CHANGING THE WORLD, IN A FEW EASY STEPS

changeworldAs you might have noticed, I actually believe that Christianity is meant to have an impact in the world; that we are actually called, as Christians, to partner with God in changing the world. And that sometimes happens by just changing someone’s world.

But, if you are anything like me, this is often inspiring, but difficult to live out. You might say things like, “I’d love to be part of making the world a better place…but how do I do it? Where do I start? What does it look like for regular people?”

If you have ever read any of the stories of the saints, they might inspire you, but also leave you scratching your head for how to begin.

Well, the other day, I ran across this little acronym from Michael Frost about how to practically follow God in making daily impacts. It’s incredibly simple and straightforward. The hard part isn’t in understanding it, but in actually doing it. And, he gives these weekly small ideas for how to begin to make an impact…

B – Bless others. Do something that makes someone’s life better. Focus on blessing three people a week and at least one who doesn’t go to church

E – Eat with three people this week. That could be people in your workplace, friends or neighbours. And try to eat with at least one person who doesn’t go to church as well.

L – Listen. Simply stop and pray and listen for where the Holy Spirit is guiding you. So often the Holy Spirit is speaking, but we aren’t listening. So, slow down and listen.

L – Learn. Spend time reading the Bible with a focus on getting to know Jesus. If you’re not a regular reader, start with the Gospels. Focus in on getting to know Jesus, so you can live like Jesus.

S – Sent. Live realizing you’re sent and look for God active in the lives around you. And when you see it, take note of it.

And, in all honesty, these are pretty straightforward ways to start to change the world. Bless others, eat with others, listen to God’s Spirit, learn about Jesus and look for Jesus in the world. Sometimes the most counter-cultural and impactful decisions are to the simple, yet hard things.

So, if you’re looking to partner with God in changing lives, maybe it begins by inviting a neighbor over to eat; maybe it means cutting a friend’s grass; maybe it means carving some time out to listen to the Spirit; maybe it means reading the Gospels or just looking for God in your day. I know none of these are huge things, but God is often found in the small, regular, daily things.Remember, God isn’t asking us to do giant things, rather He is asking us to do faithful things. And, maybe that means a meal with friends this week. It’s not a bad place to start!

3 Strands of DNA ~ Metanoia and the Next Step

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On Sunday we had a great day. We were able to baptize some people, which is always amazing and I got to share on Metanoia. Metanoia is a word that is all about changing direction, and taking a new step. Which is exactly what we saw when people were baptized.

The trouble is that metanoia is translated as “repent”. This isn’t wrong it’s just that in our world today “repenting” is tied more to feeling emotionally bad about your sin, than changing direction.

So on Sunday I unpacked what metanoia really means. That it is about transformation, and not just feeling bad about sin but embracing the life that God has for you. Metanoia is all about making changes, embracing the path God has for you, and making some course corrections. It is not about feeling guilty and shame, it’s about embracing the Kingdom and life before you.

So when Jesus says in Mark 1:15, “”The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” What he wants isn’t for you to feel bad, but to live differently. The focus is on the change and transformation you can experience in your life because of Jesus and his kingdom.

And I shared all of this because I believe that in our church, we are built on Metanoia. We are built on seeing change, we are built on pursuing transformation. Part of our DNA is believing that Jesus can change your life, and you can partner with him in changing others. This is what Metanoia truly means, not feeling bad, but embracing the way of Jesus.

Rowan Williams puts it this way, “When the bible uses the word repentance, it does not just mean beating the breast, it means getting a new perspective”.

And that’s what matters to us here: gaining a new perspective on life because of Jesus Christ. So our main point was pretty simple: we care deeply about transformation here. And we must never let this go, because this is not only part of our DNA but God’s DNA. God cares about transformation, new direction, and new hope. And we get to be part of it.

So I closed with a simple challenge. If God is about transformation, what might he want to change in your life? What might you be called to leave behind, or to embrace? What changes is he looking to lead you into? What might courageously following him look like? What might be just one next step?
Because, metanoia is all about changing direction, and taking the next step. So what might that look like in your life?

Sermon Notes:

Big IdeaWe care deeply about transformation.

