Monday, October 27, 2014

The Journey of Fasting

We are in a really interesting journey through the book by the prophet Zephaniah.

He goes through a series of things, ideas and values that the people in Judah and the surrounding lands were hoping would preserve and save them.

Self made saviors.

Thankfully we have evolved over the last 2700 years and don't turn to things, ideologies or values (or people or nations or ______) to save us. (#sarcasm)

So we're inviting C3 to join us in fasting from some potential self made saviors.

Fasting has been practiced throughout our story as the people of God. People seeking God's face. I've heard that part of the gift of the discipline of fasting is that we say no to things that we can say no to now, so that later on we can say no to the things we can't say no to right now. It builds up our dependence on God.

So last week we kicked it off with a church wide fast from food for 24 hours, praying and asking God to move.

This week, we're inviting everyone to fast from wealth building. Jesus cautioned over and over about the danger of serving two masters and storing up treasures here where moth and rust destroy. The idea is that for the month of November, whatever you'd save for car or housing or 401ks or vacation or a PS4 or college funds or retirement or ___________, you don't save for a month and you give it away where you see God at work.

It's been funny to watch people's reactions to the invitation to fast. The week we are inviting people to fast from screens happens to be the week of a big football game. People were upset. The week we invite people to eliminate spending/shopping happens to be the week of Black Friday. People were upset.

Maybe that is exactly the point. Where you get most defensive and upset might indicate some treasure and heart things.

The invitation to spend time seeking God rather than the things that keep us comfortable and complacent is hitting a nerve for many of us. I hate it and love it all together.

Join us and see what God does.

Change starts here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Leadership Advance!

It is perhaps the most important thing we do at City Campus Church.

We don't meet 4 Sundays a year.

And one of those Sundays, all the leaders and apprentices get away for a weekend called the Leadership Advance.

It is essentially a family vacation. 16 of us in one house on Lake Erie.

Praying. Playing. Laughing. Crying.

Shaping the things to Come.

My primary task as the leader of City Campus Church isn't to shape or cast vision.

It isn't to study and preach the Word.

It isn't to develop killer systems that do nice things.

It isn't to care and shepherd.

All of those things are important roles, but the primary task is to pray for and replicate leaders.

Jesus didn't hang out with the 5000 for very long. He knew that great teaching and shock and awe miracles would never sustain a movement. He knew he would be required to continually "one-up" himself to keep the crowds engaged.

But to focus on 12? To invest in 12? Jesus knew he could change the world.

He entrusted not just his teaching or his insight or his wisdom to those who followed Him, He entrusted His life.

And the world has changed drastically because of that move.

Shaina and I are not Jesus (shocker!), but together we can invest in 12. We are clearly not as skilled or wise or strong as Jesus when it comes to making disciples, but anything that is worth doing is worth doing badly. We will get better and better at it.

And while Jesus led his 12 to change the world, maybe we could let God work in such ways that we could at least change some neighborhoods in our city.

I can't do more than I can do.

But if what I can do is show others how to do what I can do so that they can too show what they can do to others, discipleship happens.

And last time I checked, if you follow Jesus, this is your calling.

Has anyone ever showed you how they do what they do as they follow Jesus? Are you showing anyone how to do what you can do as you follow Jesus?

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Suspicion With God

I've watched the gripping, captivating story "Twelve Years A Slave" a couple times. Once in theaters and once since. It is striking to me that for many who experienced slavery, the story was greatly shaped by who the master was.

If you had a gentle and loving master, you may have had a more tolerable experience as a slave.

If your master was not trustworthy, you may have had a terrifying experience as a slave.

What I'm realizing is that this is how I have viewed my relationship with God.

I go back and forth between viewing Him as a trustworthy God who is for me, who cares about me and will not give me a stone when I need bread...

and this other God who either causes or can't prevent the melancholy of sadness and heartache for the world, let alone me.

Hardship has been the way for so many.

And when I think about the last two years with significant losses in our family and this little munchkin who went from sick heart to sick bones to sick head, I find myself suspicious of good news. Ok God, so Chaia got a pretty great report at the Cleveland Clinic this past week. Her heart is stable even as she is growing and gaining weight. She made it on the growth chart for the first time in two years. She had the docs and nurses laughing and smiling.

But the bottom will fall out right? That's been the story to date. Good news, laced with not good news. Her pseudo tumor...will that cause vision loss or require surgery? Her not eating food...will that cause her to have significant problems in the future?

And much of this story boils down to the trustworthiness of the master.

This has been my view for years. Does He have good and love and life for His servants?

But something is shifting in me that might be the most important move of my life. It's subtle, but Hebrews 3 might be the heart of this shift.

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

The writer of Hebrews says Moses is an epic dude. Faithful. Just like Jesus. Except Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house.

BUT Christ is faithful as a Son in the house.

I'm becoming increasingly aware that I have been content hanging out with Moses in the servant house on the edge of the Master's property. At best, I can hope that the Master will remain good and trustworthy so my experience as His servant will remain tolerable and maybe even relatively good compared to some of the other poor blokes around me.

BUT Jesus is nudging me that what He did at the cross wasn't so I would get servant status in God's household, but that I would be invited to come home...adopted by the Father...a son.

I have an easier time believing the trustworthiness and goodness of a Father who has chosen and adopted me to be part of his family than I do believing the trustworthiness and goodness of a Master.

One leads me to a state of BEING. One leads me to a state of DOING. One bought my identity. One seeks constantly to earn my identity.

Much of the Christian faith is boiled down to two questions:

Is God good? Is God faithful?

I don't know that you can answer these questions accurately from the servant quarters.

Maybe you're like me and much of your life is spent living the way you ought, doing the things you must, avoiding the things you can and then wondering why the Christian karma equation isn't adding up. And it leaves you suspicious. Is God really good? Is God really faithful?

And maybe the word for you?

Sons and Daughters, come home.