Tuesday Celebrations 6.30.2015

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

I heard we had a great Patriotic Sunday. Great worship and great message!

This Sunday/Monday: Ask the Pastor. This is one of my favorite things we do each year. Don’t miss it. If you are out of town on the weekend, that’s why we do Monday worship!

VBS is right around the corner. I’m excited and I hope you are too!

Smile:

The Fourth of July weekend was approaching, and Miss Pelham, the nursery school teacher, took the opportunity to tell her class about patriotism. ‘We live in a great country,’ she announced. ‘One of the things we should be happy is that, in this country, we are all free.’

Trevor, who was a little boy in her class, came walking up to her from the back of the room. He stood with his hands on his hips and said loudly, ‘I’m not free. I’m four.’

Directions 6.25.2015

They will know we are Christians by our love.

How do we handle the future in South Carolina knowing what last week gave us?  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are supposed to love.  In fact, we are supposed to love in such a way that the world will see Jesus in us.  The world is supposed to look at how we relate to one another and be led to believe that because of how we love each other, and them, it must be supernatural.  That there is no way that such a deep sincere love could only come from us.  Actually, that kind of love cannot come from only us.  It has to come from God.

We are flawed, every one of us.  Therefore, our love is flawed.  If I love someone in Jock’s name that love, even in sincerity, will have something broken in it.  Whether I like it or not there will be a bit of an agenda behind that love.  It may not be as deep as it could be because I may see them differently than I should, differently than God sees them.  The only way I can love them correctly is if God gives me this love and I, then, let it pass on to them.  The action that grows out of this love is grace.

The antithesis to love is hate.  We don’t need God in order to hate.  We are really good at it.  We are so good at it we have found reasons that it is okay.  It will take me farther in work (even though I have to step on a few people).  It will get me more money (even though I will not be able to give to the needy).  It will protect my family (even though we won’t be able to serve those in need or to even build relationships with our neighbors).  We don’t see this as hate, it is getting ahead, it is the pursuit of………..  The action of hate is anger or obstinacy.

Jesus assures us that his love is available and is transmittable.  John 13:34-35 states that we are to love one another as Jesus loves us and that in that moment the world will know we are His by that love.  So it is possible to love more and more and hate less and less.  This love, which transcends all prejudices, all hate, and all agendas is attainable even in this very moment.  Pray that love and grace will abound and pray that it will begin with Jesus and us.  Let the world see all of us, see me, see you through the love of Jesus in us.

Pray, ask, receive.

Jock

Directions 6.18.2015

“Glad you are back.  How did your trip go?”  It’s a question I was asked many times at church yesterday.  I will hear it a lot this week.

World Orphans, the mission organization we are partnered with in Haiti advises that all mission team participants need to have a thirty second answer to that question.  Surveys show that after about thirty seconds most people have heard all they want to here.  So, how do I answer in thirty seconds what God was able to accomplish in Haiti?  What the Haitian people are like?  How living in Haiti is different from living here in “The States?”  How beautiful the beaches are on the Coast of Haiti?  How the mountains, even in Haiti, seemed to call to me urging me to come and visit.  How do I sum all of this up in thirty seconds?

Haiti is a tough place to offer ministry.  It has found itself in the position of having so much need that knowing where to start is difficult.  Even before the earthquake in 2010, where an estimated 160,000-200,000 people died, there were great challenges that hindered prosperity in the country.  Since the earthquake the needs have multiplied.  They have infrastructure challenges, widespread poverty (not simply poor, impoverished), rampant disease, a lack of healthcare and education, and a fairly dysfunctional government.  However, the people of Haiti are a strong folk who have persevered through it all.   One by one they asked us to pray for Haiti as a country (especially the elderly).  Some seek deliverance, some seek a new life, and some simply seek a job and good health.

Having said all that, God is alive, ALIVE, in Haiti.  He is alive in the worship of his church, he is alive in the growth of his church, and he is alive in the vision of the Pastors who shepherd his church.  God, working through these faithful few, is growing a church out of nothing.  How can an impoverished congregation buy land and erect structures when they have close to nothing? GOD How can soul after soul after soul come to know Christ in a country where chaos, scarcity, and voodoo magic seem to rule?  GOD How can eleven diverse, average, American church goers go into that environment and make a difference?  GOD

We saw over 450 people get medical care at the two day clinic.  We saw 12 come to know Christ.  We enjoyed 4 worship services where God was glorified and honored.  We shared the gospel with no less than 500 men, women, and children.  We offered eight hours of teaching and encouragement to 35 local pastors.  We learned about each other, lived with each other, sweated with each other, fussed with each other, and love each other more than we did when we left.  We are better people now than we were a week ago.  We see God in a different light.  Most of us, perhaps all, will one day go back and try again.  Thank you for your prayers and for sending us.  Thank you God for your guidance,  love,  and grace.

Sorry, that was more than thirty seconds.

