One of the most obvious effects of the high focus on politics this last year is that people are drawing lines in the sand. Lines in the sand between conservatives and democrats. Lines in the sand over gun control. Lines in the sand over gay marriage. Lines (walls even?) in the sand over immigration. Opinions that we all have the right to hold. The problem isn't in holding to differing opinions. The problem is how we treat people with differing opinions than our own.
The trend I've seen in social media this last year is to find ways to demonize and polarize those with a different opinion than your own. It's not a new trend at all, but its effects are weakening not only our nation, but our churches as well. That's where I come in. I won't speak to politics. My hope doesn't lie there. My hope is in Christ and His Church. So, that's who I'll speak to. What damaging effect might these lines in the sand be having on the Body of Christ?
Drawing lines in the sand is sadly nothing new to the Church. We've been involved in more splits than bananas (you like that one?). Divisions come, but that was never the plan. The plan has always been to be united (John 16:23). United in Christ. United in love. United in love despite our different opinions about who should be president, who should own guns, who should be allowed into the country, who the Antichrist is or was (Do a quick line in the sand check: Did the word "was" upset you?), whether or not we have free will, or whether or not to bake a cake for a gay wedding.
Being human, it's natural that we will hold to different opinions on these and other topics. Our experiences have been different. Our parents are different. Our friends are different. Our interests are different. Our understanding and knowledge of the Scriptures is different. We're at different stages of our journey with Christ. Difference is okay. Division isn't.
Have you drawn any lines in the sand? Are there people you think of as less than human because they hold to a different opinion than you? Do the memes you post on Facebook unite or divide? I believe that the hope we have in posting memes about abortion, gun control, etc. is that we might prove ourselves "right". Well, as someone who did fairly well in Math class, I offer this formula for your consideration. Right - Love = Wrong. Think about that. No matter how right we consider our opinion to be, if we offer it to polarize and demonize our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we have done wrong. The enemy marks another tick on the wall in victory. We are unbelievably strong when united (the gates of Hades will not overcome us!), but so weak when divided. The gruesome picture that we can draw from Paul's analogy of the Body of Christ is that of a body so divided that its arms and legs are detached and organs ripped out. That Body can't function as it should. That Body is weak.
It's time to consider whether we want to be "right", but greatly divided or be a witness to the world that the love of the Spirit has the power to unite people even of diverse opinions. It won't be easy. It will require a greater devotion to love people than to love a particular political party. No, really. I'm not kidding. It will even require that. Love is worth it. Unity in the Body of Christ is worth it. God's glory is worth it. Well, that's my opinion, anyway.
Have you ever found yourself staring into the glaring eyes of a formidable task that you are unequipped to handle? Of course you have. We all have. It's life. And it appears to be all the more life with God. God seems to prefer us to have the odds stacked against us.
It's the way God dealt with Gideon. A guy that God hand-picked because he wasn't the guy most people would have picked for the task. Not an army general, but a guy that was hiding from the enemy when he was hand-picked by God to lead the charge against that enemy.
The task was to defeat the Midianites and Amalekites, an army "as numerous as locusts" (Judges 7:12). Gideon showed up with an army of 32,000 men. Not bad. Thirty-two thousand might just stand a chance against a locust army. But God said, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of them went home, perhaps with time to enjoy some Chinese take-out and a beer while reflecting on the certain death they'd just escaped.
So, Gideon now faced an army that couldn't be counted with an army that could now be counted much faster. Perhaps God would bring in worthy warriors from another tribe to make up the difference. Nope. Instead, He cut the numbers significantly further. Say...from ten thousand down to three hundred. Wow. God's method to cut down the numbers was this: “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water."
So, that left Gideon and 300 guys who drink like a dog to take on the innumerable masses camped nearby. So much for God sending backup and extra supplies. His answer to the problem was to actually remove support from Gideon. Support like lots of troops was gone. Support like great weaponry apparently was also gone. God sent them against this formidable foe armed only with trumpets, torches, and pottery. Items more likely to be found at the local "Festival of the Arts" than a battlefield. Yet, this is exactly what God intended to use against this massive army. And yeah, it worked. They sounded their trumpets, raised their torches, and the innumerable army soon cut each other down in a state of Divinely-induced confusion.
