Worth Fighting For

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There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. –2 Samuel:18

Can you imagine a situation where the most celebrated King in Israel’s history goes to war… against his son?.  This was the crazy, almost Game Of Thrones-ish world of our ancestors of faith. This struggle between Father and son, David and Absalom, threatened the very fabric of the Kingdom.

Today we have fathers and sons facing a very different kind of battle in the church: Whether the Kingdom is even worth it.  Family members do battle about this on a weekly basis.  Other folks grew up in the church and let it slip away.  Some just find themselves otherwise preoccupied come Sunday morning.  Countless people have been hurt by the church, or are bored to tears by it, or are excluded by it, and so their connection becomes tenuous.

Those with “casual ties” to Christianity are on the verge of becoming “casualties” of it.

I was taught not to worry so much about those with such casual ties, that they’ll  never come back.  Sometimes we call them backdoor Christians, or Christians INO (In Name Only), as if they are a lost cause.  Can you imagine how many thousands — hundreds of thousands there are out there with fading interest in the Church?  They may believe in God, but not the institution.  They may be tied up in the trappings of culture.  They may come twice a year and suffer through the boredom and think that’s enough.

What should we in the Church do about these folks, many of them family?  Just let them go?  No, here’s my suggestion. hard as it might sound:

Let’s go to war.

I can’t believe I’m even writing those words!  I’m not a “war” guy.  But those men in 2 Samuel were willing to lay down their lives.  They were invested.  This was a fight for who would be King and it mattered.

Let’s go to war.  Let’s find our friends and neighbors and missing-in-action Christians and fight for them.  Our weapons will not be guilt or coercion.   Instead, we’ll wield, with fervor–an undeniable call that Christ is our King.

We’ll have to be prepared.  With excellent worship, engaging small groups, life-changing mission and earnest fellowship.  And we’ll have to listen.  To reform, to engage, to see the church beyond how we at times have poorly conceived it.  To reach out to every father and ever son, everyone, who hears the call of the Kingdom.

We have to be experiencing the same Christian life that we advertise, which means we have to examine our own casual ties to faith.

The human expression of the Church may never reach all the goals and all the people that we have been called to.  But we’ll never get anywhere if we aren’t willing to give our all on behalf of Jesus.

So, CHARGE!!!!!!!

The battle is for nothing less than to become…

a Church worth fighting for.

Have a great week,

 

Mitch

father and son in way to church

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Jesus Texting

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For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it. –Job 33:14

Luv4all:  Hey!

You:  Hey!  What’s up Jesus?

Luv4all:  Happy Birthday!

You:  Hehe, not my bday, dude!

Luv4all:  Yes it is.  I would know. 😉

You:  My birthday isn’t for 5 months.  You feeling okay?

Luv4all:  It’s all good.  You don’t get it.

You:  Get what?

Luv4all:  My present.  I send you one every day.

You:  Okay… what?

Luv4all: Life!  You get Life from me everyday.  So everyday is your birthday.

You:  Oh…like REbirth.  I get you.

Luv4all:  No.  Rebirth is important.  You get that too.  But every day is a NEW BIRTH.  A new chance.  A new opportunity.  A new lease on Life.

You: This is deep, JC.

Luv4all:  I KNOW it’s deep.  Remember this: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind”?  I want you to embrace my light, like it’s the candle on your birthday cake, every single day.

You: How come I’m just hearing about this?

Luv4all: *groans* I tried scripture–you’re too busy.  I tried talking to you in your prayers–you have trouble listening.  I tried speaking through other people–you always have somewhere else to be.

You:  Sorry.

Luv4all:  It’s alright.  I’m just pointing out that the only way you seem to be able to communicate these days is through texting.  Not exactly the easiest mode for transmitting Grace and Truth, you feeling me?

You:  I feel you.  Sorry.

Luv4all:  Don’t hassle it.  Short and sweet is better than nothing.

You:  So, it’s my birthday.  New Life.

Luv4all:  That’s right.  Celebrate by living the freedom that comes with it.

You:  Okay.  I will.

Luv4all:  Okay.  Gotta go.  Thumbs getting tired.

You:  LOL.  Thanks, Jesus.

Luv4all:  No prob.  But remember, a little prayer never hurt anyone.  And my data plan?

It’s unlimited.

 

Have a good week,

Mitch

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Magic Words

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I long to find the perfect words.

Words that will open every door.

Words that will make sense to folks on the left and the right of me.
Words that will keep a Church from the threat of schism.
Words that will bring the world to its senses.

