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Showing posts from 2017

Be the Church Sunday

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It was early in my ministry career and I came across an idea in outreach magazine: cancel worship and get out into the community to do projects. It seemed like a great way to both love neighbor as you love yourself AND to make disciples.

Fast forward to my appointment this year as the pastor at Rockbridge Church and it just so happens that Rev. Wade Killough, the founding pastor at Rockbridge, had started a Be the Church Sunday. The idea was the same! One more reason that I love my appointment at Rockbridge and that we are such a good fit.

It may seem like a crazy idea, to go out into the community on a Sunday morning! What if people get mad that you don't have worship? What if a visitor shows up? Why are we doing this? I wanted to take a few moments today and explain BTC, why we do it and why you should participate!

1. Be the Church Sunday is a gathering of local churches in Cedar Park and Leander. For 2 Sundays out of the year, we live out our call to serve others by leaving the…

When faced with evil.

I have to say that when I first heard about the shooting in Sutherland, Texas, that I started to panic. What if this were to happen to my church (for those that don't know, I am the pastor of Rockbridge Church in Cedar Park)? I still have not figured out the answer to that question, and honestly, whatever the answer is, I hope I never have to put it into practice. Right now my heart is broken for this small Texas town and First Baptist Church. My heart is broken for the families who lost loved ones, especially those who lost children to this horrific attack. My heart is even broken for this young man who chose to execute people in a church. My heart breaks for our country that has more gun violence than it should.

I am not going to get into any policy suggestions because frankly, I do not know the answer to how we stop having nearly as many mass shootings as we have days in the year. I do want to be a part of the solution. So I am going to pray, invite dialogue and see where we ca…

Joseph: Dealing with success

I am continuing my read through the Bible and today's reading was about Israel moving into to Egypt because of the famine. After his happy reunion, there is a very dark passage that is easy to miss; and it partially explains the plight of the Israelites in the book of Exodus.

"Joseph said to the people, 'Since I've now purchased you are your farmland for Pharaoh, here's seed for you. Plant the seed in the land. When the crop comes in, you must give one-fifth to Pharaoh. You may keep four-fifths for yourselves, those in your households and your children.' The people said, 'you saved our lives. If you wish we will be Pharaoh's slaves. (Genesis 47:23-25)'"

One of the most painful realities in the Bible is that these great heroes often make great mistakes that end up causing immense pain. Abraham pretends his wife is his sister to get favorable treatment; Noah gets drunk; Jacob favors Joseph; Joseph sells an entire nation into slavery to Pharaoh! …

Rushing God's Plan

I believe that God has a plan for each of us. Not the 'I am puppet dangling from strings' kind of plan, but the kind where God has a vision and destination in mind for each of us. Afterall, we have work to do. The problem is that God rarely reveals all of that plan at one time. I liken it to walking in a dark room with a flashlight, we can only see to the end of the beam and we must take steps of faith before of the plan is revealed to us. If you are like me, this is incredibly frustrating! Why can't God just tell us everything?! I think that it is probably because we would definitely not go through with it if we were shown the end!

Our response is usually to rush God along and take over the job of leading for ourselves. We can do it as well as Jesus, right? Unfortunately, the answer is no we can't. There are two stories that come to mind (I recently started over reading the Bible from Genesis, forward) where heroes of the Bible did this very thing. Sarai frustrated th…

I desire mercy not sacrifice...

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Some people see Jesus hanging out with the wrong crowd (sinners and tax collectors) and the Pharisees say, "Why is he hanging out with THOSE people (Matthew 9:9-13)?" Jesus response? Go read your Bible. In Hosea, the prophet says from God, "I desire mercy not sacrifice."


That may not seem like a big deal, however, when sacrifice is how your sins are forgiven, God is telling the people that the Creator cares more about compassion and forgiveness than doing that which allowed God to forgive their sins.

Jesus is reminding the Pharisees that it is more important that we love people than anything else, and all are worthy of our time, our love, our hope for redemption. Whoever you think that God has moved to the margins and excluded from God's grace, they are not. There is a place for that person, just like there is a place for you in God's kingdom. God does want us to change, to sin no more, but don't ever imagine there is a person who is past saving. No lon…

Walking in her mother's shoes

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This morning, while I was getting ready, Amelia and Sophie were trying on Michelle's shoes.

