Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breaking Out of Sunday Morning

  • What do we think of when we speak of “going to church”? Answer: Sunday morning.
  • When does “the church” meet? Answer: Sunday morning.
  • What is “the church”? Answer: The place we meet on Sunday morning.
  • How do we answer; “So, how was church?” Answer: What happened on Sunday morning.

Have we overemphasized what we do on Sunday mornings? We plan up, gear up, set up, and unleash the production and call it “church”. Then we turn around and do it all again.

We emphasize an “attractional”, “Come and See” model when the gospel demands an “Incarnational”, Go and Tell” model. And Sunday morning is the focal point.

As a pastor I had better not be devaluing Sunday morning! And I’m not. But what we do as the church throughout the week is the real test.

We must “be the church” in our community if we want to unleash the power of the gospel. And to do so we must be connected and involved.

We must be connected to one another. If the only time you see your church family is on Sunday morning, you need to get connected. Go get coffee. Do lunch. Phone a friend. Whatever it takes! As we connect with one another, bring those who are un-connected to Christ into that relationship!

We must be involved in our city/community. How are you connected to the issues and needs of your community? Bring Christ with you to homeowners meetings, neighborhood watch, school volunteering, community garage sales, civic events, community causes, whatever it takes! Show that Christ cares for our community though your involvement.

Then let’s get together on Sunday morning and share our stories! (Check out these stories!)

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Pastor Tom

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Praying for the need behind the need

It’s natural to have concern for those who are suffering. We hear about the afflictions of someone we care for and we just want it to stop. The affliction could be illness, finances, employment, relationships – you name it! In fact, just below you’ll read a list of needs to pray for.

And there is nothing wrong with praying for needs to be met and afflictions to be lifted. Jesus tells us to pray for our “daily bread” – and that is a need.

But remember to pray for the need behind the need.

You see, afflictions are not our enemy. Afflictions are inevitable. Afflictions are even sent by God to strengthen and refine us.

The Apostle Paul’s concern for the church at Thessalonica was “…that that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.” (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4)

Paul’s main prayer for the church was not that their afflictions would be lifted. His focus was on their faith (1 Thess 3:5-8). He prayed that their faith would be strengthened through the afflictions. Strengthened faith is the need behind the need!

So when you pray for a friend to get a job – also pray that their trust and hope in God would not fail while they search. When you pray for healing for someone who is sick, also pray that the Lord would draw them close during their time of illness. When you pray for a financial breakthrough for a friend, also pray that Jesus would be more precious to them than silver or gold (or cash!).

And throw in a prayer for your pastor while you are at it!

The well wisher of your soul’s happiness,
Pastor Tom

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What does it take for a prostitute to “get saved”?

Last week in church we looked at “Extravagant Love” from Luke 7:36-50. In that amazing encounter, Jesus tells the woman, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace”. Faith? Saved? At this stage of redemptive history, what possibly could this woman have believed about Jesus?

She could not have articulated a theology of the atonement, she probably wasn’t versed in the Trinity, and the dual natures of Christ might have sent her over the edge!

But you don’t have to know a lot. It boils down to this. She believed...

* She was a great sinner (no self-deception here – she knew who she was.)
* She could not save herself (absolute abandonment at the feet of Christ.)
* She needed Jesus (not reformation, not condemnation, not self-justification)
* Jesus would not reject her (Jesus has never rejected anyone who comes with faith and repentance)

That’s about all it takes for someone to begin with Jesus. We may fault her for her theological imprecision (but, hey, she might have been a biblical scholar for all we know!). What we do see is the love and protection and forgiveness of Christ causing a response of extravagant love.

How about you? What have you ever done just because you loved Jesus so much? Yeah, me too. “Lord, may the gospel come to us, so that it may come through us!”

The well-wisher of your soul’s happiness,

Pastor Tom

p.s. Here’s the link for a clip from Matt Chandler, “Jesus wants the rose!”. Just view it!