“OPEN SESAME!”

(Nothing).

I wish God would put magic words into my mouth.

Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is supposed to do?

Words that will bring people back to Love.
Words that will make things clear.
Words that will cut through every artificial barrier.

“PLEASE?”

(Nothing.)

. . .

I spend so much time trying to choose my words,
trying to search for the right thing to say,
trying to be eloquent,

And so little time trying to JUST BE.

Hmm.

Maybe I should try THESE words:

“SPEAK, FOR YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING.”

(Welcome to Lent)

 

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Have a great week,

Mitch

CAN YOU HEAR CHRISTMAS NOW?

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This time of year, my ears start ringing.

No, it’s not just the salvation army bell ringer, or the bell choir at church.

It’s from all the noise of the season.

Music and parties and pageants and crowds.  So much noise.

I love it.  I love all of it.

But here we are, in the last few days before Christmas, and I wonder:

Underneath all of that, is there something we are unintentionally drowning out?

Something wondrous and awe-filled?

I think so.  And I don’t want to let Christmas come without experiencing it.

And so, here’s Mitch signing off early this week.  (Written words can be “noisy” too).

Instead, I invite you to take a few deep breaths, and read the following quote:

It comes from an ancient song that is based on the writing of the Prophet Habakkuk,

and it just may give you and I what we need to hear most of all.

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

 

Have you been abused?

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Some things need to be said.
And I’m gonna say em.

If you have endured
(or are enduring) some form of abuse in your life
(Sexual, Physical, Psychological…)

You aren’t alone.
You aren’t alone because abuse is more prevalent than most of us realize.
You and I encounter people every day who are victims of child abuse, or spousal abuse, or rape, etc.

BUT ALSO

You aren’t alone because
of all the places where God chooses to be,
God MOST chooses to be with those who suffer.
God is with you right now, arms around you.

You deserve to be safe, and happy. 
God wants that for you,
and will never give up on pursuing that for you.

If you are not safe, or not happy, I’m very sorry.
Whether your abuse happened 30 years ago
or is happening right now,
pain is pain.

This little devotion probably won’t change that.
But just know that I was thinking about you today.
Whoever you are.

And if there’s a way I can help,
Listening to you.
Praying for you.
Helping you be safe.
Pointing you towards people who can help in other ways,
I will try.

I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which means
that I believe Hope Springs Eternal.
that good can triumph evil.
that Love can heal what has been broken.

That is my wish for you today.
To be healed and hopeful and triumphant.

In the name of Jesus,
May it be so.

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A Perfect Pause

images (5)At 3am this morning, I woke up to the sound of it.

It was the sound of quiet.

I turned over in bed and rubbed my eyes, and just listened.

What an amazing sound.  I was aching for it and hadn’t even known.

Just…quiet.

I lay there, not thinking.

That’s what typically messes up my attempts at quiet–my own thoughts start filling up my head.

But not this morning.  I think my brain was still mostly asleep.

And that was nice.

I wish I could convey the peace of that silence,

but it’s hard to use words to describe a lack of words.

There. It was like that.  A perfect pause.

I was listening to God, listening to Me.

And it sounded wonderful.

Have a great week,

Mitch

Stunned Silence

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!  — Habakkuk 2:20

Maybe “Silent Night” will strike a chord on Christmas Eve, but lately, I’ve been all “Jingle Bells”.

The truth is, I have been avoiding silence.

I seek out music. Noise. Entertainment. Conversation. Even my own inner thoughts.  I figure, if I just stay busy enough, distracted enough, I can ride the waves of activity all the way to January. And along the way I’ll do my best to Be Of Good Cheer.

Isn’t that enough?

No, it’s not. The truth is, I’m nervous. A little scared, even. There’s something there, in the quiet, that unsettles me.

Listen…

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

That verse is from a 4th century Greek hymn, based on the line from Habakuk, above.  This is a song that is sung during Advent. No Christmas trees. No cute little babies in a manger. This is a song about INCARNATION. God coming to Earth. It’s not something to be taken lightly.

It’s something so important, so overwhelming, that our response might involve fear and trembling!

We should behold. Pay homage. We should allow ourselves to be overwhelmed.

Stunned, in fact, to the point of silence.

That’s not easy for me.

The HUGENESS of God’s love for us requires a response of stunned silence.  A sharp intake of breath. A deep pondering of what God-With-Us truly means.

For us to clutter up our Decembers with too much “jingling” means we might be drowning out the sound of Love’s divine invasion.

And what does that sound like?

Listen…