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Whether you have lots of snow in your yard or you have disappointed kiddos, we’re with you: we expected more! Regardless, we know the cold temperatures and moisture on the ground can create challenging travel conditions and we want you to be safe!
While we wait for the sun to warm everything up, below is the adjusted church schedule for tomorrow:
- All 8:30am and 9:30am programming is cancelled.
- Combined English Service at 11 in the Worship Center.
- Spanish Service in the Chapel at 11.
- Pre-school Groups will meet in classrooms at 11.
- All kindergarten thru 5th will have Children’s Worship in The City Gate room at 11.
- There will be no student ministry or adult ministry small groups tomorrow.
Please spread the word and come ready at 11. If you don’t feel safe driving to church, please plan to watch online thru the church app or by visiting live.sugarhill.church.
Okay, so those are strong words.
What I Hate About Church is not the same thing as saying 3 Things I Hate About THE CHURCH. See the subtle difference? We refer to church, in our modern vernacular as a structure or an institution. At times it’s referred to with phrases like, “I can’t believe they did that”, or “Can you believe they didn’t do that?”
The modern American church has become something that, I’m pretty sure Jesus never intended it to be. I think Jesus intended His church to be a place that was joy-filled, life-altering and grace-driven. I do not, for even one second, believe the CHURCH was ever designed to be:
1.A List of Man Made Rules Based on Preference or Personal Agendas
Jesus left NO ROOM for personal preference, racism or personal agendas. His Waterford Crystal clear instructions were to “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love others as you love yourself.” If you see church through your own image and your own preference and your own agenda…STOP! and ask Jesus to let you see your church through His image. He died and sacrificed and beat death so that we could die to ourselves, sacrifice and insure that the world KNOWS HIM! Period.
2. A Place Where Mean People Hide Behind Religion
STOP IT! No, really…STOP IT! Everything we know about Jesus, the teachings of Jesus and the character of Jesus teaches us that we are to be compassionate, grace-filled, forgiving, welcoming servants. Servants that are clear about our purpose on this planet. There is still time to stop measuring and judging others as your service to the church…And start recognizing that Jesus has called us to LOVE people and leave the judging to God the Father. Leave the forgiving to Jesus the Son, and the convicting to The Spirit of God. As I see it, that leaves only ONE task left for us, the church…to LOVE people, and be kind!
3. A Country Club of Privilege Rather than a Place of Justice
The Scriptures are so clear on this. Jesus said that if we serve others, we are great and we are more like HIM! The Old testament states that God requires three things; 1) Do Justice, 2) Love Kindness, and 3) Walk Humbly. Jesus didn’t shed His blood, give His life and raise from the dead so you could hang out and build a wall to keep you comfy. He beat Satan, beat death and is coming again for His church…His bride. A church that has taken the Great Commission (GO, MAKE DISCIPLES & TEACH) and Great Commandment (LOVE, LOVE and LOVE MORE) with a passionate fire deep in our soul. Nothing less and nothing more.
Let’s keep the main thing, the main thing…JESUS. He is enough. He is all we need, and He is coming again.
How Great Thou Art – Selah!
I am now 56 years old. Unbelievable, 56 years old. Just yesterday I was the overachieving new kid on the block. Now I’m the guy with six daughters, salt-n-pepper hair, five grandchildren and wisdom lines around my now droopy eyelids.
I’ve discovered in, what I loosely refer to as “midlife,” that I am more irritable than I used to be. I am less tolerant and yet I find myself at times more, dare I say it, socially liberal than days gone by.
Okay, I just lost 50% of my Baptist friends. I don’t mean theologically. I mean socially. I’m frustrated that we care more about a Hillary’s emails than Haiti’s starvation, are more passionate about college football than homeless people and more caring of our pets than we are of single parents or widows.
And then I realize that I am the problem! I have become like far too many Americans. Comfortable in my irritability of my own comfort. Like all irritable people, I am often hard to love and have a hard time loving others. My attention is often consumed by being aware and driven by my circumstances. I find myself in a constant state of agitation, frustration and disenchantment by what is happening outside of my control.
I feel heavy, burdened, stressed and weary. I don’t like being that way and hate admitting it to you. It makes me feel like the spoiled brat I probably am. When life doesn’t go my way, which seems to be often, I get fearful and it displays itself as irritable. My gray hair and wrinkles also reflect some good news in that I now recognize that God invites me to abandon all those fears and irritability – He invites me to leave my self and come to Him for rest in Matthew 11:28.
Jenny and I are often drawn back to The Message and Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Matthew 11:28 – “get away with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I can now leave my fears, my irritability, my frustration and my foolish self with Him because He promised that He came that I might have an abundant life in John 10:10. Not a life filled with fear, pain and irritability. He set me on a path completely free from the dependence of circumstances for my joy.
