a note to pastors, cont. – are you actually equipping along the pathway of together walking with Jesus?

On Monday, I posted a heart-felt note to pastors because I am simply burdened that we are not actually equipping. So, Wednesday, I posted the first of three follow-up posts focused on actually equipping along the pathway of personally relating with Jesus. In today’s post, as we continue to think on whether I am actually equipping our local church expression to be who Jesus intended together, the focus is on actually equipping along the pathway of together walking with Jesus.

Two thoughts.

1 _ Followers of Jesus committed to being the church as they walk closely TOGETHER in a specific context is absolutely crucial with regard to obedience to Jesus’ command in John 13:34-35.

I have been asked before how a church family can fully commit to living sent together and making new disciples and still care for the people of the church family. My response was simply this:

>> how can a church family fully commit to living sent together and making new disciples and NOT care for the people of the church family? 

We can’t.

Jesus commanded it.

34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35, HCSB

And He is speaking to His followers here. He is therefore intending that His church, His followers united around mission, love one another. We would be disobedient if we didn’t. We would not be demonstrating our love for Him. Which means, it would be questionable as to whether we were His friends together.

12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.
John 15:12-14, HCSB

2 _ Followers of Jesus committed to being the church as they walk closely TOGETHER in a specific context is absolutely crucial with regard to putting the near love of Jesus on display among those who feel lost and lonely. 

So how do you equip people who say they follow Jesus to actually love one another? Might I suggest two ways to equip for this that I have noticed actually work:

  • emphasize redundantly that we are loved by Jesus, that He has demonstrated that love clearly, and that only in living loved can we be secure enough to actually love like Jesus has loved us.
  • then, as the equipper, love first. That is how Jesus loved us. He did not wait until we invited Him to love us. He loved first. He did not wait until we said we were sorry. He loved first. He did not wait until we had communicated all the ways we needed to be loved. He loved first. If we as equippers love people we equip in this way and then encourage them to love others first, we will likely begin to see an environment of active love for one another.
These may seem too simple. I am just asserting that I have not seen any other formal approach or focused program end up or equipping concepts have more effective results than this “live loved and love first” approach.

Read that new command from Jesus again if you don’t mind:

34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

People will know we are learners and livers of His ways, according to this new command He gave, by one thing and one thing only – our love for one another. Why?

Could it be because there is something very intriguing about seeing an otherwise self-absorbed group of people unconditionally, graciously, forgivingly, enduringly love one another? Could it be because the message of God’s near love is best seen than it is heard? Could it be because only when reconciliation is on display that the Gospel is really on display? Could it be that when this love for one another actually becomes a part of the daily rhythms of life that our beliefs becomes more than just intellectual presuppositions? Could it be that only the Holy Spirit could empower and enable us to love like Jesus loved us?

That last piece of rhetoric alone highlights how important this actually equipping along the pathway of walking together with Jesus really is. Because a lot of people can be generous and kind and compassionate and philanthropic. But only by the power of God can an entire group of people begin to faithfully and perseveringly through good and bad, through ease and conflict, through respect and disrespect keep loving each other.

Which leads to a segue for our next pathway. Consider this:

>> could it be that only when that love for one another as His church is on display out in the midst of our communities and out engaging the various domains of our culture and out in the everyday rhythms that people will begin to consider the practice of Jesus’ teachings as more than just an equal religious alternative? 

We will tackle that one next time.

Thoughts or comments?

Lord, please help me to actually be equipping along the pathway of together walking with Jesus.
-jason

A note to pastors, cont. – actually equipping along the pathway of personally relating with Jesus…

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So, as a follow up to Monday’s post on actually equipping the church to be who Jesus intended, let’s consider what equipping along the pathway of personally relating with Jesus might include?

First, may I suggest the need to clearly and consistently communicate a tenant of the Gospel that is central to our “growing up in Christ:”

>> that God did not intend for us to live FOR Him but rather to live WITH Him.

