When: Sunday, July 10, 2016
Set up at 12 noon, brief service at 1 PM then EAT!
Where: Mint Springs Park, Crozet
Swimming, fishing (license needed), volley ball, hiking, and more! Bring your acoustic instruments for some jamming!
(Crozet Gathering is renting the large pavilion but the park fee is $3/adults and $2/children for Albamarle county residents $4.50/adults and $3 children non residents)
Bring: side picnic dishes: salads, watermelon, chips, desserts, soda, tea, etc. swim wear, acoustic instruments, Crozet Gathering is providing the hamburgers, hotdogs and condiments.
This is indeed the day the Lord has made!
Incarnational mission is us, as disciples, being Christ to our communities and to those around us. It is living out our salvation and relationship with our Lord and it is based on our relationships with others close to us. Of course, Christ’s disciples have always been called to live this way but today, there is an intentional movement to BE the Church of Jesus Christ, not just GO to Church.Â The Emerging Missional Movement that is sweeping the country will, perhaps, be the saving force for the Western Church. It is based on relationships rather than programs and informal gathering places rather than church buildings.Â Across the country, friends of mineÂ are pastoring churches and ministries based on the Attractional Model (now about three decades old). TheyÂ share with me that many of them areÂ just one crisis away from having to lay off all or most of their staff or risk loosing their building. Since their ministries are staff-heavy and their laypersons (a terrible word) have often not been adequately trained in ministry (Ephesians 4), they live week to week based on that week’s offering and their ministry is often reduced to constantly having to raise more money or struggling to enliven various attractional programs in order to keep the ministry afloat. And if the church down the street develops a better program, has a nicer building, etc. they could easily loose a bunchÂ of their members to the better attarction. My heart goes out to them.
Unfortunately, given the current economic, social and political climate or our country, the Attractional Model that so many churches and ministries are based on is no longer sustainable. We have to get into our communities, not necessarily preaching but LIVING the gospel, sharing the love and grace of Jesus Christ, sharing and living our testimony and being there when people need spiritual guidance. Our society is such now that people will not come to our churches REGARDLESS of how attractive our program or ministry. People are DONE with church-as-usual. We have to do something different, real and fully based on the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
We are finishing out our third month here in our new mission in Crozet. We have gotten most of the ground work completed; website, promotional items, have begun networking with other churches, etc. And we have been introducing ourselves, meeting people and have been building relationships and making friends. What do you suppose has been our greatest challenge and obstacle to our mission? Finances? Community opposition? The devil himself? No -Â TIME has been! Time coupled with priorities, actually. By far, when we invite people over to our house for a time of prayer and encouragement or we ask toÂ go over to their home or to even meet somewhere for coffee, the number one reason for not wanting too is , “we just don’t have the time.” We have met several families in which there are multiple jobs being done by the parents and with the kids, there is school, sports and other activities. Some kids do multiple sports and if there are multiple kids – you have one very busy family! And this isn’t true just for theÂ unchurchedÂ families we have been talking to. Those involved inside the church are likewise way too busy.Â Â (inside/outside the church is a very bounded set way to describe people – but that is a discussion for another day!)Â Â Â Â Most churches today, in an attempt to keep people engaged with the church, Â offer a lot of programming through the week – men’s and women’s meetings, children and teen activities, this project or that, music/worship rehearsal (rehearsal for worship?), coupled with administrative meetingsÂ – church people can be the busiest of all! Too busy, in fact, for any serious attempts and discipleship or spiritual growth.
“No time” is not entirely accurate when it comes to ordering our lives. All of us have exactly 168 hours every week! It is up to us how we fill those hours. What we really have is a crisis of priorities! A lot of what we fill our week with are important; family activities, work – of course, sports and more but I am suggesting that if there is no quality time in your week for Jesus – time for prayer, scripture reading, worship, meaning fellowship with other believers, etc. then you have an issue with priorities. Life can get out of hand if we are not careful. Maybe it is time to slow down, Â re-order our lives and decide what is really important.
