What if I told you that every day should be a little terrifying. What if I told you that if you aren’t walking through your life of faith a little nervous then you aren’t living at all. The problem with both of those statements is that they make us UNCOMFORTABLE. Something that most people in the western community of faith don’t like to hear. I mean we want to be comfortable in our chairs, we want to be comfortable with our coffee, we want to be comfortable in our groups, we just plain want to be comfortable.
Well when my family and I felt that God was leading us to start a church in Colorado we all came up with our own word, “Terricited”. Because every day we were terrified and we were excited at the same time. We were terrified that we were to move back to Colorado a place where I grew up and not as a follower of Jesus. (Dealing with your Past) But excited to be able to share with those same people about how my life has been drastically changed because of Jesus. We were terrified that we didn’t have a place to live and we were struggling to find a place. But we were excited about getting a place that would be a home base for raising our kids as the graduated from high school. We were terrified because I had never been the lead pastor of a church, but I was excited because I had never been the lead pastor of a church. In the New Testament you can read:
Mark 10:32a (NLT) 32 They were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear.
The people that were walking with Jesus the son of God in flesh, were in awe of what was going on were also overwhelmed with fear. What does that mean? They were “terricited”! So let me ask you this, where in your life are you terricited? Where are you experiencing the awe of Jesus and the overwhelming fear where you need to see him show up? Where are you terricited? Because honestly I think that more and more of us need to be less comfortable and more terricited. Let’s take some time this week to start getting a little TERRICITED.
Ever have one of those weeks when you are just not sure about where you are going or what you are doing? Am I the only one who has ever felt this way? Well a week ago I just felt overwhelmed and unsure of what I needed to do next. So I got up and worked out, finished reading a book on leadership, and then I went for a ride. I didn’t know where I was going I just pointed the bike east and rode.
I was riding east on E. Qunicy Rd and I went until I ran out of pavement. Then I took a right and just went south not knowing where I was going to end up. It was a perfect day, there was a cool breeze the sun wasn’t to hot and I was able to just soak in the rolling view. For me this was an amazing time where I was truly seeking God and having a great conversation with him as I rode along. I was really seeking to know and hear what God wanted for me at this time in my life. What I didn’t know was that I was on the Kiowa Bennett Road and I was about to be smack dab in the middle of Kiowa population 723 as of the last census. Now I am not proud to say this but as a Colorado Native I didn’t have a clue about Kiowa. When I entered into the town there was not a city sign in site, so literally I had no clue where I was.
So I pulled into the first gas station I could find. My legs were a little stiff from the being on the bike for awhile and I needed to take care of some business and it was exactly what you think. So I struggled into the Sinclair Gas station to find out where I was and to go to the bathroom. As I entered I was greeted by Nasime the man that was running the station. I asked him where was I? “To which he responded well sir you are here.” I said, “I know that but what town is this?” To which he responded, “You are in Kiowa and Jesus will always help you.” I said, “Great thanks!” as I stepped into the bathroom. But my mind was still processing what he had said to me. So when I was done I stepped out and asked him what he had just said to me. With a big smile, Nasime said again; “Jesus will help you all you have to remember is to trust Jesus.”
Now I was so taken back to what he had said that I thanked him handed him my card and walked out the front door with my mouth wide open. I had been praying that God would let me know what I needed to do and from the mouth of Nasime it came. TRUST JESUS! Don’t do anything, don’t go anywhere, don’t try to figure it out, just TRUST JESUS.
Maybe this week you need to hear this, TRUST JESUS. I don’t know what you are going through I don’t know what you are struggling with, I don’t know what burden you are carrying. But I want to encourage you to TRUST JESUS.
Proverbs 3:5–6 (NLT) 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.6 Seek his will in all you do,and he will show you which path to take.
What do you need to trust him with today?
When you get done with being in a church experience or service do you ask yourself the question, “What did I get out of this?” Hope you think about something.
It is my hope that I can help you change your perspective about answering that question. To be honest we should be really asking the question but the idea should be more about “How is Jesus speaking to me and what am I going to do in response to what He is telling me?”
So I want to challenge you with some things that can prepare you to answer that question above:
- Choose to really get into the singing. That’s right really sing out! Don’t worry about what anyone is thinking about your singing if you are seeking to honor God with you singing it shouldn’t matter. You don’t care about it when you are at a concert do you? Well don’t care when you are in service either.
- Come ready to hear and share stories that you have experienced when it comes to be being a part of a church family. This is a chance for encouragement and for life change as you become a healthier follower of Jesus.
- Be hungry to grow in your relationship with Jesus. Because being hungry is your choice as to what you experience! So pray for the person that is speaking, ask God to use them to speak into your life, to those that are sitting around you, and that lives would be changed by the gospel.
