Viewing entries tagged
culture

In But Not Of

In But Not Of

I'll start this post off with the quote that sparked my thinking:

"From the beginning destiny was foreshadowed, light was separated from darkness."

What Motivates Your Response?

What Motivates Your Response?

How do you respond to disappointment? I ask this because disappointment is inevitable in life and I'm learning that how you respond makes all the difference. There was one major disappointing factor that I was not prepared for. The truth is, this should not have caught me by the surprise. But it did.

In my city. The place where I am raising my children. The place that I feel called to spend the rest of my ministry career, if it is in the Lord's will... I was hit by a menacing racial slur.

Watch Your Mouth

Watch Your Mouth

watchyourmouth.jpg

Did your mother ever tell you this, “if you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”? Even if your mother never told you this, I bet you’ve heard it from others and have probably repeated it yourself. I am self-aware enough to admit that I talk a lot. Especially when I’m passionate about something. If you know me personally you know this fact is true!

Right now this nation—this world looks like it's gone to the birds! Every time you turn on the TV there is some sort of injustice. Some aspect of debauchery. Some sentiment of hate, ill will, political rivalry that honestly contributed to making me physically sick this weekend.

Let me be real.

I was disappointed and disgusted to the point that I wanted to either speak out or disengage. Honestly, none of those options would have been helpful.

So, I turned to Facebook (yes you guessed it).

I’d had enough. People were going to hear what I had to say and I wasn’t going to hold back any punches. I was going to put in my two cents, forget that, I was about to withdraw my account and throw in all the cash!

But every time I typed a post, something caused me to delete it before I hit “post”. What was it? It was the conviction caused by a simple proverb written by the wisest man who ever lived.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)

The word that I was about to speak was not going to be served on a silver platter but on a platter of frustration, anger, and disappointment. Thank God that the Holy Spirit in God’s grace held me back from speaking in that vain.

Why do I share this?

  1. Right now there is a lot of raw emotion with what’s happening in our country. Let’s be honest. Things are messed up! If you say you can’t see it or feel like it will blow over, then honestly, you are part of the problem.
  2. We (notice I said WE), who consider ourselves Christians, cannot stand aloof and watch injustices happen without speaking up (Psalm 82:3-4). However, “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Let’s be conscious of our communication. Let’s choose solutions over slander.
  3. Jesus has won. No matter what we see or what we hear we have this promise: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I'll end with this.

You'll hear and read a lot of opinions in the news and social media. Some things you will agree with, others you will not. As you consider your response, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)

Ferguson & The Case For Intentional Community

Ferguson & The Case For Intentional Community

ferguson.jpg

Photo Credit: USA Today In the past few months, weeks and especially the past few days we’ve seen our news media, Facebook and Twitter timelines flooded with one major story, Ferguson.

No this won’t be an opinion piece about wrong or right decisions. I’m not even going to share what I think was done right or what was done wrong.

The reality is that right now, we have opposing sides who see things very differently and understandably so.

Racism and injustice has long plagued our nation. The glorification of violence and crime against others has also plagued our nation. Look through the history books. Look at TV shows and film.

So what do we do? Live in silos and keep “them” over there, while “we” stay over here? Absolutely not. That’s what has caused what we are living through and experiencing now.

I was watching a news report about Ferguson that showed two images. The first was a police officer getting his head chewed off (figuratively speaking) by two individuals in an extremely intense moment. The second image was that of these same individuals with the police officer embracing in an extremely touching moment.

What happened? What made the difference?

May I offer this suggestion?

Intentional community.

It’s something we talk about a lot at Freedom. It’s actually one of our four core values, the others being the Gospel, Discipleship and Legacy.

What do we mean when we say “we value intentional community.”

Intentional community for us is founded on coming to a simple conclusion: That which connects us, is much stronger and richer than which divides us.

From the beginning of time we learn that man was once intimately connected with his Creator. But disobedience lead to the first separation (Genesis 3:6, 8-9). Then pride and envy (Genesis 4:6-8). Then greed (Genesis 13:10). Then racism (Exodus 1:9-10). Then religion (Matthew 9:10-11). Amongst other things.

Yet one Man, was able to break through all of these boundary lines to restore unity between man and his Creator and between man and his fellow brother/sister.

Yes, that was Jesus.

He broke through the ultimate separation, time and space to enter into our messed up, degenerate world. He didn’t find it condescending to come down to our level. He didn’t find it burdensome to meet us where we are. But rather, it was His passion to come and restore this lost unity (John 3:16, Philippians 2:6-8).

What makes it even more amazing is that we were the ones who were wrong (Romans 5:6, 8). Yet He pursued restoration and gave it to us as a gift (Ephesians 2:8). That is good news. That is the Gospel.

Remember the two images I mentioned above? One picture intense with anger. The next picture intense with understanding. The reason is, both parties decided to put their differences aside and get to know each other. They decided to engage in intentional community.

David Anderson, shares this African proverb in his book Gracism: The Art of Inclusion:

When I saw him from afar, I thought he was a monster. When he got, closer I thought he was just an animal. When he got closer, I recognized that he was a human. When we were face to face, I realized that he was my brother.

Sometimes our boundaries are racial. Sometimes cultural. Sometimes political. Sometimes economical. But in order to break through each barrier, it always has to be intentional.

Jesus intentionally pursued you and me because He valued us. Now He sends us to intentionally pursue others regardless of race, culture, economics, political standing or position on the Ferguson case (Matthew 28:19-20).

How do you do this practically?

You change your table of community.

You intentionally reach out across the divide. You begin to engage intentionally with individuals who don’t look like you, live like you, or know what you know. You learn their struggles, their hopes and their dreams. You become a friend. Then you will become family.

That’s what we are doing at Freedom.

We are intentionally fostering a community where individuals are encouraged and able to engage in intentional community.

A community where we realize that what connects us is much stronger and richer than what divides us.

We are broken, undeserving, sinful people, who are being loved and pursued by a perfect, sinless, all deserving Savior. Through Jesus we find restoration not only with God but with each other so we can love across boundaries (Galatians 3:27-28) and make a unified, tangible difference in our community, region and world (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 5:14-16).

Here are some great resources by David Anderson as you begin to see how to engage in intentional community: Gracism: The Art of Inclusion & Letters Across the Divide

Learn more about changing your table of community in this great video for someone who is living this: