18 February 2010

Graphic for New Series

This Sunday we will begin our new sermon series, Jesus is...

I thought I would let you preview the graphic for the bulletin cover. What do you think?

16 February 2010

New Pages Added

I found out that I can create specific pages that link directly to my blog for whatever I want. So, I put up two (only one is up currently) about the books I have read recently and reading that I consider essential. Check them out with the links right under the main title bar.

I'll let you know when I finish the "Essential Reading" page and make it live.

03 February 2010

Follow Without Fear

"Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated...Though the mountains be shaken and the hiss be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:4a, 10)

One of the parts of our mission statement at University is to "dare to follow Christ without fear." I truly believe that this one phrase complicates matters tremendously because we don't know what life is like without fear.

I remember being taught about "stranger danger" or not crossing the street without an adult or not taking candy from people I didn't know, etc. From a very young age I learned to fear the unknown because the unknown was somehow unsafe, dangerous, or "deadly".

How has this thinking crept into our churches? We worship a God who knows us fully - more than we are often comfortable with - and yet do we really know the people sitting/serving around us?

We set up "hedges of protection" around our children, youth, and elderly so they don't get hurt. We set up "hoops" for new people to jump through so they can be part of us. But do we ever really let our guard down and live like we are not afraid?

What would it take to live that way?

What would it take to do ministry that way?

How can we move from fear to trust - and not trust in ourselves, but trust in God, the one who is truly trustworthy?


02 February 2010

"Groundhog (Easter) Day"?

OK, if you're a church nerd (like me) then this might be funny. If you are not, then just wait for a serious post tomorrow.

In case you didn't know, today is Groundhog Day. A day where the whole nation (maybe even the world) focuses its attention on a little town in Pennsylvania and a famous rodent ("Punxsatawney Phil"). Isn't it interesting how some many people trust a groundhog to tell them what the weather will be like? Isn't it interesting that no matter which outcome Phil has there will still be six weeks of winter?

With that in mind, I thought I would take a "Groundhog Day" look at some Christian holidays, specifically Easter and Pentecost.

Each spring (sometimes in March, sometimes in April) Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Day. What if when Mary and the disciples get to the tomb that morning, instead of Jesus being gone, he walks out to check and see if he can see his shadow? If he sees his shadow, then there will be seven weeks of Easter!

In late spring (seven weeks after Easter) Christians celebrate the birth of the Church on Pentecost. What if when the tongues of fire come in and land on your head, instead of speaking in various languages, you check the person next to you to see if there is a shadow? If you see a shadow, then there will be twenty-eight weeks of Pentecost!

I know, I know - it doesn't really matter whether Jesus sees his shadow or if we see a shadow from the fire on our neighbor - just like it doesn't matter if Phil sees his shadow or not!

Again, I have to ask...why do we look for silly things to tell us what's coming up next instead of looking to the author and perfecter of our faith? Why do we trust in things that make no difference when we could trust in the One who makes all the difference?