Seriously though…

What’s so important about all this Christianity stuff, does it really matter? I mean, people have the freedom to choose whatever they want to believe.

Evidently this is the case as almost half—47 percent—of practicing Christian millennial’s believe “it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hope that they will one day share the same faith.” (Barna defines as “practicing Christian” those who identify as Christian, agree strongly that faith is very important in their lives, and have attended church in the past month. – Source: Barna research group)

Today our society is all about tolerance. We’re being trained by our culture to be a ‘kinder, gentler, and more tolerant”, generation of Christians. Don’t get me wrong, we should be gentle and kind, and this is not advocating a license to be a jerk, or to act without respect… but the middle road (Via Media) is where I’m heading here.

It would be so nice to avoid the uncomfortable discussions, to remain aloof from the world and it’s controversies. It would be so much easier to just coast along life watching and observing the flow of pop culture as it diverges from the traditional values of two millennia of Christian orthodoxy. But I believe we’re called to be more than ‘critics’ of our culture, we’re called to be an influence within it.

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Granted over the years the church has waxed and waned in its role as Gods ambassadors to the world, but on the whole the message of the Gospel has emerged as direct and brilliantly clear as when it was first shared with us.

Sin. Grace. Forgiveness. New Life. Purpose. Hope and a coming Kingdom. 

God’s rescue plan was daring, out of the box, and completely successful. No detail was overlooked and no generation left out, He thought of everything and everyone as He saved the world and all creation.

But saved us from what? I mean what was the big deal, the alarm that seemed to cause such a cosmic fuss? According to the bible, it was eternal death.

Not just physical death and decay, but something so awful and destructive it stretches across time and space to confront all mankind with the despair of losing our entire existence. Not just this life, but all the intended pleasure and purpose of the divine eternity.

Pexel.com

The whole construct of the Christian faith centers around the ‘salvation’ of the soul and the Resurrection of the dead. Nothing else matters! 

We need to seriously consider that as we navigate our lives, we need to really and truly wonder at the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in. If the gospels are accurate about this spiritual death that threatens us all, it should affect us.

We are entrusted with more than blending in. Our lives are meant to be risked, our popularity and acceptance is irrelevant. People are dying. Lives are being lost for eternity. Hell and separation from God are a real possibility. Stuff that’s uncomfortable to talk about, stuff we try to deny and avoid at all costs, but if there is anything more important to sort out… I don’t what it would be.

What about our soul? What about our faith and relationship with the only person who actually matters? Jesus. 

Lent is this week. A time of introspection and mediation. What am I here for? What’s the point of my existence and what is it God has offered me? Ideas that are worthy of our consideration and self-examination.

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Source – Pexels.com

Let’s not waste our chances…

Pastor B.

Links:

Tim Keller on why Evangelism is so hard. (Relevant Magazine Source)

Ash Wednesday (Free)

Lenten Devotional (Free)

 

Springtime reflection

Each Spring we walk out of the grey and dark of our annual ‘winter’ and begin to see the colors of life again. As a metaphor and a real-life anticipation, Spring brings hope and warmth to our worn hearts and frozen fingertips. It also provides us with a traditional time to reflect and consider. Lent

Lent is the tradition of reflection, self-denial and realignment. A time to consider carefully what is ‘driving’ us, examining our motives, habits and excesses as we look to truth of our saviors example and the power of the cross to break the power of sin, death, and despair in our lives. 

It’s a forty day period between ‘Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday that culminates in the Holy Week before Easter including “Good Friday”. It parallels the traditional 40 day period that Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and prayer, resisting temptation from the devil. A time after His baptism and immediately before His public ministry began.

Symbolically it allows for us to simplify our lives for a few weeks each year, to sacrifice something of ‘comfort’ as a gentle reminder of the terrible pain and suffering our savior willingly endured for our souls to be saved. It does NOT provide us with a ‘higher’ standing in heaven or a better rank with God for our piety, but it can provide a much clearer perspective on our lives as they are now, and the lives we’re called to live as Christ-followers.

Not a guilt trip or a legalistic exercise, Lent is a time to grow inwardly. A time of intimate conversation with God and the Holy Spirit. A season for us to slow and still ourselves. To read more and talk less, to listen and hear what can only be heard in absolute quiet. 4W worship background pic

I believe if you make the effort to reflect… God will make you brand new. Just like a spring flower about to bloom, your heart can be refreshed and infused with vibrant new color… 

May this Spring be refreshing to your heart and renewing to your mind as we all learn how to begin again.

