I Love My Church

I am so stoked to be a part of Denton Christian Church!  I seriously wish we had football-type jerseys so I could wear it and paint my face when I come on Sundays! (Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get the point, right?)  I am so profoundly humbled to be surrounded by people who are sold out to helping the hurting, healing the broken, and finding the lost.  With all the AMAZING things that have happened in the last few months, I just keep asking myself, “What’s Next?”

What about you?  What do you love about your church?

“You Asked For It!”

Hey bloggas!

I am soliciting your input!  In July, I am going to sharing some messages with my congregation that  are all about what they are thinking/wondering/talking about!  The series is called “You Asked for It!”  I already have some questions that people have asked and am developing some messages from them:

  • “What’s the Skinny on the Dip?” Some people ask why we put such an emphasis on Baptism, and what it is all about.  In the message we will talk all about that!  (Definitely stole that title, in case you were crushing on my creative genius!)
  • “Beer, Cigarettes and R-Rated Movies: How Free is Our Freedom in Christ?” Yeah.  Do I need to explain this one?  I expect it to be a little bit controversial, but a message that will encourage growth, nonetheless!
  • “Apocolypse: 2012!” What is the deal with end times, armageddon, and all that other craziness?

Anyway, what I need from you, loyal GU readers, is more fodder for the sermon canon.  If you go to DCC, what do you want me to talk about?  If you don’t, what do you wish your preacher would talk about?  If you don’t go to church at all, what nagging questions would you love for a preacher to address?

So, leave a comment, shoot an email, send a tweet, or facebook me!  Just let me know what YOU think!

Love, Love, Love….

Spring is in the air, and that means lots of things.  Pollen, allergies, and endless hours of sneezing for one thing.  Also, it seems love is in the air.  Young couples tying the knot, old ones remembering when they did.  High schoolers worrying about prom night. Love is truly in the air.

But what is it anyway?  Love, that is.  I have heard so many definitions, so many different times, that I can’t hardly keep track of it.  Here is the definition of love I shared with DCC recently:

Love is an ACT OF THE WILL (heart), accompanied by EMOTION(soul), which results in ACTION (strength) on behalf of the one being loved.

This definition is based on the Deuteronomy 6:5 which tells us to Love God with heart, soul and strength.  Love is not some RANDOM, UNCONTROLLABLE, SENSUAL force which we have no power or control over.  We are not suddenly stuck by some fat cherub’s arrow and instantly ‘head over heels’. Love is a dedicated mode of action, which at times is difficult, but in the end results in us being selflessly devoted to the one we are trying to love.

So, my question is: AGREE/DISAGREE?  What would you add to this definition?

By the way, if you are interested in learning more, we are talking about love at Denton Christian Church through the end of June.  You should come join us!

Sunday at 6

Sunday morning at 6 AM is one of the most troublesome times of the week for me.

At 6, I am filled with anxiety and insecurity. “Am I really good enough for this?”

At 6, I am filed with worry and dread. “What if no one shows up?”

At 6, I am filled with fear. “Did I forget something? Will I mess it all up?  Will I step between someone and Jesus instead of leading them closer to Him?”

And it is at 6, that once again I tell Jesus, “I am Yours.  You are King, and I am not.  This is Your church, Your plan, Your Word, Your truth, Your message, not mine.  You are Lord, and I will follow You anywhere.”

And only from the point of submission to His Lordship can I ever hope to preach anything.

It’s Sunday at 6.  See you at 10:30.

Sermon Overview: A Patient Encounter

(This is an overview of  the 2-28-10 message at Denton Christian Church.  Huge props to Matt Proctor, from whom I borrowed some structure and content.)

This month, we continued hanging out in the book of Luke, specifically looking at some of Jesus’ personal encounters with those around Him. Sunday, we looked at the story in Luke 9:37-45.

Being patient often feels like death.

We live in a microwave culture with a serious lack of patience.  (Lucado says we are “the only culture in the world with a mountain called rush-more.” yep, corny!) But we are called to be a people who show the evidence (fruit) that God’s Spirit lives in us. And part of that evidence is that we live a life of patience!

There are TWO ways patience in the Bible is used:

  1. Dealing with DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES.
  2. Dealing with DIFFICULT PEOPLE. (This is where we will focus today)

In the midst of our sinful, messed-upness, God could just unleash His furious wrath.  It is quite scary.  Check out Deuteronomy 32 if you don’t believe me.  BUT, God is patient.  He has, as Tozer said, “put a SAFETY LOCK on His wrath, and a HAIR TRIGGER on His mercy.”

