Living For Today

As we consider the Resurrection, we are often tempted to allow it to be a remembrance without relevance. We like to think back to what was happening then and how dramatic and amazing it was. There is nothing wrong with that and the words of Jesus to remember are clearly an instruction. But the point of remembering was not nostalgia but that our remembrance would impact us today.

Living for today is often thought of as a “Don’t worry be happy” kind of lackadaisical approach to life. That is not what I think of. I think of making the most of every day. Living for today means that I have this moment, so passionately grabbing onto it and living into it. I will admit not everyday is one where we feel much like living that way. When you have the flu or need to clean the moss off your roof, making the most of the day does not seem very passionate.   Sometimes the constant grind of work can take it out of you as well. But those are exactly the times we need to remember the Resurrection.

The Resurrection changes everything and it especially changes how we live for today.   When we embrace its reality and all that means, it will change every day of our life from that point forward. If you know what I mean then smile and remember the Resurrection today! If you don’t know what I mean, come to church tomorrow and find out!

God bless,

Pastor Chris

I Was There…..

When you are an eyewitness to some event, some happening, it really can change you. I can talk about being in a car accident, but if I have never been in a car accident then I really don’t completely understand all of the feelings. The feeling of hopeless realization this is really happening. the shock , the panic, the pain etc. unless you have been in one you don’t really understand.

The disciples experienced the most incredible week. From the grand entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday through trial, torcher, crucifixion and ultimately resurrection, I cannot imagine the roller coaster. I bet they were an emotional mess! I would have been.

Still it was their front row seat, their eyewitness accounts that added so much credibility to the whole proclamation of Jesus and the resurrection. The Holy Spirit came down in power and took those eyewitness accounts as fuel for the movement of Christianity across the known world and ultimately across the entire globe. The gospel was proclaimed everywhere, and everywhere it was proclaimed it changed everything.

Has the resurrection changed you?

This week we will see how it changed the early church and hopefully you can answer that very question.

See you at church.

Pastor Chris

This Changes Everything

There are moments in life, events, occurrences, experiences and realizations that so impact us we are never the same afterwards. Some things you cannot unsee, or undo or redo.   They will forever be a part of you.

They can be good moments. Some have great weight. Things like kindergarten graduation, or when you drive for your first time. That moment when, with ring in hand, looking up into her eyes, she says yes. That moment when the nurse says “It’s a boy!” or It’s a girl!”. When you sign the 45-page document that and they hand you the keys to your first house. Other moments can have less weight, like a new flavor, seeing the ocean for the first time. Sometimes it can even be great events that happen around you like the moment when man first stepped out onto the surface of the moon.

Other moments can be bad. You throw up on the airplane. You experience an unplanned wardrobe malfunction. You are at an event that goes terribly wrong. Tragedy strikes your family and someone dies. D-day, JFK, or September 11

th. The list is virtually unlimited as to what can happen to us that forever changes us.

 If they are good things you lean back and remember them fondly. They buoy you up in times of despair. You can close your eyes, and go there in your mind. If they are negative then you have to work through them, heal, and grow scars. Some of the negative things never really leave us, we just get along as best we can after we experience them.

 The events that surrounded the death and resurrection of Jesus must have been of the sort that changed everything. It must have been so incredibly shocking to see Jesus on a cross, to see him die. Shock and confusion, denial, anger, all eventually led to resignation, acceptance, and a fear that the disciples might be next. Only to be blasted with the most joyous and hopeful event in the history of the cosmos. The depth of those moments on the people who were there is unimaginable.

 When Mary discovered the tomb was empty, when John beating Peter to confirm it, and when Jesus Himself showed up, their lives were forever change. It changed everything. It is time for us to focus our eyes on Jesus. To consider and remember the resurrection.

 It changes everything. 

See you at church.

Pastor Chris

Informed Consent

If you have been in a hospital and had an operation you know about informed consent. As it turns out, when they talk about practicing medicine they really mean it when it comes to surgery. They are practicing! We would like to think that the results are guaranteed but often they are not. Often they are giving us the best chance for success, but they always have to mention all the potential things that could go wrong.   We still go ahead with it, but somehow they feel better by telling us.

There is something about knowing all of that stuff up front that makes us feel better as well. We kind of have the opportunity to back out at the last minute. We seldom do because usually whatever has caused us to submit to the insanity of being knocked unconscious while people cut on us is far worse than the remote potentiality of experiencing the negative side effects. They are just potentialities we figure, and the chances are they won’t happen. Happily that is most often the case, which inspires great trust in the medical profession.

