Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Finding Our Way Again by Brian Mclaren

Chapter One Searching for Everyday Sacredness

Page 3 "I think it's because Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and Christianity presents itself as a system of belief.  So I would want to get Christian ministers thinking about how to rediscover their own faith as a way of life because that's what people are searching for today.  That's what they need the most"

Page 3
Without a coherent and compelling way of life, formed in community and expressed in mission, some of us began losing interest in the system of belief.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mission Moment for Friday, Sept. 18th

Genesis 18:14 has a great line, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?  This was in response to Sarah laughing at the thought that she could have a baby.  She was old, Abraham was old, and it was time to give up the dream.   This is a reminder once again, that if God is for us, who can be against us?  We have a tons of options for mission and ministry at MLC.   Sometimes we get worried or concerned about how it is all going to happen.  We can be encouraged by these words.    God has done great things at MLC and God will continue to do even greater things.  The joy of faith, is just watching and seeing God in action! Did you know that we have the largest confirmation class in our history?  Seven students in the current class with 3 to be confirmed in 2016.  God is good!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mission Moment for August 21st, 2015
In the book of Acts Christianity is a fledging new religion.   We can learn much from this book on how to do mission in 2015.   The new church did two very important things.  They gathered in community to focus on their faith.  They prayed and did communion with one another.  They grew in their love for each other.   This movement than extended out into the community.   Where they saw need, they loved.  It is this “love” that made people curious.  What is this Jesus and this “love” all about?
Today we can talk about transformation.  We certainly need to work on our personal transformation and MLC’s transformation.  But there is a third transformation, that of our community.   What does Maricopa need?   We have folks involved with food pantry, library and some help out at school.   It would be nice to have the Women’s Shelter open up, so we could help out there as well.   We have our sponsorship of our scouts, Pack which is grades 3-5th, and Troop which is 6th-12th.   We also help people with general needs in the community.
My challenge is finding more people to get involved.  I am the only MLC person connected right now with Scouts.  They meet on Tuesday nights.   If there are people out there with scouting in their background, or a simple love for children, you have an opportunity to get involved.   Please let me know.  
Secondly, where else can we serve in the community?   Can we be ambassadors for the city?   Can we attend school board meetings?   I am sure there are many community needs and I just ask you to open your eyes to those needs.  Once needs are identified, we can search for people who have a passion for that need.  Secondly, the challenge is to step up and get involved in some way.  
“We love because he first loved us”

Any thoughts on this matter please respond!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mission Moment:  Cultural Context

People have said that our culture is more like the book of Acts than any moment in recent history.   I am not sure about that because in the book of Acts, Christianity was an unknown religion.   The church had to go out into the world to spread the Gospel.  They had no other choice.  In our culture, people have an idea of what Christianity means, good or bad.   There are lots of assumptions such as the church only wants money to support itself or that the church is only for good people.  

Lutherans have a great theology bound by two words, Christ and Grace.  Christ’s does the work, and Grace we receive as a gift.   At issue is that people do not understand or fail to see how much God loves them.  It is hard to understand Grace in a world measured by what you do, right or wrong.  Maricopa Lutheran has done a great job of attracting Lutherans that have moved into the area.   We must celebrate and continue to embrace our Lutheran church people.  At the same time, can we imagine being a place that is so exciting and intriguing that non-Lutherans will come and check us out?

People are less concerned these days about denominations and more concerned about being fed by God’s word and being transformed.   What can we do to connect all people in our community?   What would you like to see happen that would help make Maricopa Lutheran stand out even more?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Discipleship Formation
Jesus tells us to make disciples of all nations.   A disciple follows and does what Jesus does.   A disciple also helps to create other disciples.   We can readily list the “problems” of the church usually reflected in the “not enoughs.”  We don’t have enough people, money or whatever.   The answer is a faith issue.  Are we willing to be disciples?  Are we willing to help create new disciples?  Can we think about always growing, learning helping to make a difference in this world?
We have our five principles for MLC.  We have a mission statement.  How do we grow people?   I recognize that the Holy Spirit has a place in all of this.   People are at different levels of their faith and their commitment to their Lord and their church.   I want to develop a plan for Maricopa Lutheran.   Some have used classes on healthy faith practices.  That certainly could be done.   I think mentoring is part of the process.  Jesus spent 3 years with his disciples.   If we were to have a plan for Maricopa Lutheran Church what would that plan look like?   What should be included?    

