Honor God in the Voting Booth(?) (Psalm 51:17)

My friend “Matt Pilgrim” is at it again with a poignant poem for today.

 

The sacrifice of praise seems small

Though nothing else is needed.

Another simple call of God’s

Our hearts have not yet heeded.

 

One of the old hymnals declares

“Nothing in my hand I bring”

But some mix of pride and fear in us

Insists on adding something.

 

In many forms throughout the years

We’ve brought our sacrifices.

Sometimes blood, sometimes good works,

All just thinly veiled vices.

 

These days we leave our votes at the altar

“Look, God, I’ve stood for truth!”

How quaint to think we’ll build Christ’s kingdom

From the voting booth.

 

The sacrifices of God, my friend,

Aren’t elephants or mules

It’s broken and contrite hearts we bring

Carrying crosses carved for fools.

 

Or maybe we’ve been blinded by pride

Unaware of the contrast

Between the earthly kingdoms we build

And the one in which first shall be last.

 

Oddly, our King thought better of us

Than to insist we win elections.

He left us with the much harder task

Of making disciples of all nations.

Celebrating the Ween Christianly

When it comes to Halloween many in the church have adamantly opposed celebrating it. We keep the lights off and settle in as any good curmudgeon would. Or better yet, we rebrand the holiday for our own benefit. Much like Christian music we say “if you like the sugar rush and flavors of Halloween, you will love our Harvest Festival!” It always made me chuckle how we year after year coincidentally celebrate “the harvest season” on the same day that everyone else was doing Halloween!

The opinion of some and lots of experience aside, I think we can celebrate Halloween as those looking to be a redemptive influence in our culture and communities. So if you are going to jump in and hand out high-fructose corn syrup what should you do? Here are a few clues:

  • Meet as many people as you can. Chances are you barely know the people you live next to, let alone those down the street. If you have kids there is no better expected way to meet your neighbors. Go to every house, say hi and introduce yourself as your kids get handfuls of candy. Dare I say invite some people to church! At the least, try to remember their names so next time you see them you can start a conversation.
  • Give out the best candy. Of all the people on the block, the Christians should be the most generous. So if you don’t give out the full bars of king-sized candy then at least be engaging and kind when you give out what you have.
  • Enjoy the day. Just smile more, laugh at costumes, be thankful that your neighborhood is abuzz with joyful activity.
  • Don’t be evil. Leave the ghoulish to the strange neighbor. Reject the evil of Halloween and redeem what’s good. The community, the kids, and oh my goodness, the candy!

There you have it. Go for it. Celebrate Halloween Christianly. And if you aren’t convinced, that’s cool. Follow your conscience but don’t be surprised when others are getting a sugar high. And here is Matt Chandler making the point (if you need a pastor with more cred).

Flourishing and Single in the Church

Often times, when we talk about church growth or planting a common marker of health is when families, especially young families start to attend and make the church their own. This is a good thing and pastoring a small church with some amazing families, I get the inclination. But what of those single, both by choice or by circumstance? If the church is meant to be their family as well, how are we endeavoring to give them space for flourishing?

Part of the problem is expectation. In the church, there is an assumption that human completion is in pairing off. While this is a wonderful and biblical thing, it is not the only thing. So as a church maybe we stop assuming a single person needs to be married. Instead, we should be taking steps to integrate everyone into the life of the church regardless of relational status.

Next, do single people have a voice in the decisions of the church, in the progress of the life of the church? Give them a place and hear them. Let single people communicate what support they need and how you can best encourage them in the faith.

Then in our preaching, and discipleship, the ideal presented is following after Jesus, surrender all of our lives, married, single, whatever, to our Savior for his glory and our good. Are we up for this?

I know that at Reservoir we have a way to go before we are seen as a church for the flourishing of single people. But let’s lean into it and see what the Lord will do.

 

Glimpses of Rest

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Matthew 11:28-30 (CSB)

This week I had a change in schedule that took the biggest item of work off the task list. The thing that each week looms as the necessity to be accomplished and product to produce. It is my routine deadline and as the week progresses, if the task is not done I increasingly wrestle with anxiety and stress toward the goal of accomplishing it.

This week, however, someone else has taken on the weight of what usually drives my schedule and because of it I can’t help but think of rest.

I have had more freedom, without the deadline and the pressure, to look into other things and catch up on items that usually don’t get much attention. And if nothing was accomplished there was no burden, no weight to lift because the major task had been taken care of.

This has been for me a small glimpse into the rest we have in Christ. Here we have his key invitation, and it still stands for everyone everywhere. Weary and burdened, in need of rest, come. The work has been done, sin has been atoned for and there are no more spiritual or cosmic deadlines to pressure you. Relief. Security. Salvation.

Oh what joy we are given, what a gift it is to rest in Jesus. To know that his way is easy. Because of his humility we can find rest for our souls. More of this, please!

What are the things that are your glimpses of rest? The embrace of a comfortable bed? The licks of a pup? The refreshing cold water when you are parched? Laughter with friends around a fire? Enjoy it. And let it remind you of the rest you have in Christ. Let it give you a taste for what is still to come in him. Rest.