Loving One Another

After four months worshiping together from a distance, this coming Sunday we will finally open our doors once again for in-person worship services. We are as excited as can be to see each other, but this doesn’t mean we’re really ready for it. Last week we started a conversation about how we can hit that mark together. This past Sunday morning we finished that conversation and I shared our guidelines for worshiping together safely in light of the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Here’s what I had to say.

Loving One Another

One of the most effective ways that storytellers keep their audiences coming back for more is with the use of a cliffhanger. A cliffhanger, of course, is a story that ends at a moment that is decidedly unresolved thereby inviting you to come back to find out what happens next. For superhero fans, consider the ending of Avengers: Infinity War. The bad guy accomplished his main goal, wiped out half the life in the universe with the snap of his fingers, and sat peacefully on a distant planet enjoying a beautiful sunset. Three hours of movie-watching and the bad guy wins after 10 years and 22-films worth of build up?!? Of course, I’m coming back for the sequel! What’s that? You want $100 per ticket? I’ll take a dozen just to make sure I don’t miss anything.

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Differences of Opinion

Something good is on the horizon. After nearly four months apart, we are finally going to be able to get back together for live, in-person worship services starting July 5. Having been gone so long, though, and having been so profoundly changed by what we have experienced–even in ways we don’t fully understand–we need to get ready for what’s to come in some equally profound ways. This week and next we are having a conversation about what we need to know and what we will be doing to make our regathering both satisfying and sustainable. Thanks for tuning in here for part 1.

Differences of Opinion

I want you to imagine something with me this morning. This may stretch your imaginative capacities a bit, so do the best you can. I want you to imagine a church. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now, imagine—and here’s where things may get tough—that this church is dealing with some internal conflict about something that from the outside looking in seems trivial to most passersby. Take a breather for a minute if you need it, I know that was pretty challenging.

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God’s Not Done

We are living in a moment of crisis and chaos. It seems in many ways that God has left the scene and we are merely fending for ourselves. This is exactly how it felt in Israel at the end of the season of the Judges. But, as we turn the page on that book and peer into the next–Ruth–we are reminded of an incredibly powerful truth: No matter how dark things may get, God’s still working. Keep reading to see how this incredible reminder unfolds.

God’s Not Done

Alright, I want to start this with a little survey. You can’t participate by a show of hands, but hit your “like” button or post a comment with your answer. Hit your “like” button or comment about it if you have ever had a cold before. Now, I can’t see those from where I’m sitting, but Nate is checking on them and letting me know the entirely expected news that most of you have had colds before. Okay then, next survey question: How many of you have recovered from your cold? Since you’re tuned in this morning or at least haven’t died yet from a cold if you do have one—and that’s one positive thing about this format…you didn’t just out yourself as a germ-factory to a roomful of people who all want to get away from you now—I’m going to go ahead and assume that everyone has answered that question affirmatively. Do you know how that happened? Your immune system kicked into gear and kicked out the cold. That’s a pretty surface-skimming explanation, though. Do you know how your immune system actually works? I know we have a few medical folks watching who know a bit more than the average bear, but that’s admittedly not a question we generally think too much about—the current season being an exception to the rule.

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Right in Our Eyes

We’re told every single day and everywhere we look that if we will be true to ourselves and do what lies in our hearts, we’ll be on the right track. As we arrive at the end of the book of Judges in our series, Going It Alone, we see a powerful example of the fact that this just isn’t the case. What is the case? Read on to find out.

Right in Our Eyes

Have you ever seen the movie Suicide Squad? It came out a few years ago. They’re working on a sequel/relaunch with a new director and some new key character swaps. D.C. Comics is trying to get all the mileage out of the fan-favorite character Harley Quinn they can, especially after her solo/ensemble film Birds of Prey flopped so badly a few months ago. As far as superhero movies go, Suicide Squad was pretty good. The major villain seemed to serve as more of a placeholder while the stories of the various “heroes” were told, but in that arena, they really hit a home run I thought. It made enough money to prompt the sequels I mentioned, but I can’t see how it will serve as much more than a minor rabbit trail in the larger cinematic universe that D.C. Comics is still trying to build in hopes of rivaling the juggernaut that Marvel has put together. So far, they’re staying pretty far behind in terms of both quality and box office returns.

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The Leaders We Deserve

As we continue in our journey through the book of Judges, things are getting ugly. God keeps raising up leaders to help the people when they are in trouble, but the stock of people from which He can draw is getting pretty poor. As a result, rather than leading the people, these men are merely reflecting them. There’s a lesson here for us: Our leaders are ultimately going to look like us. What kind of leaders are we meaningfully going to be able to produce? Let’s talk about it.

The Leaders We Deserve

Have you ever seen a movie in which a great leader calls a people to rise above themselves and do great things? That’s a pretty broad category of mostly good movies if you think about it. There is one, though, that stands atop the rest: Braveheart. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what scene I’m talking about. The Scottish clans are all lined up on the hill waiting to run into battle against their English oppressors. They are hopelessly outnumbered by the British regulars. And then William Wallace rides up and down their ranks and speaks courage and confidence into their very souls. The most famous passage of the speech ended like this: “And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”

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