Teaching Points:

  • If we don’t know who we are we can drift from whom God has made us.
  • We are a grace-first church.
  • Church isn’t someplace you go, it’s a people you belong to.
  • Metanoia means a change of mind that results in a change of direction.
  • One of our core values here is transformation.
  • When the bible uses the word repentance, it does not just mean beating the breast, it means getting a new perspective. Rowan Williams
  • We celebrate people making life change.
  • We should practice some metanoia.
  • Metanoia involves embracing what God has for you, the kingdom in front of you.
  • Metanoia is more than feeling bad it’s about living differently.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? When have you ever been lost? When you think of “repent” what jumps to mind? How have you seen transformation valued here? What is God calling you to embrace or leave behind? What next step can you take? Who can help you?

Challenge for the Week: Take a next step towards Jesus’ path for you.

 

 

 

Getting ready for God’s Future

819V0oTxp0LSo here is something basically most of you know: I read a lot…like a lot.

I mean as in whenever we travel Krista and I have fights over the amount of books I’m bringing and the space they take up (at minimum is 1.5 books per day). Did I say I read a lot?  Krista would say this is because I’m a nerd…I say it’s because I like learning. Both are true.

But what I’m reading right now is a great book called “Your First 90 Days”. I’m reading to prepare for a change in our lives. I’m trying to ensure that I’m prepared for the future that is coming as best I can. So for me this means reading…well at least more than 5 books.

But I bring this all up for a specific reason. While out for dinner the other night I tell Krista all about this book and how great it is and she said, “I like it that you’re preparing for our future”. And that comment just really stuck out to me. Because I would say generally I’m not preparing for the future I’m reacting to it. And maybe you can agree. 

So my thought and reason for bringing this all up is to ask you one simple question, “What would it look like to prepare for the future God has for you?” What would that look like for you? Are there dreams you have? Are there hopes and things you believe that God has in store for you? And then my question is this – how are you preparing for them?

Because I believe that God has goodness in store for all of us. I believe, like Ephesians says, that God can do infinitely more than you could ever hope or imagine. And if that is true how are you readying yourself to receive it?

Maybe it’s digging into the Bible more. Maybe it’s really learning to pray. Maybe it’s learning to trust in small little things, so you can trust in big moves. Maybe it’s learning a new skill. Maybe it’s taking a new class. Maybe you dream of launching a business, so you are asking some people to mentor. My point is that I believe goodness is before us, and we all need to prepare to receive it. For me, of course, that’s reading…but what might it look like for you?

Because I have a little hunch, after Krista’s comment, is that I may have missed some of what God has had for me in the future because I wasn’t readying myself for it. All I know is that I don’t want to make that mistake again. And my guess is you don’t want to either. So what can you do, start, or commit to – to begin to get ready for the future God has for you?

The Value of Hustle and Asking

coffee-1475384-639x852Here is something I’ve learned over the past few years: it matters to ask for mentoring.

I’m young, and in many ways I have so so much to learn. But I’ve learned the value of having mentors in my life informally. The first two mentors I’ve had were people who chose to invest in me before I thought I was worth investing in. One was my dad who mentored me over years, the second was a man named Shawn Good who actually asked if he could mentor me. He took the initiative and really showed me the value of having someone pour and invest into you. Both through his mentoring and through my dad’s, my leadership grew leaps and bounds.

But through a series of events both of those mentoring relationships stopped (my dad passed away, and Shawn moved across the country and I changed churches at the same time).

It was at that point that I realized something: I need mentors. I need people to invest in me, and not just for me but those around me. If I am going to give back something to this world, to the church I love, to the people I love, I need to be doing my best. And the truth is my best comes out when I’m listening and engaging with others wiser and more experienced than I am.

So I did something that felt unusual to me. I contacted one of the best pastors in our denomination and asked him to mentor and invest in me. I asked if I could have lunch and just learn from him. And he accepted and out of that relationship grew an opportunity I never could have guessed.

And I have been doing the same thing since: selectively reaching out to leaders I respect and asking for some coaching. 

And through this I’ve made some great relationships. I thought what’s the worst – they can say no. But not one has said no, they’ve all given back, helped me grow, and given things to think about and put into practice.

So I say all this for one simple reason: we all know others investing in us helps us tremendously. But here is where we struggle: we don’t ask. We hope that someone will recognize us, will choose to invest in us, will see the potential and take the initiative. And sometimes that happens like with Shawn and my Dad, but sometimes it doesn’t. What I’ve also learned from the mentoring end of things, I love investing in people who take the initiative to ask, to learn, to grow, and to practice.

So here is my challenge for you this week. If you want to grow in whatever area you live, work, and breathe – who are the people you really respect? Who are the people you might have a connection with? Who are the people that you would love to spend even sometime with to learn?

And now here’s the challenge: why not ask them? Why not take some initiative and add some hustle, some discernment over who to approach and genuinely ask. Get rid of arrogance, and humbly ask. What’s the worst?

Because here is what I know about good leaders – they want to invest in other leaders. And the leaders I look to invest in are the ones who are hungry to learn, seeking to change lives with some extra investment and wisdom, and not scared to try.

So all I’m saying today is that chances are there are people in your company, in your sector, in your world that you might have a semi-relationship with. Ask if you can take them out to lunch to learn. Who knows it might start something that turns out to be the best future you could imagine.

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!

Bad Questions Stop Good Movement

city-life-5-1446453-1599x2404We have a negativity bias in our brains. This simply means we are more wired to review, and remember negative outcomes. We all know this is true, just do a presentation and have 3 people say it was great, and one person trash it and you obsess over the one person.

But what can sometimes happen is that because of this, we are more likely to create an obstacle to movement rather than capitalizing on movement.

I’ll give you an example.

Let’s say you have a new idea, a new proposal, or some great new shift in your industry. This is a good thing, and a needed thing and you bring it to your supervisor, your spouse, or whomever else. You sense some reluctance; you sense some hesitation, you sense things aren’t going well. Then you say the psychologically worst possible thing:  “Well why don’t you think this will work?”

And here is why this is a bad question. It primes people for negative responses. It actually causes people to think of more reasons than they currently have for what is wrong with your idea. It actually starts to gain speed in their brain, and weight for all the reasons your idea is a bad idea, and solidify it before it’s even had a chance to be processed. And once people have staked out an opinion or position it is really hard to shift.

Maybe you’ve seen this happen.

Maybe this has happened to you in a meeting.

Maybe you’re guessing now why your last pitch floundered.

So what’s a better question or way to go?

  • What if this works how would that change things?
  • What are some good reasons this is something to try to figure out?
  • How might this change things positively if it worked?

Push the positive, and let their brains do the rest. It might just help you create some new movement and new initiatives!

Poetry for the Darkness

stairway-to-wilderness-hiking-1400435-1280x960Wilderness Prayer:

I am not asking you

To take this wilderness from me,

To remove this place of starkness

Where I come to know

the wildness within me,

where I learn to call the names

of the ravenous beasts

that pace inside me

to finger the brambles

that snake through my veins,

to taste the thirst

that tugs at my tongue

But send me

Tough angels,

Sweet wine,

Strong bread:

Just enough.

  • Jan L. Richardson

Seeds, Growth, and Youth Bands

sand-straw-1392579-1280x960Earlier last summer I spoke at this young adult group. I was invited to speak on whatever I picked, at a church I had never been to before. And so of course I picked talking about Jesus, which if given the chance is what I will always pick.

But this amazing thing happened when I went into the room. I knew a huge number of the young adults. In fact everyone on the leadership team other than one or two people had been a part of my youth group at some point.

And what was so amazing to me was to see them continuing to step up into leadership, and creating and giving God space to move. All these youth were there; many of them whom I’d spent hours and hours with and were now discipling others. It was just beautiful.

Now certainly I don’t get to own their decisions to step forward and lead young adults deeper into a relationship with Jesus. But in some ways God did remind me in that moment that we never know what the seeds we plant in others will grow into. That we can never discount the hours we give and pour into others.

