Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

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The story of the lost key

In God's great love,grateful,Jesus,The Journey on September 18, 2013 by scottsund Tagged: , ,

key

 

Monday’s was soccer practice on one of the muddiest, wettest, afternoons of the fall.  It was a tough practice trying to refocus nine 7 year olds from the preferred activity (making mud angels and throwing mud balls) to the ideal activity (practicing for soccer).  By the end of the hour I was wet, dirty, and most certainly a tad bit crabby.  The kids all got picked up, I gathered up muddy balls and practice jerseys, and went to grab the car key.  Normally we use a key ring with lots of other keys but in a hurry that afternoon I had grabbed the spare key.  One spare key.  Gone.  The zippered rain jacket pocket I had placed the single key had been unzipped.  The whole practice.  One single key, one entire soccer field, with no way to get home.

I grabbed two muddy seven year olds (mine and another) and my 9-year-old spectator daughter, and we began looking.  We walked here and there, carelessly, searching the muddy grass.  It dawned on me.  We’ll never find it.  At least not like this.  Searching has to be more intentional.  We have to have a better way to find the lost key.

I gathered the kids and hatched a plan.  We got in a line- 3 feet between us- and began traversing the field meticulously.  I still had my doubts we would find that key but at last now we had a chance.  Holding hands- crossing the muddy Francis Anderson field- looking for one lost silver key.  What are the odds- on 600 cubic yards that we would stumble over the one-yard that mattered: the one that held the key.  Back and forth, trying to maintain straight lines with military precision in the post soccer practice mess of two 7 year olds and a big sister waiting to go home.  “Its no use, we’ll never find it.”

“Nope we won’t,’ I told them, ‘if we stop looking.” As we continued to search, I began to realize a few things about lost things:

1) We can’t find what we’re not looking for.

Umm…yeah, got it.  Seemingly simply but so true.  I’ve had friends in recent days on social media who are poo-pooing the trapping of modern Christian faith and advocating instead an invitation “to the mystery, to the dance”.  I love that.  I love mystery.  I love dancing.  But if I’m left to my own initiative to pursue God, I’m going to be pretty lonely on the dance floor.  Because on most days I don’t feel like dancing.  I’m crabbing or shallow or simple or ignorant.  But establishing rituals of connection with the God who is always there to connect with us isn’t boring religion; it’s like intentionally looking for the key.  If you never look for things, you’ll never find it.  I realized some time ago I needed to spend more time looking for God, intentionally, in ritual acts of connection.  Setting my alarm to rise early, to run around the neighborhood looking for signs of the creator and praying for my loved ones, and returning to the pre-dawn quiet of the house and over a cup of coffee, reading the bible to remember just how big God is.  I’ve used different tools, different bibles, and different devotionals in different seasons to mix things up.  But I keep making time to search for God.

2)  If you don’t really need anything, you’ll soon tire of searching.

Looking for the key, we had made a few trips back and forth across the muddy pitch when I got frustrated- “forget it.”  I’ll call Heather, bring a spare key down, and just forget this stupid search.  But then I realized this was our only spare key.  There was no other option than finding the key.  No way to bail out.  No way to phone it in.  I NEED TO KEEP LOOKING BECAUSE THERE WEREN’T ANY OTHER OPTIONS.  It reminds me that often it is those furthest from God who have the best salvation stories.  Why?  Because they had no other option than to pursue the God of all redemption stories: Jesus Christ.  Sometimes I look around at the people around me and wonder- do you even need God or have we gotten so used to living without God we don’t really need him at all.  Someone recently challenged me: “are you merely spoon feeding the already full?”  Or are we reaching out to people still looking for a key to their lives.  I want to be more like that.
3)  Lost things get found when someone is searching.

It would have been convenient to stop searching- but I couldn’t -and so I didn’t stop.  How much more than does Jesus pursue us?  Desire us?  And search for us?  Jesus tells this story to encourage his friends looking for truth:
 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15: 8-10). 

Much like the woman’s quarter in the story, my own story was that I needed someone to find me.  I was 17, looking for purpose, and wondering whether God was true.  Lucky for me, Jesus inspired some YL friends to come looking for me.  And I began to hear about Jesus.  And then, in August of 1992, I was found.  I prayed and asked God into my heart, confessed my sin, and started a new path of following Him.  A path, trust me, that has had many failings.  And some dark spots.  But through it all, I knew I had been found by a God who loved me through His son Jesus Christ.  Even writing this, it feels good to remember my story of being found.  But I wonder how often we tell these stories to our friends outside the faith?  Or do we often spoon feed those already full?  Do we feel found by God on a daily basis?  And are we helping others seek for Him?  We worship a God who never stops searching for lost people.  I don’t want to forget about that part of God’s nature.