It has always amused me that our little girls always want to wear their mom's shoes or dresses or jewelry. Then, one of the scriptures from this Sunday popped into my brain:
"Israel, Listen! Our God is the LORD! Only the LORD. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength. These words that I am commanding you today must always be on your minds. Recite them to your children (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)."

And this one:

"Train your children in the way they should go; when they grow old they won't depart from it (Proverbs 22:6)."

Just like little girls like to try on their mom's shoes, they want to be just like their parents (at least early on). Our little ones are watching us! Even if you are not a parent, the young ones in your church are watching you. The scriptures tell us that it is our job to teach them about the faith! It is vita…

Jeremiah 29:11

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There is an extremely popular Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11 that says, "I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the LORD; they are plans for peace, not disaster and to give you a future filled with hope." This might be a little controversial but


Take a moment and read the entire scripture from Jeremiah 29:1-14. Hit the link, don't worry I will be here waiting when you get back.

A little context for Jeremiah: the people of God have worshipped other Gods and now they had been taken to exile by Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar. A prophet named Hananiah had told them this was a temporary situation, but it wasn't and Hananiah had died because he was a false prophet. Now Jeremiah is letting the people know they need to settle in: build homes, have children - let your children have children. Basically, you will be here a while. He even tells them, "Don't pay attention to your dreams"?!? This is the scripture we put on keepsakes to give to college student…

No Hands But Yours...

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A friend of mine, Kyle Roberson shared this on Facebook:

Teresa of Avila, a sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, wrote, "Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion is to look out to the world; yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; yours are the hands with which God is to bless people now (from commonprayer.net)."

Did you catch that? It isn't that God needs us, but God designed the Kingdom of God to use human hands. God changed my life and most often that has been through the hands and feet of people. I think about the pastor who baptized me right after I was adopted; about Jim Gaither who put up with me in Sunday school; Rev. Travis Franklin who confirmed me; Marsha Ingle who was my youth pastor; my parents; Rev. Judy Shema who was my faith mom in college; Gary Moore who was my mentor in college; and Travis Burdett who was my closest friend in seminary. Eac…

Handling Anger

I am struck by this passage in Matthew 5:21-24

"You have heard it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sisters, 'Raca,' is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First God and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."

In the sermon on the mount (this scripture is part of that teaching) Jesus is always escalating the teachings of the law. It is no longer enough to simply not murder another person but Jesus wants to make us truly human and that means we are not to harbor anger or hate and desire violence against s…

Harvey - How You Can Help

"Little children, let's not love with words or speech but with action and truth." 1 John 3:18.

As followers of Christ, we are called into action when there are people in need, and there are many people in need right here in Texas. We also need to remember that there will be plenty of work to do over the next few months. If you want to help, here are a few ways to do that:

Give food and supplies to help folks who need it right now

and

Supplies and money to help in the coming days.

David

You Want to Grow

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It seems like people, when faced with what Jesus is calling them to do, treat it like a chore. The basic requirements of following Christ are to Love (God and neighbor), Grow (become like Jesus), and Go (go out and make disciples). You may look at that list and think, "I am so busy, I will have to give up so much to follow Jesus." Have you ever thought, however, that the most important thing of all that you do is to imitate Jesus and to be a disciple? Truly that is the life best lived (shout out to Donnie Cook who shared this idea with me). In Dallas Williard's wonderful treatise on the sermon on the mount, The Divine Conspiracy, Willard addresses this very issue. In it, he discusses two parables (among others): "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that somebody hid in a field, which someone else found and covered up. Full of joy, the finder sold everything and bought that field." And "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine…

On Charlottesville and Listening

James 1:19 tells us, "Know this, my dear brothers and sisters:  everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry."

In Philippians, Paul tells the church to 'adopt the mindset that is in Christ Jesus' when we are dealing with conflict with one another. That means that we are called to serve one another and put the needs of the person we are talking to before our own. It does not mean to pretend we do not have a different opinion.

I have thought a lot about what to do in our current situation with the increased racial tensions. Here is my first step in being a community of Jesus whose first commandment is to love:

It is time to listen. To listen to people who disagree with you, with me. It is time to listen to people who are of a different race and culture than mine. It is time to seek out and listen to those who are the victims of racism on a regular basis and still feel their life does not matter to the rest of the nation. It is time to liste…

Bombs, Coffee and Cobalt

I was going to blog this week about drinking coffee; I just decided to be a coffee drinker because I am spending a ton of time in coffee shops because I don't have an office. I decided that I should drink coffee and so I am! I had a blog prepared to discuss how being empowered by the Holy Spirit relates to coffee. I will have to save that for another day because there is something else I feel like we should discuss.

