The Walking Dead

TWD_PROLOGUE_TITLEYes I know the title of an incredibly popular TV show, but really, Jesus should have the credit for this title. Because as far as I know he is the first person to actually talk about people being literally places of walking death.

Jesus actually goes to the Pharisees and calls them whitewashed tombs. Quite literally calling them places of walking death, disease, and decay. And that is quite similar to the AMC show, implying that they are spreading their contamination around. And while there are lots of contextual things that Jesus is saying, here is the point we are going to unpack on Sunday.

You can be good, you can be moral, you can even be religious and still miss the point.

Because the Pharisees are good, moral, and super religious and Jesus says that they still miss the point. That while their actions look good, inwardly their hearts are full of death, disease, and decay.

So we are going to unpack all that on Sunday but here is why this matters for you if you are a follower of Jesus – we can be just like the Pharisees. We can be moral, good, and religious and we can still miss the point. We can still end opposed to God and his kingdom. And if we are Christians that’s the exact opposite of what we want. So on Sunday we’ll look at how to ensure our hearts and our actions are pointed in the right way.

 

Sharing Spices and Missing the Point:

 

spices-1477563-640x425On Sunday we are going to be looking at something that is controversial, but well Jesus says it so we should believe it – and it’s this:

Some rules matter more than others.

And while that might strike you as odd or even untrue – the trouble is it’s biblical. Biblically speaking while there are lots of important rules, or rhythms we should have as Christians there are some that matter more than others. And that even if you do some of the minor obligations, or regulations but miss the big ones – Jesus isn’t happy.

And while it sounds funny that there is actually a hierarchy of importance in the way of following Jesus it is true. Jesus himself says that there is a “greatest commandment’ which means there are “minor commandments”. And here is the tension: sometimes we value or prioritize the minors over the majors.

So that’s where we are going on Sunday. But here is the question I have for you before we get there: what do you think the majors of faith are? Think about it, pray about it, and then on Sunday let’s see what Jesus has to say about it.

Blindness and Learning to See – When you Think You Can See

Oblinds-1436458-1279x1646n Sunday we are continuing in our series “The 7 Woes” for Lent. We are looking at the condemnations that Jesus makes to the religious leaders of his day, and asking what he would say to us. I know it’s not easy, but necessary.

On Sunday we are going to look at this “woe”:

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!  “Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’  Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred?  And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding.  How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred?  When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne.

We are going to be looking, in essence, at how we can be blind to what God is doing, and how we aren’t actually following God. This is a pretty big topic and a pretty hard topic because here is the truth: the Pharisees thought they were following God but they were in God’s way. And the same thing can happen to us. We can think we are following God with righteousness, holiness, and dedication only to have Jesus say we are blind and a blind guide.

So to prepare for this Sunday here is what I think we should all do – we should pray and ask God to reveal himself to us. We should ask him to reveal the ways in which we are blind. Because the truth is if we are moving in the wrong direction, we need to know The trouble is we need to hear God first. So my challenge before we even get to Sunday is just this: to listen to the Spirit. That’s the first step to learning to see.

Welcome to Lent

Well this Sunday we are launching a new series for Lent. Lent has started and it’s an absolutely necessary Christian practice. And come Sunday we will be exploring what Lent is, why it’s needed, and also how it can change your life. Lent isn’t an easy time, but it is a necessary time.

So throughout Lent we are going to be looking at the “7 Woes of Jesus”. This is where Jesus condemns the religious, moral, and spiritual elite of his day and shares with them how they are missing the point. The point for us is that if the religious, moral, and spiritual elite can miss the point – so can we as Christians. So we want to explore how we might be missing the point in our lives, and getting them back on track.

Lent is a time of reflections, repentance, and rededication and we want to do that through asking the Spirit to speak to us, challenge us, and convict us. So I know it’s not a fun time, but a necessary time.

Oh and since its Valentines Day, we’ll talk a little bit about love too 🙂 I know a bit disjointed but we’ll work it all together. Mostly because my lovely wife said “You need to talk about love on Valentines day” and since I love her, that’s what we’ll do too 🙂

7 Woes

Mental Health Panel and Discussion

Mental HealthOn Sunday we are going to be continuing our conversation about mental health. This is a conversation that needs to be continued if we are going to break the stigma and exclusion surrounding it.

Last week we looked at some of the myths surrounding it, and this week we are going to be looking at what we can do as a community.

So to help us with this we are going to do something different, and have a panel of experts and professionals in the field share with us what we as a community can do to help in this area. And while we absolutely need professional’s care, expertise, and necessary work – we as a community are also needed. It is not enough for someone to find healing and stability with just professional intervention, people also need caring and supportive communities. So join with us to learn about mental health from professionals, and also what we as a community can do – to do our part!

