The Time Is NOW

Things are getting pretty crazy out there. It seems as though every few hours there are reports of new cases of the virus. Various governments continue to announce new restrictions in order to “flatten the curve.” Social media is filled with opinions and hot takes. And the U.S. Surgeon General recently told us, “this week is going to get bad.”

People are scared. People are worried. People are frustrated.

That is why the time for selfishness is over. The time for hoarding goods is over. The time for “I told you so” is over. The time for “this is so annoying” is over. The time for preference is over.

It’s time to talk about Jesus.

Talk about Jesus to anyone and everyone you know. Talk about Jesus to your church friends. Talk about Jesus to your family. Talk about Jesus to your non-believing friends.

Please. Just. Talk. About. Jesus.

For those who need hope…Hope can only be found in Jesus.

For those who need peace…Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

For those who need joy…Jesus is our Joy.

For those who need answers…Jesus is Truth.

For those who need life, now and forever…Jesus is Life.

Do not waste this time. God has you alive and breathing right now for a reason. Who will you impact? Who will you share this good news with? Who will you be a good neighbor to?

I don’t mean to make this post sound so direct, but our current situation calls for it. I wanted to end with a quote by Martin Luther that I have seen floating around lately. It is timely, but also a good reminder that we, the church, have been in this sort of situation before.

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

May the church rise up in this time, and may we be found faithful.

Built To Last

“They just don’t make ‘em like they used to!”

Have you ever heard that phrase before? It’s usually said by a weary homeowner who has just gone through the process of replacing something expensive. Recently, I was having this exact conversation with someone who was frustratedly telling me about how companies used to guarantee their products, sometimes even for life. Refrigerators, dishwashers, heaters, and so on, all of these at one point would last for double-digit years at the minimum. Now, expect to replace those items in half that time or less. Our conversation left me pondering why. Why aren’t things built to last anymore?

A few months ago, when I was on the Greek Island of Lesvos (read why here) I saw one of the most magnificent sights I’ve seen. I have been blessed to travel to many places. I have seen incredible natural wonders and impressive manmade structures. But this. This took my breath away.

There, seemingly untouched by tourists, in the middle of an olive grove, accessible only by a footpath or a half-a-car sized dirt road was the sign the simply read, Roman Aqueduct.

I quickly snapped the picture shown above and then just as quickly put my phone away to just simply soak it all in.

The structure stands an impressive 600 meters tall (1969 feet) and was built in the late 2nd century. In its day it would carry 127,000 cubic meters of water a distance of 22 kilometers each day. While it certainly isn’t functioning today and is only a remnant of what it once was I couldn’t help but think, “now that was built to last.”

If that was built to last, then why isn’t my refrigerator?! The answer is sadly simple. That’s not a good business model. Many companies have gone under with the business model of “built to last.”

In our consumeristic culture where newer is always better and materials and production are dirt cheap, it makes no sense to build something that will last a long time. A disgruntled and yet repeat customer is preferred over a happy but one-time customer.

That’s a problem, but here is the greater problem…we have come to accept it. We have come to realize that doing repairs just isn’t worth the work when it is easier, and often cheaper, to go get a replacement.

And I’m not only talking about refrigerators anymore.

This thinking has crept into our mindsets concerning our relationships, faith in God, and how we view the churches we attend.

“Why fix it? Just walk away. Go find someone new. Go worship somewhere else. Go follow a God that doesn’t require quite as much from you.” These are the things that we are up against.

Nothing seems built to last anymore.

Please understand, I am not advocating against change. Change is a good and necessary part of all life. But I am advocating for a renewed commitment to the people in our lives, the churches we go to, and the God we follow.

Let’s build our relationships to last. When times get hard don’t run away. Don’t cash in for a new model. Fix what is broken. Work together to find reconciliation and honor God together.

Let’s build our churches to last. When times get hard don’t run away. Don’t cash in for a church that will meet your consumer needs better. Ask God to use you to fix what is broken. Work together to share Jesus’ love and to make His name great.

Let’s build our faith to last. When times get hard don’t run away. Don’t settle for a cheaper version of grace. Ask God to fix what is broken in you. Trust in Him and do not lean on your own understanding.

There is only one cornerstone, only one solid rock. The only things that we can build to last are the things built upon Jesus.

Matthew 7:24-27

Pass The Ball

A few days ago, the sports world was rocked with the awful news that 9 people had died in a helicopter crash. The victims were girls’ basketball coaches, mothers, fathers, a pilot, and teenage girls. Among them was soon-to-be Basketball Hall of Famer- Kobe Bryant.