And then, near the end of our search, pointed down in the grass was the one, single, key.  We found it.  Because after all, the bible tells us, lost things get found.

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Do you love me?

In Bethany North,God's calling,God's great love,Jesus on May 1, 2013 by scottsund Tagged: , ,

do you love me?

God loves each of us,
as if there were only one of us.

~ Augustine

Lately I’ve been haunted by this question from Jesus in the gospels:  “Do you love me?”  At the time, Jesus was speaking to Peter.  Jesus had already died a horrific death and come back to life.  Jesus was appearing to his disciples along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  He gave them the greatest fishing tip in the history of humankind “Try the other side of the boat!”  And they do it- and they almost break their net the fish are so numerous.  And then Jesus, being the Son of God, made them breakfast.  And over breakfast, with a fire probably crackling at their feet, their bellies full of fresh cooked fish and bread, turns to Peter and asked the fateful question:  “Do you love me?”

For Jesus, He didn’t couch the question with first declaring His own love for the disciples.  They already knew He loved them.  They saw Him wash their feet.  They saw Him hanging on a cross.  They saw Him come alive and serve them breakfast.  They saw the look of love on His face.  Once they knew of Jesus love for them, their identity as beloved was forged.  Nothing could shake their knowledge that Jesus loved them.

I’ve been thinking of God’s love lately.  Heather asked me the other day, “What are your favorite verses on God’s love?”  And I’m embarrassed to say this, but my mind went blank________________________________.   God’s love?  Hmm….let me think about that.  I can tell you all about sin and the wages and the death that resulted from Romans 1/3/6.  I can tell you my personal favorite anchor verse from James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  I can remind you from Genesis we’re made in the image of God, I can quote you pithy thoughts of wisdom from Proverbs and remind you of Moses and the great journey of Israel in Exodus.  There are of course the love verses from 1 Corinthians (“Love is patient and kind”) and 1 John (“we love because God first loved us”) but these mostly remind me of wedding ceremonies.  What verses remind me daily of God’s love?  Of His unconditional embrace?  Of His absolute delight in me?

How do I remember that no matter what I do, God already loves me?  How do I remind myself when I so easily forget that before anything else, I am already God’s beloved son?  Hmmm.  Truth is, I need more reminders that God loves me.  I need to write those verses on cards and stare at them each day.

Lately my oldest daughter’s nightly prayers have turned towards forgiveness.  She prays for her to be forgiven of all the bad things she has done.  Every-single-night.  After she prays, I then pray for her- out loud- “God, may my daughter know every night that you love her.  That You accept her.  That she is so good in Your eyes.”  And then I remind my daughter- God’s love is like my love- only way, way better.  I want my kids to KNOW they are loved by God and loved by their dad.   I think on my spiritual pursuits and often I’m running/clinging/pursuing Jesus and working so hard to do the things that I know God wants me to be about.  But what about my heart?

I was talking with a friend at church last month and he told me that he was struggling.  “What’s up?” I asked.
“I’m not sure why, but my heart isn’t feeling God at all.  Its all numb and void.”

I ran into this same guy Sunday after the church service.  “God answered my prayers!” he said.  “I’m feeling God’s love again.”

“Wow, that’s great,” I said.  “That means He’s answered my prayers too.  I’ve been praying for your heart.”

The truth is, we all need to reminded that God loves us.  Love does.  Love is.  Love wins.  We are good in God’s eyes.  We are loved.  Not because we do for others.  But because He first loved us.

Here are some great reminders this week that YOU are loved by God Himself. 

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.   Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
– 1 John 4:10-12

 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
– Ephesians 2:4-5

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
– Zephaniah 3:17

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
– 1 John 4:7-8

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
-Psalm 86:15

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
-Galatians 2:20

“ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
-1 Peter 5:6-7

May you feel the weight of God’s love today.  It covers you.  Before you’ve done a single thing. God loves you.  Period.  What reminds you of God’s great love?

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Eat my what?

In Bethany North,God's calling,Jesus,Struggles with faith on March 14, 2013 by scottsund Tagged: , , ,

Have you seen this video?  It’s a little boy getting cochlear implants and hearing his mother’s voice for the first time.  Think about that.  Your mother’s voice for the first time.  Unless you had never heard your mother’s voice- you wouldn’t understand.


