the plans he left out of those two words.  We've become a society that questions everything, which in a way is a very good thing... but when it comes to the commands of Jesus, (who we must remember is the Son of God, and ALL authority was given to him), we need to throw those questions out the window and take him at his word.  

Take a tour back to John 6: 60 - 69 this week...  Really, go grab your Bible and get there.  Jesus confuses the people, disgusts them even by his analogy of his Body and Blood.  Many are so disgusted that they walk away.  They didnt wait around for the explanation, they didnt wait for the point to be laid clear, they just walked away.  

Jesus then turns to his closest friends and ask them "Are you leaving too?"

Church, we must be driven to the level of Peter's response here:  "Where else would I go Jesus?  Who else can compare to you?"

There is nothing that can compare to Jesus.  Nothing that speaks with his authority.  Nothing that lasts.  Nothing that trumps his Love.  Nothing that shakes his dedication to you.  Nothing that can hold a candle to the way he thinks about you.  

Yet we run.  And we turn to the world for our identity.  We turn to our peers to identify ourselves.  We turn to our wallets, we turn to our jobs, our titles, our status... 

This week, close your eyes, ears, and hearts to the voice of the world and its attempts to try and hand you an identity based on its standards.  Turn your eyes, ears, and hearts to the voice that cries out from the Cross, from the Empty Tomb, and from the realm of the Kingdom of God... its saying "Follow Me..."  

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November 5, 2012, 11:00 AM

Default???


Howdy!

So I got to test my default setting yesterday afternoon... Sigh.  

If you dont know what I'm referencing, let me offer an explanation.  Everything has a default setting.  That is, the setting with which it was created.  Your calculator has a Default setting.  Your computer has a default setting.  If things go wrong, you hit the reset button or throw in the install disk and things are magically transported backwards to the setting with which it was sent out of the factory.  

YOU have a default setting.  However, those settings have gotten messed with, adjusted, tweaked, turned, and shifted based on your collective experience with culture, faith, family, and the general environment in which you operate.  Through it all though, you have a core identity, a core piece of who you are...   What is that default setting?

Now, I know what it is supposed to be.  Remember all those Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5?  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control!! That SHOULD be your default setting.  Compassion, tenderness, general good feelings towards your fellow human inhabitants.  

Insert the neighbor.  Insert the dramatic testing of my default.  Insert my failure to respond with ANY of the Fruit of the Spirit.  Insert my hand hitting my forehead (as many times as you think necessary).  Yes, I preached on this very thing yesterday morning.  Yes, I proved my inability to act Christ-like mere hours afterward.  I'm in need of your forgiveness.  

My response?  I raised my voice back, asking what I thought were reasonable questions... but really I was defensive and accusatory.  I let my default setting of selfishness and anger burst forth.  I need to hit the reset button.  I need to answer the question that Jesus asks Peter in John 21.  "Do You Love Me?" 

I wasnt feeding sheep, I was shoveling manure.  All because my default setting was skewed.  

Church, fellow readers, friends, strangers:  Time for a reset.  Its time for our community to know us as Believers who have dropped this world's nets and base our identity in Christ alone... dead to everything else.  

 

In related news, I'm looking at getting the sermons at RBCOC recorded and posted here ASAP.  Not that I think you're overly interested, but it might be nice to connect these Monday Morning thoughts with the sermon that precedes them.  

 

Stay Salty Church... Stay Salty. 

 




October 29, 2012, 10:19 AM

New Beginnings...

Good Day Church! 

I just want to echo the comments I was able to make Sunday and say "Thank You" for trusting me enough to work with you as Preaching Minister!  I want to work hard and make this a long-lasting and productive relationship!

As far as some inspirational thoughts coming through this avenue, I figure I will use this space to remind you of some of the past Sunday's challenges as well as throw in some content that maybe didnt make the cut in the final sermon edit!!  Yes, this is the Blu-Ray version of the Sunday morning sermon!

I mentioned yesterday that I have grown uncomfortable with being labeled as "Christian" because that term means so many different things.  From Donald Miller in "Blue Like Jazz":

 

In a recent radio interview I was sternly asked by the host, who did not consider himself a Christian, to defend Christianity. I told him that I couldn’t do it, and moreover, that I didn’t want to defend the term. He asked me if I was a Christian, and I told him yes. ‘Then why don’t you want to defend Christianity?’ he asked, confused. I told him I no longer knew what the term meant. Of the hundreds of thousands of people listening to his show that day, some of them had terrible experiences with Christianity; they may have been yelled at by a teacher in a Christian school, abused by a minister, or browbeaten by a Christian parent. To them, the term Christianity meant something that no Christian I know would defend. By fortifying the term, I am only making them more and more angry. I won’t do it. Stop ten people on the street and ask them what they think of when they hear the word Christianity, and they will give you ten different answers. How can I defend a term that means ten different things to ten different people? I told the radio show host that I would rather talk about Jesus and how I came to believe that Jesus exists and that he likes me. The host looked back at me with tears in his eyes. When we were done, he asked me if we could go get lunch together. He told me how much he didn’t like Christianity but how he had always wanted to believe Jesus was the Son of God

I prefer that we call ourselves "Christ-Followers" and act accordingly!  Take some time to read back through Luke 5: 1 - 11 this week and watch what happens when Jesus simply asks these guys to "Follow Me."  They drop their nets and follow!!  Whats even more impressive is that they drop a career making catch of fish, two of them leave their dad with said catch of fish, and walk away.  This catch would have fed their families (both through the fish themselves and the sheer volume of cash income from selling them) for a while!  Not to mention the FISH STORIES they would be able to tell! This was the catch legends are born from!  This is the kind of catch that can shape a reputation, an identity in the fishing industry...

And they walked away.  

 

This week, what is something that you have been dragging around in your attempt to follow Jesus? The first disciples dropped everything to walk alongside Jesus.  Is there something that has held you back from following as you should?  Is your reputation keeping you from walking alongside Jesus compassionately?  Is your desire for a fatter wallet keeping you from sacrificial living?  Is a grudge or argument keeping you from loving someone the way Jesus does?  

We are called to be netless believers.  Drop it and walk away.  

 

chris

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