Monday, February 25, 2013
Ways to Engage the Culture Around You
(by Dave Devries at Pastors.com)
1. Start conversations - just talk to people: your neighbors, the person in line with you at the grocery store, the person pumping gas next to you, or the person ordering coffee or enjoying a latte next to you. Just talk to people!
2. Hang out with people who enjoy the same things you do - find some non-Christians who you can join enjoying what you enjoy: join a book club, an local sports league, a service organization, the PTA, etc. Find a way to hang out with people who don’t know Christ who enjoy doing what you enjoy doing!
3. Volunteer somewhere - just find a place to serve in your community: tutor kids at a local school, coach a sports team, serve meals at a shelter, etc. Just start serving in your community and be consistent!
4. Tell stories - people enjoy good stories so good at sharing stories. Tell people your life story, your faith story, and even Bible stories. Get really good at telling stories.
5. Get to know your community by asking questions - intentionally ask people questions: what matters to you about our community? what frustrates you? what do you love? what would you love to change? Discover the important aspects of your community by listening and asking questions. Become an expert on your part of town.
6. Invite others to join you - Jesus sent His disciples by twos. Find some friends to join you as you engage those in the culture around you. Never go alone.
7. Pray with others - Ask non-Christians in our life what challenges they are facing and offer to pray for them with them. The key is to pray with them! When you see them again, follow-up by asking how God answered your prayer!
8. Address physical and spiritual needs around you - just meet needs! If you don’t know of any needs in your area, just ask those around you: “What needs do you or others you know have?” You’ll be surprised at the amazing needs that are right around you. Start small – do one thing this week!
It isn’t difficult to start engaging those in the culture around you. You just have to start somewhere.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
7 Reasons It's Awesome To Be Lutheran
1. You get the Gospel
2.You know where to get the Gospel (Word and Sacrament)
3, You're certain of salvation (by Grace through Faith)
4. You understand good works (you don't have to, you get to... )
5. You learn about vocation (it puts a name on your neighbor)
6. You are set free in Christ (for freedom you have been set free)
7. There's a bit of a mystery to it (and everyone loves a good mystery)
(ht - lutheran witness)
Saturday, February 16, 2013
10 Reasons To Worship Weekly
#1: Because of the commandment: "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and glad hear it and learn it.
#2: Jesus taught His followers to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." Where better can we show our love for God than in worship?
#3: To hear the Gospel, or the Good News about Jesus Christ. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."
#4: Because of God's testimony: "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life."
#5: To have our faith strengthened. Faith "comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ."
#6: To confess our faith in Christ. If "you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
#7: Because Jesus will return one day. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
#8: Because of our on-going need for the Holy Spirit. The famous evangelist Dwight Moody was once asked, "Aren't you filled with the Holy Spirit?"To which he replied, "Yes, but I leak!"
#9: Because it is in worship we receive the means of grace, the Lord's Supper. "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is My body.' Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins'."
#10: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
See you in church!
Monday, February 4, 2013
Our lives are full of all kinds of words. Some of those words are more important than others.
We often think of the importance of last words. Famous Last Words - we call them. Someones's last words before they die. The last words of Jesus from the cross on Good Friday. But this morning we won't be talking about last words, but first words instead.
Those are the kinds of words we find in the Gospel reading from Luke 4. Not last words, but first words – the first words of Jesus that Luke records. The first recorded words of Jesus make this scene very important to understanding who Jesus is and what he is doing in the Gospel of Luke. You could almost say that this is Jesus’ Inaugural Address.
Inaugural addresses are important. The President just used his inaugural address to announce the priorities of his second term - his priorities, vision, and direction for the country. (whether you agree with him or not). A century and a half ago, President Abraham Lincoln used his second inaugural address to do something no President had ever done before – that is, speak critically about his own country in order to deal with the evil of slavery. He spoke about the toll that it had taken, and the need to stay the course in order to resolve both the war and the cause of liberty.
So what kind of vision do we hear in Jesus’ inaugural address? It is an announcement of his mission. It is a description of the kingdom of God. It is a promise of God’s presence and provision.
All of this and more is summarized by the words of good news that Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
If you listen closely, its striking that this good news is only good if you are willing to admit what is bad, what is hard, what is lacking, what has been most difficult. It is not “good news” in a general sense, but it is specifically good news for the poor, the pagan, the gentile, the lost and the least of the house of Israel. It is not just any freedom, but freedom to those who are oppressed, liberty to those who are held captive, sight to those who are blind, the Lord's favor on those who have been excluded.
God offers words of comfort and encouragement, but those words only mean something to people who are in discomfort or discouragement. So how about us? How do you we hear those words today?
We spend so much time acting as if we have it all together, and we spend so much money trying to look better, fitter, and younger. There's so much pressure on us externally from the culture at large and internally from ourselves telling us that we don't need anyone or anything that it makes you wonder if Jesus’ message has any value for people today.
Except for one thing - all the stories we tell ourselves about being perfect, and all the commercials we pay attention to telling us that we really can have it all, all the ads that promise us that if we just buy this product we’ll never feel insecure again – they're all bogus. They're all false. And deep down, I think we know it.
So while Jesus’ message is good news, in order for us to hear it that way we must first hear the bad news, the bad news that we're not who we want to be or who we should be … and we never will be.
We all have to admit that we're failures. And that's hard for us to do. But the good news for us is that Jesus comes only for sinners. Jesus comes to bring good news only to those who are in need. Those who don’t see their need or admit their need have nothing to do with him.
But when we admit our need, when we are honest about our hurts, our fears, and our pain, three things happen. First, we feel immense freedom simply by admitting the truth. Second, we receive the great comfort that God's forgiveness offers us – release, healing, freedom, and favor. Third, we realize that we don’t simply receive God's comfort, but we are also invited to offer it to others. We are invited to not just hear and receive the good news, but also to be the good news and to live it out.
This is what the Body of Christ and community of faith is all about – God’s hands delivering the promise of good news to all who are in need. Are you afraid? Come allow Jesus to dispel your fear. Are you lonely? Come join our community and enjoy our fellowship. Are you sick? Come, or better yet, let us come to you so we can care for you. Are you isolated? We will come and visit you and pray for you. Are you discouraged? Let's gather together so we can strengthen and encourage one another.
As we hear Jesus’ inaugural address as He begins His mission and ministry this Epiphany season, His words call out to us and invite us to be His Body in this place as we live out the good news gospel to all those we come into contact with.
May we seek to always use words that shows our God for who He is - the God who comes not for the healthy but for the sick, not for the righteous but the unrighteous, not for the perfect but the imperfect, not for the strong but for the weak. God in Christ comes for all of us. He comes for you.