We’ve been talking about Jesus lately at church…I know, I know…crazy right?  But think about this.:  Jesus says “I am the light of the world.”  That is only good news if you had no light or you had never seen.  Jesus says “I am the bread of life” and that is only good news if you were hungry.  It got me thinking- what do we actually need Jesus for?  And how does Jesus help a community that doesn’t need Him?  Unless we recognize our brokenness and low places- we’ll never need a Savior.  Early in Jesus ministry He went home to continue to heal people and do some of the miracles He had been performing in other places.  But they didn’t need Him- they didn’t recognize Him as anything other than “Mary and Joseph’s boy.”  And then the scriptures tell us in Luke 4: Jesus left.  Because if a community doesn’t need Him, Jesus takes His presence elsewhere.

I don’t know about you- but I’ve been especially aware lately that I need a savior.  Not in a religious, pastor type way.  But in a broken, “I’m not quite good enough” type way.  No, I can’t do life very good on my own.  I need help often to cling to the hope in this broken world.  To cling to peace in my own interior life that can feel such anguish and stress.  Yes I’m the broken.  I’m the deaf.  I’m the poor in spirit.  I’m the hungry.

bread of life wonderbreadThis last Sunday we took a look at this weird passage in John 6 where Jesus says, “I am the bread of life” and then encourages His followers to “Eat my flesh and drink My blood”.  You can find the passage here.  To be sure, it’s a hard passage to understand.  Imagine hearing this message from Jesus.  Eat flesh.  Drink blood.  Bread of life.  What does it mean?  And better yet, who can do it???  Who can possibly follow the guidelines of this new brand of religion?  This man Jesus must be crazy!   How can I possibly do everything right to follow Him?

The genius here on Jesus part is simply this:  I can’t.  I can’t do it.  I can’t eat the flesh and drink the blood.  Jesus moves from Law “do these things and all will be ok” to a purely impractical statement.  Why???  Why does Jesus sometimes talk like this?  Because you can’t do it on your own!  We need Jesus to enter into the best life possible.

In this passage Jesus had just taken 5 fish and 2 loaves of bread and in a miracle, He fed literally thousands of people.  How does this work?  Because Jesus ushers in a new economy where 5 fish + 2 loaves= ENOUGH.  God’s economy doesn’t make sense to me.  Its not balanced budget- it’s the radical grace of God.  This doesn’t make sense to me and so I cling to my radical self-sufficiency.  I doubt that Jesus can take the 5 fish and 2 loaves of my spiritual life and weave it into something beautiful.  So I feel slow to trust Him.  And then I finally realize- my “economy” that makes such logical sense – really isn’t working for me.  Trusting myself and my own ends leads me to places of feeling bankrupt.  And in these places I yell out to God: ‘I can’t do this!”  I cry out and I fail and then I cling to Him.  Perhaps this is what Jesus means- He is the bread of life.  Because on my own I just always feel hungry.  But when I’m following Jesus I have a wholeness, a fullness, not of my own strength but of His.

I’ll be preaching about this need for Jesus a bit this Sunday at Bethany North at 9:15 and 11- if you’re in town you should stop by.  Maybe we could do this journey together.

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Tidepools

In Jesus,The Church,The Journey on September 12, 2012 by scottsund Tagged: , ,

“This isn’t the real life, this isn’t the real current.
No the tide went out and left us here, encircled, oxygen slowly running out,
hoping to God this isn’t the end.”

Last weekend was our final weekend at the island place where we run a fishing lodge every summer. We closed down the fishing operations on Friday and on Saturday morning, the entire property began to be transformed into a wedding venue.  In 29 years of working at the fishing lodge, we had never hosted a wedding until this weekend.  Former employees met at the lodge, fell in love while working here, and spent seven summers working alongside each other.  When they set their wedding date they asked if they could be married right out front with the ocean in view- and they asked me to marry them.  It was a magical weekend, a time to blend some of my different roles I play in the summer:  fisherman, father, pastor, friend.  It was an honor to perform a Christian wedding ceremony on an island that has almost 800 residents, and only a few dozen go to church.  In many ways this island is a non-religious environment, so it was a privilege to perform a wedding ceremony and preach about how Christ’s spirit empowers our relationships and takes 2 individual lives and transforms them into a 3-stranded cord.

