Month: July 2019

Summer Break

We hope that you have been enjoying the Life at Living Word blog.

We also hope that you are taking time to rest and enjoy the remainder of the summer.

The blog, too, will be taking a short rest. We’ll see you in early August, when our regular posting schedule resumes.

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C.S. Lewis and a Good Reminder

You know how much I love C.S. Lewis. I read and reread him all the time.

Here is a thought from Lewis that spoke to me once again. I put it on an image to visually communicate the power of his words.

This thought from Lewis reminds me of Hebrews 11:13-16. In that passage, the author talks about life as a journey… life as pilgrimage. We are living by faith, making our way through the world, sojourning here and there, always on the move, looking for the “better country,” as we are headed toward our true home.

Along that way, Lewis reminds us, we will have many refreshing inns to enjoy. But make no mistake, the inn is not your final home. If there are things we love about the inn, it is that they remind us of home.

So, enjoy the inns of your life. Receive them with grateful hearts. And then keep on traveling to the City God has prepared for you.

Traveling with you along the long and winding road home.
Pastor Brian

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The Great Christian Revolutions

“The great Christian revolutions came not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when someone takes radically something that was always there.”  H. Richard Niebuhr

Revolution. The thesaurus says it is dramatic change, radical alteration, sea change, metamorphosis, transformation, innovation, reorganization, restructuring.

I like the words reformation, renovation, and renewal, but, like alteration (see above), they should probably have the word radical before them. Radical reformation. Radical renovation. Radical renewal.

This is what Jesus means when he says, “I am making everything new” (Revelation 21:5).

This is what Paul means when he describes the Christian life with these words: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

One of my callings (and challenges) is to help the people of Jesus at Living Word take with utmost seriousness the things we already know to be true.

Like loving God with all our hearts.
Like forgiving our enemies.
Like taking up a cross and following Jesus.
Like rejoicing in all things.
Like going and making disciples of all nations.

Like generosity … and service … and the Lordship of Jesus … and living …

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Trend Watching: Why We Go to College

What people are thinking about the purpose of going to college

Barna Trends identified 10 Reasons for Going to College. Here are the top three reasons Christians believe college is important:

  • To prepare for a specific job or career – 70%
  • To increase financial opportunities – 56%
  • To stay competitive in today’s job market – 51%That’s not surprising. But here are the bottom three expectations about college:
  • Learn how to make a difference in the world – 22%
  • Develop moral character – 14%
  • Encourage spiritual growth – 7%

WOW! Does this surprise you or not?

Here is something else. The general population of all U.S. adults were exactly the same on the bottom three expectations about college as were Christians. On this one, Christians are identical to the general population.

Here are a few of my observations.

First: We have little sense of vocation and calling anymore. That is what it means to make a difference. We choose a vocation because we want to make a difference. That has pretty much faded. Now we are basically trying to make a living, not a life. We are mainly interested in meeting our current and future needs, and not in making …

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Trend Watching: What People Are Thinking About the Causes of School Violence

A Critical Concerns Post

Every time it happens, I feel sick to my stomach. Every time it happens, I think and pray for those people who are far removed from me geographically, but so close emotionally. More on school violence in a minute.

There are several trend watching, research taking, polling, and data collecting organizations I follow. One of the big ones is Gallup, or the Gallup Group, or the Gallup Poll.

And I also really like Barna Trends, which also concentrates strongly on researching trends in the ways Christians are leaning. What are Christians thinking about cultural issues? While it is a year old, Barna Trends 2018 is full of great insights and perspectives. Not only do the researchers indicate what people are thinking on issues, they also provide some interpretive commentary throughout the book.

When it comes to the causes of school violence (certainly a significant issue in our society today) here is how we are thinking about the topic. The most common selected causes of school violence are:

Difficult family situations – 51%
Undiagnosed and untreated mental health illness – 43%
Easy access to guns – 40%
Violence in video games – 27%
Violence on TV – …

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Your Growth Matters to Us

It is so appropriate to spend our summer talking about GROW and growing and growth, for summer is a season of growth. When conditions have been good, when the resources of sun, light, fertilizer, water, and nutrients are available, growth is evident everywhere. Everything is lush, full, and abundant. When those resources are lacking, then we experience a lack of growth… and instead of abundance, there is scarcity.

When I was the senior pastor of a church in upstate New York, one of the people in the congregation was a chief forester for a very large company. He knew more things about trees than I ever thought possible. He told me that you could tell the years of abundance and scarcity through the long decades of a tree’s life by looking at the rings of a tree. In years of abundance, a tree had great growth. When resources were lacking, growth was restricted.

So, this summer we want to get you the resources you need to GROW.

But there is one major difference between plant life and our human growth. If you simply pour onto vegetation the resources needed for growth, they do so naturally. But when it comes to …

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The Declaration of Independence

What does it mean to be a good citizen?

While there are more things than I will mention, at a minimum a good citizen will: obey the laws of the land, work for the good of the nation, honor the spirit (values) of our national identity, stay informed on important issues that matter for the well-being of the nation, and from time to time, remember the history/story of our nation.

If it has been some time since you read the Declaration of Independence, take 10 minutes and read it on this 4th of July.

Read the Declaration of Independence here.

John Adams, our second president, said:

The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts.

I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

Whatever you enjoy doing …

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The Gettysburg Address

One of the greatest speeches of our history is the Gettysburg Address. There are five primary editions, with slight revisions. The most commonly used one is copied below. What is ironic is that Lincoln was absolutely wrong on one thing he said: “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here…”

May we remember once again, consider, be grateful, and be responsible for any new challenges that are set before us.

Pastor Brian

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. …

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George Washington’s Farewell Address

I recently learned that the farewell address of George Washington is read annually on Washington’s birthday by a member of the Senate to the gathered senators. You can read more about that tradition here.

If you want to read a copy of that address, you can read it here. It will probably take you 30 minutes.

One of the main themes in his final words to our nation is UNITY—work for the unity of our nation. Washington was already aware of the deep divisions (of political ideology) and the acrimony and animosity generated in political arguments. He was deeply concerned about partisan politics.

I find it a little ironic that the Senate reads this final address every year and then seems to go about political business as usual.

When it comes to politics, as with just about everything else, our ideals are inspiring but our experience lacking. But let’s keep the ideal always before us and keep on working at civility, respect, honor, and dignity. Freedom without those things cannot last.

And I reflect often on what the church’s role is in being a place where diversity finds unity around the deeper, better, and truest narrative of all – Jesus …

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Sunday Plus

This is the first video in what will be on ongoing (and semi-regular) series of videos we are calling Sunday Plus.

There are all sorts of things I need to talk about, but Sunday morning is not always the best time to do that. So we decided to get you information, insights, updates, and notices through a Sunday Plus video.

The theme of this first one is on several ways you can invite your friends to church.

Our summer series, GROW: Deep Roots, Wide Life, is designed to give our unchurched friends a great introduction to Jesus, the Christian life, and Living Word.

Enjoy our first Sunday Plus.

Pastor Brian

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