“Who is my neighbor?” A simple question with a not-so-simple response. This question was originally asked to Jesus in response to His command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (see Luke 10:27-29).
In our finale of Living Hospitality, we examined Jesus’ response and saw 3 potential “neighbors” that might be in our lives and in need of some hospitality right now. Read More
God is love! The elementary school answer that I admittedly used well beyond elementary school. But hey, in my defense, the older I grew and the harder I tried to understand Christianity, the more I realized this simple statement carried heavier weight than it seems at first sight. Read More
"Everybody matters to God, even if God doesn't matter to them."
That's what our 10th core value is all about. It's about God taking flesh in our local community and "making some waves" through His Body, the Church. It's about us following the example of Christ and the early church and offering no-strings-attached love and compassion for others, especially those deemed of little to no value by society.
And while we may be questioned for what we believe, we should be embraced for how we love. Read More
Below is a post I wrote at the start of this year and given the current state of our nation, I thought might be relevant today. Its message is one that I believe is at the core of our Christian faith (and our national identity as well). I pray that one by one, more and more people in our country - especially within the Church - would see DIFFERENT doesn't mean WRONG. It just means different.
Can two people think differently and BOTH be right? Is that possible?
One thinks we should open our borders; another thinks we should close them.
One thinks we should help the poor; another thinks we should hold them accountable.
One thinks we should focus on evangelism; another thinks we need more Bible study.
Can they both be right? Or does someone have to be wrong? Read More
Churches are supposed to be more like an army and less like a country club. We aren't here just to pray and socialize and that's it. We're supposed to be making a difference in the world.
If that idea strikes a chord with you, then you're going to enjoy Part 4 in Finding Your Flavor. This week we talked about the two "action-oriented" flavors: the Activist and the Caregiver. Read More
This past week I preached about the importance of watching what we say. Why? “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37)
Ouch! That’s a tough verse to swallow if we really take it seriously. In light of that, I remembered this post that I wrote originally three years ago which gets to the core of why watching our words is so difficult to do. Hope you enjoy!
What’s harder: loving your enemies or loving your friends?
I know the question sounds like a no-brainer. It’s such a dumb question that it’s not even worth answering. “Of course it’s easier to love your friends than it is to love your enemies,” you’d say. How could anyone think otherwise?
Now before I get too deep into this post, let me say that I fully realize that my world isn’t the same as everyone else’s. I don’t live in a world where I’m persecuted for my faith. I don’t live in a world where I have to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin. I don’t live in a world where I can easily identify one person or one group of people as “my enemy” (Cowboys fans excluded 🙂 ) Read More
Years ago, I read the Old Testament book of Jonah and decided that I didn’t really like Jonah very much. Whenever I say that out loud, I imagine myself getting to Heaven and running into Jonah as he stands with his hands crossed, head shaking, waiting for an explanation. This week, I got to thinking about what I would say in response. Why am I so quick to discount him?
Every Sunday School teacher will tell you that Jonah’s main struggle - the reason the Ninevites were almost destroyed - is because he was disobedient. Obedience is not my struggle. When God asks me to do difficult things, I do them. Now, never mind that when I do them I am worried, afraid, doubtful, begrudging and searching for every way to justify cutting corners and that those things are just as sinful. But in the end, I obey. And Jonah didn't.
And that makes it easy for me to look down on Jonah; because his sin is different than mine. Read More
Everyone loves Christmas music right? This morning I heard one of all-time classics on the radio, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Like you, I’ve heard this song millions of times, but for some reason today, I actually thought about the words. They kind of made me think that each of us is a little bit like Rudolph – but just with different names.
Uhhhh….excuse me…what are you saying about my nose?
Think about it. Rudolph is owned by Santa; he works for Santa, bringing gifts to Santa’s children across the world. Similarly we are children of God. We “belong” to Him and our purpose is to spread love to His children across the same world. And just like Rudolph, we aren’t always accepted by the rest of the world.
“Christians are weird…they behave differently…they speak differently…they aren’t like us.” This shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. The Bible predicted this would happen:
“In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.” (1 Peter 4:4)
“Do you think we should leave the kids or not? Will they be ok without us? Or should we just take them with us and forget about the waterpark?”
That was the conversation that I had with my wife just three days ago as we were debating whether or not to leave our children – ages 8 and 6 – at a waterpark during our church’s weekend getaway to a local resort. They wouldn’t be alone there. They’d be with several other members of the STSA family – about 100 or so – but they would be without us.
As you can imagine, everyone was super excited to go to the waterpark on Saturday afternoon (remember it was Memorial Day weekend). But Marianne and I had to return home for a wedding that evening. So we had to decide what to do with our kids. They were excited to go to the waterpark, but we were worried. Read More
At the start of this year's Lenten journey, Fr. Anthony reminded us that it is a journey of forgiveness -- God's forgiving nature towards us and our forgiveness of others. Whenever I think of forgiveness, I imagine a big dramatic scene like the prodigal son running into his father's arms or friends who haven't spoken for decades finally apologizing to each other in their gray years. It's easy to imagine myself being so magnanimous as to take back an errant child or wayward friend. I'm just arrogant enough to picture my dignified acceptance of his or her apology.
But I don't think that's what Christ meant when He asked us to forgive our brothers 490+ times (70 x 7, see Matthew 18:21-22). Scripture warns us not to judge and that the plank is our eye is much larger than the speck in our brothers' eye (see Luke 6:42).
We are so forgiving of our plank. We are so good at finding rational excuses for our sins. When we snap at a coworker, we excuse ourselves because we were tired. When we cross four lanes of traffic to get to our exit, we excuse ourselves because something distracted us. Do we extend the same courtesy when we are snapped at, when someone cuts us off?
In light of the recent election and extreme divisiveness that it brought to our nation, I found an article that I wrote more than 5 years ago that I am reposting today. The article was originally written for the monthly newsletter of Good Shepherd Christian Academy, but it is the perfect message for Americans now after one of the most polarizing and divisive Presidential elections ever.
The election is now over and regardless of who you voted for, it’s time for us to move forward as a nation UNITED. "United we stand, divided we fall," right? That’s what we always say. Jesus said something similar:
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24-25)
I believe that our response as a nation going forward will ultimately determine what direction our country goes in. It isn’t the guy in office that is going to either save us or ruin us. It’s our job – we the people of the United States of America – to stand up, join hands and work together to build this nation of ours. That’s the spirit of America and that’s the spirit of Jesus as well.
Take a look at the article below and let me know what you think by leaving a comment. If you’re with me, go ahead and say so and spread the word as well. Read More