On Saturday night the wedding party and 150 of their closest friends met for a salmon bar-b-que on the rugged north shore of Malcolm Island at Bere Point.  There was a huge beach fire and a bunch of outdoor games set out and beer and wine and 6 different bar-b-ques, cooking nearly 20 salmon, each almost 20 pounds and flavored in a variety of flavors.  The sun hung in the late afternoon sky over the still snow capped Coastal Mountain range, the air was warm with early September temps, and the tide was falling.  On the beach a huge tide pool had collected midway down the sloping shore and the kids and I headed down to check it out.

We waded into the pool and as we slowed down and looked, the vitality of the tide pool became evident.  “Papa!” my oldest screamed, “A sea anemone!”  And she was right, down close to the rocks was an anemone, a bunch of them.  Then there were starfish, hermit crabs, eels, and clams.  And if we were really still, small fish started to dart around the water.  The tide pool was teeming with life.  All housed in a natural fish tank no larger than 20’ across.  It looked so healthy.  As the kids continued to discover and play, I stood back and looked out at the ocean behind me and the recessing tide, just 20 feet away.  The water of Queen Charlotte Strait is huge, in places going down over 1000 feet.  I looked miles and miles across the Strait, from the island we were on, over to mainland British Columbia, to Wells Passage and Fife Sound.  I could see the huge Numas Islands, wild and undiscovered, which lie in the middle of QC Strait.  The water is powerful here, very powerful.  These are big waters, where Orcas travel back and forth and 4 other species of whales inhabit.  It is also the thoroughfare for millions and millions of salmon which travel down each summer, from their winter homes in the North Pacific to their eventual resting place in their river of origin somewhere south of us.  The currents in these waters can literally reshape land, as certain gravel points like Lizard Point get shaped each winter by the power of surging tides and powerful winds.  Some days we get almost 20 feet of changing tides, all of which makes the Inside Passage water flow at a ridiculously powerful rate.  This water has real power.  These are the same waters housed in this small tide pool at my feet, and though there is life in small measure in this tide pool, it simply cannot compare with the real water of the ocean.

There is such a difference between the water of this small tide pool and the mighty waters behind me.  I was thinking about this and reflecting why on an island of 800, just a few dozen people go to church.  At times I wonder if some of us in the Christian church have become pacified living in a tide pool of sorts.  We draw up big walls around us and tell most of the world they don’t fit into our brand or style of faith and then we make a home amidst the small pool.  We see a few fish or sea creatures and tell ourselves that life is healthy, that there are small victories to celebrate, and that the world just doesn’t understand how good we have it here in our tide pool.  All the while, the real power of the ocean’s currents has left us, receding further down the beach.  And the oxygen level in our water is literally expiring until the current comes back.

In the gospel accounts of Jesus, He often railed against institutions, in exchange for personal interactions with people.  And it was always His presence that brought real life.  Jesus wasn’t concerned with starting movements or revolutions, we wanted simply to indwell His followers.  “Come to ME,” Jesus said again and again, and I will give you rest…And I will give you living water…And I will give you life.”  The real current exists in and through a friendship with Jesus.  This is the real current we need to tap into day after day after day.  Jesus spent His 3 years of public ministry healing others, loving those on the margins, and espousing a different life than public and shallow religious services of His day.  “Follow me!  Come to me!  Seek me and find Me!”  These were His most important commands.

And in Jesus’ final days alive in Jerusalem, He didn’t climb on top of the Wailing Wall or the Temple to make speeches to the masses, He wanted to make sure His 12 best friends understood His message perfectly.  So He washed their feet so they would remember to serve others.  He served them bread and wine so they would remember that He would always sustain them.  And then He died for them, so they would always know they were forgiven.  This was Jesus final message in all 4 gospel accounts before He died: serve others, remember Me, for you are forgiven.

A poem fragment from the beach:

“This isn’t the real life, this isn’t the real current.
No the tide went out and left us here,
encircled,
oxygen slowly running out,
hoping to God this isn’t the end.”

This is a tide pool- and time will run out.
Time will run out.

When will the current come back Lord?
When will you return?

It feels so normal here and yet not at all….

So and we wait…
So we wait.”

May you feel the real current of Jesus encircling you.  May you have the courage to seek Him.  May you find Him.  And may you never confuse the warm and oxygen deprived water of the tide pool with the transformative and energized water of a relationship alive with Christ.  He is the real current.  In Him is real life.