Pastor B.

To read more about Christian traditions and celebrating the Holy Days, check out the AMiA (Anglican Mission in America) blog site.

 

Ashes to Ashes… dust to dust

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, the start of Lent and a surprisingly important time to reflect and for some… be renewed.

A season of contemplation and renewed perspective. Not only should we consider the epic sacrifice’s our savior made on our behalf, but also on the path He chose to save us. It’s only natural that we might consider to the path our lives have taken. We all have dreams and hopes, we all have regrets and frustrations…but each Lenten season I can’t help but take the opportunity to reflect on where I am in the timeline of my life. Ash Wednesday pic

To take the time to ask and pray and listen… God, where are my kids at in their journey… my wife, me ?

Am I zooming way off into the distance, frantic and desperate to stay ahead of the curves? Maybe even way ahead of God and his timing? Or am I slinking back a bit…dozing off into comfortable apathy, lethargic and ignoring the issues of my life that need tending ?

Or maybe, on reflection you find you’re doing great! Walking in sync with your faith and living with purpose but you can’t help but notice there might be some trouble on your growing teen’s life horizon.

Ash Wednesday provides us with a time of realignment. A shifting of our priorities and energy. The ashes we use on your forehead represent the dust of the earth (from which we came and to where we will return) and thus our own human mortality. For many of us, our lives loose perspective and it’s a struggle to remember the joys and privilege that is to be alive. Circumstances subtly re-arrange our goals from living with purpose to simply finding a way to survive. Often I find that the deep issues that derail me are the same one’s that I already know God has asked me to give up. 🙂

As you consider your life and the family you love so much… ask God to show you the areas of growth and change that He would want. Consider the things in your life that might be just out of balance, needing a “nudge” in the right direction once again. To do so is the essence of Lent and wonderful tradition that our church fathers have been leading us in for hundreds of years.

My hope is for your family to enjoy the simple and profound beauty of an Ash Wednesday service in your community and take the time to participate together. Not as a religious rite or guilty obligation, but as a time of helpful realignment in your busy life.

Peace out, Pastor B.

For more information about Ash Wednesday check out these sites;  CBS, About.com and Wikipedia

 

Ash Wednesday…? Why should it matter

“Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lent season.  It’s important that we observe the inauguration of the Lenten season as we  join ourselves (fellow Christian believers all over the globe) together, placing ashes on our foreheads and praying prayers of repentance. 

Courtesy of Somersault Group

The purpose of Lent at a macro level is to remind us of the cost of sin.  We no longer have animal sacrifices to remind us as in days of old and it’s easy to just throw a prayer asking Jesus’ forgiveness skyward and move on.  Lent is a Christian season that guides us toward Good Friday and ultimately shows us what our redemption cost. 

On a micro level we often give up something for Lent.  The tradition is that you give up chocolate or coffee etc.  Although a cute tradition, it’s a little misguided.  During the forty days of Lent we invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what has fallen out of alignment.  We ask that we be given eyes to see what has come between us and God.  Not all things in our lives are bad, but when they come between us and Jesus we are oriented to them rather than God.  We then choose to give them up for a season so that Christ can re-integrate them into our lives appropriately. ” 

—–(Quote above – From Father Brian Hardin of Four Winds Anglican Mission ) —

Ash Wednesday is a time to reconsider, to reassess who we are and how we are living… as the popular Christian rock/pop band Switchfoot says in one of their great lyrics… “Are We Who We wanna BE?” Not in the negative context per say… but in the contemplative and open to hear God tell us anything kind of way… are we?

So let me encourage you to consider taking a moment today to consider Ash Wednesday as more than a catholic event, or more than an “old” church experience, maybe it’s time to consider observing this time-honored Christian tradition of faith. Maybe even include your kids, your family and your friends in this process? Who knows… there are a lot of Wednesday night bible studies and prayer groups out there in the Christian expanse of faith and family who just might find this opportunity life-giving. I know I sure have.

As families, it might be fun to consider together what you might need to “re-align” in your home in preparation of Easter. Less media, more sun, or less pizza and more veggies… this doesn’t need to become a “religious” exercise, keep it real. Honest and authentic… in forty days, let me/us know what happened?

I can guarantee you, God will speak if you take the time to get quiet enough to hear.

Peace out RTP.

brad.