It is a far different situation in our spiritual lives. The biggest reason is that we are not given a set of potentialities we are given what the actual results will be. On one hand if we go this direction we will have life. If on the other hand we go this other direction we will have annihilation.   There is no 75% chance of life, or .01% that you might not experience annihilation. The results are completely certain, 100% in both directions.   Ultimately it is up to us.   The way is provided for us to experience 100% life or 100% death. The only question is , when given such a choice what will we choose.

“Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

~ Ezekiel 18:30-32

See you at church

Pastor Chris

Can you hear me now?

Do you remember the commercials where the guy was walking around saying “Can you hear me now?” The more cell towers there are the less relevant that commercial got.   Now it seems that there are few places where you can’t get at least some reception. For those out on the Key, you probably know the spots. Like Ravensara where you dip into that corner and your calls drop. Just as with cell towers, we have a need to be in the right spot with God to be able to hear him and it is always me that needs to move.

I find that I have a difficult time hearing God because I am often just not listening. Like being in a crowed room where everyone is talking at once, it is sometimes difficult to make out God’s voice amongst the chaos. It is not that I don’t want to listen it is just that I am too busy, or too tired, or too x, y, x. There are all sorts of reasons we tend to come up with as to why we are not hearing.   We need to work on listening.

Listening is not a very exciting thing to talk about. It is often considered quite passive, yet it is vital if we are to accomplish all that God is calling us to do. We can be zooming in the wrong direction, not relevant to God’s purposes, and doing things in our own strength, and the results (or more likely lack of results) show up. But when we listen we begin to not only accomplish things , but we accomplish the right things at the right times.

This week we are going to be talking about “NEXT: Three Significant Ministries.” We will be exploring some of the opportunities God is calling us to, and answering the question: “Am I Listening?”

See you at church,

Pastor Chris

A Clean House

Don’t you just love a clean house? I love a clean house. It smells nice. Cobwebs are gone, dust is gone, everything is all sparkly and clean. Feels great. Thing is I love a clean house but I just don’t love it enough. I am just not wired that way. As an old dog I have learned some new tricks, but the reality is that I am a fairly messy person. When it comes to priorities cleaning comes somewhere quite a bit lower than duck hunting, fishing, and any number of things. I would rather not clean the house.

 That being said, I do try and do my part. I am not one of those men who sit back and expect to have the wife feed me grapes and fan me with the palm leaves. My mom made sure I knew how to cook and clean as a matter of course. So when I reflect on cleaning the house it is not a reflection from a theoretical stand point. Cleaning the house is hard work. It is not fun, and it is not pleasant. But it is necessary and it feels good when it is clean.

In this last week on Nehemiah we will be looking at chapter 13. He had gone back to his king for a bit, and coming back to Jerusalem he discovered the kids had trashed the place. He needed to clean house.   Sometimes our spiritual lives are in the same spot. We have gotten sloppy, messy, and we know what we need to do.

Come find out how we can follow Nehemiah’s example and experience that wonderful feeling of a clean house.

 See you at church,

Pastor Chris.

Some Assembly Required

If you have kids or grandkids, or even nephews or nieces, you probably have a really good understanding of that particular phrase. Some toys are so bulky and awkward that they have to be packaged in such a way that we get the joy of putting them together. Usually this is not too big of a deal. The man in me makes me briefly look at a few pictures and then put it together. But occasionally when I don’t pay attention, or accurately predict the order that things should go in…. It can get ugly.

Sometimes I have to take the entire thing apart and start over.

Usually before I go to that extreme measure I try and figure out some work around. I try and see if there is any way it can still work. I struggle and think unjustified bad thoughts towards those who designed this, even though they provided simple instructions. Ultimately I have to give in and realize it was entirely my fault.

Nehemiah had completed the wall but the construction wasn’t done yet. More work was needed on the people. The people would be confronted with the reality that they had not followed the instructions. They would hear them and understand them for the first time. They would need to undo what they had done. They would have to commit to building it right.

If we are passionate about building our walls and building our people we must share in that same process, come discover how. 