Please understand that I am hesitant to assert any personal understanding of God’s intent, unless I have become confident that the whole of Scripture supports my hypothesis. I am very confident in this assertion. Simple rationale strengthens the thought.

Why on earth would God put on skin and come to earth declaring His unconditional love and sacrificial friendship if all He desired from us was robotic, ritualistic obedience?

Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

Abraham was called a friend of God. Why? Because he walked with God, listened for God, responded to God. He obeyed because he related with God. He did not obey so God would relate with him. After all, God invited him on a road trip, not the other way around.

We need to realize that the Scriptures indicate that Jesus died not only for our sinful disobedience – for what we did. He also, and likely more significantly, died because of who He is. What He did as the death-taker demonstrates who He is as the life-giver. He chose to give His life. Grace was calculated, intentional, resolute, bloody, a temporary burial wrap.

This was not the stuff of Valentine’s Cards. It was and is the stuff of an enduring love. It is the stuff of “with” not “for.” This is the stuff that compels us to want to live in such a way, as Paul says, that is worthy of this “first loved us” Gospel.

May we equip the church to live loved, personally relating with the One who first loved us, secure in His goodness rather than weary trying to prove our own.

Next, as we equip the church to personally relate with Jesus, may we equip people to pray in the same way that we breathe.

To pray without ceasing, as Paul asserted we must, would imply prayer as more than just a periodic exercise. Rather, it is a constant interaction. Probably mostly listening. Often unbeknownst to us. Intentionally as intercession in those times when a deep breath is needed.

This kind of praying produces a Christ-connected kind of living. This kind of praying results in Spirit-prompted rhythms. This kind of praying is the earmark of a personally-relating-with-Jesus life.

This kind of praying indicates a personal belief that we actually can relate with Him.

Finally, as we equip the church to personally relate with Jesus, may we equip people to read the Bible as though nourishment.

Moses in Deuteronomy 32 declared that God’s words are not meaningless words; they are our life. Jesus told Satan in Matthew 4 that man cannot live on bread alone. Paul extended the metaphor of “growing up in Christ” as moving from bread milk to heartier food. Nourishment.

Has the Bible been preserved for the sake of our preservation? Has the Bible’s presence been sustained to be sustenance that energizes us toward greater awareness of His presence?

What if the Bible’s purpose is simply to tell us of God’s enduring love while it grows us in an enduring relationship with Him? Specially in this way:

>> the more I immerse myself in the Scriptures, the more recognizable God’s promptings and more noticeable God’s ways as I relate with Him daily.

Why? Because I recognize from what I have read about Him when He is about to invite me to participate with Him. Because I notice from what I have read of His story when I am getting to be in on a particular scene of His story continued today.

Reading the Bible, when thought of in this way, becomes more than a chore. And studying to learn how to better read and understand the Bible, when thought of in this way, becomes less of an academic activity and more of a real-life necessity.

Not just meaningless words, but essential to my life of personally relating with Jesus.

Thoughts / Comments???

Next up – what actually equipping for us to walk TOGETHER with Jesus might include…

Praying to be one who actually equips.
-jason

an important question for pastors – are you actually equipping the church to be who Jesus intended? Read more here…

There is a question I have been asking for some time now, both of myself and of our leadership team with @WestpointChurch. It is a simple yet significant question with profound implications on the energy expenditures of our leadership efforts. Here it is:

am i actually equipping our local church expression to be who Jesus intended together? 

In order to answer this question, I probably need to ask two others. What did Jesus intend and in what ways might I equip them for that?

May I suggest that Jesus intended that we believe that we are loved by the God who sent His one and only Son. May I suggest that Jesus intended that we respond to His loving us first by denying self and loving Him daily with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. May I suggest that Jesus intended that we love our neighbor, taking initiative to love them, just as He loves us. May I suggest that Jesus intended that we live open-handed and free, freely giving to the oppressed and poor and lonely and indulgent as we relate with them where they are, not out of guilt but from a free, loved, forgiven, grace-compelled heart. And may I suggest that Jesus intended that we learn and live His ways and then as we are going learn and live His ways out in the midst of culture among those who feel lost and lonely that they might believe that they are loved by the God who came near, too.

