Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hebrews 2:9

I was writing in my journal about Hebrews 2:9 and I thought I would share a portion with you. 

"but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."

I don't feel crazy for seeing you ----- but I do feel a great deal of love for you.  I do see Jesus.  I see you in DeAnne and our kids.  I see you in my friends.  I see you in baptism.  I see Jesus while mowing the grass.  I see Jesus in sunsets and dirty walls.  I see Jesus in the homeless guys waiting on a ride Sunday mornings to go and eat breakfast.  I see Jesus in marriage vows and confession.  I see Jesus in forgiveness and scripture.  I see Jesus in communion.  I see Jesus in the river.  I see Jesus in love and repentance.  I see Jesus in his disciples as they laugh together.  I see Jesus in my parents.  I see Jesus in my grandmother telling stories of God making us all different ----- like snow flakes.  I see Jesus in our inabilities and lack.  But I do see Jesus.

Jesus' glory is based on is suffering ----- and it is through his suffering ----- God tastes death.  I love you Lord ----- and I am thankful that you tasted death for all of us.  It is because grace that you tasted death.  It is God's grace that allows us to see you.  It is God's grace that made you a little lower than the angels.  It is God's grace that makes us part of the everyone.  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Acts 17.1-9

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Acts 17.1-9.  In this passage Paul & Silas go to Thessalonica.  While in Thessalonica they go to the Synagogue and argue for 3 days about how the Messiah was to suffer and rise from the dead.  Many people believed what they were saying ----- and not just the Jews ----- but also the Greeks.  Because of this many of the Jews became jealous (v5), and formed a mob and set the city in an uproar.  They went to the city government officials and said: "These people have been turning the world upside down" (v6).

Imagine just for a moment being the people that are accused of turning the world upside down?  What a great compliment that would be in today's day and age.  The church would be living into its peculiar and radical nature of proclaiming that there is another King ------ and it is not Caesar, or President Obama, or Shimon Peres, or Senator Kay Hagan, or Senator Richard Burr.  Instead our allegiance is to the God who overcame death, hell, and the grave.  Imagine the powerful establishment throughout our cities forming mobs to thwart this proclamation.  What a compliment that would be!

So my question is ------- why does this not happen? 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

One Year

I have been contemplating a lot lately what a year can do.  We moved to Wilmington, NC on June 18th, 2013.  As a family we have thoroughly enjoyed the friends we have made, and the many doors of opportunity that have opened for us to be actively involved in the life of our community.  I feel like starting in a new place as a family has granted us a time to grow closer with each other. 

As a pastor I feel like this has been a year to grow in faith.  To peal away the many layers of what it means to be the church ------- and attempt to get down to the core -------- it is an intriguing and exhausting process.  Continuously I have people ask me how it is going?  I have learned that I don't even have the language to answer that.  For my vocabulary has changed ------ and that is mostly due to the fact that I can't use words like buildings, land, and money.  When you stop talking about buildings, land, and money ------- what are you left with? 

What you are left with is discipleship, but it is not a discipleship that is programatic or didactic or top-down management.  Instead it is a discipleship that is relational, compassionate, restorative, and eclectic.  It is a discipleship that has to do with following Jesus ------- because followers of Jesus actually follow Jesus.  Therefore, we do not follow buildings, land, money, programing, smoke machines, laser shows ------- which in many ways are just an expensive ad for something cheap.  Instead we follow a revolutionary Messiah who calls us to lay down our own lives for the benefit of others ------ for the common good. 

As I reflect upon this last year I have hope.  Hope for what the church universal can be.  For we are called to a life that is radical ------- but at the same time so simple.  We are called to a life that looks like Jesus ------- not to a life that is a never-ending committee meeting.  The Holy Spirit fills us with the power to embody hope to the world.  And in that calling to lay down our lives, we will find who we are truly to be.  This is the place where we have peeled back all of the distractions of what people have made the "church" ------- and instead we can go and be the church by being a sent people ------- for God so loves the world that he has sent us. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Restoration

I have been focusing much of my time looking at what it means to live out the value of restoration.  This is through the restoration of our relationship with God, community, ourselves, and creation.  So often we neglect to live out the wholeness that the Lord has called us to, for we focus so much time and energy into our personal relationship with the Lord -- but then forget about that relationship being intricately woven together with community and creation.