As I face similar situations in my own life, I am encouraged to remember how God worked with Gideon. He built Gideon up by removing his support. He overcame incredible odds with very limited resources. All according to God's plan. Yet, how often do I assume God's plan requires greater resources and support? Then, as I watch those things dwindle, I assume I'm in trouble. Perhaps not. Perhaps I'm actually being set up for a great victory. A victory accomplished by God, not by me.
My kids recently discovered "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". The story of a few select children who get to see the inside of the famous factory that produced the "Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight" bar. As Willy Wonka shows them around the factory, they are overwhelmed by the chocolate waterfalls and rivers. A place where chocolate is in such abundance that if flows. One child nearly drowns in chocolate!
Now, imagine if the children had entered the Chocolate Factory only to find no chocolate. They found only traces where chocolate had once been flowing. Instead, the factory was producing a new line of Garlic Gum and breath mints that actually give you coffee breath. The kids were duped. This wasn't a Chocolate Factory at all! Neither Gene Wilder nor Johnny Depp could recover that flick.
Fellow followers of Jesus, here's the deal. The Barna Group (a Christian-based research group) noted "14% of today’s self-identified Christians—just one out of every seven Christians—seem to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found to be consistent with those of Jesus." Now, if only 14% of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory products were chocolate, it would be a stretch to still call it a chocolate factory, right? We are facing a similar dilemma as the Kingdom of God.
Christians, regardless of the country we currently live in, are fellow citizens of one Kingdom. The Kingdom of God. Like all kingdoms, we have particular products that we export. What does that Kingdom produce and export? I expect many of us know the right answer. Love. Love is what the Kingdom of God should be producing and exporting. We ought to be monopolizing that market.
Unfortunately, our Kingdom also produces and exports products that are foreign to what should be cultivated and produced by its citizens. The spiritual equivalents of Garlic Gum and mints that give you coffee breath. In particular, we've become a Kingdom that is known for producing and exporting products like fear, hate, and mockery. It is especially produced, packaged, and permeated these days on social media. It only takes a second to share or "like" a post that mocks those who hold to different political views, lifestyles, and religions. A few million clicks and within a couple of seconds, Christians across the globe have exported something that should be foreign to our Kingdom. Things that should neither be produced nor consumed. Garlic Gum.
Paul reminded the Church in Galatia that the "fruit of the Spirit" is love. That's the fruit God produces. As His people, filled with His Spirit, love should also be what we produce consistently. The Kingdom of God ought to be seen by the world as a love factory (I share that term knowing very well that it sounds like a 70s funk band, but I remain faithful to my analogy). The Kingdom of God is meant to be a factory producing and exporting love to the rest of the world. We should be famous for it just as Willy Wonka was famous for producing chocolate.
The Apostle John shared, "Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:18). More recently, Rick Warren put it like this, "The Church is the Body of Christ and for the last 50 years, the hands and the feet have been amputated and all we've been is a big mouth."
Perhaps our first step might be to use that big mouth to proclaim love to the people around us. Regardless of their actions. Even if they're hateful. Even if they're wrong. Soon after (hopefully VERY soon after), we show those same people that we love them. Love in action. We can put down the megaphone and use our hands for better things. We can be known as those who will bandage wounds, not as those who inflict them. Those who serve the least in our society, not those who vote against them. A people known for intentional and consistent acts of kindness (a step above "random"). People who admit their own faults instead of pointing out the faults in others. Those who earn trust, not mistrust. A Kingdom whose neighbors will run to when in trouble. Remember that "Love does no harm to its neighbor" (Romans 13:10). No. Really. It does no harm.
It may take some time to get the love factory back up to snuff. But love is what we were meant to manufacture and it's time we got back to doing what we should do best. Let this generation of Christians be known for their production of love. A love factory.
