Mar 312007
 

This morning (Saturday March 31) began great!  I was able to sleep all night and past 7am!  While still in bed my two wonderful oldest children came and climbed in bed with me.  It was one of those special moments that all parents look forward to experiencing.  Then it happened…….!

Satan entered the room!  One child spoke to the other, “You’re mean!”  the other responded, “Why don’t you shut your mouth!”.  I turned to gently speak to them (yeah, right!) and before I could say anything, my wife from the next room spoke, “Before they are able to play with their friends in the neighborhood, they must first treat one another with love and respect!”  You go girl!  That was great advice!

I then got up to began cooking breakfast for our family and the new neighbors next door.  YES, I said ‘I’ began to cook!  While I was cooking I began to think about what my wife said regarding our children’s behavior toward each other.  She stated, “Before you can play with your friends in the neighborhood you must first treat one another with love and respect.”  I could not help but think of what Jesus said to His disciples:

John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

As this revelation unfolded in my mind, I immediately called my 9 year old son and my 5 year old daughter to my side and I began to explain that God has called us to live a “missional” example to the people in this neighborhood and we must love each other as an example of Jesus’ sacrificial love toward everyone in the neighborhood.  My 5 year old responded, “Are the pancakes ready yet?”  I don’t think she got it.

But I did!  Often the church loses its voice to those outside the church simply because it hasn’t learned to exhibit and demonstrate God’s love within the confines of the CHURCH, much less outside the church.  The people outside the church (the unchurched, dechurched, non-Christian, pre-Christian) simply can’t buy into a message that the messengers themselves do not live by within their own family. 

My wife and I (and hopefully our children) see our 105 home neighborhood as our personal mission field.  We probably won’t be successful in sharing the love of Christ with our neighbors if we are at each other’s throats all the time.  (Hopefully when we have ‘intense fellowship’, we can do so in a manner that it will not be on display for the neighborhood to see.)  DON’T YOU SEE IT?  If we can show an “unusual” love for one another, people will take notice.  As they take notice of our “unusual” love and care for one another, then they will not only take notice, but listen to THAT which has provided for our “unusual” love and care for one another.

That is the way it should work with the BODY OF CHRIST, the Church.  As we show and demonstrate unity and “unusual” care and love for one another it will make our MESSAGE BELIEVABLE.

Take some time and read what Jesus said in the gospel of John chapter 13 and 17! 

May we show and demonstrate an “unusual” love and care for one another in such a way that people will LISTEN to what we have to say about Jesus’ “unusual” love and care for them!

 Posted by at 12:46 pm
Mar 292007
 

Church at the Grove exists to develop people who follow Christ and Make Disciples. 

We accomplish this through:  Creating Environments where people can Explore Faith, Encouraging Relationships through Encountering Community, and Starting Discussions that lead to Extending God’s Love.

On Saturday April 7, 10am-11am in Walnut Grove City Park we have an incredible opportunity to Start Discussions through the Easter Egg Hunt.  The City of Walnut Grove has invited Church at the Grove to launch an Easter Egg Hunt for the Families of the Walnut Grove community.

This is a great opportunity to start some discussions with people in the community and have a blast while doing it.  The kids will love it!  It will create opportunities to invite some of the families and individuals to the Easter Services at Church at the Grove!

  • Pray for us!
  • Join us!
  • Invite friends and neighbors to come!

Remember to be inviting anyone and everyone to the two services at Church at the Grove on Easter Sunday at Youth Middle School. 

Service times for Easter Sunday are 9:30am and 11:00am! 

 Posted by at 10:23 pm
Mar 292007
 

The word “apologetic” comes from a greek word that means “to speak in defense” of something.  It basically is used in Christian and church circles in relation to “defending” or “arguing” your personal, spiritual or religious beliefs and convictions. 

The common scripture verse related to this idea is:

1 Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)
15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;
16 yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (emphasis mine)

There is a distinct discipline cultivated in Christian and Christian academic circles called “apologetics” where individuals and organizations focus on how to give a defense of your beliefs in a rational, verbal and arguable way.  This discipline should be respected and admired for the dedication and skill acquired through its cultivation.  It has had tremendous and broad impact in spreading the message of the gospel in the world and throughout history. 

In observing and recognizing the actual and distinct transformation that has taken place in American culture over the last 40-50 years there is an inherent danger to adhering to a single methodology regarding apologetics or “defending our beliefs”.  Mark Batterson is Pastor of National Community Church and authors a blog Evotional.com.  He has written an insightful post on Radical Transparency.  He states that “authenticity is the postmodern apologetic”. 

We live in a postmodern culture where “postmodern” is defined as “accepting all belief systems as equally valid and true”.  In other words, you can argue and defend your beliefs until you are blue in the face and you may argue quite adequately!  People simply don’t care because although you might be exceptional in your ability to rationalize your argument, it is simply in their eyes, your personal beliefs.  Your truth is essentially “your truth”.  “And it doesn’t apply to everyone.” 

Here is the inherent danger of an apologetic argument:  You might “win” the argument, but you essentially will “lose” a heart!  To quote Mark Batterson, “People care less about how much you know than how real you are.”

“Embodied” Apologetics is defending our faith through an authentic life!  In quoting the above verse, we often forget the “how” part of the scripture.  We defend our faith through “gentleness” and “respect”.  An embodied apologetic exudes from the LIFE of a genuine Christ follower!

We must develop the discipline of transparency!  We must stop the nonsense of carrying on with the “Christian” life as if we have it “all together“.  Pastors and leaders must be open and transparent about their shortcomings and failures as Christ followers.  Much care and discretion must be used, but transparency and authenticity is valuable in communicating Jesus’ message to the unchurched and non-Christian culture.

Instead of arguing, try “BEING” an apologetic!  Start today!  Live it AND say it! 

 Posted by at 10:31 am
Mar 282007
 

Everybody is pimping something! (By pimping, I mean selling, promoting, or pushing something)

Last night I went to a program for my children (they were awesome!) and I noticed a huge SUV with bright pink writing all over it.  I immediately thought that someone’s child is playing softball or another sport and they were PIMPING their child’s team.

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

It was their daughter Megan’s eighth birthday.  There on that gas guzzling gazzilion dollar SUV in huge pink letters was a SCREAMIN’ announcement about Megan’s eighth birthday!  (I felt like I had just had a vision of a gigantic BARBIE SUV taking adolescent Barbie and her friends to a Barbie spring break.)  Don’t get me wrong, I am not against celebrating birthdays.  I already have my list made out for what I would like on June 15 (insert subliminal message for STARBUCKS products here).  I think it is appropriate to celebrate the birthdays in your family and among friends.  That is not the problem.

Problem:  The problem is that we have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of space on our property to SCREAM and PIMP what is important to us in life.  Here is the problem:  People are desperately looking for REAL hope and GENUINE significance and all we can pimp and scream about is an eight year old’s birthday? 

 What are you screaming about?

What are you pimping?

We shouldn’t have to write anything on our cars to announce to the world what is important to us!  For goodness sake, why don’t we all just put a FISH or a BUMPER STICKER on our vehicles?  That will surely change the world! (Insert sarcasm here!)

Our lives should SCREAM what is important by the way we live and the way we love people!

We should be PIMPING the love of Jesus through our actions and re-action toward others.  People will see our love for God in how we love others.  That shouldn’t have to be written on a billboard, bumpersticker, or SUV!

The Apostle Paul wrote about this very thing in one of his letters to the Church gathering in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NIV)
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?
2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.
3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

WOW!

What do people see you PIMPING?

What do people hear you SCREAMING?

 Posted by at 7:03 am