God does not fly off the handle, is not impulsive and doesn’t just “go off” on us.  He is “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in love”. (Exodus 34:6)

GOD’S PATIENCE DEFINED: BUILDING A PAUSE INTO HIS REACTION.

Jesus did this well.  He was patient with all the difficult people that surrounded Him.  This is seen clearly in Luke 9:37-45. (go read it.  don’t worry, I’ll wait……back?  good.)

Jesus was patient with INCONVENIENT people– The Father

Jesus was just coming down from the transfiguration.  He was heading out with His disciples for some R & R, and yet this dad comes and interrupts this plan! This wasn’t the first or the last time that Jesus was interrupted in ministry.  In fact, Jesus was interrupted so much that it seems that “if it weren’t for interruptions, Jesus wouldn’t have had much of a ministry.” (can’t remember who said that! help?)

Examples– Paralytic being dropped through the roof in the middle of a sermon! Blind beggars at Damascus! Jarius’ daughter and the woman with internal bleeding.

When interruptions happened, when disruptions came, Jesus didn’t brush these inconvenient people aside or blow them off or lecture them about how He had more important things to do!

When we come to those moments in our life, moments when someone is interupting our day-planner schedule, getting us off of our to-do list, we need to:

BUILD A PAUSE INTO OUR REACTION! AND….die.

Die to our to-do list.

Die to our agenda.

Die to our idea of what’s most important.

Being patient often feels like death. Who knows?  Perhaps God has set-up a Divine appointment for you.  Don’t miss it.

Jesus was patient with DISAPPOINTING people –The Disciples

The Disciples should have been further along than they were.  They should have been able to drive out a simple demon.  Jesus had already empowered them to. (See Luke 9:1)  But they couldn’t.  AND right after this story, they start arguing over who was gonna be ruler over who.  Over who was gonna be the head honcho in Jesus’ kingdom. (Luke 9:46ff)   Then, right after that, these hot-heads wanted to call down fire from heaven on some people for not wanting to hear from Jesus! (Luke 9:51-56) These disciples should have been further along, more mature, and more able, BUT THEY WEREN’T.  AND Jesus didn’t go off on them, Jesus didn’t fire them or threaten them.

We will often encounter people who don’t live up to our expectations.  People who disappoint us.  It might be our SPOUSE, when we move past the ‘honeymoon’ stage.  It might be the CHURCH, when we realize that it isn’t full of perfectly sanctified people who have got it all figured out!

When we come to that moment of disillusionment, when the rose-colored glasses come off, when reality strikes and expectations are crushed, in that moment, we need to:

BUILD A PAUSE INTO OUR REACTION….and die.

Die to our false ideas of “love”.

Die to our false notions and judgments of who we think people ‘ought’ to be.

Being patient often feels like death.

Jesus was patient with HOSTILE people–The Teachers of the Law

Over in Mark’s account of this story, we see the Teachers of the Law (read: religio-nuts of that day) stirring up and arguing with the crowd.  This was nothing new.  Everywhere Jesus went, the current religious powers of the day constantly opposed Him, trying to stir up the crowds against Him and His message.  But Jesus doesn’t unload His fury on them.  He doesn’t fly off the handle.  He doesn’t fire back.

And as followers of Jesus we often find people who are actively hostile to us.  2 Timothy 3:12 says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”.  We will face opposition.  We will face people who would like nothing better than to see us fail.

At that moment, when it seems like the world is against you,  when it seems like the only defense is offensive, when you are being dragged down by these attacks, in that moment,

BUILD A PAUSE INTO YOUR REACTION….and die.

die to you own sense of dignity

die to your own sense of security

die to your own need to defend yourself

and instead, offer radical love, grace and forgiveness. Put a safety lock on your wrath and a hair trigger on your mercy.

Why?  Because that is exactly what Jesus did.  Jesus was patient with us.

Just think of Jesus at the cross.  He faced hostility like few of us can imagine.  He was condemned to a death He didn’t deserve and had the power to stop.  He listened as the people shouted for the release of a murderer instead of Him.  In that moment He built a pause into His reaction and chose grace. “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

He faced something far worse than the hostility of the people. Jesus in that moment faced the hostility and wrath of God.  Not because He deserved it or had sinned, but because He voluntarily took the sins of humanity on Himself.  And so the safety lock came off, and God’s wrath was poured out on His own Son, instead of us.  And in that moment, Jesus BUILT A PAUSE INTO HIS REACTION….and died.