The truth is that as human beings, we have a short horizon for time. We do things and expect results, in weeks and months. Sometimes I think God thinks in decades, or centuries. Some of the seeds planted by me, other youth leaders, parents, and friends are now years later bearing fruit. People are being changed, because people years ago poured into this youth who are now young adults. That’s the beauty of God, community, and investing in others.

For me that night to speak, was a reminder that pouring into others is never wasted. I don’t get to own the results. I also can’t own whether or not someone else gets filled up. What I can own and be responsible for is pouring out my life, and letting God do the rest.

And so while I spoke, hoping that God would use my words, God had already spoken so clearly to me. The moment I walked into the room, it was like God was just reminding me, “investing in others is never wasted”. So while I came to bless them, they blessed me and I think that’s how God works.

Testing the Waters with Both Feet

1445490_31979296I want to talk a little bit about launching things. Because we all launch things all the time. You might not think about it that way but you do. For sure some people launch businesses, new enterprises, or new ventures in their careers. But “launching” applies to so much more than just entrepreneurs. You might be launching a small group, a ministry, or what about a new plan for your life. What about a plan to potty train your kids? What about teaching yourself a new skill, or leading in your kids’ sports teams?

These are all simple but real examples of launching something. Whenever we take a new step we are launching something. But I’ve learned a lot from a little African Proverb that helps us when we launch something. It’s this:

Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

And isn’t that true?

What I love about this proverb is that it reminds us of two things.

First, this proverb reminds us to try new things. Change is a part of life, we should be launching things, trying new things, jumping into new waters. Why not try a new business, why not build a new team, why not try something new with your kids? This stuff matters and we shouldn’t let fear tell us to just stay put.

But the second thing this little proverb reminds us of is to be wise. To test the waters with one foot before launching with two feet. All it’s saying is that if you are able to try something, to test it small scale, to get your hands dirty before cutting your safety net – why not test and try? I’m all for audacious crazy big goals. We should be launching, reaching, and trying new things. But all this little proverb reminds us is that there is a difference between being courageous and also well…silly or stupid.

So what are you maybe pondering or dreaming about starting? Is there a way to test the waters, and get going?

Here is the brilliance of the proverb. Most of us don’t actually have problems with jumping in with both feet because we don’t ever jump into new waters at all. But if you test the water a bit, try it out, it might just give you enough courage to jump…

The Power of Habit

page_1Habit matters, and we all have them. The question is do we have good habits or bad ones?

And this was really shown to me a few nights ago.

If I can be honest, I’m not a perfect parent or even pastor. And this story will show that.

We came home late from something, I was tired and trying to get the boys to bed. This just seemed like a hassle, and I just wanted to zone out with Netflix for an hour before we went to bed. But the boys were busy and running, and finally it seemed like we were ready for bed, and I put them in bed.

And that’s why Asher (my 2 year old), started yelling “Bible…Bible…Bible”

Each night we read the Bible together, and we’ve got this good one with kids stories and it’s really good. But on this night I did not want to read the Bible (I know a bad thing for a pastor to say), I wanted to watch Netflix, and I wanted to rest.

So I said, “Not tonight Asher…tomorrow”. At which point both boys started loudly protesting (read – yelling) saying, “But we always read the Bible, no dad we need to read it, Dad just one story”

Do you see the power of habit?

Habits are things that you’ve invested in over time, so that when you don’t want to do the healthy and good thing (reading the Bible) that it feels weird when you don’t do them. That you notice and feel it when you skip a rhythm.

Because we’ve read the Bible so often (on nights when I’m not burnt out), when I didn’t want to do the right action (sit and read and talk with my boys), the habit forced me into the right decision.

This is why habits matter – they force us to make the right decision even when we don’t want to.

So here is my question: what good habits do you have? What unhealthy ones do you have? What good habits should you be starting? Because we all have them, good or bad. I think the challenge is for us to start simple but good habits that make a difference long-term. Some of the ones I think of are eating together, are praying together, reading together, or whatever. The point is that we all have rhythms that our lives play out too. I just think it’s worth to every now and then examine those rhythms and make sure they are the rhythms we want to learn.

And habits work best when they involve others, even little kids with words that remind you to make the best decisions, even when you’re tired.