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February 27, 2017, 8:51 AM

Looking Like Jesus


Here is the story that I didn't use in the sermon time yesterday that you need to hear:  

In his book Messy Spirituality, Mike Yaconelli tells the story of a guy who was once mistaken for someone. His name was Daryl, and he was a new volunteer youth worker at his church. During their monthly nursing home visit, Daryl leaned against the back wall between two residents of the home who were in wheelchairs. At the end of the service, someone grabbed Daryl's hand. Startled, Daryl looked down and saw a very old, very frail, and an obviously very alone man. The man had no expression on his face, and his mouth hung open. Daryl doubted the man could hear or see anything at all.

As everyone got ready to leave, Daryl realized that he didn't want to leave the old man. Caught off guard by his feelings, Daryl leaned over and whispered, "I'm, uh, sorry that I have to go, but I'll be back. I promise."
Without warning the man squeezed Daryl's hand and then let go. On his way out the door, Daryl heard himself say to the old man, "I love you," and he thought, Where did that come from?

Daryl became a regular at the nursing home visits. Each month it was the same routine. Daryl would sit in the back next to Oliver, the old man, and hold his hand. At the end of the service, Daryl would say, "I'm sorry I have to go, but I'll be back next month. I love you." Oliver would squeeze Daryl's hand, and then Daryl would leave.

On Daryl's sixth visit the service started without Oliver. Daryl recognized that it sometimes took the nurses a while to get everyone wheeled out to the program. But halfway through the service Daryl became alarmed. He went to the nurses' station and was led to Oliver's room. In his 42 years of life Daryl had never before seen someone dying, but he could tell that Oliver was near death. Slowly he walked to the side of the bed and grabbed Oliver's hand. When Oliver didn't respond, tears filled Daryl's eyes.

It wasn't long before the youth director stood in the doorway to tell Daryl it was time to leave. An emotional Daryl said to Oliver, "I'm sorry, Oliver, I have to go. I love you." Just then Daryl felt a slight squeeze. Oliver had responded!
Tears flowed as Daryl stumbled out of the room, almost bumping into a young woman in the doorway. He said to her, "I'm sorry, I didn't see you." She responded, "It's all right, I've been waiting to see you. I'm Oliver's granddaughter. He's dying, you know."

"Yeah, I know," Daryl sadly responded.

Oliver's granddaughter went on to explain that she and her grandfather were very close. When the doctors told her he was dying, she came immediately. As she was with him the night before, he'd woken up, alert and bright-eyed, and asked her for a favor. He said, "Can you say goodbye to Jesus for me?"
Confused, she said, "But, Grandpa, I don't need to say goodbye to Jesus for you. He'll be the next person you see." Then Oliver closed his eyes, smiled mischievously, and said, "You don't understand. Jesus comes to see me every month, and He might not know I've gone."

Those were Oliver's last words.
Oliver's granddaughter asked the nurses what he meant. That's when they told her about the youth group that came and the guy who held her grandpa's hand. Then she said to Daryl, "I never thought of Jesus being as chubby and as bald as you, but I imagine that Jesus is very glad to have had you be mistaken for Him."*

I would love for everyone from Red Bridge to be mistaken for Jesus this week.  Live his character, live his words and actions, BE the Church and Body of Christ.  

*Adapted from Mike Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality, (Grand Rapids, M.I.: Zondervan, 2002), pp. 103-105.




February 20, 2017, 10:16 AM

Ordering Pizza... The delivery man cometh


I'm an expert at ordering pizza.  I can push a few buttons on my phone (using the app of course, who wants to actually call and order something?) and pizza will magically show up at my door.  Once I ordered pizza and the delivery person never showed.  My life was ruined.  

We are also experts at praying for God to work in us, for us, or through us.  But expect it all to be done without us.  

We've begun to treat God like a delivery man...  we pray, he shows up.  We never leave the couch. 

Remember Israel's 400 years of captivity?  They prayed for deliverance.   Cried out for generations to be freed.  When God showed up (amazingly and powerfully), they complained about how much work it took to be delivered.  

A simple point that is sourced in our Key Point from this week's (02/19/17) Believe theme of Church is this:  If we believe the Church is God's main avenue for accomplishing his purpose today, then we must believe that we will have to actually do something to accomplish his purpose TODAY.  We cannot order up a few prayers for the unfortunates and marginalized and expect God to deliver them.  We must get off the couch and do something about the unfortunate and marginalized.  

We want God's kingdom to grow in KC.   Which means we, the Church, the Body of Christ are the intended way for this to happen.  That does not happen inside our walls.  It happens where life happens.  When we follow Christ at work, school, and home.  When we pray for kingdom growth then work for kingdom growth.  

James 2: 14 - 17  14What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have cfaith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of cfaith save anyone?15Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,16and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

17So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.




