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The Humble Towel of Service

towel-picThe glorious towel.  It is so handy.  Ready to mop up messes.  It wipes away the dirt & helps make things clean again.  It is not always pretty after using it but it does get the job done. And we all have that one dingy towel.  It came in handy whenever we needed it.

Serving is not always glamorous. At times we are asked to do messy things without any fanfare. To meet someone where he is at and serve him in love with our actions. A thank-you may not be verbal but it is felt.

Jesus Christ is the perfect example of true servanthood.  He cared for all people regardless of social standing, economics, or cultural differences.  He showed His love for people with His actions.

One such example is His last night with the disciples, His closest circle of friends.

The thirteen men sat down together to celebrate the Passover meal one last time.  This meal is a highlight in the Jewish year.  It commemorated the night their ancestors left their enslavement by the Egyptians and began the long journey to the Promised Land.

Before eating any meal it was customary for one of the servants, usually the lowest, would wash everyone’s feet.  Smelly, dirty feet.  Feet that probably walked many miles that day in dirt and grime and whatever else was on the paths.  This was a job no one wanted to do.

As Jesus saw the task was not getting done He got up, grabbed a towel & basin and washed everyone’s feet.  Keep in mind this is immediately before He is to be arrested and killed.   He understood the gravity of the night and willingly served all at the table.  Instead of expecting the disciples to serve Him He set the example and humbly served each one of them.

Jesus humbly served with His whole life.  He is the Son of God and yet He came to earth as a baby, lived a full human life and then died a painful death because He loves all people. He cleaned up our mess of sin. He bore our stains.

Humility is required to serve one another.  One cannot be proud while serving another.  The focus switches from the one being served to the servant. To boast about how great one was in serving is a false humility. It is a veiled sense of pride.

Humility can never be fully attained.  One can only continue to pursue it. Serving others is a discipline that helps teach all of us about love in action and humility.

The life of a disciple of Jesus Christ is an active learning practice that moves faith from one of head knowledge, knowing about Jesus, to one of heart knowledge, knowing Jesus personally.

A disciple of Jesus Christ strives to live and serve as Jesus lived and served all people.  Each day is an object lesson taught to us by Jesus Himself.  We learn from His example and then practice it in our own lives.

This Week’s Challenge

Reach out to a friend/co-worker/neighbor this week.  Write a note. Bake some cookies. Buy them coffee. Go for a walk. Show them you care through your action

Being a Part of the Team – Team Jesus

Have you ever been to a tailgate party for your favorite sports team? They can be great fun. Hanging out with fellow fans decked out in the proper attire with the appropriate face painting. People from different walks of life coming together to support and cheer on their team to victory. There is a sense of community amongst everyone.

Community is something we all seek in our lives.  Whether it is with fellow fans of our favorite sports team.  Or friends from work, our neighborhood, hobbies.  Or even our favorite watering hole.

We want to belong somewhere, to someone. To know someone sees us, cares about us. It is innate with each of us. We search it out and are thankful when we do find it.

We were created for community. Look in Genesis 2 in the very beginning we see God in perfect community with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  God says it is not right for man to be alone and therefore created Eve to be in community with Adam. From the beginning humanity has been designed to be connected with each other and with God.

No wonder we search it out so naturally.

Read I Peter 2:4-5:

“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

See how we have been chosen by God. Set apart and now have the identity of being a person of God. We have a community we belong to and can rely on. Our new rallying point is now Jesus Christ. When we receive the sacrament of Baptism we no longer float alone through life. We are claimed by God to be one of His own and now have a new identity.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ we need to seek out community with fellow disciples. It is not possible to be a “Lone Ranger” Christian. Through sharing life and faith with one another we support and encourage each other. Being a part of a community of believers we are able to withstand the attacks of the enemy.

We are bonded together around our common rallying point, Jesus Christ. As a united community we are able to live questionable lives, lives that are different and causes others to ask us the reason for our hope, our joy, our peace.

Who is a part of your community? Who are your encouragers?

May you all be resolved to remain together, centered on Jesus Christ, serving with all your heart where you are.

This Week’s Challenge: 

Share with your community of fellow disciples an area of your faith journey you would like to grow in.  Ask for their prayers & encouragement.

