Month: August 2017

Hurricane Harvey and Helping Those Affected

I am sure you are, like me, horrified at what Hurricane Harvey has done to Houston. Without sounding trite, it seems to be a flood of biblical proportions for that section of the country. I have been moved deeply as I see the pictures of suffering.

A number of people have asked if we are going to do anything to help those who have been affected by the hurricane.

The short answer is YES.

We are going to look to do something “smaller” right away. And we will take some time to consider a more strategic investment of our resources and help.

In the next week, we are taking action to lend immediate aid to those in Texas. In addition, we are taking time to pursue a more strategic investment for bigger impact to all those affected.

The United States government and the Christian church have learned a lot about responding to disasters and providing both relief and long-term help. Living Word was very involved in Hurricane Katrina relief and we will be involved again.

When disaster strikes, everyone has high levels of concern and initial interest. A lot of energy is generated. Then, like many other things, it fades …

Read More

Making Room for More People This Fall

 

We have had a great summer. Even though construction is going on, even though our building is changing week by week, even though you have had to make adjustments, and even though there is inconvenience as we make our way around, it has been a great summer. We have experienced God all summer long!

Now summer is over. Our fall message series, SEARCH: What Are You Looking For? begins on September 10. When it does, we will experience another wave of God’s presence, work, and Word.

But, we need your help. 

We have had many very FULL Sunday services, especially our 9:30 am service. It is the preferred time slot for many regular attendees. It is also the preferred time slot for many visitors. This is our fullest service, even during the summer (and this summer it has been very full).

When guests come to church and it seems too crowded and it is difficult to find a seat, that is not a good experience! It is one thing for our regular attendees to come to a full service, because we are already connected and committed. We will hang in there, be patient, and find a place to sit.…

Read More

What Jesus Might Say

Here is where I ended the post yesterday:

My friends know Jesus would also speak powerfully, prophetically, and pastorally to the issues of our day. They know Jesus would speak theologically, spiritually, ethically, and morally to the issues of life.

What kind of things might Jesus say?

This post, like the two previous ones, is longer than a typical post, in order to do justice to the topic.

ONE:
Jesus might quote from Micah 6:8 and say: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I can hear Jesus saying that, and I think we need to hear Jesus say that.

TWO:
Jesus might say:You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-44).

One of our truly great in character, mighty in vision, full of love and generosity presidents (Abraham Lincoln) said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” …

Read More

Political But Not Partisan

I could also say: Principles but not policies. And that is part of our problem!

The Bible is loaded with beliefs, values, ethics, morality, and spirituality.
The Bible is loaded with indicatives (statements) about who God is and what God wants.
The Bible is loaded with imperatives (commands or instructions) from God that tell us what to do.

But the Bible is much less concerned with directives. Directives are the specific guidance on how to obey the command or how to put into practice the instructions God has given.

For example, the Bible says, “Be holy” (1 Peter 1:22-23). That is a command-imperative. The instruction underlying the command is the statement “for God is holy.” While there are areas of life where we must be holy (like our sexuality), there is little or no guidance for how to be holy.

When it comes to politics, the Bible is loaded with beliefs, values, ethics, and so on, but it has VERY few concrete, specific instructions on how to be political.* There is next to nothing on how to act politically in a democracy. The idea of democracy barely existed at the time the New Testament was written. Some of the Greeks …

Read More

Christians and Living in Our Messy World

So how should we think about Charlottesville … and Barcelona …. and North Korea … and Washington D.C … and … and … and …

It’s messy!
It’s confusing!
It’s full of conflict, pain, division, and anger!

And we live in that world. We are affected by what happens in the world. Sometimes we (Christians) are the ones who make it messy, confusing, and full of conflict, pain, division and anger!

But we are not OF that world. We march to the tune of a different realm. We live by the realities of another land.

We are citizens of our earthly nations and yet, our greater citizenship is in heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 1:4-12). We are given a mandate to be people of peace and of reconciliation. We are told (by Jesus) to love our enemies and forgive them if needed. We are ambassadors of the good news of the Kingdom of God and the rule of King Jesus over all nations.

Jesus maps out the difficulty of being in the world and not of the world, of having passports of two realms. He knows it is hard, so he prays for his disciples. Take a few minutes and …

Read More

The Three Relationships You Need to Grow (Grow: Part Five)

[Our Apologies, this was meant to be posted on Friday the 18th to finish the Grow series. Here it is today, a few days late. -Pastor Brian]

I hope this week has been useful for you to think about your own learning journey. Every passing year, I am more convinced that we will FLOURISH when and as we grow, learn, and become all we are meant to become.

