LIFE AFTER HOME: How do we equip our kids for what is next?

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Recently I read an article that was startling. It was predicting that in the next 20 years the political and religious landscape of our nation will be radically different. Different in a hostile kind of way! Hostile in a way that would not favor a Christian worldview like you and I have experienced.

I really don’t know how accurate it was but it got me thinking. I began to think about my sons and the world they will live in when they are adults. Let’s be honest. I’m done. I have 20 to 30 years at best left in me. Any changes that take place between now to my last breathe will have limited impact on my life. But how will those changes impact my sons?

We are already experiencing an alarming exit of our 20-something’s from the church. They are walking away from the faith they were raised in at a rate we have never seen before. If they are walking away now, at a time when it is still relatively easy to claim Christ and openly have a walk of faith, what will happen when the surrounding culture is openly hostile toward them?

So I began to wonder what Bette and I needed to do to equip our sons to live in a hostile environment. I realized that with our oldest at age 12 we already have a limited window of time to influence him and help form a biblical worldview that will assist him to interact with the culture around him and be salt and light, not run from it or become like it!

One tool that has come across my desk is an event at a sister church in our area, Grace Point Church here in Newtown. “Life After Home: A conversation about releasing children to their life purpose” is scheduled for May 31 from 6pm to 7:30pm. Pastor Steve Johnson will be hosting Dr. Tim Clydesdale in an interview format that discusses preparing our children for that day when they will leave home and be on their own.

For more information, check out their website at http://www.gracepointpa.org/NewsandEvents/LifeAfterHome/tabid/151/Default.aspx.

Hope to see you there!

Will we die before we change?

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    “This needs to be a conversation about who we are, and if the average Christian in our churches would be willing to do anything, personally, in the cause of evangelism?

    We have become a denomination whose leaders talk about evangelism, but whose people actually want little to nothing to do with it.

    Our decline is because of who we want to be and how we want things to operate. We want the culture to adjust to us. We want our families to be saved. We don’t want to cross any barriers and we don’t want to have do something we decided the pastor is paid to do.

    Get ready for many, many years of this. I think most churches will die before they will change this pattern.”

These comments are from a blog that I read from time to time. (Check out internetmonk.com if you want to read the complete post.) He writes in the context of the Southern Baptist Denomination. But I think it is entirely appropriate to insert “Crossing Community Church” or the name of any other church where the quote says “We have become a denomination . . .”

Are we a church that is willing to move from the concerns of our overly burdened life and begin to think about the type of changes in our personal life as well as our church life to see us do something about the needs of the world around us?

Our decline is because of who we want to be and how we want things to operate. We want the culture to adjust to us. We want our families to be saved. We don’t want to cross any barriers and we don’t want to have do something we decided the pastor is paid to do.

Who do we want to be? A church of 100’s with a name for all our outstanding programs and professional paid staff? Do we really think that we will influence culture in such a way that our government will pass laws that favor us and our belief system? Is the salvation of our families the goal of all this?

WHAT BARRIERS WILL WE CROSS TO SEE OUR LIVES COUNT FOR JESUS?

Will the average church person engage in a discussion that addresses “who we are” as a church? If not, why not?

How much were you forgiven?

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I am still pondering the parable from Matt 18 about the slave that was forgiven much but demanded repayment from a fellow slave that owed so little. We ended our time in the Word last week considering how much God has forgiven us for.

So how do we answer that question? How much did God forgive us? What is the extent of that forgiveness? How bad a sinner was I? How big was my debt? How could I really be that bad? (whether we actually say that out loud or not, I think that is exactly what most of us really think.)

We will always come to the wrong conclusion when we try to answer that question from the perspective us looking up at God from our vantage point. Instead the only way to come to the right conclusion is to attempt to answer that question by looking over God’s shoulder down on us — from His perspective.

Do you have that perspective? If so, how did you get it? What is your understanding of your sin and the great debt that has been paid on your behalf?

Finally, if you understand the magnificence of your forgiveness, how has that impacted your relationships with others?

How to really foul up the closing challenge to your Sunday morning message!

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On Sunday as I closed out our time together in the Word, I should have held up the slip of paper and said, “Based on all that God has forgiven you for, what could you possibly not forgive someone else for?” In other words, how can we hold a grudge or withhold forgiveness from someone else when we have been forgiven for so much?

We’re going to explore this theme more this week next Sunday. I’ll try to get it right!

Did I confuse you?

How does the Church exist for itself?

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What is the purpose of life?

Why am I here?

How do I make a difference?

People (most of us) want to make a difference in this life. We want to leave things better than they found them. We want purpose and value in our life.

All good aspirations.

Don’t you think that often, as we ask ourselves these questions, if we take them seriously, they motivate us and produce productive energy in our life resulting in worthwhile results?

But do we ask these same questions about other aspects of our life? (Actually, a more compelling question is why do we do anything that won’t push us toward our goal of making a difference in life. But that is for another post/discussion!) To get right to the point, the area that I am confused by is why don’t people ask these type of questions about their church? (Maybe you do!)

Do people ask . . .

What is the purpose of my church?

Why is my church here?

How can my church make a difference?

I read a quote by John Stott that says, If “our structure has become an end in itself, not a means of saving the world, it is a heretical structure.”

I fear that for many the church has lost the mission of “saving the world” and in fact does exist for itself. What are some of the examples that you might have observed that could lead one to conclude that the church does exist for itself? Have we in fact lost our mission to “save the world?”

Do you have to forget to forgive?

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I have heard many people say to really forgive means that one has to forget the offense. When Paul writes in 1 Cor. 13 that love does not keep an account of wrongs, is he saying that one has to forget an offense to be truly loving the offender.

Is that what you think it means?

Does God forget our sins? Is that possible for the omniscient God to do? Can He who knows all, forget something? Is it more probably that He does not remember our sins against us?

Gary Inrig in his book, “The Parables: Understanding What Jesus Meant” suggests the following:

Something that can be forgotten is trivial; things that truly need forgiveness are not. And forgiveness is not ignoring, avoiding, or being indifferent to a person who has harmed us, a state of controlled politeness.

So — do we have to forget to forgive?

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