Life brings us new experiences. The latest for me was called "Mononucleosis". In a brave attempt not to whine about it, I'll leave it at this: I felt dead for about a month. Pulse? Yes. Braindead? Also yes. Of all that I recently experienced, which included Hepatitis (Okay, so allow me to whine just a little bit. I had two illnesses at once! Feel sorry for me, then we'll move on. Ready?......Okay, move on.), the worst symptom was feeling braindead. Lots of time to read, but no ability to concentrate. Lots of time to study, but no ability to concentrate. Lots of time to spend with my family, but I didn't care to interact.
For the most part, I felt like someone had found the off switch on Dave Burrows. It was strange to be alive, but to feel dead. Dead to hunger. Dead to relationships. Dead to motivation. And I felt powerless to do anything about it all. Dead.
Then something happened during week 4. I began to desire food again. I began to spend time out in the living room instead of my bedroom. I began to read. I wanted to accomplish things. I was motivated again. One of my boys said, "It's good to have you back, Dad." I was alive. I'd made a comeback. Dave Burrows: Resurrected!
Resurrection. It's the theme of our Easter celebration. Christians will get together that morning and remember that we believe in a resurrected Lord. One who overcame Death and is alive and kicking. One who wasn't defeated on the Cross, but actually won the battle. Just as things looked unbelievably bleak for Christ's followers, Jesus made the greatest comeback of all time.
Okay, a very close second was when Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre The Giant and retained the Heavyweight championship at Wrestlemania III in front of 93,000 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome. That was a great comeback, though slightly more predictable than Christ's.
The Cross looked like a total defeat. Death has a way of doing that. It's so used to getting the last word. Death is used to being the end of something. But Christ, the author of all life, brought resurrection. He didn't stay down. He didn't stay dead. He was resurrected to life! Resurrection overcomes Death. Resurrection is a far superior power. Resurrection truly gets the last word and it comes through Jesus Christ. Death has lost and will simply continue to play its part in the universe until it eventually will cease to function (Rev. 20:14).
Those of us who know Christ, now participate in His life. We have been promised resurrection life. Eternal life. Life that overcomes Death. Because of this, Death has lost its sting. We have no need to fear dying. If we're honest, we have our preferences for how we die as well as preferences for how we don't want to die. But regardless of how we go, we know where we go. We go to be with Him. We go to be with the winner of the great cosmic battle. He holds the keys to Death and Hades as well as the title for "Greatest Comeback Ever". That's Who we celebrate at Easter.
May we keep this in mind that day even as we dig in to our ham and scalloped potatoes after church that day. Yes, it's good to have my appetite back.
I spent a couple of my childhood years in Lancaster, California. That's high desert for those of you who've never visited. Or perhaps you drove right on through with your windows up and the A/C on full blast. I understand. You could cook a steak on the sidewalk there.
The good news was that swimming pools were commonplace in our neighborhood. Not at our house, but at most others. My buddies and I spent many hot afternoons under the cover of water playing "Marco Polo". You know that game, right? It's basically a game of tag, but with a catch. You're blind. If you are "it", you must keep your eyes closed and call out "Marco", to which, the others in the pool say "Polo". That gives you a clue as to where they are though you can't see them. Your ears, in a sense (pun intended), become your eyes. Fun game!
Being 40 now, it's been years since I played "Marco Polo" in a swimming pool with my friends. I'm still playing the game though. And you'll never guess who I play this game with. Well, as every good Sunday School student knows, the answer to every question is "Jesus". Yes, you got it right! Jesus and I play "Marco Polo". We play daily. I guess Jesus really likes this game because we're playing it all the time.
Yeah, so what in the world am I talking about? As a church leader, it falls on me to cast the vision for our church fellowship. Where are we headed and how do we get there? Well, that's not actually my decision to make. Jesus is still the Head of His Church regardless of what title you give me. He has the vision for our fellowship. He has the plan. He knows how to get us there. My job is to try to keep track of where He is and follow. Maybe you're making the connection now. I say "Marco" and Jesus says "Polo". That gives me a sense of where He is and which direction to move.
