Church Hopping

In several communities, there is a ‘circulation of the saints’. What I mean is the disturbing trend of some of the followers of Jesus to move from congregation to congregation, never putting their roots down and becoming part of one body of ‘fellow followers’.

Tim Stevens recently had a great post about this on his blog, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s not original with Tim, but as he wrote:

This is an article by Dr. James Emery White from his blog at Christianity.com. It was such a great article, I could find no way to truncate it, so I include it in its’ entirety:

James Emery White’s article contains some wise words about this ‘church-hopping’ habit. Read on with your ears wide-open.

The Touch of Jesus

Touch is powerful. I am continually amazed whenever I get the privilege of holding a newborn baby—everything about them is awe-inspiring, but I’m always moved by their hands.

Those tiny hands hold so much potential. Someday they will hold a pen, tap on a tablet screen, grab the steering wheel of a car or maybe the control stick of an airplane. But for now they’re content to hold my finger.

There is a great concentration of nerve endings in the human hand. The sensation of touch communicates a vast array of information through those wonderful utensils on the ends of our arms. Over the years, that little baby in my arms will touch and feel things soft, hard, rough, smooth, hot or cold. Those hands will communicate love and affection, and maybe violence and hostility. Touch is powerful.

Our Evangel family has spent Sunday mornings in July looking at the most powerful touch anyone can experience: the touch of Jesus.

You may have experienced the negative power of touch, and so you might recoil at the thought of letting Jesus put His hand on your heart. But please trust Him. His touch is pure. His touch is gentle. His touch makes everything right.

—–

Luke 5:12-13 NLT:

12 In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.

August 4, 2012

My office is a mess.

As I sit in my chair, a quick scan across my desk, guest chairs and even the floor reveals a scene that looks like a nuclear bomb has detonated nearby. Actually it is the accumulation of stuff from a busy week at Evangel.

  • On the left side of my desk are two handmade ‘cards’ from a couple of kids who attended our vacation Bible school this week. The squiggly handwriting and picture of a smiling sun bring a grin to my face.
  • Further to the left is a sheet of construction paper, complete with foam crosses–glued and glittered. The words, ‘I love Jesus’ bring a tear to my eyes.
  • On the floor sits a bag with leftover treat bags. Every kid took one home—complete with a New Testament, some Play-Doh® and of course CANDY!

I am thankful for the students who gave their time to help this week. They stepped up and served beyond their years and even their experience. Some of them are bound for places of leadership, and they have a heart for the Kingdom of God. Everyone pulled part of the load, and it was awesome to see them stretch and grow.

I appreciate the adults who came when they could to greet parents, help with crafts, and serve snacks. You may never realize the impact your kindness made until Jesus pulls back the curtain in eternity and allows us to see the ripple effect of your giving.

My office is a mess. But I’ll clean it up next week. For now I’ll smile when I remember the kids who just soaked up every moment of VBS, smiling and laughing and listening to the stories. I’ll cry as I pray for the little guys who came with dirty faces and holey sneakers, and jumped right into everything going. I’ll think of stuff we could have done better (and we will do it better next time); I’ll wish we had more time, more resources, more help.

But most of all, I’ll thank Jesus for helping us love some kids who needed to know they’re loved. I’ll thank Him for the kids whose lives were changed as they opened up to God’s love. I’ll thank Him for the chance to touch the some hearts while they’re still tender—before the years have made them hard. I’ll thank Him for the mess, because it reminds me of the miracles that took place here this week.

Matthew 19:14 NLT — But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

Christmas Means More

‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…everywhere you go…’

We’ve arrived at the Christmas season here in the Cap City. It’s a fascinating and frustrating time. Something changes in people in December. Something about this time of year and our participation in it its festivities makes us act differently.

  • Some of the most mild-mannered citizens become poster children for road/parking lot rage.
  • Some of the meanest and crankiest people in the neighbourhood suddenly develop (gasp) concern for others.

Some of us react to the season by inflating our own importance to the point we justify:

  • cutting the line
  • double parking
  • running red lights
  • berating store clerks
  • speeding

Others react to the season by deliberately slowing down, looking people in the eye and smiling, holding doors open, purposefully parking further from the mall entrance, actually tipping service industry workers generously, and whistling more.

