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

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Thursday is for Thinking

Fredericton, New Brunswick City hall
Image via Wikipedia

I love Thursdays!

Tuesday used to be my favourite day of the week, because I could get a Toonie Tuesday combo here (now, my stomach rolls in agony just thinking about it).

Thursdays are cool. Here’s how it works for me: the weekend’s services are really close, and the anticipation of what God is going to do starts to build.

I like to look over my notes for Sunday’s messages on Thursday, tweak them, rework them; service elements like music, announcements, special stuff, bulletins, powerpoints…all get a close look on Thursday.

I’m excited about this weekend’s messages: You’ve Got Mail (Jesus‘ letter to the congregation in ancient Philadelphia–not the home of the Eagles! Revelation 3:7-13), and the launch of a new PM series, Practically Christian (a study of the epistle of James).

I like to think about the direction we’re headed as a congregation, the things God has been doing, and try to grab onto the new thing that He is putting together here in Fredericton. It’s a beautiful city, but a city with many hurting people. The local church is the hope of the world, and God is using His Church (one big, diverse body in the city) to make a difference in these hurting lives.

I’m thinking about how that can happen. I’m thinking about how we can expand our influence. I’m thinking about what it will take for the Church to step fully into her potential to influence the region.

I’m thinking that God is up to something in the Cap City.

From Under the Cedar Tree

Description: Coffee cortado (An latte art exam...
Image via Wikipedia

It’s been awhile, and I’ve got lots to say–I feel like I’m going to explode!

Here’s where I’m writing this from. Cedar Tree Cafe. You should stop by and try their lunch! Good coffee too!

The atmosphere is buzzing with politics. I really block out most of the noise around me when I’m writing in a public place like a coffee shop, but I’ve noticed (without eavesdropping?) today that lots of people are talking about the NB provincial election.

Got me thinking:

Is anything I’m doing buzz-worthy? Can a local church create buzz? Is buzz good for a church? Should the church even worry about buzz?

Some churches and church leaders create what I’ll call ‘bad buzz’ by the stupid/sinful things they say/do. People get talking about the church/church leader, but it doesn’t tend to attract people to Jesus. Bad buzz repels people. Or it renders you irrelevant.

Other churches/leaders seem to have a knack for creating the polar opposite of bad buzz. There is somehting happening in their lives that just has people wondering, talking, and investigating, all with a hunger for more.

This little cafe isn’t fancy, and doesn’t have the chic decor of Starbucks. But there’s something attractive about the place. The people who come in seem genuinely glad to be here. They enjoy their time here. They laugh a lot. They smile. The staff are genuine, friendly, and…magnetic.

The local church is the representation of the Kingdom of God in the community. Why can’t and why shouldn’t it be attractive to people? Jesus was/is magnetic.

So I guess things like the size of the building and having trendy decor might not be as important as we thought. Just love what you’re doing enough to do it with excellence, smile a whole lot, and be friendly with friends old and new, and you’re on your way to being buzz-worthy.

September at Evangel

St.John River, Fredericton, NB
Image by Яick Harris via Flickr

Coming this month to Evangel:

14th – Evangel 101, an introduction to Evangel for people considering membership. Required for ministry involvement in 2010.

15th – After a summer break, Bible Study starts up again. Theme: “Christ in Me, the Hope of Glory”

19th – Mission Sunday, with an emphasis on our upcoming trip to India.

19th – Sunday Night Live

25th – Tim Milner CD release concert

Keep On Living

“After the flood Noah lived 350 years.” (Genesis 9:28 ESV)

I’ve been enjoying my slow, determined walk through Genesis (not the band). It’s good to carefully read the Scriptures, and not just burn through them to ‘do your devotions‘.

Sidebar: Selah, a word repeated several times in the Psalms, tells us to slow down, stop and think about what we’ve just heard. Take a Selah moment today.

The story of Noah fascinates me for many reasons. His patience, endurance, and obedience to God’s instructions (even when it didn’t make sense) serve as an inspiration for anyone who wants to walk with God in our postmodern world. Noah was faithful, yet he wasn’t immune from driving into the ditch. He loved and worshiped God, yet his family gave him headaches…

What I’m chewing on today is this: Noah lived 350 years after the flood. ‘So what?’ you say…

Life goes on.

After the storm has passed. When the flood waters have dissipated.

If the grass in your life is just starting to dry out, and even though there’s mud everywhere, keep on living. Life goes on.

  • Even if you never get your name printed in the Bible after you walk off the boat…
  • Even though it seems like you’ve dropped off the radar…
  • Even though you don’t get mentioned again for 350 years…

Keep on living.

  • Though your former and familiar life has been washed away…keep on living.
  • Though you’ve had to say goodbye to neighbours and friends…keep on living.
  • Though you have to start over again, completely from scratch…keep on living.

Life goes on after the flood.

Can’t Get You Out of My Mind

My kids introduced me to this dumb song, and it’s just one of those songs that sticks in your brain. Whenever they want to drive me closer to the brink of insanity, they’ll start singing it, and that dumb song just rolls around in my head the rest of the day. (If you clicked the link above, maybe you’ll agree?)

We just got back from vacation, and it was a blast. I’m feeling refreshed and ready for the fall. I try to shut down over vacation, and spend time and attention exclusively on my family, but I could never fully get the congregation I serve out of my head. I prayed for Evangel. Thought about Evangel. Bounced some ideas and strategies off of my friends about what the next season holds for Evangel. It was nice to be away, but the miles on the highway did not produce miles in the heart. I love Evangel, and the city of Fredericton. I love the people, the kids, the seniors, the young adults, the families of all shapes and sizes. I love the deacons. I love their heart for the Kingdom.

Many times throughout these past two weeks, I’d find myself thinking about Evangel. I didn’t have to work at it–it just happened. Similar to that song (but far more valuable), Evangel is something I just can’t get out of my mind.

Without a doubt we are in for a season of growth and change. To get to where we’ve never been we need to do some things we’ve never done. I realize that the mere mention of “change” scares some people to death, but that’s okay. It will be alright. We’ll just feel a pinch…so take a deep breath and get ready for what’s next.

Here’s something to remember: no matter what you’re facing, and no matter what’s going on, God can’t get you out of His mind, either.

Here’s proof.

“…I will not forget you…” Isaiah 49:15 TNIV