Again, as a pastor, it's not my job to set the vision for God's Church. God gets to make those decisions. He does set leaders in place though to help guide His people along the journey. So, I do need to be able to sense where He's leading. Practically speaking, that means the leadership in the church needs to be praying. That's our "Marco". Jesus responds with a "Polo", which may come to us in prayer or perhaps a bit later in a conversation with another saint. It may come as we read the Scriptures. It may come while preparing a sermon. The "Polo" is sent in a variety of ways, none of them, to my dismay, are a literal voice saying "Polo". Man, that would be easy, wouldn't it?
So, if I do happen to say "Marco" during one of our group prayer times, please don't think me mad. At least not for that reason. I'm just calling out to discover where our Master is leading us these days. Now that you know the game, perhaps you'll join in and keep an ear out for His "Polo".
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..."
Sound familiar? Don't tell me, "Yeah, it's the beginning of A Tale Of Two Cities". Know-it-all. As I reflect back on the last year, I feel this quote sums it up well. Not just in my own life or the life of The Crossing Church, but perhaps also the world as a whole.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
We've witnessed the worst of times displayed in the works of evil like ISIS. We've also witnessed the best of times in the response around the world to help the refugees who are the result of the works of ISIS. Thanks to all of you at TCC who participated in giving to help the refugees in Europe. Let me know what more you think we can do to love both our enemies and their victims.
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness
One glance at your Facebook feed should be enough to remind you that we live in both the age of wisdom and of foolishness. Facebook posts are the new bumper sticker. We post and share brief statements that give people a glimpse into who we are. The same way we used to with bumper stickers. And somehow we thought that bumper sticker of a menacing boy peeing on a Chevy symbol would impress. Well, with people often only receiving bytes of information about us on social media, you'd think we'd be pickier about what we share. Would I want any of those Facebook memes stuck to the back of my car? Yikes. Still, if you search for it, you'll also find much wisdom being shared out there. But you do need to search a little.
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity
We are well-divided by our beliefs these days. Christians, Muslims, Conservatives, Progressives, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, as well as those who start Christmas celebrations before Thanksgiving and those who wait until after. Our beliefs tend to place us in little groups or "tribes". Now, having a group or tribe that we most identify with is just fine. The problem lately has been that those tribes haven't been playing nicely in the sandbox together. I don't know if my awareness is just increased or if hostility has indeed increased. But many are polarizing themselves into little hostile camps. You'll either agree with me on this or not. If not, you can join the "we disagree with Dave" Facebook group and share some hate memes about me.
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness
Just like the new Star Wars movie, while the Force awakens, so does the Dark Side. While Christians desire light, we also must endure the surrounding darkness. While there is much darkness around us, keep in mind that Jesus, the Light of the World, arrived during a time of great darkness. It really made Him stick out of the crowd. This is a great time to be light in the world. I encourage us to focus on what it means to be light and spend less time focusing on just how dark the darkness is these days.
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair
Pretty much sums up 2015 for me. Lol.
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us
And that's what comes to mind when I look at a salad bar. Okay, okay. I'll say something more meaningful than that. What is it to have everything before us, yet nothing before us? At TCC, we do have everything before us. We have new ministries to start. We have children that need to hear about Jesus. We have people to serve in our community. We have young men and women that desperately need someone to walk with them. We have a hurting community that need the Good News we cleave to. We have babies on the way. We have leaders emerging. We have Jesus! It's also possible to take our eyes off of these wonderful hopes and focus instead on the "nothing" before us. I won't entertain a list of those possibilities at this time lest it distract from the hopes I just listed. I choose to focus on the "everything before us", which btw, includes Jesus. Did I already mention that? We have Jesus!!!
Happy New Year to you.
Well, it's November 2nd and my family just harvested our apples. We have 3 trees that we harvested today. The harvest didn't quite cover the bottom of the wheel barrow. Needless to say, it was a disappointing harvest and it left me wondering, "why?".
Why such a weak harvest? Why were most of these apples so small? Why had so many of them become food for the wasps? Why had I bothered to water those trees this summer? Why did we wait until November to harvest the trees? Why so few apples? Lots of questions. Pretty simple answer for all of them.