Jock

Directions 6.11.2015

If Nominated, I Will Not Run…

From The State newspaper, June 8, 2015:  “Disappointed at the lack of progress on their political agenda, a group of evangelical Christians think they might have found the best candidates for office – their pastors.”  The article provides details of a meeting in Charleston this week that will train pastors to run for political office.  The organizers hope to have 100 or more pastors run for office in South Carolina.

According to the article, evangelical Christians are tired of backing politicians who promise one thing and then fail to deliver on their promises (I know a number of women who would say the thing about their husbands).   The idea is a pastor would keep his promises if elected.

I have nothing against pastors running for political office.  Several pastors have served in office and have done well.  Others, like Sydney Catts of Florida, conveniently forgot parts of the gospel like “Love your neighbor.”  He was anti-black, anti-Catholic, anti-German, and anti-anyone who disagreed with him.  As the old country philosopher said, “A politician seldom lets his faith get between him and a vote.”

No one has approached me about running, but I thought I would forestall any speculation by issuing a statement like William Sherman, the Union General during the Civil war who was pushed to run for president.  Sherman famously said, “If nominated, I will not run; If elected I will not serve.”  To be honest, I have too many other ways of getting in trouble to think about running for office.

I am compelled, however, to tell you what really bothers me about this movement.  I think it is fine for pastors to run for office.  I think followers of Jesus need to participate in politics.  But I think it is dangerous to believe political power will solve spiritual problems.  Throughout history, when the church tries to gain political power, it leaves her first love, Jesus.

This is the part of the article that bothers me the most:  “Evangelical leaders think pastor-politicians have a good chance of winning, adding they have some built in advantages.  Church leaders have a constituency to begin with – hundreds of parishioners who listen to their Sunday sermons and attend their Bible study classes.  Some of those churchgoers will become campaign volunteers.  ‘All of a sudden, we have this team that could have a ripple effect,” (David) Lane said, “and then we’re heading somewhere.’”

This bothers me because the church is the body of Jesus.  We are for his work.  We are to spread His word, share His love, love the least of these, and bear witness to a Kingdom that is not of this world.  Jesus’ church is not here to win elections.  Jesus’ church is here to be His hands and feet in the world.  Our mission is more important than any office, election, or government.  It’s the mission He gave us. It’s the only one we need.

Grace

Clay

Tuesday Celebrations 6.9.2015

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big Idea from Sunday:  Living in the Kingdom means living in hope, living towards Jesus.

This Sunday/Monday we launch a new series, The Best Question.  This series will help you make better decisions and live with fewer regrets.  Don’t miss it!

I know during the summer many of us travel on the weekends.  That’s why we have Monday worship.  If you can’t come on Sunday, don’t miss Monday!

Smile:

Summer is the time of year when parents realize how grossly underpaid teachers are.

Directions 6.4.2015

Shame and Hope…

I don’t know about you, but there are things in my past that I am ashamed of.  I’d rather not make a list, but my hunch is you might have some of the same things on your list that I have on mine.

I am ashamed of thoughtless words that came out of my mouth and hurt people.  I am ashamed of impulsive anger that inflicted deep wounds on others.  I am ashamed of moments I gave into temptation.  It was only later I rethought my actions and realized I could have made different choices.  If I had made those choices, my life would be different.

I know I am forgiven.  I believe in God’s deep grace, His powerful love, and His broad forgiveness.  I know Jesus’ death and resurrection has taken care of my debt.

My trouble lies in forgiving myself.  My storehouses of shame become perverse holdings that invalidate the grace and peace of God.  My twisted soul finds delight in returning to the pain of the past.  Somehow going back to the shame re-enforces the negative voice that whispers again and again, “You are worthless.  Look, this is all you are.  You are your failures.”

This is why I need hope.  You need it too.

Hope comes like storm, blowing away the stench of shame.  Hope comes like a bulldozer, moving mountains of memories into the ocean of grace.  Hope comes like an axe, cutting the ropes of self-blame that tie me to a past I can’t undo.

Hope is much more than a pleasant thought.  It is the power of Jesus resurrected, pulling me forward, away from all that would remind of me of who I no longer am.  I am a new creation in Christ, not defined by my failures, not imprisoned by my shame, but defined by His grace.

This Sunday and Monday, partaking the Lord’s Supper, we will remember Jesus’ great grace.  But we will also claim the powerful hope that sets us free from shame, from guilt, from failure, from sin, and from our twisted, distorted perceptions of ourselves.

We, God’s children, are people of hope!

Grace

Clay

 

Tuesday Celebrations 6.2.2015

Good Morning Good People of Alice Drive!

Big Idea:  Choosing to Love is choosing to live the life God intended for you.

If you missed ways you can love God, here they are:

How to love God:

Words of affirmation – praise/worship

Quality Time – prayer, study, and fasting

Acts of service – serving Him

Gifts – Giving

Physical Touch – meeting the needs of the least of these

Pray for our Haiti Mission Team leaving Thursday!

This Sunday/Monday – Lord’s Supper.

Smile:

I am contemplating putting a collection of rocks in my truck to dump water over. My truck is already hot enough to be a sauna, I might as well complete it.