In the book of Jeremiah 30.17 it says: "For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, says the Lord, because they have called you an outcast: 'It is Zion; no one cares for her!'"  Here the Lord is saying that he will restore the Israelites health, heal their wounds, and restore their status.  God's restoration is holistic ----- it is a restoration of our relationship with creation, with community, and with ourselves.

Lesslie Newbigin writes: "To man thus in bondage and in self-contradiction, the message of salvation is sent.  Salvation means that man is released from this bondage, and that the contradictions of which we have spoken are overcome ..... It means the healing of that which is wounded, the mending of that which is broken, the setting free of that which is bound."

We believe that we are called to live lives of restoration ------ where we live as God's ambassadors in the world ------- offering healing, health, and the restoration of the status of people as children of God.  The Lord has called us to live lives of embodying hope ------ therefore the miracle of restoration can be seen through our actions and words.

An important part of our restoration with creation is our willingness to live simplified lives.  Therefore, we are called to re-use, recycle, and re-purpose.  Because God's restoration is holistic we also know that it is of vital importance that we live out our calling of restoration through simple actions that benefit all of the world. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hebrews 6.13-20

I have been spending a lot of time with Hebrews 6.13-20 lately. The more I learn about the book of Hebrews the more I am intrigued by it. The writer crafts the words on the page in an intriguing and provocative way. A way that calls for us to respond in a tangible way ------- the way of hope.
In v15 we see that Abraham responds with patient endurance based on God's promise and oath to him. In the midst of that patient endurance he obtains the promise ----- the promise that was embodied in a son. The two unchangeable things are God's promise and God's oath. In v18 we can then find our refuge in those two unchangeable things. For in refuge we can seize the hope ------ the hope that is based on God's promise and God's oath to us. A promise that the Lord will bless us ------ so that we then can live lives that are a blessing to the world. A blessing that embodies hope in real and tangible ways.
In referring to those who have taken refuge, the commentator John Calvin writes: "By these words he intimates that we do not truly trust in God except when we forsake every other protection and flee for refuge to his sure promise, and feel assured that it is our only safe asylum." In this refuge we then find hope from the cares of this world. But it is not just a hope that is future oriented, but instead it is a hope that is found in the now. For this hope denotes a firmness, something that we can hold in our hands.
Continuing to v19 we find the image of the anchor. In this verse we see that the anchor is useful. Sometimes it is useful as a tool, and sometimes it is useful because it gives us hope
just by being on the boat. The anchor gives us hope because we know if the seas get rough, we can drop the anchor to give us firmness in the midst of the storm. John Calvin continues to comment on this group of verses by saying: "As long as we sojourn in this world, we stand not on firm ground, but are tossed here and there as it were in the midst of the sea, and that indeed very turbulent; for Satan is incessantly stirring up innumerable storms, which would immediately upset and sink our vessel, were we not to cast our anchor fast in the deep. For nowhere a haven appears to our eyes, but wherever we look water alone is in view; yea, waves also arise and threaten us; but as the anchor is cast through the waters into a dark and unseen place, and while it lies hid there, keeps the vessel beaten by the waves from being overwhelmed; so must our hope be fixed on the invisible God."
The anchor is sure and steadfast, safe and firm. From the anchor is a cable or chain that comes and links the boat to the anchor. That chain is to be God's people ------ that have committed to be linked together by the very blood of the lamb. For the chain links to the anchor ------ which is Christ. And Jesus has entered into the heavenlies, the inner shrine, as our great high priest ------- and now his followers are linked to him while also linked to the world. In this cable we then embody hope ------ for we are to no longer live for our own best interest ------ but instead live our lives for the common good. This is a life of self-emptying and self-abandonment ------ and in that we embody hope.
We have been impacted by this Jesus and now we are to be trained to be ambassadors of this good news. Ambassadors that proclaim a hope that is bigger than our circumstances and situations. For in that embodied hope we then can find who we are to be ----- one who imitates the ways of Christ in this world.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sunday, April 13th @ 9.45am