In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus is discussing what it means to be his disciple (follower).Â We can boil it down to three main directives;
Love Jesus more than anyone or anything else, consider whatÂ the costs, requirements and preparation will beÂ to be his disciple and be willing to go the whole way with Jesus – complete committment (cross-bearing).
If we accomplishÂ the third – going all the way to complete committment, the question will change from, “What will it cost me to be a disciple” to “What can I possibly commit further as his disciple.”
I will be talking about this in more depth this Sunday at Charlottesville Northridge Church of the Nazarene – come join us!
In Luke 9:1-9, Jesus sent out the 12 and gave them authority to drive out demons, cure diseases and to preach the gospel. And they went out and did just that. At the end of Luke, he records the words of Jesus saying, “and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations…” Matthew records, in 28:19-20, the command aspect of this mission. He records Jesus as saying that all authority belongs to him and, by implication, he passes that authority on to us in his command – go, make disciples, baptize and teach your disciples to obey.Â We have the command and the authority from Jesus to do this missionary work. Just as the original 12 were successful operating under their Christ given authority for their mission, we too will be successful when we go out to do what he has called us to do. We just have to be obedient and do it! Will you be?
Our back yard is half lawn and half woods. My intention is to plant a little garden this summer but the only place to do that is where there are now woods. In that area there are small, wild trees that have grown up, weeds, bushes, poison ivy, thorns and briars and underneath it all, quite possible a copperhead snake or two! Yet something beakons me to clear an area, work the soil until something useful will grow.Â It would be easier and perhaps make more sense to just find some good soil somewhere to try to plant my garden but something still draws me to the thorny areas.
Jesus talks about different types of “soil” in people’s lives in Luke 8. He mentions open, well trodden paths, rocky soil, areas where there are lots of thorns and good soil. Seed grows easily in the good soil – not so in the other areas. Jesus said the seed grows easily in the furtile soil but never said we should not also focus on the other – it is just harder, requires more effort, patience and care. The thorny soil, he said, involves life’s worries and caresÂ and even seemingly good things like riches and pleasures. In our mission here in the Corzet/Charlottesville area we have met a lot of people living among the thorns; some with extremely challenging circumstances in their lives. Some just busy – very busy- living; Â work, kids, school, sports and more. Our mission is to help to prepare the soil in their lives so they will be open to starting or re-starting a relationship with Christ. Here there is a lot of preparatory work to do and the harvest seems further away. But these are the kind of people Jesus ministered to as well – the sick, lame, blind, oppressed, down-trodden and the wealthy as well – tax collecters, military commandersÂ and more. Thorny ground – it’s a mission field worth persuing. We must never give up because the ground is difficult!
From I Kings 17:7-16
This is a familiar story about a poor widow who had enough food for one last meal for her and her son and God told her to feed it to Elijah.Â Here is an encouraging word for this week, based on vs. 16, “For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”
Things I have learned in life and mission that demonstrate the power of this story:
1. When God commands you to do something, He then supplies the resources that will allow you to be obedient and do what He has commanded.
2. When you get to the end, it is not the end! God is there and will see you through. And usually, we are not at the end at all – the widow – she was at the end but she proved faithful to God.
3. The important thing is to believe by faith and committ what you have to God. He will do the rest and the oil will not run dry!
I hope this is encouraging to you today. God is faithful!
In the New Testament, it was the norm for disciples, or followers of Jesus, to tell others, share their faith and do whatever they could to make new disciples. Unfortunately, in churches today, most people who start our as disciples eventually just settle down in some church and become observersÂ – they come to church, sing, enjoy and that’s it. They don’t read their bibles during the week, they may pray some, when they feel the need for God’s help and they seldom do anything to help make more disciples. This has become normal Christianity in this country. Too bad too, because real disciples, genuine followers of Jesus, do whatever they can to help others become disciples too! Look at Matthew’s example here. When he left his booth and followed Jesus, he was changed. Now, he is having Jesus over to his house for dinner and who does he invite? All of his old tax collector and sinner friends! Jesus saved and converted one tax collector and sinner, now he is at his house and there is a whole house full of tax collectors and sinners! What an opportunity! And what an example for us!