As I reflected on these tragic events, I was reminded of something I wrote back in 2018 that I have found eerily relevant for today. Feel free to check it out here: Life and Basketball.

Kobe played in the NBA for 20 years and through those 2 decades, I can remember cheering both for and against him. His incredible skill matched with his relentless work ethic helped form him into one of the best to ever play.

But Kobe was not perfect. Off the court, he had legal issues that put a strain on his family. While, on the court, he often would feud with teammates and, especially in the first half of his career, was known for being incredibly arrogant. However, despite those imperfections, Kobe worked hard to mature as a person and a basketball player. He worked to repair the damage done to his family and now is remembered as a loving husband and father who championed the efforts of female athletes. In the basketball world, he became a mentor to many young players and worked to repair broken relationships with old teammates. He went from a “punk kid” straight out of high school who made many mistakes, to an elder statesman of basketball and a good role model to many.

His journey to maturity is inspiring and should be seen as a wonderful example.

While reflecting on the recent tragic events I found myself, like many, watching videos of Kobe highlights. I found myself watching portions of his final NBA game where he scored an incredible 60 points. It was the most “Kobe” game I could think of. He took 50 shots, rarely passed the ball, (in fairness because others simply wanted to see him score) and was the hero in crunch time sinking 2 free throws to put the game out of reach and secure the win.

But the thing that struck me the most from his whole performance wasn’t the shooting or the slick moves. It was his final stat recorded as an NBA player.

An assist.

Kobe Bryant’s final act as an NBA player was to pass the ball.

Wow. Incredible. First, that’s incredible because he was not necessarily known for sharing the ball. Secondly, and more importantly, it was symbolic.

In the final seconds of the game Number 24 collected a rebound and then made a beautiful near-full court pass to a young player second-year player who then threw down a flashy dunk.

Kobe had passed the torch.

In life, torch-passing is an essential need. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to teach, mentor, and pour into those that are younger than us.

As followers of Jesus Christ, it is imperative that we are teaching, training, listening to, supporting, and championing younger generations.

There are numerous examples of this found in the Bible. Moses trained Joshua. Elijah taught Elisha. Paul mentored and supported Timothy. In each of these cases are excellent examples of experienced followers of God pouring into younger believers for the good of God’s people.

The Bible also commands parents to raise their kids to know and love God and His Word. (Proverbs 22:6) As well as to share with children all of the wonderful things that God has done. (Joshua 4:6-7)

The church of Jesus Christ needs to invest in younger people. You need to invest in younger people. I need to invest in younger people.

I have talked about the issues of being “Too Young For Church” as well as “Too Old For Church” in the past. Feel free to give those a read.

But the point is, if we are going to reach more people with the Good life-giving news of Jesus, both now and in the future, then we need to be including people younger than ourselves.

It’s all for the glory of our God and the good of our team.

If Kobe could pass the ball, so can you.

Rooted

Over the last few years, our church has had year specific themes that we, as a congregation focus on throughout the year. These themes have served to focus/refocus us, unify us, and motivate us to move forward in our personal and corporate relationships with God.

We are surrounded by a culture that is constantly shifting. Right is called wrong, the truth is despised, and people are pressured into comprising their values. This is the cultural reality that we find ourselves ministering in the midst of. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we, the Church of Jesus Christ, stand firmly grounded in the truth of God’s Word.

We must remain Rooted.

  • Rooted in the Word.
  • Rooted in faith.
  • Rooted in love.
  • Rooted in hope.
  • Rooted in the Gospel.

My church’s theme this year is one that can be developed throughout the entire year in a wide variety of ways. In fact, in many ways, the theme of Rooted is simply a cumulation of what we, as a church, have been working towards over the last few years.

We desire to Know God—Read and Pray (2016)

We desire to Grow in our relationships with Him – Walk Worthy (2017)

We desire to Go and spread the good news – Beyond the Walls (2018)

We desire to Remain knowing, growing, and going – Rooted

The idea of remaining Rooted can easily and consistently be applied to both the individual as well as the church as a whole throughout the year.

We as individuals are challenged and encouraged to stay Rooted in holding onto our faith and digging into the Word. The church, as a whole, is challenged and encouraged to remain Rooted as the Bride of Christ even as the culture around us quickly shifts.

We can, thankfully, produce a message of stability and consistency no matter what sort of uncertainty lies ahead, we can show that our foundations are unshakable.

Today, next week, and for the rest of the year, my prayer for you is that you remain firmly rooted.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”      -Colossians 2:6-7