See you at church,

 Pastor Chris

Restored Ethics

Money and the opportunity for money can do strange things to people.   It can turn the seemingly most gentle soul into a blood thirsty shark faster than you can say “last day at the garage sale.”   Humans just seem to have a hang up with stuff. It is often used to evaluate importance or success, when in actuality it is just another example of correlation not being causation. And the opportunity seems to be just as infectious as actually having money. How many get rich quick, pyramid (or the much more effective “funnel” – a pyramid turned upside down) schemes, continue to attract followers by the millions   If it was that easy, don’t they think everyone would do it? (by the by, send me a million dollars and I will tell you how to become a millionaire) And if having it and pursuing it is not enough in itself, there is what people are willing to do to other people to get it.

Nehemiah was not just restoring a wall and putting up some gates. He was not just organizing people and resources to achieve a goal. He also found that he had a bigger problem. He had to restore their ethics.

Somewhere along the line, the people had begun to take advantage of each other. The poor had come upon hard times with a poor growing season. Rather than lending a helping hand those with means saw this as an opportunity for profit. Rather than build loyalty and unity, they used it grab lands, and daughters. After all they had been through, then they do this? Nehemiah was justly angry.

 How about us? How about our people, the people of our community? Is worth measured by wealth? Is personal chaos in someone’s life just an opportunity for profit? Are we focused on our wealth, instead of being focused on God? Are we building bigger barns, or giving it away? How should the church look different as we passionately pursue our people and our walls? Come be challenged to consider your ethics as we explore Nehemiah 5.

 See you at church.

Pastor Chris

Under Attack

I  am a science fiction nerd and one of my favorites is the Star Trek universe created by Gene Rodenberry. And almost no matter which one you watch, there is inevitably a scene where the crew is on the bridge and there is some kind of noise and they all jolt around. (one of the unanswered questions of this universe has always been if you can travel the speed of light, why can’t you figure out how to make a seatbelt?) and someone always says with great gravitas. “Captain we are under attack.”  Now one might wonder what other possibility there would be. Traveling through space you don’t exactly have turbulence, hit a pothole, and to the best of my knowledge no one ever says “Captain, we hit a possum.” which would be much more likely if they were traveling the dark wet roads of the Key Peninsula. Nehemiah probably never heard those words either(I am not sure they even have opossums in Israel) but he most certainly heard the words “We are under attack”. It was not enough that he faced the daunting task of encouraging a broken down and discouraged people to rebuild a broken down wall, but he had to do it all while being under attack.

 Jesus said that we should not be surprised when we come under attack. In fact, if we are doing what he was doing, we most certainly should come under attack. The world after all hated him first. We live in a country where we are free. We live where currently, we are able to worship, share the gospel, and enjoy what was hard won at our founding. Yet even in all of this we still experience attacks. The reason being is that the evil one does not abide by our constitution. He uses the same lies over and over again because they can often be so effective. He used some of those lies in Nehemiah’s time and put them in the mouths of his followers. He first used the good ole verbal attacks like; “you can’t rebuild your wall” or “Even a fox could break that wall down” and I am sure Nehemiah was not comprehensive in listing all the attacks. When discovering that the verbal attacks were not enough God’s enemies always step up to the next best thing, physical attacks.   Yet in spite of all the attacks, Nehemiah built the wall.

I find great encouragement from Nehemiah, and hope you can too as we talk about how we can still build our people and our wall, even in the face of attacks.

 See you at church,

Pastor Chris.

A Task Too Great?

From the reports that Nehemiah had received the task must have been overwhelming. A people in disgrace, a city broken down, and him far away. It would have been easier just to maintain the status quo. Feel bad but not bad enough to disrupt his live. Feel discouraged but maybe get over it by doing something fun. After all this was geopolitics, what could he do? But he did not succumb to such discouragement.

When he got there and made his assessment surely it was probably worse than he had been told. Parts of it he could not even ride through. Who were the people there and what could they do? How would he organize all this. How could it be accomplished.   But Nehemiah was not to be deterred. Instead after facing the reality of the situation, assessing what needed to be done, he inspired the people.

Sometimes we might look at where we are. We are few in number, and we don’t even have any walls, let alone some broken down ones. We live in culture where 76% of the people do not care to attend any church and a whole bunch of them fairly hostile to the idea. The regulatory and financial circumstances that govern this world make the possibility of a small church building , well sort of small. However, just like Nehemiah, we too should not be deterred. God impassioned him for his people and for his city and his walls. We too should be so impassioned. God equipped him and those around him to accomplish the task even though it wasn’t their regular jobs or even something they were experienced at. What must have seemed overwhelming was accomplished. Nehemiah is a testament to what can be done and he is an example for us.

Come be encouraged with how Nehemiah got it done.

See you at church,

Pastor Chris