- Come prepared to be involved. Make sure you have a bible (paper or digital) get your program ready and make sure you write out notes. The notes will help you through out the week when it comes to working out what Jesus is doing in you and through you. Who knows the Holy Spirit might really use it to nudge in you a specific direction.
- Come expecting to respond to what God is doing that day both during the experience and later as you walk through what you have learned. Be ready to take it back out into life.
- Come knowing that this is not where you are going to have a strong sense of community. Remember that comes through being in a more relational driven group. (Smaller)
- Come knowing that the experience is the beginning of the week and that the experience is not the end of be all to your spiritual health. Take the experience and use it to grow more personally. Spiritual growth happens in many other ways then just on Sunday.
What are some ways that you get ready for a service or experience when you are a part of a church community? Help us see other options that are out there.
One of the things that I have come to realize is that when it comes to being a generous person its not about what we do it is about who we are. For me I was raised in home where being generous to people around you was just who you were. It wasn’t something you had to think about, or guess about, you just did it. So when I got married I just started doing what I thought was the natural thing to do. Well my wife had grown up differently then me and it was a point of great conversation for us. (That’s called an argument.) So we both had to come to a mutual understanding of what we were going to do when it came to being generous. Which honestly was a really good thing for both of us to come to as a couple. I would really say it was a great chance for me to grow as a husband, father, and as person that works in the faith community. (church)
You see because of that difference between my wife and I it enabled me to see how and why people struggle when it comes to being generous in and with their faith community. For us at Elevation we talk a lot about being generous in fact we want to be known for our “Insane Generosity” to the community around us. But for a community of faith (church) to be generous that means the people of the church need to be generous with what they give to that church. If you are a part of a faith community then you will have heard this is about offerings and about tithing. (We are not going to argue Old Testament vs New Testament giving.) So we want people to see that for us to be generous as a church community then the people need to be a part of that through their generosity through their tithes and offerings.
But most people honestly struggle here because of the different ways that they were raised. Some were raised that all you had was yours and that you take care of your own. Some were raised without anything so you had to keep whatever you had to be able to make it. Others were raised where you were just generous enough to make sure you looked good. While as others were raised with the idea that helping someone in need is just what you did that you were generous.
So it is my hope that I can encourage people to live out a generous life. Whether it is by caring for your neighbor. (Hopefully you know who they are.) By providing some food for another student at your school. (Had one of my kids do this.) Or through the tithes and offerings you share with your community of faith. (My wife does this for us now.) Because as you begin to do this you will be amazed that the words of the New Testament begin to be lived out your life in an amazing way.
Acts 20:35b “You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
How are you living out a life of insane generosity in your life? How are you being generous with your faith community so that they can be generous with the community around it?
So this weekend I had someone invite me to come and see a car that was in our parking lot. We walked out the front door and the person pointed out the car in the parking lot. My first thought was ok nice car but that is not the make or model that I get all fired up about, I let them know that I am a mustang kind of guy. But then the person drew my attention to the license plate that was on the car. There I saw what had got the attention of the individual.
This is the actual license plate that was on the car. This is not fabricated or changed in any way to make this an interesting picture. For those of you that don’t know we are a church that is in the great state of Colorado where I am a native. A place where it is currently to legally purchase marijuana. Now I don’t intend for this to be a place where we argue about what should be or not be legal. We live in a state where it is legal and I have to live in that reality as a leader. So the person that pointed out the license plate then asked me this question, “What should we do about this?”
My answer to this question was simple, “Make sure they have a great parking spot and they have a good time.” With that answer I saw a look of confusion for a minute. But then I went on to explain what I meant. My answer and my prayer was that this person felt comfortable enough to come and be a part of our church so I wanted us to live out, “It’s ok to not be ok, but God doesn’t want you to stay that way.” I wanted the person that came in this car to understand that they can come here and be cared for and encouraged in their faith journey. Then I wanted the person to know that pointed out the license plate that God is going to be the one that is going to change a life. So we should be excited that this person was with us and hearing about the radical grace of Jesus.
We were not going to run them off because of their license plate because just down the row was another car that I knew the owner was dealing with porn, I knew that there was another car on the next row where the owner was dealing with mental illness, and I knew that there was another car on the other end of the lot that was in legal trouble. The only thing different about this car was that their license plate was letting us know what was going on in their life. So we were going to simply pray for this person, pray that Jesus was going to impress upon their heart about a relationship with Him, pray that this person would experience life change because of who he is and not because we pointed out their license plate. So my encouragement to you is to look in the parking lot, look and see not the license plates but who are the people that are there to be cared for and reached with the radical grace of Jesus? Who knows maybe you need to start with your car.
