by the power of...
Kids in the 80's (like me) had the BEST cartoons. We had GI Joe, Voltron, Thunder Cats and of course He-Man (my favorite!). He-man was this awesome muscle-bound, sword-wielding super guy who fought the evil bad guys like Skeletor...but not just with his own (considerable) power; but with help. Each episode, just as he was getting ready to head into battle, he would raise his sword and call upon the power of Greyskull (his castle) and get "charged up" to defeat the enemy.
This past week in church I encouraged you to "be like Jesus" and I want to emphasize that we can't do that on our own...at least not well and at least not for very long. We need to call upon the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the power we need if we have a chance of living and loving like Jesus.
Look at the Disciples for example. In the Gospels we see them trying hard to be good, trying hard to listen and obey...but time after time they mess up and fall short. They are trying, but with their own power. But in Acts they receive the power of the Holy Spirit and all of a sudden they are able to perform miracles, heal, teach with authority, speak in tongues...it's AMAZING! But it isn't the power of the Disciples on display; it's the power of God working through them.
So yes, seek to be like Jesus. Seek to live like Jesus. Seek to love like Jesus. But don't do it on your own. Do it with God's amazing power. Do it with the Holy Spirit power.
Sometimes we start to believe that other churches are our competition. We drive by one on our way to worship on Sunday and see a packed parking lot and get jealous or we hear about a church that had a big event and feel envy. We maybe try to sell our church and get people to leave theirs in order to try and grow ours.
And while it's good to like your church...we must avoid the trap of fighting the wrong enemy. If we spend any of our time or energy working against other churches...we have wasted our time and energy. They are not our competition, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We don't compete with them, we work with them.
And yes, they might believe slightly different things than us about sacraments or theology; but odds are that we agree with them on 98% of stuff; and the 2% probably didn't matter much anyway. Basically, if they seek to follow Jesus and believe in the truth of the Bible, then they are on Team Jesus just like we are.
In Matthew 10:32 Jesus said “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven." We spend too much time worrying about who is in and who is out. Jesus seemed to welcome all if they claim Him. Who are we to disagree?
So next time you drive by another church with a packed parking lot...say a prayer of thanks that the Kingdom is growing. Or if you hear about a big VBS or Youth Event or Outreach...praise God for the work he is doing at that church.
God is on the move all around us and Team Jesus is much bigger than just our church or denomination...praise God!!
under his wing
The best way to learn something is to be taught by a master who is willing to show you, help you, correct you and then let you. It doesn't matter if that thing is simple (learning to tie your shoe) or complicated (learning to program a thermostat); having an expert who is willing to take you under their wing and guide you is the best way to learn.
In my life, I've been blessed to have teachers/coaches/mentors and other pastors who have patiently taught and shown me, with gentle corrections as needed, how to do certain things and how to become something. A coach taught me how to run a perfect pick and roll in basketball. A teacher taught me how to add fractions (which I have now forgotten). A mentor taught me how to share my testimony. I've been taught by amazing men and women who have been kind enough to take the time to explain, clarify, observe and give me the freedom to do things on my own (with help as needed).
I seek, in my own life, to be that kind of coach/mentor/pastor. I am not just a hired preacher, I hope I am a teacher and mentor. I enjoy the idea of taking someone under my wing and helping them learn skills and life lessons that I've gleaned from others.
Ephesians 4:11-13 says "So Christ himself gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
We who have reached maturity (at least some level of maturity anyway) have a duty to do for others what has been done for us. We must take people under our wing, share faith, give encouragement, build them up and send them out so that the Kingdom of God may grow among us.
Who are you mentoring? Who have you sought to encourage? Who are you building up? We all should be about this work. We all should seek to mentor. We all should work to pass on knowledge, love and faith to others who are younger than us (or newer to the faith than us) so that they may grow.
If you aren't mentoring anyone...look around. Open your eyes. God may have put someone in your life who you can equip. Do for others what has been done for you. Be a blessing.
old is new again
It's always funny how things that were old often become "cool" again. Fashions that had faded somehow make a comeback. Music from a previous generation somehow finds new popularity. Decorators are often going back to "vintage" things to bring flair to a space. Old becomes new.
Over the past 50 years the church went through a lot of changes. Many churches ditched hymns and choirs for rock bands and lyrics on the wall. Many churches got rid of organs and pulpits and instead saw Pastors wearing skinny jeans and preaching from the Message. None of these things are bad or good, just "new" and, therefore (to some), "improved."
But, now we are starting to see a swing back toward some old things again. Lots of churches are dusting off the hymns and finding the rich meaning of these beloved songs. Some churches are bringing back ancient practices and focusing on the church calendar (Advent, Lent, Ash Wednesday.) who hadn't done so before. They find that these old practices have powerful impacts.
This is one reason why I love our church. We have tried to find a balance between old and new. We have sought to be a multi-generational church where our senior citizens and our younger members (and kids) can worship together. This is a hard balance, and sometimes it doesn't work perfectly...but by blending and valuing the old and the new, we find a healthy church where all can be cared for and valued.
As you pray for our church (which I hope you do often), pray that God would bless us with both old and new. That older members would worship with younger members in harmony. That teens and senior adults would become friends and mentors. That God would help us overcome generational differences and find unity in the name of Jesus who connects us all. Pray that we would see old and new together, worshiping the eternal God!