I got lazy. Yes, as the rain subsided in May, I began watering the trees a few times a week. Gallons of lovely well water sunk down into the thirsty root systems. They didn't shrivel and die this Summer, even though there was a decided lack of rain this year. I did do some watering. At least, until September. I mean, who's still watering in September? People that want a good harvest, I guess.
Now, why were the apples so small? Well, I hadn't pruned them back in the Spring. As they begin to grow, they grow in clusters of 3-4. What needs to happen is to remove a few of those apples early on so that 1-2 apples will have room to grow. Instead, I found clusters of 4 shriveled apples. My fault.
Why so few apples? There had seemed to have been so many more just a month ago. What happened to them? Well, my wife informed me that the kids have been eating them. That answers a lot, really. They got to them first. In my laziness, I didn't get out there a month ago to harvest the apples before both my kids and hundreds of hungry wasps enjoyed a feeding frenzy. Many had also fallen this last month and been pecked by the chickens. My fault the apples hit the ground and my fault that the chickens weren't in the pen. So, with no one around to blame, I hung my head and came into the house to write this blog.
If you're still reading, you must be wondering by now, "Why is Dave doing a blabbering blog about apples?" Well, I'm thinking about disciples. Not the 12 Jesus had. Mine and yours. And I'm wondering about the harvest. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” In Christ's Kingdom, we are laborers. It's good to take the time to think about the harvest and what we're doing to ensure an excellent one.
Firstly, we each need to have trees. At least one, right? We can't talk about a harvest without first having a tree to harvest. Who is your disciple? Who are you sharing Christ with? Who are you regularly encouraging and challenging in their faith? Secondly, what are you doing to encourage healthy fruit from your trees? Are you helping them lose bad fruit and the fruit that hinders growth? Without that, they keep trying to send energy to poor fruit that won't end up being harvested. (Are you still with me with this whole apple analogy being like discipleship?)
Thirdly, is someone else harvesting your trees? In the case of my apples, I lost out to 6-legged and 2-legged creatures. They got there first. I was busy. I had a lot on my plate. I didn't have time. Okay, so sometimes I was napping. The thing is, someone who was willing to pay attention to what was happening on the trees ended up enjoying the fruit. God gave those apples to those who would make the most of them. I wonder if He may do the same thing with disciples. If we're not careful to put in the time and energy necessary to produce fruitful disciples, He just might give them to someone else who will.
I'll stop pressing this apple analogy (Apples. Pressing. Get it? Okay, okay. Sorry about that). You get the point. We all want to see our churches fuller. We want to see everyone serving in their particular gifting. We want to see everyone engaged in Body life. We want to see everyone growing in love through healthy relationships. We want people to pray for each other. We want everyone to know the Word of God. And we want everyone to obey that Word too. We want a fruitful harvest. Well, as I found with my apples, that doesn't happen without being intentional.
There have to be trees in our yard and those trees need water. Lots of water, as it turns out. They need to be checked for the things that hinder healthy growth. They can't be left to themselves for long. They need someone to keep an eye on the fruit. They need a faithful laborer who will stick with them until the harvest.
The last couple of years, I've become reacquainted with the "red letters" in the Bible. Particularly Jesus' teachings in "The Sermon On The Mount" (Matt. 5-7). It's not that I hadn't read them before. It's that I hadn't really believed them before. I hadn't practiced them before. They were for someone else. Another time. Another place. I was taught that Jesus had said these things only to prove to people that they couldn't live up to God's standards. They were ridiculous to try to obey. He had only said them to overwhelm us.
Well, I've read and re-read Jesus' "Sermon On The Mount" a number of times this last year. I can't get past what He says as He closes His sermon. In Luke's version, called "The Sermon On The Plain", Jesus finishes up by saying "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say?" For how long have I called Him "Lord, Lord", but ignored His words as though they were for another group of people at another time or never meant to be followed anyway?