“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the King.”
-1 Peter 2:17

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On a tree like this

In God's great love,Jesus,Practicing Solitude,Spiritual Practices,The Journey on August 23, 2012 by scottsund Tagged: ,

At the end of my self-sufficiency is the place where Christ can finally begin.  When I can stop, Christ begins.  How often do I fail to live into this?  Many of us claim that in Christ alone is our strength, to quote the worship song.  But do others fail at remembering this as often as I do?

Failure and frustration and worries abound.  Between fears of balancing work and play and the fatigue of an entire summer spent working 2 jobs and not doing enough rest.  It’s easy for me to feel “not enough.”  I’m “not enough” as a businessman, as a pastor, as a husband, as a father.  I’ve been struggling with anxiety and fear, self doubt and frustration.  Why does it feel like I’m not doing “good enough” in any one sphere of my life?  Am I alone in these self doubts and fears?

This has been a theme in past weeks- until words of a friend come back to me.  It’s Thursday at a coffee shop and he shares with me the same words from 1 John I had shared with him a few months back: 1 John 3:19-22:  “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.  Beloved, if your heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”  Did you catch it?  “God is greater than our heart.”  God is greater than my worries.  God is greater than my fears.  God is greater than what I try to do on my own.  This same scripture I offered up a few months back to a friend in need of more confidence, was repeated back to me at just the right time.

I’m back at the fishing Lodge now and yesterday was another “not enough” day.  Needing a reminder, I head off for a walk for peace and restoration.  I end up in the back of our 40 acres- in an empty patch of the forest off the beaten track of the nature trail. I follow the path under fallen spruce trees and through native grasses and I enter a stand of new growth alder.  And then it hits me; I have entered a sanctuary.  Away from all else that distracts, it’s just me and my Maker.

The sun streams down in ribbons between the stand of coastal alder trees.  The smell of dew and fog hangs in the air like a sweet perfume.  I stand here for a minute and blink- ‘how am I the only one to receive this gift?’  I feel myself letting go of that which is plaguing me as I pray to God.  “God,” I pray, “You are greater.”

Amidst all the trees is one particularly of interest.  ‘On a tree like this,’ the Spirit whispers in my ear, ‘is what I died for you on.  So you don’t have to strive and worry and try to do it on your own.  When you stop, I can finally begin.’

On a tree like this- the world changed.  Because of the gift of Christ, we don’t have to pretend that we are strong enough and wise enough and perfect.  Christ’s perfection, refined in His sacrifice and death and resurrection, is enough for me to hope on.  I stay for a few minutes and feel myself becoming more centered.

The truth is, these are brief moments.  We don’t live back there amidst the alder.  We live in the real world of real worries and real obligations that are constantly pulling at us and telling us to be more, do more, accomplish more.  And if you are anything like me, you might lose your bearings from time to time as you try to be “enough”.

As a reminder today, Christ taught me again that His worth is enough.  On a tree like this…my life changed.  I’m confident He did that for you too.

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We are what we do

In Bethany North,Christian Ethics,Jesus,Serve on June 21, 2012 by scottsund Tagged: , , , ,

“We are what we repeatedly do.” -Aristotle

Not sure if you saw the online article trending late last week with the news flash that faith in God is decreasing amongst millenials.  Though 68% of young people still say they believe in God, that number is down 15% in just the last few years.  This is a problem.

As I was thinking about this, I read a good article about Mat Kearney.  Need a recommendation on a great singer songwriter?  Check out Kearney here.  Kearney is an interesting guy because he is an amazing songwriter, a guy who is popular on a couple different musical platforms, and he is also a Christ follower.  How did this happen?  This article explains his journey a bit, but he said the genesis of his faith came when he was exposed to the HOPE of Christianity.  It was the good news of Jesus that attracted him.

“It was sort of the Sodom and Gomorra of the college world,” he jokes. “I was your typical college student. We’re told we should be chasing sex and intoxication. The more I was diving into that, the more it was leaving me with a sense of despair. I just found it very unfulfilling.”  Kearney was intrigued by the message of hope and redemption he learned about in a college course on the Bible. “The more I studied the ideas, the more it resonated with me,” he says. “My spirituality and faith is a huge part of how I live my life.”

Hope, good news, redemption, fulfillment.  These are the promises that attract a generation that is swiftly moving away from faith.  Christ is about bringing us into union with Himself.  But regretfully that’s not always the story we’ve been telling as a church.  Kearney talks about the church’s problems here: “I’m sorry the church has become a lobbyist group for greed and things that have nothing to do with the character of Christ,” he says. “He chose to love the unlovable, the needy and the sick and the orphaned.”

