Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Gospel of Mark: How Big Is Your Church?

Church, I found an extremely interesting article this week that I’d like to share with you. It came from a church journal. I have to believe you’ve probably never heard anything like this before:
Julie and Bob Clark were stunned to receive a letter from their church in July asking them to "participate in the life of the church"—or worship elsewhere. "They basically called us freeloaders," says Julie. "We were freeloaders," says Bob.
In a trend that may signal rough times for wallflower Christians, bellwether mega-church Faith Community of Winston-Salem has asked "non-participating members" to stop attending. "No more Mr. Nice Church," says the executive pastor, newly hired from Cingular Wireless. "Bigger is not always better. Providing free services indefinitely to complacent Christians is not our mission."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Gospel of Mark: Eating with the Outcasts

You know, legend has it that a meal actually saved this nation! When some of the first settlers arrived in the American colonies, they had great difficulty adjusting to their new home. Disease was rampant and homesickness caused some to plan trips back to England. But one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in those earliest days was hunger. Those early Pilgrims were hungry, and they didn’t know how to farm in this New World.

We all know the legendary story of the first Thanksgiving. Those Pilgrims became friends with Native Americans. And those native to this land taught the newcomers how to grow food in their new home. Finally, when the crops came in, they all sat down at the same table to eat together. Those who were once suspicious of one another found friendship around a table.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Gospel of Mark: In Search of a Better Life

A guy goes ice fishing for the very first time. All of a sudden, he hears a voice.

"There are no fish under the ice!"

He ignores it and moves to another area, cuts a hole, and tosses his line in. Again, he hears the booming voice:

"There are no fish under the ice!"

He nervously looks up and asks, "Lord? Is that you?"

"No, this is the rink manager!"

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Gospel of Mark: Introducing Jesus

One of my favorite memories of my children is when they were young, they watched those annoying (I mean very cute) children’s shows on TV. One of those shows featured a three-ring circus. An announcer would come to center stage and introduce the next act: “Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the lion tamer… the acrobats… the man being shot from a cannon!” Our girls, especially, really latched on to this idea. So, they learned how to introduce each other. They would dress up in princess outfits or fairy costumes and one of them would walk to the fireplace in the living room and stand on the brick seat. She would say in a loud voice: “Ladies and gentlemen (which meant Kim and me), introducing the Crawford twins.” Then they would put on the show of the day. There was always a show of the day! After Luke was born, and when he was old enough to help, he became the announcer.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

No Ordinary Community: Practicing Life Together

During a recent episode of the new TV drama, This Is Us, the sibling characters gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving. The audience quickly notices the strange habits this family uses to commemorate the holiday. For example, the family goes on a hike of exactly 3.4 miles. They spend the afternoon in the living room watching everyone’s holiday favorite, Police Academy 3! The highlight of Thanksgiving, however, occurs when one of the men dresses up as “Pilgrim Rick” to entertain the young children. As the episode progresses, viewers realize that each of these strange customs originated years earlier, when the family’s car broke down on Thanksgiving in the middle of nowhere. They had to walk 3.4 miles to find civilization. A hotel clerk dressed as “Pilgrim Rick” tried to get the family into the holiday spirit, and they finally camped out in front of the TV in the hotel to watch the only movie available, Police Academy 3. Every year following that fateful Thanksgiving, the family engages in those habits to recreate that disastrous turned special holiday.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

No Ordinary Community: The Greatest Roadblock to Community

What is the greatest threat to the church today? It is not terrorism. It is not the media. It is not even a rapidly changing world that puts the church at odds with culture. I believe the greatest threat to the church today is individualism. It is a problem that took centuries to create, and all of us bear some responsibility. I love God, and I am passionate about God’s mission. And I don’t want anything to hinder us from accomplishing God’s mission. So, I think it is time to address this threat head on.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

No Ordinary Community: Community of the Spirit

Have you heard of the Yates Pool? If you are a Texan, you need to at least be somewhat familiar with this story. During the depression this field was a sheep ranch owned by a man named Yates. Mr. Yates wasn't able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage. In fact, he was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on government subsidy. Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills.