Month: October 2019

What Will Heaven Be Like?

Ahh … good question. A question that is quite a bit above my theological pay grade to answer, and above most people’s pay grades to answer.

That doesn’t mean people haven’t tried. From time to time you hear about someone who died and went to heaven and had a tour of heaven and then they were sent back and now they are giving a report of what they saw. I’ve read a few of those reports over the years.

I am sorry, but they are pretty lame, unimaginative, and usually have an agenda of the author.

But, I can make a recommendation for a writer of amazing theological depth and creative artistry. Of course, it is C.S. Lewis.

The seven-volume Narnia series ends with The Last Battle. This book tells how Narnia comes to an end and what happens to all the creatures of Narnia. It is the final battle of good and evil. The last third of the book is the description of the world’s end and the new world beginning, and the creatures of Narnia entering into the outskirts of heaven and going “further up, further in.” It is so beautiful, it brings tears to my eyes …

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No Ordinary People

There are no ordinary people. You are not ordinary. You have never met, nor will you ever meet, an ordinary person.

We have said this over and over at Living Word.

We didn’t think it up, C.S. Lewis did. It is just one of dozens of brilliant and beautiful thoughts from Lewis that we pass on to you. The full essay that contains these words is called “The Weight of Glory.” It is included in a book of essays entitled The Weight of Glory. Here is a digital copy of the book. The essay is weighty thinking, but if you go to the final two paragraphs, you find the context of Lewis’ words no ordinary people.

What is most interesting, and what you will see in the context, is that Lewis gave us this comment, not for you to be elevated about yourself, but for you to have an elevated understanding of the “status and nature and dignity” of your neighbor. It is your neighbor who is not an ordinary person.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to

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Faux Co

This past Saturday, our Fusion High School ministry hosted their second annual Faux Co.

Last year a group of students asked if Fusion could host an event that would be an alternative to high school’s homecoming. This was an opportunity for us to create a platform for student leadership. A team of high schoolers came together to plan the event with our leadership team and “Faux Co” was born. Faux Co basically means Fake Homecoming. Our students came up with a theme, decorated, and even had prizes throughout the night. For our students who are committed to following Jesus, HOW they celebrate/party is just as important as WHAT they celebrate. We thank God for our students and their desire to glorify God in all areas of their lives . . . even with high school dances.
After the event, Donavan Bratton and Jess Rufle received the following email:
Hi, Jess and Donavan!
We just wanted to let you know how grateful we are to Fusion for hosting the Faux Co tonight. Our daughters are freshmen at [a local high school]. They were so excited for their first school dance this year. They went all out with their dresses, shoes, jewelry,

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Serving in the Bahamas

Two Living Word attendees, Jay Englar and Bob Sears, had the pleasure to recently serve those in need in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian. Both Jay and Bob are chaplains with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). During their 8-day trip, they were part of a group of six chaplains from BGEA who were there to serve those in need and conduct training for local churches on how best to respond in times of crisis.

“Basically, our goal when we go is emotional and spiritual care,” Bob said. “We go in and introduce ourselves, talk with the residents that are there in the shelter, and we ask them their story and let them tell us what they experienced and how they’re holding up.”

“We try to be an encouragement to them,” added Jay.

There are several shelters operating in the Nassau area. Jay and Bob were able to visit three. They were also invited into a school to speak and pray with the kids there. “Most of the people that we talked to had faith in God, that God saved them, and that he had a purpose for their life,” Bob shared. Most of those in the shelters expressed gratitude …

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A New Kind of Evangelical

Early in my Christian journey, and early in my preparation for working in the church and mission, I read two books that helped me understand what kind of evangelical I would be.

The first was The Young Evangelicals by Richard Quebedeaux. Then some years later came The Younger Evangelicals by Robert Webber. I connected and resonated with the kind of evangelical described in these books.

Here are a few characteristics of these young, younger, youthful, new, emerging evangelicals (no matter their actual age!).

Again, this post is longer, with more substantive content. From time to time, we need to wrestle with some more content than a few tweets and bytes.

First, they were just as interested in transformation as they were in information. The transformation of one’s life was just as vital as correct belief. Most of these new evangelicals believed that correct belief, even on the most important matters, without a corresponding change in life, was not worth much. They pointed out even demons can hold correct ideas. They also pointed out the problems of “dry or dead orthodoxy.” Living Word has always been about what you believe AND how you live.

Another way to say this is that …

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If the Evangelical Shoe Fits…

If the shoe fits, wear it. If the shoe does not fit, get another shoe.

Some labels fit well; others I wear with more difficulty.

When someone asks me, “What kind of church do you go to?” I hesitate for at least a minute. What label should I use? Will they understand the label I use? It is a matter of shared meaning. I know what I mean when I use specific words, but will they understand the words? And if the person I am talking to is (and most of them are) more unchurched than ever, I just assume there will be misunderstanding.

This is a longer reflection. I hope it is useful for you to understand what Living Word Community Church is, what our leadership team is, and what we are seeking to become in York.

First, the word CHRISTIAN.

Here is a bare-bones dictionary definition:
Christian (noun); A person who is a believer in Christianity, or a person who has received Christian baptism.

The problem enters in when you hear the high percentage of people who still self-identify as Christians. A 2015 poll had 75% still using that label for their religious faith. 75% !!!

Do you …

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Group Identities and Labels

Labels.

A label is a designation or description that specifies and clarifies a group to which one belongs. We can’t do without labels, but we must be exceedingly careful in how we use labels.

Before I go any further, I’ll tell you where I am headed with this idea. While we have been focusing mainly on your personal, individual identity, groups of people have an identity as well. Groups self-identify with particular labels.

I am gong to talk tomorrow about a particular label that is under a lot of stress these days, and that is the label/word EVANGELICAL. Almost my entire Christian life, I have self-identified as belonging to the group called “evangelicals.” In 2019, I find that term (1) is frequently misunderstood, (2) has been co-opted by the media and infused with some ideas I (and many church historians) don’t think it should have, and (3) is in need of re-clarification. There are a number of very thoughtful Christians who now believe the term has limited usefulness due to the major cultural confusion.

But that label is for tomorrow. Let’s set the stage with a few ideas about identities and the labels we use to refer to groups.

Groups …

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Filling Your Bucket List

There are many websites devoted to what a Christian-themed bucket list might include.

Here are a few links to explore.

I will say that from my vantage point, many of these reflect a Christian sub-culture that is pretty different from how we pursue and follow Jesus at Living Word. So, there are many suggestions I think are worth avoiding, but at the same time, there are lots of good ones.

Use these to stimulate your own thinking and praying and list-making.

The Christian Bucket List: 50 Items
By the way, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you ever do #27. I found myself wondering, what world is this person living in?

Seven Things To Do Before Heaven
This one is much shorter and written in a better way (for my spiritual tastes).

A Bucket List for Christians
This is another thoughtful list. Just the statements without explanation, since they are self-explanatory.

Here’s some more ideas for your bucket list. Some of the items on this list express the writer’s personality, others are more neutral.

I leave it up to you to determine the relative merit of the lists on the sites above and on this image.

I do think followers of Jesus …

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15 Years of Your Life!

There were several items that really generated response from people in the Sunday message. One of them was the chart below.

I pointed out that we are a culture that has as its two main mottos: Just Buy It and Just Watch It. We no longer Just Do It. We no longer seize the day with the many opportunities to live with meaning and purpose. We now seize the credit card to buy it (I shop, therefore I am) and we seize the remote control to change channels.

There are so many studies about how we spend our time. They consistently report vast amounts of our time devoted to social media usage and TV viewing. Between these two things, the typical North American adult, by the age of 72, will spend 15 years of his or her life watching TV and using social media.

We have been derailed from meaning and purpose.

Can we just stop having the conversation about work-life balance. That is really a smokescreen to the real issue. The real issue is simply life balance or life integrity. To spend 15 of your 72 years on TV and social media, that is way out of balance. If …

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Aiding Refugees in Northern Iraq

This week, Turkey began an invasion of a Kurdish-controlled region in Northern Syria. For some time, Living Word has been supporting a very good work among the Kurds in Sulaymaniyah, in Northern Iraq. For several years a ministry to women, children, and their families has been growing. We have supported two Family Centers that are places of love, service, learning, growth, and community. The good news is being shared. Kurds are open to Jesus due to the persecution they have experienced at the hands of Syrians, Iraqis, and now the Turks.

There could be as many as one million refugees seeking safety if Turkey continues its attacks. That will mean a huge influx of people in the city where we are supporting workers and the Family Centers.
We see it as a work of God’s grace that Living Word is partnering with a ministry in place to serve these refugees as they are the latest peoples to be dislocated due to violence.
The need in the world can often feel overwhelming, but God is with us when we pray for the vulnerable.
  • Be in prayer and lament for the situation in Syria.
  • Pray for those working with refugees in Northern

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