Am I equipping for this, or something else? 

Being a pastor, or an equipper as the New Testament seems to most often describe it, is not a role that is superior to anyone else involved in the life of a local church. It is not a management role. It is not an executive position. It is not a place of declared authority.

Rather, being an equipper is simply the serving part that someone lives as a fellow follower of Jesus in order to resource and encourage every follower of Jesus as they live sent with Jesus into the daily rhythms of life. Rather than managing, equippers release. Rather than leading from a board room, equippers relate. And rather than declaring the authority of self, equippers resource the daily ministry of others.

And we certainly were not intended to just get folks in the door of “a church.” Rather, we were intended to equip folks to be sent out as the church.

So how might we equip for that. Here are three pathways of equipping I would suggest are crucial if we will equip the church to be the church as Jesus intended:

  1. the pathway of personally relating with Jesus.
  2. the pathway of together walking with Jesus.
  3. the pathway of together going near with Jesus.

If we equip along these pathways, cultivate in these ways, I would suggest that we would be equipping the church to be who Jesus intends.

This week, I will unpack those three pathways one at a time and would really value any input and wisdom you would be wiling to share in the comments.

Grateful to be an equipper. Praying for wisdom on how to be one.
-jason

What I learned from listening to two days of conversation between @GabeLyons and Eugene Peterson…

If you had the chance to sit and listen to an 80 year old former pastor share his reflections and wisdom from all those years of loving and leading and equipping people, you would jump at the chance, too, wouldn’t you? Especially if he happened also to be a personal hero, a compassionate and Scripture-driven author, and the translator of this bible version called the Message.

Back in February, I had the chance to sit and listen to Eugene Peterson do just that during a Q Practices conversation in Manhattan. Big thanks to Gabe Lyons and crew for the opportunity to be a part of this.

I understand that you don’t get the context of what Eugene and his wife shared here, but here a few notable quotes and a few of my own reflections (marked by “my thought”).

Hope you will enjoy them and be challenged by them and need two months to reflect on them before you blog about them, too :)
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on SABBATH

:: a definition

shut up and show up.

:: don’t try to be like a god

It does not start with understanding sabbath but with looking at and understanding God from the beginning…when we don’t keep the sabbath, we are trying to be like gods.

:: when we started keeping a sabbath as a family

We didn’t start out doing sabbath in Maryland. However, I wasn’t working out of obedience but out of fear. Then, we would get away for a month as a family somewhere and just be together.

By the time I started working out of obedience rather than fear, we structured our sabbath for every Monday. I made lunch since Jan did the rest of the week. She prayed since I tended to the rest of the week. The kids would be in school. Jan would read a Psalm and we would be quiet and walk. Then we would come back and just debrief. Kids would come home from school and take part, too. First thing we noticed was the kids loved it because no one had to do work that day. We would do nothing we HAD to do.

I wrote our congregation a letter every year “why your pastor keeps a sabbath” in order to invite them to help us keep it. You can’t keep the sabbath alone. People took it seriously. And after 10 years or so, many of them began to keep one, too. And we helped each other. The most important thing we did was asking our congregation to help us keep it.

:: not just a cessation of work

Sabbath is not a cessation of work, but rather a contemplation of work. Non-sabbath keeping is a desecration of work, not honoring the real gift that our work is. When we do this, the work of man has inflated importance, rather than the work of God being honored most.

:: rest

Living in a rhythm of sabbath allows for restful living rather than guilty, busy, driven living.

:: evangelism may not be the primary work of the church…

I think evangelism may not be the primary work of the church, but rather sabbath-keeping. Because it puts us in the rhythm of stopping to listen to God and then responding and doing what he says. We try to do so much without being in this sabbath rhythm. Without it, how can we evangelize?