February 13, 2017, 9:29 AM

I Am Because We Are


I was introduced to a philosophy not too long ago that finds itself running to the forefront of my mind as I think about our series: Ubuntu.  Loosely this can be translated: "I am because WE are."  It is a philosophy that gives us our identity because of our humanity, together we are... alone I am not.  

When we talk about faith and belief, the concept of Ubuntu works in this realm.  Christianity, at its core is not something that is meant to be done alone.  One of the first things Jesus did when taking those steps in ministry was to gather people to him.  If anyone, ever has not needed help it was Jesus.  He had a direct line and connection with God, all the companionship anyone ever really needs.  But he did not walk alone; He surrounded himself with....  people like us.  

It is repeated often that the larger gathering those who follow Christ is labeled: "The Body of Christ."  Paul calls us "one body with many parts."  This is a group effort.  Our bodies are a system of systems, organs, and cells that work together to keep us alive.  My favorite thing to hear from someone who does not attend a Church is: "I love God, but not the Church."  Or: "I'm a spiritual person, I dont need a church body to worship."  So on and so forth with the excuses for not attending a weekly gathering.  

The truth is, you cant have the Head without the Body.  This whole idea was not set up to be separate. We're in this together.  Like it or not, we need each other.   

We can also flip that concept on its head: We are because HE is.  Without the head, there is no body.  We exist to serve the one who formed us, to worship the one who saves us.  We are hopeful because HE IS HOPE.  

We're diving deeper into this idea this week........ when we gather as the Church!  See you there! 

1 Corinthians 12: 14 - 17 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?




February 13, 2017, 9:27 AM

I Am Because We Are


I was introduced to a philosophy not too long ago that finds itself running to the forefront of my mind as I think about our series: Ubuntu.  Loosely this can be translated: "I am because WE are."  It is a philosophy that gives us our identity because of our humanity, together we are... alone I am not.  

When we talk about faith and belief, the concept of Ubuntu works in this realm.  Christianity, at its core is not something that is meant to be done alone.  One of the first things Jesus did when taking those steps in ministry was to gather people to him.  If anyone, ever has not needed help it was Jesus.  He had a direct line and connection with God, all the companionship anyone ever really needs.  But he did not walk alone; He surrounded himself with....  people like us.  

It is repeated often that the larger gathering those who follow Christ is labeled: "The Body of Christ."  Paul calls us "one body with many parts."  This is a group effort.  Our bodies are a system of systems, organs, and cells that work together to keep us alive.  My favorite thing to hear from someone who does not attend a Church is: "I love God, but not the Church."  Or: "I'm a spiritual person, I dont need a church body to worship."  So on and so forth with the excuses for not attending a weekly gathering.  

The truth is, you cant have the Head without the Body.  This whole idea was not set up to be separate. We're in this together.  Like it or not, we need each other.   

We can also flip that concept on its head: We are because HE is.  Without the head, there is no body.  We exist to serve the one who formed us, to worship the one who saves us.  We are hopeful because HE IS HOPE.  

We're diving deeper into this idea this week........ when we gather as the Church!  See you there! 

1 Corinthians 12: 14 - 17 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?




February 6, 2017, 8:02 AM

Who Am I? I'm 24601


This blog entry is going to bridge between two lessons in the Believe series, The Bible and Identity in Christ.  

I start with our topic this past week (2/5/17), The Bible, which spoke into the pointed need for a Christ-Follower to be immersed in the Word of God.  The text and scriptures WILL guide us and shape us and enlighten us.  We can find ourselves with paths made straight, and discovering God's character completely by digesting the Word of God.  The heart of the sermon and lesson was the oft-repeated mantra: Read Your Bible. 

If you wander in the undiscovered or unmapped places of the world, you better have a compass that points true North.  When we wander this world of undiscovered temptations and unmapped paths, we better carry something trustworthy and true with us.  We cant find our way home without the Story.  No amount of spiritualization of our lives will overcome the need for a biblical center.  

Which leads us to our second point:  Who am I? We have many identifying features we pull out when asked that question: "I'm a ______ (occupation); I'm _______'s child; etc... etc...  We keep these labels handy so we can quickly disseminate enough information to another to either find common ground or explain why we're qualified for a specific task.  

What identity do we fall to when we're asked a moral question?  The "24601" number is a reference to Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.  He is faced with just such a moral question.  He is a wanted man, having been paroled from a jail sentence, he is marked with the stigma of being a criminal.  Pursued by a relentless force bent on imprisoning him again (criminals never change in his eyes), Jean has created a new identity.  On to his quandry:  He is told that a Jean Valjean has been captured in Paris and will face trial.  The real Jean Valjean has the choice:  be free, finally, OR do not let an innocent man face the wrath of his poor choices.  

The scene from the book/play/movie is amazing and powerful and enlightening.  Which would you choose?  Is your identity shaped by Christ and his Story?  Or are we carving our own paths of moral ambiguity?  

I'm 24601.  


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