It’s Christ’s patience with us that calls us  to be patient with others.  He was so slow to anger that He died before He got there.  Will that be you?  Sometimes being patient feels like death.

The Forgiveness/Love Equation

One dude I love to follow is Mark Batterson because he loves to simplify spiritual truths into easy to remember equations.  I had a ‘Batterson moment’ as I was reading in Luke yesterday.  Here’s what I mean:

In the last part of Luke 7, Jesus is over for dinner at the house of a Pharisee.  It was a nice invite, probably with a respectable crowd of people for Jesus to hang out with.  But someone else, not quite so respectable showed up.  A woman who “had lived a sinful life” (read: whore) showed up and lavished some loving on Jesus’ feet:

she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

Jesus, of course always having run ins with the self-righteous religio-Nazis, catches His host thinking bad thoughts.  This Pharisee (named Simon) was pretty sure that Jesus was faking the whole prophet from God thing, because if He really was, He would know that a whore was touching Him, and wouldn’t allow it.  Jesus, being God and all, knew what this fella was thinking and told him a story.

“There were two guys who had credit card debt.  The first owed CitiBank $5,000 and the other owed them $50,000.  Neither of them could pay their bill at all, and CitiBank decided to forgive both of their loans. Poof, gone! Which one of these guys do you think loved CitiBank more?” (Yes, I did change of few details, but the story is the same.)

Simon, just like you, me and EVERYONE ELSE would have done, said, “The one who had the bigger debt canceled!”  Of course, Simon was right and Jesus said so.  What Simon wasn’t ready for was the fact that Jesus was actually talking about him and the ‘sinful woman’.

Jesus ultimately brings it down to this equation:

Forgiven Much=Loves Much!

Forgiven Little=Loves Little!

In the end, we all have been forgiven much.  In God’s economy of sin, any sin ultimately and finally separates us from Him.  And through Jesus we find forgiveness, mercy and grace.  We all have been forgiven an un-payable and unimaginable amount.  But we don’t all see it that way.

Many of us see our salvation as a formality.  We were pretty good people before, and pretty good after, and Jesus just sealed the deal for us.  We are so confident in our self-righteousness that we can’t even see the massive debt that Jesus has paid on our behalf.  Simon even seemed to think he was doing Jesus a favor by having Him over, instead of realizing the ultimate blessing of having the Lord of everything in his house. Some of us fall into the same trap, thinking that somehow we are blessing God by adding our good selves to His team.

Gut check: Do some self-examination and see if maybe you are guilty of thinking you have less to be forgiven of than anyone else.

In the end, if we want our passion for Christ and His work and His mission ignited, we are going to have to realize how much we have been forgiven.  Because:

Forgiven Much=Loves Much

Only Hearing the F**ks and D**ns

So I have had this in my draft folder for a while. Not sure how you all will take it, but I sense the discussion needs to begin.

I had a friend recently who confessed that he was embarrassed by his friends at an event that he had invited me to. (In fact, he didn’t invite me back for some time because of this. And I thought I was just weird!)

He was embarrassed about the language that his friends used.  If you know me, you know I am not a big cusser. (Unless, of course, you lump words like ‘crap’ into this category.  If that’s the case, then I am a constant potty mouth.)

I don’t know for sure what prompted this embarrassment, but I assume he has run into Christians who can’t deal with people cussing. (I will ask him.) I assume this because there are lots of them.

It seems like we can only hear the cuss words in such conversations.  It seems like that is the only thing we hear.  All we can hear are the f**ks and d**ns.  This has prompted some questions in my mind that I really want to discuss:

  1. Why is that all we can hear?  I understand that we have chosen a different speech pattern, but do we really expect everyone to do it our way?  Including those who are not following Christ?  Why can’t we look through the mucky water of foul language and see the feelings, beauty and creativity of the what people are saying, regardless of how they are saying it?
  2. If we are in a foreign country, we don’t ask them to learn our language so that we can communicate.  We learn theirs!  Like it or not, “cussing” is a part of 21st century American language.  We need to be able to interpret, understand and identify the heart behind the words.
  3. Where do we get our theology for language?  What are some passages that you point to for this topic?  Do any of them have prohibit hearing ‘foul’ language? Do any of them actually discuss the language itself, or more how we use it in a relational context?
  4. While this avoidance of bad language is generally done with good and pure motives, often the consequence is people thinking we are snobbish and holier than thou.  How can we avoid this?

Anyway, jump into the discussion.  If you are feeling especially brave, tell me if you ‘cuss’, and why or why not!