31 Days–About Church?

So there is this writing challenge “out there” that urges bloggers and writers to pick a topic and write on it every day for the 31 days of October.    I thought that sounded like not only a challenge but also something that is worthwhile and engaging, so I decided to do it.

Now what to write about……

As many if not all of you know, I’m passionate about adoption, vulnerable children and the poor.   But I’m not going to write about that – because I’m working on a series of books that will share a lot of my thoughts and ideas about adoption, vulnerable children and how we can all play a role in caring for them.

So instead, I picked another topic I’m passionate about.   Church.

Confession time – I am the son of a preacher.   My brother is a preacher, my wife’s uncle and at least two cousins of hers are preachers.   

I’ve grown up in the church.   I have seen the church make a huge difference in people’s lives.    I’ve seen the church cause a huge amount of pain in people’s lives.   I’ve seen the church bring people into a relationship with Christ and I’ve seen the church drive people away.

I’m looking forward to taking a look at the church, the good, the bad, the somewhere in between.    This is not going to be a “stuff Christians like” type of blog series (sorry, Jon Acuff) but instead a more serious look at the church.    While I believe that the need for Jesus is growing and more people are seeing that need, I believe that the church is loosing its place in society and its relevance in people’s lives.

Join me, pray that God  helps us all see the church be and become what He wants.

Tom

P.S. If you have ideas or suggestions on things you’d like me to discuss, e-mail me or leave it in a comment below.

Holy Ground

So, in Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua is talking to a “mystery man” who says he is neither for them nor against them – but he’s the commander of the army of the Lord.    I would really hope that the commander of the Lord’s army is for me…….

But then the commander said something that struck me.   “Take off your sandals, for the place you are standing is holy.”

I don’t think we do that enough.   

I’m not talking physical shoes (though he was) – especially because I’m wearing a “boot” because of a torn tendon in my left foot.   I’m talking about “other” shoes.

Spiritual shoes that “protect” us from being real at church – real – even with our stubbed toes and sweaty feet and all of our imperfections.

Emotional boots that protect us from stepping in the mess that others might leave on the floor – because life is messy and sometimes you step in “theirs” if you get too close to them.

Relational shoes – shoes that you take off out of respect when you enter someone else’s house.    Someone who you want to say, “I appreciate you and I value your relationship – so I’m going to remove my shoes and keep your space clean.”    Keeping their space clean also shows how you value their being, their belonging and their space as one of God’s children.

And most importantly, our God shoes.   These are the “shoes” that we take off when we acknowledge that we’re on holy ground.    That holy ground can happen at church, at work, anywhere you can see and witness the glory of God.

We need to take off our shoes more.   We’re on holy ground all day and in many ways.

Tom

What If?

Read I Kings 19 in church this morning.   Part of it was the story of how Elijah  “called” Elisha to take over and follow in his footsteps.   A couple of things really struck me about this passage…….

Elisha was a good old country boy.   He was working the farm and when Elijah called him (by putting his cloak on him), Elisha wanted to say  goodbye to Mom and Dad.  

What if God came along and changed everything?    Elisha was out in the field with his oxen and suddenly his life was changed forever.   How did he respond?   He did two things:

  • He told his parents and said, “Goodbye – I’m doing what God is calling me to.”
  • He burned his equipment and butchered his oxen – he didn’t leave himself an escape route.   No going back – he was all in with what God wanted.

And what did God want him to do?   The first thing God wanted him to do was a very glamorous, very high paying, very prestigious role.   God wanted him to be Elijah’s servant.

God changed everything.   Elisha’s life was never the same.

And God’s first plan was for him to be a servant.

How many of us would willingly go along with God’s plan if He wanted us to be a servant?

How different would the church and the witness of the church in today’s world be if more of us were willing to let God change everything.

And make it not about me.

Not about what’s comfortable for me.

But make it about being faithful and answering God’s call.

Elijah was a man of God following a path he did not understand.   The whole Mt. Carmel/contest/prophet killing/rain episode did NOT end the way Elijah thought it would.

But he heard God’s voice, it changed everything and then he went and passed that message on to Elisha.

And from Elisha, the message passes on down…..

to you…..

to me………

to the church.

How will we answer?   What will we do when God changes everything?

What sort of difference can we make in the world if we are faithful to God’s call?

Tom

Rhythms of Grace

Today’s personal devotions brought me to Matthew 11:29 and 30.   

As I like to, I read it in both the NIV and The Message.   Below is the Message version:

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”  Matthew 11:30 (The Message)

That got me thinking……..

  • How often do we allow God and His rhythms of grace to take over?
  • How often are we too busy to say, “God’s got this!” And then let God have it?
  • How often are we too hot and bothered by all of the things happening in our world and in THE world that we don’t feel like we can afford to let Him plan and do things?

Not very often

Very often

Way too much of the time.

Especially for those who have a passion for the hurting, the vulnerable and the oppressed of the world, it’s hard to not feel like you have to fix it all.

And have it all fixed by yesterday.

I know.   I’m there, quite often.

These last months have been a journey in learning the rhythms of grace.   Knowing God’s got it, knowing God’s got a plan.   It’s hard.

Some days harder than others.   But never easy.

But Jesus says again in this verse that not only do we need to trust in God’s grace through our valleys, we need to do it in an unforced manner.

Unforced means we don’t try  to rush it, we don’t try to move it faster than God wants or in a way that’s different than He wants.

Learning the unforced rhythms of grace – hard.

Very difficult to do.

But living in this world that’s full of evil while knowing God’s got this all under His control is good.

It doesn’t erase the “why” questions but allows us to trust and know that God’s got this.

May we all learn the unforced rhythms of grace today.   Tomorrow.   And always.

Tom