Thursday, July 30, 2015

Meaningful Relationships

IMG_3890We ask for your forgiveness for making the church into an expensive ad for something cheap. We have focused so much on buildings, land, and wealth, that we have forgotten the simplicity of meaningful relationships with each other and with God.

During the summer of 2008 my wife and I visited London. If anyone visits London, they will notice that they end up visiting many churches. The interesting thing is that you do not go to these churches for worship. Instead, the churches we visited have become more and more like museums—ornaments of the past. Just a small handful of people attend worship on Sundays—but they pay their staff and their bills because they are treated as a museum. They charge strangers [they like to call them tourists] money to go into their doors. People want to go there to see where a certain person was murdered in the 11th century. These large church buildings have handfuls of people that still gather together—and they point to a time when they were packed with people. In many ways these buildings have become museums—and now they are just struggling to keep the building maintained. 

Here in North America we are following suit with our European brothers & sisters. We have turned many of our churches into expensive ads for something cheap. The hollow shell of what we used to do still remains in our church buildings. Much can be said for having a nice building—but when our church budgets are overwhelmed by the cost of upkeep—I wonder if we have missed something in our care for buildings?

The simplicity of a meaningful relationship with another person has oftentimes been neglected because of our care and concern over buildings, land, and wealth. We have forgotten that God has called us to be in community with one another—not walled off from the world that God so loves. Our calling is to be a people that love the way that God loves—and our God loves so much that he sent Jesus to be one of us. This was not an expensive ad for something cheap—instead this is the ultimate sacrifice.

That doesn’t mean that churches do not do good things. There are countless examples of the good that is being done in the name of Christ. But, have we focused too much on land? and buildings? and money?

As we consider who we have become as the church in North America, may we never lose sight of the fact that simple relationships with one another is what we are called to be about. That we are called to be authentic with one another and love one another. For in this love we can know Christ and make him known.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


This Sunday, March 22nd at 9.45am we are covering this question for WikiWorship: "Why do some Christian faiths vilify homosexuality?" 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].

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Religion & Politics

This last Sunday we focused on this question: "Why do Christians hate Obama? Why are churches not a place where Conservatives and Liberals love Jesus together?" This was a question that we gathered over the last couple weeks. There is one part of the question that I would like to say more about ------ and then see what you all think.

There are times when we do not want to hear from people that have different opinions or points of view. As a result of this we will perceive what someone is going to say about a subject, and then shut them out from a meaningful conversation. We might perceive them as "Conservative" and therefore not want to hear from them because we think of them as narrow minded and cold. Or we might perceive someone as "Liberal" and therefore not want to hear from them because we think of them as idealistic or morally relativistic. But, what Christ offers us is a new humanity that is found at the cross. Where we are all gathered on level ground, and can only stand pointing at the one who reigns and rules from the cross shaped throne. At the feet of Jesus, he makes all things new ------ even this new reality of breaking down the walls that have divided us [Ephesians 2.13-16].

In order to live into this new reality it takes work on our part. The best way I have learned to live into this new reality is through the habit of listening by way of relationships. I have to continuously put the person that is in front of me ahead of my own desires or wants. I have to lift them up and encourage them to share their story with me. And in that sharing there is trust and mutual love.

Every morning my family and I gather for morning prayer. We decided to start praying the "Apostles' Creed" along with our prayers. We took a version that includes "he descended into hell". I was not used to praying that part of the Apostles' Creed. Before I would just pray: "he suffered under Pontius Pilate. Was crucified, dead, and buried. On the third day he rose from the dead." It took about a year for me to change the way I prayed the Apostles' Creed. It was hard work ------ and I continuously struggled through it with my family. They sometimes had to stop me and say ------ no, pray it this way. And after a year it became a habit. And now I know it in my heart and mind.

This is what I mean by the hard work of sharing mutual love and trust. It is hard work to listen to others. It is hard work to be friends with people that we disagree with. It is hard work to love people that share a different point of view. But this is part of the hard work of living into this new reality that Jesus has made and is making. The new reality of a new humanity that is found in him. Where there are not the dividing walls ------ but instead where we can acknowledge that we are sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

When it comes to loving Jesus alongside folks that differ from you, how have you learned to live in mutual love and trust?

Friday, February 20, 2015

WikiWorship - February 22nd @ 9.45am

On Sunday, February 22nd at 9:45am we are gathering at Hell's Kitchen (118 Princess Street - Wilmington) for WikiWorship.  We will be looking at this question: "Why does a God of love and forgiveness and compassion use such negative and horrific things in life to teach?  ie: Monkey Junction murder."

Saturday, January 3, 2015


My family and I have been back in Wilmington for a year and a-half.  Since the time we have landed on the ground we have lived into a new reality ---- the reality of being on mission.  Our mission has been to embody hope in real and tangible ways.  While doing this we have been stretched in ways we have found exhilarating and scary ----- but during that whole time God has overwhelmed us with grace and love.  We are so thankful for the terrific people that we have had the opportunity to journey beside, for we know that relationships are the key to living out this missionary journey.  We just want to say a sincere thank you to all of you for your generosity and support.  Because of you all we have been able to take steps with assurance ------ knowing that we are there to help carry heavy burdens together ------ while at the same time there to celebrate what the Holy Spirit is accomplishing through our efforts. 

Very few things at The Anchor have happened for a second time annually.  Two of those things we did in the last couple weeks.  We gathered together with candles in hand and worshiped the God who came in the flesh on Christmas-Eve.  And we also went on Christmas day to a nursing home to celebrate Jesus' birth with those who he cares so much for ------ those who are lonely and sick.  As I looked around and saw the faces of people, that were strangers to me a year ago, I saw family.  People that have poured their life into the journey of following after Jesus, and I have had the opportunity to pour my life into the journey as well.  And we have done it together!

We have dedicated our lives to following after the one who is worthy of our time, energy, and attention ---- but we haven't done this as Lone Ranger Christians ------ instead we have done it in community, as family.  We didn't have to have a committee that told us to do this, or an air-conditioned building, or ample parking spots, or fog machines, or a light show, or an advertising budget, or marketing consultants, or fancy torn jeans, or rent a building, or flashy evangelistic gimmicks, or the "We Love Our City" t-shirts, or the "mission-day" push (whatever that means?) ------ instead we have just decided to live out the love of Jesus by embodying hope where God has placed us.

This is humbling, and in many ways it feels like we are approaching the manger scene like the shepherds that first happened upon that poor, ostracized family 2000 years ago.  We are approaching this scene with awe and wonder as we hear Jesus say to us "See, I am making all things new."  

Let's pray: Make us new O God ------ so that we might be servants to all those you love ------ as we are moved with compassion to embody hope in the situations and circumstances you have placed us.  Let us continue to do this in simple and sustainable ways ------ and in that, may we continue to participate with Holy Spirit in your Kingdom coming to earth, as it is in heaven.  AMEN!