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Equipped for Evangelism and Generosity

I remember a conversation when deciding on our denomination’s new name.  People wanted the word Evangelical in the name so that people would be reminded that we are called to reach out beyond our walls.   Lutheran churches were not started in America to reach new people and make them Christians.  They were started so that all the Lutherans from Europe would have a good Lutheran church to attend.  For the longest time our main method of Evangelism was simply to have lots of children and raise them Lutheran.  That strategy no longer works.   Evangelism is quite simple.   Start with our friends and as the relationship goes, invite them to church.  If they have a church home celebrate with them.   What happens over time is that we stop inviting people.   So to be an inviting church means that the church people invite others to join.   If being a Lutheran Christian is the best thing in the world, don’t we want others to enjoy and embrace the grace of Jesus Christ?
Generosity doesn’t just happen by itself.  Generosity grows out of an understanding that we are all blessed by God.  It grows out of a commitment to not only God but the mission of God in the world.   Most of us hold onto our stuff, our time, and often give out of our surplus.   Yet to be a generous person will require us to take a leap and trust that God will honor our generosity.  Yes, it is better to give than to receive.  You can begin with small steps and decide to up your giving to God’s work in the world.  This might be time or money but whatever the case, do it joyfully.  You will not be disappointed.

Questions:  Have you ever invited someone to church, if not, why not?  What was that experience like?
Why do you give and what happens to you and others when you do?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fellowship with God & Each Other 
Mission Moment for June 26, 2015

We have an idea of what fellowship usually means.  We label rooms as Fellowship Hall and this is where cookies and coffee is served.   Fellowship is not just casual conversation.  Fellowship is being accepted as part of the body of believers.  It is the opportunity to connect with each other.  Some of fellowship may be general chitchat.   Some may be conversations around health or spiritual matters.  Whatever the case, fellowship when practiced best, means that people are connected and cared for.
It would be hard to imagine us having cookies and coffee with God.  One would think the questions and answers would be significantly deeper.   We can have fellowship by asking God to join us in our daily journey.  We can certainly use prayer to connect.  We can also ask God to celebrate with us as well.  Fellowship also includes everyone.  This means we look for ways to bring people into caring conversations and invite God to walk with us.
How can prayer be a conversation with God?

What person or persons could we deepen our relationships with?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Centered in God’s Word and Prayer
Mission Moment for June 19, 2015
Jesus was asked if he could teach the disciples how to pray.  The end result is the Lord’s Prayer.  Luther’s Small Catechism gives us direction.  Our Father-believe that God is our Father. Hallowed-Keep God’s name Holy by living a Christian life. Thy Kingdom Come-pray that it may come to us.  Thy Will be done-bring God’s kingdom to others.  Daily Bread-All that we need to get through the day.  Forgiveness-God will not hold our sin against us, or us holding sins against others.  Temptation-God will watch over us and keep us from sin and the devil.  Evil-Save us from every evil, body and soul. Doxology—Amen-Let it be So.    To be people of prayer means for us to live out the Lord’s Prayer.  Prayer is also a conversation.  We talk to God, but can we provide room for God to talk to us?  
In the Reformation, the Bible became central for Lutherans.   It is the basis upon we live out our lives.   The Bible is God’s written voice to the world.   It provides a window into God’s wishes and desires for the world.   As Lutherans, we read the Bible through the lens of God’s grace.    The Bible is never to be used as a club, as a book of law.   Instead, it is to be read through the lens of Jesus and God’s grace.  
Anything can happen if we trust in the power of prayer.  Anything can happen when we focus on God’s word.

What does prayer do for you?   How is reading scripture helpful for you?  Post answers on my blog.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mission Moment for June 12th

Empowered for Discipleship is our second guiding principle.   Empowered means that we help people to grow so that they can be whatever God calls them to be.   This means that we can mentor, train, pray, and seek ways to help people grow.   Instead of ‘Make disciples” perhaps a better choice of words is “Form Disciples” per author Brian Mclaren.   It is not easy to be formed.  It requires a desire to want to be more like Jesus.  It may mean for us to get out of our comfort zone.  It most always requires intentionality and accountabiity.   Someone once said that Jesus loves us just the way we are but loves us too much to leave us that way.   There are faith habits or practices that can assist in discipleship forming.   These have been used throughout the ages.  The practices are:  Worship, Prayer, Bible Reading, Relationships, Generosity and Serving.  

We will eventually have a plan to train and form disciples around all of these habits.   Which ones do you think we should start with?   Click reply to this post.
Maricopa Lutherans mission/purpose statement is:
GATHERED by the Holy Spirit; FED with the Word of God; SENT to make Christ known
Guiding Principles for Maricopa Lutheran Church:

Jesus is Lord
Everyone is precious and valued
Empowered for Discipleship
Centered in God's Word and Prayer
Fellowship with God & Each Other
Equipped for Evangelism and Generosity.

What does it means for us to live out the principles and purpose statement?