Last week we celebrated Christmas all over the world and for many people that meant going to Christmas Eve church services. As a pastor of a church I often think about how important that these services can be for people that during the season will come and check out church. I mean if you are involved with volunteering at a church or on staff you have probably seen the investment that comes with getting ready for Christmas Eve. There are decorations, there is lighting, there is sound, the right songs, cookies, people dressed up for Christmas, and stuff for the kids. All of these things are not bad and they can be important for what you are doing at Christmas time. But this year I saw something that has challenged and changed my heart.
You see this year as we were all getting ready that night for Christmas Eve services at our church in Aurora. There were things that really caught my attention you see we had some places that didn’t have enough volunteers, there were some places that didn’t have the right volunteers, heck can I be honest there were places that didn’t have any volunteers. So as I was trying to figure out how to handle the volunteer issue I do what so many other pastors do in this case, I voluntold my son to help me out. Which he did with out a question, ok maybe with one question. Why? I told him that he is in the best place to make a difference during our Christmas Eve services. These words were so true, more than I would have ever known.
You see we had a man show up right about the time I was getting ready to go on stage to speak that was high and very drunk. We do live in CO so the high part is never a shock but the drunk part well that was hard for us all to see. So I as walked on stage I saw one of our elders, my son along and his college friend start to deal with this man. At least that is what I thought.
The truth of the matter is that they took some amazing time to care for this man. What my son shared with me was that this man had just walked in because he saw all the people walking in and heard the music. He told my son that he was feeling lost and so lonely that he thought I might as well walk in there. My son, his friend, and our elder gave him something to eat (cookies are important), then gave him a cup of coffee, and talked with him. Even helped him walk into the auditorium for a chance to hear silent night and watch the candles being lit, after he had fallen twice just trying to sit in a chair in our lobby area.
So when the service was over I came out to meet people and make sure everything was going ok. Well the man had wanted to go have a smoke in the parking lot (nothing new at this church), so my son and his friend went with him. Out there he shared with my son that he had been smoking weed all day and had been drinking with different people he knew all day. That he was lonely and just hurting. Then my son told me the man then proceeded to vomit up the cookies and the coffee. All the while my son stood with him and made sure that he was ok, even patting him on the back as he got sick. The man being very embarrassed, put out his smoke, hugged my son said thank you for listening and caring then walked away towards the street. My son and his friend followed the man to the street making sure that he was safe as he disappeared up the street into the darkness.
My son came back and told me how bad he felt for that man and that he was sorry that they couldn’t have done more.
To be honest as a father and pastor I have never been more proud of my son, our elder, and his friend. Because the truth of the matter is that in many other places and yes churches this man would have been seen as a problem and a nuisance. But on this Christmas Eve he was cared for he was fed and he was invited in to see and hear about the birth of Jesus. So what challenged and changed for me this Christmas Eve? I have always thought about making sure that we are prepared for the people that are coming to check out church. But in all honesty I have never thought about the people that might literally stumble into our church. So it challenged me to start thinking about the people that stumble in that are in need for something other then a church service, especially on Christmas Eve. It has changed me because as I stood on the stage and talked about how the shepherds that came and found Jesus were the outsiders in the community. We had the exact same thing going on right in our lobby. It has changed me because I want us to think about how we can have Christmas Eve services for those that are high, stumbling drunk, and lonely this next year. It changed me because of what an amazing man my son has become and how he cares for the people that no one else wants to care for in this world. It changed me because the elder of our church could have really been more worried about getting the guy out of the building instead of caring for him. He cared for him. It changed me because my sons friend who I know is struggling with the question of faith watched faith in action.
If this would have happened at your church how do you think people would have responded? What can you do next Christmas Eve to make sure that your community of faith is ready for the high, the stumbling drunk, and the lonely that might show up?
So yesterday at Elevation we had a baptism celebration at Elevation. It is one of the things that we do that amazes me that I get to be a part of. As a church family and team over the last four and a half years we have celebrated 194 people getting baptized. The baptisms are amazing as we see husbands, wives, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and friends baptize the people that they know have taken the step of saying yes to a relationship with Jesus. There is nothing more amazing then watching a little boys face as he looks up at his dad after he comes out of the water. I get emotional when I see a spouse that is getting the chance to baptize the person that they are staying with for the rest of their life and eternity.
But then you get to hear the stories of how and why they said yes to a relationship with Jesus. You get to hear about the struggle, the mess, and many times the hurt that lead them to realize their need for Jesus. But then you also get to hear the stories of how families lead in the area of faith, about how students knew that it was what the knew they needed to do, and amazing stories of a life of faith and growth. No story is ever the same and no baptism is every the same because of what is happening in that persons life.
What I am excited to think about though is the stories that I have yet to hear. I am excited about the faces, the families, and the friends that we get to take pictures of baptizing those that are making their life with Jesus public. Who knows maybe you are one of the stories that we are going to get to share.