:: praying without ceasing

Praying – when I leave my study and close my Bible and go throughout my day, that is when I am especially praying. I do it when I don’t know I’m doing it, like breath.

on SIMPLICITY

:: ambition

Ambition is an enemy of simplicity. The need to acquire is an enemy of simplicity.

:: receptivity

Receptivity is a key to simplicity. Not citing what you need but receiving what is there. Stay where you are. Quit wanting to go more and get more and be more. Receive from those with whom you walk deeply. I was weened from emotional sensuality with God after a growing up in extreme emotional spiritual experiences. Learning the contemplative life is reducing expectations and receiving the gifts from the people that are there and the surroundings that are there and the needs that are there.

:: shalom

It is possible to live a life at peace. But u have to be content with who and where you are. And there has to be a constant purging. This is not just a “peace” word, though. It is a wholeness and connective word.

on PRAYER

:: the movement of God toward us

Prayer has its origin in the movement of God toward us.

:: the trinity

The trinity is not just some metaphysical, theological talk. It is God relational, personal, near. It is Father and Son and Spirit dancing a rhythm faster and faster until they are three a blur of one, and all of a sudden a hand stretches out from the circle and pulls us into it to now be a participant. Prayer is one of the rhythms with which we dance with God. It is breath, understood that we are doing it at times, not even realizing that we are doing it most of the time.

:: prayer together

We have typically emphasized the individuality of prayer, when we might consider how important it is to learn prayer in the context of the people of prayer, His church – people praying for and with you. Prioritizing prayer as an individual event only puts all of the burden on you.

:: prayer length

Prayers don’t need to be long.

:: helping people pray

We need to resist as pastors church as programs and worship as entertainment. We need to teach people how to pray and how to be a worshiper. Even provide them with prayers, like from the psalms, rewritten to be meaningful in their situation.

on EMBODIMENT

:: incarnation

The human incarnation of God must remain central to what we are doing. It is the devil’s work to distract us from the human (what God actually intended for the human).

:: technology – Gabe Lyons who interviewed Peterson spoke about this…

In the book Veneer, it says that because of technology today, we are no longer able to distinguish when we are alone or together because of social media. Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired Magazine has a blog called “Cool Tools.” In his blog, he said we MUST learn how to limit technology.

:: the importance of a meal (from Eugene’s wife Jan)

The MEAL seems to me to be one of the most significant opportunities to embody so much of who God intended us to be and who we are together as humanity. Open up the table and be together much.

:: be relational

Pastors are to be local and personal and relational. Don’t get hijacked by the glamour and the power of being known and the intoxication of technology connecting us farther.

:: my thought on embodiment

Have we become so deceived that the “church” is to be grown and attractive and impressive that we have dismissed the significance of embodying “God with us” in the everyday relationships and rhythms of our lives? Could it be that walking in love and to give love with a few other families is what needs to be grown and is attractive and is actually impressive? Are we willing to let this be enough?

:: communicator or conversationalist???

Today, pastor seems to mean “communicator.” In my opinion, though, pastor needs to mean “conversationalist.” Pray. Relate. Discover. Live. Be transformed.

:: maybe the most significant statement of the two days came from Eugene’s wife as a compliment about his being relational, even to his own family…

Eugene is not known because of what he could have sold his soul to, but rather because he is true and real and cares about what matters. And through all of this he has been a good husband. 

on SCRIPTURE

:: entering into it

I was reading Psalms and thinking I wasn’t getting it. As I processed it, I realized how significant metaphor was in all of Scripture. I had to enter into the world of the words.

:: speaking a foreign language?

I treated my congregation for the first three years like a classroom, applying all I had studied in graduate and doctoral work in languages. I finally realized that they did not understand Ugaritic and learned their language – American.

:: the art of translation

I studied Homer and the Iliad and how they were translated and realized they were not literal in their translation to English, but rather were moved and shaped to be understood by English speakers without changing the story of the book. Translation is an art in that way. It is true for any interpreter of languages.