Kearney said he doesn’t want to preach- but wants to be a great songwriter.  This is a different blog post, but I love his perspective. Lord knows the world has too many preachers (hmm), we need more musicians, fishermen, or teachers, or whatever God has given you to do well.  When we live out our calling, we’re serving God well. Kearney says, “I think my faith has less to do with political aspiration and more to do with the fact that God seeks man out of a desire for a loving relationship.  That’s the issue we should be talking about in Christianity.”

What can I can say to that?  Yup.  More about God seeking humans.  Yup.  More about God’s desire for a loving relationship.  Yup.  More about the unlovable, the needy, the orphaned.  Yup.

Problem is…the problem isn’t always out there…with other Christians.  It often starts right here– with me.  Even as I type these words, the magnifying glass goes to my own practices.  How have I served the homeless lately?  How have I loved the orphan lately?  I’ll confess…I need a tune up on my Jesus practices.  Jesus said it clearly, if you want to follow than there are tangible and practical things to do: visit orphans, serve the hungry, care for others.  It isn’t theological, it’s a very practical “to do” list. Simply put- you are what you do.  Not what you say believe.  What you actually do is what counts.

That’s why at the church I lead, we will start collecting food again in July for Hopelink.  I’ll be a part of that.  Not because I’m holier than someone else, but because I realize I must take steps in my daily life that reflect my Christian values.  As small as a food drive is, or a single day serving at Jacobs Well, or a night spent visiting seniors at Arden Center, or my participation in one of our Spilling Hope 365 events…these are all small tiny steps…but each small tiny steps teaches me a little bit about what Jesus wants me to be about.

As a church, we’ve done some great things, and we continue to do good things.  And we’ve got sound orthodoxy- the things we belief.  But we should be careful that our orthodoxy never outshines our orthopraxy.  Orthopraxy literally means correct action.  The things we need to be doing are more important than the things we think about.  Perhaps as we step into this calling, more young people will feel encouraged to take a fresh look at the faith they have moved away from.  This truly is our calling- to be bearers of the good news.  We’ve got some work to do.

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Drop the Mask

In Bethany North,Jesus,Struggles with faith,The Church,The Journey on April 2, 2012 by scottsund Tagged: , ,

I had the chance to preach at Bethany North on Sunday about Psalm 32 and the power of vulnerability.  Click the link if you want a refresher on the Psalm a powerful word from David on the value of confessing our sin.  David said when he didn’t confess, his sin was literally eating at his bones and causing him to waste away.  But as he acknowledged his sin, and didn’t hide, and confessed his failures, he found forgiveness with God.  And this forgiveness lead to great joy.  Read it – it’s all there in the Psalm.

God’s desire is for us to be real and authentic, and not hide our pains and failures from one another and form him.  When Jesus when He was on earth, He was always empathetic to people who realized their failings and their humanity (woman at the well, thief on the cross, woman caught in adultery, etc).  Jesus had no patience for people who wore masks, especially those who wore religious masks hiding the real them behind the religious veneer of pretending everything was fine.

If you want to be known by God, you have to allow Him to see you as you really are.  You need to confess.  And if you want to be known by others- same rules apply.  You must be real and let others in.  Being a mask wearing culture, and a mask wearing church, isn’t getting us anywhere.

Brene Brown (in her Ted talk on vulnerability below) said that shame is the fear of disconnection and that the people who learn to be vulnerable and ask forgiveness become “wholehearted people” who have authentic relationships.  If we’re not careful, we become mask wearers to our friends, and our family, to our God, and eventually to ourselves.  And as a church, we must learn from the mistake we’ve made that allows this “mask wearing” for too long.  The danger is that if a church is made up of people who are always just “fine” and never vulnerable with one another (a.k.a. mask wearers), then when someone struggles or messes up or has a problem, they will never come back to church.  They can’t- because the church is full of people (so they think) that have no problems!  This is a real problem.

The hope as children of God and as God’s church is that we can move into God’s fullness when we aren’t enslaved by our past mistakes.  Our call is to be real, and be vulnerable, and drop the masks we wear the the world and wear to God, hiding ourself behind the facade.  God wants us to be real…so that he can renew and regenerate us through the fullness of His good news.  If you have time- watch this TED talk on vulnerability.

Powerful stuff.  Be real.  Be vulnerable.  The fruit of this labor is joy and a clean heart and lightened load.  It’s a joy I wish you all to share.  God uses humans not when they are perfect or sin free- but God uses humans when they have come clean and dropped the mask and they step fully into God’s big picture.