I can see why many of Jesus' words have been locked up in the vaults for so many years. Someone recently referred to it as "putting Jesus on a leash". His words are shocking. They threaten our comfort. They threaten our politics. They threaten our safety. They threaten our wallets. They threaten our right to be right. If we can just keep Jesus leashed to the area of salvation, then maybe He won't interfere with our sanctification.
One thing I've found is that many people who don't follow Jesus do know many of His teachings. Bill Maher, a famous atheist, noted about Christianity, "If you ignore every single thing Jesus commanded you to do, you're not a Christian. You're just auditing. You're not Christ's followers, you're just fans." Now, we can get upset about those kinds of comments and ignore a guy who is proud to say he does not follow Jesus. Or, we can sit and take it. Let it sink in. Do you know Jesus' words as well as an atheist like Bill Maher? Do Jesus' words inform your decisions and worldview? If so, how? Don't let this blow past you. Take a minute and think about it.
Jesus' teaching (often in red letters in our Bibles) shows us that murder can be an attitude. Adultery can be carried out in our minds. Treasures are in Heaven, not in our bank accounts. We should deal with our own sins before pointing out someone else's. And mercy is to be directed even to our enemies. If these don't sound like celebrated truths to you, it may be because Jesus' words have been locked away from you. His leash allowed Him to extend far enough to save you, but not to change you. It's time to be changed.
I invite you to reconsider Jesus' words. Let Him change your mind. Let Him change your attitude. I recommend you read Matthew 5-7. It's time we all see "red".
God's in the business of transforming hearts. I keep Him pretty busy. Before I share the latest transformation, let me first make this clear. I've never been a crusader. I've never led a cause. I've never held a picket sign. I've never saved a whale, a tree, or tried to keep Washington green. I don't think it's that I don't care about these things. It's that I don't care at a level that amounts to anything useful. I care in spirit. My thoughts are with them. My heart goes out. And other such Hallmark phrases of uselessness.
God's telling me that's going to change. Not being a news-watcher, I found myself a bit behind the times this last week. I just heard about the refugee "problem" in Europe. 4 million people have left war-torn Syria in hopes of survival (half of them are children). They don't want to stay and endure the slaughter for some reason. So, they've left everything behind and set sail for a better place. What will they find upon arrival? Well, the reception has been mixed. Yes, there have been camps set up. Yes, there have been volunteers providing food. Yes, there are countries that are making a place for them (like Germany). And yes, there are countries who are closing their borders in order to keep these people out. Someone else can deal with these people. Much the same way I've always assumed someone else will save the whales, feed the poor, and clean up the oil spills. Messy stuff. Someone else's mess. It's okay. My thoughts are with them.
One of the most famous and simple things Jesus ever said was this: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." There are many other verses I could share that pertain to this issue, but let's keep it simple. Let's walk a mile in their shoes. If I were a Muslim husband and father in Syria, what would I do? Wait around to die? Stand bravely with my rifle ready to take on a few thousands madmen? Or, do I grab my loved ones and get them out of danger's way? I'm for the latter. I'm getting the next boat out of here. I can get to Europe. I think I can, anyway. It's better than sticking around here. What will I meet upon my arrival? Will they let us in? Will they help? Do my children have a future here?
Jesus' simple statement has been made elsewhere by others-BTW. But, elsewhere, it's always been in the negative. "Don't do things to people that you wouldn't want them to do to you". It's calling not for action, but in-action. Don't act. Jesus isn't passive though. He calls for action. Do something for someone. Act. Do the kind of thing you hope someone would be willing to do for you. Wouldn't you hope people would accept you as a refugee? Would you like to be cared for? Wouldn't you like to be given the opportunity to start again? I assume you would. So...here's our opportunity to do that same thing for others. For the record, if you're resistant, it's not to my idea, it's to Jesus'.
Here's a way we can act. No, the refugees aren't piling up on the beaches of Port Angeles. They are still far away. But, we can partner with those who are near to help. Churches who have hands that can reach these people. We can do better than send our happy thoughts their way. We can certainly do better than ignore it altogether! I suggest we look to partner with brothers and sisters in Christ who could use our resources to make a difference for people who've been through hell. It's what I hope others would do for me.