But Wait There’s More! – Sharing Your Faith Story is NOT an Informercial

It is scary to share your faith story with someone.  What if they laugh? What if they yell at me?  Ask questions I don’t know the answers to? I can’t share my faith story with someone.  I’m not good enough.

Sometimes telling another person about Jesus Christ can feel like a sales pitch.  We need to be a good salesman, like on those Informercials enticing us with a product we never heard of but somehow need to have in our lives right now.  The pitch highlights the product’s features and uses those infamous phrases like,

“But wait there’s more!”

“If you call in the next 5 minutes…”

Oh those lines.  They can be oh so powerful.

Who hasn’t fallen for them at one time or another? Flowbie, anyone?

Have no fear fellow disciples.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is quite powerful all on its own.  It does not rest on our sales ability to impact lives. We simply need to share what we have personally experienced. Through our willingness to tell another person our own faith story the Holy Spirit then reaches out to the individual with God’s unconditional love and grace.

The Samaritan woman at the Well from the 9th chapter of the Gospel of John is an example we all can learn from in the art of sharing one’s faith story.

She encountered Jesus at the well and could not wait to tell everyone about her experience with Him. She immediately went and told everyone about Him.  She did not perfect her ‘sales pitch’ first.  She didn’t wait until she had more knowledge about Him.  She left immediately left, ran back into town and said what she witnessed.

Because of her sharing the entire town went out to meet Him and came to believe in Him.  A whole town was saved by the Gospel simply by one woman telling her story with Jesus.

No gimmicks.  No schtick.  Just her story pointing back to Jesus Christ so He can transform lives.

Storytelling is powerful.  It connects the listeners with the storyteller. The storyteller is sharing a part of her own life, connecting with others in an authentic way.  A resolved faith is one where a person commits to sharing her story of faith.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ stands alone and does not need our ‘tricks’ to be effective. The Gospel is the one that transforms lives, not us. The Apostle Paul demonstrates to us how to share the Gospel without any tricks.  He tells the believers in Corinth:

“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

As a disciple of Jesus Christ we are called to tell our story.  To share our experience with Jesus Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to transform the person’s life.

Through our words and actions, living the missional life of a disciple is the witness we can give of the Gospel.  Being present with others and having the willingness to share our story is our responsibility.  Transformation is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility.

This Week’s Challenge:

  1. Write/doodle your faith story.  How/when have you experienced Jesus Christ in your life? Why do you love Jesus?
  2. Share your story with a friend this week.  Don’t worry about having it perfect.  Simply be you, be authentic.  Watch the Holy Spirit work through you.

Simon Says, “Go and Serve.”

Ever play the game “Simon Says” when you were a kid?  One person is ‘Simon’ who shouts out directions to everyone else who is playing.  To keep others on their toes the ‘Simon’ would give a direction without the requisite statement “Simon says”.  Anyone not paying full attention and completes the action is considered out.  Only when the phrase “Simon says” is stated is a person safe.  Listening attentively and paying close attention to the leader are the skills required to be successful at the game. These are the same skills the Israelites needed when traveling through the wilderness after being set free by God from the Egyptians.

Moses led the Israelites through the Wilderness but God was the leader.  God knew how to reach the Promised Land and was present with the Israelites each step of the way. He was present with them in the Cloud by day and a Pillar of Fire at night.  When the Cloud moved they packed up and moved with Him. This required that the Israelites be watching Him at all times, listening for His Voice and ready to move at a moment’s notice.  They would make camp and stay either for days or for months.  Then one day the Cloud would move. The Israelites would pack up their belongings to travel following in step with the Cloud.

Following a leader requires one to surrender control and submit to another’s leadership.  Our American culture prides itself on individual effort and the ability to determine one’s own future.  The thought of someone else telling us what to do is foreign to our thinking. Surrendering control to God is a daily discipline we must practice every day.  We as His disciples, His students, submit to His authority and follow wherever He leads us.  We practice listening to His Voice. We do our best to be ready to move when He moves.  At times God will lead us to new opportunities we may not have ever thought of on our own.

The Israelites were not always the perfect followers.  They would grumble to Moses about the ‘good times’ back when they were in Egypt.  They were not always trusting of God’s leading and wondered what He was doing from time to time.  We will struggle in our own following.  We will question what God is doing, where He is leading us. But He will not leave us alone.  He remains with us at all times.

