“I don’t like it when pastors say things like that.”
“Say things like what?”
“That just because someone was baptized as a baby they’re now in heaven.”
“Why don’t you like that?”
“Because it’s not true.”
“What do you mean it’s not true? That’s what I’ve believed my whole life.”
“You may believe it, but it’s not in the Bible, and it’s not true.”
WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT’S NOT TRUE?
That was pretty much my conversation with my fiancée as a twenty-three year old while driving away from my grandfather’s funeral in 1997.
My soon-to-be wife and I were in Wisconsin snowmobiling that February when we got word that my grandfather had passed away. So we loaded up the sleds and headed home to be with my family.
A few days later my grandfather’s funeral took place at one of the churches in our town, which to be honest, I found a bit odd.
Matthew 5:16 says, “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” As we get ready to close out 2016 here are three things we need to do as followers of Christ to let His light shine:
1. Share it! We share all kinds of things every day through social media. Whenever ‘good news’ happens you share it. Use our Christmas Eve-Eve Service as an opportunity to invite your family and friends to church so they can hear about the greatest news ever shared; that God sent us a Savior! Your friends who don’t know Jesus need Jesus! Share our event on Facebook and INVITE!
2. Be generous! Our Heavenly Father is a giver! God has done some amazing things this past year in and through Cedar Point, and in 2017 He’s asking us to continue to GROW in our faith and generosity. We want to see more people take the step of following Jesus. Let’s not allow finances to keep us from reaching more people with the Good News of Christ! Be generous in your year-end giving and to those around you this Christmas.
3. Enjoy it! This is something I always have to remind myself to do. Take time to sit back, relax, and just enjoy your family and friends this Christmas season. But most importantly, remember to celebrate the reason we gather; God has sent Light into our darkness. Through our faith in Jesus we can find true rest in those moments of chaos and uncertainty and more importantly, “find rest for our souls.”
I am so proud to be able to pastor such a great group of Christ followers! Here’s looking forward to what God has in store for 2017. Hope you have a Merry Christmas!
For whatever reason this has been coming up a lot lately for me: “I grew up in such-and-such church, but yours doesn’t do all the typical readings.” And I know all too well what they’re saying and why they’re saying it. I’ve been there. I grew up in a Lutheran church and can still yet today recite the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds. I remember my first time going to a ‘non-liturgical’ church (like Cedar Point) and asking my girlfriend, “When are they going to recite the Apostle’s Creed?” At first it drove me crazy because all they did was sing (a whole lot) and listen to a sermon. They didn’t even say the Lord’s Prayer. But I’ll never forget walking away from that experience knowing one thing: yes, it wasn’t church the way I was used to, but man do they love Jesus!
You see, there’s nothing wrong with liturgy and reciting certain things. But for me, those things didn’t mean anything to me. It was just something we did, like at a football game… “stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!” There’s nothing wrong with reciting the Lord’s Prayer, though that’s not what Jesus had intended for us to do. In Matthew 6:9ff, Jesus never said, “This then is what you should pray.” He said, “This then is how you should pray.” Not what, but how. It was a model prayer meant to teach us how to pray.
And personally, I believe God would rather Continue reading
“We implore you on Christ’s behalf…”
The Christian ‘Super Bowl’ is this Sunday. There is no greater day in the Christian faith than Easter. Without Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his rising from the tomb we’d still be dead in our sins and separated from God. But thank God for Jesus!
For those of us who already know Christ as Lord & Savior Easter presents an awesome opportunity to invite others who are far from God or have given up on the church to give it another shot. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church begged Jesus followers to reach out to others. The truth is, God works through us in bringing people to himself. We are His ambassadors, IF, we choose to be.
We have two days left before Easter. Make them count! Invite that coworker, your neighbor, your friend to church. Don’t simply come and sit through another Easter service without doing anything with it. Go be an ambassador, a herald, a proclaimer of the greatest news the world has ever heard. Grab that person on your left and the person on your right and invite them to church. They matter to God too! The question is, do they matter to you? Make this weekend count.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
“14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Has anyone ever encouraged you? I hope so. There’s nothing quite like those words coming to our ears that lift us up, that give us hope or confidence. Several years ago as a nominal Christian going about my daily monotonous life, I had a guy take me out for lunch who told me I could be a leader, that I could make a difference in the church. Wow! I had never been told that before and it blew me away. “Really? Me?” It’s so true that there are power in our words; power to lift up or power to tear down. And I for one would rather see people lifted up.
One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another daily as long as it is called Today.” Life is hard. God is good. And encouragement we all need. Who can YOU encourage Today? Don’t be a ‘Debby Downer’ that sucks the life out of others. Be an ENCOURAGER! Because you can make a difference.