Here's a link to a potential way we can act. Let me know if you find others.
There are many reasons people go for a walk. It may be for exercise. It may be for your dog's exercise. It may be to enjoy nature or your neighborhood. It may be just to get out of the house for a bit.
I invite you to go for a walk. It's going to be a long walk, so be prepared. We're going to go "Walking With Jesus" for the next year or so as we study the Gospel of Luke. I can't promise it to be a comfy stroll either. He's going to lead us into some strange places. Like the wilderness to be tempted. Like a Pharisee's house where a prostitute washes His feet with her tears. Like a high mountaintop. Like the underworld. We'll even walk through the Temple of Doom!
BTW-Jesus will be doing most of the talking as we walk. He has a lot to say and we really need to hear it. It's not that many of us haven't heard His words before either. But what have we done with those words? Jesus says, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say?" Like I said, I can't promise a comfy stroll here. We'll have to let Him decide where we're going and what the pace will be. Our job is to simply keep walking. His job is to get us to our destination. Our job is faith. His job is everything else.
The Crossing Church has a booth out at the Fair this weekend where we are passing out Gospels of John and inviting people to Family Fun Fest. We have the opportunity to engage thousands of people with the Gospel in just a matter of days! We'll also put Family Fun Fest flyers in their hands and give them a personal invitation to our free event. It's an open door we're walking through.
We also have a group of volunteers serving lunch each day next week to the children in our community. What a tangible way to show we care! Another door God has opened this year for our fellowship.
The following Saturday (29th) is our 10th Family Fun Fest, our annual outreach event to engage young families in our community and show them the love of God. It's always fun. It's always a lot of work too. We've seen a number of families begin attending TCC through this event and even more show up at our kids group, KFC. It's a door God opened early and has kept open.
As soon as we're packed up that afternoon, I head out to a wedding rehearsal. I'm marrying a young couple the following day. Engaging families with the love of God can happen at a big event like Family Fun Fest. It can also happen in a quiet wedding service at a barn. It's a door God has opened for me to reach out and I'm stepping through.
The following weekend our fellowship has the opportunity to engage our community once again by hosting the "Kids Zone" at the Grand Opening of a new park in downtown Port Angeles. It's going to be yet another "all hands on deck" kind of day. But when a leader in the community says they're looking for a group that can engage kids with carnival games, how can TCC stay quiet? Yet another door opened for us.
I've heard it said "God opens doors that no one can shut". At the rate He's opening doors around here, who could possibly try to keep up with shutting them all? All these open doors for a fellowship of less than 100 people to share the Gospel. We need to be faithful to step through these doors trusting God will empower us to handle each one as it comes. I'm feeling a bit tired just looking at the schedule for the next few weeks. I can already feel the ache in my feet. But I remember that the truth is that these open doors are wide enough for all of us to step through together. It's always a group effort. Let us be encouraged to "never tire of doing what is right" (2 Thess. 3:13). Plan to be there expecting God to work. He's opening all these doors for a reason. Let's step through each one together.
I've been spending much of the summer pouring over commentaries in preparation for preaching through the Gospel of Luke this next year. I'm determined to prepare for the "game". Luke reveals God to us through the life and works of Jesus Christ. I'm excited to preach it. I'm also (if I'm honest) scared to death about parts of this Book. Jesus said many things that were of great encouragement. He also said a few things that will never make their way onto a coffee mug or picture frame. The challenge has inspired me to keep revisiting Luke this summer. I'm getting prepared for what should be an exciting season. I invite you to prepare with me by reading through The Gospel of Luke this month and continuing to pray for my preaching.
Dave became the Senior Pastor in April 2015 at TCC after serving as the Director of Children's and Praise Ministries for 9 years. He graduated in 2011 from A.W. Tozer Seminary with a Masters in Christian Leadership. He and his wife, Katie, live in Sequim with their 6 children, 2 dogs, 15 chickens, and 50,000 honeybees.
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