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Showing posts from October, 2010

Have safe places, but don't play it safe... post 2

In my last post, I pointed out that there are two sides to safety in the Christian life: have safe places, but don't play it safe. The last post dealt with not playing it safe. God didn't call us to play it safe. He called us to be changed and to change the world. 
What about having safe places? My friend Tim Morey (former workmate, pastor of Life Covenant Church in Torrance, and author of Embodying Our Faith) said this to his congregation: We want to be... "the kind of community where God's grace is on display, where a person can be real about their junk and not feel ostracized, where you can be imperfect and not try to hide it." I couldn't agree more! I want that for Sanctuary Church too.
Tim goes on to say, "Not that we don't fail one another on occasion -- as long as the church is full of people there will be mishandled feelings, dropped balls, inconsiderate words, bumps and bruises -- but I'm blessed by how often I hear the church referred to …

Have safe places, but don't play it safe

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When it comes to the word "safe," there are two sides of the story for Christians. I was reminded of this while I was preparing to preach at Sanctuary on Sunday morning. I was working on the idea of not playing it safe, but my friend Tim Morey emailed his congregation, urging people to find safe places. So on one hand, safety is something to be avoided, and on another hand, it is something we need.

This weekend at Sanctuary, I urged people not to play it safe with our lives. Gary Haugen has a nice discussion of this in the final chapter of his book Just Courage (a book some of us at Sanctuary have been reading). We innately want to prevent painful situations, and as Haugen puts it, many Christians are playing defense right now instead of offense. He says it compellingly:

"Many Christians are so busy defending their own end zone that they have forgotten the joy of scoring touchdowns. We fret over what might happen to our stuff, our reputation, our standing, our children, …

What does great teaching produce?

Great teaching produces great people. That's how I would sum up Paul's instructions in his letter to Titus. Ironically, as I have read Titus recently in my devotions, I stopped and noticed that I was somewhat surprised at what Paul was saying.

Chapter two of Titus starts with these often-quoted words: "teach what is in accord with sound doctrine" (2:1). What would we expect to find next? Doctrine. Theology. Soaring thoughts, and lots of them. But that is not where Paul goes. Instead, he describes personal character traits various sorts of people should develop. Older men should be "worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, love, and endurance." Paul has similar descriptions for older women, younger women, younger men, and slaves.

My point is this: "Teaching what is in accord with sound doctrine" is not ultimately a matter of intellectual activity. Rather, it is ultimately a matter of who people become. That's vital to remember if…

Jack Hayford's vision for church: Build Big People

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I admire Jack Hayford about as much as anyone on the planet. He is devoted to God. He has led a life of integrity. He is a pastor and leader of undisputed greatness. I have long known these things about him. What I didn't know was what Pastor Jack's approach was to church, and this has made me appreciate him all the more.

Jack took over pastoral leadership of Church on the Way in 1969. From Church on the Way's website, this is the record of his original vision for that church (which, when he got there, numbered some 25 people): "Pastor Jack spoke about the vision to build big people, not necessarily a big church: 'I see us as becoming a truly ministry-minded church. The Lord Jesus is our center. The Word of God is our base. The Holy Spirit, filling us to extend the servant-life of Jesus outward -- that's our objective... This will not be a pastor-centered ministry, but a people-centered ministry.'"

As I wrestle with the essence of what church is, I am…

The Jesus-focused church... duh!

I am currently reading Alan Hirsch's book The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church. I figured that if I was preaching a series on the book of Acts and persistently asking the question "what is the church," then it might be good to hear from someone who thinks today's church would do well to return to a more apostolic (more 1st-century-church) way of doing things.

So in chapter 3, Hirsch starts laying out the elements of how he thinks we should do church. He starts with this chapter called "The Heart of It All: Jesus is Lord." Now I have to admit that I didn't underline very much in this chapter (which  is unusual, because I underline and mark up books like crazy). Hirsch's position is that the church's first loyalty has to be to Jesus. Okay. That's like saying that the first priority for an Olympic marathoner is knowing how to run.

Then again, maybe it's not that obvious. It seems like a lot of churches become distracted som…

Line of the day

Pastor is driving in the car with his 8-year-old son. Son says, "I want to go Israel."

Pastor, taking this as an indication that his son has reached a higher level of spiritual enlightenment than most 8-year-olds: "Oh yeah? Why is that?"

Son: "Because I found out they eat more sugar there than in any other country."