The question that we will be looking at this Sunday will be: "What has changed since the resurrection?"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sin & Salvation


I was looking over Lesslie Newbigin's book Sin and Salvation and found this great section on salvation. I had to share this challenging question that he lays out for us.
"But when all this has been said, there are still two serious difficulties which have to be considered. The first is this: love must be shown not only in deeds, but in deeds which are actually directed to the need of the other person. If I am drowning in a well and another man jumps into the well and rescues me, while he himself is drowned in the effort, then there can be no doubt about that man's love. He has given his life for me. But if I am attacked by a tiger I need a different kind of help. My friend may jump into the well and drown himself, but that will not rescue me from the tiger. In that case, even though my friend may jump into the well and drown himself, but that will not rescue me from the tiger. In that case, even though my friend gave up his life, I cannot say that he loved me or saved me. Christ gave up His life on the cross, but how does that save me? How does it rescue me from my sin? Unless we can show that there is some connection between Christ's death and my sin I cannot believe that Christ's death is a proof of love for me, or that it has saved me from sin. Clearly it is not enough simply to say that the cross is a revelation of God's love, unless we can answer these questions."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

WikiWorship Question #5


On Sunday, April 6th at 9.45am we will be gathering for WikiWorship at Hell's Kitchen (118 Princess Street - Wilmington). We will be covering this question that came to us online: "Why do Christians tend to pick and choose verses out of the Bible as scriptural support, yet dismiss other verses that may contradict their claims? Is it not okay to view the Bible as bits and pieces, rather than a whole?" All are invited to come.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Divisive

This Sunday, March 30th at 9.45am we are covering this question for WikiWorship: "How does the church reconcile the hostility toward homosexuality when it seems that it is no more vilified than divorce or even lust?" This is about as divisive of an issue we can have now-a-days. We see this in the news, and what we find are talking heads yelling at each other about opinions. What I long for is a respectful conversation that allows us to be authentic and real. In this we can embody hope ----- where we can create a place where it can be safe to talk about some of the most difficult questions of life ----- rather than a dangerous place to talk about little to nothing. In the book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul writes: "He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it." [Ephesians 2.15-16] Here we learn that in Christ he makes a new humanity ----- even though there was hostility ----- and this new humanity is reconciled at the cross. I would urge us all to approach this question from the foot of the cross. For at the foot of the cross we find who we are ------ sinners in need of a savior [1 Timothy 1.15].

Thursday, March 27, 2014

WikiWorship - Sunday, March 30th at 9.45am

On Sunday, March 30th at 9.45am we will be gathering for WikiWorship at Hell's Kitchen (118 Princess Street - Wilmington). We will be covering this question that came to us online: "How does the church reconcile the hostility toward homosexuality when it seems that it is no more vilified than divorce or even lust?" All are invited to come.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

WikiWorship Question #3


The question we will be covering on Sunday, March 23rd at 9.45am is this: "Why are people born in poverty where they have been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused; while others are born into 3 bedroom homes with some hope; while others are born in Landfall?" This will be at Hell's Kitchen (118 Princess Street - Wilmington).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

End Time Headlines - WikiWorship

I never would have thought that WikiWorship would have made it to a website like End Time Headlines ------ so I had to comment on that. They do not write any commentary on the website ------ so I don't know if there using WikiWorship as a sign of the end times or they are using it as a compliment that we are working diligently to reach into the darkness during the end times. Which ever way we take that ------ I have to say that is truly a resume builder if you get an article written on the End Time Headlines page ;-) http://endtimeheadlines.org/uncategorized/wikiworship-lets-church-members-edit-pastors-sunday-sermon/