I now can bank on each day being filled with more joy and less irritability because of Him. That’s very cool. That is also a reminder that I am to redirect the personal energy that was once directed toward irritability and fear and direct it toward caring for others with a passionate heart of service and love for those that might be the most unlikely recipients of God’s love working through me.
I am often reminded that God will allow my life to cross paths with a need that He desires me to meet and that I missed that blessing for decades in my irritable selfishness.
May your day be filled with the blessed crossing of paths with those that you and you alone can bless. That is the “Rhythm of Grace”… God using us to fulfill His redemptive plan for this lost and broken world.
Thanks for joining me this first week of my Weekday BLOG!
Sheryl Crow had a hit song several years ago, “If it Makes You Happy” and the lyrics in the chorus are “If it makes you happy, It can’t be that bad. If it makes you happy, Then why the hell are you so sad?” Sheryl is an amazing artist but apparently a not so amazing theologian. She was sharp enough to get out of the Lance Armstrong mess for sure. And I still like to roll down the windows and sing that perfect summer song.
One of the early church fathers, Augustine of Hippo (come on, that’s funny), summarized the Christian life in simple terms and Martin Luther later echoed him. Let me paraphrase; “Love God and do as you please.”
That sounds so stinking radical to a recovering fundamentalist like me. But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If we truly love God, what we will do is what He will want us to do. It’s not a cute take or a slight tweak, it’s a fact. When we love God, we will follow His direction.
Maybe the best way to see this is in John’s Gospel. For years I would read John 14:15 and think to myself “Jesus is scolding me when He says “if you love me, you will keep my commandments”. Now I realize that in the 14th chapter of John, He makes many huge promises, and this is one more HUGE promise. It isn’t a scolding, it’s a loving promise. “If you love me, of course you’ll obey me”!
Jesus is simply stating that if we truly love Him, we will live like it. Which makes me think Sheryl Crow may be accurately portraying the vast majority of Americans. Doing what we want, miserably unhappy and woefully discontent. Why? Because we missed the whole “if you love me thing”. You see, we didn’t get the benefit of the “do the right thing”, because we didn’t get the because “we love Him thing”.
On our own we are so far gone that we can do nothing more than be a recipient of His grace. And through His grace He has set us free to love Him just as we are, to love others just for who they are, and to even love ourselves as He has created us. I bet I’ve heard 100 preachers make a statement like “God didn’t call us to be happy, He called us to be holy.” Wow, that’s a motivator! I think He called me to love Him and in that, obey Him and in obedience to Him; experience joy, and in that joy – HAPPINESS!
So let’s rewrite Sheryl Crow’s song; “If it makes you happy, it must be Jesus”
Pretty Cool, huh?
Sheryl Crowe singing “If it Makes you Happy”
It was Tuesday night and time for me to walk our “exceptionally special dog”, Cooper. If you’ve heard me talk about Cooper before, you know that he is just a big goofball. But, he’s our goofball and we walk every night before calling it a day.
Tuesday at 11:08pm, Cooper and I start out on our journey to Lillian Webb Park when suddenly we are surrounded by Pokemon hunters and trainers. Their steely gaze intently focused on the smartphone screens as the rustling leaves were revealing the elusive Pokies. I’ve noticed that the look on each Poke hunter is a combo of really poor posture and everybody’s favorite yoga pose…DOWNWARD DOG.
It would seem to me that we left any concerns of spending personal and meaningful time with other humans on the top shelf gathering dust. Man, these folks were getting after those weird little Pokies. Next time you are stopped at a traffic light, just look around you and gaze at the wonderment of iPhone narcissism. You know, selfie then post, then check the likes on FB, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram. Oh…and then the blissful sound of the guy behind you that is waiting not so patiently on you to complete your social fix and get on about life. He’s blessing you with a “you’re number 1 salute” and a heavy other hand on the horn.
As a member of this tribe, I want to join me in an effort to set the smartphone, tablet and laptop down and talk on the front porch. To sit together and play a game of cards together. But let’s don’t get crazy and do something like take a walk without bluetooth headphones and our trusty Fitbit!
Before you start thinking that i’m not one of you…Let me admit that I’m guilty. I also might need to attend a 12 step group to lose my addiction to technology.
I guess, what I’m really saying is this: If people really matter to us, and family really is our safe haven, then it’s time to stop and turn the devices off. It’s past time to look our families in the eye and talk…I mean, really talk. I think the world would be a far better place. I know that I would be a better husband, dad and pastor. Whoa! Did I just say/write that out loud?
Come on, people…We can do this! Dinner with all devices face down and no vibrating reminders that your BFF just sent you their 17th selfie today via Insta.