Can I challenge you to closely examine the way you proceed through these next few weeks? We probably can’t take the Goliath of consumerism down, but we just might make our neighbourhood a little brighter. (but not this bright).

Christmas means more. Do more than tweet it. Let’s live it.

(whistling…)

www.evangelnb.ca

98% vs. 2%

I’ve spent a lot of time at the hockey rink this winter.

6am practices at the York Arena (where a new dimension of COLD is waiting for you), working through suppertime traffic to get to a game (goalies need a little more time to get ready, so I’ve learned), suppers of rink hot dogs (don’t ask) and the pungent smell of the dressing room (really, don’t ask); all this has been part of it, and it’s been a blast. Nahum’s team begins their playoff push this weekend, and then we can hang the gear up somewhere that it won’t attract racoons and bears.

It’s not unusual to hear the call of, “50-50! Get your 50-50 tickets here!” while you’re at the rink. The 50-50 is a way of fundraising for minor hockey, and the premise is simple: but a ticket, and if you win, you get 50% of the ticket sales, with the rest going to the association.

I usually try to make a deal with the kids selling the tickets. I offer to buy one if they’ll make it 65-35 (for me, of course) or even 70-30. No one has ever taken me up on it though.

Imagine if your odds of winning were very good; let’s say you had a 98% chance of winning the 50-50 pot…tempting, right?

  • Or suppose you put your business card in a box at the restaurant to win a free meal, and when you do it, you discover that you have a 98% chance of winning your next supper on the house… like your odds?
  • Would you make an investment in real estate if you had a 98% guarantee that in a few years you’d turn a profit?
  • Would you jump into the squared circle with this guy if you had a 98% chance of beating him and becoming the champ? (Yes, I realize it’s more like 98% you wouldn’t last 30 seconds with him beating on you.)

My point is, we like it when the odds are in our favour. We play percentages, invest wisely, build with a solid plan, and tend to go in the direction of what’s going to work out best.

Would you go with or against the 98%? Exactly.

Check out what I read this morning:

In Matthew 6:19, Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” But most people’s lifetime ambition is the exact opposite that: store and get more.  More, more, more.  Jesus continues, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (vs. 20-21).

Where your money goes, there your heart follows.

The average Christian in the United States gives about 2 percent of his or her income toward helping people and advancing God’s kingdom on the earth. That means that the remaining 98 percent goes to the world. Which means that 98 percent of our hearts go toward the world. If you catch yourself wondering why you want more of the world and you’re not satisfied with God, it’s because you have a spiritual problem. We think that more is going to make us happy.

Mark Beeson (GCC) is quoting Craig Groeschel (LifeChurch.tv). Full blog post is here.

Where are you investing your money? In this world or in heaven? There’s more at stake than a rink hot dog.

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What’s the Bottom Line?

President's Advisory Panel for Federal Tax Reform
Image via Wikipedia

Matthew was a number cruncher. You might call him a bean-counter, a numbers-nerd, the walking calculator; you get the idea.

Employed as a tax collector, Matthew was familiar with finances and very likely knew the best way to get the most out of his (and your) money. Matthew was familiar with the bottom line.

Yesterday @ Evangel, I spoke about a Money Myth that is common in our culture: money makes everything better. We tend to believe that money brings joy, security and value to our lives, but when you get to the bottom line, that way of thinking doesn’t balance out.

While reading some of Matthew’s story about being called to follow Jesus, this jumped out at me. Take a minute and read it here (Matthew 8:28-34). Did you catch Matthew’s reference to the bottom line? It’s in verses 32-34:

32 “All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

33 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone.

When Jesus came to town, the economy was altered. When Jesus brought freedom to those men, the pig farmers took a hit in their pocketbook.

  • While the men gained, the farmers lost.
  • While the men were credited with freedom, the farmers incurred a debt.
  • The men won something money couldn’t buy, the farmers lost money.

Here’s what I’m saying: it cost something when Jesus came to town.

Sadly, the cost was too great for the people of the region; they begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone. He obliged. Their initial review of the bottom line was too painful for them to risk further financial loss. What they gave up when Jesus came to town was more valuable in their estimation than what Jesus was bringing with Him.

They liked their bottom line without having to factor in Jesus.

Have you lost something by inviting Jesus to your town? Has His arrival impacted your pocketbook? How has Jesus changed your bottom line?

‘As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and went.’ Matthew 9:9 ESV