By God’s grace Israel finally did enter the Promised Land.  By God’s grace we are forgiven for our missteps, the times we act without the requisite “Simon says”.  He continues to lead us to the Promised Land.

The missional life is one of great joy, adventure and submission.  Listen and learning at the feet of Jesus Christ are required skills to be able to know where and how God is calling us to serve and share Him with all people. These missional habits will assist each of us to follow the Cloud and be ready to move when He moves.

What would it look like when we wake up each morning asking God, “What have You for me to do today?”.  Imagine the adventures God will lead you on.  Hey, you never know where it may lead you or the people you will encounter along the way.

As you have been resolved by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ may you be resolved to serve and share Him in all you do and say.

This Week’s Challenge:  Each day ask God, “What have You for me to do today?” Look for where God is leading you to serve Him that day.

The Nagging Question That Started It All

friends-toasting

One could say it all began with a pint of beer (probably an IPA) and a question.  “How will they hear?” Take a deep love for craft beer and hanging out with people and you get unique friendships and experiences one may not typically encounter through life. At one of these locations I had developed friendships with people I would not meet in any other aspects of my life. Through the sharing of pints we bonded as friends and shared conversations about all aspects of life.  Over time the topics of conversations drifted towards questions of faith with my friends being the ones to ask them.

So the question gnawed at me. “How will they hear?”

Whether sitting in my office at church. Or in worship on Sunday afternoon. Or attending a program event.  I could not stop asking the question.  I needed to know the answer.

My friends are good people.  They would be right there helping a friend in need.  However, walking through the front doors of a church would not be something they were likely to do. It would not be a place where they would feel comfortable or think they would fit in at.

So, again the question, “How will they hear?” If someone does not come through the doors of a church building how will they hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

All people have been redeemed by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But all have not heard. Therefore as disciples of Jesus Christ we must go and tell them. We cannot wait for them to come to us.

ReSolved Ministry strives to equip disciples to live missionally and go out to make disciples who make disciples. Every generation, culture and context asks the same questions of life, faith and community. How does one live out one’s faith? What does community look like here? What are the goals of life?

With the answering of each of these questions the answer to the original one becomes clearer.  It is now that disciples can follow in the footsteps of the Holy Spirit so that all may hear how Jesus Christ has redeemed them already.

ReSolved Ministry works to plant missional communities in the places where those who have not heard yet are gathering already. We humbly serve those we meet.  We are resolved to live questionable lives so others may ask us the reason for our joy, our peace, our hope.

We are on a journey sent by God, empowered by Jesus Christ, and guided by the Holy Spirit. We live and serve together with our whole selves in our whole lives. We are not perfect. We listen and learn from God. We serve and share with each other. We gather together to share in conversation and serve in our community.  We share our lives with one another.  We ask our questions of life, faith and ministry seeking the answers from God directly.

So if you would like to learn more come join us for a pint (it doesn’t have to be an IPA).  Join the conversation and hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

WARDing Off Busyness

img_0100Life is always so busy! The To Do List never seems to be totally checked off.  Who has time to take a day off anyhow. I don’t know about you but sometimes I want to ignore my Planner just for a little while so I can get a break from all the items that need to get finished today. Wonder if God could add a 25th hour to the day to help us out?

So what is one to do?  Is it possible to slow down at some point, somehow?

I think so. There must be a way to take the time and rest, to have a Sabbath.  Work, busyness cannot be all there is in life.

Towards the end of last year I took some time to see what gives me energy.  I asked myself what did I like to do in my spare time.  How would I spend the ‘perfect day’? There is it was, four things I love to do, things that refresh me when life can get stressful.

Writing
Activity
Reading
Devotions

Hence WARD was formed.  For me, spending time in each of these 4 areas is refreshing. It is like plugging myself into a wall socket getting my batteries recharged.  At some point each day I spend time with each one.  Whether it is writing in my journal or another blog.  Or going for a run with Puppy or a bike ride with friends.  Or finishing the library book or starting a new one.  Or sitting quietly with my Bible listening to the Holy Spirit.

What gives you energy?  Doodling? Sewing? Crafting? Playing sports? Woodworking? When can you make the time to recharge your batteries each day?