:: meant to be

I felt everything in me had been put in me to do The Message, like I was born to do it. It was a twelve year process. The last thing I did was Judges.

:: imagine why…

The Bible is not intended to be a legislative fact book but a revelation. And we are free to imagine through it why God did actually reveal Himself.

:: on the criticism he has taken for the Message

A 19th Century archaeological discovery in Egypt of ancient texts brought to light that the New Testament was written in everyday street language. Moffitt from Scotland picked up on that but it wasn’t popular because of how Scotland is so conservative. Phillips from England then picked it up. I actually read his translation as a teen. He was so criticized that he struggled thru deep depression and never finished the entire Scriptures like he hoped. Even got death threats. So there has been much critique but those guys took the brunt of it.

:: on the Bible being literal

I am not discouraged by the words infallible and inerrant, as long as we understand language. No language can be translated literally from one to another. Things will always be lost unless nuances are translated as well. Every linguist understands that. Language can be translated truly, although not literally. It simply is not possible. Infallible and inerrant I am fine with. Fights over the Bible being literal is our bugaboo.

:: a question was asked – How did you discern when a text was cultural and when it was  normative?

Well, it helped that I had spent much time in the culture of the Bible and was taught by a world-class teacher. And I was also by the time I did the message saturated in American culture. Prayer went into that discernment as I tried to get the world of the Bible into the world of America. Every preacher is a translator in that way. Every witness is a translator in that way.

:: helping a biblically illiterate culture

David Kinnaman with the Barna group says that less than 25% of 20 somethings say that they were ever taught well how the Bible even matters and applies in their daily lives.

The struggle in countering that is that we try to teach the Bible and the Gospel in such a black and white kind of way. But they are not black and white. This is a big story, and understanding one section of the Bible can only be possible by understanding the big story of the Bible, like a novel, and we have to help people see how their complex lives can mesh in with the complex but beautiful story of the Bible.

We must get the Biblical story into people’s stories and help people see their story in the Biblical story, as well.

:: the importance of reading the Bible together

We need to tell people that they cannot read the Bible by themselves. This is a conversation with God. With each other. It is a living Word to know and see alive, not words just to be dissected.

:: why he dislikes the chapters and verses

When that monk in the 600s or so added the verse and chapter numbers to the text, it made the living Word a reference book. People tell me that without those numbers and reference points they get lost and don’t know where they are. I tell them to stay there, they will become unlost. They are in the weeds but will find the trail again.

:: on the Bible to the individual as opposed to in community

Reading, literacy, has caused a huge cultural shift. When people began to carry their own copy of the Bible, community gathering began to diminish. When this happens the reading gets separated from the voice, from community where it is lived. We must not let reading destroy our lives and our community, although it certainly is a good thing and important.

:: MY THOUGHT _ isn’t the Internet and podcasting and accessibility of information doing the same thing to the beauty and nearness of the local church today?

:: on the word translated as “saved”

The Greek word for “saved” mostly is a healing word. Jesus saves. There are other synonyms. But “saves” is not just a word about our souls. That has become our cliche use. It is really a word about a healing and restoring of our lives, our imaginations, our everything.

:: on parables

Parables – “parabole” – a word that means to throw it down, like throw it down and look at it and wonder, “What is that doing there?” Jesus used it in that way – to throw something in the conversation to keep the conversation going. Parables are for participation. We only get them by participation. When we only ask, “What does that mean,” we destroy it. We must participate to see it.

:: what translation does Peterson read?

The RSV because it is what I grew up as a kid reading and memorizing. Occasionally I will pick up the Message, but I also read in Greek and Hebrew.

:: Peterson’s favorite book(s) of the Bible?

John’s writings.

:: on inviting people on a journey to learn the Bible

Like Zaccheus, there are those who are like outsiders but are simply up a tree, and with the proper invitation to dinner might come down and join us.

on COMMUNITY

:: can you create it?

I’m skeptical that you can create community. I think you can become community, but unsure you can create it. Community forms when we work together, serve together, sacrifice together.

:: us and them?

The lines between saved and unsaved began to blur as we were learning what real community was.

:: most impactful thing in your walk?

The 27 year journey of starting and walking with Christ Our King Church. They made a pastor out of me. Or God used them to make a pastor out of me.

:: on cultivating for community at home, too, as a husband and dad?

First three years of Christ the King, very bad. Entering the “badlands” (a dry season), I realized the importance of Jan and the kids. We changed our time and vacation and sabbath and dating and created new habits. We were poor, but we would go out and spend the money on dates because it was cheaper than a psychiatrist. :)

on CHURCH

:: a definition

a colony of resurrection in the country of death.

:: the Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God is here. Jesus inaugurated this. The church is a colony of resurrection in this Kingdom of God to give witness to it and give reference to it. We must not be making walls between what we call “church” and the rest of the world when the world is the Kingdom of God.

:: the church is more about what God is doing…

I’ve tried to reinterpret the church ontologically. The church is what God does, not what we do. We didn’t create it nor do we sustain it. We are not in charge of renewing or forming the church but simply being the church. Church is not what we do. It is what God is doing with and for and through us.

:: learning church together

I have to know the congregation to be their pastor. And they had to know me. We knew what each other was doing and then learned together what it meant to be a congregation. I gave them the dignity that we could learn it together, and they gave me the respect and trust that we could learn it together.

:: sacred and secular?

I think the Kingdom of God is the activity of the trinity everywhere and in everyone. Some realize it. Others never realize it. Some are disobedient to it. We struggle with this concept because we want to label everything church or not church, Christian or not Christian. We have to believe that God is doing His work even when we don’t see it. People who are oblivious to God are important to His Kingdom, too. And we hope to help them become aware of it.

:: is denominationalism good or bad?

I think God uses whatever we give Him. We give Him a mess, He works with a mess. I need to develop a comprehensive understanding of how God works and with whom He works. I think schism is the worst thing the church can ever do. We need to take our issues to the John 17 prayer room and let Jesus pray over us through these issues. Schism is the devil’s work. We need to remember what the Bible says about what we should do to our supposed enemies.

:: is big church bad?

I don’t have any interest in giving grades to the church and the various operations of it. I do care much about the small church and the importance of it. And I don’t like the way people bully the pastors of small churches to try to be different because those people think bigger is better. In helping people, a pastor better serves people in the sanctity (details) of their lives by listening to them, praying with them, encouraging what they begin to think and dream about, not just preach to them.

:: what were your daily rhythms?

I didn’t work as hard as you might think I did. I am a very structured person. Pretty protective of solitude. Very deliberate about my time and spending time with people. I did a lot of leisure. And we have not had a TV for 50 years. We worked with what we had in a small place on a small scale.

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In closing, Gabe Lyons of Q asked Peterson to “encourage these folks as we close toward a ‘long obedience,'” referencing his classic book. Peterson replied:

A long obedience doesn’t just mean gutting it out. This is not discipline. Fall in love with Jesus. With His Scriptures. I did not stick with this congregation for 30 years out of determination. It took six or seven years, but I fell in love with them. Don’t respect me for something I didn’t do. Find some people to do this with and stick with it.

Wow. 

Thoughts? Comments? 

I was so grateful for the chance to hear from Peterson personally. I will treasure that memory and what I am still processing and learning from that time.

Lord, may I lead with the same relational intention and patient endurance that Eugene Peterson did. And more importantly, may my wife one day say of me what she said of him. And may we all follow You on this long obedience in the same direction.
-jason

What did you think of Blue Like Jazz the book? Will you go see @BlueLikeJazzmov (the movie)? My quick thoughts…

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Some people loved it. Some people told me they absolutely hated it. One even told me he didn’t even understand why anyone on earth would like it. Donald Miller’s very popular book, Blue Like Jazz, hits the big screen today across the country. I wonder what people will think.

