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!