The theme of stewardship is one final motivation for learning.

Think of one of the greatest gifts God has entrusted into your care. It is your SELF. You. Your life. Your existence. And like everything else that God entrusts to his stewards, you are to take care of it (nurture and protect) AND you are to GROW it (make it better).

Remember the parable of the talents? Growth is what the owner intended his stewards to accomplish with what had been entrusted to them. Growth is what God intends for you to bring about in your own life.

Now, on to the three people you need for maximum learning.

FIRST: You need a MENTOR.
A mentor is a teacher, guide, coach, trainer, tutor, spiritual director–really, anyone who can help you grow in …

Read More

Softball Shoutout

LIFE TOGETHER is core for us at Living Word.

Whether it is reading the Bible or smashing a softball out of the park for a home run, we love being with our friends, enjoying life with one another.

Many of you probably don’t know about our men’s softball team (check it out here, they are always looking for new team members).

They had another great year, finishing the regular season with a record of 19 and 4. They were first place in the “B” division. In the playoffs (about a week ago) they went 4 and 1 and won the championship. Overall, a great record of 23 and 5. (If only the Orioles were doing so well!)

This season they scored 478 runs and gave up 187 runs. (If only the Orioles were doing so well! Oh wait, I already said that.)

Men, great season. I’m so glad you had fun, played well, and your efforts led you to the championship. Chuck, great job as manager. Thanks for all you did in leading this team.

Ned Keene is our small group leader at Living Word. Ned also oversees various special interest communities (like our sports teams). Ned is …

Read More

Get the Resources You Need (GROW: Part Four)

So, now you have the motivation, the direction, and the plan. Next, you need to have all the resources that make for a maximum time of learning.

The right resources will make your journey of growth much better. But lacking the resources you need will make it that much harder. And while I did not say this yesterday, part of a good learning plan involves identifying and finding the right resources.

We live in a time when incredible resources are so available. As I explain resources, remember that they will vary greatly depending on what your area of growth is.

The bottom line question you need to ask is this: What do I need to make progress in my area of interest? Here are some variations of that question.

What kind of SPACE do I need and where can I have access to that space?
Do you need a gym or a library or a kitchen or a quiet corner in your house or a workbench or…? If you need a library, may I recommend the one to the right of this paragraph!

When is the best TIME for me to learn? 
When will you be least interrupted and distracted? …

Read More

Make a Learning Plan (Grow: Part Three)

Even though there are different personality types …
Even though different personality types have definite differences when it comes to planning …
Even though there is not a one-size-fits-all right-way-for-everyone approach to take …

STILL . . . a plan for learning almost always beats NO PLAN.

You favorite football team on game day  has a game plan.

The construction company that is doing the expansion and renovation at Living Word has a building plan.

Amazon has a marketing plan: sell everything, make it accessible, and get it to the customer fast.

If you decide to get a nursing degree at a local college there is a degree plan already designed with all the courses you need to take.

Our federal government getting out of debt: OKAY, NO PLAN! And therefore, we won’t get out from under our national debt.

I hope you get the idea. Plans make all the difference between success and failure. You can always adjust, adapt, loosen up, tighten up, and generally change your plan to match reality. Plans don’t have to be in stone, but generally it does help if they are on paper.

I’ll give you a personal example. First, my …

Read More

Out of Everything, Choose Something (Grow: Part Two)

I’m sure you’ve been told that you can be anything you want to be.

That is true and, at the same time, not really true. It is misleading.

It is true in this sense. You can choose just about anything you want to choose to be. There are very few doors that are utterly and always closed. Most doors are open. Some are closed, but open with some knocking. A few doors need to be kicked open. And there are probably a few that are bolted shut on the inside. But, most options are available for you to choose.

Keep in mind that you are really simply choosing what you would like to be. Whether you will actually become what you want to be, that is where the simple answer is misleading. Many things you would like to be will only be possible with massive study, substantial money, amazing support, and sustained hard, GRITTY work on your part. You may find that you don’t have what you need to be anything you would like to be.

With that said, the field is WIDE OPEN. There is so much you can do, so much you can learn, so many options to …

Read More