What does it call for each person to discern and act?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mission Moments

Our second guiding principle is “Everyone is precious and valued”.   Everyone means everyone.  It means sinners, children, aging adults and teenagers searching for meaning.   It means that we accept all people regardless of how they are dressed and what they may have done.   The world is full of judgmental people.  The perception in our culture is that the church also judges.  I remember one woman in a previous church marveled that the church did not reject her.  She thought her tattoos would make her unworthy.  This is why “God so loved the world”.   Precious and valued means that it is always people first.  It means that when people come to us, we celebrate their presence! The intent of this principle is that people are important and all people matter to God.   Did you ever think about this amazing God we have who thinks we are valued enough to have God’s son die for us?    This also means that as we live our lives as Christians we do so with an eye towards the least, the lost, and the lonely.   If people are precious than we look for ways to help them as best as we can.  We support outreach efforts such as food banks and diaper drives.   It hurts us when people are hurt.   We stand firm against racism and sexism.  The world is watching which is why Jesus said we will be known for our love.  
What does it mean to you to be precious and valued?  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mission Moments for May 29, 2015

Did you know that the very first creed was a simple 3 word statement, Jesus is Lord?   Jesus is Lord is our very first and most important Guiding Principle.  In a very simple way, it reminds us to ask the question “what would Jesus do?”   Which of course is pretty arrogant on our part, because Jesus most likely would do the thing we least expect.  In a deeper way, “Jesus is Lord” stands over and against all the other “lords” we have in the world.  It means that the way of Jesus is more important than our way or any other way we can dream up.  To claim Jesus as Lord means that we are going to follow Jesus and be like Jesus as best as we can.  It also means giving up our own wishes and wants for the world, and focusing on what Jesus might want.   When we think about what we should or could be doing as a church and as individual people, having Jesus as central is vital for our lives.  You might want to say we major in majors and leave the minors aside.  Others have said, we keep the main thing, the main thing.    So, what does claiming Jesus as Lord, mean for our Christian community called Maricopa Lutheran Church?
Mission Moments for May 22nd

Maricopa Lutheran has a very good mission statement.

GATHERED by the Holy Spirit; FED with the Word of God; SENT to make Christ known
You may reflect on that statement.  The Holy Spirit brings us together.  As we are fed by God’s Word, that could and should inspire us to be sent into the world to make Christ known.   Guiding Principles are used to guide us as we live out our mission statement.  Our church council studied scripture and after much discussion has approved these principles.   Your pastor helped to guide the choices but these principles are all lay driven.   Pray, ponder and reflect on these.   It is hoped they will shape us as we make decisions for the sake of the world.   
Guiding Principles for Maricopa Lutheran Church:
Jesus is Lord
Everyone is precious and valued
Empowered for Discipleship
Centered in God's Word and Prayer
Fellowship with God & Each Other
Equipped for Evangelism and Generosity.

Imagine the type of Christ centered church God can help us build in Maricopa!
Mission Moments for May 15th, 2015

Jesus calls us to make disciples.  How does that happen?  Well it happens in a variety of ways but mostly it means people committing themselves to healthy spiritual practices.   The general list of practices usually include:  Worship, Prayer, Bible, Tithing, Serving, Relationships.   I will be reading over the summer in anticipation of introducing these concepts to MLC.  As part of Mission Moments I will reflect on chapters from the first book in the series called Ancient Practices Series.  The first book is by
Brian Mclaren, Finding our way again: The return of the ancient practices.  You see it is not always out with the old and in with the new.  Maybe we become renewed by claiming what we could and should practice.  If there are people that would like to buy that book, read it and discuss it, please let me know.   We can meet twice a month.  You can find the book on Amazon.   You see doing is always secondary to being!   Spiritual practices center our lives on God and what we do follows out of that connection.  It is why abiding in the vine is so important.   Let me know if you like the book study idea.
Mission Moments for May 8th, 2015

At the church council retreat I shared that Luke 15 is the chapter in which I live my life as a pastor.  In that chapter there are three very familiar parables: the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (prodigal son).   All three parables tell of God’s great love for people who are far from God.   To me this is a both/and way of mission.  We don’t ignore the 99 to seek the one lost sheep.   While Jesus can get away with that in a parable, it is hard from a practical standpoint.   So we always can and should celebrate the people God has blessed us with.   Yet, as we celebrate, we can look at the world through the eyes of Luke 15 and ask the question, “who are the lost sheep, the lost coins, and the prodigal sons that need God’s love?”   Thus our challenge is to develop ministry and mission opportunities that help us engage those far from God.  It is not easy work, but it is the work God calls us to do.   
Mission Moment for May 1
Great Commandment
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:37-38
Great Commission
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19
Rick Warren quotes, “A great commitment to the great commandment and the great commission will build a great church”.   As people and as a church we can celebrate what we do, and also know that we never quite achieve what God wants for us.   In the Great Commandment notice it says “All”.  God doesn’t just want a bit of us, God wants all of us.  Thus faith is a life long journey, a walk with God seeking ways to grow deeper with our Lord.  That is the hope.   The Great Commission calls us to make disciples of all nations.  Thus we celebrate the people God has blessed us with at MLC, but we also try new things, new ways because we are called to reach all nations.  As long as someone is far from God we are called to try to reach them.
Keep the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in mind as we live out our calling at MLC!