Difficult Prayers

Difficult prayers

If you’re connected with me on social media, you’ve seen a couple of my posts about #MayThe4thBeWithYou today. It’s a nerdy holiday and I’m a nerdy guy. I like Star Wars, but today there’s something more important happening besides a bunch of Star Wars fans enjoying a good pun in order to celebrate some fun movies. Today is the national day of prayer here in the United States. It’s a day where Christians all around the country gather throughout the day for prayer services and often the focus is prayer for our government both local and national.

While this it is very biblical to pray for our government (1 Timothy 2:1-4), I think sometimes this call to pray for governmental leaders often overshadows a harder and more important call to prayer. Continue reading

The Next Big Thing

The NextIf you are like me, you like new and exciting things. I am an Apple fan so almost anytime they make a presentation I watch or follow along as various tech blogs live tweet the event. I want to know what their next big thing will be. I want to know what will the next Mac OS or iOS be like. What features will they have? When will the next iPhone or MacBook be out?

You may not be into Apple or even tech, but there’s probably something like that in your life. We’re looking for the next big fad. So many of us want to belong, want to be in the know, or want to be equipped with the latest and greatest.

That was Simon in Acts 8. Typically when we read this story, we think of sorcery or Simony, which is paying for a position in the church. While those are applicable to this passage, I’m beginning to see Simon in a new light as I’ve been reading and reflecting on his brief episode in scripture. Continue reading

Common Life

the bestI know that it might surprise a few of you who know me to find out that I am an introvert. This doesn’t mean that I’m asocial or don’t like people. In fact, I love to spend time with friends and family. What it does mean is that I do most of my processing in my head and find rest in quiet alone (or mostly alone) times. That being said, however, I am coming to recognize the value of being in community with others. By that, I don’t simply mean being around other people. What I mean is sharing our lives, experiences, and even hard times with others.

As a society, true community is a necessity that we have learned to go without. We have created a culture of isolation where we fence off ourselves more and more in our homes around media and our devices. It seems like very few people know their neighbors and share very little of our lives with those outside of our families. And in some ways media and social media have increased our isolation by creating the appearance of being connected with people while having very little connection with others. Continue reading

Why #AllLivesMatter isn’t enough for the Church

Photo Credit: Delta57 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Delta57 via Compfight cc

Not too long after Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson the #BlackLivesMatter movement started. Since then there’s been a lot of push back from different sides. One of those sides is from people who say we should be saying #AllLivesMatter and not just #BlackLivesMatter. To a certain extent I agree that we should say that all lives matter. It’s Biblical. Christian theology argues that all people are made in the image of God. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, what language you speak, or what country you were born in, you were made in the image of God. We are all equally made in the image of God and we all matter in God’s eyes. I believe, however, that because of what has happened since Genesis 1 & 2, it’s important to emphasize which lives matter.

Whether we want to recognize it or not, we (meaning Americans) live in a country that has a deeply embedded racist history. The most visible of part of our history is slavery, but there have also been points when our country has been blatantly racist toward Chinese, Japanese, Germans, Mexicans, and others of Hispanic descent. I’m sure that list is hardly exhaustive either. Racism is not just an American problem either. I’m sure you could go to any country and pinpoint a time in history and a people that they have been against simply because of their skin, language, or heritage. Continue reading

Lessons from McFarland, USA

McFarland-USA-Movie-PosterI think most of us would say that we want to make an impact in our community. Whenever we hear the stories of those who have, we are inspired and wish that we could do the same. The story of McFarland, USA is one of those stories. The struggling coach moves with his family to what seems to be the last place he can get a job and makes a discovery. He discovers that some of the students are amazing runners. So he decides to start a cross country program and the rest is history.

When I watched this movie, I left feeling inspired and after reflecting on it realized that Coach White lives a missional life in the community of McFarland. He makes certain decisions, whether he realizes it or not, that increase his ability to impact his community. As a followers of Christ we can do some of the same things that he did and make an impact. Here are 4 lessons that we can take away from McFarland, USA. This isn’t a magical formula by any means, but there are definitely valuable lessons to be learned. Continue reading

Are you listening?

Over the past 8 months, people have been doing a lot of talking. From Ferguson to Baltimore, there have been a wide variety of opinions about what happened, what should have happened, how people should react, and how people should not react. Now you may have friends or people in your social media sphere that have been directly involved with has been happening around America since Ferguson, but aside from one friend who has participated in a protest, I don’t follow anyone who is or was closely involved to any of the recent events. That being said, my feeds have been filled with commentary on whatever the most current event is. On top of that the majority of the people in my social media feeds are white. Continue reading

What Should the Church Look Like?

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What should the church look like? Who should make up the church? These are very important questions that most of us don’t stop to ask. Many would answer that Christians should make up the church. Some would say that the broken, needy, and hurting should be in the church. These are good answers, but Scot McKnight wants to help us answer this question. In his recent book A Fellowship Of Differents, his answer to the question, “What then is the church supposed to be?” is a mixed salad. The church should be made up of a different people. What most of us see and are accustomed to, however, is a group of people who are all relatively similar. While the church that I grew up in had different kinds of people, the overwhelming majority of them seemed to be like me. Continue reading

Won’t you be my neighbor…

A life on mission begins with connecting. It starts by developing relationships with the people in our everyday lives. It starts by loving our neighbor. Tim Harlow writes in Life on Mission, “Your mission is to your Jerusalem. The people right around you. THE PEOPLE WHO YOU KNOW! So our mission starts with relationship. It has to start with relationship.”1

So let’s ask the question that was asked of Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Continue reading

Fighting against Our Instant Culture

We live in a fast society. Everything happens quickly, if not instantaneously. While it’s nice to have things available whenever we need them, it can teach us be impatient with those things that need time. Spiritual formation and developing mission are among those things that take time. We need to be willing to take this things slowly.

61DJ2UqrooL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_In their book Slow Church, John Pattison and Chris Smith write about slowing down the ways that we do church and cultivating the patient way of Jesus. Initially, the idea of slowing down church may be off-putting to some because either church is boring enough and doesn’t need to be slower, or there needs to be an urgency with which we share the gospel because the world is in need. The good news is that they don’t mean that church services should be slower, although times of slowing down are helpful, and they don’t mean that we need to slow down the spread of the Gospel around the world. Instead what they are advocating is a less franchised and McDonaldized version of the church. Instead of planting churches that are the same no matter their context or the culture of their local community, we need to take the time to cultivate a church that in some ways embodies the spirit of the community (or the “taste of the place” as the call it) and also seeks to meet the real needs of that community. Continue reading