Thursday, August 4, 2016

Keeping the Great Commission as the Main Thing

“You gotta keep the main thing the main thing.” We’ve heard that phrase before. The idea being this: people need to focus attention on important things in order to give attention where attention is due.

It is important for Christians to remember that phrase too. Christians need to keep the important things in the faith at the center of our attention. If we don’t, we will be distracted by the lesser important details of life and end up not doing the foundational things Jesus called us to.

Jesus is clear about main things. At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives His people one, foundational mission. Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” That is the main thing. It is important that all Christians keep that as the main thing.

As you continue to navigate this transition together, keep Jesus’ main thing, the main thing. Jesus has called us all to go and make disciples. Let the Lord and His mission be the foundation of your life and this church. As you do, you’ll find that all of life’s other details fall in line. You’ll also learn that keeping the main thing, the main thing, is a very good thing for God’s people.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

C.S. Lewis and Following the God on the Move

There is a famous scene in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles that describes the anticipation of a returning lion king named Aslan.  One character tells group of children, “They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps he has already landed.”  The group of children does not know who Aslan is, but they are moved by the mere mention of his arrival.

If you’ve read the Narnia Chronicles you know Aslan is Christ-like character.  C.S. Lewis uses Aslan to illustrate that Jesus is a God who is on the move.  Jesus is not fixed or stagnant, but a God in motion, working to save the world.

That is important for Jesus’ people to remember.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples, “Come, follow me…” Following Jesus assumes motion.  The Christian life is not a life lived in a fixed, constant place.  The Christian life is a life that moves because we follow a God who is on the move.

As we continue to navigate this season of transition at Faith Center, embrace the movement of this season.  Look for what Jesus is doing during this season of change.  Recognize that following the Lord involves a life of constant motion and change.  As you do, you will find life abundant in the Lord and His incredible mission.  You’ll also become one of those people who announces, Jesus is on the move – perhaps he has already landed!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

On Mission in Transition

I played on the J.V. basketball team in high school. Yes, I was that good. During one of our first practices, our coach said, “Our offense is going to be the transition.” What he meant by that was this: when our team got a rebound and switched from playing defense to playing offense, we would use that transition as our offense. Our team would not wait until we moved the ball to the other end of the court before setting up our offense. We would play offense during the transition up the court.

I think that is a great illustration for Christian mission in an ever changing world. Our lives are constantly on the move, always changing, always in transition. Kids grow up, graduating from one grade to another. Jobs change. Friends and family move. Schedules have to be adjusted. At any given moment, we are faced with some sort of transition in life.

As we navigate those transitions, it is important we stay on mission. In the words of my old coach, “Our offense must be the transition!” If we wait to fulfill Christian mission until everything is stable, predictable and comfortable, mission may never happen.

At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Jesus says this after his resurrection, but before his ascension into heaven. So, Jesus gives the great commission right in the middle of huge transition. The mission is always fulfilled in life’s transitions.

As we navigate the pastoral transition at Faith Center, remember the mission Jesus has given us all. We are all called to reach the nations with the good news about Jesus. As you do that, you will find purpose for navigating all of life’s transitions. You’ll also see how Jesus can run an offense in the midst of change!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Change and the Love of God

I am sure you have heard people say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” When I hear that statement, I think of an older saint reflecting on their lives. The person recognizes the many different seasons of life they have navigated. Simultaneously the person recognizes common patterns and qualities that always seemed present, regardless of the season. The more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

That statement and sentiment is not at odds with Christian belief. Christians understand that life is constantly on the move. God’s people are regularly adapting to the currents of the world in order to remain faithful in Christian worship and mission. In the middle of all that change, we recognize that our Lord Jesus is unchanging (Hebrews 13:6). Jesus is our constant in the midst of change.

In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul banks on the unchanging presence of Christ's love. Paul writes, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words, whatever changes life brings, God and God’s love for us is going to be the exact same – always there.

