On a cold December morning in 2017, I met with a group of friends (that I still meet with, though this morning it will be on Zoom) and we discussed our dreams. Not the kind that you have when you’ve spun through a deep cycle of sleep and are close to waking up, but the ones that spur you on to make it through this life. The dreams that push you to be better than you are, while at the same time help you be the person you were created to become.
This is a difficult time. Difficult times do not mean that Kingdom Work is on hold. In fact, The act of being a disciple is all the more important right now as this is the kind of world the Christian is called to act in ways that are specifically Christ like. We are not destined to be self-serving, and as such, we must think in ways that are kingdom-minded, and not solely on how to help our own plights. So after a few weeks of “staying in”, here are some ways you can begin to act with the mind of Christ.
The good news for a believer is that things don’t change because our external circumstances are good or difficult, peaceful or harsh. We are called to be the people we are called to be regardless of whether we are playing the game Pandemic or are in a real life pandemic.
Years ago, I sat in a small group with fifteen other people, including a couple who happened to be new believers. My sister, Brooke, was visiting from Indiana that week as well and decided to join in the fun. The topic of the conversation that night in Millbury, Massachusetts was on prayer. After the conversation, we prayed for friends or family in our lives who needed prayer. One of the new believers, Scott, asked if he could pray for someone close to him. I said yes and he prayed for a coworker of his in Westborough, Massachusetts. For the record, Westborough is about 20 minutes west of Millbury. Scott said his coworker’s life was falling apart because of sickness, financial problems, family drama, and a hundred other issues that burdened his friend. Our small group gathered together and prayed intensely for his hurting coworker.
”We will do anything short of sin to reach people for Jesus.”
Now before I go into detail here about my thoughts on the subject, I do want to say that I’m not sure that this is a right or wrong issue. I have plenty of friends who use this phrase at their churches, and even in my own ministry have used it because of the energy the phrase brings to reaching people for Jesus. But after further review, I’ve been thinking through it and have the following issues with it:
I have to tell you about a new app I’ve been enjoying. I k now, I know, the last thing you need is another app to navigate and figure out and to make sure you have enough space on your phone. But this app is very simple, and in a weird way, life changing in regards to the relationship in our lives.
For the last year, We’ve been talking about the new novel we’ll be publishing this spring called “Flat Earth”! The story is finished, and is the novel is in the last stages of editing. We think you’ll love it!
But today, we wanted to share with you a little surprise!
In the past, I never wanted to be part of a house church. There’s nothing flashy about that. There’s no place in “America’s Fastest Growing Churches” magazine for my little house church. I’d see these large churches with massive buildings and thousands of attendees and thought, “man what a testament to God’s Spirit being poured out.” Until you get involved in larger churches and then realize that most of those people aren’t even followers of Jesus. That was the part that kept nagging at me. All the time and effort (and tons of finances) poured out to grow the gathering but not adding to the Church.
One of the things the internet was supposed to do was bring everyone together in sort of a one world scenario, but ironically, the opposite has occurred. It was so interesting at first to have all of the people over the last 40 years of my life (35 when Facebook really got kicking) together in one place talking about times back in Northwest Ohio in the 80’s, or Pensacola, Florida in the middle 90’s, or from my 20 years here in New England. Over time, however, we took sides, and our bias created our new world tribes. This is what people are saying when they say the world is so divisive right now.
This morning at a wake someone looked at me and said, “I have no idea what to say, I just stood there and cried and hugged.” Across the room someone listening in to the conversation replied, “Perfect! They need your presence right now more than your words.” I don’t know why Solomon wrote this, but in Ecclesiastes, the king ponders, “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” It is a stunning declaration that there is something “better” about what happens beyond death than what has happened in life. This could point to the afterlife but it also could communicate how important the memory and the connection of the loved ones community is the world after that person dies. When someone you know dies, who can you connect with in their family or friend group that could benefit from your presence. We live in such an individualistic, my life first, and death opens us up to our mortality, and that we are better together.