Life can be super busy and before we know it time has flown by.  Without making the time to enjoy ourselves with friends and family, recharging our batteries. I challenge you to make a list of 2-3 things you love doing and find time each day to do them.  It can be as little as 30 minutes but it will be a rest-filled 30 minutes.

Since starting to WARD off the busyness of life I have found more contentment.  Oh, don’t worry the stress of life is still there.  Worry still tries to creep in. But I am able to stave it off better, more consistently. My journals are filling up nicely.  The pile of books I’ve been meaning to read is getting worked through.  My run times are getting faster in pace (and Puppy is excited each day to go out). The Holy Spirit is teaching me pretty cool things about myself and faith.

What are your 2-3 things which recharge your batteries?

When during the day can you put them on the schedule?

Beginning to feel recharged?

Climbing the Ladder One Rung at a Time

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One summer I went on a mission trip to New Orleans to help with the continued rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.  The home my team was working on was a three story house in the 9th Ward.  Our task was to finish scraping off the old paint and begin painting with the new.  Nothing too difficult until you saw the house…

It was a MASSIVE three story house.  We had a couple of extension ladders and a simple scaffolding set that could get us to the middle of the second story.  For the uppermost points of the house we only had extension ladders.  We quickly became experts in moving and setting up ladders as we finagled to get every bit of the old paint scraped.  In teams of three we would move the ladder, fully extend it, steady it, and then one person would climb while the other two would hold it.

It was memorable being the one climbing the ladder to scrap (or later in the week to paint).  The most interesting part of the climb was reaching the middle section of the ladder.  While on the bottom third everything was honky-dory.  You are close to the ground and the ladder feels quite secure.  The middle third was a little more of a test of faith.  It was here where one began to feel the ladder shake with each step.  As you were able to keep climbing and reach the top third of the ladder the shaking would subside.  Even when you knew you simply needed to push through the difficult middle section it remained scary and uneasy each time.  Even at the end of the week we knew this ‘shaky’ experience would come and would not last but we still were a little nervous going through it.

It is similar to our own faith journeys.  There are times we struggle and it feels like the ladder is shaking as we take each step.  We know cognitively that God is with us each step of the way but we are still scared.  We know that we have a sure foundation but it still feels at times that the ladder might slip.  At times when we may be unsure how the bills will be paid this month.  Or at times we may be struggling in a relationship with a loved one. At times we are unsure of the next step in life.  We have hope that God is taking care of us in each of these circumstances of life but in the middle of it all the ladder feels shaky.  As difficult as these times can be they do not last.  They are only temporary.  We continue on the journey to reach the top of the ladder.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Be encouraged, beloved.  Wherever you are in the climb up the ladder do not fear.  Keep climbing rung by rung.  Remember you have God the Father encouraging you to persevere, Jesus Christ holding it secure for you at the bottom and the Holy Spirit climbing right beside you.  The shaking is only temporary.  And take it from me the view at the top of the ladder is TOTALLY worth it!

Cheers to a New Church Theme Song

I grew up with the show “Cheers” airing.  Sam, Woody, Carla, Norm, Cliff and Norm.  A random group of people who became friends.  They came together at the corner bar and over time became close friends.  In any other circumstances they may not even have met let alone get to know each other.  Their theme song sums it all up:

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.”

(http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/cheerslyrics.html)

A place to go and everyone knows you.  They smile when they see you.  (“NORM!!”)  Troubles are shared with one another.  Joys celebrated together.  Through the differences people see we are all the same.  You wanna go, take a break from all your worries, and hang out with friends.

Here’s a question, doesn’t that sound like the Church?  A break from our worries.  People know us.  Troubles are shared.  Joys celebrated together.  We are hanging out with friends.  Some friends we may never have gotten to know if we didn’t meet at church.  It would be so cool to see that song in church or playing for a church’s promo video.  That would be sweet!

Community developed by spending time together, sharing experiences, challenging one another to grow.  Church isn’t just what we do on Sunday mornings.  It is who we are and who we love and serve with in the world.  Our names are known.  People are glad we came.

May we be the Church that truly lives out the words of this theme song each day in all that we do and say.

Dare: Maybe suggest to your worship director about possibly singing the “Cheers” theme song one week during the service.