As we navigate this new season at Faith Center, remember Jesus and His love for you. Nothing can separate any of us from God’s love in Christ Jesus. That means the more things change, the more God’s love stays the same!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

9-1-1 and the Gospel

Earlier this week, a Florida man was arrested for calling 9-1-1. To be clear, the man wasn’t arrested for simply using the emergency phone service. He was arrested for overusing and misusing the service.

The man called 9-1-1 six times in a single day. He called to talk about lots of things: Hitler, the persecution of the jews and other World War II era history. After repeated requests, asking the man to stop, the emergency service sent police officers to the man’s house. The officers asked why he was calling. He said, “(I was) talking to your dispatcher because I’m board.” The man occupied an emergency service for those in need because he didn’t have anything better to do.

Hearing that story, I am reminded how important purpose is. We humans long to have something meaningful to do with our time and energy. When we have no purpose, we do goofy stuff. Some end up using important emergency services like 9-1-1 for entertainment.

The good news about Christianity is that Jesus gives us that much needed purpose. At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” In doing so, Jesus gave His people purpose. No reason to be bored. No need to tie up much needed emergency resources for our own entertainment. God has given us a job known as “The Great Commission.”

As you go through the coming week, remember your God given purpose. Jesus has called us all to reach the nations with the gospel, making disciples, teaching people everything that Jesus commanded. That calling gives meaning to our work-life, home-life, our relationships with neighbors and more. That is important to remember the next time you are tempted to call 9-1-1 in order to chat about World War II history.   

Thursday, June 30, 2016

American Independence and Freedom in Christ

On Monday, folks all over Aloha will celebrate American Independence. We’ll light firecrackers, spend time with friends and family and grill really great food. We do those things to celebrate our independence as a people.

In the Declaration of Independence, our country’s framers recognized that independence is God given. Their exact words: “…They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” God gives human liberty and freedom to people.

Christians understand that God given freedom (the freedom Jesus gives) comes with responsibility. Jesus not only frees us from sin and death. Jesus also frees us for the abundant life. Jesus sets us free so that we can minister, evangelize, work for justice, promote freedom for others and prepare for the arrival of the Lord’s second coming.

In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul writes, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” In other words, Jesus freed us from sin and death so that we can sin no more. Jesus freed us for righteous living and the life abundant.

As you celebrate independence, remember what our Lord freed you for. Live in God honoring ways because of the freedom He has given you. As you do, you’ll experience the blessings of freedom in Christ. You’ll also better enjoy fireworks, food, family and fun of the 4th.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Fire of God and God's Holy Spirit

Years ago, a non-Christian friend of mine accompanied me to a youth event where I played a concert. Before I went on, an opening band sang a song about the fire of God. I remember the lead singer yelling, “He’s got fire in His eyes!” over and over again. I didn’t think much of it, but my friend did.

In the middle of that song, my friend leaned over and whispered, “This is freaking me out!” I asked, “What do you mean?” My friend said, “This is the stuff that freaks me out about Christians.” Evidentially, the idea of the fire of God and the way that band of Christians sang about it made him uncomfortable.

To this day, I wonder what it was about the mention of God's fire that gave my friend the creeps. Maybe he associated the fire of God with God’s judgment and the fires of hell. I don’t know. I don’t understand because I find a lot of comfort in the fire of God and I am not alone.

Many Christians hear of the fire of God and think of Pentecost, where fire burned above the heads of God’s people as they filled with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, fire signifies the arrival of God’s spirit, the comforter, the healer, the unifier and our sanctifier. Rather than symbolizing condemnation, the fire of God symbolizes the presence of God that makes God’s people more like Jesus. That is a good thing.

As you go through this coming week, ask the Lord to reveal His fire to you. Open your life to the refining, comforting, healing presence of the Holy Spirit. As you do, you will experience more of the God who poured the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. You will also find victory in the one who has fire in His eyes.