On social media I witnessed a lot of anxiety about the world around us, there seems to be a very real concern about nuclear war. So I feel compelled to talk about something political, but first I am going to share my views on faith and politics (very briefly). As Christians, we have a strange balance with the government in that we are to both engage the government without indulging the temptation of trying to be the government. Quite simply, Jesus was tempted to take control of everything, yet his kingdom is not (yet) of this world (John 18:36). Yet we are called to ac…

This world IS our home and it DOES matter when we lose the battle...

You might be wondering what this blog is about today, or you might have already connected with the title with two popular Christian songs on the radio: Home by Chris Tomlin and Greater by Mercy Me. Both songs represent a theology that is an epidemic among popular Christianity today.

Many Christians believe that this world is not really our home, that it is just a temporary place that we are passing through and (hopefully if we found Christ!) we go TO heaven and not experience eternal conscious torment in hell. That allows us to say (as it says in the song Greater by Mercy Me) that if we lose the battle with doubt or sin, it doesn't matter because we have the grace of God and so we still get to go to heaven (side note: this isn't exactly what the song means, but it is what it says. The song seems to be saying that because we are redeemed we don't have to earn grace. That is true but it overstates the point).

The Christian world has focused on eternal salvation, however foll…

On Sports Camp and VBS and the Kissing of Pigs

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I am happy that I will be kissing a pig this week.


Weird huh?  I agreed that if we would collect 400 items for Camacho that I would kiss a pig. So I am happy because we will be providing over 400 items to the back pack program at Camacho Elementary school to provide food for students who would not have a weekend meal otherwise.

I am happy that I am kissing a pig because it has brought incredible joy to the young people who have come up to me to say how excited they are to see their pastor kiss a pig. I do what I can to make people happy. Actually, that isn't true, I am not really in the happiness business, but I am in the discipleship business.

I think about Matthew 19:13-15 "Some people brought children to Jesus so that he would place his hands on them and pray. But the disciples scolded them. 'Allow the children to come to me,' Jesus said. 'Don't forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.' Then he blessed the childr…

The Sad Story of Solomon

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The title of this blog may give you pause, and you might ask some questions like:
'Wait isn't he the wisest human who ever lived?' or 'Didn't he build the temple?' The answer is yes! By the time of his death, however, he had fallen so far away from God that the Lord took away 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel from the line of David! How did he fall so far, a man with untold potential, to a King who was punished by God? He was the third king of Israel following his father David. He was the child of David and Bathsheba (yes the Bathsheba that David fell in love with and had her husband, Uriah, murdered. Big time failures were definitely a family legacy) and was not the oldest son but he was the one whom God chose to rule after David. Early on things were great! He was following God and God was so joyous that he offered to give Solomon anything he wanted as a reward. Solomon asks for wisdom (a discerning mind 1 Kings 3:9) and God is so pleased that he didn't ask f…

Time to Grow Up

This morning I lost my wallet. Well lost is probably not the correct word, I temporarily misplaced it. Whenever I lose something, especially something important, I get anxious, even frantic. Most people have outgrown the problem of losing their keys or their wallet by having specific places to put it. I struggle with this (I often give the excuse that it's because it is how my brain works, while true it's an excuse) because I have not taken the time and effort to develop a pattern of where to put my important stuff. I am a very forgetful person, my dad used to say I would forget my head if it was not attached, but with the proper effort and training, I could learn to change my ways.

Friends, the same is true with our faith. We must choose to put effort and energy into growing in mature followers of Jesus. Check out Hebrews 6:1-9:

So let’s press on to maturity, by moving on from the basics about Christ’s word. Let’s not lay a foundation of turning away from dead works, of faith …

New Beginnings

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Psalm 40:3

It is a season of new beginning for me, as of July 2, I am the Pastor of Rockbridge Church. When change happens we are full of a lot of emotions and many of them are painful: fear, anxiety, loss, insecurity and even depression. I believe, however, we serve a God of change, a God who designed a dynamic world that is given the ability to create and reproduce: "God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.’ (Genesis 1:22)."

For me this change is of God and yet I have definitely felt many of these emotions. What has reassured me is the sure and certain knowledge that this change is part of God's plan. I shared a story in worship this week about a moment I had when I was still the pastor of the Tarleton Wesley. I was sitting, listening to my intern, Hanna New…