I wonder what those who might be labeled “evangelical republican” will think of it. I wonder what those who might be labeled “evangelical democrat” will think of it. I wonder why we have so many labels, especially ones that define people on presumptuous religious notions and volatile political stances. We need fewer labels and more love.

Maybe the movie will address that issue.

I will say this. I liked the book. It was fresh. Well-written. A great story of a guy whose staunch religious upbringing was transformed into a growing relationship with the God who came near. I plan on seeing the movie.

Will you? I’d like to know if you are willing to share.

What did you think of the book? Will you see the movie?

If you got to see a preview of the movie, please give your thoughts of review.

Here is what Donald himself shared from his early conversations with director Steve Taylor when they were contemplating the transfer of biographical novel into screenplay:

“Let me put this another way,” Steve said. “While you’ve written a good book, thoughts don’t translate onto the screen very well. The audience can’t get inside your head like they can in a book. They will be restless. They won’t engage. Trying to be true to the book is like asking people to read your mind. A story has to move in real life and real time. It’s all about action.”

“You think they might be bored if we just show my life the way it is,” I clarified. I guess I was asking for reassurance that my life was okay.

“I think they’d stab each other in the necks with drinking straws,” Steve said.

(Excerpt from: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller)

That’s funny. I bet it had to be weird to be told your life was interesting enough to be a book but wasn’t interesting enough to be a movie. We shall see.

CLICK HERE to visit the movie’s website. And check out the trailer below. Looks kinda interesting :)

Cultivating Daily for Easter: what if this was the story of your weekend? An “imagine if” story on why Easter matters to you…

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Hope this is a special Good Friday for you as you remember the cross today.

Here is an “imagine if” story for you this week. It has actually happened in various ways over the last eight years of @WestpointChurch, but let me frame it this way as an “imagine if” just to make it challenging and accessible for us.

Imagine the chance these next few days to dialogue with someone about Easter. Probably someone with whom you have been a friend for some time. They know you care about them. They know you celebrate for more than bunnies, chocolate, and eggs, but they know you aren’t some fanatic who doesn’t participate in a fun egg hunt and enjoy a Reese’s egg. However, they may not know exactly why Easter is meaningful to you. In other words, they may not know why resurrection really matters to you.

Imagine asking them this question:

>> have I ever told you why Easter means so much to me?

Maybe you have your own variation of that question. But the topic turns there. And the dialogue includes the significance of resurrection, the hope of life again, the lack of condemnation for the selfish choices that steal life because of the love of the One who gave His life yet is still alive.

These are more than religious concepts.

What would you share with someone if you had the chance to tell them the answer to that above question? Who might you ask that question to and have that dialogue with? Are you willing to pray for that chance to come in the next three days?

This could be the story of your weekend. And the story of a friend whom you have loved believing they are forever loved by the God who came near and died and rose again.

I pray it will be.
-jason

Cultivating Daily for Easter: highlighting three specific chances to gather around here in Central Florida this weekend…

For the @WestpointChurch family, there are three specific chances to gather this Friday and Sunday I wanted to highlight. Below those three is a simple challenge for us as we are cultivating daily for Easter. Hope you will cultivate.

-jason

:: Good Friday at noon with the Church of West Orange at the Jesse Brock Community Center across from Dillard Elementary School.

:: Good Friday evening at 7:00 with Kensington Church at West Orange High School auditorium. This is going to be a very artistic and engaging expression of the story of the cross that we get to enjoy with a partnering church family.

:: Easter Sunday morning at 10:00 at Whispering Oak Elementary School (where we normally gather). Who will you invite to come with you to celebrate the resurrection on this special day?

Try to make it to two of these three if you can. And please pray about who God might want you to invite to come with you, someone with whom you have been walking and loving or someone who is a new friend or neighbor.

Don’t miss this chance to not just show the Gospel but share it, as well.