My wife Deedie talking with Adley
On January 12, 2010 the small Caribbean country of Haiti was hit with a cataclysmic level 7.0 earthquake sixteen miles west of its capital city Port-au-Prince near the city of Léogâne. The world was shocked as reports came in of an estimated 316,000 dead and over 1 million now homeless. As the people of Haiti stammered to put their lives back together aid from numerous countries started to pour in.
Two and a half years later Haiti still struggles to get back to normal. This past month my wife and I traveled to Léogâne to help Samaritan’s Purse with the construction efforts of an orphanage that will eventually house and school 100 children. Continue reading
Millions of us have watched and laughed along as Jeff Foxworthy wittingly pokes fun at adults who try to prove their intellectual prowess over school-age children on Fox Network’s game show “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” As we play along it seems like it should be an easy enough task to remember the things we learned in grade school, but only two people, Kathy Cox and George Smoot, have been lucky enough to claim the $1,000,000 prize and escaped admitting that they “are not smarter than a 5th grader.”
Games like Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit make my head hurt. Continue reading
Okay, maybe ‘hate’ isn’t the right word, but my MS Word thesaurus didn’t produce any synonyms I thought fit well. Instead, maybe, I ache or am sickened when I read through the biblical prophets. Way too many of them took God’s message to His people, quite often a message of repentance, and the people seldom repented. Jeremiah, who is often referred to as ‘the weeping prophet,’ never saw a single person turn to God, and I think to myself, “What if I’m another Jeremiah?” Does anyone care about God anymore? I hate reading the prophets!
- They followed God, while no one else did.
- They delivered God’s message, while no one listened.
- They informed people of God’s righteous decrees, but no one cared.
- They told people to build God’s Kingdom, but the people toiled to build their own.
- They warned people of God’s coming judgment, and it’s still coming…
So has anything changed today?
I recently read an article on leadership and the need for godly ambition. While it stated some things that I didn’t totally agree with (that it’s okay to be seen as arrogant if it’s coupled with ambition) I would agree that we as Christ-followers need to be ambitious in our faith. Not only do we need to put in work to grow in our faith so that we do not become stagnant Christians, but Christ has given his followers a task to fulfill, to ‘go and make disciples’ (Matthew 28:19-20).
So what does “godly ambition” look like? My wife and I have four children and our youngest, Kelly, who is two now, is at the stage where she constantly follows people around copying what they do. Most often you’ll find her following her older brother who is three doing everything he does, whether it’s talking, jumping, or climbing the kitchen cabinets. She wants to be just like her big brother. But how often do we as Christians find ourselves doing the same thing with Jesus? I think I’m safe in guessing not as often as we should.
Following Christ is not exactly an easy thing to do. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But God’s Word teaches that in order to be like him we must deny ourselves, that we must think of others first, that we should even carry others’ burdens, and that just doesn’t come naturally for any of us. Americans, or humans for that matter, have a huge inferiority complex. We don’t like being considered as someone’s servant. Even three of the four gospels record stories of the twelve disciples arguing about which one of them was the greatest. Mark even places the story after the Lord’s Supper just moments before Jesus was arrested. So here are twelve men who have spent a little over three years with Jesus. They’ve walked with him, listened to his teaching, witnessed firsthand the many miracles, watched how he interacted with people, and they still didn’t get it! But Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Being the greatest means being the least.
So look at your home, your workplace, even your church. Who are the “greatest” among you according to God’s standards? How many people do you know who put others ahead of themselves? Are you one of those people? As a pastor I’ve learned that many people will easily give a complaint, few are willing to give a solution. If you are a follower of Christ the places you live, work, and worship should be better places because you are there. If there’s a problem you should find a way to be part of the remedy. The presence of God living in and through you should improve the people and situations around you as you learn to put others ahead of yourself just as Christ did. It’s a paradox that’s hard to grasp, but as we look to God’s Word for how to live I hope we’ll begin to see lives transformed.
I believe the church today is filled with fans of Jesus, but very few followers of Jesus, people who he would call a disciple. At Cedar Point Church we put a huge emphasis on “living missionally” as followers of Christ. Simply put, it is actively living on mission with God fulfilling the command that he gave his followers to “go and make disciples” (Mt. 28:19; Acts 1:8). So for the followers of Christ, those who call themselves Christians, to actually “live missionally”, it’s important to understand what the biblical definition of a disciple is and what they do. We need to understand what it is Jesus wants us to make. But in order to get to that point we first need to have a better understanding of the gospel, the “good news” that begins the discipleship process in each of us.
A friend of mine recently posted a link to an interview with Dallas Willard, former pastor, well known Christian author, and current professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. The article, titled The Gospel of the Kingdom, covers many topics but particularly the preaching and teaching of the gospel of the Kingdom versus the gospel of atonement and its affects upon Christians. For me it was rather eye-opening, and I would presume even more so for those who have grown up only hearing the gospel of atonement. Please take some time to read the article. I hope you walk away with a fuller understanding of what Christ came to preach: The Gospel of the Kingdom (Mt. 4:23).