So join with us to learn, and discover some next steps for us as a community.

Mental Health in Church

Mental HealthOn Sunday we are opening up a really really important discussion. We are discussing mental health.

This seems to be a discussion that the church is a little unwilling, or unsure about opening up, but it is an absolutely needed one. Because if we ignore this conversation we end up ignoring and excluding people who are struggling with mental health issues. And one thing Jesus never did – was ignore, exclude, or isolate people needing help, healing, and hope. And this is what we as a church need to be doing as well – giving people healing, help, and hope.

And even though the area of mental health is incredibly complex, it does mean there are areas where we as the church body can help.

John Swinton and Jean Vanier write this:

The church has a history of pioneering in health and social care and I believe it is time for us to step up to the challenge of working in the area of mental health. The beginning point for the church’s ministry alongside people with mental illness is the recognition of the power of graceful love. In a special way people with mental illnesses need to hear, see and feel the message of the love, acceptance and graceful forgiveness of Jesus.

I believe this is true, and this is what we are going to seek to do over the next few weeks. On Sunday I’m going to be sharing about mental health, and specifically some of the myths found in Christian circles. Then on the following Sunday we are going to have a panel of experts in the field share with how we can address some of the issues, and more importantly what we can do to help.

So I hope you join with us, because this is one conversation everyone needs to be part of.

An Awkward Conversation About Money

SAMSUNG TECHWIN DIGIMAX-340

On Sunday we are looking at finances. I know something everyone hates talking about. And with good reason. Too many churches, around money, beg, bribe, or berate people to give to them. Too often giving and finances have been tied to guilt, something Jesus never seems to do.

But even though this topic is one that has been covered so poorly for so often, it’s actually really needed.

Because guess what the number one cause of divorce is? Finances. Guess what most people think would fix their lives? More money. Guess what most people stress over? Finances and debt.

And so for this series we are looking at having a strong start to this year. To having a year that really takes off with hope, and purpose, so this is a topic that we need to address. But my promise to all of us is this: there is no second offering, there will be no guilt, there will be no pressure or anything like that. Instead, I just want to open up this topic with honesty, and clarity and talk about the importance of being generous. Because here is the truth: Jesus says a generous life leads to happiness. What if he is right? That’s what we want to explore on Sunday.

So I know an awkward topic, but it’s a needed one too.

Why Friends Matter More than Family

friendship-1309415-639x852On Sunday we are looking at a really important topic but one that’s sidelined in our world: friendship.

I know right away the word sounds a little…well my little pony with rainbows and stuff. It sounds kind of weak, or something you’d hear on a children’s show talking about the “power of friendship”.

And while I have those initial reactions and resonances I also know that they are untrue. There is power in friendship. In fact, it’s probably the one thing in our culture that we need to regain more than anything else. We have so many connections, but not that many deep friendships. We know lots of people, and know how to network, but not how to cultivate decade long journeying with others. And this is something I want to address on Sunday.

  • Why are relationships and friendships so important?
  • What makes them unique?
  • How do we invest in them?
  • And why do we need them?

And to do that we are going to look at Solomon who says some pretty shocking things about friendships. That friendship will determine the quality of your life and the direction, more than finances, or even your family. That friendships are more important than family and are closer than family. That having good friendships is the key to a good life.

So that’s where we are going on Sunday.  I hope you can join us, to learn about the “power of friendship” even though I know that sounds lame, but it is anything but that.

StrongStart

On Sunday we are starting a brand new series here at church called Strong Start. We are going to be looking at how can we start off the year well? How can we have a strong start to this year? So often we get behind and struggle we want to look at 4 areas that we can invest in to have the best year possible. We are going to be starting with looking at faith on Sunday. Then we’ll be moving on to friendships, family, and finances. Hope you can join us!

The Meaning of Christmas

christmas-bulbs-1258956-639x750On Sunday we are looking at what the meaning of Christmas is. And while I think at first glance that seems pretty clear – it’s about Jesus. I’m not so sure we know how that actually applies to what we live, and what we do.

Lots of Christians around Christmas debate how the meaning of Christmas is Jesus. For some this means fighting consumerism, for others it means being able to say “Merry Christmas”, not “Happy Holidays”, or there are lots of other debates going on.

So while every Christian would agree, that Christmas is about Jesus, what that practically and actually means is quite different depending on what Christian you talk with.

So that’s what I want to clear up on Sunday. I want to clear up what Christmas being about Jesus really means practically for our lives. What we should positively be doing if that statement is true. And it’s something simple, it’s something practical, and like the best simple and practical things – it’s absolutely transformational.